Korean girl group celebrates 5th anniversary in Manila
The members of the Korean group 2NE1 pose for a photo during their press conference. Photo by Anjie Blardony Ureta
MANILA -- Braving the sweltering summer heat, hundreds of fans waited as much as eight hours to line up for a chance to meet their idols – the superstar Korean girl group 2NE1 – in an open press conference at the Shangri-La Plaza on Friday.
The event was part of promotions for the Manila leg of their second world tour, “All or Nothing,” which goes onstage at the Mall of Asia Arena Saturday night.
“I don’t know why it took us so long to get here but we’re very happy to be here! We are very excited (for the concert)…” said a beaming Lee Chaerin, the group’s 23-year-old leader who is also known by her moniker CL.
Despite the flurry of activities that greeted them since their arrival, all four girls appeared to be in a very light and jovial mood – at times, seeming overwhelmed by the outpouring of cheers and adulation that rang passionately throughout the venue.
Sandara Park, who spent her early years as a teen idol in the Philippines, was beside herself with joy. She arrived two days ahead for back-to-back guest appearances on several ABS-CBN programs.
“Masaya ako kasi kasama ko na silang lahat, she said, gesturing to the three members who flew in that morning. Ang init dito! Ang init ng weather… At ang init din ng pagtanggap niyo sa amin! Salamat – ito ang hinihintay ko talaga”, she said, adding that if it were up to her she would like to return to her second home “every week.”
Charming Park Bom and Gong Minzy, the eldest and youngest members of the group respectively, were eager to display their newly acquired Tagalog skills. At every opportunity, they chirped, “Mahal kita! Mahal ko kayo!” while doing the familiar wave popularized by Sandara during her local showbiz days. The two also blew lots of kisses and formed heart signs at fans, making the already overexcited crowd roar even louder.
Asked what else the group would like to achieve beyond the international success they already enjoy, the playfully candid Bom replied: “We want to win a Grammy!”
First concert in PH
The girls, who first visited Manila as part of a show in June 2011, pointed out that “All or Nothing” will be their first concert here. “Before, we only sang four songs. But this time, we will be singing 21 songs!” revealed Sandara.
“It will really be special,” CL affirmed. “First of all, you guys will get to see our new stages and get to hear songs from our new album like ‘Crush’ and ‘Come Back Home’… And that’s all for our Blackjacks!” she added referring to the group’s global fandom.
The usually reticent Minzy, who was discovered by YG Entertainment when she was only 11, was remarkably perky and expressive that day. Upon arriving in Manila, she began posting pictures and updates of her experiences almost right away. Known as the group’s dancing machine, she disclosed that despite the hectic schedule of tours and promotions, she makes time to attend university as a regular student.
Asked to choose their favorite track from their new album “Crush,” which became US Billboard 200’s highest-ranking K-Pop album within three days of being launched last February, the girls gave different answers. Minzy said she liked the title track, while Dara chose “Good to You” because she can “relate to the lyrics”. Bom, on the other hand, picked out the ballads “If I Were You” and “Baby I Miss You” because “they were made by CL,” evoking laughter from their charismatic leader.
For her part, having composed three songs for the album, CL begged off from choosing just one. “They’re my babies, so I’ll pass.”
Fans all over the world have kept abreast with updates on AON Manila through social media and have expressed their delight at the girls being treated “like queens” – from the white stretch limo that ferried them around town, to the posh five-star accommodations, and most especially, for the ardent reception from the public that welcomed the girls everywhere they went, bringing to the fore the unique brand of hospitality Filipinos are best known for.
Asked what their most memorable experience has been since they arrived, CL replied with unconcealed emotion: “Right now. Right now is our favorite moment. I feel so blessed… We love you so much! Thank you so much!”
Towards the end of the half-hour event, the girls were asked what else they would like to do in the Philippines aside from going to the beach and trying out the local food. “We want to come out in some TV shows, actually. We would love to!” said the blonde leader, to which Dara added, “I suggest 'ASAP'!”
Saturday’s concert coincides with 2NE1’s fifth anniversary since their debut in 2009, making this leg of the tour even more memorable for the girls.
“When we are on tour, we make a lots of good memories,” said CL in closing. “But most of all, we get to meet our loving fans. That’s the best part.”