Gelo of BGYO Is Born to Be at the Top, as a Performer and Leader
There are moments in life when it almost feels like everything is right at its destined place; that some people are destined for a certain path. It's one of those rare occurrences where you see someone at their best and most passionate and think to yourself, “Wow, they must have been born for this.”
Gelo is one of those rare people.
Always passionate and never not the brightest in the room, he’s a natural-born performer, as if he was made to do this all his life. And this unwavering passion? He’s taken it with him through every point in life, including being a leader and the “Kapitan” of the ship as the group has reached greater heights.
Before BGYO, Gelo was first and foremost a dancer. As a student, he juggled academics with his passion for dancing—joining competitions, school clubs, and even making his way to the internationally-recognized street dance group called A-Team. To fund his passion, he took on gigs at events and as a backup dancer. His life as a dancer was pretty much set in stone, as he even prepared to fly out to Arizona for a competition in his pre-debut life.
That was until he got an unexpected call from a friend in the dance community who invited him to an audition the very next day. And this audition? It changed the trajectory of his entire life as he went through rigorous trainee life, unexpected network setbacks (ABS-CBN shutdown), and the long journey of introducing a new genre to the public.
BGYO was formed back in 2018 by the ABS-CBN Star Hunt Academy and later debuted in 2021. Next to MNL48, SB19, and sister group BINI, they’re one of the first P-Pop groups in the game that saw through what P-Pop can really be and if it would even work in the country.
In our conversation with Gelo, the “Kapitan” reflects on the essence of being a leader and his contemplations of the P-Pop world as someone who’s seen it all from the start. Here, we learn Gelo is the kind of leader who’s strong and resilient but compassionate—with so much love for his members.
Q: It can be easy to get lost in your role as a leader as your focus tends to lean towards the group vs. your own. How do you strike a balance between being a representative of the group and remaining true to who you are as a person?
Gelo: Sobrang totoo nito! Separating myself as Gelo the leader and Gelo the member was challenging. Siguro, because I’ve been a part of big dance groups in the past, na-observe ko ‘yung iba’t-ibang leadership styles. I borrow leadership styles of my former group leaders.
Merong strict, authoritative, and disciplinarians na nakakapag-push ng aming limits, creativity, at determination, especially during competitions. At the same time, they can be compassionate leaders outside performances. ‘Yung maging kaibigan, kapatid, confidant.
My opinion matters, but I am not the only one that matters. May conscious effort ako to remind myself na may limang members ang BGYO with a shared dream.
Q: With P-Pop, people tend to constantly associate and compare it to its main influence, K-Pop (and to an extent, J-Pop for other groups). It’s been said that P-Pop just copies this music culture, and there hasn’t been a “distinct” sound to define P-Pop. What can you tell me about that?
Gelo: Music is varying. They influence each other, even K-pop is influenced by mainstream Pop. Kaya siya naging K-Pop kasi it follows a certain formula. But, K-Pop also experiments. Mayroong silang distinct sound na ginagamit as winning formula. They know what works for them.
For me, the word “pop” equates to “winning formula” in music. Kahit saang bansa ka pa, bawat pop music ay may certain traits na ear candy ng mga listeners—kaya ito patok. And with today’s technology, ‘yung diversity ng music or Pop music is accessible to all. There’s no cap on the kind of music we can listen to.
Pop includes dancing. Sa Pop, may papasok na ibang elements like ‘yung storya mismo kaya sa P-Pop, nandyan kung paano tayo as Pinoy. ‘Yung Lyrics din ay Tagalog. We also incorporate our dialects. Maraming mga kanta or song qualities talaga ang kumakapit sa amin (P-Pop/OPM) na originating from other Asian countries, Western countries, or even from our own regional sound.
But, at some point, ‘yung mga kanta all over the world will influence each other or have qualities of each other, so ang evolution ng P-Pop ay hindi dahil sa isang kultura.
Q: Fandom/stan culture is really apparent in a lot of pop culture today, including P-Pop. There can be upsides with the overwhelming support but there can also be downsides with “parasocial relationships” and even fan wars. What are your thoughts on this?
Gelo: The first word that comes to my mind regarding this topic is “RESPECT”. Respect to fans, respect to idols, respect to every person. Everyone has the right to be respected. We should always be nice. While we prefer not to be in complicated situations in the “stan world,” nangyayari talaga siya for a variety of reasons.
Personally, I use my platform to acknowledge our supporters with the wonderful things they’ve done for us but I also use it to correct people who cross the line against the idols or other fans. Fans kasi may sometimes reflect their idols from other people's perspective kaya, as much as possible, I encourage our ACEs to be kind and make them understand the situation carefully to avoid unnecessary conflicts.
We also have our personal lives as idols, but we do our best to maintain our healthy and loving relationship with our ACEs.
‘Yung fanwars and toxic exchange of blows, nangyayari sa stan world at any given time. Pero pwede naman iwasan by focusing on your own positive goals. Understanding that P-Pop fandoms belong to one community can help us avoid conflict and lift each other up. Pwede naman tayo maging partial sa mga bias natin, pero sana mas magamit ang social media sa pag-promote ng idols than magmaliit at manlait ng iba.
Q: When BGYO started out and you first trained with each other, you were all teens. And the way I see it, it’s tough to make a decision of starting out a career like this at an early age. What were your thoughts during this time? What pushed you to make the decision?
Gelo: Way back in 2019, sobrang emotional ko after the special audition with my co-member JL. Sabi kasi ng audition team, they wanted us to be part of a P-Pop trainees right then and there. Ang dami kong reservations nung una kasi naisip ko na ang dami kong bibitawan. Plus overwhelming din ‘yung holistic training and being housed while we train, plus ‘yung strict rules na kailangan namin sundin.
Naisip ko mga iiwanan ko na pamilya, kaibigan, mga usual na ginagawa ko sa araw-araw. And at that time, I was getting ready with my dance team (A-Team) to fly to Arizona for a dance competition. Buti na lang Direk Lauren (Head of Entertainment Production at ABS-CBN and its talent management arm, Star Magic) understood and gave me a chance to do both for the last time.
Siguro ang nag pa-push saakin para pumayag is ‘yung pakiramdam na si Lord na nag bigay netong blessing na ‘to for me and matutupad ko ‘yung pangarap na feeling ko malabo mangyari before which is to be an artist/performer. I realized I am blessed to be offered for a project that can help me be great in various categories.
Q: Social media has changed the game in the music industry in discovering new talents but also having to constantly content creation. What are your thoughts on its effect and what has been its personal effect on your group?
Gelo: Malaki ang naitulong ng social media sa amin. 2020 was a series of challenging events starting with COVID, followed by the ABS-CBN franchise denial. Madaming nabago sa original plans ng management on how to debut us. We had to prove ourselves to ABS-CBN that we are worth keeping. Maraming hadlang, pero hindi namin ginawang dahilan. We turned to social media and churned out content after content para makilala kami ng iba’t-ibang market.
There will always be pro’s and con’s sa paggamit ng social media. Walang exact formula. Pero we are not afraid to experiment, we are not afraid to ride trends. It’s a constant push and pull and a constant adding value sa mga nagawa na at ginagawa na.
Q: I’ve read that you live by the motto, “There is beauty in chaos.” Do you still live by that motto? What does it mean to have beauty in chaos?
Gelo: Yep! The world and our life will never have a time with no problems and we should just embrace how imperfect and unpredictable it is. Despite all the challenges, negativity, and uncertainty we face, we can value all the beautiful things while being in harmony with everything. Kaya, katulad lang ng kanta namin, patuloy lang ang lipad and just follow the light!
Don't miss Gelo and the Aces of P-Pop, BGYO, as they take the stage at the highly anticipated PPOPCON MANILA 2023 this July 14 to 16 at Araneta City. Secure your tickets now at TicketNet Online or through TicketNet outlets nationwide.
Additionally, don't forget to grab a limited edition copy of our #TheLeadersIssue at parcinqmarketplace.com. You can either claim it at the PARCINQ booth during the P-POP Convention or have it conveniently delivered to your doorstep. Hurry and take advantage of our exciting freebies!
Produced by Parcinq Team in collaboration with PPOPCON
Photography by Rxandy Capinpin
Art Direction by Joe Andy
Production Coordination by Chardy Baldoza
Features Writers Queenie Cailing and Marielle Filoteo
Communications Manager: Rhanica
Production Manager: Arby
Artist Coordinator: Jessette
Content Producer: Erica
Team Rain X Em
Fashion Film By Ian Francisco
Video Associate Pogs Francisco
Camera Operator Anghel Millar
Gaffer Edward Logorta
Set Design by Rabbit Hole Creatives
Food Sponsors: Illo’s Party Trays, The Sandwhich Guy
Elemental Cafe Iced Coffee
Studio Partner Siren Studios