EXCLUSIVE: Meet The Members Of BINI, As The P-Pop Girl Group Officially Makes Its Debut (Part 1)
Get to know members Aiah, Colet, Maloi, and Gwen in the Part 1 of our Metro x BINI special feature, just in time for the release of their debut single, "Born to Win"
They're the Philippines' premier P-Pop girl group launched by Star Hunt Academy and they're here to conquer the world.
Enter BINI, the eight-member girl group composed of Aiah, Colet, Maloi, Gwen, Stacey, Mikha, Jhoanna, and Sheena! After first getting together in 2019 as P-Pop star hopefuls, each of the BINI girls went through their own journeys to get to where they are today. After endless rounds of auditions and callbacks, the next hurdle to jump over were the grueling months of training; they were housed together for months and months on end, each learning how to become world-class performers and strong, independent young women deserving of their group's name.
BINI, short for binibini, embodies who the modern Filipina is—courageous, informed, goal-driven, passionate, and all too ready to level up their game. The growing BINI fandom, called Bloom, got their first taste of the collective talent of Aiah, Colet, Maloi, Gwen, Stacey, Mikha, Jhoanna, and Sheena with the release of their pre-debut cover of "Da Coconut Nut" released in November last year. And while the song showcased BINI's more playful, softer side, more dynamism and explosive personality is coming our way this month with BINI's official debut.
"BINI: The Launch" is a two-part special; June 4 focused on a runway segment featuring the bespoke creations of global Filipino designer Francis Libiran, while June 11 will be featuring a showcase of the girls and the world music video premiere of their debut single "Born to Win."
The song makes a strong statement about what BINI stands for and what unites all eight of its members: that the young Filipina woman today can be both sweet and full of substance, fun-loving and strong-willed. She's the whole package wrapped up in picture-perfect ways.
In our exclusive interviews with each of the BINI members, we get to know their stories, beginning from their earliest brushes with music and performing, up to the day they landed a coveted spot at Star Hunt Academy and eventually, in BINI. Each girl brings something different to the table in both talent and vibe. Together, they bring us performances and an onstage presence that's fresh and powerful, feminine and commanding, new and full of potential all at the same time.
Get to know members Aiah, Colet, Maloi, and Gwen in the PART 1 of our Metro x BINI Special below:
Main rapper and visual
The things we dream about can oftentimes be arbitrary—a stranger you passed on your way home from work, your childhood home, someone who hasn’t crossed your mind in a while. But sometimes, our dreams are also reflections of what we want, of what’s weighing on our minds, of our deepest, truest desires.
That may just be the case for Aiah.
After auditioning for Pinoy Big Brother, Aiah got a call to attend the private casting process of Darna—the role would eventually go to Jane de Leon, but the world wasn’t done with Aiah just yet: There, she met someone from Star Hunt, and the rest, as they say, is history.
When we talked to her, she’s in the midst of interviews, guestings, and other appearances to promote their upcoming song. Along with seven of her co-members from BINI, Aiah is set to take the local music industry by storm with the group’s debut track, “Born to Win.” “I am extremely happy and excited kasi we’ve basically, for the past two years, we spent our time—our life—with this project. We can’t wait na other people will know us and our music because it’s all we’ve been working hard for.”
“We can’t wait,” she reiterates, smiling. Hailing from Cebu, Aiah grew up in the teen beauty queen circuit, exhibiting not just beauty, but brains, too. (She also competed in Scrabble tournaments in school!)
But being the last trainee to enter the camp, Aiah had to work twice as hard as the other members, especially since she had no prior experience in singing or dancing. “I don’t sing and I don’t dance so when I joined BINI, it helped me learn a lot about music,” she says. Still, this handicap didn’t hinder her: now, she’s the group’s main rapper and visual, sharing the position with Mikha.
Like her group’s name, Aiah is a modern Filipina—a reminder of the generation to come, the generation that’s already changing the world. And Aiah knows the kind of woman she needs to surround herself with, and the kind of woman that she no doubt is: “May paninindigan, may pinaglalaban. Courageous, strong, and at the same time, aware.”—Renee Nuevo
Main vocals, lead dancer, lead rapper
Destiny works in wondrous ways. So much so that even if you think something isn't meant for you, the path will keep winding, only to keep bringing you back to the place you keep running from.
Of all eight of the BINI members, she's one of the few who grew up in a musical household. Her father in particular, who's a singer and a drummer, was her earliest musical idol. She was the sort of little girl who learned to sing and hold a mic before she mastered writing her name on paper and holding a pencil correctly. But even with immense talent waiting to break out from underneath the surface, Colet struggled to find her footing in her earlier years. She attended auditions here and there, but she was never quite able to cleanse herself of traces of self-doubt—until one very special birthday.
"Nag-audition ako noon sa Tawag ng Tanghalan pero konti lang ['yung tao noon]. Pero ['yung Star Hunt Academy] talaga 'yung pinaka-solid. Sobrang daming tao na hindi ko alam kung makakapasok ako... Sobrang hindi ako talaga kinakabahan noong time na 'yun. Sa sobrang mahiyain ko, hindi ako kinakabahan. Calling po talaga siya noong time na 'yun," Colet narrates. "Nag-audition ako sa Bohol in 2018. Audition ako nang audition hanggang mag-callback ako. Bago ako mag-callback, nag-wish pa ako. Birthday ko noon and nag-wish ako na sana matawagan ako or may matanggap ako na text. The next day, may tumawag talaga so mabait talaga si Lord," she sighs with relief, as if it had all just happened yesterday.
Today, as a member of BINI, Colet has bid farewell to the shy, unsure girl she used to be and welcomed the commanding presence she always had inside her. Colet feels that things are moving incredibly fast but are also frozen at the same time; it's crazy to think that a year and half worth of training, BINI's pre-debut, and yes, even a pandemic have all happened since her first BINI callback. But not that she's complaining. She's an endless well of excitement and gratefulness, and she's revving up for the BINI debut, ready to give their devoted fans what they've painstakingly waited for.
"Hindi ko na alam kung saan ko ilalagay 'yung saya ko. S'yempre nandoon pa rin 'yung pressure kasi kailangan naming magbigay ng outstanding performance sa mga tao kasi talagang inaantay kami. Until now, hindi pa rin nag-hit sa akin na magde-debut na kami. Nandoon 'yung pressure kasi kailangan namin mag-live up to people's expectation," she says.
After the challenging training she and her fellow BINI members went through, her biggest reward is BINI in and of itself, and that she never quit despite the struggles. When it's meant for you, it's meant for you.
Coming from a group whose name is a play on the word binibini, we asked Colet what she thought a modern binibini was like. She promptly answered, "She is that person na willing to continue to embrace ang pagbabago, willing to be better, and the person she wants to be. Goal-driven, pero humble pa rin. Resilient despite setbacks na nangyayari sa life niya, and most of all, she's a person full of love and faith."—Sara de los Reyes
Never underestimate the power of chance—and all the good that could come after if you just tried. See, Maloi never intended on entering showbiz. Though she had a family with above average music skills—her mom sings and can rock it out on guitar—she never quite made it her life's mission to pursue this profession. In 2019, she and her mom embarked on a little project. "Nag-first audition ako sa grand audition noong April 2019 sa Araneta. Pero tinry lang namin, sobrang spontaneous, like sabi ni mama, 'Tara, audition tayo.' [Sabi ko], 'Ha? Anong audition?," Maloi laughs.
The only reason she agreed to doing the audition was for experience. All she wanted to get out of it was an insider's look on what people go through before they're admitted to the ultra-exclusive world of being an artista. All she wanted to do was have her few minutes with the judges, and then go home a little more informed about how it all worked for future reference, in case this was something she decided she really wanted. Callbacks came. Then, she found herself in boot camp for P-Pop star hopefuls. Every day for five days, those who didn't make the cut were sent home. When the five-day elimination round was over, Maloi was still there.
In a blink, she found herself at Star Hunt Academy as one of the talent management arm's first recruits. She was told she was going to be one of BINI's eight members, and just like that, life was never going to be the same again for Maloi. "Sobrang worth it po kasi sobrang gandang experience po nito talaga na ite-treasure ko for my whole life," she says. Maloi has gone leaps and bounds from where she started in this journey.
Thinking about how BINI has now made their official debut, Maloi is at a loss for words. "Sobrang sarap sa feeling na finally nandito na kami and ito na 'yung beginning, 'yung simula ng lahat," she tells us. The moment Maloi goes up on stage, she's ready to go all out. It'll be the culmination of everything they've worked so hard for individually and as a team in 2020, and even before that.
In the end, the BINI girls are now thicker than thieves. Maloi in particular can't imagine doing this with other bandmates, and she wouldn't trade what she and the BINI girls have experienced together for the world. Today, she's happiest, seeing that all eight of them are reaching their dreams together, empathizing with each other, and providing the kind of support no one else can.
Maloi has been singing since she was three. One could say she was made for this, despite her not realizing it in the beginning. What was once just a karaoke talent and family bonding activity for Maloi is now a passion that could launch P-Pop as a global phenomenon in the making. It's a lot to ask a teenager whose foray into showbiz is this. But according to Maloi, who's always been the kind of person to lay down plans for herself as far into the future as possible, she's confident she's capable of handling this. "Hindi po kami natatakot kung ano 'yung gusto namin sabihin and may paninindigan and hindi kami takot to explore, to discover something new. [Gusto namin] ipakita na hindi lang kami hanggang dito, kundi kaya namin ipalawak sa buong mundo 'yung talent ng Pinoy," she says.—Sara de los Reyes
Lead vocal, lead rapper
If you ask Gwen how she discovered her love for music, she’ll gently correct you. It wasn’t her per se who discovered that she had what it takes to become an artist—her mom has always known since Gwen was three. “Napapakinggan ako ng mom ko na kumakanta kahit wala pa akong napo-pronounce na words, tapos nasa tono raw ako,” she recalls, smiling.
She remembers belting the words to Sarah Geronimo’s “Forever’s Not Enough,” an artist that, to this day, Gwen still idolizes. Performing, it seems, has always been in her veins. Hailing from Bicol, Gwen is a former Pinoy Pig Brother housemate—like her co-member Sheena—with such obvious potential that she was chosen to train in Star Hunt Academy, the show that would form the girls we now know as BINI.
But it wasn’t a linear journey for Gwen. “Actually,” she says slowly, “umalis po muna ako para makapag-isip-isip kung para sa akin ba ’to.” She’s always dreamed of being the typical artist, juggling hosting gigs and performances. But she didn’t expect just how intense training would be. So why did she come back? “Ever since bata pa ako,” Gwen starts, “parang sabi ko passion ko na talaga ’yung performing, gusto ko talagang mag-perform. Every time nasa stage ako, d’un ako nakakahinga, d’un ’yung puso ko, gusto kong makapag-inspire ng tao at makapagpasaya ng tao kaya ’yun ’yung pinanghawakan ko, kaya ako bumalik.”
And it seems to be worth it, especially now that BINI is set to release their debut track, “Born to Win,” a song about courage, strength, and determination—three qualities that have always existed within Gwen; three qualities that have always helped her to get to where she is now.
And where she is now is something that Gwen can honestly say she’s proud of. “Sobrang saya na nabibigyan kami ng opportunity ngayon lalo na ang dami naming napagdaanan. Hindi talaga madali ’yung na-experience namin, [kaya] sobrang worth it sa pakiramdam ngayon.”
Gwen, like all the other members of BINI, represents the modern Filipina in her own unique way. “A modern FIlipina is strong, brave, and empowered,” she says, “na kahit anong bagyo man ang dumaan kayang-kaya nating lampasan and we are confident enough na maipakita kung ano ’yung kaya natin kung ano ’yung mayroon tayong mga Pilipino na kaya nating makapag-inspire ng tao gamit kung ano’ng mayroon tayo.”—Renee Nuevo
Photography by Rxandy Capinpin
Creative director, production designer, and sittings editor: Chookie Cruz
Videography by Pat Buenaobra
Makeup by Theresa Padin and Lei Ponce
Hairstyling by Jan Edrosolan and Cristine Benoman
Styling by Ica Villanueva
Styling associate: Carvey Samonte
All clothes by Francis Libiran
Jewelry: Luisa Jewellery
Nails by Creole Creates
Sittings editors: Geolette Esguerra, Randz Manucom, and Kate Paras-Santiago
Shoot coordination: Cara Tirona
Copy editor: Grace Libero-Cruz
Writers: Sara de los Reyes and Renee Nuevo
Special thanks to Laurenti Dyogi, MQ Mallari, Cham Magsaysay, Jovy Aberion, Beneice Ventenilla, Jannis Juanico, Maan Manauis and MJ Araracap