EXCLUSIVE: Meet The Members Of BINI, As The P-Pop Girl Group Officially Makes Its Debut (Part 2)
Get to know members Stacey, Mikha, Jhoanna, and Sheena in the Part 2 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 Stacey, Mikha, Jhoanna, and Sheena in the PART 2 of our Metro x BINI Special below:
Main rapper, lead dancer
Stacey prayed for all of this, you see. When she was 14, she lined up in Araneta to audition for Star Hunt Academy—now that she’s about to turn 18, she’s gearing up for her debut as a full-fledged P-Pop star. She wouldn’t have gotten here without the hardwork and dedication that she’s imbibed from her years of training, and without her faith in God.
An only child from Nueva Vizcaya, Stacey grew up surrounded by music. “My lolo is a musician and he’s really good in playing guitar,” Stacey shares. “’Yung tito ko rin po mahilig siyang mag-piano and he can play other instruments. ’Yung great grandmother ko rin loved music talaga. She plays piano really well. D’un ko parang na-develop ’yung love ko for music.”
It’s no surprise then that she became interested in and passionate about music—one that is poised to take her to soaring heights. Her musical influences are varied; she loves singers like Chris Brown and Bruno Mars, but she has also found herself falling in love with K-Pop. “Napapanood ko po ’yung dance videos nila, ’yung mga concerts, so na-inspire po talaga ako. Sabi ko, ‘Wow, gusto ko ring maging katulad nila.’”
It’s easy to compare K-Pop and P-Pop—after all, much of the latter is inspired by the former. But Stacey, like everyone else in BINI, is determined to prove that there is something unique—and worth seeing—in P-Pop. This shows in their training—rigorous, intense, and not for the faint of heart. “Super hirap po talaga but it was fun,” Stacey says of their training. “Alam po naming girls na sobrang dami po talaga naming pinagdaanan, pero if you love what you’re doing and you believe na you’re on the right track towards your dreams then nothing is too hard. [There’s] always a rainbow after a storm.”
And here comes the rainbow, indeed. “Talagang pinag-pray ko po talaga kay Papa G na, ‘Lord, sana ma-debut po ako kasi talagang pinaghirapan ko po ito and ang dami kong pinagdaanan,’ and ang lagi ko pong sinasabi is, ‘I will always do my best and Lord, ikaw na ang bahala.’ So I’m super grateful and so proud.”
As for being a modern Filipina? Stacey knows her tribe: “I believe that we’re entering a new era of dynamic women,” she says. “A modern Filipina has the personality of an alpha—ambitious, talented, highly motivated, strong, someone who believes in the beauty of her dream. Someone who believes that she is born to win.”—Renee Nuevo
Main rapper, lead dancer, visual
Mikha is BINI’s main rapper, lead dancer, and visual. At only 17, she’s already gone through years of intensive training to get to where she is now. She’s always loved singing, always loved music, but she never really thought of it in a professional kind of way.
Somewhere, though, something changed: When auditions for Star Hunt Academy began, Mikha almost didn’t go because she was transferring to a school that didn’t allow showbiz-related activities.
But life had other plans for her. “My parents didn’t know that I wanted to audition,” Mikha says. “I was the one who printed all the documents and I asked my mom to sign them when we were at the mall.” At first, they were hesitant, but Mikha knew in her heart that this is what she wanted. “Ma, come on,” she said, recalling what she told her mom. “This is what I really want in my life. I really wanted to be in that kind of industry because I think that I could be able to impact people.”
Mikha’s mom gave in, and when auditions finished at 1 am that day, her dad was there too, supporting her. “It doesn’t feel real at all,” Mikha says, reflecting on the whirlwind of activity she’s had to experience since pre-debuting with “Da Coconut Nut” last year. “It’s very overwhelming, but then to think that we have a chance to impact Bloom [BINI fans] and people who are waiting for our debut, it’s an honor and a big responsibility for us to give the very important message that they can do this.”
Like her fellow members, she was also subject to intensive training, and it had its fill of ups and downs. “The most challenging part of it is telling yourself that you can actually do it because there are a lot of times where you feel like you’re about to give up and you feel like you don’t belong,” Mikha tells us. “What’s fulfilling is that you’re finally in a position that other people don’t get to experience. It’s something very unique and a big responsibility, and we should take advantage of that and do our best to influence people.”
Mikha, at 17, already understands the importance of groups like hers—Eastern pop music is experiencing a moment, and it’s high time the Philippines joined in, too. Luckily, we have talents like Mikha to look forward to, to remind us that Filipino pop culture matters and that local can absolutely be global as well.—Renee Nuevo
Leader, lead vocalist, lead rapper
"What if?" They're two small words that, when combined, could stir up big feelings of regret and questioning decisions that can't be changed anymore. In the world of showbiz, it's a question you hope to never ask yourself. What if I said yes instead? What if I'd gone to that audition? What if I answered their callback? For 16-year-old Jhoanna, she's glad to be asking herself a question of a different sort. Rather that wonder about what if and what could have been, she asks, "What's next?"
For as long as Jhoanna can remember, she's always been guided by an inner light, an intuitive compass of sorts that spins and spins then points her north when she needs guidance the most. Take that time she auditioned for a singing contest for the first time in her life as a third-grader. Neither her mom nor dad knew, and the only time they learned about these goings-on was when she had made considerable progress. Imagine their shock, too, when they realized their little girl had a knack for the performing arts; no one in her family has ever been musically inclined.
A few years more would pass after that until she would become a junior broadcaster from sixth to tenth grade and an extra in hit teleserye Kadening Ginto. Eventually, she would find herself in line for Star Hunt Academy's nationwide auditions. "Kami po kasi ni mommy, nagdadalawang-isip pa before kasi si daddy, ayaw niya po talaga sa mga auditions na ganyan. Nagaalala siya kasi baka mapabayaan 'yung pag-aaral. Pero may feeling na, 'Ma, malay mo, baka makapasok ako,'" she smiles.
As the teenage leader of the eight-member P-Pop group BINI, it's safe to say that her decision to push through with this audition and the events that followed are nothing but history these days—baby steps towards what's sure to be a colorful career as a multi-talented performer.
Jhoanna is in such disbelief that two years have flown by since she started training, and that she and her co-BINI members have officially made their debut. Jhoanna's memories of training from 2019 to 2021 bring a look of accomplishment to her face. In preparation for their debut, they spent much of last year's quarantine under the strict supervision of their coaches virtually. Not only was she there to learn techniques and stage presence, but the values of discipline, focus, and a "no pain, no gain" attitude to success. She did all this, while all the while trying to balance training, performing, and studying.
Her growth as a person is what she considers her greatest accomplishment to date, next to the fact that she bested thousands of other P-Pop hopefuls to become an official BINI member. "Naging decisive ako from before na sobrang mahiyain. Na-feel ko na nag-improve ako sa ugali. Naging decisive ako and mas lumawak 'yung tingin ko. Mas naging independent ako," Jhoanna tells us.
Performing with purpose—that's what Jhoanna believes a group like BINI stands for. She and her co-BINI members represent the modern Filipina after all, the next gen of women the youth today look up to. "Gusto po namin mapakita lalo na sa youth, na lahat po ng mga pine-perform namin, lahat po ng ire-release namin na songs, may meaning po. Hindi lang siya basta kanta. May meaning talaga sila, lalo na 'yung 'Born to Win.' We want to empower women," she ends.—Sara de los Reyes
Youth blesses the young with many good things, like time, lots of space to dream, but definitely resilience and optimism, too. When you're young, failure is but a passing wave; it may knock you down, but the next that follows might very well take you to new depths, to the heart of the ocean where true treasures lie.
Sheena, one of BINI's youngest members, is the embodiment of this. "I actually started sa Pinoy Big Brother. Naging official housemate ako ni Kuya in 2019," she recalls, perkily. Her sunny recollections of the time suggest that she made it, and her showbiz career was kickstarted by the primetime reality show. But the realest thing from this experience was that she was cut from the roster of PBB housemates almost as soon as the show started. She was an early evictee, and while that might be incredibly discouraging for anyone else, that's the whole point; Sheena is not like everyone else.
"In just two days [after that], pumasok na ako to train sa Star Hunt Academy," she beams. "Without that [hindi ko madi-discover] that I actually have the talent for singing... 'Pag tinatanong ako [about] what my greatest achievement is, 'pag feeling ko winner ako, lagi ko pong sinasabi eh ang pagiging BINI member. The day na sinabihan kami na we're an official eight-member group, na our group will be called BINI, for me 'yun po talaga. I felt like a winner. My dreams are finally coming true," Sheena says with a sparkle in her eyes.
What Sheena is most thankful for after their non-stop training isn't just the chance to up her skills; her heart sings at the idea that she found family among seven other girls, all of whom come from different places in the Philippines, hoping to bring something new to the music scene. "They make me feel like I have a family, that I don't have seven ates, but seven mothers. Literal, they treat me like a baby. Sobrang thankful ako dahil hindi lang po siya, 'Oh they're a dance group, they're a singing group.' No. We're a family," she points out.
This connection that they've established is what Sheena considers one of BINI's greatest strengths. A group like theirs can't succeed on killer singing, dancing, and rapping prowess alone; fans want to see them as a united front, where members genuinely care for each other and create palpable chemistry on and off stage. Ultimately, Sheena's mission as a BINI member is to show to the world that P-Pop is deserving of attention with its own flavor of performances. Though it may be inspired by the K-Pop stars that laid the groundwork for Asian music to be appreciated more by a global audience, for her, P-Pop is by no means just an imitation of its East Asian cousin.
"It feels unreal na kasama na ako sa isang P-Pop group, kasi bata pa lang ako, fan na po ako ng K-Pop. Talagang hilig ko na 'yung mag-perform... It feels so good to be part of a P-Pop group, lalo na ng BINI. Kami pong BINI, talagang pinapakita po namin through our music ang pagiging Filipino po namin. Nandito pa rin po 'yung Filipino blood," Sheena shares.
Now that they've finally debuted, Sheena has high hopes of becoming a role model for all the little girls, teenagers, and young women who come across their music. She says, "We want to influence the youth and we want them to be strong. We want them to be confident, too."—Sara de los Reyes
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