BINI: A Phenomenal Year With The Nation’s P-Pop Girl Group
BINI not only represents P-Pop but also the young, modern Filipinas who were born to win. In this exclusive, we celebrate the group's achievements so far, as it marks its first anniversary in the industry
BINI, just like the group’s debut single, is born to win—win the hearts of adoring fans and music lovers worldwide!
Dreamy visuals, honey vocals, alluring appeal, electric stage presence, and endless charm—the girls of BINI (Jhoanna Robles, Aiah Arceta, Colet Vergara, Maloi Ricalde, Gwen Apuli, Stacey Sevilleja, Mikha Lim, and Sheena Catacutan) have ’em all!
Marking a year since their official debut on June 11, 2021, the ladies or the “binibinis” of BINI have made remarkable achievements that made Blooms, their fandom, certainly so proud. The ladies have come so far from their early days as Star Hunt Academy (SHA) trainees from 2018 to 2020.
In just a year alone, the group was able to release their debut album Born to Win, showcase hit songs like the title track “Born To Win” and “Na Na Na.” They even wowed with their performances onstage via their sibling group concert that’s streamed worldwide with BGYO called “One Dream: The BINI & BGYO Concert” and their participation on music festivals notably on 1MX Dubai and the PPOP CON.
Last year, BINI was the MTV Asia Spotlight Artist for October and November. The ladies also won Best Female Group at the Saludo Excellence Awards2021, “an award-giving body focusing on the good works of individuals and organizations that aim to help the community grow and foster especially during hard times.”
BINI on the cover of Metro | On Sheena: Black T-shirt by Chanel, green biker jacket by Blackcode Manila, and sneakers by Off-White | On Jhoanna: Denim dress by Blackcode Manila | On Aiah: Black dress by LA Glamour Queen and black boots by Off-White | On Colet: Green T-shirt by COMME des GARÇONS, gray suit by Blackcode Manila, printed socks by Vetements, and black heels by YSL | On Gwen: Green top and snakeskin pants by H&M | On Maloi: Red jacket by Off-White, pink pants by Versace, studded button-down by H&M, and black boots by Zara | On Stacey: Black jacket by H&M, dark blue pants by Versace, and tulle dress by Blackcode Manila | On Mikha: Navy blue sweater by Off-White, black lace dress by Blackcode Manila, and silver boots by Nereku | Photography by Rxandy Capinpin
Just recently, BINI was featured on iconic and international magazine Rolling Stone and was named as one of Spotify RADAR’s rising global artists. BINI made it to the list as one of the emerging artists who bring “a little something for everyone, whether you need hope or healing” through the upbeat special summer single “Pit A Pat.” As one of Spotify’s “new artists on the horizon,” BINI was also featured on a massive digital billboard at the New York Times Square.
As if that’s not enough, BINI is also set to conquer the moon—nah, just kidding but really—by joining fellow artists Moira dela Torre, Angela Ken, and BGYO in preserving some of their songs through The Lunar Codex time capsules that will be launched to the Moon in 2023. Like any other time capsule, it is meant to preserve contemporary works for future reference and for future generations to discover.
On Aiah: White dress by LA Glamour Queen | On Sheena: Black dress by Giambattista | On Stacey: Black bodysuit by LA Glamour Queen and black leather skirt by The House of Vilrique | On Gwen: Black suit dress by ZyrillJaneCollection | On Maloi: White suit dress by LA Glamour Queen | On Mikha: Black corset gown by Andrea Mari Atelier | On Jhoanna: White coat by ZyrillJaneCollection | On Colet: Embellished coat by Blackcode Manila | Photography by Rxandy Capinpin
Now dubbed as the “Nation’s Girl Group,” BINI also just released a new single titled “Lagi” last June 24, and quickly charted atop the iTunes Philippines chart and was trending on YouTube music. The colorful pop song, with an equally vibrant music video, which “highlights all the magical and exciting feelings that the presence of a new lover brings to one’s life.” It was written and composed by Louie Canaria and arranged by Ramiru Mataro, with vocal production by ABS-CBN Music creative director Jonathan Manalo.
BINI is currently booked and busy preparing for upcoming major shows such as TUGATOG: The Filipino Music Festival 2022, happening on July 15, 2022 at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena, and the BE YOU: The World Will Adjust Benefit Concert on July 22, 2022 at MOA Arena and will be performing with BGYO, Lady Pipay and no less than K-pop superstars Red Velvet.
In this exclusive, the beautiful, bold and brave dream-chasers BINI members Jhoanna Robles, Aiah Arceta, Colet Vergara, Maloi Ricalde, Gwen Apuli, Stacey Sevilleja, Mikha Lim, and Sheena Catacutan share what it’s like to debut and how life have been since they were officially introduced as P-Pop power sweethearts.
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"The Nation's Girl Group"
"The Nation's Girl Group"
By Metro.StyleAugust 06 2022, 3:32 AM
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BINI leader Jhoanna Robles remains incredulous at the way the year passed by for her and the rest of the group. She actually felt and recognized the difference from when they officially debuted amid the strictest lockdowns of the pandemic versus how it is these days.
“Ibang-iba pero ngayon sunod-sunod [ang projects]. Kung ano po iyong itinagal ng tengga namin last year, ngayon po siya bumabawi at halos wala na kaming rest day sa sobrang dami po ng projects,” Jhoanna explains, adding that even if things are busy and tiring, she felt that these are blessings to be thankful for. She looks at their first official year as BINI as something to be happy about as she marks milestones by the concert venues they have performed in.
“Wala pa kaming one year pero nakapag-perform na kami sa Dubai at sa halos lahat ng arena—PhilSports Stadium, MOA Arena, Araneta na naka-third time tapos meron pa ulit. Sa one year, marami ring nangyari like endorsements,” she smiles.
White coat by ZyrillJaneCollection
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The leader of the group also shared how their relationship with one another changed since their trainee days and debut.
“Noong trainees pa kami, marami pa kami like mga 12 so may magkakagrupo, may away din. Pero better na maagang age kami nag-umpisa kasi sabay-sabay kaming nag-mature,” she begins, noting that she was only 15 during training and now most of them are between the ages of 18 and 21.
“Kahit papaano nakatulong po iyong pandemic and lockdown na nasa iisang bahay kami and ginamit namin] [angtime na iyon to practice and hindi po kami nakakauwi kaya mas naging close po kami,” Jhoanna says, adding that it was also during that time that she and the girls found hobbies and interests to bond over like painting, watching crime documentaries and even having newfound love for stray cats.
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In terms of personal growth, Jhoanna reflects that she has been attending workshops on singing, dancing, and acting at a young age. So, it was more of her mindset and dreams that changed when she became a part of BINI.
“Gusto ko pong mag-artista talaga pero hindi ko naman in-expect na dito ako sa performing madadala. Ito iyong biglang nangyari sa akin na ayaw ko nang bitawan,” she smiles.
Their journey as BINI led them to Blooms, the BINI fandom, and for her, having them is one of the best things in life. One of the most touching compliments for her is how they are perceived by fans and the public.
“Iyong more than the talents namin, personality daw ang mamahalin ng tao sa amin. Feeling ko kasi ang mga tao ang tingin, kapag idol dapat perfect ka. Pero hindi eh. Kung ano lang totoong ugali mo, [ipakita] like funny ka, kalog ka para relatable ka rin at hindi nai-intimidate [ang] supporters mo sa iyo,” she shares.
Denim dress by Blackcode Manila
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Jhoanna considers interacting with fans one of her favorites and she has a particular moment in mind that felt special for her and the girls. They were shooting content at Session Road in Baguio when one girl randomly ran into them and started crying.
“Hindi sya nagsasalita tapos s’yempre kami nagpa-panic na akala namin kung ano’ng nangyayari. Iyon pala Bloom siya. Bumili lang po siya ng school supplies, pauwi na po siya tapos nakita niya kami kaya umiyak na siya. Nanginginig po siya sa iyak. Nakita namin siya ulit (in another event) at nakausap namin nang kalmado,” she smiles, beaming with pride and fondness.
For Jhoanna, finding Blooms in unexpected places especially at the countryside and hearing them sing along to their songs at concerts are truly special and unforgettable for a group that just celebrated their first anniversary in the industry.
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There is no perfect word to encapsulate how grateful BINI main rapper Aiah Arceta is for the past year since their debut. She can only wish the projects would keep coming and “hoping it doesn’t stop because we’re enjoying it.”
In less than a year, Aiah is proud of their remarkable milestones as a group such as having their first-ever live performance with a live audience in Dubai.
“That was the first time we all went to a different country together and our experience in Dubai was very [fun] because not only did we get to do work there, we also got to bond with each other, like riding ATV and going to malls,” she shares.
White coat by LA Glamour Queen, black leather top and skirt with fringe by Blackode Manila
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What they have now as BINI is a far cry from their trainee days.
“When we’re all housed together, it was really hard—honest. No sugarcoating. We had a lot of fights and I think that’s very normal to be in a group, especially us kasi iba-iba and we’re all from different parts of the Philippines, iba-iba ang upbringing and culture. Sometimes hindi kami nagkakaintindihan but the advantage of being housed together is we get to know more about each other 24/7. We’ve gotten so much closer right now. Lahat ng secrets namin, alam na namin. Our relationship is like we’re sisters, really like a family,” Aiah explains.
When Aiah thinks of her own growth, she remembers feeling like she had nothing to offer to the team.
“I started out with nothing. I didn’t know how to sing, rap, or dance. I started from scratch so I really want to focus on improving. I thought I’d come here and do modeling, pageantry and the field I was from before was really far from what I’m doing now. At first, it was really frustrating… I really learned a lot not just skills-wise but also sa mga values. Me being here, I feel like I’m a winner that I get to learn a lot. Whatever path that I go for in life, iyong marami pa po akong matutunan sana,” Aiah reflects.
Black heels by Versace
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She also feels the most touching compliment she received isn’t in the way of words but when she unexpectedly encountered an airline staff member who recognized her while checking in for her flight back home.
“The person who checks in the bags, napansin niya ako kahit naka-mask at naka-cap. Na-touch ako kasi kahit tahimik lang ako, sabi niya ‘Hala. Are you Aiah from Bini?’ ‘Opo? Paano po ninyo nalaman?’ ‘Well, sikat po kayo.’ Sabi ko, ‘Waa, hindi nga?’ To think na we’re still starting,” Aiah narrates, feeling incredibly touched that they’re slowly being recognized in random places.
Black dress by LA Glamour Queen and black boots by Off-White
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Aiah treasures all moments with Blooms, citing a favorite moment with a fan that never really left her mind.
“Iyong hindi ko makakalimutan sa effort is iyong sa Dubai. This particular fan, she’s from the U.S. and pumunta siya sa Dubai just to watch the concert. Then after the concert, she went back to the U.S. Same sa PPOP CON, pumunta siya from U.S. Just watched it then bumalik na ulit. Nakaka-amaze to think iyong effort niya. Hindi pa namin siya nami-meet pero nakikita namin kasi shine-share sa amin,” she says, in awe of the fan’s support for BINI.
“Ganoon pala ka-big deal din pala sa kanila iyong concert. Nakaka-motivate tuloy,” Aiah concludes, determined to give her best to Blooms.
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BINI Colet Vergara, main vocalist and lead dancer/lead rapper, reflects on the rollercoaster ride of emotions on their journey as a group. From the uncertainty brought about by the pandemic and ABS-CBN franchise renewal issue, just making it to the official BINI debut is a huge milestone for Colet.
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Colet also sensed the changes they’ve gone through in their relationship as a group.
“Since nag-debut po kami, nabago po ’yung group na mas nagkakaintindihan po kami. Kilala na po namin ’yung isa’t-isa, kung paano po namin i-handle or alam po namin kung wala po sa mood or pagod po ’yung tao. Alam na po namin kung paano po i-approach, kung paano po kakausapin in a way na hindi mamasamain ng tao. May mga tampuhan din po kami lalo po nasa iisang bahay po kami at three years na po kaming magkakasama,” she candidly shares.
Among the members, Colet thinks she’s the one who experienced growth the most in terms of attitude and personality.
“Feeling ko po sa lahat po ng girls, ako po ’yung nag-grow talaga. Sobrang mahiyain po talaga ako. Taga-probinsya po kasi ako, taga-Bohol so sobrang conservative po ako manamit at sobrang conservative po ng family ko. Noong nag-training po ako dito sa Manila, lumabas po ako sa comfort zone ko,” she explains.
Embellished coat by Blackcode Manila, gold leather pants by H&M x Moschino, and black boots by H&M
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As the BINI ladies got more confident and more experienced in their lives as artists, it’s inevitable that they would receive feedback from fans and supporters—even bashers to an extent. But it’s in focusing on the compliments that help strengthen her as an artist. Thankfully, Colet finds one she feels so touching.
“Kapag sinasabihan po kaming girls na hindi po kami nagli-lip sync. Kasi feeling ko po as a singer po na lumaki talaga na kumakanta, hindi ko po matanggap kapag sinabihan po ako na lip sync kapag nagpe-perform. Kapag na-a-appreciate po talaga nila na kumakanta kami, malaking bagay po ’yun,” she says, beaming.
reen T-shirt by COMME des GARÇONS, gray suit by Blackcode Manila, printed socks by Vetements, and black heels by YSL
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It is moments with fans that strengthen Colet’s resolve to do her best. Her favorite encounters with fans involve the ones who never gave up on them even during their tough times before debut.
“[Favorite ko iyong] lagi po nila kaming pinupuntahan. Iyong mga OG po talaga. Kahit noong mga training days, inaabangan po nila kami hanggang mag-debut po kami. Kilala po namin sila, mga friends po namin sila, at parang hindi po namin sila tini-treat na fans,” she ends, thankful for the Blooms who are ready to stick with them through thick and thin.
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One of the standout things you’ll notice about BINI Maloi Ricalde, the group’s main vocalist, is how kalog or how much of a jokester she is whenever she’s with the members. It’s as if the sounds of laughter would follow her around.
Despite her cheerful countenance, Maloi has some serious thoughts about how her life has changed since her debut.
“Hindi ko po ma-explain talaga or put into words kung paano nabago ng BINI ’yung buhay ko. Hindi lang ’yung buhay ko, pati ’yung perspective ko sa buhay, kung paano ko tingnan ’yung iba’t-ibang bagay and kung paano ako mag-isip at mag-desisyon sa mga bagay. Dati normal lang naman na tao ako at walang nakakakilala, ngayon parang lahat ng galaw ko nagma-matter na. So masaya ’yun kasi nare-recognize ka na ng mga tao. May sense of validation na okay pala 'yung ginagawa ko. Pero at the same time, kailangan mo rin i-watch out [ang] mga ginagawa mo kasi hindi lang siya magre-reflect sa akin, kundi sa grupo ko pati sa family ko at management,” she says, clearly overwhelmed by their achievements so far.
White suit dress by LA Glamour Queen
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Maloi can say the same with the BINI members’ relationship as a group, too. She shares how they weren’t that close at first because of their diverse and different backgrounds and beliefs, but that has dramatically changed now.
“Talagang sobrang laking adjustment po sa isa’t-isa. Ngayon po na halos isang taon na kaming debut at halos three years na po kaming magkakasama, sobrang strong na po ng bond. Mas nakilala na po namin ’yung isa’t-isa... Kung may masasabi ko po na may honest pa sa honest, kami po ’yung BINI, wala po kaming filter sa isa’t-isa,” she shares. Apart from this, they also found time to enjoy common interests like watching movies and exchanging stories.
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She also got introspective and shared her thoughts on her particular growth as a person and as an artist.
“Sobrang dami po talagang nagbago sa akin. Naiba po talaga ’yung perspective ko, hindi na po ako happy-go-lucky. Ngayon, mas tumitingin na ako sa bigger picture, mas tinitingnan ko na ang good side,” Maloi thinks.
“Sa talent naman po, nakita ko din ’yung growth ko. Hindi ko alam kung ano ’yung kaya ko pero ngayon nakaka-reach na po ako ng high notes, isa na po ako sa members na responsible sa high notes,” she adds.
The first year since their debut has been pretty remarkable for BINI. And for Maloi, just like the other members, she considers their live performance in Dubai and a fashion shoot with a well-known designer two of the highlights of their debut year.
ed jacket by Off-White, pink pants by Versace, and studded button-down by H&M
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“The fact that we’re representing the Philippines, sobrang laking bagay po. And I think po, ’yung debut din po na nakipag-collab po sa amin si Francis Libiran,” she smiles.
But it’s only the beginning. Maloi is gearing up for a BINI comeback anytime soon, and she intends to give her best not just for her fellow members but most especially for Blooms.
“We’re spending our whole day po sa studio. Ako po wino-work out ko po ’yung sa voice ko, gusto ko po maging prepared para ma-pull off ko po ’yung mga parts ko. Ayoko po talagang nagse-settle for less. Kahit everytime, chill lang ’yung song, gusto ko may impact pa rin,” Maloi declares, optimistic and also excited for the future.
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She may appear assured and self-confident but BINI lead vocalist and lead rapper Gwen Apuli is still navigating life since their group’s debut a year ago.
“Sobrang busy kami lately [pero] sobrang blessed. Una, nangangapa po kami [noon] since pandemic, wala po kaming masyadong ganap pero ngayon naninibago kami almost everyday busy. Dati puro training at sa loob lang ng bahay,” she observes.
Time flew so fast but there are highlights that remain etched on her mind and this includes their work in Dubai.
“Nakapag-ibang bansa kami sa Dubai for a concert. Ever since nagsisimula iyon na ang dream namin. Iyong photo shoot din namin sa Dubai. I love modeling. Kasi sa ibang bansa din sya so sobrang big deal tapos nasa disyerto kami, high fashion. First time naming maka-experience ng ganu’ng look—sobrang fierce parang ibang kami ’yung nandoon,” Gwen excitedly shares.
Black suit dress by ZyrillJaneCollection
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Looking back on their relationship as members of BINI, Gwen emphasized their growth and transformation as a group.
“Halos lahat ng circumstances kami kami ang magkakasama tapos pare-pareho kami ng problema kasi iisang career kami. Doon sa mga pinagdaanan namin, doon kami naging strong at sobrang naging close. Buong buhay namin ang isa’t-isa at kilalang-kilala na namin. Para na kaming magkakapatid na talaga,” she says.
Just as BINI has experienced growth, so did Gwen.
“Sa maturity and pagiging independent. Of course, kasama ko sila pero iyong pagiging independent po na hiwalay sa family since sobrang layo sa Bicol. Na-improve ko iyong pakikisama kasi iba-iba kami ng pinanggalingan at naging disciplined pa dahil sa training. Sobrang hirap. Pero ngayon, we choose to continue this path,” Gwen explains.
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In terms of skills, she may have a start at singing because she previously sang at school and many other events but dancing is her kryptonite.
“Hindi po talaga ako sumasayaw. Isa siya sa frustrations ko noon kasi hindi ako marunong sumabay sa kanila eh na-pressure ako kasi lahat sila sumasayaw. Through training po, nahasa talaga. Actually, hindi ako makapaniwala na aabot ako sa ganitong point ng pagsasayaw. Nadadala po talaga siya sa training. May chance pala ako at mga tulad ko na hindi marunong,” she laughs.
Because of her improvement in dancing, she received the most touching compliment from no less than their mentor Direk Lauren Dyogi.
“Sabi niya, ‘Sabi mo dati hindi mo kaya? Pero ngayon nakakapagsayaw ka na.’ Iba iyong dating sa akin kasi nag-quit ako dati. From quitting, ayun ang feedback for me. Na-push ako talaga,” she fondly remembers.
Green top and snakeskin pants by H&M
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Apart from compliments and encouragement, the Blooms keep her going and remembers PPOP CON as an event that truly made an impression on her and of how their fandom is growing, too.
“Pumunta kami sa convention na ’di namin ine-expect na ganon karami ang mag-aabang sa amin kasi pandemic pa po. Noon, ’yung mga fans, saulo pa namin mga pangalan nila eh. Ganon na pala karami iyong Blooms,” she smiles.
What a rollercoaster ride their debut year was, and Gwen is proud of all its highlights and continues to dream for more achievements.
“Dream ko makapag-concert pa po kami sa maraming bansa. Nilu-look forward namin iyon. At sana sa ibang part of the Philippines at sa provinces. Makapag-event [sana kami sa] kanya-kanyang [home] provinces,” Gwen ends, hoping to connect more to their fans and to make a homecoming that will make the respective members’ hometowns proud.
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BINI Stacey Sevilleja, main rapper and lead dancer, is still in awe of how their group debut transformed their lives forever.
“Since nag-debut po kami, sobrang dami po talagang pagbabago. Sobrang laking adjustments po talaga sa amin kasi simple girls lang po talaga kami with big dreams. Promdi girls po talaga kaming lahat tapos biglang nagiging marami na po kaming opportunities, marami na pong blessings,” Stacey begins.
These “promdi” girls started out as strangers who didn’t have a lot of things in common before. The pandemic provided the opportunity for the members to get to know one another better.
“Mas naging close po talaga ’yung samahan namin at mas naging matibay po kami kasi lalo na pandemic po. Noong nag-debut po kami, iyon po talaga ’yung wala nang uwian sa bahay. Kami-kami na lang po nakikita namin everyday. Kapag may labas kami sa isang araw, p’wede bang ’wag muna tayong magsama at mag-iba’t-ibang dimension muna tayo?” Stacey laughs.
lack bodysuit by LA Glamour Queen and black leather skirt by The House of Vilrique
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“Pero very happy po kaming mga girls kasi, like me and Jhoanna, only child lang po kami so binigyan po ako ni Lord ng instant sisters,” she continues, thankful for the BINI friendship and sisterhood.
She feels that their growth may have been obvious when it comes to their skills but it’s in how they handle differences that she felt they’ve grown the most.
“Sa sobrang dami na naming pinagsamahan kapag may mga away po kami, hindi po talaga namin siya papatagalin pa. Inaayos na po namin siya that day. Kasi mahirap po talaga mag-work na hindi magkasundo the next day and sa mga susunod na weeks. As much as possible, inaayos po namin talaga kasi gusto po namin maging professional sa work,” she explains.
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Sharing their milestones last year as a group, Stacey couldn’t help but feel proud of BINI.
“Pinaka-highlight po namin ’yung nakapunta po kami sa Dubai to perform. Iyon po ’yung pinaka-unang performance namin na may live audience and super laki ng crowd. Hindi pa po kami masyadong kilala ng mga tao doon pero super thankful pa rin po kami na may mga Blooms po from Dubai.”
Stacey looks forward to a number of BINI projects including recording and writing songs for a comeback album the group has been working on and a concert with Red Velvet (Be You: The World Will Adjust Benefit Concert), where they’re one of the opening acts.
“Tanda ko po dati, trainees pa po kami, nanood po kami ng concert ng Red Velvet. And before po, noong nasa Korean training pa po kami, puro Red Velvet po pinapanood namin. Kapag may evaluations po, Red Velvet lagi sinasayaw namin. Sobrang bait po talaga ni Papa God!” she beams in disbelief at this amazing project.
Black jacket by H&M, dark blue pants by Versace, and tulle dress by Blackcode Manila
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Through it all, Stacey is mostly touched by compliments that are rooted in how they handle their current success.
“For me, ’yung pinakanakaka-touch po talaga is ’yung tinatawag po kaming humble. Itinatatak po namin sa utak namin sa kahit gaano pa kalayo marating namin, kaht gaano karami na projects, dapat lagi po kami maging humble talaga. Dapat lagi kaming may right attitude,” she explains.
While they’re already working on big projects, Stacey still has many dreams for herself and for the group.
“Ako po talaga, sa sarili ko po, ang gusto ko po maging actress. For BINI naman po, gusto ko po maka-travel kami around the world at lalong-lalo na po dito sa Pilipinas. Gusto po namin ipakilala ang talent ng modern Filipina,” she says, emphasizing the mission they’ve always set out to do individually and as a group.
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Things are looking up for BINI. And for a group that had it tough in the beginning, Mikha Lim, the group’s main rapper and lead dancer, can only be so thankful for the way things turned out in a year since their debut.
“It has been tough because we debuted in the middle of the pandemic. Just grateful now kasi we’re growing as a group and we’re finally taking steps closer to the international scene. It makes me grateful kasi nakikita ko na iyong hard work namin—it’s starting to pay off. It has been more hectic but it’s a blessing kasi we meet a lot of people, we get to share our talent and our music with Filipinos,” Mikha begins.
Like the other BINI members, their first-ever concert with a live audience in Dubai and local concerts One Dream and PPOP CON made an impression on her.
“Kahit hindi pa po kami masyadong kilala ng mga tao sa Dubai, [ang] mga Filipinos grabe silang sumigaw. Nung PPOP concert and also ‘One Dream,’ it’s unbelievable po na nakarating kami sa ganung points in life. We’re very thankful for the support to us and for our families who made it happen,” she smiles.
Black corset gown by Andrea Mari Atelier
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She feels emotional when she looks back on their journey as a group.
“At first, it wasn’t easy to adjust, kasi iyong lineup namin ngayon was very different from when we started. From 14 girls then, pabawas nang pabawas. It was competitive and nerve-wracking and we didn’t know if this was for us but in the end, we were chosen as 8. Umiyak po kami talaga nu’ng sa final lineup,” she recalls.
The experience changed Mikha a lot not just in terms of what she can do now but also in mindset.
“I can say I’ve really changed a lot. I really set my mind straight on the goal and to improve with my members and to also to spread the word of P-Pop. To normalize it. Unlike in K-Pop, it’s normal there but in the Philippines, it’s not. It’s new but we’re getting there, we just have to keep pushing,” Mikha says, her passion in advancing P-Pop was evident.
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The Mikha then is also completely different from the Mikha that people know now.
“I actually struggled so much in dancing and singing—sa dance lalo! Whenever I would try to memorize steps, I was so bad at it. I was so stiff. I just had to trust the process, trust my coach, trust my co-trainees and now, I’m very comfortable dancing,” she smiles with relief. She adds that she gets so touched when she’s being complimented on dancing and she finds that so encouraging.
Apart from being a BINI member, Mikha also ventured into acting and was cast in the hit rom-com series He’s Into Her Season 2. She plays Elle, the sister of Belle Mariano’s character Maxpein.
“It was a new experience to me. I was very excited and I had so much fun. The people were amazing—the directors and the cast members. I really love acting. I would want to pursue it but at the same time I’d still want to focus on the group,” she happily shares.
Navy blue sweater by Off-White, black lace dress by Blackcode Manila, and silver boots by Nereku
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Given their successful debut year, Mikha gives back this great year to their fans, the Blooms. She even shared her favorite moment with them.
“When we haven’t debuted yet, there were Blooms who visited us outside ABS-CBN and we didn’t know if we were allowed to see them or not but then we really wanted to. Then we turned the van around. I was jumping up and down kasi I was happy to see them. They were shocked because usually sa KUMU lives, I’m just chill but then I had high energy with them,” she laughs.
She’s excited to showcase their next chapter as BINI, teasing fans by saying: “It’s much more mature. The variety, it’s very versatile, very new and international.”
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She may be the baby and the youngest BINI member, but Sheena Catacutan, main dancer, is one tough cookie. Her trainee days weren't just tough because of all the work, but she also had personal challenges to overcome. Thankfully, her beautiful moments with BINI a year after their debut is contributing to her bank of happy memories.
Sheena feels that the Dubai trip is one of their career highlights because of the live audience in the concert. It was also her first trip ever outside of the country and her first time to travel and perform abroad with the rest of BINI.
“Grabe iyong journey namin to debut! Nagka-COVID kaya andaming na-move. Pero it’s worth the wait. Bawing-bawi ngayon,” she exclaims.
Sheena is proud of how much they have accomplished as a group in just one year.
“Wala pa kaming one year noon pero antagal na naming nalabas sa social media so alam nga mga tao na hindi lang kami inilabas dahil need lang. Nag-training talaga kami,” Sheena beams.
Black dress by Giambattista
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She also loves how she keeps growing with her BINI sisters.
“I’m lucky na may mga ate ako pero ngayon po talaga wala akong mahanap na word na describes more than family. Hindi lang namin title iyong siblings group, talaga pong iyon ang turingan namin. Iyong iba nga po turing ko nanay na eh. Ganoon po sila kaalaga sa akin kasi bunso—like the baby,” she smiles, fond of the other BINI members.
A look back on their trainee days made her feel sentimental, too.
“Ang laki ng group namin noong trainees, grupo-grupo parang sa school kasi hindi pa siya as one. Ngayon, we got closer—super po. Feeling namin kapag may kulang na isa, super incomplete pero isa lang naman iyong wala,” she reveals.
As for her personal growth, it’s been an emotional rollercoaster ride for her even before the BINI debut. Before moving to Manila to pursue an entertainment career, Sheena described herself as happy-go-lucky, living a life without family problems nor any issues with friendships and relationships with other people.
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“Pero ngayon po, andami po kasing nangyari in three years… Sobrang na-test po iyong mental health ko,” she says.
Her mom fell into a coma and unfortunately passed away during the strictest days of lockdown amid the pandemic. Because she was a minor then, her travels were restricted, leaving her unable to go home and be there for the wake. The tough training also challenged her a lot from learning to adjust with new people, new environment and the discipline she had to muster to be a pop star.
“Nakaka-depress. Ngayon, mas nakakaya ko na. Mas naging solid na kami [as a group]. Hindi ako open dati kasi natatakot ako na baka i-judge nila na dahil nga nag-o-overthink or OA ako, pero ngayon super open at nag-iba ang tingin ko sa mundo,” Sheena shares.
Black T-shirt by Chanel and green biker jacket by Blackcode Manila
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Thankfully, the fans are aware of what this young lady has been through and gives her the most touching compliments for being tough.
“Mostly sa socmed [social media] na ‘You’re the strongest girl I’ve known and we look up to.’ Nakaka-touch siya. I don’t think of myself as that strong, I think of myself as a baby girl,” she smiles, almost teary-eyed.
It’s the BINI’s relationship with Blooms that she really treasures, so much so that there are encounters that will always be embedded in her heart and mind.
“May mga pumunta pong Blooms sa labas ng ABS-CBN at nag-pray kaming lahat. Ipinag-pray kaming girls for safe flight and concert sa Dubai. Some people from Mindanao flew pa. Hindi po kami dapat bababa pero ang bigat sa loob na hindi kami bababa for them eh nag-fly pa iyong iba. Umikot [iyong van] para mag-thank you kami at mag-picture… Ang lambot ng puso ng BINI for fans,” she concludes, grateful and appreciative for all the blessings and the support BINI has been showered with.
White sneakers by Off-White
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This special cover with Metro not only celebrates their first anniversary in the industry, but is also part of the #MetroxStarMagic30 content series in collaboration with Star Magic and its 30th anniversary this year. A Family Affair lead actress and top YouTube content creator Ivana Alawi was the first cover girl to be unveiled under this series. BINI's sibling group, BGYO, is also a part of this series.
Check out the music video of BINI's latest single, "Lagi," below:
Photography by Rxandy Capinpin
Creative direction by Chookie Cruz
Sittings editors: Geolette Esguerra, Red Dimaandal, and Grace Libero-Cruz
Makeup by Carell Garcia and Julius Cabanisas
Hairstyling by Jan Edrosolan, Cristine Benoman, and Dale Mallari
Visual direction and styling by Ica Villanueva
Styling associate: Francis Torres
Photography assistant: Joe Andy
Videography by Kyle Espiritu
Shot on location at Balara Content House
Special thanks to Star Magic, MQ Mallari, Jovy Aberion, and Lauren Dyogi