This is part of a series of profiles on a new generation of leaders, thinkers, creators, innovators, and trailblazers across many fields in the country. The list is drawn under the theme “What’s Now, What’s New, What’s Next” in celebration of Manila Bulletin’s 121st anniversary as an exponent of Philippine progress.
Ben&Ben: Saviors of OPM?
Who would’ve thought Ben & Ben would hit stratospheric heights and so soon?
Formed in 2015 by twins Paolo Benjamin and Miguel Benjamin Guico, the group immediately captured the attention of local music aficionados starting with “Tinatangi,” which won 2nd runner-up honors and Best Music Video at the 2016 PhilPop Music Festival.They formally changed their name to Ben& Ben and signed with Warner Music Philippines right after.It was then that the duo proved themselves adroit songwriters, going on to release several successful singles in succession.
These include “Susi,” “Bibingka,” “Ride Home,” “Leaves,” and, of course, the massive “Kathang Isip.”The consistent hits gave the group a loyal fan base and it helped them carve more hits in “Araw-Araw,” “Paalam,” “Pagtingin,” among many others.
Soon, they were making soundtracks for TV and movies.The group has expanded to include several new members: Poch Barreto, electric guitar; Jam Villanueva, drums; Agnes Reoma, bass; Patricia Lasaten, keyboards; Toni Muñoz and Andrew de Pano, percussions and back-up vocals; and Keifer Cabugao, violin.
So are they the new saviors of OPM?
Well, there’s nothing really unique or extraordinary about their songs. Most are love songs written in mellifluous if all–too sentimental manner and sprinkled with familiar guitar flourishes and hushed piano notes.
Ah, but that is exactly it.
While others would scoff at the “senti” slant, many of their lovelorn fans insist this is actually what makes the band special. Not that they’re not willing to go beyond that.Yes, the new tunes still carry the same familiar sound that made us all fall in love with them but they are obviously getting better. Songs like “Limasawa Street,” “Lucena” and “Roots” best exhibit this growth.
They are not afraid to leave the familiar to embrace the new.
But they’re wise enough not to totally turn their back on convention, releasing covers of “Make It With You” as with “Beautiful Girl.”
Mere merchant of ‘senti’ pop?
Ben&Ben is all that and more. (Neil Ramos)
RJ Ledesma: Actor, entrepreneur, host, writer
The word multi-talented is an understatement when we talk about actor-host RJ Ledesma, simply because those two professions are not the only thing that he’s good at. He is also a successful writer, entrepreneur and a multiple degree holder to name a few.
Looking back at his 30-plus-year career and impressive body of work, RJ is a professional when it comes to hosting weddings, anniversaries, debuts, awarding ceremonies, corporate and lifestyle events, product launches, conferences and forums, fund raisers, sales rallies, and social functions, among others.
RJ’s distinct brand of hosting includes a combination of wit, charm, humor, warmth, showmanship, class, and seamless transitions that keeps everyone engaged and informed at the same time.
He believes that on most occasions, wedding receptions are just as special as the formal ceremony itself.
It’s the time when the husband and wife present themselves as a married couple to their family and friends.
With RJ’s charisma and hosting prowess, everyone in attendance would surely have a great time and a memory of a lifetime whenever he’s upfront to make the special event better.
From being brand management department of Procter & Gamble Philippines, a Masters Degree in Real Estate Development in Massachusetts Institute of Technology, co-founding and running the country’s premier food expo in Mercato Centrale, serving as mentor entrepreneur at the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship (Go Negosyo), and hosting ANC’s Philippine Realty TV and Bloomberg TV Philippines’ show Bright Ideas, Rj is the man for the job and can easily clarify and tackle business concepts while facilitating meaningful discussions with everyone.
Rj made his mark in the local advertisement scene with “Ako at Royal, Natural!” series of commercials back in the 80s This would precede a successful career in television as a host, actor, humorist, and news
Among his television and film appearances were done in “Maalala Mo Kaya (MMK), “Bride for Rent,” “Magkaribal,” and “Magandang Umaga Bayan Weekends,” among others.
At the end of the day, all the success that he has are mere fruits of his hard work and passion to be the best, and by doing so he is also generous to everyone who is willing or in need of help to get motivated and have a different perspective when it comes to unlocking someone’s potential. (Neil Patrick Nepomuceno)
SB19: Rising to pop music stardom
They’re as Pinoy as adobo but are, to pop music fans, as hot as kimchi. We’re referring, of course, to SB19, the five-member boy group that is slowly but surely rising to popular music stardom with their unique blend of South Korean performing styles and innate Filipino musical prowess.
Composed of young and talented members Sejun, Josh, Stell, Ken, and Justin, each with interesting tele-serye worthy backgrounds and performing strengths, SB19 is the first Filipino group trained under ShowBT, which is part of the SBT Group of Companies of South Korea, which produces concerts, corporate events, and cultural events. Known to be all-around performers, these boys can sing and dance a wide variety of genres, compose their own music, and do their own choreography. Despite the differences in their respective talent specializations, they can perform seamlessly onstage and produce quality performances.
There’s an interesting story to the group’s name. The “SB” in SB19 stands for “Sound Break,” as they intended, early on, to break into the Philippine Music Scene with their fresh style and unique brand of music. “19” on the other hand, represents the difference between the South Korean area code (82) and the Philippines’ area code (63).
The product of mass auditions held as early as 2016, SB19 made its debut in October 2018 with “Tilaluha.” This was followed by the breakthrough single “Go Up,” in July 2019, which catapulted them to fame. The song allowed the quintet to gain public attention after they uploaded their dance practice video for the song on their YouTube channel, which became a viral sensation on Twitter and Facebook after it was shared on social media by a Filipino K-pop fan. Their first hit was then followed by “Wag Mong Ikunot ang ‘Yong Noo,” “Alab,” “Love Goes” and the most recent, “Hanggang sa Huli.”
In November 2019, SB19 became the first Filipino act to appear on the Billboard Next Big Sound chart. They also became the first Southeast Asian act to enter the Billboard Social 50, debuting at number 28 on the week of December 28, 2019, and ascending over the following months. In an article published by Forbes, it mentioned that “SB19 is the first group in the Philippines to succeed in localizing the K-Pop model partly because of their strategic use of social media, the main driver of their Billboard Social 50 chart achievements.” The group has already won several awards from various award-giving bodies such as Awit Awards, MYX Awards and Wish Music Awards, to name a few. (Joee Guilas)