UST welcomes freshmen with concert featuring P-pop group guests BGYO, Bini

Thousand new students of the University of Santo Tomas pass through the university's Arch of the Centuries during the Thomasian Welcome Walk on Aug. 5, 2023. (The STAR/Mong Pintolo)

Pinoy Pop (P-Pop) groups BGYO and BINI fired up freshmen students of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) at a concert on Saturday, August 5, welcoming them to the Academic Year 2023 to 2024.

During the university’s Thomasian Welcome Party, the first to be staged since the COVID-19 pandemic, around 2,700 first-year students flocked to the Quadricentennial Pavilion to witness the Pinoy Pop groups perform.

BGYO excited the crowd with their hit song “Tumigil Ang Mundo,” and BINI charmed the audience with “Na Na Na.”

In a press conference, BGYO members expressed their heartfelt gratitude for being invited to a university they have always looked up to.

“We are so grateful that we were invited to perform because this is one of the schools that we have been looking forward to, even before,” Gelo Rivera of BGYO said.

BINI also expressed enthusiasm to perform at UST, as many anticipated their guesting since the Paskuhan Festivities back in December.

“Hopefully, this will not be the last time we will perform here… Many people have been cheering for BINI and BGYO even during our rehearsals,” said BINI’s Jhoanna Robles.

BGYO and Bini’s performances during the Welcome Concert were livestreamed on UST Tiger TV’s Facebook page, which amassed around 37,000 viewers.

Keywords “BGYO AugUSTerrific DAY” and “BINI GOES TO USTE” quickly trended on X, formerly known as Twitter.

P-pop trademark

As the P-Pop genre continues to rise in the contemporary Philippine music scene, both groups hope to have their own “edge” to make new fans and be a cut above.

BGYO said their group’s “versatility” manifests not only during performances but on how they connect and communicate with their fans.

“The words we place in our lyrics are those we know will be relevant to the youth, especially to those like us who aspire to become artists,” BGYO’s JL Toreliza said.

“We also want to show our personality on stage, like being ‘makulit (playful),'” BGYO’s Akira Morishita added.

For BINI, the group said they adjust their performance setlists depending on the audience and venue.

“We have songs that sound suitable for kids; others sound like they’re from the 90s… We adjust according to our audience for that date (of performance),” Robles said.

Even though the girl group takes pride in their good harmonies, they remain vigorous in rehearsing their vocals frequently.

“We are eight girls… We use that advantage by harmonizing altogether every night [with] our voices. We always try to incorporate our harmonies in every live show and performance. We want to show that we can,” Lim said.

Last year, BGYO and BINI landed on the list of Top Radar Artists Philippines on Spotify’s Wrapped, meaning they have expanded their reach from the local to the international music scene.

BINI and BGYO are regarded as “sibling groups,” having been both trained under ABS-CBN’s Star Hunt Academy.

In 2021, the two P-Pop groups collaborated for a “sibling concert” titled “One Dream.”

Historic, traditional welcome walk

The concert is part of the onboarding activities for UST freshmen, which also included the ROARientation and Thomasian Welcome Walk.

In the latter, the freshmen will cross the three-centuries-old Arch of the Centuries as a customary rite of passage.

The history-laden structure serves as the “gateway to the history of the finest breed of Filipinos” – the text inscribed on its historical marker.

This practice is also a nod to the distinguished alumni that stepped foot on the university, including national hero Jose Rizal and former president Manuel Quezon.

“UST holds its traditions involving the Arch of the Centuries in high regard because the Arch was the original gateway of the University back in its Intramuros campus,” the university said in a release.

“It was reassembled piece by piece in the Sampaloc campus after World War II and serves as a reminder of the University’s rich history,” it added.

UST Rector Richard Ang, O.P. told freshmen at the opening mass for the morning batch that they are standing at a “historic crossroads” in their lives as they become part of a “highly heterogenous” university.

“Nothing on the planet works except by convergence, and I would like to believe that one source of convergence in a diversified campus like the University of Santo Tomas is our very own Thomasian identity,” Ang said.

“Despite the various disciplines, inclinations, features, and personalities, it is our identity that binds us as one big family,” he added.

The UST has conducted the onboarding traditions since 2002 to welcome students as they begin their education journey at the 412-year-old university