Korean and Filipino artists might have been the ones to take home the prestigious trophies that night, but it was the Filipino fans who truly won during the Asia Artist Awards (AAA) 2023 that was held at Philippine Arena in Bulacan last Thursday.
With performances from groups like Newjeans, Le Sserafim, Stray Kids and BooSeokSoon or BSS (a subunit from the K-pop group Seventeen) along with other amazing acts that swept the audience off its feet, the AAA was like a reward for all the support local fans have given their idols.The AAA was the perfect ender for a year filled with concerts, fan meets and other idol interactions.
It was the first time the Korean award-giving body held its ceremony in the country since it was formed in 2016. And it was also the first time a major awards show from Korea was held here. So, for a ceremony of this magnitude to be held in our country is testament to just how big K-pop, K-drama and Korean pop culture in general have grown and become a staple for Filipinos.
Each Korean idol and group that held their concert or event here always had the same comment after hearing the heartwarming and deafening screams of their followers: Filipino fans are probably the best.
Lee Dong-hwi who won a trophy for AAA Best Actor Award said that the Philippines is like a hometown to him after shooting the drama “Big Bet” here for around two months.
He added that he is “very grateful to all heartwarming Filipinos. If not because of you, there’s no K-drama casino. Salamat po.”
If you have experienced watching a concert in the country, you would know that the screams and cheers never stop. Right before the actual show starts, from every little detail they see onstage and until the final goodbyes are said, fans would be screaming, cheering and singing their hearts out. And Lee Jun-hyuk, a first-time visitor in the Philippines, experienced that same crowd first-hand during the event.
In his acceptance speech for his award, Jun-hyuk told the audience, “It’s my first time to come here in the Philippines. I hope when you get home, you’ll have a warm cup of tea to comfort your throat.”
Ahn Hyo-seop likewise acknowledged the audience in his speech, “I think you guys are an amazing crowd. Thank you so much for the energy.”
And that energy could be felt even before the festivities started.
The gates to the arena were set to open at 1 p.m. but, as expected, the fans were already lined up even before that. Some of them were the lucky ones who won passes to the red carpet.Hosted by local Korean artist Ryan Bang, the AAA red carpet kicked off the ceremony with fans eagerly awaiting the arrival of their favorite stars, their phones held up high and their arms weaving around other phones for a better and closer view.One by one, the artists arrived, welcomed by fans screaming their names, each trying to get them to look their way and hoping to get a smile, a wave or even a wink and capture it on camera.
Some crowd favorites were Korean actors Kim Seon-ho, Kim Se-jeong and Suho, K-pop groups StayC, Zerobaseone and Lapillus, who has one Filipino member, Chanty.
But not all cheers were for Korean personalities, some were for local talents as well, most notably SB19, Ben&Ben as well as actress-comedian Melai Cantiveros-Francisco.
The main event started with SB19 teaming up with K-pop group &Team for a special performance of the P-pop group’s song “Gento.” They were then followed by other artists strutting their own stuff throughout the night.During the event, Cantiveros-Francisco made everyone laugh when she was interviewed by one of the emcees, Jang Wonyoung.
“Attending to AAA is a very honor, I feel like I am the first honor, a valedictorian. And it’s such a prestigious award, I cannot believe this is happening,” the former said.
Wonyoung then asked who among the attendees she wanted to meet and Cantiveros-Francisco answered with a huge smile on her face that she wanted to meet Kim Seon-ho. Seon-ho acknowledged her answer by bowing and smiling at her. She said that she also wanted to meet Newjeans because her daughter loves them. Newjeans was seen waving at her.
Later on, the comedian was also one of the recipients of the AAA Best Actor Award.
Cantiveros-Francisco starred in a film that was shot in Seoul, Korea, “Ma’am Chief: Shakedown in Seoul.”
In her acceptance speech, she said that “If someone is question why I have award, don’t worry I question, too.”
She added that maybe it’s “because God moves in mysterious ways.”
Aside from Cantiveros-Francisco, other Filipino talents were also recognized: Hori7on (AAA Focus Award), SB19 (AAA Hot Trend Award and AAA Best Artist Award – Singer), Ben&Ben (AAA Best Choice Award) and Kathryn Bernardo together with Daniel Padilla (AAA Fabulous Award)
The AAA 2023 ended with performances by Stray Kids and BSS and a group photo with all the artists together onstage.
It was a very fulfilling event filled with laughter and pure enjoyment.
Kathryn Bernardo described it perfectly in her acceptance speech, “Nakaka-proud na bilang Filipino, tayo ‘yung nagho-host ng ganitong event.” (It makes me proud that being Filipino, we’re the ones hosting events like this.) INQ
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