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Enhafestival: A cautionary tale for Kpop fans

Enhafestival

On Thursday morning, Weverse subscribers received an email cautioning them against an unauthorized event being mounted in the Philippines called Enhafestival: Day 1. Belift Lab, the music label that manages Enhypen, also posted the same notice on their Facebook page. They even included a link to the Facebook page of Enhafestival.

One of the materials posted of Enhafestival

The Twitterverse exploded and it became the trending topic the whole day. It was a national embarrassment. Initially, the topic was just about the intellectual property rights of Enhypen. But with a little digging, we found out that it goes beyond that.

Avida Centera was supposed to be the event’s venue but we were told that there was no reservation for the Enhafestival at all.

Enhafestival: Day 1 touts itself as a locally fan-organized event. It was initially set to happen on Dec. 10 at Pine Peak Towers before it was moved to Jan. 7 at the Avida Centera in Mandaluyong.

Its main draw is the photo exhibition of fansites. Fansites, in Kpop speak, are dedicated photographers who follow their idols.

The event was supposedly not for profit but admission tickets were sold to cover the cost of mounting it. Prices started at P250 for early birds, eventually becoming P300. An additional P100 will get you an event kit that includes a wristband, eco bag, button pin, and photo card set. Tickets were sold through registration. 

Mystery organizers

The organizers never disclosed their identities, affiliations or social media accounts to anyone. Lia (not her real name), a registrant, has no idea who the organizers were. She only found out about the event through Twitter.

She corresponded with them through the email enhafestival@gmail.com. The event’s supposed partners—different fanbases—were also in contact with the organizers through this email address.

The only name of a real person that was revealed to attendees was the owner of the GCash account and bank account that the organizers shared during the registration. Payments for the tickets were sent through accounts by a certain Lynette Gabatan.

We traced the GCash number to Twitter user @simpforsunjay. The fan account posted the same phone number on Dec. 24, 2021 jokingly asking for Christmas gifts through GCash.

Marketing strategy

We reached out through texts and phone calls. We also sent a Twitter DM but we were ignored.  The @simpforsunjay account has now deactivated as well as its alleged alternate account.   The account was never named as partner or contributor of the project.  

Under the cloak of anonymity, Enhafestival executed a well-planned marketing campaign. They came out with professionally-looking social media cards and videos.

They also started reaching out to big fan bases of Enhypen on Twitter. Their names were included in posts, announcing their participation with videos and graphics. They were called partners and made to look as if they were involved in the planning of the project.  

The Enhafestival organizers also knew how to time their posts, building anticipation. They slowly dropped details leading to the event to keep everyone curious. But they also attracted the attention of Belift Lab.

Most importantly, the account owner/s have gaslighted the registrants to keep the transactions with them in private.

Potential infringement

In a Twitter statement (@Enhafestival) posted on Jan. 5, the organizers said that Belift Lab initially reached out to them on Nov. 3. The label was represented by the lawyers of Betita Cabilao Casuela Sarmiento (BCCS Law). The law firm’s specialty is intellectual property.

The organizers were informed of the potential infringement in using the name Enhypen. The law firm also asked for the details of the event including their event partners, according to Enhafestival.

The organizers claimed that they complied with the request and submitted their report on Nov 15. According to them, it included their proposals and memorandum of agreements that they sent out to their partners.

However, they refused to give information about the fansites, fan bases, and other partners despite the label’s request. The organizers said that it was to protect the privacy of their partners.

This detail offers some relief to accounts who agreed to help promote them with the event. 

Twitter account @prodbyengene has over 220K followers. In a statement, they said that they were not informed of the organizer’s meetings with Belift and the concerns that they raised when they agreed to become media partners.

Read @prodbyengene  statement here: 

Festival Kits

In the statement, organizers claimed that they did not receive a response from Belift’s legal team so they went on with their promotions.

They moved the event date and changed the venue because Dec. 10 conflicted with the ticket release of Enhypen’s Manifesto: Day 1. Enhypen is set to hold a three-day concert on Feb. 3- 5 at MOA Arena.  The concert is promoted by Pulp Live World. 

Read: Enhypen’s ‘Manifesto’ will be in Manila

The people (or person) behind Enhafestival also started posting festival kits for the event. Super checked and confirmed that the images on the photo cards that were supposed to be included in the kits came from Enhypen Weverse content that is exclusive to its members.

The organizers met with the lawyers again on Dec. 15 via Zoom.  This was still according to their Jan. 5 statement. They claimed that at that meeting, they were strongly recommended to cancel the event. 

Canceled

However, they refused to do so. They reasoned that they were “70 percent” done with the preparation for the event and that the funds from ticket sales had already been used. They also insisted that the cancellation “will dampen the credibility of the organizers as well as the Belift Lab given the full disclosure factor”.

Instead, they offered a compromise. They changed the name of the event from Enhafestival to Always Together. New event materials were put out, but still using photos from the anniversary content of Enhypen that Weverse subscribers paid for.

They received a demand letter from BCCS Law on Jan. 4, three days before the event. The letter essentially tells them that they can continue with the event. However, Hybe, parent company of Belift Lab, will take action.

This forced the organizers to finally cancel the event. According to them, they were going to announce the cancellation on Jan. 5. But Belift Lab beat them to it, posting on their Facebook page. Weverse also sent an email blast before they did. The organizers publicly posted their own three-page statement three or so hours later.

Read the full statement here: 

No refund

That same day, the organizers also sent emails to registrants informing them that they cannot be refunded because “96 percent” of their funds had already been used. kits were promised to be sent out in the coming days.

They continued that they will be using any refunds they get from the venue to ship out the kits, and that the excess will be refunded to attendees. 

They emailed again the next day, Jan. 6 to repeat what was said, but this time with a form that registrants could fill up. The form had an addendum that says “shipping fee is on us”.  

Just like the last email, they said that the financial report is available upon request. They also said in the email that they are “open for auditing to any qualified auditor you may refer to us.”

According to a financial report they posted on Twitter, they were able to collect around P42,000 from ticket sales and another P4,700 from sponsorships. The ticket sales and the number of attendees matched based on the master list provided to registrants, which Super was also able to secure.

Accountant

The organizers claimed that the report was prepared and signed by a certified public accountant who volunteered for the task. The name was blurred when the document was shared on Twitter.  But the name and signature could be clearly seen when it was emailed to the registrants: the report had been prepared and signed by Gcash owner, Lynette Gabatan. 

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A quick search on Facebook shows the account of someone with the same name who identifies both as a certified public accountant and an Enyphen fan (even posting videos of her meeting the boys virtually).

One entry in the financial report caught our attention. The rental venue expenses were listed at P23,000.

We inquired with Avida Centera about their Clubhouse rates and we were told that it was P7,000 for 5 hours and P1,000 for every succeeding hour. According to their Enhafestival’s registration form, the event was set to take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

However, only residents or events endorsed by a resident can rent the Clubhouse.

Avida Centera’s property manager, through Avida Land, also told Super that there is no booking for Enhafestival or anything related to Enhypen on Jan. 7. The first time they heard about such an event was when our Inquirer Property editor, on Super’s behalf, reached out to them.

As of writing, all contents of the Facebook page Enhafestival have been deleted. Fan bases have also posted their statements terminating their relationship with the organizers.

They collectively said that they came in as media partners and were not involved in its planning and execution.

The only thing that remains of the Enhafestival: Day 1 is an empty Facebook page and their Twitter statement.

Update:

A few days after this article posted, a newly created Instagram account sent a message to this writer’s Instagram account. Take note that we’ve never reached to anyone using this platform. We used text, Twitter and emails.


A few days after this article posted, a newly created Instagram account @formeonly81 sent a message to this writer’s Instagram account. Take note that we’ve never reached to anyone using this platform. We used text, Twitter and emails. Because we were unaware that anyone with reach out to us in the private account, the messages were left unseen for weeks.

The message was asking this writer to delete the tweet that was tagging the @simpforsunjay account. Again, like the faceless letter sender, the person would resort to threats.

They would send us a message again on Jan. 21, following Inquirer Super’s post about covering historic Enhypen’s “Manifesto” in Kyocera Dome. The sender mistakenly thought this writer was the one who flew to Japan to cover the event hence accusing this writer to accept bribes. It wasn’t this writer who wrote about it.

We answered the accusations but @formeonly81 has not responded at all. Lynette Gabatan’s phone number rung once but has since deactivated. This writer reached out again to the victims of Enhafestival. On the same night I was trying to call Gabatan’s number, they were refunded. Their kits were also issued to them.

We also found out that Enhafestival gave out cash vouchers to the registrants to appease their demands for receipts. Even a non-CPA graduate knows that a cash voucher is not a receipt. We also found something suspicious about the vouchers. If you look closely, the cash vouchers were all issued on the same day.

Cash vouchers

Traces of the voucher written on Oct. 17, 2022, can be found on a voucher supposedly issued on Oct. 26. The name who issued the receipt was also covered.

We don’t know what happened to Enhafestival. Did it start out with a pure intentions? But it does leave us with a big lesson, whether spending P250 or P25,000 for our idols, we must always practice due diligence.

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