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‘HALLYUWEEN 2022’ is beginning of a tradition in Manila

For many Korean artists, Manila is where some of their loudest, most enthusiastic fans are. Nothing could be truer than during the party called Hallyuween 2022 celebrated in Manila.

So when six of K-pop’s most requested acts were invited to the lineup for HALLYUWEEN—the very first concert that brought together several K-pop acts on one stage here—it was an easy yes for K-pop royalty and 2NE1 leader CL, legendary hip-hop trio EPIK HIGH, all-rounders PENTAGON and KARD, OST kings GAHO x KAVE, and festival frequenter DJ SODA. 

The historic, first-of-its-kind festival was the brainchild of PULP LIVE WORLD and HAPPEE HOUR, and was held at the SM Mall of Asia arena last Oct. 29. 

Most of them—CL, Epik High, KARD and Pentagon—have already been to the Philippines before and have warm memories of the place.

CL for Hallyuween 2022

“I haven’t been here for a while so I’m very happy to reconnect with my fans and to be on stage and show them my new music and my new performances,” CL told reporters in a press conference before the concert. 

PENTAGON’s Kino, in particular, said Manila was close to his heart because he studied English for three months here. “So I’m so honored to (be able) to do a concert here. We really missed you guys.” 

“We prepared a very fun concert and our definition of fun is performances where we get to communicate with our fans and get them to sing along…Since it’s been a very long time since we performed here, we’ll do our best for everyone,” added PENTAGON’s Yeo One.

Pentagon in Hallyuween 2022 in Manila
Pentagon for Hallyuween 2022

Pentagon Shinwon also shared his close encounter of the disgusting kind in the Philippines. He encountered a cockroach!

Matchin’ vibe

For first-timers like GAHO and his band KAVE, meanwhile, HALLYUWEEN 2022 unexpectedly became a chance to gain new badges: they were the only band invited to the festival.

“Since we are the opening act, we are proud to be the only band group to be invited to (HALLYUWEEN 2022),” Gaho said. “We also matched our vibe and performance with the theme of Halloween so we hope everyone can enjoy.”

DJ SODA, an award-winning frequenter in several Asian festivals, said she was also proud to be the only DJ in the lineup. 

She shared that she had been invited to other events too. “But when I heard the title—HALLYUWEEN—it struck me hard so I decided to come here!”

DJ Soda for Hallyuween 2022 in Manila
DJ Soda Photos by Krixia Subingsubing

Strong BGYO

But they were not the only ones making history that night. Manila’s very own P-pop aces, BGYO, were also the only P-pop group to share the stage with Korea’s hottest artists. 

BGYO came in strong in a Hallyu lineup

“We didn’t even think twice when we were invited,” said BGYO’s leader and center Gelo. “The other K-pop artists who were invited were also our idols…It’s a dream come true and a major milestone for us. [We] want to make this an inspiration (for our work).”

Drag queens Lady Gagita, Lady Morgana and Minty Fresh were also the opening acts for HALLYUWEEN 2022, making them the first drag queens to perform in the SM MOA Arena and help bring drag art into the mainstream. 

“Performing in one of the grandest venues in the Philippines is such an honor and performing alongside international stars…it’s a proud moment,” shared Lady Gagita.

“We want to show Korean and Filipino fans that this is what the drag scene in the Philippines looks like!” added Lady Morgana.

Lady Gagita and Lady Morgana make the press laugh

READ: A short guide to the songs and artists of ‘Hallyuween 2022’

Costume galore

Interestingly, for most of the K-pop acts on the lineup, celebrating Halloween was an alien concept. Though increasingly cosmopolitan, South Koreans don’t normally observe the holiday.

But all of them understood the assignment that day: they all arrived in costumes, though in varying degrees of theatrical.

The coed group KARD was perhaps the most committed with their “sexy skeleton, catwoman, pirate and vampire” quartet ensemble. Others, like PENTAGON, were more subdued with spooky face makeup.

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KARD in their costumes during Hallyuween 2022 in Manila

“I think it’s been 10 years since I last wore a Halloween costume,” mused CL. She arrived in a Cruella de Vil costume, half-blonde hairstyle and all. “So today’s a special day.”

Before the concert even started, they all expressed interest to come back to Manila, Halloween festival or not.

“Let’s make it a tradition every year. The lineup here is very strong and what’s to stop it from being an annual thing?” said rapper BM of KARD. “I think we can keep it going—but only if you keep inviting us.”

OST Kings Gaho X Kave

READ: Fans get creative for their ‘Hallyuween’ costumes

Reinvent Halloween

For Tablo of EPIK HIGH, the concert was a chance to reinvent the way people saw Halloween.

“A lot of people think of Halloween and (associate it) with scary things,” Tablo said. “But I personally believe that we have enough of scary things in the real world for 365 days. We don’t need another day for scary things.”

Epik High during the presser of Hallyuween 2022 in Manila photos by Krixia Subingsubing

In hindsight, Tablo’s words were prescient: tragedy struck Itaewon district in their home country later that day, as over 150 people died in a crowd crush at the height of

Halloween Eve festivities.

Still, the poet-rapper managed to give words of comfort that, coincidentally, rang true even as both Manila and Seoul mourned for those who were lost that day. 

“The thing about Halloween is that it’s also a fun day—it’s a day where you get to be someone else, to break away from the real life hat you have to live,” the rapper added. “So for the time that we spent together, if we can make you forget about things and enjoy yourself, maybe you can come back stronger.”

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