Itzy spent one day in Manila to meet their fans and the press at Glorietta.
Nothing hypes up a crowd more than a shared love for music. For Filipino fans, showing up for their favorite K-pop groups has always been the norm. So when globally renowned K-pop group Itzy’s “Sneakers” played at the Glorietta Activity Center in Makati on Jan. 13, collective singing consumed the building, telling the world to “put my sneakers on!”
After almost three years, Ryujin, Yeji, Lia, Chaeryeong and Yuna were welcomed back by their Filipino Midzy, their fandom, for a three-day Manila visit. The girls first met the local media and lucky fans at a press event presented by Ayala Malls, right before kicking off the second leg of their first full-scale world tour, “Checkmate,” at the Mall of Asia Arena on the weekend.
All the way to the third floor of Glorietta, hundreds of fans of Itzy took over the shopping mall. Restaurants were filled with onlookers, storefronts blocked by craning heads eager to see what the commotion was all about. Glorietta has never seen a crowd like this, host Rico Robles declared. Itzy’s press event at the shopping mall is now the biggest one in Glorietta history, and the rapturous screams of Filipino Midzy proved this.
The girls of Itzy took the world by storm in 2019, carrying a message of self-empowerment with their debut single “Dalla Dalla.” In the K-pop scene, Ryujin, Yeji, Lia, Chaeryeong and Yuna are known as legendary performers, able to bring their fierce personalities to every stage. They’ve made their mark as monster rookies, and earned a title that has cemented them as industry icons: K-pop’s representative performers.
The girls have since gone on to sell millions of albums, comfortable in their roster of awards and multiplatinum singles. They’re credited for creating some of K-pop’s most memorable and viral moments. From memes to dance crazes, they turned their songs into Hallyu touchstones. It’s no surprise then that their popularity in the Philippines translated to an enthusiastic crowd.
Midzy went all out to welcome the five girls, holding colorful banners with their bias’ name, wearing headbands with their idol’s faces and even glamming up to match Itzy’s style.
“Mabuhay!” member Yeji said, and the crowd roared. The five members were awestruck by the Glorietta turnout, walking out on stage in chic black and white outfits, their faces full of surprise. It’s been almost three years since their last visit to the Philippines, one of the last countries they toured before the pandemic halted the concert scene.
The five members greeted their enthusiastic Manila Midzy, introducing themselves in Filipino. “Na-miss ko kayo, Midzy,” Lia even added.
Longtime fan Kaye Andres, who was a Midzy even before their debut, isn’t the least bit surprised by the turnout. “It’s actually not hard to become a fan of Itzy,” she says. Andres mapped out her week for the girls’ visit. They got tickets to the Glorietta press event and both days of Itzy’s sold-out weekend concert presented by Live Nation Philippines.
Spending three days with her favorite group was a given, a moment she’s been looking forward to since she last saw them in 2019 for their first showcase tour.
Just like Andres, Ryujin recounts the band’s last visit to the Philippines fondly. “When we first came here, it was Yuna’s birthday so the Filipino fans celebrated with us,” she said. “They sang a birthday song, and it was a heartwarming memory.”
During the press event, the girls also shared their must-try Filipino experiences. Chaeryeong was particularly enthusiastic about wanting to go to Boracay. She also wanted to try Filipino dishes, especially halo-halo.
One thing that has always made Filipino K-pop fans memorable is their unmatched energy, making sure their idols anticipated their screams just as much as the fans waited for them to tour the country.
“We are so grateful, you guys can’t imagine how surprised we were today when we came here to see you guys, filling up this whole place,” Lia said. “We did not expect that so many people would be here today.”
Midzy of all ages arrived as early as 5 a.m. to line up at Glorietta, holding up banners and other memorabilia that cheered on the members. Like Andres, many were already headed to the weekend concert but wanted to welcome the quintet to the Philippines.
“Itzy goes above and beyond in everything that they do and always makes us Midzys feel appreciated,” Andres said.
Itzy’s innate spunk and charisma shone through while they answered questions from the media about their careers, teasing their fans about a collaboration with their senior-slash-boss and founder of their agency, JYP. Ryujin, Chaeryeong and Yuna even danced to “Groove Back” onstage, to the delight of Midzy.
But the girls were most excited about finally performing for their fans, especially after two years of online concerts. “We’re so, so grateful and we’d like to give back all this love and energy on stage which we are definitely gonna show this weekend at the ‘Checkmate’ concert,” Lia said.
“It’s been two years since we’ve been in the Philippines. The Philippine Midzy were so passionate like today,” Ryujin said. “We really had a great memory.”
This dedication to their craft is matched by their fans, and is what makes them loved by many, Andres said. “It’s because of Itzy’s exceptional talent, visuals, personality and kindness that we love them.
“It’s like catching up with a longtime friend,” Andres said. “Seeing them again live after three years is definitely worth the wait.”
“For 2023, we are happy that we are able to start the year with all of our fans,” Yeji said at the press event. “We hope that from now on, we have more time to spend together with our Manila fans and fans worldwide.”