The ‘Titas of BTS’ are older Ok-pop superfans within the Philippines : NPR

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BTS swag is raffled off at an in-person occasion hosted by the Titas of BTS on March 10. Some 40 girls gathered at a bar in Quezon Metropolis to have fun the March birthdays of BTS members Suga and J-Hope.

Ashley Westerman/NPR


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Ashley Westerman/NPR


BTS swag is raffled off at an in-person occasion hosted by the Titas of BTS on March 10. Some 40 girls gathered at a bar in Quezon Metropolis to have fun the March birthdays of BTS members Suga and J-Hope.

Ashley Westerman/NPR

MANILA, Philippines — Some might imagine that stanning over South Korean pop bands and their music, vogue and relationships is just for younger folks. Nonetheless, with regards to the Ok-pop phenomenon BTS, one group of followers within the Philippines is proving them fallacious.

They name themselves the “Titas of BTS.”

However earlier than we go any additional… What’s a tita?

“A direct translation is an auntie, so someone who’s an older girl,” group founder Demai Sunio-Granali says. “Even in the event you’re not a relative, you handle somebody who’s an older feminine a ‘tita’ out of respect.”

Sunio-Granali, 38, began a Fb group for BTS followers in 2020 with a handful of mates throughout her similar age. Three years later, that group has grown into a world on-line group of 1000’s of girls — and a few males — of their late 30s and older, all diehard BTS followers.

“It was actually simply began as a spot for us to convene and to share BTS content material with one another,” Sunio-Granali says, laughing. “We did not actually see all the things it could turn into.”

BTS members attend Dick Clark’s New 12 months’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest in New York Metropolis on Dec. 31, 2019.

Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Photographs for Dick Clark Productions


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Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Photographs for Dick Clark Productions


BTS members attend Dick Clark’s New 12 months’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest in New York Metropolis on Dec. 31, 2019.

Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Photographs for Dick Clark Productions

The Fb group consists of over 14,000 members and is a continuing stream of BTS updates, information and dialogue. From V’s latest Elle Korea photograph shoot to Jimin’s new solo album, “Face” — if it is BTS information, the group is speaking about it. Additionally they sometimes maintain in-person occasions to have fun birthdays and dance to their favourite BTS hits or simply to have dinner and compensate for the most recent BTS gossip.

Sunio-Granali says everybody has a narrative about how they grew to become followers of BTS — quick for Batang Boys. Some bought hooked by means of mates; others by means of siblings and youngsters.

Sunio-Granali got here throughout the band after spending time watching Korean TV dramas, she says. After she fell in love with a tune carried out by a member of BTS on one of many soundtracks, that led to a different tune, then one other and one other.

Quickly, she realized this group was totally different from some other boy bands — primarily, she says, due to how they convey messages and inform relatable tales by means of their lyrics.

“I linked with them due to how they expressed themselves by means of lyrics, how they instructed their story and the way they describe their struggles,” Sunio-Granali says.

Why do Filipinos love Ok-pop?

Ok-pop, as a style, has gripped the Philippines in near-obsession. Korean dramas are a standard entry level into the music. And whereas Korean popular culture could also be a worldwide phenomenon, stans — overzealous followers — within the Philippines are on a completely totally different degree.

For years, the Philippines has topped world rankings in listening to Ok-pop on streaming companies and mentioning Ok-pop on social media. In 2022, the Philippines was the second-biggest viewers for BTS, after the U.S., in line with Spotify. In the meantime, Twitter information exhibits the nation additionally got here in fourth on this planet final 12 months for tweets mentioning Ok Pop. In 2021, it ranked third.

“The explanation why Filipinos love Korean tradition, usually, is due to our shared historical past,” says J.R. Igno, an assistant linguistics professor on the College of the Philippines. “Significantly, we have been colonized by totally different nations.”

This relationship goes again to the Korean Struggle, he says, when the Philippines despatched troopers to battle alongside South Korean forces. However the Korean wave — or Hallyu — actually took off within the Philippines within the early 2000s, with the popularization of Korean dramas and their soundtracks.

Due to the historical past of colonization, Philippine tradition has at all times been fluid and open to outdoors influences, says College of the Philippines Baguio historical past professor Zuriel Domingo. “And due to globalization, you could have the web, which is free … so it isn’t being pressured on us.”

Domingo notes that Ok-pop is not simply music, it is a complete bundle: visuals, vogue, folks to idolize — all backed by a authorities in Seoul that has prioritized Ok-pop as a cultural export.

A spot to stan with out concern of judgment

Titas of BTS member Jabba Tantay, 39, says as a result of the aunties’ group is older than different BTS superfans, they respect that complete bundle otherwise.

“While you’re an adolescent, it is a totally different type of fan-girling, proper? It is extra about, he is so good-looking. He dances so properly. There is a totally different appreciation,” she explains. “While you’re a bit older, you see different issues. Like, we focus extra on their relationships with one another and the best way they convey their messages.”

They will relate, the ladies say, to members like Jin, the eldest, who has taken over the position of massive brother to the remainder of the group. Or Suga, who is understood for his “arduous on the surface, however tender on the within” persona. And whether or not it is writing in a uncooked method about the price of a lot fame or being uncertain of whether or not you’ve got achieved sufficient as you become old, they are saying BTS is aware of how one can sing about real-life, relatable points.

Kaye Mora, 39, from Cainta, Rizal Province, holds up a poster that includes the members of BTS that she gained in a raffle at a latest Titas of BTS gathering in Quezon Metropolis.

Ashley Westerman/NPR


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Ashley Westerman/NPR


Kaye Mora, 39, from Cainta, Rizal Province, holds up a poster that includes the members of BTS that she gained in a raffle at a latest Titas of BTS gathering in Quezon Metropolis.

Ashley Westerman/NPR

For a lot of titas of BTS, there isn’t a different secure house to stan for the band. Lots of the girls are professionals who maintain high-level positions or moms with households to maintain.

“There have been judgments from their very own circles,” she says. “The everyday statements can be: ‘You are too previous to fan-girl. Why are you want this? You are too previous, you are a mom, you could have X variety of youngsters.’ “

Tantay says that is after they realized how critical a platform they’d. “It was an avenue for individuals who wanted a spot to launch no matter it’s they have been feeling, the place they’d not be judged for it.”

And this mission will not change, Sunio-Granali says. The titas will help BTS even whereas it’s on a break, and can preserve their Fb group working till the band is ready to return hopefully in 2025.

In the end, although, it would not actually matter what occurs to BTS, she says.

“I might contemplate [our friendship] the very best present that we’ve got obtained from being followers of BTS,” she says. “On the finish of the day, we will be left with this friendship.”



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