MANILA – With her foray into the highly competitive and globally popular K-pop scene, former Philippine-based actress Chantal Videla hopes to inspire younger Filipinas to “show their talent” and “pursue their dreams.”
Videla, who now goes by the stage name Chanty, debuted Monday as a member of the six-piece girl group Lapillus, the latest act from MLD Entertainment that launched Momoland of the viral hit “Bboom Bbom.”
The 19-year-old Chanty is among the handful of performers who are of Filipino descent in K-pop, an industry that has opened itself to foreign artists – mostly from China, Japan and Thailand – in a bid to secure steady fandoms in other countries.
“Even until this moment, it still feels surreal to be here, to actually be called a K-pop idol,” Chanty said in a recent Zoom conference between Lapillus and Filipino journalists.
“I still can’t wrap my head around it but I’m really grateful and blessed that I’ve been given this opportunity,” she said.
Prior to her K-pop debut, Chanty had an acting career in the Philippines, appearing in shows such as “Hiwaga ng Kambat” and “Starla”—both airing in 2019. She was launched as a part of Star Magic Circle Batch 2018 alongside Donny Pangilinan, Tony Labrusca and Charlie Dizon, among others.
Chanty credits Dizon, also a former idol trainee in Korea, and Belle Mariano for introducing her to K-pop. She considers BTS and Blackpink, whom she now calls her “seonbaenim” or industry seniors, as her favorite groups.
“They (BTS and Blackpink) were like one of the first groups that caught my attention. I was fascinated by their performance, their stages. That’s where I started this wild dream of becoming a K-pop idol,” she said.
That “wild dream” began to turn into a reality during the pandemic when a family friend introduced Chanty to MLD Entertainment CEO Lee Hyungjin, who at the time was looking for a Filipino member for his agency’s next girl group.
“We met the CEO, had a meeting and he just wanted me to start the training at first. And then that’s when they found [out] that, ‘Oh, she’s actually an actress in the Philippines,’” Chanty recounted.
The road to a K-pop debut is no easy feat, often involving years of rigorous training and tough competition against many other hopefuls. It’s even more difficult for foreigners who are required to learn the language and culture, on top of vocal and dance classes.
Chanty was a trainee for only about 10 months but it seemed like she’s nearly mastered the language, serving as the interpreter for her bandmates during the media conference that ran for over an hour.
“I had Korean lessons every day, even up to this day,” she shared. “Thankfully because of Korean dramas… little by little, I got the hang of [the language].”
Chanty admitted to missing her family, who are based in the Philippines, “because I don’t get to meet them a lot anymore.”
She also misses Filipino food. “Because of dieting, there’s certain food we’re limited to eat so I tend to crave a lot,” she said, citing pinakbet, sinigang and laing as her favorite local dishes.
Chanty said she was able to overcome her training period by “being positive” and persevering — characteristics she associates with being a Filipino.
“I haven’t noticed it until now but ever since I came here, the members have been telling me about how positive I am. But then I would think, ‘Pero normal lang naman sa Pilipinas ‘yan ah,’” she said.
(But that’s only normal in the Philippines.)
“Even in the midst of challenges, [Filipinos] find a reason to smile. We have really strong faith. So I guess that’s what helped me during my trainee life here.”
Despite getting picked to debut, Chanty undersells herself, believing there’s still “much room to grow” and hoping to inspire other Filipinas in the process.
“I personally think there are more people, Filipino girls around there who are probably better than me at singing and dancing,” she said.
“[But] with this little talent of mine, I’m grateful that I’m able to inspire, hopefully, the young girls out there to show their talent, to be confident and to pursue their dreams, because I was able to do it despite being lacking as a person, as an artist.”
More K-pop interviews on ABS-CBN News