MANILA — As the local concert scene restarted earlier this year amid the pandemic, foreign artists have taken the opportunity to make up for lost time with their Filipino fans. And Xiumin and Chen of the wildly popular K-pop boy group EXO couldn’t have been happier with their recent return to Philippine shores.
“Because of pandemic, we couldn’t visit the Philippines these past years. A lot of our Filipino fans have been waiting for us, that’s why we’re very excited to perform later,” Xiumin said via an interpreter at a press conference last Friday, hours before he and Chen took the stage of the Araneta Coliseum for “Be You 2,” a concert that paid tribute to the Filipino elderly.
EXO, known for hits like “Growl” and “Love Shot,” last visited Manila in August 2019 for its “Exploration” tour. At the time, only six members of the nine-piece act were present, as Xiumin and D.O. were fulfilling their mandatory military service while Lay was promoting in China.
Xiumin previously performed in the country alongside EXO for the local staging of South Korean music chart program “Show Champion” in October 2018.
EXO was supposed to return to the Philippines in February 2020 for an event by a cosmetics brand that the band endorsed, but it was cancelled due to the growing threat of COVID-19.
“When we’d go here for EXO’s concerts, the Filipino fans were so loud and their energy was so hot,” Chen said, recounting previous gigs.
The pair said they agreed to perform at Be You 2 for the opportunity to reunite with Filipino EXO-Ls and because of the concert’s advocacy.
“The event has a good meaning and we’re thankful for that. We also want to inspire other people. So whenever there’s a concert with a good meaning, we’re willing to come [to those shows],” Chen said.
“It’s a plus that Be You 2 is a concert with a good meaning. At the same time, we can meet our Filipino EXO-Ls. So why would we refuse this event?” Xiumin added.
For Be You 2, Xiumin showcased songs from “Brand New,” his first solo album released in September. Meanwhile, Chen serenaded the crowd with ballads, including his latest single “Last Scene,” and light acoustic tracks.
The audience also sang along as Chen capped his set with “Everytime,” a song he recorded for the hit drama “Descendants of the Sun.”
At the press conference, Xiumin said he and Chen were “very honored to experience” the performances of the Filipino artists that opened Be You 2, including “Asia’s Queen of Songs” Pilita Corrales and actor-singer Ian Veneracion.
Visiting tourist spots
Chen and Xiumin said they were also interested in visiting tourist spots in the country, which they have never done despite EXO’s repeated stops in the Philippines.
“Because I’m always here for work, we never had the time to visit the tourist spots and try Filipino food. But we really want to,” Xiumin said.
“Given the chance, I want to come back to the Philippines with Chen to try the things we haven’t tried before,” he said.
Chen said he wanted to try eating “balut,” a street food made from unhatched duck embryos that are boiled and eaten from the shell.
Asked where they saw themselves after five to 10 years, Xiumin said: “Maybe after five to 10 years, I’ll be back here.”
“As an artist, of course, we still want to be with our fans. Whoever will look for us, we’ll be there for them always,” Chen added.