MANILA — Filipino fans of K-pop sensation BTS have adopted 8 humpback whales in the country's northern waters through a non-profit organization involved in the research and conservation of the animal.
Members of the Filipino ARMY gave P20,000 to Balyena.org, which would help the organization continue its study of whales and dolphins in the country.
In exchange, 8 humpback whales from the Babuyan Marine Corridor in Cagayan province were named after the boy band's members — Kim Namjoon (RM), Kim Seojin (Jin), Min Yoongi (Suga), Jung Hoseok (J-Hope), Park Jimin, Kim Taehyung (V), and Jeon Jungkook — as well as the fandom BTS ARMY.
The whale adoption is among several projects of the ARMY in celebration of the group's 8th debut anniversary this month, said Fritzie Alojepan, an administrator of BTS PH - Bangtan Boys Philippines, one of the longest-running BTS fan clubs in the country.
Alojepan said BTS PH led the initiative with ARMY Cavite Fanbase and TaehgersPh, a fan club dedicated to member V, but around 14 other groups chipped in for the project.
It was the ARMY Cavite Fanbase that came up with the idea of adopting whales, an animal featured in BTS' song "Whalien 52," she said.
"Since it's a significant symbol (whale) nga, we decided to do something na related dito and that's where we decided na mag-team up sa Balyena.org," Alojepan told ABS-CBN News.
(Since the whale is a significant symbol, we decided to do something related to it and that's where we decided to team up with Balyena.org.)
"Whalien 52," released in 2015 as part of the album "The Most Beautiful Moment in Life, Pt. 2," talks about feelings of loneliness and alienation.
The song is based on the 52-hertz whale, dubbed as "the world's loneliest whale," which calls at a higher frequency than other whale species.
"It is true, 'no, na mayroong na-record... pero whether it's lonely or not, 'yon 'yong medyo debatable and whether it's one of its kind," Balyena.org founder Jo Marie Acebes, an expert on marine mammals, said of the whale that inspired the song.
(It's true, there was a record of such whale... but whether it's lonely or not, that's a bit debtable and whether it's one of its kind.)
Under Balyena.org's whale adoption program, a whale can be adopted and named for a year for P2,500.
Those adopting whales will also receive a kit which includes a certificate, a photo of the adopted animal's tail, and a plushie, among others, Acebes said.
"We selected male whales para mas (so it's more) appropriate kasi (because) we do know the sex of some of the whales we have up for adoption," she said.
Acebes said she was amazed that fan clubs, particularly BTS' ARMY, are helping advocacy groups such as Balyena.org.
"It wasn't like this during my time, I would say that. 'Pag fan ka (when you're a fan), for example, of a certain band, group or singer, you don't normally engage in things like this," Acebes said.
"They are quite more aware of what's going on and they really want to make a difference by using their own influence as a group. They have a huge following, obviously," she said.
Aside from whale adoption, BTS fans are also donating to residents of the Bicol region to help rebuild their houses that were destroyed by typhoons last year, said Alojepan.
Alojepan, who is 24, said she is proud that fans have been taking part of social causes, often in the name of the celebrities they support.
"Nakaka-proud lang kasi as a fan of K-pop and of course, BTS, hindi lang kami puro fangirl. Kahit papano we try to do something din for our community," she said.
(I'm proud because as a fan of K-pop and of course, BTS, we just don't fangirl. We at least try to do something for our community.)
"Kami, with BTS, they've been supporting some charitable causes so doon kami na-inspire talaga. That's why we started also giving back," she added.
(For us, with BTS, they've been supporting some charitable causes so we feel really inspired. That's why we started also giving back.)
Several K-pop fan clubs earlier this year joined the community pantry movement, setting up the food aid initiative in their areas.
BTS debuted on June 13, 2013 under BigHit Entertainment, which was recently renamed to HYBE Corporation, with the mini album "2 Cool 4 Skool," which spawned the singles "No More Dream" and ""We Are Bulletproof Pt. 2."
Over the years, the group, noted for its songs which deal with youth issues and contain positive messages, worked its way up to become a globally recognized musical act with legions of fans.