MANILA — It’s not often that one would imagine the members of K-pop megaband BTS speaking in Filipino. But that’s exactly what the local edition of the group’s 10th anniversary memoir offers: the boys’ stories in our own language.
Released last July 9, coinciding with the anniversary of the group’s dedicated fan base called ARMY, “Beyond the Story: 10-Year Record of BTS” chronicles the K-pop superstars’ rise to fame and contains hints of their future endeavors.
Pinoy ARMYs were lucky enough as BTS’ management company, Big Hit Music, included Filipino among the 23 languages that the memoir was translated into. This was done with the help of Apop Books, an imprint of local publishing firm Adarna House.
“Big Hit wanted it to be translated into as many languages as possible and what they wanted us to do was to publish the Filipino edition. Of course, the opportunity was so unique… hindi na ako nagdalawang-isip [to say yes]” Agno Almario, head of Apop Books, said in an interview with ABS-CBN News.
(I didn’t think twice to say yes.)
Established in 2020, Apop focuses on translating best-selling Korean titles into English for Filipino readers. Its first release was Kim Soo-hyun’s “I Decided To Live As Me,” which was seen being read by BTS member Jungkook on the band’s reality show “BTS: Bon Voyage.”
Almario first learned about BTS through “I Decided To Live As Me,” unaware that Apop would later be tapped for the group’s memoir.
“Noong nalaman namin na binabasa siya ni Jungkook, ako mismo hindi ko kilala ‘yong BTS, so I learned more about them, I learned about their message. It was similar to the books that we wanted to publish. It was that of self-care, self-love, mental health, bettering yourself,” he said.
(When I found out that Jungkook was reading the book, I personally had no idea who BTS were, so I learned more about them, I learned about their message. It was similar to the books that we wanted to publish. It was that of self-care, self-love, mental health, bettering yourself.)
“The first books we published were very successful. We gained a lot of credibility especially with our Korean partners and that’s why when [Big Hit] started this massive project of translating the autobiography into 23 languages, they looked to us as a partner,” he said.
Apop assembled a team of five translators to work on the book, which was also the imprint’s first Filipino-language release. Priced at P1,999, the memoir also comes with a set of photocards exclusive to the Filipino edition.
For Almario, reading BTS’ story in the native tongue “hits differently.”
“Our national language is the language of our shared experience, our collective consciousness, our shared history. As my father [National Artist for Literature Virgilio Almario] likes to put it, ‘Ito ‘yong wika ng gunita natin (This is the language of our memory),’” he explained.
“Kaya kapag nakita mo, nabasa mo, narinig mo na nag-uusap si Jimin at J-Hope in Filipino tungkol sa experiences nila sa training nila at performances, iba talaga ‘yong tama,” he said.
(That’s why if you see, read, hear Jimin and J-Hope talking in Filipino about their experiences with their training and performances, it really hits differently.)
David Michael San Juan, convenor of language advocacy group Tanggol Wika, bared that there was a significant demand for Filipino-language books but not enough stories were being published.
“May kakulangan sa bilang ng libro na na-publish in Filipino, mataas ‘yong demand,” said San Juan.
(There’s a shortage in the number of books being published in Filipino while there’s a high demand.)
“I’ve heard countless stories of writers in Filipino, hirap na hirap maghanap ng publishing house na maglalathala ng kanilang sinulat. ‘Pag English sinulat mo sa Pilipinas, ang dali [mag-publish], ang bilis,” he added.
(I’ve heard countless stories of writers in Filipino, they find it difficult to find a publishing house that would publish their work. If you write in English in the Philippines, it’s easy and quick to publish.)
Almario agreed that the demand for Filipino books was high, citing the success of Wattpad stories.
In the case of the BTS memoir, sales were “staggering” and “extremely good,” said Almario, who was unable to share the exact figures.
“Nakakatuwa nga kasi when you go to Twitter, to TikTok, makikita mo na nag-uusap doon ‘yong Filipino ARMYs comparing the experience. Nakakatuwa to see them, na may nagpo-post na, ‘Wow okay pala itong Filipino version. Ang sarap pala basahin,’” he said.
(It’s nice because when you go to Twitter, to TikTok, you’ll see Filipino ARMYs there talking and comparing their experiences. It’s nice to see them posting, ‘Wow, it’s actually okay that we have a Filipino version. It’s good to read it in Filipino.)
For BTS fan Zarah Gagatiga, reading the boys’ stories in the local language felt “special.”
“I was already moved doon sa Chapter 1 ng English kasi dumating ‘yong e-book copy ko pero noong binasa ko na ‘yong Filipino, Chapter 1 pa lang nakaubos na ako ng isang pack ng tissue,” said Gagatiga.
(I was already moved by the first chapter in the English version because I had an e-book copy but when I read it in Filipino, I used up an entire pack of tissue with just the first chapter.)
“Naramdaman ko doubt ni Suga, ramdam ko intensity ni RM at takot ni Jimin. Naramdaman ko din sa English pero mas swak sa pagka-Pilipino ‘yong translation in Filipino,” she added.
(I felt Suga's doubt, RM's intensity and Jimin's fear. I felt it too in the English version but the Filipino translation was more suitable to me as a Filipino.)
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