Five months following the debut of the boy group BGYO, ABS-CBN’s Star Magic, through the Star Hunt Academy (SHA), unveiled its eight-member girl group, BINI, composed of Gen Z members Aiah, Colet, Maloi, Gwen, Stacey, Mikha, Jhoanna, and Sheena.
BINI’s training, formation, and debut
With the same goal as the boy group, BINI’s project director Laurenti Dyogi aims to introduce the girls and the Filipino culture to the international audience.
Narrowing down the hundred aspirants, these eight girls were rigorously trained under the keen-eyed experts pushing them to perfect their talents and be equipped with essential skills that would be useful in becoming world-class performers. Along with the BGYO boys, BINI trained under South Korean coaches from MU Doctor Academy—the agency that trained some members from MOMOLAND and OH MY GIRLS.
Watch below a sneak-peek from their training days and when they first meet their Korean coaches.
To watch more of their training journey, catch the One Dream: The Bini-BGYO Journey episodes on ABS-CBN Entertainment’s YouTube channel.
Aside from honing them as performers, SHA also provided the girls’ education and personality development training to help them become strong, independent young women, reflecting the meaning of the group’s name.
The group’s name BINI was taken from the Tagalog word binibini, which translates to “young lady” in English. It is a nod to the group’s vision to embody the idea of a modern Filipina—sweet, fierce, independent, and informed.
Watch some of the girls’ dance practices shared by director Dyogi via Twitter.
Part2 ng pagngiti. SHAtrainees are humbly asking for your patience. They promise to work harder to earn your support. @ArcetaAiah @iamcoletvergara @apuli_gwen @imJhoannaRobles @MaloiRicalde @iammikhalim @iamsheenacat @staceysevilleja #TuloyAngPangarap #StarHuntAcademyTrainees pic.twitter.com/L54U0txBzT— Direk Lauren (@direklauren) May 17, 2020
BINI pre-debuted their single Da Coconut Nut on November 20, 2020, before officially launching on June 11, 2021, with their single Born To Win. Three months later, they released their third single, Kapit Lang, and full-studio album Born To Win on October 14. The album contains twelve tracks with Golden Arrow as its title track and is available in four international versions in Bahasa, Japanese, Spanish, and Thai.
Meet the BINIbinis
Below are quick and brief profiles of the beautiful and talented members of BINI, arranged from the ate (eldest) to the bunso (youngest).
Maraiah Queen Arceta, or simply Aiah, was born on January 27, 2001, and is the group’s main rapper and visual. Hailing from Cebu, Aiah first tried her luck in entering showbusiness through auditioning for Pinoy Big Brother (PBB). She also got a chance to attend a private casting for the role of Darna, which would go to Jane de Leon. Both opportunities may have not landed on Aiah’s hands, another door would eventually open from the Star Hunt.
Equipped with natural beauty and incredible wits, Aiah made it through the rigorous two-year training despite entering the camp last and having no prior experience in singing or dancing. “I don’t sing and I don’t dance so when I joined BINI, it helped me learn a lot about music,” the 20-year-old idol said in an exclusive interview with Metro Style. Obviously, her hard work has paid off as she debuted alongside the other girls.
Colet, born Nicolette Vergara, is BINI’s main vocalist, lead dancer, and lead rapper. She was born on September 14, 2001, in a musically-inclined household. Her talent in singing is undoubtedly extraordinary. However, opportunities for her to break out into the music industry seemed to be elusive—until she lined up for the SHA audition.
“Nag-audition ako sa Bohol in 2018. Audition ako nang audition hanggang mag-callback ako. Bago ako mag-callback, nag-wish pa ako. Birthday ko noon and nag-wish ako na sana matawagan ako or may matanggap ako na text. The next day, may tumawag talaga so mabait talaga si Lord,” Colet shared in the same exclusive interview with Metro Style. After going through training, the 20-year-old idol bid goodbye to that shy girl she once was and debuted in BINI as a confident performer.
(I auditioned in Bohol in 2018. I auditioned and auditioned until I received a callback. Before receiving the callback, I even wished. It was my birthday and I wished that I would receive a call or text. The next day, someone called me so Lord is so good.)
Mary Loi Ricalde, known mononymously as Maloi, is the main vocalist and was born on May 27, 2002. In the same exclusive interview, the-19-year-old vocalist recalled her spontaneous audition for SHA in 2019 accompanied by her mother. “Nag-first audition ako sa grand audition noong April 2019 sa Araneta. Pero tinry lang namin, sobrang spontaneous, like sabi ni mama, ‘Tara, audition tayo.’ [Sabi ko], ‘Ha? Anong audition?,” Maloi said.
(I first auditioned for the grand audition in April 2019 in Araneta. But we only tried, it was super spontaneous, like my mom said, ‘let’s go, let’s audition.’ [I said], ‘Ha? What audition?)
It wasn’t her intention to enter showbusiness and only agreed to do it for the experience. Instead, Maloi found herself making it through the tough training and debuted in BINI standing right next to seven other girls.
Gweneth Apuli, or Gwen, is the lead vocalist and lead rapper of the group and was born on June 19, 2003. Hailing from Bicol, the 18-year-old idol was a former PBB housemate, joining Otso Batch 3 in 2015. Unfortunately, she was eliminated on the 36th day. It wasn’t a waste, though, as her eviction paved the way for her recruitment as a trainee in SHA for her jaw-dropping singing talent.
Stacey Aubrey Sevilleja, or Stacey, is BINI’s main rapper and lead dancer. She was born on July 13, 2003, hailing from Nueva Vizcaya. Growing up surrounded by music, it wasn’t a surprise the 18-year-old idol herself became interested and passionate about it too. Bringing with her this passion, Stacey joined was among the hundreds of aspirants to join the SHA, and luckily one of the eight members to debut in BINI.
Mikhaela Lim, or Mikha, is the group’s main rapper, lead dancer, and visual. She was born on November 8, 2003, and was 17 when she auditioned for SHA. Her decision to audition was something her parents didn’t expect she would do. The now 18-year-old rapper has always loved singing but she never really thought of pursuing it as a career. After having to endure and made it through the rigorous process of becoming a popstar, Mikha is set to conquer the stage together with her sisters she bonded over the course of two years of training.
Jhoanna Robles, known mononymously as Jhoanna, is the assigned leader of BINI. Aside from looking after the group, her role also includes the group’s lead vocalist and lead rapper. She was born and raised in Manila on January 26, 2004.
The soon-to-be 18-year-old leader realized her interest in performing arts and “auditioned for a singing contest for the first time as a third-grader,” Metro Style said in its exclusive interview with BINI following the group’s debut. She would later “become a junior broadcaster from sixth to tenth grade and an extra in hit teleserye Kadenang Ginto,” before finding herself lining up for the nationwide audition for SHA.
Lastly, Sheena Mae Catacutan, known mononymously as Sheena, is BINI’s main dancer and bunso among the eight members born on May 9, 2004. She previously joined a dance group called Most One Ted (M1T) dance group before entering SHA, and like Gwen, she also tried her luck in PBB: Otso Batch 3 but was evicted as soon as the reality TV show started. But instead of getting discouraged, the bunso’s spirits were not in the slightest down.
“In just two days [after that], pumasok na ako to train sa Star Hunt Academy,” she recalled. “Without that [hindi ko madi-discover] that I actually have the talent for singing… ‘Pag tinatanong ako [about] what my greatest achievement is, ‘pag feeling ko winner ako, lagi ko pong sinasabi eh ang pagiging BINI member. The day na sinabihan kami na we’re an official eight-member group, na our group will be called BINI, for me ‘yun po talaga. I felt like a winner. My dreams are finally coming true,” Sheena shared in her interview with Metro Style.
(In just two days [after that], I entered Star Hunt Academy to train. Without that (I wouldn’t discover] that I actually have the talent for singing… If someone would ask me [about] my greatest achievement, where I feel like a winner, I would always say being part of BINI. The day they said we’re officially an eight-member group, that our group will be called BINI, for me, that’s really it. I felt like a winner. My dreams are finally coming true.)
BINI loves BLOOM(s)
BINI’s official fandom name and color are BLOOM(s) and BINI Teal, respectively. The girls chose the former among the name suggestions their fans sent and announced during a livestream on February 13. BLOOM is firstly inspired by the group’s tagline “walo hanggang dulo (eight until the end),” with the infinity symbol replacing “OO.” It also served as a lovely reminder to the girls on their journey from SHA trainees to P-pop idols.
Meanwhile, the fandom’s color is inspired by the calming and clear water of the Philippine Sea, as the group shared via its official Twitter account.
The girls might be rookies in the idol industry—but what they have shown so far through their live on-stage performances, as well as music production, promises a blooming career ahead. Their studio album Born To Win debuted and peaked at no. 1 in iTunes Album Charts in the Philippines and charted in Thailand and Hong Kong.
Also Read: Everything You Need To Know About BGYO