BGYO, a Filipino boy band group that debuted during the pandemic, started to make waves back in 2021, topping Billboard’s Next Big Sound chart, even if it was their very first time. Just how impressive is that for a rookie P-pop group? BGYO consists of 5 members: Gelo Rivera, the leader of the group who is also the center and lead dancer; Akira Morisihita, the lead vocalist; JL Toreliza, the main vocalist; Nate Porcalla, the main dancer and sub-rapper; and Mikki Claver, the main rapper of the group. Would you have guessed though that the group’s main rapper is Chinoy?
Michael Claver Jr. (施英賢), better known by his stage name Mikki Claver, is a Filipino-Chinese rapper who is also a lyricist and composer under ABS-CBN’s record label Star Music.
In his earlier days, Claver studied at Grace Christian College, a private Chinese school located in Quezon City. He had average grades in school despite making the effort to excel in his classes. However, later on in life, he realized that there was a different career path planned for him.
“Something to be proud of po kasi growing up po as a kid, in my school parang I wasn’t that smart po and parang hindi po sobrang good grades yung nabibigay ko kahit binibigay ko yung best ko and honestly… I didn’t know what to do in the future especially in college. Ngayon po parang na-proud ako sa sarili ko,” says Claver in an interview with Magandang Buhay hosts Melai Cantiveros, Regine Velasquez, and Jolina Magdangal.
Claver auditioned for ABS-CBN’s Star Hunt Academy in 2018 with the goal in mind to get free tuition for his college education— he did not join to achieve stardom.
“Before po ako maging Star Hunt Academy trainee, I was just a regular teenager. Di po ako marunong kumanta o sumayaw. Normal lang po yung grades ko sa school and naglalaro lang din po ako ng basketball after class. Pero, mahilig po ako gumawa ng beats, gumawa po ng kanta, and tini-try ko rin po mag rap. Pero, di pa po ako pro,” says Claver in an ABS-CBN Star Hunt video.
When training began in ABS-CBN’s Star Hunt Academy, Claver realized that his skills were average compared to his co-trainees who competed internationally in dance competitions and experienced singing live on television. Afraid that he would not reach their levels, Claver worked twice as much as other people to be able to catch up with his teammates and achieve his goal of getting into college. With him doubling his efforts just to be able to be on his teammates’ levels, did that take a toll on his physical and mental health? Claver says that he survived this type of rigorous training because he did not know his own strengths. With the support of the people close to him, Claver started to believe in himself and in what he can do— and naturally, everything just followed.
“It turns out po na hindi ko pa kilala yung sarili ko— and looking back, last year was a year of discovery for me. Nagsimula yun sa maliliit na bagay na may naniniwala po sakin, na may nagtitiwala po sakin— until one day, nag start na po ako to believe in myself and what I can do. Meron pala akong talento, hindi ko lang alam. Kaya ko pong kumanta and sumayaw, hindi ko lang po talaga na-try. Kaya ko palang mangarap pero ngayon ko pa lang sinisimulan.”
A few years ago, no one would have guessed that P-pop would be making waves in the music industry— however, with boy band groups like SB19’s “Bazinga” smashing BTS’s record on Billboard’s Hot Trending Songs chart while getting nominated for the 2021 Billboard Music Awards and BGYO’s debut album “The Light” staying strong in iTunes PH’s Top 100 album chart for 12 days while also topping charts in different countries show that we Filipinos have what it takes to make it in the global entertainment industry!
Claver gives a piece of advice to everyone wanting to be successful in what they do: “Being successful doesn’t happen overnight, so giving up is not an option either. Your self-determination, you believing in you— can go a long way. Outbest yourself. If not every day, then as often as you can, and that’s what matters.”
Don’t forget to follow BGYO’s official accounts and Mikki Claver’s personal account to be the first to know about their latest updates!