The first-ever Pearl ARMY Festa Bazaar (PAFB) was a roaring success!
It rocked the Ayala Malls Vertis North in Quezon City with pedestrian average 62,300 visitors daily over the course of three days, based on the mall’s partial report. Thus far, this number has set a record-high both for the mall and for ARMY-led events in the country.
Meeting the event’s goal of bringing together Pearl ARMYs to celebrate ARMY Day, everyone who came bonded and created wonderful memories with ARMY friends old and new. The experience was quite inspiring that other Pearl ARMYs were moved to further strengthen the bonds of their “purple love” at the event.
To quote Kim Namjoon in his ending ment at the Permission To Dance Las Vegas concert in April this year, “We have to never take this love for granted – that’s the one thing for sure!”
And so we begin by remembering the highlights from the ARMY Anniversary weekend last July 8-10, 2022.
Pearl ARMY Bazaar
Serving as the centerpiece of the ARMY Anniversary celebration is the Pearl ARMY Bazaar.
Composed of over 45 local merchants enriched the ARMY Day experience with its wide selection of goods including official BTS/BT21/TinyTan and other brand collaboration merchandise, ARMY-made products, Korean food and snacks, and many more.
Cara De Castro Alegre of Sarang Straps was overwhelmed by the undeniable sense of community at the PAFB.
It was the first BTS bazaar her store participated in and the care and kindness she felt from the organizers and Pearl ARMYs who bought merch was palpable.
There was a genuine interaction in their creative process with buyers. The conversation stretched to their biases and wreckers, as well as Bangtan moments that defined ARMY life.
Audrey and Patty Feriol of Kimchi Chingu also successfully met their sale targets on Day 1. By Day 2, they had to call their kitchen at midday to speed up production since Pearl ARMYs were in a buying frenzy.
Bookworms trooped to Apop’s booth where copies of There Are No Bad People In the World and I Decided to Live As Me, and other BTS-recommended books were up for sale.
Not only did ARMYs feel closer to Bangtan through the availability of these titles at the bazaar, but many were also impressed by how the Apop staff spoke fondly of the books and the translators who worked on each title.
Needless to say, this bazaar, which is a “budol sonyeondan” experience come to life exceeded the joy of simply buying and owning BTS merch. The seller-buyer dynamic became a shared experience of love for all things Bangtan and ARMY.
Marry Me, Bangtan Photo Booth
One of the most celebrated booths at the PAFB was the “Marry Me, Bangtan Photo Booth,” which gave Pearl ARMYs the chance to live out their “delulu” dreams and get hitched with their BTS bias or wrecker.
Aside from taking tons of “wedding” pictures with their groom’s standees in the altar-themed booth designed by Joyce Aguilar of 2171 Floral Creations, the ARMY brides also walked away with a mock marriage certificate “signed” by their Bangtan “husband.”
Although the lines were long, patience, tolerance, and the spirit of fun and kilig fangirling ruled over the booth. Kudos to all the ushers and brides for their cool temperament!
Pearl ARMY Wall
Intended to share the beautiful story of BTS and Pearl ARMY, this interactive installation turned out to be one of the biggest hits at the PAFB!
The 8-foot wall features the story of how first Pearl ARMY fanbase BTS PH – Bangtan Boys Philippines established in February 2013, has supported BTS and brought Pearl ARMYs together through various projects launched together with their affiliate groups.
Of course, Pearl ARMYs who attended the PAFB didn’t miss the chance to be part of history by making their thoughts and feelings for BTS known by posting their own messages of love and gratitude on the wall.
From heartwarming stories of how BTS saved them to declarations of love for OT7 and their biases, the Pearl ARMY Wall captured over 1,000 letters over the course of three days — a wonderful testament to how BTS has moved people to become more than just fans but a community that shares in the group’s inspiring messages.
Exhibitions & Attractions @ PAFB
One of the coolest things about the PAFB is that it has something for everyone.
For the art lovers, the Art by ARMYsts exhibit provided a dose of inspiring creativity through the paintings and sustainable art pieces from artists of the Titas of BTS (TOB) community.
Those who wanted to celebrate BTS’ lustrious nine-year-long career were able to look back at some of the highlights through The Rise of Bangtan exhibition, which also featured the first 20 episodes of The Rise of Bangtan documentary by Aneesa Mahboob.
Meanwhile, the fur parents who brought their adorable babies along enjoyed the Ayala Malls Vertis North’s Barkyard Park, which was converted into the Barktan Sonyeondan Pet Park for three days. Others, on the other hand, had a grand time taking souvenir photos for their social media posts at the various attractions and installations including the BTS logo and Whalien 52 statue, also located at the activity center.
On Level 2, visitors also lined up to take their photos in the elegantly designed ARMY Room and the 8-feet tall BTS “Family Photo,” which made Pearl ARMYs feel like they were at a BTS concert.
Not to mention, everyone also enjoyed visiting the Smart booth for a chance to win a free poster and a set of photocards when they subscribe to Smart’s Free Tiktok For All promo.
Even the ACPH, TOB, and Ayala Malls Vertis North logos became a sudden attraction! Surely, Pearl ARMYs know how to make the most out of a simple thing.
Workshops @ PAFB
On Days 2 and 3 of the event, Pearl ARMYs participated in three different workshops that aimed at enhancing the ARMY Day weekend experience through fun learning activities.
First was the Dance With BTS Workshop conducted by Chace Cruz, which was then followed by a special presentation by volunteer dancers from the Titas of BTS community, who all learned a unique choreography to “Run BTS,” which incorporated hip hop and Filipino Sign Language (FSL).
The FSL choreography was developed by Coach Pia of the DeafEd Training and Assessment Center, which advocates Filipino Sign Language, deaf cccessibility, Braille training Workshops, awareness and advocacy support in education, and media- and community-based projects.
On Day 3, Pearl ARMYs had their hands busy making their own hand-painted canvas pouches in the APOBANGPO Pouch Painting Workshop under the guidance of artist Mabel Bautista, who is the same artist behind the 1.47 x 2.81-meter portrait of BTS made with over 18,000 buttons also on display at the event.
Afterward, more Pearl ARMYs got to express their creativity and love for Bangtan through wearable art in the form of beaded phone straps. The Young Forever DIY Phone Strap Workshop was facilitated by Vickit Macatulad of Jumimo Handmade Jewelry.
TOB Grand Meet-up
For members of Titas of BTS, one of the organizers of the event along with ARMY Connect PH, meeting the group’s admins, moderators, and fellow members (aka TOBbies) was one of the thrills of being at the PAFB.
To mark the occasion, TOB prepared a fun-filled program, which included “Run, TOB!” — aka their own version of the Run, BTS! — a mallwide scavenger hunt activity and Quizneyland, which was a test of memory and knowledge on all Bangtan facts and trivia.
The event not only marks a special celebration for ARMY Day but also the first time for the group to hold a face-to-face Grand Meet-up, following two years of interactions online.
Shine! Dream! Smile! — The Pearl ARMY Festa & Bazaar will return soon!
Weeks after the PAFB, Pearl ARMYs are still on cloud nine and have been sharing about their experience on social media using the hashtag #PearlARMYFesta2022.
Who wouldn’t feel a rush of endorphins? It was a weekend of fulfilled dreams and fantasy with people who understand what ARMY life and culture are all about. Furthermore, it was a shared experience with family and friends who are not ARMY but who are open enough to see the enabling and empowering energy of being a fan to oneself and to others. Kindness can be found there as well as the courage to simply BE.
This is just the beginning. The first of many. There are varied ways to gauge the success of the PAFB. For now, we continue to believe in our galaxy and the galaxy that lives in all beings big and small. Including the rocks we see on the ground and those we look upon the heavens.
Francis Alegado of STlLL BY FRANCIS
and Jose Luis Aguilar
The Pearl ARMY Festa & Bazaar is organized by ARMY Connect PH and Titas of BTS in partnership with Ayala Malls Vertis North.
Co-presented by 2171 Floral Creations, Answer Treat Yourself, Apop, Casadea, Chew Chew Junction, FRESH, Funhan Mart, Penshoppe, Smart, and The Rise of Bangtan.
Sponsored by Bangtan Style Club, Carina Jewels, Conly-Clem Marketing, iC3 Digital Productions, Hues by Cha, Jumimo by Vickit, KCS Shopping, Kiddie Affairs Custom Cakes, KLightbox, M’s Boutique, Made 4 ARMY, Origami, Pearl Pop, Purple Hub, Samgee ARMY, Seoul District PH, Shopparkjimin, Still By Francis, and Xanto Pop.
Co-sponsored by 6100 ARMY FIX, Bangtan Seoul Sisters, Bangtan Sews, BTS in the Shop MNL, Haengbokhae Manila, JL BTS Kpop Online Shop, Keikookies, KY.CO, Lachimolala MNL, Mood East Manila, Purple Dream, Purple Trinkets, Tattoo Nebula, and The Ahjumma Shop.