How Vince Igno Fosters ‘High Quality’ K-pop Events in the PH
Manila/ Vibe/ Pop Culture

Meet Vince Igno, the Brains Behind PH First-ever K-Pop Cover Group Concert

Vince Igno Kpop Dance Cover Groups feature 3

From upbeat pop songs to heartwarming ballads, the K-Pop music has certainly piqued the interest of Filipinos, and it’s not surprising news.

Riding the Hallyu wave, the Philippines was hailed as the third country with the most K-Pop fans in 2021. Hence, this paved the way for K-Pop concerts and events to dominate the Philippine stage.

Aside from the hottest South Korean acts, locally organized K-themed events have been a growing success in the country. One of the pioneers of hosting K-Pop events in local communities is Vincent Sy Igno.

In an exclusive interview with The Beat Asia, Vince shared his aspirations in life as an event manager at Link-Up Productions and a performer covering K-Pop dance.

Humble Beginnings

Before doing K-Pop cover dance, Vince first showed interest in dancing to hip-hop music. He took multimedia arts at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde in Manila where he spearheaded a university’s dance group called “ComOne Ground.”

One of his crowning accomplishments during his stay at the college is converting the crew into a professional dance group that can be hired to perform at corporate events.

Vince Igno Kpop Dance Cover Groups Link up
Photo credit: Vincent Igno

In 2011, Vince was recruited for a K-Pop cover group called SHINErs, covering the quintet South Korean boy band SHINee. At the same time, he joined G-Force dancers who regularly performed in a local musical variety show together with A-list performers and celebrities in the country. He lasted in the group for about two to three years.

In spite of his long list of dance gigs, SHINErs prospered above all, with Vince describing his experience as “life changing.” That’s the time when they started to perform on television shows and competed in South Korea to represent the Philippines for the K-Pop Cover Dance Festival in 2013 and an alumni guest performer in 2015.

Vince Igno K-pop Dance Cover Groups
Instagram/Link-Up Productions

Discovering Passion and Creative Careers

In 2020, when the pandemic canceled shows and other forms of entertainment, Vince’s events planning business was affected. He decided to find a day job and worked as a brand specialist, handling various clients like aesthetic clinics, shoes, and more. He also managed the operations and client relations of a fashion studio. When business in the events industry began to pick up again, he realized that event planning was truly his passion.

“I’m just really passionate when it comes to events and entertainment. Kahit tinatry kong magstay sa mga day job, dun talaga tinatawag ako ng passion, bumabalik ako (sa) passion (ko), (events) and performing.”

(I'm just really passionate when it comes to events and entertainment. Even though I make an effort to keep my day job, I always end up going back to [my] passion, which is (events) and performing).

Vince Igno K-pop Dance Cover Groups
Instagram/Link-Up Productions

Moreover, Vince shared that he enjoys the process of conceptualizing events because it allows him to exhibit his creative side while also providing the K-Pop community with something fresh and new.

Throughout the successful events he has pulled off, Vince admitted that there’s still room for improvement. When asked about the advice he would give people who are just starting out in event management, he said that the most important thing is for people to leave the event feeling happy and satisfied.

“[A]s long as they love K-Pop, as long as they enjoy what they’re really doing, as long as clear sa kanila kung bakit nila ginagawa ‘yun, everything will follow… ‘Wag lang sila panghinaan (ng loob), if ever magkamali sila, just learn from it. ‘Pag gusto mo naman talaga, hindi mo mafi-feel ‘yung pagod at stress, parang mababalance mo yung sarili mo in a way na mas malalampasan mo talaga kasi gusto mo siyang gawin para sa lahat and for yourself.”

(As long as they love K-Pop, as long as they enjoy what they're really doing, [and] as long as it's clear to them why they're doing it, everything will follow... Don’t be disheartened, if they ever make a mistake, just learn from it. When you really want something, you won’t easily feel tired and stressed, it’s more like you can balance yourself in such a way that you can overcome challenges because you want to do it for everyone and for yourself).

Inevitably, stress is part of the event planning process, which consists of budgeting, picking the right venue, making backup plans, and more. As a professional who has been in the industry for almost a decade, Vince highlighted the importance of having friends to recharge and hustle again.

“I’m just so blessed that I have so many friends around me. Super happy ako nameet ko din sila from the community itself. I stay rooted kasi never lumaki ‘yung ulo [nung naging event organizer na ko] kasi sila-sila pa rin ‘yung kasama ko.”

(I’m just so blessed that I am surrounded by so many friends. I am super happy that I also met them from the community itself. I stay rooted because of them, and I never became arrogant about my status as an event organizer).

Vince Igno K-pop Dance Cover Groups
Instagram/Link-Up Productions

“Sports also [help]. Nag-aattend ako ng dance class and nagbabadminton ako or nagvavolleyball ako. It matters for me na hindi lang ako sobrang andun lang parati kasi you know as a creative person kailangan mo talagang I-expose yung sarili mo in different environment[s]. From there, dun mo makukuha ‘yung creative ideas and juices mo na kakailanganin mo dun sa pagtatrabahuan mo.”

(Sports also [help]. I attend dance classes and I play badminton or volleyball. It matters for me that I’m not stuck with one thing because, you know as a creative person, you really need to expose yourself in different environments. From there, you can get your creative ideas and juices that you will need in your work).

Link-Up Productions and K-Pop Coalesce 2022

Link-Up Productions was established in 2014 when Vince, together with SHINErs, came back from the international competition held in South Korea. His perspectives on K-Pop dance covers have pushed him to launch his own productions and provide a “better stage” where Filipino talents can exhibit their dancing skills.

The vision of Link-Up Productions is to “link” different K-Pop productions nationwide, as well as to offer it “up” to God.

Link-Up Production’s first-ever K-Pop event, K-Pop Coalesce, thus, was launched. In a bid to unite the ever-growing K-Pop community in the Philippines, Vince hosted this special event where groups can create their own choreography and stage production. As the K-Pop community embraced the first K-Pop cover group concert, he decided to make it an annual event, offering new themes and programs.

Vince Igno K-pop Dance Cover Groups
Instagram/Link-Up Productions

“May tinatawag kaming K-Pop cuties and Link-Up muse. ‘Yun naman ‘yung mga girls and guys na maraming engagement and talk about sa community. ‘Yung K-Pop cuties, more on like vino-vote sila, nino-nominate sila ng mga tao. Sa Link-Up muse naman, personally ako ‘yung namimili kasi I feel like ‘yung mga girls very influential, di lang sa talent nila pero [dahil din] sa mga ginagawa nila, and stories nila in life.”

(We have what we call "K-Pop Cuties" and "Link-Up Muse." Those are the girls and guys who have a lot of engagement and are popular in the community. The K-Pop Cuties, more so, are based on votes wherein people nominate them. For the Link-Up Muse, I personally chose them because I feel like the girls are very influential, not only because of their talents but [because] of what they do, and their stories in life.)

“[N]agkaron (din) ng fashion show, talent portion, and after that ni-launch namin ‘yung charity namin which is Link-Up Cares. Yung mga proceeds ng event namin is nagbibigay kami ng feeding program, school supplies sa kids, and we offered also free K-Pop dance class. Super fun siya.”

(There was also a fashion show, talent portion, and we launched our charity organization called Link-Up Cares. We provide feeding programs, free school supplies for children, and free K-Pop dance classes from the proceeds of our events. It’s super fun!)

This year, K-Pop Coalesce aims to go back to the “basics,” especially that the K-Pop community in the Philippines has slowly parted ways due to the COVID-19 pandemic, unlike before, when the entire community would gather and celebrate to witness amazing performances.

“This (year’s) Coalesce, ang gusto ko kahit di siya maging ganun kalaki, it’s more like of being an intimate community. Just to remind everyone na ‘yung belongingness of each individual in this community should be really celebrated. Another challenge for me to build ‘yung core, lalo na ang daming bagong K-pop fans, di’ba? Again, it’s time for Link-up to reintroduce kung ano yung meron sakanya.”

(What I want for this (year's) coalesce, even if it doesn't become that big, it's more like an intimate community. Just to remind everyone that the belongingness of each individual in this community should be really celebrated. Another challenge for me is to build the core, particularly among new K-Pop fans. Again, it’s time for Link-Up to reintroduce what it has to offer.)

As the K-Pop industry takes over mainstream media, fandoms have evolved throughout each generation, introducing different trends. Thus, keeping up with the latest trends in the events industry is essential.

Throughout his experience in entertainment, Vince witnessed how K-Pop cover groups transitioned from first to second to third generations, and so on.

“To be honest, minsan may mga pine-perform sila (dance groups) sa event na hindi ko na talaga alam ‘yung K-Pop idols. Kapag nakita ko maganda ‘yung song na pine-perform nila, ‘yung choreography, sila mismo ‘yung nag-iinform sakin, [these are] the new groups. Both the participants, the audience, and me parang all of us are feeding each other when it comes to information, when it comes to K-Pop.”

(To be honest, sometimes there are performances at events that I am not really familiar with. When I noticed that this song was good, they (dance groups) were the ones who informed me of these new groups or K-Pop idols. Both the participants, the audience, and me are feeding each other when it comes to information, when it comes to K-Pop.)

What’s Next for Link-Up Productions for 2023

There are a lot of things lined up for Link-Up Productions in 2023. Vince revealed that he wants to revive the productions’ K-Pop dance series and workshops, which will be spearheaded by instructors-dancers who come from the community itself.

Vince Igno Kpop Dance Cover Groups Link up
Photo credit: Vincent Igno

If feasible, he would like to produce K-Pop events on a regular basis, either once a month or once every other month. One of his goals is to develop a K-Pop fitness program designed especially for plus-sized people who are hesitant to attend the regular dance classes, with the goal of providing them with the opportunity to improve their talents in dancing.

Additionally, he’s looking forward to his trip to Malaysia, where he will serve as a judge for an international dance competition scheduled for the following year.

“It’s another opportunity for me to absorb and to see a different community sa ibang bansa na for sure mafu-fuel up ako [magproduce ng events] pagbalik ko.”

(It's another opportunity for me to absorb and to see a different community in another country, which for sure will fuel me up [to produce more events] when I return.)

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