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FIRING LINE: Tears for BTS, Asian hate

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By Robert B. Roque, Jr.

Tears have been overflowing on social media since Tuesday night that it’s tough not to acknowledge this wave of global grief over K-pop group, BTS, announcing its tentative, uncertain or hesitant break-up.

I know I risk being bashed by the “Army” – what BTS fans around the world are called – for using the world “break-up.” Media outfits were pretty careful not to offend the group’s cult following and reported, instead, that BTS had announced a “hiatus.”

But the hard truth is that the seven equally talented male members of this phenomenal group that took the world by storm dance hit after dance hit are now focusing on their solo careers. And a reunion, in the context of their pre-recorded statements released a day after their ninth anniversary last Monday, was more of a hopeful promise said in tears of farewell than a contract set in black and white.

Here in the Philippines, the longing for BTS among Filipino fans, who last saw them in the flesh at their “The Wings Tour” concert in Manila in May 2017, may be unmatched. While there has been no official worldwide survey on the number of “BTS Army” or fans, their social media following and “the majority of available sources” show that the Korean pop supergroup’s biggest Army is in the Philippines.

At this point, you might beg to ask why Firing Line is giving this much attention to BTS and draw the conclusion that I may be one of their fans. The truth is, I rooted for them to win the Grammys this year – which they didn’t for the second straight year – and that’s because a win could have boosted Asian acceptance in America, where racist-driven hate crimes have been at their worst the past two years.

Last May 31, these stand-up guys – RM, JK, Jin, V, Jimin, Suga, and Jhope – stood in the White House before US President Joe Biden and each made a call for the people of America to respect and accept differences and stop hate and violence against Asians. That act, by any measure, was heroic and earned my utmost admiration.

Barely three weeks before that, a Filipino family whose last name is the same as mine was mocked and verbally and physically assaulted by a racist at the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant in North Hollywood.

The cellphone video of the unprovoked attack on Patricia Roque, whose car was bumped from behind; her father Gabriel, who suffered a broken rib from a hard blow; and mom Nerissa, whom the Caucasian male suspect strangled, has been made public just recently.

It’s been more than a month since the incident happened and was reported to 911, yet police authorities in California have failed to bring the suspect forward to be charged with this hate crime.

Mr. Biden was sincere in bringing BTS to the USA’s seat of power to express his unbreakable resolve against Asian hate. But his cops ought to do a better job in tracking and acting against them.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at

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