SG-bound XOXO on what sets them apart from other P-pop girl groups


They may not be as good at dancing or as svelte as other P-pop girl groups, but if there’s one thing XOXO is absolutely confident about, it’s their vocal abilities.

They can belt, harmonize, rap and tackle different styles or genres with ease. And that doesn’t really come as a surprise because the act’s four members, Riel Lomadilla, Lyra Micolob, Dani Ozaraga and Mel Caluag, are former konteseras and “The Clash” finalists.


“‘Di kami kasing galing sumayaw at balingkinitan nila!” Riel quipped at a recent media conference. “But I think what sets us apart from other P-pop groups is our vocal abilities. That’s where we excel. We know we can hold our own.”

And they make sure that every singer gets an opportunity to shine. “We know each other’s strengths,” Lyra said. “Muriel and I are altos, so we focus on the melodies and harmonies. We can also rap, so we do that, too. Dani and Mel are sopranos, so they take care of the belting. We know our place and roles. There’s no jealousy. We don’t count who gets more parts.”

Dani, who typically does the group’s vocal arrangements, added: “I make sure everyone gets to showcase her talent, whether in the verses or ad libs.”

But aside from their singing, another thing that they feel is unique about XOXO is their diversity in looks and the importance they put on body positivity. They’re not just here to entertain, they said, but also to tell young girls that they’re beautiful the way they are.

“As you can see, we have different looks. We’re body positive. We advocate for representation … We want to teach little girls that it’s OK to not look a certain way. It’s OK not to have the same skin color as everyone else or have straight hair. You don’t need a 26-inch waistline to be successful and reach your dreams,” Riel said.

Talent and personality

While looks are important in show biz, XOXO puts more importance on talent and personality. “Show them your talent and what you [have] got. Stay kind. And as long as you’re not stepping on others’ toes, go for it,” Riel said.

This is the very message the group hopes to convey with their latest single, “GLNG (Go Lang Nang Go)” (GMA Music). Written by Ramiru Mataro and Geca Morales, the uplifting anthem is XOXO’s first upbeat and Filipino song.

“It’s different from our previous releases, “XOXO” and “My Miracle.” We’re thankful to have been given the chance to record this song, which is in line with our goal of inspiring and motivating our listeners,” Riel said.

“Whatever trials and tribulations we face in life, dapat go lang nang go. No matter what they say and do, you just have to do what’s right and what’s good for you. Do you,” she added.


The music video for “GLNG” will be released on June 1 at 5 p.m. on GMA Music’s YouTube channel. And on June 11, XOXO will fly to Singapore for the maiden installment of Academy of Rock Global’s “Spectacle” concert series. The event to be held at The Esplanade will also feature fellow P-pop groups BINI, BGYO and Yes My Love, as well as Singaporean acts Alfred Sun and Estelle Fly.

“We’re honored to be chosen as one of the Philippine representatives to the said musical event. We have been dreaming of performing overseas and Singapore is our first. It’s a stepping stone for us,” Lyra said.

Music will always be the group’s main focus. But they’re thankful that GMA 7 doesn’t box them in one field and gives them a lot of opportunities to explore other things, like acting.

Acting experience

Each member has starred in multiple soap operas and television shows: Riel was part of “First Yaya,” “First Lady” and is one of the regular cast members of the new sitcom “Open 24/7;” Lyra (“Maria Clara at Ibarra,” “The World Between Us”), Dani (“Hearts on Ice”) and Mel (“Bolera,” “Mga Lihim ni Urduja”) are no different.

“I have experience doing theater musicals in college, but acting in front of a camera is a different experience. The soaps I have been part of [have] opened so many doors. They made me realize that I can do comedy, that I can use my wacky personality at work. I feel like all these experiences have been preparing me for greater things. Every day is a learning experience for me.”

“I really wanted to become an actress, which inspired me to take up theater arts. It’s challenging, but I have been learning a lot from my helpful coactors, especially the veterans,” Mel said.

“Singing is our passion, but we all, at one point in our lives, dreamed of acting. And that has finally come true. Acting in front of big stars is quite the experience. You get to meet and interact with different actors and directors. Every set has a different vibe. I’m glad we’re not just boxed in one field,” Lyra said. INQ

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