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Searching for Gold in the Meaning of SB19's Gento

In the wake of its release, we knew that SB19’s ‘Gento’ was filled with more references, metaphors, Easter Eggs and callouts than we could ever collect up in a short time. Fortunately for us, the fever pitch that is SB19’s PAGTATAG era comeback song has never really let up. In fact, it’s only grown in hype in the last 8 months thanks to the viral Gento Dance challenge taking over TikTok. With eyes all over the world on ‘Gento’, we wanted to give our take on some of the references and Easter Eggs that make this track special. 


What’s In a Name?


SB19's Gento Title Screen

The name ‘Gento’ doesn’t translate perfectly to Filipino. Gento is often used as slang for “ganito” which means “like this” - which is how it’s translated in the official English subtitles on the music videos. Gento also sounds an awful lot like the Filipino word “ginto” which means gold - and gold is a theme that runs through the entire music video. 

What’s so special about the theme of gold? We could write an entire article about that. And we are…

Pablo has shared this dual meaning on a couple of occasions - both in interviews during the US leg of their Pagtatag tour and on Twitter 1,2. What’s so special about the theme of gold? We could write an entire article about that. And we are…


Making Way for Pop Culture


Let’s talk about iconic Filipino superheroes - because Josh makes a reference to a cultural icon in the 2nd verse of Gento. 


‘Di ko na kailangan lumunok ng bato, hindi mala-Darna ‘to (I don’t need really need to swallow a stone, I am not like Darna)


So, who is Darna, exactly? She’s  the iconic Filipino superhero first conceptualized by Mars Revelo in 1939 (2 years before Wonder Woman debuted). She's the subject of multiple television adaptations, most recently in 2022. In this version, she is an unassuming girl from the province who follows a shooting star to find a small white stone. When she swallows the stone, she becomes Darna of Planet Marte - a tall beautiful warrior woman known for her Olympic-level combat skills, enhanced speed and senses, superhuman strength and near-invulnerability. 


SB19 Josh in Gento MV.

So, what’s with the reference to the Philippines' most famous heroine? Josh is asserting that he isn’t like Darna - he doesn’t need to swallow a stone. SB19 is unstoppable on their own and they will keep fighting to achieve their goals - no matter who tries to stand in their way. 


Don’t Make Me Say It


If you’re not familiar, another of Josh’s lines in that 2nd verse will probably throw you for a loop.


Aandar ang makina ko, tanging mekaniko ay ako, ‘la nang moni-Moniko (I can have my engine run. I am my own mechanic, there’s no need to Moniko)


If this one sounds like a tongue-twister, then you’re right. It’s a reference to a Filipino tongue-twister (that took me a couple hours to say even remotely correctly). The original rhyme is: Minekaniko ni Monico ang Makina nang mañica ni Monica (Moniko, the mechanic, tinkered with the machine of Monica’s doll). 3 The message here is a lot like the line immediately before. SB19 doesn’t need validation and they don’t need to rely on others. Self-reliance is  a big part of how they arrived where they are today.

‘Gento’ marks the beginning of their era with no one pulling their strings.  

With the announcement last year of 1Z Entertainment, it also begs the question if the line has a second meaning. What kind of doll has an “engine” or maybe a mechanism? A puppet. ‘Gento’ marks the beginning of their era with no one pulling their strings.  


Across the Pond


Coming across the pond and sliding into Ken’s part in the 2nd verse, now we find ourselves with a reference to an American icon.


No rush, I can do this all day (no rush). Twenty-four mentality like Kobe (Mamba). The harder I work, the harder I play. Walang home court sa ‘kin, sasalpak kahit away.


SB19 Ken in Gento MV

The late Kobe Bryant was often called “The Black Mamba” and his life philosophy, for which he credited his success on the court, was called “Mamba Mentality”. Kobe wrote a book about his philosophy in which he identified the 5 pillars:

  1. Relentless Work Ethic

  2. Continuous Improvement

  3. Mental Toughness and Focus

  4. Resilience and Determination

  5. Attention to Detail

From practicing their Go Up choreography 1000 times to the intense vocal training they did in 2022 - they’ve always viewed themselves as the drivers of their fate. 

To be honest, there isn’t a list that could better describe the values of SB19. From practicing their Go Up choreography 1000 times to the intense vocal training they did in 2022 - they’ve always viewed themselves as the drivers of their fate. 


Headed into the Great Unknown


One of the most intriguing Easter Eggs in ‘Gento’ might just be the references to gold throughout the video and our favorite is probably the most subtle. During one of the choruses, Justin shakes gold dust out of his hair. This one is a bit odd, but stay with us.


Pilit na hinukay ang bumbunan. Makakita lang ng ginto, ginto (Kept digging inside my head just to find gold. Gold.)


This particular scene is well-placed with Justin’s line in the chorus. The gold is spilling out - a reminder that they don’t need to look outward, but that the gold and their gifts were within them all along. They just needed to find it. 


SB19 Justin in Gento MV

We think this one is a reference to El Dorado, the famed South American City of Gold.  The original story of El Dorado was told by Jan Rodriguez Freyle, a 14th Century explorer. He claimed to have witnessed the coronation of a new ruler amongst the Muisca people:


His regal form overspread with fragrant oil

On which was laid a coat of powdered gold

From sole of foot unto his highest brow, 

Resplendent as the beaming of the sun. 


Basically, the new king went out into the lake covered in gold dust while his servants threw sacrifices of gold and precious gems into the lake. The upcoming king then dove into the lake and emerged as their human ruler. 

Gold is the treasure within them. Gold is their talent. Gold is their art. 

If we’re right, this is one of the absolute best references in the music video. Everything about Gento speaks of transformation, and this reference is about SB19 stepping into their roles as the Kings of P-Pop. They know their worth and they are claiming their destiny. 


An Unusual Ending


It doesn’t seem possible to have a discussion about the meaning of ‘Gento’ without discussing its most unusual part - the end. 


Pre (Bro), what color is your love, pre (bro)? Gold, pre (bro). Gold.


Aliens surround a termite farm - from which the camera has just zoomed out and they ask the question - what color is your love? It’s an iconic line from their 2020 single, Alab’. In the video, the members represent 5 colors (which are still used to represent them today), but gold isn’t one of them. Gold is the treasure within them. Gold is their talent. Gold is their art. 


Aliens in SB19 Gento MV

So, why are they inside the termite farm? Scientists have found that certain species of termites are able to locate gold deposits deep within the earth. They can be used to mine the precious metals. Everything brings us back around to this theme of gold and of their worth as artists. 


Who are the Gento aliens? That’s as much as we are willing to speculate, but one thing is for certain - there are messages and Easter Eggs that we may never understand – all thanks to the minds of creative directors Xi-Anne Avanceña, Pablo and Justin. 


All That Glitters

SB19 have faced the fire. They are ready. They won’t be used, dismissed or dissed by anyone anymore. 

References to gold are woven throughout Gento and altogether, the story creates a powerful message. The world seeks riches, but few are willing to do the dirty work to turn it into treasure. SB19 have done the work. They have faced the refiners’ fire - a reference they made throughout their Pagtatag World Tour. To the observant viewer? It’s also the fires they were walking into in their 'Bazinga' Music Video. It’s the ongoing story of the Kings of P-Pop that they are challenging the industry and people's perceptions of them within it. SB19 have faced the fire. They are ready. They won’t be used, dismissed or dissed by anyone anymore. 

 
 

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