Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Memory Remains: What I'll Always Remember About 9/11

When I opened the TV today, the first show that popped was a feature on 9/11. I saw it last year in BIO channel. It was a documentary of the survivors' account on the horrors and heroism of what happened on that fateful September 11, 2001. Then it dawned on me that today's the 11th anniversary of 9/11.

"Big lights will inspire you, let's hear it for New York" -lyrics from Empire State of Mind

I have a former colleague who have experienced 9/11 firsthand. She was on her way to work via train. She felt the ground shook while she was inside it. She thought it was an earthquake. But when she got out of the subway, she was surprised with what she saw. A plane was stuck in one of the towers of the World Trade Center. She felt it was surreal. Why would there be a plane? The following scenes disturbed her more. She could see people in the windows. And suddenly, a few of those started jumping out of the windows. She told me she could almost tell that their clothes are being ripped due to the air pressure from jumping such altitude. She was completely in utter shock. That's the World Trade Center. One of the tallest buildings in the world. Why would people jump from there? And why is WTC in smokes? These were all too much to comprehend at the same time. She's in the US. In New York. Infront of World Trade Center- an iconic building of global commerce. It took a while before she got back to her senses and when she did, she called her kids' school.

Most likely, my colleague was around this area before it all collapsed.

The first thing that she said to whoever picked up the school's trunkline was, "We're being attacked! Get all the kids out of the school!"

That person on the other end tried to calm her down. My colleague said she's near WTC and there's a plane stuck in the said building. She (colleague) requested if she can talk to her kids but the person she's talking to declined as they need further information on what she's saying. She yelled: "Open the TV! It must be on TV by now!"

She can't remember what happened after she said that. If the line got cut or she dropped the call. There was an adrenalin rush for her to run and see her kids. As well as inform her friends who she knew has loved ones/relatives working in WTC.

The school officials on the other hand was very shocked on what they saw on TV. They immediately asked all kids who have parents working in WTC to go to one room.

It was already afternoon when she and her kids were reunited. My colleague said she hugged her kids so tight and both parties cried profusely. With what she saw earlier that day, it made her feel as if it was her last day on Earth. Emotions were running high as the other kids in the room were still waiting for their parents to pick them up. The school officials are worried for their own relatives as well.

She remembered that night with a certain chill in the air. No honking taxis. No noisy neighbors. Not even the usual on-the-go New Yorkers were on the street. Only the sirens of ambulances could be heard.

She said that 9/11 really shook her. The first few months, she found herself crying whenever she remembered what happened. She thought she could have died if she was inside WTC on that day. After much careful thinking, they went back here in the Philippines.

My colleague shared this to me around March 2008. I don't know how our conversation went that we've talked about 9/11. But I do know that it was very insightful to me. I never knew someone personally (until her) who was there while it all unfold. As I type this, I still get goosebumps. I can feel the fear and horror of not knowing what's happening around you. You can only grasp that there's a threat around you.

Let us pray for those lives who were taken away abruptly. May their memories will not be in vain. May their loved ones be inspired to carry their legacy and continue living productive lives despite their loss.
To those who were given the chance to share such stories with us,  may they receive the necessary care and support so that their traumatized hearts be healed. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

#LArcMNL Fan Meet 2012

#LArcMNL Fan Meet
September 23, 2012 (Sunday)
Balay Kalinaw - UP Diliman
2PM - 6PM

AFTER SO MANY YEARS... finally, a L'Arc~en~Ciel event organized by the fans!
The last one that I've attended was 6 or 7 years ago and was organized by Juujiro. It was around January. and for HYDE's birthday. Anyway, the L'ARC PHIL Street Team released a teaser and it went viral since some fans thought L'Arc~en~Cie/one of their members, Yukihiro will be coming. It was totally unexpected. We immediately did "damage control" as we don't want to mislead people just for them to come to the event. 

#LArcMNL Fan Meet aims to gather all L'Arc~en~Ciel fans and celebrate the band's influence and success all these years.  There'll be a bunch of fun activities too. Looking forward to see you at this event!

Music Gets The Best of Me (Asian Pop Expo 2012 Event Report)

"Ano pong hanap nyo ser/mam?"

Our online shop, FANdora's Box, has been around for quite some time. We had several successful transactions already online and we wanted to reach out to customers in person. We were planning to get a booth at Fantasy Quest 2 but it's beyond our budget. So when we came across Asian Pop Expo, we decided to give it a try since the whole table (6x2) only costs 2000PHP.

Too Early, Too Late Or Just Right
Let me tell you that my friends and I are "exhibitor virgins". (tricky term, eh?)
What I like about the organizers is that they held a meeting with all the exhibitors/sellers, fanclubs and contestants
1 week before the event. It gave me an expression that they're really serious about making the event smooth-flowing as possible and to set everyone's expectations. As well as answer some of the concerns in person. However, there was some slight miscommunication with some of the attendees. Some of us were informed that the meeting will be at 2PM while others thought it's 2:30PM. While a few thought it's 3PM.

So while waiting for the organizers, I wanted to get to know other people in the business/hobby and in hopes of finding new friends too. But I admit, I was overwhelmed at first. Since, I could hear *familiar* names of Asian acts being discussed but I didn't have enough info. I don't know how to start a conversation with the people around me. I suddenly felt old and disconnected with the fandom. It took a while before I got my own ground and when I did, 2 girls were talking about L'Arc~en~ciel. CHANCE DESU~
Unexpectedly, I also met the current president of the anime org (Genshiken) in DLSU-D in this meeting.  One of my fellow members in the #LArcMNL campaign was also there. Anyway, the Asian Pop Expo Pre-Event meeting  started at 3:30PM. Everyone was briefed on the rules and regulations. Some are very passionate in their cause so the organizers reminded us not to bash other sellers/FCs to avoid conflict. I think the meeting met its objectives and it ended well despite the hiccup to the time of the meeting. I understand that there are things that can happen unexpectedly.


 Event Proper
As per meeting, ingress can start at 8AM. We arrived around 9AM. I have the least number of items among my friends. Kid and Aish brought like backpacks/trolleys with them. All of my items managed to fit in a shopping bag. While we were waiting for the gates to open, we were checking each other's items. We were joking that we might buy each other's items after all.

The venue for this event was in ELEMENTS in Centris. It's just near Quezon Ave MRT. It's not inside the Centris Mall. But what's a few metres of walking from MRT for such spacious and conducive venue. :) I wore sleeveless because I was expecting that it'll be hot. But I was proved wrong as the aircon was in full blast. But it's not a big deal anyway. I'd prefer the venue winter-y cold rather than hot and sweaty.
It was our first time to attend an event to this venue and I  really like ELEMENTS.

I wanted to get this venue for our XMAS party but the people at ELEMENTS/ETON Centris isn't responsive. Ohwell.. maybe not my luck to get this. But I hope other cons would consider having this as their venue. *cross fingers*

They have a lot of cubicles. So whether you're a cosplayer or an ordinary con goer, waiting time isn't that long. Also, it was not hard to secure a space infront of the mirror despite that there were a lot of participants dolling up. Soap is provided and hand dryer is working. 

Food and Drinks
I think there was only one stall/booth offering food during the Asian Expo (under GENSHIKEN). But their food is really good. They were selling cupcakes (from TJS Bakeshop) and onigiri. The onigiri was such a hit.
Usually for cons, I just expect the food as "okay" but not repeatable. We call it pang-tawid gutom lang. May makain lang.  BUT the cupcakes and ESPECIALLY the onigiri in Asian Pop Expo, we were on repeat order mode! OISHII DESU!

Anyway, I saw some con goers who brought their own food with them so I think it's allowed(?). We brought our own food too incase we couldn't excuse ourselves from manning the booth. If you prefer to buy food near ELEMENTS, there are various choices and the range will be around 200-300PHP per meal/order.

As much as we wanted to check out the contests, we were only contented to get a view from our booth.
We are first time exhibitors so we don't have any idea about when and how will the influx of the people will be. I think as early as 11AM, there were some performers already on stage.

It was later in the afternoon that we had a break.We checked the FCs and we were amused that each has their own gimmicks and unique merchandise. Very creative! I love the idea of one FC where they had a cutout of the band members. Honestly, I was tempted to be silly and take a pic with it. JUST FOR THE NOSTALGIA. haha.. we were once fans of those bands.

I was really humbled that my friends (#LArcMNL, Facebook, Alma Mater) went to our booth. As well as those whom I made friends with during the pre-meeting dropped by as well. Sometimes, it's starting to look like a reunion of sorts. We met people whom we're just familiar with faces back in our hey-days.

It was nice to meet fellow Jmusic fans too. Most of the ones I've talked to are GACKT and L'Arc~en~ciel fans.  I spoke to some and had some little discussions too comparing the JPOP vs KPOP fandom.We were amazed how KPOP fans has a strong presence in the said event. While, the JPOP and JROCK still looked and felt the same. Yes, there are some new fans. Very passionate too about the music/artist but we wondered why there's still no mass appeal for Jmusic, not even enough to make the music honchos to sell like 100 or 500 CDs/DVDs. The younger batch of Jmusic fans are still doing what we experienced during our time. They order via online. Yes, the KPOP fans also order online but at least, when they step inside a music store here, they can expect one or two KPOP CDs to be there. For us, Jmusic fans, it's seasonal. Last time I rem, it was the Utada Hikaru Single Collection Vol.1. I can clearly remember that scene as I was in a toss whether I'm going to buy the album of Madonna, Kylie Minogue or Utada. The said albums were lined up beside each other too. Well, I ended up buying all three but only Utada's album was in CD format (yes, the two were in tape- old school!). :))

The other attendees who are also contestants had their own practice area which I think it's a good idea and kudos for the organizers for considering that part. I just hoped that there was some sort of a cover that people couldn't see it. I know some attendees who got confused where was the stage because the practice area seemed lively (sometimes) than what's happening with the stage.

As for transactions in our booth, it went okay. We managed to break even with what we've paid for the table.

Aside from the venue, we really enjoyed hanging out with people who shares the same interests with us.
The venue's good. I'd definitely attend an event again here. Program-wise, I was looking for more variety when it comes to "Asian music". This event has a lot of JPOP and KPOP FCs. Did anyone noticed if there's a fanclub for Mandarin/Chinese as well as Malaysian artists? I was looking forward to see that or maybe I just missed it? How about OPM? I mean Filipino artists are considered Asians, right? This event has a good concept. I hope they'll have another one next year. Maybe incorporate it with OKTOBERFEST? Music+Booze = that's one irresistible combo!

***The magazine featuring GACKT and the 1st edition Japanese print, FAKE manga are still available as we speak, check out our shop for more items.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Death and the Maiden

Roll The Dice of Life

Our block was really sad that one of our classmates have passed away due to breast cancer. This classmate of ours whom I'll always remember as quiet and thoughtful. Even if you're not part of her clique, you can ask her for notes and would never ever say anything sarcastically to you just because you forgot to take notes or you were just lazy to write things. I don't even recall that she has some rifts with our classmates too.

I remember talking to her about her plans once she got her masteral degree in guidance and counseling. She told me she wanted to start a school geared for children with special needs. We even compared notes on our post-grad since I'm taking up Industrial Psych while she took SPED/Guidance and Counseling and we're in different schools.

There's an old saying that those who are good are the ones who are taken away first. I'm not sure if such statement was made out of compliment or to appease the loss of those who were left behind. Our initial reaction was sad on the possibilities that this classmate of ours could have achieve if she lived longer.

Her wake was not gloomy. Not at all. When we attended her wake, we communicated to her as if she's still here. We told her that finally we were able to find the copy of the video of our block's most loved and famous theatrical performance. The block also  reminisced our college years. For a few hours, we talked about the struggles, triumphs and the funny moments we all had in our Alma Mater. Her family would also join our discussion after they had assisted the other guests. Before we left, we said a prayer for her.
In my heart, I thanked her for being a good classmate. I also told her that even if we belong to different groups, it seems she gave us all an opportunity to visit her one last time. Even her classmates from elem/HS were there. Her wake fell on a Philippine Holiday.

A few weeks after the death of my classmate, one of our former employees died. Though this time, it was from a congenital heart disease. What breaks my heart more is that she was pregnant. She died in Singapore and her body was moved back here in the Philippines.

The last time that I spoke to her was around last week of May. She thought I was still in Singapore and would like to meet up. I told her I was there last April but might be visiting around November if I still have some VLs left. She fondly calls me "Ninang" because I was the proxy of my manager (who's really their ninang (godmother) for the wedding). I'll always remember what stated in their wedding invitation: We feel so blessed in our lives that we prefer that you give to our brothers and sisters who are in need.
Who would have thought she'll leave everyone before she reached her 2nd wedding anniversary? :(

When I attended her wake, you can feel the love of the people for her. Her friends and classmates from elementary up to college were there at the wake. If I rem it right, she has worked for 2 companies here in the Philippines before moving to Singapore (1 is with a leading telco company here and the other is with our company).  The big bosses of that PH telco company and some representatives from her Alma Mater were present too. I've observed that her parents especially her mom really get strength from those people who have come up to tell good things about their late daughter.

We tend to relate death = old age. But when Death claims 2 young lives especially with the same range as you are, we all ponder about their current status, their dreams, potentials and what they could have been if they have lived longer. I never thought 2 of my friends will leave so soon.

But more than the reality that death could take anyone in an instant, I realized that how people perceived you when you were still alive, it will be magnified when you're dead.

I remember one story I read about a certain politican/judge in Cavite. That person was known to have a mean temper that it could top a certain female senator's outbursts. There were also rumors that he's corrupt. When he died, no one from his political party attended his wake/funeral. No one even claimed to be friends with him. He was known to be a bad person and up until his death, people still see him that way. That's just sad, ne?

As for my two friends who have passed away: your journey with us was cut short but I was glad I was able to hang-out with you both when you are still here. Will pray for your family's strength. I know they miss you.

Images by Freepik