Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Heart of A Fan (Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno Red Carpet Premiere and Public Press Con Event Report)

Just like most of you, I was also enthralled in participating SM's #RuroKenSMCinema promo in the hopes of seeing the RK cast and director upclose. I answered all of the questions in the FB page and it was only thru the Twitter contest that I won. And then, I scored 2 advance screening tickets in the event itself. 

While 2 of my closest friends were given an opportunity to interact with Takeru, Aoki and Otomo-san in Glorietta. One of them was given the title as the Ultimate RK fan. The other with her pic going viral as she received Aoki's tight tender hug. Who would have thought that in the game of pure chances, 3 in our group will get to experience this! 

It was a day before the red carpet premiere in Megamall and an impending fever is threatening my attendance to the event. My work's on a nightshift as an HR and I did my best to manage my dry throat and rising temperature. I was wearing a cooling gel patch on my forehead and drank lots of H2o while I was in the office. I also took 1000mg of Vitamin C that shift. Thankfully on the day of the Megamall event (August 6), my temperature became stable. I guess my fangirl immune system got boosted of some sort. LOL.  I got my presscon passes after lunch time. I checked Megamall's Activity Center and didn't see any fans yet. We were advised that the presscon will start at 6:00pm and knowing Japanese people, they'll be on-time. It was just passed 1pm so I decided to have my nails done so I can rest a bit since I took paracetamol.

L'arc~en~Ciel Philippines - #LArcMNL
From Yahoo! Philippines - Photo by Alora Uy Guerrero and Ramon Lopez
That's me at the right side. "Ate Hitokiri" because of my hair. ^^;;

I was thinking to line up at the Activity Center at around 3:30pm. But I received a message from one of my #LArcMNL friends that there's a long line already at the Activity Center.  I went downstairs to join them. We were allowed to enter the barricade or what we call it sheep pen (lol) before 4pm. I've to say our sheep pen's the best location. It was not cramped compared to the others. For the next 2 hours, we entertained ourselves by sharing stories, from fave characters to themes to arcs. We even learned those who filed for SL - Sinungaling Leave, haha, just to attend the event. We were also doing hand signs or gestures to the people across our barricades on how we adored the Rurouni Kenshin merchs that they have in their hands. The camaraderie was so amazing!

Gave my red carpet pass on the spot for her. I just met her on that day in Megamall thru a common friend. 

Local fanclub, Rurouni Kenshin Pinas

A Fuji TV reporter documenting the red carpet premiere.
I think it was around quarter to 6 when they started the program. Awesome cosplayers showcased their talent and love for their characters. John Valdevieso, who cosplayed Shishio, even did his character's notable voice. Jin Joson, who cosplayed Kenshin, was her adorable self when asked who's her favorite character and she went in-character by saying: Kaoru-dono. 

After the cosplay showcase, fans were reminded towards asking for autographs and taking pictures. They insisted on a No-Flash policy. All were anticipating on the arrival of the Japanese guests. Gestures of the security were being analyzed by fans and tries to get some hint if the RK crew has arrived. 

To entertain the crowd, the emcee gave out free tickets to the advance movie screening to those who can answer some RK trivia. I was one of the lucky five who got the movie tickets. I COULDN'T BELIEVE IT!!! My #LArcMNL team helped me out with the answer. ARIGATOU!!! 

When the screen popped a video that the guests has arrived, everyone went crazy. First to walk the red carpet was Director Otomo. Everyone was shocked when he went to one of the fans and signed an autograph. I heard the other fans behind me, praying that the cast will be just as accomodating as their director. If my memory is right, it was Emie who walked after Otomo-san. Then Aoki and last but not the last, Takeru. And to the fans' delight, they too were signing autographs! 

Fellow fans behind me were asking to have their event pass signed by Emie and I managed to have it signed by the star herself. Then I notice all of us in the sheep pen were helping each other to get autographs! Whether it was a pen or to pass around items, the camaraderie was so strong. Very Bayanihan indeed! When I had my advance movie tix passed around, I didn't see anyone attempting to snag it. It came back to me safely. Aoki easily won the hearts of the Pinoys. He enjoyed that the fans called his character's name: SANO! SANO! SANO! 

And when Takeru walked the red carpet, Megamall was never the same again. lol. SO MUCH FEELS~ It was also very monumental for me when I saw Takeru walked to a local AMUSE fanclub and signed their posters and uchiwa. They were just across our barricade. The Japanese guests brought with them some Tagalog phrases with Takeru having the longest line. The presscon ended around 7:30pm.

The RK crew also visited SM’s advance screening of Kyoto Inferno. They allowed 3 questions to be asked by the audience. One asked if they'll be coming back next month to promote the last installment of the movie. Takeru answered that they want to go back as the fans have been so amazing. Another fan bravely asked if Takeru developed some feelings towards Emie while making the film. The crowd was amused while the translator was at lost if she’ll translate it for Takeru as it was a personal question.

Takeru happily accommodating fans

I overheard Takeru asking the translator what the question was. It must have been hard for the translator to say it. It was a VERY PINOY question to ask about feelings being developed on the set of a movie project. And probably that made the translator hesitate to tell Takeru. But Takeru egged her to translate as the actor is curious why the audience was all smiles. When Takeru learned about it, he took it with stride by saying: You better watch the movie for you to find out. And it was a good answer to end the evening before they left SM Megamall.

Happy Memories courtesy of Megamall
About the movie, I really enjoyed seeing the action scenes come alive on the big screen. My fangirl heart was looking forward to see Aoshi Shinomori. But Soujiro Seta stole it before he appeared. OHMY! I felt guilty about it. Because when Aoshi showed up, I know his ranking went to #2. Mind you, I never looked at Soujiro that way on anime and manga. He was never on my Top 5 too. It’s not that he’s not bishounen enough. He is a bishounen and a very skilled swordsman but I prefer men like Aoshi and Enishi.

So here’s like a summary how my feelings evolved towards Soujiro.
1st appearance of Soujiro in the movie: Hm.. he looks good as Soujiro. Bagay.
Next scene with Soujiro: *looks at his face* Amputi nya masyado. Pero cute.
Soujiro's close-up: /felt some butterflies in the stomach/ *wait* Bat ba ako nakatingin sa face nya lagi? I don’t do that naman sa anime ha.

Another scene with Soujiro: Mas gusto ko yung actor ni Soujiro compared kay Aoshi. /tries to understand her heart/ Am I inlove with the actor and his character? HUH!

Kenshin vs Soujiro scene: WAAAAH… It’s official. I’m in love na talaga.

The movie was well-received by the audience. And as we stepped out in the cinema, you’ll hear the assumptions and hopes of the fans on the last installment, The Legend Ends, which will be shown next month. During the time I was at the cinema, my friend Kid was declared winner of Glorietta’s The Ultimate RK fan contest. She tried to contact me as she can bring 4 friends with her onstage to meet Takeru, Aoki and Otomo-san. Thank you, GLOBE. I was unreachable! I missed my chance as Kid decided to send a group message instead to our other RK friends.

The 2nd day of the press con for Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno in Glorietta proved to be more challenging than Megamall. Actually, it can’t even be compared to SM how they managed the event. SM was WAY more organized starting from giving out tickets/promos.

Fans were up as early as 6AM. I arrived at 11:30am (due to my morning dizzy spells, still trying to gain my health back) while my friends got in line around 10:30am yet they weren’t able to get presscon passes because Glorietta’s Events Team underestimated the demand. They also advised too late that they’ll only give out 300 passes only. And to think that Glorietta required fans to buy Php500+1 movie ticket = 1 press con pass.

From Kid's FB account.
An Ultimate RK fan gets this kind of treatment from Glorietta mall. naks!

We met a mother whose receipt is Php 4K worth. She lined up for her child and was planning to meet in Glorietta after school to attend the presscon. Our hearts felt sorry that she has to endure such disappointment. The Events Team also made fans wait for 2 hours and gave misleading infos such as that they’re going to print tickets/passes. BUT the ticket booth was no longer there! Fans were assertive and asked relentlessly if those tickets are even getting printed. Finally, the truth came out. “No more tickets.”
And this prompted me to give a special name to this event: Glorietta Inferno. (lol)

This will go down in fangirl history as the best hug. EVER. Right, Nei? ;P
Photo by Mark Cristino/ Rappler
Emie was not able to join Takeru, Aoki and Otomo-san. She left PH around 2:30pm according to the news. However, it didn’t deter the fans’ reaction. It was crazy as Megamall. But the pace is more controlled compared to SM. 

Only the Press is allowed to ask questions. Glorietta is more strict with the protocol on a No-Autograph singing and No-Flash in taking pictures. HONESTLY, the best scene that happened there was when my friends, Kid and Nei went onstage. Nei shared to me that Aoki saw her uchiwa and waved at her twice. While Kid appreciated that Aoki does eye contact with them. Kid described Takeru as a rockstar. He's cool with what's happening around him while everyone was fainting their hearts out. When Nei screamed onstage, they knew something awesome happened and yes.. that was the epic hug of Aoki.
In fairness to Kid, she really made sure that the 4 people who'll be on stage with her to meet Takeru, Aoki and Otomo-san are certified RK fans like herself. Most of us were secretly wishing that Kid wore her Soujiro Seta costume when she went onstage but wearing her fave Kenshin shirt is not bad too. 

The event ended at 7:00pm. Kid was kind to give me a signed poster even though I didn't go onstage with them. We entertained ourselves by doing Q and A with each other. We also planned when and where we're going to watch the movie once it comes out on August 20. I'm also working on a Yumi costume as Kid and I has this agreement that she'll wear her Soujiro Seta costume again if I do a Juppongatana cosplay. hehe.. pressure!

The 2 day press con fell on a weekday. Imagine if this happened on a weekend! They definitely will need a bigger venue. Nevertheless, it'll be one of my fondest fangirl memories. 

Lupin the Third live action movie will also be shown here by SM but no confirmed date yet. Let's keep our fingers crossed that Shun Oguri and crew will also come here. Just today, another Japanese act noticed us. L'Arc-en-ciel, one of the bands who played in Rurouni Kenshin (4th Ave. Cafe, Niji). So you want to hear the songs live then join us in showing our enthusiasm by telling them our favorite L'Arc song .
It's not everyday that Japanese artists come to the Philippines. And I hope there's more to come for us, fans to enjoy. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Get some Monkey Punch (OZINE FEST 2013, 2nd Day Event Report)

My friends and I decided to dress up as characters from Lupin III for OZINE FEST 2013. As early as 7am, we were exchanging sms, not only because of excitement but we were concerned about our props: toy guns.

We've been checking OZINE's site before the event if there's any restriction with toy guns and it says none. SM malls have been known to be tight towards cosplayers. And with the recent heist, we don't want ourselves to be arrested for a mere toy gun. But just to be sure, our group already planned something in case we'll not be allowed to bring it. When we arrived at MegaTrade hall between 1-2pm, the line at the ticketing area isn't long. Friends who were at Megamall as early as 10am mentioned to me that the line reached up to the 2nd floor! We also spotted some cosplayers with swords and guns. phew! Confirmed~ they're not strict with props that look like weapons.

A powerhouse cast

Daryl, who's been cosplaying as Lupin  for quite some time, was the first one to arrive in our group. Next was Ralph as our Goemon. I cosplayed Fujiko (in pink disco diva-inspired attire) and arrived with Alain, who dressed up as Jigen. When Onin as Zenigata arrived, we were teasing him about where did he get his lead that the Lupin III gang will be here. :)) I've to give credit to Onin's dedication that it's as strong as his character, Zenigata. He just got off from work/training. He took a few hours of sleep (more like a nap) before he headed to Megamall to catch meet all of us.

Some of our friends made an effort to attend Ozine and showed their support. Daryl's wife was sportin' a Fujiko outfit too! :)

Even if the green jacket Lupin III TV series wasn't shown here, people still recognized our group and went mad taking and asking for  pictures. And yes, we even have Zenigata! Complete with handcuffs for our favorite thief. lol. Based from the audience's reaction, there's a clamor for Lupin vs Depektib, as Zenigata is lovingly known here in the Philippines.

 Thief  vs Detective

GMA7 anime mash-up
We were approached by several people and commended our effort that we are complete. I also heard people saying that they miss the series and seeing us gave that nostalgic feeling. *calling GMA7: re-run please*
We had fun interacting with other cosplayers and the con attendees. We also gave out coscards where they can tag their photo with us. We also have a banner/signage that we asked people to hold onto. Anyway, I can't help but gush how everyone was in wavelength about our group/characters. We met fellow TOEI con cosplayer, Liui Aquino (Hell Teacher Nube), who dressed up as Sanji from One Piece this time. Liui was such a sweetheart to introduce Lupin to his crew. He was manning a booth for Ozine and he told his crew to be wary of Lupin because he's a thief. lol.

Please tighten your security, Megamall. It's starting to be a Thieves' Convention

Oh, okay. So, they hired Sherlock Holmes for this event. 
We bumped into a fellow thief cosplayer, Kaito Kid. And we talked to him briefly about Detective Conan. I was excited to spot a Sherlock Holmes cosplayer. I asked him: "Sir, magpapa-pic kame pero baka hulihin nyo si Lupin" (Sir, can we have a photo with you but you might arrest Lupin) and he replied, "Kay Zenigata sya naka-assign. Hindi sakin" (He /Lupin/ is assigned to Zenigata) He really knows his character! *bows down*

Goemon got himself busy by sparring with other swordsmen. :)) He had photo ops with Ezra and Kenshin. We were teasing Goemon to Ezra for fun. hehe.. we all know that Goemon is depicted in the series as the torpe guy unlike his compadres, Lupin and Jigen.

Who will the Goddess choose?

Speaking of which, we spotted this nice Belldandy cosplayer. Lupin and Jigen were excited to have a photo op with her. People were amused when Lupin got on one knee and showed a diamond. But it got better when Jigen pointed out a gun on Lupin's head. Belldandy's expression solidified everything. 

We roamed inside Megatrade Hall and we found some nice items. There were even some tables that featured works from independent comic book artists. But majority of the sellers are geared towards cosplay. I personally like the quality of wigs and make-up the sellers have. I met one of my colleagues at work. She's helping out her friends at GWYSHOP. This was the first time that we saw each other in an anime con. There's this one shop which sells figurines and they have some Lupin III merchandise. I wanted to buy the green jacket Lupin and catsuit Fujiko figurines. But the seller wouldn't give me a discount. :(

As for food, I can only remember one stall in Ozine and it was Papa John's. There was also one car being exhibited. Don't ask me why a company is promoting a car there. I would understand if it's a car used in Initial D. But it's not. ^^;;

There were also a figurine exhibit. I notice that it didn't have any glass or some sort of protection. Well, there were volunteers looking over the figurines and some ropes to guide you that you can't go any closer. But I think it's different when it's protected by glass. Esp when there are thieves like us around! lol. Just kidding, of course the Lupin III gang doesn't steal without proper planning. :p

I only realized that we've been standing and walking for quite a long time already when we sat down to have dinner. Once we felt rested, we went back to Megatrade Hall. People were still asking for our photos and it came to a point that the guard approached us. Thankfully, he was kind and not the rude type that we've heard other cosplayers encountered. The guard even said sorry to me that he interrupted us.

We left Megamall around 8PM. Tired but very happy of the event. Even though Megatrade Hall doesn't rate high in my list as a con venue, the people made the event worthwhile. Everyone was friendly. And I love the interaction that we experienced with fellow cosplayers. We weren't even aware that those people we're talking with have a fanbase already but they were all very grounded. They were excited to see our group as much as we were excited to have a photo op with them.

Kindly LIKE and SHARE our Lupin III gang fanpage. :)
It's not limited to our cosplay group. You'll find various Lupin III related stuff from pictures to video clips. We're also hoping that GMA7 will take notice that there's a demand for Lupin III to be shown again. Especially that there's a 2nd movie coming up with Lupin III vs Detective Conan.

Until our next heist convention!

Monday, December 3, 2012

X marks the Spot: A Rurouni Kenshin Live-Action Film Review

Never underestimate the power of the fans. The anime/manga community was so passionate regarding the live-action to be shown here in the Philippines that the bigwigs took notice. Rurouni Kenshin (live-action) will be officially shown to all SM Cinemas on December 5, Wednesday. The movie is in English subtitle.
But before its official showing, my friends and I were lucky to have an opportunity to watch it in advance.

Image credit:

Rurouni Kenshi is also known as Samurai X especially to those who have watched the English dub in Studio 23 (a local channel here in the Philippines).

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!! Before I ramble more about the said movie, I'd like to remind everyone that it's inevitable that I'll be telling you some spoilers. But I'll try my best not to give it all. note: I WILL TRY. :) 
In terms of how avid I am for this series, I can say I'm an average/casual fan. I've watched the series and was VERY familiar with the opening and ending themes. *wink, L'Arc En Ciel* But I only manage to retain a few bits of this series in my anime memory bank. So if you find anything to correct, please do. ^_^

    Himura Kenshin - Takeru Satō
    Kamiya Kaoru - Emi Takei
    Sagara Sanosuke - Munetaka Aoki
    Myōjin Yahiko - Taketo Tanaka
    Takani Megumi - Yuu Aoi
    Saitō Hajime - Yosuke Eguchi
It tells a story of a wandering swordsman (rurouni) named Kenshin Himura. Set in the Meiji Era, Kenshin was infamous as Hitokiri Battousai. When the war ended, many claimed that they are Battousai and ignited fear among the townsfolk. Saito Hajime who's now working as a police officer believes that the recent battousai-related attacks are not done by the 'real' Battousai.
Kaoru Kamiya, assistant instructor of the Kamiya dojo, later learns that the harmless-looking, wandering samurai she just met is the real Battousai. Just like in the series, the two quickly became friends since Kenshin defended the dojo from a group of bastards. Kenshin did some jail time (since he claimed responsibility for the rumble in Kaoru's dojo) and you'll see Sanosuke in the prison too (but they are not on the same cell).

Before Kenshin was released, Saito made sure that he was able to send his message loud and clear to Kenshin that it's impossible to turn his back from his past. That they will all die by the sword. However, Kenshin still believes he can protect his loved ones without having to kill. His (Kenshin) belief will soon be tested as there are circumstances that put his friends in danger.

The movie made an effort to keep the elements that we knew and loved about RK. I remember hearing Kenshin saying "Oro?", Sano doing his mad street-fighter skills (his term, not mine) and cheeky Yahiko teasing Kaoru. It was really enjoyable to see it on-screen. I'm sure avid fans will be able to spot those other elements I've not mention here. You have to see those exciting scenes for yourself. :)

For a Japanese movie, I think the actors did good and the cast was well-chosen. At least for me. :) 
Takeru Sato satisfied my expectation to see Kenshin as the comical rounin to the serious battousai. Guess being a Kamen Rider might have helped. Yuu Aoi was the perfect Megumi. She looked fox-like to me. And I like her eyebrows. It captured her mysteriousness. Yosuke Eguchi as Saito, man... I'm really excited whenever he shows up. There's always something unexpected when he's around. I don't know if it's just the script or Saito is really a man full of surprises (the Buddha scene in the anime cracked me up). Lastly...the fighting scenes, I've to say the choreo met what I wanted to see. So it's not surprising that people were cheering while the fight unfolds. ^_^
This movie runs for 2 hours. So I suggest avoid drinking too much water/liquid intake especially if your bladder's weak. I think if we'll be able to prove to the bigwigs that there's really a market for Japanese films, they might consider importing more. Watching it in cinemas is just one of the many ways to support the creators legally. 

For a casual fan like me, I really enjoyed it and would recommend you to watch it. I didn't feel that I'm just looking at beautiful actors. This movie was well-planned and the actors did their part to make their characters alive.
*insert your favorite ending RK theme song here*

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