The following is the third of five daily installments leading up to David’s return to Asia. Written by Ascphil at the conclusion of his last trip to that part of the world, and with exclusive photos by her daughter.
17 NOVEMBER 2010
What a long day it was! I felt like I was going thru an episode of 24 because every hour of November 17th was so eventful, from the time I woke up and left for the mini-concert, to when I got home and still stayed up late to review how David, once again, swept Manila off its feet. I was still so drowsy from only a few hours of sleep but I forced myself to get up and take a bath. I returned to my room in time to catch a text from Naree asking me to call her because of an emergency. What emergency could it be? She asked me if I knew what was happening at the venue? I said no, and she proceeded to tell me in an excited tone that three lines were being formed at different entrances to the mall where Skydome is located, and Dom texted that he was in one of them where there were already 200 people in the line. At 7 am?!? But the mall opens at 10 am!
Traffic was unusually bad. As my cab crawled down the long highway in thick traffic, I became pensive. I suddenly felt like I was David when he wrote his song, “Who I Am”. With that in mind, I started to compose a letter which I had been attempting to write for David. I couldn’t do it with a pen and the special paper which I had bought a few days ago because of the bumps on the road. So I typed my thoughts on the notes application of my cell phone. I was able to write a pretty lengthy letter, and before I knew it, the driver was asking me where I wanted to be dropped off because we were approaching the Sky Dome. I quickly saved my partially written letter, put everything into my bag, and asked the driver to stop by the pedestrian overpass that led directly to the mall’s Sky Garden and to the Sky Dome.
As I hurriedly traversed the overpass to the mall’s Sky Garden entrance I could already see from a distance the number of people lined up around the Sky Dome. It was not a single line but rather a thick row of about 3 to 4 persons deep. The sun was already high up as it was almost 11 am in the morning when I got there. Then I noticed that the background music being played was David’s TOSOD Album! Wonderful! I approached the first security guard I could find and asked him if he knew where the assistant mall manager was and gave her name. In a few minutes, a young woman with a cb radio in her hand approached and introduced herself as the marketing officer I had talked to over the phone. She asked me if I was getting the VIP passes already and I said yes. She left and suddenly was beside me again, holding four cd’s individually bagged with the corresponding receipts and VIP stubs. She asked me if I needed any other help to which I gave her my profuse thanks, adding that there was nothing more I needed at the moment.
It was already twelve noon when I realized I hadn’t even had a decent breakfast. I entered the mall and it was still David’s music which was being played as the background music. Great promo for David, and way to go SM North Mall! At a restaurant, I started to copy the start of the letter to David I had composed earlier on my cell phone while in the cab. I initially took out only one sheet, since the draft filled up only a third of the paper, thinking it would suffice. But as I continued writing from where I left off, I found that the thoughts and feelings I had wanted to convey to David flowed smoothly from one subject to the next with amazing clarity of purpose. Even if I was interrupted by a text from someone every now and then, I was able to continue my train of thought as if I was never distracted. I wrote everything in my mind as if I was just having a conversation with David. The first sheet was quickly filled up, so I took out a second sheet to continue writing. I was so engrossed and emotional, relating how his voice and his songs affected me, finding that as I wrote, it was getting difficult to see through tear-filled eyes and a nose that was starting to get runny. Gosh, I wonder if anyone was watching me wiping my eyes and nose, as I was constantly looking for a piece of tissue to use. I wish I could have made a copy of the letter because it was the first time I had written anything spontaneously without any correction. I felt that it had just enough of the important things that I wanted David to know of his impact on my life. I was relieved and satisfied that I was finally able to communicate to him how much I appreciate what he has been able to achieve within the past couple of years, and how he has been an inspiration to many people, speaking for myself and others like me.
Outside in the heat of the midday sun again, I noticed there were now a lot more people standing and sitting around the Sky Dome. People were abuzz, talking excitedly to each other. I then remembered I needed to call my daughter, only to find out that she hadn’t left yet, because she had to attend to her early registration for the next term. Understanding her yet worried about what she will have to deal with when she arrives after the doors open, I calmly advised her that if she doesn’t leave now it will be difficult for me to get her in because the place is already swarming with people. She felt the urgency and then said she was already walking out of the school premises to ride the light railway transit.
At 4 pm the signal was given to start letting people go in. As soon as I stepped inside the SkyDome, my immediate reaction was that the venue was even smaller than I had imagined it to be from outside. Although the venue feels spacious because of the high glass-domed roof, the VIP area sectioned off with railings for the first 400 VIP pass holders looked like it could only hold 200 — oh my goodness, we’re going to be packed like sardines! The rest of the standing room area beyond the railings could probably hold another 400. I could see that the center-stage front row portion of the VIP section was already filled up. I ran to the right side of the stage which was still empty. I preferred to be there because I was directly facing the seat of the baby grand piano where David would surely sit when he played it. The only downside was that a speaker directly in front would be blasting loudly at my face. I settled my two large bags in front of me against the railing, also to serve as the space I’m reserving for Naree, JR and my daughter. It was time to call my daughter again. When she answered, she told me that she had just gotten off the Metrorail and was already walking to the pedestrian overpass that led to the Sky Dome. Oh, thank God! I looked behind me and saw that the people had increased to two rows deep. I told her to hurry because I was already inside and the place was quickly getting filled up. The speaker in front of me was loud, but I couldn’t move away from my spot anymore. People were crowding in on us to be closer to the stage. I then told her repeatedly in a loud voice to just text me because I couldn’t hear her. I looked towards the entry area hoping to see my daughter among the swarm of people, craning my neck to see above the sea of heads surrounding the stage. Then I felt a tap on my back. When I looked behind, my daughter was reaching out to me as she squeezed herself through the thick crowd to get closer. I was so glad to see her! She was still panting from her rush to get to the venue.
The fans were getting rowdy because it was almost 5 pm. Suddenly the audience cheered loudly when the giant video wall at the center of the stage started playing David’s music video of Crush. When that was done, the next video was the Behind-The-Scenes making of his first album. Girls were shrieking excitedly whenever David appeared and talked, as if he was appearing live in front of us. The next videos were those of his ALTNOY, TMH and SBL music videos, then a stream of interview/Q&A videos which kept the audience very much occupied and cheering every now and then. I couldn’t keep my eyes on the screen because I was waiting for a text or call from Naree or JR, and kept looking at my cell phone. We were standing for almost an hour. I checked my daughter behind me to ask if she was okay. She said she was but that she needed a fan because it was getting pretty stuffy with all our warm bodies squeezed against one another. The air conditioner was blasting and there were heavy-duty fans blowing on us, but they weren’t enough for the amount of people who were packed like sardines in the floor section. I was wondering what was taking so long for Naree and JR to get in. And then there was a commotion behind me. Naree was squeezing in and finding her way to me, as was JR! Oh, happiness, they’re finally here! Mission accomplished! Poor dears, they must be so stressed from inching their way through the thick, crazy crowd. JR was visibly drenched with sweat, but there was a serene look on her face. She noted that we were directly in front of the piano seat and remarked that David would be so near us. I nodded and asked her if it was a good location. She said it was okay except for the speaker. It might produce a cracking sound in our videos. I then asked how the press conference went and she smiled contemplatively, not answering me immediately. Hmm, maybe still savoring her moments with David — am so jealous! All she could say was that she couldn’t help but stare at his stubble. His stubble? She said she just stared at him and was just studying his face, that he wasn’t able to shave and that pimples were about to appear on his upper lip. Huh, is that all she could say to me? Then Naree told me that David must have just arrived since they rode the same elevator as they left the hotel. They were able to sing a snippet of Elevator with him as they got off. Lucky girls!
Finally, I could concentrate on what was happening on the stage. At about 5:30 pm a DJ’s voice was announcing as if the concert was about to start. The crowd was going crazy with anticipation, cheering loudly for David. Fog machines were also being tested, but still no one came out on stage. The place was starting to get darker as above us, I could see the sky was already black. The giant video wall went back to looping David’s music videos. People were getting uneasy because the start of the mini-concert was stated as 5 pm. My feet were already feeling a bit numb so I decided to lean forward on the railing. At one point I even squatted just so my heels could get some rest from the strain of standing on them for so long. People around me thought I wasn’t feeling well. I just acted as if I needed to get something from my bag, but I really felt that the blood stopped circulating in my legs and I needed to move them somehow. And then people started cheering. I stood up and looked around at what was happening. A line of security guards in full uniform were entering stage right, then went in front of us to position themselves strategically between the stage and the railings. We thought David was coming out, but after a few minutes of anxious waiting, still no one came on stage. Then I looked at the people beside me to check how they were. My daughter’s head was already bent down, so I held up her chin to see her face. She was obviously tired from the waiting, and all I could do was give her a look of sympathy. Then I looked at JR to my left who was intermittently holding on to me and to Naree. She said that she wanted to get off of her heels. I exclaimed, “You’re in heels?!?” I meant that sympathetically because it’s no joke to be wearing heels in a situation like this. It’s torture. And gosh, she’s that small. Suddenly I felt so lucky to have a clear view of the stage even with all the cameramen and guards milling around. Short people behind me must be cursing that I’m in front of them. Luck comes to us in all forms and I guess mine was in my height.
Then that DJ’s voice started blaring again the same lines from half an hour ago. It was 6 pm. FINALLY! The audience cheered louder than ever and was chanting David’s name. The chanting stopped and turned to screaming when someone came out onto stage. It was VJ Jules of the local MYX Channel. She knew that everyone was dying to see David, and teased us by saying that she has seen David backstage and that he is very, very handsome. For the next several minutes she gave a short biography of David, then turned it into a trivia game with the audience, asking if they knew answers to her questions, specifically about the hit singles of David. And then she said she’d check if David was ready and moved back, taking a quick look behind the stage. She immediately came back up front and said David needed more time. We were already so hyped but our spirits were dampened when VJ Jules started reading again to us the reminders on the rules of the cd signing. Yada yada yada, yes we know. The fans were shouting, “Please bring out David!” Seeing that we were really getting impatient, VJ Jules hesitated a bit to check backstage, then proclaimed in a very loud voice, “Here is Daaaviid Archuu-lettaaaaa!!!”
Oh. My. Gosh! THUNDEROUS, EAR-DEAFENING, EARTHSHAKING APPLAUSE!!! The SkyDome was rumbling from everyone screaming while jumping up and down as David came running out waving at us with that million-dollar smile. Everyone’s hands were suddenly up in the air, holding a camera, a cell phone, a video cam, whatever, trying to be higher than the one in front of them. The media cameramen were also suddenly milling in front of us. I thought I was tall enough, but I was also struggling to take a video of David while peeking through gaps in the outstretched hands to see him. Everyone squealed and screamed when he greeted us with, “Mabuhay!”