January 1st, 2020. It’s Day 1 of not just a new year, but a new decade. For me, it’s not just a brand new year nor decade, but a brand new life.
It’s been a year since Alden Richards staged his Adrenaline Rush concert. It’s also been a year since I came out of the closet and told the world about the state of my mental health.
Around this time last year, I was seriously contemplating on retiring as an active fan. Adrenaline Rush was supposed to be my last hurrah, so to speak. One year, a couple of drama series and a movie after, guess what… I’m far more active than before. What happened?
I’ve pondered through it and listed down my random thoughts and realizations from the past 12 months since that fateful night on September 21, 2018:
1. It IS possible to fangirl alone and enjoy it.
Yes, it is far more difficult if you don’t belong to any fan group, especially in the Alden fandom where belonging to a fan club/group is the most guaranteed and convenient way to collect your Alden moments. Fight me on this, it’s the truth and we all know it. I was once an FC member, ya know. Now that I no longer belong to any group, I would have to fight my way and double-triple the efforts just to have the perks that I used to enjoy when I was still with an FC. Sometimes I get lucky, oftentimes I don’t. But that’s just how the way things are.
However, fangirling alone has its perks. I am free to move and ‘strategize’. I don’t have to seek permission from anyone before doing things like set visits, or even taking a selfie with Alden. I can share my own thoughts and opinions without compromising my group. I am only accountable towards Alden and no one else.
It could get lonely sometimes, but that’s just normal. There are things that still need a lot of getting used to, such as being treated like I don’t belong there (yep, that still happens). I just have to constantly remind myself that it’s not about me; it’s just all part of fandom politics. Myself is just too stubborn to listen sometimes (sometimes??? ).
2. It’s OK to be paranoid, but not too much.
One of the things I acquired from all the things I went through as an Alden fan is extreme paranoia. As a result, I became elusive towards people in this fandom, in general. I am elusive by default because I’m an introvert. I’m not good at dealing with strangers. But once the ice breaks, it’s all good from there. Once it’s all good, I have the tendency to be too trusting. I end up trusting the wrong people. In the world of fandom politics, ‘trust’ is a very big word.
I got stabbed in the back multiple times in a span of what… 3 years? I guess you can’t blame me if I have trust issues. My trust issues evolved into extreme paranoia.
With the recent developments in the fandom, things have changed. I’m still awkward towards some, particularly those who used to shade and bash me on socmed, but I now get to exchange pleasantries with people whom I used to distance myself from (or they distanced themselves from me). It’s all good. However, I still need to constantly remind myself to be cautious and not to trust too much. The fandom politics is still there, after all.
3. Don’t give everything for your idol. Save some for yourself.
Alden said something along these lines in one of his speeches at a recent fan event. I can totally relate with what he said.
People who know me over the years know that I’m a very passionate and devoted fan. Heck, if I give the same passion towards my work as I do with fangirling, I’m either at a higher position by now, or got killed/ate death threats for breakfast. (Aren’t we glad that I’m not as passionate at work? hehe) But there came a point when my daily life gets affected by what’s happening with my idol and the fandom. I had to suffer from emotional and psychological distress before I realized that I should not let my entire being be consumed by fangirling. I learned the lesson the hard way. I still get random bouts of sadness every now and then, but I’m just a person with a mental health issue. It comes with the territory.
So guys and gals, remember this: We become fans of a celebrity in order to take a break from the rigors of our daily lives. They are supposed to be our stress-relievers. If they become the source of stress, take a step back and re-evaluate. Don’t worry if your idol is like Alden, he’ll understand why you need to take a break. He’s unselfish that way.
4. Remind myself where I really belong.
There are times when I feel like I don’t belong anywhere in this fandom, like I’m not good enough to be his fan. Whenever it happens, I get sad. Extremely sad, and question my entire existence. I got this a lot particularly during HLG promotions. I felt like I’m being slapped in the face of the fact that if you don’t belong to a recognized fan group, you don’t belong, period. In order to cope, I had to constantly remind myself that I declared at the beginning of 2019 that I’m just going to do it the normal way and fangirl from a distance. However, stubborn Agent P is stubborn and doesn’t listen to reason. Thus, the sudden bouts of extreme sadness and loss of self-confidence.
Recent events have told to me that what I feel is not necessarily what it really is. So now, I have to re-calibrate my declaration and re-define where I really belong. I do belong somewhere in this fandom. It’s not ‘from a distance’, not a far one, anyway. To hell with anyone who tells me otherwise.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
2018 was a very difficult year for me. It had its share of bright moments, but most of it were low points. I’m still battling my inner demons as I speak. But since we’re ushering in a new year, I will try to be optimistic for once and list down the things that I wish to do or accomplish in 2019.
1. Travel more.
I had the opportunity to rekindle my love for travelling in 2018 with my trip to Fukuoka and Hokkaido in Japan. It ignited that passion that I sort of neglected the past few years because I was busy with something else. In those precious five days in Japan, I felt alive and well again. For 2019, I’m placing at least two overseas trips on my bucket list. Japan is definitely on that list.
But to accomplish that list, I should…
2. Focus on work.
It has now become a policy at work that, unless it’s an emergency, we cannot go outside the country until we finish all the audit reports due in the first semester of the year. In my case, I’m not free to leave until August of this year, at the earliest. Therefore, to accomplish my travel goals, I should finish all 40+++ reports on time. Such task requires immense focus, which I lost a lot in 2018. (In my defense, I had a very difficult first semester in 2018 and family matters got in the way. Not that I’m making excuses…)
3. More opportunities to practice photography.
4. Go back to active blogging.
Taking photos is my only contribution to any fandom I’ve been into, and now my opportunities to practice it are near-extinct. I think my skills are getting rusty, plus more and more talented photographers/photo-hobbyists have taken over the reins.
Proof that I lost my enthusiasm with taking photos: my Christmas bonus is still intact because I’m not keen on checking online stores for a new camera that will most probably just end up taking space on my closet. This is so NOT me.
As for writing, I simply am on an extended writer’s block. One minute I thought it’s back, but once I load my blog editor my mind comes out blank. Considering that I’ll have to renew my domain and webspace this year and I’ll be paying quite a sum for it, I should decide ASAP if I still want to continue blogging.
My heart seems unready to let Agent P’s Headquarters go, though.
I need to bring my mojo back. Maybe travelling will help? Or a change in environment?
One of the things I gained before 2018 ended is that I was able to reconnect with old friends whom I kinda lost track of in the last three years or so. During the most difficult times of my life in 2018, they showed to me that they may not always be visible but they’re just there, waiting for me to reach out. It’s always nice to know that there are people in your life that always trust you and believe in you and will accept you no matter what, without expecting for anything in return.
I think I need to re-connect with me, as well.
I know this blog entry doesn’t sound as optimistic as it normally should, but hey. At least I know what I want, right?
I wish you all well this coming year.
We interrupt the Japan blogs for this special entry.
Prologue: My family has always celebrated my Mama’s birthday with a family bonding staycation. My Papa planned it every year. During his birthday, or their wedding anniversary, only the two of them would go off somewhere only they know and we would only know where they went when they come back the next day. But for Mama’s birthday, we’d book a villa at Fontana in Clark and the entire family would bond for two whole days. I think it’s because Mama’s birthday falls on November 3, which coincides with the All Saint’s Day holiday(s). It would be feasible, schedule-wise.
My father passed away in February this year. It’s the first time that Mama will be celebrating her birthday without Papa. Truthfully, it was a challenge for us. Will we still continue with our yearly tradition?
The answer was given by Papa, himself. We usually plan Mama’s birthday celebration around August every year so that we can make our bookings as early as possible. Back in August this year, Papa would appear in our dreams in various scenarios that would point to one thing: continue with the annual tradition. Due to her health condition, Mama wasn’t up to it as she’s not comfortable with travelling long distances. I just made bookings at nearby Seda Vertis North for November 2 to 3 instead of going to Fontana again. Besides, that place had too many memories with Papa. We’d all probably just bawl our eyes out for two days if we go there.
A bit of a segue for a backgrounder: Mama is never a fan of any artista but for some reason, she adores Alden Richards. For the past two years, Mama has been asking me – jokingly, but I think she’s a bit serious – to invite Alden to her birthday. Of course, it’s not that simple. I did manage to ask Alden for a couple of video birthday greetings, which totally made Mama’s day.
Mama had a stroke (her second in 15 years) at Christmas last year due to stress from worrying about Papa’s condition. Her memory was affected and she couldn’t remember a lot of things, including her husband’s name. The one thing that she never forgot, and would always tell me about it, is Alden. She would tell me to ask Alden to visit her at the hospital. I’m such a wuss, so I never had the guts to ask him or his manager if he could drop by to see Mama.
Sometime last month, this idea came into my mind: since it’s just within the vicinity, we can have lunch at the Quezon City branch of Concha’s Garden Cafe after we check out from Seda before going home. And then maybe, just maybe, I could ask Alden to drop by in between his commitments since you know, it’s his restaurant, after all and he usually passes by Concha’s in between Eat… Bulaga! and Sunday Pinasaya rehearsals. All I have to do is grit my teeth and have the courage to ask. It looks simple, but people who know me would know that I would need to draw a lot of guts for me to do that. Even asking for video greetings take a toll out of me; how much more if it’s a huge favor like inviting him to my mother’s birthday?
Still, it’s for my mother. Any child would do anything for her mother. So I took a deep, deep breath and asked Alden’s manager Madam Carlites for this huge favor, which she gladly obliged. The only problem would be Alden’s availability. His schedule has been nothing short of INSANE these past few weeks.
Weeks passed and it’s not confirmed yet. I was close to giving up. Who can compete with a schedule?
October 30, with still no final word, I worried about it before going to sleep. I closed my eyes thinking about Alden, but it was Papa’s face that popped into my head. What the…? I had to shake it off. It’s like, 1:00am.
October 31 around lunchtime, I got my answer. Alden is a go.
Is this what you were trying to tell me, ‘Pa? That you got this?
November 1. Mama told me that for this year, she doesn’t want a video greeting from Alden. She wants to see him and have a photo with him. It took a lot of self-control for me not to spill the beans on her that Alden is coming. You see, I decided to make it a surprise. I only told my siblings and my niece that he’s coming so that there’ll be someone else manning the cameras to take footage. This is one moment that I want to be sure that will be documented for our memories. Mama and the rest of the family didn’t know.
November 3. Mama’s actual birthday, Concha’s Quezon City. Mama has been feeling melancholic all day because it dawned to her that we’re celebrating her birthday without Papa. We did our best to console her, but it’s just not enough. The only time she finally smiled was when the crispy pata was served.
Long story short, it was nothing short of EPIC when Alden arrived.
THAT SMILE. Truly priceless. We couldn’t contain our happiness seeing that from Mama. My family also couldn’t get over the fact that Alden is the nicest, most polite celebrity they encountered. They were astounded when, without any prodding, Alden himself picked up Mama’s cake to bring it closer to her to blow the candle. They were even more dumbfounded when Alden said that he will be doing solo photo ops with each and everyone of us. Frankly, we’ll be more than happy with just a solo with Mama + group photo with the fam. Even I got a little bit confused when he was directing us to where we should do the photo op. I can’t share the photos in public, though. Trolls everywhere, you know, and I still have a target on my back.
Lastly, Alden passed by our table one last time before leaving Concha’s to say goodbye. Which artista does that? Only him. Only Alden.
Side note: I’ve always loved Alden’s trait of looking at the person straight in the eye and giving his full attention to anyone he talks to. It shows his sincerity. This guy has nothing to hide, contrary to what his bashers are saying.
It’s been a day and my family is still gushing over what they experienced yesterday. I’m pretty sure that the conversations will still continue once we’ve all returned to work/school this week. I’ve been witnessing Alden’s off-cam moments for the past three years and I still couldn’t get over how different he is from other celebrities I’ve encountered. Mind you, I’ve already encountered a lot.
I wish more celebrities would be aware of this special gift that they have wherein a simple gesture can bring so much happiness to so many people. I think Alden is aware of this. The great thing is that he always willingly shares this gift to everyone, regardless of who those people are. That’s why he’s so blessed.
To Alden and his management team, from my family and all those who know my Mama and truly appreciates what you did for her: we are eternally grateful. MARAMING MARAMING SALAMAT.
A.k.a. New additions to the list of moments where the universe plays a cruel prank on Agent P.
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