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?
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.
Hi! I’m Agent P, and I’ve just been addicted to online TV.
Yes, I am slow.
It started when my local cable provider sucked big time. Coincidentally, Globe offered to upgrade by net connection at home and threw in this lovely contraption called an Android box which allowed my not-too-smart TV to connect to the internet via WiFi and let me install these lovely streaming apps and watch it on the big screen. Since then, I dropped my cable subscription and signed up for everything that’s available in my country: Netflix, iFlix, HOOQ, Fox+, with YouTube and Viki thrown in for good measure. Thanks to these apps, I was able to update myself with the latest on K-entertainment. I haven’t really plunged myself back to the world of K-dramas, though; too much commitment for that. But I have been watching a lot of Korean variety shows and music clips, so I’ve been a little bit abreast with the latest trends.
Nowadays, I’ve been literally hooked on HOOQ. True confession: the only reason why I signed up on HOOQ is because they have Alden’s drama series, Victor Magtanggol, on their line-up. However, I discovered that HOOQ has a vast collection of classic Filipino movies and TV shows as well as a good number of indie films. It’s the classic movies that had me deciding to continue my subscription after the free trial period expires. Finally, I can watch those movies any time I want instead of waiting for it to be aired on Cinema One or PBO. I have practically the entire roster of Regal Films movies from the 80’s on my playlist.
Which brings me to this anecdote. (Damn, I sound so random. Then again randomness has always been my blogging style, so whatever.) One of the first old Pinoy movies which I watched on HOOQ is Ten Little Indians, released in 1982 and starring William Martinez; Herbert Bautista (now Mayor of Quezon City) and his two siblings Hero and Harlene; and the WEA Twins. (How classic is that? )
I just remembered seeing it at a movie house when I was a little kid and remember crying buckets over it, so I checked it out.
I got the shock of my life.
The movie started out just like a typical Regal movie in the 80’s (although this one was actually released by Good Harvest Films, a subsidiary of Regal). William’s character was a mentally-challenged guy who has fantasies of being a cowboy who hates Indians (as in Native American Indians). At one point, while in his cowboy fantasies, he kidnapped a bunch of children and their teacher, because they wore costumes as the ten little Indians for a school program. That alone is reeking of political incorrectness.
And then it gets uglier.
While in the mountains, cowboy and Indians eventually developed affinity with one another until they chanced upon a group of gangsters. The gangsters beat up the cowboy; raped the teacher in front of the kids (!); verbally abused the female children through sexual innuendos; attempted to rape one of the girls because the gangster wasn’t satisfied with the teacher (!!!!!) (there’s even a cringe-worthy scene where they were asking the girls’ ages and found the 8-year-old ‘too young’ while the 10-year-old ‘pwede na‘ Oh God that was disturbing); shot and killed one of the boys point-blank, in front of the others; and two other boys got killed so that the rest of them can escape.
I was thinking: if this was shown today, it would definitely be slapped with an R-18 rating. That is, assuming it gets shown at all. I’m pretty sure it will generate a lot of disapproving buzz from netizens who always find something to complain about.
And then it hit me: I saw this film when I was a child. At a movie theater. I don’t even remember who I saw it with, but most probably my cousins who were also minors at the time.
I don’t remember finding it offensive at all. Or did I even understand what was going on then?
Times have really changed.
Speaking of things that have changed…
I saw these from my social media feeds today.
1. Mr Weatherman’s fanmeets now have mandatory group photo ops with the attendees;
2. One Filipina Shinhwa Changjo was recognized by some Shinhwa members at an event in Korea. As in the members know her by face and name;
3. Shin Hye Sung wore a Penshoppe hoodie, given by a Pinoy fan.
I wonder: if I didn’t give up on the Kpop scene, maybe someday I’ll finally get my moment with my Korean idol? In 20 years, maybe? Most of my fellow Clouds got it at the 13-year mark…
Current topic on Twitter within my fandom: Someone commented something along the lines of “hindi ka makakalapit kay Alden kung hindi ka kasali sa fan clubs na malapit sa manager n’ya” (you can’t have a moment Alden Richards unless you’re a member of a fan club that’s close to his manager).
Not to make buhat my bangko or anything – pero magbubuhat na rin ako ng bangko – I think I am among the many who can attest that such statement is not true?
I do admit, though, that at one time I complained on this blog that Alden and his management only acknowledges one fan group. But this was at the time when there was only one official fan club in the Alden fandom, anyway. Things have changed drastically since then, and we have to give credit to his management for taking the initiative to change that notion.
But even prior to that, I have been on the receiving end of Alden’s generosity when it comes to fan service. Fans with no fan clubs have been telling stories about their close encounters with Alden. Here’s mine.
1. Wish I May Album Launch. My first close encounter with Alden. Actually, my first time to see him in person. I was still Team No Group then. Although my only ‘moment’ with Alden was during the photo op with three other strangers, I’ll never forget the way he tightly shook my hand and said, “thank you” as if I did something remarkably life-changing to him.
2. Wish I May album tour at The District, Imus, Cavite. I was already with Alden Nation then, but his management did not know who we were. We just took chances with Leysam, who graciously allowed us to meet Alden backstage and I was able to personally hand over the first of many photobooks to him. We didn’t even ask for a photo op; it was them who suggested it.
3. Wish I May album tour, SM City Marilao, Bulacan. I got the shock of my life when Alden recognized me even after more than a month of not seeing me. I don’t think he recognized me as being from an FC. Also, as at that time, his manager still did not know who we were.
4. Alden Nation post-birthday celebration and charity event. Admittedly, this event was pre-arranged with Madam Carlites but it was mainly for scheduling purposes. She still did not know who we were; we’ve never met prior to this. Still, Alden took some time off his busy schedule and showed up at our event. He even has a family matter to attend to on that day, but his 15-minute stay as agreed upon got extended to more than 30 minutes.
5. Alden International launch. Still, the single greatest moment of my fangirl life. Trivia: did you know that on this day, I still wasn’t officially a member of AI? I was merely a commissioned photographer at the time. Yup, believe it or not. I only became an official member after the event. Posted on this entry is the proof that Alden already knew who I was prior to AI’s launch. Trivia 2: I only officially met Madam Carlites the Monday after the launch.
6. Random scene at Solenad 3. – This moment isn’t exactly mine, but I witnessed it. An impromptu meet-and-greet session at Solenad 3’s valet parking booth. Those people didn’t belong to any fan club, for sure.
So you see, you don’t need to be ‘close to’ or ‘favored by’ Madam Lites just to be allowed to approach Alden. Everyone is free to do so. Heck, there was even a time when I lamented the fact that I belong to an officially recognized Alden FC but the bashers and two-faced fans get more close encounters and “moments” with him.
Here’s a lesser-known fact: I’m not currently a member of any fan club but I still have my “moments” with Alden.
It’s just downright ridiculous that some people would utter inane statements like that when it’s fully documented on social media that Alden is very generous with his time when it comes to interacting with fans and non-fans. His excellent fan service not hearsay; it’s fact.