Aka. Aftermath Report: Alden Richards “Wish I May” Album Tour
The District, Imus, Cavite
November 15, 2015
Yesterday, I had a mission.
As you all know, I had been taking photos of Alden Richards’ recent events for my blog and for the Alden Nation fan club. Now, I don’t know how exactly this started and if it was my sister or my niece who gave me the idea, but I suddenly found myself sorting through those photos to pick the best ones to put on a special photobook that will be printed exclusively for Alden. (Well, exclusively for Alden and I. Maka-‘Alden and I’ naman ako, parang si Maine lang oh. ) My sister has been giving photobooks as gifts to her friends lately and I thought, it would be nice to give Alden one, too. (Yes, I had been taking photos of celebrities for more than a decade now but I never had the inspiration to give this kind of gift to anyone other than Alden. Don’t make me explain why, some of you might not like it.)
The mission: To be able to personally hand over the photobook to Alden and, hopefully, watch his reaction as he leafs through the pages. And hopefully catch his expression once he reaches a particular section in the photobook. AND, if we have time, to ask him to sign my own copy of the photobook. Such a heavy mission that requires backstage access to accomplish, but doable if you know the right people. Or, if I get really, really lucky.
I presented this ‘mission’ to my friends over at Alden Nation and they were happy to assist me with it at the Imus event. So that’s one hurdle cleared.
D-Day. We got to The District mall at a few minutes before 11:00am. What greeted us, was this:
Yup, there’s already a long queue! Fortunately, we have our volunteer IDs and we also reserved our CD bundles in advance so we didn’t have to line up. We did our usual volunteer work for GMA Records (if you’re one of those who bought Alden’s CD at The District, we helped pack those things) and then before we know it, the not-so-big venue got filled to the brim as early as 2:00pm. There were far too many CD buyers and no seats left. Mall security was quite adept with crowd control, though, so no untoward incidents came about. Well, not counting the ‘pasaway’ CD buyers who insisted on breaking the no-selfie rule…
Anyway, since the venue was soooo cramped and we got evicted from our front row seats which turned out to be for the sponsors, we were relegated to the overly-crowded CD bundle seats which was nearly impossible to escape from. At that point, I was already close to giving the mission up. There’s no way we will be able to request for a few minutes with Alden backstage if we’re right there at the War Zone. My group was already hatching a Plan B, that is, to just hand over our gifts to Alden during the photo op. But I figured, there’s no way I will be able to fulfill my mission during the photo op as we shall only be allowed to interact with Alden for a few seconds (and those few precious seconds will only be for the actual picture-taking) before they will respectfully escort us out of there. Thus, I decided that if the only way is via Plan B, I’d rather wait for another opportunity – Tamang Panahon, if you will – to give the photobook to Alden.
Apparently, Tamang Panahon is now.
The sponsors were called backstage for their photo session with Alden. Cherrie of Alden Nation saw this opportunity to go backstage with them to ask the GMA Records people if we could have a few moments with Alden so that we can hand out our gifts to him. She and I wore our volunteer IDs and followed the sponsors to where Alden was. We followed them at the end of their line when suddenly, they were turned away as Alden was already cued for his performance. Cherrie – Bless Her Soul – decided to still proceed to the dressing room. Where we saw Alden, doing some last minute preps for his gig. And we weren’t asked to leave or anything. I suddenly found myself thinking, “what the heck am I doing here and why am I looking at Alden Richards doing some last minute fix-ups on his shirt?” Unfortunately, he was already handed his mic so we still weren’t able to give our gifts to him. We just followed him out of the dressing room, and I found myself taking photos of the back of his head.
Shout-out to #TeamAlembong at Aldub/MaiDen PExers for the ‘batok’ shot.
Then, Alden was onstage, and I was at the side. I started taking photos from there when I realized… I have an ID. I can take pics anywhere I want. With both my shoulders armed with my backpack and the bag holding the photobooks, I transferred to the front of the stage, sat on the floor (must not block the view of the sponsors, ya know) and started shooting away. This explains why most of my pics were undershots, like so:
But hey, I was beside the stage. As in really, really close. This was the closest I’ve been to Alden, thus far. Well, not until a few minutes later.
(For more photos, please visit Alden Nation’s official Facebook page.)
Suddenly, Alden was promoting his MMFF movie, My Bebe Love and I waited for that moment wherein he will mention Maine’s name. I think he was also anticipating that moment when he will mention the last remaining cast member that he hasn’t mentioned, because look at this face here:
And when he finally said the name, “Maine Mendoza”…
Ay! Naging Chisoy! Anyare???
One last moment during the show, before I proceed to the more important part: I had expected that Alden will do this when I saw the lola on a wheelchair beside our row, because it’s Alden. I knew that he will take the time to approach her. What I didn’t expect was when the excited fans crowded over lola (my fellow AN members said that the crowd got a bit unruly that lola got squished at some point), Alden spoke on the mic and said, “huwag n’yo pong saktan si Lola” (please don’t hurt Lola). Awww. How could anyone not love this guy?
After singing four songs, Alden went backstage while the staff were preparing the stage for the photo op. At that point, Cherrie worked her charms and approached Sam (Alden’s handler) to ask if we could get a few seconds with Alden just to hand out our gifts to him. Sam told us to wait as there were a few people (sponsors, I think) inside with Alden. We spent the couple of minutes of waiting time chatting with Ms. Nate of Aldenatics. After which, Sam informed us that we can now enter the backstage area.
Who’s inside? Alden. Just him. In that small space. OMIGAD, HOW DID THIS HAPPEN.
As we entered, I felt my hands starting to shake. I know myself to have this tendency to say the stupidest things in front of famous people so I let Cherrie do the talking first. Among other gifts, she gave Alden his Alden Nation ID (member No. 001) and Alden was delighted that he has one. (I swear I’m not making this up!) Then it was my turn. I took the photobook out of its bag and started with my spiel:
“May gift ako sa ‘yo. Lately kasi, I’ve been taking pics of your events, so I decided to make a photobook for you…”
I handed it to him and he was like… “wow! Ang galing! May file na tayo!” (to Sam). I also heard Sam, who was beside me, repeatedly saying, “ang ganda!” and asked me where I got it, how many pages, etc etc while Alden was carefully leafing through the pages. All the while, I was just staring at Alden’s face. Then, suddenly…
Labas Ngipin Si Bae! His face changed from serious to toothy grin with deep, deep dimple. See the last few seconds of the video below:
That smile came out when he reached this page…
…and the page after that.
At that point, Cherrie already asked him to make a video greeting for Alden Nation. Fortunately, she had the sense to start filming just as Alden was looking at the photobook, hence, the mission was properly documented. Success!!! Also, thanks to the video, I found out that Alden was mumbling, “ang galing!” (good!) while leafing through the book. I nearly cried when I saw the footage. I think this is the first time that I really, really felt that someone appreciated my work. (Alam kong maraming nakaka-appreciate pero #Hugot ito. Alam n’yo na.)
After the video greeting, I asked Alden if he could please sign my copy of the photobook and he instantly, with absolutely no hesitation, said, “sure!” He asked for my name, and wrote this really nice message:
He then gave us hugs and thank-yous even if I’m super-sweaty after covering his gig that I’m super-embarrassed because Alden still looked nice and minty-fresh even if he hasn’t slept for more than 24 hours (and counting). And just when I thought that the Epic Encounter With The Pambansang Bae is over, WAIT! There’s still more! Sam suddenly said, “akina, picture-an ko kayo.” (Here, let me take your picture.)
Look. The usual practice is, we are the ones who will ask – in some cases, beg – to take a picture with Alden. The handler will be the one who will say, “sorry, he’s busy, we’re already pressed for time, blah blah blah”. Under no circumstances will the handler volunteer to take the picture without the fans asking for it.
No circumstances, EXCEPT for Alden Richards.
I. AM. SO. FLOORED.
Unfortunately, the photo is in Cherrie’s camera and she hasn’t sent it to me. Also, I saw a glimpse of it and I look like an egg. So yeah. I might not upload it.
Anyway… so how was Alden? Well, for starters: I am totally taking back my first impression about him being not ‘makatanggal-kaluluwang kapogian’. He’s different when he’s super-up-close. His mestizo looks shone so brightly in that dimly-lit dressing room. I don’t know if it’s the yellow shirt, or the fact that I am comparing what he looks like pre- and post- Tamang Panahon. His aura is so different now. Also, he looked at me straight in the eye as I was talking to him and my goodness, those eyes will pierce you straight into your deepest soul. He’s also very easy to talk to. He’s a famous person who could be your friend. He’s just so… real.
All in all, the encounter lasted for more than 5 minutes, when all we wanted was a few seconds. Thank you, Alden (and Sam). Thank you, Alden Nation. Thank you, GMA Records. You made this day one of the best days of my life.
I didn’t witness this myself, but my friends did and told me this story: As they were having their photo op with Alden, they saw on their peripheral vision that Mama Ten (Alden’s PA) was looking at the photobook. Alden saw it, too, and said, “Mama Ten! Wag mong tingnan yan!” (Mama Ten! Don’t look at it!)
Ok, fine. Mr. OC doesn’t want anyone else touching his precious photobook (well, he was really turning the pages very carefully when he was looking at it, so…) I nearly died when they told me that story.