— Paulette Agent P (@agent_pau) January 31, 2016
(English translation, for my non-Filipino readers: It is, indeed, true that everything happens at the right time. From all of us at Alden Nation, thank you very much, @aldenrichards02.)
I posted the above Tweet only a few seconds after Alden Richards drove away from our event, leaving a roomful of people that was bursting with happiness. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
We at Alden Nation have been planning to give Alden a simple birthday celebration since around November of last year. Of course, the question has always been… “how???” Yes, not when, or where, but ‘how’. Ok, a little bit of ‘when’, too, because as we all know, Alden’s schedule has been nothing short of insane ever since this whole AlDub phenomenon came about. But we’re willing to throw a party for him for whatever reason, even if it’s not his birthday anymore. We just wish for him to be there even for just a few minutes.
But of course, he doesn’t know us. (I already devoted an entire rant, err, blog entry for this.) Hence, the question of ‘how’ to go about it.
I was actually getting tired of chasing after Alden for about a month with no favorable results. I was thisclose to giving up. Some of you might not understand, but if you’ve been carrying a not-exactly-small photobook and being pushed and shoved by hordes of people for about a month, and then the person you’ve been chasing literally flew right by you before you could even open your mouth to say ‘hello’, at some point, you would reach the limits of your patience and feel frustrated. (Or was that just me?) My ANFC friends would tell me not to give up just yet. Malapit na ang tamang panahon ng Alden Nation.
That ‘tamang panahon’ came on January 31, 2016.
It only takes one right person at the right moment to make things right. We drew a proposal for a simple post-birthday celebration/outreach program for the cancer survivors from Philippine Foundation for Breast Care, Inc. (Refer to this blog entry for the backstory on how we got involved with PFBCI).) A friend helped us reach the right people to talk to. They gave us the only date that’s still relatively free on Alden’s schedule only 9 days before that date. Fortunately, we’re so used to last minute preps and it’s not like we haven’t been planning to do this since late last year. Another friend offered to host the party and sought sponsors for the giveaways. A week before the actual date, just after we have booked the venue, we were informed by Alden’s management that they overlooked some parts of his schedule and he could only spare us 15 minutes. It’s either we take that, or we wait again for another relatively free day. Duh, good luck with that. Fifteen minutes is still long considering his super-tight schedule; it’s just a matter of careful planning so that those 15 precious minutes will not go to waste.
Ok, so Alden = check. Venue = check. Food, physical arrangement, giveaways etc = check. Guests from PFBCI = check. We also decided to invite our senior citizen members from Bulacan so that they’ll get the chance to meet Alden, something that they wouldn’t be able to do under normal circumstances. The thing is, we never told anyone – not even the cancer survivors – that Alden will be there. We didn’t even tell our regular members; we just posted the invitation on our group chat without mentioning that he’s coming and hope that they will pick it up. You see, with the way things are going with his schedule, even us admins are not 100% certain that he will show up. We were hoping, but we’re not expecting. At least, if ever Alden is a no-show, no one will be disappointed because there were no expectations in the first place. (You should see how I tried to hide the truth from our titas when I was inviting them. The fact that the scheduled start of our event overlaps with Sunday PinaSaya somewhat helped a lot with the concealment strategy.) We just decided to give the best time possible to our attendees that they will enjoy it even if Alden will not be there, much like what happened at our first outreach program at East Avenue Medical Center where Alden’s tarp became the Guest of Honor.
January 31, 2016 – Cucina ni Bunso
I know that it looks like a very ‘sosyal’ event – and we were told that quite a number of times – but believe me, it’s not. It’s just that Cucina Ni Bunso had a nice, Victorian-esque atmosphere that’s actually quite homey and is perfect for our simple party. As for the many giveaways, well, some people got generous.
We had a few members of the press as guests, including one of AlDub Nation’s most trusted sources, Ms. Nora Calderon. Tita Noi was actually mobbed by some of our members who wanted the latest dish on our favorite couple.
We even had a DJ hosting the program. Sgt. Pepper from Wave 89.1 is a friend of our club’s founders from way back, and his mom is a huge Alden fan.
But the real star of the show here are our friends from the Philippine Foundation for Breast Care, Inc. We invited the Kasuso Choir – yes, that’s the name of their group – who obliged us with a special song number.
After which, they gave us short testimonies on their life as breast cancer survivors. Their spirit is just so uplifting that Cucina ni Bunso’s Chef Mel Martinez left his kitchen in order to listen more closely to the testimonies and respond to them. His message on how we should all, “enjoy life every day” truly touched the hearts of everyone in the room.
And since Chef Mel is a celebrity in his own right – he’s also an actor and has starred in a recently concluded highly-rated TV series – the party quickly turned into Meet and Greet With Mel Martinez. Chef Mel, very sweet and accommodating as he is, more than gladly obliged.
After which, it’s chow time! This would be the time for me to gush over Cucina Ni Bunso’s super-duper awesome food.
However, I must admit that I didn’t quite enjoy it this time. It is customary for me to never eat until the event is over as I want to really savor my food. And when I finally ate after Alden has left, I was so shell-shocked with what transpired that my taste buds kinda stopped working. Oh well, I guess that means I really have to come back, ‘no?
After eating, we held a short trivia contest (with McDonald’s AlDub calendars as prizes) to kill time while waiting for Alden. By this time, Sgt. Pepper has already briefed the attendees that Alden “might” show up, therefore we must observe some ground rules. Which were never followed, anyway. Rules? What rules?
Shortly before 3:00pm, Alden Richards walked into the room amidst screams from everyone, male and female alike.
Alden took one look at the projector screen that was playing one of his Album Tour performances at the time and he was delighted to see it. As if he was seeing it for the first time. Wait, I think he really was seeing it for the first time. He doesn’t have a file of it? It’s on YouTube, dude!
Just then, the attendees ‘attacked’ Alden one by one even if we told them to stay put in their seats and Alden will just do a group photo op per table in order to save time. Again, what rules?
Prior to him entering the restaurant, he was briefed by our contact that he will only do group photo ops since he only has 15 minutes to spare. Guess who decided to do solo photo ops with each attendee? Alden himself.
At that point, everything that was discussed during the briefing was thrown out of the window. Everyone wanted their own photo taken from their own cameras/phones even if the original plan was to have the official photographer – me – take everyone’s photos. Aside from that, everyone also wanted to have something signed and they would just swoop in anytime they want even if they’ve already had their turn. That’s when Bitchy Agent P started showing up. Sorry! I haven’t had lunch, I don’t have my own photo with Alden yet (not that it’s a priority because I’m the person with the camera), I still haven’t handed him the photobook (this one’s my main concern), AND time was running out, fast. I asked Mama Tenten beside me: “do we have time?” Mama Ten: “No.” Bitchy Agent P: “ok, mga tita, mamaya na po tayo magpapirma pag may time pa, pagbigyan po muna natin lahat na makapagpa-picture!” I think I might’ve looked and sounded too scary because Alden dropped the calendar he was signing as soon as I said that line.
At one point during the photo op, one of the reporters asked him something that, I assume, was about him missing Bossing Vic and Pauleen’s wedding reception the night before. Alden said with a slightly wistful look on his face: “oo nga po, tapos may mga nega pang lumalabas.” He seems to be affected by the stupid comments on social media, but he’s trying very hard to look unaffected. Right there and then, I wished that we could do something to ease his pain.
It’s Iron Man to the rescue!
Ah, that smile when we presented him the cake. That playfulness that he showed while we sang him a birthday song, even if it’s nearly a month too late. Such a beautiful sight.
After the cake ceremony and with all the photo ops done, I figured that I should take matters into my own hands and do my own swooping in before someone else does (again). I finally handed Alden the Wish I May Album Tour photobook, the very same book that I had been carrying while chasing him around for about a month, looking for that opportunity to give it to him. And yes, I did tell him that I had been chasing him for a month just to hand him that book. Told ya, I’m on Bitchy Agent P mode by that time.
I asked my co-ANFC admins to please document this moment since I can’t possibly take footage of myself. Video below taken by Rachell, while the pic is from Che.
It still amuses me that he said those words again: “Wala kasing nagko-compile nito.” He said practically the same thing at The District in Cavite when I gave him Photobook Part 1. He said that he doesn’t have his own file of his photos even if lots of people take his pics every day. Since he said it again, does this mean that I’m really the only fan who ever thought of giving him that kind of gift until now? If that’s the case, then I really should thank my sister for pitching in that idea.
After the photo op came more requests for autographs, video greets, etc. One cute moment was when he was signing copies of the latest issue of Cosmopolitan with him and Maine on the cover. Alden: “buti pa kayo meron na nito. Ako wala pa!” Paging Summit Media!
Then he gave a short but sweet message for us, something that we also didn’t expect him to do.
And then… more autograph requests, granted! Grabe s’ya, ang tiyaga n’ya. This is why I’m totally annoyed now whenever I chance upon negative comments about him on social media, especially those who accuse him of being selfish/unfair/playing favorites. How anyone could think ill of this super-kind-hearted fellow is beyond me. As for the ‘playing favorites’ part, let me tell you this now: if there’s anyone playing favorites within Alden’s camp, it’s NOT Alden himself. This, coming from someone who has posted a lengthy rant about how he treats the fandom just two weeks ago. I’d just leave it at that.
I’m posting this last photo separately because it has a story behind it. The woman who asked the autograph was Mommy Gloria, a breast cancer survivor who’s a huge fan of AlDub that she even chased us up to the gate of East Avenue Medical Center just to make sure that we won’t forget her request to watch Eat Bulaga at the studio. What she was telling Alden on this pic: “dahil sa ‘yo, nadugtungan ang buhay ko.” (I lived longer because of you.)
It’s finally time for Alden to go. As he left the venue, he made sure to say goodbye to each and every person there. Meanwhile, out of habit, I checked my camera for good shots and found that save for that one photo I posted above, I don’t have any other pic of me on my camera, much more a photo with Alden. Fortunately, I saw that Alden was still granting selfie requests at the restaurant lobby, so I chased after them. Che was there, and I told her my predicament. Apparently it’s the same case for her. We quickly realized that the admins didn’t have a photo op with our Guest of Honor even if we’re the ones who organized the event. So we walked out with Alden to his car and tried to get a last minute pic with him before he absolutely has to leave for his next appointment. However, people are still chasing him for more selfies, and these people are those who’s already had a gazillion pics with him on MY camera alone. Bitchy Agent P quickly turned into Beast Mode Agent P. I swear I wasn’t even aware of it; Che just told me later on that I looked so funny being all, “hey, we organized this thing and we still don’t have a picture with Alden!” right in front of Alden Richards. That’s classic Agent P. I do/say stupid things in front of famous people, and Alden Richards is the latest victim.
So we took a group picture, and then I tried to do a galawang breezy by taking a selfie using my new phone. Which turned out to be a mistake, because I didn’t practice beforehand and I ended up with nothing. Galawang breezy = FAIL. Fortunately, I am blessed with friends who got my back and someone took the liberty of taking a pic of me attempting the selfie, thus:
Whew! Thanks, Mavic!
We said our goodbyes and Alden gave each of us admins a hug and a beso (and he called me by my name! Weee!!) before driving off to his next destination. All in all, he spent nearly 30 minutes with us even if the original plan was only 15.
As I went back inside the restaurant, I was still shell-shocked that I ended up asking our mommies from PFBCI this stupid question: “did you have fun?” (Duh, of course they did.) The reply that I got?
“Magaling na kami! Wala nang cancer! Pinagaling kami ni Alden!”
That just about sums up the entire experience.
A few acknowledgments and Thank-Yous:
On behalf of Alden Nation, I’d like to say, “thank you very much” to the following for making this event a successful one:
Philippine Foundation for Breast Care, Inc.
Cucina ni Bunso – Chef Mel Martinez and staff
Ms. Bing Madridejos of Party Station Philippines
Pastries and Pyjamas
Sgt. Pepper of Wave 89.1
Ms. Nora Calderon, JJ Recto and Matt Garcia
and last, but definitely not the least: To Alden Richards for taking time off his extremely busy schedule to be with us on that very special day. We will never forget this, and I do hope that, just like what you said, there will be a next time. Thank you also to Tenten Mendoza and to Alden’s manager Carlites De Guzman for granting us this opportunity. And to that good friend (you know who you are) who helped make Alden Nation’s tamang panahon possible… thank you. Alden Nation will forever be grateful.
More photos and videos will be posted at Alden Nation’s official Instagram account: @aldennation and my own IG, @agent_pau.
Please credit properly when linking/re-posting. Thank you!