Achievement unlocked: apparently, I can still manage to take decent photos even if I’m being pushed and shoved left, right, forward and backward. Or maybe I got lucky with my new toy.
Whatever the reason was, my day ended on a high note even if it started rough.
I wasn’t really keen on going to the opening of City Mall Dau even if I’ve been missing Alden so much because I was expecting that it’s going to be crowded and chaotic. However, the universe seem to be telling me something. All of a sudden, I was required to go to our Regional Office in Pampanga to submit a few documents. I’m already at the area; what’s keeping me from missing the event? Well, aside from my poor navigating skills…
…which turned to be a success, and I ended up being at City Mall at around 10:00am. The event won’t be until 3:00pm, but it’s a mall. I’d have a few places to keep me busy while waiting.
Or so I thought. Apparently, when they said that the Grand Opening will be at 3:00pm, they meant LITERALLY. The mall was closed even if all their promotional signs said that mall hours are at 9:00am-9:00pm. Not on opening day, though. Since City Mall Dau is right at the heart of Dau Integrated Transport Terminal, there were a few fast food joints and another department store nearby so me and a few other fans and customers who also arrived too early at the venue decided to kill time there. I returned in front of the still-closed mall at exactly 12:00nn to find my spot. Which, as we already know, is outside the mall, under the scorching sun and humidity.
More and more people arrived as the time progressed that by 1:30pm, the area was already teeming with lots and lots of humans. As we were waiting, mall staff started distributing fans (pamaypay) and caps. That alone caused the crowd to come barreling forward, some of them even climbing up the people in front of them just to grab a pamaypay or sumbrero. Since I was right at the railings, the experience was… not nice.
Around 2:00pm, more and more people arrived and those who were there early have started to become antsy. But no matter how much the crowd begged, mall admins still refused to let anyone in. They insisted that everyone will be let in at exactly 3:00pm.
At 2:20, the dragon dancers kicked off the program. After that… more waiting. 3:00pm arrived and nothing happened. The hosts finally started the program at around 3:10 but they were obviously stretching the program some more (apparently, Alden was still doing the ribbon cutting at City Mall’s Oppo concept store) and that’s when people started losing their marbles. There were chants of “Alden! Alden!” followed by “pasok na! Pasok na!” (let us in!) and basically, we didn’t care about whatever the hosts were saying. We just wanted the agony to end. I really don’t understand how mall administration can actually smile in front their clientele who were basically being tortured under the heat of the sun. At some point, I actually screamed at the guards, “nasaan ang manager n’yo? Kakausapin ko lang” (where’s your manager? I need to talk to him/her). Not that it mattered. Dinedma lang ako.
At 3:20pm, the VIPs including Alden Richards finally came out for the ribbon cutting ceremonies. I think Alden’s presence calmed the crowd somewhat because the pushing has stopped.
After this, the VIPs were escorted inside the mall and then we saw people being let in from the right side corner, where most people are newcomers. This drew the ire of those at the center – where I was – because the ones who were there are people who have been at the area since morning. During our long waiting time, we were told so many times by mall security that the entrance will be from the center and we were constantly asked to be calm while entering. Naturally, when we saw that the newcomers were let in first, we totally lost it. People started yelling unmentionables, and there were lots and lots and lotssss of pushing. When one of the railings on our area was opened, more pushing ensued. The railings in front of me even collapsed and people were pushing us forward but mall security were quick to put the railings back and pushed us back with it. That didn’t stop the rest of the crowd from barreling in. Nobody cared if they were pushing children or senior citizens, it’s every (wo)man for him/herself. It totally resembles a zombie horde, like a scene straight out of Train to Busan.
Somehow, I managed to squeeze myself out of my railings sandwich and got carried inside the mall along with the crowd. I just went with the flow until it stopped a few meters away from the stage.
A few people weren’t able to withstand the heat and humidity and decided to bail out. I took that as an opportunity to squeeze myself forward inch by inch. One advantage of being alone is that you can maneuver yourself in the crowd without worrying about losing your companions. By the time One Up went onstage, I’ve already managed to improve my position by about a couple of meters.
I’m posting this because I’m in awe at how I was able to take these pics while being pushed forward, backward, left and right, with barely a space to move my arms. By this time, my hair and shirt were already dripping wet and I’m not even sure if it’s from my own sweat or someone else’s. With this sea of humanity squeezing the life out of me, I had to constantly tilt my head towards the ceiling just so I can breathe properly. I also felt my hair being pulled, my head being used as tripod, someone’s elbow poking my sides, etc etc. I just psyched myself that I’ve already gone too far in to quit now.
You can bet that by the time Alden was called onstage, it was total CHAOS.
But the beauty of this total chaos is that, because of all the pushing and shoving, I once again managed to improve my position by a couple more meters. I think I was only about 10 disorganized rows away from the stage.
Alden Richards at City Mall, Pampanga
When I recall the day’s events, I just end up chuckling at how I was able to take decent photos while shuffling left and right depending on which side was pushing. It’s like photography dance. I have that skill pala.
However, this is an experience that, I hope, I’ll never repeat again. I don’t think I can handle it anymore.