Aftermath: “Thank You For 30” Cebuana Lhuillier 30th Anniversary Concert
01 September 2017 – Mall of Asia Arena
This is one of those beautiful accidents that I didn’t plan on happening, but it did.
Around 2:00pm, 1st of September. I was busy twiddling my thumbs at home when I received a message from a certain someone, asking me if I’m watching the Cebuana Lhuillier concert happening that very same day. I said no, I don’t have a ticket. She said she has some, and she’s giving it to me and my fellow ‘no-group’ friends. Her only reason: she wants me to be there. Ok, then. Who am I to say, ‘no’ to that? I’ve been really wanting to see this show because, hello. Alden Richards and Sarah Geronimo. And then JaDine was announced as surprise guests just the night before. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to score tickets #longstory but I guess the universe – or certain, uhm, *someones* – really wants me to witness this.
So I took a quick shower, grabbed my super-zoom cameras which were, thankfully, fully-charged, and hurried towards Mall of Asia Arena for the Thank You For 30 concert.
Quick skip to the actual show. (By the way, I gotta commend the people behind this event for the very organized handling of the crowd. I mean, it’s still crowded, but there were no untoward incidents at the queue. ) There were the usual fun games to warm things up, then at around a quarter to 8:00pm, front acts One Up kicked things off.
These guys are doing well, huh. Congrats to them.
Then, without further ado, the actual show came in with a literal bang. Right off the bat, there was much pyros, laser lights, fiesta atmosphere. And I realized right then that this is not your usual corporate show. It’s really a CONCERT by its very name.
After the Lhuilliers gave their thank-you speeches, there was a lull for about a minute, then there were these dancers reveling us with spectacular choreography and laser lights reminiscent of Step Up 3D, to the tune of a Despacito remix.
And then, without much of a warning, BAM. James Reid and Nadine Lustre, onstage. Just like that.
I’m going to be honest here: I squealed in my seat. I think it’s because I wasn’t expecting to see them that early on in the show. Or maybe because, James Reid. I dunno.
Truthfully, it’s my first time to see James and Nadine perform live and I must say: I totally understand now why these two were able to fill big venues to the rafters. They know their stuff. They may not be the best singers out there but they sure can perform extremely well. They have undeniable stage presence either together or individually.
Also, I’m not sure if it’s because I got influenced by her roles in their movies (true confession: I’ve seen all JaDine movies, but I admit to not watching their teleseryes) but I didn’t expect Nadine to carry a sexy performance without looking awkward or lewd. Her dance moves have some sensuality in it but just enough to look sensual or sexy but still maintaining a little wholesomeness. I think the correct word is CLASSY. I know it sounds weird, but when another celebrity did her famous sexy dance later on in the show, Nadine’s classy sexiness was even more emphasized. At least, to my eyes.
After JaDine came Erik Santos, who belted out three ballads to the delight of the audience. (Side note: all acts had three numbers each – JaDine was considered as one act, and so was Pop Girls-Nitro-Julian and Ella.) The highlight of Erik’s set was, of course, I’ll Never Go from the One More Chance OST.
After Erik came my kababayan Rey Valera, who gave a tribute through his music to the various people whom Cebuana Lhuillier has helped achieve their dreams for the past 30 years. As I’ve said, this show isn’t just a show. It’s a concert with concept, staging and all that, and not just a mish-mash of production numbers.
The one thing I love about veteran performers like Mr. Valera is this: they never let age get in the way of a good performance. He jokes around about his age and he still manages to work the crowd to cheer him on. Bravo, fellow Bulakenyo.
After that was the aforementioned Pop Girls-Nitro-Julian and Ella number. I kinda expected them to be show-fillers but hey. It was nicely paced and they gave an energetic performance. I didn’t get bored at all.
And then… again without further ado… Alden Richards.
Earlier on, Alden Tweeted that he “can’t be sick” which hinted about the current state of his health. The guy who went onstage performing Something Just Like This, LIVE, with so much energy and no bum notes and looking every inch a dashing debonaire? Didn’t look like he’s sick at all.
Then he started talking, and that’s when it hit us. It’s evident that he’s nursing a very bad cold. His voice was hoarse, cracking every now and then as he spoke every word with as much energy and enthusiasm as he can. He was able to pull through his boyband medley number, but things got serious when he sang God Gave Me You.
As he sang the first verse with its low notes, his voice started to crack and slowly disappear. He was able to sing the first chorus decently, but by second verse he completely lost his voice which prompted him to say, “sorry po, sorry…” Right then, I felt really sad for him. In the midst of clicking away I uttered a silent prayer, and my inner cheerleader started chanting, “kaya mo ‘yan, RJ, konti na lang, hinga lang ng tama” (you can pull through this, RJ, it’ll be over soon, just breathe properly). I know he can’t hear me, but this blogger is known for random bursts of delusion, so whatever.
When he reached the bridge part, I then realized that he’s singing the Upsurge version of GGMY. Which means, there’ll be a solid high note in the end. My inner cheerleader resumed its chant: “it’s ok if you just wing the last chorus, just make sure you solidly hit the last note in the end. Kaya yan, tamang buwelo lang.” (You can do it with the right technique.) Again, he can’t hear me, but whatever.
And then he hit THE note. Solidly.
As the last note faded out, my friend Jaja and I looked at each other and saw the same “oh thank God” coupled with “I’m so proud of you, RJ” looks on our faces. I mean, this guy was the only non-singer amongst the main performers, and he was sick. But he sang his set LIVE all throughout and gave a more than decent performance despite his condition. For that alone, he deserves a standing ovation.
Later on when I was viewing the photos I took from this show, I saw that Alden is sporting a similar victorious smile after he pulled that number through.
Whew. That was… orgasmic. Pardon the word.
Thankfully, Alden was able to take a much needed breather before his finale number, as he introduced the other headliner of this show: The one and only Popstar Royalty, Sarah Geronimo.
Another true confession: it’s my first time to see Sarah G perform live, and I didn’t know what to expect. But she started with Kilometro and I totally lost my marbles. Why? Because Kilometro happens to be my most favorite Sarah G song. I barely was able to take photos because I just found myself singing and dancing along with her, with no care about what my seatmates were thinking about me.
This is what I observed about Sarah G: she transforms into a totally different person when performing. The moment she started singing, I literally heard her voice in my head saying, “Laida Magtalas version 2-point-oh!” She’s so FIERCE onstage. And then when she’s delivering her spiels, she turns into the usual shy, bubbly Sarah G that if you’re unfamiliar with her, you wouldn’t think it was the same person who wowed us with her full of swag performance just moments before.
Needless to say, she’s a delight to watch. No wonder she’s been filling up big venues all these years.
After that exemplary performance came the moment we’ve all been waiting for: Sarah G and Alden, in one stage.
When I was sorting through all the photos from this event, I admit that it took so long for me to narrow everything down to the best ones. Why? Because nearly all of them are the best ones.
I just had to post these because they’re so cute. It’s like watching two kids during playtime.
These two are just soooo wonderful to look at together in one frame. First and foremost, they were clearly enjoying themselves. They fed off each other’s energy. Alden was really giving it his all, performing alongside the Popstar Princess. Sarah was the more experienced concert artist, but there was never a hint of trying to upstage the Pambansang Bae. They worked in perfect harmony even if it’s their first time to work together. It clearly showed even in the faces of their dancers that everyone was having a great time. Such is a testament to the humility and grace of these two amazing artists. It was such an honor and a privilege to have witnessed it unfolding right before our eyes.
Another part that moved me was seeing Alden being starstruck at Sarah, with Sarah feeling the same way about Alden. It’s like Mutual Admiration Society right there.
It’s funny how Alden even pointed out that GMA and ABS CBN – the networks where they belong to – are literally near each other (practically next door neighbors, actually) but him and Sarah had to work together in faraway MOA Arena. And Cebuana Lhuillier, a company that had helped their respective families during their humble beginnings, was the the one that made it possible.
I’ve observed that a lot of Alden fans are also fans of Sarah G (and of JaDine), so we can say that this entire concert was a dream come true. And apparently, for Sarah G and Alden, as well. THANK YOU, Cebuana Lhuillier, for making it happen.
PS: For their finale number, they sang The Dawn’s Salamat. As soon as I heard the familiar opening strains, I once again totally lost my marbles. OMG, Alden is singing Salamat. This The Dawn fan – my domain name is named after the fact that I used to stalk The Dawn – is very, very happy.
Below is the link to my Facebook photo album. I’ve decided to upload all the photos from this concert there instead of here in my blog. I’ll be updating it as we go along so please do check it out.
Facebook Album: Thank You For 30!
Jaja took some fancams using my other camera. Although some of them are incomplete, I think they’re still worth sharing. Enjoy!