One Fun Day With The Bae at EK
Alden Richards’ birthday celebration with his fans
Enchanted Kingdom – 06 January 2018
Alden Richards is truly one of a kind.
How many artists do you know who would go to the extent of organizing a big birthday celebration that is open to ALL of his fans – not just the ones with fan clubs – at a huge theme park with unlimited fun rides the whole day, with the first three hours exclusively for the attendees; a buffet lunch – yep, you read that right!; a photo op with the artist; a souvenir T-shirt; and capping it all off with a free concert?
I honestly can’t think of anyone else who has done this.
Sure, there were the usual hanash about it being not free. I’m not sure if these ‘critics’ are aware that admission fee at EK is now at php900/pax (I heard it’s php700/pax if group booking but I’m not sure). What, they actually thought admission to a theme park is free, or cheap at the very least? If you factor in the other stuff I listed above, php1,200 is actually a huge steal. I’ve paid a lot more than that on events where I only got to see the artist from a distance, no souvenirs, and certainly no food included in the event fee.
Our call time for the event is at 8:00am but I heard some fans were already there as early as 6:00am. Talk about ‘excited’. A big chunk of attendees were, naturally, FC members. But as the day went on I randomly heard a lot of people saying they’re Team Bahay/No Group (that includes yours truly). It’s nice to see the fans mingling with each other regardless of any group affiliation. We were all there because we wanted to celebrate with Alden on this special day.
After registration and distribution of T-shirts and special EK bracelets, gates were opened and as I’ve said above, all attendees had exclusive use of the park before its normal operating hours. It was kinda surreal and creepy, seeing the park with no one else but 500+ people wearing blue shirts. But it was surreal and creepy in a nice way. I mean, there were no lines! You can ride the extremely popular Anchors Away all by yourself! Well not really. They don’t allow that.
A few minutes before the park was opened to the public, we were asked to gather around the area in front of Anchors Away for a group photo with Alden. You can only imagine our collective swoons when he arrived, looking super-gorgeous with his unshaven face and aviator sunglasses. And because he’s the ever-humble Alden, he wore the same blue shirt as everyone else, and he sat on the floor for the group pic.
Note: if you’re thinking of spotting me at the group pic so that you can post it on Twitter to ridicule me, don’t even bother because I won’t be there. I was at the side taking these pics.
After that, we were led by Alden – yes, that’s exactly how it appeared – to the big tent so that we can have our lunch. I don’t think anyone expected to find a nicely prepped up place complete with buffet tables when they entered the venue. At least, I didn’t. Sorry! Just being real here. The registration fee is too low for an event too huge that I was thinking they will just distribute lunch packs. But no. It’s a real party. With table settings and everything. Impressive!
After lunch, Alden was called onstage for the photo op. It’s on a per table basis – meaning, 8 persons per group – but it didn’t matter to us because each person got to greet Alden, give him a kiss and/or a hug, and chat with him even for just a few seconds. For a good number of attendees who don’t get to do this often or got this opportunity for the first time, this moment alone more than makes up for the amount of the event fee. You actually can’t put a tag price on it.
A little side note. Alden was supposed to do the photo op while seated on a chair with the fans behind him, like so:
But as soon as he realized the scenario, he quickly got up and ditched the chair himself. That’s how much he wants to be closer to us.
After the photo op, we were given a free time to resume our unli-rides while Alden prepared for the free concert at 6:00pm. Some of us, myself included because I have acrophobia so I don’t do rides at theme parks, decided to just park our buns at the concert area.
A bit of a side-story before I proceed to the next part of the program: I spent the afternoon break talking to Yaya Luz, constant companion of Marta, the now-famous teenager fan of Alden and Maine. I want to share this story because it moved me so much. You see, there were lots of days when I felt so frustrated as a fan especially when I don’t get a much coveted ‘moment’ with the artist. I sometimes feel that my efforts were going for naught. Listening to Yaya Luz’s stories about Marta’s fangirl adventures made me feel ashamed of myself. I mean, she’s a kid, but she’s so much more matured than most of the people on any fandom. Marta is the perfect example of someone who does not belong to a fan club (fact is, nearly all fan clubs want to recruit her as a member but it’s her choice to fangirl on her own) but manages to attend nearly all of Alden’s events. She takes her chances, and if she doesn’t get it, she just shrugs it off and moves on to the next event. She felt bad but never felt bitter nor resentful about anything even when she got bashed to smithereens on socmed just recently. In fact, I personally witnessed how she’s the same jolly teenager who had the time of her life at Enchanted Kingdom last Saturday. I learned so much from her even if I’m old enough to be her mother.
Also, Yaya Luz’s anecdotes firmly established this significant fact about Alden Richards and his management team: You don’t need to be part of a fan club to be recognized. I can’t say I’m proof of it because I was once a part of an FC. Marta was NEVER a part of any FC, but Alden and his team knows her and constantly shows appreciation of her support.
Alden treats all his fans equally. No need for labels nor affiliations.
The event was capped off with a free concert. It’s open to all who are inside EK, but priority entry to the stage area was given to the participants of Alden’s event. Can I just say: the senior fans? Have put me to shame. Their energy at 6:00am is the same at 6:00pm, and it considerably increased when the show started. How they managed to do it, I have no idea. I wish I have that same tenacity when I reach that age.
The show was hosted by comedian Tetay and T.O.P. member Joshua (random trivia: this guy caught the attention of Alden’s lola at the Say It Again album launch; I wonder if Alden is aware of it?). Guest performers include EK’s in-house performers Victoria’s Way and Kingsmen, GMAAC artists One Up and T.O.P., and Alden’s real-life best buds Kristoffer Martin, Rodjun Cruz and Bea Binene.
Each of them gave heartfelt greetings for the Birthday Boy. I particularly felt the warmth and sincerity in each greeting, especially those coming from Kristoffer, Rodjun and Bea. They are living testaments to how good a person Alden is, not just on-cam but more so behind the scenes. As a fan, there’s nothing more fulfilling than knowing that you are supporting someone who truly deserves it.
When Alden finally took the stage for his song numbers, he spent a good amount of performance time in the company of his audience.
He also opened his spiels with this question: “Kumusta, pagod na ba kayo?” He is evidently concerned about our welfare, if we still have enough energy left after spending practically the entire day celebrating with him. Random side story: My friend Jho took a fancam of him while he’s on his way to the stage area and when Alden saw her, he asked her that same question. This guy cares about us. It’s moments like these when I feel like making patol all the bashers who kept on saying that Alden is only after the money. But Alden is asking us to be patient and stop the hate, so I’ll follow his lead.
Alden ended his set with Despacito. I missed his performance of this song at the GMA New Year Countdown because I was busy with Media Noche preparations, so it’s my first time to hear him sing it. The song fits his voice well. He should be singing more songs like this. (And while we’re at it: even if we love hearing you sing it, Alden, I think it’s time to retire the boy band medley. But that’s just me.)
The nice end to this wonderful event? Personally witnessing Alden and Kristoffer bullying the EK mascot. It’s so… real.
Yes, it’s truly a wonderful event for all of us fans. There were some moments of confusion particularly during the first half of the day but any event won’t be complete without it, anyway. It didn’t affect the success of the event as a whole. All of us went home with big smiles on our faces and precious memories to remember. Thanks and mad props to Alden, his management team and the organizing committee for giving the fans this big birthday treat. If this is any indication of how big 2018 will be for Alden Richards, I am certainly looking forward to it.
Happy, happy birthday again, RJ. Continue being you, because we love you that way.
Photos from One Fun Day With The Bae at EK can be found at my Facebook photo album.