(This blog entry is a bit late. As usual. Sorry, reality got in the way.)
There’s nothing more awesome than receiving news that you’ve won a contest named “Meet and Dine With Alden Richards”. I mean, my current idol + Food. Nothing could get any better than that.
April 14, 9:15pm. I was startled by a phone call from a seemingly familiar number. I picked it up and got this message:
“Hello, is this XXXXX (my full name)? This is XXX from Cookie’s Peanut Butter. I’m sorry to be calling so late…”
Right then, it suddenly hit me why the number was familiar: it was the same number that I contacted to inquire about VIP slots for their April 22 event at Megamall.
Me, in my head: Shet. Naubusan ako ng VIP slot sa Megamall. Ibabalik pera ko. Parang Boardwalk event na naman ‘to.
The caller continued:
“I would like to inform you that you’re one of the winners of our Meet and Dine with Alden Richards contest.”
Me, in a very small, pabebe voice: “Oh. Thank you.”
I may have sounded too funny because the person on the other end of the line laughed, as well.
Cut to April 18, Wednesday. We were advised during the first phone call that the venue will only be disclosed at a later time and is to be kept confidential. That later time turned out to be 3:33am on April 18. They’re really serious about the confidentiality, ‘no? The calltime was 2:00pm; I got there about 5 minutes past 2:00 and about 20 or so winners were already there. I registered, went inside the restaurant and sat at one corner because I didn’t know anyone in the room. Or so I thought. A couple of former co-FC members turned out to be winners, as well. I didn’t have to go through this day alone, after all.
While waiting and getting major LSS from the Cookie’s Peanut Butter ad jingle, we were reminded by the organizers of two things: (1) it’s a Meet and Dine event, so make sure to eat; (2) Alden will be table-hopping and will spend a few precious moments at each table, so just relax, stay on our seats and don’t waste those moments by just taking selfies.
Yeah, that’s not gonna happen.
Alden arrived at the venue at around 3:45pm. He welcomed us with a few words, then gave the signal to commence the ‘Dine’ part of the event. Mind you, it wasn’t just a simple plated meal. It’s a freakin’ buffet. Cookie’s is certainly not scrimping on the budget, so to those who malign and belittle this company just because they’re local… I’d flash a finger but I don’t do that sort of thing so whatever.
The above photo is just a representation of what was served to us. I didn’t get everything from the table. You see, I’m the type of person who hardly eats anything when I’m in the middle of an event. The food was tasty, but I wasn’t able to finish my plate because all I could think of is: Alden is in the room and I should be taking photos. Force of habit, I guess.
His holding area was beside our table, but Alden’s back was facing us. I then realized that he’s facing the glass window, and if I go to the resto’s lobby I’d be able to take some frontal shots. It took a lot of internal debating – eat or take photos? – until I couldn’t stand it anymore. I got up, went out to the lobby, stood on the other side of the glass window and took a few shots before Alden started eating.
I tried finishing my food while Alden was eating, but then I saw him got up and went to the VIP room for his interview with Lhar Santiago. (And if you click on that link, you’d see someone very familiar. ) Said VIP room is just beside our table, and we can sort of see through the glass doors and windows. Again, the food vs photos internal debate happened, and photos won. I got up, stood beside one of the glass doors and tried taking photos. The operative word being, ‘tried’. It was so frustrating trying to steal a good shot because the cameraman was blocking the view for the most part of the interview.
Fortunately, I got lucky and was able to take a couple of pretty good shots. Or else I would’ve myself for choosing this over food.
After the interview, it’s table-hopping time! And we’re Table No. 1. He sat at the chair directly across mine. Side note: I actually transferred from the other side because I chose to sit across him for a better camera angle rather than next to him. Yes, I am stupid that way. Anyway, he sat down, then a stack of books and magazines were presented in front of him, and he signed all of it while taking selfies and chit-chatting at the same time. Talk about a multi-tasking artist.
Here’s the thing. After signing all those books and mags, he got up and proceeded to the next table. Meanwhile, half of our table who weren’t able to have anything signed nor take selfies were like, “what? That’s it?” He stayed at our table for a good 2.5 minutes and spent those 190 seconds just signing autographs when he could’ve bonded with us more. It’s exactly what the organizers warned us about before the event started. We should chat with him, ask questions, spend those precious moments getting to know Alden more. Prior to this, we – as in me and the two other people from my former FC – were discussing with the other fans from our table and we told them about this same mistake that we had during one of our dinners with Alden. We gave him a tall stack of stuff to sign and he spent one hour just signing autographs instead of bonding with us. It was such a waste, and as we had expected when we saw the stack of books and magazines on our table, it happened again.
I suddenly realized that they never said anything about photo ops, so I asked Leysam if there will be one. He said there will be group pics. I was like, oh. hell. no. I have a friend who’s not among the winners but just happened to pass by the venue and decided to wait for Alden at the parking area. Since I know very well that Alden never says ‘no’ to her random requests for selfies even if he’s in a hurry or whatever, it is very possible that she will get a solo selfie. Meanwhile, me, the winner who’s a stickler for following the rules, most probably won’t get one. That’s just… sad.
Therefore, even if we were told to stay on our seats, I got up from my sad little corner and roamed around to take more photos. Nearly everyone else were not following the rules, anyway, and I needed material for this blog.
When group photo ops came, our very law-abiding table followed the rules and had our photos taken by groups of 10. After that, we suddenly realized that the next shots were either solo or in groups of 2-4 pax. A few people from the earlier batches started shouting, “oy bakit ganon? Sumunod kami sa rules ah, bakit sila solo-solo na???” and yes, that included good ol’ bitchy Agent P. Sorry, I just had to. I can’t stand unfairness, ya know? I’d seen and experienced stuff like that happening in a lot of Alden’s events and I think it’s time someone speaks up. Never mind if I get bashed for this; I’ve been bashed on this fandom for the most ridiculous reasons, anyway.
Then again, I can’t say I’m totally clean and innocent. I did break the rules. When my turn for the group photo came, I stayed on and asked Alden for a selfie even if we’re already being shooed away for the next batch. I mean, I’m not going to let that day end feeling like a total loser so I decided to stop being such a wuss and break the rules. It’s not like I’m the only one, you know. I mean, some people even got multiple solo-selfies and would still attempt for more if they get the chance to do so.
Looking back, I thought about this and came to this conclusion: If fans were properly informed of the program and the rules were equally applied to all, there won’t be anyone (or, at least, lesser number of people) who would attempt to one-up the others. It’s sickening for those who are willing to follow the rules to witness others getting more privileges even if all paid the same amount, or were winners of the same prize. At some point, they will get tired of being constantly slapped in the face and will decide to unleash their inner pasaway. I know that’s what happened to me last Wednesday.
And the more people becoming pasaway, the harder it will be for event organizers to keep everything in check. Think about it.
Anyway, despite those small mishaps, overall it was a fun, fun afternoon spent with Alden Richards. Everyone went home with huge smiles on their faces. And to cap off the day, we went home with a jar of Cookie’s Peanut Butter and a tarpaulin poster. Best prize ever, indeed.