(Warning: Post is extremely image-heavy.)
If you will browse back thru the beginnings of this blog, you would know that the first Korean entertainer that I got hooked on was Kwon Sang Woo. His brooding good looks and his acting (notably his ability to cry and still remain handsome) was what caught my eye. I got so hooked on KSW that I recently discovered, while re-arranging my files, that the first few downloaded stuff related to Korean entertainment that I have were all KSW (one of which was an Arirang Showbiz Extra episode from last year which also had Shin Hye Sung on Star Focus and since I didn’t know how to edit videos then, I was able to save even SHS’s part. Needless to say, Thet and Cha’s sister – both HyeSung lovers – were more than happy when I told them this). This addiction to KSW also resulted to my continued patronage of The Face Shop’s lavander body spray, which I used to purchase from abroad through the help of friends and relatives.
However, Rain came into my life, and KSW had to take a back seat.
When our local franchisee of The Face Shop announced Kwon Sang Woo’s Philippine visit, I still got excited. After all, there was a time when I solemnly professed never to miss it should this event happens (which, at that time, seems close to impossible). However, when I learned that you will need to shell out at least USD30 just to catch a glimpse of him (USD60 if you want to get a closer look), I had to pass. I still like KSW, but I felt that I don’t like him that much to spend USD30 or 60 on him. I’d rather save it for a rainy day ;). And then, everytime I hear horror stories from Charity – who’s a volunteer for the event, having been friends with members of KSW Phil – about how disorganized things are, I get more and more discouraged to splurge on it.
Last weekend, I suddenly had this feeling that I should go check out the fan meet at Mall of Asia even if I don’t have tickets. Per various sources, I learned that the sales of tickets for the MOA event is not as good as the one in Glorietta, basically because the event is on a Monday and the MOA one is at 1:00pm. I was thinking, since they can’t possibly hold an event with KSW with a half-filled venue, they might allow walk-ins just to fill it up. I brought this up with Charity (who was with me the entire weekend for the V-team’s 2-day Christmas party – more on this later), who agreed. She will be at the MOA event as babysitter for the Hong Kong fans, so I arranged to meet up with her around lunch time. When I got home from the party, I checked the updates at soompi’s KSW thread, and it was there that I learned that the franchise owner of TFS had requested KSW Phil to bring more fans to MOA to make up for the dismal ticket sales there. So I guess my feeling was right.
And so, on Monday, I sneaked out of work and went to Mall of Asia to check out my first Korean love.
Mall of Asia is one of the biggest malls in the world, so finding the right venue where the event will be held could be nightmarish, especially if you’re like me who’s not well-versed with the area. I texted Charity to tell me where it is, and she said I should go to the farthest right if I am going towards MOA. Unfortunately, I took a passenger jeepney going there, and all PUJ’s should turn left when arriving at MOA. So that means, I literally walked through the entire length of the mall (about a couple of kilometers) just to get to the venue. However, the great news is, Charity also mentioned that the event will not happen in one of the cinemas anymore (as previously announced). Instead, they are holding it at the activity center, which is open to the public. So I can still see KSW even if I don’t pay for the tickets. The only difference between us and the ticket holders is that they are closer to the stage and they have a better vantage view, although that’s relative, because if the people in front of you decides to stand up, then there’s a possibility that you might not see KSW at all. At least, those of us who are outside the cordoned area are elevated, so we can definitely see KSW even if it’s a bit farther away. I’m fine with it; what’s my camera’s 10x zoom lens for?
I finally found the venue after a few missed turns. I met up with Charity who’s already inside the VIP area with the HK fans and members of KSW Phil. I also met up with my friend Marissa (not Thet, the other Marissa) who informed me that according to our common friend the Crazy Japanese Dude, he would be willing to buy USD60 worth of Face Shop products even if he hates them just so I can get a ticket for the fan meet (Crazy Jap knows how crazy I was with KSW as he was the one who had to search for the Face Shop branch for me when we were in Jakarta last year). He’ll just wait for me to nag him about it. I told Marissa, he dared to say that because he knows I’m not the type who will nag. However, had I known, I probably would’ve. Anyway, water under the bridge now…
I left them at the VIP section to look for a good spot to take pics.
Charity and co. were at the left side of the stage. However, I couldn’t find a good spot on that side, so I ended up moving towards the other side of the stage to look for a better view. Since the area is cordoned off, I had to walk the entire diameter of the area. I did find a good one near the right side of the stage, directly opposite of where Charity is.
A few minutes before 1pm, my cellphone suddenly rang. It was Charity, frantically telling me to go towards the VIP entrance. She managed to pull some strings and she will let me in, but I have to hurry as I will just go in together with other people. Uh-oh, but I’m on the other side! So I had to run the entire diameter of the area again. Aish, why does everytime I had to do something related to Koreans, I have to walk or run??? :mad: Puerto Ricans never required me to do such things…
Anyway, I did manage to get inside the VIP area. When I sat down on my 3rd row seat :party:, still panting, I told Charity where I was and what I did to get back. She suddenly said, “you should’ve just passed behind the stage, it’s nearer!”
Just then, several media people started taking shots – both photo and video – of the audience. When we saw that they were from KBS, TV Ent and other Korean networks, we went camera-hogging like crazy. But when the cameras from GMA 7 started rolling, all of us freaked out and started covering our faces. Most of us have either filed vacation leaves from work stating various valid reasons such as ‘family emergency’, or literally sneaked out from work (me included). I certainly hope I wasn’t caught by the cameras, or if I was, I got edited out of the final clip. Heaven forbid that my boss will spot my face on the evening news.
The fan meet started a little late. Before that, some guy voice over started saying stuff like, “are you ready to see me?”, implying that he is friggin’ KSW. And then, he said, “do you know Stairway to Heaven?” Audience: “Yes!!!” Voice over: “can you sing the song?” Me: “Sing the song??? Which one, the one by Led Zeppelin??” Sheesh. Then he started singing, “Langit ka, lupa ako…” (the local theme song of STH) in a tone that is not even remotely close to the actual song. Oh God, please make him stop! Thankfully, he stopped before everyone could go amok on him.
Finally, the host of the event came out. She started the show by drawing off 20 raffle winners who will win a Face Shop t-shirt which will be personally signed by KSW, and then another 20 winners of a handshake with him. One of the handshake winners is a CloudPh member (and a regular of this blog), the very pregnant Djo Ching. Then, the UP Manila Chorale sang a couple of Christmas songs, then segued to the local theme song of STH, which signals the entrance of the one and only Kwon Sang Woo.
He came out, I saw the pink shirt, and I swooned. KSW in pink =
Suddenly, several people – mostly foreign fans – came rushing towards the stage to take a closer look at SangWoo. I was glued on my 3rd row seat, thinking, these women will definitely be hauled back to their seats by the burly security men. But no, no one was telling them to back off. So I forgot about my manners and joined in the fray. I fought my way into the small crowd until it was just the barrier that separates me and SangWoo.
Photos galore!!! (Click on thumbnails to view larger pics. And please, DO NOT HOTLINK. Upload on your own server when re-posting in other sites, and please credit me or this site, too. Thanks!!)
Finally, security men started telling us to sit down, in Tagalog. So I went back to my seat, until I noticed them foreigners still standing ground and refused to budge. Hey, it’s the “I’m a Foreigner, so I can get away with anything” tactic! I know that tactic so well! But they can’t get away with that here. Brooklyn from soompi told me to go back and ignore the security people. So I went back and took more pics, until finally, the security people started shooing us away in English. That’s my cue that I should stop being pasaway and sit down.
There was a short interview featuring semi-famous people asking him random questions related to beauty – it’s a Face Shop promo, after all – and then three people from the audience were given the chance to ask their own questions. First Q (by someone who called SangWoo “oppa”, and said person was old enough to be SangWoo’s halmoni ) : Who is your girlfriend? No way he’s gonna answer that. His answer was something like, “all of you are my girlfriends”, with hand gesture to boot, but the host/interpreter (she’s Korean) translated it as, “he is looking for one, maybe one of you will be it!” Eh? Second Q: Who is the person you admire most? Answer: someone whom he fights the most with, but loves him the most… his mother. Awww… Third Q: How do you like Filipino women? Sheesh, that question again??? His answer: Filipino women have small faces (for which Cha and I looked at each other and said, “he couldn’t possibly be talking about us!”), long legged (huh???), slender bodies (at which I looked around at the people on the first row who are mostly shaped almost the same as me, so I burst out laughing), but all of them are beautiful. Hmf, sweet-talker…
After the interview came the presentation of gifts. First gift was a sketch of SangWoo from KSW Phil. Then, a book about Boracay (which SangWoo seemed to find very interesting), and then, something inside a Marks and Spencer bag. For a moment there, we thought someone played a joke and gave him lotion or something. Thankfully, it was a sweater. Last was a teddy bear which he seemed to like, as well.
It was then followed by the autograph signing and the handshakes, followed by some parting words from KSW:
The MOA event took almost an hour, so it’s not bad at all (especially for me. ). I then joined Cha and the peeps from KSW Phil for a quick late lunch, then we headed on to Glorietta for the 2nd event. We didn’t really plan to go as we felt we already had a good dose of KSW from the MOA event, not to mention that we don’t have tickets for the Glorietta event. But everyone thought, why not, just to show support for KSW and to check out the crowd. When we got there, there was already a good sized crowd (which we expected as the event was at 6pm, when everyone has already gone from work), so we just decided to watch the event from the 2nd floor.
The show was basically the same – same questions and answers during the interview, including the ‘questions from the audience’ – except for SangWoo’s shirt (he changed into a white shirt), the girlfriend question (maybe KSW’s manager scolded them for asking something ‘personal’) and the gifts. This time, SangWoo got a native hat, a miniature jeepney, the Boracay book again (I bet it’s the same one) and a couple of beanies which he gamely wore.
During the autograph signing/handshake thingy, we figured KSW might drop by the Face Shop Glorietta outlet, since he did the same at Mall of Asia. We decided not to finish the show and quickly headed to the outlet, but it’s already cordoned off and a good sized crowd was already waiting. Still, we managed to squeeze in in front of the outlet itself, but there’s a showroom in front of it and both showroom and Face Shop people are blocking the view. :mad: I only managed to snap one good pic which had Sang Woo on the frame.
I dunno why, but for some reason, everything seemed to have gone fast at the Glorietta event. In MOA, he was on stage for a while that Charity and I actually got ‘tired’ of looking at him. After a while, he started to look like local actor Romnick Sarmenta to us. But still, it was a great experience for me to see Kwon Sang Woo in the flesh (and up close, at that). My impression of him? Aside from being extremely good-looking I think he’s a sincerely nice guy. He seems comfortable around people, especially children. My only gripe is that he hardly gives out a toothy smile (in Tagalog, “matipid ang ngiti”), but at least, he’s not too showbiz-y. It’s also nice to know that Filipino people still recognize him even if it’s been a while since STH was aired. If TFS Philippines only utilized more media mileage to promote the event, it would’ve been more successful. They probably did not even expect that KSW can draw crowds here. Well, now they know.