Those of you who knew me from way back know that aside from Rain, I have another idol and that is Ricky Martin. Ricky was – is – literally the idol that I grew up with. I was barely eleven years old when Menudo first went to the Philippines, and Ricky was their newest member then. I had no interest in Menudo prior to their first Manila visit. When I saw clips of their arrival at the airport on TV (Menudo was so huge in Manila then that even their airport arrivals automatically become part of the evening news, and at that time, newscasts never featured anything showbiz-related), the smallest member who was oh-so-cute instantly caught my eye. I became an instant Menudo fan after that. However, I never saw a single Menudo concert in Manila because I live in the province and at that time it was quite difficult for a student, let alone an eleven-year-old girl in the province to go all the way to Manila just to watch a concert. (Ironically, at present, I go all the way to another country just to watch a concert. I think this called, ‘compensating on experiences that I didn’t have when I was a child.’) So when he turned solo and had a concert in Manila, I made it a point to see it (thankfully I was already working at that time) and I made sure that I was right there in front of the stage. My first experience of going abroad just to watch a concert was also because of Ricky Martin. It happened at a time when going abroad just for a concert was unthinkable.
Since then, Ricky has gone through ups and downs in his career, he went into hibernation, came back and did philanthropic as well as some pretty controversial things which culminated in him having twin sons via surrogacy and ultimately admitting what we have all guessed for quite some time: that he is gay. But I still remain his fan. I’m still a fan even if he once did something despicable to me and my fellow Ricky fans (which pretty much explains why I also remain a Rain fan even if I hate a lot of things about him).
Recently, Ricky Martin released his autobiography entitled ‘Me’. I bought a copy even if it’s way beyond my budget because I’m curious about what his life has been through his own account. Plus, I am a fan, after all. Although I have been basically bashed by my friends from the bandstalker era for buying “a gay book”. Maybe I should literally clobber them with this book.
What can I say, it was certainly illuminating. And it certainly explained a certain period in Ricky’s life where he seemed different in our eyes. You see, when he first visited Manila as a solo artist in 1998, the core group of his fan club Asian Friends of Ricky Martin or AFRM (founded and headed by Rizza and I met her through this club) had the privilege of meeting him face-to-face in his hotel. I was a new member then, so I wasn’t part of the core group yet. Two years and Livin’ La Vida Loca later, we went to Hong Kong to see the LLVL Tour and attend his presscon-slash-fanmeeting. AFRM tried to negotiate with his managers to have an exclusive meet-and-greet with Ricky again even for just a few minutes. His manager actually agreed to it. The thing was, they made us wait at the lobby for three days. Every time Rizza talked to either Joselo or Ricardo (Ricky’s personal managers), they would tell us to wait. And so we waited. We would only call it a day when they tell us that Ricky was already sleeping. Finally, on the 3rd day when they were about to leave for Taiwan, Ricardo told us that Ricky will meet us before they leave. We just have to wait for his signal for us to go up to Ricky’s floor. Then, before he disappeared to the elevator, we saw him exchange a brief chat with the tour manager whom we fondly called Bangaw Lady (bangaw = big fly; she was wearing humongous sunglasses even if she’s indoors). A few minutes later, the hotel’s manager approached us to tell us that Ricky has already left for Taiwan.
To say that the world literally crushed from beneath our feet was an understatement. We didn’t know whether to cry or be mad. It’s not just the three days of waiting and the fact that we forfeited HKD300 each for a Shenzen Tour in exchange for loitering at the hotel lobby waiting for Ricky Martin. It’s the fact that we were promised something, and we banked on that promise because we thought that Ricky will not let us down. Had they been more honest and upfront and told us that they cannot accommodate our request, we would have gone ahead and moved on with our lives. We would have understood him more. At that time, we pointed at Bangaw Lady as the culprit in crushing our hopes of meeting Ricky face-to-face.
However, there is a portion on this book where Ricky talked about his life while doing the LLVL Tour and recording the Sound Loaded album (where the song She Bangs came from) at the same time. He said that towards the latter part of the tour (Hong Kong was the third-to-the-last stop), he was already too tired and feeling rebellious. His managers would schedule him for something, and if in the past he would just go ahead and do everything he was asked for, at that point he has already stopped caring. He would show up late in appointments, or not show up at all and just sleep. In short, that untoward incident we had in Hong Kong was most probably because Ricky, at that time, was being an asshole. We pinned the wrong person to blame.
After reading that part, I now know why that incident in Hong Kong happened. I can’t say I have totally forgiven him and his managers for lying to us and wasting our time, but at least I now understand why it happened. Burning out does happen even to ordinary humans who work too hard. How much more if that human is someone famous, who has been under the spotlight for years, has worked non-stop since he was a child, and basically did everything that he was told to do with nothing to say for himself?
Somehow, I feel that every celebrity, especially entertainers from East Asia who had to live their lives in utmost secrecy for fear of losing their fans, should read Ricky’s book. It is not just about homosexuality. It’s more about setting oneself free and being true to oneself. It could be about anything: being gay, having a relationship (be it with the opposite or the same sex), even one’s true race/nationality/status in life that you felt that you have to hide because that is what society dictates that a person should do. If there is anyone who could talk about the life of being rich and famous and losing his identity to it, and then later on liberating himself from all that craziness, it’s someone like Ricky Martin.
PS: I have always mentioned on this blog that Ricky and Rain have so many parallelisms. Ricky has already liberated himself of his personal truth. Will we see Rain do the same thing any time soon?
PPS: There was a portion on this book – actually, the one about the latter part of the LLVL Tour – where Ricky said that he couldn’t recognize himself in the photos taken during that period. He was glassy-eyed and his smiles were so fake. I couldn’t help but remember the times where Rain looked exactly like that in photos: glassy-eyed and the smiles were so fake. The latest of which were, I’m sorry to say… the press conference for Fugitive here in Manila.