I wasn’t supposed to attend SS501 Kyu Jong and Young Saeng’s Manila fanmeet last Saturday because (1) I’m not a fan, in fact, I don’t even know who’s who among them; and (2) I’m saving as much cash as possible for our South Korea trip later this month. But Charity and Lou wanted to go, and we have become the Fangirling Triumvirate of sorts so I feel like I’m missing something if I don’t show up. We didn’t buy tickets at once because they’re too costly and decided to just procure them on the day of the fanmeet itself. Thankfully, discounted tickets become available (I mean ‘legally’ discounted tickets). We just settled for the cheapest ones because while Lou and Cha like SS501, those weren’t exactly their favorite members.
Our initial plan was to try stalking them at their hotel since Charity knows the floor plan but personal matters got in the way so our supposed 2:00pm meeting became 3:30pm. We just went straight to PICC Forum to check out the ticketing situation first. There was a small-ish crowd already gathered in front, either to buy tickets, check out some merchandise or take photos of/with the Kyu Jong and Young Saeng tarps.
Side note: Whatta title. Kyu Jong, Young Saeng and Story in Manila. Huh?
We got our tickets, went off to nearby Star City to kill time by having an early dinner and went back to the venue at around 6:00pm.
There was already a long-ish line when we arrived, which we later on found out that it’s because the security people were inspecting bags and taking out cameras. Apparently, cameras of all kinds will not be allowed inside the venue. AARGH! Ottoke?? I was already dreading that I might get bored out of my wits in this event because I’m not a fan so I’m looking forward to taking pics as my means of amusing myself. But if they’re taking away my camera, what shall I do now?? At that point, I’ve decided that buying tickets for this is already a huge waste of money. Charity tried to sneak my SX200 in by hiding it under her bag’s lining, but the camera was still too bulky to escape the guard’s prying hands. Cha was able to sneak in her Olympus, though, but her camera does not have long zoom lens and since we’re seated at the Silver area, we’ll be too far that the only decent photos I could take are that of ant-sized people. Cellphones with camera were allowed, but again, at that distance? No way I’ll be able to take a good pic. I think maybe that’s why they allowed it, because they know that no decent output could be produced by a cellphone cam when taken from that distance.
One thing I noticed from observing the crowd: I think about half of those at the VIP area were not Filipinos. I could be exaggerating, though, but maybe not so much. Especially with what happened at a particular portion of the fanmeet.
Finally, we’re in! The venue wasn’t full; except for the VIP area, each section was half-filled. I also noticed that most of the attendees are in their 20s-up. It’s not like in usual Kpop events which are dominated by kids who are barely in their teens. There were a few teenagers, but they’re not as loud (and annoying ) as the usual Kpoppers. When the show started (it started promptly at 6:30pm), the screams were loud but not ear-splitting loud, and it fades out after a few moments. This further cements our theory that it is age and not actual number of warm bodies that is really a factor when it comes to measuring the amount of screams in Kpop concerts and events. I’ve attended a couple of events that were also held at barely half-filled venues but the screams sounded like it was attended by 40,000 people. And that’s because those events were attended by teenagers who have enough energy and decibels to emit screams high, loud and long.
I also noticed that some people were able to sneak in their cameras, but security was so tight that the guards would constantly hound them every time they attempt to use it. Some fans who have iPhones – bless them – were left alone by the guards, which I think is really dumb of them because the iPhone takes excellent photos. I’m just not sure if the output is still good if used from about 20 feet away from the stage. My output was certainly crappy – and that’s because I don’t use an iPhone – so after a couple of shots, I just decided to sit back and try to enjoy the show.
In all fairness, I really enjoyed the fanmeet. I never expected to, but I did. I’ve changed my mind, this was certainly not a waste of my money. For starters, I only know two SS501 songs and they sang both of them; one of the two was even the opening number. But I think the one big factor that made me enjoy it is the fact that Grace Lee hosted the show and acted as her own translator, her being Korean and all. By the way, I know I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, but I couldn’t help but be in awe at how Grace Lee seamlessly switches from Korean to English to Filipino. And she’s a hell of a good interpreter, too. She even translates the boys’ side comments, even those which were not uttered on the mic. It really helped especially for us who are not really fans of the boys. We knew exactly what’s going on. We were able to relate to everything that’s happening on stage.
But it’s not just this ability, it’s also Grace’s excellent hosting skills that carried the entire proceedings. Young Saeng is more of the quiet type, so he’s not as chatty as Kyu Jong. Grace spent more time talking to Young Saeng, enticing him to speak up more. All three of them had great chemistry; the way they looked on stage, it’s like Grace has been hosting SS501 events all her life. I think we really should start signing a petition to make Grace Lee as the default emcee and interpreter of all Korean entertainers visiting the Philippines. Who’s with me?
Two parts I want to highlight:
1. The Kyu Jong vs Young Saeng halo-halo contest.
I think everyone who was there will agree with me that this is one of, if not THE highlight of the fanmeet. It was fun, to say the least. Watching these two boys nearly bungling their halo-halo, with their fans – and sometimes, Grace herself – frantically trying to help them was really amusing. You know what? I initially thought halo-halo was very simple to do. I mean it’s just literally mixing everything together (halo-halo literally means mix-mix). But after watching these two Korean men trying to assemble it made me realize that it’s not a simple as putting the ingredients together and mixing. There’s a sort of technique to it: which one to put first, which one should be on top. Although in the end, they’d still taste the same. Or maybe not.
The only ‘issue’ I have with this portion is the fact that the contest was judged by four fans, three of whom were not Filipinos and two of them went here just for the fanmeet. I mean, how were they supposed to know how halo-halo should taste like? Unless they’re UKISS’ Alexander who is an expert on halo-halo. As it is, the judging was based solely on which guy was their bias, not on the actual taste of the halo-halo they made. Unfortunately, the judges were picked via a lottery of VIP ticket-holders and only one Filipino was picked in that draw. Side note: how sucky is that? It’s not often that we Pinoys get this chance for an up close and personal encounter with these Korean idols and we still have to fight for it with foreigners who get to see these guys a lot more often than we do. It’s a good thing that on the second lottery for the opportunity to get a hand massage from Kyu Jong and Young Saeng, both winners were Pinoys. If another foreigner got picked for that, the rest of the PH fans might’ve started a mutiny or something.
The contest was won by Kyu Jong, who ‘threatened’ the judges when it was Young Saeng’s halo-halo‘s turn to be judged (cute!). Young Saeng’s penalty for losing is to chug down a tall glass of ampalaya (bitter gourd) juice. Kyu Jong teased him by saying that he didn’t have to finish the entire thing, which Young Saeng replied by emptying the glass up to the last drop. It’s actually a healthy drink especially for singers because it clears up one’s wind pipes if they have a cough (although a spoonful would be enough). But I saw Young Saeng taking a spoonful of one of the halo-halo ingredients (I think he ate either the ube or the leche flan) to mask the bitter taste from his tongue and that’s where I got worried about his stomach. But he was able to still perform after that, so I guess he’s ok.
2. The video presentation from Triple S Philippines.
At the fanvid portion of the program, Triple S Philippines presented this video to Kyu Jong and Young Saeng. The boys were so touched by the gesture and Kyu Jong even got teary-eyed when he was saying his thank-you speech. He constantly asked about the song because he found the lyrics to be so meaningful. Then, the boys asked to call the brains behind the fanvid to come up on stage so that they can thank her personally. They presented her with a couple of gifts: a signed SS501 photobook and an album of photos from Kyu Jong and Young Saeng’s US trip. This is the part where I got transformed from Paulette to Agent P the Nimbus Cloud. Why, as in WHY did I choose the wrong idol?? Why did I have to be a fan of someone who’s not consistent in expressing his appreciation to his fans, you’d sometimes wonder which one is the real him?
After that, I felt so envious of Triple S Philippines. That group works hard, they get results, and they get appreciated by their idols. It happened with Kim Hyun Joong last year and with Kyu Jong and Young Saeng now. Times like these, I wish I became a Triple S myself. Then again, maybe not, for reasons that Voltes members would know. (Side note: I’m saying this now, but at the fanmeet, I was at the ladies’ room when I suddenly heard Love Song – yes, Rain’s Love Song being played. I hurried out of the restroom when I heard it and saw that it’s just a clip showing Young Saeng rehearsing it for the Korea fanmeet.)
The fanmeet was done in exactly 2 hours, after which we were ushered out of the venue because the boys will still do a Meet and Greet with lucky fans (meet and greet = class picture). Charity claimed back my camera, and I tried sneaking in a photo of the M&G from outside the venue. This is the only one I got:
We chatted along with some friends before calling it a night. And this is where our story starts.
I had been reading rave reviews about this new fastfood named Chic-Boy. I’ve been itching to try it but there were no branches accessible to me (that is, until I visited the site yesterday and found out that there’s a branch in my province and it’s along my way if I go on field work to one of my clients). We decided to try it out after the fanmeet. We went to their Jupiter St. branch since it’s open 24/7. We arrived there around 10:30pm but the place was nearly full. Here’s what we ordered:
All that plus three orders of refillable rice, two bottomless iced teas and one Coke, the total bill was…. php505.00 for three people (that’s roughly USD4/pax). Mind you, the servings were huge; it’s actually good for about 5 people who are not heavy-eaters. And the taste? Really good. I like the liempo a lot more than the chicken, though. It works really well with the variety of dips and sauces available.
While eating, we were chatting about a mishmash of topics until we got to the topic of classic OPM songs. Actually, it started when Charity was telling us a story when they were practicing for a group presentation at work and the song they sang was a Filipino song from the 80s. We then started lamenting at how the present-day OPM songs do not come close to the ones from the 70s-early 90s especially in terms of poetic lyrics. Suddenly, we decided that since we’re at Jupiter St. where a number of 24/7 karaoke bars can be found, why not go and reminisce classic OPM by singing our hearts out? Take note, it’s nearly midnight by that time. We went to a karaoke bar that’s practically next-door to Chic-Boy and spent the next two hours singing nothing but classic OPM.
There’s this one song that I had to sing twice because (1) I accidentally keyed it in twice; and (2) after singing it the first time, I realized how wonderfully phrased the lyrics were (there’s a No. 3: in the era of Multiplex tapes, this was one of my masterpieces). “You to me are like a melody from which a symphony burst into ecstasy”? You don’t hear that kind of poetry in the lyrics of current OPM songs.
At the 1 1/2 hour mark, we found this song that all three of us loved: I Can, the main theme of the movie Do-Re-Mi featuring Regine Velasquez, Donna Cruz and Mikee Cojuangco. We decided to do our own version with Charity doing the Mikee parts, Lou taking on Donna’s and I tried to sing Regine’s. And we even harmonized and all that. Not to be bragging or anything, but we rocked. We even tried recording it, but at that point the super-annoying staff from the karaoke place kept on barging in to remind us that our time is almost up and we need to pay up (and he gave himself a tip ). We vowed to rehearse this song and do a repeat performance. We’re even thinking of doing it at Centerstage so we can record it and have our own CD. Yes, we’re getting too full of ourselves. But hey, it’s so much fun, in fact, we had so much fun at the karaoke place that we totally forgot about the fanmeet before that. It was the real highlight of our day.
All in all, it was a great Saturday.