How should I describe the feelings?
Surreal? Fantastic? Enchanting? Amazing? Wonderful? In all honesty, all those words are understatements. Having to choose just one word to describe the entire feeling is just about as hard as asking me to let go of EXO. That is why my only option left is to write all of these feelings.
You may be wondering, what can I exactly write? I basically witnessed the event from the other side: from the perspective of a member of the circle of people who organized the events. It would have been better if the one to write about the event is someone who saw everything from the audience area, wouldn’t it? But I tell you what, being one of those who had sleepless nights; who seriously founded everything with blood and sweat, who really racked their bank accounts to pay for the expenses when the fanclub didn’t have a single penny to pay for the venue’s down-payment, who tapped people here and there to invite as guests and contestants, as well as to go from arranging the venue to producing the freebies all while worrying if the attendees would be able to appreciate everything accompanied by the fear that everything may fall apart – it’s a whole different experience.
To describe it in a statement, it’s just like watching a child you bore for 9 months finally learning how to walk and talk and say your name.
WAKING UP ANEW
To be quite honest, I only became a staff of EXO Philippines around February. Some issues came up and suddenly, I was dragged into becoming a part of the circle. I won’t deny that I was ecstatic to join: not because of the position, but of course, because I wanted to give EXO my time. I can’t and won’t deny that right now, all that matters is EXO. I’ve graduated from being a KPOP fan ever since I met EXO. I don’t know how that happened, though.
Moving on, I was nervous and excited at the same time. Before that, my fangirl dedication has been idle for a few months, considering the last event was KCON4 (I didn’t do much that time because I was doing my thesis papers). Excited, because I missed doing these labors of love. Nervous, because I didn’t know if I still had the abilities in me to do so. I didn’t exactly know yet how much I could do for EXO (if flying over to another country just to see them, booking 5-star hotel rooms just for the very desire to stay in the same building as them and shelling out large sums of money just to get the best spots on their concerts isn’t enough). Nevertheless, I went on and accepted the tasks.
And I could say that during the 2-month preparation for the event, we had a lot of fun. We joked a lot of times – as if we knew each other for a very long time already. It was funny how we didn’t seemingly get affected by all the stress levels we had; maybe because the event was also bound to be blessed. These new people in my life were huge balls of fluff and humor, but they had amazing ideas inside of them and an equally amazing love and care for the fandom. They hate repeating the same mistakes and will absolutely do anything and everything in order to at least avoid all the previous lapses, if not totally erase them. For me, it was formidable, considering the fact that our averages age is 20. And almost all of us still study.
And maybe because, we are really from EXO Planet: extraordinary, and highly confident that the race’ enthusiasm will suffice all the plans to come to fruition.
LOSING SLEEP, DRINKING CAFFEINE
(Main tarpaulin for the stage)
(Forgot to take a photo of the standees so
I used this one from the DKFC fiesta, but the
same standees were used yesterday)
Despite all the positive things that I mentioned a while ago, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t stressed out even just for bit during the preparations for the event. We had some problem with some people and we were almost put into bad light because of some discrepancies (which I won’t mention anymore).
But the most stressful moments came from the day before the event and the day itself, of course. The day before the event, I went to the venue carrying (well, not really, I had them brought by the car, but you get the thought) larger than life EXO standees (because unfortunately, they can’t walk by themselves. If they could have, after all, I would have ran away), as well as an 8×16.5 tarpaulin for the stage. Upon arrival, we had to arrange around 300 chairs, clean the area of mess, decorate the place with posters, move the tables for concessionaires all the while doing logistics and accounting for all costs that still had to be paid. We also had to finalize everything like the games, prizes, raffles and the program flow. I, myself, was in-charge of contacting the participants for the dance battles and cosplay, as well as to assist them the following day.
Some of the staff came home pretty late that day because they had to set up the stage designs. Overnight, some didn’t sleep (I slept, but it wasn’t what you’d really call a sleep because even in my dreams my mind won’t stop thinking about the problems we still had and the ‘what ifs’ and ‘how about ifs.’ So you could really say, we all lost sleep). It was really incredible how when you need time to slow down, it flies. Then we realized, it was already D-DAY.
AND THE PASSION AWAKENS
(Need I say more? :p )
The event started an hour late because of some technical troubles. At around 10am, there were already a lot of EXOtics who were waiting by the foodcourt – which definitely added to the pressure. I couldn’t help but worry and if we could actually please a crowd this big, and of course, if the venue could accommodate. But even if we still had a lot of worries down to the last minute, we also couldn’t help but smile a mystical smile…
The number of attendees who showed up expected our expectations by almost two-folds.
Upon entrance, the attendees were given exclusive photocards (and with exclusive, I really mean EXCLUSIVE. You won’t be able to find these photos anywhere, because they were personally taken by our founder during last January’s Dream Kpop Fantasy Concert). The early birds even got bonuses like stickers. Settling themselves on the seats we prepared yesterday, the debut showcase of EXO started playing on the screen in order to commemorate the boys’ 1st anniversary. Some, who perhaps didn’t want to cry their eyes out at the beautiful memories, preferred to shop for EXO goodies from around 10 concessionaires (and even a photobooth where the fans got to have their memories taken for free!) we had at the event. They sold fangoods and official merchandise, as well as shirts, caps and even cosmetics!
The program started at around 1PM, beginning with a ‘Gwiyomi’ ice breaker game. We asked 12 participants for this game, each representing one member of EXO. They were asked to do the ‘Gwiyomi Player,’ and were given FUN prices at the end; and by fun, FUNNY. SiTAO, KRISpy Patata, DOnuts, LeCHEN Flan, SUHOpia, HANburger, ChoKAIlait, SEHUNts Pork and Beans, LAYs, BAEKHYUNette Strips, XIUpao, eggYEOL – if that’s not quirky then I don’t know what else is. It was followed by raffling off some gift packs and an EXO bag containing 2 special Hyperbeat (Sehun’s fansite) photocards. For the last price, yours truly asked one from the audience who could rap Two Moons (I love Kris, ok?) – and it was won by a pretty face.
The next even almost threw me out of the stage because of the loud cheers. It was finally time for the Mr. Anonymous Cosplay Competition Finals. There were only two finalists: one cosplayed Lu Han, while the other one, Baekhyun. Lu Han cosplayer performed a few dance steps from the teasers, while Baekhyun cosplayer performed ‘Gwiyomi’ (which earned a few heart attacks from the audience, and me as well, actually). The next two games were inspired by some of EXO M’s variety show guestings: the ‘Hugging Game,’ and the ‘Food-Tasting’ game. For the ‘Hugging Game,’ which was inspired by EXO M’s Happy Camp guesting, required the players to group themselves to total a specific amount as announced by the gamemaster. Each players were assigned an amount and the ones left alone without a group gets eliminated. The ‘Food-Tasting’ game is from EXO M’s YinYueTai guesting, where Xiumin made an epic reaction after tasting the ‘Dou Zhi Er.’ The last game for the day is the ‘Balloons Game,’ which had the players pop as many balloons as they can. Each balloon had strips of paper that can either have the members’ name or not. The ones who got the most number of strips with names owned the game. Fortunately for everyone who played, they all won :p
Now that everyone got their fair share of laughs, the next event triggered tears and pulled some heartstrings. The night before the event, JU Entertainment Korea released clips of last January’s Dream Kpop Fantasy Concert. These clips were then presented for the fans to enjoy, while the next special was being prepared. The cheers, squeals and cries literally shook the whole venue – something that could not be helped considering all the memories from the concert were still very much fresh in everyone’s minds and hearts. I was by the stage that time, stressed out by some things that did not go its supposed way, but nevertheless, I took the time to stop and watch the clips as well. Seeing everyone’s faces in the audience, was what made me shed some tears more than the videos themselves. The faces everyone had were that of admiration and joy; beautiful and mystical. You could really make out the love everyone had for these 12 men; and really, if only it was only possible for me to hug each one, I would have. That moment, I wanted to release the microphone and the program, and just go to everyone and cry with them; hold their hands and sing ‘Hawak Kamay.’
The next people to grace the stage was one of the Philippine Kpop Community’s favorites: ECLIPSE – an EXO cover group. ECLIPSE has been paying tribute to EXO’s performances ever since they debuted, and they were also there during the fanclub’s 1st Chapter: The Beginning. Instead of the usual six members (although during last year’s gathering, they had 12), ECLIPSE performed as 12 members, introducing new and familiar faces (like some who were included in the Dream 20 Front Act Performers from DKFC) alike. The crowd roared when instead of opening the performance with the usual dance, they performed a sing and dance with EXO K’s ‘Into Your World/ Angel.’ After that, the fans were given a full 30-minute interaction time; 12 members from the audience were allowed to go up on stage (first 12) and ask any member of their choice whatever questions they had in mind. Some couldn’t handle their fangirl feels (so, I decided to move a little backward so as not to get stampeded) and even hugged and requested some of the ECLIPSE members to dance some songs. Like stars, cameras were here and there (even behind me) and the cheers could not be contained, causing some difficulties for the members to hear what the fans were trying to ask them. There were questions such as ‘How would you date your girl?’ and ‘Who’s your favourite EXO member,’ and of course, the ever so popular, ‘What’s your ideal type, like?’ Photo ops for the lucky fans were allowed after. Before leaving the stage, they performed Two Moons and History. The fans were sad to see them go, but to compensate for that, the next event fired up the stage as well.
Next up was the EXOtic Dance Battle Finals. Four groups competed for the grand prize: EXOTIX – a group that was familiar to me because I saw them perform during the DKFC Dance Battles, as well as during the EXO Day (EXO Calendars Launch courtesy of Odyssey and GalaEXO); Nitsujin – an interesting group composed of three female members (who I personally took a liking to because they performed the SeKai Teaser of ‘What Is Love’); EXOMNIA – also a group that consisted of all female members, and lastly, PULSARS, composed of female and male members. The audience cheered for their favourite cover groups and I can say that despite ECLIPSE ending their performance, the stage was lit up once again for dancers who had a passion for EXO’s performances.
The next to take over the stage is our second guest, QUASARS. QUASARS is composed of six members and they performed a mix of EXO songs. The group also made an impact to the audience, and I was personally blown away by the fans that were sitting near where I was standing at by the stage. The cheers were so loud that when the music started, the members weren’t able to hear their own mix and failed to move for the first few seconds. It was a funny moment and I even took the liberty to help calm the fangirl feels of some.
(Isn’t it cute?)
(One of the perks of being a staff:
Getting a cupcake of your bias :p)
After the highly-pumping string of performances from the guests and from the dance battle participants, came the tearjerker event. As everyone all knew, EXO’s first anniversary is fast approaching. Actually, the special 365th day of EXO is one of the reasons why the 2C was actually held. A special cake was brought out to the stage and the attendees were given the chance to take pictures of the sweet sensation. On the cake were faces of the EXO members, accompanied by a number of cupcakes that had miniatures of the members as well as the logo of the group. We also allowed the attendees to go up on stage and bring their EXO Anniversary banners with them – for the very purpose of recording a video message for EXO.
This was probably the highlight of the event, at least for me. When EXO came to the Philippines for DKFC two months ago, they did something very special which left the sweetest of memories to their fans here. Stating that the reason was because they wanted to express their gratitude towards the fans who struggled to learn their songs in a foreign language, they sang Yeng Constantino’s ‘Hawak Kamay.’ The song was meant to express a person’s promise towards his/her friend that he/she will never leave him/her – no matter what happens. But when EXO sang it here, the fans got what they wanted to convey: there was no turning back, EXO and fans forever. Because of this, instead of mushy words, the attendees who came up the stage were asked to sing the chorus of the said song, and greeting EXO for their first anniversary after. The recording lasted only a few seconds, but I’m sure, for everyone who was there (I was there, too, actually) and sang the song with everyone, it was like journeying back to the night of April 8th 2012 to the night January 19th 2013. The feelings were raw and untouched, despite the unbelievable amount of time that already passed. In fact, I believe that the feeling grew stronger.
The event ended with raffling off all the items from the sponsors: Odyssey, Astroplus, PULP, Liole Philippines and Hallyu Goodies.
THE PASSION THAT WILL NEVER GO TO SLEEP AGAIN
(With my co-junior staff. Will add the other photo
with the senior staff later on)
(Gifts from friends. Thanks guys! So much love!)
Now here comes the love letter.
To be quite honest, I didn’t have much memories with me when I attended the 1st Chapter. It wasn’t because I didn’t enjoy, but it was probably because I wasn’t quite sure myself why I attended the gathering in the first place. I was already into EXO that time, but I wasn’t that passionate about them yet. The first EXO gathering was actually the first gathering outside Cassiopeia that I attended. I guess I was never really a KPOP fan from the beginning, because I really just focus on one group and no one else.
But maybe, if I hadn’t attended 1C, I wouldn’t have been there for the 2C.
Back at my old posts, I mentioned about how coming to like EXO was one of the greatest shocks and turning points in my life. When I became their fan, so much was given up on my part, and I hurt people along the way. Of course, the story ends there because I opt not to mention any more. However, I’m telling you this: my passion died at a certain point back in time before I met EXO. I honestly thought it was going to be the end of it, and that it was forever going to just sleep there and never wake up again. I was already preparing myself to move on to a new life, locking way all the wonderful memories in treasure box inside me, concluding that a chapter in my life has ended. Until EXO came.
It only took 3 months before I finally admitted to myself that yes, the passion has awakened once again, thanks to EXO. 4 months after, I saw them for the first time – and for the first time I traveled to another country in pursuit of some artists. You can call it, the ‘Pursuit of Happiness.’ Rings a bell? Of course. 2 months after, they came here and I saw them again – that same time, I first received their smile. 1 month after, I became a staff of EXO Philippines. 2 months after, the passion is put to the test – and that same time, the passion was proven, if not yet 10 months ago.
When I stood there on stage and saw the expecting faces of the happy attendees, I felt this warmth inside me: it was as if the people I was looking at were a part of my being. I’ve never been a nice person, to be honest, because I often don’t pay attention to people of no use to me. My friends who may be reading this would probably have ‘shocked’ faces now, because they will beg to disagree. But I swear I was originally like that. When I started working with people I barely knew, I shocked myself even further. It’s hard to work with people you don’t really know that much – that’s a fact. But maybe, just maybe, the passion for the same group of people sufficed?
When I sang on stage together with everyone, I honestly wanted to cry. But I held it in. I couldn’t. I knew if I broke down, some will, too. But you have to understand, that point was another turning point in my life. I wanted to hold everyone’s hands and tell them, ‘You can cry, if you want to. Because I’ll cry with you.’ When the dance battle participants dragged me to their circles to express their happiness, they thanked me, but I actually wanted to thank them instead for being there. I was grateful to them because they added life to the event.
When I saw everyone’s smiles after the event, the fatigue, the stress, the pains – everything went away with the wind. I didn’t want everyone to leave, I wanted everyone to still stay and talk about their fair share of feelings. But then again, no words were actually needed that time.
In the end, all I can say is that this passion won’t sleep, at least not for a long time. And it’s all thanks to the people who have kept it awake until now – thanks to the warm welcome they gave me.
My EXO family, thank you, and till the next event!
WE ARE ONE.