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I slept little the night before the event.  I knew it would be crazy to run off to the Mall of Asia just to see this person who did not even know I existed.  It shuddered me to even think about going, considering that it was my grandmother’s wake. Indeed, life takes on a higher level of crazy sometimes.  And that was one of those days.  I dragged my cousin Coleen, a very willing companion (for the record, I did not have to ask twice).

Ian Somerhalder’s Meet and Greet was not happening until 3 pm.  We were in MOA before 12 noon.  There were already a considerable number of fans, and we stood beside the wooden dividers enclosing the event venue.  All we ever had for lunch was a piece of Krispy Kreme and iced coffee.  We didn’t budge lest we lose our place.  Yup, I had about 3 hours of just standing up, mulling the meaning of life, and wondering what on earth I was doing there. Checking out my company, I realized I was closest to getting a senior citizen card than the rest of the crowd.  I looked to my left and there stood a woman practically the same age as mine (hmmm, what the heck, I have the liberty to say OLDER).  She held a chunky camera, looked at me and just blurted: “My daughter sent me here. She is in class and could not be here so I’m taking pictures for her.” Hahaha. I smiled sweetly. Liar. Who asked you for an explanation? Besides, who cares? My Damon Salvatore is a 171-year-old vampire anyway.

I have never been in a crowd that huge.  The screams were deafening…the crowd went wild just seeing the couches where Ian and his interviewer would sit being arranged on the stage.  I felt decades younger, and loved it.  It was difficult not to be giddy with anticipation.

At exactly 3 pm, there he was: Ian Somerhalder in an ash grey shirt, jeans and his signature black fedora hat.  I tried to get good shots as soon as he appeared with his entourage, but my tiny digicam could not compete with the SLRs, IPads and other chunky cameras out there.  I gave up and just feasted my eyes.  Damon Salvatore in the flesh.  He is a real person! Amidst the screaming and mayhem, it was as if time stood still and the earth just stopped moving. (From that moment on, I realized I no longer have reason to wonder about those crying-slash-screaming Beatles fans in footages.) It took a while for me to recover.  Oh wait, I think I still haven’t.   (Days later I was shocked to see photos of the MOA crowd.  I could not fathom how I managed to ‘implant’ myself in there and survive the mob.)

On our way home I received a text message from Kayla, my 13-year-old daughter, asking “How was it?”  I replied:  it’s surreal. Hours later en route to Europe, Ian Somerhalder tweeted: “THANK YOU MANILA FOR A MOST SURREAL DAY! Look at this pic of me & 6,000 of my new friends in the Philippines. Whao.” Now THAT’S surreal.

sunstar.baguio.21june2012.

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