“Just give me a reason to keep my heart beating.”
I believe that the 90s was the golden age of anime in the Philippines. I was in elementary then, and I was introduced to early anime intoxication and addiction.
Rurouni Kenshin, the anime, was first aired by Studio 23, on June 1998 and was English-dubbed. The following year, ABS-CBN aired it on September 1999 and was Filipino-dubbed. This information was thanks to my dear friend and fellow fangirl OF THE ANIME ONLY, Sheig.
I was readily hooked then in Studio 23 since the timeslot was at seven in the evening. I was on my fourth grade then while my brother was on his first grade. My father used to get mad then when I and my brother would not do our homework just because of watching anime. And he would really remove the TV antenna, just to make us do our homework. So, seven in the evening was the perfect time to be a fangirl.
And that was the reason that kept my heart beating.
“Blinded I can’t see the end. So where do I begin?”
It was on July 26, Saturday when I first heard of the news that the RuroKen cast and director would come to the Philippines. And I was in Singapore then.
So when I came back to the Philippines, I asked myself, “So where do I begin?”
I am an event writer. So I first asked my event contacts if they know who were the possible organizers of the event. All I got were trunkline numbers. And I thought they were of very little use.
And then on August 1, one of the leading malls in the Philippines released a Facebook promo for event passes for the Red Carpet Procession of Rurouni Kenshin.
I was never lucky when it came to promos, raffle and the kind of stuff but this was just really where I could begin.
On August 2, Saturday, I told my mother in Bataan (a province north of Metro Manila), that I would not be able to come home to get my poster of the first RK Live Action movie so I asked her to send it via courier service. After two hours, (yes that’s how much my Mom loved me) she texted me that she was able to send it and it would arrive on Monday.
I was a film graduate, and a fangirl. So when a good friend gave me a poster of the first RK movie, I was elated. And I was determined to have it signed, even just by the director, Otomo-sensei. I really loved the way he faithfully translated the anime into the live action movie and this was definitely one of the best film adaptations I had ever seen. (To read about how I felt about the first movie, click here.)
On the morning of August 3, they released the question for the third batch of winners. And finally, I won.
On the night before the Red Carpet Procession, though swamped by work, I was able to find out that one of my colleagues from film school was part of the video coverage team hired by Warner Philippines. And she became my ever reliable source for this escapade.
I was not able to sleep much that night because I need to finish and submit a script. But nothing could stop me from fangirling. I even asked a good friend, who was now in Japan, for the proper way to ask “Can you sign my poster, please?”
“It finally begins.”
“Kono mama ja mada owara seru koto wa deki nai desho? Nando kuta bari sou demo kuchi hate you to mo, owari wa nai sa.”“このままじゃまだ終わらせる事は出来ないでしょ. 何度くたばりそうでも朽ち果てようとも. 終わりはないさ.”“We can’t end it yet, right? No matter how many times we’re close to dying or rotting away, there will be no end.”
This Japanese reporter was about to interview the fangirls beside me at the barricades. One of the girls’ arm was resting on the barricade and seen here at the lower right hand corner of the photo.
And according to this set-up, after the barricades were the press. Then the stanchions. Then the red carpet. Then the stage. Define layers of security for the supposedly “privileged” promo winners.
Meanwhile, outside the stage area, here was the scenario, as this video showed:
The video was from another friend, Pat Lugartos.
And good grief. Outside the stage area, the security was minimal, compared to the security given to our area, so fans positioned at the red carpet area were able to get their precious autographs. The mall management told me, when I got my passes, that even promo winners would not be given autograph-signing opportunities. And then this. My heart broke. Where is luck when I needed it most? Am I really this unlucky when it came to these things? Gah.
When the team finally got near the stage, we, the promo winners, tried our best to stretch out our hands so that any of the RK team would get down from the stage and sign them. But to no avail. How could you notice the arms stretching behind the lenses and the microphones of the press people that were in front of us? Good grief. I really thanked the mall management for this very awesome privilege they had given their promo winners.
I tried raising my poster to catch their attention, hoping they might come down and sign it. But the poster was too big for a little Filipina like me. It was cinema size so it was really huge. I really believed that Otomo-sensei saw it because I saw his smile changed when he glanced at our direction. And Munetaka-san too.
The program ended and my poster bore no trace of an autograph. And apparently, the event passes we got were just for the Red Carpet Procession and not for the premiere. And that was another privilege for the promo winners. Great.
“We can’t end it yet right, no matter how many times we’re close to dying?”
I told myself that I would not settle for just this. I asked my colleague if she had the power to have my poster signed. She told me there would be no guarantee. But I took the risk. I gave her my poster and I started crossing my fingers that night as I and my friend enjoyed our bottles of Tanduay Ice because of too much frustration that day.
We were tipped that the RK team was going to a restaurant in a big mall in one of the business districts of Metro Manila. AND WE WERE STUPID ENOUGH TO NOT GO THERE THAT NIGHT.
“As the world falls apart around us, all we can do is hold on.”
After almost a whole day of spending time with the RK team, work came running after me the day after. I needed to finish revising my script in the morning of August 7 and I had a meeting in the afternoon. My meeting ended at 4:30pm and I rushed to another big mall in Makati just to see the RK team again.
I paid an awesome amount for the passes just to have the same experience like the Red Carpet Procession. There were no privileges given to those who have passes. We had the same experience as those who did not purchase the passes.
And since I thought this was my last chance, I did a first on this day. I, literally, ran after them, still hoping to have an autograph. Just when the on-stage program was about to end, I ran towards the barricades on the path where they will exit. But they did not give away any autograph that day. Maybe they were told by the management not to, after what happened the day before.
And so after the event, we sat there waiting for my colleague, hoping that my poster was signed. She invited us to a hotel where they were dumping their video files. And there, she told me something that made my “world fall apart”. My colleague said that she had to rush to a meeting this afternoon during the mall event so she entrusted my poster to her friend from Warner. But just before we came to the hotel, the poster was discovered missing and was said to might have been accidentally included in the signed posters given away by Warner on the program that afternoon. Did luck really hated me?
But maybe God had other plans. That night we received a tip again about their hotel and the time of their flight to Japan the following day. “All we can do is hold on.”
“This time demo yuzure nai mono.”
“This timeでも 譲れないもの.”
“This time, however, I’ve found something that I’ll never give up.”
They sure were Japanese. For us Filipinos, we would normally arrive at the airport around three hours before our flight. But they were getting ready to go to the airport when we arrive at the hotel lobby around five hours before their flight.
When the cab made a turn to drop my friend Ami and I in front of the hotel lobby, I already saw two vans waiting outside. I became worried.
But right in the nick of time, when we came down from the cab, Otomo-sensei just told Munetaka-san that he would go the van already. I readily asked him for a photo and he granted our wish! And the “Arigatou sensei” that I told him after the photo opportunity was probably the most heartfelt “Arigatou” I ever said in my whole life.
And then we also asked Munetaka-san for a photo. He told us “Salamat” when we told him “Arigatou”. He was really “ASHTEEG!”
And then we sat there waiting for Takeru. I saw again, for the third time, this cute Japanese guy who apparently was from Warner Bros. Japan, according to my ever reliable source.
I saw him first on the event last Wednesday, then on Thursday and when we went to the hotel to see my colleague.
He really got my attention and because I was looking at him, I did not notice that Takeru already passed by, who went straight to the van. I apologized to my friend, who was a Takeru fan. I said I was distracted. Anyhow, Otomo-sensei was really my number one reason for going through all of these and my friend got her photo with Munetaka-san anyway so we left the hotel grinning.
“Look how far we’ve made it. I’ll risk everything if it’s for you.”
And that was the perfect ending to a rollercoaster fangirling escapade.
God really was the best writer and plot-twister in the universe.
And now, that was what I call luck. Maybe God won’t just give it away that easily. And maybe He just gives it to people who worked hard for it. Thank you Lord for this. And to Otomo-sensei and Munetaka-san, “度もう ありがとう ございました”, for accommodating us.
And to my ever reliable source, thank you very much for everything. 🙂
P.S. I wrote “Philippine Leg” because my friend and I were planning another fangirling escapade in Japan. HOHOHO. But we still need to earn more money for that. 🙂 And to the person who got my poster, please, I am begging you. What can I trade you for that? Or can I buy it? You could message me here if ever you got to read this.
Romaji, Kanji and English lyrics from http://jpoptime.com/
Video from Pat Lugartos
Other photo from May Natorilla
This post had been transferred by the author to another blog named “Nimotsu Counter.” To access it, kindly click here.