Monday, November 28, 2011

Nicholas Sparks in Manila! : The Saga

OCTOBER 28, 2011

Weeks before the indicated date above, my sister surprised me with a news that Nicholas Sparks is coming here -in our little country of 7107 islands in its humble setting in South East Asia, the Philippines. I was awestruck! Surely, my sis have made a mistake. She might have been a fan of the movie adaptation of A Walk to Remember but she just doesn't have the patience to finish even a single novel of his. (You might not even get the reasoning behind that!) But it turns our she's right! As usual, I can always Google it and what I found out that he's indeed coming here in the Philippines as a part of his world tour for his most recent book, The Best of Me. He even tweeted in tagalog for the sake of his Filipino fans (which of course includes me).

It amazes me that he chose Philippines as one of his stops. I pretty much wish for almost all my life for J.K. Rowling to visit as well and the whole Harry Potter stars. Added points if the Twilight casts went as well. But as the series had just ended (for both phenomenal books) all those hoping went in vain. Yes, I might see them still (when I get filthy rich and go to London and Hollywood and be among the crazed fans lined along the red carpet while they show off their gorgeous gowns and tux in some movie premiere of theirs or probably on Oscars) but it just won't be the same. They won't be leading their Harry, Ron, Hermione, Edward and Bella roles anymore. It'll never be the same. (Redundant?) For that reason, I sometimes hope I was born in L.A. or perhaps London where the possibility of seeing these idols I'm crazed about will increase exponentially. I might be getting off topic here but you see, that is the very reason why, I swear to myself I won't miss seeing Nicholas Sparks when he comes here. I may not have gone all gooey-gooey over him like what I did with DanRad and RobPatt (and the most recent Benjamin Stone <3) but I have, for sure, gone all namby-pamby with his novels and of course, Landon Carter. I won't let this pass. For all I knew, I won't be seeing Daniel Radcliffe until I get old and be accepted in a home for the aged and I found him to be one of the sponsors of that particular facility. It's definitely not the greatest circumstance to see your all time crush, right? I might live not seeing them so I have to settle with my favorite author.

Trouble is, our camping date was set on October 27-29 which had left me so down thinking that I may not be able to see this wonderful storyteller personally. Just then, I planned on a scheme which includes my father snicking me out of the camping place at early morning of 28 and returning me there at night. He readily agreed to it but it had somehow left me feeling guilty. Years of being taught to settle my priorities kicked in. By that time, dejected, I embraced the idea of letting this once-in-a-lifetime moment pass. And just as I was nursing myself from sorrow, I attended the Young Women's precamp in our church. It was an awesome experience by the way. It made me somehow excited for the upcoming camping that time and brought some relief to me that that camping was something that I shouldn't miss and it made me feel better to know that what I'm bargaining to see Nicholas Sparks was more important. By the end of the activity, I was one of those to share my testimony and I feel so light about it that I'm feeling no regrets towards not seeing Nicholas Sparks. But, the Lord works in mysterious ways. I've figured out that day that maybe He just wants to test me about my choice. Would I choose to miss this wonderful activity laid out by the church to our youth or would I choose to rub elbows with strangers as legions of Filipinos tiptoes to get a glimpse of Nicholas Sparks? I've made my choice that time and I know the Lord knew that. And I thank Him dearly because He still wants me to achieve this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It turns out the camping is cancelled and won't be until summer next year. I swear, I could have shouted with glee! Nothing can stop me now from seeing Sparks.

But again. there goes the trouble of getting his autograph. National Book Store (the one in-charge of this event -whatever that term is) had all these complicated rules of getting his signature. One has to buy the latest book to get a chance to have one of your Sparks book signed. And it will be a raffle kinda sort. I was so out of money that time and I just couldn't ask my parents for money because we're in the midst of financial crisis. And buying the book doesn't even guarantee you a signed book. It'll only give you a chance. I originally thought this event would just be a simple book signing. I have four Nicholas Sparks books which were bought during my money filled days and I was just hoping for him to sign one of them. But somehow, life is making it hard for me.

However, I found the perfect solution of acquiring 500pesos to buy the book. Still hesitant, I inquired a dear friend who shares the same fiery passion with me when it comes to books if it would be worth it know what's at stake (haha. I'm making it sound dramatic). What she told me exactly was "Its Nicholas Sparks. He's awesome and signed books are more awesome ;)" With that in mind, I bought it the day before the event and just like any moments when I open a new book fresh from the bookstore, I feel like I'm opening a treasure. and the clear, thin plastic it was encased in serves as the wrapping waiting to be marred. The smooth texture of the paper, the smell of the printed ink in it, the awesomely straight and unfolded edges of each pages (which I have no idea how did they ever get dog ears) and the smooth spine- all of it a treasure waiting to be devoured. (Hahaha. I'm totally smiling right now while typing this.) I haven't read past it's dedication because I want to enjoy reading it while glancing back and forth to the prophesied page where he'll hopefully sign it and sighing to it telling myself that "I deserve this. I've come a long way from getting this autograph and seeing him personally."

But problems never seem to leave me. I then realized than having one book would only give me one chance out of i-don't-know-how-many-but-I'm-sure-as-hell-is-a-lot, probably more. But I give it a chance. Besides, I tell myself, maybe seeing him would be enough. Perhaps a handshake wouldn't be so bad? (When all I want to do I hug him and tell him how wonderful his books are that just shows how wonderful the man behind all of those is.) My motto that day, I believe was 'Que Sera Sera'.

So, the day came. I went there with my friend Jam to whom I introduced the wonderful works of Nicholas Sparks starting with the never fading A Walk to Remember. She was just as eager as I am to get a glimpse of the man behind our Landon Carter. We went to the mall (The Podium - it's in Ortigas which I really mastered in Google maps how to go there!) at 10 am which is it's opening hour. Upon arriving, the line for the raffle is already at the fourth floor. If my estimation is correct, almost a thousand were already there at that very early hour! And there was I, hoping that I could be one of those early birds so that I could guarantee myself an autograph. For the nth time, I dejectedly accepted the circumstances and continued the way up to the fourth floor to fall in line.

On the bright side, the day is worthwhile because I've done a lot of catching up with Jam and we talk endlessly about college, professors, books, boys and the usual girl talk. After over an hour of waiting it was my turn to draw the lot. Before that, I've heard and seen other people squeal and hug their friends in joy when they draw the winning stub.

How I wish I was one of them ;(

And the others looking so sad. . . My heart goes out to them and then I see the unfairness of it all. I will explain later why but let me just spit it out that I draw an "I'm sorry" stub. And that moment left me so abject, all torn up, atrabilious, black, bleak, broody, bummed out, cast down, cheerless, clouded, crestfallen, dampened, dashed, despondent, disconsolate, discouraged, disheartened, dismal, dispirited, doleful, down, down in the dumps, down in the mouth, downcast, downhearted, dragged, drooping, droopy, gloomy, glum, heavyhearted, hurting, in the pits, low, low-spirited, melancholy, miserable, moody, mopey, mopish, morose, sad, sagging, shot down, spiritless, woebegone and wretched. (Thank you Thesaurus!) Mix all of them plus a 100 ton of weight crushing down on you and the flood of tears brimming in you eyes and the pity looks you're getting from your friend, to the one who just told you the bad news, down to the other people in line eager not to have the same fate as you - that sums up my predicament. And then there's this woman who gives me a minute maid, perhaps to make losers ( and I'm not even a loser!) feel better of not having the chance to be close to Nicholas Sparks for just a foot or two and shaking his hand. I mean, Minute Maid!?!

But Jam and I had a laugh about this stupid scheme of theirs with the Minute Maid. We just settled drinking the acidic drink to settle our rumbling stomach which is the result of waiting so long in the line. (Which is a very bad idea because we might get hyper acidic or something. It happened to Jam once when she drank my pineapple juice WITHOUT my permission on an empty stomach and she ends up being clammy and pale. I would have blamed it on her drinking it WITHOUT my permission but she just looks so weak. :P) So we wandered around the Podium looking for a fast food chain because we're both living on a very tight budget. We seemed to be in the wrong place (because all there is was those expensive looking cafes and restaurants and those food chains that offers towering burgers that matches their towering prices.) so we walk to the nearby Robinsons Galleria and ate at the very familiar KFC. To use our free time before 5pm (which is when the book signing will start) we hang around Robinsons Bestsellers and read books. (I've read VIXEN.) We had a very peaceful time, just sitting there occasionally talking and taking our minds off of the disappointment of not seeing my book signed. As it neared 5pm, we made our way back to The Podium to find it full of people. We could barely squeeze ourselves to find a place with the perfect view of the platform.

Yep. That's how crowded the place is. Which shows how much the Filipinos love Nicholas Sparks!

We found our spot in the second floor but it's still a struggle the both of us amidst other people and a few conyo girls. ;) (Jam and I had this talk that when I get to be famous with my still nonexistent but under construction novels she would be one of the VIPs always seating on the best seats and being the first one to get her book signedTo make up for this day. Girls can dream! )

See the light? That's exactly where we were.

The whole scene was overwhelming. All of us were craning our necks trying to see if he has already arrived. And at some point others would.. like kid around and cheer so loud that we thought he's already there and we were all squealing into that false alarm! And soon, he did arrived. He passed by the second floor where we were waiting so we were kind of the few ones who first saw him and there's this girl who tried to catch him but there were reinforcements so it was a silly attempt. And then Nicholas Sparks is waving at us and we're like OMG. Haha. The event host (the girl above) can be barely heard over the loud cheers! He was wearing one of those Filipino shirts with the outline of the Philippine islands in the upper left chest which really touched my deepest Filipino roots deeply. And so goes the usual interview.

When asked about his novels, a particular statement stuck in my shell. He said, "I like to write novels that makes a lasting impression, that moves you deeply, that make you cry and make you fall in love." Those weren't his exact words but you get the idea. And he indeed he did. His novels that I've read made a lasting impression on me. All of them had moved me in some way and I've always shed tears while reading them, making me fall in love with the story. So soon, the preliminaries ended and they proceeded with the book signing. The A Walk to Remember soundtrack was playing in the background and the first song that played was 'Cry' by Mandy Moore making me want to cry myself. ;'( We stayed there for another hour (I think) casting envious looks on those that were right next to him, taking pictures with him. We then scheme silly ideas of how to get close to him. (Like how we did throw our phone down and yell like crazy or running in the stage hugging him and many more. We even considered looking for stray signing passes so we could still get a chance. Haha.) Rather, we went down and stood close to the stage so that "at least we could be a yard away from him". That is very impossible but surprisingly there's this old woman next to us who had a published article in The Philippine Star of how she adores Nicholas Sparks books. She's in a wheelchair and can't go up the stage so Nicholas Sparks himself got up and walked to her to sign her book making us a foot away from him!! YAY! And there's goes the day. We walked in the now very familiar ADB avenue feeling down yet at the same time elated that we have SEEN Nicholas Sparks waved at us!

----Thankfully, National Bookstore still gave a chance for our books to be signed. They collected our unsigned books and promised us to try to make Nicholas Sparks sign it. The day before he went to his next stop for the tour, they informed us that he signed every single one. I was so happy! And still am. I've finished the book the next day I got it from them and as prophesied I see myself sighing every now and then when the thought crosses my mind that the book I'm reading was personally signed by him. It was my first one and I am so, so, blessed, blest, blissful, blithe, can't complain,captivated, cheerful, chipper, chirpy, content,contented, convivial, delighted, ecstatic, elated,exultant, flying high, gay, glad, gleeful,gratified, intoxicated, jolly, joyful, joyous,jubilant, laughing, light, lively, looking good,merry, mirthful, on cloud nine, overjoyed,peaceful, peppy, perky, playful, pleasant, pleased, sparkling, sunny, thrilled, tickled,tickled pink, up, upbeat, walking on air. It was worth every worry I've made, every walk I took, every tear that fell, every peso I've spent and every thing else...

Thank you Nicholas Sparks! (I believe I've badgered him so much in his twitter during those times. Haha!) Please stop by here again.. soon!


*** Event pictures courtesy of National Book Store. Minute Maid is from Google.

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