Our Thoughts and Prayers For Japan
So many of us are still in shock at the extent of devastation left by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The country and people of Japan have held a truly special place in Charice’s heart because of their genuine LOVE for their Asian pop superstar, and those of us who just got back from Tokyo just two weeks ago after her Tokyo concerts are finding it hard to grasp the extent to which this natural disaster has impacted that beautiful country we all came to love during our short time there.
Amidst all the tragedy, those of us at Charicemania have received some great news from our fellow Chasters in Japan that Mooffin, Justcharrie, Josie, Keiko, Yu-na, Hiroyuki, Iyazhiro and others are all safe with their families. They like the rest of the Japanese will have to endure many tremendous challenges in the days and months ahead, so as Charice just tweeted, “Let’s all pray for all the people in Japan…”.
It’s during times like these that you truly appreciate what you have in life, and we’re thankful that our fellow Chasters in Japan are okay, and we also pray for the many other Chasters in Japan and the entire country through this difficult period. Just as Charice models getting back up stronger after being knocked down, we know that the Japanese people will also come back from this tragic event. Thank you Japan for all you’ve done for Charice, and we will keep you all in our thoughts and prayers as you rise up again. God bless.
Thank you all for your prayers. The devastation is just too much to take in right now, we are still in shock. We were not in the epicenter but it was still very strong here in the greater Tokyo area. Entire towns have been swept away, entire towns have burned down. People near the nuclear power plants are being evacuated for possible radioactive leaks. People who lost their homes spent the night in below freezing temperatures and snow. We are still on alert for further tsunamis and big aftershocks. May I ask for your continued prayers for our family, and for all those here in Japan, especially the victims and those who are still missing. – Mooffin
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My Charice Files, It’s Official
I can’t seem to get myself focused lately. And I’ve been in denial as to why… as I ponder about the cause, I believe it’s related to my recent trip to Japan. It’s been a week since I came back from Tokyo… and the experience is still fresh in my mind.
Thinking of Charice
The other day at work, I finally admitted to why I filed for several days of vacation at such an odd time. To end speculations of having gone for a job interview, I said to a colleague, “Ok, ok, I went to Japan to watch a concert.” To my surprise, she said- “Is it by Charice?” Excitedly, I responded “Yeah! How did you know?!” She didn’t strike me as the type who would be updated with the goings on in the entertainment industry. As an older Caucasian female academician, I didn’t think she even has time to watch TV (lol). But she even added, “She’s in Glee, right?” The past few weeks, I had similar unexpected experiences, wherein random people expressed how they knew of and were quite impressed with Charice, from a young student who saw Charice’s CD on my desk to the Director of the Health Science Department who talked about an episode of Oprah.
In a way, Charice’s rise to popularity the past couple of years has really been meteoric- from a simple girl in a little province in the Philippines to have avid followers that span the globe. To me, the best part to her career trajectory is, unlike those who get extremely popular overnight that they have to strike the iron while it’s hot with gigs left and right while they are the current “in” fad, she impresses people one jaw-dropping performance at a time. Further, beyond a specific target market, of either swooning young ladies or highly impressionable “tweens,” she captures ALL of what David Foster refers to as “from 8 to 88.” And once a person gets hooked- her effect is so intense that they become fans for life. Thus, like a true honest to goodness artist, she is definitely here for the long haul.
Charice recently won “best new artist” in Japan. And with my recent experiences in Tokyo, I’m not surprised. While standing in line with a friend, hoping to get a ticket for the second concert date in Tokyo, we were approached by a Japanese gentleman, pointing at me (actually pointing more at my face) saying “Sharisu, Sharisu…” As we smiled trying to decipher what he was saying- he pulled out a newly purchased souvenir program with Charice’s pictures, pointed at it and me, then said, “Sharisu face- like sisters, same face.” I smiled and simply said “Thank you.” Of course, to me, it’s such a compliment to be compared to Charice, she did look very pretty in those pictures. But at the back of my mind, what also felt good was that, he said “sister” rather than “mother” or “grandmother”… hahahaha.
Of more significance, the teams who worked with Charice in Japan were truly successful in bringing out her true self. Not to mention all her TV guest appearances prior to the concert dates really showed how much they respected her as an artist as well as a person. I commend the Japanese for giving Charice the attention and recognition she truly deserved.
Of course the highlight of my trip to Tokyo was Charice’s first international solo concert. One thing I really loved about watching Charice in Tokyo (enough to watch it for two consecutive concert nights) is that the entire show was truly her OWN. The look, the sound, the songs truly exemplified CHARICE. The entire show was just simply phenomenal. Her voice was just amazing from beginning to end. Several of the cover songs were unexpected, but truly pleasant surprises, proving once more that she can sing a cover and simply OWN it! Even her own songs were given a unique slant. Besides, who best to outdo her songs but herself, lol. “I love you” (acoustic version) is now one of my big faves… In all, as much as I love her performances with David Foster and Oprah, to me, all aspects of this show (her look, the song list, the musical arrangements, her moves, the band, the stage and lights, the venue) simply spelled Charice, she truly OWNED the entire show! As such, she looked very comfortable and in control, enough to pull-off a seductive “Rude Boy” and end up still the bubbly young lady who exudes an image of innocence. This was the best concert I’ve ever “experienced”… EVER! Yet again, Charice never ceases to amaze me… I’ve been saying it for the past three years, no doubt, I’d continue saying it for many more years to come. Rather than being defined (and made popular) by a song, Charice instead defines each song she sings. People love HER, that they begin loving a song after hearing her sing it rather than the other way around… a true artist indeed!
Missing Chaster Friends
In all, my trip to Japan with co-Chasters is very meaningful… and to an extent, transformative. Even days after getting back, I still couldn’t put in words how I truly feel about the experience. Three days in Japan were filled with mixed emotions… missing my family yet being with a group of people simply having fun, were full of excitement, and definitely sharing love. But it also ended up to be some sort of “retreat.” Ironically, much reflection is gained from full involvement rather than seclusion. Even though I always felt that I’ve somehow lived a life of trust, generosity, compassion, understanding, love, respect, and humility- I’ve realized that there is definitely room for more…. a lot more!
These past three years, I’ve crossed the lines of being a fan, to a friend, and to being part of a virtual family. It has definitely changed my entire being! The names of people I shared my Tokyo experience with may be untold in this essay, but they remain clearly carved in my heart- each and every one. While in Japan, there was no instance of envy, annoyance, or dislike (which may typically happen when folks become too close for comfort). Rather, it was three days of pleasant camaraderie. At the airport, I didn’t say goodbye to anyone, but instead, “see you again soon…” and to the person who made it all possible, a most sincere “thank you”… for the opportunity to trust, to share a common passion, and to love without borders.
With that, I continue to think of Japan and am really amazed that everything just fell in perfect place. I can’t help but think of some divine intervention, since minor flaws or mishaps turned out to be added excitement that made the three days even more memorable. So, as I ponder about the reasons for my recent lack of focus…it’s because I keep on thinking of Charice, remembering Tokyo, and truly missing my Chaster friends. I can’t seem to shake Japan off my system!! … Yeah! I have to finally admit, It’s official…
by DrTp, Charicemania.com
Who’s In Your Heart?
Airport. It was raining. Sunshine is nowhere to be seen. We are about to leave Japan. A week ago before we got to this unfamiliar land, we were told that it was snowing. 5 degrees Celsius. Luckily, it was already considered warm for the Japanese, although, I feel like I was breathing ice whenever I walk outside the hotel. I just kept on thinking, it was warm since Sunshine is about to arrive in Tokyo. And when we left, it rained because Sunshine left Tokyo.
About three months ago, I received an email from an airline confirming I have a ticket going to this country. I was about to delete it because it looks like a spam email and it used my Charicemania username to confirm the flight. Weird. However, I saw another email that came in. This time from Chaster Clause himself explaining everything! I could not forget the first sentence I read… “Sometimes manna from the sky falls and you don’t know why it happens.”
Just Another Fan
Frankly speaking, I still don’t know how in the world I got on this kind of situation. I am just any other fan out there who got inspired by Charice’s story, awed by her undisputable talent and trying to support her as much as I can. Just to keep it short (because there is a very long story behind this one), it started with an article and the nature of my real work why I became a staff in the CM team. Two years have passed by and I still don’t get tired of supporting Charice. There are a lot of ways to support Charice. One idea that popped into my head one day was the Blue Glowstick Campaign during the David Foster and Friends Philippines concert. Insane and impossible as it sounds, I just have to try to do it. Thank God other chasters thought the idea was cool so a lot of them helped out also. Something that chasters can do together as support for Charice.
The Blue Glowstick campaign was fun and stressful! But that’s another story to tell. Let’s just say there were a lot of obstacles with regards to permits of getting the glowsticks inside the arena! Anyway, I met Chaster Clause for the first time there though he did not know my name at that time. Another chaster gave a blue glowstick to him and they started chatting along. I just came from the restroom (Yes I was giving out glowsticks inside!) when I saw them having a serious conversation. And so I joined them. I found out that he already watched the same show in another country but this time he brought his staff along with him.
Weeks pass by and we meet again. This time through his email. I told my parents about it and they disagree with the idea. “Charice and Chasters Na Naman (again?)?” They think it’s a waste of my time doing this since we don’t get something in return. I remembered my friend telling me, “She does not even know you.” For me though, its just the thought of being able to help someone in your own little way. Of course, I understand their point of view. They are just worried. They said that, “There is no way that a total stranger would give out free tickets and accommodation to a total stranger! It might be human trafficking!” But then other older moderators were also invited so I was confident that this is not a hoax. Who wants to illegally recruit old ladies of CM? LOL (Hot Mamas!)
So I got my visa. Told other chasters that I trust about it just in case I went missing. LOL! A lot of tiny obstacles from here and there. And then finally JAPAN!!! I could not sleep at all the night before my flight. My luggage is half full. I still could not believe I am going to Japan.
Here I am Narita
I arrived at the airport, saw Artemis Gibran waiting in the Delta Airlines check in, excitement written all over her face. I found out that our flight was 3 hours delayed! Good thing our flight with other chasters coming from other countries was hours ahead. I also got a call from Chaster Clause himself telling me our flight is going to be delayed. We talked all about Charice during our flight. I know Artemis Gibran from the chatroom, from the articles of her personal reflections and from the Meet and Greet. But I really don’t know the person behind the username.
We went directly to the restroom to fix our eyebags due to lack of sleep! I saw Chaster Clause passing by outside the restroom. I waved at him. As we hug and take pics of each other, we went to the other side of the North Wing of the airport. I saw a woman stood up waving frantically at me. I know her, I told myself. It can’t be. Finally! Artemis was curious about who she was and kept asking me from the back, Is that her? Obviously can’t believe who was in front of her. I told Artemis, “Ask her.” SCHOEN!
And then we saw Eve and the LA Chasters a few minutes after that. I saw some of them already based on their pictures online and videos. Boy do they love taking pictures all the time. The only person I have not seen online is LAFAN. And of course I finally met my “inaanak” (godson) in person, Boink! And he is TALL!
We went out of the airport. And I was freezing! I had a little trouble about my possible wardrobe in Japan since I don’t have winter clothes. Anyway, we went to our hotel. It was very nice and had a good view of the city. It was just walking distance to a mall which was convenient for me since I get hungry all the time LOL and I don’t understand any Japanese words.
We went back that night in our hotel and there were videos from Osaka already. At that time I was already thinking if I want chasters to know I’m in Japan. I was trying to keep my trip a secret. However, since I did not know that there was no roaming signal there for Philippine networks, there was only one way for my family and friends to let them know I’m still alive. Facebook! It was time to spill the beans. But of course Chasters were not really interested on me and what I am doing in Japan. They were more interested on what Schoen looks like LOL.
We tried to refrain ourselves from seeing too many spoilers in the internet so we just read very positive tweets from the audience in Osaka. And it seemed to fuel our excitement more! Come Tuesday Morning I was skipping while walking at breakfast. I met up with other chasters there and we went around Tokyo using the train. We would have been lost there but thanks to Keiko, our new Japanese friend and Eve’s daughter, we were able to explore Tokyo on our own. We went to the street where they have all these electronics. There were girls there dressed up as animes giving out flyers. And we ate authentic Soba which was really good. There Japanese is very organized. We just gave our order and paid through a vending machine just outside their doors. They have this picture for every button which made it easy for us to choose. And as we went inside the restaurant, our order is almost ready. Our group was very loud even inside their subway. The Japanese rarely talk while eating or walking. The best part about that short trip was going to this photobooth. I totally love it. I wanna take it back to the Philippines!
Missing Persons Before the Concert
We went back to our hotel and ate early dinner before we decided to change our clothes for the concert. I was just doing some “business” inside the bathroom when all of the sudden they said we have to leave or else we are going to miss the 5:30 PM train. The gates are opening at 6:00 PM and we have to be there early since we have to have a good spot, we will only be standing the whole time. So my roomies were all rushing to leave and they left me inside the room! So I just grabbed my jacket and warmers as soon as I got out of the bathroom and went outside the room. I was putting them on while running to the elevator trying to catch up. We were on the lobby and I thought we were going to wait for the others but my old roomies zoomed out of the hotel faster than Flash. I did not know old ladies could run that fast! Hahaha! I kept on asking where Boink is but they said he is probably with Eve already. We went to the station and just pushed buttons hoping our ticket can go as far as the venue is, which is three stops away.
When we were already inside the train station, we tried calling Eve to check if they are in the venue already. I asked where Boink is. And he was not there and neither is LAFan who went back to the hotel because his ticket is with me! We arrived at Zepp Tokyo and tried looking for Eve’s group. The line was so long we don’t know where to look. We tried to look where we should line up according to our ticket number and we spotted their group in the line. We thought of going back but it was already 6:00 o’clock and going back there would be risky. How come I did not take Japanese when I was in college? Boink and LAFan’s mobile phones didn’t have signals there so there is no way we could contact them directly. I prayed silently hoping that Boink or LAFan would find their way to the venue by then. The line was moving and we just hoped they realized we were there already and that we might have left them. Hopefully, they would be able to ride the correct train.
Our group was called to go inside and suddenly I spotted LAFan and Boink moving along the line trying to look for us. We waved at them like maniacs. Seconds later and we would have been inside already. And then Keiko waved at us to go inside already using another line. I don’t know how that happened. But we were running. AGAIN! The Japanese were just walking and we were running! Boink’s ticket was about 600 people beyond our ticket number but he went with us anyway. Luckily the one checking the ticket did not notice his ticket number and let him inside. We spotted a good area where we could stand. We positioned ourselves just a few feet away from the stage but on the right side of the stage. I was hoping I could see Charice up close. Boink by the way was sticking out like a sore thumb. So envious of his height! He could see everything on the stage!
I was trying to position my camera for some ninja videos. They were waving red placards inside saying no cameras allowed during the concert. Other chasters kept pointing it at me. I told them, I don’t understand Japanese even though the picture of the “no camera” symbol was very obvious.
We also met a Japanese Lady, probably in her 50s. She and Justcharrie were talking and we later found out her friend’s husband is one of the writers of Doraemon. What a coincidence. We asked her if she wanted to go the next day for the Meet and Greet but she was shy.
Lights dimmed. Game on! Everyone was shouting Charice’s name. And we felt someone pushing us from the side. OMG I soon realized everyone wanted to be in the middle. We were like sardines. I told Boink, to push them back but not even the kapre (giant) could hold them to their places. Schoen was the first one who gave up her spot and went to the back of the railings. We have to breathe so we veered away from the push back ladies and kept our distance so we could see Charice from another farther angle. Charice came out with a huge opening. I was spotted early during the show despite the fact the Boink was covering me from the staff’s view. They said something in Japanese but I pretended not to understand them, which is true. At the end they gave up asking for my camera since the crowd was pushing us to the middle of the stage.
Best personal moments according to when it happened. During the Crazy in Love number Charice spotted Boink in the crowd. There were a few seconds where she was just looking at Boink while singing a few lines while pointing at him. He pretended to faint when Charice walked to the other side of the stage. I was so envious of his height, I was thinking at that time. Oh she wont see me in the crowd, I was too short. But that is ok. Important thing is I get to see her very first international concert. Second moment was when Schoen kept grabbing my hand and waving it everytime Charice goes to the right side of the stage. It was funny since I never thought Schoen could be that “secretly” excited. Schoen, next time wave your own hands. Third one was when LAFan shouted “Charicemania loves you!” She suddenly told the crowd “oh I have a song for you, but without the lyrics, just the melody.” And she started humming the Doraemon song! It was cute since the crowd suddenly sang and hummed along with her and at the end she remembered a few lines of the song. The Japanese crowd loved it! Fourth one was during the later part of the show. She was singing a Celine Dion song when she spotted our group. Well at least the shorter versions like us. It was like God’s plan. She went to the right side of the stage. The lights were spinning around and for some reason suddenly just stopped on our area which enabled her to see us. Schoen waved at her and she waved back! There was another guy in front of me so I have to go sideways a little for a better view. I did the pyramid sign on her and she suddenly pointed at our direction while stomping her feet. I’m not sure if she was pointing at me or Schoen but I believe that she did spot us from the crowd.
Charice’s Past Performances
I’ve been to a lot of Charice’s performances. And I mean a lot! From mall shows to solo concerts to DFF shows and even BlogTVs. Name it! I’ve watched her talent grow over the past few years. However, this concert was very different from any other concert she has done.
The concert was very Charice! The music was a good mixture of cover songs and her own original songs. I know a lot of people are questioning why she has to do cover songs when she has an album already. It might be another artist’s song, but she made it her own. She put her own twists, melodies, mashed it up with other songs, made the tempo faster and even slower. She reinvented other artists songs and made it much better than the original. Thanks also to her band and her musical director, Troy Laureta, the shifting of one song to another blended well and was just one smooth ride.
I loved her clothes as well. No more ball gowns or skirts on this one. Yes! Finally she was dancing to Michael Jackson’s songs without heels! She is a better performer when she is more comfortable with her clothing. I know other Chasters would probably be throwing bananas on me since Charice looks great in a skirt or gown. But I think she should save that more for the red carpets, interviews, and just be comfortable on stage.
After the Concert
At the end of the show, we could not get enough of Charice. We just have to see another one.The lady, whom we asked earlier to join us for the Meet and Greet the next day but declined, went near us and told us she changed her mind and would love to meet Charice the next day! After seeing this girl perform live, who could resist not meeting this girl.
After the concert, we saw a lady who got the white glove of Charice which she used for her Michael Jackson number for the concert. We tried asking if we could take a picture of it for the website. While our official translator Keiko was doing the talking for us, I could not understand anything she said but Chasters! LOL She could not speak any English yet she knows the word chasters. So we invited her to the Meet and Greet the following night and found out that she is watching the concert too, again! I thought she was going to cry after the invite and kept saying thank you thank you while bowing.
Concert Take 2
I kept thinking the whole time we were on the half day tour the next day whether we should watch it again or not. We saw very few spots in Tokyo during the tour. Some of the group decided to explore a bit more on their own while some of them took the train going back to prepare. We have not decided yet whether we are going to watch or not so I decided to go with the other group who is going to this shopping place.
Fast forward to the concert, we were running. YES AGAIN! We just bought our tickets that day so we were sure we were at the end of the line. As soon as we arrived at the train station, we ran hoping we could sneak to the front of the line. And I slipped. I slipped. Did I say that right? I SLIPPED. BAM! I fell down literally and felt something snapped as I fell down hard. Not again. I just got into an accident last December where my right knee got immobilized. My elbow felt numb. I paused and felt the numb switched into a burn. So I got up. I was asked how I was. And I said “malayo sa bituka” (translation: far from the intestines!) and started running again. I found out later when I took my jacket off that I got a bruise.
Unfortunately we were not able to sneak in so all the exercise and the bruise was a waste. They were so strict this time. We were the last batch to get into the concert hall. Fortunately the chasters who were scheduled to see the concert that day blocked a whole area of space for us. Although it was farther from our position the day before, we were lucky to be at least that near. I was expecting we were going to be way back.
Favorite moments during the second day concert was when she got a stuff toy from the audience and waved it along for the audience to follow. One can really see the cute and childish side of this young lady which is really part of her charm. I noticed Charice injecting more of her personality in each concert. I’d watched the two shows and noticed she variates from the script from time to time. I remembered attending her GMA Valentine’s Taping and saw that she does variate from the script. While the GMA staff were flashing her lines for her on the opposite side of the stage, she did not follow them completely. At one point, the script said that the person she looked up to the most was Oprah. Instead, she said it was her mom and changed the whole paragraph of the script.
Meet & Greet – “Who’s In Your Heart?”
Come Meet and Greet. I don’t know why but I was a bit nervous. It felt like I was seeing her for the first time again. I can’t explain it. I don’t get that nervous usually. We were debating at the back whether we want to introduce Chaster Clause to her or not. At the end, they asked me to introduce her so we went at the back of the line so we will have more time for introductions. The line was getting shorter and shorter so I was trying to formulate in my mind how I would introduce him. When she saw me, she shouted my name and hugged me so tight. She hugged me before but not that tight. I was taken aback by her reaction. All I kept thinking about was…. Kakahiya (shameful) I think she can feel my heartbeat! When she let go I immediately gave her my Japanese CD and the souvenir book from the concert. Security told us, only one autograph. She said “eto na lang” (here you go, this one) and asked me if that was for me. That got me curious so I just said. She wrote: “Tintol, Bwiset! Love Charice” (trans.: annoying! haha) I was laughing so hard that I forgot to introduce Chaster Clause. While she was signing his autograph for him, I got tongue tied for some reason. I could not even remember what I said. It was incomprehensible that I could not even understand what went out of my mouth! It sounded like I was on a choppy cellphone signal. My mouth could not translate what I was thinking at that time. I was trying to speak in Tagalog but I guess I got lost in translation. I remembered saying Siya ang… lahat lahat (he’s …everything…all). However, she must have connected the dots that made her understand my point. She turned around to me and said really? And I said “uhuh!” And she turned around to him and said “You’re the Man!” with matching stomp on her feet and they hugged! Cute.
The rest was just a bit piece of everything. She started singing Happy Birthday for some reason and we sang along with her, not knowing why she was singing. And then when we were saying goodbye she suddenly shouted something that Philippine Chasters shout out loud. Sino ang Nasa Puso Nyo? (Who’s in your heart?)… and we shouted Sunshine Sunshine!!!
It was one of the most unforgettable experiences in my life. And I could not thank Chaster Clause enough for it. He said we should thank God for it and making it possible for us to go there. And that it did more good for him than for us. The one thing that I would never forget that he said one breakfast morning was “Before I do something, I always ask myself if it makes my brain bigger… No. Does doing this make my heart bigger? Yes.” I was trying to fight back my tears when he was saying this. Sunshine, not only the Glee character, was in our hearts that moment making our hearts bigger. Indeed, his legacy will always live in our hearts and we hope that someday we may share this with everyone else. So to end this long story, Sino ang Nasa Puso Niyo? Sunshine Sunshine! It may be raining the day we left Tokyo, but that’s because the “Sunshine” went to our hearts. Thanks again Chaster Clause!