I wouldn’t let this opportunity pass this year… so I sent in my email address and waited for confirmation that I was included in the 130+ Chasters for the Pre-concert Gathering when CM started doing the sign-up and glad enough when I saw my name included. But the gathering and the concert itself would only be icing on the cake as I already had the unique opportunity of being with some Chasters the previous days.
Somehow I found out that DeeJay Drake, Jonbudz and a lot more other Chasters were in town for the DFF in Manila concert. Nege was texting that they had cooked up a birthday party for Jonbudz at Metrowalk’s Club Phi the Monday before the concert, and plans for the pre-concert meet at Max’s Restaurant at Gateway Araneta seemed to be gaining momentum. My excitement for the DFF was double for sure as I had missed out on the previous year’s concert because I had to choose between that and a weekend retreat that I needed to attend. Anyway, I decided to whip up an evening for some of them and asked Narita to kindly extend the invite. So Saturday saw Nege, A.b. Bonita, Kram, Jonbudz, Narita, and Kit having dinner with me at the Bagoong Club. After dinner, I brought the group to My Brother’s Mustache for some quiet entertainment. Here, Java and Tintol caught up with us… and then another move to a Starbucks outlet nearby. DeeJay Drake couldn’t join us since he was under the weather, even as Bluemax, Rodbelt, Isaak and others also couldn’t make it because it was such short notice. Sometime during dinner, Narita asked me. “So Henry, what’s the occasion?” My answer… “I just felt like spending time with you guys… with family!”
With Rodbelt sharing his wonderful stories about the NAIA welcome, the Pre-Concert Gathering and the concert itself, I’ve decided that I would share here what I felt makes the Chaster family unique.
Nege gave me quite a genuine and warm hug when I picked them up for dinner last Saturday, much like the hugs I would receive from Jonbudz, Ab Bonita, and most of the Chasters I would finally meet at Jonbudz birthday party and at the Pre-Concert Gathering. Finally putting faces to the names I’ve always known by heart or names to the faces that I always see in Chasters news couldn’t stop my smile and glee from showing the happiness I felt. This indescribable feeling all started during my first encounter with Chasters in the SMX concert of Charice… I remember the late Uno being the first person to greet me and welcome me to the group, and me latching on to Narita much like a security blanket because I still did not know how to act within the group… until you just felt that everyone’s devotion and love for Charice made perfect sense that you would just feel the same for all those who felt the same for Charice.
The unique perspective I have from being a photographer also helped that I notice more than what others do. During the PICC Valentine’s concert of Charice, I couldn’t help but feel and empathize with all the fans who stayed after the concert for the meet and greet. I remember clear as day the expression of Nege’s face when while singing “The Climb” as part of the Meet & Greet program, Charice would come out and sing alongside her. I can’t forget the surprised look of Nege and the cheering she received from the rest of the fans who were there… everyone just seemed to share in Nege’s joy for this dream come true. The magnanimity of Charice’s heart for her fans would bear itself out every chance there is and this was again proven in this last concert when she came out to join Kimmie as she sang “Because You Loved Me”. But the feeling I had as a fan seeing Nege or Kimmie live out their dreams on separate occasions was the same feeling that I shared with the Chaster family. I could almost sense at those very moment that everyone was very happy for both these Chasters.
The pre-concert gathering was something else… and one that I would always remember. I hadn’t even given my name at the registration table and yet I was met with smiles and such warm hugs… as if we’ve known each other all our lives. And once I’ve read the names on their tags would clear memories of each Chaster snap clear in my mind. I’d go, “oh, you’re the one who did this… or I remember that…” Here was a gathering of people from all walks of life, from all over the planet… and yet there was singularity in purpose, a common love that clearly bound each one to the other. I finally met people whose names I’ve only read, but now there were faces to go along with it. Rodbelt, Bluemax, Wower, Dtox, Gunrunner, Tsuki… and a lot of others that Rodbelt had already mentioned in his article… and there were a lot of stories that were shared. I have learned to appreciate this extended family that I now have. I admire the inexhaustible energy of those who organized the different meet-ups, or those who took Sunday off just to buy the glow sticks that they distributed to all the concert audience, to Kenji who set up the photo-booth and let everyone have their photos taken, to Tita Glo and Carl10 who emceed with gusto. More than that, I was simply amazed that Chasters from all over the world… US. Canada, Japan, Singapore, Middle-East, Guam… as well as from all over the Philippines came just for this gathering and the concert.
Yes, there is a unique sense of belonging when you are part of the Chaster family… one that mirrors much of what Charice brings to this world of ours. Chasters share her humble and respectful nature… and only too well was this demonstrated the way the younger Chasters deferred to Rodbelt, Bluemax, Tita Glo, Wower, Prof Jay, Dtox and some more… myself included… and in turn, we oldies could only look at the young Chasters as we would our own children. Charice has shown how generous and loving she could be, with all the charities that she lends her name to. This wonderful trait again shown by the generous Chasters who were only too willing to help out the others through sponsored tickets to the concert, or in the case of that family whom Tintol introduced to us as being beneficiaries of a hairlip operation as well as their being brought in to watch their idol, our very own Charice… and patron tickets at that! The commendable thing is that not one of these benefactors wanted their names known or announced. Yes, Chaster Claus was there, as was Lantao Island but nary a peep from them… the happiness, joy and dreams come true of the many Chasters who have benefitted from their generosity being the only reward that satisfied their hearts.
The enthusiastic response of those who gave their ovations (whether standing or seated) to those who presented their song numbers: Cutie Singer, Isaak, Sofia, Jonbudz and the quartet of Artemis, Nege, Dino Sour, and Aki demonstrated only too well what Chasters are all about… In this family, one is not judged by superficial things in life… attire, make-up, or even talent (which I have to say was not at all lacking from those I mentioned above)… but rather for what each one’s heart shows and proudly announces to everyone willing to listen… that we all love Charice! no matter what!
In this family, there is no thumbs down… we accept each and every Chaster for what he or she is. We do not have shallow beliefs of what Charice should be, should have done, have become or must be. We only know too well that she has changed most of our lives for the better and has shown that we should not stop believing that good things happen to those who believe; that good begets good; and that our love will always be there not only for Charice but for everyone who belongs to this unique Chaster family.
By Henri_v, Charicemania.com