It’s the little surprises that get you.
Friday night traffic, stuck in EDSA crossing in a bus in the rain, texting Sam who is happily browsing around at PowerBooks MegaMall. After forever, the bus door opens, conductor tells us to get off—MegaMall stop. I get off, look up, and realize it’s a long walk in the rain to the building B canopy. I walk anyway.
Having made the crossing from B to A, I see a cordoned off area on the ground floor. It’s a free concert, one that’s already ended, with artist on stage signing cd’s and posters his fans bought. It is half past 7 in the evening.
Standing outside PowerBooks I wait a minute or two for Sam to come out. We head off to Lemongrass for dinner. The place is almost full, but we manage to get the last table at the end of the room, the one beside the kitchen entrance. I show Sam my latest harvest of pirata DVDs from my new suki (location: TOP SECRET). Some classics, Crouching Tiger, Seven, Frequency, a 8-in-one Disney Cartoon compendium, and The Motorcycle Diaries.
We have a leisurely dinner, decide to have a pot of green tea, which the waiter told us will not take long but did. We finish the tea, pay for dinner, wait forever for the change. The restaurant staff was eager to pack up. It was 9pm.
Toy Kingdom is just across the corridor so we pop in, with intent to find the latest Dora goodie for the Dora fan at home (probably asleep by now). We find a shrink-wrapped square pillow with sarong-clad Dora and Boots on the beach. We walk around some more, see Dora towels and accessory sets, but I like the pillow. Off to the corner we see some of those hard plastic playhouses that Maia loved when we were at Star City last month, and we look in on the price tag (PHP 18,000). Gasp.
I pay for the pillow at the check out counter while Sam watches a battery-operated fireman climbing up a vertical ladder. The fireman climbs and climbs and Sam asks the sales lady what happens when the Fireman reaches the top. “He climbs back down again,” the sales lady answers. And so he does.
We start walking to the taxi stand, going past the cordoned off area of the mini-concert, and the artist is still there! He is still signing autographs! And smiling! And girls who have bought his CD are still getting free posters and he is signing them, with the same amiable look that I saw when I first came in more than two hours ago!
Succumbing to the jolog-ness of someone in the midst of a celebrity, I whip out my trusty p910i for a few quick pics. We are too far away from the stage to get a good shot, and most of the ones I take were of the armpit of the girl standing in front of him. After having exhausted the number of fans within the cordoned-off area, the singer stands up and, noticing the group that had gathered to the side of the stage, arms outstretched taking photos with their cam phones (myself included), he walks towards us smiling and waving. He bends down and autographs the offered notebooks and memo pads, bending down even more when a girl shyly asks for a kiss.
And Sam and I think, such a gentleman, isn’t he, when he could have just left after the last paying customer had been auto- and photographed. Yet he gamely approached even those who had stayed to gawk at him.
Really cool guy, he is, that Gary Valenciano.