Disclaimer: this post is going to be less about David Archuleta but more on my insights about the whole trip. I travelled 1500 miles to see David Archuleta. Specifically, 2430 km or 1509 miles.
When David announced his mission back in 2011, there were things I guessed:
- I already guessed it. He prophesied it in Who I Am.
- He will be back
- and I will be there when he is.
- I guessed it will be in the Philippines because his fans there are crAaAaaZzy
Years went by and I totally forgot about these things. I stopped reading his updates, downloaded/bought his music when he released them but I just didn’t care to know more anymore. It wasn’t important to me anymore to know about everything he was doing.
It was my last week of teaching in Jakarta when he announced going to the Philippines. Light bulbs went on in my head and I knew where my salary’s going to go to. I’ve been looking for meaning more than I had been looking for money, so if I hadn’t accepted the teaching job I wouldn’t have been able to afford this trip. Another story about this teaching job: I didn’t want to do it. But I guess now I know why I did.
I travelled from my home in Malaysia to get to the airport in Singapore. I bought priority passes and front rows because I just wanted to focus on my trip there. But things don’t always work out the way you plan.
THINGS YOU DO FOR DAVID ARCHULETA #1
An old man chased after me after I was the first to board. Seniors and pregnant women get to go up first as well. He asked me if it was my first time in Manila and if I had friends there. My A Nobody’s Observations senses came to life and cheerfully told him it was my first time there. Telling The Truth was a chapter of the book. He asked me if he could come with me and explore the place together. He said he’s on a holiday to “relax”. That was when it started to be weird. I sat at my second row seat and he seemed bummed about being somewhere further behind. I was relieved. I knew I was just going to run when we arrive in Manila to avoid this man.
But that man came back and sat next to me, awfully close. I’m a Muslim in a hijab I would expect him, a man who shared the same culture as me to understand that. Again, he wanted to go with me together with him. This time, my Telling The Truth disappeared. Out came a white lie. For my safety, I told him I had friends waiting for me at the airport. Surprisingly, he actually looked mad. He insulted people from my country saying “No wonder, I knew Malaysians were cowards.” Well hello, I’m not a coward if I could make the decision to travel to a country on my own. It’d be stupid to not avoid a 60-year-old man who tried to get close to me. Not cowardice. He went back to his seat babbling something.
As planned, when I arrived in Manila, I was amongst the first to leave. Thankful for no checked baggages. Order a Grab and get out of there as fast as possible was my plan. I had no friends waiting for me, in case that old man saw me and followed me as well. Again, things are not as expected. I couldn’t get my data roaming to work. Using the airport’s wifi I finally ordered a Grab, and my driver said he’s arrived. Navigating the airport was another unclear thing. I walked aimlessly until I tripped on someone’s luggage. He said sorry. I looked up, he turned out to be someone I met in KL. I didn’t tell him what happened, but he offered to walk with me to where the taxis were. I was relieved. If the old man saw me, he would see that I was with someone. So technically, I wasn’t lying after all!
A fan-friend had told me she had press conference tickets and wanted to give them to me. I thought, “Wow!!” She couldn’t go and didn’t want it to go to waste. I had been thinking about how to get to meet David Archuleta. Up till then, I had no confirmation about seeing him other than on concert day.
THINGS YOU DO FOR DAVID ARCHULETA #2
I took a Grab to the press conference. I’ve used Grab in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur and so far, no problem. But this Grab driver of mine made me fear for my safety. It started with a “The first time I saw you I fell in love with you.” I think women hear this often. I do, but it’s usually within a frame where I can walk away and ignore the guy. This time the frame is a moving vehicle which is practically a time bomb. My safety is at stake here. If I ignored him he might get mad. I told him I was already with someone named David Archuleta and I was on the way to see him. Gosh, so many half-lies I’m telling on this trip! He went on and on about how beautiful he thought I was. I purposely turned on my Google Navigation app where the GPS talked to show him I knew where he was going. Okay. That worked. I arrived there safely. He told me to add him on Facebook. I didn’t. I was just being paranoid, I know. But tell me it’s not weird when someone tells you repeatedly about how he’s in love with you?!
I sat in the Press Conference hall.
And there David was.
He emerged looking like a doll. Almost plastic, like flawless kind of plastic. He sat down. I wanted the mike. It was a press conference and by right I shouldn’t be holding the mike, but whatever. They are going to ask him the same questions and he’s going to reply with how he dealt with depression and how he was feeling down, and how he found more meaning in what he wanted to do. As a “senior” fan, I could probably tell his script already. I appreciate them, but this time I felt he needed to hear it from my point of view instead. These would be paraphrased:
“Hi David, my name is Salamahafifi.”
I introduced myself. My legs were shaking. I didn’t know what I was going to say.
“Yeah, I know you.”
Oh. Thank you for remembering me, I wanted to say. I am just 1 out of his a million fans. I don’t think it’s just in my mouthful name (people in Asia generally have mouthful names). He was thoughtful. But my thanks didn’t come out of my mouth. It stays in my heart.
“I was born in Singapore, I live in Malaysia, and I’ve worked in Indonesia. I feel like I can represent these three countries.”
True. I have ancestry from Indonesia too so I do have roots in these three places.
“I just wanted to let you know that you still have fans there supporting you. We support you. For me personally, it’s no longer about your music,”
“but it’s because of who you are. Many people can talk about peace and love but they don’t act on it. These things are things from the Inside to Out..”
by then I have no idea what I’m saying anymore
“..and I’d like you to know I appreciate it. Thank you for being you.”
I said something like that. Even if that’s not what I said, that’s what I meant. I then asked him about his skincare tips because he is GLOWING. He attributed it to good genes and no special kind of water. Just faucet water. Hard to believe, right?
Later I wanted a picture with him. I think it would have been nice to just let me take a picture with him first instead of prioritising the press. I waited 1.5 hours for him to be done, which was no problem since I waited for him for six years. All these press coming in with the same questions and he’s going to repeat the same things allll over again. It felt like the old fans didn’t matter because we’ve practically have him anchored already. What mattered was promotions after promotions = press is prioritised = new fans = more concert tickets. Yeah, guess that’s how the showbiz works. Oh well.
I saw that he was about to leave.
And I sorta gave up at that point. I didn’t want to be that clingy fan who runs around asking for a picture but I can’t figure out why I wanted a picture so much. Maybe as a memorabilia. I was about to pull a chair to sit down and watch him. David was surrounded by press fans. Someone had told him “I really like Senseless.” He replied, “Senseless? Man that song is depressing!”
Then he turned around and saw me. And said hey!
I wish time stopped.
“I feel bad I was reading your book but I left it on the plane!”
Nope, time didn’t stop. It moved on too quickly for me to process anything that was going on.
“Do you have another copy?”
“I don’t,” I said. Dangit, I had asked my publisher to send me some but he forgot.
“Then it’s okay!”
“I actually have a copy that’s my own.”
“Then that’s yours. Don’t worry about it.”
“You know what, just send me a copy.”
Send you a copy? I wanted to:
- tell him about how he should buy it instead
- tell him it’s not as easy as “send me a copy”. To send him a copy and to make sure he got it, I…it’s a long process.
“It was a great book, good job.”
I’m sorta embarrassed to write that but I guess I want to document this. My book is my pride at the same time my embarrassment. I forgive myself, it’s my first book. But still….you get what I mean.
I asked him for a picture and he said sure. But I guess because I was beaming from the fact that David said he read my book and the fact that I finally got to meet him after six long years (that’s more than half a decade!) ….that my picture turned out ugly. David, dashing as always. Me? My eyes were closed. I looked like a ghost.
After that I didn’t have any more personal encounters with him. I watched him at Eat Bulaga where I appeared on his IG Stories:
And then it was Concert Day.
Usually, at David’s shows, I’m accustomed to standing right in front to watch him. I told myself I didn’t need that anymore and that I would be all right with sitting at the Loge. Economical and Romantic. Besides, the first row were not for sale either. My writer’s mind began playing scenes about me being Rapunzel where I let down my hijab and only the worthy could climb from it:
It was economical. In my head it was romantic. But I didn’t know about the third aspect that came with sitting up there all by my self:
Man, I didn’t know how lonely it was to contain excitement and held back tears! In my other David concerts my friends surrounded me. This time I was surrounded by strangers therefore I felt totally alone. I had made friends with the lady next to me, but she left after the first song. I wanted to scream, but I couldn’t. I wanted to cry, I did, but it wasn’t all my heart.
Songs that made me cry:
Up All Night
As someone who has been here for almost a decade, I’ve heard his rejuvenated voice and I’ve heard his tired voice. I could tell the difference because I’ve listened to him enough. And this one was his tired voice. Trying voice. I remember when David’s concert was cancelled in Singapore the reporter thought I would be upset about it. I told her no, I was more concerned about his health. “You shouldn’t have done all those promos, David,” I whispered to him. “You should’ve just rested.” I wish I could tell him that. Then I turned around and saw the man next to me grinning from ear to ear, happy to see David. And at that moment of time, tears rolled down my cheeks. This is who David wants to reach out to, to spread more of his messages to. All these while I never saw the casual fans. I only saw the crazy fans. Sitting up here showed me the casual fans who are going to have a deeper appreciation for David. It’s going to be worth it. David danced. And danced. And danced.
At that point of time, I was again, concerned more about his health. When I was at a camp as a facilitator I pushed myself. I didn’t want to be seen as someone weak so I maintained my energy level on high at all times that I told my students, “If I can do it, you can too!” Back then I didn’t understand how it worked. I was able to dance and be crazy all the time during the camp, but what happened was I drained my batteries and fell the sickest I had been in my life.
That’s what I saw David was doing. Adrenaline bursts from dancing. And this kind of burst of energy takes a longer time to replenish. It takes a toll not only on the physical health but the mental and emotional too. I didn’t want him to suddenly decide this was not what he wanted to do. As a spiritual student, I believe I know what I’m talking about. He wasn’t supposed to do all the crazy press in order for him to get the most out of this concert. Being able to watch him on my own from the top lets me observe all these things too.
Then he was in the Zone.
David Archuleta was on fire. Something ‘Bout Love was powerful. Again, it made me cry.
Then he sang My Kind of Perfect, I was surprised it didn’t come with his usual banter about how he’s never even been in a relationship before. I didn’t know it was not from his original setlist. He forgot some of the lyrics but that’s all right. We helped him sing it.
Nandito Ako was emotional. Memories flashed by me. I was there. He was there. He cried. We cried.
And finally, Crush made me cry too. His nine-year-old baby first sung in South East Asia in Singapore (April 2009) where I was right in front, center, and my tears recorded on camera and now eight years later I was just another dot in the audience listening to him. He did GREAT. The crowd loved him. Cheers everywhere. I was happy for him. Welcome back, David.
But I planned to say goodbye.
David’s definitely not going to see anybody post-concert. Let him rest. I walked out, again, this loneliness enveloped me. Usually I would have friends around me and we would hug each other and share this happiness. One thing my new Indonesian friend and I agreed on about Filipinos is that they don’t smile at you. When I looked around I saw no familiar faces, and none friendly ones either. People were only friendly to each other. That’s not how life is supposed to work.
Then I saw Mormons walking by me. It’s cute how they all wore nametags. And they all smiled and said hello to me. I felt reconnected then, happy to finally see faces who shared a smile with me, at the same time sharing their pleasantness. They’re sweet.
I decided to go home, at the same time wondering if I could say goodbye to David before I flew back. Here’s what’s funny: I booked my Airbnb room thinking it was a few blocks away from Kia Theatre. Turns out my room was facing Kia Theatre directly.
I showered and got ready for bed. Before that I looked down and just at the right moment, I saw a black tinted van exit from the side. People surrounded it. Ah, that must be David. From the 17th floor of my apartment, I watched the van turn left and disappeared from my sight.
That’s how I got to say bye David.