Everything was ready. All that’s left for me to do was to get on that plane. But the airport was the farthest I could go. Even if the live that I was supposed to attend was finished already, it still hasn’t sunk in. I wasn’t seeing D’espairsRay live after all.

I arrived early at the airport. My flight was at 5AM but I was already on the way an hour past midnight. Yes, I was that excited. As I reached the check-in counter, my head was already in Tokyo. My daydreaming was interrupted by the staffer’s unexpected question, “Ma’am, what happened to your passport?” I was using the same passport since 2010 and this was the first time I was asked this question. Confused, I ask what she meant. The staffer explained that my passport looked detached and then “glued together”. She again asked “Did you do anything to your passport?” I told her “No! Of course not.” She consulted with her supervisor. She went back and said “I’m sorry Ma’am, we cannot check you in. Your passport is tampered.” My knees felt instantly weak but calmly I told her, “Miss, there must be a mistake. I just used that same passport upon my arrival yesterday from Singapore. I even have here my ticket from that flight.” She then asked me again “Did you really not do anything to your passport?” Again, I told her that no, I did not do anything with my passport. And so she want back to consult with her peers. When she faced me again she  said with a tone of finality “Sorry Ma’am. There’s really something wrong with your passport. If we let you through, we will be given a memo. We cannot check you in on this flight.” I left the counter in a daze.

To the best of my knowledge, there is nothing wrong with my passport. This year alone, I’ve used the very same passport to get in and out of 5 countries, including Japan just this March. Prior to my supposed MNL – NRT flight, the same passport got me through CGK – SNG last July 23 and then through SNG – CLK last July 26. How could it be that suddenly my passport is invalid?

I sought out airport security. They told me only immigration can deny me passage but they, the security personnel, cannot interfere. I went back to the airline staff and asked if there’s anyone I can speak with. Two staffers approached, one of which was a supervisor it seemed. Again I was questioned if I did something with my passport. I vehemently told them that I didn’t mess with my own passport and that I have no reason to do so. So they asked me if there ever was a time wherein my passport was not with me. I told them I can only think of two recent instances: when I submitted my passport at Indonesian immigration for my re-entry permit last April and when I left it at the Japanese Embassy in Jakarta for the processing of my Japan visa only a week ago. The supervisor then said it could be that somehow, someone managed to detached my passport pages from the cover and then tried to cover up the damage by just glueing them back together.

I examined my passport and it did seem that something was amiss. But by this time, I don’t know what to think anymore. I haven’t slept yet since the day before and my stress level was quadrupling every minute. The supervisor further explained that they don’t want to let me through because if Japan immigration sensed also that there’s something wrong with my passport, I would be deported. DEPORTED. Hearing that word literally brought me chills. I told the supervisor that if only for my peace of mind could we compare my passport with another person’s. She complied. Faced with two passports with my own looking very different, I knew then that there’s nothing else I could do.

I wanted to cry so badly but wouldn’t. There’s no reason for me to look and feel more pathetic that I really was already. After all that questioning, I just wanted to hear a comforting voice. I tried calling my family then the friend I was supposed to meet in Japan. I called them numerous times. No answer. It’s 4AM. Everyone else had the right to blissfully sleep. I called a friend based in Canada. Static. All I had was my inner voice telling me to keep it together.

It was a long journey back home from the airport. Four hours after my ordeal, I was finally able to cry.

I felt sick but I had a lot to do. I needed to cancel and rebook what I can. Most importantly, I need to apply for a new passport so I can get back to my job in Jakarta.

By nightfall, I developed a fever.

I was supposed to welcome back D’espairsRay but instead I was stuck on my sick bed nursing a fever, a head-splitting ache and a hollowness inside.

It was tough balancing between wanting to hear updates about what’s going on and shunning everything about the live once and for all.

I was also still confused regarding what happened to my passport. Numerous questions kept running through my head. Who would do such a thing? Was there malice involved? Like seriously, WHAT THE FUCK? Will I able to secure a passport in time for my return to Jakarta?

My only comfort was that I was with my whole family. They’ve been very supportive. But then again, they don’t get the whole picture. Still, because of them I can smile.

Within me, inner voice kept chanting to keep it together.

I find joy in the knowledge that the live went well. Hizumi is still not on top form but from what I heard, he was able to perform competently.

There was no announcement of another live but still I was so, so happy that D’espairsRay was able to stage a comeback even if only for just one night and via a 4-song set.

But at the same time, each mention of the live brings a sharper pang through my heart. It is torture and it probably would be for quite a while.

Listening to D’espairsRay had and will always be an emotional experience for me. After their so-called disbandment, there was the tinge of longing and regret – regret that I didn’t take the chance to see them live before. Then there was also the hope that they’ll get back together eventually and I will be there to witness it.

Now, I have more emotions to wrestle with: bitterness, sadness and shit tons more of what-ifs and could-have-beens. But just as D’espairsRay has taught me that it’s never in vain to keep on hoping, I look forward to learning more about believing in second chances.

This first attempt at reaching out to them didn’t turn out the way I pictured it to be. But maybe, just maybe…next time I’ll get my turn to cheer for them in person.

…though I go on I won’t forget; the miracle of a reunion with you.

reflecting my unravelling thoughts, the sky cried…


I wanted to be together with you forever…

– SQUALL (lyrics: Hizumi; music: Karyu / English translation: iro)

Dear D’espairsRay

Three years ago, you made me write this:

It’s again past 3am. D’espairsRay made me ditch the Sandman one more time. But then again, this could also be the very last. The last time I’m losing sleep for them, the last time I’m writing a post about them. To paraphrase Neruda, though this be the last pain that they made me suffer and these the last verses that I write for them. And yet, just as it was said in the very same poem: my soul is not satisfied that it had lost them.

Every fiber in me refuses to acknowledge that this is the end. I vow then to remember this day…

I have never forgotten that day, guys. NEVER. But this is one thing I wasn’t able to uphold: that you will never make me cry again. Guess what, I’ve been crying for almost 2 hours now. And yes, here  I am writing another post about you.

You are coming back. You are really coming back.

Silly me have thought that as I’ve imagined this moment a number of times, I would have been ready when the time comes. Still you caught me off guard. Bravo guys, bravo.

I am still not 100% sure whether I’ll be there to welcome you personally. But I’ll be trying my damn hardest to be there.

And no more promises of not crying. If you happen to see one girl crying her eyes out at the live, chances are that it is me. Then again, there would definitely be a lot of crying on July. Not just me.

Welcome back, D’espairsRay. You are worth every teardrop.

LIVE REPORT: L’Arc~en~Ciel LIVE 2014 at National Olympic Stadium / Kokuritsu Day 2 (March 22, 2014)


Allow me to begin my day 2 narrative by giving props to the staffer who we asked if we were in the right gate. Whoever you are, thank you for your patience. I knew you were saying numbers to me but my poor brain was taking eons in processing Japanese to English. Really, really grateful that after sensing my frustration (and a very awkward pause), you just said “Kochira dozo” and let Irene, Frances, Regina and I in anyway.

Much like during day 1, we had a bit of a trouble finding where we were supposed to sit. And exactly like day 1, when we get to our assigned seats, someone else was already occupying it! This time, there were 2 girls already sitting on Irene and I’s place. They were even wearing the bracelets already. Good thing the matter was resolved quickly. Our day 2 seats were so much better than the previous day! We were right above one of the VIP tents which was why I spent a good chunk of the live craning my neck to see if I would recognize someone. Unfortunately, the tent closest so to us was empty and the one next to it housed technicians it seemed.

Since today’s live would be broadcast on cinemas, there were more cameras around. There was even one directly in front of our section. Each time the camera would pan the audience, we would wave the #LArcMNL banner like crazy. We held on to that banner for the whole duration of the live. Hopefully, there would be a glimpse of it in the DVD somehow. It was also hugely advantageous that the weather was more cooperative. It wasn’t as cold as yesterday.

At around twenty minutes past 5PM, the same intro as the previous day began. I noticed that there seemed to be something wrong with the pod transporting Ken. The other 3 had a dome-shaped top while Ken’s was just blunt – as if the actual dome tapered off. Two other observations: (1) when yukkie came out, Irene and I couldn’t help but scream “acid android yukkie!”, must be the headgear he was sporting this time around; and (2) hyde was still wearing a veil but it was white this time and he looked like a blessed virgin.

Since the setlist for day 2 was similar with day 1 except for a few songs, I would only focus now on the highlights.

  • Day 2 was kicked off by CHASE. I find it to be a better warm up for the crowd and the transition to SEVENTH HEAVEN was smoother.
  • NEW WORLD gave way to NEXUS 4 as the eight song. It was a prudent decision to place NEW WORLD the day before as it was harder to sing and as much as I want to deny it, HYDE’s voice sounded strained during some parts of the live. In fact, his voice was hoarse in the MCs. So proud of him that he was still able to pull off BLESS a cappella earlier.
  • The L’ed wristbands! One can be deluded into thinking that second exposure to those wonders would somehow diminish the effect but nope, my jaw still dropped. The goosebumps likewise returned. Witnessing those dancing lights in person was truly a phenomenal experience.
  • When the bubble  burst at the second stage and L’Arc began their their first song there, I even went more bonkers. They were playing METROPOLIS! Such a refreshing change of pace.
  • For their last song at the second stage, it took me quite a while to figure it out. It was only after hyde sang the first lines that I was able to pinpoint it as KASOU. The arrangement was jazzy and more acoustic than the original. A week later, I would recognize it as a version they played in Hawaii as per videos uploaded to YouTube by ninjas.
  • Our seats on day 2 were closer to the second stage – so close that we could actually here yukkie’s cymbals. Still, we were crushed with envy when as the band exited, they walked right towards the stands across the stage. Hyde even lingered longer on the railings.
  • Have I ever mentioned that I have a soft spot for SHADE OF SEASON? I really do, which was why it baffles me why I wrote WILD FLOWER on my notes during the live as I was clearly singing along to “round and round and round”. It only hit me that I was wrong when J told me afterwards that he liked day 2 better because Shade of Season was one of the songs.  Great. I witnessed live one of my better liked songs from Butterfly without even realizing it.
  • I’m sure by now you’ve read about hyde flubbing his lines during DRIVER’S HIGH. I would have missed it  too if only Irene didn’t point it out seconds after it happened. But the butt grab by Ken? Oh yes, I saw it with my own eyes. Perfect.
  • Also during Driver’s High, we were distracted by staffers dragging huge grey bags from all directions which turned out to contain balloons. The memory stuck with me because one staffer placed a bag in the wrong position so he had to go back and drag it again to the right place. It was also my cue that the live would be over soon.

The last song was Anata. They also sang this on day 1 but it hit me more during this performance. It brought me back to Hong Kong where I first saw them live during the L’Anniversary World Tour. I remember the mirror ball illuminating the stage and the soft almost music box sounding background. It brought me to the time when I had goosebumps because we the audience were singing in perfect harmony. Kokuritsu may not have been as intimate as Asia World Expo but at that very moment, strangers were again as one.

The grey bags eventually released the balloons. The fireworks again lit up the sky. It was also this time when I let the tears fall. I was alright when L’Arc ended Day 1 with Niji but today was different. I cried because I had fulfilled a dream – dreams in fact. But most of all, I cried because I knew it was really over. There’s no more day 3. By this time tomorrow, all these would be a memory.

Just as I was blinking back tears, we hear hyde talking. What’s going on? Everyone froze on the spot. The screens were showing some backstage footage. Then the words “DOCUMENTARY FILMS ~ WORLD TOUR 2012”. Screams.

The screens turned blank. After which, the word “And” was shown. The screaming intensifies. Needless to say, I was desperate for another world tour announcement. Ah but not yet. The alternative was not bad after all. Everlasting would be released as a “memorial single” in August and the just concluded live would be release on DVD! I dread the waiting time for their next comeback but a cinematic release for the documentary, a new single and a DVD on the way are good enough distractions.

Until next time, L’Arc~en~Ciel. Until next time.

(And please consider visiting the Philippines soon. The #LArcMNL campaign turns 2 today!)

blessed be

I really thought 2013 would be hard to top up but as it turns out, it is only the opening salvo.

Already 2014 is shaping up to be a badass year, even so much better than the previous.

In a few days, I would see L’Arc~en~Ciel live again. In their own turf Tokyo, Japan. Yes. I am finally going to Japan and I will see my favorite band perform in one of the grandest stadiums in the world. Twice.

(Perhaps even VAMPS? Please HYDE let me win that invite to #VAMPSLIVEINTOKYO!)

Fast forward to June and I will then see Alice Nine in Singapore. I even get to take a picture with them. 6 shots! I’m so giddy with excitement.

And the year is barely out if its first quarter.


As always, watch out for my live reports!!!

LIVE REPORT: ONE OK ROCK “Who are you?? Who are we??” Tour Live in Jakarta (November 24, 2013)

ONE OK ROCK Weekend Part 2: Welcome to Jakarta!



The boys killed it again!

ONE OK ROCK made their Indonesian debut via an intense live jam-packed with gripping moments belying the fact that this is actually their 11th stop in a whirlwind tour spanning 2 continents. I myself have barely recovered from the physically straining Singapore live but Boss Toru and the gang hardly showed signs of fatigue, running across the stage and headbanging like crazy.

The setlist is similar to that of Singapore’s but as artists feed off the response of their audience, Indonesians gifted OOR with a reception that was equally stunning as the band’s performance thus giving this particular live its own special blend of awesomeness. OORJKT had a more give and take between performer and audience.

I didn’t make it to front row this time (more on this later) but I was able to see the whole stage and it has allowed me to really appreciate ONE OK ROCK’s production in totality. For instance, I didn’t mind it before, but the stage lighting for was really good. Like during the first verse of Be the Light, soft beams of white light bathed Taka from all directions before giving way to a cacophony of yellow and blue as the song builds it dramatic tension. The lighting turned helter skelter during the really hard-hitting songs like Deeper Deeper and NO SCARED which complimented very well how the boys turned the stage into their very own playground. And watching these boys play was really a sight to behold.

I was in awe with how well coordinated their movements were. It was not as if they seemed rehearsed with proper timing and all that. The band was well coordinated in a way that there was no instance of a single member stealing the show for himself. Taka was of course front and center but from where I was, it was absolutely stunning how Toru, Tomoya and Ryota held their own. Each had their quirks: Taka liked raising both his arms wide open (his wingspan was impressive); Ryota (who’s hair was tied back for most parts of the show) tend to keep his feet far apart and when he’s really into it, appeared like he’s doing the split while pounding on his bass; Toru (who was wearing a sleeveless top) got twitchy sometimes and Tomoya banged on his drums with that adorably goofy expression of his. Seen together, their antics seemed like a response to the action of another band member. And their headbanging was in sync! It was amazing! At one point, they banged their heads in perfect unison continuously, Ryota and Toru at equal distance from Taka at the center who seemed to be directing the whole ensemble with his left arm. Ryota and Toru had each of their feet far apart, their bottoms at a very low angle and as Taka waved his left arm back and forth, their heads would follow. It was as if all three of them were jackhammering the floor. I wonder how they deal with neck and back aches because mine certainly needs tending.

The band spoke Bahasa during their MCs but Taka used English during his spiels in between songs. Ryota told everyone he liked nasi goreng and even sang a few lines from what I would later learn to be the Indonesian national anthem. Tomoya exclaimed his love for bakmi while Toru urged the crowd to go crazy. Taka made the same requests: lie low then jump for Let’s Take It Someday and for us to sing WOHOHO to Answer is Near. There was a variation though. After a few rounds of WOHOHO, Taka shifted to TARARARA which is actually pretty amusing.

With each request, the crowd responded in full vigor. Indonesian fans, hands down, are so awe-inspiring. Their response to L’Arc~en~Ciel’s live during #LarukuJKT was very overwhelming and the Indonesian live of MY HEART DRAWS A DREAM was the stuff of legends. In OOR’s live, they delivered the same passion. Hands never left the air, always swaying if not clapping hard. From the first song to the encore, the crowd sang their hearts out. Immediately after the band left the stage after The Beginning, chants of “WE WANT MORE” pierced the air and continued for some time. And then the shouts shifted to “ANKORU, ANKORU!”. Just like in Singapore, WOHOHO was also heard. ONE OK ROCK then rewarded these by coming back with Taka holding the Indonesian flag! He waved it all around before draping it on his back. Earlier he said, “Jakarta, we will definitely come back” (*squeal*) and he reiterated it with more conviction this time around. He then placed the Indonesian flag in front of Tomoya’s drums before launching into a goosebump inducing rendition of WHEREVER YOU ARE. What made it so? The audience. Good Lord, that was awesome. The crowd sang in unison, their voices ringing loud and clear that it almost drowned out Taka’s. And it did not waver, down to the final “Wherever You Are ..”. Someone upload an official video of this quick.

Taka concluded WHEREVER YOU ARE by facing Tomaya and placing his left foot over the drums. He held this pose with both arms extended wide as the other 3 finished off the song. And then all of them went to center of the stage to bow at the audience signaling that the live was really over. With that, my ONE OK ROCK weekend also reached its finale.


I am really, REALLY pissed off with how the organizers handled crowd control during entrance to the venue. It was sloppy, amateurish and overall, a direct F*** YOU to the concept of lining up.

Squeezing into the train during rush hour was a more blissful experience compared to getting inside Lapangan Parkir Renang Senayan where the OORJKT live was held. To think I actually enjoyed waiting despite the shifts in weather because excitement was in the air all throughout. It just so happened that shit hit the fan when the gates finally opened.

As I was still very sore due to Singapore’s epic moshing and stayed up all night writing the live report, I arrived 11:30AM at the venue, rather late in comparison to my 7:15AM arrival at Hard Rock Cafe in Sentosa. I was already very content with the spot I got in SG so I wouldn’t mind being a bit far from the stage this time.

As expected, many people were already ahead of me. Quite a number were just loitering around while many were slopped down in front of the entrance. I took my place at the end of the “line” and ate my brunch.

It rained after a while and still no one budged.


More and more people started arriving as the hours dripped by. Krystle and her friends arrived after lunch and by that time, an impenetrable wall of people were surrounding me so they couldn’t come over to where I was.


But the wait was really enjoyable. I amused myself gawking at the OOR-inspired garb almost everyone was wearing, from shirts to caps to pins to bandannas. I just hoped the band’s management didn’t mind all these unofficial stuff going around so much. I also chatted with a few other fans stuck with me.

I was particularly impressed with the ONE OK ROCK Bandung group. They were everywhere and all of them proudly wore something that screamed ONE OK ROCK Bandung. They even led us into singing OOR songs. During the live itself, they had a giant banner facing the band.

Later on, I had no choice but to get out of the formation as I really need to pee. Fortunately, I was located near the direction towards the toilet so I was able so squeeze my way out. Even more fortunate, the band started rehearsing and the toilet’s entrance offered a good view of the stage! Thanks to my height, I saw Ryota and Tomoya without needing to climb fences.


I then went back in “line” and enjoyed listening to the rest of rehearsals. Amazingly, the band rehearsed many songs, even finishing some of them. The crowd sang along and erupted into cheers each time a song finished.

The weather turned hot (but not as terrible as the weather was in Singapore). Still, it was a bit uncomfortable. The collective sigh from everyone could actually be heard loud each time a breeze was felt.

By 5PM, everyone was on their feet. There wasn’t any space to sit down anyway. People started chanting “OPEN GATE! OPEN GATE!” The number of people has since swelled and the those in front of me had somehow tripled (WTF).

5:30PM the gate finally opened and mismanagement reigned. The moment the gate was opened, people from all directions made a beeline towards it, including those who were just loitering at the sides. Those who were in front of the supposed “line” were lucky because they were able to avoid the pandemonium (I hope). But for those who were originally just 10 rows away from the gate, we had to battle it out with people who just came out from nowhere. There was no line. Just a huge mass of people aiming to pass thru a narrow gap in the steel railings. When I finally got close enough to the “gate” 30 freaking minutes later, I saw that the guards were basically just dragging people in. And then they opened 2 more openings on either sides thus allowing those who skipped through the original “line” to go ahead.

There was also no proper waste disposal so not only was there moshing already at the entrance, there were shit tons of discarded water bottles too.

Inside the bag checking area, there was finally a semblance of control, i.e. hello line. I looked back at the railing and was glad to finally escape this:


I skipped the photo wall and was greeted by…. vast amount of space.

Inside, there were food stalls and portable toilets which was located far away from the stage. It was really thoughtful of the organizers to put these amenities up so people can hang around here as they waited for the band to show up. Then again, who am I kidding???? It would have been better if these kiosks were placed outside so people can enjoy them while waiting. I was desperate for food earlier and there wasn’t much options outside. Why can’t these be outside?

And then another major pet peeve. THE GOODS KIOSK WAS ALSO INSIDE THE VENUE. Viewers then were given the option of: buy goods upon entering and risk finding a good spot or find a good spot now and risk having your chosen good sold out. Someone from Manila requested that I buy goods for her so I lined up. I also wanted to get a hoodie and as it was not available in SG, I took my chances here.

This was the view from my spot at the line at the goods. Note how the space in front of the stage was already filled up.  There was no hoodie available as well. The lady there explained that it already sold out during the earlier lives.


By the time I reached the stage area, I had this view:


Pissed off, thirsty and in need of fresh air, I gave up my spot and retreated way back to clear my head. I was in a foul mood and ready to punch just about anyone so I had to get away. I found a good space behind the control booth which allowed me to see the whole stage and observe the audience as well so I just stayed there for the duration of the live.


It turned out to be a good decision in the end because there was plenty of space for me to jump. Besides, I had the pleasure of being near two of the most unlikely concert goers: an elderly Japanese guy who danced his way to every song (he was really, really enthusiastic I found myself just watching him sometimes) and a 9 month old baby in the arms of her dad. It was obvious her mom was the bigger fan as she had her eyes glued to the stage. But seriously, while I believe in early exposure to the good stuff, this baby clearly needed to be sleeping at home and that giant ear mufflers her parents placed on her head were useless.

Another major gripe I have about the event was the sound system. It was a bit terrible. From where I was, Taka’s mic sounded so loud that it drowned out the instruments. Hence, I could hear every intake of breath he did. When Toru did his guitar solo, it was obvious that the system could use some clearing up as the sound was cracked. It did sounded that Toru missed a note but it could also be the speaker cracking up.

Finally, there was this and Jakarta actually got it right: as I was double-checking the items I bought before coming home, I noticed something different from the shirt I just bought to the one I am wearing which I got in Singapore.

Nevermind the difference in color as that’s just the lighting. The one on the right was the shirt I bought during the Singapore live, the one on the left was freshly bought in Jakarta. The Singapore shirt has a tag of the shirt brand (GILDAN) and said “Made in Bangladesh”. The Jakarta shirt doesn’t have a tag but has this printed inside: the band’s logo, tour name and the words OFFICIAL MERCHANDISE.


To be clear, I am not insinuating that either of these shirts is unofficial. It’s just that I find it odd that this difference existed. Both shirts seemed to me to be of the same quality, appearance-wise. Wash and wear would eventually determine if there is indeed any disparity in quality. Truth be told, I would have preferred it if the Singapore shirt was more like the Jakarta shirt. And of course, if only the hoodie was available in all countries!

Now, with all that out of the way, I officially close my ONE OK ROCK weekend. Thank you to ONE OK ROCK and to all of those I’ve experienced this amazing cross-country adventure with.

Next tour, I’ll watch them in Japan for sure. Until then, time to get ready for VAMPS this coming Friday.