(originally published on WhenInManila.com: http://www.wheninmanila.com/a-fundraising-concert-that-was-all-for-love/)
by Mina Deocareza
It was the 6th of December, the night for All for Love: Pagbangon Gikan sa Dilubyo, a fundraising concertfor the benefit of typhoon Yolanda victims.
Route 196’s sign was not that big but that night, the letters and numbers on it screamed. Their impact was even intensified by the redness and whiteness of its font, standing out against the black background that almost merged with the blackness of the night sky. Below it, there was another sign containing the names of the performers for the night: Johnoy Danao, Mike Shimamoto, She’s Only Sixteen and more.
For a mere passerby along Katipunan Avenue where the bar was located, those screaming signs could have already sufficed. Enough said, no need for more: it was going to be a great night at 196. Yet of course, that was just the beginning. I realized this as soon as I entered the venue. Immediately, I saw people having a great time while sharing stories, laughing, smoking, drinking, and waiting for the event to formally begin.
There was also Rhea Leorag, one of the organizers of the event. She was full of warmth and her energy was still high despite the fact that she had not been sleeping well for days. Apart from Rhea, I also saw Dyan, also one of the organizers. She was holding a small sign saying “asking for love,” which was her “creative” way of encouraging people to give donations for the typhoon Yolanda victims.
The event officially began at past nine, with Rhea and Dyan going up on stage and thanking everyone who made it possible. According to Rhea, three weeks of planning and preparation could have not been enough at all if it were not for the support these people. She also shared some truths behind the event, including the fact that it was actually born out of her eagerness to help the typhoon victims through a mini concert. She informed everyone, too, that the proceeds of this event would go to Gawad Kalinga to support their Operation Walang Iwanan.
Meng and Josh were the first performers for the night, setting the mood right through their very own rendition of some love songs. On stage, they were on fire yet their music was as soothing as the night breeze. Yet what really stood out for me was their own version of Beyonce’s “Love on Top,” which they completely owned by making it smoother yet equally powerful. Apart from that, the song was also a perfect choice, given the mini concert’s purpose.
Next in line was Eboy Alamodin, who associated most of the songs included in his set with being “hipster.” Yet thanks to the hippie community that was present inside Route 196 that night, his songs did not seem too alien at all. In fact, the crowd’s reaction as Eboy started playing The Morning Benders’ “Excuses” was some kind of affirmation that indeed, he was not alone. Eboy also performed two originals. One of them was “I love Fall Out Boys so I chose a very long title which talks about love,” a cheerful song about finding happiness after a series of misfortunes and the magic it brings to one’s life.
After Eboy was Mike Shimamoto, who made the world stop for a while through his music. Known for his sincere and soulful rendition of songs, Mike was able to prove that music, indeed, could make the world freeze while leaving people enthralled and carried away with complex emotions. And in our case that night, we were all filled with love. As he sang “I won’t give up,” people grew a bit more silent, touched and perhaps pondering about things while swimming in their own seas of emotions. In fact, I myself was speechless for a while, trying to process all the “feels” I got after listening to his set. It was also by this time that I started drinking. Ah, feelings.
All these “feels” grew stronger as Johnoy Danao went up on stage and began performing. The cool, soothing voice I have always loved made my heart stopped for a while and right at that moment, I knew I was not alone. This became more apparent as the silence of the crowd became more deafening during his performance. It was as if he was the center of the Solar System and all the eight planets did nothing but revolve around him. His choice of songs played a big role, too. He picked some of the sincerest and heart-warming songs the Earth has ever known such as Imago’s “Sundo.” In fact, people passionately sang along when he said, “kayo naman!” With all our hearts, we sang the famous line, “asahan mo mula ngayon, pag-ibig ko’y sa’yo….” He also played his very own “Ikaw at Ako,” which intensified the emotions of people present that night.
There was some kind of silence after Johnoy’s set, which revealed how powerful his music was in touching the hearts of people. Good thing, Rocky Deleste came to the rescue. Through his unique music, he was able to break this silence and agitated the people instead. He wowed the crowd through the use of a loop machine, which helped him add some dreamy effect to his own versions of some songs like “You need me, I don’t need you.” Soon enough, there had already been an apparent change in the mood of people inside the venue. They were no longer as serious as they were earlier; they became more animated and even noisier. Even I could not help but embrace this transition. The next thing I realized, I was already drinking beyond the limitation I set before coming to the event.
And to agitate the people even more, there was Imelda. Everyone got wilder as they went up on stage and started performing. That time, the smoke inside Route 196 also thickened and more empty beer bottles became more visible on the top of tables. Laughter of other people who remained drinking on the side grew louder, too.
By this time, I already started forming doubts about my memory. I was wondering if I’d still be able to remember things I could write about the next day, including the titles of the songs I heard–”Great Wall,” “Douchebag,” “Selfish Woman.” And so, I tried to set my mind, told myself to slow down a bit and do not let alcohol take over. No more beer, yes, I am here for work so God bless me.
That was what I thought. However, I was wrong. Instead, the madness continued as She’s Only Sixteen performed, making it really hard for me to resist the temptations. It was the last set for the night, after all. Then, for some weird reason, the lyrics of their song “Zoo Animals,” which they performed that night, seemed to whisper only one word to me: YOLO. And the world became blurrier for me.
While I was dealing with my own battle, I could sense that more people were gathering near the stage. I could also feel that the manifestations of the alcohol’s effects were becoming more obvious with other people around. Definitely, the inevitable was kicking in. In fact, some were already singing louder while some just made their bodies move, perhaps mindless of the other people present inside the bar. But who cares, right? It was just the perfect way to end such a wonderful night.
The next thing I knew, it was already past two in the morning. Katipunan Avenue was now quieter and vehicles passing by were already fewer. This became more obvious as the event was formally closed by the organizers, once again thanking everyone for the great night.
Some people’s energy levels were already by this time that they looked more of zombies struggling, finding their way during an outbreak. The effects of alcohol were undeniable, too, which worked differently for various people. Of course, there were still some who did not seem tired at all. In truth, for some, it could have just been the beginning.