When I was in college, I’d commute to school from my dorm, hoping to hear a Westlife song on the radio. For me, a Westlife song meant I’d ace a quiz, or not get called by a professor when I didn’t know the answer to a question, or I’d know the answer to a question if a professor calls on me, or I’d see my crush during the course of the day. Back then, hearing a Westlife song meant I’d have a good day.
After I graduated and started job hunting, I’d still wait for a Westlife song to play on the radio during my commute to job interviews. It meant it was going to be okay.
When I was sad or I was going through a rough time, Westlife music was my comfort music long before I discovered SHINee. To me, it was like a hug, telling me that everything was going to be okay.
When they split up in 2012, I was devastated because I never got to see them live. I wasn’t a concert-goer so when they came to Manila at that time, I didn’t make an effort to watch their concert. I had no idea it was going to be their last. Maybe I cried a little. Konti lang. I said I would always have their music anyway, and their songs will always be that comforting hug that got me through tough times.
So when they announced their Twenty Tour, I was estatic! As in ‘yung tuwa ko, iba. Sabi ko hindi ko na talaga papalampasin ‘to because, hello! Okay lang ako?
Na-excite kami ni Rozz, one of my now-official concert buddies, who is also a Westlife fan. Unlike me, she did see them during their last concert in Manila. We talked about going to see the con together, and I volunteered to get our tickets for us sa Megamall when the selling period starts. Okay na di ba?
But on the day the tickets went on sale, na-late ako ng gising. I’ve been on the nightshift for forever so mga 4 or 5 AM na ako nakatulog n’un. If I want to get to Megamall before opening, I had to leave the house before 8:30 AM which means I have to be awake at 7 AM. Mga past nine na ako nagising. So I was at Megamall before 11 AM.
Chill pa ako kasi it was Westlife. All the kids were crazy for Kpop so I thougth di naman siguro gan’un kagulo ang ticket selling. I was thinking about the last EXO concert na talagang nag-iyakan sila kasi ang bilis na-sold out. This was Westlife. Titas like me were chill.
When I got to the customer service area in SM, I went to the counter to ask where I could get a queing number. The harried-looking ate looked at me and said, “D’un po sa dulo. Pero, ma’am, kung Westlife tickets po, sold out na po. Pa-isa-isa na lang po ang available.”
Huwaht?! Nawala ang chill ko!
I hurried to the ate guard to ask for a number (sixty-nine na ako) then I sat near the counter with a group of other titas waiting to see if we could still get tickets. Nagchikahan na kami about when we started becoming fans, where we wanted to sit, how surprised we were because there was a guy sitting with us who was probably only a baby when Westlife debuted but he was a really huge fan…
Medyo naging Bingo na ‘yung ticket selling because the ate at the counter would refresh the website, call out available seats–“VIP po, dalawang magkatabi!” or “Isa pong lower box! Meron pong may gusto?” or “Dalawa pong upper box pero magka-iba pong sections.”–‘tapos sisigaw ka ng BINGO! kung gusto mo ‘yung seat. Joke lang. But anyone who wanted the seat would go to the counter to grab it because the ates at the counter would only hold it for the branch for a few minutes before they refresh the page.
After a while I needed to go to the bathroom so I had to leave even if I wanted to stay in case two adjacent seats would suddenly be available pero mukhang malabo na kasi. I talked to Rozz at siyempre super disappointed kami kasi ticket na naging Bingo card pa! Nagpipigil ako ng iyak sa Snacks section ng SM. Nakita kong nilapitan na ako ni Manong Guard kasi baka akala niya iniiyakan ko ‘yung M&M’s sa harapan ko. Umatras lang siya kasi narinig niya ‘yung “sold out na” kaya naisip siguro niyang “ah, malungkot ‘to kaya mag-ho-hoard ‘to ng chocolate mamaya”.
I didn’t. But I wanted to.
Ayie and I met up that day, and she ended up wanting to go to so when they announced a day 2, ay sus! Ayie was online early in the morning and snagged our tickets for the July 29th, one day ahead, day 2 show!
So, this tita will get to see her boys who had been her source of comfort for nineteen years for the first time.
I’m so happeh!
On the day of the concert, Ivy and I woke up late because we both slept at about 4 AM. We booked a Grab to Gateway, had coffee at Krispy Kreme, and dinner at Taco Bell while waiting for Rozz and Ayie. (I’m currently obsessed with tacos but that’s another blog post.)
It was raining so I was pleasantly surprised na mabilis ang mga biyahe naming lahat, although Ivy and I left the house at 5 PM for the 8 PM show. Everybody was at Taco Bell at 7:30, and we were at the Araneta Center at 8 PM on the dot.
I was really giddy, and nervous, and seriously, the tacos in my stomach wanted to come back out because of my excitement. Buti na lang at di sila nag-Hello, My Love bago ang show.
The concert started late but as soon as the lights were off, I was screaming! Nineteen years of my life flashed before my eyes, memories when I was listening to Westlife, talking about Westlife, writing fanfics about Westlife, specifically, Mark, my labs, collecting travel books about Ireland, trying to learn Gaelic (I really did. I have an Irish Gaelic-English dictionary), and generally just being happy because that was what Westlife meant to me, happy.
Then they were there on stage. Nicky. Kian. Mark. Shane.
And we were on our feet and I was singing ang screaming and crying and laughing and jumping ang laughing and crying again and dying because of their Irish accents and being resurrected because of their voices and singing and crying again.
Every song was familiar, something I sang in my head and in my heart hundreds of times in the last nineteen years. And I was with people I adore who were so obviously happy to be there, too. I rarely take videos during concerts so I took about four short ones during this one, and on all of them you can hear me and Ivy singing at the top of our lungs, not caring how we sound.
It still feels like a dream a week later.
• It felt like a huge karaoke party to me where everyone was happy.
• Mark’s voice, OMFG, Mark’s voice! I fell in love with him because of his voice (and his eyes in the Flying Without Wings MV), but holy sheet, hearing it live! Markus Michael Patrick Verdon Feehily’s voice!
• That Queen medley was amazing! I realized that I will cry at We are the Champions no matter who sings it.
• You Raise Me Up made me cry.
• I was waiting for Flying Without Wings because THAT is MY Westlife song. Yeah, it made me cry.
At the end of the concert, I just had to give Rozz, Ivy and Ayie a huge group hug, I was so emotional.
The boys said that they’re releasing a new album and that who knows, they might go on another tour next year. HELL, YES, I’d be there again! Hopefully mas maaga na ako magising for the ticket-selling (or hello, Ayie? Lam you!), hopefully with better, closer seats, and hopefully with the same people.
Thank you, Rozz, Ivy and Ayie! Until the next concert!
Thank you, Westlife, for an amazing, nostalgic, special night and for being a huge, positive part of my life. Grá go deo.