Saturday, June 14, 2014

QUEUED: I Spent 17 Hours in the Arena...and I Survived!

7:34 PM

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I think it’s every fangirls’ dream to take on the role of their heroes and experience their adventures themselves, just like how it is told in the books, but never in a million years would I dare to even wish to be Katniss Everdeen and be thrown in the Arena like in The Hunger Games.
But it was too late. I got the role when I got the phone call from my little cousin in Cebu, “Ate please, buy us tickets to One Direction’s On The Road Again Tour Concert!” Surprise! This little cousin of mine is my own Primrose Everdeen. And as the story goes, I protect her (happiness), and take her place in The Hunger Games.
So there I was in the driveway of the Mall of Asia Arena on a Thursday night, scouting the scene and deeming the reports of the 1D Street Team PH on Twitter true: hundreds of people have already camped out. And more people were arriving every minute. Seriously, how crazy is that?!? I didn’t even have any plans to risk not being included in the first 15000 fans who can buy tickets.
At 10 pm, I laid my camp down.
I have always imagined my first camping experience would be roasting marshmallows on sticks, sleeping under the stars and telling ghost stories with friends in the woods. I never thought that it would be eating stale fast food, sleeping on a yoga mat and duffle bag under beaming lights, and befriending a complete stranger in the driveway of the Mall of Asia Arena. For nine whole hours, that was my reality.
True to the plot, the first few hours of The Hunger Games were pretty dragging. I don’t know why I believed I could have been productive that night by finishing a book or writing a few articles. The heat, hunger and drowsiness got the better of me. I ended up playing with my tablet and phone until their batteries died (note to self: invest in a Power Bank and good mobile WiFi for situations like these), and getting to know my line-mate.
Her name was Eiei, a 19 year old Senior of the same university I will be entering this July. She admitted that she’s been a big fan of the British boy band since high school, and would commute all the way from Tagaytay, camp out alone, and spend 18K for ‘the Boys.’
I looked around me and saw a pattern of similar stories: yayas and drivers tired of the day’s work but camping out for their alagas, boyfriends and suitors hoping to buy tickets for their girls, and barkadas of 14 year old girls trying to make their teenage dreams come true – seeing those five (gorgeous) British boys on March 21, 2015.
The sun rose behind the SMX Convention Center in front of the arena and slowly the morning light spilled into the driveway at 6 am. The ever vigilant bouncers woke up the crowd to prep them for the ticket selling, causing a false alarm. Mats were being rolled up, empty paper bags of fast food breakfast were discarded, and media men started arriving and interviewing the campers. Loud chatter and laughter, and the random singing of One Direction tunes erupted left and right. The driveway was slowly coming to life. Let the games begin!
More and more people were arriving at 7 am. The queue zigzagged all the way to the opposite entrance of the Arena. Some people desperately tried to sneak past bouncers and cut in line. But the crowd wouldn’t have that. I witnessed this first hand: as the line for the VIP and Diamond tickets slowly moved in, a man and his two daughters followed closely behind. The bouncer, maybe ticked off by the other fans, kicked the man and his two daughters out of the line. The scene caused an uproar and later cheers from the crowd. Bloody, I know.
At 8 am, I entered the arena.
I was so surprised and a little bit pissed to see that there were only seven counters and that the divisions (VIP and Diamond, and Titanium, Gold, Silver and General Admission) didn’t exist anymore. It was now one really long line, and we were almost at the end of it! But the cold air from the giant aircons and the program, with music videos, behind the scenes clips and prizes, proved to be a good consolation.
Everything was going great, but I should have known it was the calm before the storm.
At 10 am, the management announced that VIP tickets were completely sold out. Teenage girls were crying, some threw angry fits, and a talk started going around. It was impossible that all 1000+ VIP tickets were bought by the first hundred early birds. After all, one person was allowed to buy only a maximum of five tickets, and there arewere no ticket reservations. Conspiracy theory number one: celebrities called in a favor and had their tickets reserved, escaping the long lines.
But there was hope! A minute after the bad news broke out, the emcee shouted, “head over to the back and have your “VIP and Diamond tickets reserved for the second show!” Suddenly people ran and jumped over the barriers, half towards the reservation counters and the other half forward, leaving a few of us lost and confused.
But the emcee was not yet done with his announcement, “because we will be requesting for a second show!” And suddenly people came running back. Lines didn’t exist anymore! It was now a big mass of people pushing and pulling. More teenage girls were crying, and angry parents were looking for the suddenly absent bouncers, calling for their managers and handlers. The media men suddenly swooped in and the cameras started rolling. The whole time, the emcees still went on with the program.
This was the final battle in the arena, wherein every decision anyone made was crucial.
Eiei and I struggled in the sea of people, and later on decided to take chance and have tickets reserved, but we weren’t so keen on leaving the arena empty handed.
We went back to the lines. It was there, and from a frantic and obviously angry girl that I learned conspiracy theory number two: the second show was already planned. She showed us the promotional video, and pointed out a glitch: the awkward one second cut in the show date(s) Zayn Malik was announcing.
Angry and full adrenaline, we didn’t feel the fatigue, hunger and thirst. We’re just waiting for it (the lines) to end. Maybe this was what Peeta was feeling when he bleeding in the river.
It was 3 pm when Eiei and I (FINALLY!) paid for our tickets—the last few remaining ones in the Diamond section.
The moment I stepped out of the doors of the Arena, I swear, the afternoon light engulfed me and the heavy feeling I didn’t know was there was swept away when relief washed over me. I felt like a soldier walking away from the battle that was just won.
Some people would say camping out for 17 hours for concert tickets is “completely mental”, but I am proud to say I did it. I did something I didn’t know I could do, I learned new things, and I made a new friend.
Happy Hunger Games indeed.

Article by Isa A.
Art by Katrina
Isa A. is a 17-year-old who should be figuring things out and making them work but is procrastinating big time by watching Ancient Aliens, drinking caffeinated drinks and getting lost in her current obsessions.

Katrina's biggest life goals include becoming a mermaid, and figuring out how many cupcakes she can eat without gaining weight. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram at @kkotrono.


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