Celebrities that I met before the pandemic

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Avatar for rapsantos
3 years ago

With the rise of affected cases of different variants of the coronavirus, the country is still under community quarantine with more enforced rules until April 4. I wish everyone to be safe and stay healthy. We can beat this pandemic that changed our lives for a year now, by washing our hands frequently, always wear your protective headgear (mask & shield), and maintain your distance from others.

As all forms of entertainment are still prohibited, from movie theaters to arcade gaming, dine-ins, and events are postponed due to the rise of the new variant cases. Before the pandemic, I was able to meet a few celebrities from the events that I previously attended, especially at pop-culture conventions. Here's a list of the celebrities that I met 6 years ago.

Kei Shindachiya & Ryousuke Kaizu

Ryousuke Kaizu / Red Mask (above) & Kei Shindachiya / Five Blue (below)

This was from Henshin-Con last March 22, 2015, at the SMX Convention Center, Mall of Asia, Pasay City. The guests were Ryousuke Kaizu, popularly known as Takeru/Michael Joe/Red Mask of Laser Squadron Maskman, and Kei Shindachiya, popularly known as Ken Hoshikawa/Five Blue of Chikyuu Sentai Fiveman.

These were my childhood heroes of the 90s together with Chojin Sentai Jetman, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Metal Heroes like Mobile Sheriff Jiban, Space Sheriff Shaider, Janperson, and I know there are too many heroes to mention but these are the people who made my childhood so awesome in their afternoon and evening screen time.

These shows were dominating on our local networks until everything changed when telenovelas about family, from rags to riches, spoiled brats, mistresses, heir to the family's fortune, that kind of storyline it affects today's generation of viewers. Unlike from our days, we would imitate their moves until they beat up the bad guys.

Ryousuke Kaizu (red blazer) & Kei Shindachiya (black blazer)

I'm not fluent in Nihonggo and can only speak the basics, but I purchased a T-Shirt as a souvenir (photo below). The moment Ryousuke-san hands over the shirt to me, he wants me to shake his hand, so we shake hands and I said Domo Arigato (Thank you so much!) while we both bowed gently, grabbed the shirt, and walked away in a few steps while looking at my hand.

Red Mask T-Shirt from Henshin-Con '15

Carla Perez

Carla Perez as Rita Repulsa

This was from Toycon '17 last July 2, 2017, a day after my 2nd anniversary at ePerformax at that time. Carla Perez, known as the main villain Rita Repulsa of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Seasons 2 & 3, Power Rangers Zeo, Power Rangers Turbo, and Power Rangers in Space.

Without my knowledge, she's a half-blood, a Filipino-American. I guess Carla had a great time meeting her fans and her fellow countrymen, but our meeting was quite short because my shift on that day starts at 2:00 pm. Here's how the story goes.

That happened on a Sunday, so I woke up around 11:00 am. Her meet & greet starts at 1:00 pm, so I took a shower, after that, I dressed up immediately as fast as I could, then I went out of the house and head towards to SMX Convention Center.

I arrived at the venue around 11:45 am, so I was able to buy a ticket and have time to roam around at the convention, then purchased a meet & greet pass. Since it will start at 1:00 pm, I took my lunch at the convention and started to take photos of toys and other displays around the venue.

Carla's autograph

When I met Carla in person, I pictured her costume in my mind. She was friendly and very sweet. I thought she will make me one of her henchmen. She may be scary on-camera and made us frighten with her plans to destroy the Rangers, but I'm proud of her roots being a Filipino, and with her influence, more Filipino-American actors and even Asian actors are getting noticed and involved in the franchise.

Selfie with Rita Repulsa

This was my souvenir with the meet & greet, her autograph, and a selfie with her before I took off and head straight to the office for work. Luckily, I was not late for work.

Walter Emmanuel Jones

This was 3 years ago, on March 24, 2018, at Comic-Con Asia 2018 also at the SMX Convention Center. Previously, I met a villain, next was Walter Emmanuel Jones, popularly known as Zack/The OG Black Ranger - Mastodon of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Season 1.

I was so hyped when Walter is about to visit the country, so I filed a vacation leave on that day, a month before the event then saved a thousand pesos for the ticket, and meet & greet access. Walter was not only the celebrity to visit the Philippines, the creator of the most popular superheroes we know today, Stan Lee of Marvel Comics is also going to Comic-Con Asia.

Stan Lee at Comic-Con Asia 2018

A few days later, Lee's management team decided to cancel his visit and appearance at Comic-Con Asia due to health issues. For the people who purchased their early bird access to meet the man himself, they reimbursed their payment, and apologized to the fans. Hoping he would recover from his illness, but he was laid to rest on November 12, 2018.

Moving on. A week before the event, I got notified that my vacation leave was approved. So, the same thing as I did from my previous meetings, I went to SMX Convention Center at 11:00 am, and I noticed there's a huge line outside on the sidewalk.

Luckily, I purchased my ticket a day before the event. The meet & greet will start at 4:00 pm, so I have more hours to roam around the venue. Took photos from Cosplayers to exhibits, toys, and played video games like Crazy Taxi, and Tekken 7 after meeting Walter. It's been years since I last played Crazy Taxi, and it brings me back to my pre-teen days.

It's Morphin Time with Walter Emmanuel Jones

After roaming around by taking photos, visit each booth, and play video games, it is time to meet Zack. The moment I met Walter, I was so nervous meeting one of my childhood heroes, so we had a short conversation followed by taking a photo with him as a souvenir. As I got off the stage, I took photos of the other fans as they have a great time with Zack.

Hip-Hop Kido never loses energy the moment he met another fan when a kid danced along with him followed by taking their photo beside him. This would not be possible without the efforts of YouTuber Chris Cantada to invite one of the most beloved characters in the franchise.

Kelly Hu & Dante Basco

This happened on June 8 to 10, 2018 at Toycon '18, also at the SMX Convention Center. I also remember these days where I decided not to show up at work. This was the time I got burned out of my job then, as I tried to file a vacation leave for 2 days (Saturday & Sunday), it was denied due to critical working days.

Originally, Jason David Frank (popularly known as Tommy Oliver) is the one I was supposed to meet personally at Toycon 2018. Yes! One of the greatest & legendary rangers of the franchise. From Mighty Morphin, Zeo, Turbo, until his comeback at Dino Thunder, then a few cameos from Boom Comics as Lord Drakkon to the anniversary special of Ninja Steel where he wields his legendary Morpher that can transform and change into his 5 ranger suits.

When I heard the news he's going back for the 2nd time (his 1st visit he was invited to shoot for an eSports event at the Mall of Asia Arena, for a film called Underdogs Rising), I was able to save for the VIP Access, and eventually he got sick, then canceled his visit here in the Philippines. So they announced other celebrities at Toycon '18: Kevin Grevioux, Dante Basco, Kelly Hu, Michael Copon, and DC comic artist Neal Adams.

On June 9, 2018, the moment I was in the venue, I need not be seen by my co-workers by following the crowd, and wear a hoodie so no one can see me. Also, I turned on the Airplane mode on my phone so no one can contact me throughout the day. I went incognito as I took photos again around the venue. Hundreds of photos from exhibits, toys, cosplayers, and even got the chance to meet Kelly & Dante.

Me with Kelly Hu

Kelly Hu, former Miss Hawaii, and Miss U.S.A. Popularly known as Sorceress Cassandra of The Scorpion King, Lady Deathstrike of X-2, and Tech Communications Officer Suki Toyama of the video game Command & Conquer Red Alert 3. The moment I met her, she was very pretty, and pictured her on the last campaign scene of Red Alert 3, asking me to take a vacation in Oahu, Hawaii with her.

Kelly's autograph

She's now in her 50s. As they say, age is only just a number. I asked her about her role on Red Alert 3 on how she got the part. She never auditioned, but she was simply invited by Electronic Arts to portray one of the hottest communications officers in the Red Alert franchise. My souvenir? Her autograph, including this photo below.

Selfie with Suki Toyama

Dante Basco, another Filipino-American, and child star of the 90s. Popularly known as Rufio from the movie Hook starring Robin Williams, Dennis Hoffman, and Julia Roberts. Lent his voice as Jake Long of American Dragon: Jake Long & Prince Zuko of Avatar: The Legend of Aang. We only had a short conversation and took a selfie including a photo with him before leaving the VIP area.

Now part of the Lost Boys with Rufio, and the Fire Nation of Avatar: The Legend of Aang.
Selfie with Dante Basco

That's all of the international celebrities that I met before the pandemic. Meeting these celebrities was the best day of my life, but my last visit, took my job in jeopardy since that was my way of protesting against the company. But, they were able to get me back as I decided to report to work.

I've been star struck for many, many times now. Once everything is back on track, I guess I'll have to save for any upcoming events. Meeting my childhood heroes will not stop because of the pandemic, and I know that I'll meet them in the future. Post your comments down below and let's talk about who are your celebrities that you've met before the pandemic.

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3 years ago

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