Disclaimer: I kept my distance from the celebrities so that they wouldn’t feel awkward or uncomfortable or harassed.
Before I met Henry, it never occurred to me, not even in my dreams, that I would get the rare chance of working with a very popular Korean idol, let alone meet them or even lay my eyes on them. So I’m very thankful that I got a job as an interpreter and Korean language teacher at Araw Contingent, a group of South Korean soldiers deployed to help rebuild the schools that got damaged during typhoon Haiyan. Out of the few Filipino interpreters who worked for Araw Contingent, I was the only one who could communicate in Korean. I’m glad I decided to self study Korean. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have gotten that job and I would have missed the chance of working with Korean celebrities.
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I knew about the filming way before Allkpop or any other kpop news sites published articles about it. It was mentioned to me during my job interview that a Korean variety program is coming to film a special episode. Prior to my interview, I have never heard of Real Men (진짜 사나이) so I didn’t know who were in the cast. I assumed they were celebrities that I have never heard of or not very familiar with. So after my job interview, I got home and did a little research about the show. And I was surprised to see the names Henry Lau, Park Hyungsik and K.Will on the list of cast members. And the first question that entered my mind was would they really come here just to film an episode of their show? The thought of Henry Lau, Park Hyungsik and K.Will coming to Tacloban for a filming sounded so surreal and absurd, I just thought that maybe I just misinterpreted what they said. My Korean is not that good so I just convinced myself that I probably have heard it wrong.
On my first day of work, I was given a bunch of papers. Printed on those papers were the IDs of the celebrities. I was told to cut and laminate the IDs. When I saw the names of Henry, Hyungsik and K.Will, I was trying my best not to let my excitement show. I secretly was spazzing inside. I could feel my stomach churning in excitement. There were so many things going on in my mind while I was cursing under my breathe because the laminating machine didn’t cooperate with me. Is this for real? Henry? Hyungsik? K.Will? Will I get to see them? If I see them, what should I do? Would my boss scold me if I get an autograph and selca with them? Questions popped in my mind one after another. I really didn’t expect to see them, it was enough for me that I made the IDs that they will putting on and will be using for the duration of their stay here in our city. That alone made me happy and contented. I wasn’t expecting because I didn’t want to get my hopes up.
News started to spread on kpop news sites as the cast of Real Men were spotted filming at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila in their military uniforms. People guessed that they will come to Tacloban to film a show since there’s a Korean military base camp here. And as soon as the news spread like wildfire, my phone went off the hook. My friends started texting and calling me nonstop to ask me if it was true and they were trying to get inside information from me but I kept my mouth shut. I wanted to tell everyone but I couldn’t because I have a contract and in that contract, it stated that I am not allowed to spill information seen or heard inside the camp. And there was nothing much to spill because the only thing I knew was that they’re coming but I didn’t know what the plan was or what their schedule was.
That afternoon, my boss and two other soldiers were rehearsing for their parts. I was supposed to go home already but I was still waiting for my mom to pick me up after work. My boss was assigned to make a presentation to brief the celebrities about Philippines and our culture and tell them how popular Korean entertainment is in our country. The two soldiers were to do a re-enactment in Tagalog of some scenes in the drama Jewel in the Palace and Endless Love: Autumn in My Heart. They were asking me how their Tagalog was. It was cute and funny and I think it was pretty damn entertaining. That time, I didn’t know what it was for. I just enjoyed watching them rehearsing. Then my boss said that the celebrities have arrived and were on their way to the camp. That’s when I got up and grabbed my purse. I was preparing to leave. My boss asked me if I wanted to stay and watch the celebrities. I was blushing. I wanted to say yes but I wasn’t ready to meet Henry, Hyungsik and K.Will yet plus it was my first day of work, I didn’t want them to see me as a crazy fangirl. I was trying to behave on my first day.
The next day, I didn’t get to see the celebrities. My boss told me that they will come to our office. The plan was that they will make a quick stop in our office to claim their IDs, we’ll get to shake their hands and he said he’ll try to talk them into letting us take a picture with them. So we cleaned and tried to make the office decent. And while I was sweeping the floor, all I could think of was ‘OMG, I’m going to get to see them and shake their hands. You are one lucky bish!’ But at the end of the day, I’ve seen no celebrities and I went home hoping to get even just a quick glimpse of them the next day.
And my prayers were answered! May 7th 2014, I finally met them. All I was asking for was a glimpse but I got way more than what I had hoped for. I went to work and sat in the office, waiting for instructions. I was expecting my boss would let me clean the office again. But he came in together with a female PD who wasn’t really friendly. My boss told me that the staff of Real Men wanted me to do something. I was like… ‘Okay… Is it time to panic yet? Can I go home now?’ Then he left me alone with the unfriendly PD unnie. We were quiet for a few minutes and after gathering a lot of courage, I decided to break the silence and talked to her in Korean. I asked her what it was that they wanted me to do and she told me in a very arrogant manner to wait. ‘Okay… mommy… Boss, where the hell are you?’ Then a more friendly and cute PD unnie with a blond hair cut in a bob came inside and greeted me with a smile. She told me that I have to introduce the guests to the students and I was supposed to ask them to say something to the students to make them feel comfortable and at ease to keep the atmosphere lively. And they told me to speak in Korean. In front of the students, celebrities and….cameras. CAMERAS! Okay, I’m doomed.
I was told to go to the school first. I wrote down what I would say in case I messed up. The students were asking me who the special quests were and I just told them to wait. Then a military truck arrived and out comes the celebrities in their military uniforms and they were marching with my boss towards the classroom. My boss introduced them to the students one by one and he gestured for me to come up front and left the classroom with some of the students for the Korean language class and K.Will, Sam Hammington and Cheon Jung Myung. Henry, Seo Kyungsuk, Park and two Araw soldiers were left behind to teach the music class. I stood in front. Henry was standing beside me. I was waiting for a cue or signal from the PDs for me to start talking but I got nervous to see 3 huge cameras pointed at us. Then Henry turned his head and looked at me, flashing me a friendly smile. And he said, ‘Hey! Hello, who are you?’ and I lost my words and I stuttered and instead of saying that I’m a teacher, I said I was an interpreter. I didn’t know what made me more nervous, the cameras or Henry standing beside me with his elbow brushing against mine. No words came out of my mouth after that. So they just introduced their selves to the students while I quietly stepped back and made my exit and stood behind the cameras at the back of the classroom. I’m so sorry for not doing my task, friendly PD unnie. I love you. Then friendly PD unnie handed me the attendance sheet and told me to check the student’s attendance but Henry took it and my pen from me and told me (with a very sweet smile) that he’ll do it instead. He apologized in advance to the students for butchering their names. Lol.
They started talking then Henry sat on a chair and played the keyboard. It was magical. I couldn’t explain how I felt watching him play the keyboard. Thousands of girls paid thousands of money to see him play the piano but didn’t get a chance to get close to him but I, on the other hand, didn’t pay a single cent but I got to watch him play the keyboard up close and I got to talk to him and make eye contact with him and feel his elbows against mine. I was thankful.
It was summer and the heat was more than what I could handle. Feeling exhausted, I sat on a chair with two of the cameras just a foot in front of me. I looked at the ground and heard Henry and Seo Kyungsuk calling me, ‘선생님! 선생님!’. I got startled and when I looked up, all 3 cameras were pointing at me. Could you imagine how I felt when I saw the cameras inches away from my face? I was sweating and I silently prayed that they cut my part out because it was so embarrassing. I hate being in front of a camera. They were asking me who were the most talented in class when it comes to singing. I told them that it’s only been 3 days since I started working so I don’t know the students that well yet. Sorry for being useless, Henry. Lol.
I tried to take pictures of them with my phone camera. I tried to be as discreet as possible because some of the school’s teachers got told off when they tried taking pictures. They probably didn’t want the viewers of the show to see what’s in store for this special episodes. But when they saw me taking pictures, they just smiled at me. Later that day, I learned that it was okay for me to take pictures since I work for Araw Contingent and my boss told me not to upload anything until after the episodes got aired. It was scheduled to air in July so I have to wait 2 months. If I uploaded before that, I’d be severely punished. Lol. Just kidding but they would take legal actions against me if I did.
While they were filming, my co-worker came and told me my boss was looking for me. I went to the other classroom. I found him standing at the back. He was teasing me and asking me how I feel seeing Henry and working with him. I couldn’t contain my feelings and I punched his arm playfully. Since he knew that I like Henry, he purposely assigned me to handle the music class. Then I went back to the music class.
The students asked to see K.Will so Park Geonhyung went to get him from the language class. They were squealing upon seeing K.Will and he sang a short part of Alicia Key’s If I Ain’t Got You. Too bad I didn’t get to take a video of that. He has an amazing voice and hearing it in person, I was speechless.
During lunchtime, the students were asked to come back in the afternoon while we stayed behind. The celebrities continued filming while eating their lunch. I ate lunch in a different classroom. It was my first time to eat military food. You know… the meal in a bag. It tastes… Well, it was tasteless. I don’t ever want that food down my throat ever again.
I felt sorry for the celebrities. They looked very exhausted and the heat wasn’t helping. I would understand if they got irritated. I’d be irritated too if I were in their shoes, filming nonstop for days in the terrible heat. During breaks, they were either chit chatting or just sitting quietly. I was expecting they’d show some attitude but I didn’t see them complaining or lashing out on the staff or do any mean things that you’d expect a celebrity would do when the camera is off.
That afternoon, the celebrities changed into their taekwondo uniform and gathered in the school field with the students. I finally took my camera out and started taking pictures and videos. Since Henry and Sam speaks English, they built a connection with the students while the other cast members just depended on the two for translations since they can’t speak English well.
They took out some wooden boards. K.Will sang If Ain’t Got You before punching the boards, breaking them in half. Then they each took a board and Cheon Jung Myung kicked them all in half. At first, I didn’t know who he was but when I saw him, I squealed upon realizing that he was the lead guy in Cinderalla’s Sister. He is so handsome in real life. K.Will held a board and let Seo Kyungsuk break it with his forehead. Ouch.
Then the staff started packing up, the students left and we all headed back to the base camp.
That’s the end of my 1st day with the Korean celebrities. Park Hyungsik and the others went with the marines so I didn’t get to see him that day.
I will post Day 2 soon. ^^ Subscribe to my blog for updates. Or if you’re a wordpress user, follow me. ^^
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