Hearts and hugs at the Araneta

Screengrabs from people who posted vids on YouTube. Click on them to watch.

I dashed from the station to the far entrance of the stadium.

Good thing the line was nowhere near the queue the last I came to such a night. I snatched my ticket from friends already inside and rushed in.

Aussie church band Planetshakers would perform their first to a less packed crowd at Manila’s Big Dome.

Sitting at upper box B, my mind recalled that other queue in another arena. That was late 2006, my first as a teen, and also the first for Hillsong United, another band from Down Under.

Understandable, since United songs (like “One Way”) have long filled the worship lineups of youth groups here. The Shakers have yet to enter local awareness.

Three years have changed much. I’m now a single, paying professional. Before, this would’ve been a break from class work. Now it’s a reunion.

Catch up conversations about life–and love–gave way as the arena darkened, the stage lights brightened, the band went up, and a roar arose with the beat.

We asked, “Pwede na ba tumayo?” The stadium lost no time, stood and joined the noise.

Thank God, some things don’t change.

* * * * * *

A tip for worship events: When encountering new songs, try to sing along. They’re usually easy to catch on. One might even become your favorite.

The point, after all, is not what songs you know, but who you’re singing them to.

* * * * * *

These “concerts” though attract mostly those familiar, or fanatical.

Yes, avid followers abound even in Christian music. I was once. With one United album in 2003, I liked their alternative sound and bought them all later.

Soon I knew all the songs, which album had which, who wrote and who sung them. I traced their musical growth. And I studied favorites to play them.

So when I heard rumors United would come here, I rushed to confirm it and tell. I wasn’t that fan or rich to get front row seats, but at the back row, we still sang out loud.

At Araneta, I switched roles. As we softly sang along to newly-heard songs, behind us were louder voices of teens who obviously knew them better. And with every intro they cheered.

Fans? Probably. Or maybe just an album or song ahead.

* * * * * *

At least the Shakers had two Christmas songs and the ever-familiar “How Great is our God.”
One other we did know–“Jump Around,” a favorite in Victory’s youth services.

With it, they taught us “the Roo,” after the trademark move of their national animal.

Our Aussie guests probably forgot that while not many knew the song, we all knew how to jump along.

* * * * * *

Musicians observe fellow musicians. If the Shakers’ keyboardist knew his playing, then I must be complicating my own.

Both his hands played during the slower songs. But with the rocking ones, either his right hand kept on one chord, or he just jumped and danced–all around the stage.

Looking at him, I thought maybe I should back off the organ sometime.

* * * * * *

Near the end, the singers asked for anyone to lead a dance on stage. Two teenage Pinays gladly ran up.

The lead singer asked their names, and with their response–a cheesy hug.

After the dance the two ran across the stage to each singer and player, giving more hugs. The stadium resounded with a “Yee.”

Nothing like love from the Philippines.


2 comments on “Hearts and hugs at the Araneta

  1. i’ve never been to any of these “concerts”.. even the Hillsong one before.. i guess tho i like their music, i never really was a fan, the songs would still be the same for me regardless if it’s the JREV band playing it or any other band.. as you said.. the whole point is the ONE we are singing it to..

    but i would have loved to have been there with you guys.. hope to see you soon 😀

    • For one, I must say I’m not really a “concert” person–although worship services can look like mini ones. There’s just something when you see an entire stadium lifting up hands in one voice. I really would have loved to share that experience with you guys. Thanks ate ace, and see you soon too!

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