Years before the Azkals became popular, their Dutch uncle Victor dreamed for our boys to become football players.
With no intervention from either me or Jeroen, the boys just naturally picked up basketball and became fans. Maybe because basketball courts are all over the place.
So when I heard Kobe Bryant was coming to town, I begged for tickets and got them through the kindness of Ogilvy & Mather Philippines, who handles PR for Nike.
They gave us 4 Patron tickets and 8 Upper Box tickets. Because Jeroen’s best friend Joris wanted to take his two kids and we wanted to take Yaya Bhing, I gave away the 4 Patron tickets to my friend Tina’s kids.
Because the kids could only come after school, we arrived at Araneta Coliseum exactly 5 PM and saw this humongous line.
We had to go to the end of the line. A couple of pictures taken once inside, we made a quick stop to the restroom (which is in DIRE need of renovation by the way, much worse than NAIA), bought food, before we could enter the venue.
Only to discover as soon as the door opened that it was PACKED with people in a very scary way. Think sardinas and mackerel style—all the aisles were full and nowhere to pass. No ushers, no flashlights, nobody helping us find our way.
We were struggling in the dark. I was scared for my children.
I begged a guard to help us, he wouldn’t budge and I offered him money to help us. He refused the money and refused to move. I had to reason with him (read: tinarayan ko) to help us find our seats. He moved.
But he led us to the wrong section. We ended up outside where we first started. He left us.
I asked the door person to help us. He was confused with people shoving tickets to him. He was frozen stiff. He couldn’t move, didn’t know what to do.
So we found another guard. He led us to a section and left us, so I led our group of eight in half darkness until we reached Section 318 of Upper Box A and counted seats 1-8 (which was on our tickets).
At this time I was already upset because people were sitting everywhere and obviously on our seats. I motioned for the people (not in a friendly way, mind you) to get up and they did. Two people refused to budge. I heard them say, “Hindi tayo aalis.”
I called the guard for help. He looked at all our tickets. We were all in the wrong section—us and them.
#Award. I wanted to DIE. I asked everyone in our group to get up.
The guard led us to the correct section just a few steps away, and the people I shooed away grumbled as they claimed their seats back.
Once again I had to shoo eight people from our seats—the right seats. Some of them refused to budge, but we had tickets.
Finally we secured our seats and the children were safe from the possibility of a stampede.
Kobe played to a responsive crowd. Ben lost his voice shouting. Less than 30 minutes later, it was over.
People following me on Twitter were shocked how fast it was—reason being half the time we were looking for our seats.
We headed over to Max’s at Scout Tuazon, where the kids had sinigang and fried chicken.
I had fish.
And then we went home.
It was my first time to sit at Upper Box and I would never do it again.
As a mom, I felt like a failure because I put my kids’ safety in jeopardy. I should’ve kept the Patron seats (well, next time, if there is a next time).
When I got home, tired from a day of trying to be a good mom, I got a very nasty tweet from a girl who witnessed my shooing away people—not knowing what hell we went through, the fear I felt for my kids, all because some people allowed this mess to happen, that people were allowed to sit and stand anywhere against the safety of the general public.
Just now my husband saw this at the Philmug forum. Somebody who was there posted:
“Anyone have an idea why at around 4:30 PM, people from Upper B started going down to Upper A section? Who started it coz it was really chaotic? I’m not sure why they were allowed to do that.”
“I’ve heard that security themselves allowed it. Same goes with General Admission to Upper box,” went one reply.
True enough, when we arrived and showed our tickets, the usher said it was already “free seating” everywhere.
I’m writing this to let people know Kobe Bryant is huge, literally and figuratively. When he comes over you have to consider security, safety, and fire codes seriously.
Araneta Coliseum also needs to get their act together and it’s about time they renovated.