Showing My Roots: AFLS

Sorry, but we are. ;)

I can't exactly tell you why I'm such a big Lea Salonga fan because it isn't just because of her voice or her achievements; but if there's one great thing about being an LS fan, it's being an AFLSer. I've been an official AFLSer since early 2000 and am proud to say that I have been part of this group since after 'Songs from Home.'

I discovered alt.fan.lea-salonga (Alternative Forum: Lea Salonga Discussion) a few years after I joined Kalinangan Dance Company but was too shy to post anything just yet. I was a lurker at the AFLS Newsgroup (NG) for a few years, observing what this Google Newsgroup (or Usenet Newsgroup, whichever you prefer) is all about - who posts there, and whether it's the "real" Lea Salonga posting as bigsis222. After my mom passed away in 2003, and the Songs from Home concert was finished, I finally decided to try and join the conversation. (The ‘Home for Christmas’ concert was the first time I met Lea Salonga, when their then white van almost ran me over when she told the driver to stop so she can sign autographs and pose for pictures with the rest of the AFLSers).

I must admit, it wasn't easy blending in at first. I mean, the group has been active since the late 90s (?) and the members were already tight when I joined and here I am, trying to fit in to the already tight fishbowl. During the first few months, it feels awkward. I was still so innocent about a lot of things back then I know I sometimes appear annoying to some people. Still, it didn't faze me. I suck it all up and just go with the flow, and tried hard to keep my mouth shut when necessary.

What happens before (and/or) after a LEAdventure
'Sharon' taping 2007, ABS-CBN Compound,
before Lea leaves to play Fantine on Les Miz
Finally, it was during Jemille's birthday dinner at Chocolate Kiss in UP Bahay ng Alumni when I finally felt I belong. It was the first time I met some of these people I only know by usernames and it absolutely felt darn good to have finally met some of Lea Salonga's most loyal fans.

Since then, things have been pretty easy with me at the NG. I have also grown to love them and treat them as real friends, even though I only get to meet them when we have LEAdventures. It was nice having to talk to someone who shares the same passion as you, especially when the object you're passionate about is there. However, Lea had suddenly gone AWOL years later and things at AFLS went a little too quiet all of a sudden.

Thanks to new websites that existed after that and we manage to find other means of communicating with our dear Lea Salonga - first with the AFLS multiply (which Tin Yang created, I think), then currently on Facebook. It was nice that the old group was back again, even if Lea isn't as active as how she was with the old Google NG anymore.

Now, why do I love this group so much and why is it THE BEST LS fan group for me? I don't know. Ask Lea. Haha! JK ;)

AFLS Manila at Baby: The Musical's last show
Well, some may call me biased but for me, what sets the group apart from other LS groups out there was the amount of respect we have for Manang. Aside from being in (almost) every show, I think it's about understanding the situation, especially after every performance, that makes AFLS stands out from the rest. As a fan, we all want to get our thirty seconds of happiness with THE LEA after a show, but some fans often get disappointed when they get 'snubbed' by her – i.e.; when they don't get to have a picture taken with her and/or have their program signed. Well, here's a tip for all you fans out there: always remember that she's human too. I remember during the final run of Baby: The Musical and a lot of AFLS Manila went in to watch the show. After the show, we waited for Lea at the Artist's Entrance but she simply dashed out after stopping for like, five minutes. For some, it would definitely feel annoying but turns out, they had to hurry because they want to catch the final mass at the Edsa Shrine. You see? The point here is that when she leaves the show too early, it's either she needs to be somewhere immediately (or simply because the martials or production team escorted her out and wanted her all to themselves. Ha!) Just be patient. Know when to barge in and know when to back out. You'll surely get that thirty seconds of happiness when your timing is right the next time you see her.

One of my favorite AFLS photos w/Manang
My Life On Stage Concert, 2008
The second best thing about being an AFLSer is being just ourselves. If you're a fan, you don't need to brag that you're something of someone just so you can get her attention. Just be yourself. You don't really need to shout it out loud.

Finally, the best-est thing about being an AFLSer is, of course, getting recognized by Lea Salonga herself. It is every fan's dream to be on a 'first name basis' with their idol and being an AFLSer warrants you that. I guess you could also count having the chance to talk with (a few of) the most important people in her life. Another great thing about being an AFLSer is having a US counterpart of the group. It's great that we get represented whether Lea's performing at home or in the United States. Also, while it is necessary for us to have a 'solo pic' with Manang, a one decent 'group pic' is enough. I don't know, but we're already contented to have at least one AFLS group pic with THE LEA. But of course, the best thing about being an AFLSer is that we don't (well, rarely) fight with other LS fan group. There would be exchanging of words one way or another with other LS fans (trust me, I've been there). There may have been a few dealings with trolls in the past, but those don't lasts for long. I don’t know, maybe we just don't want to waste our time fighting with other people; maybe we're just really that modest. ;)

Our latest AFLS Manila photo with Manang
God of Carnage, July 15 1012
Photo c/o Jeff
Some fans may say that AFLSers are elitists. I'm sorry if you feel that way but as an AFLSer myself, we're actually just as normal fans as anyone out there; maybe even crazier than you lot! But the most important virtue I learned from this group is how to be patient, respectful, and understanding; not just to Lea Salonga herself, but to everyone and everything else.

"Imitating may be the best form of flattery, but not the best form of writing."

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