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Saying goodbye to a saga with a bang

By Marc Hil Macalua

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Tears were shed as we said goodbye to the Skywalker saga but hope remains that there will be new stories and new planets to explore for my beloved franchise.

Back in December, Star Wars fans in the Philippines were still not sure if Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker would be released as scheduled. Word on the street was it was going to be delayed until January to give way to the Metro Manila Film Festival.

This was the backdrop to the biggest surprise 2019 had in store for me. Apparently Disney had been secretly in contact with Star Wars costuming organizations worldwide and were looking to invite a few select members to the blue carpet premiere of SW: TROS in Los Angeles. The invitation eventually reached my group, the Philippine Garrison of the 501st Legion, and our leadership team went about to identify the most deserving member for this once-in-a-lifetime trip. Normally what we do is we look at a member engagement metric like number of charity events attended as a way to force rank (get it?) members whenever a need for such a ranked list arises.

Disney had made it clear that they only had the budget to cover two nights at a hotel. Visa processing, airfare, meals, and all other expenses for the trip would have to be shouldered by the individual. As our officers went down the line, it became clear that not all of the frontrunners could make the trip. Some didn’t have US visas to begin with while others simply had other travel plans already booked.

I was sixth in line and by the time the offer was passed to the fifth person, I was like an almost exploding Death Star, you know just before Luke’s proton torpedo comes in contact with the reactor module. I knew that there was a good chance the person would decline and all that was left was for me to secure that most important of all visas, the wife visa. When I told her about the trip and that I was in the running to go, there was a long silence…. which was followed by the sweetest of smiles. I can’t believe my luck that month I tell you!

What happened after that was a blur. I was booking airline tickets, scheduling side trips, and making plans to see friends and family for what was going to be a very short trip. I landed in Los Angeles on Thursday, met friends and family on Friday, squeezed in a trip to Galaxy’s Edge in Disneyland on Saturday, checked in at The Hollywood Roosevelt and partied at the Scum and Villainy Cantina on a Sunday, did the blue carpet premiere Monday night, and then flew back to Manila on Tuesday.

On the blue carpet premiere floor, I saw Star Wars celebrity after celebrity. One by one they marched, a veritable who’s who from all of the three trilogy movies, the animated and live action TV series, as well as behind-the-scenes production people but still Star Wars royalty in their own right.

We did not know who was on the guest list so it made the entire event even more exciting. Every time a celebrity arrived, whispers from up the line would turn into screams as soon as we saw who was walking down the carpet. If you told me that one day I would be that screaming fan on the verge of tears upon seeing his or her idol, I’d tell you you were crazy but that’s exactly how I felt!

Our star encounters were short but oh so sweet. I was super lucky to have my badge autographed by most of the stars that walked near our spot. One of the stars that came to our area was John Boyega and he was very friendly to another Filipino costumer who had come dressed as Boyega’s character Finn.
After our blue carpet experience, our handlers led us to the TCL Chinese Theater and to our seats to watch the movie. Tears were shed as we said goodbye to the Skywalker saga but hope remains that there will be new stories and new planets to explore for my beloved franchise.

All in all that December getaway was a very hectic and very extravagant one but this was truly a stuff-of-legends-level experience that I genuinely wish all hardcore fans could experience at least once in their lifetime. The memories of that night will be forever etched in my memory bank and will be retold countless times to the next galactic citizen foolish enough to sit beside me at the cantina. Hopefully over a glass or two of blue milk.

The author is a digital marketing executive for a publicly listed retailer based in the US. On weekends, he is a stormtrooper doing charity work in the name of the Emperor. Follow his missions at @darthbisduk.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2020/05/04/saying-goodbye-to-a-saga-with-a-bang/)

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