By Bot Glorioso (The Philippine Star) Updated September 04, 2009 12:00 AM

John Lloyd Cruz with a 16-year-old fan.
John Lloyd Cruz with a 16-year-old fan.

“Welcome to the City of Golden Friendship,” proclaimed a banner that greeted us the minute we set foot at the airport that Friday morning of Aug. 28. Warm smiles and friendly faces added joy and excitement to ABS-CBN’s Kapamilya Karavan which promised to add spice to the traditional celebration of Kagay-an Festival that kicked off a few days before.

“It has become a tradition for ABS-CBN to participate in the festival every year through fun and entertainment with its talents whom Kagay-anons are eager to see,” ABS-CBN CDO TV traffic Theresa “Inday” Bacal says.  

Thus, most Kagay-anons seem to be in their element looking forward to get a glimpse of the Kapamilya stars joining the event. They trooped to SM City’s Gran Via Lot ahead of the 4 p.m. schedule all the more to get a vantage view of the stage.

A 16-year-old groupie even went to the venue as early as 12 noon carrying red roses she wanted “to give to John Lloyd Cruz.”

Hosts TJ Monterde and Maxine Monasterio of ABS-CBN’s local program Mag TV opened the show with exciting games and prizes from Sunsilk, Mitra Palm Oil, Giv, BDO and Colt 45. MOR radio DJs Sweet Maricar, Lala Morena, Daddy Aldrin and Bernie Bitok-Bitok, on the other hand, treated everyone to a moment of laughter as they made every contestant feel comfortable on stage.

And while it is natural to hear deafening shrieks and ear-piercing screams at a sight of celebrities in the flesh, seeing an estimated crowd of 30,000 unmindful of the long hours under a heavy downpour (matched with lightning and thunder) just to watch their favorite Kapamilya stars perform is truly incredible.

Thunderous roars filled the air as Dennis Padilla went up the stage with a song number. His warm greetings and funny antics made everyone in the audience forget the chilly feeling of getting soaked in the rain.

Dengue kept Enchong Dee from making it to the show, but he was there in spirit. He greeted Kagay-anons “A Happy Kagay-an Festival” through a phone patch and apologized for his absence. The audience, visibly touched, reacted with oohs and aahs.

Screams of excitement followed when Nikki Valdez showed up with songs Till They Take My Heart Away, Torn and Dancing Queen. Her effort to get closer to the audience by going down the stage despite the dangers of soaking her dainty feet on slippery, muddy ground earned admiration from the audience. “‘Yan ang Kapamilya,” an elderly woman clinging on one side of the barricade fence said.

What about Cagayan native Maricar Reyes? Will she get a welcome applause from her kababayan after the sex scandal? What if she gets a resounding boo from the crowd? These horrible thoughts came to mind when Dennis called her on stage.

Those fears vanished into thin air when Maricar sent everyone in a jubilant mood with song numbers. That only proved one thing: Cagayan loves Maricar no matter what.

But wait, the crowd knows there’s still more. The shrieking and screaming grew into a crescendo when John Lloyd ascended the stage singing Adik Sa ‘Yo.

After he greeted the crowd, a collective clamor for one more song filled the air. It didn’t matter that the rain hasn’t stopped, and it was getting late.

John Lloyd gave in with Ngiti while the production team allowed the girl who patiently waited for hours to meet her idol in person to hand the red rose to him.

The act proved that John Lloyd is one of the Kapamilya stars people will never tire of watching — whether in teleserye, variety show or even that cheesy scene for a pizza ad and that prolonged singing in a hotdog commercial.

Will everybody look forward to watching him in a gay role in All My Life (showing on Sept. 16)?

“I hope so because so far playing gay is the most interesting role I’ve done. It is not the typical screaming and cross-dressing gay. Nothing in my past prepared me to play Noel (his character in the movie). Pinilit ko na magkaroon siya ng heart within my heart,” replies John Lloyd.

Judging from the way Kagay-anons screamed themselves hoarse for him, John Lloyd need not worry. Gay or not, he has a ready audience looking forward to seeing him — in the movies, on TV and most especially, in person.

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