(SPOT.ph) In a small movie theater in Quezon City that's packed with Swifties, Cecille Kaye Pacleta screamed the lyrics to Taylor Swift’s 10-minute version of “All Too Well” as she watched the song’s accompanying short film about nostalgia and yet another heartbreak for the first time on a big screen.
It’s a dream come true for the 23-year-old pharmacist and her fellow Filipino Taylor Swift fans, who waited almost two years for the pandemic to wane so they could gather in one room to celebrate the pop star’s music. To make the event more memorable, they even brought light sticks, posters, and other Taylor Swift merchandise which they shared with the other attendees.
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“Nung pandemic, ikaw lang mag-isa. Then finally nag-open yung world. Tinake namin yung chance na yun para magkita-kita,” Pacleta told SPOT.ph in an interview.
“Habang nagpe-play yung ‘All Too Well’, grabe talaga yung goosebumps. Parang finally, I'm not weird. Finally, I belong here,” she added.
Pacleta is a founding member of Club Red PH, a group of Filipino Swifties that organizes Taylor Swift-themed events in Metro Manila, including the “All Too Well” viewing party. Together, they have one goal in mind—to show how Taylor Swift’s music can help make lasting memories and build lifelong friendships among her fans.
For Swifties, by Swifties
Club Red PH was born out of the desire of some Filipino Swifties to meet each other after two years of isolation and share their stories about their favorite singer.
Each member came to know Swift at a crucial moment in their lives. Pacleta, for instance, saw Swift as a country teen idol during her growing-up years, and even collected news clippings and photos of the singer which she pasted in a small notebook.
Mark Ken Cullen, another founding member, turned to Swift’s music to recover from a heartbreak that coincided with the release of her ultimate breakup album, Red.
“Kakaiba kasi talaga yung mga lyrics [ni Taylor]. Parang binabasa niya yung non-existent diary mo, na parang kilala ka niya. Parang yung story niya ay story mo rin,” Cullen said of Swift’s music.
Although the founding members were relatively strangers to each other at the start, it didn’t take long for that “Swiftie connection”, as Pacleta put it, to bind them together and help them pull the “All Too Well” viewing party, their first ever event.
“Mag-eexert ka talaga ng own initiative. Influence talaga yun ni Taylor. Nakabuo kami ng community out of our own initiative,” she said.
It was during that event’s afterparty that they decided to meet regularly and hold Taylor Swift-themed parties with other Filipino fans, the first of which was inspired by the singer’s first pop album, 1989.
From there, the attendance to Club Red PH’s events grew that the group had to book a venue that could accommodate up to 300 people and add a second night for their most popular event to date, the “Reputation Rave” party.
“Sa events, makikita mo talaga yung mga attendees na nafi-feel nila na belong sila. Hindi sila natatakot to scream, show people who they are. No one cares, no one is judging them,” Cullen said.
A shared experience
There’s nothing surprising about Filipino Swifties wanting to come together to celebrate their love for Swift. It’s all because humans are social beings who need other people as well, according to University of the Philippines sociology professor Samuel Cabbuag.
“In the case of being fans, it's kind of difficult if you're just the only one doing things. You need someone to talk to. We meet someone with the same interest and therefore mas nag-sstrengthen yung desire ng mga tao doon sa fan object nila,” he told SPOT.ph.
Fans also continue being fans because it sometimes helps them overcome their personal struggles, like in the case of Pacleta who found comfort in Swift’s pandemic album, Folklore, after her grandfather died in 2020.
“Being a fan helps people with their mental health issues, know themselves more, or even express themselves… Many consider this as positive in terms of their well-being. And for some, it helps them improve as a person,” Cabbuag said.
That’s why Club Red PH makes sure that those who attend their events alone will not feel left out. The members take proactive steps to immerse solo attendees with big groups, Cullen said.
“Sa bawat event na ginagawa namin, we're making sure na hindi ka ma-o-OP. Kahit mag-isa kang pupunta sa event, pag-uwi mo may squad ka na,” he added.
Club Red PH also maintains an online Discord community where they initiate conversations about Swift, hold Q&As, and host streaming parties for its over 600 members.
“It's a safe avenue for you to fangirl, to enjoy, at the same time safe ka kasi very anonymous. It's something where you can be honest,” Pacleta said.
'The best people in life are free'
As more Filipinos become active in fandoms, Cabbuag sees local fan clubs shaping the way media and other businesses attract their consumers.
"It will continue to happen because it shows that fans are not just passive followers but rather they are really active in the way they consume media. Lalo ngayon na mas stronger sila together," he said.
For now, Club Red PH is preparing for their next activities related to the release of Swift’s new album, Midnights, hoping that these events will continue to serve as a platform for Filipino Swifties to bond and share their love for Taylor Swift.
“Yun ang mantra namin, ‘the best people in life are free’. So mag-gather ka ng Swifties, feeling mo bestfriend mo na agad sila,” Pacleta said.
“May nata-touch ka na lives, nache-change mo yung lives nila kasi meron silang nami-meet doon,” she added.
Know more about Club Red PH and its events here.