Sunday, September 6, 2009

I am a Chaster Part 2

Anciano Uno, aka Ding Flores

I cornered @AncianoUno in YellowCab at the post-concert gathering so he could tell me their stories and the history of each Chaster person and Chaster site he knew about.

@AncianoUno, or simply Uno, was gracious enough to lend me his ear and spare me his time, as there were new Chasters he lent his time to and made sure to feel welcomed that late evening. I followed each Chaster online after that, and came to know even more of them, especially those based overseas.

Online, I read how Uno would defend Charice earnestly and passionately, or write his thoughts about how she and her songs have transformed him. In the few hours I came to know Uno face-to-face, he struck me as somewhat of a real fan-anatic (as they all were), an articulate no-nonsense guy who, later I discovered, had intense interest in history and regular guy-talk subjects like military stuff, cars and gadgets. Really, a rather typical guy. I could tell he had a temperament, yet was gracious and seemed very protective of everyone.

He seemed to have been very curious about my Q&A moments with him that, at one point, he asked if I was a reporter. I always found that amusing as I never thought I'd ever give that impression.

In my eagerness to know more about these people and document them, I not only saw to it that I had the chance to sit with each and find out their thoughts, but also took photos of their interactions. I was surprised at how Uno evaded such photo sessions especially without his ubiquitous Ray-ban Aviators on. "It's near-midnight, for christsakes!," I told him. He gave a wry answer and simply said he didn't want to have his picture taken without them.

I obliged, of course, but managed to take photos of him without it. Whether he knew I was shooting with him in the frame or not did not matter, except when once I announced that I was giving out copies of these online and he requested to not include anything that may have his image in those without the shades.

I continued to have communication with the other Chasters I spent time with that evening, either by email, chat or, occasionally, SMS. I was able to meet with some of them again a week or so after (05 July) in another of Charice's gig at Greenbelt when I joined them in the post-show's tete-a-tete. I missed that Greenbelt gig but made sure I saw the group who went to watch it.

As usual, it was one of those shows that was announced on short notice, and only those who could free themselves from work or school were able to go. Uno wasn't there and there were fewer than 8 who did show up. He said later on that he would rather not be passing on whatever infection he had due to the flu-like condition he was in at the time.


Uno had been missing in action for a few days in the final weeks of August. His last few posts were those of his prolonged coughing and muscular spasms and fever.

I remember reading a post quite hastily in the last week of August, of him planning a walk at the back of the Mall of Asia for some fresh air, and responding to that with an invitation to an exhibit in the same venue I was working on. I never got a reply to that post.

On Thursday, Sept 03, 2009, I received an SMS message from @Narita, @Love and @Tintol about Uno being rushed to the hospital and in a state of coma. I helped with re-broadcasting this message to Charice's sites so that the other Chasters would know about it.

No sooner had this been reposted than a flood of well wishes and inquiries of support were called out. It was quite a touching development.

Even years after the Chasters had "known" each other, a majority still remained clueless as to who the real people were behind each username. Unless there were chances at arranging real-life gatherings, many Chasters still knew each other only by these aliases and exchanged pleasantries online. There were few such gatherings ever arranged, some as instant as meeting up at a mall to watch Charice promote and sing, yet even those announcements are made only hours before any confirmed date and venue, as was the case in Greenbelt.

It was therefore quite extraordinary to witness a real outpouring of support from a community that really only exist in the virtual world. I can say that Charice is fortunate to have real people who not only exist online to support her — after all, what are YouTube view figures but really just virtual numbers, and chat greetings, impersonal characters transmitted through wires and cables — but luckier is she still that there are real warm bodies who truly support each other when the need arises: flesh and blood empathy that is felt across virtual channels that surprise even the uninvolved and clueless, like Uno's own family members.

I wasn't able to pay Uno a visit at the hospital. @Narita, @Tintol, @Pin, @Smee, @Love and @Bosio did in batches, as the ICU visiting hours were strict and limited.

@Narita, a died-in-the-wool Charice fanatic who listens to eternal loops of Charice's songs in her car and through her iPod, made the unconscious, unresponsive Uno listen to these while he was strapped with tubes and surrounded by machines at the ICU. Uno responded by shedding tears. It would be an experience both @Narita and @Tintol will never forget.

Thank you

For Uno, who was fighting for dear life when I started writing this, and who, at 345pm today, Sept. 6, 2009 (PHI), lost the battle, thank you for the time you shared with me and the videos you so tireless took and uploaded for everyone to see.

We know how truly freed you are now from the pains brought about by that nasty disease you thought you could out-battle, and how ecstatic you may be at being reunited with your father who arrived at Peace just weeks before. As is my silent prayer, you and those who got through earth life ahead are truly at rest, in peace.

Thank you, Uno, Nonito Raymundo "Ding" Flores. As I unmask you to the world now, I shall unmask myself as well, for there is no better time than now to say: like you, I am a Chaster.

Read Part 1 here.


  1. Thank You Java....

    To Uno...It was indeed a pleasure to have known you, Sir. You will truly be missed. We LABYO Uno!!!

    And to the whole name is JaYrOx.. I too am a Chaster..and truly proud of it.

  2. Kuya Uno i may have not known you well but ive been a lurker in cm long enough to know you're a good man and a true fan of Charice. Chasters will miss you a lot, R.I.P kuya UNO and may God bless you. Labyo.

  3. Tears,
    the only way to see his pain.

    the only window to his heart.

    His eyes,
    Show so much of his emotion. (actually I dunno, he always wear his shades)

    He tries to hide it,
    and not everyone knows.

    Didnt get the chance to meet Uno. We became acquainted the early part of August thru plurk.

    I would say he's a quite man but speaks in volume.

    I am Chaster. I am Chay Ocampo :)

  4. I have actually known him for over 20 years and I am devastated by his passing. I am quite surprised to find this.

    Ding - you sly boy - you never told me you were such a big Charice fan.

  5. thank you JAVA..

    Farewell my virtual friend UNO....

  6. Wow, this gave me shivers because I just saw @AncianoUno's twitter account today and wondered what made him stop tweeting after Aug 2, 2009, date of his last post which I quote: "When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high, and don't be afraid of the dark .... at the end of the storm is a golden sky ...."

    God bless your soul AncianoUno for loving and supporting a gift like Charice and, from what I read here, for being a good friend.

    I love this post, everything's so well said.

  7. @myinkheart4. Never thought you'd come upon this post.

    Uno (Ding) was a really nice and special guy even in that brief but precious and meaningful moment we shared that evening. He was very unassuming, and was very much what he was online and in real life.

    The next 'meeting' we had of him was celebrating his passing with his family and some friends mentioned in the 2-part post, i.e. on his first and last days in state (plus a few more Chasters who I met for the first time but who remain special to me).

    They were very special days, those two, specially on the first one when Cha came online to 'be' with us (Carl told me he wouldn't forget Uno for their chats about flying and aviation), and on the last when she 'sang' a very special song for Uno and everyone.

    Thank you again for reading and leaving a comment. Cheers ~

  8. To kuya Uno, I guess I'm years late that I didn't get the chance to know you personally. Still, I want to thank you for all the things you have done for Charice and Chasters.

    Thank you Ate Java for this blog, through this, I had the chance to know kuya Uno, but I wish I had the chance to meet him in real life, and shared things like you and other chasters did..:(

    I was touched by his story, as a Chaster, as a person. I really feel sad how a person like him had gone too soon. But I know, he is watching over us, now that he is in heaven.

    Kuya Uno, you will always be in our heart.

    Thank you Ate java..I hope to meet you in real life, one day..

    PS: I am a Chaster, Proud of it!


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