August 02, 2019

What A Year (Month): PopStar Anniversary Behind-the-Scenes Edition

Believe me when I say it is far from my waking reality did I imagine myself leading a team to what would be a pop-tastic celebration filled with hard work, (happy) tears, countless back and forths to the drawing room, and overtime files that our HR has ever approved in her lifetime.

That is an exaggeration.

But not when I say I am superlatively grateful for the last month of waking up to mornings knowing there are to-dos that need to be achieved, knowing that there is a part of me that wants to scream, and an even louder voice that continuously reminds me how fortunate I am because I get to do this with a team consists of wonderful, creative, resourceful, determined, and hard working people, who are driven to the nth power to make this event happen. I am just filled with gratitude, did I say that already?

That is a long sentence. And like my trail of thanks, it just doesn’t want to end.

Hello again, this is Kara -- your PopStar Anniversary Project Head. 🙂

Let me take a couple of steps back...starting from day 0.

The announcement that we will celebrate the anniversary in a form of an event, where we will invite PopStar content creators and sponsors to fund it, happened on a normal work day afternoon. Okay, we have about a month - add that to the growing list of goals we look forward to achieve! We then went on with our daily tasks, the burning ideas calmly resting at the back of our heads. We would have little updates, quick alignments, visits to potential venues, and email exchanges to brand sponsors we have reached out to.

Eventually, we would have to arrive at day 1.

And so we did. This time, triggered by a white board calendar.

When we were all standing and staring at the calendar + a countdown that says we only have 21 days to pull off a “pop-tastic!” anniversary, everyone was still.

I think no one was breathing then.

Inevitably, questions such as: “can we really do this?” “can we pull off a semi-ambitious event with a goal of 100 attendees and x number of sponsors who would make our non-existent budget (this is another exaggeration, we do have a budget, but we wanted more) come to life?” “are we just kidding ourselves to thinking we are able?” “who are we kidding, we are not events people!” and so much other more permutation of these as the days progress, and the days before the event become less.

Pressure and tension would always accompany us in our daily alignments. You can feel that in every team member in that circle, but along with it -- the determination, drive and passion - were just as visible (body language is very telling, y’all) and immensely felt.

One morning alignment (I think this was around 14 days to go), while every committee was sharing their updates, I looked at everyone in the circle and thought to myself: “Man, I want to take care of this energy, these people -- look at that passion! We are creating something big here.”

And I believed it.

We believed it.

We were on a roll.

We might not have concrete resources then, but the drive and determination (this just about the hundredth time these words showed up) in each and everyone was enough to create a ripple of progress, until it was a huge wave of success.

And it was.

You can even say that we might have manifested the success of the event. But all universal-doing aside, I think it was the belief in each other that pulled us all a series of committed follow throughs and results.

The success of an event is often attributed to its project leaders. I am grateful and humbled by this recognition. However, I am just 1 in the team of 15 + members, all of whom have been challenged to become leaders, smart decision-makers, and DIY decor masters, almost overnight.

This event demanded a lot from the team, but the team owned up to the challenge.

And it was all we needed to create a night full of wins + memories that would last us a lifetime.

As I sign off as your Project Head, let me immortalize my gratitude in this blog post:

To kuya Marius, thank you for holding the team together. Thank you for taking full ownership and keeping us grounded (when our ideas become too ambitious hehe) during the whole process of planning up until execution. Thank you for taking care of us in many ways: food (hahaha), words of wisdom, and a whole lot of fun games to keep us sane when things get a little (a lot) crazy.

Neri, you are amazing. Your designs gave life and face to our event. You gave “poppin’ at 1” a whole new, different definition with how you envision it to be in visual, Neri. Thank you for allotting majority of your energy and time (to the point of not sleeping!) into this for a month (and more!). Thank you for the patience, the suggestions, the active “yes, and” and the many little & big things you are part of during this whole process. Continue creating wonderful things, Neri!

Hazel, I can honestly say that there is no other BTS event more documented than this - thank you for always on the lookout (and ready with the camera!) to shoot for memorable moments, Haze! A lot of other requests were coming in, but you took on the challenge and found your way in balancing both the event demands + work requests. Thank you for efficiently holding the fort while we work our way through the process. Also, can we talk about the awesome PopStar creative shots?! You made it happen, Haze. I am so proud!

To our DevTeam: Leo, Wayne, and Nina: GUYS YOU ARE THE BACKBONE OF POPSTAR. There are no words to describe how immensely grateful I am (and the whole team!) to you guys -- talk about determination, learning how to create a mobile app from scratch! (check out how they did it on this blog post). You are the reason why we have an app, why we were able to launch it and finally officially announced it at the event. YOU GUYS ARE THE REAL MVPs.

Jamie, where do I even begin? Mare, your energy is beyond what this world can handle, and I say it with love and gratitude! Everyone says that your personality can be likened to a sunshine, but mare -- YOU ARE THE SUNSHINE. Thank you for taking the initiative, and volunteering to lead the Divisoria committee (who is this morning person? hahaha) and so much more. Thank you, thank you.

Reese, look at you. You make me so proud! Who is this professional woman! Thank you for stepping up, and taking full ownership of bringing the PopStars to the event. Thank you for putting in 200% in your tasks - on top of the other ones that needed attention. Thank you for making sure all the influencers feel welcome and taken care of, pre and post event. Yaas, PopStar Reese!

Cess, I had so much fun working with you! Thank you for having our back when it comes to making sure our finances are covered and well-documented. If there was an award for the most improved, it would be you, Cess. You are a gift.

Beth and Ate Mau, thank you for taking care of us! Your support, albeit silent, is hugely felt and needed - thank you for looking after our heavily caffeinated selves.

Jess, thank you for taking on the challenge! Happy 2nd day! Hahahahahaha welcome to YOYO! Thank you for being such a great sport, and support during the event!

To our interns: Wendy, Taks, and Mico: you guys are solid! We hope you had as much fun as we did having you at the event, and all of that happened post + prior.

To our ID Team Members: Widya, Elle, Ergin, Oki, and Suni (from KL!): having you guys present during the event made it more fun, and fruitful. Thank you for coming all the way from your countries, you are all very much appreciated!

To Kyon, for the challenge and the countless (we might have had at least a hundred in the event alone) opportunities to learn and grow, thank you, thank you! You were right Kyon, numbers. Hahaha thank you!

And last, but definitely not the least - to Kim. Mumsht, there will be no event without you -- well, there will be but in a much smaller room, with a plated lunch, and no LED screen, minimal loot items, definitely no raffle prizes, and photo walls. I remember you telling me your worries and concerns at the start of the planning - we have limited time + resources, why are we gunning for a big event? But Kim, you made it happen. It’s just the way you are -- it’s who you are: you are someone who would pull up her sleeves and get to work, use your skill and connect to your network, and make magic. While it is no magic that we acquire that sponsorship fund, but having you with us in this team is. So, from the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU, MUMSHT.

I am almost done, I promise.

Just one last reminisce of what a poppin’ 1 night it has been:

Who’s ready for Poppin’ at 2? 🎉

Pop-tastically yours,


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