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July 30th, 2013

Two years ago we just had a simple purpose: to show the filipino kpop fandom that Cassiopeia Philippines still LOVE and SUPPORT Yunho, Changmin, Jaejoong, Yoochun and Junsu.

This year, however, we've added another goal. We wanted to take back the crown.

We started practice a little early, but we've got some new blood and challenging choreography to learn. Every Saturday, we would gather to learn and to brainstorm and to bond. There were times when it was frustrating and I, as one of the leaders almost gave up, but all of us soldiered on until D-Day.

There wasn't a practice day that we were complete. Until we held our last studio rehearsal the day before. Everyone was pumped up and excited and most of all nervous. Who wouldn't be? For some of my group mates, it will be their first time dancing in a competition. But we didn't let our nervous energy affect us.

Yes, we practiced but we also thoroughly enjoyed ourselves while dancing our hearts out in front of the mirrors. It was one of the most enjoyable rehearsals I've had in a long time.

We've hit some snags along the way and I thought that we'd be smooth sailing but then there was another hurdle. We had gone to the venue the day before to check out the stage, how high it was and how we were going to all fit on it. But we weren't allowed inside because it would cause a technicality since one of our competition was present. And then we hit another wall because of the mechanics. We've frustrated ourselves because of the time limit and had all agreed that we will still go with our final mix, assuming that the judges will only be docking points. Learning that they have decided to fade out the music once the time limit was reached had almost ended our routine. We couldn't really do anything because none of us wanted to cut anything out. Plus, the last part of our music was our surprise for our fellow Cassies.

But thanks to the kfest head, with whom we discussed our problem, we could finally breathe a huge sigh of relief. We had explained our side --- add to the fact that he was also concerned for us, asking us if we were okay and if we were ready for tomorrow's battle --- and miraculously, he ALLOWED and ACCEPTED our suggestion! My fellow leaders were so relieved upon hearing his approval it felt like a part of the heavy weight was lifted off our shoulders.

We huddled with everyone, giving out some reminders for the battle, reiterating the important things and together, we prayed. We prayed for a successful routine, and we thanked the Lord for giving us this opportunity to show how much we love TVXQ through dance and cheer.

D-Day: 28 July 2013

We met up at the venue at 9am. As expected, there were already a LOT of kpop fans waiting for the mall to open. When it did finally open, said fans literally ran up four flights of escalators just to get in line for kfest4 tickets. Luckily for us because we were participants, we had a separate line to purchase our tickets. Once inside, we went straight to the technical booth to give a copy of our music and the instructions on how we wanted the lighting effects.

Then we moved on to our next agenda. FOOD. We opted to eat together as a team. It was an amusing coincidence that most of us bought food from the same store (thank you MR. KIMBOP). It was also where we started preparations since none of us were in full costume yet. Plus, two from our group were included in the Kosplay Group Competition as "Yunho" and "Changmin". We promised to support them and yell our hearts out once "Catch Me" started playing. We were all excited and again, as a group in full CODE RED costume, we returned to the hall and made our way to the stage where the participants for the Fan Chant Battle were supposed to be.

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my CODE RED family (photo credit by: yzze and queeny)

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CODE RED with CASSIES (photo credit by: alvin)

At the same time, a few of us went around the venue, even outside of it to the long lines of fans, banners with "CASSIOPEIA is still HERE", "TVXQ/JYJ Fans (with a drawing of the Cassiopeia constellation)", "CASSIOPEIA is STILL alive!! <3 DBSK hwaiting!" and an armful of "믿어요" signs (with a copy of the fanchants printed on the back) to give to all cassies who were present as well as to other kpop fans who agreed to help us cheer. We've actually started giving out the "믿어요" signs earlier to the cassies and other kpop fans we've met before the mall opened and when we were in line for the tickets. Almost all 300 signs were given away. :)

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our CODE RED "refugee camp" --- since we couldn't find any other uncrowded place to sit and wait~^^ (photo credit by: yzze)

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the mountain made up of our bags, props and TVXQ banners (photo credit by: yzze)

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TVXQ banners on top! :) (photo credit by: yzze)

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CODE RED with CASSIES holding up TVXQ/JYJ banners plus our "믿어요" signs~^^ (photo credit by: yzze)

Time came when we were finally called to proceed backstage to prepare for the Fan Chant Battle. As we waited to be ushered backstage, it was also the time when two from our group were introduced on stage for the then ongoing Kosplay Group Competition. Everyone of us was screaming and chanting and singing to TVXQ's "Catch Me". I watched, amazed, as the two girls from our group danced to the song, executing the choreography with perfect timing. The fans that watched were also screaming. TVXQ just has THAT kind of effect.

Finally we were ushered inside the waiting area. It's a battle between BAP Philippines, Anonymous United EXO and Cassiopeia Philippines. We all waited back stage as the emcee made his way back on stage to make some announcements and introduce one of their segments.

CODE RED was anxiously waiting. This was because we were still missing two members. As the time for the Fan Chant Battle neared we grew more worried. Just before BAP Philippines were called on stage, the two remaining members of our group finally appeared. It was then that we all held hands and prayed one last time. We put our hands together and chanted "TOHO~ TOHO~ TOHO~ TOHO~ TOHO~ FIGHT-O!!!" Then we hugged each other for strength and love.

BAP Philippines on stage.

I was surprised at how big their fandom was. Knowing that BAP had just recently debuted and this sudden show of numbers really surprised me. Their chants were certainly loud and clear. Their music was good too, it got the crowd going and cheering with them. We even chanted with them as well. I had wished them luck before they went on stage and a few of them smiled at me. When they finished their performance, some of us clapped and bowed to them. It was our way of telling them that they did a great job in their routine. Again, the gesture was met by smiles and bows from some of them as well.

Anonymous United EXO on stage.

To say that their chants were loud would be a little bit wrong. Their cheers were deafening to the point where even I had to cover my ears. They certainly had the fan power. I expected that because EXO is currently the hottest potato out there and well, they did just have their album launch the day before. The loudness of their cheers had scared me somewhat and worry began to curl in my stomach. I just pushed it aside and watched them silently.

Finally it was our turn.

I think I was shaking a bit. But hearing the emcee call out "Cassiopeia Philippines" loud and clear and the sudden eruption of screams and chants of "DONG BANG SHIN KI! DONG BANG SHIN KI!" from the audience let me focus. Stepping onto that stage and seeing those RED LIGHT STICKS, the BANNERS, the "믿어요" signs. It was exhilarating.

Then the lights went out. Our music started.

Everything and everyone became muted for me. All I could hear and focus on was our music. There were moments where I could see the RED LIGHTS flashing, hear the fans, the cassies chanting... But then it suddenly quieted down when our music transitioned into "믿어요". I could hear just one voice, that of my co-leader chanting into the microphone as we formed the words "XIAH", "MICKY", "HERO", "MAX" and "YUNHO" as the cassies in the audience chanted in time with the song. Then we formed "WE LOVE TVXQ" and "AKTF". That moment I couldn't feel or hear anything. It was as if the sound had been turned off. It wasn't until the intro to MIROTIC that the sound of screams and cheers EXPLODED in my ears.

Words cannot explain how I felt at THAT moment as CODE RED danced to MIROTIC. EVERYONE joined in the chanting but it was more SINGING ALONG to MIROTIC than CHANTING. We neared the end and that final pose to more screams and cheers.

Then we turned our backs. I had forgotten to unzip my hoodie because I was so focused on the music. I had hurriedly unzipped it with shaking hands just in time for MIROTIC to end.

"CASSIOPEIA"

"TVXQ"

"AKTF"

The words that were printed on the backs of our shirts... The second EXPLOSION of screaming... CODE RED turning around to hold hands and do TVXQ's signature 90 degree bow...

Everything felt so surreal.

I couldn't believe that THAT just happened.

Stepping off that stage had finally released the tension in me. I cried as we hugged each other because of all the overwhelming emotions I felt. I cried because we were successful. We had shown everyone present in that hall that CASSIOPEIA IS STILL HERE.

video fancam credit to: eena (thank you so much for filming us while we performed!

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