Homecoming: My Hillsong United in Manila 2008 experience

June 11, 2005. I was at Araneta Coliseum with a bunch of friends, for one of our first experiences of Hillsong — a seminar and worship led by Reuben Morgan. It was also my first time to be a part of the street team thanks to Jomar who recruited me, so I was particularly excited for it because of all the hard work for selling tickets. It was also one of the most memorable moments of my life. I was so amazed at how the people at Araneta worshipped — Catholics, non-Catholic Christians, all worshipping the same God. Amazing.

November 21, 2006. I was at Ninoy Aquino Stadium, for the first Hillsong United in Manila worship. Needless to say, I was awed that night; in that small venue, beyond my hunger and exhaustion, I definitely felt God’s grace and mercy pour into my life, and that night opened up big dreams for me (namely this).

Hillsong United in Manila

May 26, 2008. Around one and a half years later, I found my way back to Araneta, this time even more overwhelmed at how God has been good to me, to all my new friends in the Street Team and how He has been so faithful in fulfilling my dreams, especially the ones I forgot about already. Amazing.

Last Monday was Hillsong United‘s second time to visit Manila. I have known about the event since March and have been selling tickets ever since after Holy Week. I know I didn’t publicize it much during the time as much as I did for Switchfoot since I was in charge of the Multiply site and I was busy with work. It was a bit more stressful than Switchfoot because of the number of people wanting to buy, and I admit I passed some ticket orders and snapped at one to many people because of their persistence. For that, I apologize. I know I should’ve been extra patient and more accommodating — please accept my apology.

Anyway. Sunday, I was already with the Street Team for grocery shopping and preparing team logistics for the event. After loads of grocery shopping, we went to the hotel to wait for the United Team and to fix more plans for the next day. It was kind of crazy at the hotel room with Tuesday doing some work and the rest of us fixing the cable ties for food (don’t ask) and meeting up with last minute buyers and preparing the band’s rooms and all that. Around 9:00pm, the band arrived at the hotel, and we watched them bring their huge and numerous baggages up the hotel. I have to admit, I was a bit starstruck, but only with two people: Joel Houston (who I didn’t spot until we were about to go up to our room) and Jad Gilles (♥!!!). I didn’t know the rest of the band, so I wasn’t able to be starry-eyed. Hah, then again, in our line of “business”, as Reeya rightly said, we weren’t supposed to be starstruck because we had jobs to do. We learned that in Switchfoot, and I think we did pretty well this time.

And here I say special thanks to Maan for introducing me to Jad Gilles. Yay, dream come true. ♥

We didn’t get to see any of the band until the next afternoon. The rest of the night was filled with preps — going to Araneta to feed the Soundcheck people, sleeping, then going to Araneta early in the morning to make sure the people were fed, to make sure the prod room and dressing room were ready, and all that. In a way it was less stressful than our preps for Switchfoot because the venue was better this time — they provided our security, they provided rooms, they provided a whole lot of stuff that our previous venue didn’t. Around 9:00am, Grace, Happy, Tuesday and I were just waiting for Maan and the others to arrive. We even had make-over sessions just for kicks. ;)

Things started picking up in the afternoon, where we had so many stuff to fix — the stage, the presscon, the IDs. There were a lot of oppressions, as usual: people getting annoyed at some people who were being too sneaky, people trying to get into the venue too early, people not doing any work unless they were asked, and people asking for tickets from us up to the last minute, even if we all made it clear that we don’t sell tickets anymore. Those kinds of things. The presscon and meet and greet were fine, but again, there were some arguments here and there…but God is good despite of all our shortcomings.

We were tired and stressed…but you know what really made up for it? Seeing Araneta Coliseum filled with more than 18000 people. The night before, the producer and some of my fellow Street Team members were at Araneta and we entered the empty coliseum to check on the set up. We were already sold out then and we were giddy about it…and then we looked around the venue and realized that that very place will be filled by people raring to worship God the next night. Our producer was so overwhelmed that she was driven to pray, and pray we did.

And then to see Araneta filled with SO MANY PEOPLE. What a sight. The last time I saw the place filled was during an DLSU-ADMU UAAP Game…and it wasn’t even that filled because there were no people on the court except for players. This one, we filled from Patron to General Admission, and even opened some Standing Room Only seats to accommodate the people who still want to be a part of the worship. AMAZING. Nobody else but God can do this thing.

The worship. Again, I’ve used this word too much in this entry, but it was just AMAZING. Almost two and a half hours of non-stop singing, dancing, jumping, praying and worshipping God. To see everyone in Araneta raising their hands in worship, clapping, to hear 18000+ people singing their voices hoarse and hearts out to worship one God. Catholics, non-Catholic Christians from different churches and denominations, people from all over the country and even from some parts of the world came to Araneta that night to worship God…it was just overwhelming. I remember imagining how Araneta would look like if it was filled with people worshipping back in 2005 during Reuben Morgan’s worship, and dreaming to see it…and there it was. Right in front of me. I couldn’t help but just be in awe.

The worship lasted for almost two and a half hours (I swear, all that singing and jumping and whatnot should’ve have made me lose weight, even just a bit :>) and after spending some time in front and at the side, and then meeting with the Street Team for some last minute stuff before the worship ends. By the time they were singing From the Inside Out, we were at the back of the stage again, and we decided to stay there just so we can run to the back if they need us.

All the while during the worship, all I could say was I missed this. I missed being in worship, I missed clapping, jumping, dancing and raising my hands up in surrender to God. I actually stopped listening to their songs because I don’t feel like it anymore. I can’t remember the last time I worshipped like that, since it’s been so long since I attended any community event. Heck, I’m not even sure when was the last time I prayed the way I used to, ever since I started struggling with my prayer time. :( I’m not writing this all to boast because it’s really not something to boast about. The only thing I could really manage to do right now is to try (and sometimes it’s not even really trying) and go to mass (which sometimes I am not even mentally present in). And I missed that terribly. Moreover, I missed Him so so much, that I couldn’t believe why I didn’t feel excited with this event a few days back.

While singing at the backstage, Tuesday whispered to me, “I really should work on my prayertime,” to which I agreed. Then the band picked a fast praise song, and it was Salvation is Here. I started to laugh. It was as if God was telling me, “I missed you too. Welcome home.” :)

The night ended on a high note and then something happened that kind of brought all of our spirits down, but the band assured us it was okay. We spent the rest of the night and morning resting — or in my case and Happy’s case, talking — eating breakfast, getting ready for work, and final goodbyes to the team before we saw them off at the bus. We got photo ops with them (and YES! I have a photo with Jad! ♥) and finally, they were off.

I don’t know when they’d be coming back, and hopefully they do, after what happened in Araneta. :) It was an amazing, amazing experience, and I’ve been hearing so many messages, so many sharings and I’m glad that everyone was blessed as much as we were. :) Till next event, yes?

Oh, and to everyone who’s asking, here’s the setlist:

  1. Time Has Come
  2. Break Free
  3. Take it All
  4. My Future Decided
  5. Mighty to Save
  6. Hosanna
  7. You’ll Come (Bridge only)
  8. The Stand
  9. Healer
  10. Shout Unto God
  11. You Deserve
  12. Look to You
  13. Lead Me to the Cross
  14. All I Need is You (Chorus and Bridge)
  15. None But Jesus
  16. From the Inside Out
  17. Be Lifted High
  18. Saviour King
  19. Salvation is Here
  20. What the World Will Never Take
  21. Tell the World
  22. One Way
  23. Solution

So was it a lot different than 2006’s event? It is. Of course back then I wasn’t part of the team, so I didn’t get to experience the entire backstage thing. And then, this one was just waaaay longer. But both were blessed events, and I know God likes to bless people differently in every opportunity, so really, there’s not much to compare. At least, on my side. Heh. :)

As for me…I’m working on my spiritual life, once again. I don’t know how to start, where to start and whatnot, but I am working on it. Your prayers will be greatly appreciated. :) It’s gonna be alright!

God bless everyone!

13 thoughts on “Homecoming: My Hillsong United in Manila 2008 experience”

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  3. Tina, I enjoyed reading this :) I’ve read some blog posts about the concert (eh, concert pa rin ba? Or worship talaga?) and lahat puro positive ang sinabi.

    I checked one of their songs on YouTube, and I liked it. Any recs for their music, which album to listen to first?

  4. hmmm, that is great…! you have given me idea how amazing the event was, it’s frustrating that i wasn’t able to attend, but you guys make me feel i was also there with a multitude of people worshiping our awesome God!!!

  5. I just came across with this one…:)
    I was currently listening to their I heart album and google searched their 2008 concert here in Araneta. I was so blessed with the araneta worhip, gusto ko lang itestify yun. I’m a church worker myself but i have also transgresses with my responsibility as a Christian. The concert revived me!!!And gusto ko lang i-share that I and my fiancee have a long-standing prayer petition to God,and you know what wala pa one month since the concert, God already fulfilled it… Truly God is amazing!!!

  6. siguro you know Grace M., sa kanya ko kumuha ng ticket pakiregards na lang sa kanya and kay erick. =)
    di ako nagsisisi going to gateway mall all the way from imus cavite…hehehe God bless!!!

  7. God is just there.. He is ready to listen to your prayers.. Pray that you’ll find what you’re looking for.. pray that He may open your eyes to see the truth, open your heart to receive his words for you, open your mind to accept God’s revival blessing and salvation for you.. Jesus is the Way the Truth and the Life.. He is the only way..

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