Just recently, I stumbled upon the this issue of Time Magazine. It was a commemorative issue of the late Michael Jackson who passed away last June 25, 2009 at age 50. He was on the cover, giving off an aura of youth and energy. He was smiling as he shyly covers his face. The black and white concept added drama to it. The picture was reminiscent of his music video In The Closet. It was the only time that I actually got into the in-depth news of his death.
I was working in the laboratory when a co-worker told me that Michael Jackson had died. At first, I thought it was just a joke. He still had upcoming concerts to do. He died at a young age, I must say.
But the truth hurts. And from then on, lots of tributes were shown all over them media. His songs were once again being played in the radio. Why is it that a person is only fully appreciated once he dies?
Michael Jackson is a very influential part of my life. He was a complete stranger to me until the year 1996, when he went to the Philippines for his HIStory World Tour. His concert was held on August 12, 1996 in Manila. I can still remember that the cheapest ticket cost at PhP 5,000. Woah!
I was just 9 years old back then, and I had no idea who he was. So, I asked my mother, "Mama, who is Michael Jackson?"
And her reply was fully etched in my memory, "Michael Jackson? He is an artist. The King of Pop."
The King of Pop. And being a child fascinated with kings and queens from fairy tales, I pictured him as a really good sought-after artist. He is the King of Pop, after all.
Then, he was all over the news! Lots of feature stories sprang forth. But it was then that I saw him dance that made me like him so much! It was the Moon Walk. His body moves in perfect unison to the rhythm of his songs, and his execution of the moves is superb.
Suddenly, Michael Jackson became my first ever idol in music. I kept on asking my mother about him. She gave me little information that I can still remember today: Thriller was his most popular song; the song Ben was about a pet; He was a member of Jackson 5; and so on.
Then one day, my mother surprised me by giving me a a cassette tape collection of Michael Jackson's HIStory album. I got so excited that I wa jumping and running all over the house until I got to our stereo. I played it in and danced my way throughout the day. That was the time when I got into his songs. Rock With You was my most favorite track. The cassette tape was hot from rewinding because I couldn't get enough of Black or White and Man in the Mirror. And by the time that we acquired a Cable TV, I would always switch on MTV and wait for his videos to come out. My favorite amongst them was the music video of "Remember The Time" where he seduced an Egyptian queen, then he was dancing and magically disappearing in one of the scenes. His clothes were royal gold, which added to his appeal.
I had no issues with the way he looked. Rather, it was his performance onstage that influenced me. I've always wanted to learn the Moon Walk, which gives out an illusion of walking in mid-air. However, I was not successful with it. But on the upside, I was able to do his move of spinning then landing on tip toes. I was a kid and I did it. I'm not sure if I can still do it now. Sorry.
However, as I grew up and got information of how controversial he was, I slowly set him aside. I completely abandoned him when I found out about child molestation charges against him. Being a kid then, that was something that I didn't understand and was hard for me to accept. Then, I replaced him with pop boy or girl bands, with music and dance copied from him.
Now that I am fully grown, Michael Jackson returns once again. Slowly, as I read every article in Time Magazine dedicated solely to him, I realized that he was as human as he could be. The King of Pop was fragile after all. Having to work at a young age, he didn't experience the carefree life of a child. So that figure why he named his ranch Neverland. And he was also an abused child, I read. He underwent plastic surgery because he thought he was ugly. Having acquired a skin disease, he decided to bleach his skin. I never expected that a superstar would have a lot of issues with himself, too. And from there, I also started to accept his negative side as well, being the King of Pop didn't mean that he was perfect.
Michael Jackson, having all the fame and money, was not spared from loneliness too. I've read further that he doesn't trust anyone., because he feels that if anybody comes near him, it's just that they wanted something from him.
Now that I am 21 years old, I have come to appreciate him once more and in a deeper sense than when I was only 9. Even if he's gone, he still continues to teach me. And this time, it's not about dance; it's about the importance of having a happy childhood, a lot of trusted friends, a supportive family, and the passion to do the things that you love. But most of all, he taught me that money really can't buy happiness.
Finally, as I looked at his pictures at the last few pages of Time Magazine, I saw in his eyes a deep sense of humanity. In those pictures, I felt a sudden gush of emotion hit me. He will always be my first pop idol. And like all the other people in the world, I have only come to fully appreciate him now that he's gone.