Eric Santos

Arriving at DongSong theater in Hyewah Dong Seoul, my knees were shaking. I was trembling all over not because of stage fright, but because it was 11 degrees in Korea and was raining. Backstage, I could already hear Erik Santos’ doing his sound check. His powerful voice cut through every wall of the theater. I ran to him so excited, shouting with 100 percent energy, “Happy Birthday Eric! Do you remember how we spent your birthday 13 years ago?” He burst into laughter. 

The last time I was with Eric was in Satorini 13 years ago. We had a concert for the OFWs in Athens, and he invited me to spend his birthday with his manager in Santorini and in two seconds, I gladly obliged. It was an unplanned trip with decisions made at the spur of the moment, so I will never forget that trip. When we got to Santorini, the airport was in the middle of nowhere and everybody had planned pick-ups. It was a Sunday, so there were no offices nor cars nor buses for hire. Finally, it was just us in the airport, so I told them that I will try to fix the problem. 

Eric Santos with Giselle Sanchez and OFWs in South Korea

There was a Greek old man around six feet in height. He looked like he worked out during his younger days, as he was sturdy and muscled despite his age. He was looking at me and said, ”Ride? Hotel? I started to negotiate with him using a calculator since he only spoke Greek, and it sounded Greek to me (joke!) We finally met on a price that was acceptable for both of us, so I  came back to Erik and the group and told them the good news. We rode a rickety old bus and suddenly the bus turned left going up the mountains instead of going down the beach. We all looked at each other, so I asked the driver why we were not heading down Fira where all the tourists go, “No English”, he said. Then he stopped talking to me, despite the one million questions I was asking. 

Eric Santos and Giselle Sanchez

The bus headed higher and higher in the mountains and we saw fewer and fewer houses. Then it went on a rough road inside a forest. Erik looked at me and said, “Giselle, I just watched Hostel. I don’t want to end up dead in Santorini cut in pieces.My liver is not for sale. I won’t be able to fight that guy since I am half his size.” So we just held each others hands, closed our eyes and started praying. When we opened our eyes the bus already stopped. There was one small but beautiful cottage on the top of the mountain and a nice old lady who seemed like the driver’s wife came to receive us. “Welcome to our home. I am sorry husband no speak English and very quiet. There is a rent a car walking distance from here so you can go to Fira and around Satorini.”, the kind old woman said. The four of us praised God and jumped for joy. My jump was the highest because I was so guilty that I could have brought the group to their deaths. I thought we were all going to be slaughtered in a hostel and our organs will be sold in the black market. That was how Erik spent his birthday 13 years ago. 

This time around, on Erik’s 40th birthday, it was different. We no longer wished to go on another adventure and ride a train to Busan (another joke).  I was with my husband, my 13-year-old son and nineteen-year-old daughter. Erik couldn’t wait to go home and spend his birthday with his mom, “Call me a Mama’s boy but after the pandemic I just want to spend most of my time with my mom and our family. My birthday wish is that I can bring my mom again to travel the world. She loves to watch my concerts. This time around she could not make it, but I am sure the next time I have a concert she will be in the first row watching me.” True enough, immediately after the show, Erik was on the first plane out of Korea. But before he left, we still held hands again and bowed down to pray. This time around we did not pray to God for ourselves not to be slaughtered by the Greek mafia and be sold in the black market unlike before. We prayed for our families and our loved ones. Oh, how time has matured these little rascals begging for adventure in their younger years. We would like to thank the OFWs of Korea for coming to watch our concert with Kyla, most especially the Seoul Pastoral Church for Filipino Migrants. It is our honor to make all of you happy. 

Source: Manila Bulletin (