As I write this in Manila, the #TeamCapFest in Singapore – or, officially, Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War Festival – is still ongoing. I’m missing out on the Artist Sketch Wall, the #ChooseWisely Laser Tag booth and the #TeamCap Combat Fitness Workout, which are usually my jam. But even now I still think that one night of magic was worth it, because the Southeast Asia Blue Carpet experience let me breathe the same air, even for a few seconds, as #TeamCap: Captain America: Civil War director Joe Russo, Chris “Captain America” Evans, Sebastian “Winter Soldier” Stan and Anthony “Falcon” Mackie. I was a fan of the Captain America films since 2011, impressed by the character of Steve Rogers (and not just Chris Evans’ physique). So when #TeamCap announced that they were dropping by Singapore after their first stop in Beijing, and the link to purchasing the Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War Blue Carpet access pass finally went live less than 7 days before their arrival, I psyched myself: “Well, Joy, you only live once.” When the confirmation email arrived, I began to hyperventilate! I resolved to make this my one present to myself this year, and research where I could save up on: getting a SingTel Tourist SIM instead of using my roaming plan, having a place to stay, and finding alternate transportation options to the MRT, because the advanced Captain America: Civil War screening that I also gained access to would end at midnight. Presents for #TeamCap The next few days were a flurry of activity. While working my hectic day job, I bought chocolate-covered dried mangoes as presents for #TeamCap, and wrote notes for each member. In order to catch #TeamCap’s attention and get the really beautiful low-polygon artwork made by a dear friend signed, I settled on a canary yellow cocktail dress I last wore in, well, 2011. I also had difficulty booking my flight ticket, and ultimately I needed to race towards NAIA Terminal 3 to buy it before the ticketing office closed at 10:00 pm! It was a good thing that my close friend Gen and her husband, both based in Singapore, agreed to house me in their cramped apartment near Changi Airport. So, I had my tickets, my presents, my lodging, plus tips, zip ties (because laglag-bala is still a thing), instructions and well-wishes. While I barely made it to NAIA Terminal 2 against Metro Manila traffic on Wednesday, April 20th, my flight was delayed by an hour. I landed midnight of the 21st, with Gen and her spouse waiting for me at Changi’s Terminal 1. After getting settled in, I still had to assemble my event tickets, confirmation email, the artwork, food and water in my trusty backpack before finally calling it a night. On the morning of the Blue Carpet event, Gen and I took the MRT to Marina Bay Sands to scope out the venue before #TeamCapFest opened. We saw the Event Plaza, where the festival activities would be held, and to the Ice Skating Rink, the site of the Blue Carpet experience. After some waiting, I returned to the Event Plaza to claim my event ticket and get my loot bag from the festival organizers, Reed Exhibitions. My events organization experience and fandoms helped me learn more about the team, which is also behind the annual Singapore Toy, Game and Comic Convention, and the event program. Sensing my restlessness, Gen brought me to Temasek Plaza’s food court one MRT ride away, where we realized I was also too excited to finish my lunch. When we returned to Marina Bay Sands by 2:00 pm, it was chaos! People pushed through the barricades and bouncers not caring for the upcoming event, the area for paid Blue Carpet access had become much smaller, and the organizers were arguing about security protocol. Those of us with paid Blue Carpet access worried about losing our spot, but the folks of Reed Exhibition reassured us that they would figure it out. It was finally sorted after much negotiation, and at 5:00 pm, we managed to enter the Blue Carpet access area. While waiting, I tried to make friends with other Blue Carpet ticket holders. It hit me that I was one of very few Philippine fans with paid access; it was full of Singaporeans, Indonesians, Malaysians and even a Star Wars fan from the 501st Garrison of Brunei! One girl dressed up for the occasion in a Winter Soldier costume, building her left arm out of duct tape; another one was armed with fancy Captain America nail art plus high-heeled shoes to get her past the top of the barricade; while an Indonesian student cut class just for the event! While we started out being generally friendly with each other, we ended up fighting for our spots inside the designated area due to the tight space. We were situated at the third layer from the stage; the first layer was for media, the second for VIPs – event sponsors and regional celebrities. We were interviewed by broadcasters from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan, all covering live. The Philippines was represented by ABS-CBN, with Robi Domingo playing correspondent, taking groufies and fanboying with Filipino fans outside the Blue Carpet. I think the media found me amusing in my cocktail dress, with my sign and two copies of my friend’s artwork on one hand, a paper bag and a Sharpie pen on the other arm, plus another sign in my teeth. The author with her bite-marked sign The global feed went live by opening with a cosplay competition, where fans from all over the region dressed up as Captain America, the Winter Soldier, and Iron Man. While there were no Falcon cosplayers, seeing an Indonesian guy completely nail Iron Man by flipping off his faceplate to reveal RDJ’s goatee, and pulling off RDJ’s swagger, made up for it. I was glad he won first place, because he stayed in character while claiming his prize, switching his helmet for Tony Stark’s sunglasses! I just wish whoever took charge of the program picked better hosts, because Stephanie Carrington and Glenn Ong knew almost nothing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which showed when they began playing trivia questions while the audience waited. Finally, it was Blue Carpet time! After a parade of celebrities from Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia, Anthony Mackie was announced first. The man went through the crowd for autographs and selfies twice, and went up a floor for more autographs, groufies and hugs! Shortly afterwards, Joe Russo was called; he had serious dad vibes and seemed pretty chill. I managed to give him my paper bag of dried mangoes, after which he did a double-take and said, “You’re sure these are for everyone? All four of us?” I nodded and explained that each #TeamCap member would find his name outside a box, plus a small gift inside too. I think he didn’t expect to be included in the presents, given that directors play second fiddle in appearances like this where the stars take center stage. Then it was Sebastian Stan’s turn. For him I had a gimmick: my sign for him had Romanian phrases, thanks to my Romanian brother-in-law. When Sebastian finally reached me, he blinked and looked at me in surprise, so that was a win! He signed all the artworks along with my sign, bitemark and all. By then everyone was cheering for Cap himself to come out. I despaired that Chris Evans might not show up at all, having admitted to getting panic attacks around crowds – and the hosts just had to say that the Singapore audience’s size had surpassed Beijing’s. But he finally appeared, with the rest of his team leaving their spots near or on the stage to meet him halfway (they were soon led back to the stage). To our dismay, Chris’ security detail told us that selfies and autographs were not allowed, and he kept to the media side of the Blue Carpet for a good while. But I think someone was looking out for us that day, because after the interviews he began signing a lot of stuff, including my friend’s artwork! The rest of the night went in a haze. I remember watching Anthony get the crowd to cheer “Team Cap!”, the children who were part of Marina Bay Sands’ corporate social responsibility program asking #TeamCap some questions, and a lucky VIP getting a hug from Chris and a selfie with #TeamCap. By the time the short program finished and we were asked to move to the Mastercard Sands Theatre for the sneak preview of “Captain America: Civil War,” I was dazed, hungry, and thirsty. Still, I trooped on and surrendered my already-depowered mobile phone and my left-over lunch in the reception area, as per protocol for those with advanced screening access. Unfortunately, the snack bar at the gate was empty when I got there, the complimentary popcorn and Coke at our seats still couldn’t fill me up, but those didn’t stop me from enjoying the film. Out of #TeamCap, only Joe welcomed us into the screening. Some fans I encountered after the sneak preview told me that they camped outside Sands Theatre hoping to catch Chris, seeing Sebastian enter halfway through the film, while Anthony went around the shops. So, how was “Captain America: Civil War,” exactly? Well, it uses a non-linear storytelling style, jumping from past to present. How far back in the past it goes though is best experienced. But those jumps help explain the motivations behind Cap’s and Iron Man’s respective stances towards the Sokovia Accords, and I can honestly say that viewers will definitely leave the theater finding both the #TeamCap and #TeamIronMan sides valid. I was annoyed about a few things though: Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff lost her accent, the Russo brothers used a distracting method of delineating the “past” and “present” sequences, and Marvel Studios’ weakness remains its villains. When the screening finished at midnight, I claimed my mobile phone and asked a Blue Carpet buddy if I could borrow her power bank for a bit, since even my spare battery failed me. Some Marvel Singapore staffers asked me to go on-camera for a short review of the film, which they said would appear on all Disney broadcast and social media. I finally ended up hailing a taxicab from the other end of Marina Bay Sands to go home, since the MRT had closed by then and Gen had long since left with her husband. I was extremely tired when I fell to bed, but my heart was still racing, my mind was still replaying what had happened during the Blue Carpet event. Besides being ridiculously handsome (even Joe!), the men of #TeamCap are very nice towards fans and great at engaging with children; even Chris managed to bring up his game once he reached the stage and his team. But my new favorite #TeamCap cast member has to be Anthony, ultimately – his showmanship and genuine personality was so infectious that he even got Chris to connect with the audience. Plus, Anthony has many talents, because he suddenly told the deaf-mute child who asked Chris “Do you love Singapore as much as we love you?” that she was beautiful in sign language! I almost missed my flight a few hours later, the adrenaline rush taking so long to give way into shallow sleep. Gen, practically the Bucky to my Cap for the whole experience, made sure I was awake, fed, watered and most of all able to get to Changi’s Terminal 1. Now that I’ve returned, I’m keeping my lips sealed about the film until the premiere. I’ve gone through screencaps from the chooseyourteam.asia live feed taken by friends and run Google searches to catch up on whatever I missed from the festival. All things considered, what started out as an infatuation led to one of the most amazing moments of my life.