'She makes me think I can fight any problems'

'She makes me think I can fight any problems'
PHOTO: The New Paper

Thai teen fan with cerebral palsy had no concert tickets but flew to S'pore anyway to try his luck

Earlier this year, Taylor Swift donated US$50,000 (S$71,000) to New York City public schools.

She had pledged last year to donate all the proceeds from her single Welcome To New York to them. The track, off of her new album, had climbed to No. 1 on iTunes.

Over the years, the singer has supported organisations like United Nations children agency Unicef and also donated US$100,000 to the American Red Cross to help victims of a 2008 flood in Iowa.

Little surprise she was crowned the most charitable celebrity last year, the third year she had topped the Celebs Gone Good list of DoSomething.org, an advocacy group.

That is why Swifties like Thai national, Dechawat Phamonsea, 17, who was born with cerebral palsy, would do anything to meet her.

Dechawat, who moves around in a wheelchair, said his positive attitude towards life is thanks his pop idol's inspirational song lyrics. On Friday, Dechawat arrived in Singapore with his mother from their hometown in Narathiwat, hoping to catch Swift at her first show of the Asian leg of her 1989 world tour yesterday.

But he and his mother, Madam Somsiri Phamonsea, had no tickets to the sold-out show.

They went to Singapore Indoor Stadium as early as 9am yesterday to try their luck.

The pair caught the attention of a member of Swift's team who said he would try to help although chances seemed slim.

But at 1pm, Dechawat's dream came true. He managed to buy two tickets at $250 each. His 49-year-old single mum, who is a nurse, earns about $1,600 a month.

She paid $1,320 for their return flights, accommodation and tickets.

With Dechawat acting as her translator, Madam Somsiri told The New Paper on Sunday in Thai: "He is my only son and I will do anything to make him happy. I don't want to disappoint him."

Minutes before doors opened at 7pm, she crouched close to her son and was attentive to his needs. She had taken leave from work for this.

Dechawat shared his admiration for Swift: "She makes me think I can fight any of my problems, she makes me strong. She can do everything and I feel like I can, too."

Had he not been able to get a ticket yesterday, he was prepared to return to the Singapore Indoor Stadium tonight. Swift's second show tonight is also sold out.

Dechawat also said he was hoping to be picked by Swift's mother, Andrea, and her team for Loft 89.

That is an exclusive post-show meet-and-greet event where selected fans get up close and personal with the Grammy-winning singer. To attract the crew's attention, fans have to dance enthusiastically throughout the show, clad in their wildest outfits.

So, it was only natural that many of them went yesterday in elaborate costumes inspired by Swift's music videos, song lyrics and even Swift herself.

There were cheerleaders straight out of her Shake It Off music video, feisty femme fatales from Bad Blood and even safari animals from Wildest Dreams.

Singapore-based Japanese beauty blogger Kiyoko Yasuda, who was inspired by Swift's Shake It Off video, wore a black and red hoodie while carrying a boom box made of cardboard and fairy lights.

She even sewed cats of felt to resemble Swift's own kitty pals, Meredith and Olivia, for herself and her friend.

"This took about a week and I had so much fun. It'd be great if we were picked for Loft 89 and get a chance to meet Taylor in person," said the 25-year-old, who calls Swift an inspiration.


The pop star performed here last year as part of her Red tour.

Fresh off her US tour, Singapore is the first stop on the Asian leg of her 1989 world tour before she heads to Shanghai.

Many fans flew in from countries such as Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia.

Miss Isabel Ang, whose outfit was inspired by Swift's at last year's Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, spent over $1,000 for her ticket, flight and accommodation in Singapore.

The Malaysian fan said: "I didn't mind making the trip as I really want to see her. Even if I don't get picked for Loft 89, it is fun to dress up with my friends and enjoy ourselves at the concert."

Fans started to stream into the venue from as early as 8am yesterday.

Hours before the show started at 8pm, some 40 local and Malaysian fans as part of fan clubs Taylor Nation SG and TSwiftMY banded together to work on a postcard project which they hoped to pass along to Swift.

Fans wrote personal messages on postcards addressed to Swift as part of the event named #1989TayDay.

These postcards were later compiled into albums which TSwiftMy head Joseph Bong, 22, handed to Swift's management.

"It is always fun to have Swift fans from anywhere coming together to get to know each other and show our love for her," he said.

This article was first published on Nov 8, 2015.
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