For someone who popularized a song entitled “I Kissed a Girl,” the expected gimmick is that for her first-ever concert in the Philippines, singer Katy Perry must lock lips with a girl. This she definitely did—and more, actually. But let’s save this girl-on-girl action for later. First, the basics and the highlights.

After a series of postponements, the pop star’s one-night-only concert in the country finally pushed through last November 14 at the SM Mall of Asia Concert Grounds. Entitled “Katy Perry Rocks For Relief!” the event was turned into a fundraiser to benefit victims and survivors of typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng, plus the Philippine National Red Cross. Helping Katy raise some money were her front acts: American band MAE, Jed Madela (who channeled Adam Lambert that night, but minus the guyliner), and Arnel Pineda and Neal Schon of Journey, who seemed to be a little too old for Katy’s crowd.

When Katy Perry finally took the stage, which had some cute flamingoes scattered around, the young crowd grew wild. Katy was a big ball of energy and a vocal powerhouse from start all the way to the end. The audience craved for a memorable, rocking night, and that’s exactly what she gave them.

One of the night’s highlights was her performance of “Ur So Gay,” which is all about a metrosexual ex-flame. The last line of the song goes “You’re so gay and you don’t even like boys. No you don’t even like, no you don’t even like, no you don’t even like penis.” For her Manila performance, however, she shushed the audience before finishing the song, and asked the audience how we say penis here. The helpful audience, of course, enlightened her. But it seemed like someone already taught the international superstar the translation, as she asked everyone, “Pototoy?”—around six times!

But what probably was the most unforgettable part of the show was when a 17-year old male high school student from Ateneo joined the singer onstage for her “Hot N Cold” number. Seemingly reserved and shy, the fan, who had a sweater tied around his waist, threw his hands in the air and jumped up and down like he was the Energizer Bunny—for the whole duration of the song. After the performance, Katy went down on all fours, crawled towards the guy, and asked for a kiss, which he—without any hesitation—planted on her lips.

So what happened to “I Kissed a Girl,” you ask. Well, for starters, the boy was a little girly, but Katy wanted a real girl, so after several other songs, some of which involved Katy herself playing the guitar (“Mannequin” and “Thinking of You”), giant inflated strawberries being given away to members of the audience, and lots of pink confetti, she ran and hid backstage. After a while, a giant pussycat head named Kitty Purry was inflated onstage, and Katy resurfaced in a pink leopard catsuit, complete with a tail and a mask (her second and final costume change for the night; her first was a disappointing pink velvet 2-piece under a feather bolero. Where have all the fried egg and carousel costumes gone?), for an encore.

First, she did a version of “Don’t’ Stop Me Now,” a song from Queen, whose frontman, Freddy Mercury, she considers a big inspiration. And then she finally performed the song that started it all for her: “I Kissed a Girl,” which the crowd passionately sang along to. To end the night with a bang, Katy went to the audience, and was carried by bouncers as she planted kisses on female concertgoers. Of course, everyone went hysterical—both guys and girls—wanting to kiss, or even just touch, or smell, or see Katy Perry up close.

After the shower of kisses, Katy went back to the stage, raised her giant inflatable cherry Chapstick, then threw it, and broke all the poor flamingoes.

A rocking ending for a rocking show.

A slightly different version appeared in the Super section of the Philippine Daily Inquirer last November 21, 2009