Recently-retired National Basketball Association superstar Kobe Bryant has made several stops in the Philippines but his latest visit could be the most significant considering the fitting tribute he received from thousands of fans at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last Saturday, June 25.

Bryant spent two days in the country but his appearance at the Big Dome was arguably the highlight. FEU alumna Jean Louise Dela Paz-Lapus (ABMC, 2002) directed the event and said that this project was very important given that she is a huge Kobe fan.

Directing events featuring NBA stars is not new for Lapus. Her list includes Ricky Rubio, Paul George, Jordan Clarkson, Steph Curry and Lebron James.

The show started with several kids coming out of the shadows and mimicking Bryant’s moves and vignettes showcasing highlights of his career. Kobe made a grand entrance in front of at least 10,000 adoring fans as he came out from a revolving stage that featured several giant screens and was followed by fireworks.

“We developed the concept on the premise that Kobe is already a legend. Our main goal was to highlight his mentality which differentiates him from all other players and turned him into the legend he is now,” said Lapus.

The most memorable moment during the show was when the fans were given a chance to express their appreciation for their basketball idol. With the house lights turned off, the people clicked on the lights of their mobile phones while host Aaron Atayde spoke about the importance and lasting legacy of Bryant to his Filipino basketball fans.

A Kobe banner hanging at the top of the coliseum – and directly across “The Thrilla in Manila” one – was unveiled to cap off the event.

Direk JL shared that she wanted this show to be different compared to his previous visits. “The event had to be legendary in effect like the main man, Kobe Bryant.”

In demand Director

Lapus credits her training in FEU for her creative skills and attitude. She was part of the FEU Advocate and Oratorical and Debate Council.

“It was in those organizations that I was able to learn communication skills that were not taught in the classroom,” she said in a recent interview with the University student publication.

She was also a working student as she used to sing and act in side jobs to partially fund her schooling.

Direk JL, who is married to former San Beda High School Basketball star Robin Lapus and mother to 11-year old daughter Riva, is now one of the most-sought after Events Directors, having handled numerous concerts, product launches and celebrity shows in the past 10 years.

But she admits that the big lights and party atmosphere of events mask the huge amount of work needed to succeed in this type of work.

“There’s a lot challenges like adjusting to the demands of clients and juggling events every week. Like Kobe, I need to have the Mamba Mentality to stay at the top of my game.”

“She’s a one of a kind, very creative, all-in-one director. Direk JL always gives her all in every show and you’re confident whatever she does will be a huge success,” according to colleague D.I. Arguelles.

Lapus added that she’s privileged to be doing something that she loves and that she is able apply what she learned in FEU.

“Always remember that no matter how difficult, no matter how tiring, no matter how small your salary is, if you are happy, then you’ll stay longer in that job,” she concludes.