Meeting the Fire Lord

I’m not in the best head space so I thought I’d do a little update to distract me. In reviewing this before I posted, I realised I sound very much like the grumpy obaachan that I am. Sorry, not sorry? Hahaha!

Of course, I had to be there when Dante Basco announced a guerilla meet-up while he was in the Manila. (Shoutout to my mom who didn’t make a fuss at me doing an eat-and-run at her Mother’s Day lunch so I could make it to the venue on time. <3) I’d seen him post photos of the ones he’d done in other countries, so I thought I was in for a chill afternoon.

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I was wrong.

I was very, very wrong. My first instinct was to run away because not only were there so many people, they were also mostly way younger than I.

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Fandom never fails to amaze me because despite my initial aversion to the crowd and my innate ineptitude at making friends, I did manage to meet some really great people there. People, I do not have photos with because I was pretty distracted by the crowd, the mall guards kicking us out of Greenbelt, walking to the new venue not knowing where it was while simultaneously calling and texting directions to Germaine, who was running late.

Dante was an absolute sweetheart. If he was tired or dying from the heat, he didn’t show it. Which is more than I can say for myself, and I didn’t have to meet, sign, and take pictures with fifty-something people.

Bangarang, Dante! ‘Til your next visit!

If I’m not Filipino and I’m not Nepali, What am I?

I’ve always been aware of my lack of cultural identity. I’m Filipino by ethnicity and citizenship and Nepali by osmosis. In terms of culture, I feel like I don’t have an anchor. If I’m not Filipino and I’m not Nepali, what am I?

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Patan Durbar Square

I’m a former expat kid. I was three when my dad’s work brought us to Nepal. I could say I felt more Nepali, as I was fluent in Nepali but not in Tagalog, went to a local school, and celebrated Hindu & Newari festivals, but the truth is I’d felt just as odd in Kathmandu as I do in Manila. My brother and I were the only non-Nepali kids in our whole school and the only full-Filipinos among our non-school friends.

When we moved back to Manila a few months shy of my ninth birthday, classmates called me maarte because I couldn’t speak Tagalog. If we’re with our Nepali friends, who consider my brother and I as one of them, I feel horrible because I don’t understand Nepali anymore.

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Third grade class photo

When Manila friends talk about home towns/provinces, I immediately think of Kathmandu. But when I visited Nepal a few years ago, I nearly had a breakdown at the entrance to one of the UNESCO Heritage Sites because I realised I wasn’t a local anymore. I was a tourist, being charged exorbitant tourist prices because I couldn’t speak the language anymore.

So if I’m not Filipino and I’m not Nepali, what am I?

Mha Puja (?)

It was a cousin, who’d spent most of his childhood in Tanzania and Kenya, who first introduced the term Third Culture Kid to me.

Third culture kid (TCK) is a term used to refer to children who were raised in a culture outside of their parents’ culture for a significant part of their development years.

…The first culture of children refers to the culture of the country from which the parents originated, the second culture refers to the culture in which the family currently resides, and the third culture refers to the amalgamation of these two cultures.

…Third culture individuals can also be referred to as cultural hybrids, cultural chameleons, and global nomads.

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Christmas pageant at my preschool.

With the popularity of low-cost carriers, international travel has become a huge thing among people my age. Which is great, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think I could have afforded to go back to Kathmandu if not for LCCs, but it also comes with this romanticisation of being rootless, of being restless, of wanderlust, which annoys me.

I feel like a lot of people romanticise these ideas but don’t think of how disjointed and othered it can feel. I know it makes me sound like a hypocrite since there’s nothing I love more than visiting other countries, but I think what makes travel great is the concept of home. I’ve been living in the Philippines  for 20 years now, and it still doesn’t feel like home. It still feels temporary.

So if I’m not Filipino and I’m not Nepali, what am I?

I guess Third Culture Kid is the closest I’m going to get. It’s not the answer I’ve been looking for, but it’s an answer nonetheless and I can live with that. 🙂

p.s Here’s a great TED talk on TCKs

#LesMisManila

It’s been two days since and I am still not over it!!!

To say we were excited when they announced Les Mis in Manila last year is a gross understatement. Noelle and I have had tickets since October and it was a painful, 5-month wait.

Out of all the musicals I grew up watching on video, Les Misérables is one very dear to my heart. Not only because we share a birthyear (haha!), but also because our batch did a production of selected songs in high school.

Here, have some embarrassing photos of  said high school production:

I wish I had more, but all my very biased parents have are 50 photos of me either singing or dead on the barricade (such flattering angles) and two with Noelle during curtain call.

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I have no words for how much I loved it. It was exhilarating to finally get to see the actual show in its entirety since there hasn’t really been a full stage recording of Les Mis, just the anniversary concerts.

I cried when the bishop offered the candlesticks, which is the oddest thing since that scene’s never really affected me before. One Day More made me want to stand and lead a revolution in the balcony and Bring Him Home made my hair stand on end. And the set design! I did not expect to be so awed by the set design!

The whole show was absolutely magnificent. I don’t even know how to cope because listening to the soundtrack just doesn’t do anything for me anymore.

50th Anniversary concert in London, maybe? Please, universe? C’mon, 2035!

Gab, Currently III:

Plugging:

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Bull In The Heather, the titular song by Sonic Youth, and so named after a real Kentucky derby horse, is poised for this exhibit as a metaphorical open source to the myriad readings on power dynamics, value, labor, craft, functionalism, mysticism, primal instincts, spectatorship, and performance, especially set on the strength and idiosyncratic vision of the artists involved, as to be an artist requires a considerable degree of conviction as headstrong as a prized race horse. The song, with the exhibit not entirely being about it and for it, serves as a prompt as well as to embody the fervor and attitude of an inter-generational discourse pop savvy on such issues. We are after all molded by the music we listen to, the films and TV programs we watch, the books we read, where we mine mostly the meaning of our existence, gleaning from the troubled and awkward age of our first awakening.

“Time to tell your love story “. For this exhibit it, is a love story as an op-ed confessional, broadly expressed as dainty wispy pen strokes of biomorphic expulsions , as sensuous lines streaming into rivulets of mane and waves of nymphs, as finely cut embroidered appliques of pre-pubescent girls, as dense as a rubber tires bound by netted lace, as vivid splashes of purple and tangerine on writhing bound bodies, or as brash as a glittered banner extolling anatomical proprietorship.
We thus embolden you to take on this exhibit as a Trojan gift horse to be looked on in its mouth, its ears, its teeth, its full form, inside and out, lest it gallops away with all your bets, for this art show will be gone, too soon.

I’m privileged to be a part of Bull in the Heather, an all-woman exhibit that opens on the 29th of August at the Art Center in SM Megamall. Join us for the opening at 6pm! 🙂 The show will run until September 10th.

Feeling Relieved:

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I finally finished my last piece for the upcoming exhibit and I feel so light. I’ve mostly been on self-imposed house arrest to finish on time. Now that I’m done, I can allow myself to be excited for the exhibit. I gave up surfing last weekend for this!

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I’m also excited to get back to the gym because I haven’t been at all this past month, plus I’ve been eating a lot McDs and instant ramen so I feel like a whale.

Playing:

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To aid in my Steven Universe withdrawal, I bought Attack the Light on the app store. (Also because the price went down from $2.99 to $0.99.)

While I’ve played a couple of RPGs in my day, this is my first turn-based one. It’s also my first non-casual game that isn’t on the DS, so I’m still getting used to the touch screen. Fat fingers and touch screens are never a good combination, particularly when the attacks rely heavily on timing.

The characters are voices by the same actors who voice them on the show which is awesome. It’s both really adorable and frustrating, because like Steven, I get stressed when the Gems poof ha-ha!

Just Singin’, Singin’ in the Rain:

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I’ve got a trip coming up next month, so I’ve been on a pretty tight budget. I’d resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn’t be able afford to watch Singin’ in the Rain while it was in Manila. Lucky me, my fairy godmother of an Aunt asked me to be her date for the opening gala! ❤

It was awesome and just so much fun! I hadn’t seen the Gene Kelly movie since I was a kid, so the songs were a nostalgia bomb. Taryn-Lee Hudson, who plays Lena Lamont completely stole show.

It’s been a pretty good week, and I really hope this keeps up. After being sick on and off for almost a month, I could use more good weeks. 🙂

James Jean Signing!

The original plan was for me to finally buy Fables Deluxe Edition Vol. One which featured my favourite James Jean cover to have signed. Then I realised I had miscalculated my funds and was several thousands short of  my budget for my Hongkong trip in March so I asked Julie to have my 1001 Nights of Snowfall signed along with hers instead.

I still went to Bonifacio High Street that day to take pictures though. The least I could do was get a photo of JJ signing my book.

He has really pretty hair.

And then Julie’s magical friends with VIP passes, Chi and Spikey,  gave her their other number, and I in turn got Julie’s original number.

This sufficiently sums up how I felt at that moment.

I did not think it would be possible for me to be any less cool talking to James Jean than when I tried to strike up a conversation with Neil Gaiman, but I was just a hot mess. I just stood there, doing the world’s best Michael Cera impression.

But he was super nice, and I was pleasantly surprised that he still sketched me a little something on my book, despite being 66th in line.

I’m really glad Fully Booked brought him back, since I missed his signing the last time he was here. There are so many more artists I’d love to meet in person, I hope they all eventually make it to Manila too.

Varekai!

Grand Chapiteau

Circuses have always held a dear place in my heart. Probably the product of watching Little Nemo: Adventures in Slumberland and Dumbo just a little too often growing up. My parents took me to my first circus in Nepal in 1993, but my first encounter with Cirque du Soleil wasn’t until Popular Mechanics for Kids featured Dralion in one of their episodes. So when they announced that Cirque was going to stage Varekai in Manila, I didn’t need to hear anything else. I was going to watch it by any means necessary.

And Varekai was, in a word, breathtaking.

It’s a lot more thrilling to watch a Cirque show live. On DVD, obviously you know nothing wrong’s going to happen, but watching it live, wow. There were times when I would hold my breath when the performers were doing a particularly complicated routine. It’s funny how it took some otherworldy costumes to remind me of what great beauty there is in the human form. I’m inspired to re-do and finish my old circus-themed painting series.

The music is played live, which was awesome. And the costumes. Oh, the costumes.  ♥  It really is too bad that photography isn’t allowed inside the tent because some of the costumes that I really loved (one in particular had a very Alexander McQueen feel to it) were not in the souvenir program.

My favourite acts: The Flight of Icarus, the Aerial Straps and the Russian Swings. Photos from cirquedusoleil.com

The great thing about Cirque is there’s a wonderful and sophisticated theatricality in their shows –and in these three acts in particular — that set them apart from other productions. The Russian Swings made such a grand finale. You really leave the show on a high.

Future run-away-with-the-circus-ers: Pallon, myself, Myka and Noelle! ♥

If you haven’t watched or are still on the fence about seeing it, it was worth every single centavo. My only complaint is that 2 hours is not enough!

Varekai will run in Manila until July 24. You can book tickets at the Cirque du Soleil website.

CATS in Manila!

Despite the rain, the unusually heavy traffic and the flooded streets, the family and I headed to CCP yesterday evening to watch CATS.

How can I even begin to describe finally watching CATS live on stage and in person after watching it over and over on video these past couple of decades?

We bought our tickets  in January and last night marked the end of a long, excruciating, seven-month wait. The moment the lights came on and the first notes of the overture sounded, I was already fighting back tears. Watching it on video is nothing compared to watching it live.

Photo via CatsinManila

What I enjoyed the most (possible spoilers ahead):

  • Before the start of the show and during the intermission, the actors go down the aisles and interact with the audience.
    When I was making my way back to my seat, I was surprised by Carbucketty, who rubbed up against me. He and another cat (I didn’t get a good enough look at him to identify him) gamely posed for photos before returning backstage for the second act.
  • Memory in Tagalog!
    In, “The Moments Of Happiness/Memory“, Sillabub sings a verse of Memory  in Tagalog which was such a wonderful touch. It made the performance so personal. I wonder if they did that in the other countries they toured in too.
  • Growltiger’s Last Stand!
    This scene was not in the video so it was a spectacular surprise. There’s a part in it where Griddlebone does an aria and her voice was phenomenal. Gave me chills!

Photo via CatsinManila on Facebook

  • The Rum Tum Tugger has always been my favourite Jellicle cat, and I had very high expectations but John O’Hara did not disappoint. Far from it. I actually like him better than the Rum Tum Tugger on the original London cast recording. If my feet weren’t dying from the heels I wish I hadn’t worn, I would have waited outside the Artists’ entrance to get a photo with him or something haha.

My only qualm (Aside from the neanderthals seated with us on Balcony 1 who refused to sit down properly. I spent a good deal of time watching the back of their heads contemplating their deaths) is a minor one: Lea Salonga, as beautiful and goosebump-inducing her voice is, wasn’t convincing as Grizabella. Her rendition of, “Memory” lacked the anguish and the grit that I loved in Elaine Paige’s performance.

Even so, if I had an extra Php 4,000 I would absolutely watch CATS again before the end of its extended run on August 22. Because Jellicle songs are for Jellicle cats!

too bad it wasn’t caught on film. :(



pics from camsy

i woke up at 4:30 in the morning to line up for Neil Gaiman’s last book signing in gateway yesterday.

hardcore, i know. i asked jake to pass my plate for me so i could skip class for this and i’m glad i did.

after hours of waiting, there were finally just about 3-5 people in line front of me. Neil looks up from signing, scans the line, looks at me and grins.

“oh, hello again.”

OMG! he remembers me!

i hand him a rather hastily gift-wrapped bottle of eficascent oil and tell him it’s for when his arm gets sore.

god, this guy can smile.

he hugs me and kisses me on the cheek.

and the staff didn’t get a shot of it! all they got were pictures of me talking to him. bloody hell.

as he was leaving gateway, the crowd cheers him on and starts edging closer to touch him or whatever. i held back, not wanting to be part of a potentially dangerous mob and Neil Gaiman reached out to me for a split-second-pseudo-handshake.

i wan’t even trying to get his attention, but i got it anyway.

that man hasn’t got a shred of arrogance in him. he has every right to, but he doesn’t.

i want him to be my ninong. 🙂

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Related entries: Neil Gaiman = ♥

Neil Gaiman= ♥

just got back from the Neil Gaiman book signing at Rockwell.

click to full view

still in a somewhat euphoric state, so forgive my incoherence.

we got to Rockwell at around 9 in the morning. we thought that was pretty early as it is.

apparently not. there was this big ass line staring at us when we got out of the cab. some of these people were there since 5 am. o_0

was 135th in line (eep!). and despite signing an average of 3 items for the 134 people in front of me, he was still uber pleasant when i handed him my copy of Stardust.

love him just as much as i love his work now. haha. i’ve never been so fucking starstruck in my life.

i crush jo0!1oneone!!1!! neil and me. booyah! waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! *_*

pics thanks to noelle, btw. who, in our group of 10 (?) was the only one with a camera. ^__^

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Related entries: Too bad it wasn’t caught on film.