Archives for November 2011

BC Bloggers

BC_BLOGGERS

I am spreading my wings so joined a blogging group. It is a fun way to link up with fellow bloggers and connect with a lot of them. As much as I have a lot of stories to tell, there are also a lot of others stories to read. I like reading as much as writing so here I am in a community of bloggers.

Through the years, I have been blogging on and off. I wrote about my interests and experiences when I like it. Most of the time, procrastination kicks and blog gets neglected.   The reason I blog is to improve on my writing and one has to write ever single day to achieve that. I still have not reached that level but by joining this group, I hope I get inspiration to persevere in this effort. To start with, I made this blog more personal by writing a lot about my life. I know it  sounds a little narcissistic. It is my way to examine myself and process my thoughts in a coherent manner.

BC Bloggers Secret is founded by Paula as a way to connect with other bloggers and eliminate the tedious process of link exchanges. If you are interested,  join  us here!

 

Bantayan and my love for the beach

I am not a beach person. I do not get excited over invitations to go to the beach. What excites me though is the prospect of eating good food in the beach. From where I come from, the beach is at least 30 minutes away and people who go to the beach bring food- lots of good food. Some bring fresh fish and cook it over charcoal. My favorite is the grilled liempo. I love how the heat of the slow fire carefully seared in the flavor of a slab of pork belly.  Okay, I’ll stop here. Suffice to say, my love for the beach is actually my love for good food.

So while everyone else may go to the beach on a Sunday morning, I  was content to just have my grilled pork belly in the comforts of our home. After all, this is reason why I go to the beach.

Bantayan changed all that.

Friends of mine who have visited Bantayan several times already planned to visit again. The long weekend during the end of October this year seemed to be a perfect time to go especially for those with regular jobs. Thus, my friends chose these dates. In my case, it was the end of a long vacation for me. I just came from a vacation with relatives and I flew to Cebu the next day. Friends have called me “laagan” because of this.  (Rough translation: one who wanders around, one who is always out on the streets) Well, I call myself a risk-taker. The opportunity presented itself and I grabbed and took the risk: weather, budget, confidence to travel alone. This was my first time to travel to Cebu City alone.

From Cebu City, Bantayan is a 3 to 4-hour bus ride north and a 1-hour ferry ride. I have motion sickness and I do not adjust well to land trips. My friend and I agreed to meet at the Cebu’s North Terminal to ride the bus to Hagnaya port. Luckily, we caught the 7AM air-con Ceres bus to Hagnaya. However, we only got the rear seats. Amazingly, I did not puke nor experience the uncomfortable knot in my stomach or the unwanted smell I often encounter whenever I travel by land. Whenever I travel with friends, I always tell them that I have motion sickness, that I have my vomit bag ready, that I vomit more during land trips, etc. etc.  I am always mentally-prepared with all the puking. Almost always, it never happened. My friend and I theorized that I only vomit when I am with family because I let my guard down. I get too comfortable with family because somebody else will be responsible for me. When I am with friends, I am responsible for myself. I will test that theory the next time I travel with friends.

We reached Bantayan past lunch time so we were a bit famished. After checking in, we went to the nearby restaurant and ordered food. I had chicken with mushroom while my friend had kinilaw.

Once full, we changed clothes and headed for the beach. I was not a beach lover until Bantayan happened. Amazing.

How can I resist this?

We had a perfect weather. My friend suggest we try the Sugar Beach because the sand there is as fine as sugar.

Never mind the cheesy poetry.

I thank Bantayan for rekindling my love for the beach. I forgot that I used to enjoy the beach.

Mama, my cousin and I enjoying the beach.

The Sound of Music and I

Beware of some spoilers.

When I was a child, we watched videos on a betamax. The first video my aunt let me watch was ‘The Sound of Music’.  The second one was ‘Annie’. I watched the two movies in one night.  Even as a child,  I knew Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer and Daddy Warbucks (Hehe! I forgot the actor’s name).  I was familiar with the songs and for some reason, the line “The hills are alive with the sound of music”  is an LSS*  song for my aunt. I cannot count how many times my aunt bursts into that line whenever she feels like singing. We even thought that it was the only song she knows how to sing.  (My aunt has broadened her repertoire since we raised that point to her.)

Fast forward to October 2011, we were booked on a trip to Manila for a cousin’s wedding. A week before we left, my cousin asked us if we wanted to watch ‘The Sound of Music’ at the Resorts World. Without hesitation, I said yes. There were 10 of us flying to Manila so there would be 9 more who needed convincing. One aunt even exclaimed, ” Php 1000 for an old movie? Is that on  3D?”   Uhm. It’s not 3-D, Tita. It is live! Actors singing with their own voices. No lip-synching. Once the 20% senior citizen discount was mentioned, my aunts were convinced! Haha!

Resorts World’s Performing Arts Theater

Resorts World is gorgeous. We had dinner with my aunt’s friends before the musical started and the restaurant where we ate was near an open area that reminds me of The Venetian in Macau. Because we had a dinner date with my aunt’s friends, we were in the Resorts World ahead of the rest of our theater companions. We were loitering at the lobby of the Performing Arts Theater.  The lobby was carpeted and had the feeling of richness. Music from the musical was playing in the background. The anticipation was killing us. Our tickets were with our companions. When they arrived, we hurriedly looked for our seats. Ticket prices ranged from Php 1000 to Php 2000.  Even if we had the Php 1000 ticket, we had good seats. From our vantage point, we could see the stage clearly. Besides, there was a video wall where we could take a closer look at the facial expressions. Actually, there were no bad seats in the theater. We were seated at balcony right.

Below is the seat map from Ticketworld:

Seat Plan taken from Ticket World

This was my first time to watch a stage performance since college. The last play I watched was in UP’s Wilfredo Ma. Guerrero Theater. I cannot remember the title of the play. It was a requirement in one of my courses and tickets only cost Php 60 then. I am a musical theater fan because I am huge fan of Lea Salonga but my musical theater experience is confined to YouTube videos and cast recordings. I do not claim to be a critic so forgive me for my attempt at writing a review.

The Sound of Music

The musical had slight differences from the movie version. In the movie, Maria sang ‘My Favorite Things’ when all the children gathered in her room during a thunderstorm. In the musical, she sang the song with Mother Abbess before she left the convent.  In the musical, ‘The Lonely Goathered’ was sung in place of the ‘My Favorite Things’.  In the movie, Christopher Plummer sang ‘Edelweiss’ solo with a guitar in the house. In this musical, it was sung during the singing contest.

A large video wall served as a backdrop. One could see Maria running with rolling hills behind her. Thanks to technology the theater experience is a lot more wonderful.  I wonder how Repertory Philippines staged the musical before this technology happened.

I was wishing I get Joanna Ampil for Maria that I tweeted her:

I had some apprehensions with Cris Villonco as Maria because I always pictured her that little girl who sang the APEC song in the 90’s.  As luck would have it, I got Cris Villonco as Maria. The moment she stepped on stage and sung the first note, I was hers. She has grown up and I feel old. HA! Because she was not visible on TV scene, I forgot she was already a grown woman. I was amazed at the quality of her vocals and the poise she had on stage. She may play the spunky Maria but her grace as a performer shows. I LOVE her.

Cris Villonco as Maria

I do not know if Cris’ wikipedia is accurate. Nevertheless, it shows several musicals under her belt. She slipped under my radar because she is active in theater (not in TV and movies).  I am happy to learn that she finished school.  She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Sarah Lawrence College in New York. (Designer Vera Wang graduated from the same school.)

The other person I recognized in the cast  was Pinky Amador. She was effective as the baroness. I had to google who played Capt. Von Trapp and I found that he was Jon Joven. His vocals were great but I think he looked too young to sire a 16-year-old. Even with grey hair, his lanky frame and boyish charms still showed. Acting-wise, he was able to match Cris’ performance so all is well.

Congratulations to cast! I feel proud to be watching my fellow Filipinos perform on stage. Our group of 11 had a great time. It was one memorable night!

A surprise encounter

We exited the theater and spent some time taking our pictures with the standees as our ‘souvenir’ and proof that we watched the musical. Cousins were waiting for us outside to fetch us. Another cousin bought shoes she would wear to the wedding so we waited a little. Another cousin led us the way to the waiting area where the driver would pick us up. Since we were with chatty senior citizens, we were few steps ahead of them. The entryway was quite crowded so my cousin and I walked farther to the uncrowded area. Lo and behold, we spotted Cris Villonco sans make-up and costume waiting for her driver. The crowd was oblivious to her presence so we managed to chit-chat with her and tell her how wonderful she was.   Well, my cousin did a lot of the talking because I was shaking. All I could say was “You were sooo good!” She was genuinely grateful.  I was too thrilled to meet her that when we asked to pose with her, I could not seem to make my camera work. After several tries, we got some decent photographs with her. We thanked her for her time and went back to the spot where our aunts were already standing and waiting for our ride home. When Cris’ driver came, she passed by us as she entered the vehicle. She bade us goodbye when she saw us. How sweet! The aunts noticed and wondering how we knew the woman. “That was Cris!” My aunt replied, “Kris Aquino?” Hahaha.  “Tita, Cris Villonco! Maria!”  Lesson learned: Too much chit-chat= less awareness of your surroundings.

Thank you, Cris!

The tweets

By the way, I got tweets from Joanna Ampil.

I did see Joanna Ampil perform. Sunday night that week, we watched a Leo Valdez concert on TV. (Incidentally, the concert was held at the same theater at the Resorts World.) She was a guest performer on that show.

Go! Watch the show!

If you have not watched it, go and watch the musical. It is so worth it! Treat yourself to a wonderful musical featuring world-class Filipino talents.  Learn from me: it does not matter who is performing, I guarantee you’ll have a good time.

* Last Song Syndrome

Of Flying and Airports

I’m afraid to fly and I don’t know why.

Yeah, I borrowed the lyrics from a song. I have fear of flying. Traveling by plane, to be precise.  My first plane ride was in college. I wanted to go home one semestral break and my friends weren’t going home so I have to travel alone. My father does not want me to travel alone by boat which was our usual means of transportation. Fetching me was not option. It would time consuming for it was 32-hour trip on a ship (one-way). Plane tickets cost a lot then but it was the more practical choice for such situation. It was only a 1.5-hour trip.  I had to get a ‘Flying Student’ card from PAL to get discounted tickets.

My fear of flying did not start on my first plane ride. It was on a flight to Manila in 2008. I developed vertigo two years prior to that. For some reason, the condition showed up when the plane lifted off. My world began to spin. Literally. Vertigo is caused by some unbalanced particles in the inner ear.  Our ears are responsible for balance. The ears are quite sensitive to air pressure inside the airplane cabin.  Thus, poor me. I was traveling alone. With no one to hold on to, I mustered strength to keep it together the entire 1.5-hour flight. Unfortunately,  I threw up in a friend’s car. She came to fetch me at the airport.  Lucky for her, I am an experienced ‘vomitter’. Years of motion-sickness during bus rides have prepared me for this kind of incident. I can anticipate puking and holding it in until I can grab a plastic bag. Zero-mess in her car.

Despite the fear, I’ve been to 14 flights this year. Three of which, I traveled alone.  Since that 2008 incident, I’ve never chosen the window seat again.  Upon checking in, I usually pick an aisle seat when asked.  I figured the plane is more balanced in the middle and I won’t feel the plane tilt nor see the horizon inclined. But, on my recent flight home, I picked the aisle seat. I wanted to take pictures from above. I took precautionary measures like covering my ears during take off , closing my eyes when the plane tilts a little and praying. Lots of praying.

Here is Butuan City from above:

Butuan is my security blanket. It is where I feel at home. The best part of traveling is coming home.

I still have that fear of flying. My love of travel helps me ease the fear.

Airport woes

Uhm. I don’t have one. I, the budget traveler, have never been to the worst airport in the world, NAIA Terminal 1. It is ironic that the budget traveler like me have the NAIA Terminal 3 for an airport. A great equalizer, I must say. I may not travel business class but my airport is not the worst in the world. Lucky me!

These photos were taken in 2008.

As a bonus, there is a live plant in the rest room. Not that it matters but I like it.

Noted.

I saw pictures of the embarrassing state of NAIA 1. I feel so sorry for people who had no choice but to use that airport.  Think about those foreign tourists lured by the beauty of this archipelago who have high expectations of the pearl of the orient only to be welcomed by sight of NAIA 1. I believe it should be renovated. The government seemed to agree.

On his Facebook page, internationally-acclaimed designer Kenneth Cobonpue shared this video.

It looks promising. I am hopeful.

Spring Cleaning in November

Among the many things that my mother and I never had in common was being a neat freak.  More like clean freak. My father and I were neat but we seldom clean. I am more like my father. We kept things in order but we seldom dusted the tables or mopped the floors. We fixed our bed when we wake up but our piles of paper and similar junk accumulated a counter top. We could live without changing the bed covers for months. Gross? I know. We could even skip bathing for a day. More gross. Maybe I should stop writing. You get the drill.

I got my package of garage sale stuff from a friend in the US. Thus, I got a boxful of clothes, bedsheets and bags with no storage space to keep them.

The only logical thing to do is clean up the closets. It has been 6 years since my mother passed away and  almost 2 years for my father. Their things are still in their closets. Maybe it was hard for me to move on or maybe I was just lazy to do all the dirty work. I am my father’s child after all. I love reading, writing and arithmetic but not the house chores. (Well, who loves house chores, anyway?)

I called a friend to help me. The people in the house also helped. Thus, the cleaning began. It was more like treasure-hunting for my helpers for the day.

I gave away clothes, bags, curtains, racks, etc. Once all these were discarded, I started to clean my own closet and my room.

I now have the cleanest and most organized closet in the house. Last night, I slept in my new bedsheets. I don’t want to rise from bed. I just want to sleep all day. Uh-oh. That’s not a good thing for a lazy bone.

On the positive side, I am hoping I can do a lot more writing because of this. My “office” area in my bedroom was also organized.

I even threw away my 14-year-old floppy disks which contained my college research paper. I don’t have a floppy disk drive in my computer. I have the hard copy of the paper if I need it someday. My college library has a copy. The disk might not even work or have a virus. To the trash, I am letting them go.

Kids, this are called the 3.5" floppy disks.

My aunts are now having a countdown on room’s cleanliness longevity. I will prove the doubters wrong.  HA!