Saturday, December 31, 2005

Reflections on 2005

It's New Year's Eve over here... and the usual dread of hearing fireworks and other noisemakers is upon me. The reasoning is that the noise is meant to drive out the bad spirits of the previous year in preparation for the coming year. I don't think anyone makes more noise than we do on the Eve, yet we're still plagued by whatever's plaguing us through the years. So... I guess that "bad spirits" theory is screwed, huh?

Having said that there is much to reflect upon and be thankful for, wonderful blessings from the past year. Here are a few of them:

- My first US concert tour - we visited San Francisco, Chicago, Atlantic City and Los Angeles. I learned a lot about mounting a concert... what works, what doesn't, and basically how to have fun in spite of the stress involved.

- Moving back to Manila - Rob's LA-based company formed a joint venture with a company based in Manila, so he's had to move to Manila. He's been here since March, and I followed in April after my acting classes were done and other gigs were completed. It's been such a joy living here after a long time away... a decision which led to other blessings.

- Coaching - I credit (and sometimes blame) Bobby Garcia for the challenge of coaching KC Concepcion and Karel Marquez. Thank goodness I had a wonderful coaching partner (and mentor) in Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, someone to hold my hand through the process. Menchu then gave me the task of coaching Raki Vega and Jett Pangan for another show. Each person is different, and the challenge for me was to find the unique vocabulary with which to coach each one. I hope to do more of this in the future.

- I'm pregnant!!! - in September, Rob and I found out that we were going to be parents! We still don't know the gender of our little peanut yet (it refuses to uncross its legs... hence it's probably a girl), so we're ready with lots of unisex items. We still have yet to get some of the other things we'll need. I like the idea of the unisex stuff; that way if we have a different gender next, we won't have to go out and buy new stuff. We'll already be prepared. Thank Rob's cousin for that bit of down-to-earth reasoning. She already has a girl, and has no idea what she's having next.

- Carnegie Hall - one night... one fabulous night. If I never ever get to perform in this great hall again, at least I can say I've done it, and did it with a bang. Many thanks to Diverse City Theater Company for making it all happen (and for asking me in the first place!).

- The blessing of friends and family - 2005 was the year in which old friendships were rekindled and new ones were founded. My clutch of friends hasn't exactly gotten that much bigger (and I like it that way), but the ones I have found are true blue, and I thank God for each and every one of them. Sure, we'll have a few frustrating times, but on the whole their presence in my life makes me smile everyday. As for family, the coming arrival has brought out so much love headed in Rob's and my direction. Everyone's anticipating this new baby, and we can't wait to meet him/her.

That's about all... 2006 should be a stellar year for our new family. I'm not thinking about work at all; that may have to wait until 2007. For right now, it's all about the baby, my husband, family and friends. AND getting my figure back after I give birth.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Hello, world!!!


This was taken today... and this was our favorite photo. No, we still don't know the gender of the baby (legs were too close together!), and we really tried looking!


Sunday, November 27, 2005

A Peanut Update

Okay... the peanut has definitely grown! My mama's belly is now just starting to show, and when I lie down flat, I can definitely feel the globular shape beneath my abdomen, my baby's home for 5 months longer. I can't wait for him/her to come out and greet the world! I've also been trying to figure out how both Rob and I will be able to get some semblance of sleep while keeping up with the feeding and the changing and everything. At the end of the day, I'm sure we'll come to the same conclusion that every parent in the world has: SLEEP??? WAT'S DAT???

While I still can, I'm going out and seeing friends, performing and seeing shows, dining with my husband (when he can... his schedule is far more packed than mine), walking around the mall, and taking trips, both domestic and international. Once the baby arrives, you can consider me grounded for a while, not able to take trips or even leave my house! My friends will have to come and visit... play with the baby... change a diaper or two. I know what that feels like, as I've had to do this for friends in the US. It was fun though, learning to negotiate changing a baby's clothes before they have the coordination and independence to do it themselves, diapers, and just spending time. It's really an incredible experience, one that will forever change my life.

I'll try to post a peanut update more often. The next check-up is in a few days, and by then hopefully we'll have a better photo to display. The last one was unpostable. Only a head, or a spine, or a thigh. I want to see a whole body!

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Ten weeks... 29 more to go...

For the first time today I shopped at a store called Mimi Maternity. I always used to pass this place whenever I went to the mall (I would usually be heading to either Ann Taylor or Victoria's Secret), but this was my devirginization day... I HAD to get myself some clothes. I found a few cute items, some that I can use even past my due date: a great denim skirt, jeans, and a few shirts. I plan to just keep them until I fit into them (except for the one pair of jeans... I need those NOW). Elastic waistbands are the key to comfort. I can't button the tops of my jeans anymore.

I'm actually looking forward to the changes in my body that are going to take place... it's almost as if I can't wait for them to happen. My breasts are officially a 36C (I'm usually a 34B, so I've jumped up a cup size, and then some) and my belly is starting to expand. I've been eating normally, if not less than normally thanks to morning sickness, so I know it's definitely not my diet. The only uncomfortable thing about my pregnancy thus far is the nausea. I hate feeling like this, but it's comforting when it does hit; it means my baby's doing fine.

I wonder what it looks like now, and how much it's grown. My next ultrasound appointment isn't until I get back to Manila in about 3-4 weeks. I can't wait to see!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

All Things Just Keep Getting Better

Yes, that's the title of the first track from the Queer Eye album. I liked the song so much, I bought the CD.

It seems to be an appropriate title for this blog entry... life is just going quite well. I have nothing to complain about in this world... great marriage, great husband, a child on the way, wonderful friends and family, and a fantastic career. Right now, the only thing I'm praying for is a healthy baby. Everything else is taking second place. Nothing is as important now.

All my plans -- professional and social -- are dependent upon how I feel from day to day. If I'm nauseous one day, then everything gets cancelled. If I'm feeling good, then I'm great to go just about anywhere. The morning sickness hits at random times, which makes it difficult to keep track of. However, having said that, I'm thankful that I don't have weird cravings, excessive tiredness, or extreme mood swings, save for a moment of weepiness at a sentimental moment on TV or film. I can still fit into most of my clothes. In my Ob's words, I'm doing better than most women. Menchu can't believe that I'm actually walking about, as her pregnancy was on the more difficult side.

My little peanut... already changing my life before its arrival in May. Chances are it'll be a Gemini child. I'm surrounded by enough Geminis in my life that I think I'll manage quite well. It's just the two Geminis I dated that screw up my otherwise excellent track record with people of that zodiac sign.

Now it's all about the name game... Rob and I have yet to decide on monickers for the baby... I want a name that no one will make fun of in school or on the playground (I mean, what parent of sound mind would name their child Adolf?), a name that carries strength and character, a name that sounds good with Chien.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Introducing...


Our new baby, currently 1.44 cm. long, and 8 weeks along. He/she is due to arrive in late May. That's actually the second ultrasound image; we barely saw a dot in a sac two weeks ago (the image on the right).

At the moment I'm in New York City, preparing for my Carnegie Hall concert debut, whilst experiencing morning sickness and strange cravings (I just HAD to have cold sesame noodles from a nearby Chinese restaurant). I'm also doing a benefit this Sunday with quite a few other musical-theater greats, and I'm honored. I'm just thrilled with the fact that now it won't just be me onstage. I'll have to get used to singing with a baby in my tummy. Cool.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Lessons in Love

Wherever and whenever there is love, there is God.

I'm paraphrasing the last line of a blog entry written by a dear, dear friend in Paris. As young as this friend is, the line was something I could learn from... and have been.

Lately I've found myself tested in matters of the heart. Just what is my heart's capacity to love? Can I make the choice to, beyond the easiness and giddiness of new friendships, actually love, even after finding out just how human that person is? Or do I choose to turn away, once I discover the stink of it all, and say goodbye, so long, have a nice life, by the way don't let the door hit your ass on the way out?

I choose to love. Mine is not to judge another person; that's God's job.

I've found myself in a new friendship from time to time, and after the first few meetings am able to discern whether or not my new acquaintance is deemed worthy of making the jump to friendship. Some conversations, text messages, and coffee dates later, I am then more sure that this is a friend. This is someone I will share secrets with (and will hear them from). This is the person that will be present at the milestones of my life (and vice versa). I will share a piece of my heart and self, and this person will share the same with me. It may lead to moments of disappointment... pain... frustration... the almost homicidal tendency to take a shotgun and shoot this person in the head for driving you crazy. It happens... it's happened. And I still make the choice to love.

I often ask myself (and God) why this person was brought into my life. Was this relationship meant to last for a moment or a lifetime? Am I supposed to learn a lesson from this? Was I supposed to impart something in turn?

I've made the active decision to terminate... abort... end friendships too, when I've found the person to be... hmmm... undeserving of it. I've been on the receiving end of malicious backbiting by those that claim to be so-called friends. With people like that as friends, who needs enemies? I just keep my distance in social situations and go on with my life. Not worth my time. 'Twas fun while it lasted though.

As the years have gone on, I've found my circle of friends getting smaller and smaller, but the quality of the friendships going higher and higher. I can only thank God for the circle I'm a part of, and for the new friends that will join it.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

World of Warcraft

My insomnia shall definitely return.

I just purchased for myself WORLD OF WARCRAFT, an online computer game that my husband and a few of his friends are currently obsessed with. I had to buy a copy for myself because (and this is the part I detest) my husband used the unlock code in his software box, and unfortunately, Blizzard Software does not sell standalone codes for situations like ours. Shet.

The trouble with me and a computer game is this: absolutely no one and nothing no longer exists once I start. The same applies when I start a PS2 or Xbox game, I have to devote at least 4 hours to the task of playing the game until I reach the end. Now here's where Warcraft differs from the other games I've played: there is NO real ending (according to Rob) and there are 60 levels to reach (he's been playing for months, and is only at Level 18). I know what this will mean: my social life and everyone in it will all but disappear.

I have to remind myself to schedule my playing time accordingly... must remember that I do have friends -- human, breathing friends -- who much not be neglected in the course of my gaming. If anything, Rob and I will get to quest together. He's confident that I will overtake him and become more than just proficient at playing the game.

I just want it to be fun... if millions of gamers are online playing this, then it must be. Rob likens it to Final Fantasy, but longer and better.

We'll see. In the meantime, I'll let the game sit in its warm little cardboard box until I'm ready to enlist.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Hong Kong Disneyland...

My mother and I have been here in Hong Kong since Wednesday afternoon (Rob arrived late Friday night), and we've all been having a wonderful time. The Disneyland park is wonderful (I had one rehearsal and video taping day when the park was empty of cast members and visitors, save for the cast members who were part of the Voices of Disney show, of which I am a part), not too huge just yet, so it's quite manageable to do in one day. I haven't been there during a capacity crowd day though. Quite a few things on the news on how the park hasn't been able to keep up when the park is filled to the brim. Oh, all that takes is practice, guys! Chill out, please!

Last night there was a party held at one of the beautiful Disney hotels... of course the party was great, the food even greater. The drive home though was what really impressed me more than anything that happened that evening. The roads... the tunnels... the bridges... just how impressive everything looked. Rob had to take out his digital camera and shoot video of the view in front of the car... of the drive upon a long and beautiful suspension bridge... under the tunnels... and on the smoothest freeway we've ever taken. My manager was joking, that he'd enter the road video at the Sundance Film Festival.

All kidding aside, my constant thought bubbles were appearing all over the place... some of them, thought out loud. I turned to my mother and asked, "Why can't they do this in the Philippines?" Her immediate and cutting remark: "That's because all the money that would have gone into projects like this go into the politicians' pockets until they're full." I then shot back, "I guess they keep making new pockets."

There are pillars constructed to support new roads... the funding runs out, and the pillars then turn into deteriorating eyesores. From the skyway on very rainy days (which by the way still isn't done, or probably will never get done), water pools atop these massive pillars... I wonder if modern engineering keeps the rain from damaging these things permanently.

There's also the case of the PIATCO Airport (NAIA Terminal 3). The building has been standing there for a few years, but has been standing unused. I don't know what the reasons are for its non-operation, and I won't pretend to know, but can't the powers-that-be make it so that the building gets utilized? It cost a bazillion dollars to build; let it earn some of that back by beginning operations. Rumor has it that finally it will begin operations soon. Thank goodness.

The point of all this is that as a country, the Philippines has so much potential. We are an intelligent, beautiful, resourceful people. Other countries in this same region are fast overtaking us as far as infrastructure and progress are concerned. After seeing Singapore, Malaysia and now Hong Kong, I know that it's within our abilities to create a positive change. I just don't understand why change (rather, progress) isn't taking place. Can someone please explain why that is?

Monday, August 29, 2005

Thought Bubbles

Various random thought bubbles that popped in my mind (I will not provide explanations, so don't ask me for any!):

"Why can't they do this in Manila?"

"Just when I thought I had all the answers, life changes the questions."

"Why couldn't that putang shet clear his schedule???"

"Okay, next time, DRINK before EATING that pata!"

"Shet, no vocal guide, and my reading sucks."

"I LOVE MY PHONE!!!"

"...I WILL find you..."

"WHY?????????"

"I need coffee, NOW!"

"Please, New York, CALL ME!!!"

"Can't wait for my new kitchen to get done..."

"I hope it doesn't rain next time..."

"I hope it rains next time..."

Monday, August 8, 2005

Reinvigorated

My stay in New York City was one that invigorated my spirit, in spite of the near 100 degree heat and humidity that permeated the air. I was able to spend some quality and quantity time with some of my best friends. Yes, I definitely plied myself with too much alcohol and exceptional food, but you know what? Life's way too short to deprive myself of the pleasures of this good earth. As they say, everything in moderation.

I stayed at a small boutique hotel in the middle of midtown Manhattan, a stone's throw from my favorite store, CompUSA. I visited the place twice during my short visit... all the things to see in NYC, and I head to the computer store. Weird, aren't I, or just a nerd? Maybe a bit of both.

I was however able to indulge in some great theater while there: Doubt and Spamalot. Doubt won this year's Tony Award for Best Play, starring Cherry Jones (she won a Tony for her role as Sister Aloysius). 'Day is going to direct a production of this in Manila, so I promised her I'd watch it, and I was not disappointed. To be truthful, I'm not a connoisseur of straight plays, except to say that if I like it on whatever level, I like it. And I LOVED this play! The acting was exceptional (even by Brian O'Byrne's standby), the dialogue never dragged, the sets coming on and off stage was cool too. The subject matter was also timely... there is currently much controversy surrounding the Catholic church, with priests sexually abusing altar boys. The fact that this occurence is widespread is scary, and certainly casts doubt over the validity of this aged institution. As a Catholic myself (born and raised), I am certainly saddened (okay, depressed) that the innocence of these children is taken away by the very people they trust to be role models to them. The play is so cleverly written, that at the end of the show, I as a member of the audience, was in doubt. I don't want to reveal too much; you'll have to either read the play or see it for yourself.

The next day was my treat, my chocolate sundae, my sans rival, my Valrhona chocolate cake: SPAMALOT!!! Friends in Manila have fallen in love with the musical, and I have to admit after listening to the soundtrack I was hooked by the music, and the laugh-out-loud humor. By this time I had the soundtrack on repeat on my iPod, so I practically memorized the lyrics. It was also a wonderful surprise the a friend of mine from another I did was in the ensemble. I called her in between acts to let her know I was watching, as well as where I was sitting. She invited me backstage to visit with her for a few minutes before she had to rush to dinner. It was an even cooler surprise that a director and stage manager I worked with in New York were working on the show! We greeted each other with lots of hugs and kisses. I was also supremely flattered when the director said I should play the Lady of the Lake. Wow! That would be cool, and would definitely make my Spamalot friends in Manila excited. They have to come watch me, if all goes well. But, I wanna play Elphaba first, heh heh.

Anyway... the show was even more than I expected!!! The entire cast was incredible, and it was obvious they were having a great time. My body was so tired from laughing from start to finish... the jokes, the physical comedy, the music and lyrics, the dancing, the costumes, the acting, the singing... I LOVED IT!!!

Right after the show I headed to Hertz Rent-A-Car to pick up my vehicle in order to start the long drive to Washington DC for concerts there, and in Norfolk, VA. The drive was so lovely, I was flanked by nothing but tall trees... I imagine myself making that same drive someday in the fall, when the glorious reds, oranges, and yellows show themselves. On that drive, I was thinking of nothing but the shows I'd seen, the friends that share my love for them, and the love I feel for doing what I do best. I went to the shows feeling renewed and reenergized... reinvigorated, ready to take on the performances that were ahead of me.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

New York Stories...

I spent the last few days in New York City... after a long... make that LOOOOOOOOOOOONG plane ride. Let me emphasize, that I was on the plane for 9 fucking hours, but that our flying time was all of around 6. To spend an extra 3 hours on the plane without going anywhere is annoying to say the least. Needless to say, the natives were getting restless.

I woke up at 8:10 AM the day of my departure for New York (much to my husband's chagrin, I was leaving him for a week and a day... he couldn't come with me on this trip because of this thing he calls "work"... he has a normal job, so I guess that's the word to use), finished my packing and got ready. We arrived at LAX without incident because it was a Sunday, the best time to be on the freeways in LA (oh, you do NOT want to be driving on the 405 -- in either direction -- on the weekdays, particularly Friday... it's hell on earth, without exaggeration)... got checked-in and through security. I thought that the journey to NYC would go uneventfully. I was even able to catch the final moments of the British Open golf tournament (yes, Tiger Woods won) in the airport lounge before I made the decision to head downstairs, buy my Starbucks latte and get to my gate.

Part one of my trip goes without a hitch. I land at Dallas/Fort Worth airport, check which gate I'm leaving from, and wait for around an hour, texting my friends in Manila and calling my friend Victor to inform him of my arrival and confirm dinner plans with the girls. Finally, the boarding announcement is made... I settle into my seat, ready my noise cancelling headphones and my iPod, put my book away, and lean back.

This is when things get frustrating.

Once everyone's on board, the captain announces that "due to bad weather conditions in New York City, we cannot take off. Air traffic control is telling us that we will be delayed around 2 hours and 20 minutes" WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!?!? At this point, some passengers make the decision to take their things and get off the plane to wait in the terminal. I thought to just stay on the plane, in case air traffic pushed up up in their flight sequence. Besides, I was too lazy, too sleepy and too tired to gather up my possessions and disembark. Never mind, I'll sit this out. How bad could this get, right?

I then lean my seat back, and strangely enough I'm able to get around an hour of shut eye. The captain's voice then awakens me with another announcement (I usually can sleep through just about anything... why was this an exception?): "Air traffic has advised us that unfortunately, things in La Guardia are such that our schedule has been pushed back. We've been hoping to get pushed forward, but we apologize for the delay, and will advise you if there are any changes." This... is... not... good. It was a minor consolation that the airline decided to show all the inflight movies and TV shows while we were on the ground to keep ennui from setting in, but after a few hours on that plane, you are bound to get stir crazy. And that captain expressed that to air traffic control, that everyone on the plane was getting restless. It must have reached God's ears, because a few minutes after that announcement, we got our salvation: "We'll be departing in 10 minutes." All the passengers hurriedly put their electronics away in preparation for the soon-to-happen takeoff. FINALLY!!!

The trip went quite smoothly once we were in the air, and the flight attendants started serving the food almost immediately after takeoff. After an hour or so, I decided to look out my window, and was stunned by the view outside: a more-than-half moon lighting our way, the black sky dotted with stars, and just below mists of clouds that made the scene look like something out of a Harry Potter novel. It was breathtaking. God was around somewhere, and if anyone else was looking out of their windows that night, would have been consoled by the beauty of the night sky. I wouldn't have traded that view for anything, and I felt fortunate to have seen it. It lasted all of a few minutes; I looked out again, and all I could see were grey clouds. I was blessed... for a few minutes, I felt blessed.

Landing in La Guardia was hectic, given that just about every delayed flight from different parts of the country landed at the same time ours did. Four flights per carousel (and there were a few carousels going round and round) were being serviced, and the ground staff was trying their best to get everyone's bags out as quickly as possible. My limo driver was also calling me, trying to find me amidst the crowd. We finally saw each other, and he met me at my spot. It didn't take too long for the suitcases to appear, and once they did, we were out of there.

I arrived at my hotel at around 2 AM (it was a pleasure getting into Manhattan today; no traffic from the airport!), checked in and brought my own bags upstairs in the hotel push cart, as there was only one person downstairs watching the lobby (and the mesmerizing fish tank). I navigated the narrow hallway (with the pushcart, which was at time unwieldy) to my little room, unloaded the luggage, parked the cart by the elevators, then began to settle in. The room was bathed in blue light when I entered, which I thought was cool. Then 5 minutes passed, and I had to turn them off. There was a plasma TV hanging on the wall (perfect for in-bed TV viewing), double window shades that were both drawn, a small bathroom, a desk with both broadband and dialup ports as well as electrical outlets and a really comfortable bed. As sparsely furnished as the place was, I was in a good place, and I'm glad the reservation was made.

The highlights of my stay were: seeing to the plans for the renovation of my New York apartment, the setting up of my website, meeting with the director of a concert I'll be doing in November at Carnegie Hall, and seeing two shows: DOUBT and SPAMALOT. Also, having rounds of blowjobs with my friends, and having dinner with my friend Yvette and her husband Marc. It was so good to just sit, drink, and catch up with everyone.

Doubt just won the Tony Award for Best Play, and it did not disappoint. I had never seen Cherry Jones in anything, so I had no idea what to expect. I was rivetted by her resolve as Sister Aloysius to determine the truth. Unfortunately Brian O'Byrne didn't play Father Flynn at that performance, but his standby Chris McGarry was quite good. The play ran at 90 minutes, and went by so quickly... I now need to read the play, in order to get a handle on whatever I might have missed. There were moments of laugh-out loud humor, and you-can-hear-a-pin-drop drama. No overacting, no hamming it up, just honesty. It was incredible to watch.

Spamalot was a trip!!! After hearing the soundtrack (and hearing of the passion for this show from friends in Manila), I was incredibly excited. Upon going inside, before I headed to my seat I made a beeline to the concessions stand to gather merchandise for the Spamalot Fan Club, Manila Chapter (you know who you are, peoples!), then went to the ladies room and finally found my seat, with the mountain of souvenir brochures and t-shirts at my feet. After hearing the creative "turn your cellphone off" message (I won't ruin it for those who haven't yet seen the show), the orchestra started to play... and from the first notes of that overture, I knew I was going to be in for a really great ride. I will not write about the show here, except to say that the entire cast was excellent and the show itself a riotous load of fun. My face was exhausted from laughing and smiling for over 2 hours. I didn't think having a good time would be so draining! After the show I headed backstage to visit my friend from the ensemble of the show, and was pleasantly surprised to see two former colleagues from the Manila production of Miss Saigon. We all exchanged hugs and how-are-you's. It was so great to see them. I then headed off to the car rental company to pick up my car... I had a long drive to DC ahead of me.

The drive was gorgeous, very different from driving on the freeways of Los Angeles. On my right were rows of tall trees, which made my imagination run wild with the thought of how beautiful this drive must be in the fall, when the foliage is a colorful display of reds, siennas, browns, yellows and oranges. I've never made an east coast road trip in the fall before, and it's something I wanna definitely do in my life before I die. If I do another New York show, that will definitely be on my to-do list. It's a sight I want to share as well with those I love and whose company I enjoy.

So... I have a concert on Saturday, and I think I'll be just fine. These are songs that I've done in concert before, so I'm not as stressed as I was in Munich. My New York friends are also making the drive down to watch the show, so I'm excited that they'll be here.

Signing off... this is one long ass blog!

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Blame it on 'Day!!!

Haaaaaaaaaay... I saw this last entry in another blog ('Day, I blame this one on you!!!), and felt compelled to fill it in, too! You might be surprised by the answers!

Last cigarette: Not that long ago, I'm afraid... was stressing out over a few things, so I had a smoke. Doesn't happen often, and never when I'm working. I still wonder how there are people that smoke regularly and still churn out fantastic performances.

Last car ride: Last night, driving from a restaurant called Mastro's in Beverly Hills. I was kept company by wonderful texts from my good friends in Meralco.

Last good cry: Listening to WICKED in my car... singing along... and then feeling the tears well up. I must have looked like an idiot on the freeway!

Last Library book checked out: Library? What's a library? I kid, I kid! Seriously, it must have been something I checked out for school in either Fordham or Ateneo. A long, long time ago.

Last movie seen: Batman Begins. Oye! I loved this backstory far more than the other Batman films. Christian Bale shirtless is HOT. I gasped. Thank goodness I have an understanding husband.

Last book read: In progress: One Hundred Years of Solitude. Completed: the entire Griffin & Sabine series. Well, Parts 4-6 anyway... I heard there are more.

Last food consumed: our Mastro's leftovers. Yummy!

Last crush: Jett Pangan (after seeing his transformation in BATB, I was hooked and screaming)... Brad Pitt... Piolo Pascual (another hot man when not wearing a shirt!)... Ewan McGregor (in Moulin Rouge!)

Last phone call: with Bobby, Karel and KC.

Last TV show watched: British Open golf. Tiger Woods is leading, but there's a whole leaderboard at his heels. It should make for an interesting final round tomorrow.

Last time showered: 1 AM, after getting home.

Last shoes worn: my favorite Dansko clogs.

Last CD played: Daniel Rodriguez (I sing on two songs for his newest album), Wicked (on the iPod)

Last item bought: Gas. I ran out last night.

Last downloaded: Photos from Bobby!

Last annoyance: Yesterday's rehearsals... call time 4 PM... actual rehearsal time 9 PM. Thank goodness for good company that kept me entertained for many hours. Oh, and Piolo shirtless.

Last disappointment: Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!! Hearing about friend's disappointments with rehearsal times and lack of respect for them.

Last soda drank: Diet Coke.

Last thing written: This!!!

Last key used: Car keys

Last words spoken: "I'll talk to you tomorrow! I miss you!" -- to Bobby

Last sleep: Last night, after some Sudafed.

Last IM: with 'Day and Bobby, on different IM clients! I was multitasking!

Last sexual fantasy: I'm keeping this one to myself... but it involves creative uses for fruit and plenty of tongue. Figure it out!!!

Last weird encounter: Nothing strikes me as weird anymore... oh wait... trying to avoid a certain former friend... I was desperate to get into Chari's room that evening!

Last ice cream eaten: Two days ago... vanilla, after a sumptuous Japanese noodle meal.

Last time amused: Yesterday at rehearsals, hearing Zsa Zsa Padilla ask for her camera.

Last time wanting to die: I don't remember, and I probably wouldn't want to.

Last time in love: NOW!!! I still am, oye!

Last time hugged: This morning... got a nice long one.

Last chair sat in: Dining room chair... like, right now!

Last time you went dancing: A long, long time ago, with friends and family. Was it Hawaii? Okay troops, we gotta go dancing again!!! And soon!

Last web page visited: 'Day's blog.

Last fruity photo taken: Yesterday, with Zsa Zsa, Piolo and Amir. I must remind myself to get a copy.

Sunday, July 3, 2005

Stress... it can be good for you...

Munich... July 2... 11:03 am. I'm stressed. 3 hours and 45 minutes to our soundcheck and final general rehearsal at the Odeonsplatz... 11 hours to go before we head to the stage... and I'm stressed. I'm at my desk listening to different songs from my music library... 80's rock... musical theater... hard rock... jazz... classical... in an effort to take my brain off of whatever this is I'm feeling. Hmmm... maybe I shouldn't have had that third cup of coffee.

Stress is something I've learned to live with, expect, and even enjoy as part of my job. It's that extra adrenaline push in my bloodstream... the extra espresso shot... that intangible thing that makes my pulse race. It's something that I associate with a challenge. In this case, the challenge is singing a high soprano part... with an excellent singing partner... accompanied a fantastic orchestra led by a Grammy award-winning conductor. Translation: I'm in deep shit.

I have found myself in situations like this before, where I'm at the point of near desperation, filling my mind with negativity ("What the hell am I thinking??? I can't fucking do this!!!"), trying to scurry about in my head for solutions. John Barrowman (my partner for tonight) said at our first rehearsal: "There that face that I haven't seen in years... that STRESS face... the one where you're pretending that you're in control, but you're stressing out inside." How well he knows, even after not having worked together for 15 years.

So... the minute I got back to the hotel, I sat in my room, my music in front of me... piece by piece I went through each song, marking specific points where syllables need to be separated for easier singing... I find starting something with either a hard "g" or "k," or a "t" to be the easiest. Singing the "eh" or "ey" sound is never easy... to be honest, I actually loathe it. I have to think harder to figure out how to produce the sound.

Yes, believe it or not, for one night, I am a soprano. I'm billed as such in the programme too.

Today, I'm in my bathrobe, going through all my technical mumbo-jumbo once more, trying to be as specific and detailed as possible... and then tonight, I'm just going to forget about it all, and enjoy the emotional roller coaster of music.

1:28 PM... and I'm writing in my blog to help clear my head. Seems to be working...

I've also made prayer requests from my friends (the BATB cast included me in their pre-show prayer, which was sweet) to help calm me down, and I think the knowledge that my nearest and dearest are rooting for me is helpful.

5:03 PM... I'm back from rehearsals (was for around an hour actually...) and I'm happy. The sound check at Odeonsplatz went very well... if all things go as they did in rehearsal, we will have a great night. The weather is cooperating, thankfully... it'll be a nice, clear evening. Perfect for a concert.

My notes are there now, and I'm getting a bit of rest in preparation for the evening. I don't have to be there until 9:30 tonight, so we're going to grab some dinner at around 6:30 to keep us going through the show.

Back to the stress. I guess the only real way to combat it is an awareness that there is much preparation required to get the job done... to be vigilant in practice... to realize what my limitations are, and try to go beyond them.

5:30 PM... Time to lie down for a bit, then head off for something to eat. Will write again once the show is over.

July 3, 2:32 AM... Well, as you can guess, the concert is finished, and it went very very well. My friends' prayers got me through (I truly believe in its power), not just for my voice but for the weather... everything went as I had hoped, if not better. You might say that I had nothing to stress out about, but you know what? It's because I worried and took the time to prepare that this night turned out the way it did... and I wouldn't have done it any other way.

"When angels travel, the sun shines." -- German proverb

Friday, July 1, 2005

Not so lovely thoughts from lovely Munich...

I was not having a great day on June 28... this was the day I was scheduled to leave for Munich, but as of that morning, I hadn't heard about the status of my Schengen Visa application. I made it a point to wake up at 8 AM, just to start calling. It's never too early in the day to get obnoxious with the German Embassy. So, while waiting for the news, I started packing -- halfheartedly, due to the possibility that I wasn't going to fly that evening -- and texting my friends to de-stress myself. After finally getting the news from the Visa department that my passport would be released at noon that day and be ready for pick up anytime after 2 PM, immediately the relaxation went through my body like a gentle wave. I was incredibly relieved, so my packing task went much more quickly, and even pleasantly. All this of course, while texting my friends, one of whom was confident that I would depart that evening. She was, of course, right.

Fast forward to sitting in the Frankfurt airport waiting to board the short flight to Munich. Rob and I are sitting in the airport's business class lounge when I start getting the news (via text and the internet) that Susan Sonora Poe (aka Susan Roces) is on the warpath. Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had, the night before, admitted on national television that it was indeed her voice on the "Hello, Garci" wiretap recording. It is alleged that this phone call with an election official was to guarantee that she would win the election by a margin of 1,000,000 (I haven't heard the recording, so I have no comment as to what was said and by whom). In her public apology, Pres. Arroyo asked the country to forgive her, and hopes that she can get back to the business of governing the country. Headlines two days later scream that Mrs. Poe does not accept Pres. Arroyo's apology, and accuses her of stealing the presidency not once, but twice (from her late husband Ronnie Poe and former president Joseph Estrada).

Political instability seems to be the only stable thing in the Philippines.

As a Filipino living abroad, I am frustrated with the Philippines. I am frustrated that we seem so "trigger happy" to have another uprising like People Power and EDSA II. I am frustrated that the rest of the world seems to have overtaken us. I am frustrated that cooler heads aren't prevailing. I am frustrated that we make it so much harder for ourselves to stabilize the country, thereby stabilizing our economy. I am frustrated that the value of the peso has gone down. I am frustrated that no one seems to give a fuck (another uprising... so what else is new?).

So what are we supposed to do? Cory Aquino asks us to pray. Well, you know what? Jesus Christ isn't going to all of a sudden come down from heaven and fix everything for us. I hear these words at mass during the Prayers of the Faithful: "we pray for political stability... we pray for a stable economy... we pray you come down here and fix everything." Okay, maybe not that last one, but you get the idea.

The impression I'm getting is that we as a people are passive, passing on all the responsibility on our government, and very quick to place the blame on said government when things screw up. Whatever happened to personal culpability and responsibility? Whatever happened to taking charge, grabbing the bull by the horns and fixing what we can to the best of our ability? I'm not saying we have to go out there and change the entire world; rather, I ask to change our own little corners of the world, in the hope that these little changes add up to something that truly makes a difference. Each of us was placed on this good earth for a specific reason: some of us are artists... some are doctors... lawyers... economists... businessmen... gardeners... street sweepers... drivers (personal, taxi, jeep or bus)... bellhops... waiters... pilots... policemen... computer programmers... housewives. Each of us has the ability to change our own little corner of the world. We have the power and the knowledge to effect change.

If there's something we can pray for, it's for the strength and the proverbial kick in the ass to stop blaming others for what's happening, and do something for ourselves and one another. In turn, we'll be doing our country a huge favor. Perhaps then we'll then catch up with the rest of the world. It may take a while, but we can do it.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Define "Sexy"

The Oxford Dictionary defines the word SEXY as:
adj.
1. sexually attractive or exciting
2. sexually aroused

Here's what I find sexy... qualities, visuals, images, thoughts, ranging from the simple and sweet to the not-so-wholesome (this list will constantly evolve as my tastes change). We are all sexual beings, created to be so, and that should be celebrated.

- intelligence
- wit
- humor
- confidence
- a great smile
- blood red roses
- satin
- lighted candles... lots of them
- a woman wearing an oversized white men's button down shirt... and little else (think Angelina Jolie in Mr. and Mrs. Smith)
- that woman's partner looking at said woman in the white shirt
- foreplay (here's the thing: the "act" is a means to an end, but the prelude! Oh, sweet prelude... it had better knock my socks off!)
- kissing (from sweet little pecks to passionate explorations... on the lips and mouth... cheeks... jawline... ears... collarbone... supersternal notch... the bare nape of the neck... the back, from top to bottom... arms... hands... fingers... chest... breasts... stomach... legs... thighs... feet... ahhhhhhhhhhhh, kissing is good... goosebumply good)
- the rain (not a drizzle, yet not a typhoon... just enough to cool the temperature and warm the senses)
- kissing in the rain... or indoors while it's raining
- a good back rub or foot massage, given preferably by a lover
- that certain "look in the eyes"
- cleavage (yes I am a heterosexual woman, but I am one that appreciates beauty wherever I find it, male or female. I have just been turned onto the beauty of a woman's cleavage, and truly enjoy it when I see one)
- scented oils
- my "make out songs" and "sexy list" playlists on my iPod
- Barry White (have you ever heard the man sing?)
- Brad Pitt with really short hair
- Angelina Jolie (oh... my... God...)
- Hugh Jackman
- a candlelight dinner
- an active fireplace, or a bonfire
- a long, hot shower and how you smell coming out of one
- a guy who can play a mean guitar
- my lover's scent on my clothes
- creative uses for fruit (strawberries and cherries... yum...)
- sexy, suggestive sweet-nothings whispered in the ear...
- taking one's time... or rushing... depending on how you feel that day
- being naked
- falling asleep in the embrace of the one you love

(last revised: April 23, 2006, Manila)