Wednesday, November 5, 2008

By Armida Siguion-Reyna: Let us be afraid of thoughtless censorship

This is a piece written by Armida Siguion-Reyna... the link to the original column is at the end of this article (I got this from Girlie Rodis' site).

Read on... 


Armida Siguion-Reyna 

Regardless of the motive


Mulling over the possibility of watching as much could possibly be seen in one sitting of Lav Diaz's nine-hour "Kadaganan sa Banwaan Ning Mga Engkanto" (English title: "Death in the Land of Encantos")" I hear it's been rated "X" by the First Review Committee of the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB), courtesy of members Amalia Fuentes, Ros Olgado and Fr. Nick Cruz.

Apparently not caring about the rights of the Filipino movie-viewing public — the little that's left — to see what won the Special Mention prize in the 2007 Venice International Film Festival's Orizzonti (Horizons) section, the MTRCB banned it from screening because "The scene where the woman was shown in bed naked with her breasts and vagina (genitalia) are exposed is against the rules and regulations of the board — No exhibition of the genitals."


A worldwide recession is looming. The once-mighty American economy is struggling its way past a fractious presidential elections. China is trying to recover from the melamine milk-scandal. And here in the Philippines, we're still focused on breasts and vagina in a film that's clearly nothing close to pornography.

As former chairman of the MTRCB, I know that PD 1986, the law that created the board, requires that all movies, barring none, be viewed before a decision can be reached regarding approval or disapproval, before a screening permit is issued. Even so I am able to judge this particular Diaz piece sight unseen, based on Diaz's track record, his persona and the fact that there's no international buzz about how salacious it is. It cannot be malaswa.

I mean, come on. A porno flick running close to half-a-day is bound to get talked about by a global media increasingly on the look-out for news to cushion horrific stories of crashing stock markets, ineffective bailouts and bankruptcies. Imagine just how many shots of insertions and pumping and close-ups of ejaculations can fit into nine hours, pag hindi naman nagkagulo ang buong mundo diyan. Except, 'yon na nga, that's not what "Encantos" is all about, as can immediately be gleaned from the first two paragraphs of the Variety's International Film Festival review section last year, written by Ronnie Schieb:

"Lav Diaz's latest black-and-white digital marathon, 'Death in the Land of Encantos' (clocking in at nine hours), unfolds in the devastated landscape left in the wake of Super Typhoon 'Durian,' the worst storm to hit the Philippines in living memory. Placing a threesome of fictional characters amid the rubble, Diaz measures the aftermath of this natural disaster within the larger trauma of the islands' history. Plunging the viewer into an alternate time zone where distinctions between documentary and fiction, stasis and action slowly dissolve, pic confirms helmer's status as a brilliant but consummately non-commercial artist.

"Unlike Diaz's other works, which were carefully constructed over time ('Evolution of a Filipino Family' was nine years in the making — and 10 hours in the viewing), 'Death' sprang fully grown from the ravages of the typhoon in Bicol, where Diaz had lensed several previous films. Thus, the documentary elements could not be described as "interpolated," but rather form the very clay from which the drama (if such slight strands of narrative can be so termed) is molded."

Nothing there to foreshadow extreme close-ups of vulvas, arcs of semen spray and turgid penises, so why did it get an "X"? Just how completely awake the members of the Review Committee were when they "X-ed" it, is another factor to consider, but hala, sige, for the sake of the argument, I will presume they were wide awake and in full possession of their faculties

Fr. Cruz is a Jesuit, like Gerald Healy, SJ, Professor of Moral Theology Emeritus, who had forwarded to us the Vatican position on context, manner of presentation, (filmmaker's) intention and culture, as standards for film review and analysis, and which we forthrightly included in our Implementing Rules and Regulations during our tenure. Fr. Cruz was a member of the Estrada MTRCB. How could he have agreed to the "X-ing" of the Diaz movie?

Which brings me now to reminding all about the dangers of pending House Bill (HB) 3305, and known in the Senate as Senate Bill (SB) 2464: "An Act Prohibiting and Penalizing the Production, Printing, Publication, Importation, Sale, Distribution and Exhibition of Obscene and Pornographic Materials, and the Exhibition of Live Sexual Acts, Amending for the Purpose Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code, as Amended."

I saw Tarlac Rep. Nikki Prieto Teodoro and lawyer Eric Mallonga of the MTRCB on cable TV the other day, lauding the bill and supporting its passage into law, failing to see that while it purports to "protect women and children from the pernicious effects of pornography," it more dangerously seeks to strangle all forms of creativity with the operative phrase "regardless of the motive."

"'Obscene' refers to anything that is indecent or offensive or contrary to good customs or religious beliefs, principles or doctrines, or tends to corrupt or deprave the human mind, or is calculated to excite impure thoughts or arouse prurient interest, or violates the proprieties of language and human behavior, regardless of the motive of the producer, printer, publisher, writer, importer, seller, distributor or exhibitor.

"'Pornographic or pornography' refers to objects or subjects of film, television shows, photography, illustrations, music, games, paintings, drawings, illustrations, advertisements, writings, literature or narratives contained in any format, whether audio or visual, still or moving pictures, in all forms of film, print, electronic, outdoor or broadcast mass media, or whatever future technologies to be developed, which are calculated to excite, stimulate or arouse impure thoughts and prurient interest, regardless of the motive of the author thereof."

This bill becomes law and we completely slay the creative energies of the few remaining Lav Diazes. This bill gets passed, and gems where "…stark black-and-white digital compositions frame a landscape so bleak and boulder-strewn, so empty of habitation that it is hard to believe the land was not barren from time primordial. Painful flashbacks to the region's past resurrect a lost Eden. The only thing more shocking than the extent of the damage is the ages-deep acceptance in the eyes of the survivors…" is forever judged in terms of breast and genital exposure, and filmmaking be damned.

I wonder what Amalia Fuentes feels, helping kill the industry that made her? The sell-outs of the movie bill we were lobbying for in the Ramos and Estrada presidencies willfully dropped the provision on censorship exemption, believing that only monies earned from tax rebates mattered. I wonder what they feel, now that major films cannot be screened?

Death in the land of the encantos, indeed. HB 3305 and SB 2464 is murder, regardless of the motives of its sponsors. It cannot be allowed to pass.

(For comments, write to:

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Back to work...

My time of rest in Manila is over... time for me to head back on
tour. May I say, with utmost happiness, that I can't wait to return!

It's always bittersweet every time I leave home though... my daughter
will remain here, as will my husband, mother, brother, and dear, dear
friends. However, I do have another home with my family on tour, and
am looking forward to seeing them and working with them again.

It's funny... it's a rare and beautiful thing when you have a cast
that just gels together in a great way, both on stage and off. That
camaraderie does translate and is obvious in performance. I am very,
very transparent, and when I don't like someone, it's painfully
obvious. Not fun at all.

So... here's to more late night poker games (in the name of Aaron
Galligan-Stierle)... more leg pain from those blasted heels and
stairs... to the hunt for a Starbucks that's actually walking distance
from the hotel and/or theater... to more culinary and gustatory
adventures... to doing a show with people I have the pleasure and
honor of calling my friends.

Here's to more fun! I have only 6 months left on this Asian tour...
if you think about it, it's really not a very long time. Yeehaaaaaaah!

Saturday, October 4, 2008



Tickets are at 250 pesos on a first come first serve basis.
Please email us at, text TOFF at 09178908633 or
reply to this post.

DATE: Friday, October 17, 2008
TIME: 730 to 10 PM
LOCATION: OnStage Theatre, Greenbelt 1
STREET: Paseo de Roxas
CITY/TOWN: Makati, Philippines

This showcase features actors Tara Tambunting, Christine Escudero,
Marisse Borlaza, Farida Kabayao,Dingdong Rosales, Gabs Santos, and
Kenneth Keng.

forArtists is a showcase of original, raw and innovative works by
fresh Filipino playwrights Ino Habana (Stiletto Club) Recipient of
Ateneo's Loyola Schools Awards for the Arts for Fiction and Joshua So
(Portraits) fromDe LaSalle University (Batch 2007).

This ONE NIGHT ONLY event will be a collaboration of theatre artists
and aims to provide them with the opportunity to develop and exhibit
their material on the REP stage.

This year Friends of Repertory or simply F.O.R was re-launched as a
partner of Repertory Philippines (REP), comprised of theater
performers and aficionados from various backgrounds and orientations.
The group holds together for the love of REP and the long-term goal of
instilling within the Filipino a key appreciation of theater and the
performing arts.

With the aim of raising theater awareness and bringing the experience
of theater to a broader audience, F.O.R.'s forArtists will highlight
Repertory Philippines' thrust in building a theater industry that can
provide actors, directors, designers, choreographers, musicians,
dancers, and all those who would like to work in theater the
opportunity to do so.

forArtists will continue F.O.R.'s mission to open up avenues in which
all theater and non-theater- oriented members of the community may
interact and collectively recognize the importance of theatre in
society today.

Directing the plays are first time directors Jejie Esguerra for
Stiletto Club and Jenny Jamora for Portraits.

For play synopsis click the following link: Stilleto Club and
Portraits or go to http://bubblebathbo i.multiply. com/journal/ item/191

Visit our facebook page and sign up through the guest list: forArtists
at Facebook or go to facebook. com/event. php?
eid=26173884 428&ref=share

By Congressman Ruffy Biazon

This is Congressman Ruffy Biazon's Multiply posting regarding this take on the Reproductive Health Bill.  He serves the city of Muntinlupa.  This is his unique perspective as a public servant that has to face these issues day in and day out. 

I want the RH Bill passed in this congress.  Yes, I support the RH Bill.


For the first time in so many years and congresses, the debate on the Reproductive Health Bill has finally reached the Plenary. The debates are now raging, not just in the session hall but even in the media, with particular emphasis in print through the successive paid ads by the opposing groups.

In previous congresses, the bill did not make it beyond the committee hearings. On hindsight, it was a blessing in disguise, since it gave the bill time to be refined so as to become more palatable to a wider social spectrum. The bill in its present form is far from what the original bill used to be, which could be said to have been crude in present terms. All the debates over the years have contributed to revisions and inputs that addressed the concerns from various sectors.

In all these discussions on the proposed measure, legislators are asked one basic and compelling question----“Where do you stand on Reproductive Health?”

I was in a forum with students of the Ateneo de Naga last month, and during the open forum, I was asked that question. Immediately, the thought that came to my mind was the fact that only a couple of weeks before, the university held a rally against Reproductive Health. Of course, that thought was quickly followed by a question to myself…How should I answer? 

I answered the students’ question with a story. I related to them my grassroots experience, particularly with my constituents whom I deal with in the everyday performance of my job.

I told them the story of Grace, a constituent of mine who lives along the railroad tracks, one of thousands of informal settlers along the stretch of the right of way of the Philippine National Railways which cuts through 8 of the 9 barangays of Muntinlupa City.

Grace is 25 years old, and pregnant. I met Grace during one of my community visits and when I saw her bulging stomach, I asked her if it was her first baby, as is my habit whenever I see a pregnant woman during my rounds in the city. She said no, it is her fifth child, with the first one born when she was 18. Her husband is employed as a laborer, but only has work every now and then.

Asked if it was their desire to have that much children, she said if she had her way, she would have stopped having kids after the second. But they didn’t practice any family planning method since they didn’t know anything about it. She also said that when her husband comes home intoxicated with liquor, she has no way to turn down his advances. Lest he gets mad and violent. Obviously, Natural Family Planning will not work for her.

Other stories of my constituents include that of Marissa, a first time mother who was eight months pregnant when she availed of the free pre-natal medical mission that my office conducted. Marissa and her husband live with her mother in law in one of the urban poor communities in Muntinlupa. While she was waiting in line, one of the barangay health workers assisting us requested me to let Marissa go in front of the line, since she wasn’t feeling well and was bloated. I took a look at her and indeed, saw that her ankles were swollen, indicative of edema and pre-eclampsia.

I let her go in front of the line to see the OB-GYN and have an ultra-sound of her belly. The image revealed that Marissa’s baby was being compressed by an enlarged placenta and what appeared to be a myoma. The placenta also had dark blotches, indicative of an internal bleeding.

We immediately sent Marissa to the hospital, since it was determined that hers was an emergency medical condition. When we interviewed her, she admitted that it was the first time she had a pre-natal check up, since she did not have the money to go to a doctor, even in a government hospital. She said instead of spending for the fare going to the clinic, she just saves it up for their daily needs and saving for the baby’s needs when the baby is born.

Another story is that of Vilma, a utility worker in one of the Muntinlupa elementary schools. Aged 27, she has 3 children and her husband is a construction worker. Together, they earn around 10,000 pesos a month. After her third child, she decided to have a ligation because she felt that with three children to take care of, they wouldn’t be able to afford having an additional child without having to sacrifice some needs of the kids they already have. I asked her why she chose to have a ligation. Slightly embarrassed, she said she wanted to stop having children while at the same time fulfill her “marital obligations” to her husband. With a giggle, said it’s better than her husband find satisfaction elsewhere.

In a similar mindset is Rhodora, a school teacher who had a ligation after her second child, which was a special child. After her second kid, she wanted to have enough time and resources to attend to the needs of her special child, not to mention her first child as well. So she consulted her gynecologist and requested that the she undergo the procedure.

Her doctor refused, saying it is against his beliefs to do the procedure. Rhodora asked for a referral, and she was referred to a colleague of the doctor. But just like the first doctor, the second one also refused, trying to convince her not to proceed, citing that it is immoral. In the end, Rhodora had to look again for another doctor, since it she felt that the service she is looking for is being denied her on the grounds of personal beliefs of the doctors.

These are just some of the stories that I commonly encounter among my constituents. Such situations are most common in the poorer communities, resulting in high incidence of malnutrition, school drop-outs, maternal and infant death, birth complications and scarcity of family resources.

Since I regularly hold medical missions in my district, I get first hand experience and information on the health conditions in the communities. Hygiene is often a problem, especially that families live in confined spaces in the urban poor communities, so the spread of disease is more likely. One of my regular activities is the conduct of prenatal medical missions, There is not a mission where we do not encounter pregnant teenagers, the youngest of which has been 14 years old.

For example, not many people know that cervical cancer may be spread through sexual contact. Cervical cancer is caused by the Human Papilloma Virus, the cause of the common wart, which may be passed from male to female. Not many people know that hygiene plays an important part in preventing the spread and cause of cervical cancer, as well as prudent sexual practices. More importantly, not many know that cervical cancer is easy to detect and cure if diagnosed early. This is because there is no policy on reproductive health.

The fact of the matter is that many of the health problems encountered in the grassroots may be attributed to the lack of reproductive health services available to the people. While some limit themselves to the issue of population and birth control in the discussions about RH, the bill is not only about population and sex. It is more about the delivery of services to the people who are in need of it. The absence of a policy opens people up to medical risks and leaves them nowhere to go but to unreliable, ineffective and sometimes life threatening remedies.

A case in point is the proliferation of vendors right beside the Quiapo church who openly sell concoctions labeled “Pang-pa Regla”. It is common knowledge that many of those who patronize those vendors do so with the intention of getting rid of unwanted pregnancies. Even if they weren’t pregnant and just wanted to have regular menstruation, it is still the wrong place to go for treatment or service. 

This is not to say that having Reproductive Health services will enable the availability of abortion. The bill expressly maintains that abortion continues to be illegal in the country. To say that the bill legalizes abortion is an outright lie and deception. My point in citing the “pang-pa regla” vendors is the fact that the absence of reproductive health services and information leads to people’s ignorance about reproductive health issues and their body’s reproductive systems. If they had the right information and services available, they would know that availing of the products sold by those vendors would not only be ineffective, it may even be harmful.

The intentions of the bill’s authors and supporters are not to legalize abortion, spread a culture of promiscuity or destroy the family. It is the intention of the bill’s authors and supporters to meet the needs of a significant portion of the population for reproductive health services and information. There is absolutely no intention to impose on couples particular methods that they should employ in planning their families. It is the intention of the bill to provide information to people about responsible parenthood, family planning, avoiding unwanted pregnancies and an informed choice on which method best fits their beliefs, convictions and needs.

To continuously insist that there are other ulterior motives other than the welfare of Filipino couples and families is to deny the existence of the problems faced daily by the people. To stop the adoption of a public policy on reproductive health is a denial of service to those who seek reproductive health care.

Some make it seem that the bill if passed into law will force people to use contraceptives. Even without the bill, contraceptives are available in the commercial market. What is not available in the present regime is the correct information about contraceptives and reproductive health. What the bill will provide if passed into law, is reliable and uniform information and services which people may avail of if they so desired. Whether it is modern or natural family planning method, the couple is left to decide after being properly informed.

Why do I support the bill?

Because there are those who have signified the need to have the correct information and reliable reproductive health services . 

Because I have seen first hand during my service to my constituents the consequences of the continued denial of information and service to the people.

Because there are women whose bodies have been ravaged by multiple consecutive pregnancies even if they had not planned it.

Because there are women who have been physically abused by their husbands because they refused to indulge their spouses because “it is not the right time”.

Because I have seen too many teenage pregnancies which could have been avoided had these young women been informed about their adolescent reproductive system.

Because I have seen too many complications in pregnancies and births from the poor constituents that come to my office for medical assistance.

Because I have seen too many infant and maternal deaths, orphaned children, bereaved husbands.

Because I have seen children dropping out of school because their parents cannot afford to send all their children to school at the same time.

Because there are many malnourished children whose ability to learn has been impaired.

Because I have constituents who have acquired diseases that could have been prevented if only there was appropriate information and service available to them.

Some might say that instead of supporting the proposed measure, we should just allocate enough resources to other services such as education, housing and the eradication of corruption. There is no doubt to that. We should do those things. We are trying to do those things. But at the present situation, even if we are able to provide the right number of classrooms, the right number of teachers and all the books that the students need, the ability of poor families to send their children to school is hampered by their absolute lack of resources to provide for the cost of sending the kids to school ----- transportation, snack, uniforms, other miscellaneous requirements, etc.

Statistics show that of 10 children who enter elementary school, only 6 go on to high school, and only 2 finish high school. And based on actual experience in my district, it is not due to the lack of classrooms or teachers. It is the day to day difficulty of surviving through life with the severely limited resources of poor families. Bottomline is, how can a child who does not finish studies lead the ideal productive life?

The intention is not to prescribe a limit on the number of children but to enable couples to decide their family size based on correct information and according to their desired number of children and capability to provide support. 

Those who oppose the bill cite various statistics and studies all done abroad. I’m taking a position that is based on what I see with my own eyes as I perform my duties. I see the living conditions of my constituents on a daily basis, especially many of them come to my office to seek assistance for various reasons---health, education, livelihood, etc. On the other hand, I also see what government is trying to do with the little it has to serve the needs of the people.

It is unfair to those who support the bill to be labeled “anti-life”, “anti-family”, “pro-abortion” and many other monickers on the basis of a pre-conceived notions. If there is anyone who desires the best for the Filipino family, that would be the one who is most familiar to the daily struggles of the poor families. The question should not only be whether you are pro-life or not (because there is absolutely no one who is anti-life), but also if the people deserve quality of life.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

This is a test blog...

This is a test... this is only a test...

We've now just arrived in Guangzhou... Peter, Sheilla and I are here
for an overnight trip... we have a press event tomorrow, and then
afterwards are off to Zhengzhou for our short run. We only have 3
shows in that city.

How you're all doing well!


Monday, September 15, 2008

The weekend is all over... thank goodness

Well, it's Sunday night... as I wait for room service to bring me my dinner (for some reason I'm craving Chinese style green beans tonight), I figured it was as good a time as any to blog about the weekend. So far I've written about walking in the rain in Shu Yuan Men (Book Garden Gate)... now time to write a little about work.

In Beijing, our musical director Michael Duff gave Peter and me the heads-up on what could have potentially been a disaster... because of visa problems, our touring musicians from Canada and the Ukraine were going to arrive later than expected.  The Xi'an presentor had to then hire local musicians to cover for the missing players.  At first, it seemed like something out of a musical director's worst nightmare: one player wouldn't produce the best sound, but read music like a demon... another would make the most hauntingly beautiful tones, but can barely read. Michael said that it would take a ton of work, and that he himself didn't know how things would turn out.  Peter (God bless him) kept calm and cool and said, "It'll be fine, no worries." Michael had been working with them, and said that this young group (very, very young... a bulk of them are in the local conservatory, still in training, I think) was incredibly hardworking.  I'll be honest... there was a part of me that was very doubtful of how opening night would be... and then there was another that would work with whatever we were given, and hope for the best.  I just had to trust that it would all be fine...

And thankfully, it was.

Here's Michael working with the orchestra in the lobby of the theater.

(l-r) Brandy Zarle, Peter Saide, Charlie Parker

Sheilla Habab (my adopted sister, personal assistant and dresser)
and Lynn Zhang, my translator

Rehearsing "Loneliness of Evening"

(l-r) Priscilla Duff, who was subbing for our Keyboard 2 player, 
and Janet Roma, our associate musical director and Keyboard 1 player

Peter Saide and Steve Gagliastro,
who would be playing the King on opening night in Xi'an

Jen Bechter and Brandy Zarle rehearsing "Stepsisters' Lament"

At our sitzprobe on September 10, for the most part, we heard the sounds that we were used to hearing in Manila.  It was evident at this music rehearsal just how much work Michael had put into making this orchestra sound good.  Sure, there would be a few bad notes here and there, or one player would go ahead of everyone else, but this was going to be one invaluable experience for these young musicians.  Michael pointed out that these kids had probably never seen the inside of an orchestra pit before... which, if you think about it, was an exciting prospect.  This was going to be a time in their lives that they won't soon forget.  We were rooting for them. Sure, I was angry at the problems that the visa hullabaloo was causing, but I couldn't think about that at this moment... we had work to do.

Only the principals were called at this sitzprobe... the ensemble would get to hear them on our adjustment day on September 11, which was the date of our opening night.  After getting the rundown of what our stage adjustments would be (here's a partial list: no palace terrace drop [the red set], no kitchen railing on the bridge, no blue drop in the prologue [we used the bedroom doors instead, and they floated upstage of the bridge and were therefore unusable], no ballroom drop [the purple drop]).  Plus, because of the where the scrim would be hung, so much had to be adjusted upstage of their original spike marks that were set in Manila. Plus, because of how the fly system works at this theater, there were sacrifices that had to be made. The speed at which the drops rise and fall is incredibly slow... as in, it would take the better part of one scene to complete a set change. Interesting.

The new merchandising set-up in the lobby

Our theatre, the Grand Theatre in Renmin Square, Xi'an

Doing stage adjustments for the opening number

Looking up at me is Amy Nelson, our 1st trumpet player

Michael, looking like he's got a migraine coming on...

This is the house... 

Jen Jenkins (Dance Captain) adjusting choreography for the theater

Jefferson Slinkard (who watched opening night and enjoyed it),
and Peter with his goofy grin

We also had to get acquainted with dressers and backstage crew that spoke very little to no English... there are interpreters stationed on each side of the stage to help the American crew give quick instructions for set moves and whatever else (our head props person brings along her electronic English-Chinese dictionary with her everywhere to communicate)... plus a few more for the hairdressers and dressers.   To be sure, this has been a very interesting as well as educational experience for all of us, and we're having a pretty good time.  (The only downer for me is going past the very -- ahem -- "fragrant" men's room when I need to go to the wardrobe room or to stage left.  Phew!)

The audiences here in Xi'an have been really, really great.  We were told to expect a conservative, polite crowd that only really erupts at the very end during curtain call... that possibly there wouldn't be applause after song numbers because, it was explained to us, that the audience doesn't want to interrupt the show as it's going.   That's really sweet!  So we go in not expecting anything, but being pleasantly surprised when applause arrives.   It's all good.   And yes, they really go full out at curtain call. It's really wonderful.

Yes, we've all been learning some functional Mandarin... I can now say "Hello," "I'm sorry," "Excuse me, let me pass," "Thank you," "bathroom," and "What's your name?"  It's not much, but it's something!  We all try with our very Western (and in my case, Pinoy) accents to learn more and more vocabulary and phrases... it does send our "teachers" (the interpreters and wardrobe department heads) into fits of laughter when we say things with the wrong tone or inflection. But it's been fun!

Our run in Xi'an so far has been really fantastic, despite the challenges that have come our way. The challenges turned out to not be insurmountable, thankfully... all the hard work that everyone in the company is putting in is really paying off.  The crew is doing a great job, the dressers and hairdressers as well, and the show is running like a machine once again.

Next stop for me: the Terra Cotta Warriors.  I have been waiting for this field trip for so long!!!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Rainy Day in Xi'an

The very first thing that struck me when we touched down in Xi'an a few days ago was the smell.

Rather... the fragrance.

I took a deep breath upon exiting the airport, and it was... so... mmmmm... clean!  The air smelled so fresh and fragrant, I couldn't get over it!  And take note, this was the airport... what more when we travelled further from here?

The car ride into the city was long, but it really didn't matter... since our company manager Jamey was in the car with me, the work-related conversation kept us mentally busy enough... but once we entered the city proper, I found it to be well planned, well laid out, and very beautiful.  And this was at night.  A lovely, fragrant, clear night.

The next day was our press day in Xi'an to promote Cinderella in the city before we open on Thursday... thank goodness we weren't going to be in costume.  The last two cities we visited for press (Shanghai and Beijing), we had to wear our ball finery. Beautiful, but not always the most comfortable.  So the news that we could just wear our own clothing (I chose a Cinderella t-shirt with diamantes and a pair of jeans) was very welcome.  The press conference was held in the in-progress Land of Lotus. I didn't get a tour or a description of the complex, but from the looks of it, it's a residential community being built by one of our presentors in Xi'an.  It's not far from the Tang Paradise (where the Emperor of China resided in the Tang dynasty) and the Great Wild Goose Pagoda... and we spied this billboard on our way home:

This is somewhere in Tang Paradise

And this one was on the adjacent corner. Sorry about that car...

Yesterday morning, we visited the Immigration Office to get our photos taken for what's going to be our temporary residence certificates... it took all of 5 minutes to do.  Go in, sit down, check all your info to make sure it's correct, take a digital photo, and leave.  A representative from the presentor's office as well as our associate company manager were there to help with translating.  I had my own translator with me as well (her name is Lynn), so there were enough English-Mandarin speakers there.  It was a bit early in the morning to be awake, so my whole day was spent somewhat bleary-eyed.  Two other members of the touring group (our trumpet player Amy and one of the backstage guys Noah) were at immigrations with us too, so we dropped them off at their hotel first.

Since the cast was staying at that same hotel, I thought to alight and see who was milling around in the lobby... jackpot!  I found quite a few people going online (there was free wi-fi in the lobby) so we decided to stay and hang out for a nice long while.  I got the update from Kristin on what was going on in the company... Jefferson's run-in with a bike pedal on the city walls... the hotel peacocks being unafraid of the human visitors... expensive laundry and package sending... and going around and about in Xi'an, complete with Mandarin cheat sheets and plenty of pointing.

We had lunch with two cast members, Brandy and Kristin at a Malaysian restaurant called Melaka.  And yes, authentic Malaysian food!  I had myself some Nasi Lemak... Brandy ordered the most beautiful eggplant and prawn dish I've ever eaten in my life, ever, and the rest ordered some really tasty fare.  Yummy!

After lunch, we dropped Brandy and Kristin off at their hotel, and we then headed to a place whose name translates to "book garden gate".  According to Lynn, it was formerly a school or collection of schools.  Now, it's a place of shopping... stalls that sell all kinds of jewelry, souvenirs and trinkets, and the main stores sell art supplies, tea cups, jade, artifacts, copies of the Terra Cotta warriors, and jewelry.  Here are a few pictures:

And here's a view of part of the City Walls from where we were parked:

Yeah, we'll definitely have to visit that site too...

Today, I finally will get some work done at the theatre... there's a sitzprobe scheduled with our orchestra and musical director, and then I don't know what I'll be doing!  Perhaps I'll ask my translator what would be a good place to visit in the evening.

My stay in China has unfolded another purpose... my husband's great-grandfather was a general in World War II (his name is Chien Ta-chun, or Qian Dajun) so I'm trying to find as much as I can in whatever non-working time I have.  I just found out he had an office here in Xi'an, close to the hot springs, so I'm going to make time to go see it and take some pictures.  I'm sad that Rob isn't here to see this with me, I'm sure he would have really enjoyed this trip.

Oh goodness, it's time for me to get ready!  I've got work this afternoon!  Bye for now!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Wow... amazing what technology can do

RSS feeds ROCK!!!

I've just linked my brand-spanking new Blogger site to Facebook... whatever entries I write there get cross-posted here. Cool... no one will have to try and search long and hard for the new site.

Oh... Xi'an is very beautiful! I'm looking forward to seeing more of the city (in the few free days that I have here). There are some immigration-related errands that I'll have to run (accompanied by my handy dandy interpreter named Ling), and then a visit to the Tang Paradise. According to Ling, that was the home of the emperor of the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD)... there's much to research on in China's incredibly colorful history. Makes me wish I paid far better attention in Asian History class... if I knew then what I'm discovering now...

TIme to bury my face in my Terra Cotta Army book by John Man. It's a very interesting read so far, talking of how the Terra Cotta Warriors were discovered... how they came to be... I'm seeing them on Monday, and I'm going to make sure my camera is fully charged and my memory card empty.

My stomach has been undergoing an "adjustment period" since arriving in China... I haven't quite pinpointed exactly what's causing the slight upset, but I'm thanking my mother's paranoia for making sure I had Imodium in my bag of medicines. Speaking of which, I've got a great supply of meds and other pills to get me through the run: cough meds, cold meds, vitamins, antacids, anti-reflux meds, acetaminophen/paracetamol, antihistamines... plus arnica cream and muscle balm for when my feet and legs are crying for help. I have a list of other supplies as well: Kleenex travel packs (a LOT of them), toilet paper, my favorite shampoo and conditioner, toothpaste, bath soap, facial soap, make-up to last me the entire tour (and most probably beyond... way beyond), medical tape for the backs of my ankles (to prevent blisters), bath towels for when the hotel bathrooms are... well... lacking in towel quality, facial moisturizer and body lotion.

I know that many hotels (regardless of the number of stars attached to them) carry these basic toiletry items, prominently displayed near the bathroom sink. That's not the point. More often than not I've needed to carry my own personal supply because the shampoo does some funky thing to my hair, or the conditioner isn't more effective than plain water. My mother does enjoy collecting the little bottles though, when she likes the product (Crabtree & Evelyn's Le Spa collection is a favorite of hers). I guess she keeps them for her house guests.


So here you go!

To the West Side people, CONGRATULATIONS on a fantastic opening weekend! I've been hearing nothing but raves about your performances. Keep it up!

To the Cinderella people, I'M HERE IN XI'AN!!! I guess I'll see you all on Thursday... or before if a rehearsal/stage adjustment is called.

And that's it for right now... keep in touch and tell me please what's going on with you.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

I am in China

At last, I have arrived in China.

You may be wondering why I've returned to Blogspot... well... Multiply cannot be accessed from here. Believe me, I've tried every way that I could find to get to my site. So for the next 2 months, I won't be able to post or view anything over there. I guess that's just fine... so, here I am, back on Blogspot... at least until I get back to Manila or Hong Kong, where I can check Multiply again.

Anyway... it's been a busy few days... Cinderella has me running around China for a different reason, other than being ordered around onstage by the lovely trio of Julia, Brandy and Jen... I've been doing publicity work. Interviews (print and TV), and press conferences in my lovely golden press gown singing a song or two from the show. In Hong Kong I did my press stuff solo; in China, I'm doing press with Peter Saide, our lovely Prince Charming. So far, the press tour has hit Hong Kong and Shanghai... we have just Beijing and Xi'an left. I'm looking forward to arriving in Xi'an, so that I can properly unpack my suitcase and settle my self somewhere. It'll also be nice to not ride a plane for a few weeks... the flights have been short, but the packing and checking in and security... well, you get the idea. It's not been fun doing it every single day.

So far, what I've observed of China is beautiful. I haven't yet had the time to explore the country, since I've needed to be on call for work, but I know that I'll have the time in which to do all this. There's the Terra Cotta Army, City Walls and Great Mosque in Xi'an... the Great Wall, Tianenmen Square and the Forbidden City in Beijing... and the shopping district in Shanghai which looks very, very dangerous... to my wallet.

The press here has been really sweet and nice, as have been the people from Broadway Asia taking care of us. There was one little glitch (the check-in person at the airport in Hong Kong was asking if I have this Alien Certification of Employment... picture me with a glazed look in my eye, with no knowledge of what he's talking about since I have no such document in my possession... only a Z visa which, from what I've been told, should suffice, and actually did)... but the rest has been smooth sailing.

Here are a few things I've found amusing since my arrival:

- a little console on the left hand side of the immigration officer's booth... it lights up when he/she is almost done examining your travel documents... it asks you to rate the level of service, ranging from Very Satisfactory to Poor. I pressed the Very Satisfactory button, only because it was midnight, and her efficiency at the time of day was admirable. She didn't smile, but she did her job right.

- the labels on two of the light switches in my hotel room in Beijing... I've posted them here so you see what I mean.

This was the light switch for the toilet.

 And this was for the light over the bar area.

- students studying English get to pick their English name... one of the marketing people's name is Barney. It's a name he picked out for himself while a student. At first he picked the name Chieftain, but since that wasn't a real name, he went for Barney instead, as inspired by Neil Patrick Harris' character on How I Met Your Mother. Cute. And Barney was very cute.

- the brand new Beijing airport looks like the Hong Kong airport on steroids. Seriously. See the photos below.

- Shanghai was first described to me as a city where you have old buildings and new buildings side by side... or one in front of the other. I didn't quite understand that, until I got there and looked outside my bedroom window after waking up. By golly, he was right!

- the infrastructure here is MARVELOUS!!! Wide streets, fabulous airports (the Shanghai Pudong airport is another one to behold)... as always, when I see airports that nice only a few hours from home, it gives me major penis envy.

So far, that's it. I'll keep posting more as my travels continue... but for now, I have to sleep. I have another long day before we finally fly to Xi'an. Good night!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Prejudice, and wanting to kill someone

We almost got killed yesterday.

My husband and I along with our driver were heading home after a meeting in Intramuros on a very pretty Monday morning... it was around 11 o'clock, and we were nearing an intersection in one of the inner roads of our village.  The speed limit is 40 kph on these roads, to take care that no one hits anyone else. 

As we near the intersection, on our right, there was a sedan making a left, the driving going like a bat out of hell.  The sedan would have hit us head on, had it not been for our driver's quick reflexes, for which we shall always be grateful.  The oncoming car then slowed, enough for us to see that it was a Korean lady driver who gave us that evil eye, as if to say "what the fuck were you doing???"  Let me state this one more time... she was making a fucking left turn... she didn't fucking slow down (heck she didn't drive slow) as she was preparing to make a turn... didn't fucking turn on her signals... nothing.  She came into the road like some sort of speed demon, without any consideration for oncoming traffic.  Fucking stupid cunt.  Needless to say the three of us were angry, with me spewing the most invectives of all.  I wanted to turn the car right around and ram hers from behind, without a care to the damage that ours would cause.  I wanted to pull her hair.  I wanted to make her bleed.  I wanted to kill her.

Fucking cunt.  That's all I could think about.  Dead fucking cunt... I liked that thought better.

Thankfully I had my temper in check... spewing lava in the car does have its good side... I don't then take it out on my loved ones.  I was going to see my daughter in only seconds following that near accident, so I needed to calm down, and be ready to care for her.

I completely forgot for a few moments that I dated a Korean man, and remembered that his upbringing was such that he turned out to be a good guy.  We didn't click in the end, but still.  He was quite a lovely man, and his wife -- another Korean friend of mine that I worked with -- was herself a lovely and bright spark too.  That one incident immediately colored my perception of all peoples from that country with black.

Fucking cunt.

Fast forward to this evening... I sat in the meat locker known as Meralco, watching a show about how prejudice can destroy the lives of good people, how a few can color the world black for someone else.

Yes, I know that prejudice is wrong... yes, I know that it can be easy to judge a whole entire race based on one person's actions... I know, I know, I already know.  And seeing West Side Story didn't make me know any more.

But I still want to kill her.  Just her.  Not all Korean people... just her.  In case you don't know, I'm really good with a gun.

I'm calming down... and of course I'm not going to make trouble for anyone.  At the end of the day, it isn't worth the effort or the thought.

But... she's still a stupid fucking cunt.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Reproductive health bill: Facts, fallacies
This is an article written by Rep. Edcel Lagman, the principal author of the Reproductive Health Bill. The more salient points have been written, as well as some of the misconceptions that are being spread. Read on, and pass on.

Sign the Reproductive Health Petition!!!
Sign up everybody! We need reproductive health info and reproductive health resources in place to help curb unwanted pregnancies, STDs, and in general promote a higher standard of living for all Filipinos.

THIS IS OUR FUTURE. Sign now! Please pass this link on... it's about time we have access to this kind of resource in this country, whatever anyone else has to say.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


I saw this off an online buddy's site, and thought to post the link.  His friend's 3-year-old nephew was abducted in Festival Mall.  Spread this around please... hold your little ones tight, and let's hope this one is found.

Thank you.


Friday, July 11, 2008


It's 3:41 am here in Los Angeles... I did get to bed at a relatively decent hour, but alas, my body isn't allowing me rest.  I am starting to feel a little sleepy, but thought to write a little bit before turning in.

Things are going very well indeed!  Rehearsals for Cinderella are such fun, I'm happy to report... every day is filled with laughter.  I mean, everyone is incredibly productive, and having a great time in the process.  The focus of the actors and creative team is admirable.  It's a wonderful company to be a part of.

I'm excited about the show tonight, too!  A lot of family and friends will be there.  It'll be my first time at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, so I have no idea what to expect.  Well, I guess whatever questions I have will be answered when I get there.  I hear the acoustics are incredible.

That's all for now... I seem to have trained my writing energy on my weekly column, trying to constantly find inspiration, above and beyond the suggestions that have come my way (thank you!).  I have a few ideas... but I'm letting them grow a little bit before I deem them fit for public consumption.

Good morning, good afternoon, and good night... wherever you are!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Songs for a New World

Anna Santamaria
Felix Rivera
Carla Guevara - Laforteza
Harold Cruz
Caisa Borromeo


August 24, 2008
Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium
RCBC Plaza

For Inquiries please contact Peachy or Janina through 707.3739 / 0906.3315961 / email

Monday, June 9, 2008

From user whatsupketchup

I just received this message from another Multiply user... since there's a message here that would benefit the greater good, I thought to post it verbatim.


Hello Ms. Lea! Kmusta po? Kmusta din po kay cutie pie Nic and to your hubby Rob.

I am one of your fans and I love reading your thoughts here on multiply. Anyway, can I ask a little favor please? Please tell your friends or readers of your site to read my post on my multiply account about this scam that has victimized a lot of OFWs and our kababayans in the Phils. This scam is about globe/smart prepaid cards business. Apparently, this hacker will hack your yahoo mail and messenger and will use your identity by chatting with your friends on your yahoo messenger and will ask a favor to buy him/her prepaid cards. He/she will then promise to pay you back the next day. After getting the PIN numbers of the cards, he/she will not reply anymore. I have been victimized by this hacker who used my identity to get money from my friends.

I am exposing this scam as much as I can. I even wrote Inquirer, ABS-CBN and GMA-7 to make an article, news or a warning to our kababayans in the Phils.

Please help me expose it to everybody.

Thank you very much Ms. Lea. More power to you and God bless.

Hope to see you here in Chicago!

lots of love,


There you have it.  Visit whatsupketchup to read her post.  Thank you.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Fan Mail Answered

Hi there!  I'm doing laundry at my Auntie's house in preparation for my trip home, so since I'm up waiting for it all to dry, I figured to write a pseudo-reply to my fans that have written me messages on Multiply...

It's a mite difficult to answer each and every message individually, as there are things that require my attention in the course of the day, but I do read everything (thanks for writing!).

- For those of you who wrote asking about my Cinderella schedule: I'll be doing each and every performance, barring illness, injury or vacation (I'm entitled to 2 weeks off somewhere in the run... waaaaaaaay after the Manila leg is over and done with).  If you see that my understudy is performing, it means that I am not in any way physically able to do that particular show.

- For those who write about how cute Nicole is, THANK YOU!!!  We think she's pretty darn cute too!

- For those just wanting to write to tell me about yourselves, wow!  Thanks so much for sharing a part of you with me.  It's great hearing about your families/school/children/talents/difficulties/hobbies/favorite things.  I'll apologize in advance if I don't write back.

- For those who sent PMs with allergy-relief suggestions, a huge THANK YOU!!!

- And finally, for those inviting me to join your networks, I'm flattered, but unfortunately I will decline... I do keep my Multiply site visible to everyone, but this isn't exactly a fan site, hence those I add are personal friends and members of my family exclusively.  This isn't meant as an offense to anyone.  HOWEVER, there are two fan sites here on Multiply (and the people there are really, really nice).  They are probably more up to date with my goings-on than I am (seriously!).  Go ahead and add yourselves there.  I'm also a member of both sites, so I check on them regularly, but I don't maintain them.

That is all!  Okay, I think my laundry is done now... time for me to sleep too.  Good night, and thank you again!

Monday, June 2, 2008

An update on the allergies

My mother called me today to give her regular Nicole report.

The day after that big hive attack the night before I left for LA, the little one was fine during the day.  However, she got a minor attack that evening... and she didn't drink the offending dairy drink.  There must have been something else giving her trouble...

So, since the pediatrician suspected dust and dust mites, my mother dutifully had the rugs and carpets in the rooms Nicole plays and stays in rolled up and put away, just to see what would happen.  No hives!!!  I guess the pediatrician was right too.

Since Nicole didn't initially suffer any allergies with these rugs and carpets, my guess is that enough dust and dirt has accumulated on them to offend her immune system.  So, a regular cleaning will need to be scheduled to keep her play area and sleeping places clean and dust-free.

FOR THOSE IN MANILA: might any of you have information on those Bissell deep cleaning machines, or on a really great rug and carpet cleaning service?  Please PM me any information you may have.  Thanks!

Saturday, May 31, 2008

I... am... hormonal.

I wrote the first entry on the plane, and the second one in Los Angeles, many hours after landing.  It's definitely time for me to get some sleep... the past few weeks have had me very tired.


I need to stop watching CSI.

For some strange reason, on the same day, AXN played a couple of episodes of this popular crime drama whose storylines centered on the accidental death of a small child: one infant and one toddler.

Yeah, both episodes kept me up practically all of last night, so much so that I had to visit Nicole as she slept.  She was in bed, snug as a bug in a rug, so they say… it was probably because I had to leave for LA today, meaning I had to leave her, but I just stayed there, staring at her for a few minutes… watching her peacefully sleep, her rhythmic breathing, the shifting around in bed… I smelled her skin, touched her hair… when I felt satisfied that she was safe and doing just fine, I headed back to my own bed.

I need to stop watching CSI.

Would I be the only mother here who gets attacks of paranoia after seeing stuff like that on TV?  Am I the only one who gets these visions of their kid floating face down in a swimming pool after reading about someone else’s child dying this way?  Am I the only one that gets these flashes of doom when I get an invitation from a friend who happens to have a swimming pool in their backyard, or a dog running around, or a steep staircase?

If nothing else, I can understand why my mother was as protective as she was… she may have gone overboard a little bit, but given that she lost her first child, I can comprehend that she would want to do everything in her power to make sure child #2 and #3 stayed alive and healthy, ready to live another day.

I do want my child to experience getting a few bumps and bruises.  It’s healthy and would only be good for her development into adulthood.  However, how do I figure out the difference between being watchful and being deliriously paranoid?  How do other parents figure out keeping a safety net out for their kids while allowing them to grow and play, without strangling them?  I do try to breathe easy when I travel without my baby, and trust that she’ll be okay without me for a few days… how strange, it was somewhat easier when she was, for the most part, stationary… now that she’s mobile and thus able to get into everything, how can I be assured that she’ll be okay, that when I walk into my house next week, she’ll be there with open arms and a loud “Mommy” for me?

Okay… maybe I need to chill out for a second… maybe I need to relax and get some perspective, and trust that her caretakers will have their eyes out for her… maybe I need some sleep.  One thing’s for sure…

I need to stop watching CSI.


There are times when I feel monumentally stupid and inadequate…

My daughter recently suffered bouts of allergies, with clusters of hives surfacing all over her body, and we were stumped as to its cause.  My pediatrician thought it was dust mites… so I instructed the yaya to clean her room.  We took out all the larger stuffed animals, changed the sheets and cleaned the air conditioner filter.  My mom came to visit since I was going to be leaving for Los Angeles at the end of the week… she stayed with the baby, and watched her as she was drinking her milk… the hives then appeared right after.  Turns out it was her milk that was giving her allergies.  Not the dairy per se, but the pre- and pro-biotics that were added to it.   F***.

It’s not so much the discovery that irks me, it’s the “if not for me, you wouldn’t have figured it out” speech she delivered.  That stayed with me through my day… I cried under my blanket on the plane.

I know that as a mother I’m going to find myself in “trial-and-error” mode, but I don’t want to feel like this… it’s hard enough already being Mommy without being made to feel like less of one.  I don’t (and won’t) have all the answers… some days it seems as though I’m feeling my way around in the dark, and when light finally shines through, it comes with something I didn’t really need to hear.

Yes, I’m hormonal.  So sue me.

Ugh… I’m tired, jetlagged… I need to sleep for a week, I think.

Oh yeah, the update: we're not giving her that s***** f****** milk brand anymore.  There.

Monday, May 26, 2008


The concerts are all over... no more rehearsals... no more stressing out... no more late nights memorizing scripts, blocking and lyrics... no more long commutes to the only available rehearsal studio in Metro Manila in the pouring rain...

So... all I have left to say is... MARAMING SALAMAT!!!

Thanks to Tito Freddie for his writing and direction... for a strong hand that made the learning curve for many of those involved get less steep... and I mean drastically so...

To Gerard for his brilliant arrangements and orchestrations, and for being at the helm of FILharmoniKA with a firm but gentle touch.  And for being the best baby brother a girl could ever ask for...

To Menchu, Chari, Analin, Raul, Robbie and Michael for their energies, talent and generosity... I shall never forget this...

To Aga Muhlach... just for being Aga Muhlach... funny, brilliant, and big-hearted.  I do intend to stay true to my word about us doing another film together.  I pray that it'll come true, without obstacles...

To Rajo Laurel... the gowns were so beautiful, and I felt like a princess in each one.  You were with me at the beginning of my journey, and I'm so happy you're here as well as it continues.  I am a big fan!

To Bobbit Jacinto... Mio Infante... John Batalla... all geniuses and masters in your respective fields... you were all so patient and wonderful, and did such incredibly beautiful work.  I hope to work with you all again.

To the crew... the wardrobe department... sound engineers... video engineers... teleprompter operators... just everyone in production... you were all excellent from start to end!  Thank you all!!!

And to each and every one of you that came to see the show... THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! 

Here's hoping for many more years!  Cheers!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

No, it isn't a cold...

... it's strep throat.  Both Nicole and I were diagnosed this morning.  So now we're both on antibiotics and plenty of rest, as well as drinking tons of water.  Nic does the water thing already so that's not an issue for her, but giving her medication is like being in the ring with The Rock.  Or John Cena.  Or Batista.  Although resistance is futile, her resistance of us is exhausting!  That kid is strong!

I have a week to get over this, but things should be fine in a few days.  I just have to take it easy vocally until Friday.  It does put a damper on rehearsals for me since I can't sing out for a while, but that's okay.  Better it happened now than later.  Or worse, Friday!

As I write this I'm looking outside the window at the trees swaying in the wind.  Looks like there's a storm brewing.  I hope the motorists that are on the road are exercising prudence and are being really careful.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Catching a cold

Actually, that title is wrong... I caught one already... Nicole got sick, which means that mommy also gets sick.  I'm actually happy that I'm feeling under the weather now than closer to the concert dates.

Speaking of the weather, why has the rainy season seemingly come down upon us in May?  Isn't it supposed to start in June?

I feel bad for a lot of young kids who were so looking forward to summers out of town, presumably where the sun would be shining... balmy days, sandy beaches... but instead, there's only rain.  A few of my friends went to Boracay hoping for a reprieve from the cloudy skies of Manila, but instead got more of the same when they arrived.

Something is going wrong with our earth... and I'm hoping it isn't beyond repair.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Nic at Rehearsals, Day 2

I brought Nicole to day 2 of rehearsals for a Smart corporate concert with martin Nievera. She had herself a lot of fun... especially when rehearsals were over and she spent time in Daddy's office. Thanks again, Tita Girlie for these pictures!

(Shameless plug: Martin has a scent out called Inspired Madness. I don't know where it's available, but it smells pretty damn great! On him it did anyway...)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Irritation, Part Deux

"Manang, this calls for a separate blog for irritation in case you haven't got one." -- Angel of Beasts

You asked for it, you got it! 

The comments section will be open to anyone and everyone who wants to list down their irritations.  Yes, I do have a Pet Peeves blog, but it would just be too much to try and find it.  And right now I'm just tamad.

So... what irrrrrrrrrrrritates me?

1.  When people don't do their jobs right.  For example: the teleprompter operator at a gig I did failed my co-worker... his lyrics weren't entered into the prompter, and so at showtime he was left high and dry.  I was wondering why what he was singing in the show was different from what he was doing in rehearsal, so I took a glance at the monitor, and I saw that the lyrics were nowhere to be found.  All I saw were the title of the song and the words "To be entered later."  They were supposed to be entered YESTERDAY!  BEFORE THE GIG!  NOT LATER WHEN THE SHOW WOULD ALREADY BE OVER, DUMBASS!!!

2.  When the past comes back to bite me in the ass.  Not long ago I found out that an old falling-out incident with all its gory details was related to a pair of ears that didn't really care to hear about it.  In fact, the listener was already saying, "I really don't want to hear about it."  It happened out of the blue... out of nowhere... unsolicited.  After I was told of the incident, I became angry, but was immediately appeased by the knowledge that my friend formed her opinions of me based on what she sees today, and not on an incident that took place a thousand years ago.  Or was it a million?  For the record, yes, I was the one at fault.  But do I have to pay for it the rest of my life?

I will, without hesitation, admit to having been mean to certain people in my lifetime... I'm not always a likeable sort of girl.  I can also have a hair-trigger temper at times, a twist to my usually patient and calm nature.  And yes, I have had my own share of falling-outs and fights.  Who hasn't?  However, I'd like to think that when enough time has passed, the benefit of the doubt takes over, and it's safe to say that the people I had my fights with (and I) have all grown up, moved on and found a better, more peaceful place.  This I presume... until I'm then proven wrong.  I mean, 5 years ago... 10 years ago... 15 years ago... I was a different person.  As was everyone else.  All I ask is to be judged based on what I've become, and not on what I used to be. 

On a lighter note, I saw an ex-boyfriend of mine not long ago... the break-up was not a pretty one and I remember being badly burned by it.  However, many years later, upon seeing him in the front row of a show I did, I was actually happy to see him.  We saw each other after the performance and hugged.  We were fine.

3.  Technical rehearsals.  I know, I know, this is a necessary process when putting on a concert or a show, but damn it, there are days when it can irk the hell out of me.  At tech week (or as I like to call it, "hell week"), this is when lighting, sound, sets and costumes all get their tweaking time.  During one tech week, I was nursing a very bad head cold, so having to stand still on stage wearing nothing but a t-shirt wasn't exactly the way I wanted to recuperate.  I've also had the wrong pair of pants handed to me during one rehearsal, as my dresser didn't have a clue what she was doing.  She eventually did just fine.

Not all of hell week is hell though... I get a kick out of rehearsing my quick changes for shows that I do.  It's a challenge attempting to get my changes done in record time without panic or stress.  There is a method to that madness...

4.  Manila traffic.  I don't mean traffic jams.  I mean, cars separated by less than 2 inches of air... drivers who turn on their high beams, blinding oncoming traffic... assholes that cut in front of you... the stupids who make a left turn from the rightmost lane, and expect other cars to just part for them (who the hell are you, Moses?)... the buses that swerve from one side of the highway to the other, driving their vehicles as if they were racecars... all modes of public transportation that stop anywhere and everywhere (except at their designated stops) to pick up and/or drop off passengers... and the pedestrians who ignore the crosswalk 5 feet away, throw caution to the wind and cross wherever they please, even climbing partitions to do it.  Maybe they have a death wish or something.

The traffic jams are actually not too difficult to negotiate... I'm able to tune out the world by plugging in my headphones and listening to music.  We're going way too slow for anything to be a real bother.

5.  Showbiz intrigue and controversy.  No, I won't expound on this one.  I don't have to.

6.  When I see a really unflattering photograph of a celebrity friend who I know is far, far more good-looking than that.  Why does that irritate me?  As a public figure, there is a degree of responsibility one must take in controlling the images of oneself that appear.  I try to make sure that I pick flattering pictures for headshots and publicity photos, and approve of poster layouts and designs (along with the director of the show I'm doing... if my face is on it, I wanna say yes before it gets out).  I do accept that there is a lack of control when it comes to photos taken at press conferences, interviews and news events, and that's fine.  All I can do in those circumstances is to look good and show my best side (by the way, it's my left).

However, there is going to be a small fraction of pictures released that do not do any sort of justice in terms of the person's image or looks.  It could be due to a bad angle or bad lighting, but still.  It unnerves me when it happens, and it makes me feel terrible for the celebrity.  Hooooh boy...

7.  Cellphones that go off during a performance... especially during a quiet moment.  Before every performance, there's a Voice of God announcement advising the audience to turn off their cellphones and other devices that may intermittently make a beeping sound.  Fair enough.  In truth, silent mode is enough if you really need to keep your phone on for important messages.  Chances are you're a good distance from the speakers.

When that announcement is summarily ignored... that really, really gets my goat.  I've found myself singing the most quiet of ballads with only a piano or a guitar accompanying me when out of nowhere, that loud and incessant Nokia message tone #1 goes off in the 3rd row.  I'm then jolted out of focus and all I can think about is killing that person and his or her offending cellphone.

Many years ago, during the run of They're Playing Our Song here in Manila, my co-star Adrian Pang and I were on stage doing a very emotional scene.  One cellphone's message tone kept going off (apparently that audience member was more interested in texting than watching the show).  After enough minutes of this into the scene, Adrian finally lashed out (still in character, and speaking to the imaginary studio engineer) to TURN THAT BEEPING OFF.  The look in his eye was that of extreme irritation at how inconsiderate some people can be.

One more cellphone story: it was the run of a musical here, I can't remember which one.  A lady in the audience answered her phone in the middle of the show and carried on a conversation... loudly.  The sad part?  The lady is a talent manager, which means she should know better than to answer the phone during a performance!  I don't think she would have appreciated someone else doing that while one of her talents was on stage.  Haaaaaay nakuuuuuuuuuu.............

8.  Mediocre preformances from otherwise excellent artists.  I really, really hate it when I watch a show that someone that I know to be stratospherically, ridiculously talented is in, and they put out a less-than-stellar performance.  This is otherwise known as "phoning it in."  If you're aspiring for puwede na, don't even bother.  You'd just be wasting your (and my) time.

Maybe it's that fan girl in me... when I watch someone with some frequency, be it on television or live, and I know that their standard level of performance is excellent or beyond, I find myself extremely disappointed (and even sometimes angry and disgusted) when that same artist phones it in.  Sure, it might be for just that one performance that I happen to see.  But still.  I come to expect nothing short of brilliance... or whatever their best might be.  I'd much rather see you aim high and fall short than aim low.  That's just a major copout for me.

And how about some quick cut inis-ness:

- People who cut in line at the bank, airport, fast food restaurants, wherever.
- Being sleepy when there's so much going on that I want to stay up for.
- When an actually talented singer is voted off American Idol.
- When my computer crashes BEFORE I save my document.
- The ass that criticizes anything and everything when I'm watching a play, movie or musical, robbing me of my focus and enjoyment.  Shut up muna, puwede ba?!
- Over-energetic people... only the ones that border on obnoxious and annoying.
- People that walk in between someone who's posing and someone who's taking a picture, during the 1-2-3.
- When my internet is down.
- When I ruin a manicure/pedicure.

And that's really all I could think of... I'll be editing this over the next few days... or when something else gets my goat.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Nic at rehearsals

I have a gig on Friday (a private corporate gig) and I brought Nicole to rehearsals. So while I was busy, Nicole was entertaining behind the scenes, and Tita Girlie took these fun photos. Enjoy!

(Thanks, Tita Girlie, and to Eloisa for swinging Nicole!)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Little Girl in Tiara in front of Mirror

This was in our hotel room as we waited for my gig to start... Nicole provided in-room entertainment in the meanwhile.

(My favorite moments: the coughing... and her pseudo-saying, "ANO BA?!" after we giggled at her.)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Nokia N95 8GB

Category:Computers & Electronics
Product Type: Cell-phones
Manufacturer:  Nokia
My cellphone provider called a few weeks ago to notify me that I qualified for a free phone, and the lovely operator gave me a list to choose from: the Nokia N95 8GB, the Nokia E90 and a new Sony Ericsson (I couldn't remember the model number). I chose the new N95. I told my husband about the offer, and he was excited for me (techie that he is). I then started poring over whatever I could find: official reviews and user opinions alike.

The phone was delivered yesterday... and I was floored.

First, the feel in the hand is one that is rich... not at all plasticky or flimsy. However, taking the battery out when I need to is a little difficult... I need an actual tool to remove it.

Now, turning it on.

The phone itself is very responsive. My previous Nokia was an N73, and I found that to be sluggish and slow at every turn, so I lent that to my mother who really didn't need any of the fancy features. Worked for her just fine, but not for me.

The best part of the phone for me is its Mac syncability. It syncs beautifully with iSync (I now use iCal and Address Book because of this) and -- thanks to Nokia Multimedia Transfer -- I can also sync photos and music directly from iTunes and iPhoto. Suhweet!

One last great application I found is a beta program called Conversation. As a former Treo user I really liked threaded SMS messages (or chats), and Conversation allows me to organize my text messages into threads that make my SMS chats easy to follow. Awesome!!!

My other complaint has to do with the built-in media player (slide the phone down instead of up, and you expose special buttons to play your multimedia content). The screen orientation goes from portrait to landscape, but once you slide the phone back into neutral, the orientation doesn't change. Hopefully Nokia will find a way to fix it, but it's a really minor thing compared to the great things I get out of the phone.

I... love... this... phone. Everything I want in a relatively light device. Let's see how long it'll take before I run it into the ground.