Rattling Cages

Sophomore Jinx???? Nah.

Rattle cages, we did

“You know, we think that we all grow out of it? That’s a lie.  Some of us will always be rattling cages.” 

– from Never Been Kissed

The first time I heard it, this particular quote stuck like gum to my hair. Truth is, I’ve  never really bothered to pull the gum out. Perhaps, simply because it “stings” of reality. Not that it hurts. It just reminds me of much simpler, less tumultuous times called “high school”.

People say that adolescence is the period of much confusion. I say adolescence is the start of much confusion, and you can be sure of more to come. You become wiser through the years, assuming that you are capable of such a thing. But the demands of the modern world and dictates of old beliefs are always there to test you. Sometimes, you just want to shout, “STOP THIS WORLD! I WANNA GET OFF!” But sorry, it just isn’t going to happen. Not in this lifetime.

So once in a while, perhaps during your quiet, meditative moments, you wonder just how your old friends, old enemies and old-whatevers are faring. Your thoughts come rushing down memory lane faster than you can say “Whoah!” You wonder what they are now, where they are, if they are already blissfully married or still happy in Spinsterville. Have they remained or become successful? Or is that person you so-despised in high school less successful than you are? (Evil thought, but c’mon, admit it.)

It all boils down to one question: How much have they changed, if there have been significant changes at all? Change, after all, is constant. Cliché but true, ask our now-ancient textbooks. From the very first day of our high school lives to that special last day of our whole high school experience, there’s no escaping change.

It’s like when people leave. They leave us or eventually, we leave them. And then they surprise us by becoming that hot model in the states, or that top executive in some top company, or that person who’s far from the success we always thought s/he’d be. Sometimes, they surprise us by going ahead to make it first to heaven.

So you take a pause to wonder how Fate deals its cards and where you figure in all of it. Is this it already? Are you still on your way to wherever you’re supposed to be heading? Have you progressed as much as you should have? Eventually, we find that despite all these changes brought on by distance and experience, we haven’t really grown up after all.

We still don’t know the answer to many of life’s questions. We still feel lost most times in this universe. We are, in other words, still God’s little children.

And so, inevitably, once in a while, we still rattle cages, making noises and trying to see what happens. When you think about it, it’s not so bad after all. It’s what we’re supposed to do. It’s called living. We grow old, grow up, and continue living.

Hopefully, we’ll forever rattle cages, make noises, and bring the house down. That’s what life’s about 🙂

Copyright © December 2005 by J.Gi Federizo

On a High…

So last Thursday, I was just buying a hotdog sandwich at the burger place very near the dorm when someone stood beside me and said in a low tone, “Don’t go up the dorm yet” like some sneaky “holdaper”, I half-expected to be robbed. Of course, I was surprised and had to scrutinize and realized it’s my theater-person friend “W”.
Copyright © Atlantis Productions

Copyright © Atlantis Productions

Apparently, she had two free tickets to Atlantis Productions‘ presentation of Tony awardee In the Heights and was hoping (but not really expecting ’cause she knew I often came home late these days, er, nights) to invite me to come with her. Apparently again, the one supposed to go with her backed out. Hurray for me!!! As they say, one person’s trash maybe…Okay, not trash, really, but you get the analogy, right? RIGHT?

So, not to waste more time as it was way past 7pm and the show was to start at 8pm, we brought everything that was with me back to Ayala and into the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium at RCBC.

While it was good because it was free (he he, the best things in life), it was actually a really good experience! I think anyone who shelled out and will shell out money for it was/will not be disappointed. Non-fans of rap may actually like this rap-filled show. You can’t understand everything – heck,  even rappers might not understand every word – but you can surely understand what’s happening. There’s lots of hip-hop with also lots of salsa, merengue, soul thrown in – modern meets classic Latin, I say.

What struck me about the interwoven stories are their similarities to the Filipino scene, from the everyday hardships to the sense of family. Even to the idea that people get into their heads that America is the answer to everything. Just ask the main character’s father.

The main character, by the way, is Usnavi (hee-hee about the name, wait for the punchline), played by Nyoy Volante. Nyoy surprised me in Hairspray before, he surprised me even more in In The Heights. I never expected he could rap, and so well at that, he could give any rapper a run for his money. Rapping with a very passable accent. Not perfect, but hey, who’s complaining? There was a smooth way about him that I loved listening to him every time. Either that was actually because of his style or because of the way the piece was composed, I don’t know, and I really don’t care because I loved it!

Taken by Jaime Unson

The two leads, Nyoy Volante and K-La Rivera. Image from BroadwayWorld.com, photo by Jaime Unson

It was my first time to watch most of the performers. I was surprised to see Jackie Lou Blanco and I had to think hard before I realized I was looking at Calvin Millado. Jackie Lou was good in one of the songs, basically her solo, which title I have yet to find out (sorry, as of now, I have not gotten hold of a programme ’cause it was all so sudden, besides, I don’t think there were available programmes that night already). Calvin’s portrayal as the father of the Rosario Family, for me, was very touching.

I was not surprised to see reality singing competition show (or whatever you call it) finalist K-La Rivera because my friend mentioned her while I tried to gobble down my sandwich fast inside a taxi on the way there. Acting-wise, she’s okay. Nothing “Ooh”-worthy, but okay. She has a very nice singing voice, I must say. Many more training to go, perhaps, but very promising. She should do this more often. Less TV, more theater, ’cause in theater, she doesn’t have to scream to be appreciated.

I had been crushing on Felix Rivera before so it was a treat to see him again onstage. Ever the heartthrob, he got to ***spoiler alert*** kiss the girl again. I truly love his vocals. Very nice, very apt for musicals. I really appreciated him in Avenue Q that I watched sometime ago. Very commendable, too, were veteran thespian Ms. Jay Glorioso who was Usnavi’s adoptive lola and Bibo Reyes whose Sonny was quite the comic relief. Ima Castro was there, too. A very reliable performer she was, of course, though I felt her character did not showcase her talent that much. I wish I had seen Aida; I bet I would have enjoyed her.

Tex Ordonez wows in the song “Carnaval Del Barrio.” Image from BroadwayWorld.com, photo by Jaime Unson

But oh, my fave of them all that night was Ms. Tex Ordonez! I was so impressed, I actually made sure I asked my friend about her name. Her Daniela was wicked good! I never for a moment doubted she was a Latina living in Washington Heights. The look, the actions, the delivery of words,..excellent portrayal! She rivaled Bibo in the funny department… Hmnn… Actually, she was the funnest and funniest (sorry, Bibo, but you do get the second place award). Kudos to her!

On to the other actors and swings. It was apparent that one requirement for them to be part of the show was for them to be good dancers. They were expected to dance various numbers. Personally, I felt that much was lacking. Not really in the routines but in the dancing itself. Awkward moments, unsure steps, shaky lifting executions…But okay, it was just the start, it was not even really the real first night. I supposed they would get better every night.  One curious question though: Who was that Ralion Alonso look-alike? If I didn’t know better, I’d think it was him, only he didn’t grow older.

Now the music! Some beats were catchy enough, if only one was fast enough to catch all the words. I didn’t think anything was memorable. Still, I am not closing my doors. I think these are the kind of songs that you let grow on you. I wonder where I can get a soundtrack…

That said, this show is very much recommended. If you have the time, try and catch it. It’s got a limited run so don’t miss it now. Better yet, do as I did. Buy a hotdog sandwich and you just might get a ticket, for free.

That’s the whole cast for you. Image from BroadwayWorld.com, photo by Jaime Unson



(*Important Note Before You Read: The story of Jamie Gabrielle Vinci is the sole property of J.Gi Federizo, myself. However, the characters of the man who keeps posting pink notes and the man who keeps following him, including their actions and the note, belong to Kevin Craig. J.Gi (me) used the characters with Mr. Craig’s permission. The piece was part of a writing group exercise wherein one’s character(s) got to meet/inter-act with the others’. I got the idea to “breathe air” into the scowling girl Kevin’s characters encountered.

The group attempt failed but I decided to continue just for fun and to keep me writing….So if this first installment seems kind of — okay, really — weird, it’s because it is. It becomes more “normal” and coherent in the next parts, though. I have been doing some tweaking to update information. It’s just light writing, so please bear with it, like when you watch a movie for the entertainment value and nothing else…LOL!!! )


Copyright © gigabiting.com

Copyright © gigabiting.com

Jamie Gabrielle Vinci…Too long…Jamie G. Vinci? Eek. Too nursery rhyme-y.

Once, there was Jamie G. Vinci

who got stuck up the big oak tree

she tried her best to get down, you see

fell down so hard, she broke a knee.

Eek. No, thank you…J.G. Vinci? Yeah, right. Just as tacky…Hmnn…How about J. Gabrielle Vinci?…J. Gabrielle Vinci…Hey, that’s it! J. Gabrielle Vinci!…Watch out, world, here I come!’

So went Jamie’s train of thought as she sipped a cup of coffee at BrewsNook along Yonge Street, facing the transparent window of the café. Not that there was anything that interesting to look at at that particular moment. And if there was any, she was lost in her thoughts to even care. J. Gabrielle Vinci, she thought, Yup. That name is definitely going places. She was lost in the euphoria of day-dreaming about conquering the literary world.

“Uh-hurm,” someone cleared his throat from her left, pushing Jamie out of her reverie. She turned to look up at a handsome guy – perfect teeth, perfect built, perfect skin – who smiled down at her. “Hello. The name’s Cole,” the guy said, offering a handshake.

Jamie gave a courteous smile, ignoring Cole’s hand. She didn’t feel like flirting today. “Hello.”

“Mind if I share your table?” he said, pulling the seat beside hers. “I mean, what’s a pretty girl like you -”

“Oh, hey, I’m sorry. But I’m not alone. That’s kinda occupied already.” She lied. She knew where the conversation was heading.

Cole gave a surprised expression and then looked around. “Really? I’ve been watching you from inside the café for, like, ten minutes, and I haven’t seen any – ”

“My boyfriend. He’s just fashionably late. He always is, especially since today’s Karate Day.” Jamie put a matter-of-factly cover.

“K-Karate Day?”

“Yeah. He has a black belt. They over-practice at times, but he should be arriving ree-al soon,” she said, making a show of checking her watch. She didn’t know if martial artists do over-practice, but if this white lie would serve the purpose…

That got him. “Uh, I guess I better…”

Yeah, you better. “Okay, bye, nice meeting you, Cole,” she said, waving at his retreating back as he walked away fast and turned around the corner.

He was not that long gone when another guy, a gorgeous Latino this time, pulled the same chair and sat down in front of her. “Good morning. ”

Jamie, peeved already by the intrusion in her private world, stopped him from going any further. “Look. To be honest, I’m not interested in your name or your address or your number. I don’t wanna give you my name or my address or my number. No, we don’t need to be ‘friends’ on Facebook. I don’t need a relationship right now, and I’m not interested in having one with you. No need for idle conversations, either. I just wanna be left alone. So, will you please, please, just leave me be?”

Taken aback by her little tirade, the Latino stared at her, astonished. “Or should I say all of that in Latin?” she added. He gave an embarrassed smile, raised his hands in surrender, and left. Thank you. Jamie sighed to herself in disgust and took another sip of her coffee. She knew she was being b****y, but with the pressure of unemployment hanging on her shoulders, she just wanted to be left alone.

Men, she thought. Put a pretty girl near them and they flock like bees. Pretty??? She laughed mockingly at herself upon realizing the irony. Who would have thought? Who would have known what a few years could do?

Jamie Gabrielle Vinci. Only daughter to a French-American mother and a Filipino-Italian father, R.I.P. She was born in America, raised in America, and would most probably die in America. Dark straight hair, brown doe eyes, mocha-colored skin. She was fluent in all the four languages of her lineage, sprinkle in a dash of Spanish and Chinese. She was smart, witty, talented in the arts (even funny, if she hadn’t been in a bad mood lately). A real prize of a girl.

But traits like those didn’t get anybody that far socially, not in grade school and definitely not in high school. Jamie was a short, thin girl in grade school who didn’t look that much of anything, thanks to her different roots. She was shy, a loner, a nobody who no one really noticed. Sometimes, she wished she was one of the more nerdy kids. At least, they got noticed.

That was a wish she later wished she had not made in the first place. As Jamie added on more height and pounds, Jamie started to be noticed in high school, alright — as that nerdy kid who always got the A’s, that social outcast whose looks never seemed to fit in, that weird girl who would rather hang out in the library, play chess, and write on her journal. To top it all, she had somehow gained the tag “Teen-age Mutant Ninja Turtle.” All because she did look like one with her back always humped when she walked, sat, or even ran. She resented being called a mutant, of course, but the turtle-thing, she thought, sure was appropriate. Good thing Jamie realized enough was enough and gradually corrected her Quasimodo posture. Later, she would learn that it was a sign of insecurity.

It was her intelligence that saved her in a way. Jamie got a Harvard scholarship in Creative Writing. It was in college where she found her confidence, sharing and competing with people who somehow had the same wavelength as hers. Sure, there were snobs and hypocrites, too, but what school didn’t have any? The same way as there were nice and friendly people. Jamie even learned to play tennis and enhanced her swimming skills, which changed her physique dramatically. She became the more attractive version of her old self. Not that it was her fondest wish. She never really minded her looks. But she had to admit, it sure had its advantages. What’s more, she was becoming prettier – no, lovelier – her exotic beauty finally falling into place.

Suddenly, she was hot property. Boys, guys, men were quick to notice her (and it was around this time that she also took to using her second name, Gabrielle, which she thought fitted her new-found personality). Hardly a week went by when she did not get any invitation for a date. Sometimes, she dated; many times, she preferred to just plop on her bed and read Shakespeare.

But it was Luke Anthony Carlton III who caught her attention. Charming. good-looking, ultra-rich Luke. He was intelligent in his own way and quite the talented artist. Finally, she found a guy she actually was proud to have! Unfortunately, all those traits were never good indicators of anyone’s real persona. A few months into the relationship, he showed the real side of him: domineering, jealous-type bad boy with an ego the size of the whole of America. He showed no interests in the things she did whatsoever, insulted her once in a while with his tactless words, and neglected her feelings. Until the time it turned out that Luke was much more interested in trying out the time-tested theories of Kama Sutra on her. So she gave him what he deserved. “Kama Sutra this, you jerk!” Jamie shouted right before hitting his groin so hard, he took off and never talked to her again. Luke, with his looks, talents, and financial capabilities, was as big a jerk as most of the men Jamie met.

And she met many. They were guys who were intimidated by her brains while some didn’t seem to use theirs at all. Some guys simply liked her for her beauty, and some liked her beauty too much they thought they could own her. Mostly, they were guys who wanted what Luke wanted. So they never got any.

Jamie was presently fresh out of college. You’d think she had it made being a Harvard graduate and all. But no. She got rejected a lot and had been unemployed for months. She was found somewhat “unfit”, she could tell. There were people who even went as far as to tell it to her face – “Too pretty” or “Overqualified” or “Inexperienced” or “Too young” or “Too liberal” or…Yeah, that was her, an ‘OR’.

“Damn the systems!” Jamie let out and scowled. She looked so miserable, no self-respecting artist would have tried to draw her expression. So much for confidence.

What the – Jamie got the surprise of her life when a pink post-it paper was suddenly stuck with a thud on the window directly in front of her. There was a man who seemed to have just gotten out of bed, unkempt and really rather untidy. Another guy was watching him from a distance. Mr. Pinkoe smiled at her and she didn’t know how to react until he walked away in his own goofy way, pen ready to scrawl on paper.

Copyright © FotoSearch.com

Jamie stared at the little piece of paper and realized there was something written on it. The other guy who was watching went nearer, glanced at her, then at the note. She strained her eyes as well to read the words written in loopy but rather nice penmanship: “Ping Pong goes the stones and bones roll in tones of moans…Jibber Jabber, ho!” Huh?

Jamie burst out laughing the same time as the other guy did, disturbing other people. They stared at the two curiously, but really, ready to run screaming Amuck! should they see any more sign of mental disturbance.

The guy smiled at Jamie and she smiled back before he followed Mr. Pinkoe down the street. Hmnn…Was it her imagination or could he be stalking poor, Pinkoe guy? A stalker looking more harmless than the stalkee? Nah. Oh, but Mr. Stalker did have a cute smile. Would have been nice to have talked and laughed with him if he only stayed for coffee.

Jamie wasn’t scowling anymore. She was now smiling radiantly. Of course, she had no idea what that little “Jibber Jabber” piece meant, yet that made her day somehow. Mr. Pinkoe and Mr. Stalker. What a team.

Jamie finished her coffee now and stared at the newspaper that was on her table. She would like to apply for a writing position there after all. And if Roseville Today would not take her, she would try somewhere else again. And if all else failed, she wouldn’t mind looking for Mr. Pinkoe, himself, and ask for a few pointers about the art of writing (weird but he seemed to know what he was doing), or maybe ask for another one of his pinky notes.

That morning, Jamie Gabrielle Vinci was so happy, she could’ve whistled if she only knew how. So she made up a little song instead with a “Jibber” and a “Jabber” and a “ho!”


Copyright © J.Gi Federizo


For more of Jamie’s ongoing story, visit THE JAMIE TALES page.