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Remembering My First Teachers (A Daughter’s Memoirs) #MondayMemoirs #atozchallenge2017

Note: It was supposed to be a simple Facebook post about Teachers’ Day/Month, but their memories inspired me. The first is the English translation, followed by the original, which I admit is better. I realized it would be great to use it as my “M” word for the A to Z Challenge I was finishing since I’ve had “memoirs” in my head for a long while now.
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“Respect the teachers that awaken minds, for while we owe our lives to our parents, we owe our humanity to our teachers.” (Gregoria de Jesus) — Just my translation. Credits go to Project Saysay

I had teachers for parents. I never knew of anything else they did for work except be educators. Teaching had always been their profession long before I was born. My father only had to stop teaching when he suffered a mild stroke. It affected his brain, causing the short-term memory loss. He became more temperamental, yet he could be jolly and quite the joker as well. He became more expressive. He could be difficult, too, his maturity having somewhat returned to the level of a younger man’s. There came a point when it seemed I gained a teenage brother that I had to often reprimand for being annoying and difficult.

Despite that, my father still knew who was the parent and who was the child, especially when I had to be reminded that I was still the child. His brows would meet and he’d sternly say my name as a warning. That was the father I knew: just one look and my sister and I would sit and shut up.

My mother had to stop teaching much later due to her ailments — she decided to file for an early retirement. She had always been sickly even when I was little. I remember a time that I, being a child, unintentionally hurt her feelings. Having learned a big word, I said that she was just being a hypochondriac. This really hurt her feelings and I immediately felt bad and regretted it. I could not say sorry at all.

From then on, however, I did not look at her ailments as simply nothing. And it made me admire her more for despite everything that she was going through, my mother was still able to work hard and guide her students, including other people around her.

They taught and helped so many.

A lot of my father’s students got along well with him, some became his friends, and many learned how to plant/garden, build stuff (I only remember that the subject was called “Shop”), and be good at sports, particularly in volleyball.

I will never forget the almost-weekly volleyball games at our barangay school every Saturday or Sunday. He would simply dribble the ball on the still-newly cemented road and its sounds would echo. Soon, those who wanted to join would arrive one by one, be they current students or past students, whatever the age.

Meanwhile, my mother had so many children, those she helped not just in learning math (geometry, trigonometry) but in their personal lives. There were those who found the right path again through her after getting lost. We heard of these stories from the various former students who went to pay their last respects during her wake. She would sometimes give money to kids who had no allowance. Other times, she would visit the parents of kids with school problems or who were usually absent. On many Saturdays, too, she chose to be at the school to prepare various things for the days ahead.

They said she was strict, but she was also a joy and a dear friend. I knew that, I saw that, I felt that. And while I felt somewhat jealous of them, I didn’t harbor ill feelings because even then, I knew of how good a person she was.

…My apologies. I felt like sharing these memories with you since this is the time to pay tribute to our teachers. I would like to salute the two people who were my first teachers. They were not perfect, but they were the first to teach me what it means to be human. I have not yet surpassed or achieved what they did, but they will serve as my inspiration. Most of all, they are the reason that I’m alive and why I am here.

This also pays tribute to them whose leaving has been a real loss to those of us that they loved and that love them still.

A SALUTE TO ALL OUR BELOVED TEACHERS!!!

Now, the Facebook post:

Naging guro ang mga magulang ko. Lumaki akong walang ibang alam kundi guro sila. Ipinanganak ako na iyon na ang kanilang hanap-buhay.

Natigil lamang ang aking ama sa pagtuturo noong siya’y magka-mild stroke. Naapektuhan nito ang utak niya, na naging sanhi ng kanyang short-term memory loss. Naging mas madaling uminit ang ulo, pero mas masayahin at maloko rin. Mas ‘expressive’. Mas matigas din ang ulo, sapagka’t mistula siyang bumalik sa panahong siya’y binata o binatilyo. Dumating ang panahon na tila nagkaroon ako ng lalaking kapatid na madalas pagsabihan sa kakulitan at katigasan ng ulo.

Gayunpaman, alam pa rin niya kung sino ang magulang at sino ang anak, lalo na kapag nakakalimutan kong anak pa rin nga pala ako. Titingin siya ng nakakunot-noo at mariing sasabihin ang pangalan ko bilang babala. Ganoon ang dating ama na kilala ko: isang tingin pa lamang ay tumatahimik na ako at ang ate ko.

Ang aking ina naman ay tumigil dahilan sa kanyang mga sakit — nagpasya siyang mag-retiro nang mas maaga. Bata pa ako ay sakitin na siya. Naroong bilang bata, nasaktan ko ang damdamin niya. Minsan, palibhasa ay natuto ng isang salitang malalim, nasambit ko na ‘hypochondriac’ lang siya. Dinamdam niya ito nang labis at pagkatapos na pagkatapos ay pinagsisihan ko ito. Hindi ko nagawang humingi ng tawad.

Nguni’t mula noon, hindi ko na ipinagwalang-bahala ang kanyang mga karamdaman. Kaya’t ako’y napahanga rin niya sapagka’t bagama’t may mga karamdamang dinadala, nagawa pa rin niyang maging masipag at umalalay sa kanyang mga mag-aaral, pati na rin sa ibang tao sa paligid.

Marami silang naturuan at natulungan.

Marami sa mga mag-aaral ng aking ama ang kanyang naging kabiruan, mayroong ibang naging kaibigan, at marami ang natutong magtanim, bumuo ng mga bagay (“Shop” lang ang alam kong tawag sa asignaturang ‘yon noon), at maging magaling sa larangan ng palakasan, partikular na sa volleyball.

Di ko malilimutan ang halos linggo-linggong paglalaro nila ng volleyball sa paaralan ng barangay tuwing Sabado o Linggo. Patatalbugin lamang ang bola sa noo’y bago pa ring sementadong daan at aalingawngaw ang tunog nito. Maya-maya ay magsisidating ang nais makisali, mga kasalukuyang mag-aaral man o dating mag-aaral, anuman ang edad.

Ang aking ina naman ay maraming naging anak, mga natulungan di lang sa pag-aaral ng matematika (geometry, trigonometry) kundi sa personal na buhay. May ilan na natutong bumalik mula sa lumihis na daan. Nalaman namin ito mula sa maraming dumalaw upang makiramay sa kanyang paglisan. Naroong bigyan niya ng perang baon ang mag-aaral niya. Naroong puntahan ang mga magulang ng ibang nagka-suliranin sa pag-aaral o kaya’y madalas lumiban sa klase. Naroong kahit Sabado ay pinili niyang pumasok upang gumawa ng mga dapat ihanda para sa mga susunod na araw.

Sabi nila, kahit siya ay naging istrikto, naging masayahin at kaibigan nila siya. Alam ko iyon, nakita ko, nadama ko. At kahit na may lihim akong tampo dala ng selos, di ko ito itinanim sa sarili ko sapagka’t noon pa man, batid ko ang kanyang kabutihan ng loob.

…Pasensya na. Naisip ko lang ibahagi ang mga ito sapagka’t ngayon ay panahon ng pagpupugay para sa mga guro. Nagpupugay din ako sa dalawang una kong naging mga guro. Bagama’t di perpekto, sila and unang nagturo sa akin ng pagpapakatao. Hindi ko pa nahihigitan o naaabot man lamang ang nagawa nila, pero sila ang magsisilbing inspirasyon ko. Higit sa lahat, sila ang dahilan ng aking pagiging tao at kung bakit ako naririto.

Ibinahagi ko na rin ito bilang pagpupugay sa kanila na ang paglisan ay tunay na kawalan sa aming kanilang minahal at sa kanila’y nagmamahal.

PAGPUPUGAY PARA SA LAHAT NG MAHAL NATING MGA GURO!!!

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Have you thanked your teachers yet?

M is for “Memoirs”

This piece serves as my Letter M post for the A to Z Challenge 2017.

For my previous posts, kindly visit my A to Z Challenge 2017 page.

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The Hunchback of Rural High #MondayMemoirs #KwentongUPRural

I was never popular in high school. If I ever was, that could be because I was considered weird, which never offended me. I welcomed being voted as Weirdest Girl in Class two years in a row. For me, that meant I was not one to conform just to be called cool. Besides, when you’re a writer, people just tag you as weird. Hollywood fed us that idea.

Most probably, though, if I ever was popular, it was because I was the Hunchback of Rural High. I was the short girl looking like Quasimodo.

I didn’t use to be like that. I did not have a humped back prior to high school. I was a shy kid in grade school who only started coming out of her shell in fourth grade. By sixth grade, I was jumping from tables, singing the oldie La Bamba shamelessly…Then a teacher sent me back into my shell, accusing me in front of the other kids because she supposedly didn’t like something I said about her favorite student.

I was dumbfounded and confused. I did not even understand what she meant until days later! Worse was, she thought wrong as I was not referring to him. Unfortunately, my self-esteem already suffered because of it. Why a teacher should even get offended by a student practicing the right to choose who to like or not is beyond me. By the time I reached high school, I was starting to develop the humped back.

Well, that was my backstory, no pun intended. High school started and soon, boys from my batch would sing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) theme song whenever I passed by. But I never hid or ran away; I just passed by poker-faced. I knew they’d get tired of it one day. Thankfully, the bullying didn’t go further than that. But of course, I resented what they did; I had feelings, too. Some years ago, an old teacher reminded me of the time I had the guts to tell him to tell those boys, whom he was friends with, to get off my back (again, no pun intended).

The funny thing was, to be honest, I resented them because I thought they were referring to the “mutant” part, which, for me, translated to “uber-ugly girl”.  It was months after that I realized they didn’t exactly mean it that way. They meant something else. Surprisingly, that lifted my self-esteem a bit. I was glad they were referring to something else that I could do something about.

So, I did do something about it. I started trying to fix my Quasimodo posture. If you think it was easy, it wasn’t.

It took a lot of effort and self-awareness to prevent the slumping whenever I walked. I could actually feel the physical pressure every time I tried to keep my back straight. If you were near me enough, you’d probably hear me groaning a bit. It worked, though. I may not walk straight as a model, but I got my intended result. I didn’t know the reason for the humped back until Home Economics in the fourth year: a book explained that slumping was a sign of insecurity. I thought, Well, that figures.

The teasing stopped. A boy in senior year attempted to revive it by singing the TMNT song as I walked nearer. It was the classic case of someone bullying somebody else to compensate for his own low self-esteem. Instead of feeling hurt or getting mad, I was amused and tempted to say, “What, you’re still not over that?“ He never tried again.

 

My whole high school life was like everyone else’s. I had to struggle with different issues (body changes, grades, crushes, friendships, lack of confidence). However, if there’s one thing that made me different, it was this early experience.  It hurt emotionally and physically, but that was part of what made me, me.

I don’t resent those boys anymore. I forgave them a long time ago. I’m thankful they somehow taught me to stand up straight. Take it figuratively, take it literally, it’s up to you. Besides, I kind of liked the ninja turtles 😊

 

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Usually, I don’t follow the Philippine time when I post stuff. But I wanted this posted already before I forget or lose interest again. While it’s still Sunday in most readers’ part of the world, it’s already Monday here, so this counts as a #MondayMemoirs post.

I’ve already mentioned about my turtle “background” before, but this is a bit more revealing and personal. I wrote about it because our high school reunion is coming and I’ve been asked to write my HS experience for our unique souvenir programme. I was able to submit three write-ups (Rattling Cages and two trivia pieces). Unfortunately, this one did not meet the deadline. I was supposed to share this after the reunion, but since it’s not going to be part of the programme anyway, I went ahead and shared it. (By the way, my school was the U.P. Rural High School, ergo, the use of the “Rural” word.)

I do have a DISCLAIMER: I don’t, in anyway, hate my old school. This is not to speak ill of it. I shared this because (1) my growth was important to me, and (2) to show that things like this happen anywhere. Ultimately, it is up to us to choose which life lessons we’re going to keep and how we will use them to our advantage.

Any comments or thoughts? I won’t mind. Let me know below! Or maybe share your own experiences? 😉

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My Happy List

As promised, I am listing my Not-Really-Bucket List. Will add more pics and links soon. Remember, crossed out and in red means done. Here we go…

MY HAPPY LIST

1. Smile at people all day and see what happens.

I was 13. Heard a smile could make others smile, too, so I experimented with trying to spread joy. It was going well until a lady looked at me like I was crazy…

2. Do something really amazing and meaningful.

3. Ride the roller-coaster.

4. Try a scary sport or adventure.

5. Learn to swim.

6. Learn a third language fluently.

I’m partial to Spanish, which won’t be so hard to learn given our country’s history, plus I can find people to converse with. Just partial, not sure. We’ll see…

7. Learn Baybayin.

baybayin-example

This is just to show my handwriting. Baybayin/alibata should be written vertically actually

Baybayin is the ancient script of our ancestors. Why it’s more commonly called as alibata is a bit of an issue, but that’s become the better-known, more commonly used term. We forgot about it while under the rule of Spain. We just began re-learning it in the recent decades, but people have just really started appreciating it this past decade (sadly, mainly because they think its characters look cool when used in visual arts).

I don’t claim to be an expert in it as I’m not that quick yet in reading words in baybayin/alibata. I do claim to be a baybayin/alibata advocate, though. I think we should start really including it in the curriculum instead of simply teaching it under the Filipino subject in passing. Anyway, I tend to follow the Spanish-influenced baybayin/alibata because the use of the cross makes reading words easier, for me, at least.

Related post: How to Spell the Ancient Filipino Way

8. Learn a martial art.

learn-muay-thai

Learned the martial art Muay Thai. Forgive the sort of leggings here. MT shorts are too short for better movement and I couldn’t find my cycling shorts that time

 

9. Learn to paint on canvass.

10. Travel around the Philippines.

11. Visit Disneyland with my family

Japan, Hong Kong or the US, whichever opportunity presents itself.

12. Travel around Europe.

13. Visit New Zealand.

14. Visit The Louvre Museum.

15. Experience the West End.

16. Experience Broadway. I literally mean being in New York watching shows.

17. See ‘WICKED The Musical’ live.

18. See ‘CATS The Musical’ live.

musical playbills

I was lucky to have watched both CATS and WICKED (and PHANTOM OF THE OPERA) with the help of my dearest mother and of one of my friends…Thank you!!!!

19. See ‘Les Miserables’ live.

20. See ‘Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ (JATD) live.

21. Act in a real stage play/musical (school skits do not count).

That almost came true. I was to be 1/3 of The Narrator in JATD. There’s only 1 Narrator but the Director wanted three for various reasons I won’t enumerate…*sigh* I’m not giving up yet, though. Who knows?

22. Go to the Netherlands, watch Veerle Casteleyn perform live onstage, get her autograph, and have a twofie with her.

23. Watch a Lea Salonga stage musical, get her autograph, and have a twofie with her.

How I got the twofie deserves another post. I was not able to get Lea‘s autograph, but this is okay already, right? The main purpose was to meet and talk to her face to face 🙂 Meanwhile, I have seen her perform live onstage in some of her musicals.

lea-salonga-twofie

Miss Lea and I. Standing beside her only emphasized my plainness, but who cared???

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I never heard about BABY The Musical till then, but I loved it!

The very-first Lea musical that I actually saw live was MISS SAIGON, but we were seated so far away and I was not able to buy a playbill *sniff*...See this faded ticket

The very-first Lea musical that I actually saw live was MISS SAIGON, but we were seated so far away and I was not able to buy a playbill *sniff*…See this faded ticket

24. Attend a live music concert that I paid for.

lea-salonga-concert

This concert, I enjoyed. Isn’t it obvious who I’m a fan of???

Back in college, I was able to attend three live concerts, all for free. One was because I interviewed a band for the school paper. The other two were care of the college radio station I worked for. I wasn’t even really a fan yet of all three. I watched because I got in for free. So I decided I wanted to be able to attend a concert I was really interested in and I would pay for my ticket. I did. Watched Mariah Carey’s live Manila concert. It wasn’t so nice an experience, actually. We were standing far from the stage and I think there were rain showers as well. Somebody was taking pictures and his/her phone got snatched from his/her hand.

25. Sing solo on stage in front of everyone.

I’ve got stage fright. Easier to conquer if with others, not so alone. I wasn’t even too crazy about the idea, but one of my best friends asked me to sing a song at her wedding. I thought better that than be a bridesmaid. I would have hated all the preparations. Also, I wanted to be able to say I did that even just once in my life. Turned out I’d do it several times, but not without me trembling inside everytime. At an office Christmas party, I actually messed everything up! Yikes! Epic fail! *hides* (No pics to show…thank goodness!)

26. Win an award or medal.

They’re not like some big awards or anything, but I guess I earned them. I did not know how I could get any, but I ended up getting some anyway. *Speech alert!* “I would like to thank the school paper and the radio station for those awards….” If they’d be interested to know, yes, I still have those certificates. They’re on my blogfolio’s Certifications & Awards page, filed under “PEER AWARDS/RECOGNITION”.

I did win with my village friends (twice, I think) when we played volleyball in the local summer league when I was a teener. Then when I was already working, I also won second place (or was it third?) with the School Administration Team (playing volleyball also) when the tertiary school we worked for let us join the Intramurals.

I played for the Administration team during the Intramurals back when I worked for a tertiary school. I’m third from right here. At my left (facing camera) is/was the Girl with the Smiley Heart

27. Choreograph a dance number.

Did that thrice in college for three different groups on different occasions. Won for me a Star of D’ Night Award, too, among other things 😉

28. Learn to play a musical instrument,

I think these count even though it doesn’t take a genius to figure out how they work

jaw-harp

The kubing (jaw harp)

bamboo-buzzer

The bungkaka (bamboo buzzer)

29. Be in a respectable indie film playing a bit role.

30. Start a good family business.

31. Build a reading and hobby room.

32. Buy a vehicle for the family.

33. Live in a beautiful house where it’s peaceful with our family.

34. Enjoy our future grandkids.

35. Get a master’s degree.

36. Become a teacher.

home-made-tests

These are just some of the tests I gave the little boy

I somehow have some illusions of becoming a teacher. My kids are here, though, so I think I can cross this out. I’m a proud teacher, too — our incoming first-grader (as of this writing) actually passed his exam with flying colors! Someday, I might teach students in a real school environment, maybe about writing…

37. Become a radio DJ.

I always wanted to be one. Then when I was 13, one of my friends became one of what were called as Junior DJs and I would tune in to the city’s local station so I could listen to her and several other kids. Not without envy even though I knew that envy wasn’t good. The opportunity to become an actual DJ knocked when I was in college so I did not let it pass. I was even surprised I had the guts to try. It paid off, fortunately.

dzlb-memorabilia

These were taken just a few years ago, just to show my radio colleagues I kept souvenirs all these years

38. Become a writer.

I wasn’t planning on making this my career because of the starving artist “syndrome”, but I am here because I think I sought this fate anyway. Fate is still part-effort.

39. Finish my novel.

40. Write/create a comic book.

41. Fall in love.

My real name’s hyphenated now, so, yeah 🙂

42. Tell someone my innermost secret and hope not to be or feel judged.

43. Give birth to a live, healthy baby…

God has yet to grant this wish. We are not giving up yet so we hope he lets us have the baby the next time. We’ll try to be ready.

44. See both/all our kids graduate from college.

45. Build a home for the aged whose own families have abandoned them.

46. Buy a land and build a large animal shelter, for abused/neglected/abandoned animals.

47. Grant scholarships anonymously (when I’m already rich, of course!).

Why anonymously? First, I won’t do it for recognition. Second, I won’t want other people to know I have money because people can use and abuse you when you have money. Three, I won’t want anyone approaching me for his/her kid’s scholarship. Let’s face it, a lot of kids don’t like to study. I wouldn’t want to feel sorry and obligated to send to school someone who doesn’t really want to be in it. Also, some parents will only use the kids to get the money and spend it on other things, not for the kids’ schooling. Someone else who’ll be working for me will handle applications. I’ll have a say on it, of course, but I won’t want people to know.

48. Build my Dream Museum.

49. Attain peace of mind.

50. Die happy.

51. Do my best jump for a jump shot.

This is My Happy List Item #51. What about it? CLICK HERE.

eversun-makati

With the permission of all the peeps here, I shared this to JUMP FOR JOY! Photo Project‘s Eyoälha Baker and she posted it on her project’s Facebook page

52. Finally watch Patti Austin in concert, live.

UPDATE (Dec. 3, 2018): I was trying to check if there’ll be any show I’d like to see next year. I was going to save up. Then I saw THIS. AAARRGGHH!!! I’m so mad that I didn’t know. I’m even madder that the date is so near and I can’t go! No extra money for it *sniff* What are the chances that a Good Samaritan will be able to see this immediately and send me a ticket in time for the concert??!!!

53. Try vlogging.

Done. Well, doing it now. I have THE SANDBOX.

SAMPLE:

I said I’d “try” vlogging because I am not sure if it’s something I can keep doing for years. But, at least, I’ll be able to say I didn’t waste my opportunity. And at least, I’m learning new stuff “tinkering” with YouTube. Meanwhile, I aim to buy better-quality equipment in the future. Right now, I make do with what I have.

 

Okay, that’s My Happy List. I’ll add more to it if I think of more. Care to share your own happy list, though? Feel free to do so and put the link in the comments! 🙂

Are Vampires Real? #FreakyFriday #NanoPoblano2019

Generally, we believe that they are bat-turning man-beasts. Most times, we think they are enigmatic, sensual and sexual beings, hopefully handsome, long-haired blondes willing to be interviewed. Lately, they have been portrayed as really-old emo dudes trapped in young glow-in-the-light bodies. And then there are really scary-looking ones you wouldn’t want to be trapped with in a place where the sun does not rise for 24 days…

By now, you can tell we mean vampires. (Duh. The title?) We talk of vampires, how we know them from books and especially movies. Quite expected, really, as when the discussions go towards the are-they-real route, many—or the experts, at least—will always point out to these as the possible causes of people’s belief in vampires.

The Impaler

dracula, vlad the impaler, translyvania, vampires, vlad, vlad tepes, vlad Dracula, wallachia, real vampire

“This portrait of Vlad III, painted in the early 16th century, hangs in the museum at Castle Ambras in Innsbruck, Austria.” (LiveScience.com)

It is said that vampires originated from the Romanian Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia. Historically, he is a revered Romanian folk hero. But he also earned the nickname Tepes (meaning ‘impaler’) for his reputation of cruelly impaling his/their enemies. Dracula was actually his last name, a name now perceived as almost synonymous to ‘vampire’.

It is believed that author Bram Stoker read and studied about Vlad the Impaler. He later created a character ‘inspired’ by (though loosely based on) the prince in his book titled Dracula. This book was so convincing and popular at the time, it gave birth to a whole new era of films capitalizing on horror and vampires. It started with its unauthorized German film adaptation, NOSFERATU. Later on, actor Bela Lugosi would do the biggest role of his life, playing the title role in the DRACULA film. His performance would soon define the way people saw vampires in the decades to come.

Do They (Still) Exist?

Historical accounts aside, belief in vampires has long been a part of many cultures and folklore, called by many other names. The physical features sometimes differ. For instance, unlike bat-turners, some may grow wings while retaining human form).

In the modern world, however, new kinds of vampires have become quite visible. They come in the form of vampire-lovers who either believe they are vampires or would like to live as such. Some go to such extent as to change their whole body features to look like the real deal. It’s the vampire lifestyle or vampire subculture. It’s pretend.

What is not pretend is a real psychiatric condition called Renfield’s Syndrome. It is also called by another term: “Clinical Vampirism”, a mortal’s obsession with drinking real blood. Needless to say, it is very reasonable to try and have this condition or disorder treated, for everyone’s sake.

 

So are vampires real? Are they really supernatural? Until we actually encounter one, this mystery will remain an enigma. The question is, would you really want to meet one? If you do, please let us know.

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For two or three consecutive years (except last year, I think), I tried to make #FreakyFriday posts every November. Guess it’s not too late to do that this year, too.

How about a little story I made? OBSESSION

Found this good read just now: The Bloody Truth About Vampires

Why Visualize Data #THURSDAYTIPS #NANOPOBLANO2019

What is Data Visualization? It is the visual presentation of data to inform your target audience.

These data are meant to complement the relevant information you share. They serve as proof or factual evidence to support any claims you have and to help people understand the value of the data being presented.

Image from PCMag.com

The Evolution of Visual Presentations

In the old days, these visualization tools were simple graphs, charts, tables, timelines, and maps. They were materials you could physically touch. Over time, with the arrival of better technology, we learned to make more effective presentations. They were created using computer graphics and online spreadsheets.

In the Internet age, however, visualization tools have become much more sophisticated and interactive. Various software, widgets, Application Program Interface (API), and other programs are used to make them instead.

Today’s data visualization tools include the usual but more detailed charts (bar charts, pie charts), infographics, geographic online maps, and sparklines, which are small designs for numerical and statistical information. Heatmaps are included, too, as they are snapshots that indicate two things: what catches your website visitors’ attention, and where they stay the longest in your site.

The Advantage of Newer Technology

A visualization software helps give people a better idea of your data by showing the relationships between items and the patterns and trends. They can be more detailed, able to show information that would otherwise be missed. Unnoticed details could cause unexpected problems or misinterpretations.

Meanwhile, visuals attract more attention. They help the audience to understand data. People normally get bored with dull and cold presentations. With today’s technology, we are able to maximize a material’s potential while we improve how people interpret our data.

For instance:

With the Timeline JS widget, you can show stunning, interactive timelines to impress people. But it’s not just to impress, rather, to emphasize the significance of the presented data. The timelines can have slideshow and embedabble capabilities.

ZingChart is a feature-rich API and is very interactive. It allows animation to be used in its visuals. People are attracted to visuals and they love animation. ZingChart’s JavaScript library has hundreds of chart types to choose from, which also means hundreds of ways to let your audience digest information. 

TheTableau software updates information in real-time and is great for team collaboration. It allows you to create powerful, beautiful visuals and is very easy to use with its drag and drop ability.

Now MS Excel, Google Charts and Google Sheets maybe “old”, but they are still popular. In fact, they keep up with the modern times quite well—the better to stay competitive. Try out their library of data visualization tools and see that they are not at all behind when it comes to new technology.

The Importance of Data Visualization

The question is, why get these newer tools when you can use the old ones? The problem is, it is not really advisable, especially if information may be lost using the older technology.

You like to inform. You like to write. But how do you make sure your presentation sets you apart and shows you as an authority? Today, content is king. Part of that content are data that, as said earlier, should support any relevant information you share.

 

If you want to be seen as an authority in your field, show it. Make people know you are trustworthy, competent and knowledgeable. Use effective data visualization tools. Remember, though, that being resourceful is good, but it does not necessarily make you an authority. No matter how visually striking the look, if content is lacking, you will only be wasting both your and your audience’s time.

 

*************************************************************************

NOTE: This was written in 2018 (never published, at least, not without my consent) so the visualization tools mentioned may not be that updated. Technology changes fast.

DISCLAIMER: I am not endorsing any product, tool, or company. Any mention was just for information purposes.

JUNO The Film that Made Ellen Page? #NanoPoblano2019

***NOTE: I am back trying to complete my ten posts for November. It’s always funny in a not-so-ha-ha way that everytime I try to do writing challenges, something comes up to distract my mojo. I was doing well posting my first Nano Poblano posts daily. Then personal problems distracted me. I also suddenly have a new client (well, she was a client before) who has been giving me various writing assignments. So yeah, my brain is usually cooked by evening. I just want to binge on Netflix. Well, I do actually binge on it.

Anyway, this is a fine time to re-share a film review I did in the past. I’ve been wanting to for quite some time but I never found the right timing. Maybe this is it. I originally wanted to post for #MondayReviews but, well…

Here it is. I did some editing to make it more readable, though and updated. By the way, ALL images and video belong to the producers, okay? And, oh, for more reviews, visit the CRITIC’S CORNER, please.

************************************************************

JUNO THE FILM THAT MADE ELLEN PAGE?

ellen-page-juno

Ellen Page in the title role of JUNO

It all began with a chair. No, really, it did, and it’s what the lead said: “It all began with a chair.” Honestly, I felt that the intro was rather weak until I realized why the writer began with that. The chair would somehow set the stage for what was soon to be the center of the story.

I am, admittedly, partial to movies with the word “indie” attached to them. I first heard about the 2007 Fox Searchlight film JUNO through cable-channel surfing. When I heard people gush about the so-called indie film, I said to myself, “Heck, yeah, I gotta see this flick!” Belatedly, after more than two years, I finally chanced upon a copy at a video store and whaddya know? I got me my JUNO.

Meet Juno

First, the story.

The movie tells of a girl named Juno MacGuff (Ellen Page), who is equipped with sharp wit and an even sharper mouth. A die-hard rocker kinda girl with a love for slasher movies, she lived by her own rules (practically her own, anyway) sans the usual teen angsts and oh-I-hate-the-world attitude. 

Juno is mature for her own age. However, at sixteen, she is still prone to the wayward ways of the juvenile world. She makes the mistake of sleeping with her dorky male bestfriend Paulie Bleeker (Michael Cera) one supposedly boring day. “Supposedly”, since she tells quirky cheerleader Leah (Olivia Thirlby), her female bestfriend, that she planned it. But the plan has resulted into something she did not expect. And she pays for it in a span of nine months. 

juno-movie-poster

Suddenly, Juno is faced with going through the inevitable phase. And then there’s the adoption to think of. She wants to make sure that her baby’s future adoptive parents (Jason Bateman and Jennifer Garner) are the perfect ‘desperately seeking spawn’ couple she thinks they are. As one character puts it, “That ain’t no Etch-A-Sketch,” pertaining to Juno’s positive pregnancy test. “This is one doodle that can’t be un-did, Homeskillet.” She needs to make it right for her kid.

Juno worries that her child might grow up in a dysfunctional family such as hers. It is emotional baggage that the seemingly-uncaring Juno has carried around for years and is now being brought to the surface.

Interesting? Well, loads of people can’t be wrong. I know what endeared this movie to critics and public audience alike; it’s what endeared it to me.

Why Love JUNO?

It’s an adorable piece of unconventional, not-too-dramatic, creative storytelling. It tackles a very real issue with a humorous take. It is not to make light of the situation. Rather, it teaches about loving, forgiving and learning to let go.

The film deserves the praises, nominations, and awards it received. First-time screenwriter Diablo Cody spun a very good tale about a girl forced to deal with matters that even some adults fear facing. (Don’t ask why her name Diablo; it’s an alias and is another story.)

The movie is a coming-of-age comedy except Juno had to mature faster than necessary, and she knew this. As she said in a scene, she was “just out dealing with things waaay beyond my maturity level.” Frankly, she dealt with the situation much more maturely than at least one of the adults.

Kudos to Cody for a wonderful script. She relayed the story in a manner that while she did not promote premarital sex and teenage pregnancy, she emphasized the value of family support during these dark times. She took a stand as well against abortion. Subtle, but a qualified stand.

What made this movie stand out more were the wickedly delicious dialogues mostly delivered by the wickedly brilliant Ellen Page. Language was often young and hip to emphasize the kind of girl Juno was. The adults had their own witty lines and comebacks as well, right at every turn. But it’s a good thing that Ellen played the lead role because she would have stolen the scenes from any other lead anyway. They were all good, but Ellen was just…well, again, wickedly brilliant!

JUNO made an instant Ellen Page fan out of me. [Ed. She’s the main reason I’m watching THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY.] So I  researched on her and found her interesting film biography. She has done roles others can only dream of. Ellen tends to play dark roles, but she has said she is open for other kinds of roles (e.g. Kitty Pryde a.k.a. Shadowkat in X-MEN: THE LAST STAND, Ariadne in INCEPTION).

For JUNO, Ellen received nominations and awards. She now carries with her name the “Academy Awards Nominee” tag. She has said that one advantage is she can now choose roles. Maybe it’s a joke, but I don’t think she even had that problem before at all, anyway. Real directors know talent when they see one.

JUNO gets FIVE STARS from me for being unconventional, smart, and even delicious to the eyes (I love the bright colors!!!). And, oh, spankin’ cute soundtrack as well, honest to blog!

Meanwhile, I am now looking for copies of her movies HARD CANDY, MOUTH TO MOUTH, SUPER, THE CURED, THE TRACEY FRAGMENTS, and AN AMERICAN CRIME [Ed. I posted a review of this. Just click]. Maybe I’ll try Netflix.

“THE WITCH’S BREW” #NanoPoblano2019

witch's cauldron

Image from Fandom.com

The Witch’s Brew

Coffee and cream

mixed together,

make a wonder;

add sugar

along the way.

Which is which?

Which is real?

Can you segregate

by what, by how

you feel?

The witch

and her brew –

stirring

tasting

swirling

in this little cup

that’s you.

Copyright © J.Gi Federizo

 

Last week, I was in my element and was posting from Monday to Thursday. Came Friday when I sort of had a tight schedule and had to travel for hours going home. I thought I could post anything, but I was tired and had no proper Internet connection.

I did not have Internet connection throughout the weekend, too! Sure, there was mobile data. But when I blog, I am more comfortable with a laptop. I am more at ease with an actual keyboard than with touchscreen that freakin’ messes up my words most of the time.

Came Monday. Unfortunately for my blogging, I started with a new client. My main task? To write. That’s how it’s been till Thursday. I am usually too tired to blog. So okay, to go back to the challenge, I posted another poem written years ago. I chose it for the title since it’s still November. The meaning/reason behind the poem is nothing near supernatural, though.

Hope you liked it. Well, hope you liked all my newly-posted poems so far. There’s more where that came from. Check out my POETRY NOOK.

“TAUNTED” #NanoPoblano2019

TAUNTED

I am forever taunted
by the promise
of a new day,
an elusive dream
waiting on the palm
of my hands.

I close my hands
only to find
what has always
been there —
a touch of empty air
that I, myself, molded.

The promise is my own doing.

The new day is my own dream.

Until such time, I forever hold nothing.

Copyright © J.Gi Federizo

 

For more, please check out the POETRY NOOK.

5 Ways to Drive High Quality Leads #ThursdayTips #NanoPoblano2019

Are you having trouble getting quality leads? Then, you are probably doing it wrong.

There are various ways to learn how to get those leads. They will not be easy and will require more time and effort to do.

5 Ways to Drive Great Leads

Below are five ways to do it, listed in random order. They may be things you already know, but they are there for emphasis.

1. Write unique and relevant articles. Make sure you do not simply copy off from other people’s works. Make sure your topic is related to what your business is offering.

If you do not create unique and relevant articles, you will end up listed far away from the first search engine results page. That is not going to help you drive high quality leads since searchers cannot find you. Content is considered king in the search engine optimization (SEO) industry.

2. Use Google AdWords. This can help you with great campaigns. You can create banner-type display ads and text ads. Maximize the use of their Keyword Planner Tool to include keywords in your ads. The tool will help identify keywords your site is ranking for and suggest some that you may try to rank for. Forget all the others that are not helping your site rank higher in search engines.

Understand how this powerful Google product works so you can use it well to boost your business standing. It is not an easy task and the service is not free. Still, work hard on your campaigns and check performance based on the results.

3. Use reputable analytical tools like Google Analytics. Google is emphasized because it is the most popular and trusted search engine. There are other analytical tools you can use; it depends on which search engines you trust. Bing has its own tools, for example, so use it, if that is your preference.

Analytics are important especially since they are oftentimes integrated with search engines: Google Analytics is with AdWords, Bing’s SEO Analyzer is with Bing Ads. Using them gives you a bigger picture of how your site is doing, why it’s not performing well, and what the possible problem(s) could be.

4. Do both on-page and off-page optimization. Optimize well, not just on-page but off-page. If content is king, optimization could be the queen—it can get you anywhere.

On-page SEO is done directly on the site. You can optimize titles, descriptions and links. It usually involves keyword search, allowing you to include keywords in creating descriptions, for instance. Meanwhile, off-page SEO is done outside the webpage. These are ways to promote your site through social media marketing, link building (e.g. online directory submissions), article submissions that link back to you, and others.

Hiring skilled SEO specialists is highly advised.

5. Learn online marketing strategies. You will need to learn new marketing strategies to get high-quality leads. Learn inbound marketing, inbound sales marketing, even email marketing. All can help you improve your business and get great leads.

Do not handle all the marketing, though. Make sure you have people to delegate tasks to. A marketing and a sales person/team will have separate tasks while still working together—Marketing will find possible leads (based on targeted “buyer personas”), Sales will work until the leads avail of your products or services. They must have the proper training on the new marketing strategies.

Marketing is very important. It is how you are going to introduce your business and let people know what you offer. The best strategies can boost business performance.

People’s attention span is too short, so you must keep their attention. They may visit your site, become leads and possibly convert into customers. Eventually, they may become what Inbound Marketing calls “evangelists”, the ones who will promote your business by word of mouth and increase your social media reach.

The Sandbox Show #WhatsupWednesday #NanoPoblano2019

Last October was my first YouTube anniversary. Actually, technically, it wasn’t. I’ve had the account for years. But last year, I decided it was time to do what I really wanted with it: I started vlogging.

One of my dreams was to create my own videos someday. But when I was younger, we didn’t have a camera. We probably could not afford one. Even if we could, it would be against my conscience to ask one from my parents who worked hard to raise us. If we had cellphones, they would not have had clear cameras anyway, if they came with cameras at all. Good thing that I had my chance in college where we created various video productions. And then, my first job was perfect — I wrote and produced institutional videos for a tertiary school.

But those were school- and job-related works. I wanted to create stuff for myself. I had always wanted to own a channel once I learned about people broadcasting on their own cable channels. I wanted to be the one to produce and decide what to do on my own show. But I didn’t have my own equipment and the family did not have cable…

Fast-forward to now and voila! Hello, YouTube!  It helps, too, that new technologies have made it easier for us. Now anyone can own a channel. Even a quirky wannabe like me.

Starting Out

My not-so-high-tech equipment does the trick. Of course, there’s still a lot to be desired. My detachable webcam takes vivid shots except if you move a lot, it creates a sort of visual echo. It can be quite tricky considering that I am a very animated person. I use Windows Photo Editor, which is helpful but is not as nice as other editors. In some of my posted videos, it is obvious whenever I jump from one part to another. They were the first ones I recorded.

I used the “Trim” feature to edit at the start. Luckily, I noticed sometime these last months that they have added a “Split” feature. Tried that and it proved to be sooo much better. It makes the work easier and the results less ‘jumpy’. Most times, the transitions are not even obvious. I could get a better (free) editor, but I am not sure if my laptop’s memory can handle it. Will get to that one day.

The jumps in my vids are more obvious when real-time, actual background music is recorded along with my talking. That is because in the first videos I made, I knowingly recorded while playing songs in the background. That was me being stupid, not realizing the consequences of my actions.

I sometimes get copyright claims when I post them (so I do add credits in the Description section). No strikes, though, especially since I am not earning anything from vlogging. YouTube influencer, I have no illusions of becoming. I have explained in one of my posts (“6 Reasons A Vlogger is Not Popular“). Unless the universe tells me otherwise. Until then…Anyway, I decided to ditch the real-time background music once I realized my problem. If you do encounter a newly posted vid that still noticeably jumps because of the music, that means the raw copy just recently got edited.

Honestly, in a span of one year, I have only posted eight videos on my channel. Life happens, in a good way or a bad way. Serious editing eats time. But since I am in no hurry to get famous, I figured I’d do things on my own time. If you’ve been watching vloggers long enough, you’ll know a lot of them get burnout trying to keep up with the demands of vlogging. So, no. I have enough pressures already at work and in my personal life, I’m not about to add more.

Yes, there are only eight posted videos. Still, there’s enough where they came from. I have lots of recorded copies to last me till next year, plus there’ll be new ones I have yet to make.  My upcoming New Year’s Resolution, however, does include being a more active YouTuber. Also, I’m putting (1) “Don’t buckle”, (2) “Pronounce words correctly”, (3) “Avoid grammatical errors”, and (3) “Don’t be conscious of the camera” on the list.

The Sandbox Show

The Sandbox Show is produced by The Sandbox Prodxns, a “self-owned one-woman company” that I created myself years ago (when I didn’t exactly know what to do with it). My account name has “akasands” in it, which actually means A.K.A Sands. Why it is there and what that means, I will reserve for another time. Unless you want to watch my long, boring, and awkward intro video. It’s explained there somewhere. At least, I added bloopers after, ha!

What can I say? I’m getting better at it. And I do like to play around with the editing to get my best results. I’m a visual person. I try to make my videos as entertaining as I can. Maybe I have only eight posts yet you can betcha I worked hard on evey one of them. Practice makes almost-perfect.

Anyway, I have shared some videos in the past on this blog. Below are the two most recent ones I posted on YT, if you can call them recent:

Yakult vs Delight vs Go Long Probiotic Drinks It’s one of those reviews that I call “comparative mukbang”.

Next,…

The Arya Stark Gender Debate It’s the first and, so far, only Game of Thrones-related video I’ve posted. There are more to come. Here, I discuss an issue that people felt compelled to debate on even in this day and age. Disclaimer: I did say “It does not matter” whether Arya Stark was or was not.

This is my channel, by the way: THE SANDBOX SHOW.

“SOULS” #NanoPoblano2019

It’s about time I post some poetry.

For more, please check out the POETRY NOOK.

Image from TONEPOET (click on image)

souls

bared souls

intertwine –

yet never touch

does she dare tell

the secrets of her own?

***

small talks

small souls

I turn away

***

he knows not

or perhaps

he wishes, too

for a kindred soul

but she knows not

***

two souls,

ancient,

stare at

an empty

horizon

that i

refuse to see

***

the thin line

SNAPS!

oh dear!

poor soul

hanging

by the thread

of sanity

…or what’s left of it.

***

here in limbo

the soul dies

more and more

each and every day

and every day

every day

every

ev

e

.

all that’s left is a period

deemed insignificant

 

Copyright © J.Gi Federizo

CATS Out of the Box #MondayReviews #NanoPoblano2019

In December, a new movie version of CATS THE MUSICAL will be shown in theaters worldwide. I am a huge CATS-lover and let me tell you now: So far, I’m not liking most of the changes they’ve done. But, alright, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. Who knows? I might like it.

Anyway, below is the semi-review that I did on the original movie years ago. I call it “semi-review” because it’s more of a feature. Well, more of a fan-made writeup. This was posted way back in the old Multiply days. I have decided to share it again (1) since it’s timely, (2) to introduce new viewers to the original musical, and (3) to give them points of comparison once the new movie is released. I did edit things to correct some grammatical errors, shorten the piece a bit, and add some updates.

By the way, links to more reviews can be found in the CRITIC’S CORNER.

FAIR WARNING: I am posting a reaction-slash-comparison video on my vlog one of these days. Bear with me. Humor me.

A CATTY EXPERIENCE

Indeed, I could choose from a variety of movies that I have already seen. Instead, I chose to love a film that is, for sure, not on a lot of people’s favorites-list. It’s a story with a simple plot. Cinematography is good, not outstanding. The visual effects are there only because they are necessary. And then, there are glaring editing misses!

So what’s there to love, really?

CATS THE MUSICAL is simply not the kind of film most Filipinos would appreciate. Well, most people in general. But I am a musical-enthusiast, videophile, dance-lover and poetry-maker. That combination explains why I find CATS very entertaining, beautiful, and original. It is poetry in words, music, and motion, all rolled into one cool package. Great score, great singing, great dancing! In the words of T. S. Eliot, it is “ineffable…effable…eff-an-in-EF-fable!”

The History of CATS

In the past, stage musicals like OKLAHOMA and FIDDLER ON THE ROOF were made into successful films. Many were culled from classic literature such as OLIVER!, from Charles Dickens‘ book Oliver Twist. THE WIZARD OF OZ, meanwhile, was based from the 1939 film, which was an adaptation of L. Frank Baum‘s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. As for WEST SIDE STORY, it was inspired by William Shakespeare‘s Romeo and Juliet.

Came the early ’80s and there was the musical genius Baron Andrew Lloyd Webber (ALW). He of the JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR and PHANTOM OF THE OPERA fame had a novel idea: Why not make a musical about cats based on the book his mom used to read to him — T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats?

So CATS was conceived and developed. It was made by famous theatrical producer Cameron Mackintosh and ALW’s The Really Useful Theatre Company. CATS was officially ‘born’ in London’s West End, at New London Theatre, on May 11, 1981. Then the show made its Broadway debut on September 7, 1982 at the Winter Garden Theatre.

The sung-through musical proved to be a hit and won many awards and accolades. For quite a time, it was the longest-running musical as it was performed on West End stage for two glorious decades! There were 8,489 shows in 21 years. On Broadway, it ran for 18 years with 7,485 shows.

A true Taurean, CATS was as stubborn as a bull, refusing to budge from its position as the “World’s Best-loved Musical”. Well, that was until LES MISERABLES took its place in 2006. Sadly, CATS bid farewell to Broadway and West End in 2000 and 2002 respectively. (Ed. Fortunately, it’s currently back in the game, enjoying the limelight, entertaining more theatre fans, and translated into multiple languages.  “As of 2019, Cats remains the fourth-longest-running Broadway show and the sixth-longest-running West End show.” Oh, and it had a worldwide gross of US$3.5 billion by 2012.)

In 1998, ALW pushed the barriers further by producing the film version of CATS. It was, in fact, the first of its kind, an actual stage performance captured on film. In essence, they picked up where they left off, only with a different medium. Directed for film by David Mallet, the musical was shot in London’s Adelphi Theater by running through the whole production twice and then adding other essential shots. They did it in a span of 18 days. Meanwhile, costumes and make-up were toned down for film.

Original performers like Elaine Paige and Ken Page took on the roles they originated on West End (her) and on Broadway (him). The show also brought in veteran actor Sir John Mills for a special role. ALW then chose actors he thought could best portray the 28 other important characters. The cast were chosen from productions that were then currently showing the musical. Judging from the performances captured by the lenses, it seems that ALW’s team chose wisely and well.

The Story of CATS

The story unfolds as the Jellicle Cats meet at a junkyard for the annual Jellicle Ball. In attendance are the adult cats and the kittens that are on the verge of adulthood, probably attending their first ball.

Led by the protective silver-and-grey tom, Munkustrap (Michael Gruber), they sing, dance, do acrobatics, and bask at the Jellicle moon. That is, while they await the arrival of their leader, Old Deuteronomy (Page). Every year, just before dawn, Deuteronomy makes what is known as the “Jellicle Choice”. He chooses the cat who gets the chance to be reborn, allowed to go up the Heaviside Layer (their kitty heaven), and “come back to a different Jellicle life”. Anyone interested could ask to be given this privilege.

During this time, the audience is given the chance to get accustomed to the characters. Some are easy to remember. That’s due mainly to particular costume designs that stage productions almost always follow . (Thanks, John Napier.)

For those familiar with the show, some characters are instantly recognizable. For instance, Victoria The White Cat (Phyllida Crowley Smith), the tuxedo cat Quaxo (Jacob Brent), the Siamese feline Cassandra (Rebecca Parker), or the twins Coricopat and Tantomile (Tommi Sliiden and Kaye Brown respectively). Some performers first show up as swing or supporting casts, wearing costumes specifically designed not to stand out. They later emerge as important characters. It is hard, though, to miss such a man (or cat) the size of Mister Page.

As the waiting continues, the presence of some adored cats are acknowledged. Jennyanydots The Gumbie Cat (Susie McKenna), with her tiger stripes and leopard spots, is a tabby perceived as lazy by her owners during the day. But she gets busy at night teaching or disciplining mice, roaches and beetles. The supposedly smart Bustopher Jones (James Barron) is a well-respected cat in his “coat of fastidious black” and “white spats”. He is revered when all he actually really does is eat.

The Rum Tum Tugger (John Partridge) also makes sure that his presence is known. He is “vain”, “perverse” and “inconsequent”. And yet, he is the object of almost every she-feline’s affection. The kittens and the sensual Bombalurina (Rosemarie Ford) idolize him like a sexy rockstar. Complete with a lion’s mane, a kiss-me curl, and gyrations, he is the show’s trademark Elvis. The Elvis theme is one that ALW plays with from time to time. Case in point: the Pharaoh in JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT. Together with Munkustrap, Tugger serves as another main storyteller.

Grizabella The Glamour Cat (Paige) – ironically un-glamorized now – then enters the scene. Excited to be back after years of absence, Grizabella is saddened when the others avoid and ostracize her. Needless to say, she is forced to stay away and watch from afar. Meanwhile, the notorious Bonnie-and-Clyde tandem of Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer (Drew Varley and Jo Gibb respectively) are caught doing their usual naughty antics and misdeed. The comical troublemakers end up staying all throughout the party.

The Jellicle leader soon appears, to the delight of his followers. For further entertainment, the cats do a parody of warring dogs, with the “intervention” of The Rumpus Cat (Frank Thompson). Dancing resumes after. At some point of the elaborate dance number, the mating process happens. It’s a sort of PG-13 moment when the kitten Victoria “becomes” an adult cat. She mates with Plato (Bryn Walters) while the others also do their – uh – thing.

When it is over, Grizabella returns and tries to join the ball once again. She is still regarded as an outcast. Feeling alone, she sings the now-popular song “Memory”, sadly reminiscing her lovely past. She does not know that Deuteronomy is still there and leaves disappointed.

Soon after, the cats return and Deuteronomy tries to explain to them the meaning of real happiness, to no avail. So to get the message across, he conveys it in simpler words through the kitten Jemima (Veerle Casteleyn). She somewhat sings entranced. Jemima’s maturity at her age is evidenced by her understanding of Grizabella. She is always the first to try and touch the outcast only to be pulled away by the older cats.

Gus The Theatre Cat (Sir John Mills), senile as he is, also attends the gathering and talks of the good ol’ days. He makes you shed a tear or two at the end of his song. He leaves behind him a sad atmosphere. which Skimbleshanks The Railway Cat (Geoffrey Garrat) enlivens again through his storytelling and pantomime acts.

Chaos erupts as the criminal Macavity The Mystery Cat a.k.a. The Hidden Paw (also Walters) emerges and catnaps Old Deuteronomy. As they worry about their leader, Macavity returns in a different form. But the sensitive and rather dramatic Demeter (Aeva May) sees through his disguise and exposes him. A fight inevitably happens and sometime later, the Jellicle leader is somehow rescued. With the help of the magical Mr. Mistoffelees (also Brent) and the kittens — the wise and sweet Jemima and the kind, queenly Victoria — Deuteronomy is finally able to make the Jellicle Choice.

Thoughts on CATS

For anyone wanting entertainment-value, CATS will not be a disappointment. But to the uninitiated, the whole story may not be easy to follow. I had to watch it several times myself before I fully understood everything.

It also helped that I had the libretto downloaded from the Internet back then. That made it easier to understand and better appreciate the actors’ various accents. Varley’s and Gibb’s were particularly harder to follow for me, to be honest. Understanding the words made their lively performance more fun to watch.

Most of the characters that were introduced/announced were old. It was natural for Deuteronomy to choose among the elders. They had been there, done that, enjoyed things they would want to relive like Gus, regretted things they would like to change like Grizabella.

Grizabella did not use her youth wisely. Once it was gone, she was left with nothing but her memories. She felt the sting of loneliness, lamenting the meaning of real happiness. The brief but memorable duet of the old and the young in “Memory (Reprise)” emphasized this. One represented hope and innocence; one represented loss and grave regrets. Meanwhile, we saw a stunning performance from both actors. It is arguably one of the best scenes from the film.

Between Griz and Gus, however, the latter gets my vote. Sir John Mills was a very convincing Gus that I actually shed some tears almost every time I watched him. A brief performance worthy of an award!

The stage production itself is to be applauded, in my opinion. Few musicals can do what CATS do. They may have one or two of the elements, but the show offers more.

There’s great poetry (with additional texts from Sir Trevor Nunn), though already antiquated from the start. Understandable. The book the show is based on is old. What’s amazing is they somehow pull it off. If you’re not into poetry, you’ll tend to forget it anyway as you enjoy watching the cats and their various antics. You won’t really notice that it’s poetry.

There’s wonderful music. A lot of times, it is operatic, which, I admit, may not suit some theater-goers. They might find the show boring because of the music. I think most avid supporters of musicals will not mind, though. Many musicals tend to be operatic.

The dance numbers are totally awesome! I am so impressed by the dancers who train really hard to move like real cats, even think like real cats. They make dancing seem easy when it isn’t. It takes dedication to achieve the craft. CATS’ dance routines also differ in genres (e.g. ballet, lyrical, even acrobatic). That makes the whole show quite interesting. Credit goes to Dame Gillian Lynne. I think productions still follow her choreography up to now. I saw a live performance some years ago and it was like watching the movie.

The set is not breathtakingly impressive compared to other shows’ and yet, very appropriate. Just imagine that you are an actual Jellicle Cat — the set will make sense. The way going to the Heaviside Layer is a bit of a turn-off for me. Other than that, well, I really don’t mind anything else.
I love other musicals as well. What sets CATS apart for me, though, is the fact that it is a complete package. I consider watching the movie as an actual adventure.
Truth be told, it isn’t really the story that has made the most impact on me. I am viewing this from the perspective of a musical-lover, not a film enthusiast. CATS is a stage musical, first and foremost. Despite its flaws, the movie deserves to be praised for the sheer originality alone. That’s what thinking-out-of-the-box is about.
And I am so glad CATS is out! 😉
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Hey, guys, I found this nice page on the musical, check it out: Cats (musical)

Sick and Tired (For Real)

More than two weeks ago, I was preparing to share a new post. I was excited. The topic was near my heart and very timely, too!

Then the weekend happened and I had to take care of things at home. I was already sneezing like crazy. Sunday night came and — uh, oh — why was I feeling cold? By very early Monday morning, I was with a fever. Darn it. Had to take a whole-day leave from work. Thankfully, I was better by evening. So off to work, I went the next day…Next weekend! I wasn’t feeling 100% by Friday, but I was okay even with a slight case of sinusitis and a teeny bit of coughing.

I was happy as I finally got to meet up with an old friend by Saturday. We live in the same city and yet we weren’t in touch for years! It’s really a long story. But her new bakery is making waves and being featured by several shows, she became a bit active on social media. It was a good time to reconnect. It was already evening when our boy and I got home. Only then did I attack various chores till the wee hours of Sunday morning. I wish I could tell you I did not expect to be sick. But I was coughing like crazy and getting the chills already. I pretended to myself that it was nothing. My body started to ache, too. Honestly, I was a bit worried that it could be dengue.

It wasn’t, but it was a full-blown flu that lasted till Tuesday. Apparently, the flu was going the rounds and I had to be the stupid idiot to welcome it. Wednesday, I was back at work. I still felt the cold a bit but that went away by evening. It’s the coughing and sinusitis that didn’t really stop. The worse part was my husband, my caregiver, got the flu! And obviously, I unwittingly gave it to him. Just when I went back to work. Poor guy.

We don’t have the flu now, but frankly, we’re not all-okay yet. We still get tired easily, like the slightest chores make us lose our breath. We’re still coughing (his is dry cough, so it sucks more for him). Me, I’m just beginning to really get well.  Let’s cross our fingers, shall we?

So where was my writing in all of these? Nowhere. First, I got busy. Second, I just suddenly didn’t feel like doing it in the past two weeks. I didn’t even have the heart to turn on my laptop, Not even to watch anything or edit videos. I only went online mostly to communicate with my husband and get updates about my sister from my brother-in-law. I just didn’t have the energy!

Now that I’m better, I have decided to go at it again. I have decided to postpone the post that I wanted to share and save it for November. I think it would be nice to use it for Nano Poblano 2019. It’s my first time to join, It’s the right timing as I’ve been thinking about pushing myself to write again anyway. It’s doable also, less pressure. I find that the more pressure, the less productive I am. Therefore, less pressure is ideal.

As of this writing, I’m feeling much better. Got my taste buds back at almost 100%. Appetite is still weird, though. Sense of smell is back BUT, for some reason, I’ve gotten more sensitive than usual regarding scents. I haaaate scents, regardless if they’re supposed to smell nice. I just want to throw up, honestly…Be they perfume, sweet-scented sprays, detergents,…UGH. Just thinking of them makes my stomach turn a bit.

So that’s me right now. Just thought I’d update you. I hope you’re having better lives…