Memories of The Big C #MondayMemoirs

There was a time that I worked for an actual print publication. It was a health-and-lifestyle magazine though it was far from the ordinary. Ours was centered on cancer, its survivors, and how to overcome, fight and win against it. They were, for me, very interesting times.

Almost two weeks ago, I shared on my folio blog my experiences working for the mag and some of the insights that I gathered along the way.

So for today, since I am guessing you missed them, I am sharing my stories to you guys as well. Just click on the image and you’ll be good to go 🙂

In “Your Face”! #TVTuesday #TuesdayTunes

Oh, I missed these hash potatoes! So today, it’s #TVTuesday and #TuesdayTunes post.  Double fun, woohoo!!! Today, I am sharing one of my current favorite shows, Your Face Sounds Familiar (YFSF) Kids Edition.

yfsf-kids-s1

The YFSF Kids of Season 1: (From Left) AC Bonifacio (2nd Runner-up), Lyca Gairanod, Justin Alva (3rd Runner-up), Elha Nympha (1st Runner-up), McNeal “Awra” Briguela (WINNER), Alonzo Muhlach, Xia Vigor, and Sam Shoaf

Saying “Your face sounds familiar” sounds really weird and like utter nonsense. The premise of YFSF, however, explains it.  Okay, background with a little bit of disclaimer:

YFSF is a singing and impersonation competition owned by the Endemol Shine Group, known abroad for producing many reality TV shows (Big Brother and others). YFSF was franchised by Philippine TV network giant ABS-CBN and the first regular season started in March 2015. There came another regular season and then, the first-ever season of the Kids edition was aired in January 2017. It gained international attention when then-7-year-old Xia Vigor performed as Taylor Swift and the video of that performance went viral.

The second season of the Kids edition is currently running and the kids’ performances are making much more waves. That’s thanks to the already-big attention the YouTube reactors’ community has been giving Filipino artists.

YFSF has a set of screen and theater artists–singers, dancers, actors–competing against one another onstage every week. Weekly shows are divided into two parts with the first half of the performers shown on Saturday and the remaining ones on Sundays. That gives ample time on the second day (well, eve) to announce the week’s winner and show the participants pressing the “iconator” (just a coined term as abroad, it’s called “randomizer”, even simply a “buzzer”). That’s the button that every contestant presses to reveal his/her next icon.

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Xia Vigor impersonating Taylor Swift. Image courtesy of Elle.com

Competitors are each assigned celebrities that have become music icons or made waves in the industry one way or another. That’s regardless of the age of the icon, race, sex and gender (so expect cross-dressing in some performances).

But this is a step up from the usual impersonation stuff. A major part of this involves the makeup artists and prosthetic. Every week, performers are madeup and often–not always–made to wear prosthetic. The idea is to not only sound and act like the icons but to LOOK like them. This is where my disclaimer enters.

In the past, I saw some foreign YouTubers express concern prior to seeing an actual performance that the performer might be doing “blackface”, which people could find offensive. Then they got to watch and realize it’s not the case (especially when they saw it was a great performance!). It really isn’t meant to be offensive, not at all. It always depends on the look of the icon. It has nothing to do with being racist. So if s/he’s white, then the performer’s Pinoy brown color is turned lighter (sometimes, the prosthetic can be a tad weird and creepy-looking, though). So if we’re playing the race card, might as well call it “whiteface”. Or “yellowface” even, depending on who’s being impersonated.

yfsf-kids-season2-kids

The YFSF Kids of Season 2: (Clockwise from Top Left) TNT Boys, Chunsa Jung, Marco Masa, Krystal Brimner, Telesa “Esang” De Torres, Noel Comia Jr., Xymon “Onyok” Pineda, and Sheena Belarmino. Image courtesy of Rappler

Just to be clear, not every performer is a good singer, or even dancer. He or she is judged on how well s/he has projected him/herself as the icon being impersonated.

Anyway, to show how talented our kids can be, I am sharing a few videos from this season’s (season 2) kid performers. They seem long, but that’s because the videos continue until all the jury members have made their comments. There are lots of funny stuff that follow a performance, but feel free to stop playing. (BTW, copyrights to all the images and videos here belong to ABS-CBN, unless otherwise specified. I got some from other sites, but of course, they’re still mostly from ABS.)

I’m starting with my biggest bet, Sheena Belarmino. People know her more as a singer as she was a grand finalist of the popular singing competition Tawag ng Tanghalan (TNT)  that was part of the noon-time variety show It’s Showtime. That ended late last year. Prior to that, however, she was a finalist of Dance Kids from 2015 to 2016. You can say she is a powerhouse of a talent. As of last count, she’s won thrice already, currently the most number of times this season. However, she’s also currently ranked 3rd-4th . That has something to do with how the jury individually assigns scores.

Watch her perform as local artists Sarah Geronimo and KZ Tandingan and judge for yourselves. Sheena showed Sarah’s swag as the latter performed the song onstage (the hair and expressions were based more on the “Tala” video). That was Sheena’s first win. Everyone was definitely impressed. BUT she even topped that recently by showing more swag impersonating KZ’s viral performance of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” on the recently concluded Singer 2018 singing competition (Jesse J. won) in China. Sheena even wore the same outfit. She blew everyone away! I think you will agree. And she also got a wonderful surprise after she sang… 😉

Meanwhile, also check out her performances as Ariana Grande, (so good!), Chris Brown, and local artist Jessa Zaragoza (for which she also won, though I’m not crazy about it…The link I shared is just of Jessa singing at an event — she’s not wearing a gown and not doing much of the movements she’s been known for).

Next, the TNT Boys! They are composed of Kiefer Sanchez, Mackie Empuerto and Francis Concepcion–all grand finalists of the TNT Kids singing competition, like Sheena. Among all the contestants, they are undoubtedly the most popular due to their emotional rendition of Beyonce’s “Listen” in the GGV show. Actually, for fun, they were asked to sing it while pretending to be fighting (Francis bullies Kiefer, then Mackie defends Keifer who tries to pacify both of them). It was a hoot! And it became viral. Suddenly, the group TNT Boys was born and they have now performed in Little Big Shots US and UK. Since then, a lot of their performances onstage and offline have been going viral, particularly their YFSF numbers. They’ve won twice and are currently ranked 1st.

Below are two of their performances. The first is of The BeeGees. They didn’t win but this was the first video of the season that went and is still going viral around the world. The BeeGees loved their performance and actually tweeted about it. The next is–get this–their impersonation of Destiny’s Child! It was their first win and very well-deserved. These boys are so talented! I loved their performance of The Supremes as well, it’s my personal favorite–classy with less flair. Their second win, though, was their Mariah Carey and BoyzIIMen one and,  you guessed it, it’s gone viral as well.

Now we have Krystal Brimner. She was a relatively unknown in the mainstream showbiz world until YFSF. Some people may recognize her from the movie Honor Thy Father where she played a vital part. Theater aficionados may remember her playing the title role of Annie, for which she won Best Child Actress and Best Female Lead Performer from the 2016 Platinum Stallion Media Awards and 2016 Philstage Gawad Bahay Awards. Based on her performances in YFSF, it’s obvious she’s been using her training to good use.

Krsytal is currently ranked 2nd. I am not sure if she’s an audience favorite, but I like her. For me she’s done a LOT  of great impersonations. Below are the two performances that made her win: as Jesse J. first, then as Alicia Keys. I would also recommend her impersonations of Miley Cyrus (on her first week, when she made her mark as a talent to reckon with), Stevie Wonder, and Dionne Warwick.

Last on my list is Esang De Torres. Among the top four, I think she’s the one who first made her mark on national TV. She was such a cutie joining the MiniMe contest of It’s Showtime, where she “impersonated” her idol Lea Salonga. But it was in joining The Voice Kids that made her. Coached by none other than her idol, Lea, she was the team’s grand finals bet. It was apparent that she had a singing talent that was perfect for the stage that, with a lot of encouragement from Lea, Esang joined the theater world. In fact, she was one of those who played the title role of Matilda. Like Krystal, it’s obvious she’s putting her theatrical training at work. She gets better everytime.

She’s won once so far, but her often-high weekly scores have tied her at 3rd to 4th rank with Sheena. I liked a lot of her performances as well. I am first sharing one of my faves, her impersonation of John Legend. The next is her doing a Christina Aguilera, her first actual win Feel free to also check out her Cher, Lea Salonga, Cyndi Lauper, and Bonnie Tyler. As fo this writing, she just did a Freddie Mercury, which was also good, by my standards.

 

And my list is done! Basically, I think the TNT Boys getting into the finals is already in the bag. Sheena, my most fave, doesn’t always get the highest scores, so I’m crossing my fingers. Krystal, if she keeps doing what she does, would most probably be in the finals, too. I am crossing my fingers for Esang as well, but she does consistently get high scores…

I am actually surprised and very glad to know that my top ones are those who are leading the ranks. The girls are my faves, but biases aside, I thought that they should be in the top three.

Anyway, guys, I hope you enjoyed reading my post and watching the vids. I enjoyed putting this together. I could do another set next week, if I have the time 🙂

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???

IMG_20160605_141829

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! 🙂

Questions for Lea #atozchallenge2015

QQ” is for Questions, today, for the continuation of my #AtoZChallenge.

Last year, it had to do with the Top Ten Questions People Ask Me. Now, I am going to share a recent (well, last August) Q&A that Rappler.com did with my favorite artist Lea Salonga. I didn’t know they were going to do a live interview and just happened to see an announcement, so I was kind of late when I went to the site to listen. The good thing is, they have uploaded it to the page, yay!!!

Rappler Talk: Lea Salonga on art, technology, and leadership

Hope you learned more about Lea from that interview 🙂

Well, what timing that I did this when she is currently in hot water. I actually just found out because of this. Lea is generally considered the country’s pride. But because nobody’s perfect and you can’t please everybody, sometimes she does get into trouble when she opens her mouth or tweet about certain things, whether they really pertain to what netizens think they pertain to or not.

My take on this is this: At the end of the day, she is still just a person. She has rights to an opinion, to an advocacy, to a belief, to a-whatever. We pay to see her perform. We pay to see her work. But we don’t pay to run her life. We don’t pay to run anybody’s life. Why do you get to have an opinion and others can’t? I’d rather have an artist who speaks her mind than an artist who says things she knows will please people.

For the record, my family watches the said segment for the laughs. And for the record, I don’t like what the competition came up with at all. So I am being shallow myself…It is shallow, let’s admit that. But we can’t always be too serious. I’ve been there, it was depressing. It was like nothing was working the way it should have, like being trapped and unable to get out. So, you know, I am not about to be bothered at all by her tweet, if it does pertain to that certain segment. Taking offense like that, that’s what’s really shallow. I don’t want to go online and spend my time just butting heads with people about little things we should not be arguing about. There’s a difference between being in an argument and joining a healthy debate. They’re just shows. Watch what you want to, avoid those you don’t want to. Don’t make it bigger than it is, don’t take it personal.

One thing I do believe: we definitely NEED to level-up our entertainment industry.

‘Nuff said.

Lea, Kim and Miss Saigon

lea-salonga

So pretty. This is one of the pics they use when she does shows and guest stints

I’ve never been one to request for a photo-op with an artist, regardless of whether I like him/her or not. I just content myself with looking then say, “Alright, I’ve seen you, and I can now put you in my Artist I Saw Personally list.” But you know what? I decided long ago that if it were Lea Salonga, I would break my rule and be more, let’s just say, “proactive.”

Did I? Break the rule, I mean? Yes, I did, back in 2008. For Miss Saigon‘s first-ever Kim, I did, gladly. Oh, but that story I will reserve for some other time.

Right now, I just would like to share to you my favorite artist and this video that was recently taken, from the 25th anniversary of the musical Miss Saigon. She is joined in a song here by fellow-Filipina Rachelle Ann Go who currently plays Gigi (also first played by Filipina Isay Alvarez) on West End. I’ve never been a Rachelle Ann fan but I think she did well here, fortunately.

If you are a play or musical enthusiast, this is for you! If you are not one, or not yet one, I hope you enjoy this as well  🙂

 More of it in the Philippine Star and Rappler

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Well, this is embarrassing. The video is now set on private. Oh, well. The link stays until I find another one on YouTube.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed that…I mean if you were able to view it before. Feel free to share your thoughts below 🙂

My Five Theme Songs to Live By #atozchallenge2014

I’ve had the draft for this for daaayssss…Anyway,…

Let’s talk about THEME SONGS. Not just any theme songs from movies or shows. I mean those that currently define, describe, and/or I, hopefully, will follow in the years to come, maybe in my lifetime. Basically, these are songs that help bring me back to my senses and make me push through with life and push on.

So, let me share to you now…

 

My Five Theme Songs to Live By

1. Defying Gravity by Idina Menzel

This also serves as my LSS or Last Song Syndrome fave. I play this in the office practically every work day, and play it non-stop a lot of times, too (you can ask my officemates). As I shared in my WICKED post, the song is from the musical. Maybe I am ten years late in really appreciating this song, but I have fallen in love with it now. Maybe because it holds more meaning to me now, too.

The song speaks of breaking free and flying high, escaping from things that hold you back or down from becoming the best and happiest you can be. As Idina’s Elphaba says, it’s time to defy gravity. Below is Idina’s album version of the song:

I’m through accepting limits
‘Cause someone says they’re so
Some things I cannot change
But till I try, I’ll never know!

…I’m defying gravity
And you can’t pull me down!

I guess Idina’s Elsa’s “Let It Go” is in a similar vein (not really the same), but I can relate more with “Defying Gravity” and identify more with Elphie. I know you most probably have heard the song already or seen the movie — I’d be surprised if you haven’t yet — but if you just want to compare, I’m posting the other song, too, and this one’s got sing-along lyrics on it:

2. The Journey by Lea Salonga

Not to be biased or anything because Lea is Filipino and a favorite stage performer, but this song is one of the best songs I have ever heard. It’s not just due to the melody, which may not be the best, but how the message is conveyed. Just watch the video and maybe sing along with the lyrics…

I may be in love with song #1 right now, but this remains as Top 1 in my list of theme songs. It serves as a reminder for me to keep being positive and keep going, to enjoy life and love the journey. Does my blog’s name tell you anything? Forward, always forward, onward, always up, we must go 😉

From what I know, this song was recorded as part of a concept album for the Little Tramp musical that is based on the life of the great Charlie Chaplin. Incidentally, he originally composed the music for the next song for a movie he was making, the words added later on by lyricists.

3. Smile by Nat King Cole

How beautiful! I am not sure about the first time ever that I heard it in my life, but I remember when I actually took notice. That was when I was a kid and my sister and I used to watch old shows on TV (for some reason, we were fond of watching shows that were even way beyond our time) and one of those was the gag show of Jerry Lewis. He would always sing some parts of it at the end of every episode. I immediately understood and fell in love with it.

It is something that anyone who has ever felt sad and lonely can relate to. There is a certain sense of melancholy in it, yet there is the positive message as well that we can hold on to.

4. For Good by Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth

Alright, it’s still WICKED and Idina, but you can’t blame me. It just so happens that the show has really good songs in it. And since I am someone who values friendship very much, this duet by Idina and Kristin really spoke to me. The best thing is, it doesn’t necessarily have to be simply about friendship; rather, it can be about relationships in general.

I’ve heard it said that people come into our lives
For a reason, bringing something we must learn
And we are led to those who help us most to grow
If we let them and we help them in return…

It well may be that we will never meet again
In this lifetime so let me say before we part
So much of me is made of what I learned from you
You’ll be with me like a handprint on my heart.

When it was sung live onstage, I noticed how quiet the people from the audience were. Not a few hearts were touched by this song. Every time I listen to it, I can’t help but feel a lump in my throat and want to cry. You should have seen me the first days I was listening to it — I did cry. Then I tortured myself and played it over and over. Crazy, eh?

Those first two lines of the second quoted stanza gets to me every time! I am reminded of friendships lost due to distance or falling-out, reminded to be thankful for the great people in my life, and especially reminded of my parents to whom I was not able to say “so much of me is made of what I learned from you” (oh man, I’m tearing up right now..sorry…).

This song has become my most favorite friendship/relationship song and I think it will be hard for any similar song to dethrone it from my list.

5. You Gotta Be by Des’ree

Last but not the least, we have this perk-up song, at least that’s what I’m calling it. Ever since I learned and memorized it, I have regarded it as a self-advice song. Depressed, worried, anxious? Sing it.  Simply enjoying the moment? Sing it. Apply it anytime, anywhere!

Basically, it’s about keeping a positive outlook, being courageous in the face of hardship, and believing in the power of love.

You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold, you gotta be wiser
You gotta be hard, you gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger
You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm, you gotta stay together
All I know, all I know, love will save the day.

In fact, on the few times I get to sing in front of a videoke machine, I almost always sing it. It’s like my default song or something (well, along with song #2).

 

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That’s it, the five theme songs of my life. In other words, guide songs. Do you have yours? What is it or what are they? I invite you to share 🙂

This is my belated “T” post for…

a-to-z-challenge

 

Lea and Her BABY Ten Years Ago #atozchallenge2014

NOTE: I can’t believe it’s been ten years! I had several ideas for my “L” post for the A-to-Z Challenge until I decided that I wanted to feature my favorite artist, Lea SalongaI wanted to post either what I wrote before about her anniversary concert that I attended or my story on how I met her face to face and my little anecdote about it. Truth is I couldn’t find them. But I found THIS and I don’t mind sharing it at all 🙂 I’m just surprised that I read that the production was back in 2004. Time sure does fly! 

 

By the way, I know “L” comes before “M,” but I’m just making up for what I missed. Cut me some slack 🙂

 

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lea-salonga-babyReality is, what drew most of Atlantis Productions’ BABY The Musical‘s audience to march to Meralco Theater – literally from the gate to the building for this writer – consists of two words and five syllables: Lea Salonga. She was, of course, a big crowd-drawer. The posters said it all. “Lea Salonga in BABY The Musical.”

 

But what made people smile afterwards, long before the show was over, was a combination of four things: Lea, the story, the music, and the whole production itself. More than any one of the audience asked for or expected. I, for one, while excited about watching a musical, only psyched myself to enjoy watching the actress should the show proved the opposite of engaging. Oh, but it was engaging! And I had nothing to worry about.

 

Richard Maltby Jr.‘s BABY The Musical tells the story of three couples – Lizzie Fields (Salonga) and Danny Hooper (David Shannon), Pam (Agot Isidro) and Nick Sakarian (Jett Pangan) , and Arlene (Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo) and Alan McNalley (Miguel Faustmann).

 

Couple Number One. Lizzie and Danny, both in college, are living in together. They get the shock of their lives when the stork suddenly decides to drop them a visit and leave a gift. The practical and organized world of Lizzie is suddenly invaded by a third party, by the discovery that she is pregnant. It would make for a typical story. Guy finds out, guy runs away. But no. Instead, Lizzie is the one afraid of making the commitment and doing what Danny deems necessary, which is to get married. For Lizzie, “I don’t wanna get married because I don’t wanna get a divorce!” While she is prepared to be with Danny and raise the baby, marriage is not something she wants to say yes to.

 

(See and hear Lea perform with Liz Callaway Lizzie’s song “The Story Goes On” below)

 

 

Couple Number Two. Pam and Nick is a couple in their 30’s, married for two years, and still childless. Suddenly, it seems their prayers are answered. Pam, after a visit from the hospital, informs her husband that she is finally pregnant! The already-happy couple is now much happier. Finally, a baby!…The celebration is short-lived, however. They soon find out that, yes, Mrs. Sakarian is with child, only it is Nick’s sister-in-law. Having failed, they decide to consult a doctor and soon find out the cause. Then follows the hilarious attempts to conceive and the conflict that goes with the problem.

 

Couple Number Three. Arlene and Alan McNalley, in their 40’s, are prepared for a lifetime of being “TWO”, that is a family minus all their three kids. Arlene looks forward to finally having time alone with her husband at last, having sent their youngest child off to college. She is in, however, for a rude awakening. As said, “…a night of unexpected passion lands them back where they started” …Pregnant! Alan is overwhelmed with joy. Arlene, unfortunately, obviously isn’t. A new baby in the family just isn’t what she needs now, not anymore.

 

To be honest, a part of me was really interested in seeing the show because of the premise. Why wouldn’t BABY be interesting? It is, after all, about relationships between men and women, and particularly about the responsibility that often follows – raising children. As Maltby said, BABY is about that something that is not really rare and, yet, is often taken for granted…Or something like that.

 

Based on the book by Sybille Pearson, the musical does not only tell of interwoven stories, oftentimes “told” with humor. Behind the laughs, however, lie the serious problems that come with having a baby and that need to be addressed. It tackles concerns such as pre-marital sex, living in, women’s lib, sterility, age, and yes, even abortion. Etcetera. Not all of these are directly mentioned throughout the course of the play, nor does it tend to be preachy. You’d have to be dumb, though, not to notice the subtle hints at times. Either that or you were sleeping.

 

 

Baby-musical-cast

THE CAST (from left to right): Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo, Miguel Faustmann, David Shannon, Lea Salonga, Agot Isidro, and Jett Pangan

 

Lea as Lizzie was perfect. Playing a 20-year-old didn’t seem to be a “STREEETCH,” unlike what she herself said. Not at all. The voice was as crystal clear as ever, both in singing and speaking. That is a trait that sets her apart from most actors today and makes her Number One in many people’s books. And man, did I laugh when she danced and bounced, big belly and all! No wonder Julie Andrews loves her voice…Lea. You just gotta love her.

 

David was convincing, as well, as Danny. Listening to him sing reminded me of the character Chris in Miss Saigon. Oh, but wait. He did play Chris in the U.K Tour of M.S.! Four things I like about the guy: he sings well, he sang “I Chose Right,” he played Rum Tum Tugger and Marius in a CATS and a Les Miserables production respectively, and he is married to an equally talented Filipina artist, Ima Castro! And – oh! – he signed the cover of my Collector’s Edition CD, so that makes it five! Well, his presence in the theater scene is surely welcome and appreciated.

 

menchu-lauchengco-yulo

Got pic from HERE

From the role of Schrintze in Fiddler on the Roof  in 1978 to this year’s Arlene, Miss Menchu has indeed proved her mettle in the business. It seems I liked that mettle and it has made a fan out of this writer. Listening her do the solo piece “Patterns” gave me the goosebumps, the very good kind of goosebumps. Despite that she is a great actress, though, she still did not come across as forty-ish, which Arlene should have been, and which she actually is. Miss Menchu, with all that faux curly locks that were intended to make her appear 43, is really a very beautiful woman who looks much younger than she actually is. So I guess this comment is more of a good kind of negative response, if you know what I mean.

 

Mister Faustmann was actually my problem. Of course, he was a good actor. His recent awards say it all. The show, however, did not showcase much of his singing talent. He did have his own solo, ”Easier To Love,” which I liked, but it was not much to give me the same kind of goosebumps as aforementioned. Not his fault, I know. It just was not meant to be goosebump-y, but rather a humorous take on and comparison between love for a spouse and love for a child. Guess which is easier.

 

The show bared two revelations, namely Jett and Agot.

 

jett-pangan

Got pic from HERE

Pre-theater, the only songs that I could remember The Dawn frontman singing were not really that impressive, for me, at least. But ever since I found out his stints in shows such as The Rocky Horror Show and Tick, Tick, Boom!, I had been interested in seeing him perform. Whoah, baby! The show gave me the opportunity to hear the man, and boy, was I surprised! All I can say is he has got one of the best voices that I ever heard, ever! Jett could act as well, bringing the house down with his portrayal of funnyman Nick. On both occasions that I watched (yes, I watched it twice), he got the audience clapping wildly at curtain call.

 

Agot, like I said, was quite a revelation as well. Onstage, the prim and proper lady we had come to know suddenly transformed into a funny, kikay, and yes, daring woman. Well, at least, more daring than the usual Agot. The novice among them (she recently starred in her first musical, TrumpetsHonk!), she held her own against the more seasoned actors. She has become a better actress and a better singer as well. The sporty persona of her character Pam, though, just was not Agot. For a basketball coach, she sure played ball like – should I say it? – a girl. But it was not a major concern, anyway, so who actually cared?

 

The whole story would not be complete without the Ensemble. Very special mention to the great people who provided all sorts of characters that helped mold the whole story and piece it together. The show was not found wanting, what with such great talents such as Chari Arespacochaga, Cathy Azanza, Topper Fabregas, Christine Sambeli-Marquez, Jun Ofrasio and Robie Zialcita (whose doctor was quite a riot with Nick and Pam). Most of them are theater veterans. Kumbaga, ‘di matatawaran ang galing. (In other words, their great talents are all worth it.)

 

My only complaint was during ”The Ladies Singing Their Song,” most of the ladies didn’t look their part. The tennis women and the woman with ten kids did sound older but looked much younger. I mean, I would kill to have those figures and legs! Sure, older women do have the right to look gorgeous (Miss Menchu comes to mind again), but let’s face it. In reality, how many older women you know actually look like that?

 

Now comes the part where we criticize the music…Frankly, I find it a daunting task as I have come to love the songs, a collaboration of two wonderful musicians. Maltby’s lyrics, set into music by David Shire. Deadly combination. Add in an orchestra led by Gerard Salonga and his baton. Maltby, himself, said it. BABY’s music is not like the usual stuff we musical-lovers have come to expect. Heck, the story is not the usual stuff. That all the more makes it dear. The story, the music, the setting, the production, the whole of it, however contemporary, is a classic. Classic in the sense that whatever period it is, it will always sound fresh. The musical was written and first done in the early ‘80s. If I haven’t told you that, would you have realized it? No. That’s how un-antiquated it is.

 

All in all, BABY The Musical, under the direction of Bobby Garcia, was quite a success indeed. True, Lea’s name dragged people’s butts away from other activities and into the Meralco Theater seats. The smiles on people’s faces after the show, however, were the result of the whole new musical experience. Ladies and gentlemen, it was a bouncing BABY!!!

 

Meanwhile, here’s one of my favorite BABY songs:

 

 

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I hope you enjoyed what you read almost as much as I enjoyed the show ten years ago.

This post is a part of…

a-to-z-challenge

To Sing or Not to Sing?

NOTE: Technically, it’s still February at the other side of the world. Also, technically, I heard that in the lunar calendar, it’s just the 29th of January. So technically, the Love Month isn’t over yet, and if we follow the lunar calendar, it hasn’t even begun. That said, here’s one of the things to share for this month’s special theme, which is love 🙂

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If I were made to choose between being able to write and being able to sing, what do you think would I have chosen? If you said writing because I am a writer, well, you got it…

write-idea

WRITING IDEAS, OR…

singing-woman

…SINGING MY HEART OUT?

…QUITE WRONG.

Hands down, I would choose to retain my ability to sing, regardless of whether I could carry a tune or not. I may not be able to write, but I’d still  have my imagination with me, which was how I started my stories in the first place. Also, telling stories is not confined to writing alone. Since I’d still have my voice, I could either dictate my pieces to someone who’d write them all down, or do either live or recorded storytelling.

Now singing! No, I wouldn’t be able to do that without the voice, nor could anyone else. Unless I just hummed, which is not really singing, is it? Even if I attempted to do some beatboxing, that would still require sounds that I would not be able to make. Writing is my expression of my thoughts, but singing is the expression of my soul.

I LLLOOOOOVVVEEE SINGING…

I really was the shy, silent type when I was a little kid. To say “extremely shy” would probably be an exaggeration already, but that was  enough to make me ashamed of singing out loud. I loved music, but except for the few times I was in the mood to perform for my only usual audience — my mother — and during Music class in school that I secretly enjoyed, no one could make me sing. Not that anyone actually asked, with the exception of my mother, in which case, I am not even sure if she did ask or I volunteered.

I really did love singing. When I was young, I would  sing just a tad louder than a whisper when I was alone. But whenever somebody came into the room or went near me wherever I was, I would immediately stop singing, act matter-of-factly and pretend I was doing nothing of the sort seconds ago. Imagine, I would even react this way at home and around my family. Why this was so is still a mystery to me. Did I suffer some kind of trauma or ridicule when I was much littler that this affected me the way it did? I cannot remember a thing about it, and if ever it did happen, what was it? or who was it?

The only thing I know is it was also myself who decided that if I wanted to sing, I would. Why would I bother about what they thought? So by fourth grade, I allowed myself to express more freely. I would be singing at the terrace and then someone would pass by and I gathered a lot of courage just to keep from stopping or keeping it down. This certainly had its benefits because I started realizing that I could, kind of, actually carry a tune.

song-magazine

Samples of local “song hits.” Image from the writeup on the movie based on the most popular Philippine song mag, JINGLE, that was older than myself, I think

Inspired by this realization, I found myself saving my daily allowance and buying “song hits” (referring to song magazines). Soon, I was the most updated in class when it came to new songs and, weirdly, I knew many of the featured old songs as well (some songs even came from much older eras like the 30s). This became my hobby until the sixth grade, collecting song hits that I still actually have in possession.

As I got older, I fell in love with singing more. I was never the best, I know, and had never really joined anything musical. I kept the singing to myself most times. I dabbled into some songwriting, too, but not one of my songs have any actual music till now, mainly because I have never learned to play any string or percussion instrument. That’s why they’re not so good, anyway. Meanwhile, I developed an eclectic taste in music. I came to like almost any music genre, old and new, local and foreign, pop and classic, instrumental and otherwise.

The only ones I never ever liked were hard metal stuff because I could and can never understand why all the hard growling and shouting that do not sound anything like words and are hurtful to the ears are considered singing. I don’t mean just rock. Legitimate rock, I like. But there are “songs” that sound anything but songs. Before you go all-Rambo against what I said, though, I am not judging you. This is personal opinion and taste. In fact, if I tell you now that I love show tunes, you are welcome to hate them. They are not me, the person, such as heavy metal songs aren’t you.

While we’re on the subject of show tunes, I was a junior in high school when I developed an interest in musicals, thanks largely to our Music teacher. Actually, I came to really appreciate music because of what she taught us. I remember she had a certain theme every year that all students experienced in class. I said all because in school, she was our only Music teacher and, thank goodness, there were just four sections per year level. Still, that’s a lot of kids to handle. Anyway, Broadway musicals was the theme that year.

I had long-before seen The Sound of Music (too many times to count!) and Annie on TV. That year, I appreciated show tunes more. (There’s really a side story to this involving Les Miserables and batch unity, one I will save most probably for a separate post.) Our teacher let us watch the West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, Oliver, Sound of Music (I think), South Pacific, and The King and I. I may be forgetting some more, but you get the idea. Whenever it was movie time, I was a very serious, very willing student.

cats-the-musical

“Miiiidniiiighhtt….All alone in the moooonliiiiight….” This is Andrew Lloyd Webber‘s CATS The Musical, my most-est favorite of my most favorites. Love the singing, love the dancing!

This love for show tunes grew that when I was working already, I began watching actual shows if the budget allowed it or when I had time to save up. I’ve also been buying my own copies of movie musicals. Never mind that neighbors think me weird watching those and singing loudly along. People do tend to judge what they don’t understand; they probably don’t understand why I could love rapping at the same time either.

I have never been an actual theater person and I don’t get to see every thing that’s played on stage due to budget constraints, but that didn’t stop me from creating a Broadway-themed group in Multiply called HERE’S TO BROADWAY!!! It slowly grew into the musical-lovers’ group with the most members in Multiply-land. Unfortunately, we all know what happened to Multiply.

Now here I am. I love to sing, definitely, even when there are people around. Just don’t approach me and actually ask me to sing or I’ll clam up. I’m okay with people hearing me, but when they let me know they’re listening, I get all…EEK.  Don’t ask me why because I can’t even explain it myself. The only reason I sang for my friends’ weddings were because, well, they’re friends and I didn’t want to disappoint them by turning down their requests…aaaand because I’d rather sing a song and get it over with in three minutes than be a bridesmaid, HA HA HAAA!!!

So, to sing or not to sing? That is not even supposed to be a question. Sing, absolutely.

Lastly, I guess I’ll share these only-a capella samples I did around four years ago. I recorded these while in the bathroom so I could hide and that’s why I was in a hurry. I could have done better but, oh well. The first is originally by Lea Salonga so if you want to hear that, I’m sure it’s in YouTube. It’s quite a videoke favorite here. It’s also my blogs theme 🙂 The second is from the animation film version of The Little Mermaid, which I haven’t really seen yet because I am mad they murdered classic literature. Anyway, because I don’t have copies in my laptop of these, they will open a new tab and direct you to my Facebook video posts instead.

Hate the singer, not the songs, please 😉

The Journey

Part of Your World

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Do you love to sing? Share it to us! We have to take dares sometime 😉

By the way, I have certain “project” so I urge you to please ask me any question in the comment boxes below. THANKS!

For YOU Who Were Most Special

It’s the love month and I decided to write about stuff that I love or has to do with love for the whole month. So I had an idea and was looking for an audio from my computer archive. For some reason, it wasn’t working the way it used to. I also came to this page because I was going to check how I was able to post videos before. Then I realized that this should be my first post in relation to Valentine’s. I had decided on a theme last week: love in various forms. Now I realize this is exactly the correct way to start.

It’s a reblog, but I still want to pay tribute to my parents who loved me and my sister. I still cannot believe that it’s almost two years. I still remember them like they’re in front of me. But I am happy in the sense that they do not anymore have to suffer and that, even through the hardships we are facing in this world, they are guiding us. Maybe some people who know them and would be able to read this would just mock this tribute, but we cannot do anything about that. We cannot change people. We can only change ourselves…

To Mame and Dade, Happy Valentine’s!!!

We love you!!!!

The End Justifies the Journey

It would have been a given if I wrote about them already. As a writer, it would have been natural, normal, and expected that as a form of tribute, I shared my feelings or thoughts then, maybe my feelings or thoughts now, or maybe talked about how they had been as parents. That had been my intention for weeks, trying to find the right way, the right words so that I could give them the best tribute I could.

But very honestly, losing my parents recently — one followed the other after only a span of two months — writing such a great tribute would be something of a feat for me as of the moment. Not because they don’t deserve it but because I might never finish writing with the tears clouding my eyes. Grief does that to people. Yes, I know the Five Stages of Grief, and yes…

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For YOU Who Were Most Special

It would have been a given if I wrote about them already. As a writer, it would have been natural, normal, and expected that as a form of tribute, I shared my feelings or thoughts then, maybe my feelings or thoughts now, or maybe talked about how they had been as parents. That had been my intention for weeks, trying to find the right way, the right words so that I could give them the best tribute I could.

But very honestly, losing my parents recently — one followed the other after only a span of two months — writing such a great tribute would be something of a feat for me as of the moment. Not because they don’t deserve it but because I might never finish writing with the tears clouding my eyes. Grief does that to people. Yes, I know the Five Stages of Grief, and yes, I did more research on them, and yes, regardless of the surprisingly strong person I seemed to friends, it still does hurt me till now. I’ve asked once when people’s  feelings of grief go away and others who have been there provided the answer: THEY DON’T, NOT REALLY. But what we do is move on. Not really forget, just move on. In a way, to not forget also offers some kind of relief. Loved ones are too special to forget.

Going back to writing, I think I have found the best way to pay tribute to these two noble teachers with this short piece I wrote years ago. It is funny in a sad way that most often, we only learn to appreciate, understand and get to know our loved ones more when they are gone…

WE LOVE YOU, MAME AND DADE

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The man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder –

a waif, a nothing, a no man.”

(Thomas Carlyle)

            Many of us go through life wading in the water, creating only the smallest of ripples, afraid to go even farther and deeper lest we drown. We are so much afraid of taking risks only to find ourselves failing. Therefore, we are contented just being safe – too safe – that we do not leave our comfort zones to find and explore what it is that God has laid out for us. We are men without direction, without purpose, without living. We simply exist.

            Fortunately, there are still a few good men (and women) among us who dare to defy the norm. More fortunately, there are those who dare to do more than defy the norm. They change the world for the better, living not only for themselves but for others as well.

            Truly, heroes are those who first think with their hearts. They are made for a mission after all and that is to save lives. Rick Warren’s (The Purpose Driven Life) words seem to reflect what their purpose in this world is all along: “It’s not about you. The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness.”

            So what sets a man above the rest? Instead of ripples, he creates the waves that get him to his destination. For all of it is heart. You see, it’s the heart that makes the man.

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A few videos from YouTube, especially for those who lost their parents as well (the last is in Filipino / Tagalog and shows no lyrics so I am sharing an English translation I made years ago as well):

The song Ugoy ng Duyan, literally translated to “the swaying of the hammock”, was composed by Lucio San Pedro and the lyrics were by Levi Celerio. Versions have already been recorded in the past by Lea Salonga, Regine Velasquez and Aiza Seguerra.

LULLING CRADLE

Those good old days, I pray won’t fade
When I was young and in Mother’s care
Oh, to hear dear Mother’s lullaby again
The song of love as she rocked my cradle.

In my deep and peaceful slumber
The stars watch over me in vigil
Life was like heaven in the arms of Mother
Now my heart longs for the lulling cradle.

Those good old days, I pray won’t fade
When I was young and in Mother’s care
Oh, to hear dear Mother’s lullaby again
The song of love as she rocked my cradle.

Lull me, Mother, in my dear old cradle
Oh, Mother.

 

Translation Copyright © J.Gi Federizo

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DISCLAIMER: The translation above should not, in any way, be taken as an official translation. It is only a translation I made so that people would understand the lyrics. However, please do not just copy off and not give credit or link here. Also, I am mentioning this as I am finding out that my version has been copied and being mistaken as the official translation. It is not and is probably not even the best translation. To not confuse you, I used to own a Multiply account using the ID “lildovefeather”. Many of those who shared this translation do give a link to the page, but the problem now is it’s not existent anymore. They can either link to this page, or to THIS…Thanks for understanding.