(The love of) Miss Saigon

I couldn’t help but post something about Miss Saigon right now. I’m totally fangirling over Lea Salonga at the moment (with her ongoing concerts with Il Divo singing “A Whole New World”, the Miss Saigon anniversary, and her other stuff resurfacing on social media right now), but that’s an entirely different story. For now I’ll tell you why Miss Saigon is close to my heart.

MissSaigonPosterI was very fortunate to have watched Miss Saigon when it had its run here in Manila way back in 2000. I was in 4th year high school then, and there were discounted tickets available to us at school through the school foundation for a specific screening date, so I grabbed the chance. It was the first ever international musical theatre production I have ever watched. It was also a wonderful chance, because it was Lea Salonga who was playing the lead character Kim when we watched. I also remember Isay Alvarez as Gigi and Leo Valdez as the Engineer.

I know I loved every bit of it. And when the ending came, I was shocked. I said, “bakit walang nagsabi sakin na ganito kalungkot ang ending nito?” (“why didn’t anyone tell me this had tragic ending?”). I never researched the story before I watched it. I was caught off-guard with the tragic ending, and I cried my eyes out. I was 16, and I could never forget that.

I have always been a frustrated performing artist since my early childhood. Miss Saigon fueled this desire a little more. It made me want to be in musical theatre. Specifically, my ultimate dream role was to be Gigi of Miss Saigon (not Kim, mind you). The singing, the dancing, the acting… all of those are things I would’ve love to do out of sheer passion. Unfortunately, my life was not meant for that direction, and instead I took up and finished my engineering degree and worked in the corporate world. I would still dance every now and then, sing in the shower or at home when no one’s around, or sing karaoke when there’s a chance. But I’ve never been anywhere close to performing in the musical theatre…

I also grab chances when there are good productions to watch. I was able to watch Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, and Lion King in Singapore. I also watched Mamma Mia here in Manila. I saw the local production of Avenue Q. Every time I watch beautiful productions like these, I have a great appreciation for them. On top of that, my desire to perform in similar productions is ignited a little bit, but I just contain it because the situation never gave me an opportunity to be a musical theatre performer.

I wonder if that opportunity will ever come…

Also, I totally want to watch Miss Saigon again. If I could just buy a ticket to London anytime soon… :p


Anyway, here’s a link to the wonderful Miss Saigon 25th Anniversary Gala Finale:

Enjoy!

Remembering the long lost poetry

Lately I have been rediscovering the inner poet that is in me. Was able to “naturally” write four decent (or perhaps good or great?) poems in the past few months, the first of which was written back in May while I was aboard a plane. It has been slowly coming back, maybe?

Then, there are the poems I wrote from long ago. I had setup a blog with some of my poetry so many years back, and I almost already forgot about it. I rediscovered it too, read through it, copied and archived everything. I deleted the blog from the virtual world in the meantime, while I’m trying to figure out what to do with those poems. They mostly dated from late 2005 to 2007, with two more posted in 2009 and 2010. Even before 2005, I remember having a lot of poems written in scratch papers and spring notebooks from way back in high school. Those are probably still hidden in my chest, just lying around somewhere there, gathering dust, being almost forgotten. I might post a few of the old poems when I feel like it, in the next few months.

I’ve noticed that my poems across time revolve around very similar topics – love, longing, or grief. Perhaps those are the most powerful emotions that I encounter that really squeeze the poetry out of me.

I wonder what good these poems will be, beyond their lonely existence on paper, in my files, or online. I wonder if anyone really appreciates them, or will ever remember them. I highly doubt that I will be remembered or recognized because of my poetry. I am also playing with the idea of finding a way to publish them, but I wonder who still buys poetry books aside from myself (and yes, I have a few books of poetry by some writers and some collections).

Nonetheless, I shall continue writing those rhymes and non-rhymes as long as the pen calls and the heart desires.

A Waterfall of Emotions

It’s been more than 48 hours since I have finished watching it, and yet I’m still so stuck on that un-describable emotion that was the heart of that movie.

The title is “Sana Dati”, one of the many new-generation Filipino films that are bringing back life to the local cinema scene. It’s good to have these movies depart from the traditional commercial forms of movies. It’s great to have found time to watch a movie, and such serendipitous fate to have watched when this particular movie was available.

Sana Dati

To be honest, I’m not a big fan of the lead actors/actress in the movie prior to watching it. Nonetheless, they were well chosen and they did wonderfully, possibly because of the opportunity presented by the movie to them, the chance to act with the deepest emotions, rid of the need to over-act. I was only able to appreciate them fully (Lovi Poe and Paulo Avelino) in this film, and was introduced to the charming Benjamin Alves.

A waterfall of emotions it was, especially for me. I do not intend to do a movie review, but rather expound on the emotions that it has left me with. (Spoiler alert. Proceed with caution.)

The movie is about passionate love and non-love, a wedding, so much memories of the past, and very real life decisions. There is a strange but slightly predictable twist to it, and there is a slow unfolding of the past and all the issues surrounding the main characters. The story revolved mostly around one character, Andrea, who was already preparing on the day of her wedding. The secret “focus” of the movie was actually around a pair of blue flats (but the reason I shall not disclose here; you would have to watch the movie to fully appreciate the placement of that element).

Although I am not in agreement with Andrea’s decisions, I completely feel her and understand her. Maybe some people will not understand how one can fall in love so hard and so quickly, and get extremely heartbroken when that ends. Perhaps some people would not comprehend how one can settle to be with someone they’re not completely in love with, but who loves them enough nonetheless. These elements in the movie happen in real life too, in different forms and situations. And to have an ending with a “conclusion” and yet with so much unpredictability makes it even more real, far from the traditional commercial romantic flicks that always drop a happy ending in.

The movie made me cry. It stirred up emotions that have been dormant for some time, and I’m still reeling in it.

The Traveler’s Dilemma

The Tourist vs. The Traveler

I’ve heard someone say that one should be a traveler and not just a tourist. What does that mean? Maybe it’s the difference between going on a vacation and going on an adventure. A tourist goes away to relax and enjoy as much luxury as one can afford. It involves a comfortable hotel, having recreational activities like lounging on the beach or going skiing in the mountains, and doing touristy stuff like sight-seeing and such. I am only assuming. Indeed I am partly a tourist. I’ve gone to the popular stops, joined tour groups, taken a lot of pictures of very familiar landmarks. One steps away from one’s own reality to relax a little bit, and see the things that most other people travel to see.

I do wonder if I can already consider myself a traveler. Every now and then I’ve tried to step away from the usual busy track, and try to immerse myself in what the real local scene has to offer. I usually do this by just taking a walk around. I still remember those baseball-sized buchi that we found on the side streets of Beijing. There was a time I’ve tried walking around the community in Vancouver with my little 5 year-old cousin who, turned out, don’t know a bit about where we were going. And of course my last trip in KL, which allowed me to go wherever I wanted, and as far as my body could bring me. I wonder how much of the city I would’ve explored and discovered if I had stayed a little bit longer. But that’s left to be done another time.

I am a “cowboy”, ready for anything, and perhaps that gives me the potential to be a good traveler. I’ve tried sleeping, taking baths, and traveling in certain odd and absurd ways from during my college days. Very strange to give examples now though. I may be able to take and tolerate a little below comfortable, if needed.

Maybe one should be both a tourist and a traveler. To see the usual popular things, and at the same time be able to immerse one’s self in the scenery, the culture, the people, and most especially the food. To be able to relax and be comfortable enough, but still go beyond one’s comforts to be able to discover what can be discovered.

Would you rather be a tourist or a traveler?

 

On taking pictures

I love taking pictures of beautiful places and beautiful things while traveling. I also am a frustrated photographer. But sometimes I am caught in between taking lots of pictures or just slowly moving around an soaking in the beauty. There is a certain beauty that one cannot completely experience looking behind the lens.

I tell people that when I travel and am not able to take a lot of pictures, it’s most probably because I enjoyed the trip so much. It’s true most of the time. There is that part of me that forgets about the camera when I truly enjoy what my senses capture. I forget about the camera when I am with really good friends, or having a great time with new people. I hate bringing the big, bulky camera to the beach or high up the mountains. It’s just so wonderful to experience the beauty of things around you first-hand.

How can one strike a balance between taking pictures and just enjoying the scene?

 

To travel alone / with a partner / with a group

There are pros and cons to the three possible scenarios: traveling alone, traveling with a partner, or traveling with a group. There is a beauty in each, and also a disadvantage. I’ve tried doing all, but I can’t say that I prefer one the most. Maybe the most important thing is to just enjoy the trip whether you take it alone, or with other people.

Never travel with people you HATE. You can maybe travel with people you have not yet decided on liking yet. Trips and being away from the usual hustle and bustle of life can actually catalyze any relationship. It can help jumpstart or develop relationships (not just romantic, but also friendships, work relationships, family relationships, and what-nots), or sometimes sour relationships if a trip does not go well.

Do you have a preference between traveling alone or with someone?

 

Finding one’s self while traveling

Besides catalyzing relationships, traveling and being away from the usual stuff can help one discover deeper into one’s self. When away, there are a lot of things which may be new or unfamiliar to you which can make you realize different things, both good and bad. Sometimes, the mere feeling of physically moving (while on an aircraft, ship, or land transportation) can also move your thoughts and emotions.

I love being away. It always gives me a chance to really think, to be introspective. I always try to bring a notebook and a pen when I travel (although lately the Evernote on my iPhone does the job), and I do scribble down thoughts when they come, even in the middle of my trips. There has been a time when I wrote an entire blog while aboard an aircraft (perhaps out of boredom, but also maybe because of a spark of inspiration). There was another instance I drove alone all the way to the nearest “mountains” (it’s just Tagaytay actually), to just sit and think, and then drive home at the end of the day.

How does traveling and being away make you feel and think?

The KL Adventure – Part 2

(a continuation of the last post)

Pavilion MallAfter the tour, I asked to be dropped off at Bukit Bintang. I had late lunch of Asam Laksa at Old Town, and then went for a walk around. As I was resisting all and every urge to go shopping (and my credit card was completely cooperating because it wasn’t working in Malaysia), I decided to leave the Bukit Bintang area and proceed to Central Market.

Kuala LumpurUhm, but then again, Central Market is also a shopping place, but at least it wasn’t a mall. Still resisting the difficult urge to shop, I just bought a few items for my folks back home, and just a single item, a batik sarong, for myself. After Central Market, I walked to the Chinatown nearby. I was thinking of buying a few more items in Chinatown, but nothing got my fancy. Yehey wallet, you’re saved again.

Jalan Petaling

Tired from the tour, the looooooong stair climb at Batu Caves, and all the walk, I headed back to the hotel to rest a while and freshen up. After resting enough, I set off again, but not too far from the hotel. I went walking around the area of the hotel, around Jalan Raja Laut.

LomiThat evening, I decided to have some authentic local food. I saw a number of side-street restaurants just outside the hotel, so I walked to one and ordered myself a bowl of Lohmi. Oh yes, it’s so similar with the Lomi I know from back home, but I had to try. Also, I got Lime juice with salted plum for my drink, which actually tastes like calamansi juice with kiamoy in it. It was strange but yummy. 🙂

It was good to have had dinner very near the hotel, because after that I headed back and just rested the entire evening.

Woke up on the last day of my KL trip feeling refreshed, although my legs were still a bit painful from the day before. I remembered that it was a Sunday (actually, my parents reminded me the night before), so I went online to find a Catholic Church nearby and attend mass. I showered and dressed up, had breakfast at the hotel, and then took a taxi to the church nearby. After the mass, I went back to the hotel and finished packing, and then checked out. I brought all my stuff with me to KLCC.

Suria KLCCI met up again with Daniel at KLCC. He works at Petrosains, together with Nensi and Melissa, and all of them I met during the ASPAC conference. Daniel and Nensi took me around Petrosains.

After going around Petrosains, Daniel took me to a food place nearby, to be able to try a few more Malaysian food. This time we had Indian-Malaysian food, consisting of biryani rice, curry, deep-fried bitter gourd, and some fried maggi. I really fell in love with that deep-fried bitter gourd, because I have never eaten amplaya that good. He also got teh tarik for my drink, and corrected me and explained that teh tarik is really taken hot, not cold (because I thought I have tried cold teh tarik somewhere in Sg or Manila maybe?).

After lunch, we had a walk around KLCC and KLCC park. There are wonderful views of the Petronas Towers from the park.

KLCC park

With time almost running out, we went back inside Suria KLCC and sat down for some coolers – ais campur and kedondong juice. Yumyum! Melissa came and caught up with us. It was wonderful to see Melissa even just for a short while.

Kedondong juice

After the snack, it was time for me to leave for the airport already. I bid goodbye to my friends at Petrosains, took a taxi to the Sentral Station, and took the train-shuttle connection back to LCCT airport.

Such a short trip, only a little bit over two days, but I had so many new experiences, new places visited, and new food savored. Everyone was telling me that a weekend is not enough to experience all that KL has to offer. I answer them simply, this won’t be my last visit to the city. Now that I have a taste or a teaser of it, I can plan my future trips better.

Many thanks to Daniel for helping me plan my trip and my destinations during this short trip, and also for the warm welcome and the wonderful food! Much appreciated. I’ll be at your service when you decide to visit Manila next time. It was also great to see Nensi and Melissa, and I’m hoping I’ll get to see them both again and maybe longer the next time I visit KL. 🙂

And because I couldn’t fit all the nice photos in the post, you can just check them out in my Picasa album.

The KL Adventure – Part 1

Perhaps it just happened that I’ve wanted to go on a personal adventure for the longest time; or maybe because I have new found friends (NFFs) in that city; or perhaps because I keep on seeing a lot of things about that place on cable TV. Whatever the real reason was, I booked my flights and my hotel, and though I hesitated and had thoughts of postponing the trip, I did push through. I’m so glad I did.

I arrived in Kuala Lumpur on the evening of August 24. It was my first time there, and I was alone, but eager and ready to start my adventure. I was really aiming for a budget trip, to spend the least I could but still be comfortable and safe enough.

Kuala lumpur LCCT Airport

Instead of taking the taxi from the (LCCT) airport to my hotel, which would have costed between RM80-90, I took the shuttle-train connection from LCCT to KL Sentral Station, and took a short taxi trip from the Sentral Station to the Hotel. I spent less than RM30.

I stayed at Citrus Hotel. It wasn’t in Bukit Bintang or around KLCC, but right within the city and not too far away. It was a 15min taxi ride from most locations around the city. Around the city, I did travel mostly via taxis, since I am not too familiar to feel safe taking the regular public transport yet.

First agenda for that trip fell on the evening of my arrival. I met up with my Malaysian friend Daniel at the Pavilion Mall along Bukit Bintang. He gave me a really nice welcome dinner, and immediately introduced me to Malaysian food. I particularly remember the beef rendang and the satay… and he did teach me how satay was traditionally eaten.

Early morning the next day, I was awoken by the ringing of my hotel phone. Ah, yeah, I was expecting some people. My friends Arnold and Wenna, who were based in Singapore, were also in town and they just arrived then in KL. Another old friend, Esti, was apparently based in Malaysia, and was also with them when they came to meet up with me. We had a quick breakfast buffet together, the four of us, before I had to fly off to my arranged tour for the day.

National Mosque

I pre-arranged a tour with the hotel, and this particular one had a number of key destinations around the city, as well as a visit to the Batu Caves, around 30 minutes from the city. First destination was the National Mosque (Masjid Negara), for which I needed to put on a cape and a head scarf before I can enter the mosque.

The next destination was the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery and the Merdeka Square. It was a good overview of the history and culture of Malaysia and the city of Kuala Lumpur. Also, it was a week before the National Day of Malaysia, and there were practices and preparations happening in the Merdeka Square, an important landmark and center of national activities.

Next was Istana Negara, or the palace of the Agong (or the incumbent national King) of Malaysia. Malaysia as a country has a number of Kings or Sultans, each of which reigns over specific areas or states in Malaysia. One of these sultans is assigned as the Agong, whereas this role is rotated around the different sultans. Unfortunately, the public is not allowed inside the Istana Negara, so we just took pictures outside.

The next is the most significant destination of my journey, in terms of mass, time, as well as energy and effort spent. We went to the Batu Caves. The Batu caves are a series of Hindu temples built into and around large limestone cliffs and caves. At the entrance is the 42.7 m high golden statue of Lord Muruga. There are 272 steps from the ground to the main temple, and yes, I did climb the entire thing. Inside of the cave was a wonderful mix of natural limestone formations from the 100m high cave, as well as the cultural and religious structures and images of hindu gods inside.

From the Batu Caves, we made our way to the Royal Selangor Pewter factory. They are the biggest manufacturer of pewter, which is an alloy made of tin, antimony, and copper. Apparently, the British were drawn to Malaysia especially because of the abundance of Tin in the natural resources of the country.

Last destination was Beryl Chocolate Store. Although I didn’t have plans of buying any, I had a taste of their special tiramisu milk chocolates, and they were superb! I ended up buying a bag of chocolates for me and the family back home.

(to be continued in the next post)

Off to new adventures

Today I take the next big step in my life. I will travel to a place that I’ve never been to, a place where none of my family or relatives live, and I will travel alone. I am off to the first of many new adventures of my life, exploring new places, soaking in local culture, and most of all, indulging in the local food fare.

I’ve been wanting to do this for the longest time. I’ve travelled before to other countries, but not yet on a very personal adventure like this. There were always relatives to visit, an affair to attend, or an arranged tour with everyone else. Now, I am set to make my own adventure.

I’m also lucky to have a local friend in the country I’m visiting. He’s helping me a lot in planning my adventures for this trip. He’s also very nice to offer to take me around for part of my visit. It would be amazing to see a place from the eyes of someone from the inside.

I’m super excited now, for this trip and for the many trips I have yet to take in the future. Hope everything goes well. I’ll post details of my adventure in the next few days, so stay tuned for that!