"Di bilang kalakal o tropeo"

Panunturan ng laro para sa mga lalaking iibig sa mga babaeng-babae
Giaconda Belli

Ang lalaking iibig sa aki'y
dapat marunong humaplos sa kurtina ng balat,
makita ang pangkaraniwan kong mata
at makilala yaong namumugad sa akin,
ang transparenteng maya ng paglalambing.

Ang lalaking iibig sa aki'y
di ako iibigin bilang isang kalakal
o kaya'y ipagyayabang bilang isang tropeo,
mananatili sa aking piling taglay ang pag-ibig kong
nadarama kapag siya'y kapiling.   

Part of the Tulaan sa Tren series by the Instituto Cervantes. 

Tagalog is such a beautiful language, it goes perfectly with train rides. These Spanish poems translated in Tagalog have transformed the LRT riding experience (well, for me at least). <3


Batchoy & beach stories: Guimaras proposal

We found ourselves in Panay last June for a top-secret mission for our June girl, Anji June.
Will you? 
Photo by J. Ferrer

Mr. Elephant, the asker/ task headmaster, was smart enough to employ his Ms. Elephant's friends' kunchaba services; no matter that our batting average at pulling off surprises was at the "Needs Improvement" level. He must've loved her enough to trust her friends and put his proposal's fate on the line.

Of course, the Last Row Traveler, Turtle, SurfGirl Lira, Hot Manager Ms. D. & Waywardly I were all too happy to comply. Pag-ibig! Proposal! Kelan ba ito mangyayari ulit?  

And so the scheming began 7 months before the Date.

But first, the question "where?"
Out-of-the-country Singapore or Thailand? Since one of Ms. Elephant's wishes was that her friends be there when the proposal happened, we were quite relieved that Mr. Elephant opted to go for a local destination. 

Let's do it in a beach
Boracay came up in the choices. But since Ms. Elephant was from Ilo-ilo (and Davao) and spent a short time there as a college freshie, plus Turtle happened to be planning a trip in Panay right about the same time Mr. Elephant intended to pop the question, why not Guimaras, a short boat ride away? 

The Last Row Traveler convinced us as much. He told us about the Ave Maria Island- secluded, white sand beach, no crowd whatsoever. 

We were sold and off we went for a weekend takas & Mission: Proposal for dear Anj. 
Jump shot and the proposal backdrop

Mr. Elephant was very OC. How he took care of the details- the ring, how to ask the question, how to act like the trip was no big deal so Anj wouldn't suspect anything drove a point about grand gestures: that it's done in spite of hassles because, well, pag-ibig eh. Yep, we were less cynical afterwards. 

As you can see in the first photo, Mr. Elephant opted to let the sand do the talking. 

And suddenly, Dex making a gesture towards his sand message to Anj. Then Anj was making an expression of (happy) disbelief and Dex was kneeling and Anj was making him stand and then they were hugging and everyone around (us, the bangkeros, the few other beach visitors who were kind enough to steer clear of our part of the beach) was clapping and crying.

Ms. Elephant's reply:
What Anjie said
Photo by J. Ferrer

It's a magical moment when you see two of the bestest people on the planet get engaged. That gesture by Mr. Elephant to ask for our help was very touching. This Guimaras proposal is a story we will repeat over & over to their Little Elephants someday. 

And thank god Mission: Proposal took off without Anji finding out prematurely (there were moments though, like when Anj guessed Dex was getting her a gift when he told her one weekend before we all went away that he had to go & buy something. What she thought was a birthday present was, well, ...). Our throwing-a-surprise skill has now been raised to the Satisfactory level.

Now we know what Mr. Elephant will say to the question “Do you take Ms. Elephant's friends at their best and worst behavior? Do you promise to accept their eagerness, excitability, neurosis, & poor math skills?” 

Congrats, Anj & Dex!


Happy birthday, Maribel!

Mission accomplished.
Bride & Bridesmaid tsismisan, captured by Jayjay Lucas

Cheers to your 3rd decade, Ysabelly! Thanks for being my angel & prayer-partner. Had you decided to stay in Canada or if by some stroke of the opposite of luck our 11-year-old selves decided they didn't like each other, the last 18 years would matter a lot less. You make things count! Here's to the next three decades of bestfriendship. Mwah!   


Butterscotch Peanut Butter Bar, Coffeebreak

Surprisingly good, all PhP50 of it.

Coffeebreak, I sense the start of a sweet relationship.

We weren't expecting much. After one bite,

Me: "Wow. Peanut butter tastes like one you eat from the jar, with a spoon,  in one sitting." (nibble, nibble)

Last Row Traveler (chomp, chomp): "On top of newly-baked butterscotch."



from nessastooshort
I want a ride.

On stage in MNL

Staying put in Manila for July and the first weeks of August. There are so many things happening in the city, it's silly to complain.

For one, Philippine theater is doing plenty jazz hands. If you're not a regular theater goer, give it a try! There's more to theater than the hoity-toity activity it's reputed to have. May I suggest three shows you for you to see?

1. The William re-staging by PETA
Fresh na fresh from its win as Outstanding Play and Outstanding Ensemble Performance from the recent Gawad Buhay 2011, "William" returns to the PETA Theater for a limited run. If you missed it last year, try to catch it this time around.

The William barkada - don't expect stereotypes
*Special wave to Erwin (played magnificently by Ian Segarra,
who won Male Lead Performance for his role as the hip-hop loving class tukmol)* 
Who is William for?  Everyone. Whether you're in high school 20 years ago or trying to survive your literature subjects this semester, William will give you a whole new appreciation for William Shakespeare, Philippine theater, even for rap music.  

One of the best things about "William" is how it makes the Bard relevant in the Filipino context, seen in the way William Shakespeare's text crossed-over to the lives of Pinoy high school students in the play. Which could also be a statement of literature's place in our lives, really.

You don't have to be a fan of the Bard or know anything about his works. Be warned though that William's well-written libretto may convince you to give that dusty William Shakespeare book(s) lying around your house a read. 

There's plenty of fun in William, i.e. the clever use of rap and hip-hop dancing. If you've always thought plays are boring and so you've never gone, "William" will change your mind. 

For a review of William, click here.
The staging is on July 27-29, 10am and 3pm at the PETA Theater Center.
For inquiries and ticket reservations, call 7256244 and look for any of PETA's marketing staff.

2. God of Carnage, the Manila leg

"It’s  ‘Let’s just jump into hating each other,’ ”  - Lea Salonga

Menchu Lauchengco-Yulo and Lea Salonga? A play that's straight acting? I'm so there!
Seeing this at the end of the month & I can't be more excited.

The plot: two pairs of parents discuss their children's squabble. Conducting themselves as reasonable adults at first, they become increasingly childish as the night wears on.

The play also stars Adrian Pang and Art Acuna.

I didn't know Art Acuna is Pinoy. Having only seen him at the "Kitchen Musical," I thought he was Singaporean. I want a picture with him! Teehee. 

God of Carnage is co-produced by Atlantis Productions and the Singapore Repertory Theatre. The first leg of the production happens from July 13 to 22 at the Carlos P. Romulo Theater of the RCBC Plaza (they're flying this to Singapore after). 
For tickets, check Ticketworld.

3. Walang Sugat, a sarswela by Severino Reyes, at the CCP

Movie poster of the screen adaptation of 
"Walang Sugat"

I've seen this sarswela on stage twice two successive years in a row (2009 and 2010) and I've loved it each and every time.

In a nutshell, it's the story of Tenyong and Julia set in the final stages of the Philippine Revolution against Spain. Tenyong has to leave Julia behind to join the Katipuneros. Julia lets him go but promises to wait for him. Her mother, however, pressures her to marry Miguel, her rich suitor. As the fighting intensifies, so does the pressure from Julia's mother, made worse because nothing is heard from Tenyong. 

Politics, nationalism, revolution- they're all here. The play ends with a clever twist. 

Every Filipino should see it because Walang Sugat is really about love for country. Severino Reyes, the known "Father of the Tagalog Zarzuela", wrote this as his "statement against imperialism" in 1902 (Wikipedia). In fact, so subversive was the play considered that American authorities threw Reyes in jail. 

Another reason I love this play is because it showcases how beautiful Tagalog is. I heard this year's Julia will be played by Cris Villonco. Amazing as Maria in last year's Noli, Cris seems perfect for the part. I bet she'll turn in another well-nuanced performance. 

Walang Sugat runs from Aug. 9 to 26 at the CCP Little Theater.
For tickets, please check Ticketworld.

Enjoy the theater!

Travel Treat: Postcard from Roma

Surprise mail from Ysabel 
Loved seeing her familiar handwriting and hearing her stories
about the piazzas, the pastas, the leather goods in Italy.


2012 from side A to side B

Hearing Cookie sing, you let go of the sadness of memory. You find that these songs, these voices, are now just about you: they are now just yours. 
"Women. Freedom. Rakenrol." by Katrina Stuart-Santiago

rakenrol start, as Katrina's article puts it. 

While some gigs save, there are those that remind you you're okay right where you are. That things are not perfect, but they are good. Perhaps they will get better and it's not because of some change in your external circumstance but because you have allowed yourself to undertake that process, the one of reclaiming. 

"Paglisan" has always been one of those enigmatic songs of my 90s youth- I've always found it to be beautiful and haunting, but never really fully understood what the lines "Kung ang lahat ay may katapusan/ itong paglalakbay ay makakarating din sa paroroonan/ at sa iyong paglisan/ ang tanging pabaon ko/ ay pag-ibig" meant. 

Because I've always thought love is expressed in the choice you make between staying or leaving, what did the song mean when it talks about a journey's eventual end? How could you send someone off carrying love, mean it and not be a martyr to self? I've always thought love and indifference equaled the polarity between presence and absence.

Now I understand better. I think "Paglisan" is a litmus test of adulthood. Listening to Cooky Chua and Lolita Carbon sing a duet of the song, I drink in every word and feel my way through each line. 
Di mo man silip ang langit/ Di mo man silip/ Ito'y nandirito pa rin. 
Sa pagbuhos ng ulan/ Sa haplos ng hangin/ Alaala mo ay nakaukit/ Sa pisngi ng langit.  
Di man umihip ang hangin/Di man umihip/ Ika'y nandirito pa rin.
Because ultimately, that thing we do- love- is an act that is of our own choosing. It's ours to give and ours to feel. However it may turn out, we're forever changed by it, as the cliches would say. How it affects the other party is really none of our business. 

That journey after is your own. I take comfort in the sentiment in the chorus- that the journey will reach its intended destination. And when you can think about that person and no longer throw imaginary darts their way, despite the hurt or how everything unraveled afterwards, when you can just say thank you, acknowledge how they have changed you, and wish them love, you may be headed towards freedom. You don't have to get there today, but one day you will. Because as with love, how we break is also of our own dealing.  

Thank you, Ms. Cooky Chua & Lolita Carbon for the gift of that night. Thank you too, Bayang Barrios, Gary Granada, & Cathy Go for making it even more stupendously awesome to the levels of papano-pa-kaya-mapapantayan-yun? 

Update: Turtle just uploaded the video she took of that night. Do give it a click: