Sunday, September 23, 2012

Up Close with the Phantom

My little girl , now a grown up at 15, had an obsession for the Phantom of the Opera. It was quite odd as that dark love story juxtaposed alongside her Teletubbies, Barbie and Barney shows. I think she pursued it with more intent than her dress up paperdolls, nursery rhymes and origami art. She had this penchant for origami too that at one point she was known in school as "that freaky origami girl". The "Phantom" however was so strongly tied to her little self that I then wished to bring her to see the musical one day. The day finally came this month. We brought her to see the musical at the Cultural Center of the Philippines and her whole being lit up. She was her seven-year-old self once again.

Here's her review:

A Little Girl’s Dream Come True

It was around two o’clock when we left our place. The sky was pale gray, with streaks of sunlight struggling past the thick clouds that covered the sky of Manila. The car moved slowly, or at least that’s how slow I thought it felt for me.

On our way, a memory came back to me. It happened about eight years ago in 2004. It was one fine afternoon, the sky was as gray as this one, the trees danced along with the wind as I sat inside our house back in Iloilo. My parents decided to watch a movie, a musical, titled, “The Phantom of the Opera.” To my then 7 year old mind, the title was as strange and intimidating as the graphics of the video case. Yet we did watch it anyway. I remember sitting silently beside my mama looking so dazed at the actors singing. For some reason, we didn’t get to finish it but since my mind grew curious after seeing the first half, I watched it alone the next day. As the movie came to an end, I remember feeling sad because it didn’t have a happy ending, however along with it came the early realization that sometimes not all beautiful things have to have beautiful endings.

Slowly, I took the DVD in my hands gripping it as I marched out of the room, stomping my feet and exclaimed to mama, “Someday I am going to revise that movie!” To my surprise, my mama just nodded and said, “You probably will, someday.” “I know I will.” I said with an assuring tone that I would someday. After that, watching the movie became my everyday habit that people in the house thought I was strange.

When we moved to Cebu, I opened my eyes to reality- there was more to life than just watching the same movie over and over again. I had to do something for a change and change meant exploring other things and interests beyond my “Phantom” addiction. As years passed, I went on with my life completely forgetting about that movie and everything related to it. Things like roses would sometimes remind me of it, yet it was never really strong enough to make me love it again. I guess it’s safe to say that I grew out of my seven – year – old self. Things like that do happen, it was normal; and for eight years my life had been normal – almost too normal that I didn’t like it.

Mama as she later told me, then said to herself that she would make me watch the real play or the theater version of the Phantom of the Opera when we would have a chance to someday. So, when news came that the touring production of the musical will perform in Manila, my mama was ecstatic! She knew I had to watch it! (Thanks for the tickets and everything Pa!) When we saw the commercial on television, Mama sprang from her seat and clapped her hands like a kid who received the largest piece of candy on a normal day. “Remember when you used to be obsessed about that when you were a kid? You would watch it every single day, looking at the TV so dazed, singing along the high notes with the lines all memorized?” she said looking at me like I was a seven – year – old little girl again.

I laughed to that distant memory in my mind. I remember singing “Angel of Music” alone in my room, looking at the mirror and wondering if the Phantom was standing there on the other side. Somehow, I felt like that little girl again; that little girl who sang Phantom songs, that little girl who had a dream.

Weeks later, after unearthing the old overplayed DVD, I found myself watching the movie again. To my surprise, I still remembered the sequence of the movie perfectly, every little detail, with the lines and lyrics memorized, from beginning to end. While watching, I recalled telling my mama that I would someday redirect the movie. That thought amused me yet amazed me at the same time because I never expected myself to be that big of a dreamer then. Most of girls my age wanted to live in palaces wearing pretty dresses and falling in love with their prince and live happily ever after, whereas I thought about revising the ending of a movie because I hated how it ended.

When the car pulled up at the back entrance of the CCP Theatre, I felt my heart skip a beat. Mama and I walked ahead inside with my feet shaking because of the three-inched snake skin pumps she lent me. My bangles rattled as I pulled my hair back, trying to look composed and calm as all the other guests. We made our way through the winding stairs, up to the floor where the gallery of the history of the production was. Costumes were set along the sides enclosed in velvet ropes. Chandeliers made out of shells hung from the ceiling gleamed under the bright golden yellow light above. As I surveyed the costumes that line up the hall, my heart beat faster. I felt nervous, because it was my first time to watch a real musical; I wasn’t sure if I would like it. But since ‘The Phantom” was my favorite, I had to keep that thought off my mind.

As my Papa motioned from across the hall to tell us it was about to start, we walked inside the theatre and took our seats. At that moment, all I had to do was wait - it was about to play.. and within moments .. the first scene. Slowly the live orchestra played as the lights started to dim. When the elaborate chandelier was raised, I had goose bumps as there it was - my glorious dream, in music and motion, coming alive. The actors sang and pranced around the stage. Their movements graceful and flawless as the theatre came alive with the music. Written by the genius Andrew Lloyd Webber, the orchestra played the songs beautifully; every note, every word was perfect. Before this, I never thought that this experience would mean so much, even more than material things to me.

I turned to mama, who smiled at me with peace and pure happiness. She held my hand and looked at me as if I were seven years old again; the same seven year old daughter who sang her the songs and who spoke the lines that echoed before us. Softly she must have said, “My little girl’s dream came true.”

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

cheers to the literati date

This is probably the nth blog post on "You should Date an Illiterate Girl by Charles Warnke but since this piece bleeds with so much passion, I just had to re post this (never mind if I am becoming an insignificant fan). Check out the full piece but here to me are the best parts:

> Date a girl who doesn’t read. .... Engage her with unsentimental trivialities. Use pick-up lines and laugh inwardly. Take her outside when the night overstays its welcome. Ignore the palpable weight of fatigue. Kiss her in the rain under the weak glow of a streetlamp because you’ve seen it in film. Remark at its lack of significance.

> Find shared interests and common ground like sushi, and folk music. Build an impenetrable bastion upon that ground. Make it sacred. Retreat into it every time the air gets stale, or the evenings get long. Talk about nothing of significance. Do little thinking.

> Let a year pass unnoticed. Begin to notice.

> Figure that you should probably get married because you will have wasted a lot of time otherwise. Take her to dinner on the forty-fifth floor at a restaurant far beyond your means. Make sure there is a beautiful view of the city. Sheepishly ask a waiter to bring her a glass of champagne with a modest ring in it. When she notices, propose to her with all of the enthusiasm and sincerity you can muster. Do not be overly concerned if you feel your heart leap through a pane of sheet glass. For that matter, do not be overly concerned if you cannot feel it at all. If there is applause, let it stagnate. If she cries, smile as if you’ve never been happier. If she doesn’t, smile all the same.
- darn, how exciting can this get?

> Let the years pass unnoticed... Fail, frequently. Lapse into a bored indifference. Lapse into an indifferent sadness. Have a mid-life crisis... Grow old. Wonder at your lack of achievement. Feel sometimes contented, but mostly vacant and ethereal.. Contract a terminal illness. Die, but only after you observe that the girl who didn’t read never made your heart oscillate with any significant passion, that no one will write the story of your lives...

> Do those things, god damnit, because nothing sucks worse than a girl who reads.

> Do it, because a girl who reads possesses a vocabulary that can describe that amorphous discontent as a life unfulfilled...A girl who reads lays claim to a vocabulary that distinguishes between the specious and soulless rhetoric of someone who cannot love her, and the inarticulate desperation of someone who loves her too much.

> A girl who reads knows that life is not planar; she knows, and rightly demands, that the ebb comes along with the flow of disappointment. A girl who has read up on her syntax senses the irregular pauses—the hesitation of breath—endemic to a lie.

> But of all things, the girl who reads knows most the ineluctable significance of an end. She is comfortable with them. She has bid farewell to a thousand heroes with only a twinge of sadness.

> Don’t date a girl who reads because girls who read are the storytellers... The girl who reads has spun out the account of her life and it is bursting with meaning. She insists that her narratives are rich, her supporting cast colorful, and her typeface bold. You, the girl who reads, make me want to be everything that I am not. But I am weak and I will fail you, because you have dreamed, properly, of someone who is better than I am. You will not accept the life that I told of at the beginning of this piece. You will accept nothing less than passion, and perfection, and a life worthy of being storied.

> So out with you, girl who reads. Take the next southbound train and take your Hemingway with you. I hate you. I really, really, really hate you.

To all the Mr. Warnkes out there, go forth, end feigning that masochism (it isn't funny fooling yourself let alone telling the girl you actually love that you hate her), chase that train and escape to dreamland with the girl who reads. Perhaps become what you are not or morph to be the better version of yourself. If you can, build a new 'you' graciously with her... for there is nothing more splendid than a life worthy of being storied.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Does it matter to matter?

It does; thus this repost from the famed writer and blogger
Seth Godin

You matter
• When you love the work you do and the people you do it with, you matter.
• When you are so gracious and generous and aware that you think of other people before yourself, you matter.
• When you leave the world a better place than you found it, you matter.
• When you continue to raise the bar on what you do and how you do it, you matter.
• When you teach and forgive and teach more before you rush to judge and demean, you matter.
• When you touch the people in your life through your actions (and your words), you matter.
• When kids grow up wanting to be you, you matter.
• When you see the world as it is, but insist on making it more like it could be, you matter.
• When you inspire a Nobel prize winner or a slum dweller, you matter.
• When the room brightens when you walk in, you matter.
• And when the legacy you leave behind lasts for hours, days or a lifetime, you matter.

Indeed, there isn’t any act too small to matter; a speck of goodness in the littlest gesture can make a difference.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Loving Twilight amid the Hoopla, Teenage Emo and all

By now almost everyone may have read and known about Twilight from your girlfriends, sisters, wives, teenage daughters, high school-ish office colleagues, etc; you know, the one helluva vampire – mortal smashing love story of Edward and Bella which has created a lot of stir it has gone so mainstream that even kids know about it.

Twilight, how ever it is regarded in the literary world became so famed and celebrated to merit nice and not so nice reviews. The not so nice ones were more interesting as they border on being agonizingly amusing. These are just a few I’ve come across (some have been edited and restated to emphasize the intended pun):

Twilight is what happens if a Harlequin Romance was mashed with the Flowers in the Attic series - the flowery prose, the countless, breathless descriptions of Edward’s teeth; Meyer seemingly pours out adjectives like a bartender who forgot to put the regulator on the vodka bottle.

 The incessant Edward-swooning, increasing exponentially with every page/series, is so hateful. How many times can we read about how Edward literally makes Bella swoon?

 The bar on guys or boyfriends is set higher than expected. It’s bad enough that girls expect their guys to be romantics, now they’re expected NOT to sleep, play the piano well, compose lullabies for them, buy them a luxury car (WHUT??) and profess undying (LITERALLY!) love for them.

 When you get past the overwrought prose, Edward is nothing more than a moody teenage boy (OK, an almost hundred year old teenage boy, that is) with a chip on his shoulder and a good set of fangs, and Bella is nothing more than an angst-driven girl with a soul searing crush on a boy from the wrong side of the tracks.

 Twilight is, when you break it down, an emo song told in prose. Can’t you hear it? “The Tale of Bella and Edward,” an acoustic number sung by a guy in thick glasses and an ironic t-shirt. It would make the charts, yes, but would remain devoid of substance and heart.

Sans substance? Maybe.

But splendid in spite of? Certainly!

The author, Stephenie Meyer, in fairness to her, really made vampires look godly, beautiful and interesting. I mean, who doesn’t want to look dazzling, be superfast and superstrong, hear people's thoughts, live yet not sleep, or age or even breathe. And this Edward Cullen, when exposed to the sun, does not burn - he glitters! Also, here’s the punch - the Cullen coven aren’t conventional vampires as they have renounced human blood on moral grounds. Now, how awesome can vampires get?

But really, for grownups like us, Twilight is just the kind of stuff that makes young adult fiction interesting to read. It’s funny to realize how adolescents intertwine melodrama and realism, get so angst-consumed, and never get past gasping and swooning. Revisiting teenage emo can make one cringe in retrospect but hey, everyone gets through “that” stage, remember?

For the women literati out there, whether you can only devour books by Pulitzer Prize winning authors such as Jhumpa Lahiri or Frank Mc Court or belong to the downrightly hedonistic set who raves on chick lit by Plum Sykes or Sophie Kinsella, Twilight is something women of all ages can appreciate and enjoy. It’s worth curling up to on a balmy evening, iced coffee in hand as it can evoke a variety of emotions – thrilled when you read about the edgy curiousness of adolescent first loves and pensive the next as you get to the morose feel of Edward and Bella’s forbidden affection for each other.

And guys, if you happen to read Twilight out of plain curiosity or earn the love of a woman, realize that the bar has been set and it has been set very high you will wish you weren’t mortal at all. Just hope that the girl you are wooing isn’t a Twilight fan, this way you can remain to be a regular dude, that is, have warm skin and a natural blush on your cheeks and importantly, maintain a diet of normal food (and not wild animals!). But seriously, Twilight aside, your woman should be able to love you just the way you are even if you don’t have the ability to dazzle people – in your own little way, just dazzle her at least.

For Twilight fans, as the movie premiere draws near, it’s exciting to see words written in pages move and ogle at the characters in the flesh, err, almost.

So what else did I gain out of this liking for Twilight? A fondness for Muse (check out Time is Running Out, Butterflies and Hurricanes and their version of Can’t take my Eyes Off You), good and highly sensible set of friends and a Twilight tee.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

have scrubs, will write

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly.

Specialization is for insects."

The quote above by sci-fi author Robert A. Heinlein was one I bumped into as I reviewed my friend’s facebook profile. Heinlein’s stimulating aphorism evoking human beings possessing some seemingly dichotomous competencies as writing sonnets and balancing accounts or changing diapers and butchering hogs seem to coincide with this contemporary penchant for the multi-skilled and multi – talented individuals. Today, humans acquire more capabilities and pursue a variety of interests than ever as the more hats an individual wears, the more noteworthy he/she becomes. Gerard Butler, for instance - a lawyer and a hunk of an actor has singing abilities which wasn't bad at all; or Khaled Hosseini - that bestselling author, incidentally, is a medical doctor by profession. The rise of the super men and women will certainly persist. Can we then embrace and mystify multi-tasking rather than quell it?

Dr. Hosseini must have remarked “have scrubs, will write” and write he did with his scrubs on.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A rendezvouz with exotic Badian Island

Scouting for a beach venue for a company activity, we hied off to Badian Island Resort over the weekend. After a smooth 2-hour drive from the city, we were eager to experience that patch of paradise reputed for its dive site and spa retreat. The splendid island hideaway made it to the list of 10 Best Diving Resorts worldwide in 2006. Our fleeting encounter was captivating enough; the mystic island took our breaths away that day.

Welcoming us on the pier, the genuine smile of the Badian staff spoke of a promise to provide guests with a delightful escape from the rash city life. And indeed as sun shone madly, the sand gently glistened as we walked barefoot passing through beach huts carefully lined on the shore. While we trekked silently on the way up the breezy suites and cabanas, local flowers abound provided splashes of color complementing the rich green foliage amid the lazy blue sky. The sea seemed to beacon perpetually from the hill making the panorama even more eye-catching. I fell in love with the serene tropical atmosphere. Only the occasional rustle of leaves roused my pensive mood.

Our Badian visit was heightened by the gentility of its hosts Hartwig Scholz and Maria Catral. Maria who I learned is an Ilocana, is an epitome of a remarkable Filipina – her subdued elegance is truly admirable.

Badian, I am looking forward to the day you will claim me again...

A quiet, rustic paradise

A jacuzzi and tub fit for the weary soul

A postcard view of the outdoors from the room

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The night I Stubled Upon

I just discovered a new way to explore sites of my interest thru Stumble Upon – it was so great that I enjoyed wandering the World Wide Web and bumping into sites I like. In a way, it will help me uphold this blog’s purpose to log my wanderings in the web, among others... The images for instance awakened my artist wannabe persona, the library resources were oh so exciting ( I hope I will adapt a patience to read e-books this time), and the snippets of tech materials made me felt big (at least from a tech newbie's perspective) . In my web adventures, Stumble Upon will surely make a good company.

These are some great sites I’m glad I stumbled upon:


Photoshop Tips and Tricks

Artwork of Katerine Dinger

Kenneth Parker Photographs