A Simple Touch of Welcome

Elephant origami from Haneda Airport’s tourist information center

Over my last couple of visits to Japan, I’ve started to notice and appreciate more of these  little welcome gifts in the form of origami. I got them when checking in on hotels, or even just dropping by tourist information centers, or entering museums.

Elephant origami from Haneda Airport’s tourist information center
Elephant origami from Haneda Airport’s tourist information center

Origami is the Japanese art of paper folding. I remember doing this in a summer camp ages ago, but I didn’t get it back then as to what the fuss was about. Now that I’ve rekindled my interest in art and embraced simpler things in life, I am amazed at how colorful papers are tucked together to form these heartwarming souvenirs. Origami is a great productive activity for workshops – applicable for audiences of all ages. I had a smile on myself as I watched some of the ladies at the reception of Matsumoto Museum happily folding away – all the while focused in perfecting their craft. I’d like to think origami is not just an art in itself, but a good way to meditate and focus.

Fan origami that I got from the Matsumoto museum
Fan origami that I got from the Matsumoto museum

Because of rediscovering the beauty of origami, I excitedly bought origami papers of various colors from Daiso, and looked up tutorials in the net. Here’s a helpful website that I came across that provides step by step procedures on origami folding.

Crane origami on our kimono, a welcome gift from our hotel in Nagoya
Crane origami on our kimono, a welcome gift from our hotel in Nagoya

Have you tried origami? If you were to demonstrate origami right now, what project can you do from memory? I have yet to find mine – I will start with flowers.

Origami I got as a token from the Matsumoto Timepiece Museum
Origami I got as a token from the Matsumoto Timepiece Museum

 

Street Art Hunting: Mabuhay Manila

Mural

“It’s in your hands to make the world a better place.” Nelson Mandela

Mural

My hands are my tools to plant seeds, soothe one’s pain, encourage or appreciate through a simple pat, build, mold, communicate through writing or painting, save lives, and convey love and care through touch.

What do you consider as the most powerful things you have done with your hands?

The mural is called Mabuhay Manila by Bunnie Reiss. You can find this at the 7th Avenue, near the BGC High Street in Taguig, Metro Manila. 

 

A Potted Potter Experience

Potted Potter

Because I’m in the mood for rekindling my love for acting, I’ve booked tickets to plays and movies for the next couple of months.

First on my list is Potted Potter, The Unauthorized Harry Experience, A Parody by Dan and Jeff. This was written and created by Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner. I’m lucky I was able to see the ad for this show – see, I’ve already missed it thrice before, when it showed in 2012, 2013 and again in 2014. This year, the show returned to Manila, back by “magical” demand. The catch is there was only 9 shows, as they ran from only from March 20 to 24. I knew it would get sold out quickly, so when I saw some slots open for last Friday, I grabbed one right away.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I came in the hopes of being entertained. It was a parody, after all. When I saw the playbill, I was pretty surprised that there was only a pair of actors as cast. I wondered how they could pull it off.

A few minutes before five, both performers came on stage. They were James Percy and Delme Thomas. Delme started walking around the theater, shaking hands with the guests. Soon enough he gamely posed for selfies. The folks who were able to book tickets at Level 1 were lucky.

When the clock struck five, the show started. In a nutshell, both actors summarized the seven Harry Potter books in 70 minutes: playing all the main characters (and having several costume changes in between), showcasing essential props, a “fire-breathing dragon”, songs, and an “actual” Quidditch game. Amazing how both actors were able to remember their lines and deliver them in such a natural way – they connected! And they were also able to do some improv along the way. The show was hilarious, and I had several good (and loud) belly laughs.

Overall it was an enjoyable 70 plus minutes’ whirlwind of nostalgia and laughter. Well done to the production team, James and Del. If Daniel Clarkson ever writes a a parody for Game of Throne (Potted Thrones, perhaps?) – I’d definitely line up for that!

An Attempt at Acting

I’ve been meaning to get back into acting workshops, but since I have just started work I’m still in the “settling in” phase. The first time I took a class was summer of 2018, and it was quite an interesting experience. I came to appreciate that acting entails a lot of preparation – from knowing your lines and being able to use them in different tones and ways, depending on the direction for that scene, to most importantly being able to establish a connection with the fellow actors. This is done through listening. At first I thought, listening meant being able to catch up on the script and knowing when my lines come in. But my acting mentors called me out on that wrong notion. When I did that, it showed I was waiting, and that I was just saying my lines – the connection wasn’t there at all. I wasn’t in the moment. I realized I had to listen to what, and how, my co-actor was saying, or not saying for that matter. When I listened, the subtle body language and nuances followed naturally.

Another thing that I learned from class was that there was no room for being conscious as to how one would look on camera – I had to, in a sense, let go.

There were times when, after a certain dialogue I’d be emotionally drained – and then we had to repeat that for a couple more times, and I remember I had a migraine after that scene because of the repeated rush of emotions. But no pain, no gain, right? I was glad to have gone through that exercise.

Another perk that I had from my acting workshops was being able to establish friendships with people who I shared the same passion with. It’s cool that the appreciation for this form of art comes from different ages and personality types.

So, my plan for this year is to enroll in theater acting workshops. I bet it’s gonna be a different ball game, but I’m up for the experience and the learnings. And while I wait for the sessions to start, I’ve lined up some plays and shows that I will watch.

First on my list: Potted Potter this March. Watch out for my review of this show!

Korean Art

Minhwa

Late last year I took up an awesome Korean art class called Minhwa. It was a a series of calm, and almost therapeutic, Saturday afternoons when I would go to the Korean Cultural Center of the Philippines in Taguig City to work on my ‘masterpiece’: a colorful portrait of peonies.

My work had been completed and it now hangs on the school’s lobby, along with my classmates’ beautiful pieces. It will be on display until the school relocates to their new building.

Picture of Peony, Mo Ran Do, uses peonies which are regarded as symbols of wealth and prosperity. In the oriental society, peonies are known as the king of the flowers. These paintings are usually displayed in wedding ceremonies.Minhwa

Pictures of Lotus, Yoen-hwa-do, shows both the flower and the seed. It is believed that the lotus flower shows the creation of life, and the seed denotes being gifted with many children. Minhwa

Ten symbols of longevity, Sib-jang-sang-do, are believed to protect one from disease and lengthen life. The ten symbols include four unchangeable beings or things – the sun, the moon, mountains and clouds; three animals – crane, deer and turtle; a youngji mushroom that translates to youth; bamboo that symbolizes integrity; and peach, which is a longevity fruit. MinhwaMinhwa

PaintingsIf you’re around BGC, check out these art works on display at the Korean Cultural Center of the Philippines. For now they are located at the 2nd floor of Mancor Corporate Center at the 32nd St.

Street Art Hunting: Unsung Heroes

Magsasaka

Magsasaka

Years ago I left the corporate world to practice what I learned in the University. I took a project with the government and conducted market studies for three farmer group proponents, finding out what sustainable crops they could focus on. I was able to spend time with farmer groups of Real, Quezon; Negros Occidental, and Misamis Oriental. It was a truly enriching experience as I got immersed in community of farmers. In Real, at the time, there was no electricity in the farming village and we used gaseras at night. I sat with the farmers as they talked around a bonfire sharing stories of their lives. There was no radio, and I was lulled to sleep later on by the sound of the seawaves. That was why a few years later when the province of Real was hit by a typhoon my heart ached for the farmers who were mourning the loss of their crops – they worked half the year toiling the earth and in an instant the hardwork was literally washed away by the fury of mother nature.

The mural above, Magsasaka is made by Archie Oclos and Aleili Ariola. It’s found next to Burgos Eats along Rizal Drive in Bonifacio Global City. A tribute to the unsung heroes, the magsasaka (in English, farmers), who tirelessly work the fields, rain or shine, to provide rice – the Filipino staple food.

Thus this artwork resonates to me so much and whenever I see it I am reminded to honor the Filipino farmers who work with passion and perseverance, everyday.

Street Art Hunting: Pangako

“I’m not going to swear an oath I can’t uphold. When enough people make false promises, words stop meaning anything. Then there are no more answers, only better and better lies.” – Jon Snow, Game of Thrones

I just had to put that quote out there. Because, Game of Thrones. It’s just around the corner. And I. Can. Hardly. Wait.

And then in May comes the Philippines Elections. I’m not even gonna delve on that topic. All I can say is We deserve who we elect.

But back to Jon Snow’s quoteand putting it into context: Have you ever made any promises that you had no intention to keep to begin with?

I know it’s just words, but for every promise I have made there had always been a pure intention to see through it. And when things don’t always turn out as planned, for example, ending a relationship that just won’t work, there are several emotions that occur afterwards: sadness, anger, guilt, regret.

img_3798

Pangako is a mural by Anjo Bolarda. In English, it translates to promise. It can be found at the side parking of Bonifacio High Street’s B3.

Street Art Hunting: Where the Heart Is

The Way Home

The Way HomeThe Way Home is a composed of 3 murals, depicting its creator Solana L. Perez’s homesickness. They can be found at the One Parkade at BGC.

What comes to mind when you think of home?

I could take it literally and choose which dormitory, house, or apartment made an impact to my memory from the time I moved out of my folks’ to go to college, until I married and settled into a house of my own, with D and the boys. Or I could take this question metaphorically and think of what, where, and when I find peace and happiness most. I’d go for the latter – when I am true to myself and accept the people around me.

Right here, and now, as I write this: I am home.

 

 

Street Art Hunting: Courtship

Tagpuan

Tagpuan

This beautiful mural by John Paul Antido is called Dating Tagpuan. In English it translates to the old meeting place. Very artistically done, where the painting was done on two joint walls. It’s located near the side street of BGC Central. I like passing through this street when I take the long route home just so I can see this art work.

Oh, the age of innocence! Sometimes I’d bring my thoughts back to the days of my youth, when the world seemed bigger and everything was simpler.

But way back in the olden days, the concept of ‘courtship’ was observed. Men would formally visit a woman’s home and bring gifts, usually for both the women they are courting and the women’s parents. They would make their intentions of courtship known, and they would patiently wait until they get the woman’s “matamis na oo” (in English: sweet yes). I believe this practice originated from the time the Philippines was colonized by Spain.

I had my fair share of this back when I was in the university – I also experienced my own harana (serenade) though it was more of a thing the guys did for for fun really. They jammed and sang Eraserheads songs outside the dorm window.

For me, personally, I cringed at the thought of courtship. I mean, it’s so formal and one way, I’d  just say no outright to save the guy his time and effort. More than a couple of times I found ways to dodge guys who would ask if they can go to the house to court.

Anyway, I digress.

Whenever I see this mural I would hum to Kanlunganan old song that my friends  and I strummed the guitar to back in the university. Its lyrics go like this:

Natatandaan mo pa ba nung tayong dalawa ay unang nagkita,

 Panahon ng kamusmusan sa piling ng mga bulaklak at halaman

Doon tayo nagsimulang mangarap at tumula.

In English: Do you still remember when first we met, we were young.

Amidst flowers and trees, that’s where we started to dream and write poetry.

Have you ever courted anyone, or been the one at the receiving end? How was it and how did it turn out? Would you prefer for this Filipino tradition to be revived?

Street Art Hunting: Bear With Me

Art
Art
Artwork by Nate Frizzell

Welcome to the first part of my Hunt for Street Art in the Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig City, Philippines.

Many would consider BGC as the new Makati. It’s a fast developing CBD, with new high rise buildings popping up before I could even familiarize myself with my surroundings. Last December I moved into my new office here, hence I had more time after hours to explore what the place has to offer. As an appreciator of art, BGC proved to be a feast to my eyes. One of the first art works that captured my eye is this painting by Nate Frizzell. It’s called We Are What We Pretend To Be, and here are the thoughts that came into my mind as I looked at it.

No Dramas, they say, but just you wait…

Nonchalance, when deep inside bubbles of anxiety are brewing…

Fearless, because there’s really nothing left to lose…

Stoic, after hardening one’s heart from all the hurt and pain…

Boisterous laughter, and if you look closer there’s no joy in the eyes…

I’m ok, LOL, why do you ask, it was not about me, don’t you worry. Life’s a blast.

 

 

 

 

30 Day Song Challenge

Musicians

Took me a while to get into the challenge – I couldn’t find who started it. Came across the posts by Fandango and bereavedandbeingasingleparent and was enticed to also join in on the challenge.

To the one who started this challenge, thank you so much! I used to love singing, but eventually settled to just appreciating music. Here’s my take on the 30-Day Song Challenge, covering Days 1 to 15.

Challenge
30 Day Song Challenge

Day 1: A song you like with a color in the title – Not really a color, but THE color. Lauren Christy’s The Color of the Night.

Day 2: A song with a number in the title – reminds me of college days, when Leo was such a big heartthrob! This is from the soundtrack of Romeo + Juliet: #1 Crush by Garbage.

Day 3: A song that reminds you of summer time – yet another song from one of Leo’s movies, The Beach. This one’s from All Saints, called Pure Shores. When I was in El Nido, I was humming to this song when we were at Duli Beach.

Day 4: A song that reminds you of someone you’d rather forget – I don’t want to delve on explaining this LOL

Day 5: A song that needs to be played loud – Muse’s Starlight. Thank you.

Day 6: A song that makes you want to dance – Larusso’s On ne s’aimera plus jamais

Day 7: A song to drive to – D first heard this when he was en route to The Great Ocean Road when he visited me in Melbourne years ago. I like it too!

Day 8: A song about drugs or alcohol – this one’s a Filipino song by one of the most prominent bands The Eraserheads. It’s called Spolarium. The chorus, when translated to English, says something like: and now we still don’t know why we’re here, can you please stop the world from spinning around.

Day 9: A song that makes you happy – before my first ever visit to Paris, I played this song again and again. Aux Champs Elysees. Now whenever I hear it it brings good memories.

Day 10: A song that makes you sad – I’ll Never Love Again by Lady Gaga, from the soundtrack of A Star is Born. This is the part of the film when I bawled my eyes out.

Day 11: A song you never get tired of – speaking of A Star is Born, Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga’s Shallow is one of the songs I just don’t get tired of. Argh I’m still having goosebumps listening to it now.

Day 12: A song from your preteen years – Madonna’s Like A Prayer, released in 1989 when I was still in grade school.

Day 13: A song you like from the 70’s – Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, released in 1973.

Day 14: A song you’d love to be played at your wedding – done that more than a decade ago. If D and I were to do it again, I’d include this in the list of songs. Louis Armstrong’s La Vie en Rose.

Day 15: A song you like that’s a cover by another artist – in the spirit of Christmas, I’d say The Twelve Days of Christmas by Disney. My particular favorite is all of Donald Duck’s lines.

Cine Europa 2018

Cine Europa

Last Thursday I took a packed MRT and commuted all the way to the heart of Edsa to participate in the Cine Europa 21. A series of European films were lined up for showing at The Red Carpet at Edsa Shangri-La. I intended to go on a Thursday to skip the madness of the weekend crowd.

I got there a little past 4pm and made it to the next show which featured short films from Austria namely “Mathias”, “Fuddy Duddy” and “Wannabe”. Cine Europa

Mathias (2017) is a story of a transgender who was transitioning – to a job and at the same time on relationships.

Fuddy Duddy (2016) ran for around six minutes only. It was more of an abstract film showcasing black and white shapes and effects, using pulsating sounds resembling a plane taking off. It was mesmerizing and at times I had to look around to see how the audience was taking it in because it was quite unique. I felt I was going to dream about it – I was thinking am I being hypnotized?

The last short film was Wannabe (2017) which was about a young woman who was struggling to make it big in YouTube, modeling, and film. It reminded me of the different faces seen in social media, where some people sadly pretend all’s great…

Glad I had the chance to see some films in this year’s Cine Europa. I look forward to seeing more in the years to come.

The Cine Europa runs from December 6 to 16, 2018. Entrance is free on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Learning Minhwa

Minhwa

I’ve been honing in on my art skills, and I’m keen learning any medium that I can. Earlier this year I’ve participated in an acting workshop, attended basic drawing and oil pastel class, did a bit of coffee painting, practiced water color and acrylic painting, and most recently I’ve enrolled in a semester of Minhwa classes. Minhwa is a traditional Korean art using painting as a medium. My teacher, Teacher Yoon, said during our orientation that Minhwa was art done by the common people, when they expressed thoughts and depicted everyday life through painting. Usually the subject is an animal or flowers. They use vivid colors when painting.

My first Minhwa painting
First finished work

The class that I am attending is held at the Korean Cultural Center of the Philippines in Bonifacio Global City at Taguig. For 12 Saturdays I would go to class and paint for 3 hours. I always look forward going to class because I quite enjoy mixing colors, deep breathing while painting, and listening to the different genres of music that Teacher Yoon plays. I have fun focusing on my work and I would barely notice the time when I start painting.

My Minhwa
My Minhwa painting – still a work in progress

Because I am a beginner, I was given flowers as subjects of my paintings. My other classmates who are more seasoned animals and landscapes as their subjects. We use hanji (Korean paper) and a mixture of Korean oriental painting colors. The paint is similar to acrylic when it comes to its vibrance, and its texture is similar to water colour. I would do two layers of paint to make the colors pop out more. Like water colour, I would let the first layer dry first before I apply the second layer. The paper is thin and absorbs water quickly. It also takes just a few minutes to dry. Teacher Yoon created the wood frame for both of my paintings.PaintBrushes

Overall I find the class worth my time, and I look forward to enrolling to other semesters so I can do more paintings. There is another class being done in the Korean Cultural Center of the Philippines and it’s called Mooninhwa. I’ll try to find out what the difference is and see if I can also enrol to that class next semester.

About Kazuo Ohno by Takao Kawaguchi

Takao Kawaguchi

There’s something about Japanese arts that fascinate me, so I grab all the opportunity that I can to be able to learn more about them. I’ve been closely following the Facebook page of The Japan Foundation, Manila, because they are one of the organizations that provide the opportunity for keen learners like me to get to know the Japan culture and arts more. Some of their events that I participated in are the Japanese Film Festival and The Spirit of Budo Exhibit.

Until a couple of nights ago, I have never heard of Butoh. I quickly read through the internet and found that it was a theatre-type dance that defied Japan’s modern dance scene. It was originally referred to as Ankoku Butoh which means ‘the dance of utter darkness’. Butoh was founded by Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno in the 1950’s, post the World War. Kazuo Ohno, whose Butoh was perceived as powerful and at the same time ambiguous, performed until he was more than 100 years old. He died in 2010 at the age of 103.

Takao Kawaguchi, who had never watched Kazuo Ohno perform live, studied every movement through watching Ohno’s video taped performances. Early this week, I watched Takao Kawaguchi’s performance entitled About Kazuo Ohno at the Power Mac Theatre in Circuit, Makati City. The 1SA event, a Solo Arts Platform, is being held from October 20 to 28, 2018. This is a joint effort of The Japan Foundation, Manila; Fringe Manila; and, the National Commission for Culture and Arts.

The performance kicked off at the second floor lobby of the theater, where Takao Kawaguchi did movements using props like a ladder, hose, rags, tattered clothes. He led the audience to the third floor towards the theater. The guests were then greeted by the ushers and were advised that the solo performance was 110 minutes long, and there would be no intermission. Cameras and mobile phones were not allowed to be used inside the theater.

Takao Kawaguchi danced several notable performances of Kazuo Ohno – like Admiring La Argentina (1977); My Mother (1981); and Dead Sea, Ghost, Wienerwaltz (1985). In between the dances he would be changing clothes in front of the audience at the left side of the stage. The one dance that stood out for me was The Dead Sea. There was a time I felt like tearing up, watching Takao’s minute movements and expressions. While he danced I wondered if Butoh was very complicated to master because aside from having no beat to follow, I observed every muscle of Takao was flexed all throughout the performance.

After the performance, there was a Q&A and Takao was asked if he considered himself a Butoh artist. He said that his intention was to copy Kazuo Ohno’s movements exactly and perfectly. He does not consider himself a Butoh artist, rather, he sees himself as a performer or as a dancer. What was going through his mind while he was performing was how and when the commands of each movement should be executed. He leaves it to the audience to interpret the movements. Whether the audience sees what he does as Butoh or not, he is fine either way. For Takao Kawaguchi, Butoh denies to be called something – it rejects definitions.

Overall I found Butoh to be surreal, intriguing and interesting. I’d like to watch more performances like this. I’m grateful to be given the chance.