-a sour soup. a distinct Filipino comfort food for the soul. as unique as its people. as diverse as its culture. a blend of ingredients prepared to its sour perfection, exciting the palate, soothing the nerves, rousing the senses, bringing back memories of scenic greens, warm sun, blue waters, and the solace of home.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Interested in Finding Out When You're Going to Die?


ince it is All Hallows Eve, I get to talk morbid! I'm sharing an interesting web find. Click on the DeathClock.com. "It's the internet's friendly reminder that life is slipping away," says the website. All you need to do is enter basic information such as date of birth, sex, BMI (Body Mass index- you can look it up from there.) and habits on smoking and your view in life (pessimist, optimist, sadist or normal?!); voila, it tells you the exact date when you are going to die!

Except that, you won't actually believe on it yet it IS fun to do! It is not meant to be taken seriously because whether you are a believer or not in the supreme being, nobody can predict exactly one's death. Only time can tell and it's not going to reveal itself until, yeah- it's time.

I found the website dark and twisted and morbid but all in a good way. It is inventive for what it offers. So what if it's all bulls**t as others see it? It still draws people to try. It takes a creative mind to come up with one! Curiosity sometimes doesn't kill, it drives traffic! This site's been around like forever... it will perhaps outlast us all! I'm putting my EDD (Estimated Date of Death) for posterity sake: 4 may 2053... Check out yours and don't forget to invite me on your funeral! I'll see you in mine (evil smile)...©

Saturday, October 27, 2007


SERENDIPITY IS AMONG MY FAVORITE WORDS! They're high sounding and pleasing to the ear. I like how your lips touch when you say seren-DIP-ity and put a stress on the -ity. The very word sounds active, alive and expressive! It's meaning is even better. Dictionary says, it is the faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident; an instance of making such a discovery; good luck in making unexpected and fortunate discoveries.

I feel blessed for all my serendipities. My chanced unexpected meetings and discoveries of people and places in my life. In the internet alone, I've met some interesting, real nice people. I've gained new friends through this blog. Without it (the blog) I wouldn't have known them! You get a letter, a note, a comment every so often and it just makes your day! Finding yourself in a crowded place and seeing a warm smile across the room then that's enough to start a conversation. Being in a place totally new to you and discovering how it would turn out to be one of the best places you've ever been. Serendipity!

But one of my greatest discoveries is rediscovering my friend from way back--in grade school! She was my classmate from kindergarten to sixth grade. We were close on those amazon years- a time when you didn't need expensive toys to play. Simple thrills were enough to make your adrenalines pumping. No computer or video games, no gadgets, no funky game boards. She was my playmate in tumba-lata or tumbang preso (hitting a used empty can using one's flipflops or a flat stone), piko (hop- scotch; step-no kind of game), shatong (a game of 2 sticks where you hit the shorter stick placed on a shallow hole with the longer stick), bagoong-ngay (anybody remember how this is played? for the life of me i can't remember anymore!), patintero (two teams divided where one team runs and the other team tags), taguan (hide and seek), bulan-bulan (running around inside a big circle until the player outside of that circle tags one on the inside), step-no, chinese garter (a long garter or set of tied rubber bands stretched out and one jumps on it and the level of the garter gets higher each jump), chinese jackstone (one bounces a ball while picking up 10 triangular-thingy one by one, played with a lot of variations and techniques) and whatever other silly names we call our games then. (I wonder if kids today still play and call it that! OR do they even know these games?! I grew up with these games and loved it!).

We played at the end of each school day with other classmates. We were part of the dance troop. We were both girl scouts. We had snacks and lunches together with other friends. Our last names being close, we always sat in proximity as we were arranged alphabetically
in class. We shared assignments and perhaps at some points, shared answers in quizzes! We were on the same group in 'cleaner's day'. She went to my birthday parties, I went to hers. We had petty quarrels when we wouldn't talk to each other for days but then we always made up.

Despite the closeness, we just lost contact after graduation in sixth grade. She remained in our alma mater to finish high school and college while I went to Manila and Davao for my schooling. So our lives went on. All those years counting '86, we never saw each other. Our grade school friendship buried deep in our memories.

As fate would have it, our paths crossed again in 1999. I met her for the first time in our hometown General Santos (Gensan), after 13 years. The meeting was casual, very odd for two people who considered themselves great buddies in elementary school. After my stint working for a Japanese publication in Tokyo and Manila, I was back in my homestead on a respite. Of all the places to meet, I met her at an internet shop I frequent. As it turned out, she was friends with the owner. AND she lived literally 3 houses away from where the shop was! I was totally clueless! How could have I forgotten the street I used to go to a lot in grade school?!

...She is my alter ego, my partner in crime, my shock absorber, my "twin" sister, my adviser, my alarm clock, my handkerchief when I cry, my 'resting place',one of my sinigangs!

The time she walked in the shop, I was so wrapped up in front of the computer that I was just oblivious of my surrounding. She saw me first. She could have tapped my shoulder or called my name- my full name at that or both! Goodness, gracious! That made me jump off my seat, nobody calls me by my full name in public! It has to be someone from my past calling me! And there she stood, eagerly excited and obviously happy to ran into me. And there I was, mumbling some impersonal hi's and hello's. Going from glancing to her and glued back in front of the monitor (hey, I was minding my Php75.00/hour internet rate!) She was doing all the talking in her all too perfect tagalog which struck me because everyone else speaks visayan there or tagalog- the visayan way (it is a tagalog spoken dialect with a lot of visayan interjections or vice versa. Gets?) She candidly gave me her contact info and I said thanks. Then she asks for my number and I quipped in the vernacular- "oh, it's listed in the directory- go find it yourself." That changed her facial expression from happy to somewhat disgusted! Hey! I told you I was focused on the computer! So she left. I continued on with my surfing like nothing happened.

A week later, my computer broke down and I figured it was time for an upgrade so I can have my own internet connections at home as well. I was going over the telephone directory on where to bring my CPU. Aha! I remembered. She manages a computer shop! Perfect! I contacted her and she was almost giving me a hard time, meeting terms with my unit and all. She was getting even! Which serves me right anyway, after how I treated her at the internet shop. If I was her, I wouldn't be entertaining me at all as a customer. Nonetheless, she was gonna make a sale so we met half way. That was the start of a renewed friendship.

The continuous security threats in the city at that time forced a lot of establishments to close down. Her shop included. I invited her to work with me on my family's food business as I decided to stay in General Santos for a little bit longer. She joined the team! We moved on to open our very own business project in 2001. A restobar at the heart of Gensan. The business was flourishing and so was our friendship. We were inseperable since. I found my way into the United States in 2004. She is left back home taking care of our small business. Even at 13,000 miles- we text message, chat, talk over the phone and write emails. Stronger than ever. Our business, with God's blessings, is as solid as our friendship and celebrating its 6th year!

She is my alter ego, my partner in crime, sometimes playing 'devil's advocate' but most times my angel in disguise. She taught me a lot in life. I have only theories, she teaches me life. She's my sparring partner, my shock absorber, my psychotherapist, my business partner, my "twin" sister, my adviser, my alarm clock, my handkerchief when I cry, my 'resting place', one of my sinigangs! my stress-reliever, my stress-inducer, my textmate, my IM buddy, my comfort shoes... the list goes on. Bottomline is, she epitomizes all my favorites in life. It sounds cliche but it's hard to imagine my life withour her in it.

This is a tribute to Jaz, a friend whom I love so very dearly. Happy birthday old friend. From little ol' me... ©

note: photos lifted from notre dame of dadiangas for girls yearbook, class of 1980.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

"As You Sow so Shall You Reap"


The Eavesdrop Writer is Vienne and her blog transforms overheard conversations from just about anywhere into remarkable short stories. Read the character(s) come alive! Feel the character. Be the charcter. What you are about to read is part of her developmental project where each week, she posts a conversation- overheard of course, and invites readers to partake in finishing the story. Anything goes. You make your own ending. This is mine.

To read the beginning of the story, click on the above button and when done, read how I end it.

His hand is shaking as he is writing. By this time, the squatter's face turns red in anger. I recognize from the way his shoulder is moving up and down that he is breathing too fast. He may be hyperventilating from stress. His intense eyes meet mine. He looks troubled every passing moment. Something is wrong. I instantly grab a handy paper bag from the glove compartment, step out of my car and approach the squatter.

Me: Hey, Are you okay? I saw the whole thing.
Squatter: I... I don't... feel... too... good.
Me: You seem in distress. Please breathe out of this bag and...

The squatter faints. I call 911! Next thing I know, paramedics gets him into the ambulance truck. As I walk back heavily towards my car, I see the piece of paper on the concrete road. I pick it up, glance at it and put it on my side pocket. I drive past the Hummer and suddenly there seem to be parking space all around.

The next day, I hand the package of material to my professor. He engages me in a conversation and oddly mentions a freak accident that happened earlier he said in the parking lot campus right where the copy center is. He said the driver of a truck is badly hurt and the police couldn't identify him just yet but they have his license plate number. The number is released to the media. I probe further. I reach for my side pocket, the same jacket I wore yesterday. I read the license number from the paper; it matches that of the Hummer guy's license plate number.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Unrequited Love


"Hi. Kath? This is Jason. Jason Angeles." Total Silence.

"Are you there? Please don't hang-up."

"Yes, I am here."

"Ok. Sorry... ummmm, long time huh?!"

"Yes." Dead silence.

"I see. Ok, let me pull myself together here. Wow, I'm suddenly lost for words. It seems that after all these years, you're still cold to me. Are you still mad? I mean, hey. How do you do it? I just wonder. How you can sleep at night while I can't? How you can go on with your life as if I never existed while I live with your memory everyday? How you can resist writing back to every letter I sent trying to fix the mess I did while I cry myself each night wishing I didn't do what I did six years ago?"

"Six long years Kath. Add 3 years of wonderful friendship. You've been here with me for nine years. I see you in everything. There's nothing I can do. I'm sorry. I'm sounding desperate here. There is something you can do for me though. If you'll only help me end the misery and pain now- I'll let you be and maybe I'll have my peace and I can then go on with my life the way you can..."

"What do you want me to say?"

"Speak to me, Kath. Please. Perhaps, with your reception tonight I can safely assume that you want nothing to do with me anymore-not even my friendship. That's awfully sad. You're crushing me again. You've completely tore my heart. I wish you can feel my pain..."

"What do you want me to do?"

"Ok, ok. Sigh. This is really getting difficult. What I need, what I want you to do was the same thing I wanted you to do years ago. I need closure. I begged you a long time ago to just let go of me totally. Tell me outright that you didn't want even my friendship. I never heard from you. You never said anything. I hang on. It's crazy to have hang on but I had faith in you, Kath. I had faith in our friendship. I thought the three years we've had could make up for my carelessness. I took really good care of you. I put you on a pedestal. you were my inspiration. Gad, you were my life. I haven't moved on. I couldn't move on. How can I? We had so much promise."

"Let go, Jason. I'm sorry. I... I've moved on a long time ago. I hope that is clear to you now. We are literally worlds apart, we always have been. There is no reason why we should still keep in touch."

"I see. You're tough Kath. What happened? I can not feel any emotion in your tone. It's as if you're a different person."

"Yes, Jason. I am a different person. I'm not the same Katherine six, even nine years ago. You ought to move on with your life as well. I'm going back to Tokyo for good this month. Go find a girl you deserve. Get married. Have kids."

"Right. I don't know what to say. I've waited all this time to talk to you- I've yearned to see your face and all I get is this phone conversation. But for the last time, let me say this: I love you. I don't know why you have this so much effect on me. But I loved you from the moment I saw you, to the person that you were and to the person that you are, I love you. And if what you want is for me to let go. I will, only because you asked me to. This is unbelievable... But I will. I'll do it for my sanity and what's left of my dignity."

"Goodbye, Jason. Have a good life"

"This is it. Nine years and you're freeing me of my heavy load! This is bittersweet goodbye... Well, I guess from hereon you won't ever have to hear from me again, huh. (nervous laugh) I won't keep you then. Goodbye Katherine. Have the best of life."

"Goodbye, Jason."

I still blame myself for what happened. My story is classic. I should have known better how to handle it. It's been written, it's been talked about- I didn't see it coming to me! I who fell in love with my best friend. I whose only fault was build my world around her.

We had the best of times and the best of everything. We shared our best cries and laughs and worst imaginable moments with each other. I knew she cared and loved me but not in the way I did. But that's okay. I shouldn't have confessed. I should have been contented! What was I thinking?! I didn't even get that far in my dreams what to do next after telling her. I didn't expect to be loved the same way. I only wanted the truth out and hoped that she'll take it and we'll just both laugh hard about the whole thing. She didn't find it funny.

Perhaps from the very start it wasn't meant to be. I met her in Thailand, a country both foreign to us. We hit it off right away! We shared three beautiful years of friendship. She with her boyfriends on the side and me with mine. We were just friends. However, not for long. One day, it hit me. I suddenly saw her in a different way- in a much deeper level. All that while doing the dishes with her after a usual shared dinner. I did it! I broke the first law of friendship; Never fall in love with your best friend. And still I broke the second law; If you did, never tell.

We went separate ways when she was re-assigned to Chicago and me, back to the Philippines. That was when I told her. I feared not seeing her again and hence compelled I had to tell her. How was I to know she would feel betrayed?! For six years I tracked her down. She was all over the US on re-assignments. I wrote her letters and e-mails. I kept writing and convinced myself that maybe the letters I sent didn't reach her. I called many times. She changed numbers many times. I should have taken her elusiveness as hint but I was hopeful. I really had faith in her.

I worked so hard the last six years to get a working visa to the US... All for her. All to see her again after six years. And the phone conversation didn't quite turn out the way I imagined it to be. She will never know I was calling her a street away from her apartment building in New York. That I finally made it to the US. We both dreamed of working and living here. She will never know I did this all for her...

Was I right to give up on her now? Was I right to end the madness? Was I right not to insist that I was the one for her all along? Do I deserve all these? I did my last cry. I reckoned and submit that there are just things not meant to be... even the greatest of love.

The fairytale had to end. I've been grieving for six years. Today, I bury my ghost. Today I'm bidding farewell to a lost friend with a smile on my face. I no longer see nor smell her in the crowd. I don't see her as much when I close my eyes. I don't see her when I ride the subway or have my coffee at Starbucks or while listening to tunes at Tower Records. I no longer see her in my favorite bookstore or while walking in the park. I'm free of my past. I'm free of my ghost. I'm in the US anything can happen!

This is the end of my beginning.

- 9 april 2005 ©

Friday, October 19, 2007

Fil-Am Group Wants ABC to Pay Tribute to Pinoy Health Workers

Related Posts:
Update: Desperate Housewives' Remark Nothing but a Silly Joke!
Desperate Housewives Picks on Medical Schools

That is the the title
of one of the headlines on ABS-CBN news website.

Still on the Desperate Housewives issue. Sigh... A Fil-Am group rejected ABC station's offer of jobs for Filipinos to work in their network. Instead, the Philippine Anti-Defamation Coalition (which was just newly-formed) wants ABC to pay tribute to Filipino Health Workers through an episode of Desperate Housewives and they specifically want Teri Hatcher to say things about Filipino Health workers in the effect of honoring these workers. They don't want the jobs, they want recognition! Huh?!

In the news article, it also mentioned
of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) filing a $500 million law suit for that racial slur!!

Please read the full story and tell me, please tell me that we are not OA (over-acting) and KSP (Kulang sa Pansin, attention seekers)! This is totally ridiculous and not to mention getting embarrassing for ordinary Filipinos like me in the US who are NOT involved at all in this case! We just want to work, not be ridiculed further because some of you want attention and honor in a fictional show and on the side, hope to cash in the dough! What will you do with 500 million dollars?! Give me a break!!

LATEST TV rating of Desperate Housewives here in the US as of 14 October 2007 after three weeks since Teri Hatcher spoken a line with the word "Philippines" on it:

Whoa! Almost 19 million viewers watched Desperate Housewives last Sunday! They're still on the number 4 spot in the Top 20 rating show in America.

TV rating of Desperate Housewives here in the US as of 8 October 2007 after the Season Premier on September 30 when the remark was uttered:

They still command over 18 million viewers and ranks number 4 overall.

TV Rating of Desperate Housewives here in the US, random check on February 18, 2007 week.

They ranked number 7 here, only because it was American Idol Season and House MD was at its peak. Number of viewers? They had over 18 million viewers then and maintains over 18 million viewers after the controversy. Number of People living in the United States: about 301 million. (almost 4 times the population of the entire Philippines at 87 million people! 4 times!!) Number of Filipinos in America? Approximately, 4 million.

We, Filipinos are obviously not the target audience of Desperate Housewives. The controversy has not affected their ratings at all. My point? In the scheme of things here in the US, we will always be a minority. The fact that we are making a mark for ourselves in the medical field should encourage the Philippines to maintain that by uplifting its quality of education- NOT busy itself cleaning up "our" image. The OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) are already proving everyday that they can be the best in what they do. Nobody is thinking otherwise just because they watched the remark in Desperate Housewives. We are living the reality. We don't live in Wisteria Lane!

The people behind Desperate housewives already acknowledged they made an error in that episode. Let's stop pursuing the issue before this really becomes a silly joke where the joke is on all of us, Filipinos...

As long as you drag this out, I will continue to rant on the issue. So please, without sounding too desperate, let this be my last post on Desperate Housewives!©

Thursday, October 18, 2007

UPDATE: Desperate Housewives' Remark Nothing But a Silly Joke!

Related Post:
Desperate Housewives Picks on Philippine Medical Schools
Cyberpunk's So-Called Life

I placed a mini mock poll on my blog to run for 2 weeks because I just can't believe, after reading tons of blogs, that I'm all alone in my opinion that the Desperate Housewives' remark shouldn't be taken out of context. In this blog's poll, 22% finds the remark offensive, hence demands an apology, 11% doesn't care on the issue while 66% agree that there's nothing more to it but a silly joke. Sure, it was but a mini poll with only 54 people voting but points my case that there are two opinions to a story. Mine may not be a popular choice but it does not make it wrong, just because there are more people against it. It appears I'm not alone after all. There are silent voices out there who thinks that we have indeed taken this issue out of proportion. Before you lambast me with your political correctness rhetorics on your stand on the Housewives issue, let it be known that I respect your view so please respect mine and my reader's clear cut opinion. I doubt if many of those who found it a racial slur even watched the entire episode OR they just relied and formed their opinions at once solely on a one minute clip they saw on youtube! If you watched the entire episode you'd understand the events leading to the remark.

Let's just stop the hypocrisy and double standard. We always laugh at other people or other nationalities' expense but once we're the object of joke, everybody stops laughing! We suddenly become pikon, balat-sibuyas and asar-talo (onion-skinned and sore losers). We only need to turn our cable channels to Comedy Central where stand-up comics of different races make fun of everybody else bordering racism and insults for an hour or so 24/7 and nobody's boycotting the station. You must have heard of South Park! They've ridiculed every imaginable character, from Presidents to religious people, TV and movie stars, to religion. This long-running vulgar and offensive American show has a huge following, where the object of their parody and satire are directed toward Americans themselves. They have a contract to run til 2011 for its 15th season!

Here's a one-liner from Desperate Housewives with the word Philippines on it, suddenly, it's a racial slur against the Filipinos and Filipino doctors?! Think again. It so happened that Desperate Housewives is an international TV show syndicated all over the world but how many times does Philippine television get away with discrminatory remarks and racial slurs?! Philippine TV makes fun of other races all the time and we laugh about it! We even have songs so popular to the masses that it's scary we haven't been gun down by the race being made fun of (...and this other video is supposedly done by a Filipino!). We don't hear the Chinese, Bombays, Indians, Europeans even Americans we stereotype, calling on their people to boycott the Philippines! They have better things to do than meddle with mundane things.

The Philippines' knee-jerk reaction was to me an overkill. Only in the Philippines does a story like that get to be on the front page and headlines' newspapers for what could be a short article in the entertainment section. Only in the Philippines does 'respectable' lawmakers and Senators join in the bandwagon and proclaim their distaste to a show they haven't even seen in full. Only in the Philippines, does a congressman file a resolution that calls for a ban on airing of Desperate Housewives in the Philippines. Here we have a government whose power is engulfed with controversies left and right and impending impeachment issues anew; here we have insurmountable unending troubles on corruption, bureaucracy, cronyism, political dynasty, population explosion, waste control, educational decline to name a few- the list could go on! Must we really make a huge deal on a fake character on TV when there are more pressing reality issues at hand?

And on a recent news, Philippine Medical Schools plan to join in the legal battle. Please! Can't we let this die down? ABC already gave their sincere apology and even noting to edit that episode. Plus, they are also inviting talented Filipinos with background on media and TV to come and work for them. What more do you want? Teri Hatcher's head on a platter? Let's be more civilized than that!

We are really making a mountain out of a molehill here because the general opinion of Americans and other nationalities here in the US with regards to Filipino medical practitioners and Filipinos in general are high and it hasn't changed after watching Desperate Housewives! Filipinos are well respected in their fields here. Sure, there is a constant 'pressure' to prove what you can do and what you can offer in your field but that is true for ALL regardless of sex, race and or gender. It is not just us, Filipinos trying to make a mark in the world; everyone must prove their competence in their chosen fields.

In the real world, when somebody questions your qualifications (which happens all the time especially if you're starting on a new job!), you don't go to your boss and complain about discrimination- you prove your worth! In the workplace, you are judged not by your race but by what you do. Americans do NOT think any less of Filipinos. There is no discussion on that here. If anything, we are greatly admired for our intelligence and hard work!

So why are we pursuing this now becoming stale affair? To save face? Why are we so defensive? Why are we really hurt that bad? Why do we feel insulted? Why do we take it so personally? Is it because there's truth in it? Why do we need to overreact and show the whole world our pettiness? Who are we kidding?

Our educational system is in crisis. It has been in a state of decline for more than two decades. We are not producing enough 'highly-educated' graduates anymore! Wake up Philippines! Majority of our college graduates can not even converse in straight english anymore without struggling. High school and elementary students can not spell correctly and the use of txt mesaging das not help at ol n mproving the studes skils 4 dey bring dis kind of riting n deir essays! These are our future medical practitioners, future nurses, doctors and physical therapists! To the many of us who still believes we're the leaders in education in Asia, get the facts by googling key words like decline of Philippine Education, Philippine Education problems or Philippine education crisis on the web. Read and be informed on the real status of our educational system. Before we berate others of their ignorance for not seeing it as a racial slur, check how our students really are faring today because they will be our future professionals.

I am a graduate of some nursing school in the Philippines. Seriously. Oh shoot, will Davao Doctor's College sue me for saying that? Are they going to boycott this blog? I'm just saying that my school didn't make me who I am today. It is a part of me BUT NOT all of me! Not to sound ungrateful but we, OFWs have to rely on our own resilience- the ability to bounce back and recover from adversity, our adaptation- a slow, usually unconscious modification of individual and social activity in adjustment to cultural surroundings, our assimilation, the process whereby a minority group gradually adopts the customs and attitudes of the prevailing culture, and our hard work and zealousness to survive abroad.

Our own individual successes are not because we graduated from some school but because of our Filipino-ness. The traits mentioned are all Filipino traits inherent on all of us and for that I am most proud of. Nobody's putting nobody down. Now, if only we can move on with our lives here while our Philippine government hopefully puts our hard-earned dollars and Philippine taxpayer's money into good use like the Senate approving the House approved 2008 proposed budget where the largest share of USD3.332 billion is going to the Department of Education. Isn't that better news than barging into the fictitious lives of desperate housewives in Wisteria Lane?©

Note: Polls on Blogger.com remembers IP addresses and computers so a person can only vote one time for the duration of the poll. One may change their vote at any time but one can not vote more than once. It also does not allow voting from someone using a proxy or hiding its IP address. I tried all those just to check! So in essence, polls on Blogger.com is cheat proof! It is impossible to manipulate to get the result you want. Just so you know, in case you have doubts on its validity. :-)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


My relationship with her has always been that of love-hate. I love her the most when we're not talking or when we're apart. I love her when she's away or when I'm away. As long as I don't see her or talk to her, I love her. It's almost impossible for us to stay in one room without us having a fight. Our conversation kicks off okay but moments later, we'll be discussing points then arguing then fighting then ending up not talking altogether for days... Those are my youthful recollection with her in my life.

She was 26 years old when I was born. She was just starting a career in the food business and was she enterprising! Her whole world revolved around the business. She worked ludicrous hours, performed tasks for what could be done by three or five people at one time, laboured like there was no tomorrow. She was unstoppable. She made night, day and worked some more in the wee hours of the night. I didn't ever see her asleep!

She's always working 24/7 it seems. And though it paid off, she lost me and my sisters in the process, me especially. My memories of my childhood are somewhat vague to me. Much as I try hard to recall, I could only come up with snippets of it. Perhaps I'm repressing it or unconsciously trying to forget that part of my life. Not that I had a completely messed up childhood. For the most part, I lived in a happy, loving, comfortable home but it's something I'd rather not recall. She was never on it anyway. So what was there to remember?

I do remember that I was mischievous, naughty and rebellious as a kid. I had my share of corporal punishments- alot! But that's not why I was angry at the world and taking it against her. I was mad because I never felt truly loved as a child. I was always craving for attention. It was the classic middle child syndrome. I felt I wasn't always good-enough. My eldest sister was the responsible one. She was graceful, pretty and she had the fairer skin and nice, curly hair. My younger sister was the center of attention for she was the baby. She was cute, sweet, adorable and very smart! As for me, I was dark, short, average and anything but graceful! The result? I tried to lived up to how they saw me. I was seen as the female version of Dennis the menace so I gave them problems! It was easy to be bad. (It still is easy now! Ha!)

When I was 12, I joined my eldest sister in Manila for High School. That was just to get away from her as far as possible. Together we tried living responsibly as teenagers in the 'big' city. We stayed for four years in Manila and only visited our hometown, General Santos on summer time. Even then, I couldn't befriend her. I would annoy her on end and rebel against anything she says. I always looked at her as THE enemy. I blamed her for all the bad memories of my youth.

After graduating High School, I was bored sick of Manila so I joined my eldest sister, this time in Davao City for college. My eldest sister, she too was trying to stay away from her as far as possible. Not that far in this case, as Davao City is only a two and a half hours drive from our hometown. However, this meant that she was much closer to commute to and fro and makes it easy for her to visit us almost every weekend. I despised the whole idea. Still, I played along. It was in college that she started making ammends for the lost years. I thought she was pushing her luck. By this time, my emotions were stoned when it came to her. I resist showing any affection and if I did, it was forced. I still respect the person nonetheless, huge respect for what she has accomplished in her life. That was it.

After college, I thought that the best place to find the best opportunity for a career is in Manila. So, my sister and I went back to find our chance there. We did find it and again we were separated from her. All my life's objective it seemed have been trying to avoid her presence. Anywhere but with her seemed like the best place to be. Nevertheless, as fate would have it, I found myself back in my hometown after a short stint in Tokyo, Japan and almost two years of working in Manila. I came back with a deep need of being home. So I was there, after 12 years of 'running away,' I was home.

The reunion was everything but sweet. All my youthful anger came back to haunt me and I was at her again, doing what I do best- making her life miserable! I thought she made my life miserable back then, so it's payback time! We fought endlessly. We never agreed on anything. We could not talk for even five minutes without pushing each other's wits. I thought it was useless being there. We were hurting each other like crazy. I was filled with remorse but then I do it again. I almost intentionally would say things just to hurt her. I didn't know what to do. No matter how many times I've tried making up with her, it doesn't seem to work. I've been on her prayers everyday for the last 19 years. She's probably praying that whatever evilness has struck me, I would soon snap out of it!

Then one day, it happened. We were having one of our fights. We were shouting at the top of our lungs. We were relentless! We were exhausted. The next thing we knew we were crying hard and hugging and forgiving each other and just loving. For once there was peace in our home, and in our hearts...

The thing is, I love her more than anything and anyone in the world! She has her flaws. She was never perfect but neither was I. For all her imperfections there was beauty, dignity, courage, determination, resilience, compassion in her that was unmistakably hers.

For years, I have wanted her to be the best for me. Blamed her for things I did on my own. Shame on me! Not once did I think, have I been giving her and showing her the best of me??! I should have but I never did! The best thing about this realization is that, it's never too late! She never gave up and she never turned her back on me. She has always welcomed me back with open arms everytime I come back to her. No questions asked.

She left for the States in 2000. I followed her in 2004. We don't live in the same State. I am over 2000 miles away from her. I saw her four times since I came here and I still fought with her on that four times I visited and I still fight with her over the phone whenever we talk. I just don't get along with her. Maybe, the relationship has to be that way for it to work. Love-hate- there is such a thing.

I REALLY, TRULY, DEEPLY LOVE her. You think there is a happy ending to this? I'm working on it. Everyday, I'm still a work in progress...

You know who I'm talking about here, don't you? You too have her around the house. Everybody's got one! You grew up with her. She may be a 'pain' at times but you have to admit, she's the best thing that has ever happened to your life and she's the best person you know. She, her, our mom, mama, mum, ima, ina, mommy- mother.©

Saturday, October 13, 2007

An Internet World Without Clicks?

Imagine an internet experience without clicks. Imagine opening Internet Explorer or Firefox simply by pointing your mouse to the browser icon, then placing your mouse on the address bar, begin typing to where you're going. When you get to your destination, you merely navigate on the title and headings, do your usual browsing, pointing to all links and tabs without clicking your mouse! Impossible?! Not anymore with this inventive, innovative concept from a website I StumbledUpon named dontclick.it- institute for interactive research. It is a work in progress but I believe once full blown, will make a huge impact into the future of internet browsing. I spent a good 15 minutes on this site trying to get the hang of browsing without clicking and then I keep coming back.

I LOVE the idea because I 'suffer' from Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) being on the computer for long hours! (Well, mostly it's bad posturing for me and not taking breaks but I still blame "clicking" too much as one of the causes!) The website is therapeutic for me. It is relaxing on the mind and on my index finger! It's amazing how much clicking we do when we're on the computer and how often we click on almost anything to get a result. It's impossible to move about on our computers without clicking. This idea is groundbreaking! The inventor hasn't updated this site in a while but it still drives a lot of traffic and attention from all over. I can only wish the computer giants will pick up on the design. Spend some time on the page. Resist clicking! Believe, explore and discover the power of browsing without clicking! Oh, and the best thing about this website? It is absolutely commercial-free! No annoying pop-ads, banners or adsense from google. Puts my own blog to shame... sigh.©

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Filipina Ako. I am a Filipina.

Fabulousfilipina6HAVE YOU GOOGLED "FILIPINA" LATELY? The internet over the years has become the most powerful source of information- more than books, other print media, tv and library. It gives limitless knowledge to the point of overloading one with too much data. As such, it gives access to any unimaginable topic, issue, news, anything at your fingertips. It can also mar reputations, make you want to throw up on the sick sites you accidentally come across, ruin companies, destroy lives. Anybody can go to any search engines to search for anything one can possibly think of. Type a word, phrase, even a question and though won't guarantee you will find what you're looking for, it will supply however countless websites (by the hundreds of thousands of links) more than enough to divert your attention and focus on the searches found instead.

Filipina_1 Imagine my surprise when I typed Filipina and or Pinay in google! I found some objectionable listings there. Go see for yourselves. Even this paid google ads in adsense on Filipinas is quite annoying! But BIG Thanks to the aggressive and massive campaign of concerned Filipinas, they were able to bring their own websites and other relevant, informative, responsible, refined sites on page one of google, yahoo, msn, ask jeeves among others. It wasn't the case 2 years ago as I further probed, when the very word Filipina or Pinay would give out totally shameless views of what a Filipina is based on the websites available at that time. Filipinas were merely porn material, flirts, sexy, horny, and mail-order-brides- just for fun, dating and amusement!

I'm joining the concerned netizens and I would like to declare, assert, proclaim that I am a Filipina and proud to be one. If you are a proud Filipina, I urge you to make some noise in the internet. If you are a Filipina wherever part of the world you are, you can do something by being responsible with your actions online. Portray a decent image of yourself because what you do affects the entire Filipinas! True, the world wide web has no barriers, freedom of speech is highly tolerated here hence you can't censor a website. This is not an issue of censorship or morality, it is providing a balanced look of certain issues- in this case being a Filipina.

Imagine you met someone who never met a Filipina before and doesn't know anything about our country. He/she finds you interesting and would like to know more, goes online to see what's out there. Heck, he/she won't search for Philippines- won't probably even remember the word let alone spell it. He'd/she'd search for Filipina; types it on google and the first 20 results links him/her to Filipina porn sites, Filipina mail-order brides, Filipina singles, Filipina flirts, hot and sexy Filipina. What do you think that person would conclude about you and Filipinas in general?!

It's sad enough that we had to deal and we're still dealing with Filipina representation in the world as domestic helpers, lazy bums and thieves. Being pictured as merely for fun and pleasure is unacceptable! Let opportunistic people who prey on helpless Filipinas by operating porn and Filipina trafficking come, we can't stop them. BUT you can do something about it. By reading this blog, you already are. Step a little further by clicking on the links I've provided here, join forums, make comments, start your own blog (and link them to other Philippine websites such as this) talking not necessarily just about the Philippines and being a Filipina but by speaking your mind on personal issues that matter to you. In so doing, we project a Filipina definition that we are not only beautiful people but are decent, thinking individuals as well!

By having as many websites written by Filipinas and spreading it around, making as many hits or clicks as possible to the websites- we make sure that the search engines are unprejudiced in presenting all available websites about Filipinas and that the internet does not only belong to those who can pay to advertise their (monkey) business! Be proud of your heritage. Spread the word.

Updated on November 2007:


The Filipina Writing Project

Filipina Images

Filipna Women's Network


Filipinos on Wikepedia

Filipina: Isa ring Ina (A mother too)


Filipino Librarian

Filipina is a Filipino Woman

Filipina Pride

Ang Mga Filipina ng Buhay ko

The Filipina in the Eyes of the World

Three Things You Probably Do Not Know About a Filipina

What is a Filipina?

If you know any other "clean" Filipina websites or about the Philippines/Pinays in general, kindly post them here so we can continue passing the word out!©

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Stumble Upon on This Website Yet?

StumbleUpon is the new google or the new wiki that's taking the net by storm. Already boasting over 3 million users, been featured on TV and tech magazines, this is one sure find you want to keep! I just stumbled on it a week ago and I'm hooked! This is the Myspace or Friendster of bookmarks and links. There are millions of websites on the internet. One can't possibly explore even half of it in one's lifetime. This must-have helps you discover websites that are only relevant to you, according to the preferences you included.

The best thing about it is, it has a toolbar add-on with Mozilla Firefox so its so easy to use. Everytime you click stumble, you'll be in a whole new world of serendipity! It's exciting what you can discover in every click! It's building a community of people helping each other bump into something new and interesting. Everytime you stumble a site, it would ask you to rate it to help the next stumbler. In that way, only relevant sites are being distributed and the rejects are well forever be buried in the bottom of the internet ocean. A very intelligent tool! The only downside is it's addictive. I recommend stumbling only on your lazy nights or spare time-- or you'll never get other things done!


Click here to join StumbleUpon!
StumbleUpon See my StumbleUpon Page

Don't have Firefox yet? It's time to get out of the dark ages that's Internet Explorer (IE). Firefox in my opinion is way cooler, faster, has more tools and more efficient. Although some OLD websites still don't support it and I find myself opening up IE or I just totally skip that website, it's still better interface than IE! I'm not sure how Firefox works in Philippine websites but it's worth having.©

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Does Lea Salonga Works Magic for Les Misérables?

Is she the secret weapon of this musical comeback?
I am obviously biased here because we share the same Filipino heritage. However, when Les Misérables (The Miserable Ones) re-opened in November 2006, it initially advertised itself as a limited six-month engagement. Now ten months later, it has a
n open-run date and has scheduled shows all the way to January 2008. She wasn't among the original revival cast, she came in 3 months prior to its supposed closing in May 2007. In that short time the role Lea currently plays had to be replaced not once but twice before everyone was comfortable with the character fit. Although majority of the original cast are no longer in the show for various reasons, Lea maintains her role (7 months and counting) with the only two remaining original revival cast Adam Jacobs and Ali Ewoldt, who happen to be Filipino-Americans!

It is a pleasant surprise that it is still playing in New York. I saw the musical in May this year and I was among those who weren't totally impressed with this version. The critical reviews were rough. Learning that, I wasn't inclined to watch until they especially singled out Lea Salonga to 'save' Fantine's role. It would have been really les misérable for me to sit through an almost three hour musical if I didn't at least see Lea Salonga.

Les Miz as it's devotedly called has pretty good statistics to brag about- 16 years in New York Broadway, 22 years in London West End, ranks third as the longest-running show in Broadway history, and has been witnessed by over 54 million people in 38 countries and 21 languages since its first London performance in October 1985. The original Broadway production opened in 1987, garnering 7 Tony Awards, including Best Musical for that year. The Broadway production ended in 2003 after 6,680 performances.

So, what's missing with the current production? Why isn't it getting fantastic reviews? For starters, it has only been three years since its last curtain call and now she is back. You haven't missed her long enough yet! Majority of the critics say it is premature to revive her this early. And I agree because thousands of people share a great love for this show the first time they saw it. I fell in love with the original cast soundtrack not having even seen the original broadway production. That's how powerful the original production was years ago. This is the problem with revivals. It will always be compared to the original. And if you can't surpass your predecessor then you're in trouble. Next is, they are having trouble casting the right people. Mind you, top caliber theater actors have played the part and are playing the part but for various reasons, the cast keep changing. Thirdly, the current theater is smaller (by almost 300 seats) so the stage look cramped hence there are also smaller miserables ensemble visually obvious on the student revolution of 1832 scene which is the highlight in Act II. Not to be missed though is the revolving stage which was innovative and good to see! There is such fine detail in their props, and great lighting set the tone and mood on stage.

High expectations of the show is the typical downer from those who has seen the original version. I didn't have any but I wasn't blown away even with Lea Salonga's presence. The first time I heard I Dreamed a Dream on CD, Fantine's signature song- I had goosebumps and was teary-eyed because I felt all her pain and agony just from listening. Fantine's life is the most unfortunate of all in this musical of vast and multi-faceted characters. I was looking for that same intensity from Lea and I didn't feel it. "I Dreamed a Dream" if the performer nails it, is the most powerful ballad in the musical and is known to be a show-stopper- that's when the audience are so moved and so affected that they just give the song a standing ovation as if on cue and thundering applause follows. That didn't happen that night. I was not convinced of her playing a sickly factory worker turned into a prostitute in despair. I wasn't emotionally involved with her character that I couldn't make myself cry even on her death bed scene. She dies in Act I and is seen again as a ghost with Eponine guiding Jean Valjean to eternity in the finale of Act II. The thing is, it has gotten emotional in Act II halfway through the end and I was crying myself out, grieving over Eponine's untimely death, lamenting over the meaningful death of Gavroche and Valjean's touching death- when all the major characters were reunited with him in the finale. Yes, almost all of them die in this poignant show.

The two lead roles of Jean Valjean and Javert played by Alexander Gemignani (now replaced by Drew Sarich) and Ben Davis (took over the role from Norm Lewis and now replaced by Ben Crawford) respectively, weren't a standout. Their singing were solid and almost perfect but again the emotions are lacking. They're supposed to be two angry mortal enemies playing cat and mouse thru the whole musical and find forgiveness and remorse in the end but you don't feel it.

Ali Ewoldt as frail and beautiful Cosette (the girl on the Les Miz emblem) and Adam Jacobs as handsome Marius were cute and almost believable in their portrayals. Somehow, I find Ali's voice too sharp and high-pitched for a soprano range.

Ann Harada as deceitful Mme. Thenardier was delightful to watch having seen her in Av
enue Q as the original Christmas Eve. She's so fun to watch onstage whatever role she's playing!

Mandy Bruno (took over the role from Celia Keenan-Bolger and now replaced by Megan McGinnis) as sweet, heartbroken Eponine and Zach Rand (playing alternately with 2 other child actors) as vagabond, street smart, Gavroche stole the show for me! These two characters though have short exposure on the show are pivotal to the entire story that I think any actor given the role are lucky in that sense because the characters are so notable and captivating in itself that it doesn't matter who plays it. You are just simply absorbed and moved.

That's what I felt the first time I heard Lea Salonga sang "On my Own," Eponine's signature song, over a decade ago. While I was watching the Les Miz revival, I wished Lea was Eponine again! She owns that song! No one can sing it better than her! "On My Own" has been sang and recorded by so many but nothing comes close to Lea's rendition. If I may refresh your memory, Lea Salonga became the first Asian actress ever to play Eponine on Broadway in 1993, perform the same role in the London production, and in Hawaii, and was the one invited to play at the historic Les Misérables 10th Anniversary Concert at London's Royal Albert Hall. Sir Cameron Mackintosh hand-selected the cast for that concert, and has come to be called the Les Misérables Dream Cast, assembling cast members from around the world.

Lea Salonga, regardless of her performance when I saw her on stage that night, is one strong, remarkable woman whom we saw grow as a child singer and actress back in the Philippines and into this fine, brilliant Sir Olivier, Drama desk and Tony Award Broadway winner! She is drawing the crowd to watch her in Les Miz. There is no question that the musical is a masterpiece otherwise it wouldn't have this long staying power all over the word. It is without doubt close to our hearts and withstands time being originally written as a French Novel by Victor Hugo in 1862. 145 years later, his characters are as real as the poor, wretched ones being oppressed around the world to this very day. I'm just saying, you still need a star like Lea Salonga to pull people in it. It is a story needed to be told. And Lea Salonga might as well be the driving force of this present revival. I don't know what her contract is with the show or whether she'd give up the role when something better comes up but meantime, catch her while you still can!

Incidentally Philippine President Gloria Arroyo, took a break from her tight schedule last week (September 27) in New York to watch the matinee of Les Miz at the Broadhurst Theater. She went up the stage after the finale for picture taking with the cast and greet Lea Salonga, Fil-Ams Ali Ewoldt and Adam Jacobs.

Note: Yaikks! I just got finished this article and found out that Lea is in fact leaving Les Miz this month! It is unclear as to why. She may be preparing for her next role as Cinderella to be played in Manila, Philippines but that's still in August 2008! Oh well, hurry now to New York to see her!!©

Les Misérables
Broadhurst Theatre

235 W. 44th Street,

New York City, New York
Date opened: November 2006

Official Les Misérables Website
Official Les Misérables-Broadway website

Saturday, October 06, 2007

snail mail.

i can't sail
and i can't bail
if there's only a rail
to follow thy trail.

my heart's in ail,
think i need a round of ale
without thee
oh my world's a pale.

can't you see,
my passion's not stale?
the depths,
it's over hill and dale.

if there's only a gale or
even a whale
to bring me to thee
in an exhale.

hail, if i can stop rhyming
words ending in ale and ail
lo, this is just to put into scale
how i think of thee
without fail.

-26 may 2006 ©

Friday, October 05, 2007

Meeting Julia Roberts And John Lloyd Young Up Close (OR How To Watch Broadway Shows The Smarter Way)

SO I WAS IN NEW YORK with a friend in June 2006. We got tickets to see the Mel Brooks hit musical "The Producers". We arrived in NYC pretty early on Saturday after a three and a half hour car ride from Boston. We figured we'd check out other theaters and see if we can get good enough rates to watch more shows. Summer has officially started and NY has more visitors those days than any other season. Tickets were hard to come by unless you're willing to pay premier seats that could go as high as $400.00 per person for a show (or scalped tickets at even ridiculously higher price for good shows). Since the shows we were interested in were all blocks away from each other, we decided to split and just call if there are seats left on the theaters we were at.

First stop for me was "Three Days of Rain," which was only playing until Sunday, June 18. As expected tickets we're sold out (except for premier seats!!). But I kept pressing for cheaper seats, until the ticket guy said- "here's the deal, we're selling 'Standing Only' tickets two hours before the show on a first come first serve basis. If you want it, you have to be in line way before two hours." Those words sounded music to my ears and I was excited. "How much?" I asked. I was calculating, if orchestra tickets were at $112.00. Standing tickets must cost half of that! Shoot, $60 bucks! But what the hey, I'd take my chance. I wanted to see Julia Roberts in the flesh! And then the guy answered, "$26.25!" Holy Molly!! For a fraction of the seated seat, I get to watch the show! You bet I'll wait in line!! I don't care if it was standing or lying down on the floor! I called my friend. It was 10am. I waited in line until they open the sale at noon time for the matinée. And so after 2 hours of waiting I got our tickets to watch Julia Roberts! That's only the icing on the cake as I later find out. We had lunch and then it was time to see the play.

To my surprise, most theaters do 'Standing Only' tickets and we've never heard of it. All the time we've been going to New York to watch a show! They don't advertise it of course and tickets we're very limited to only about 20 people or less! Our tickets were numbered so each ticket had a specific area where you stand, it's not the "you're on your own because you're standing type of ticket." It was well organized.

The usher was very friendly with us when we were in our place at the back. More than friendly that I was going to tape her mouth to keep her from talking! She kept telling me what "Three Days of Rain" was all about! In my mind, I was like "look lady, I've read all the reviews and I know the boring story by heart by now. I'm only here to see Julia Roberts!" I just sweetly smiled and asked, "does Julia sign autographs after the show?" Oh boy, was I glad I kept my temper with her- otherwise, I would have never known! She said "yes, Julia is very kind and accommodating, just today she came out to talk with us and have our pictures taken with her and blah, blah..." ("Lady. Tell me what to do!!") Finally after a long talk, she tells me what I wanted to hear.

I stood there for the whole first act. A 15-minute Intermission came. That same usher came to us and directed us to 2 empty seats at the near center!! She says, "these seats are available, you can seat here for the remaining act." That lady was surely an angel! It pays to be nice sometimes! We endured the next hour pinching ourselves from sleeping (there were parts in the play that even the three characters looked like they were falling asleep themselves!) As soon as the curtain fell, I was dashing out of the theater to head for the backstage door for autographs!!

Outside, there was a barricade near the street and a few people, I showed my ticket and I was in! Security was very tight. It was a rather long wait but nobody seemed to mind! This was the cake! I would have never known where to go for autographs had we been sitting. I would have never talked to the usher at all and by the time we got out of the filled theater, Julia would have left or the guards wouldn't have let me in!

Meanwhile, Julia's bodyguards were making sure everyone were behaved. Only the ones inside the barricade were allowed to hang around the area. They were practically shoving and driving bystanders away. The guy made some funny ground rules like, "Julia has her own pen, do not give her a pen. Don't ask Julia to smile for you- she's tired, Don't ask her any questions- she won't answer. Don't ask her to pose for you, she doesn't have time. Take as much pictures as you want but don't push, if this barricade even moves, Julia is out of here!"

So when Julia came out, the whole crowd just went silent. I'm not sure if it was because of what the bodyguard said. I think it was more of a shock, mouth agape in a state of amazement that THE Julia Roberts is in fact in our midst! I was star-struck!! To quote Hugh Grant in Notting Hill, "it was surreal but nice!" She looked almost 'mortal' in gray shirt and striped gray pants and flipflops! She signed about 5 playbill (the play's souvenir program) on my side and she was gone! Just like that, she stayed about a minute on each side to sign autographs! And not even her own signature!! Apparently, she never signs her own name in autographs, she just scribbles- so we all got different scribbles of Julia but we were happy!! Damn, this stupid phone cameras!! I was fumbling with it and panicking that I won't get good shots of her. See my friend had to get our digital cameras because we were asked to deposit them before the show. By the time he got it, Julia was gone!! We were only able to get Paul Rudd's pics in good quality. Bradley Cooper didn't even show up!!! Paul Rudd actually stopped and smiled for me in my phone camera! He was so nice, stayed and signed (in his own name!) and chatted with the group.

Satisfied with our first day, my friend and I took an early start Sunday morning to conquer the unconquerable, the most popular show in broadway in 2006- The Jersey Boys! We went to the theater 3 times on Saturday to see if there were available seats for the Sunday show or if somebody cancelled out. The line was always long and the same answer, "we're sold out, try tomorrow!" So we did. Crazy as we were, we went to check the theater at 9am! Wow, three people were already in the seemingly abandoned street- sitting by the theater. It is going to be a looong day for us. We talked ourselves in for a quick breakfast near the theater. At 9:30 I asked my friend to go and fall in line while I finished breakfast. I didn't want to take any chances, slow eater as I am, that by the time I finish- ten people are already in line! We were 7th and 8th in the line!

As the time progressed, more and more people were showing up! Around 11am, the ticket guy separated the "Student Rush" and "Standing Only" group. The ticket center was about to open. They accommodated 12 students, no more and seven, SEVEN "standing only" tickets!! We were 2 and 3. We bought our tickets at 1pm!! It was fun, insane and ludicrous waiting for four hours!! But we got in! We had a fabulous time standing! And did the same thing head for the door as soon as it was over and got myself an autograph and a picture of the BIGGEST MAN IN BROADWAY in 2006! If you're a theatre buff like I'm becoming to be, be smart- go for the standing only or student rush tickets. You can stretch your one orchestra ticket easy to watching 3 broadway shows in the end! I can't wait for my next Broadway experience and you bet, I'll be waiting in line!©

In Julia Roberts' Defense: A Fan's Dissection of "Three Days of Rain"

PricelessBY SOME UTTER LUCK, I found myself in Bernard B. Jacobs Theater at 242 West 45th Street in New York June 17, 2006 for the matinée show of "Three Days of Rain." There are over 40 competing Broadway and off-Broadway performances twice a day in NYC's Theater District. It's hard to pick the best show to watch. Obviously, musicals are more lively and entertaining because of its music, props, costume changes, lights and dances. Plays on the other hand are restricted in one setting with monologues and dialogue. You have to be all ears to understand what is going on in a play. With that, I wouldn't have chosen to watch a play over a musical. With the exception that it is THE Julia Roberts playing the female lead in the play "Three Days of Rain."

I observed every nook and cranny of the packed imposing theatre. The audience were a mix of young and old, affluent and impoverished like me and the in-betweens! I stood there with eager anticipation, with knots in my stomach, anxious as though I was a relative or a family of one of the performers, praying that he/she may not forget lines or trip on stage. Close. I am a Julia Roberts fan since I was 15, watching her earlier forgettable films Mystic Pizza, Steel Magnolias and Flatliners. But then came Pretty Woman and Dying Young. I was hooked. Then came Stepmom, My Best Friend's Wedding, Runaway Bride, Notting Hill and Erin Brockovich, at this point I thought she is the ultimate movie star! She is a goddess, perfect in every way, and ought to be named the greatest movie actress of all time!! Ok, perhaps I'm being OA (overacting)!

I have every reason to be nervous seeing her that afternoon. The snobby critics of Theater weren't very kind to Ms. Julia Roberts' earlier performances. They tried to destroy her and I can only hope she will try theatre again someday soon and won't give up Broadway all together. The perplexity of it all was that, even with the negative comments people were drawn to the show with sold out tickets for the entire 12-week engagement and even the critic of all critic couldn't help but admire the unique beauty in front of them. They were star-struck like everybody else.

This is her first time. She learns that in this form of acting, it isn't about star power but is all about stage presence and connecting with a live audience. One doesn't need a theater background to tell a good and no-so good role playing. Judging from what I actually saw, she has quite a ways to go in stage acting. In this humbling performance, I am awed almost pained to see my Julia Roberts not knowing what to do with her body, so oftentimes she just stands on stage stiffly. She struggles over her lines with an unsure, uptight posture, twitchy hands, tensed voice that some lines are almost inaudible to hear as she croaks to deliver her lines from memory without intensity and gusto. The only real intensity came not from the ongoing drama on stage but from the bond she has long established with her fans. In that sense, she connected. It wasn't out of empathy or shame for her from the audience but like family, her fans not only adored her but respected her even more for trying what could be the greatest challenge of her career- performing before a live audience, without room for error- no soft lights to accentuate her face, no take 2 or 3 if she forgets a line, no fancy props or dress change. It was just her natural, beautiful in an uncanny way face and the audience.

I'd like to say that Ms. Robert's performance isn't entirely her fault. I'm blaming director Joe Montello who proved that Ms. Roberts is just way too big of a star for him to handle; that he doesn't know how to utilize her talent for her to shine. Also that she is just way too big of an actress for this low-key, shady play of Richard Greenberg. It is a deep, emotional, funny story- almost
engaging! I would have enjoyed this reading not watching it in a play. I can't imagine how they could turn this into an exciting, gripping movie as rights for a movie has already been sold by Greenberg. Even Julia Roberts couldn't save this play and that's probably how far it would go in terms of Broadway showing.

The two other movie stars having had Broadway experiences in the past came out as the better performers, showing a little bit of confidence onstage and really connected with the audience in a theatrical experience way- not the kind of star-fan connection between Ms. Roberts and me. Paul Rudd and Bradley Cooper shined in a way Julia didn't in Act I. The very dramatic and realistic rainstorm (where it rained for three days) outshone all three in Act II.

I still have lingering questions for Julia though. Why oh why, did you choose this not-so particularly absorbing play as your Broadway baptism of fire?! What were you thinking? Didn't you think you'd be better off as a heroine in a light romantic-comedy play than as a nervous-wreck character with complexities in life? As a heroine you'd be memorable and charming and comfortable instead you were this insignificant character in this tangled web of three players. You can get away with that in the movies but being a character in a play asks for much more than you could have given at that time... But I am with you. I will be here for your next movie. I will be here for your next Broadway show. Suffice it to say that I am a Julia Roberts fan and will always be a Julia Roberts fan regardless of how she fared in "Three Days of Rain." ©

Three Days of Rain
Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre
242 West 45th Street
New York City, New York
Broadway Premiere: 19 April 2006
Closed: 18 June 2006

- 22 june 2006