The Lion King: A Feast for the Eyes

Finally, after seeing all those Instagram posts, I got to see the Lion King last Saturday.

True to feedback from close friends, the visuals are amazing. One will wonder on the extent of imagination put into the stage sets, props, and costumes. There were some moments in the play that caught me by surprise and made me ask, “How the hell did that happen?”. 

We were too excited early for the play. The VIPs are not yet in. LOL!

The actors are mostly strapped in mechanical costumes that look so awesome and cool when they move. Think actors on stilts acting as giraffes; an actress strapped in a full-sized puppet moving about like a cheetah; an actor doing high jumps across the stage holding gazelle figures to imitate their stotting in the prairie; and an actor holding a long stick with attached mechanical birds dancing and twirling to make them come to life.

With JJ who played Young Simba. So adorable!

The main actors have these beautiful headpieces that transform into masks when they tilt their heads down, which made for a very convincing lion on a fight stance.

On top of navigating and acting through intricate stage set-ups, the actors are also dancing. And by dancing, I mean dance in a really technical way. Very impressive especially if you’re also singing and speaking in between.

My only gripe is there’s not one song that made me go “WOW!” during the actual play. Even Circle of Life which is the creme de la creme of the production paled in comparison audiowise to Do You Hear the People Sing from Les Mis or Defying Gravity from Wicked. If it wasn’t for the amazing visuals, it would have been just ordinary. It must be the audio in the theater at that time because even the other songs sounded muffled. After watching the play, I headed over to Spotify and listened in to the songs and they were all really good to me. Some even reminded me of Hans Zimmer with the heavy basses. Granted that they have good quality because they were recordings I’ve still seen plays where the recordings and the live performances are at par. It’s such a shame that this wasn’t the case in our show.

I think there was also one mishap because the platform where Rafiki should have held Simba up in the air during Circle of Life was nowhere; so all three actors – Rafiki, Mufasa, and Sarabi stayed on the same stage level as the other animals which overwhelmed them. I had a hard time looking for Simba, and for a minute there, it looked like Rafiki was just shaking the plushie Simba rigorously. It was hard to ignore.

Despite my gripes, there were still a number of scenes that stood out aside from the Circle of Life opening:

  1. One by One in the beginning of the Act II. The actors just looked so happy, colorful, and energetic! It was contagious!
  2. The lionesses’ amazing dance number in Shadowland. This is another part where you see how much thought was given in the costumes to emphasize the movement and grace of the lady actors. And the choreography is super.
  3. The Stampede. Just. WOW! I was really excited to see this part because it’s hard to translate from animation to stage. The result was flawless!
  4. Simba’s Endless Night to Mufasa. Very emotional and made me tear up a bit especially when he sang “You promised you’d be there.. Whenever I needed you… Whenever I call your name.. You’re not anywhere..”
  5. He Lives In You with the amazing visuals again. It surprised me how that 3D Mufasa head just suddenly appeared in the darkness. The One by One chorus made another appearance here which gave life to the whole performance.
  6. The Madness of King Scar. I loved the actor who played Scar and the hyenas are so amusing. A cackle of hyenas also did a cool dance number during this part.

Overall, The Lion King is still a delight to watch. Again, it would leave you at awe on how someone conceptualized all of these and translated the animated movie into a believable live action play. It’s true when they advertised that there’s simply no like it because there really isn’t. It’s like watching a musical, a puppet show, a circus, and a shadow play all rolled into one amazing show!

I wouldn’t go about and call it as the #1 Musical, though. I’m reserving that one for Hamilton. 😜

The Manila run has been extended until May so grab a ticket and enjoy the show.

Uplifting Uplift

I finally saw UPlift yesterday and there’s only one word to describe the experience: fascinating.

I was scheduled to meet friends for isaw at Mang Larry’s so I decided to go there early to go round the campus and take some pictures.

Going back made me realise one thing: I will always be in love with UPD. There’s something about the tree canopies, the academic oval, the old buildings, the even older sculptures, and the fresh scent in the air that calms me.

I had no idea where Uplift was so I just took my time going round the academic oval, avoiding Googling at all cost. Halfway along the tennis court, I saw her. Gold and slightly glimmering in the horizon.

I approached her the same way I approach any beautiful work of art: slowly, as if with caution. Not because I’m afraid that she will scurry away like a wild animal in the woods but because I wanted to contain my excitement and not ruin the moment. As if in slo-mo, I want the beauty of the artwork unfold right before my eyes.

And there I was. Inches from her.

Her body suspended in the air as if in a glorious dance with the sky; her long golden hair flowing from her scalp towards the pond, where her whole body was also reflected.

She looks like a water nymph. She is magnificent.

I’m just sad that she got surrounded by too much controversy when the artist, Ferdinand Cacnio, first launched her in the campus a year ago. Talks about plagiarism stigmatised what’s supposed to be an amazing work of art. The electronic pitchforks of social media hit the artist so hard and just disregarded the 10 long years he dedicated to create his masterpiece.

My take on it is this:

Art is universal.

And there will always be similar ideas. One look at an art collection of various artists and you will see this clearly. The Pietas, the dancers, the Venuses, the ricefields and the carabaos toiling under the sun for Pete’s sake.

Why?

Because art is the imitation of life and life is something that we all share.

As long as the piece of artwork spoke to you, it has done its job. And UPlift is one of those.

You need to see her to believe me.

Bigg’s Diner

We went over to this local diner in our province for a li’l celebratory dinner for my brother and my parents — him landing a job, and the Masters having their 30th wedding anniversary. I love the new look! Sure, this diner was already known for its cool vintage facade but I really liked the way they spruced up the place with colors. It’s much livelier and cozier. 🙂

U to the ke to the lele

Yesterday, I attended my first ever ukulele night hosted by Ukulele Manila. Not as a player, but a mere spectator. I’ve always had this small fantasy of being this kick-ass musician in an alternate universe, but you and I both know that it’s never gonna happen. Nevertheless, I am very much of a music lover and watching and listening to legit musicians do their thing gives me the fulfillment of my otherwise ‘musical me’ delusions.

Going to a bar where you only know 2 out of almost a hundred people can be intimidating. But one thing I learned about going to these kind of gigs is, IT DOESN’T REALLY MATTER. The musical community is a cool and friendly lot, and Ukulele Manila is no exception. I remember smacking a guy’s arm, a total stranger, because I was laughing so hard at his antics directed to his friend. In another scenario, I would have gotten the stink eye. But in this, I just got a laugh in return.

What made it more awesome is the fact that it’s The Beatles Night. Who doesn’t love The Fab Four, really? Even if you were born yesterday, chances are you will still grow up surrounded by people who listen to and love their music.

The night ended with me and my friend, Val, contemplating on getting our own ukes. Not until last night, my knowledge of ukulele has been limited to that of Zooey Deschanel and her 1950’s singing, blunt bangs, doe-eyed and all, strumming this mini guitar thing. But after last night’s jamming session, I had a better appreciation for the instrument.

What more, my other friend, Ahmad, who also played some tracks last night was very much encouraging us to try it on our own. He said that UM is hosting free ukulele tutorials every Saturday around the BGC area, which is really cool, BTW. It not only give other people a venue to learn more about the instrument, it’s also a fun way of introducing the ukulele community to them.

If you have time to spare and want to learn something new, why not give it a try? Who knows, we might bump elbows there one Saturday. 🙂

FNS, YIF, and YSITV

I’m supposed to be working on my SoKor journal before it bites the dust and forever be a remnant of my undocumented memories but I can’t bring myself to. I’ve been bitten by the Friday Night Syndrome and all I wanna do is to laze around and wait for precious time to trickle.

On a positive note, I am thinking of going to YIF’s Your Silence is the Villain Single + MV Launching at Autonomy Bar tonight.

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It’s been a while since I’ve been to a bar, drinking my way through good music and interesting conversations. In an alternate universe I would have been a musician. A place where my guitar playing skills is not limited to strumming ‘When You Say Nothing At All’ and ‘Leaving on a Jet Plane’, my singing does not sound like a wailing cat, my stage presence and charm is not obscenely annoying or bordering on the boring, and my height does not require too much microphone stand adjustment.

Oh, yeah. I would have been a great musician in that alternate universe.

But I’m not. And the least I could do is to surround myself with people who are, indeed, good musicians in their own rights. If you have some free time to kill, drop by the gig. If you happen to spot me in the crowd, come on over and say hi. Maybe we can talk about something interesting other than the weather.

Weekend at The Lakeshore

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My stay at The Lakeshore, Pampanga last November has been fun! Christian tagged me along to join his friends from the office to have a chill weekend at Chinee’s place. The road trip has been a blast, thanks to the lovely weather and good ol’s music from the 90’s. I did not doze off even for a bit! If you know me, Queen of Sleep, you will give me a pat in the back for the tremendous effort of staying awake.

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Lakeshore4 After the 2-hr-ish drive, we stopped by Koko Buri in San Fernando for lunch. There, I got to try their famous soy chicken. It’s quite similar to Bon Chon but their serving is much bigger. Therefore, much affordable. The interior and the ambiance of the place is cozy with the warm lights and colorful table knick-knacks.

Post-lunch, we headed to Chinee’s place to settle down for a bit before our afternoon swim. I met Chinee’s dog, Amber, once again! Super cute!

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One thing that I really loved about our swim is I got to enjoy the sunset. I always get this peaceful feeling when I’m having a nature trip. It’s such a nice, sweet escape from the urban jungle. Yeah, let’s not forget the fact that I am getting old so I tend to be nostalgic on these kind of mundane. 😛

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Another thing I enjoyed on this weekend getaway? The food! Everyone helped in preparing the meals and they all turned out delicious. Seriously! I’m thinking of trying them out on my own — especially the “Good Shepherd’s Pie” and “Bangus Belly in Spanish Sauce”.

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I don’t know what its actual name is but everyone called it “Good Shepherd’s Pie”. It has chicken chunks and carrots in mushroom sauce, topped with mashed potato and greens. It was a hearty meal and I can’t wait to make my own version of it. I really need to have a decent kitchen soon!  The Bangus Belly meal is a mashed-up of two of my favorites: bangus belly and spanish sardines. It was really easy to make. I just need a pressure cooker and the right ingredients and voila! Instant awesome meal! 🙂

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And what’s a getaway without the booze? We had our fill of these after dinner while playing King’s Cup. It was hilarious! The game got funnier as everyone gets drunker.

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In the morning before heading home, we went to the other side of the lake to enjoy the view and have some photo ops. Thank the heavens for the really lovely weather that weekend.

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A Taste of Autumn

AutumnI had a grand time in South Korea. It was my first time to experience autumn and it was amazing!!! Sure, the weather could be nasty at times but what the heck. It was all part of the fun! 🙂

I’m still in the process of filtering out the pictures that I took during my 4-day vacation there. I promise to be back with more snapshots and words. Annyeong haseyo!

Pumped Up for Foster!

I’ve been gushing about Foster the People ever since I got introduced to their music. And being a fan girl, I did not dare miss their first ever concert here in the Philippines no matter how financially deprived I was at that time. Bought Upper B tickets in Araneta Coliseum which is not so bad.  Hey, it’s all for the music, right? Nah… Who am I kidding? I would vouch for the VIP Patron seats if I could. Anything to be nearer to my current favorite band. But I can’t so I didn’t. I just bought myself a pair of Eye-max — those foldable paper binoculars which cost 60 bucks a piece — so that I can zoom in on them if I’m not jumping and dancing around like a crazed person.

That Saturday was really amazing!!! They have such strong presence on stage and they sure can sing and play music– them, jumping around from one instrument to another. Seriously… I was mind-blown!

I was lucky that Christian was there to document it for me. Here’s the video that he made for the concert highlights with Pumped Up Kicks in the background– an epic ending to an epic night!

Boradventure!

Before the Christmas season kicks into full gear (yes, here in the Philippines, the Christmas season starts as early as September), let me reminisce our Boracay adventure last July. The current weather is making me miss the sun. Well, the weather has been a mix lately — one time it’s sunny, another minute it would rain like hell. But one noticeable change is the chill in the air; that pretty much gives away the “Christmas is just around the corner” thing.

Anyway, remember when I told you that we went there just to bum around? Well, I kinda lied. We also had a dose of Boracay adventure that most tourists fall prey upon on. The only difference is, there was no real planning involved. Whenever we felt that we had a bit too much of bumming, we went out playin’. So here goes…

All-Terrain Vehicle

One thing about riding an ATV is it makes you look cool… in a kickass kind of way. Doesn’t really matter if you haven’t driven a motorcycle before. This has four wheels so balancing is not a problem. If you know how to bike, it’s a plus. What makes it more exciting is the route that you have to go through aboard this. The pit stop is Mt. Luho, the highest peak in the island where you can enjoy the Boracay sights from a different vantage point.

We went to Borayd’s because our contact told us that they have bigger vehicles compared to the others. The bigger, the better right? Uhm. Not really. It turned out to be a bad thing for one of us. My roomie, Mils, had a terrible accident halfway in our route.

Because of that, we didn’t push through to Mt Luho and returned to Borayd’s instead. We had some dispute with the owner and other staff about the incident and refund and the likes. In the end, we settled to have another go at it the next day (with the exemption of Mils who had a splint on her injured hand). The next day, it was raining hard so it made driving to the peak more challenging. But we did managed to get there. Unluckily, nobody brought a camera.  We settled to have a fun photo op at the Borayd’s office instead.

And this is why you shouldn’t mess with me! (Kidding!)

Skimboarding

This is not my first time to have a go at skimboarding but this is definitely the first time that I tried and didn’t fall on my ass several times. While walking by the shore, RR told us that he wanted to rent a board and an instructor and learn how. We agreed with the idea because we have nothing else to do. That one hour tutorial turned out to be so much fun!

The colorful boards that lured RR
RR sure is a fast learner

We would find out later that the hotel had two boards available for guests. It’s actually for rent but the hotel crew were kind enough to let us borrow them for free. I actually overheard one telling the other that we would not last an hour of skimboarding under the sun so it’s futile to charge us with rent. Boy, they were so wrong!

In the days that followed, whenever we are caught in a bumming stump, we would grab the available boards in the hotel and skim for hours. I still have to practice and learn a lot but the funniest part? You get to see everyone fall off their asses. It’s not just me now. 😀

Paraw Sailing

On our last day, we decided to rent a paraw and go sailing to catch the sunset. The experience was surreal and bumpy. I never realized that paraw sailing has a bit of stress into it. If you want to try this, be prepared to be splashed by big waves right on your face. And if you are lucky, you might find yourself being thrown off the boat. Don’t worry; they provide life vests. 😀

When we reached the middle of the sea, the boatmen lowered the anchor and let us marvel and take in the beauty of the sunset. It was amazing! That was the perfect time to open the ice box that we brought aboard and pass bottles of ice-cold beers to everyone.

The boys enjoying a cold bottle of beer while sailing

We also tried Fly Fishing. Not the actual fishing method but the ACV ride. This amphibious air-cushion vehicle is pulled by a speedboat and actually looks like 3 banana boats put together. It was exciting especially when we go very fast, crash against the waves, and are lifted vertically in the air. I really had fun but not with the aftermath. It gave me a serious whiplash after. Also, nobody bothered to bring an underwater camera so we weren’t able to get a video or any pictures. Boo!

And oh, if ever you plan to take on the night scene, bar hopping and drinking like kids, don’t forget to put on your swim wears under your outfits. There’s nothing more refreshing and liberating (and sobering) than taking your cover-ups off and running to the beach for a night swim.

So there goes my sweet Bora reminiscing. I really miss the beach and the sand and the sun and the fun. I know that the next summer’s a long way so for now, I will just enjoy what the cold season has to offer. 🙂