Saturday, 28 July 2007
We were asked to form a group of 6 people with at least 3 countries represented, with both male and female members, and were given a map and a list of things to look for and gather around Boulder. My teammates were Marita (Germany), Sophie (China), Johann (Sweden), Clara (Mexico) and Ellen (Staff, USA)
On a wall at the beer making factory!
Denver is such a big city with wide roads that it looks almost empty. I always have trouble walking around and finding where I'm supposed to be because of the wide streets.
Now imagine having to walk across wide streets in super bone-drenching rain. It was freezing cold, the sewers were spewing out water, the sidewalks were flooded. And me and three other crazy people just ran through around 4 blocks of heavy, heavy rain. One time, while crossing the street, I left one of my flipflops in the middle of the road! I had to run back and get it. By that time all of us were running around in our bare feet.
We took photos, and people and locals were waving hello and taking photos. It was a hilarious experience. We finally got to the nearest restaurant to get something to eat while we waited for the rain to stop.
My roommate Lesley and I decided not to go to tonight's Culture Jam anymore because we were soaked! The rain did not stop though, so we just shivered our way down at the bus stop, and shivered again through the hour and a half trip back to our host family's house.
Wet Jaylee and Lesley at Johnny Rockets (a nice 50's restaurant)
Really wet and cold Vanessa, Hanna and Brodie.
Friday, 27 July 2007
Thursday, 26 July 2007
Monday, 23 July 2007
Sunday, 22 July 2007
ven y dime tu no me digas no"
Now I have no idea what that somg said -- but it has something to do with listen to the beat of my heart - boom, boom, boom.
Ah, and I get to dance the SALSA... yeah, dance as if no one is watching and I feel sexy. Haha.
This past week passed by so quickly and most of the time at 3PM I am so ready to pass out of exhaustion... tired from dancing, singing and there is the occasional education session (which I love, by the way...) - definitely information overload!
My motivation is that fact that we go to the Philippines and get to show off this stuff! I guess we Filipinos need these happy uplifty songs once in a while!
I vow to update my journal over this weekend! Well, tomorrow we will go whitewater rafting!
Tuesday, 17 July 2007
August 6-13 Tucson, Arizona
August 13-16, Globe, Arizona
August 16-20, Sierra Vista, Arizona
August 20-27, San Diego, California
August 27-Sept 3, Corcoran, CA
Sept 4- Sept 30 - Around Oregon and Seattle
October 1-7 - Lecco, Italy
October 8-14 - Luzern, Switzerland
October 15-21 - Zell Harmersbach, Germany
October 22-28- Prenzlau, Germany
October 29-Nov 4 - Dronten, The Netherlands
Nov 5-11 - Leuven, Belgium
November 12 - December 10 - PILIPINAS!
Keep posted for SHOW DATES! Sa mga kaibigan kong Pilipino, manuod kayo ha. Di ako bida or anything but if you look closely (as in super close) baka makita nyo ako! Haha. But really, the show is super worth watching ;-)
After that, a member of the previous cast shared his letter to us, and it was so beautiful. Sharing this also with you...
Listen carefully; I have something very important to tell you.
This is a remarkable world, and it deserves all of the attention you can give it. Let everything inspire you. Focus on yourself and all that is around you. Find the patterns. Search for the differences. Understanding these will help you make sense of your life. It will help you break the habit of falling down in the same place where you’ve always fallen down before.But be warned, it’s a hard habit to break.
You are about to journey to far corners of this world and in every one of them a secret is waiting to be revealed to you.You’ll have to keep your eyes open to see them. You can’t keep your heart locked up like a secret if you’re going to realize that you are so much more than just yourself. You are a part in the great mystery of everything.
Just think, for a second, of every thing that’s happened to bring you here today. Not just your life, but all the lives that came before you.
You can believe in anything, God or the ground beneath your feet, to know that your existence and presence here today and in the world is what they mean by ‘miracle’.
Now think of what could be waiting out there for you. All that is about to happen that you cannot control. Families across the world who will welcome you with open arms. You may never really know if people can change. But you are about to learn that experience can change everything. Your actions can spread. Where you’ve been, what you’ve done, and the love you give can expand, coloring everything in your life that came before it. Love expanding. Now there’s a concept that could change the world. So keep your eyes on your heart and nothing else. You’ll find, with this, that your heart will lead you to the truth. The truth, which is not your emotions, or attractions, or excitements. The truth is strength where you were once weak, compassion where you were once ignorant, and kindness where you were once cruel. You must give these gifts to yourself before you can give them to others.Because love is a choice, not a feeling, and it’s only the brave who ever really make it.
Be kind when no one is watching, and treat those you grow to love always with compassion first. But don’t be so hard on yourself when you don’t.
Always ask – what is it from this that I am meant to understand?What is it the world is really teaching me?Because the world has taught us lies.That we can live a full life alone, but that we need others.That we should put ourselves first. That we should take instead of give.That to love and have joy should be easy. And that our words need not have meaning behind them. It’s not the world’s fault it’s lied to us – it can’t help itself.But it’s our fault for believing the lies, and we don’t have to any longer. So – appreciate humanity. Appreciate this earth and everything in it. It needs you now, and it’s every atom, if you allow it, can inspire you to grow and change.
Have fun, close your eyes, spread your arms and forget yourself and how to breathe. Everything you know is over-rated, everything you’ll ever learn will someday be forgotten. And to be lost is to be free.
This experience is not about the moment that came before, or the moment that comes next, it’s about the truth you open your heart to in every moment that you are in. It’s a gift to close your eyes, raise your head to the sky, and see light where there should be darkness. The world is waiting for you, right now, to teach it something new. So teach it loudly. Life begins today, just as it began yesterday, filled with possibility.Have faith. Do not be afraid. That which is true will never leave your side.It is never to late to turn what’s wrong around.You are about to build a family around yourself. So Welcome Home. Build your life with pride, and kindness. Beginnings do not last, it’s what you do with what you’ve started that will determine the worth not only of this experience, but of your very life.
Cast Party afterwards!
Monday, 16 July 2007
Saturday, 14 July 2007
After a bit of discussion, big sheets of paper with individual countries were posted all over the room, and we went around to write our “image” of that country or people living in that country.
Then people from the countries are asked to go up front and talk about how they felt about the stereotypes that other cultures put them in. I was kind of surprised about what they put on Philippines. There were some stuff there that were totally unexpected and I was surprised that some of those that I expected didn’t even come out.
I didn’t get any racist or stupid remarks and that was good. And the negative ones that came up were partly true and it did make me feel quite bad that my country is like that or has that! But hey, we need Brutal Truth sometimes.
Here are some that I remember…
Poverty – a lot of people wrote this. Totally true.
Prostitution and Child Trafficking – it is sad to admit that there are some “hot spots” in the Philippines but I shared with the group that people resort to these practices due to lack of education and extreme poverty. I also added the fact that foreigners are the most likely customers because they have the money to spend. This is especially true with parents who tolerate their child being sold out there.
All people can dance the Tinikling – no, not all of us can do it! But (hopefully) all Filipinos know about it
Very Traditional – Personally, I kind of feel like we are losing the Philippine traditions. In this age of technology we have lost “panliligaw” (courtship) and that “Maria Clara” image of women (women being shy and conservative) . and somewhat our respect for elders. But I do still value the “po and opo” (words we use to show respect) and the Filipino family culture.
Bad Food – we have very good food (to which someone agreed! Yehey!)
Where US Sailors get their tattoos – probably because of the movie “An Officer and a Gentleman”
Exotic places – so true, I haven’t visited all of them though
Tsunami – no, we weren’t affected by that
Rice, Seafood – yup
Traffic – in some places, yes
Oh and I learned a lot of things about other places too – here are some of the interesting ones…
In the Netherlands, people love bikes. But they get old bikes so they don’t get stolen.
Even if it is in Africa, there are hardly any wildlife in Uganda. You have to go to Safari in order to see them. Julianna, the Ugandan delegate haven’t even seen a lion in her whole life.
Contrary to Harry Potter, Bulgaria can be very hot in the summer – as in up to 40 degrees Celsius.
Brazilians love showing off skin.
The Swedes are very quiet people and are kind of amazed how people can talk so much.
That’s about it for this topic!
We will be staying for 4 weeks here in Denver (3 remaining weeks!) practicing and learning the show… so we had a bit of a discussion about US Culture. And here are some interesting Facts::::
How much time at work does it take to make $1,000.00?
CEO = 2 hours and 15 minutes
Doctor = 13 hours and 5 minutes
Professional Athlete = 6 minutes
Policemen = 43 hours
Brad Pitt = 4 minutes
Farmer = 57 hours
Janitor = 103 hours
(Upon comparison with my old salary, I think I will be earning $1,000 dollars after 3 months of working – tama ba ang computation ko?)
We also tackled the consumerism in America.. in a country with around 300 Million people, here are some trivia of what gets bought everyday…
50,061,507 cans of Pepsi
152,424 pounds of Starbucks Coffee (they have Starbucks in every corner! But just like in the Philippines, some people consider it an expensive and “trendy” brand – a place to be “seen”. I’ve always thought it was a “normal” brand here.)
300,000 packs of diapers
2,400,000 Burger King Whoppers
86,000 I Pods
6,000,000 Fed Ex Packages sent
Keep in mind that these are DAILY purchases!
Last Tuesday, July 10 we had “Modules” which meant that we were divided into small groups of around 7 people and made to pass stations for singing, speaking and dancing (movement).
My group first went through movement, where we lined up in front of the dance staff. One of the staff showed us several types of dances and we were made to follow it – ranging from Salsa, Swing, Hip Hop and Jazz. You wouldn’t believe it, but I had a really great time! We had about 45 minutes of this while the staff took down notes.
In between modules, the costume staff looked at the show costumes that we brought (they gave us a color palette to follow a few weeks before the start of program – these are basically just colors of the clothes that we should bring). I liked mine so much – it was a Malaysian skirt owned by my mom when she was studying in Thailand. And it was good that it was approved so I don’t have any problems with my costume right now.
Our next module was vocals. Uh-oh – I made it a point to tell them that I don’t even do karaoke! I would have been more comfortable if I was asked to sing a song that I knew. But what happened was, again, they made us line up in a “firing squad” position, taught us an excerpt of one of the songs from the show and made us sing together. After two rounds of group singing, we had to sing it one by our BY OURSELVES.
I don’t know why but I just couldn’t do it! There were tears in my eyes! I felt so funny and really humiliated! But the people there were so encouraging and all that they made me stand really close to the organist and sang softly when I did my “Solo”. I was amazed that they put me in Soprano. Haha. I had to have a picture with the Music team after that
They also made us speak a little – and this is a part that I hope I get something “important” – but I really doubt it. The cast is made up of so many people having English as their first language.
At the back of my mind I really, really wish I had the talent for the show. A lot of Filipinos are really making it big in singing and dancing and I just feel so bad that I am representing my country without any of these! But hey, the primary reason that I joined Up with People is because of the community impact and education it offered. The show is just like a bonus part that will make me fulfill that secret dream of being an artista – so there!
Today (July 13) they announced lead dancers and lead singers – after seeing the disappointment in some people’s faces I was kind of pleased that I wasn’t one of the super talented ones because I was not expecting to lead in anything! I am looking forward to Filipinos joining UWP with both the talent, passion and personality. I only had the two last characteristics, hehe.
I am planning to apply for an internship though… Students can apply for staff internships and get hands-on learning about the different aspects of the program. I am really interested in applying for Education, Admissions, Photo, Video or Marketing. The student will work with certain members of the Road Staff (people who travel with us on the road) for intensive hand on training for 6 weeks. Just for your information, other internship opportunities are Dance, Vocals, Lights, Sounds, Logistics, Business.
Another special internship is the Advance Team internship, where you will leave the cast one-two weeks in advance to do coordination work in a city that the cast will perform in. This involves mostly logistics and marketing – such as finding host families, arranging for food, orientations, community impact projects that the cast will have, etc.
Too bad that they won’t have Advance Team for the Philippines! But I will still apply for Advance Team and hope that secretariat work in other countries is not much different from secretariat work in the Philippines!
Friday, 13 July 2007
Last Sunday, July 8, our host family took us to the Red Rocks Amphitheater for a free concert by the Colorado Symphony Orchestra… and it was really cool! Families with little kids were there with picnic baskets listening to super relaxing music. I felt so lucky for the experience.
The following day, we went to Red Rocks again for something totally different. There were a few local bands who played while local artists did really nice paintings on stage (hmmm idea!). The highlight of the evening was a movie called “The Big Lebowski” which starred Jeff Daniels and John Goodman. Apparently, it was a movie which has gained a cult following in America – and I would say that I cannot see why. It was full of curse words and some unnerving sex icons. I still consider myself conservative (believe it or not) and I simply couldn’t stand it. I am not posting a video of that here but feel free to watch some clips here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqtgfjkB6Pg
Much worse was that the crowd that Monday was totally different from the crowd for the orchestra. There was beer, people throwing up, and from time to time the air was filled with the stench of marijuana. (I know some people from back home would’ve loved that experience, ah, but I didn’t!) I totally felt unsafe in such an unfamiliar crowd. And when I say crowd, it was really a HUGE crowd.
By writing this down I am risking myself to be exposed as #1 PRUDE. I guess rather than complaining, I should try to look at this experience as a supreme immersion to American culture. What do you think?
Wednesday, 11 July 2007
Writing this in between breaks.. today was opening day and I am so overwhelmed with everything that is happening. There are over 100 new faces – different cultures, different first impressions – what a very, very unique experience.
Right this very minute – I just need quiet time. This morning was a mixture of emotions for me. Seeing some parts of the show and performing alumni and hearing the songs brought tears into my eyes. I cannot imagine that in 4 weeks I will be able to perform like them. It was beautiful and exciting.
We had a variety of other getting to know you activities – and again whenever I am feeling happy or feeling a bit homesick, I sometimes ask myself, “Hanna, what have you done? Are you really serious in thinking that you can pull this off?”
I am missing home and sometimes I feel uncomfortable… but I hope this blows over soon. I’ve made a few friends and I love them. And we also have small groups called “home teams” that will meet each day to process experiences and learnings. I’ll try to name them : Maria (Sweden), Josh (USA), Rasmus (Denmark), Jaylee (Hawaii), Iliana (Mexico), Emily (USA) – ahah , I think I got them all. It’s really hard to memorize everyone’s names ! we will be 111 students all in all and will travel in 2 separate casts.
We still do not know our final Cast – they said we’ll find out after auditions…
I miss home and I miss Tagalog!
This is our rehearsal building. Yup we got the whole building to ourselves! Vocals in the basement, lunch and staff meetings at the ground floor, then we also have a ballroom for cast meetings, and 4th floor is the auditorium, and there is a landing used for the dance routines. The building is about a hundred years old! very nice.
Here is the ballroom where most cast meetings happen. More to come.. it is really hard to keep up with the blogging. Here is what our schedule for the week looks like. You can see that this is not a vacation!
"Yeah, I think so too!"
When I decided to get married at 25, a lot of people told me that it will be the end of all my dreams and wild adventures. But this is not how I feel now. Because I know that Sam is that type of guy that I can dream with and have adventures with.
A lot of people here now at UWP are amazed at how can someone “attached” and “married” be leaving her husband and traveling all over the world. They all ask me if this was ok with my husband. And all of them smile or a few even gave me hugs when I replied, “Yup, he supports me all the way!”
I remember what Sam told me when I was first starting the good vibes that I will be able to join UWP, “Go ahead, that is for your own personal growth. I know that this is your dream … hindi kita pipigilan (I won’t stop you)” I was amazed by this very sweet and supportive answer because I was expecting some sort of resistance.
When finally I was all set to go, Sam told me that of course, he felt a bit of sadness but still won’t stop me from going. All throughout we prayed together and I was very emotional when he told me that if ever I fell homesick, we should draw strength and inspiration from each other even if we are far apart.
So here we are – happily married but separated by time and space. We hardly exchange messages since it can get expensive from my part of the world, and I can’t even just use a phone card to call him since he’s so busy.
As we both follow our dreams this year -- we are indeed busy with our own separate adventures, but in heart and spirit we are together… and so looking forward to doing exciting adventures together in the future.
I miss you Sam!
Monday, 9 July 2007
It was fun looking at the rows of happy faces carrying all sorts of things – ranging from lemonade, picnic basket, beach ball, sand box – and even swim trunks! I found out that I had a roommate staying with the same host family – Lesley from Tucson, Arizona. She’s also 25 years old, and a dance teacher.
From afar, we already saw Laurie and Bill throwing a volleyball up and down “They look kinda cool” Lesley whispered.
And indeed they were – married for 14 years , they were not able to have any kids. They said they compensated for this by doing all sorts of volunteer work. Like being host family to a lot of youth programs and being involved in the Little Brothers Little Sisters program of America, where they take care of kids from time to time. Bill is a military brat and Laurie used to be in the army as a spy (how cool is that!). Both of them are really the outdoorsy type of people!
They have a darling home with a terrace and natural airconditioning which really fascinated me. It was a contraption which extracts cold air from outside and blows it inside the home! Para talagang aircon. Summer in Colorado is really hot.
Tired as we were… they took us and their friend Gina to the Cherry Arts Festival – which is an annual music and arts festival in an uppity (“hoidy toity” – their version of “wursh-wursh” hehe) part of Denver. There was live music and a lot of artists booths selling sculpture, jewelry, photographs and paintings. Really nice!
Photo shows Lesley, Gina (the Zempels' good friend), me, Laurie and Bill at the Cherry Arts Festival
We stayed at the airport waiting around and I met lots more people! Staff members were there to welcome us and again, just to give you a clue about the diversity of the group, here are the names I remember – Vanessa (USA), Vanessa (Quebec, Canada), Amy (Malaysia), Sayuri (another Yuri, also from Japan), Graham (USA) and , and – oh no. I am so terrible with names! But there were quite a lot of people in the airport.
We were brought to the Montbello Convention Center where most of our activities and rehearsals are to take place… There, we met more people! And I finally met Scott, Anke and Colleen (who were my contacts during the application process) and more more people!! We got our schedules, bus passes and name tags (finally!!) mine said “Hanna Fernando-Pacua” (sosyal ang pag pronounce ng Pacua dito – Pa-koo-wah at hindi basta Pakwa hehe)
I was thrilled to meet a half-Filipina and half-Norwegian cast member! Her mom was there, looking very Filipina… it was Yuri who told me that she was pure Filipina. I was so excited to find someone to talk to in Tagalog – but it turned out even the Mom grew up in the US! No Tagalog for me! Oh but she was really excited to meet me – and her kids too, they were like, “Wow! A real Filipina!!!” They did know some Tagalog words, like : adobo, lumpia and pancit! – The mom traveled with UWP many years ago and met her husband there.
We basically just hung out and waited for our host families to arrive… my info sheet said I had Laurie and Bill Zempel, no children – and one dog. Uh-oh – I wonder what kind of dog!!!
We’re staying at Microtel Inn about 15 minutes away from the airport. My roommate is Alexandra Nageau (did I get the spelling right?) from Romania. We arranged this through Facebook and the Internet. She’s such a nice girl!
When we arrived from the airport, Alecs and Yuri (from Japan, this is her 2nd UWP tour, she is from Cast A 2007 and decided to sign up for a whole year so she can improve her English..) were waiting for us.
It was a happy first meeting. I was amazed at how easily we were able to talk to each other, no inhibitions or whatever. We went on ahead to look for other UWP cast members in the hotel ( there were about 9 early arrivals) but was only able to locate Juliana from Uganda (ahem ahem anong bansa ang madaming maganda? Ano? Uh-Ganda! – sorry naalala ko lang si Sir Mario! Hehe) . We hung out a bit in her room and I gave them Ensaymada from Goldilocks (got some from L.A) and they liked it a lot.
Sleeping at 2 AM… long day later! 07-07-07 starts my adventure with UWP. (Well, it actually started already!)