Hanna Fernando-Pacua (PHILIPPINES) temporarily leaves her comfort zone to travel, serve, and perform around the world in five months. She hopes to share with you this very meaningful experience.

Up with People provides students with an extraordinary semester of traveling the world. As a student your perspectives on the world will never be the same. UWP is for that certain student who's looking for an intense, hands-on, involved global educational experience. The program addresses the very real need for young adults and leaders who have global perspectives, intercultural understanding, knowledge of worldwide social issues, leadership skills and a dedication to community service. For more information, visit www.upwithpeople.org.

HANNA's SATTELITE SITE and GALLERY (+ photos, videos, calendar) http://www.bananaspinuwp.multiply.com/

Friday, 31 August 2007

The Farming Capital of California

Big Cities. Small Cities. Ah, the beauty of Up With People. From the beaches of San Diego to the fields and fields and fields of farmland in Corcoran, CA.

Yes, we are here in this town called the "Farming Capital of California" and the home of the JG Boswell company - the largest crop company in the United States, the largest producer of tomatoes in the world and controls 65% of California's premium cotton production. Take note, however, that California produces 90% of cotton in the world market.
Corcoran welcomed us with a parade led by a vintage firetruck (so cool that I was able to be on it! We also had a picture in the front page of the paper the following day!), police cars, balloons, motorbikes. Our arrival in this City felt so promising that day and now that I am on my 4th day, I can say that I am not disappointed.

This is my first time to have roommateS - I am staying with my host parents, Bob and Elaine - and with Gabe, Tyrell and Nikki (yup, same Nikki in San Diego) Nikki and I have a sweet room on the 2nd floor of the house that is just full of model trains! Our dad is crazy about them that he has a huge track in the second floor, and a more "scenic" track in our backyard - complete with bridges and lighthouses.
Crazy Corcoran had a Crazy Schedule!

Tuesday and Thursday mornings were full of Stand for Peace workshops. May I share again that Stand for Peace is an Up With People project which aims to bring awareness and understanding of culture and diversity into the classroom. We do this through an interactive workshop with the kids - so far we have done SFP with middle schools around the country. We also did mini-shows for these schools right after the workshops.

Wednesday morning treated us to a tour of the JG Boswell fields and cotton gin. I would say that Corcoran is Boswell town, I see the company's name in plaques around town-- donating this and that. The tour was fields and fields as far as the eyes can see! We had an intresting video about the cotton and the tomatoes that they produce and how they do crop rotation with alfalfa and wheat. Oh, Sam would have loved this tour! It was amazing how they use sattelite driven trucks to harvest the cotton and tomatoes (no drivers!). We also had a chance to see an actual tomato harvest!

Now, what exactly is cotton gin? Yep it's an alcoholic drink made from cotton!

The cotton gin is where the raw cotton is processed to be made into the clean fiber that manufacturers use. The JG Boswell cotton gin is able to process 12 loads of cotton per hour (and that's 26 tons of cotton per load!). The phrase for that day was remember, cotton is dangerous! If they are all compressed into big bales! The company is able to process 170,000 bales of cotton per year. Our lunch for that day was sponsored by the company and we got souvenir pens and caps! Ahh, and mini 1 pound cotton bricks!

For our late afternoons from Tuesday through Wednesday , the cast was split into 4 groups and were dropped off in different schools as we helped out with YMCA after school programs. Our group had 80 kindergarten and 1st grade students in our hands for around 3 hours. It was exhausting but fun! Especially on the third day when the kids really knew us already. They loved doing "Baila, Baila!" , a Spanish song that we learned during the Up With People Alumni Reunion back in Tucson.
Friday was an internal education day and I really had a great time. We first had a human rights workshop which I helped facilitate (kudos to Jeremy, the other education intern -- I think he did a great job!) and then had a guest speaker, Kathleen Andersen - the State Warden of the California Substance Abuse and State Prison.
Corcoran is home to this prison -- the population of which outnumbers the 12,000 population of the City of Corcoran, and is considered to be the largest prison in the free world. Charles Manson, an infamous serial killer in the US is there along with several other "famous" people.

It is amazing to know how "privileged" the prisoners in California are. It is mandated by law that they go to high school and to learn English (if they don't know it). High school graduates are offered vocational programs so that they will have skills if ever they are released. They have amazing healthcare benefits and it may even be possible for them to get free heart surgery if they really need it. I had a great urge to say : Hey, if I need heart surgery, I'll just kill a couple of people and go to prison for free healthcare!

Halfway through lunch we had an intern meeting where all interns did a small persuasive speech to practice for public speaking -- I'll tell you more about my speech later!

Friday afternoon was FREE TIME at the YMCA pool! We had Home Team Olympics where cast groups competed against each other in events such as -- Synchronized Swimming, Fastest group to go down the slide, Diving for Rings (getting rings 12 feet deep!) , and "Chubby Bunny". Chubby Bunny was a fun (but quite disgusting) game where people stuff marshmallow after marshmallow in their mouths until they could no longer say "Chubby Bunny!" -- the person who puts most marshmallows in his or her mouth wins the game.

Ah, 3 hours of free time was pure bliss. I did some laps and felt so stretched and refreshed.

I was so excited for show day because my Tita (Aunt) Miriam and Tito (Uncle) Conrad from Cerritos, CA , and my friend Tiffany from Los Banos, CA came to see the show! The John Muir gymnasium was again such an experience because it was so HOT ! I could feel the sweat streaming down my face and see steam and droplets coming off of everyone on stage.

But it was a full house! Tickets were sold out and we had an amazing audience. It really helped that we spent a lot of time in the schools around the city. The kids liked the show a lot and even asked for autographs!

Sunday, (today!) is free day! I spent the morning with Tita and Tito and Tiffany. We went to the next town to do some shopping (I got an extra pair of formal slacks because we wear them all the time, a new black top because mine is so tight already because I am gaining so much weight, new dance shoes because Tita Girlie said better to get them now than in Europe, some tops) and I ended up with more luggage than ever even if I unloaded some of my stuff! It was so fun to catch up with everyone and to speak my language again :-)

Tomorrow is Travel Day again -- after a Mexico culture presentation -- we will all board the bus to Redding, California. We'll spend the night in Redding then continue on to our next city, Winston, Oregon! The cast will be a big part of the annual Melon Festival.

Work, Work for the Education Team next week! Winston is Ellen and mine's city. As Education Intern, I play a big role in planning and executing internal education for the cast. For next week, we have Debate/ Dialogue and Public Speaking sessions coming up, as well as Community Impact projects and Stand for Peace classrooms. Whew. It's going to be a busy week! By the time we get to Coos Bay, Oregon -- I should be able to run cities on my own. I am so nervous about it!

Goodbye Corcoran! Loved this city!

Look, my own street!

Monday, 27 August 2007

On the Road Again .., Goodbye San Diego

As with with Tucson, I am finding it hard to say bye-bye to San Diego. It is such a beautiful city with lots of things to do. I can imagine myself living here (if I didn't say that already) -- with the sun, surf, sand. And as the San Diego visitors' guide says: San Diego - 365 days of aaaahh. Yes, my host mom says it's bright and sunny all year round.

Terry, my host mom (her husband is out of town...) travelled with Up With People in 1985. And it was so fun exchanging stories with her , and getting a glimpse of how Up With People was back then. Imagine, during their time, it was one whole year of travelling! My roommate this time was Nikki from Hawaii.

Today was free day and we were able to visit Coronado island (home of the posh Hotel del Coronado and the Navy SEALs) and then.. SEA WORLD! Terry's friend Dwayne gave us free tickets :-) so we went around with Dwayne, Jeff (from Taiwan) and Lucas (from Belgium).

Our first ride was the Shipwreck Rapids -- where we all got soaked! Then we also saw the Dolphin Show, the Shamu show (yey!) plus the Wild Arctic ride.

I guess I have a new dream job now -- yep, dolphin trainer!
Ah, we dropped by a place overlooking San Diego before going home and I think I got a great shot of Nikki there ;-)
Tomorrow at 7am, we go to Corcoran, California...

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Border Issues and Unaccompanied Minors

It is Thursday today and the three days that passed in San Diego has been very interesting for me ...
Tuesday was a day full of speakers, and it was a welcome break from rehearsals and workshops that only involved people within the group. I needed variety. And Tuesday was truly one of them.
The City of San Diego is right beside the Mexican border, and the location makes it a hotspot for illegal settlers. Our morning started with Kathi Anderson, Executive Director of an organization called "Survivors of Torture International". The non-profit deals with people who are victims of politically motivated torture or illegal immigration. some of the services they offer are healthcare, legal counsel, livelihood training and counseling. We also learned at how the staff dealing with the clients also undergo what they call a "vicarious trauma" due to their exposure to the sad and horrible stories of torture..
The next speaker was Pedro Rios, the Program Director of the American Friends Service Commitee. Their organization deals with the illegal immigrants who come into the United States -- mostly those who cross the border from Mexico.

The border, aside from being a physical manifestation of the separation of Mexico and the US, also represents a site for human rights abuse.

After a promo show at the Seaport Village in San Diego, we were off again to another Regional Learning Activity at the Tijuana Estuary. The Tijuana Estuary is a wildlife preservation park (wetland) that runs along the border.

Soon, we were at at the border, looking over to Mexico. It was a weird feeling to see a very thin but powerful fence separating two countries. We got to talk to Sean Gisler, the Border Patrol officer on duty that day. According to him, due to the daily risks they face on the job. almost all officers are against amnesty for illegal immigrants. He also emphasized that 22% of those that cross illegally have criminal cases such as rape, robbery, substance abuse and smuggling.
It was amazing how in the morning I was empathizing with the immigrants, and in the afternoon -- I could also totally feel for the Border patrol officers and how they risk their safety preventing the illegal immigrants coming through.

Wednesday and Thursday were both Community Impact days and I decided to challenge myself and signed up to volunteer for the Southwest Keys Unaccompanied Minors Center. The organization helps young people who cross the border unaccompanied by their parents or guardians. They provide food, shelter, education -- and everything else that every kid should have. At the Center, we painted the office walls and interacted with the kids a litle bit.

I was amazed at how beautiful the place was -- indeed incomparable to the rescue centers or orphanages that we have in the Philippines. The kids (15 residents only at a time) were well provided for and the stuff that they have available at the center are things that a normal Filipino child can only dream of! They had gardens and a basketball court. The buildings were air conditioned - with vending machines and bathtubs and carpets and computers. Two kids to a bedroom and each room had their own bathroom.

The kids mostly came from Central America -- Ecuador, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador, etc.. ; and there was one guy from China. Most of them did not speak any English - so my conversations with them were full of "no intiendes" !

Seeing them all there affected me a lot, and made me think hard : What prompted these kids to just risk their safety and cross the American border illegally? What will happen to them next? When they were all introducing themselves, I was just sitting there in awe and thinking about how many more people around the world may be chasing the American dream ?

I just fell silent then and there and wondered about how these kids' lives were in their own countries.. were they happy? were they forced to cross the border? do they ever want to go home? Do they have any family?

It was a fascinating CI for me. I believe that I connected with the kids even with the very bad language barrier. "No intiende" but muchas impormasyon and realization.

Here are some processing questions that I'd like to reflect on , and maybe invite you to try it yourself..

1. Put yourself in the shoes of a torture victim. How are you feeling? Also be aware that you have somewhere to go or someone to talk to.
2. Put yourself in the shoes of one of the staff that works with torture victims. Do you think you may be able to handle it? What do you think will be the hardest part of it?
3. Put yourself in the shoes of an illegal immigrant? What drove you to leave your country? Was it fear? need? Loss of hope? Is it worth all the risk?
4. Imagine that you are a border patrol officer, working hard in the hot sun. Imagine the border patrol officers' family waiting eagerly for him to come home at the end of the day.

Have a great day everyone!

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Featured in Sierra Vista

I am now in San Diego , but would like to invite you to visit the Sierra Vista Herald site :-)

Yours truly got interviewed for the paper ! Together with Johann from Sweden and Blaine from Texas.

Read the article here:

Sunny San Diego

(featuring my impossibly heavy luggage)

Lots of reasons to be excited about San Diego.

1) It's a big California City! Sea World. San Diego Zoo.
2) I was here 15 years ago and it feels so weird that I don't remember anything.
3) It's Navy. Navy. Navy. It's a huge Navy city and Coronado Island, where the US Navy Seals undergo basic training, is located here. (more for Sam than me!).
4) Two days of community service, woohoo!
5) San Diego makes me feel so homesick.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Sierra Vista Show Photos

I hardly get show photos. My host dad in Sierra Vista, Bill, had a blast taking show photos. Here are some of them :-)

Most of them are not so flattering angles -- but hey, it's a show! (Ahh and the camera added 10 pounds hehe)

I am a "child wrangler" -- in every show, we have child performers. I am part of the team who is in charge of them. It is really fun!

We have a song called "One to One" where we also use sign language. I am one of the "signers" onstage. Most of the cast goes into the audience for this part.

We sing and dance to Abba's "Mama Mia" -Yuri (from Japan) and I love this song because we get to be infront, rock out , and not care!

I also get to wear my Filipiniana costume for two songs during the show. It gets tighter and tighter after every city as I gain more and more weight. :-)

I hope you enjoyed the photos!

Monday, 20 August 2007

Pinoys Around The World

Excuse me, non-Filipino speakers - I just need a break from all that English. This entry shall be written in my native language.

Alam kong madaming Pinoy sa abroad. Kaya nga tumataas ang halaga ng piso, ay dahil sa dolyar na ipinapasok nila sa Pilipinas. Bago ako umalis para sa Up With People, naka-kundisyon na ang sarili ko na maghanap ng Pilipino.

Sabi nga ng kaibigan kong si Pat, "Hanna, wag ka mag-alala - kahit saan ka magpunta, may Pilipino. Pag nalulungkot ka, sumigaw ka lang ng 'baboy' -- sigurado ko, may sasagot sayo!" -- haha natawa ako sa sinabi niyang yon.

Well, hindi ko naman kailangan sumigaw ng baboy para mapansin! Pero ang masasabi ko lang, nandito na ako ngayon sa ika-apat na lugar sa Amerika, at sa lahat nga naman ng lugar ay may Pilipino!

Naalala ko, nakasakay ako sa bus sa Denver, Colorado nang tinanong ng Amerikanong katabi ko kung taga-saan ako. "Philippines," I proudly answered! Aba, bigla na lang may nagtanong mula sa liuran ko... "Saan ka sa Pilipinas?" Siya si Grace na tubong Cebu. Naalala kong tuwang tuwa akong mag-Tagalog.

Sa Denver ko din nakilala si Amy na nagtatrabaho sa mall, may isa pa pero di ko na matandaan! At siyempre, di ko malilimutan si Pastor Carlos at ang kanyang pamilya, at ang kanilang Colorado Community Church. Kung saan ako ay sumama sa church service, kumain ng kanin, nag halu-halo -- at nanuood ng ASAP sa TFC.

Matapos ang Denver, napadpad ako sa Tucson. Doon nag-aaral ang best friend kong si Em - at habang nag-iikot kami sa University of Arizona (o diba? dati sa LB at lobby lang ng Rural ang tambay namin) may nasalubong kaming isa pang Pinoy na taga-LB din. Ang saya-saya.

Ang sumunod naman ay ang Globe, Arizona. Saan yon? isa siyang maliit na town na ilalarawan ko na parang isang lugar mula sa Twilight Zone. Yun bang parang nai-lipat ka ng ibang dimension? Tahimik, antique shops, mga lumang tren.

Maniwala ka't hindi, oo may Pilipino din doon. Anim na guro at ilang mga nurses. Ang host dad kong Amerikano ay may CD pa ni Mark Bautista.

Ngayon, ako ay nasa Sierra Vista, Arizona - ang lugar ng Fort Huachuca, isang US Army Base. Noong isang araw, kasama ako ng isang grupo na nag community service sa base. Kumain kami sa Army Activity Center at napansin ko kaagad ang isang ale.

Ngumiti ako, nagtanong, "Where are you from?" - Siempre, ang sagot nya, "Philippines" . Siya si Greta, 30 years na sa US. May kasamahan pa siyang isa pang Pinay, asawa ng sundalong kano! (Siya naman ang lumapit sa akin at nagtanong, "Where are you from?"). Taga Cavite City si Greta, at yung isa naman (pasensya na, makakalimutin ako) ay taga General Santos City.

Noong hapong iyon kumakain ako ng Mexican food (sawa na ako sa kanya, promise - mahilig ang mga Amerikano sa pagkaing Mexikano) at nagbubugaw ng langaw (oo, may langaw din sa Amerika) nang may batang lalaking (high school siya , grabe matanda na ba ako at "bata" na ang tawag ko sa high school student?) lumapit sa akin, "Hanna?" ang sabi niya.

Matagal ko siyang tiningnan, ngumiti siya at nagsalita... "Kumusta ka?"

Apparently, yun lang ang Tagalog na alam niya. Siya naman si James, ipinanganak sa Pilipinas pero lumaki sa Amerika. Panalo, isa siya sa aplikante sa Up With People. Matagal din kaming nag-usap.

Noong gabing iyon ay may show kami. May bahagi ng show namin na tatakbo kami sa audience at sasayaw. Habang sumasayaw ako't kumakanta, may sumigaw ng pangalan ko. Si Greta! Ang sarap ng pakiramdam ng may kakilala at may kapwa Pilipinong nanonood sayo. Gusto kong umiyak! Mababaw ba? Homesick lang siguro ako. Ang tindi ng kaway ko nang ipakilala sa entablado ang Pilipinas :-)

Kaninang umaga ay nakapagsimba ako sa Catholic Church. Di ako gaanong relihyoso pero ang sarap ng pakiramdam. Isinama ako ng kaibigan ng host family ko.

Ano pa nga ba ang meron sa simbahang Katoliko kundi, Pilipino! Madaming madaming Pilipino! Nakatanggap ako ng regalong novena at madaming yakap mula sa mga kababayan ko. Ang sarap ng pakiramdam. Pati ang paring Amerikano ay marunong ng kaunting Tagalog , at pinatayo ako at pinakilala sa buong Simbahan. "This young lady is travelling around the world with Up With People"

Dinala din ako ni Emily (kaibigan ng host family ko) sa bahay ng kaibigan niyang Pilipino. Tingnan mo nga naman, may bagong hango silang Palitaw! :-)

Hay, overwhelming ang araw na ito. Madami pang kwento pero itong entry na ito ay para lang sa Pilipino. Malamang, mas madaming Pinoy sa San Diego!

Napansin ko lang, lahat halos ng kausap kong Pinoy - nagtatanong, "Bakit hindi ka na lang dito sa Amerika?" Hindi ko alam kung bakit, pero pakiramdam ko , sa Pilipinas pa din ang buhay ko (hindi lang dahil andun ang asawa ko)

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Yee-Hah! (Globe, Arizona)

In the city of Globe, Arizona - we performed in the RODEO STADIUM of the Apache Gold Casino. The experience was so different from Tucson -- in this city, nobody knew about Up With People! As in kakalog-kalog ang venue namin. But it was such a unique experience!

I also totally enjoyed our Community Impact (CI) projects there. One totally got me out of my comfort zone as we worked with the Gila Employment Services Training Center -- handicapped adults. I was CI leader for the day and it was such a challenge. But I feel like I am slowly overcoming my English language insecurities because of our neverending activities!
We also got to paint a local landmark train at the City park. That was fun! Even if it meant scorching heat and burning metal! We were also featured in the local paper :-)

Look closely, I am there somewhere? (Bottom, second from left !)

The University of Arizona Centennial Hall

This is where we had our Tucson show. We had about 2,100 people! The show was sold out.
FYI, Tucson, Arizona used to be the home base of Up With People -- so the people there know and look forward to the shows. We were also lucky to be performing right in the middle of an Up With People Alumni Reunion (at the super posh Westin La Paloma Hotel)

Here are some more photos!

(We taught the kids of UWP Alumni some songs and dances for the Alumni show. Haha. It was frustrating and fun.)

BackTracking Tucson

Now where do I start writing about stuff that I missed writing about?

Maybe the Stand for Peace project we had in Desert Sky Middle School in Tucson? Yes, I guess that is a good starting point. SFP is an Up With People program for schools , where we go into classrooms and conduct workshops on diversity, respect, and peace for the students. We were all trained to do the workships in one of our Education sessions.

We had our first Stand for Peace a day before our Tucson show.

I was a bit nervous conducting the workshops infront of kids from a different culture (8th grade - aged 12-13 years old) since the image that I had of American kids were those from the movies. Brats, smart aleck-y types. But I was so surprised and refreshed after working with the kids! They were all really smart and focused.

A typical Stand for Peace session looks like this:

I. Welcome and Intro for Stand for Peace and Up With People
II. Getting to Know You Ice Breaker
III. Activity: Card Identification (an exercise in similarities and differences)
IV. Movement: Stomp! (we teach them one of the dances in the Show)
V. Activity: Tammy Stands Up (a special session about bullying, which is a big issue in US schools)
VI. Activity: Power With vs Power Over (an activity about how working together peacefully is better than fighting over things)
VII. Wrap Up : Piece of the Peace Puzzle (students write down how they can make peace in their own little way in puzzle pieces)
I was not too confident with my facilitation skills , especially since at the back of my mind I have my insecurities with my English. I promise to have more confidence and to do better next time!

In the afternoon, we had our Back Track Show (BTS) for the students which is like a sneak peek of the full show.

Ah, my favorite part of the day was:
"Diversity. Does anyone know what diversity is?"

(Student raises hand) "Diversity is like a bowl of Fruit Loops. We all come from the same box, yet we are all different. But we're all good"
Loved it.

(photo shows my teammates Raine from Canada and Gina from USA with our homeroom teacher Mr Hill)

Updated US Tour !

To family and friends who can meet me along the way... they announced the new US Tour schedule this morning. (drumroll please...) Kindly email me ahead of time if you can meet me in any of the cities!

August 20-26 - San Diego, California
August 27 - Sept 2 - Corcoran, California
Sept 2 - 3 - Travel from Corcoran to Winston, Oregon (overnight somewhere!)
Sept 4- 10 - Winston, Oregon
Sept 10-13 - Eureka, California
Sept 13-16 - Coos Bay, Oregon
Sept 16-23 - Portland, Oregon
Sept 23 - 24 - Travel from Portland to Las Vegas
Sept 24 - 30 - Las Vegas, Nevada
Sept 30 - Travel from Las Vegas to Seattle (18 hours on the bus -- Lord, give me strength!)

We will fly to Italy from Seattle. Las Vegas was not on the original itinerary, and the tickets are already booked from Seattle, hence the ridiculously long travel.

Friday, 17 August 2007

Tucson Photo Album

Haven't had the time to really write... but I uploaded photos to the gallery.

Please go to http://bananaspinuwp.multiply.com/photos/album/9/The_Desert_Museum_-_Tucson_AZ for some great photos from the Arizona Desert Museum. It was an open air museum in the middle of the desert! Ang init!
Enjoy the photos! I am now in Sierra Vista, Arizona (first night in new host family) -- we just came from Globe, Arizona, where we performed in the Apache Gold Casino's RODEO STADIUM! Hope to write about it soon and to post photos also!

Ingat sa lahat! Miss ko na ang Pilipinas.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

"Live in the Now" ...

... my host dad said.

Yup, I have been here in Tucson for 4 days now and this is the first time I am writing about it. I am so sorry if I have not been able to write about our experience in Gallup, New Mexico (it was only an overnight stay) and a whole lot of details from other experiences. It's just that my host dad told me to live the moment and not stress myself about writing because I just might miss the action right here, right now. So I am just living in the now right now!

I am loving Tucson. Great city. Great experiences. Great host family.
My host parents, Bruce and Kathy Garret lives in the middle of the golf course (I am without a roommate this time, and the room is right beside the laundry room, yey!) . They have such a beautiful home and they are such wonderful people. They have shared a lot of wonderful stories and experiences with me. I do hope I get the chance to right about the whole experience soon.. (promise, i will try my very best.)

Had a great Community Impact day with some people in the cast in one of our beneficiaries' satellite site (our beneficiary was the Southern Arizona Center for Sexual Assault) where we interacted and played with the kids whose moms / guardians were seeking therapy or guidance. It was super fun mainly because the kids were so particapative and open, plus there were only 7 of us who did the CI, which was a great number. We were able to discuss about things well...

I also got to see my best friend Em who is taking up her Masters degree in Agricultural Economics at the University of Arizona. She came with me and my host family to the Desert Museum on my last day in Tucson.

( I can't believe I am missing to write about a lot of other stuff ! Like the Up With People Reunion, our Stand for Peace project, meeting "Super Dad" Bob Kincaid at the alumni Reunion and finding out that he has hosted 6 Filipinas in UWP!, babysitting the kids of the people who attended the reunion, etc, etc...)

Will be leaving Tucson tomorrow and will be on our way to Globe, Arizona. I badly want to blog about this Tucson experience! I need to find time in the bus...

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

The Denver Opening Show

The Up With People season officially started as Cast B did its opening show with a bang last Friday, August 3. The energy in the air was intense and a lot of us still cannot believe that we were there, about to perform the show in every city that we go to.

According to the show list I had 4 roles to play: We had some songs where we had children as guest performers, and I was assigned to be one of the students "in charge" of the kids, I had to lead them on stage and guide them on where to go and what to do. I also had to be a "signer" on stage during the song "One to One" (involved sign language) , while other cast members went to the audience. For the song "We'll be There", I had to change from my show costume to my Filipiniana costume and be part of the group and get to be onstage ahead. Lastly, I was an Up With People "jammer" which basically meant I am left to "jam" onstage while other castmates go to the audience during our last song, the Up With People theme song.
(Which, may I add, is hard to do when you are wearing the prim and proper Filipiniana costume)
I was not the least bit nervous about the show. I was more of excited! Excited to be onstage again, excited for the whole cast who worked so hard on the show. I knew that on that day we were all exhausted (especially the soloists and the main dance lines!) -- but everyone was pumped for the first showing!

The dressing rooms definitely added to my excitement - they were, well, "just like in the movies"! With bright yellow lights and different posters and signs of theater productions. We had our own mirrors and chairs! Again, the whole experience felt so surreal. i totally enjoyed taking photos. I am not a fan of doing my makeup everyday, so i really enjoyed having an excuse for it for the show.

Right before the show, the staff called us for "the Green Room" - which is a theater term referring to the time prior to a performance to go over final notes and team motivation.

Our first Green Room was very interesting and emotional. Everyone did not know what to expect as we were led to a room full of streamers and balloons plus inspiring and motivational posters made for us by the staff.

(By the way -- I love the UWP staff. They may get overboard with all the happiness and positivity at times , but it is way better than being annoyingly sullen. )

After a few show notes and last minute reminders - a few words of appreciation were said about the members of the Staging staff (Some UWP staff only stayed with us in Denver and did not go on the road) and I really think they did a great job in training us.

Then, Gabe , our dance captain, read a letter to Cast B -- it was a letter of reflection that walked through the amazing experience that we had all throughout 4 weeks of staging. He asked questions like, How different are you today? Are you excited? Do you feel like you have made friends for life? Think about how lucky you are. Think about the people back home praying for you. Who misses you? Who do you miss?
Before I knew it, I was crying and people were sniffling all around. It was such a powerful moment and it really made me very thankful for the experience, for the people back home and those who helped me get where I am right now.

Oh and I TOTALLY THINK THAT OUR SHOW WAS AWESOME (well, to think that we had to prepare for it in 4 weeks and that some of us are not really dancers or singers ;-)

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Goodbye Denver

I just can't believe that 4 weeks already passed.

This makes me wonder about the feeling of the next 5 months on the road that will probably be gone in a snap.

Today, I look back on everything that happened here in Denver. The first day, the first week - and then the entire surreal month where I was stretched out of my comfort zone.

I can't believe that we have performed a show already, the first of many... and I am sure things will never be the same from now on. I believe people in the cast are more confident now and are more willing to share a part of themselves throughout the trip. I am so happy to be a part of Cast B.

I haven't uploaded show photos yet but I will once I get Internet access again. We leave Denver at 7:30 AM today, after 8 hours, will stay overnight in Gallup, New Mexico and then travel another few hours to Tucson, Arizona.

I am excited for Tucson. New host family, new environment... I will see Em (my high school best friend studying at the University of Arizona), we will get to do two Community Impact projects, then there's the Up With People Alumni Grand Reunion!

Until next log-in...

Saturday, 4 August 2007

Playing SuperStar at Teikyo Loretto

(I am again late at posting this! Please bear with me…)

Another adjustment for me! Last Monday, Lesley and I had to take a one and a half hour ride to the Teikyo Loretto Heights University - the venue of our show! Rehearsals were in full swing.

When I got inside the theater, my mind flashed back to the days when I was in high school and college and we were getting ready to perform at the DL Umali Hall in the University of the Philippines Los Banos. At that time, the “audi” for me was the most prestigious performing place in the University (hey, it was expensive to rent!)

I am in the chorus / cast movement most of the time for the show. But still, I felt like this is definitely a dream come true – haha. Come to think of it, when I watch a professional production, I never imagine myself as the lead character ;-) I always thought that the chorus looked more fun! Besides, I know my limitations! (Ah, plus the extreme talent that my castmates are showing!)