Monday, August 18, 2008

Taal Volcano trip

On Monday August 11 we headed south to visit the Taal volcano in Taal Lake, about 2 hours south of Manila. This is the worlds smallest active volcano and has a lake inside of it, even as it sits within a lake which is itself a volcanic Caldera! After an hour and a half on a bus we were dropped in Tanauan. Not knowing the going rate for a ride to Talisay where you embark for the volcano, we agreed to pay this guy 200pesos to take us to Talisay in the most beat up Jeepney I have yet seen. That is about how much he probably makes in a half a day. The good part was that we basically had the jeepney to ourselves for the whopping price of $5 U.S. ! he dropped us at the town hall where they assisted us in getting a room for the night at a nearby resort with a pool and told us how much we should pay for everything. And then they promptly overcharged us for a ride to the resort!!!
The resort was a place that sold time share condos and was undergoing lots of construction and restoration. Unfortunately our room was in a cellblock of a building which time, housekeeping, and hot water had forgotten. But the bed was okay and the A.C. worked even if it did blow mouse turds onto the bed when we switched it on! All for $57. The best part was this pool. We played in it and the water slide even when a pouring rain storm blew in.
It was the best time we had had in quite a while. That is one of the volcanoes to the right. The still active volcano which we climbed is the flat top island at center.
The storm was powerful and beautiful. We sat in the poolside restaurant and had beer and a club sandwich. When the rain stopped it left clear skies.
And the fishermen did not even pause for the rain.
These are laborers ending the days work. It was really hot this day and these guys were working hard in the blazing sun.
Next up. Our climb of the Taal volcano and local culture pictures!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Opening Night!

Me, Lea, Imelda Marcos and Julia after the show. Imelda was presented with a glass slipper.

With Renato Belestra the designer and his assistant Piero.
Our wedding costumes, minus my cape.
With our last minute replacement lighting designer Paul Miller
Apologies to those of you have given up on new entries. I promise to be more regular with our posts. We’ve settled into a show schedule now. There is always a period of transition when you open a show. For four weeks we rehearsed 6 days a week from 10AM until 6PM.
Then we had 7 days straight of Technical rehearsals from noon or 1PM until 11PM or Midnight. This was followed by 2 days of double show runs some with audience, and this dovetailed into regular performances for paid audiences. In all we worked for 14 days without a day off and performed the show in full costumes for an audience 10 times in 7 days. Those of you reading this that are in the Biz know how exhausting this is.

After a day off which included seeing a movie and attending a birthday party for Sheila Valderrama, we started our regular show schedule week, which we are about to finish tonight. Now we stay up until 1AM and awake at 9am to get the hotel buffet breakfast and then the rest of the day seems to fly by and suddenly it is time to get on the bus to go to the theater. I am trying to get to the gym regularly and still do some sightseeing and catch up on e-mails, facebook and yes, this blog. I am also very aware that in two weeks we leave Manila for Xian, China. I feel like I have barely experienced the Philippines!

We are planning a getaway to the Taal Lake region tomorrow. This is a lake within a volcanic caldera that has a volcanic island in it that has a lake inside the cone and an island in that lake! We plan to take a boat to the island, climb the volcano, maybe go down to the inner lake and back. If all goes well we will spend the night on the big lakeshore and the next morning we will take a boat upriver to Pagsanjan Falls and then ride the rapids back down and be back at our Manila hotel by 3PM. I’ll let you know how it all turns out.

Much has happened since my last entry. Obviously, we opened the show. Our audiences leading up to the opening taught us how to play the show and our opening night audience was very responsive and enthusiastic. We have had fans thronging at the stage door asking for photographs and autographs, we have had dignitaries in attendance (the Vice President of The Philippines was in the audience the other night, and Imelda Marcos last weekend, more on her later) and we have all felt the chills go down our spines and a tear well up when the crowd roars as Lea steps downstage for her bow. It is an amazing feeling just to be near it. I have experienced crowds raising their volume for my bow before and it is gratifying to know that the extra cheers are in acknowledgement of my work, but nothing has ever compared to the roar that comes forth and the huge smile it brings to Lea’s face. She shines and the audience loves her. I’m getting a little misty just remembering it.

Now, Imelda Marcos. She came backstage to have her picture taken with the Glass Slipper insert shoe joke here) and Lea. Julia and I stayed in costume and boldly asked her if she would pose for a picture with us. And here is the proof. She graciously posed for several pictures and we talked about the fact that she had dressed in a shade of blue that corresponded to our royal blue and white finale costumes. She informed us that it was one of her older “Belestra’s”, designed by the same man who designed all of our costumes. Here in the Philippines she conjures mixed reactions. I have heard the Marco’s blamed for the current state of rampant government corruption, and of embezzling millions from the country, and yet, the power of celebrity is indomitable. She was an icon of the Philippines for many years, and notoriety is still as thrilling as Fame. For my part she seemed to be an elegant women with poise, and still able to command attention. I think it is pretty cool that we got to meet her.

That’s it from me for now. I’m sure Julia will share her thoughts on the last few weeks.