Fringe Siddhartha

August 16th, 2011 No comments

Less than a month ago I attended a musical “enchanted evening” at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Gardens with a fellow actor from the Vancouver Playback Theatre troupe to listen to some very talented musicians. He tells  me that he is directing a production for the Fringe Festival, based on the story of Herman Hess’ novel, Siddhartha.  I tell him I want to get more directing and producing experience.  By the end of the evening, I had become part of the ultra-talented team that is producing an amazing journey for Vancouver audiences.

The rehearsals are well underway and it’s exciting to see the choreography and actors develop so quickly.  I hope I can keep up, as it is my first time stage managing, along with some light assistant director duties. Today we had a production design meeting and from that, I was totally inspired and excited about the costumes!  The music, I should mention, is also gorgeous; featuring locals such as Buckman Coe and Pepe Danza!  Held in a beautiful urban oasis where East meets West, it will be a unique and moving experience for all.

There is a limit of 70 seats per show so definitely buy tickets in advance!  It’s expected to sell out.

Find out how to get tickets here.


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First meal as a vegetarian abroad

August 9th, 2011 No comments

I’ve been a committed vegetarian for 8 months and without knowing what options there would be in the Yucatecean diet, I worried that my meals would be restricted to variations of refried beans and corn tortillas.  I was delighted to discover avocado cocktail at an eatery called Veracruz in Cuidad Cancun’s Market 28.

And that tall glass of coconut water?  It tasted heavenly knowing that its only packaging was a coconut shell!

The colourful pink is a refreshing pickled onion and the service was utterly engaging as our server, also the owner’s son, told us story after story about his beloved Canadian girlfriend in Victoria, BC.

Did I feel tempted to try the ceviche or pollo?  Sure I was.  Exploring a culture through its regional traditional cuisine is an essential part of satisfying my curiousity and a major reason for travelling.  Tender shredded chicken cooked the way it was in Mexico still smells good to me, but I knew that I would feel icky if I had it.  It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be to turn down meat in a foreign country.  After all, my body is still the only one I’ve got, no matter where in the world I bring it.

Did I feel deprived?  Only when I didn’t have fresh fruits or vegetables.

A couple great places to dine in Cancun for a vegetarian or vegan meal:

100% Natural and B.Org Deli & Boutique.  Both within walking distance of the main ADO bus terminal!

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baptism by breeze

July 16th, 2011 No comments

The first thing we do after unpacking, is put on our summer dresses and sun hats and we go for a walk with a cold drink in one hand cameras in the other.  Our room faces the beach and over looks the two swimming pools, a view that is symmetrically framed by palm trees. The beach is quiet, no people swimming or baking in the sun as one might expect at such a resort. There is a lonely volleyball net near a dock and the wind blows a warm refreshing breeze through the humid air.  It had the feel of a small fishing village rather than an all-inclusive resort, and I was grateful for it!

What happens next, I’m not terribly proud of but I’ll share it anyway because I think it is a genuine expression of me (like it or not).

We start taking pictures at the end of the dock. In typical “artista” fashion, we start posing for pictures. I indulge a little more than usual with the posing because I’m adoring my new sun hat, having fun with the new camera and I’m encouraged by my travel companion who is a model/actor who delights in such activity.  All is well as we believe ourselves to be looking good and feeling great.

all is well and perfect

A gust of wind comes along and offers me a couple alternatives to our quaint photo shoot.  At first we both just stared at the hat as it landed in the water, just beyond arms reach from the dock.  I thought for a brief moment about letting it go but then we started to see it sink and I could hear Kay Li wimpering sounds of lament, an expression of my attachment to this silly hat.  I thought, fuck, it’s only water! And then jumped in.  My first 2 seconds of being in the water, I thought, ‘YES! I got it!’ followed very quickly with, “How am I going to get out?” Swimming to shore looked very far away for a girl who does not swim well. But as soon as I started wading, I felt my toe touch the sandy bottom.   I look up and Kay Li is laughing hysterically, barely holding still long enough to take this photo.  She is also a former competitive swimmer, but she let me take the glory on this save.

then life happens

From that moment of baptism, I knew we were in for some fun and challenging adventures.

I managed to walk over to the tire that hung off a corner of the dock and pulled myself up.  My one and only boot-camp the weekend before departure came to mind.  I have a full appreciation of doing push-ups and pull-ups at the money bars now.

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Cancun Arrival – Day 1

July 16th, 2011 No comments

After 3 months of planning and negotiating over phone and emails, Kay Li and I arrive in Cancun, Q.Roo Mexico.  It’s much

When we left Toronto it was raining, and we arrived to a sunny humid warmth that quickly put smiles on our faces!

greener than I imagined Mexico to be.  The last time I was in Mexico, it was for a week-long vacation at an all-inclusive resort with a girlfriend from Kitimat.  It was April of 1998 and Sonora Bay, Mexico was a desert with an American singles resort.  On that trip I learned to scuba dive and water-ski, and fell head-over-heels for a boy who was the first person I had ever met from Manhattan.  A year and a half later, I moved to New York City.  I have no expectations for this trip.  On the eve of my departure from Vancouver I was feeling very anxious; completely irrational but very understandable.

We are greeted in Cancun by a patient and friendly man from the resort where we will be staying.  He holds a sign with my name and above my name is the name Jesus.  I didn’t catch the last name.  Wonderful, I think.  Jesus has finally arrived and he is staying at our hotel.  How convenient, my mother will be so pleased!  The driver of the van which transports us to our hotel speaks little English and I learn in these first 20 minutes that I can understand more Spanish than I thought.  He is friendly and offers us advice and recommendations on how to save money on a day trip to Chichen Itza.

As soon as we arrive, we are greeted by an American host who goes over information about all the facilities to which we have access.  Out of habit I go to take my own luggage to our room and I am gently remind that they have staff to do that for us.  “Sorry,” offering a classic Canadian apology, “I’m so used to always carrying my own bags.”  He seems not at all surprised by my response and smiles.  “Would you like to see our Mexican elevator?”  he asks as he guides us to our room.  “Oh, what’s a Mexican elevator?” I say with enthusiastic curiousity.  “Here,” as we turn the corner and approach the stairs.

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Whale shark warm-up

June 23rd, 2011 No comments

The journey towards my power animal clan of whale sharks has begun!  On June 21st I reunited with my friend Kay Li from Kuala Lumpur, and we spent the evening with my cousin in Toronto, walking along Bathurst, Spadina, and up to Queens.  We discovered the deluxe chocolate maker Soma on the eve of coming down to Mexico towards the origins of the Mayans who invented chocolate?

This is not a travel blog entry in a proper way because I do not have the facilities to properly upload the photos that are recent.  That will need to wait till I return home and am willing to spend time at a computer for more than a few minutes.  This really is a little note to say, tune in soon for the whale shark adventure post and pictures of whale sharks, mayan ruins, and other colourful Yucatecan delights. 

It is warm and humid, the way my body fondly remembers.  I love you, Vancouver, but you’ve been giving me the cold shoulder for a bit too long.  See you here again soon!

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Walking through Manila’s history

June 10th, 2011 No comments

Just when I thought I knew my Filipino history, a remarkable walking tour experience in Vancouver enlightens me on Philippine history and where my love for all things eclectic, comes from.  Toronto’s Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts and Culture, in collaboration with Vancouver’s Tulayan (meaning bridge in Tagalog) brought us Carlos Celdran’s famous walking tour, “If These Walls Could Talk.”

Despite the highly charged streets full of Canucks fans honking and hooting, it seemed nothing could detract from our focus on Celdran’s charismatic delivery of anecdotes and historical narrative.  Complete with images of colonial Manila, local architecture as backdrop, and music, the audience was shown Manila’s history through the Spanish and American colonial eras, right through WWII and linking to our present day identity as Filipinos around the world.  While 99% of the audience was of Filipino heritage, it is a cultural experience relevant to anyone interested/willing to understand the role of Manila as the “Pearl of the Orient”, and a community that is shaping Vancouver culture.  As the 3rd largest visible minority group in Vancouver, it is a course on this culture’s history that is long overdue!

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When pretty shoes could use some pretty wheels.

May 15th, 2011 No comments

I had a terrific experience using zipcars these last two days.  Yesterday was a trip out to the Greater Vancouver Zoo and today was a day trip to Whistler.  If you’ve been thinking of getting a membership or trying it out, May 15th would be an excellent day to check that off your to do list because it happens to be International Fluevog Day and Zipcar is offering 60% memberships purchased on this day as the “Fluevog Special”.

Join Zipcar and get $25 in free driving!

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Walking towards mystery

April 30th, 2011 No comments

In late September 2001, I arrived by foot at the beautiful city Santiago de Compostela.  I had walked the Camino with the sole purpose to arrive in 30 days.  It was a mystery what awaited me, and yet, it had not once occurred to me in all the hours of walking, that I might not appreciate what was at the other end of the long expansive trail.  It is now ten years since I’ve walked the Camino and it still remains a very cherished accomplishment.  Simple in method, I walked.  Profound in its result, my heart and soul took flight.

When I think about that time on the Camino, I remember a few lessons I wanted to apply to life beyond the scalloped marked trail:

1)  There is no escaping my humanity. Regardless of how much money, knowledge or status anyone brought with them to the Camino, it would not make any pilgrim immune to blisters (or some other pain) during their way.

2)  My arrival is in my choice to walk each day. Camino pilgrims I met were very helpful.  There were not many young women travelling solo so people often offered to be of assistance on anything from cooking me a meal to translating the world news about 911.  But no one could do the walking for me.  As painful as it was some days, with twice the weight recommended for my body, I was the only one who could put my left foot in front of my right.  My options were clear – walk, or stay still.  Keep walking. Rest!  And repeat…left foot, right foot.

3)  Assumptions and expectations are unnecessary extra weight; let them go! When I first started walking I thought everyone on the Camino would be going the distance to Santiago, but I learned that some walked for a weekend, a week or a month.  Less than a dozen among hundreds of people I met along the way actually planned to walk the full distance between Roncesvalles and Santiago.  And yet, the quality of experience with each person was not diminished or enhanced by the quantity of time we shared together.

4) Learn to speak more languages! At least one more than English! Sadly, I have failed in learning this lesson.  I met so many amazing people from Europe, Australia, South Americas; mostly everyone except North Americans and British spoke more than one language. Here is my pledge…before I am 40,  I WILL learn a new language!  If not, I will walk the Camino again to teach me again, why it is important!

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What are we waiting for?

April 26th, 2011 No comments

Here is a video that I want to share with readers because when we contemplate life’s challenges, as I often do here, I think we are well served to be reminded of its fragility and mystery.

Today I did something that brings up a lot of fear.  I committed to an audition.  The more I think about the unpredictable nature of life, the more I feel determined to gain control of my fears and release limiting beliefs.  After watching this video, I decided to make my travel wishlist a priority again!   I hope it inspires you to make bold and courageous choices to live the life that is waiting for you!

Apprenticing in Playback

April 26th, 2011 No comments

Over the last couple of months, I have spent a few evenings playing with troupe members of Vancouver Playback Theatre, and I was just invited to be an apprentice with the troupe, with intention to become an official member.  It is a form of theatre that is highly improvised and driven by lived experiences within our communities.  I originally studied Playback Theatre with its Founder, Jonathan Fox, when I was practicing drama therapy at NYU.  VPT has different forms from what I originally trained in so before I become a full member, I’ll have a period of apprenticeship to learn the new forms.  The only other place that I have practiced Playback Theatre outside of Vancouver and New York City is in rehearsal with a troupe in London, UK.  Similar to Tai Chi, it is a discipline that has found many practitioners & students around the world!

Recently, I performed with VPT as a guest artist at a volunteer appreciation event celebrating those who give of themselves to help newcomers to Canada adapt and thrive.  It was fun and rewarding to meet a vast array of people from many different cultures, all committed to important and meaningful work.

I’ll post upcoming Playback performances on the events page.  Thanks for visiting!

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