Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas! Maligayang Pasko!

Hello PinoyJeep Followers,

As you know, we got the idea to start PinoyJeep for the IP Rondalla Tour to the Philippines that happened a few months ago. While the tour is long over, we're still holding strong and posting along! And so on Christmas day, we'd especially like to thank you for the support you've given us throughout these few months to even make it this far. I know I've repeated myself several times this year, but honestly, we wouldn't be here without you!

So to share our love for all of you on Christmas day, here are a few photos I've been meaning to post for a while now (but of course due to college apps, school work, and just the mere volume of work I have at the moment, I've been a little always). I would have also loved to share with you pictures of me pigging out on Christmas paella, caldereta, and glazed ham, and singing (quite badly) to a few OPM songs, but I think it's best none of you see anything too embarrassing at the moment, especially while our stomachs are still trying to digest everything we've seen today. Instead, here are pictures I know you'll enjoy of a familiar school we all know halfway around the world... Merry Christmas and Maligayang Pasko!

Bayan-Bayanan Elementary School (BBES)

Many donations have been made to make the Drum & Lyre band a successful activity for the Aeta students of BBES. Pictures is one girl who received a lyre from a generous donor.

Sheryl Garcia (center) holding her lyre and
standing next to Teacher Raffy and her mother, Shirley Garcia

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

October & November Performance Updates!

Hey PinoyJeep Followers,

Today while walking back home, I stopped to take the picture below. My golly gee! Once it reached 3 o'clock, the snow has not stopped! I (foolishly) decided to wear sneakers today, and by the time I reached the door, I could barely feel my feet because they were soaked in snow! I'll definitely wear my waterproof boots next time. Unfortunately, unlike in the Philippines, I can't just wear flip-flops and sandals anymore. Oh well...

Monday, November 18, 2013

Sunday, November 10, 2013

2013 IP Tiangge Sparks Typhoon Relief

Sampaguita group performing the "Sakuting"
dance during the Tiangge
Hello everyone,

I have a ton of things to things IP-related to share with you, but as you all might know, senior year is pretty darn tough. So bare with me, folks. The rocky road will soon even out, that is, once I get past January 1st (the college app deadline).  ;)

Yesterday was the annual Tiangge of New England, an event sponsored by IP to touch base with local pinoy entrepreneurs, organizations, and shoppers! Booths ranged from balibayan boxes to BKP to J-Mart to Keykes and to numerous other vendors selling food, Christmas parols, bracelets, and so forth. In the morning, I helped my Tita Veronica serve palabok for IP and the Rondalla make delicious halo-halo to raise funds for the Bohol earthquake victims. I have to say, the event was packed to the brim with Filipinos and friends of Filipinos from all over New England, trying to snag a taste at some delicious turon, kare kare, and lechon or bathe in the cultural aspects of the day through lively Christmas music, festive decorations, and performances by the IP classes and the rondalla.

Amidst the joyous din of laughter and music, however, an underlying concern became evident as the day went on. Just the day before, Typhoon Yolanda (also known as Typhoon Haiyan) swept through the Philippines, hitting Visayas the hardest by destroying 270 towns and villages, cutting off all electricity, services, food, and water, displacing 4 million people, and killing 10,000. WCVB - Channel 5 came by to interview a few Filipinos whose families are from the affected area.

With the Rondalla family at the Halo-Halo and drinks booth

This calamity has reached not only the Filipino-American community, but also the international community as some of my concerned friends have approached me on the same topic. With only two more weeks before break at my school, I've been pushing my Southeast Asian club to help by selling pens and asking for clothing and food donations. I know other local organizations are doing just the same. As long as this calamity ensues, our hearts will be facing the Philippines.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Day in the life of an IP Student

          Little black heads bobbing up and down as each kid chases one another and the sounds of laughter filling the halls. Yep~ Iskwelahang Filipino has officially begun!

     Every other Sunday, over seventy five students (and their families!) from all over the Boston area flock to the quaint town of Bedford, Massachusetts, where traditional Philippine elements of cooking, dancing, culture, and language are taught by mothers and fathers alike. All students are divided into five categories based on age: binhi - preschoolers, ilang-ilang - kindergarteners, sampaguita - elementary school students, Bonifacio - middle school students, and finally, Rizal - high school students. As a student of Rizal, I start the day off in cooking class. Everyone works together to create scrumptious dishes like pancit, adobo, sinigang, and so much more.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Storm Surge Hits Tacloban City, Philippines

Breaking News:

Tacloban City, Leyte has been facing major havoc since this morning's Typhoon Haiyan, known as Yolanda, swept through the city, turning streets into rivers. This is the strongest typhoon that the city has ever experience. Low-lying areas have been hit especially hard with the flood engulfing the first floor of many establishments. This clip from TV Patrol (in Tagalog) shows a news reporter standing in the midst of the typhoon. And according to Rappler, about 1,000 families have been evacuated from the city.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Southeast Asian Club performs the Tinikling!

Hey everyone,

I just wanted to tell you about a fabulous multi-cultural event that happened at my school a few days ago.

Last weekend was my school's annual International Fest Night. As the head of the Southeast Asian (SEA) Club on campus, I rallied a ton of my friends to help out with cooking, serving, modeling for the fashion show, and performing during the talent show that night. Our club cooked some scrumptious empanadas and Thai coconut soup for the food bazaar (after several trials in the kitchen), and we got the crowd to gaze in awe at our gorgeous costumes.

Fashion from across the globe all on one stage
However, I think everyone in the audience would agree that the most entertaining event that night was the annual talent show! To commemorate SEA Club's second year on campus, I decided to teach my clubs members the one and only tinikling dance from the Philippines! Boy, we worked on that song for waaaaay too long, but you've got to give them lotsa credit. None of the dancers are Filipino! For three weeks, my Indonesian, Singaporean, Chinese, Mexican and white friends struggled with me to figure out how to choreograph the tinikling dance for this performance. Nonetheless, with a little push from the audience and a few swollen ankles afterwards, they did it...and they did it quite well.

Enjoy our video of success ;)

Sierra Jamir

Sunday, October 27, 2013

BKP New York & Massachusetts Charity Events!

BKP - New York - Laughs for Literacy 3

Sierra saying her speech about the Aetas at
the Comedy Club
On Saturday October 12, my parents and I went to New York City to attend a BKP - New York fundraising event. BKP-NY's Laughts for Literacy 3 was held at the Greenwich Comedy Club in Greenwich Village (near NYU if you're not familiar with the city). Air Tabigue hosted the event, inviting several comedians to the stage, such as Dan Ramos, Roberto Garcia, Pete Isip, Ryan Dacalos and Rich Kiamco. Since most of the comedians were Filipino, I had a crack laughing at their jokes about Filipino parents, Filipino accents, and simply, Manny Pacquiao. I could tell that they definitely animated the audience with their Filipino and not-so-Filipino jokes too.

Right before the show at Greenwich Village
Before the performance, however, I was busy making my script...No, I did not tell any jokes. I'm probably the worse person to ask if you're hosting a comedy show...but I did have to start the show with a little speech about BKP and the IP Rondalla's visit to the Aetas of Bataan. Was I nervous? Definitely. But after a few seconds on stage, the fear was gone as I introduced to the audience the impact their books bring to kids in the Philippines.

Overall, the evening went by nicely. A few people after the show came up to me to ask about how they could help. Know that people do take into consideration our mission, I felt unbelievably thankful to be with this organization. Thank BKP - NY for letting me be a part of this community! And thank you Lorna for allowing me to take your spot on stage! ;)

BKP - Massachusetts - Charity Dinner

The DJs of Bagong Kuturang Pinoy! 

Some of you IP folks were here last week to witness BKP - MA's charity dinner in Wakefield, MA. Unlike New York's small, intimate setting, this large event brought in people from all over the Greater Boston Area. Many dressed up in their halloween costumes, such as dressing up as a Russian man, magician, Little Bo Peep, and my favorite, Darna, Crispin from Noli Me Tangere by Jose Rizal! (She later wins best costume among the grown-ups.)

Along with the tasty buffet-style dinner and Filipino-style dances, BKP's founder Rowena Jimenez talked to us about BKP's mission. Each table was given a BKP newsletter. Then in our tables, we were asked to play a few games dealing with the newsletter to learn more about the organization. Of course, sitting with my IP friends, we could barely compete with other groups that had a few BKP board members.
The night ended with more dancing, which in Filipino terms, means line dancing. Yes, we love our line dancing and we love our DJs.

Sierra Jamir

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Loboc Children's Choir Singing in front of the Church

Hi PinoyJeep Bloggers,

Sorry again for another message about the earthquake, but you'll be amazed what I found on Facebook just now. Cecile Poquita, one of the Loboc Children's Choir members just posted the image below with a caption. I had to share it. - SJ

"Praise to thee, Oh Lord for all creation, give us thankful hearts that we may see, all the gifts we share and every blessing all things come of thee." -Look at the world. The Loboc Children's Choir singing for our church. 

Loboc Church After Earthquake

Pray for our friends in Loboc, Bohol. On Tuesday, a magnitute 7.1 earthquake struck the Visayas region of the Philippines, causing nearly 100 dead and 270 injured. A bulk of the casualties came from Bohol. If you remember, we were just there playing with the Loboc Children's Choir. Take a look below at the Loboc Church now.
Taken from Twitter

Philippine Earthquake Hits Visayas

Hello PinoyJeep Followers,

Look's what happened since we last were in Bohol. Pray for our friends in the Visayas Region.

Sierra Jamir

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Congratulations, PWU-JASMS Rondalla!

Remember our jam session with PWU-JASMS and the Bayanihan Rondalla? 
See  what's happened since we last talked!

Congratulations for making it to Nationals last week on October, Saturday 5th. 

Sierra Jamir

Bayan-Bayanan Elementary School Videos

Hey everyone,

Here are two videos of the Bayan-Bayanan Elementary School Drum & Lyre performance!

Sierra Jamir

Ati Cu Pung Singsing
Harry Belfonte
Ryzza Cha-Cha

Bayan-Bayanan Elementary School Drum & Lyre Band Competition

The Bayan-Bayanan Elementary School Students in red and
white waiting for their turn to perform

Hey everyone,

Look who it is! Our Bayan-Bayanan Elementary School Drum & Lyre Band performing at the town competition!

Do you remember just a while ago, we saw them give a preview of their Ryzza Mae dance for us? Well, they've finally perfected it!

A massive crowd of spectators and anxious parents
The Bayan-Bayanan Elementary School consisting of mainly "kulot" and "unat" Aeta children competed at their town's inter-school Drum & Lyre band Competition on Saturday, September 28th. They competed with three other Drum & Lyre bands from Dinalupihan, Bataan. All of the competitors from the other schools had competed several times before. After practicing for only two months, though, our group proved that they  too could compete with show-level groups!

The venue was PACKED to the brim with people from all over the town of Dinalupihan. Even the parents of the Aeta children came down from the mountains for this occasion. And they were not disappointed. The Bayan-Bayanan Elementary School Drum & Lyre received a special award from the mayor of Dinaluphian, Bataan for their excellent performance!

We're so proud of you!

           Sierra Jamir

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

We've reached 1O,OOO Views!

Hey PinoyJeep Followers,

We've finally reached 10,000 views!

There are plenty more articles to come, so keep following us!
So, PinoyJeep Followers, thank you very, very much for your support!

We REALLY appreciate it.

PinoyJeep Blogger

Thank you San Pablo Central School!

On behalf of the IP Rondalla,

We would like to thank the wonderful San Pablo Central School for performing with the IP Rondalla and the PPP during the IP Rondalla Rocks Tour last July. You are all talented and an absolutely adorable brood of children, as we saw from our performance together at SM Mall. Just take a look at the comments written below and you'll see I'm not the only one who agrees!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Opening Day of Iskwelahang Pilipino

The Ilang-Ilang children waving their Filipino flags during the opening day of IP (photo courtesy of Tita Patty)
Hey Everyone,

The Iskwelahang Pilipino (IP) of Boston and the IP Rondalla opened its doors to a new year last Sunday on September 15th. It was great to see old and new faces all here to congregate at our abode in Bedford, MA.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Nighty Night IP Rondalla!

Here are some oldie-moldies. I didn't want to keep them just to myself, as you will understand. ^^

There's definitely something to be said about sleep while touring. As in, you don't get much of it. From nights where "sleep" equals the three hours of shut-eye between heads to pillows at 11 PM to the 2 AM wake up call to mini siestas between shows, we try to get sleep when we can. That usually means while we travel! Check us out!


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tree Planting: IP Rondalla and Bayan-Bayanan Drum & Lyre Band

Hello PinoyJeep followers,

Here are the tree planting pictures I promised you! Below are pictures of the trees and their respective placards that each have the name of one of the drum & lyre members and one IP Rondalla member. Since I last heard from the Bayan-Bayanan Elementary School Drum & Lyre band, the number of members had risen to 33 (and the number is still growing)! I believe all of them are Aeta students too!

Luckily, the newly planted trees were not too damaged by last month's Typhoon Maring, since we strategically planted them on a hill. Thanks to the teachers at the school, we'll try to get updates from them once in a while to see the growth of our plants. Perhaps in a few years when we return to the Philippines, the green land where we planted the trees might become a forest!  

Sierra Jamir

(note: Three trees are missing from this picture. Riandra's picture is posted twice as a filler...sorry about that.
We'll try to get those trees pictured posted later.)

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Back to School...

Hello Everyone,

Unfortunately, it has come to the time when your fellow IP Rondalla members must return to school. Yes, that means no more vacationing and probably not as many updates as you'd like. So very, very sad. Well, here are pictures of your fellow IP Rondalla friends at school doing things...not Rondalla related.

Karina at school chowing down on her lunch with some friends. Hmm...
what an interesting face you're making, Karina. ;)
Sarah F. graduating from high school! The picture's a little outdated,
but you get the point. High school is quintessential and tons of fun! 
Nathan and JR with the some IP boys, just "hanging out."
Y'know. They're cool.
Sierra looking oddly disgusted at her instant noodles. This is what happens
when you want a cheap snack at midnight and there's no microwave.
Nolen playing a rowdy game of the Ye Olde American Football...
'cause that's what we Americans do in America.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Bagong Kulturang Pinoy NY Article

Children of Bayan-Bayanan Elementary School holding up their custom-made BKP-New York bags during a read-along

Children fully engaged during the
read-along session
Take a look at this article written by Bagong Kulturang Pinoy - New York:

Just last month, a box of books was sent to Bayan-Bayanan Elementary School in Dinalupihan, Bataan following the IP Rondalla Immersion Day to the school in July.  Some of the students at the school are "kulot" or "unat" Aeta children. The "unat" Aeta children are characterized by their straight hairs and mixed Aeta and Filipino origins. The "kulot" Aeta children, whose parents are both Aetas, are known for their distinct physical features - curly/kinky hair and dark skin. The "kulot", moreso than the "unat", have been denied the same rights to education, jobs, health care, etc., due to their physical appearances. Nonetheless, both "kulot" and "unat" Aetas face discrimination.

Thank you to Lorna, Co-founder of BKPNY, for supporting our cause and allowing for one large box of children's books to be shipped to their community in Bataan. This will surely not be the end of our relationship with the Bayan-Bayanan Elementary School.

Sierra Jamir

Sunday, September 1, 2013

August 18th: Sacred Heart, Fall River

Hey PinoyJeep followers,

Thanks for your views! I know the tour is long finished, but that doesn't mean we can't stop posting about Rondalla! 

On another note, this was supposed to be posted a LOOOOOOOOONNNNNGG time ago. Unfortunately, after spending too much time bathing in the Philippine heat, we've gotten accustomed to Filipino time. ;o)

Saturday, August 31, 2013

School Hymns of Various IP Rondalla Host

As a way for the IP Rondalla to thank the different schools that hosted our 2013 Philippine Tour, we're featuring their respective school hymns. (Note: Let me know if anyone of you have better versions that you would like posted in this blog).

Monday, August 26, 2013

Thank you, Parents of IP Rondalla

IP Parents with Governor Edgardo Chatto and Tito Gardy Labad of Bohol: (Top left to right) Tita Janeth, Tita Sonia,
Tita Beth, Tita Nora, Tito Vince, Tita Lidy, Governor Chatto, Tita Lilibeth, Tita Cris, Tito Mabini, Tito Carl, Tita Bebs,
Tita Lalan, Tita Ning (bottom let to right) Tito Rey, Tito Tom, Tito Manny, Tito Jondi, Tito Gardy, and (missing from
the group picture) Tita Bing F. and Tita Bing B.

As we start to wrap up our thoughts on the IP Rondalla Rocks Tour, Karina and I decided to write a list of shout outs to all of our loving parents who made this trip possible. We cannot thank you enough for everything you've done for us. So in no particular order:

TV 5 Good Morning Club Interview Finally Posted!

Hello Pinoy Jeep Bloggers,

The Good Morning Club interview with Edu and Tintin is finally on youtube! Honestly, I'm not at all excited to see my face online, but I hope you're not like me. =_=" Too embarrassing.

Click here to read The Good Morning Club article!

Sierra Jamir

Friday, August 23, 2013

Palmer's Paradise

Right now, I'm sitting at Starbucks. It's almost 10 am, and my mother dropped me off early again, so while waiting for camp to start, I've decided to finish this one last "reflection". No, this does not mean this is the last post EVER, but it will be my last "personal" reflections of the tour.

A few of my mother's friends from Southern Luzon Colleges
Just so you know, I'm not in the Philippines anymore. Today is the 22nd of August, which officially marks the one-month anniversary of our Rondalla Rocks Tour. Although I've had a month to acclimate to America, I find it weird calling this place my "home". I've spent all my life living in suburbia, USA, born and raised as a Filipino-American, and I can say that I'm proud to be a part of the US of A; however, every time I travel to the Philippines, I come back thinking differently about where my true home actually is. The last day of touring allowed me to ponder this question...

Monday, August 19, 2013

Flooding in Dinalupihan

Hey Pinoy Jeep Blogger!

I hope our Bayan-bayanan kids are not affected by typhoon Maring's floodings. Remember Mayor Gila Garcia? She is being interviewed here regarding her town, Dinalupihan, Bataan. For the sake of IP and the kids of the Bayan-Bayanan Drum & Lyre Marching Band, I hope our trees aren't drowning in the flood! I haven't even had time to post everyone's plant yet! I also hope our Aeta kids are safe and sound and that the school isn't too harmed by this disaster. This typhoon has devastated much of central and northern Luzon. Cavite, the province my father is from, is completely flooded.

Let's just hope nothing more will come of this.

Sierra Jamir

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Who's Who?

Greetings, Pinoy Jeep Followers!

Since we've been adding updates to the site to give all the happenings of the IP Rondalla to you, you might have noticed the "Meet the Cast" page above. It's large "Coming Soon!" held you in anticipation of when you can know the name of your favorite players. Well, now you can check it out!

We'll try to add more information when we can! ^.^ A huge thank you for everyone who has been supporting us!


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Family Day: The Singing Cooks and Waiters Restaurant

Hey everyone!

This is Sarah! I just wanted to share with you a snip bit of my experience during one of our free days.
I'm with my relatives at the Singing Cooks and Waiters Restaurant in Manila.

Hope you enjoy! ;)

Sarah Fadrigalan

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Cars, Trains...continued

Well Pinoyjeep blog followers, 

After seeing the unique, the exotic and the weird, I'll show you some native, fun and out-of-this-world transportation. Let's start with my favorite...the symbol of Philippine industriousness, strength and patience, the loveable -- carabao or "kalabaw" (Asian water buffalo). Not only is the carabao the Filipino farmer's best friend and uncomplaining co-worker in the rice fields. It is also a vital and reliable transportation mode, especially in the far-flung provinces...or beach resorts, where we went.

Cars, Trains and Automobiles - Oh My!

Hey Pinoy Jeep Bloggers,

I want to spend a few minutes with you on the different modes of transportation we used on our tour. We experienced an interesting array of them that I thought are worthy of blogging about, especially for those not used to traveling in this part of the world.

Friday, August 9, 2013

July 20th: Bataan Historic Tour - A Visit to "Dambana ng Kagitingan"

Reading session - check.
Tree planting - check.

Next, task on the list - R&R. Wooo-hoo!

Aside from cultural immersion, one other thing my parents initially proposed to the IP Rondalla Tour planning committee is a visit to different historical places along the way. A visit to the "Dambana ng Kagitingan" (Shrine of Valor) was what they had in mind after the cultural immersion with the Aeta community. Unfortunately, this was dropped in favor of other activities.

Figure C. Top (right to left): Kuya Jun, Dad. Bottom (right to left): Tita Janeth, Mother, Tita Naty, Teacher Kat, Me!,
Principal Helen Mendoza. Not Pictured: Kuya Dondon
Our picture at the bas relief of our Philippine heroes. Can you name the heroes depicted in this bas relief?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Thank you Bayan-Bayanan Elementary School!

Dear Bayan-Bayanan Elementary School,

On behalf of the IP Rondalla, thank you so very much for the kind memories you have given us. We are very much touched by the kindness and generosity of your students, teachers, and barangay officials, friends, and neighbors. Although our time together was limited, we hope our relationship with you will last a lifetime. Thank you for showing us the reality that many of your students face. Thank you for introducing us to the kindhearted Aetas. Thank you for the many tears you made us shed.

Everything, everything was appreciated.

July 20th: Bayan-bayanan Aeta Cultural Immersion Update - Tree Planting Program

Bayan-bayanan Principal Juvy and teachers conferring with us on various needs of the school and the local Aeta kids.

Hello Pinoyjeep Blog followers...

Here's what happened after the reading sessions I blogged about earlier. We briefly met with Principal Juvy and the teachers of the Bayan-bayanan Elementary School to discuss the pressing needs of the school, especially their Aeta students. Of course, with the start of the rainy and hurricane season, their main concern was the safety of the children and the welfare of the Aeta kids in their care during school days. The Philippine Department of Education has already promised to build new classrooms on land being donated by the town (thanks to the Barangay officials and the Town Mayor), although it may take some time before this happens. Nevertheless, it's good news.

July 20th: Bayan-bayanan Aeta Immersion Update - Reading Sessions

Both "kulot" and "unat" school children eagerly awaited our return to Bayan-bayanan Elementary School for
a half-day of tree planting and reading sessions. We gave each of them a Boston hat (with the  letter "B"
also appropriately representing Bayan-bayanan), bags donated by BKP or Bagong Kultura Pilipino
of New York City, and childrens story books.  

As I mentioned in my previous blog, there were a number of planned activities that the IP Rondalla was supposed to do with the Aeta kids during our cultural immersion day in the 12th. However, the afternoon rainshowers and conflict with other performances forced us to reluctantly cancel. This included a reading session and tree planting activity. But a promise is a promise. So, after a long drive from Manila to Bataan (as I mentioned in an earlier post), we're back at the Halfway House to meet with the Aeta kids and teachers.

Monday, August 5, 2013

July 19th: The Koreans - Our Final, Final Gig!

Our time was cut short when we were called to board the bus for the last time. Our last show was for the Korean Exporters Association at Sofitel Hotel...a strange, last-minute request that happened to be added on to the last day of our tour. Honestly, we all felt apprehensive about this final performance, since we were placed with an odd amalgam of drummers, salsa dancers, and a "Gangnam Style" singing group. Also, at this point in time, we were all so exhausted from a full day of activities and could not wait to have our two days of freedom once the IP Rondalla Tour officially ended. Thus, we told ourselves to make this performance short and sweet.

When we got onstage, though, we were utterly surprised! The Korean businessmen with their wives and children were so intrigued by our group! Everywhere, you could see cameras, iPods, and cellphones, all held in different angles so that they could videotape our show with the least amount of blockage. I may be joking, but it was as if they were scrambling to get the best seats in the house. When we played songs like "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" and "Maria Cristina," they couldn't take their eyes off of us, and by the time we took our final bow, they couldn't stop enthusiastically clapping for us! It was like we were a rare, ethnic species never seen before by the human eye. I felt shocked but also humored by their fascination with our oddly-shaped instruments and Filipino-American music and dance moves. It was definitely ah, let's say...a unique ending to our colorful tour.

I guess after seeing (and being bombarded by) a lot of contemporary, pop, hip-hop, and other Americanized performances, for these Korean audience, the sweet, delicate sound of rondalla music was such a welcome respite.

The IP Rondalla kids sitting and waiting our turn at one of the dining tables before practicing on-stage at Sofitel Hotel

After the surprisingly successful show with the Koreans at Sofitel Hotel (*Kudos to JR for making the BIGGEST smile onstage*), all of us dashed backstage like little, jittery kids, finally set free from our parents' reins. That was it. No more performances. Just two days of family time and a plane ride back home. That's it. Done.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Best of OPM IP Rondalla Sountrack

Hi everyone,

It's been great having you as our audience! I never knew how many people would actually be tuning-in to our blog until I got so many comments back, saying well done! :)  Honestly, it was so amazing.

For post, I just wanted to share with you a collection of songs from performances, singers we've met/wanted to meet, TV show appearances, and more! All of the songs below are OPM or Original Pilipino Music, so if you were looking for English music, sorry 'bout that.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

July 19th: PWU Music Jam - A JASMS perspective

The PWU-JASMS Rondalla and a few members of IP Rondalla after our Jam Session (Cred: Mico Comia)

It was a week filled with countless hours of rondalla practices. We were preparing for two big events: The Rondalla Music Jam and our recording for NAMCYA. The members of the JASMS  (Jose Abad Santos Memorial School, a high school affiliated with PWU) Rondalla missed their classes once again to play at the CB Hall at PWU for the Music Jam. All we knew was that we would be performing with rondalla players from Boston, which we saw made headlines in the newspaper and were put on "Eat Bulaga" a week ago. We arrived at PWU early, confident about ourselves even though it decreased a bit when we found out that the Iskwelahang Pilipino Rondalla players played while dancing.

July 19th: PWU Music Jam - An IP Rondalla Perspective

PWU-JASMS Rondalla performing "It's a Hard Day's Night"
A wonderful arrangement and performance!
The Bayanihan Rondalla, one of the most talented
rondalla groups I have ever seen
After our short visit to the Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT), we boarded the bus again to go to the Philippine Women's University (PWU), home of the Bayanihan Dance Troupe. Contrary to its name, the school opened its doors to men in 1992, which is why when we first arrived, we were all SHOCKED to see boys and girls! Just my remark. Anyway, we were greeted by two students from PWU who toured us through the Bayanihan costume room. We could definitely tell that the costumes these Bayanihan dancers wore were some of the most splendid and finely hand-woven pieces we have ever seen.

We were then led into the auditorium for the music jam. For us, a "Jamming Out" session means informally playing a few enjoyable songs. Little did we know, it was more formal than that! (Good thing we opted to change from shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops to the more formal wear we donned at our Malacanan visit). First to perform was the PWU-JASMS (Jose Abad Santos Memorial High School) Rondalla. They played two songs for us, "Mabuhay" and "A Hard Day's Night" by the Beatles. They had a full band, consisting of two bass players and two staggered rows of banduria, octavina, and guitar players! I enjoyed listening to their music, especially their contemporary song.

July 19th: Harnessing the Power of the Sun -- A Liter of Light (Isang Litrong Liwanag)

Guess what we did today? We actually handcrafted a device that can harness the power of the sun!

Using her contacts with Pepsi Cola - Philippines, this morning my mom arranged for us to visit the demonstration facility of Iliac Diaz - an eco-entrepreneur who runs "A Liter of Light Foundation" supported by Pepsico. Not only is Iliac a nice and "pogi" guy (he is related to the former Miss Philippines/Universe -- Gloria Diaz). He is also a brainiac, having graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University. But, instead of trying to get rich by working as an engineer for a multinational corporation, he does something more noble. His foundation brings cheap light into the homes of poor people. To date, they have installed over 15,000 solar "bulbs" in 20 Philippine cities, saving people millions of pesos in electric costs. Isn't that cool?

Iliac Diaz welcomes us inside the Liter of Light Foundation's demonstration facility.The place was chockful of
ingenious contraptions made from recycleable materials. The whole "building" itself is a great example of an easy-to-build
shelter from recycled plastic crates and steel frames. Inside were hydroponic systems for growing fish and vegetables,
foot-powered water pump, wall planters for growing vegetables in crowded neighborhoods, lamps made from
recycled plastic bottles, solar-powered water heaters, and many more.

July 19th: In the car to Bataan writing about DOT Coutesy Call

Hello Pinoy Jeep Blog Followers,

Ahhh, today is officially the first of three free days (we call it Family Day) after a hectic three weeks of IP Rondalla Philippine tour. But what am I doing today? Well, it's 5:30 in the morning, and I'm here in the car with my parents, Tita Naty, Tita Janeth, Kuya Jun, and Kuya Dondon on our way to Dinalupihan, Bataan to revisit the children of Bayan-Bayanan Elementary School.

Friday, August 2, 2013

July 18th: Leaving Bicol

The IP Rondalla singing "Maraming Salamat" to Dr. Sy with Tita Cris
handing her a specially framed group picture of the IP Rondalla
Hey, Ceci here. Today was a bittersweet day of many good-byes. We started off the day at our various lodgings. I stayed at the governor's mansion, which was filled with moths, dead and alive. We went to Kendra Sy's house for breakfast where I stuffed myself with fried bananas to the shock of others (I'm allergic to raw bananas). Because we were traveling back to Manila in two groups, there were many tears and good-byes after breakfast.

The first group left for the airport at 10 am, while the other group, including me, George, and Janrey, stayed at Dr. Sy's house and had a heaping of food for lunch. Dr. Sy was very kind to us. Even Kendra came down to say her parting words. At around noon, the second group boarded the van to the airport. Our flight was at 2 pm, but since we were a big group, we had to leave a little earlier for check-in. By now, the other group had already landed in Manila and were waiting for us.

Flying over Manila on our descent

We arrived at the airport at around 4 pm. By 4:30 pm, we were at Remington Hotel (ha ha, remember we were here at the beginning during our first big performance at Resorts World?) where the rest of the group awaited us. Unlike most days we've been having, the afternoon was pretty relaxing. We didn't have a performance and we didn't have anything scheduled, so the rest of the crew that was left behind sat in the lobby eating cheese pizza and begging the parents to let us go to the movies to watch "Monster's University." They surprisingly said no, despite this being our last day together. Oh least we could sleep early for once. And that's exactly what we did.


Reflections on the IP Rondalla by Ronn, the Saxophone Man from Legazpi

Ronn, the Saxophone Man
For the first time in my music career, I’ve never had such an opportunity as big and inspiring as the one I'm going to relate here. It all began when my aunt, one of the concert coordinators, called me to ask if I could play my saxophone on the two-day concert that Iskwelahang Pilipino Rondalla of Boston was having in Bicol. She asked if I could perform during the intermission. Honestly, I was thinking of whether to say yes or no, because I had never heard of the group before. In the end, my aunt convinced me to give a positive “yes!” After that call, though, I was still worried. I had no idea what to play. I had never even seen the IP Rondalla perform, so I wasn’t sure what type of genre would fit their style. Eventually, I decided to play one classical and one modern song. That seemed the most reasonable option.

I started practicing two songs: “Save All My Love for You” and “Just Give Me a Reason” for our first performance in Bicol College. When my time came to play during intermission, I went on stage and played what I had been practicing. I enjoyed the fame as the audience sang along to both songs, even being called an Iskwelahang Pilipino member from Boston (even though I wasn't)! When it was time for the IP Rondalla to play their second set, however, I started to feel kind of bad and a little embarrassed. I didn't realize they would play “Just Give Me a Reason” too, and I was basically taking over their crowd.

Aaron Speaks his Mind on Food.

Meet Aaron Rippin, an 11-year-old from Burlington, MA and the brother of our well beloved Nathan Rippin. Today, I conducted an interview with Aaron about many things. For now, though, I've decided to share with you one of our topics we discussed: Food. This kid will speak for hours on end if you give him a subject. He's got an opinion about everything and he's not afraid to share it with you. 

"I am speaking my mind!" Aaron exclaims, as he hits his fist on the
conference table at the Governor's mansion.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

July 17th: Bicol - St. Agnes Academy

A fully packed auditorium of students from St. Agnes Academy for our final performance of the tour!
Today we went to St. Agnes Academy to perform for elementary, high school, and college students. This was our last performance, a very emotional ending to our two-and-a-half week tour. It is hard to believe that I have been with this group for this long. I am going to miss chilling out with my friends, Janrey, Gerry, George, Nolen, Nathan, Aaron, and JR (I'll miss him the most). Right before our last show the "bro bros" worked together to practice a new song so Janrey would finally have the spotlight in our little skit. Right after Ewan, we would have the song, "What Makes You Beautiful" by Wrong Direction (we weren't going in the Right Direction) where Janrey would sing. Then Nolen would grab the mic and continue with the next song, "Marry You" by Bruno Mars. It was quite the bonding experience, practicing with the bros for this last performance and incorporating this one last song for Janrey. After we finished, all my friends, including the girls and our teachers, came together for our last pulse (a ritual we do before each big performance), said a few prayers, and went on stage for the last time. 

JR the Hacky Sack Boy.

JR Fadrigalan
It's a little late, and I know I'm not the best writer in my group, but I really wanted to write about something. My name is JR, and I like hacky sacks. Whenever I find some free time, I "sipa" or kick a hacky sack with my foot several times. My record is 229 kicks. I sort of developed a strong emotional connection towards my hacky sacks to a point where I've started naming them. I brought about four on the trip because I couldn't leave without them. However, I didn't realize I would soon be using them in our performances. The little skit was created in one day for our UPLB audience, featuring all types of small yet playful games of the Philippines. Prior to the skit, I would leave stage right before remove my dress shoes and put on my sneakers. Then I would run behind stage because I had to enter on the other side and do my skit. After a successful performance at UPLB, we incorporated the skit into our performance and haven't stopped since then! I always seem to surprise the crowd with my so-called hacky sacks skills, but it doesn't always work out. In some cases the hacky sacks falls off stage. I blame Gerry for that. It's a lot of work, hitting a sack in the air, and I'm always sweaty for the rest of the performance, but it's fun. So...yeah. I wrote something, and you know what, I'm proud of it.

By the way, if you read Sierra's article about flying to Bicol, I'm that boy who got his rock confiscated.
Lessons learned.

JR Fadrigalan

July 16th: Bicol College -- IP Rondalla in Legazpi by Kendra Sy

Kendra is the daughter of our host in Legazpi, Bicol. She is 17 years old and currently a high school student studying in the Netherlands. While on vacation from her studies in Europe, she joined the IP Rondalla on their two-day adventure in Legazpi. The IP Rondalla instantly enjoyed her company and, after the tour, personally asked her to write about her experience with the group. This is her story.

Kendra Sy (me!) trying out the ATV

Having lived in the Philippines all my life, I thought that I knew my homeland like the back of my hand. Then the Fil-Ams of IP Rondalla group knocked on my door, almost literally as my mom barged into my room early in the morning to wake me up and greet the strangers by lunchtime, and I must admit that it was a pleasant surprise.

July 16th: Flying Bicol!

Entering the Cebu Pacific airplane headed to Bicol. 
Hey everyone,

So today we left for the airport at 6 am to get to Bicol. (I'm not sure of actual time since all of us were pretty worn out from Cebu.) Our choice of aircraft, Cebu Pacific. Not the best quality, but decent for a cheap, business-class airplane. At the Cebu airport in Mactan Island, we ran into a few technical difficulties. First of all, we're a group of approx. 50 people. That's a lot when you're trying to check into a flight that only holds at most 80 people! On top of that, we each had a check-in weight limit of 30 lbs per person! So, after we got through that headache, we encountered another minor problem...JR's rock. Hard, solid, yes. A weapon? Perhaps. Well to the Customs you betcha!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

July 15th: We've finally reached Cebu!

Reyna and Janrey at Magellan's Cross. Reyna looks pretty tired after a long day

July 14th: Panglao Beach

You can't really see, but that's us all the way
in back! Don't worry, the water is pretty
shallow everywhere you swim.
Oh no! What are our parents doing?
Spying on us again?
I guess that's what parents are for. ;)

After a tiring but relaxing day around the island, we set off on our last excitement - the world-renown Panglao Beach.

It was very refreshing after a hot day of walking through the Chocolate Hills, performing with the Loboc Children's Choir, and seeing the tarsiers. Since the sun was coming down, all of us sat in the water while watching the sunset. It definitely was the best R&R day we've had so far. I thought the weirdest thing, though, was that we had to pay for no one showered at the beach...That's what you get when you're in the Philippines.

Marisa Pena