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

July 14th: Cecile, a Loboc Children's Choir Member!

Me and Karina!
Hello, Victoria!
Oh hello George ;)

On July 14th, the IP Rondalla performed for my group, the Loboc Children's Choir, and my parents in the conference hall of our town. They were very amazing, especially when they played their modern songs -- "Marry You" and "Just Give Me a Reason." It was AWESOME. My favorite was their last number, "Mag Exercise Tayo Tuwing Umaga" by Yoyoy Villame. It reminded me of Bohol. My mother was amazed to hear such beautiful music coming from their rondalla instruments. Although she is from Manila, she had never heard these songs played outside of orchestras. The members of IP Rondalla are very friendly and easy to be with.
Thank you for the beautiful music, you guys rock! \m/

Cecile Poquita,
A Loboc Children's Choir Member

July 14th: The Loboc Children's Choir

Janrey and Gerry doing push-ups. The Loboc Children's Choir and the IP Rondalla jamming to no music. What a group.

July 14th: Tarsiers and Chocolate Hills


Hi I'm Marisa. I'm 15 years old. This is my first time in the Philippines, and I don't know how I feel. Some places are not so pretty due to the poverty and overpopulation, but in general, the country is also really pretty. This is a really new experience for me, so I'm still a little speechless.

July 13th: Bohol Cultural Center

Hey, why are all these people blocking the AWESOME STAGE DECORATIONS? Move outta the way! =P

The first thing I remember when I walked into the Bohol Cultural Center was “Wow, that’s one of the best stage decorations I’ve seen in this whole tour!” It looked so festive! We immediately went onstage for blocking (or walking through some of our program to make sure we fit!). Then we noticed something completely unusual: there was actual air conditioning on the stage! It blew quite a lot actually, but you could only feel it if you were in the middle of the stage (rather than too close to the audience or too far back). After our blocking and sound check, we headed back to the green room to put on our costumes and make up. 

July 13th: We're in Bohol! A Photo Diary

Gerry and Tito Manny Paradela, on the plane to Bohol. Tito Manny looks tired, probably because he had to wake up at
2 am for this flight! Some people didn't even sleep the night before because they supposedly were swimming! 

July 12th: Ayala Mall Subic Bay

Here are some pictures of our performance at Harbor Point Ayala Mall in Subic Bay. All of the kids were excited for this performance because right after, we got to go shopping! Most of the girls went around in groups, looking clothing and accessories for their costumes. The boys  had fun window shopping for things not sold in the Philippines. I was the boring one. I stayed with my pops to look for Filipino books at the National Bookstore. Yippeee!

We all met for dinner at Max's Restaurant for some yummy fried chicken and rice. I ate with Tita Naty and her friends who helped set up the Bayan-Bayanan program. Later, even Principal Juvy, of the Bayan-Bayanan Elementary School came to see us all the way from Bataan. 

Sierra Jamir

Performing on stage at Harbor Point in second half costume.
Covering our heads for another "Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head!"

At Max's Restaurant taking pictures with Tita Naty, Tita Juvy, her husband and child

July 12th: Gerry Returning Home - Lunch in Zambales

My face is out of focus, but that's because my Lola decided to pull out a birthday cake and sing happy birthday
for all the years I hadn't been back home! (Cred: Tito Manny)

July 12th: IP Rondalla's Visit to Bayan-Bayanan - VEST Foundation's Halfway Home and the Aeta Children

We were all touched with the Aeta's plight for survival and VEST Foundation's effort to help them. Reading about their plight is one thing, however, actually seeing, smelling, feeling and experiencing what they have to go through in life is a totally different matter. Lots of us cannot help but shed a tear as we toured the modest halfway home that was built so that Aeta school children could be fed and housed properly during the school year. You never realize how lucky you are until you see how other, less fortunate people live. Yet, despite their hardship and poverty, the Aeta parents and kids were very cheerful, warm, friendly and welcoming to all of us. This made me realize what my parents often tell me -- that happiness cannot be bought or measured by material possessions alone.

For me, our short visit with the Aetas was not just a cultural immersion but a spiritual experience, as well.

Sierra Jamir

My dad's instant Aeta friend showing her hand "carved" guitar out of solid wood.  

July 12th: Bayan-Bayanan - Rondalla Rocks to Buko Time!

Paul Castro proudly holding up a painted rock from the Aetas. Literally a Rondalla "Rock." 

Our Ates, Luz and Angela sharing a young coconut
(buko) as a refreshing drink and delicious snack
after a cool rain shower.

Each of the IP Rondalla kids and parents were also given a rock by the Aetas as a souvenir. I must admit it looks like any common rock you find outside, BUT it is no ordinary rock. These are volcanic rocks whose edges were smoothened by river waters over thousands of years. The Aetas lovingly collected them in their mountain streams and each were meticulously hand-painted with IP's logo of a Philippine flag being held aloft by children. I became curious and asked one of the Aetas why they chose a rock as a gift? She smiled and told me, "It's because Rondalla Rocks!" I thought, "What a bright idea! I never thought about it in that context at all." In any case, this piece of rock became so endeared to many of the IP Rondalla kids that they don't want to part with them at the point of getting into trouble with airport security officials. But that's another story.

After a warm welcome and great merienda (snacks) of freshly harvested and opened young coconuts (yummy!), we played a few folk and popular rondalla tunes for our hosts and the enthusiastic Bayan-bayanan audience. In return, the Aetas treated us to an original and authentic rendition (not the tourist variety) of their traditional song and dance. We were also scheduled to have parlor games and tree planting with the Aeta kids afterwards, but a sudden shower prevented us from doing so. We were so disappointed. The Aetas, however, comforted us. The burst of rain, we were told, is a good sign that heaven favors our group and pours its blessings on us.

Sierra Jamir

July 12th: Bayan-Bayanan - Arriving at the school

An Aeta mother adjusting a chestnut lei on Aaron Fadrigalan as other mothers wait anxiously to hand out theirs

July 12th: Bayan-Bayanan - Our Mission to Help

The Bayan-Bayanan Elementary School drum & lyre band showing off what they've been practicing over
the past two weeks.

At this point, we are all sleep deprived. Walking zombies...but most of all, sweaty and tired teenager unaccustomed to the burning Philippine sun. The days have become more and more a struggle for us, yet for some reason, we find a way to be energetic and enthusiastic once we're on stage, despite the harsh conditions. Today, our endurance was challenged when we travelled more than four hours to reach a small village in the outskirts of Bataan. The school is called Bayan-Bayanan Elementary School in the town of Dinalupihan, Bataan. Only a few weeks prior to our arrival, their school was damaged by a landslide. As an emergency measure, the students and their classes were relocated to the Halfway Home, the open air stage at the town plaza, and inside the Barangay chapel. This safety precaution was necessary as the rainy season threatens to bring more landslides in the area and even greater damage to the school buildings.

An Aeta girl holding her lyre
Earlier, I wrote a blog post about this school and our family's contribution to their child nutrition and feeding program. I talked about the Aetas and the teacher's effort to motivate them to come down from their mountain homes and go to school by setting up a drum and lyre band. A town drum and lyre competition is coming up in just a few months and everybody is excited to participate. Most of the Aeta kids have already signed up to join the band. So, over the last few months, my parents and I have been busy raising money to buy band instruments, uniforms, and to pay for music instructions.  (Thanks to Tita Myrna Nisperos and my ninong Dr. Danny Franco for the t-shirt uniform contributions).

The school also wanted to help the Aeta parents by setting up livelihood and health awareness training programs. So, we have also been working with Bagong Kulturang Pinoy (BKP) of New York to collect relevant books and set up a public library in their community. Needless to say, this trip was especially important to us. The landslide that engulfed their school was their latest calamity, but it was not enough to dampen our spirits, nor theirs.

Sierra Jamir

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Thank you, thank you PPP!

Dear students and teachers of PPP,

We were so delighted that we were given the opportunity to spend a day with you. All of you are so musically gifted; it really showed during our performance together at your school and at SM San Pablo. I speak for everyone when I say you have touched all of our hearts. Thank you so much for all you have given us. We are truly so delighted to have met so many such outstanding people like you.

As a token of our appreciation, the IP Rondalla members wrote a few comments below of our performance together. 

(Note: click to enlarge picture)

July 11th: Central Luzon State University (CLSU)

The stage at CLSU, decorated with green, red, and blue cloth. Although the stage lacked air-conditioning, we powered
through our set. Thankfully, the audience was receptive to our playing! What a night to remember!

July 11th: The Long Roadtrip from Manila to Nueva Ecija

Various shops and restaurants inside the NLEX pit stop provides modern
Filipino road travelers with convenient, clean and quality food, gas and
bathroom services. 
Starbucks are now everywhere in the country. This one caters to regular
travelers on long bus trips. It's also a great place to get free wifi and check
emails on-the-go.

Today, we are heading north towards to Nueva Ecija. Along the way, we will be passing through the central plains of Luzon -- the rice granary of the Philippines. As we depart Manila, the scenery changed from urban to agricultural. To shorten the travel time, we took the NLEX (Northern Luzon Express Way). After about an hour, we made a pit stop at a highway rest stop, where the kids took a bathroom break and looked around the different shops, like Starbucks, Jollibee, Chow King, etc. We ordered coffee and chocolates from Starbucks, together with some other knick-knacks. My dad told me that this was a great improvement over previous pit stops that use to be a hodgepodge of sari-sari stores and open-air bathrooms (for those of you who've been to the Philippines, you know what I mean).

July 11th: Channel TV 5 Good Morning Club Appearance

Posing for the camera (courtesy of tv5)
Playing a little tune (courtesy of tv5)
Look at us! We're on the show's

Hey PinoyJeep Blog followers,

What a day it has been! Early this morning, we were featured on Channel TV 5's Good Morning Club hosted by the famous actor and real "heart-throb," Edu Manzano, and co-host, Tintin Bersola-Babao! For our teaser, we played "Palladio," just to spice up and wake up the early TV show audience. Then, for our main segment, we played "Tango por la Cabeza."  

Then, to our surprise, Edu told us that he was once a banduria player while a young student at La Salle Elementary School where he played the banduria. We challenged him to a jam session but he told us that we need to have a left-handed banduria. Oww! We missed the chance! Anyway, Edu requested that we play his favorite rondalla piece, "Leron Leron Sinta" and "Bahay Kubo," which we gladly obliged. We had a ton of fun.  

Our fading song was "Just Give Me A Reason."

Do you know what else happened? I was interviewed by Edu himself! HAAAAYYYYY!!!!! Kilig to the bones. While we challenged Edu to play to the banduria with us, this time, he challenged me to talk in Tagalog during the interview! Good thing I know Tagalog, konti-konti lang... (also, thank God my parents trained me to speak in Tagalog or I would have died on live television).

July 10th: UP Diliman College of Music

The UP College of Music poster featuring the IP Rondalla and UP TUGMA

Thank You Very Much, PUP!

Dear PUP,

When I asked a few of the rondalla members which performance was their favorite, most of them said "PUP!" Thank you for sharing that wonderful day with us. We wish we had more time in the morning to interact with you. Unfortunately, a last minute change in our schedule kept us away. 

July 10th: Eat Bulaga!

I can't believe we're on Eat Bulaga! I practically adore Ryzza and Bossing. Unfortunately, we weren't able to see Ryzza do her cha-cha-ing today, but luckily, we were in the same dressing room! Anyway, for now, I'm using someone's clip of us from YouTube, at least until I figure out how to download a better version. Enjoy our rendition of "Kay Ganda ng Atin Musika."

Sierra Jamir

July 10th: Precious Gem

Nathan -- the unofficial spokesperson for Precious Gem Academy welcoming the IP Rondalla.

Today, we're back in Manila. We woke up early to visit Precious Gem Academy in Quezon City. There, we were treated to a sumptuous Filipino breakfast complete with tuyo (salty, dried sardines). Knowing me, I had quite a few pieces of tuyo, and unfortunately, my mouth smelled pretty fishy. Luckily, I had some gum to chew off the stench.

It was very warm and humid. You could see sweat perspiring down some of the boy's shirt, but we plodded on with renditions of "Ewan/Marry You" and "Just Give Me a Reason." The crowd of elementary school went wild. The kids also performed for us a version of "Ang Pipit," complete with their bird costume!

Everybody had fun dancing to the tune of "Gentlemen" by Psy. It was hit, even with the rondalla boys and the children's parents.

                                       -- Sierra "Psy" Jamir

Precious Gem grade schoolers singing and acting out the song "Ang Pipit."
Notice their "bird outfit" with feathers meticulously made out of paper.
Precious Gem kids watching intently the IP Rondalla performance despite
the day's intense heat and humidity.

The Pinoy Jeep Blogger hard at work!

Sierra snoozing after a full night and day of non-stop blogging. Sorry, although parents are not allowed in this blog, it's just too tempting to post this "action" shot :o) Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

-- Tom Dad,
    the unofficial IP Rondalla photographer.

July 9th: This Old House - A Day with the Pastor Family

IP Rondalla kids pose for a group picture at the grand staircase of the historic
Pastor family house in Batangas City.

After our performance at St. Bridget College, we took a short drive to the Pastor family's historic "Bahay Na Bato" house for a "Macabayan" (Nationalist) workshop. The Pastor house is about 150 years old and is of the few remaining Spanish-Filipino architectural style house that survived the bombing of Batangas City during WW II. As we roamed around the house, we noticed a number of old relics, pictures and artifacts, including a full sized statue of Jesus Christ and a working karawahe (the house-pulled version of the modern Jeepney). During the first hour, we were treated to native, sweet desserts as we listened to the Pastor brothers' tenor rendition of classical, Filipino, and modern Broadway tunes.

Following the refreshments, we moved to the adjoining hall where we had a an open discussion on the artifact that most interested us in the house. Our moderator helped us piece the different artifacts together in its role in the history of the house and the Philippines. After a hefty discussion, we were exhausted and craved for more of the delicious delicacies of Batangas. We went back to the old house where we were served adobo using the original ingredients, "dulong" (locally available freshwater goby), sapin-sapin, and ginataan. Yummy!

Monday, July 29, 2013

July 9th: St. Bridget College - Ceci

High school students at St. Bridget College giving us a warm welcome song. 

Another successful rondalla performance at St. Briget College.
The nuns were surprised at how ecstatic their students were
with the IP Rondalla performance -- especially George!

Ceci: The friends I made at St. Bridget College

So, that was Aaron. And now it's me again! Yesterday we went to St. Bridget College. When we first arrived, a group of students serenaded us with their welcome song. Afterwards we checked out the auditorium and went to the stage to start blocking and rehearsing. As usual, the crowd loved Ewan/Marry You, Just Give Me a Reason, and the "heartthrob" of the rondalla, George.

Ceci and Lander, or may I say, the
person who made his profile pick
on Facebook a picture with Ceci!
Following the show, we had lunch with the students. Katrina and I ate lunch with Mickey, one of the students and his friends. At first it seemed like we had nothing in common. We listened to pop, such as One Direction, he listened to rock. However, we had a really good time and Mickey was really nice. He offered to buy us Japanese cakes and even sang "With a Smile" by the Eraserheads.

It was sad to leave. Before we left, Mickey taught Katrina and me a special handshake so that if we ever meet him again, we would remember each other. As I left, many students wanted to take pictures of me. It was surprising to see when we had wifi at the hotel that one of Mickey's friends even made a picture of myself and him as his profile picture on Facebook. In the end, we had a fun time at St. Bridget.
Peace ~ Ceci

July 9th: St. Bridget College - Aaron

Aaron: Aaron's Tagalog Lesson

At my stay at the St. Bridget College, the students took us on a tour around the campus. I walked with my good friend Jaeryen and two of the students. They tried helping us with our Tagalog. However, my Tagalog still needed a lot of work. It was really fun socializing with the other students but it was very hard to understand them because they were not really good at speaking English (just joking...they're good but my brain was still asleep).

Speaking Tagalog is very difficult to do in my opinion. I would have to deal with less trouble if I had my book...can't find it at the moment. The "Conversational Tagalog" book helps me understand Tagalog better, but since I don't have it, I am probably going to have a hard time understanding. Bye… That's it ~ Aaron
The conversational Tagalog book that Aaron
was referring to. It was part of the welcome package
provided to IP Rondalla kids. 

Reyna: IP Rondalla's Youngest Member

The iconic Philippine "Jeepney" similar to the one that Reyna and the IP Rondalla kids rode while in the provinces.

Here's a little interview I conducted with Reyna, the youngest member of the IP Rondalla tour. She is so excited to share her jeepney and food experience with you!

Reyna with her "tarsier" neck pillow busy playing
videogames while en route to Cebu from
Tagbilran, Bohol on a fast, twin hull ferry boat. 
"Hi. I'm Reyna. I'm five years old. My brother does Rondalla. He's in the group and he plays the guitar. I don't play in the rondalla, but I'm a member of IP. I went with the rondalla group on all of the bus rides. 

"I love riding the jeepney, because there is no door but there's a railing that you can hold on to at the top. It had different colors on it. There were two sides, and one side facing the other side, and you can see on the other side of the window, but the people sitting there have to twist their head back to see outside. 

"They were telling stories in the bus, like my dad searched for some stories about Manila and read it to the group. In one of the buses, we had foot rests and tables and then we didn't go to Jollibee, but we got Jollibee stuff from somewhere. 

"One day, I went to McDonalds for breakfast, and I had pancakes, and I had pineapple juice. And one day when I was at COA, I had a delivery from Jollibee, and I had chicken with rice and gravy. And for my drink, I had water. I like Jollibee because they had chicken and gravy, and with the chicken. It's different from American because in the Philippines, everybody speaks Tagalog, and in Massachusetts, people speak English. My mother or my dad speaks tagalog for me, so I go with my mom or dad to order or I stay at the table while they order. 

"Trips are fun because if you're going somewhere, you should always hold somebody's hand, and if you don't hold somebody's hand, and you're suppose to, you might get lost. 
I'll see you soon." - Reyna

July 8th: University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB)

Tita Cris, IP Founder, welcomes the Los Banos High School students to the IP Rondalla's outreach performance at
 UP Los Banos. The UPLB auditorium was packed to the brim with an SRO crowd of cheering, shrieking, and
highly pumped up audience -- a good indication that "Rondalla Rocks!"
Mural inside the UPLB auditorium.

                                                                         I just came back from three tiring but worthwhile performances at the beautiful campus of the University of the Philippines at Los Banos (UPLB). So far, this was definitely the most memorable performances for me on this tour. I met a plethora of extremely intelligent and amiable students from UPLB, some of whom performed during our welcoming ceremony the night before and our performances today, I was able to revisit UPLB, a place close to my family's heart, and I was able to be reunited with many of my family's friends and professors. 

July 7th: Villa Escudero & arriving at UPLB

The girls on the last day in San Pablo City posing in the backyard
of the Rubico-Jamir family's house

Hello, my name is George, and I am a Banduria 2 player in the IP Rondalla. What a week it has been! A large concert at Resort's World, a courtesy call and special performance at Malacanan Palace for President Aquino, two TV/radio appearances on ABS-CBN, two performances at Polytechnic University of the Philippines, and so much more were all packed into our schedule -- and that's just for Manila. We are now in San Pablo City, 87 kilometers southeast of Manila, nestled in the foothills of Mt. Makiling, Mt. Banahaw, and Sierra Madre mountains. After such an intensive week, all of us needed a refuge for rest and relaxation. That refuge would be the breathtaking ranch resort of Villa Escudero.