I have always wondered how my life would be like had my parents never left their hometown of Libagon, Southern Leyte for the United States. Having spent the last two weeks here in this town (where it’d only take you 15-20 minutes to walk from one end to the other),I’ve gotten a taste of what that life would be.
The best word to describe the lifestyle of Libagon residents is simple. Students attend school from 8 am until 4 pm. During their lunch breaks they’ll either get snacks from the street vendors, play computer games at the Internet Café, or sing a couple songs on the karaoke machine at the seaside restaurant (designed to look like a nipa hut).
Libagon can be compared to the city of Las Vegas because it is a town that never sleeps. From sunrise until sunset the town is alive with people who always have something to do. If they aren’t working, parents will pass the time by visiting friends and relatives to make kwnetuhan (share stories and gossip). Fishermen will get on their boats to catch fish or squid to sell. Young boys climb up palm trees to gather coconuts for a refreshing snack.
Even though I am not completely worry-free and have my Audrey assignments (like these series of posts) to do, I cannot help but feel calm and relaxed in this town. Everyone is so friendly and quick to help others out. Everyone knows each other and if they don’t they do not hesitate to introduce themselves.
I may not have been born here or know every family and their history like my parents, but Libagon is a very special place to me and I do feel at home.
However, I know I won’t ever be able to relate to the impoverished life that most people in this town live. Both my father and mother’s families are fairly well off, but they have always managed to stay humble and know that the best way to really give thanks to God for their blessings is to help those who are less fortunate than them.
My brother has celebrated his 5th, 13th and (most recently) his 18th birthday in Libagon. I can recall on the day of my brother’s 5th birthday, my mom and aunts were running around decorating the area along the beachfront where we would be holding the celebration. My brother started to cry because he noticed there were no gifts for him to be found. He sobbed to my mother, “Mommy, where are my presents? It’s my birthday!”
My parents took my brother aside and explained to him that here in the Philippines many children are not as lucky as him. They don’t have closets full of clothes or bedrooms full of toys. Some children aren’t even able to go to school because their parents do not have enough money to pay for their education.
As with all of his birthdays that have been celebrated in Libagon, my family invited many children to the party so that they could enjoy the many delicious food we had prepared: lechon (roasted pig), pancit (noodles), fried chicken, and fish among other dishes. It may just be one day out of the whole year that they can enjoy this kind of feast, but you can see in their eyes how happy and appreciative they are.
Once all the children are fed my parents distribute “presents” we brought for them from the United States. This year they brought a box full of various types of shoes for boys and girls and another box filled with notebooks, pens, pencils, calculators and other school supplies.
Living in the U.S. it can be easy for me to get caught up in my daily routine of working and worrying over petty things like a friend not returning a call right away, but when I see the big smile on a little boy or girl’s face over something as simple as a pack of pencils, reality hits me. My so-called problems are nothing in comparison to what many people deal with day in and day out in the Philippines. At the age of 5, my brother may have cried because he wasn’t receiving a table full of presents, but we both now know (thanks to the example set by our parents) the importance of sharing one’s blessings.
I moisturize my skin religiously. I go through a huge bottle of lotion about every two months because, trust me, in this day and age, with the sun and the Greenhouse Effect and Kim Jong-Il and the economy, sometimes all a girl can do is make sure her skin is hydrated and youthful looking.
It never occurred me to check out a body wash that had natural moisturizers in it, which would save me a couple bills at checkout, not to mention save me the process of lotioning myself up every night.
Nature’s Gate Pomegranate Sunflower Velvet Moisture Body Wash is paraben-free with moisturizers made to hydrate dry skin. You’ve heard of the wonders of pomegranate, right? The antioxidants found in pomegranates work to fight free radicals and prevent any potential damage from them. And sunflower nourishes and replenishes the skin with vital nutrition and vitamins.
Even more impressive is the fact that this body wash is paraben-free. What is paraben? It is a cosmetic preservative found in your everyday products: toothpastes, shampoos, shaving gels, even personal lubricants. Although seemingly harmless, studies have found that parabens are found in high concentrations in breast cancer tumors (though the link to parabens and cancers are still undergoing study).
Whether the studies prove right or wrong, I am not an advocate for beauty at the risk to your health. Why run the risk when there are other affordable products that are substance- and chemical-free? This body wash is a healthy choice for you and your body because of the absence of toxic chemicals, and it’s produced without animal testing or any animal byproducts. Even the bottle is biodegradable.
Take it from this skin-moisturizing addict, you’ll want to have this in your beauty arsenal.
So comment to this post and we’ll pick five winners to try out this amazing product. You got till August 11, 11:59 p.m., and you must have a U.S. addy. Remember — retweet for an additional entry! Good luck!
Never knew Harry Shum, Jr. of Glee (he plays Mike Chang) could dance, didya? Our writer Han Cho was certainly impressed when she interviewed him for our upcoming Fall issue. And now he’s starring in Jon Chu’s Step Up 3D, along with AA actress Ally Maki (10 Things I Hate About You), out in theaters tomorrow! Check out his moves:
With the World Expo going on, Shanghai is the place to be right now. (They’ve gotten 10 million visitors since May!) Audrey contributor Janice Jann was just there as part of the Miss LA Chinatown goodwill tour. Hip New York-based indie band PaperDoll, headed by Chinese-Taiwanese-Thai American vocalist Teresa Lee Chaisiri , is in Shanghai right now to perform at the World Expo (August 10 & 11), and they just performed at Shanghai’s oldest underground live music venue, Yuyintang, yesterday.
Everyone seems to be getting into the Expo act, including international fashion and accessories brand Bottega Veneta. The Italian brand is partnering with Academy Award-winning composer, conductor and cultural ambassador Tan Dun for a world premiere concert called “Martial Arts Trilogy.” The concert — which combines elements of Tan’s acclaimed scores from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Hero and The Banquet — is expected to be the top cultural event at the six month-long Expo and will take place this Saturday, August 7. Tan will be conducting the Shanghai Philharmonic Orchestra, China Youth Symphony Orchestra and Shanghai Philharmonic Chorus at the new 18,000 seat Expo 2010 Shanghai Culture Center.
This concert, sponsored by Bottega Veneta, represents a shared commitment to foster young creative talent and nurture the next generation of musicians, designers and creators. “It is a pleasure and also a responsibility, I believe, to help young designers and artists share their work with the widest possible audience,” said Tomas Maier, creative director of Bottega Veneta, which also developed an artisan training program at the Scuola Della Pelletteria in Vicenza, and sponsored a student design competition at the University of Tokyo last spring.
In addition to the China Youth Symphony Orchestra, the concert will feature young soloists from around the world, including Italian cellist Amedeo Cicchese, Japanese violinist Ryu Goto, China’s guqin player Lu Xiaozi, and Chinese American pianist Sun Jiayi.
To celebrate the concert and partnership, Bottega Veneta has created a limited edition bag (there are only 26 of them!) to benefit the Spring Buds Project. The limited edition bag which will be sold at all their China stores and one will be auctioned off online. All 26 purchasers of the bag will receive two VIP tickets to the concert.
All the proceeds of the bags will be donated to the Spring Buds Project of CCTF, a public fundraising fund committed to helping every child in China to develop their overall physical, mental and social potential, and to help them become self-reliant, contributing members to their communities. The Spring Bud Project, launched in 1989, aims to help girls in poverty stricken and education deprived regions get back to school. In the last 18 years, the Spring Bud Program has sponsored the education and practical skills training of more than 1.7 million girls in China. The Program’s latest efforts focus on vocational training and even entrepreneurship.
To find out more about the concert, go here.
I like Chinatown. I can always find yummy things to eat and drink, and it’s a cool place to chill. You can always find something to do in Chinatown.
This summer, L.A.’s Chinatown is poppin’. Starting in August, every Saturday from 5pm to midnight, the Community Redevelopment Agency of Los Angeles and the Chinatown community have partnered together with Community Arts Resources (CARS) to host Chinatown Summer Nights in order to showcase one of L.A.’s most unique neighborhoods.
From Lei Min Way to Chung King Road, attendees will find food trucks lined up serving samples of the most delectable dishes as KCRW deejays spin music throughout the night. In addition to the food trucks, there will be cooking demonstrations by local restaurants, as well as family-oriented activities and hands-on cultural workshops, anything from art to dance. The workshops will be conducted by local artists and museums and other educational institutions.
In addition, temporary art installations will be set up for public viewing, and merchandise will be available for anyone’s browsing pleasure at the LA Craft Experience. Better yet, the Chinatown Summer Nights Discount Program gives discounts to local stores and restaurants (check out their website!).
Food, music, and art? Chinatown knows how to get down.
Where: Chinatown, Los Angeles between Broadway and Yale, from College Street to Bernard Street.
When: Every Saturday in August (August 7, 14, 21, and 28) from 5pm to midnight.
How: Public transportation and a courtesy shuttle will be provided from Chinatown Gold Line Station and Central Plaza. There’s also a private lot, valet, and free bike parking.
Admission: Free and for all ages
We’re sad that So You Think You Can Dance contestant Alex Wong got injured and therefore disqualified from the competition. But the show must go on for Soyon An, the two-time Emmy Award winning stylist and costume designer for the show. (She just won her second Emmy in a row!) Not only does she style all the myriad looks for the dancers on the popular reality competition, now in its seventh season, she also just finished designing for Carrie Underwood’s “Play On” tour, styles for Jay Leno’s band on The Tonight Show, and just accepted a position as a fashion editor for Jimon Magazine, an art and fashion magazine published twice yearly.
Audrey Magazine: What do you do as the stylist and costume designer for So You Think You Can Dance?
Soyon An: Every day is a specific day. So for example, yesterday was fittings for Thursday, and also it’s also the day we find out who the dancers are dancing with. And at that point we’re calling choreographers trying to figure out what their concepts are, so that I can start conceptualizing with them what their wardrobes are going to be. So then we go shopping for fabric, and wardrobe and makeup. I have to do full costume designs, and I have 40 costume designs to make by Wednesday.
AM: Do you make all your costumes individually?
SA: About 80 percent of the costumes are made and 20 percent are bought. Most of the time, like the hip-hop routines, we’ll go and buy jeans, but we try not to make them look store bought, so we customize all of them. We tailor the individual pieces.
AM: What was it like to style Alex Wong?
SA: Alex is an incredible dancer, and working with him has been a lot of fun. He has a really great personality and is really easy to work with. I am glad he is as confident as he is on the show, and I think he really killed it in [his hip-hop routine]. And coming on the show as a ballerina, he can move his body and legs in ways that the average person can’t. Working with him and wardrobing him, I’ve had to really create and customize for him. All of his pants have to be constructed and have extra stretch in them, and the way the back is, because with the choreography, he gets big and bulks up.
AM: What elements inspire you and your designs?
SA: Everything, from everyday life, to people that I meet, places that I go, maybe when I’m driving around different neighborhoods. I have a photographic memory, so little bits and pieces of things that I remember will go into my design. I definitely have an edgier look to everything I create. I like to put an element of high fashion into anything that I do. It’s like a combination of high fashion and costume.
AM: Did you get any formal training for design or was this a hobby-turned-passion-turned-job?
SA: I’ve always really been into drawing and art. I used to be an athlete, and I think that may be why I know dancers in terms of their needs. I went to school for fashion design. I initially went into Otis for design and to build my foundation, but after a couple years, because I wanted a faster route, so I went to FIDM. After I did some corporate work in design, I went into TV/film because it felt like more like my scene.
AM: I think it’s amazing that you’re a stylist and doing something very creative. It defies the typical stereotype of an Asian American as a doctor or a lawyer. Do you think your ethnicity gives you an edge over the other stylists?
SA: My parents definitely wanted me to go down that aisle of being a doctor or lawyer and trying to fulfill a career goal. I think for me, personally, with my designs, there is a particular element that makes it my creation; you can tell my hand has touched that design. I don’t know if that has anything to do with being Asian American or the influences that I had growing up. But I think you can tell when a performer has my costume on versus someone else’s creation. And if anything, the way my parents raised me, they’ve helped me be a multitasker. The reason I can be a multitasker is because they put me through so much as a kid.
AM: Any thoughts for anyone pursuing a creative career like yourself?
SA: As Asian Americans, I don’t think we should follow our parents’ definition of success and happiness.
Watch the top 5 dancers compete tonight on So You Think You Can Dance at 8 pm on Fox. The season finale airs August 12.
Marié Digby is all sorts of lovely and enchanting. From her soft, beguiling voice to her delicately pretty face, she’s everything you’d expect from a life-sized chanteuse-Tinkerbell. The Japanese and Irish American songstress holds a sovereign position in the World Wide Web as well. She debuted her homemade acoustic adaptation of Rhianna’s Umbrella on YouTube on May 29, 2007, and has garnered more than 16.8 millions views to date. Since then, she has grown as an artist and performer and has advanced onto much larger platforms.
In the past three years, Digby has released three studio albums — her debut album Unfold, on April 8, 2008; a collection of Japanese cover songs Second Home, on March 4, 2009; and her second U.S. album Breathing Underwater on September 8, 2009. Recently, she’s been making waves on stage through her appearances at Lilith Fair, as well as online with the release of her 17-episode web-series Breathing Underwater The Movie, named after her newest album.
Lilith Fair, which was founded in 1997 to celebrate women in music, is the largest and highest grossing all-female touring music festival. After a decade-long hiatus, Lilith Fair returned to the road this summer with its 2010 tour. With an original roster of prominent female artists such as Sarah McLachlan (co-founder of the Lilith Fair), Christina Aguilera, Sheryl Crow, Erykah Badu, The Dixie Chicks, Missy Elliot, Queen Latifah, Jewel and Nelly Furtado, to name a few, the 2010 summer tour included Digby in its ever-expanding list of top female musical performers of the day.
While the 2010 Lilith Fair is having its grand finale today at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Washington D.C., viewers can still find Digby in her musical film Breathing Underwater through ABC’s Music Lounge. The film, which is divided into 17 episodes, premiered on July 1, 2010, with new three to five minute episodes released every few days. (The final episode airs today.) The film is a compilation of inspirations and stories chronicling Digby’s life during the recording of her album Breathing Underwater. All the tracks from the namesake album are featured in the web-series to help dramatize Digby’s emotions and experiences during that time.
Check out the trailer here:
For more on Marié Digby and the Lilith Fair, check out her official ABC blog.
If you want to see Marié Digby live, and you’re in the Los Angeles area, she’ll be performing at Kollaboration Acoustic 4 on August 27, 2010 at the Ford Theatre. Get tickets here.
Current TV journalist Euna Lee made global headlines with her captivity in North Korean jail with fellow journalist Laura Ling last year. Since then, both women have been honored as Glamour’s Women of the Year. Lee is returning to the public with her début book, The World Is Bigger Now: A Story of Faith, Family and Forgiveness, published by Broadway Books (an imprint of Random House), to be released on September 28, 2010.
According to a previous report by The New York Times, the book would detail “her 140 days of imprisonment, her ongoing interrogation and her efforts to protect her sources and the subjects of her reporting, as well as the importance of her religious faith during this time.”
What we can expect from the yet to be released memoir are the developments that led up to Lee and Ling’s March 17, 2009 capture at the China-North Korean border while they were investigating the trafficking of North Korean female refugees, as well as Lee’s personal and detailed account of her captivity for more than four months within the enigmatic confines of North Korea.
The book was co-authored by Lisa Dickey, a frequent contributor of biographies and memoirs.
Can’t wait? You can pre-order the book here.
In my (almost) 23 years, I’ve been to the Philippines five times; when I was 3, 10, 14, 18, and now. With a degree in journalism and a few years of reporting experience under my belt, I’ve made it a point this time around to take note of what I see and hear on my current trip back to my parents’ native land and the place I consider to be my second home.
My parents, brother and I flew via Asiana Airlines from Chicago to Manila, Philippines last July 10. Despite the 14-hour flight from Chicago to Seoul, Korea (our three-hour stopover) and the three-hour connecting flight from Seoul to Manila, we very much felt comfortable and enjoyed both flights. We faced no problems checking in our luggage back in Chicago and had no issues upon our arrival in Seoul.
However, when it came time for us to take the approximately 45-minute Philippine Airlines flight from Manila to Tacloban City, Southern Leyte, we faced very questionable and rude treatment by workers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Despite my parents’ attempts to pack no more than 25-30 kilos in each of our boxes (the maximum weight for Philippine Airlines), we were informed that we had excess check-in baggage and must pay 4,000 pesos (approximately $80-$90). My mom was obviously not very happy because she had intended for that money to go to other purposes, but decided against fighting the charge. You see, being charged for excess baggage is nothing new to my family. We have faced this issue each and every time we’ve traveled domestic in the Philippines.
We paid the fee and were about to make our way through security when a female security guard stopped us. She eyed my parents’ and my brother’s carry-on suitcases, as well as mine and said, “Your luggage is too big. You need to go back to the counter and check them in.” (I should note here that as the guard spoke to us, two women whose suitcases were much larger in size than ours went through security no questions asked. Did the guard not question them because she knew they weren’t Americans? Who knows …) Needless to say, my parents were furious and my temper was nearing its boiling point. My mom told the guard, “We traveled on two international flights with these suitcases as our carry-ons and had no problems and you’re telling us they’re too big for the planes here?” The guard continued to just say that we had to return to the counter and so we eventually did.
Once we were back at the same counter from earlier, my mom (God bless her fearlessness of confrontation) demanded to know why the young gentleman who checked in our baggage did not make any mention of our suitcases being too big. She also demanded the name of the female security guard, to which the young man replied, “I’m sorry, ma’am, but I do not know her.”
“Oh, really? I think you’re only saying you don’t know her because I’m asking you for her name. Am I right?” my mother asked. She raised her voice a bit higher so that the other workers at the counters and other passengers could hear. “Is this how you are all trained to treat balikbayans? Were you all told to charge us with as many bogus fees as you can so that you could take all of our money? Hindi na ‘to balikbayan; balik gastos! (This is no longer a homecoming; it’s coming home to pay!)”
Many people may think my family and I overreacted, but I’m sure if you spoke with other balikbayans you will discover that they too have faced these same issues.
Philippines customs officials and airport employees are notorious for opening the boxes of balikbayans and taking items that are meant for their family and friends to keep for themselves (Upon our arrival in Manila, we discovered that a set of brand new bath towels that my mom had planned to give away had been taken. We knew the box had been opened because it had been resealed with tape that said “SECURITY CHECK” and the rope we used to tie it was inside). They also ruthlessly make false claims that certain items are not allowed to be brought onto the plane so that passengers will be forced to leave the items behind and the customs people can take them for themselves.
My family and I love the summers when we can go back to the Philippines to visit our extended family and friends. However, the treatment of many balikbayans has continued to be a problem. It is unfair and very upsetting to see our fellow Filipinos taking advantage of us when we just want to enjoy ourselves. It is also unfortunate that they don’t seem to understand that the money and items they, for whatever reason, so very much want to keep for themselves could be better used to help the children begging for food in the streets and the elderly who are forced to sleep on dirty sidewalks.
There is no doubt that the Philippines is a beautiful country full of equally beautiful and kindhearted people. I most definitely am not generalizing and saying that all employees at Filipino airports are unfairly targeting balikabayans, but it is a problem that I believe needs to be addressed immediately before the situation gets so out of hand that Filipinos living abroad no longer feel welcome in their motherland.
When my friend first showed me suckatlife.com, I thought, “Wtf, is this another version of fmylife.com?”
But it wasn’t. In fact, it was a blog with posts of fascinating artwork.
Using ink, markers, and watercolor, Taiwanese American artist Lawrence Yang creates movement within his paintings that evoke a certain mood and feeling. Much of his artwork focuses on natural settings, like mountains and water, and this may largely be due to his uncle being an established Taiwanese artist and the traditional Chinese art that surrounding him as a child growing up in suburban Chicago. Graffiti is also a source of inspiration; the colors are stark, and though evocative, there is something grim about the pieces much like graffiti.
Regardless of the medium, Yang finds balance with his art, working during the day and painting at night: “logical, left brain work during the day, unwind with color and chaos at night.” And he strives to achieve that balance in his artwork as well, creating “order out of chaos (and vice versa).”
To check out his stuff, hit up www.suckatlife.com.