"Come, thou shalt go home, and we'll have flesh for holidays, fish for fasting-days, and moreo'er, puddings and flapjacks, and thou shalt be welcome."
Most people from Group 48 (if not all) would know that visiting home would be a big thing for me. Speaking about origin and homeland was difficult during my first year because I left home still carrying baggages from my past. As much as my heart was full of hope and promise of entering a new life it also carried tinges of bitterness, anger and resentment together with some monsters I have not made peace with. Yet the prospect of my brother's college graduation loomed and it seemed missing this life event would cost more in the long-term than circumventing it in fear of possible "retrograde." In the days of late April this year when my father and I were conversing via email about the possibility of my coming home for the summer, I was in a "rut." I was deep into the training and was about to go into showings week yet the summer move-out schedule for all students currently living in the dorms was also impending. An apartment was nowhere in sight. I told my father that I did not know if I can come home and my priority was to find a roof over my head and when that is settled I will get back to him.
Voila. I found an apartment I liked enough and fought for it to be mine (NYC Real Estate can be harsh). Once the lease signing was scheduled I booked a round-trip ticket to the Philippines in less than a month before the graduation ceremony.
And so here I am in Manila and I made it to the ceremony! I am going to be here for three weeks.
It's the last week before I visit the Philippines for my brother's college graduation and so most of this week was spent running errands to make sure things are in place before I go. This involved making sure the apartment windows got cleaned and checked, missing blocks of wood in the kitchen were in place and the hot water issue in the shower was resolved.
Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra at the Carnegie Hall
I was psyched to learn that a Philippine Orchestra was to perform at the Carnegie Hall for the first time. So when a friend invited me to an open rehearsal at Hotel Pennsylvania, I gladly went. And when I learned they had an extra ticket to the actual performance I gladly hopped on that too. Even though I knew I had an early flight the following morning, I had to show up for this historic event.
The turn out of Filipinos who came to support the PPO at the Carnegie Hall was good. It was quite surreal to see so many of my folks in one place in a foreign land but it was good to see my countrymen supporting one another.
Here's a sneak peak of the PPO's rehearsal at Hotel Pennsylvania:
And here they are at the Carnegie Hall before the show began:
First Apartment in New York City!
The first four weeks of my first legit summer in New York City have been a transition. I was living in the apartment of two wonderful generous human beings from my class while I went in search for a place of my own to stay for the duration of my entire second year of training.
It's been crazy. I have seen 16 apartments in New York City in the areas of Inwood, Washington Heights, Harlem and Brooklyn. I've been balancing this with work-study in Juilliard (library work and ushering) to earn money for living expenses. After a month in limbo I have finally secured and moved into my first apartment in New York City!
This whole process has been a journey all in itself. I had lived in my parents' house during the first 26 years of my life in the Philippines and so learning to live on my own is it's own unfolding. From discovering what it is I like and don't like in a home or haven, choosing what to buy from the supermarket for the week, preparing my own meals and washing my own dishes, and most importantly, learning how to communicate my needs and desires openly and directly to the people I encounter in my search for a place of my own.
Though the beginning of this journey was fraught with anxiety and uncertainty, it had led me into deeper relationships with the people who have supported me throughout this process. It also made me discover a newfound grace within that I did not know could co-exist in the midst of uncertainty until now.
On the morning after I spent my first night in my room, I woke up to the sight of moving white clouds in the blue sky from my window directly beside my bed. As I lay there taking in my first view, the thought that came to mind was, "Well done, Regina. Well done."
I have been introduced to Anna Magnani by one of my voice and speech teachers during my first "Quarterly Reviews." I was encouraged to watch Anna Magnani in "The Fugitive Kind" (1960) with Marlon Brando, among other actresses. I was drawn into her work and later explored a scene from "Orpheus Descending" (the play from which the movie was based on by Tennessee Williams) for scene study class.
So when I learned that the Film at Lincoln Center was doing an Anna Magnani Film Festival "La Magnani" I was ecstatic. As a student on a budget I took advantage of their 3+ film package where you get to watch a film for $9/ticket (instead of the usual $11) if you buy three or more tickets for the festival. I saw The Golden Coach, The Passionate Thief and Bellissima.
Why I love her:
There aren't as many powerhouses of actresses with international careers who are bilingual (Magnani is Italian). To see someone move with ease from Italian to English in several films made me embrace my own bilingual nature. Both the Italian and Filipino (Tagalog) languages have crisp consonants which we tend to bite into especially in heightened states. Also, I've been navigating my way into the fact that I feel like a different person when I speak English from when I speak my native language. To see an actress move fluidly between two languages shows me that it is possible to integrate the two identities into a fluid whole.
2) Unapologetic Beauty
I love the fact that Magnani is not a "classical beauty." She has lines on her face, imperfect teeth, voluptuous, not that tall - a refreshing break from our beloved waifs, our blonde bombshells, or brazilian supermodels - and yet, she is considered one of the greatest actresses of Italian cinema (and she has a movie with Marlon Brando). The experience of watching Magnani goes beyond watching a great actress employ great technique. Watching Magnani is watching a full blooded human being onscreen, a beast even at times. She has played characters in which three men fall in love with her at the same time and why not? What made me think that human beings could fall in love with only one type of beauty?
The first movie I saw Magnani was in "The Fugitive Kind" so I immediately identified her as a dramatic actress. But when I saw her in "The Golden Coach" and "The Passionate Thief" I was thrilled to know she was also so funny. I don't think an actress has made me laugh as much as Magnani has in a film before. Often when I would watch a "romantic comedy" I would not really laugh. I would only be "amused." The guy chases after the girl, encounters some problems, the girl is being really cute. With Magnani, I laugh because the stakes are real, the experience honest, the obstacles palpable.
I am a Filipino actress alternating between New York and Manila. I received my acting training at The Juilliard School. Take a look around!