Monday, May 21, 2012

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Swingin' with the MPO

One Sunday afternoon, I had a choice between two activities: watching an orchestra performance and attending a Bollywood dancing session. Although the latter seemed more appealing, I went with the former after considering the schedule.

I had heard good things about Dewan Filharmonik Petronas, the home of the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra (MPO). It's a lovely wood-panelled hall in between the twin towers, with what is almost like a constellation of lights on the ceiling, changing color with the songs. Such a shame photography is prohibited, but here's how it looks like.

The cheapest seats had run out but I was fortunate to get the last seat in the middle stalls half an hour before the start of the performance. The hall isn't large, so you can sit anywhere and still enjoy the excellent acoustics and a pretty good view of the musicians.

The dress code is smart casual: strictly no jeans, shorts, slippers and sneakers. The crowd is a good mix, with plenty of expats. I was glad to see a few young people in the audience. It was a pretty full matinee, with vacancies only in the most expensive seats.

Although known for their classical repertoire, MPO has a varied concert program. I love listening to live orchestras, but I'm no classical connoisseur. The timing seemed perfect, as they were playing swing tunes that weekend. I'm not really sure why, but at first glance you wouldn't guess that they're an Asian orchestra. There are more mat salleh (white people) in the orchestra than ethnic Malaysians.

The American guests were conductor Richard Kaufman, vocalist Lisa Vroman and drummer Bernie Dresel. The rapport between them is fantastic, as they are good friends. Kaufman is a natural storyteller, gracious towards his hosts. It doesn't take long to warm up to him.

Vroman played Christine in Phantom of the Opera in more than 3,000 performance across the U.S. and was the first to play Fantine and Cosette in Les Miserables. At first, I was skeptical that she could pull it off because she is not a jazz singer, but the audience was certainly acquainted with her range and her skill as a performer as the show went on. One little girl remarked during intermission that Vroman was "better than the last one".

Dresel, whose credits include Mission: Impossible and The Simpsons, and was drummer for 15 years with the Brian Setzer Orchestra got his chance to prove his amazing talent as a drummer in the final number, Sing Sing Sing.

If you're in KL, keep an eye on their programme.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Our correspondent in Romania

My good friend and former colleague Mari-An has contributed three posts (so far) to the Pinoy EM blog. Read her stories about Spring, Valentine's and Easter at Pinoy Erasmus Mundus.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Transitive Verses, part 5

Even more embarrassing thoughts from the commute. I really shouldn't be posting these but I feel compelled to for some reason I cannot understand.

the men arguing at the corner have it better
they're exchanging ideas, mind to mind.
the neighbour who honks and waves as he drives past
at least makes a sign that you exist.
who dares to escape this haze
when sandals scrape the pavement
where the cats don't budge an inch.
why try to decipher
what madness one wrestles with,
walking through cobwebs
just to see eye to eye with you.

[SkyBus, 3 May]

Can't even tell if you are a star and if you are, what what makes you so bright?
The street lights race across the window but fail to measure up to you
Like minarets against the dome.

I've changed more than you know, eyes lined awake, nails black as jet,
But I only want one kiss from the dusty, pockmarked face
Of the big white moon tonight.

[SkyBus, 8 May]

Monday, May 7, 2012

BBDO Guerrero "Meme" TVC 30s (International Campaign) Department of Tourism

Am so honoured to be part of this.

Advertising Agency: BBDO Guerrero
Producer: Jing Abellera / Ino Magno / Anj dela Calzada
Director: Dale Lopez / Meggy de Guzman
Editor: Princess Wendam
Coloris: Musseli Cruz
VFX: Justin Gimeno
Post-Production House: Post Manila

The Department of Tourism would like to thank the following photographers who gave us rights to use their images for FREE:

1. Joey Rico (for the Street fashion meme)
2. Abby Yao (for the Stretch limos meme)
3. Gutsy Tuason (for the High fives meme)
4. La Venta 2012 (for the Underground meme)
5. Henson Wongaiham (for the Tour guides meme)
6. George Tapan (for My humps, Going upstairs and Commuting memes)
7. Company of Ateneo Dancers (for Meetings meme)
8. Darwin Dumaraos (for Bananas meme)
9. Bottle School (for Stargazing meme)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

A Publika exclusive

"Why you want to go here?" asked the cabbie who took me in after I waited in vain for half an hour for the bus. "So far taxi!"

I had actually wanted to go to Publika to see the French Art Fair and because Brandie had mentioned that it was pretty artsy. But the cabbie was right--the mall formerly known as Solaris Dutamas is not easy to get to and isn't a place the average Malaysian would think of going to on a regular weekend.


Stepping into it on a Sunday morning, I had a sense of deja vu. What did it remind me of? Ah, museums (which I love). There were no crowds. Some empty spaces. A lot of natural light. It makes you want to put up an easel.

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The stores are playgrounds for anti-mass production hipsters, as there is a significant number of independents, of which Ben's Independent Grocer is the big daddy. B.I.G. Publika has the most beautiful selection from the supermarkets I have seen in Malaysia. Just looking at the labels made me giddy.

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Step outside for some verses.






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Come up to see nearby buildings.

Examination Boards (?)

Masjid Wilayah

Publika is wonderful for families, especially on Wheelie Sundays. If only it wasn't so far...and there are taxis (I had to cross the main street to hail one).

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Transitive Verses, part 4

baju kurung

has someone ever told you, little girl, that your head is above the clouds?
see: the sun won't show you the world yet but time ambles on for none.
the tracks grumble under the weight of heavy slumbering wheels.
you need to keep reality in check, you and your paisley dreams.
envy the man beside you with a screen, defeating evil in pixels.
watch your neighbours sleep grey naps as the day begins
and your mind wanders far with you and your paisley dreams.
so count your black shoes and whistle as buildings fly past,
watch the city wake with a groan, the cranes spring to life,
as the mist rolls on and leaves trails behind
for you and your paisley dreams.

[LRT, 2 May, morning]

comment message update

when they say the screen is blurred
they mean their eyes have swelled--
you've been away too long
that your absence weighs upon the waiting,
the ones you left behind.
the mothers feel as though
they've lost all their children
while watching the drama
on a blue-and-white screen.
(their sentimentality is catching)
a woman's heart is crushed every second
into tiny fragments that cannot be recovered
and this will happen over and over
until all turns to dust.

[SkyBus, 2 May, evening]

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sneak peek: Asian Aviation Centre of Excellence

The Asian Aviation Centre of Excellence (better known by its former name, AirAsia Academy) is a joint venture between AirAsia and CAE of Canada. AACE is a regional training school used mainly by AirAsia but the six flight simulators are also being used by other airlines. Its building is close to LCC Terminal, so I went with other recent hires to see the facilities. Here are a few snaps from that visit.

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Grooming room and swimming pool

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Lounge areas

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Classroom and flight sims

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Inside the flight simulator

Hall for exams and events