The Joy in Bedrest

I usually keep working while pregnant, and it is such a humbling experience to be asked to rest and take things slow. Perhaps my body needed to rest (not that my work is rigorous physically) but maybe it’s more of the moving here and there the past months that eventually took its toll on me. In a gist, I had strong, early contractions — too early and too strong for this stage in pregnancy — and had to reassess my current lifestyle from the hospital bed for three nights. Thankful for my very hands-on doctor, husband, and strong family support, I am now resting at home.


(Last out of town trip before the heavy contractions. A wedding in Batangas with my husband.)


I have a week and a half left before reaching full-term. I could give birth in two, three, or four weeks. Right now, however, what’s important is to keep resting. I didn’t know that it could be quite a jolt to change a usually faster daily pace to something that’s filled with bedrest, bedrest, and bedrest. In other words, many people, find bedrest completely boring. (Admittedly, I almost did too at the start when I was not allowed to have my phone in the delivery room for 24 hours, but I realized that boredom only happens in our heads)

Boredom, I believe, is one of those things that we can choose to have or not. Bedrest can be boring or it can be joyful. Yes, joyful.

The joy of resting, for those who are used to fast-paced lives, easily comes once the jolt is done. In my case, I find joy in being able to nap with Elijah everyday, spending more time bonding with him, seeing my husband happy that I am actually home when he gets home, exchanging Viber messages with my high school friends, and gratefully coordinating with my hardworking partners at work through calls, texts, and Viber messages.

And it hits me.  This joy is my personal joy, nothing really grand. Just the simple thought of being healthy, anticipating our second baby boy, and being blessed by good people around us.  As my dad said, in the next two weeks, I must take things slow.  No amount of work (or food tasting) will ever be equal to the peace of mind brought by the fact that I am able to keep our baby safe inside the womb. So the ra-ra-ra-always-on-the-go part of me had to take a backseat for now, and I am taking things slow until my 38th week.

photo(Food tasting in the Garden Cafe at Mateo’s. One of the perks of our work that I miss, but I could always go back to later on.)



Ballet Manila breaks the fourth wall

The Philippines’ premier classical ballet company Ballet Manila opened its 20th season of storytelling though dance with Tatlong Kwento ni Lola Basyang. The material, the cast, the treatment is easily relatable and highly entertaining. First you have a lola (grandmother) who indulges her grandchildren with tales from lands not so far away and then you have comic characters who do the Nae Nae. Family and novelty are two things you can’t go wrong with and these were creatively woven into the company’s first offering.

Promotion of Filipino Classics

 The featured ballets were based on Severino Reyes’ stories. Reyes used Lola Basyang as a pen name and came to be known as a staunch purveyor of Filipino fairytales and folklore. These stories were once communicated to the public through the radio. They have also served as inspiration for many movies and television shows and were included into the basic education curriculum. Perhaps it can be made available as podcasts so today’s children can enjoy them and learn from them as they are means though which cultural values were effectively socialized.

Set on solid libretto and accompanied by carefully curated music by the country’s best arrangers and composers, Ballet Manila’s artists turned literary fantasy into a visual feast. Words flowed as gestures and mime and the storytellers’ visions were realized with technological aid and imaginative choreographic devices.

The Saturday matinee show had an additional treat for the audience. Company directors Lisa Macuja Elizalde (Artistic Director and CEO), Osias Barroso (Co-Artistic Director and Ballet Master) and Christopher Mohnani (Managing Director) opened the show with what they called Ballet Mime 101. They taught the audience classical ballet gestures that were to be used in mimetic scenes so that we could follow the story with ease. It was delightful to watch the audience mime along with Macuja Elizalde and her team. It was an invitation to the dance that the afternoon crowd gamefully accepted. The performance had not yet started but people were already engaged.


Old Material, New Revelations

Ballet Manila’s Tatlong Kwento ni Lola Basyang first premiered in 2008. This year’s restaging is made special by new faces and new realizations.


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Katherine Barkman as Prinsesa Singsing with Elpidio Magat who played the title role of Prinsipe ng mga ibon. Photo by Jaypee Maristaza courtesy of Ballet Manila.

BM’s newest dancer Katherine Barkman is every inch the people’s princess. Her audience was enraged when her father broke his promise. They grieved as she nursed a broken heart and they celebrated when she finally married the love of her life. As Prinsesa Singsing, Barkman was delicate but decisive. She showed her beautiful attitude, literally and figuratively (an attitude is a leg extension to the back with a bent knee). Unlike the usual foreign air that we are all too familiar with– boisterous and imposing, hers is a quiet elegance that very much agrees with our Filipino sensibilities.

Osias Barroso’s movement design for Ang Prinispe ng mga Ibon showed his deep understanding of ballet as an art form. The symmetry of shapes (individual body positions and group formations), the plot build-up through movement, and the pas de deux (partner dance) between the leads all convey familiarity with the genre and utmost regard for tradition. His corps de ballet (group dancers) was impressive in their synchronization and management of space. Hopefully, he takes on more choreographic assignments in the future.


The magical tree in Ang Kapatid ng Tatlong Marya with Anindya Febrina who danced the role of the snake. Photo by Jaypee Maristaza courtesy of Ballet Manila.

Ang Kapatid ng Tatlong Marya began with the most beautiful looking stage tree. The audience broke into applause when the snake came out of the tree and circled the stage and the house in the manner of Chinese dragon dance manipulatives. This segment featured dancers Alvin Santos, Joan Emery Sia and Abigail Oliveiro who showed strength and confidence in their performances. Alvin Santos flew across the stage with powerful jumps and high extensions. Good thing he holds the title role because his dancing can (and did) upstage his stage sisters.

Gerardo Francisco as Rodrigo in Ang Mahiwagang Biyulin is truly remarkable. His energized performance and funny facial expressions drew laughter from the crowd. It helped, too, that the character that he portrayed was one that many could associate with. Rodrigo is a laborer who is not appropriately compensated by his employer.

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Gerardo Francisco as Rodrigo and Micheal Divinagracia as Ahab in a scene from Ang Mahiwagang Biyulin. Photo by Jaypee Maristaza courtesy of Ballet Manila.

Tony Fabella’s choreography accentuated Ryan Cayabyab’s dynamic musical composition. Movement ideas were simple and were repeated throughout but the spirited and intelligent dancing of the cast made all the difference. Francisco has been with the company for over a decade and his stint as Rodrigo further solidifies his stature as one of the country’s most reliable danseurs.

Missy Elizalde’s role tied the narratives together and the corps de ballet was effective in providing the necessary support and additional landscape for the tales. The curtain call made it even more obvious how deep Ballet Manila’s ballet bench really is. The company’s wealth of terpsichorean talents prepping for the spotlight makes one hopeful for the future of Philippine dance.

Ballet for the People

Dance artistry is not limited to choreography and performance. Macuja Elizade’s strength may not be putting steps together into a dance but audience aptitude is a great and important talent. She knows her audience and values them enough to give them what they want. The use of flying mechanisms, less sophisticated musical choices and transitions, and other production devices, choreographic and otherwise, made the show exciting and palatable.

It is uplifting to be in a theater where people would clap and feel with the performers. It is uplifting to be in a theater where there would be people who are not performing. Others would consider this to be hard sell but maybe it is time that we consider it as community and community-building.

The Garden Cafe at Mateo’s

A few months ago, I wrote about Mateo’s blooms, referring to flowers that surrounded the front wall of Mateo’s.  What I did not predict then would be how Mateo’s Restaurant Cafe would bloom into what it is now, literally sprouting a Garden Cafe surrounded by glass and beautiful plants.

Last Tuesday, August 18, we had an afternoon of Spanish Lessons and Sangrias at the new Garden Cafe. We were taught how to speak basic Spanish by Lolo Mateo’s grandson, Tito Benjie Valerio, who was visiting Manila during his break from work. He teaches Spanish and French in the prestigious La Guardia High School of Music, Arts, and Performing Arts in New York City. (Cool trivia: Nikki Minaj was once his student, and he also taught the children of Madonna! And yes Madonna would personally be there to meet him for PTC’s)


(Ongoing Spanish Class photo by Margaux Lucena)


The event was styled by Sarah Bautista-Abaño of With a Flourish. She prepared our Welcome Signage with table assignments, dessert buffet, sangria bar, and the table center pieces.


(Welcome Signage photo by Stella Pastores-Esquivias)




(Sangria Bar and Dessert Buffet Table photo by yours truly)


(Top view dessert spread photo by Sheryll Rose Ontimare)


(Tablescape photo by Stella Pastores-Esquivias)


Our food for the event was of course lovingly prepared by the kitchen headed by our talented Tita Grace Valerio.  We had bruschetta, Spinach Mushroom Quesadillas, Calamari, Gambas, and Spanish Paella.



(Top view photo of Spanish Paella, Blue Fish Seviche, and Gambas by Sheryll Rose Ontimare)


To all the special guests who attended, we hope you enjoyed as much as we did! Gracias!:)


(Gracias toppers prepared by my blogging partner, Issa Mijares-Ramos. Thank you for your support always, Issa!)

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The Garden Cafe at Mateo’s is open for bookings and reservations for intimate events.  It can hold up to 40 pax.  Email or call (02) 696-3724 from 11am-10PM daily.