Thursday, July 17, 2008

Manila - Week 4 Update

Somehow last week got away from me without a post, so here's an extra-long one to make up for it.

I took a tour of Intramuros last week, which was Manila's city center for about 500 years until WWII. Often when I think of WWII, I think of Nazi Germany, concentration camps, and Allied forces on the beaches of Normandy - hurrah! I'm just realizing I don't know nearly as much about what happened on this side of the world. Apparently Manila was the most heavily bombed city in Asia (even our Fat Man and Little Boy didn't create as much damage) and the 2nd most heavily bombed city in the world (after Warsaw) in WWII. The Intramuros tour started and ended in the only building left standing in the city center, San Agustin Church.

We were a little late getting to the tour, so I missed the beginning about Spanish colonialism and the Chinese influence in the Philippines, but I was present and wide awake to hear about the Battle of Manila in WWII. Apparently the Japanese had booted out our General MacArthur and his troops and were able to take over Manila for a few years. When MacArthur came to get it back, a Japanese general disobeyed orders to retreat and set about slaughtering several hundred thousand innocent Filipinos, which we now call the Manila Massacre. Horrified as I was to hear this, my heart 'bout fell to the floor when I learned that the country responsible for bombing Manila was the good ol' US of A - on paper, we were bombing a Japanese-occupied area with some unfortunate collateral damage; in real life we bombed the crap out of a whole metropolis that never even wanted any part of our war. We got the Japanese out of Manila, but we destroyed it in the process. Just further proof, I guess, that no one ever really wins in war.

I'd like to take the tour again to hear the beginning about the Spanish and the Chinese, because I'm starting to answer my earlier question of "What is Philippine culture?". It seems like Philippine culture is really a mish-mash of local, Spanish, Chinese, American, and a few other Asian cultures. They've been occupied by other peoples so many times, there's no way to separate out what is theirs alone and what's been adopted. Makes me kinda' feel right at home, in a way! ;)

On another note, we recorded our Cast Album last week. Funny how exhausting studio work can be; I worked less in those 2 days in the studio than I have since I got here, but nothing's tired me out nearly as much. Lea's brother, Gerard Salonga (a well-known musician in his own right), did some amazing work; he conducted the orchestra and was in the booth supervising us laying down the tracks. I can't wait to hear it; the creative team seems very happy with it.

We've got our show together now. We're at that point where we're adding costumes and props, and we'll start tech next week. Everyone keeps saying how short our tech process is (10 days of 10/12's) - which seems like a LOT to me since most regional theatre usually techs in one week with only 3 or 4 10/12's! (For those of you not in the biz, "10/12's" are where we work 12 hour days with one 2 hour break - brutal!) But we really are doing a Broadway show that just happens to be touring Asia, so 10 days is a lot shorter than the usual month of tech for Broadway! There's a lot of magic, puppets, etc. in the show, so I can understand why creatives might be a little nervous. We'll be ready, though, I'm sure.

I keep losing my 200 pisos each week in our poker tournament, but I like to think at least I'm learning from some really good players. (200 p is about $4 US, so I'm basically paying a couple bucks to play and chat with some of my favorite people for 3 or 4 hours - MORE than worth it.) Aaron, our poker host, invited me to join his weekly game when we get back to NYC, and I don't even think he did it just to be able to take REAL money from me. ;)

The weather here is now crap, I'm afraid we may have have passed the best we're going to get all summer. :( It's rainy season now, and it really means it. Locals tell me March is the best time of year here, but I can't quite wrap my mind around that - it just seems all wrong to me and my less-than-tropical residence in NYC!

What else? Oh, I finally took more pictures, and I will post them all after this, I promise. Just gotta' figure out how this blog thing does that . . .

Not much else new. Everything's great here! I can't say I even miss NYC at all. I do miss my Makers Mark, though - hasn't quite hopped this pond, yet, unfortunately. And I miss good Italian food, but my figure is only benefitting from that! So all is well; I'll post again before we hit tech since you won't hear from me for probably another 2 weeks after that.

Much love, my friends.

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