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Saturday, December 31, 2016

BUTAO

Before this year ends, include sipping the best bowl of Japanese ramen in your winter bucket list! This deliciously slow-cooked pork bone soup may be added of squid ink, pork meat and boiled egg for an experience like no other.

My Black King with a side dish of slices of shoulder butt
and 1 whole Japanese marinated boiled egg.
I've been longing to taste this quite famous Butao Ramen and this year marks my first time to do this. At first, I thought the name just sounded so funny. Seeing its odd "black" color from the Instagram photos and that of friends, I found it interesting. It heightened my curiosity on how it becomes most sought after as a night of drinking ends in Lan Kwai Fong. 

For a HK$95 a bowl, it's amazing to have a feel of putting together preferred spices, flavour, and type of noodles. Basically, here is a list of the add-ons and the price it comes with as you rediscover yourself listening to your own preferences to further enrich your soup.

I preferred Black King over all the choices because squid ink always gives this distinct flavour that makes anything naturally robust with seafood zest. It gives a sweet follow thru to a mouthful serving so it's an explosion and a fusion rolled into one. It came to a point that my soup ended a bit salty though after eating up the noodles so I didn't finish the rest of my soup anymore.

The shoulder butt gave my palate rest from the tangy consistency of the black soup and the marinated egg was boiled perfectly. It got a good lava flow as I opened the egg which smoothly folded into my soup. Ahhhh.... even thinking of it makes me miss it so much.

This is an amazing feel of Japan since they aimed to satisfy their customers not only thru their food but also thru the ambiance and the people. They greeted us in Niponggo and the interior had private booths where people may enjoy eating their ramen even if their alone comfortably. 

Located at 69 Wellington St., Central, it was the perfect place to get our stomachs filled before hitting the streets of Lan Kwai Fong for a drink instead of checking it out after.

This particular branch is quite smaller than the one in Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui so expect to be in line for a table. Parking available is just street parking and do know that you can only pay cash upfront. Tea and tap water comes free with your meal. Price range starts from HK$98-120 for every meal. Take Exit D2 as you reach Hong Kong/Central Station if you want to experience Butao Ramen. Walk up to Lan Kwai Fong but turn right to Wellington (it comes before Lan Kwai Fong St.). For further details directions wise, click here. It may be around 10-15 minutes walk from Exit D2. They are open from 11:00am to 11:00pm daily. More of the details about this restaurant in their website: www.butaoramen.com

Taken outside the restaurant...
So mark this look from the outside
as you search it along Wellington St.
It stands on the right side as you walk up
Wellington.

Trivia:

Here are some of the interesting information I stumbled upon as I researched about the Butao ramen.

1. “Japanese people are very particular about creating their own dishes, so each ramen shop has different soup, noodles and ingredients,” says Masaki Hirata, executive director of the Japan National. - http://www.scmp.com/magazines/48hrs/article/1218475/rockin-ramen
  - Read about this article further. It was written last 2013 when a ramen fiesta was held here in Hong Kong. It's very informative. 

2. The "Limited King", one of the Butao Ramenchoices is a limited special edition of their chefs which is just randomly put together within the day. It's for the daring and the adventurous foodies. - www.openrice.com

3. The Butao Ramen restaurant in Central only has 24 seats. - www.openrice.com

4. There's actually a ramen museum that was put up in Yokohama in 1994. - www.wikipedia.com

5. Nissin's Foods' founder and chairman was a Taiwanese-Japanese named Momofuku Ando who invented the instant noodles after the World War II. The noodle soup was introduced to Japan over a century ago from China. But ironically, the instant ramen had become the greatest Japanese invention of the 20th century according to the Japanese poll as it came in variety as far as being edible just by adding boiled water. - www.wikipedia.com

Related posts:

1. MOVIES THAT MAY MOTIVATE THE WRITER IN YOU - looking for a selection for the New Year's weekend.

2. JOLLIBEE - Experience Philippine's best chicken joy now in Central and Mong Kok, Hong Kong!

3. HOW TO BE CONSISTENT IN GOING TO THE GYM - winter, motherhood, hibernation: 3 enemies during the Holiday season. hahaha! You need this, click on!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

7 LESSONS I LEARNED IN ATTENDING THE WRITER'S DIGEST NOVEL WRITING CONFERENCE 2016

I find Writer's Digest as one of the best platforms for writers, educators, publishers and agents to connect as a community. It was a blessing that Facebook had tracked my posts about writing (even though it's creepy to think about this sometimes). that it consistently allowed ads about different writing conferences pop up on the side of my newsfeed. That's how I got hold of the information about the Writer's Digest Novel Writing Conference 2016.

Held in Bonaventure Hotel, Los Angeles, California, last October 28-30, I was opened to a whole new chapter in my writing career. I've met published people, famous writers of different genres and editors whose preferences were sought.

At first, I found it intimidating because I just blogged. But as soon as the participants I had small talk with in between sessions wished that they knew how to blog, I knew it was right for me to be there at that particular moment. They reassured me that as long as I write, I belong in the Writer's Digest Community and what an honour.

A lot of reading materials are now online because of the fast paced demanding lifestyle at the present. With the availability of the unlimited ether, the internet had paved a faster way to disseminate information globally; moreover, for a book to be published in a blog. This is something that I have been doing for 10 years so, I felt that the conference will teach me a lot as I decide on going for my own website. I aim to pay credit to Writer's Digest by sharing to you 7 of the most important lessons I learned that (1) exceeded my expectations as an aspiring journalist and (2) that I know no amount of money equals them.

1. TAKE A LEAP

Allow yourself to be exposed to the world. Don't be afraid to go out of the familiar because going out of our boundaries make us learn big time. Honestly, the title, Writer's Digest Novel Writing Conference made me doubt at first because I love novels, but I never wrote one. I always have an idea in mind but I never pursued it. But when I was in L.A., being surrounded by novelists, they inspired me immensely. Take this from me, if you aspire to be successful in something, surround yourself with successful people of that particular something. Chances are, you'd be propelled into reaching your dream in taking the first step. This is the ultimate secret of successful people, thinking with alike minds. They push each other in making it happen by giving you substantial experiences to learn from.

2. BE AN OPEN VESSEL

Here is John Peragine,
In this picture, he was featured in
the Writer's Digest with his article entitled,
6 Keys to Building a ghostwriting career.
Find him in FB as John P Writer
It was my first time to attend a writing conference, something that I've been longing to do. So I told myself in the bathroom of Bonaventure before I started to register, "I will be an open vessel..."

What am I claiming for myself in saying this?

This is to remind myself that it's ok to let my walls down to be able to make a little exchange of hi and hello. After all, what else would it take to initiate a conversation?

Then I stumbled into a laid back looking person. He was wearing shorts, very comfortable sandals, black shirt that says something about ghosts. He looked approachable and perky and I felt his energy that he is excited about the conference. I took my chance, "Let me guess, you write novels about ghosts." "Technically no, but I am a ghost writer. I am attending this conference for the book that I'm working on. I need inspiration." His name was John. "And you?", he continued. "I just blog.", I answered hesitantly. "Well, you write so omit the 'just' there. Have a great day! And get as much knowledge as you can from this conference. Who knows, you might get your first book published because of this.", he claimed it for me.

John Peragine is a published author of 12 books, has ghostwritten over 100 others and does freelance work for the New York Times, Reuters, and Bloomberg News. - LinkedIn

John ghostwrites for some of the top names in business, real estate, Hollywood, politics, fitness and healthcare. He has published articles in WineMaker Magazine, Herb Companion and Speaker Magazine to just name a few. 
John has been writing professionally since 2007, after working 13 years in Social Work and was a professional musician in the Western Piedmont Symphony for over 20 years. He has been providing services to the National Speakers Association  and the Global Speakers Federation since 2013. John is a member of the National Writer's Union. (UAW-Local 1981) 
His expertise is in business writing, real estate, small business, finance, Amazon self publishing, how to self publish a book. He had built a company that is a leader in self publishing companies
- www.johnpwriter.com

My first day went great because of John. I researched right away about ghost writers which I never had an idea about what they write about specifically. And now I do. The very first person I had a conversation with at the conference. A stranger at first that told me the conference will do me justice if I really want to make it big in the writing biz.

You see, my point is, I almost held back. But, as I open up to somebody, the universe gladly gives what I need. An encouragement. An inspiration. A push. What if we are like this everyday? Just imagine the potential that will get fired up! Because, right now, I am compelled to finish my e-book for my personal blog hoping to build a platform for my blog-to-book projects. Who knew I'd be starting my 2017 with a self-hosted blog? And that will come out this January.

3. BUILD A BUSINESS PLAN AROUND YOUR IDEA.

Amir holds a BA in magazine journalism with a concentration in psychology,
has edited or written for more than 50 publications producing hundreds of articles
and had her work published in five anthologies.
She has self-published 10 short books, including the popular workbook
"How to Evaluate Your Book for Success" and
"10 Days and 10 Ways to Return to Your Best Self". 
Nina Amir is one of the most profound writers I got the privilege of knowing. Even if she was talking to 20 people in Santa Anita A hall room of the Bonaventure Hotel, I felt like her words resonated only to me because I heard her loud and clear that having a book idea is not enough. I learned from her that you are the number 1 agent of your book. You should help your book get sold by building a business plan around it first. She was the only one I know active in writing blogs (which I researched). She does it twice a week and she maintains several websites to support whatever products she had written and it's her platform to make services available in terms of writing, editing and publishing. Her talk was the last session I attended before the closing keynote section for the conference and she gave birth to  the  authorpreneur in me.

I knew Nina from the third day of conference but I bought her books, Creative Visualisation for Writers and How to Blog a Book from the second day without hearing her talk yet. I was seriously in awe that I got to meet her because out of all the many books that were sold in the conference, two of hers attracted me the most. They are by far so helpful to me. 

4. JUST WRITE!

This is a shot of me wearing the
Viking's hat with the Nanowrimo
Executive Director, Grant Faulkner
In the NanoWriMo Pep Rally session, they encouraged us all to participate in writing a novel for the whole month of November. It was truly a moving idea that they included this in the conference because November was about to kick in 2 days after the conference.

Basically, the aim of the organisation is to guide and support writers in finishing a 50,000 word (or more) novel in a span of 1 month. I was only able to write 3 chapters, a total of 6,323 words but I aim to continue it still at my spare time. And I've never even written anything before that is to be considered a novel.

In participating last November, I learned about writing prompts, word sprints and most especially, I learned that it may help you to write in quantity first rather than get stuck with a blank paper. There may be a chance that you might be overthinking the quality of your work that you don't get to writing. So, the principle is: it's better to edit something than nothing. Who wouldn't want to have a novel in a month? It follows the saying, "If you're a writer, write!" Sounds interesting? Check out NanoWriMo's website by clicking here

5. DO NOT UNDERESTEMITATE THE POWER OF GOOD CONNECTION.

It's important to build a connection, have a community or a set of friends that actually would help you get to do the things you wanted to do. Surround yourself with supportive people. This is important because motivation doesn't just fly out of the window. Allies are needed when the real enemies creep in: procrastination, laziness, writer's block, despair, loneliness and lack of inspiration. Sometimes, these communities and connections, big or small keep you accountable. They may come in forms of readers, supporters, close friends and basically people who believe in you. If you put out your writing project out there for them to expect, or if you declare something that you will do publicly, and you know there are people who would be looking forward to this finished project, it's more likely you'd make it because you don't want to disappoint them. This way, you can actually consider connections as a way to success.

6. TAKE THE OPPORTUNITY.

Let's talk about the Halloween Cocktail Party we had after the second night's session. Considering the plan you have in mind in reading lesson number 3, simply knowing the experts is already an opportunity. Having the chance to hear them talk in the conference is a gift from God. Having a cocktail drink with them and see these experts be themselves at a Halloween party was unimaginable. What's my point? At any moment, there's always an opportunity. The good news is, you can also make your own opportunity by taking the initiative to talk to them, introduce yourself to them and 'personally' connect. That's something you won't be able to accomplish thru the social network alone. In a simple conference, where you can choose to stay quiet and then walk away with nothing, you can reverse the outcome by building a network of people that you can actually gain confidence from.

The 6th lesson, you can be the start of your own advancement. Chase your dream. Don't wait for the opportunity to come. Start with yourself. Be hungry. Go seek it and you'll be surprised as to how you can be lead to what you work and pray hard for.


When I was lining up for a signature for the Closing Note speaker of the conference Christopher Rice, son of the famous Anne Rice (who is known for her vampire chronicles namely, Interview with the Vampire and Queen of the Damned), I was thinking of what to ask him as he signs my book because I don't want to waste such precious time. So, I asked his point of view about the current obsolete educational system. If he agrees that "creative" is the new school, an idea that a good friend of mine and business partner had actually theorised. He stopped and sincerely lent an ear. I asked him, "What if there's a school that would offer a course covering business management, financial education and creative arts? Do you think it could survive?" And he actually gave me a sensible answer, "If you would include internet with it, it will. Because nobody is actually offering an umbrella course for the internet: photography, design, publishing and sales. These are the things that actually make the internet live. It would be fantastic if there's going to be a course for that and I bet if it will exist, it would be the most in demand above everything else." I was blown away. So, you see, seize the day! Never let a chance pass.

7. BE YOURSELF.

I am always reminded by mentors not to limit my creativity with craft and form alone. Style should include you. When you write, trust the process because this is what's going to make it unique. What you know, what you have experienced and what you might want to impart will make your story worthy to read. Remember, your story needs to be told. Yes, it's yours to tell so you don't need anybody's permission to do so. You can start at any moment you feel like prompting yourself with, and you can stop at any point you find sufficient.

with Rachel Randall,
Writing Community Editor,
Writer's Digest
These lessons are not only applicable to writing. I plan to put these lessons in everyday life because they are substantial to my purpose. Inspiring others, being of help to those in need and becoming a source of good information online are becoming a universal need since more than 40% of the entire world population have internet. And every 5 years, internet users increase to a billion. I would be very happy if I could inspire just a million with my blog.

So let me take this opportunity to put out a shout out in this post. Thank you to the organisers of Writer's Digest Novel Writing Conference 2016 for recognising a Hong Kong delegate. The efforts you've given in putting up this event is remarkable. Each of the writers' humility inspired me most.

Credits to Rachel Randall, one of the Writing Community Editors for being helpful and available. She runs to people whose questions needed to be addressed with a microphone just for everybody to hear the discussion clearly. She gave out pen and paper to each of us and reminded us endlessly of availability of coffee, links to the presentation materials and many more. She basically was everywhere and I can't help but admire how hardworking she was. I find it humbling to cater to aspiring writers while she is huge herself in being an editor. Her and the rest of the famous writers I bumped into in this conference were so down to earth. I don't have words for the admiration I have for you all except thank you.

This was a gift for my birthday month, November! What are the odds that it is the month NanoWriMo had chosen to be the writing month??? Hahaha!

Related posts:
1. WRITING THERAPY - Have you ever tried writing to yourself?
2. SILVERMINE BEACH RESORT - Looking for a place of serenity and inspiration? Maybe Silvermine can give you that peaceful vibe to write.
3. THE BEST INVESTMENT IS EDUCATING YOURSELF - Learn, burn and earn!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

MOVIES THAT MAY MOTIVATE THE WRITER IN YOU

Blogging had been my hobby since 2006. As how performers are naturally extroverts, I balance myself through writing. I dance for 30 minutes in the parade, day and night (a total of 1 hour) so when I write, it's like time for myself. In between parades, I write; when I get inspired, I write; when I experience something new, I write; and this I confess, I am guilty of cheating on my husband with writing. When I can't sleep, I climb down the bed to write. Most of the time, this happens during the unholy hours of between 3am to 5am. Probably the stillness of these hours contribute to the creative side of my brain. And when this occurs, I take advantage of the drive. But there's always a time that I would run out of ideas. Whenever that happens, I feed myself with ideas by reading books, going for a run or, spending time watching reruns. This line of films, specifically, remind me of why I wanted to be a writer. For you guys who are seeking inspiration to make it thru the writer's block, I hope these movies could benefit you as much as it did me.

1. SEX AND THE CITY

As a woman, there are avenues that I may just treat superficially interesting but are somehow necessary for everyday thriving.  Let me see, there's the lipstick, the heels, and the little black dress.

Sex is a basic need according to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs Indeed, there's a lot to learn about people's expectations around it. This movie wraps up the series of 6 seasons that talked about sex without filter, at least as how Carrie Bradshaw (the fictional journalist played by Jessica Parker) and three of her best friends' opinions go. These four are portray of the typical group of ladies where catching up is of essence. They exchange gossips, views and experiences; stories about their careers and relationships then, they encourage themselves to remain elegant despite any situation, good or bad. And that is of the utmost inspiration that gets me. The writing style used in here was blunt, informative, entertaining, and hilarious. Just like in the series, there's no part in the movie that was dragging nor boring. Like come on! Who wouldn't want to have her lifestyle and influence to begin with?

The lessons and consequences that result from each of their decisions gave color to this movie. Let's admit it, women have a lot of drama, period! But we know how to channel it out. I think this is my cue to quote, "...after all, shopping is therapy!" And oh yes, friends count too. It's important that you're surrounded with allies. People that will push you up and not hold you down.

This movie encourages me to embrace the real Kyte without owing anybody explanation. It reminds me to love myself above all else. How is this necessary? Publishing posts out in the public eye is making yourself available for criticism. There will come a time that your post will be insulted and if you're not in sync with your mind set, you might take it too personal. This thought becomes my springboard into getting pumped up with writing. The truth? I let it play in the background when I'm alone at home, not necessarily watching it 100% but the dialogue had helped me to include interesting lines in my own writing. Just try it.

2. JULIE AND JULIA

This movie brought out the foodie in me. Julie "blogs" about cooking all 524 recipes of Julia Child's 726 page Mastering the Art of French Cooking Cookbook in the movie. I thought I was insane with how I wanted to write every time but when I saw this movie, it made me realise that it's ok to go on with my blog; that I'm more sane than Julie because she aimed to finish cooking and writing about all these recipes in just 1 year. She ultimately finished doing so successfully. Because I learned that anything could be possible, my mini food business was born and I had put a segment in my blog with the hashtag, #wineanddinewednesday.


It's amazing to know that Julie is one of the first blog-to-book achievers by simply focusing on one niche. Julie works as a receiver of calls from September 11 attack victims which had burnt her out that she had to look for something to take her mind off of it that's why she decided to start a blog.

I'm still sticking with a wide niche writing about lifestyle but writing about food specifically is so enjoyable that I watch this movie to check out specific words that the food critics had used. And for the record, Meryl Streep is my most favourite actress. She alone inspires me deeply.

3. FREEDOM WRITERS


Just as when the kids of Woodrow Wilson High School had almost given up on their future, a young enthusiastic teacher in the name of Erin Gruwell, comes with an unshakeable drive in doing her job, and then later on, making a change in their lives. After learning that these High School students fear losing their lives more than plunking high school, because of being in gangs, they were given something that they may have a chance to relate to, The Diary of Ann Franklin.

Co-teachers opposed on every intervention Gruwell had presented the kids but in the end, her efforts got recognised by the department chair and had a full permission to take the kids into field trips and full support in doing projects outside school. One of these projects involved all of her students journals to be put together to be a book to serve as their remembrance that they made progress. The students themselves got involved in the publishing process and this had become their channel into letting their background be understood.

Later on, they realized the importance of how each of their stories could inspire other people and whether it will be read or not, it's a reminder to them of surpassing a dark time of their lives knowing that they were there. And that they chose to make a difference.

I dream to get published someday to inspire other people and I will make it happen. This movie fed the dream in a very special way.

4. SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE

The greatest force in this world is love. It is greater than the human will, any form of hunger and every bit of hell just to break free. It can shake any ground, last as long as time and heal feuds of families that run for generations.

William Shakespeare, the most famous playwright, had written and shown this in theatres revealing his muse in creating "Romeo and Juliet", the greatest love story ever told. And in the movie, Shakespeare in Love, it gave out a message that despite all odds, love moves you into doing something risky but in the end beautiful.

A couple of reasons how this 7-Academy winner inspire me in writing. One, this is the first play written with a tragedy for an ending. William Shakespeare believed in making the audience tick. Even the queen herself who much preferred comedy took this leap from William as likeable. So this helps me in trusting what I write that as long as the intention to be true, somehow, somewhere, somebody would be benefiting from it. I just have to believe it. William Shakespeare wasn't rattled in disobeying the queen's wishes. He didn't care if he didn't abide. He remained himself and his work resulted to 3 beautiful things. He ended up being honoured by the queen, he gave women the chance to be recognised more than just being domesticated (because back then women didn't have the right, by law, to be on stage) and most of all, he became immortal thru his literary works.

Secondly, after watching this movie, I told myself I wanted to be a writer. But my family made me finish a different course. Remember, knowing what you want to do is already an achievement. To make long story short, it called me on the side to still pursue this passion secretly... on my own I suppose, by just simply writing when I can, however I can. Nobody knew I was writing so much until I started to self-publish thru my blog. On the day of this writing, I am 3 modules away from getting my diploma from British Council in Professional Freelance Journalism. Not quite of a Shakespearean course but I believe in what it holds for me. Moral of the story, once you know what you want to do, do it. Never waste a second not pursuing it. 

5. THE HELP

What if you could help out the oppressed through your writing? Do you think you have a story that needs to be told? If you think that the only way to put a stop on something that's happening horribly is by writing a book about it, would you do it? Well, a young aspiring journalist, Eugeena "Skeeter" Phelan did.

In the story, Skeeter had just graduated and had return home in Jackson Mississippi where almost all white families had black maids for help. She learns how these families mistreat them and asks for all the maids to cooperate in her project to expose such acts of racism. Aibileen, the helper closest to her and who she ultimately dedicates this work to, became emotionally attached to the project as it allows her to find closure with her son's death years before so she had decided to put a stand against unacceptable living arrangements and dispensable status.

This movie made me realise that you have to be ready for what you ask for. Skeeter wanted to be a writer and she had the opportunity to tell a story but not her own. Opportunity may come in different forms but I am humbled to be reminded that the intention of what you are writing are far greater than getting known for it. There are some stories that may come to you in a very dim light, something that may involve critical information, sensitive issues and personal stories: be careful when dealing with all of them. The Help taught me how to be mindful of these aspects and it keeps me grounded as a writer.

6. SPOTLIGHT

This movie, another one based on a true story, tells about 4 reporters, who aimed to abolish molestation of children by priests in Boston. Upon researching about the sensitive issue, they unexpectedly stumbled into information at a large scale. Apparently, the legislative body itself was protecting this scandal from going public. 


As a writer, this movie helps me to commit to all of what I publish. It served as my guideline in treating "research" importantly, how to apply principles in conducting interviews and how to exercise the extent of information I would want my readers to get. How to write in a sort of way that they will think for themselves, how to give out something but not totally so that they are learning from you and at the same time they are learning from their own reactions and emotions stirred by a concept, an idea or a story.

7. THE GREAT GATSBY

Writing is a form of art that had become a way for people to open up to the intangible universe. Emotions that are too extreme for public eye always finds a journal and for some people, this becomes a refuge. Surprisingly, doing so gives you a sense of relief, ease and satisfaction when you let go of everything thru writing. That being said, it is great therapy for some.... or at least for Nick Carraway, the narrator of the novel, "The Great Gatsby".


Disillusioned of the fictional lavish Eastern Egg lifestyle, he learns about his unimaginably rich neighbour, Jay Gatsby, to be in love with his cousin, Daisy Buchanan who's married to Tom, a former college friend. Tom has a mistress on the side and the plot revolves around these characters but the main help I get from this movie is that, Nick's therapist asks him to write down about the root of his frustration and anger, Jay Gatsby. As he did, he was able to let go of the event that led to another, revealing the painful truth that Jay just used him to get to Daisy. And sometimes, putting ourselves in Nick's shoes, it helps us in getting over something painful in our lives when we write down the real story. If you fear somebody will read it, you can always burn it.

8. MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA

The world is a big place. People may come from different cultures. People may belong in different boundaries. People's experiences may differ. Take note though that each of us are heroes of our own lives. Each thriving moment is an opportunity to unleash the unlimited power we have lingering deep within us, the human spirit. And no matter what challenge we are facing in our lives, the human spirit is the weapon we all have in common.

Memoirs of a Geisha is a story about finding love and fighting for it despite the limitation that comes with what is expected of a geisha. Beyond that, it's a historical narrative of how geishas are the highest form of Japanese art that most of the females that train for this start as early as 3-5 years old. It's not academic excellence they aim but being capable in playing the instruments and doing traditional dance. In today's modern English, the most fitting word that may describe a geisha would be "performing artist" or "artist" though there is no counterpart in the west for a geisha.

I love going over the book and the film each time because of the precise description of a geisha's training opening the reader to a visual world thru the weaved words of this book. Because it is based on true history, it is such a mystery how Japan practices this in the name of honour and arts. Usually, it's just an expertise on chivalry and being in the army that we could say honour may be earned and on the other hand, arts are more of a let-go product of laid back introverts who got inspired by just about anything. But in being a geisha, it's unfathomable but surreal that the two had been infused together.

This story being told in first person kind of gives me a feeling that every memory is fresh to the narrator as she revisits her journey of being a geisha. And having that thought in my mind encourages me to keep record of not only the good things in my life but to also keep record of the bad things because this is what human nature is all about. I also have this great fear of losing my memory that's why I write to my daughter about my life as a gift when she reaches 18 years old. As a form of legacy, I leave no secrets. Because honesty may help her learn a thing or two.


9. THE SECRET WINDOW

One of the most disturbing movies I've ever seen and one of the very rare books that was portrayed good in theatres, The Secret Window, starred by Johnny Depp was a story of a writer who had delusional episodes while he wrote about a novel as he copes up from a divorce. Altogether, writing had actually led him to doing something he never imagined he would be doing.

This movie is quite morbid but I had included this for my motivation because there are a lot of times that I am getting immersed too much on what I am working at that it almost becomes unhealthy. The characters you may be working on may alter your thought process leaving you with difficulties distinguishing fantasy from reality. I DON'T WANT TO BE LOST IN MY OWN STORY. Nor I don't want to lose my mind because of utter obsession. This movie encourages me to build a map or a plan for my story despite the fact that I'm a big time pantser. All writers are also warned of the consequence of plagiarism in this movie.

10. WITH HONORS

I believe in the beauty of consequence, serendipity, accidents and process whenever I write. Most of the time, researching on a certain topic leaves me in awe with the branches of learning that I get opened up to from just one thing to read about. This movie is an oldie but it talks a lot about things that we ignore when we are too engrossed in achieving our goal. We forget that taking a walk is important, talking to people may give us refreshing ideas and most of all, building relationships should be given time.

Monty Kessler lost his thesis to a homeless guy who demanded for Monty to do something for him in return such as providing food, allowing him to take a bath in his apartment, basically ending up staying in his house most of the time. He will only get one page at a time as Monty gets it done. Fast forward, the homeless guy imparts education to Monty that is not learned in school. He talks about life, how misfortune could creep in and how being alone is where you would never want to be.

This movie helps me understand that not everything is text book and my writing would be more effective if it has heart in it. Graduating as a nurse, I was trained to be precise, I understand that I'm dealing with life and I can't afford to make a mistake. It reflects in what I write. I am all structure and format but it lacks emotions and experience. In a writing workshop I've attended, we were asked to write about the first time we fell in love. When I was asked to read it out aloud, the mentor said, she didn't feel much heart from what I wrote. I watched this and related to Monty and got educated once again.

11. AWAKENINGS


I included this movie for my inspiration line up to be reminded that I need to trust research papers, check out how medical studies were conducted and to develop the skill of forming a conclusion.

Awakenings is a story about a neurologist who longed to give a solution to catatonic conditions of psych patients in a local hospital in New York. Discovering the beneficial effects of L-Dopa to patients who survived encephalitis lethargica, those with Parkinson's Disease, and those who did not move at all for more than a decade, the fictionalised Dr. Malcolm Sayer wrote down progress after progress after progress until one day, his patients just went back to not moving at all. He was devastated but the awakenings that his patients have had during that year, immensely thought him how to let go of something he thought he had.


One of my dreams is to write a book that would talk about how humans learn in response to different kind of stimuli and not just through classroom setting alone. I believe people are complex that they shouldn't be expected to be taught in the same manner, same amount of time and in uniform balance. Each individual should learn at their own pace. Sad to say, today's educational system is becoming obsolete. Maybe my book can create awareness once it gets published. Awakenings inspires me not to hesitate in making this happen.

12. HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN 10 DAYS

Another job that I would truly love to have is to work in a magazine. Because of that, my blog was patterned after it. I love inspiring women, particularly moms. I love being able to share something that I have experienced for the first time that other women may find applicable to their lives. And some of these posts are entitled the same way this movie is patterned to:

a "how-to".

Nowadays, it's more known as DIYs which I feature every Monday in here, www.kytedalino.blogspot.com. Hence the hash tag #DIYMonday.

I love the unexpected turn of events for Andie Anderson writing in her how-to column about losing a guy in 10 days. When she was out with friends to start with the assignment, she lands on Benjamin Barry's project as well, convincing a client that he could win a lady's heart in 10 days. If he wins, the client decides on entrusting a multi-million dollar advertisement deal to him. The irony builds up the plot and Andie comes up with a touching story to write in her column mentioning about the nasty consequences that may arise when you play with people's emotions.

Andie Anderson learns in each process that she had worked on in writing the "how-to" column. And for the last article that she wrote, she realized and learned how to value herself as a writer by quitting her current job and going for news editor.

13. MARLEY AND ME


To those who haven't seen this movie, Marley and Me is a hilarious comedy drama that features John and Jenny Grogan who are guess what! Writers!

It started with their budding life. As marriage both brings out the best in them, the worse would have been under control until Marley steps in. This box office hit reminds me to write about funny stories too if I get a chance. Life is made up of serious yet silly moments that is worth having a record of because the little things actually count as the most memorable ones.

This movie also clearly shows the two kinds of a writer: a planner and a pantser. You may be both.



Wednesday, December 14, 2016

THE TRUTH IN BEING A DANCER



Dancing for more than 15 years had been gratifying. I pay the dues with it, I was able to work alongside super talented people, I am able to travel and above all, it opened a way for me to tick off 'to be able to perform internationally' from my bucket list. But before you think, the job is as easy as 1-2-3, you many need to know this:


1. ALL PROFESSIONAL DANCERS HAD UNDERGONE A SERIOUS KIND OF TRAINING.

Whether it's ballet, jazz, hip hop or pole dancing, before anybody is able to perform in front of an audience, he or she was trained and taught. Dancing is an art where the artist has to embody an intention on which a movement greatly depends on. You probably would not understand the weight of this statement if you're not a dancer. A series of movement weaved together cannot exist on its own. So much so with figuring out 'z' with the equation 'x+y'. 

2. THERE'S NEVER A DAY DANCERS DON'T FEEL SORE.

A body of a dancer is stretched to its maximum daily. Surprisingly, it's actually what a dancer's body calls for because it is used to that kind of physical activity. Like any other job or profession, (1)pointing the feet as it goes off the floor, (2)smiling once you're on stage is a must and (3)making big movements as you dance is much better, are just but a few of the basic knowledge a dancer should possess. In addition, it constantly needs to be abreast of something new as well. So dancers always do a class whenever and however they can. They never stop learning and training that sometimes being sore means you are on your way to achieving something you've never done before. There are so many arising talented young ones that have a lot to offer, so the more experienced ones have to keep up.

3. YOU MAY NEVER NOTICE BUT DANCERS CAN TALK WHILE KEEPING UP WITH THAT STEADY SMILE.

Being in the show business brings out the smiley in a dancer. We are aware that an audience (with their cameras) can always sense an insincere smile so we go full out in presenting ourselves in character as we go on stage. And it's just innate to them to be at their best onstage. Undeniably, there are days that a performer needs to talk to a co-performer while a show is happening if for example safety is at stake. Being in the parade for 10 years had developed in me a caution button that automatically switches on when a guest suddenly crosses the streets. When that happens, I immediately give glances to a co-parade dancer to signal him/her to be safe but still professionally staying in character. Only performers themselves could sense this.


4. DANCERS HAVE A BAD HABIT OF SMILING EVEN THOUGH SOMETHING HURTS ALREADY.

This is true for dancers who own bunions, burns, bruises and injuries. Being a dancer may be subject to a greater deal of wear and tear but they would never compromise a dance number or the show that they have prepared for just because of a minor blister. The adrenalin rush from their commitment with their craft surpasses all these pains. Sometimes, this includes even the pains of the heart.

5. DEDICATED DANCERS FIND REFUGE IN BEING CORRECTED BY THEIR MENTORS.

Being a dancer is humbling enough to take each weakness as a stepping stone to whatever there is that needs improvement. In a class, they appreciate being corrected than not getting noticed at all. Good artists know how to listen. They develop a great sense of selective hearing that they find refuge from a harsh comment finding a substantial benefit from it to help them in perfecting their moves.

6. DANCERS ARE MUSIC LOVERS FIRST.

For the record, music changes everything about a product launching, a movie, an exercise routine, a wedding and so much more. It is a much needed element where lots of money are poured in. Needless to say, when you see dancers moving to that music, it is a logical aesthetic expression of learning exuded into a movement by a human being's physique. It interprets the music effectively and it always turns out to be something beautiful.

7. DANCERS DO THEIR OWN MAKE UP.

As we portray a certain character, we love putting up a look that would greatly fit for it. If we dance hula, it may be just right to draw a thicker pout as how Polynesian lips are naturally beautiful this way. If the make up needs a mole on it because it's a Marilyn Monroe era, so be it! As far as basics go of highlighting, concealing and baking, dancers are certified make up artists, no doubt!

8. NO MATTER WHICH BLOCKING YOU PUT A DANCER TO, THEY CHOOSE TO SHINE EVEN IF THEY'RE AT THE VERY UPSTAGE.

A dancer knows the importance of working with other artists on stage. May it be a vocalist, an actor or a co-dancer, they share the same pulse. They are all friends with the floor of the very stage they perform on and they superbly stay in sync or are supportive of each other's role. 

9. DANCERS AUDITION.

If learning thru dancing cannot measure against academic learning, think again. It may be different in your point of view but let's look at this one with the principle that if a fish is always judged as to how it could fly, then it would always believe that it's useless. The skills of a dancer always goes thru tests called 'auditions'. It is a continuous evaluation of a dancer's skills if they are intact and are still improving. In addition, they are also encouraged to stay healthy and in shape.

10. BEING A DANCER IS MUCH LESS PREFERRED AS A PROFESSION BUT IS THE MOST SOUGHT FOR FOR ENTERTAINMENT.

Now this may be direct to the point. I am tired of people addressing performing artists, namely, professional dancers, instructors and choreographers to be a joke. Whenever I am asked of what I do, answering with "I dance" is shoved off and most of the time laughed at. Sadly, because I'm a Filipino, it comes with a stare from head to toe. Unless I mention that I work for a very prestigious and known company for being the happiest place on earth, they would never get interested in it.

Majority of our society dictates that there's no money in this line of job. But devoting a life in the arts should never be considered limiting. In this age where everything can be learned in the internet, creativity becomes the name of the game. And being a dancer gives birth to producers, directors, choreographers and actors where delivery of such service is individually different and is like no other. I think I have made justice to the talent fee that is just rightful to them as I say this.

For now, let me enjoy getting paid in doing what I love to do. Dance.


Related posts:

1. A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE - a post about appreciating an hour of yoga practice.

2. 8th INTERNATIONAL SIVA AFI COMPETITION, Champion: HOGAN TOOMALATAI - have you hear of fire knife dancing? Check this out!

3. DANCING MAKES YOU SMARTER - You want to know the benefits of dancing to your mind and body? Read on.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

WRITING THERAPY

Have you ever tried to write to yourself? If yes, what did you write? If you haven't, what would you want to write? Let's say, like next month... what do you need to write to yourself in the next month that is substantial, ... needed? Is there something you want to tell you?

Last Sunday was a blessing to me along with many Filipino overseas workers here in Hong Kong to be able to make it in Ms. Susan Ople's Writing Therapy Workshop held at the Philippine Consulate in Admiralty. The session was free in pursuit to encourage foreign workers to dedicate 15-20 minutes of peace and quiet to writing.


I have been dedicated to the craft since I was young. I have collected a mountain of stationeries of different designs, piled them up according to sizes, sorted them out according to colors and I save the best ones to use in writing to my best friends. There even came a time that I sold stationery sets in high school just for my pen pals to write me letters written on a nice, quality paper. And probably, my classmates felt they needed to reciprocate a special dedication to how I make a big deal out of all of it when I wrote them that's why they bought from me. I had a little business going on there as I enjoyed what I loved doing, writing. Fast forward to the snail mail becoming obsolete and growing up from exchanging letters with friends, I started blogging since 2006.

It started as a hobby but it dawned on me that it's now more of a calling. I write because I have to. I find myself writing non fiction most of the time and I always have dedication to being informative, inspirational and rational. And it had been a fruitful 10 years as it led me to pursuing a career in writing. The title of my blog goes, "Why I Value Life" because initially, it was supposed to be just for me to write about every good thing that happened in my life that makes me value it. As I grew up, experiences had molded me into understanding life's opposites. How sadness makes me realise the true meaning of joy; how despair makes me understand the depth in hoping; and how darkness could actually lead you to something good despite the absence of light, that it's not light alone that helps you find what's most important in life.

With Chief of Staff,
Susan Ople, a politician and an
advocate of Filipino OFW's.
As I was searching my niche in writing, I became in love with the very complexities that make a human being. Its ability to imagine, reason out and dream. Its ability to learn, comprehend and project an idea. I loved its vulnerability, dependence and independence altogether, and its ability to thrive despite that. I love hearing how other people are driven, what they consider hurting, what helps them to survive and most importantly, why they love. And I believe connection is important as far as having something to share, to give and to take part in. I felt compelled to feature them as I take in lessons for my own understanding and wisdom.

While all of these had been cooked up as I journeyed a decade, it came to a point that I want to take it to the next level so I attend every writing workshop there is. With a dream of getting published someday, I seeked and seeked ways for my skills to get sharpened. Facebook is so good in understanding trends that I follow and activities that I engage into. With respect to its programmed algorithms, Susan Ople's Writing Workshop popped up in my news feed. So much so, it was also seconded by a colleague and a friend that I should go for it.

Because Susan Ople is an advocate of helping distressed Filipino OFW's, she aimed to provide a safe and efficient outlet for them (to avoid idle time) by presenting how writing could serve as therapy.

I have learned a lot in just two hours. Some of the important points about writing that she highlighted were:

1. You DON'T need permission from anybody when you write because it's your story to tell. Many people find it hard to start and even harder to end, once you start but an important idea to keep in mind is that, no matter where you are in your life, you could start from anywhere.

2. Writing is healing. It enables you to disclose great emotions. Whether you want others to read it, or just for your personal use, it expresses something that takes a weight off your shoulders. In fact, great motivation to write comes when you're extremely oppressed or extremely in love. 

3. Writing is a way to find clarity. When you write down your goals, your frustrations, your present situation, it makes it all more tangible that it lets you realise a lot of things.

4. Writing helps you to be good communicators. It allows you to express yourself  effectively.

5. Writers need to write as much as they need to read. And this is where the learning process begins.

This is my encouragement to you who doesn't know how to start, when to start and where to start. Write to yourself as soon as you find time or if you have the resources, create a personal blog like this and start by writing to yourself. Send a notice to your email and give it a week or two before opening it. You'll be surprised at how this task could empower you, nurture you or ignite something in you. Because you'll never know, maybe you, yourself can give the answers that you've been looking for from another time zone.

I intend to contribute to the writers' guild globally and I'd like to start by independently establishing a site where I can max out my creativity. It would be a hard leap because here in blogger is where I started so I have to give full on credits to them. If not for it, I don't think I'll be able to move forward when it comes to writing. I believe this is one of the best and most preferred free blogging sites and I'm glad I started here. In January, I will launch my own site: www.ivaluelife.com soon. I hope that all of my followers here will continuously support me there. Notice that I removed the 'why' in the usual "Why I Value Life" in my blog title because I learned that declaring is another good way of making something happen. And that I would want to serve as an inspiration myself to others as I declare this. Moreover, I will feature articles about people, places, things and events that inspire me. It's basically the same niche. Lifestyle. So, see you there in 2017!!!


Related posts:

1. HAPPY HALLOWEEN! - my first ever blog post way back 2006 when it all started.
2. JUST A THOUGHT OF A LONELY GIRL - An excerpt from a novel I read entitled, "Einstein's Dreams" that moved me because of the power of time against all of us.
3. MY FAVORITE COLOR IS BLUE - this is one of the very first sentence prompters I used in writing. Read on and have a little back ground why Facebook had chosen this colour.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

IS TRADITIONAL SCHOOLING KILLING OUR INNATE CREATIVITY?

There was one time I observed my daughter closely for a whole hour while she was playing with her little kitchenette. For her not to feel conscious, I played along by asking her to cook for me. To my surprise, at the age of 2, she somehow memorised demo videos on how to use Play Doh Kitchen pack that she was speaking some lines to me from it as she tinkered with the plastic utensils and turning on the toy stove. This made me curious how is that possible? Probably because of repetition, she had somehow got it.

I noticed that she is inclined to love music. It's natural for people who love music to remember something thru it. Even the intro jingle of the Mr. Bean cartoons at the age of two? She loves dancing to it that she asks me to hum it for her. Until she did it on her own. Probably because my husband and I are performers, and we ourselves are music lovers, she can easily adapt to the tempo and she sings the lyrics in her own special way. With some words spoken clearly, communication with her starts to get very smooth. Most of the time she says it how she hears it. And it's usually right. I just know her that I get what she says even though it just sounds like that word while to some people, it could be a jargon.

Because of that, I thought to myself, what is the effect of traditional schooling to this massive energy? What if I will immerse her to doing what she loves to do instead of putting her in a classroom like everybody else? Somebody had told me about the beauty of homeschooling. So, in addition to the traditional educational system, time going to and from school will be spent making her an expert on something else at an early stage besides the expected curriculum for her age bracket. Just like what she wants to do, for example singing? or swimming? or origami? I'm sure there are advantages and disadvantages. Socially, maybe there could be a way for interaction to happen but I know the dynamics of group projects may be challenged. Though, in a classroom, there are students that may get the lesson earlier than the others. But they are situations where they are forced to wait for the others to get it before "all" of them could move on to another topic. Homeschooling will actually make use of this extra time by moving on according to her individual progress. More time maybe spent learning something else.

But, what if there's a total turn about on what we have gone familiar with? What if instead of finishing primary and secondary school, to get into college, we put our kids to doing what they want to do spot on and give her 8 years on, for example, acting. I don't think she'd be needing more than 8 years to learn the fundamentals. So, you may find that they like swimming, give it another 2 years. They want to learn computer, an intense 5 year learning about it may suffice. I guess what we're looking at, is an expert of these 3 things at the age of 15.



What is my point?

My point funnels to the fact that the educational system we use up until now tend to make us "all the same". Which in the future would actually be hindering the much needed creativity. With the fast paced technology and the power of the internet, information will be within arm's reach, communication to Timbukto will be possible whenever you need to do so and there's no point in sitting down in the classroom to study history because the student will just answer the teacher, "Ma'am, let me google that for you." The only way to defy this is to hail individuality but the school system is so old that it creates followers and not leaders.

In January 2015, the top 3 most researched topics are: free porn, language translator and maps. In July of the same year, it changed into: movies and music (entertainment), programming and blogging. Now, 2016, google's most researched topics were about the Paris attacks, Trump and Hillary's presidency campaign and the last is 'how to be rich'. This can all be checked out in www.searchenginewatch.com, www.seattleorganicseo.com and www.seigemedia.com.

These are trends that changed massively every 6 months. This shows that people continuously learn important things that can be done using the internet. But most of the school systems that is used up until now don't include financial education, proper usage of the internet and the creative arts as much as the other subjects. As far as trends go, almost everything had undergone huge changes. Henry Ford transformed a horse carriage into a car using horsepower, Steve Jobs had innovated Alexandar Graham Bell's telephone into an iPhone and lastly, Walt Disney had turned his dream park for his daughters into a dream park for everybody. What do they all have in common? They were creative, they did what they wanted to do and all of these energy were not from the classroom. Alexander Graham Bell had an active mind despite performing poor academically. He was homeschooled until he was 11 years old and he invented so many more but the telephone was the most popular. Steve Jobs was interested more in working in the garage with a friend to build a computer after dropping out from school. After getting hold of how the iPhone works, we are all different in terms of consuming, communicating and connecting. Walt Disney was fired from the newspaper job he got for lacking ideas and now, Disneyland are surrounded with imagineers, putting imagination, design and engineering altogether for its business to keep on expanding to satisfy its guests.

To wrap up my post, allow me to share this eye opener. And please let me know if you agree with me that our generation needs an upgraded educational system.


Related posts:

1. WHY PHILIPPINE OFW'S GOT THE POWER TO REBUILD ITS ECONOMY THRU FINANCIAL EDUCATION - Know how much of the world's population is illiterate when it comes to handling money.

2. THE THIRTY MAJOR CAUSES OF FAILURE, HOW MANY OF THESE ARE HOLDING YOU BACK - So many people are fixated to the idea, not to make a mistake. But sometimes, mistakes are needed because it means you're learning something new. Don't let it discourage you.

3. BE FREE! - By embracing yourself and avoiding being a people pleaser, you become free.

Monday, November 28, 2016

THE DISTINCT ART OF THE SAMOAN TATTOO CALLED THE PE'A

The movie, "MOANA", is out in the cinemas and it made me remember visiting Samoa for the first time. For a quick look, here's the trailer of this new Disney movie to give you an idea of how it is in the Pacific Islands.


My life's journey had led me to knowing about the Pacific as I built my family with an islander from Samoa. Because of this, I have known Polynesians namely, from Hawaii, Tahiti, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, and Fiji personally and I got opened to a culture that I felt so close to even before I knew of them. Their music, their food, their ways and their people have touched my life in more ways than one. At my first visit to where my better half is from, Hogan, who was my boyfriend then, introduced me to the beautiful country of Samoa, his home.

Samoa is called "The Heart of Polynesia". Its estimated population of 195,000 as of 2016 is composed majorly of its locals at 92.6% and the rest are Euronisians, Europeans and people from East Asia. It is located at north east of New Zealand and it lies almost next to Fiji. The country is composed of several islands which include, Savai'i, one of the largest islands in the South Pacific and Upolu, the home to most of the Samoan population.

Being a Filipino, I find that there are similar norms we practice the same way they do. They have huge respect to elders, family is number one and they are passionate about their roots, beliefs and traditions. I see them as Filipinos on steroids because we both own the brown skin, the black hair and the hospitality. But they have a physique like no other. They're strong and steadfast. Probably because of being solid islanders: they have the sea, the sand and sunshine. That being said, they cannot be compared with any race. They work hard for their families and they eat taros, bread fruit and bananas like how Asians eat rice. And they literally need to climb trees to get these. Hence, their muscles become well formed upon reaching the adult age.

The huge black tattoo starter
from the lower back is the
 vessel of the boat.
The huge black tattoo almost
covering half of the thighs
represent the ocean
and the journey.
 It extends to sharply
edged marks wrapping
 the thighs and
this marks the needed weapons
for protection and defense.
The rest of the tattoo is composed
of the wearer's personal journey.
Elements of the family maybe
included in it as long
as it is conforming to the
Polynesian design.
The Pe'a is a huge representation
of family, culture, and courage.
Courage to accept full
responsibility to his
family and country.
It signifies that the male wearer
is ready to take
any form of challenge.
Just like Moana's story, legends make up most of Samoa's tell tales. One very famous story from the Samoan Mythology was about the twin sisters who sailed from Fiji to Samoa carrying tools for tattooing. As they swam, they sang a song that only women will be tattooed. But as they neared the Falealupo Village in Savai'i, they saw a clam underwater and dived down to get it. When they emerged, their song had changed, the lyrics now saying that only men get the tattoo and not women. This song is known in Samoa as the Pese o le Pe'a or Pese o le Tatau. They said, carrying the pe'a, Samoa's traditional tattoo, means you are carrying part of Samoa's legends with your own story added to it. Tatau is the Samoan term for tattoo to which the English language owes. Wikipedia elaborates more on this but what I wanted to share was my own experience of seeing Hogan receive this rite of passage to becoming an apprentice for the title of being a Samoan matai.

When you hear about a Polynesian island, you instantly become interested with the adventures that go with it. Mine didn't include the white sands, the wonderful sun and the beautiful blue sea. I was introduced to something deeper which I considered taboo in the beginning.

A Samoan matai is also known as the Samoan village chief. He holds a line of responsibilities and decision making which the entire village relies to, depends on and respects. The first step in becoming one is receiving the pe'a to hail the roots of what being a true Samoan really means. Once completed, it would mark the apprenticeship to being a matai. It is extremely painful because the whole process is traditionally done. The black ink that is made up from the burnt candlenut soot is tapped into the skin using fragments of turtle shells shaped into a shark tooth in a form of a comb, a very different way on how I know tattoos are being applied, as I know only of the modern machine used nowadays. 

Therefore,  the receiver should not only be prepared physically, but also, emotionally. To help out, the whole family shows support by singing mellow songs, preparing the tapa mat where the pe'a receiver could rest and most of all, preparing food rich in protein to aid the healing in between sessions. "Having the pe'a is one of the most unforgettable milestone of my life. The pain is like no other.", remarks Hogan.

Also, receiving the pe'a is done in pairs because thru history, there had been people who didn't make it all the way to healing completely because their body rejected it or got sick along the way. Hogan's cousin took the malu (pronounce as ma'-looh), which was the equivalent of pe'a amongst the ladies and together, they are considered twins or soul mates. One is dependent of the other's energy. So basically, they have to be strong for each other. The malu is the Samoan term for a female specific tattoo that covers the legs from just below the knees to upper thighs right above the buttocks, and typically owns a finer and more delicate design than the pe'a.

This was the outlining on Hogan's back.
Notice the comb like nature of the tattooing tool.

Everything was done seriously until I made some mistakes that they find it to be the ice breakers with all these preparations.

Day 1 of Hogan's tattooing:
We were just fanning onto the artists
because it was warm that day.
Notice the elders around him
as he lies chest down.
The pe'a was marked on to his back
and the pain is supported
by the guitarist singing and
playing mellow songs.
You see, Hogan wanted everything to be documented. It is a huge leap for a Samoan to go thru the tap-tap experience (a sound so simple but pe'a men consider it traumatic) so I was taking photos. But while he was being tattooed, one of the tattoo artists' assistants saw me going to the restricted area where the tools are kept sterile. Hogan, had to get away from his no-pain cloud 9 and come back to earth to translate what the guy was telling me which was not to go to that area. So I was like, "Eeeep!" That was stupidity no. 1. 

Stupidity no. 2 comes with the way I sat at the Samoan fale where the tattooing took place. 

A Samoan fale or "house" holds many of a Samoan family's gatherings. May it be just an afternoon talk as they wait for the sunset or an important occasion, it is a place where they get together and many conversations are made. And every Samoan that has to leave home misses this setting. It is basically a hut made up of soaked coconut husks and wooden pillars that is finished up with a flat cement floor. Hogan's tattooing took place in their own fale at the back of their house. To kick start the traditional tattooing, elders, relatives and the tattoo artists had been welcomed with a Kava ceremony which is the solemn ritual of sharing a ceremonial drink. It marks special occasions, sang onto with traditional songs by the rest of the men of the family. They sit on the floor with crossed legs as a form of respect and opening a connection. As the Kava ceremony finished, I joined in to watch and document the process with my camera. When I got tired, I sat with my knees folded in front in a manner where I could hug my legs. Stupidity no. 2. Since I was wearing a skirt, I thought this was the most appropriate way of sitting down because it covers the entire end of the skirt covering any flashy treat. But, one of the elders explained in Samoa, "Forgive our guest for she doesn't know how the customs go." And Hogan got alarmed right away. I didn't understand much of the language then as compared to now so I didn't react. My full grin got erased when Hogan gave me a signal, "Cross your legs as you sit down." I wanted to melt because of embarassment. Another lesson learnt.

This is how the setting was in receiving Hogan
in the Samoan fale . The mat is made up of straw,
the back part is where the sterile gloves, materials and ink
were secured and the elders and artists take their position comfortably as well.

From 10am to 3pm, Hogan was under the artists' hands. It was pretty tiring in terms of the position he has to keep and needless to say, it was a pretty long time to deal with pain. For 9 days, it went on like that. The tattooed part on each day has to be washed off of dried blood and other elements that could infect it with so, it was overall a huge delicate ordeal that at the end of the day, you will be needing rest. Rituals go, the old mat should be put away and a new mat should be put in place to receive the man in the process of being tattooed safe and nurtured. Hogan's mom instructed me to fold the old mat. Little did I know, they even have a proper way of folding it so that negative energy or bad luck will be completely tucked away and would not get into the open wounds. So, I casually folded it the way we do it in the Philippines. I rolled it then folded it in half for easy storage. And then they laughed at me. Stupidity no. 3, why didn't I ask??? I just laughed with them. And I told all of them, the day almost ended without strike number 3.


As to give emphasis on preventing the bad energy to get in thru his wounds, there are at least 2 guards that watch over the receiver of the tattoo for the whole night and/or sleeping time he takes to recuperate. Weeks usually are given for other people's pe'a to finish but Hogan had to go thru it for 7 days straight because he had limited vacation days from work. He stayed up til the 2nd week in the village of Puipaa, his home town in Apia, Samoa then flew back here in Hong Kong. All in all, it took him just 15 days to finish everything. I had to attend to his wounds and they were massive. We continuously washed it with cold water, cleansed it to avoid contamination and cared for it by moisturising it with huge amounts of vaseline. It was unbelievable how he healed in just three days considering how big his wounds were. Since he was 18 years old, he had asked his mom to have the mark of a true Samoan but his mom only agreed to it 10 years later. But him and his family believed, it was just the right time for him to have it. He was an adult in so many ways. His body was strong and his mind was mature enough to understand what the pe'a stands for and how important it is to stay being the good example that younger Samoans would look up to.

This was taken on the day they finished the tattooing ceremony.
Leis were offered to the tattoo carriers and the tattoo carriers
offer leis to the tattoo artists' and the elders who have the same tattoo
to signify respect and gratitude. Another closing ceremony was held
where their heads were poured of traditional oil and the rest of the body for
annointing, healing and blessing purposes.
Moreover, an egg is cracked on the tattoo receiver's head
to complete the ceremony. This is a sign of welcome to the pe'a world.
This brings big pride to their families as they now own the
mark of what being a true Samoan means.

While my husband keeps the memory of the whole process wrapped up with the most painful part which is the tattooing of the puke (Samoan term for the "navel"), I keep my own memory of the beautiful Samoa thru this traditional ritual I witnessed dashed of a little bit of humor here and there and I'll carry it in my heart forever. Probably, my own daughter would go for the malu too when she grows up. I will be in full support and that would make her dad very proud I'm sure.

With all of these being shared, travel has a great way of teaching us about how we differ with our traditional ways yet, the same when it comes to having that passion for our purpose. There are but quite a few who knows about the pe'a and I'm blessed to gain such knowledge and heritage. 

This was the Kava Ceremony right before the tattooing started.
The elders gather around inside the Samoan fale to bless a special
undertaking in behalf of La'auli (Hogan) Toomalatai,
son of Faalataitaua Lauoletolo Lealaitogia'i Toomalatai
and Sifou Lototasi Toomalatai. Notice how the boys surround the fale
as the first line of protection that come together to support the ritual.
The Kava drink should be served by a young virgin woman
to signify purity and cleanliness and to preserve its sacred narcotic sedative power. 


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