Category: Reviews

Rusalka Diaries: CCP Run

The Philippine Premiere of Rusalka went beyond our expectations. It was awesome, great, and blessed, in so many ways.

So, how did opening night go?

The cast was called in at four in the afternoon. But I was already there at the backstage dressing room at two in the afternoon, and some cast members even earlier. I came from lunch with my two former officemates from the Center, and I even asked a paracetamol from them because I was starting to feel unwell. That paracetamol worked wonders!

So, as we were waiting for the Alexander exercises led by our director at six in the evening, we started doing hair and makeup, and some had dinner as well. Hair and make up artists were there to assist us. I was too excited and nervous so I was just able to eat during the second act, wherein the woodsprites, were not part of.

Doing Alexander technique exercises before each rehearsal helped singers relax.

We’ve been doing Alexander during my undergrad classes under our director, Alegria Ferrer, who was my teacher for several classes during college. Indeed, this was one of the reasons why we were all relaxed during opening night!

And so, we open the opera with this scene:

Wood sprites (Diwata ng Kahoy): L-R: Em Alcantara, Fay Dee Reyes, Poli Laurito.
Wood sprites: L-R: Em Alcantara, Fay Dee Reyes, Poli Laurito.

The opera was done in a Filipinized setting, as is evident with the set, costumes, even adapting Filipino translated names of the characters as our peg. I believed it worked, and made the Czech opera a step closer to our culture.

The opening scene was with the wood sprites and water gnome. The wood sprites for this cast were yours truly, Fay Dee Reyes, and Poli Laurito. It was the first time the three of us are working together, but we managed to blend well especially since almost all of our parts were ensemble singing.

Known baritone Nomer Son is the Water Gnome for all the shows. What can I say, he was simply amazing!

Bianca Lopez (Rusalka) and Christian Nagano (Prince) were both first timers in opera, and they nailed it. With their solid experience as choristers (from the Philippine Madrigal Singers and Coro Tomasino, respectively), Bianca and Titan gave convincing performances in their characters. We were surprised to see Bianca dyed her hair red a la Ariel of The Little Mermaid on the dress rehearsal day.

Jade Riccio was the Foreign Princess for this performance. I’ve heard Jade a few times already, and her voice gets stronger. Jose Miguel Espiritu was the night’s Hunter, and he performed his part really well.

One of the most interesting sections, for me, is that of the Turnspit and Gamekeeper. Christina Bojocan-Espiritu as Turnspit and Leslie Diaz as Gamekeeper delivered their roles well, especially during the part where they’d meet the witch, Jezibaba, outstandingly played by Aya Tanciongco with her “mini-me”, the cute Aimee Joson.

Grupo 20/21 ably accompanied us. Such a small ensemble but with a big sound. Great work by our conductor, Prof. Chino Toledo. The chorus led by Bajo Zaldua and the UP Dance Company also did their parts well. Much gratitude to JM Cabling who choreographed the wood sprites!

Rusalka Opening Night Curtain Call. Great job, everyone!
Rusalka Opening Night Curtain Call. Great job, everyone!

We’re glad to see family and friends there who supported us in the premiere, including my own family and my daughter, who, surprisingly, was well behaved and watched the opera in its entirety. We’re both singing my part as refresher for me while the opera is on break this week. School officials and the Czech Embassy were also there to support, saying they’d watch again next week.

The following day, some Cast 1 members supported and watched the performance of Cast 2. They did a great job as well, to think that some of them also are first time opera performers. Wood sprites were Charlene Ramos, Krystl Buesa, and Jane Wee. Fame Flores was Rusalka, Malvin Macasaet was Prince, Gereberne Lozada was Foreign Princess. Jhom Chua-So gave a really interesting take as Jezibaba. Paul Dominguez and Miguel Aguila played Gamekeeper and Turnspit, respectively, while Neil Chua was the Hunter.

Second Night of Rusalka. Curtain Call.
Second Night of Rusalka. Curtain Call.

On behalf of the whole cast, I would like to thank our director, Alegria Ferrer, for choosing us to be part of this production. It is as special to us as it is to her. More than doing this work, we are blessed with the relationship we’ve created among each other. It was a joy to have worked with everyone in this production– from the cast to our staff (especially to our beloved Stage Manager, Kuya Boy Sanchez!) to the orchestra, chorus, and dancers.

I know reading this will make you wonder what this looks and sounds like. Wonder no more, because we present one more run at the UP College of Music Abelardo Hall on September 23 and 24! Our cast plays on the 23rd, so we do hope to see you at that performance!

Get yout tickets for Rusalka’s UP Run by calling 929-6963. Look for Ms. Eva. P500 each, student discounts for currently enrolled students are given as well. Tickets are selling fast, so don’t miss this chance!

(Photo credits: from cast members of Rusalka during the technical rehearsal and the opening nights)

Touringkitty Eats: Counting Calories with The Good Box

I have always wondered about food boxes. One, I wondered if their food is delicious and two, I wondered if it really works.

I seriously gained weight when I started eating healthier. If you follow me on Instagram (please follow @touringkitty) you’d notice my posts on #healthyeating and all I’ve been experimenting on my small kitchen. Since I resigned from full-time work exactly a year ago, I have gained about 20 pounds. I looked better, but I have been packing so much pounds already that I feel like I have to diet.

And this food box came my way.

I had the opportunity to try a day’s worth of meals from The Good Box yesterday, and here’s how my meal for the entire day looked like:

My food for the day!
My menu for the day!

I must admit, when I took out all the food from the bag, I was like, so this will be it? Where’s my rice?! =)

Here’s what’s on the menu:

What's on my menu?
What’s on my menu? Let us count the calories!

The delivery guy came with my goodies almost late in the evening the other night, good thing we’re still awake. So, as instructed, I placed everything in the refrigerator and reheat them the following day.

My breakfast was this:

Eggs Italiano, Fruit and Fruit Juice: I steamed the bread and egg, so it got a little soggy. But my breakfast was filling nonetheless. In between my breakfast and lunch, I munched the Popcorn Ball.

Lunch was Couscous with shrimp and salad. Ok, so at this point, I was really feeling I was counting the calories, so I almost ate something else after having this! I was about to go to teach then, so I had the afternoon snack, which was two digestive cookies.

The dinner was yummy! I had Vietnamese Tofu Noodle in Lettuce Wrap, plus a serving of jello.

I also made sure I was properly hydrated (plain water did the trick) after each meal. As I found out from their Calorie Requirement Chart, it was a giant drop from 2,000 calories (estimate for my age) to 1,200 calories that day. I had a busy afternoon that day and since I am also still breastfeeding, I had to take in a little more calories (I cheated, actually, because I ate a little rice meal after I had the digestives, just before I headed to my choir rehearsal!).

If you want to lose weight yet eat healthy and delicious, try The Good Box. They have meals for different caloric requirements. I cannot vouch for its effectiveness as I have only tried a day’s worth of food. They cater to various diet programs and offer at least a week’s worth of food boxes delivered to your doorstep everyday.

Another thing I liked about The Good Box is that they use biodegradable containers. As you’ve seen the photos above, those are not plastic containers, but something made out of sugarcane that is called “Bagasse.” It will turn into compost in 12 weeks. Add to that, they source most of their produce from Gawad Kalinga’s Enchanted Farm. Pretty neat, right?

Want to lose weight? Start by eating healthy! Check out their website and Instagram (@thegoodboxph).

~ Touringkitty

K5 Learning Program Review

A couple of months back, I was invited by K5 Learning to try out their reading and math program. Just what I needed that time when I was not regularly homeschooling my child. I posted about it here.

Click on photo to try it out for free!

So, here’s our review of the program. (Disclaimer: We were not able to finish the entire program because my persistent kid would just do this when she wants. Will tell you why in the review below.)

What we liked about K5 Learning Program:

You design your own program. You get to choose the level of your child after having her assessed, then choose which skills you’d want to focus on. I did this because I know which skills we should work on already since I’ve been teaching her already.

Free worksheets. For busy moms who want easy access to a library of worksheets, K5 had them all compiled for you. Just click and print, or save for future printing.

Compiles valuable resource on their Blog section. As a homeschooling and career mom, researching material for our lessons can be quite overwhelming. K5’s blog combines a great mix of external links, internal resources, and tips and tricks for the parent and the student, all in one website.

What we think can be improved:

Audio and sound bytes. This might be really minor, but I have a sound-sensitive child so perhaps I should take note of this. At one point, she told me to turn the sound off before we begin the K5 lesson. There’s this fanfare sound which ends each exercise that bothers her ears. So, I did turn off the sound, and she finished the activity. Though in the next lessons, we needed to listen to the sound for her reading, I was able to talk her out of it. I once noticed that the male voice sounded like a female, so maybe this can be improved as well.

Pacing of each exercise. Shorter instructions and extros, perhaps? We can’t move on to the next unless the sound byte is done with her dialogue or her counting or the instructions.

iPad app. Oh yes, this would be a very welcome improvement! Everyone turns on their iPad cos you just click and go. My daughter has all her writing and math supplements in her iPad. I do hope K5 considers this!

Certain sections I appreciated, like the reading comprehension and prediction, although I must say that some exercises there could still be improved. I had a hard time explaining the “what could happen next” exercise, mainly because the illustrations given were not that clear and comprehensible at first sight.

I’d recommend this program to supplement your child’s learning. I would still want Aria to try it, maybe in the next two years when she can better manipulate the mouse or trackpad on her own. I have, in the meantime, saved the worksheets for our homeschooling activities.

K5 learning is a good substitute to your kid’s computer time. Mix the learning and the playing in this program. The best news is, K5 is not only for kids, but for adults as well, giving us a wealth of information and ideas on how to successfully guide our child in his learning journey.

Why don’t you try it for yourselves? Get a 14-day free trial and optional assessment through this link and let me know how it goes.


~ Touringkitty

Touringkitty Eats: Smart eaters use Munchpunch

Planning a food trip anytime soon? Check out what’s on the menu even before stepping out of your home through Munchpunch!

Have you always took soooo much time just looking at the menu? I always have, and it can be a waste of precious time. Know what to order by looking at the menu ahead. Site visitors recommend which items they liked from a specific restaurant.

The restaurants are categorized according to location and budget, which is very helpful. Since I live in Pasay and always frequent one mall on weekends, I can now see a restaurant’s menu, price, and recommendations.

Do people also love the food you will order? Find out in their recommendations!
Do people also love the food you will order? Find out in their recommendations!

See the VIP Menu on the right? You can try it as well, for free! Get a special code from Munchpunch and get discounts, special treats, and more from their partner restaurants. All you need to do is register via email or Facebook. Look for a specific item on the menu, click Get Code which will be sent to your phone, show it to the counter and voila!

I got these treats from Auntie Anne’s and Illy Coffee (click the links to see what I got!). And my VIP membership was extended, thanks to Mommy Bloggers Philippines.

You can also extend your memberships for P299 for 60 days! If you’re a certified foodie and would want to try new restaurants and go back to your favorites, then Munchpunch is definitely for you.

What have you been craving for?


~ Touringkitty

K5 Learning Review

I have not yet posted our Preschool hunting last March. I have been remiss with homeschooling my daughter this month because of the super busy schedules. Blame the busy work-at-home/performing/teaching/blogging mommy me.

Result is: my daughter has been playing. A whole lot. But my friends say I should not worry. I just have to make her playtime educational and fun!

Anyway, I found out this online reading and math program which is a perfect fit for us. I am excited to try this out. Will update on our progress as we get the ball rolling.

Maybe you want to check it out as well, here’s how:

K5 Learning has an online reading and math program for kindergarten to grade 5 students. I’ve been given a 6 week free trial to test and write a review of their program. If you are a blogger, you may want to check out their open invitation to write an online learning review of their program.


~ Touringkitty