Little Red is a hood

Little Red is a hood 
By Walter Ang
September 27, 2000
Philippine Daily Inquirer

When I found out the British Council was staging a production of Roald Dahl's "Little Red Riding Hood" for its Performing Arts Season this year, I wasted no time in rushing over to the U.P. Theater to catch the show. I've only seen two shows at that venue, one about a King of Thebes marrying his mother and the other with a singing Indian prince and princess (and some dancing monkeys thrown in). Now I was going to watch a little girl and her run in with a wolf.

This production has already been performed by nearly every major British orchestra. The Cebu Youth Symphony Orchestra premiered it in the Philippines and now it was the Manila Youth Symphony Orchestra's turn. The first part of the show was a lot of fun as host Freddie Santos spent time to introduce the different parts of the orchestra and how the parts worked together.

When he started throwing out words like fortissimo and pianissimo, even the most clueless person would be able to understand as the orchestra demonstrated the terms. This is a great way to make this art form more accessible to everyone. In an effort to make the show more hip, the production incorporated a lot of flashy, roving colored lights moving across the stage and the musicians. The young musicians came out wearing all black outfits; not a single boring, staid suit or gown in sight!

Over and over
The orchestra began with Sergei Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf" conducted by Arturo Molina. Some of you may be familiar with the animated version by Chuck Jones shown on TV some time ago. The only thing I dislike about listening to this piece is I always end up hearing the strain that represents Peter over and over in my head like an evil Aaron Carter song. Pam pam parampampam ? oh boy.

"Little Red Riding Hood" was up next, conducted by Adrian Brown. This version did not rely soley on the lines in Dahl's hilariously wicked book "Revolting Rhymes," it incorporated narration and dialogue. Audie Gemora narrated the piece with Jaime Fabregas as the wolf. Enchang Kaimo played both Ms. Hood and Grandmamma. It was very interesting to see how music worked with the fairy tale.

This is no ordinary fairy tale, with a drunk Grandmamma and a wolf that passes wind at the audience. Little kids would react every once in a while as the piece progressed. "I can see the wolf!" You can figure out the fun twist in this version when you hear the line, "The small girl smiles. One eyelid flickers./She whips a pistol from her knickers." No need to worry, no gory violence here. Although director Freddie Santos still joked, "We're so incorrect! Teaching kids it's okay to shoot pistols!"

Behind the scenes
Both conductor Adrian Brown and composer Paul Patterson are professed fans of Roald Dahl and had nothing but praises for the Filipino production. Brown claimed that both youth orchestras played professionally. He also noted how resourceful and how fast the Filipino crew was when they whipped up some new set pieces. Several bolts of cloth had been brought over as part of the production. The local crew was able to paint up a couple of wooden boards with designs that matched the cloth -- overnight.

Patterson was amazed at how quickly the cast picked up from rehearsals and shared that one of his companions thought the Filipino cast was the best one to perform the piece yet. The original plan was to compose music for all the fairy tales in the book, but in the course of development, it was decided to compose just "Little Red Riding Hood." Interestingly, he's actually planning to compose a sort of sequel, "The Three Little Pigs."

In the book, Little Red Riding Hood makes a guest appearance in "The Three Little Pigs" and so does her pistol. In an effort to make orchestra music more engaging, Patterson is devising some audience participation in this one, "We'll make the audience blow the pigs' houses down."

The new piece will most probably come out in two years' time. What is it with the Brits for making everyone wait? J.K. Rowling is making us wait a whole year for the next Harry Potter book, and Dahl fans have to wait two years for the next orchestra piece! In the meantime, we'll have to make do with "Little Red Riding Hood." It's a great experience for students and everyone else, especially families with young kids, who'd like to find out more about orchestra music.

Call the British Council at 914-1011 to 14 for details.

Burma is not the other name of Myanmar (and other acronyms)

Burma is not the other name of Myanmar 
By Walter Ang
 September 20, 2000
Philippine Daily Inquirer

I had a classmate named Juneth who always gave little notes to everyone in class. Before exams, she would pass out good luck messages. On someone's birthday, she would give out a nice little piece of stationery with a short message of greeting. Sometimes, it would be just a short "Hello!".

One time, during an insufferably boring class, she decided to start writing up and passing out some notes to everyone. It was no big deal as most of us weren't paying attention to the droning professor anyway. I got a nice little message with the word J.A.P.A.N. appended at the bottom. It cracked me up. It stood for Just Always Pray At Night.

We had a little inside joke going on. Earlier, we'd been talking about slumbooks and how people would usually write funny acronyms at the bottom of the dedication page. The generic message being: "Thank you for letting me sign in your cute slumbook." Followed by a country acronym that usually had very creative and hilarious meanings.

I passed around a big sheet of paper and asked everyone to list down all the slumbook acronyms they knew. The page was almost completely filled up by the time it got back to me. Everyone got into it, wanting to be the first to list down a particulary acronym.

It's interesting what we remember from our elementary schooldays, when slumbooks were almost de rigueur for the girls in class. I found out from the ladies in the class, as they recounted their own slumbook escapades, that aside from getting cute stickers and cute staionery and whatnot, one of the reasons why girls passed out slumbooks was to get their crush to sign in it. I had to honestly say I did not know that. But I guess now I do.

Pinoys have an affinity to acronyms and shortening statements. After all, this is the nation that reduced such pressing national issues such as charter changes in the constitution into media savvy soundbites like Cha Cha and Concorde. Even the exclamation "Susmaryosep!" is but another shortned version of something much longer. But I digress.

After I got the list of slumbook acronyms back, we took a look and had a good laugh at the all the names and statements. The most popular one was K.I.T. for "Keep In Touch". The funniest one for the day was the acronym for "Friends U Can Keep". The rest ran the gamut of the countries of the world and then some. Here's the list for your perusal. I just hope people don't throw their shoes at me if these acronyms start making the rounds of text messages.

A.B.C. - Always Be Careful
A.R.M. - Always Remember Me
B.A.L.I.W.A.G. - Beauty And Love I Will Always Give
K.I.T.T.Y. - Kind, Intelligent, Thoughtful, That's You!
K.O.S.H. - Keep On Soaring High
M.A.R.L.B.O.R.O. - Men Always Remember Love Because Of Romance Only.
S.A.S.A.Y.A. - Stay As Sweet As You Are
S.M.U.R.F. - Smiling Makes Us Real Friends
S.W.A.K. - Sealed With A Kiss
Y.A.M.A.H.A. - You Are My Angel! Happy Anniversary!

B.U.R.M.A. - Between Us, Remember Me Always
C.A.N.A.D.A. - Cute And Naughty Action that Developed into Attraction
C.E.B.U. - Change Everything... But Us
C.H.I.N.A. - Come Here, I Need Affection
E.G.Y.P.T. - Everything's Great, You Pretty Thing!
F.R.A.N.C.E. - Friendships Remain And Never Can End
G.U.A.M. - God Unites All Men
H.O.L.L.A.N.D. - Hope Our Love Lasts And Never Dies
I.M.U.S. - I Miss U, Sweetheart
I.N.D.I.A. - I Nearly Died In Adoration
I.T.A.L.Y. - I Trust And Love You
K.E.N.Y.A. - Keep Everything Nice, Yet Arousing
K.O.R.E.A. - Keep Optimistic Regardless of Every Adversity
L.I.B.Y.A. - Love Is Beautiful; You Also
M.A.L.A.B.O.N. - May A Lasting Affair Be Ours Now
M.A.N.I.L.A. - May All Nights Inspire Love Always
N.E.P.A.L. - Never Ever Part As Lovers
P.A.R.A.N.A.Q.U.E. - Please Always Remain Adorable,Nice And Quiet Under Ecstacy
P.A.S.A.Y. - Pretty And Sexy Are You
P.A.S.I.G. - Please Always Say I'm Gorgeous
P.E.R.U. - Porget Everyone, Remember Us
P.H.I.L.I.P.P.I.N.E.S. - Pumping Hot.. I Love It! Please Please..I Need Erotic Stimulation R.U.S.S.I.A. - Romance Under the Sky & Stars is Intimate Always
T.O.N.D.O. - Tonight's Our Night, Dearest One
Y.E.M.E.N. - 'Yugyugan Every Morning, Every Night

The Throbbing In My Head

The Throbbing In My Head
By Walter Ang
September 19, 2000
Confuse Shoes column,

I have had a terrible headache all week. It would not go away. I was ready to take off my shoes and hit my head with them. I was ready to crawl the walls. It was the kind of creeping, heavy, throbbing headache that gave me murderous intentions. I admit it: I do have murderous intentions most of the time ? but this headache compounded the feelings even more. I'd like to point out that this was no ordinary, run-of-the-mill headache.

It moved! It would taunt the left side of my head one day and move to the right the next. At certain times of the day, it would stay at the base of my head. It was awful. I had to carry on with my usual workload under the strain of a having head that felt like it was going to unexpectedly topple off my neck any minute.

Friends who regard me as high maintenance work have started to give remarks they usually give me whenever I complained about an ill - imaginary or otherwise. They claim I'm just being a hypochondriac, or that I'm only a little under the weather. But the worst line I heard this time was, "It's all in your head." Great, tell me something I don't know!

Some of them showed genuine concern, which I greatly appreciated. Of course, they also tended to go overboard, insisting that I get my head checked at the nearest hospital as soon as possible. Now I'm usually the first one to freak out over the slightest pain in the stomach or ache in the joints. But hearing these guys talk about the worst kinds of diseases possible, I began to have second thoughts on who was more paranoid.

Unable to find solace in the few friends I could ask to listen to my tales of woe, I started to look for possible solutions on my own. I tried to take a walk to shake the darned pain away. It worked - for about five minutes. Then the pain redoubled and hit my poor unsuspecting head like a flying brick. I also tried the usual route for pain, taking truckloads of paracetamol and acetaminophen. I suspect I may have developed an immunity to some of these medications by now. Not a good thing actually.

I've also tried taking hot showers. When those didn't work, I took cold showers instead. I even tried playing soothing classical music and lit a couple of scented candles to help calm my nerves. No dice. And people kept streaming in and out of the room asking if the power had gone out or worse, "Who died?"

I have a sneaking suspicion that the weather may be a culprit in my latest escapade with pain. It's been scorching hot this past week and the worst part are the sudden bursts of rain that last for a few minutes. By the time you can get your folding umbrella out of wherever you've hidden it, the sun comes shining back again. You, on the other hand, are left looking like a complete idiot soaking wet while everything else dries up in a couple of minutes.

Well, one of those attempts must've worked somehow. As I write this, the pain's been reduced to a tiny throb. One of these days, I'm just going to have to find a wall I can bash my head into.