July 8, 2014
“How much is that doggy in the window?” sang the ladyboy who emceed today’s performance. She then bent toward the grade schoolers and growled.
Children and adults alike were squealing with delight. The purple strapless sequins number followed, and I didn’t understand most of it because of all of the enthusiastic crowd howling, but Randdie translated for the ladyboy hostess who was next in line. Apparently, she was exhorting rounds of applause from the audience… and if she didn’t get them, she’d yell something vaguely threatening about the audience members’ rear ends.
Can I just interject to say that this whole entire event was orchestrated with only an attitude of fun and- once again- total acceptance of all things humanly natural? It is just the sweetest thing ever.
Amanda said it best as she was gaping in wonder at the joyous throngs.
“Look at them!” she said. “They’re just- I mean, everyone’s totally into this, but not in the American way of making sarcastic jokes and being slightly ashamed. So cool.”
(Side note to Amanda if you’re reading this: I obviously invented the quotation marks for the sake of telling the story. My apologies, coupled with the acknowledgment that the conversation has been re-imagined, but with its spirit intact. As a librarian, just file this under well-researched historical fiction, yes? Yes. Okay, good.)
I’m not sure if it was the dancing I was doing on the sidelines or the fact that I am head-and-shoulders the most conspicuous person in the nation, but it wasn’t long before GMA- which is the national TV station for the country- was asking me to spell my name and to look at the hostess rather than the camera.
I’m not giving any more details than that because I’ve gained ten pounds in dairy, sugar, and fetus (not pregnant- just ate one… see previous blog for the not shocking explanation) and at the time of interview, had already sweat a liter of t-shirt lubricant. So frankly, I don’t want anyone with a preconceived notion of what I look like to actually see that. But if you’re a member of the 12th most populous nation in the world and saw the broadcast: that’s me in the green shirt and pearl bracelet! I love how nice you’ve been to me for the past two weeks! Thank you for being the people whom I will stereotype, going forward, as the kindest and most accepting and most generous in the world!
But yeah, also I cried today.
I’ve mentioned before that the singing here has been impressive to a degree that sort of defies belief. In fact, I’m horrified by my entire day yesterday because I just found out that the karaoke place wasn’t soundproof and you could hear me singing ‘90s music at least a block away on the streets. And this is not good, because pitch perfection seems to be DNAbled here and I don’t have it.
I’m sorry for what I did to you, Wonderwall.
But, right- at the goodbye ceremony that Donah arranged at San Agustin, a bunch of grade schoolers who’d had only one previous public performance sang for us, and it was beautiful. They actually harmonized as a chorus. Could you do that at nine? Shoot, I was still under the impression that guitars only took one hand to play.
I didn’t actually cry at this part because one time Chuck shut down the Gritty’s downstairs with his “lip syncing with a lisp” performance- making “thuck it in, thuck it in, thuck it in” the primary way that I sing John Popper- and the little girl in the front row who was actually lisping reminded me of that. So while half of me was touched and overcome, the other half of me was mentally punching myself in the face for even considering inappropriate laughter.
The crying part came next, with the teachers.
Four of them got up and sang Rent, and for five hundred, twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes… I let the sentiments take over.
I can’t stress enough how kind these people have been, even with what was potentially (and I hope we’ve corrected this) the idea that we were coming in to arrogantly correct or critique their practice. They’ve given us the run of their school and they’ve let us pop into classes for the express purpose of watching the cute ones wave at us, which is incredibly disruptive when you’re trying to get a lesson across. I hope they know how much we’ve learned from them and what we’ll take back home. I hope we can continue this connection, which I think was cemented as Amanda led a US/Filipino instructional Shim Sham.
How come our staff meetings aren’t like this, by the way, back home? If we could do singing and dancing in them there might be a little more engagement. Learning is definitely best when there’s some kind of personal connection, which should go without saying that that’s true for adults, too.
Invite a wisecracking ladyboy to lead our meetings, and I’m sold on PD for life.