Sunday, June 23, 2013

JOEY AYALA’S SOCIAL ARTISTRY (Last part) (June 24, 2013)

Joey Ayala with his Philpop 2013 entry "Papel" collaborating with Gloc 9 and Denise Barbacena

Vim Nadera: What are your recent concerns?
Joey Ayala: I’m working on the musical aspect of another core of artwork titled Tubig naman. Para masaing yung bigas. (Laughter.) Water is so much a part of us, so intimately a part of us, that we take it for granted. Our bodies are water – we are conscious bodies of water. Our geography is saturated in water. And our waterways are saturated by us – by our wastes and toxins.

Engineers, scientists, conscientious government- and business-people and activists seem to agree that community engagement is essential to efficient and competent water management. “Tubig” is meant to be a set of music/movement pieces at the core of an educational resource that can used for engaging communities in efficient and competent water management.

“Tubig” contemplates Tubig, that animates our water-spirit. The flow, the liquidity, the soft strength, the power to create and destroy, the many-faced implacability..... of Tubig.

I’m working on the technical aspect of music as well, investigating the blend of techno textures with indigenous timbres.

VN: Could you elaborate on this blend? Who are you collaboring with?
JA: I am such a lyric-oriented musician artist and so, for balance, have embarked on a conscious sound/texture/technology upgrade. A handy project for this is Tubig – part of whose development is another project titled Burst –an exhibit of fractal art by Medge Olivares – on 16 July 2013 at Whitespace – for which I am doing music. Pasok naman ang konsepto ng fractal art sa tubig. Nature and natural patterns are fractals – radiant realities that repeat infinitely with minute variations that build up to discernible patterns that seem to harmonize with human senses –and these patterns may even be expressed mathematically, something that was glimpsed by scientists as early as the 17th century. So we – myself and the people I work with. Onie Badiang, Chong Tengasantos, Tapati, and other soon-to-be-invited artists are working on these overlapping projects.

I’m writing songs – one which is a finalist in this year’s PhilPop Songwriting sweepstakes.

VN: Why do you still join songwriting contests?
JA: Malaki ang premyo! And I don’t like contests BUT I also maintain a self-challenge to occasionally do things I’m not comfortable with.

VN: What can you say about current trend in music?
JA: Sorry, I’m not aware of any trends... technology, management and marketability have always shaped what is universally-distributed and consumed so ganoon pa rin naman, mas mabilis at mas laganap nga lang ang pag-akyat-baba ng sikat na performer dahil sa mas mabilis at mas laganap ang technology at marketing systems. Also, what people naturally or instinctively like and support is not a matter of conscious choice. Very few people take the trouble to retool their decision-making. As in what to buy or support. To align them to some developmental or beneficial vision-mission. Very few people see the magnitude of effort that goes towards setting up systems that produce trend-setters. People notice the stars and not the stage on which they stand. There are thousands of stars waiting by the side of the stage!

VN: Is it insulting to serious music artists like you that non-singers are ones topping the charts?
JA: No, it is educational – proof that clear targets, discipline, and good management and teamwork can achieve practically anything! In SHOWBIZ audiences notice the SHOW but don’t pay attention to the BIZ. The names you mentioned represent TEAMS that are good at both SHOW and BIZ. Artists who may be good at SHOW are not necessarily good at BIZ, and vice-versa. So there’s really no insult, only education. Everybody does his/her best. Being a “serious” artist guarantees neither good SHOW nor BIZ!

VN: Are you experimenting on something?
JA: I’m experimenting with self-cut hair. I cut my own hair. Obvious ba o hindi? Buti na lang uso ngayon ang buhok bagong-gising.

VN: How true that you are coming up with a Joey Ayala line of fashion?
JA: Baka ako lang ang magsusuot! It’s still in the back of my mind but then I need to focus on music and writing for the time being. Limited energy!

JOEY AYALA’S SOCIAL ARTISTRY (Third of four parts) (June 17, 2013)

Palay Bigas Kanin on

VN: As we celebrate the National Year of the Rice, could you share with us our project Palay Bigas Kanin? How is it now?

JA: Palay Bigas Kanin (PBK) is a “CoreBook” – a term coined to mean “a set of learning-teaching material organized around a core of artwork”. The CoreBook idea occurred to me while contemplating the many practical applications of art for development. As I put it in my intro: “It is a set of educational material grown around a core of artistic work. In this case the art-core is a set of songs inspired by the image of rice – thus, the title, Palay Bigas Kanin. If it is true that all things are actually just one thing, or that all things are interrelated, then it must be true that one can teach practically anything starting from practically anywhere. PBK tests this premise by radiating into a broad spectrum of content coming from a simple, mundane, objective reality -- Rice.”

After you wrote all the lyrics except for last verse of rap in Magtanim Ay Di Biro by OG Sacred (a.k.a. Sheilbert Manuel), I farmed it all out to other composers, performers, and arrangers. Sagot Na O Sirit Na is by Errol Marabiles a.k.a. Budoy of Cebu-based Junior Kilat. Nick Devroe arranges. Contains a chanting loop from PBK 02.

By that, I mean Hindi Lang Ang Ifugao which was sung by Katz Trangco, backed up by Onie Badiang and I. Gangsa and tongatong performed by Mlou Matute, Grace Bugayong, Tapati, Onie, and me who also did the synth tracks. Halina At Hain Na is by Onie backed by Tapati. Dalit Kay Dalacdac is by Ronolfo "Popong" Landero all the way! In Aking Paaralan Ang Aking Palayan, Noel Cabangon did the vocal, guitar and composition. Arrangement and backing instruments are by Bob Aves. Pasyong Mahal Ng Maylupang Panginoon Namin is by Ira Peñalosa of Reggae Mistress duets with Onie, backed up by Tapati. Composition and vocal arrangement are by Maricris Joaquin, instruments arranged and played by me. Ambahang Sambahan is by Gruppo Musica Mundi, Marawi State University-based all male choir. Composed, arranged and directed by Frank Englis. Tapati sings Dasal sa Ghazal which is Mlou Matute who also does the instrumentation with Grace Bugayong and me on synth tracks. For Atin Cu Pung Singsing/Ako ay May Lupa, Ira Peñalosa of Reggae Mistress is on lead vocals. Counterpoint and bungkaka are courtesy of Onie. Areglo and synth instrumentation by Erwin Galang. Rene Chong Tengasantos on various percussions. Kasal, Binyag, Libing is my collaboration with Onie and Tapati. Composition, areglo and synth tracks are mine. Oryza Sativa! is my sis, Cynthia Alexander, all the way! Ang Bansa Ng Pambansa is by Lourd de Veyra and Radioactive Sago Project. Francis de Veyra is the arranger. Kakanin is mine backed, again, by Onie and Tapati. Bass by Onie while banjo, octavina, rainstick by yours truly. Magtanim Ay Di Biro is by rapper Sheilbert Manuel a.k.a. OG Sacred of Sigaw ng Tundo. Ira Peñalosa comes in at the end. I recomposed the in-between verses. Backing tracks by Tapati and Onie who is on bass. I am responsible for the guitars and octavina. Banduria is by Junn Esteban. Noon Po Sa Amin is by Onie. Vocals, bass, guitars, and arrangement. Tapati sings backup. Me on guitars. It is composed by Westdon "Dong" Abay of Yano and Pan. Eat All You Kan-on is by Onie. Again, on vocals, bass, guitars. Me on guitars too. It is composed and arranged by Onie. Once more, Kahit Palay, Bigas, Kanin ay Kaunti is Cynthia Alexander all the way! May Mito, May Totoo is by Irma "Chang" Tengasantos of Reggae Mistress backed by Onie. Composition, areglo and synth tracks by Jun Latonio. Gluten is by Onie who is on vocals, bass, and guitars too. I am on guitars and synth tracks. Onie and I collaborated on this composition. Last but not the least, on Track 20, is Bangkakawan – a communal performance by the Tigwa Manobo of Bukidnon. It is recorded by Pio Pataganao.

On the other hand, our Palay Bigas Kanin CoreBook, using National Artist BenCab’s Napuwing on its cover, includes your essay and mine, together with the works of Prof. Felipe De Leon Jr., Dr. Elena Mirano, Dr. Jose Buenconsejo, Arch. Bobby Mañosa, Prof. Christine Bellen, Director Grace Pascua, Totet de Jesus, Prof. Jocelyn Guadalupe, Dr. Estrella Agustin, Mr. Felipe Latonio, Prof. Lucy Magalit, Marisa Marin, Prof. Emeritus Steve Villaruz, Herbert Alvarez, Angel Baguilat, Marili Ilagan, Dr. Jessica De Leon, Susan Balingit, Prof. Isabel Colendrino, Dr. Isagani Serrano, Dr. Ramon Clarete, Congressman Teodoro Baguilat, Tina Arceo Dumlao, Dr. Nieves Dacyon, Dr. Alex Brillantes Jr., Alma Quinto, Dr. Prospero Covar, and Dr. Zeus Salazar. Playwright Boni Ilagan and Dempster Samarista did the video while Micheline Rama did the design and the layout. Ms. Pauline Salvaña-Bautista is the Managing Editor as well as the organizer and networker!

PBK attempts to lead its users to a broad range of “subjects” – nutrition, choreography, spirituality, music, pedagogy, poetry, economics, politics… as a demonstration that, theoretically, one can learn-teach anything coming from anywhere (such as palay-bigas-kanin). Ang lahat ng bagay ay magkaugnay. The project is done in the sense that the songs are recorded and available on youtube together with video conversations with many of the participating artists, including yourself, the author of the songs’ texts. The non-song/video materials exist so far as a file downloadable from and I hope to see a more formal presentation of PBK as part of the NCCA’s Music Committee’s website within the year, PBK being a project initiated by the said committee when I was the chairperson.

JOEY AYALA’S SOCIAL ARTISTRY (Second of four parts) (June 10, 2013)

Joey Ayala (right) with his mom, poet Tita Lacambra Ayala, whose book Tala Mundi won in the last National Book Awards for Poetry in English

Vim Nadera: Did your artist parents encourage to love art?
Joey Ayala: Not really. They just let me be, and left things lying around (typewriter, paper, things to read), and did nothing to prevent my explorations. I think this was a fine, non-invasive sort of natural encouragement.

VN: Why did you take up Economics in college?
JA: Upon my father's advice. I wanted to do Music but there was no such course in Ateneo de Davao in the 70s. He said I was already a writer and already a musician so I didn't have to study those. He asked "what was your lowest grade in high school?" and that happened to be Economics. "So, study that!" he said.

VN: How did that influence your music?
JA: I think it was more my thinking and lyric-writing rather than the music per se that was influenced. I became more aware of systems, how parts of them interact, how their limits and sensitivities to everything.

VN: How did the “Joey Ayala Sound” evolve?
JA: The wide range of music I was exposed to in childhood PLUS exposure to real live Mindanao musicians during college days = the Joey Ayala sound.

VN: How did the environment in general, or ethnolinguistic groups, get into your system?
JA: “Environment” was always there. As a child I played in it. I spent hours up in trees. Hours playing with insects. This was my playground. So when I started writing songs my attention was quite naturally “nature”. Ethnolinguistic groups – when I first met and listened to Mindanao musicians (agong, kubing, hegalong, kulintang, etc.) my thinking was “how come we know so much foreign music and practically nothing about living virtuosi in our own country?” I felt this overwhelming desire to change this situation.

VN: Now that you are based in Metro Manila, did you notice the change in your music? Or is it unconscious?
JA: My move to Manila was like leaving the production place (Davao) and camping out in the marketplace where what was produced was now to be sold. In 1991 I thought I would stay in Manila only two years. Turns out cash flow is not easy to leave behind. How has this affected my songwriting? I spend more energy attending to performing than when I was in Davao. I’ve written a lot less here in Manila where there is more external and psychological noise. I’ve also learned to write upon the request of clients. In Davao the motivation was always internal.

VN: What is Organik Muzik?
JA: I became the chairperson of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts’ music committee in 2008. Organik Muzik was the title of our committee’s contribution to the annual celebration of National Arts Month (Ani ng Sining).

The general idea was to feature musical tradition and fusion “organic music” – on the same stage. You were part of the Manila leg of the first Organik Muzik. If you remember, one of the main sections was the Balagtasan meets Rap – with you as Lakandiwa as well as the mambabalagtas Teo Antonio and Mike Coroza in a poetic joust against Shielbert Manuel and other Tribu rappers from Tondo!


Joey Ayala, in his trademark shirt, speaking on behalf of other 2013 Philippine Popular Music Festival finalists who bested 3,3

José Iñigo Homer Lacambra Ayala is three years short of getting a new citizenship, that is, becoming a Senior Citizen!

Yes, Joey Ayala just turned 57 last Saturday.

And he is showing no sign of singing his swan song.

In fact, he still made it to the finals of 2013 Philippine Popular Music Festival with another veteran singer-composer Jungee Marcelo.

Through his composition Papel, Joey adds prestige to Philpop, where he couldeasily become a member of the Board of Judges, with the Angry Young Musicians who wrote these potential big hits in Askal by Gani Brown; Segundo by Paul Armesin; Sana Pinatay Mo Na Lang Ako by Myrus Apacible; Sometimes That Happens by Adrienne Sarmiento-Buenaventura; Space by Raffy Calicdan of Take Off; Araw, Ulap, Langit by Marlon Barnuevo; Sa 'Yo Na Lang Ako by Lara Maigue of the Opera Belles; Do, Do, Do by Marion Aunor; Kung `Di Man by Johnoy Danao; and Dati by Yumi Lacsamana and Thyro Alfaro whose entry Himig Ng Panahon made waves last year.

Win or lose, Joey has proven his relevance to others, and to himself of course, after besting 3,383 music artists from Australia, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Macau,

Singapore, Thailand, United Kingdom, and United States.

It was no less than Ryan Cayabyab -- Philpop Executive Director – who led the screening committee composed of more than 140 performers, composers, record label executives, academic professionals, to name a few.

By next month, 6 July to be exact, we will know who will take home the pot -- one million pesos -- and other major prizes and surprises from Maynilad, Smart, Meralco, PLDT, Resorts World Manila, TV5, Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, NLEX, Sun Cellular, First Pacific Leadership Academy, Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, and Philex.

Such support, material or otherwise, which the young blood enjoys has been denied of Joey and other music artists who, to this day, can be considered as alternative.

Thus, he came up with the word -- Bagong Lumad – bago or “alter” and lumad or “native.”

In Davao City, way back in 1982, he blazed the proverbial trail by recording albums like Panganay ng Umaga (Firstborn of the Morning) and Magkabilaan (Dichotomies) in a makeshift studio combining the bago – via electric guitar, bass guitar, synthesizer/sequencer and drums – and the lumad – through such ethnic instruments as include kubing, kulintang, and hegalong of the T’Boli and other ethnolinguistic groups mostly from Southern Philippines.

What was known as a band – that introduced guitarist Onie Badiang, vocalist Bayang Barrios, and the late drummer Noe Tio (who at times collaborated with Joey’s wife Jessie and sibling Cynthia Alexander) – is now a brand.

Or is it a philosophy?

Better known today as Bagong Lumad Artists Foundation, Inc., BLAFI is a United Nations Development Programme Responsible Party.

With co-organizer Pauline Bautista, Joey advocates SiningBayan or Social Artistry capacity-building programs with the University of the Philippines, Civil Service Commission, the Department of Education, and other GOs and NGOs.

Our Foundation AWIT or Advancing Wellness, Instruction, and Talents had the chance to work with BLAFI.

And it is based on friendship rather than partnership.

In fact, the last time we saw Joey perform was when he sang our love theme – Walang Hanggang Paalam -- during the birthday blowout for our wife, Ellay, the Foundation AWIT president, right after a “meeting” last 11 April in her office at the UP Open University where she runs the Multimedia Center.

Up to now, we are harvesting the fruits of our labor from producing the Palay Bigas Kanin project with the UNDP andNational Commission for Culture and the Arts where he served as the (2008-2010) Chairman and Vice-Chairman (2011-2013) of the National Committee on Music, currently headed by Prof. Felipe de Leon Jr. who is also the incumbent NCCA big boss.

How’s Joey?

After 14 albums that include Mga Awit ng Tanod-lupa (Songs of the Earth-Guardian); Lumad sa Síyudad (Native in the City); Lupa't Langit (Earth and Heaven); 16lovesongs ; Awit ng Magdaragat (Songs of the Seafarer); Organik; Basta May Saging(As Long as There Are Bananas!); JoeyAyala: RAW; Encantada (Music from a Ballet Philippines dance-drama, 1992.); Parol(Music from a Ballet Philippines Christmas dance-drama, 1995.); and, of course, Palay Bigas Kanin?

And, yes, after Sita at Rama or puppet theater production with his sis Cynthia Alexander and Professor Emeritus Amelia Lapena Bonifacio?


Vim Nadera: How was it growing up in a family of artists, with a painter father and poet mother ?
Joey Ayala: We had lots of books, there was always music playing, and both parents were always busy with some project - cooking, writing, making scale models, painting, reading, etc. I was never in any other situation so that was "normal" for me.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


Patricia Fernandez during Ms. International beauty pageant in 2006

Vim Nadera: Have you tried writing?
Pat Fernandez: I used to have a fashion and lifestyle column in Showbiz Sosyal just for fun. I seldom get to blog.

VN: Please tell us about your thesis.
PF: The Correlation between Communication Apprehension and Pageant Preparation Techniques in Mutya ng Pilipinas in 2006.

VN: How did you defend it?
PF: (Laughter.) It was such a long time ago. My panelists were amused with the photos in the appendix.

VN: What kinds of book do you love to read?
PF: I like fairy tales, children's books, and inspirational stories. I usually go with the bandwagon when I read new stuff.

VN: Who are your favorite authors?
PF: Roald Dahl, Louisa May Alcott, and the Grimm brothers. I read the stories again and again. Their stories would never lose their charm.

VN: If you were a character in a story, who would you be?
PF: Sleeping Beauty, Gretel or Dyesebel. When I was young, I would usually ask my dad to read me their stories.

VN: Are you happy with your accomplishments?
PF: Yes. I’m in Solar Daybreak as Weather and Lifestyle Anchor. I am in Solar Headlines since last year too. I used to be in Good Morning Club; Princess and I; Cocktales; Balitang 60; Sapul sa Singko; Aksyon 41; Amaya; Pepito Manaloto; BFGF Luvcrazy; Eat Bulaga; Global TFC Filipino Ka, Sabihin Mo; Magkaribal; Solar Shop TV Live; and Unang Hirit. As a TV commercial model, for Southeast Asia, I was in the ads of Knorr / Royco, PH Care, and Colgate Total Whitening. Here, I had the chance to endorse Progress Preschool Gold, STI, Wings, Coca Cola Advisories, and Sun Cellular. On the other hand, I was print too -- in Wedding Flavors, Tech Innovations, Comfort Chinese Lifestyle Magazine, Philippine Tourism Feature -- and on the cover of Men’s Health with JC De Vera.

VN: How would you see yourself 10 years from now?
PF: On cam work will always be my first love and I wish I can do it forever. Ten years from now, God-willing, I want to have my own family and I will encourage my kids to read books and study foreign languages. I would also want to produce kiddie shows/movies and have my own preschool and/or orphanage with an organic garden and a colorful kitchen.

VN: What are your tips for future Patricia Fernandezes?
PF: Try to learn as much as you can from everything you encounter. There is always a reason when things happen.

PAT “PARALUMAN NG PANITIKAN” FERNANDEZ (Third of four parts) (May 20, 2013)

Patricia Fernandez (right) with Glady Duenas, Jo-anne Alivio, and Alice Dixon during the 50th anniversary edition of Bb. Pilipinas (Photo courtesy of Joyce Ann Burton's Adventures of a Beauty Queen

Vim Nadera: Walk us through the recent 50th Anniversary Edition of Bb. Pilipinas.
Pat Fernandez: Our opening walk was tear-jerking. It's such an honor to walk side by side with the other queens I admire. Aside from other triumphs, I was also thrilled when they showed a clip of when I got in the finals of Miss International. It's a first on Philippine television.

VN: Among the former winners, who is your role model? Why?
PF: Aside from our chairperson, Ms. Stella Marquez-Araneta, I'm blessed with a lot of mentors from Bb. Pilipinas. Among the queens who have coached or trained me are Patty Betita, Marina Benipayo, Karen Agustin-Ostrea, Denille Velmonte-Valera, Maggie Wilson-Consunji, Gionna Cabrera, Carlene Aguilar-Ocampo, Nadia Lee Cien Shami, Alma Concepcion, Jewel Loboton, Daisy Reyes, Lara Quigaman-Alcaraz, Melanie Marquez, and Gloria Diaz. It feels great when your sisters are there to support you. They are all women of substance.

VN: What can you say about Bb. Pilipinas?
PF: It's a fun sorority :) We inspire each other.

VN: Did being a Bb. Pilipinas give you an edge in, say, looking for a job?
PF: Definitely. I usually joke that I took a masters program in personality development because I trained for two years before I competed abroad.

VN: What are the ups and downs of a beauty queen?
PF: It's fun to help and inspire others in more ways than one. During our reign though it was quite a challenge to keep our bodies fit for competition because people (especially relatives) would usually say "You're too thin!" and they would fill our plates with more food!

VN: Have you also tried acting. What are your film projects ?
PF: I dabbled in several soap operas and sitcoms in GMA, ABS-CBN and TV5. I have a cameo role with Lovi Poe, Paulo Avelino, and Jennylyn Mercado in Regal Film’s The Bride and The Lover this month. And I have another upcoming movie in December.

VN: You graduated cum laude when you finished B.A. Speech Communication at UP. So you are more of a speaker?
PF: I enjoy communicating with people. By the way, I was a member of the UP Speech Communication Association and UP Social Dance Club too in 2003. I also love piano playing and swimming!

VN: What makes you beautiful?
PF:I try to stay positive most of the time through constant stretching, prayer, and meditation. When I can't manage it alone. I acknowledge the feeling and allow my friends to help me. I also list my blessings from God. Happy girls are the prettiest.

VN: What is your daily beauty ritual?
PF: Hydrate often and exercise my portion control. I don't deprive myself of the things I love. I eat almost every hour if possible -- in small portions.

PAT “PARALUMAN NG PANITIKAN” FERNANDEZ (Second of four parts) (May 13, 2013)


VN: Being the first Paraluman ng Panitikan, what do you intend to do about Philippine literature?
PF: I promote everything Filipino in every way I can. I am quite fond of watching Filipino plays, shows, and musicales. I always push performers, writers, and playwrights to guest in our show.

VN: As a former Miss International finalist, how can you help to promote reading and intellectual property rights?
PF: We do promote the value of education in Miss International. Majority of the finalists are multilingual and are quite adept in terms of intercultural communication. For Bb.Pilipinas, we read books to kids during our charity events. I attend whenever I can.

VN: How did you manage your life, as a student, while, at the same time, a beauty queen?
PF: I'm grateful my professors were very understanding when I had to fulfill my duties as Mutya ng Pilipinas on my senior year. I remember Ma'am Villy Buenaventura (bless her soul) even bought and promoted several ticket booklets when I joined Mutya ng Quezon City prior to the national pageant. I obtained thesis respondents from Mutya. For Bb Pilipinas, I was already working at the time I joined.

VN: All in all, you have four titles?
PF: More or less. Aside from the Miss International Top 12 Finalist and Bb. Pilipinas International – both in 2008 – I was chosen Ms. Natasha. Two years prior to that, during the Mutya ng Pilipinas, I was First Runner-Up, Best in Swimsuit, and Ms. Stesstabs Stressfree Beauty. But, before that, I became Mutya ng Quezon City Turismo in 2006 too. There I was proclaimed Ms. Bobson Jeans and Ms. Gibi Shoes.

VN: Any ugly duckling story when you were still a kid?
PF: I was Little Miss Basilan, Mandaluyong 1991. (My mom just didn't allow me to join Little Miss Philippines though I had everything planned already at that time). However I was terribly awkward during my gradeschool and highschool years. I just didn't care. I would wear anything my relatives would give me during Christmas -- regardless of the size. I had so many other pretty batchmates in Immaculate Conception Academy and St. Paul College Pasig. I only became UP's Centennial Muse after Bb.Pilipinas.

VN: How did you enter the world of beauty contests?
PF: I was an alto singer of the UP Singing Ambassadors from January 2005 to March 2006. Our conductor, Sir Ed Manguiat, took us to premier designers like Mama Renee Salud and Tito Pitoy Moreno for our choir costumes. I was very fortunate because both designers encouraged me to join. Mama Renee said I had the waistline of a kontesera (23" at that time) and introduced me to my pageant mentor, Mr. Rodgil Flores. Tito Pitoy, on the other hand, used to refer to me as his Darling Little Princess in his shows and made me wear all sorts of head pieces. He helped improve my poise and confidence and encouraged me every step of the way.