Way ahead, we already learned our lesson in Japan while we were still in front of check-in counter's scale at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2.
That our not necessarily bad lifestyle is contagious: our bag, like us, is overweight!
But, a Nuestra Seňora de la PAL, or Philippine Air Lines, forgave us for our sin.
So she let us in even without paying, including our travel tax from which we were exempted by virtue of the letter of the University of the Philippines Diliman Chancellor Sergio Cao who helped us get into the 15th Nippon International Performance Art Festival.
Fictionist Jun Cruz Reyes and poet Wendell Capili-- after attending the Poets Essayists Novelists (PEN) Conference in Tokyo two weeks ago -- advised us to travel light.
Last week during our sendoff at Sarah's with Raul Funilas and Pinggot Zulueta, Tupada Action and Media Arts (TAMA) Core members Thom Daquioag, Boyet de Mesa, Mitch Garcia, Ian Madrigal, Sam Penaso, Ronaldo Ruiz, and Mannet Villariba did the same, by sharing their NIPAF experiences centered on short talks and long walks.
While killing time before boarding, we could already imagine our Holy Week penitencia in October and November – by dragging our 24-kilo bag, plus our 11-kilo backpack and 2-kilo beltbag -- on our way to our calvario in Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagano. Right then and there, we felt like Lorenzo Ruiz suffering in fighting for his belief!
No matter how we justified that we had to bring with us costumes and props and stuff, we could reconcile the fact that we could no longer return our excess baggage.
Our family? Well, Ellay, Psalma, Wika, and Sulat were busy enjoying semestral break in Fairview, attending Manang Beth Pacquing's birthday party spiced up by our seafaring nephew, Ballong, who was coming home for Gayle and Jade!
And there we were, all alone at the internet station, suffering for our deaf ears.
In came Dr. Amparo Adelina Umali, the U.P. Center for International Studies director who was responsible for making noh nothing new for the now generation.
Suddenly, too, her mother of all bags made ours look like a baby billiken!
Compared to us, she will be there until next year though! So we simply consoled ourselves with her load, this time, as a Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology's Japan Student Services Organization's Followup Research Fellow at the Japan Women's University. She obliged us to visit Dr. Galileo Zafra who is currently a Visiting Professor at Osaka University's Department of Philippine Studies. The said former U.P. Sentro ng Wikang Filipino director celebrated in his birthday with National Artist Virgilio Almario and Eilene Narvaez's joint blowout exactly on the same day we were insecure about securing visa to the land famous for packaging.
Anyway, we parted ways when we saw our name written on a cardboard by our sundo, Koji Ohike, who took us to a dinner with Seiji Shimoda, the NIPAF director who arrived earlier from Hongkong, after attending the round-table seminars at the McAulay Studio in Hongkong Arts Centre. Aside from tackling The Challenge of Archiving Performance Art, they talked about The Future of Performance Art in Asia with Aye Ko (Myanmar), Lee Wen (Singapore), Mok Chiu Yu and Yuenjie (Hongkong), Yuan Mor'o (Philippines), Chumpon Apisuk (Thailand), Shu Yang (China), and Wang Molin (Taiwan).
Back in Tokyo, there was familiar face, Midori Kadokura, who performed with us in Baler during the TAMA 2009, together with Hasna Porosh from Chittagong, Bangladesh who cried when we told her that our son, Awit, died young so she gave our wife a gamsa.
It was only during breakfast, the following day, when we met others.
Last Sunday, we got to know a bit about everybody through our audio-video presentations at the 331 Arts Chiyoda, or used to be the old Rensei Junior High School.
Like a bunch of reality show wannabees, each and everyone wanted to survive.
Our Big Brother Seiji's expectation? Perhaps, the audience members'?
For us, after exposing ourselves to different forms and styles, it was personal.
Or political if we consider the personal as political.
We were fortunate, or unfortunate enough, for being free from torture and the like.
Should we lean towards the direction of 20-year old Japanese Ryosuke Tanaka who sang The Happy Birthday Songwhile in his birthday suit inviting the paying guests to put on his naked body you can find in their am/pm or 100 YEN store from butter to banana?
Or follow the path of 39-year old Indonesian Iwan Wijono who continued his “struggle,” via his Farmer Series, even if his MTV about imperialism had technical problem, by scribbling graffiti on the floor with sticky dollars, rolling on them as he assumed an assassin's position with his toy gun and play money clinging to his military shirt and shoes from the French army, and then do the Statue of Liberty act with burning bills as his torch?
Since we somehow had that been-there-done-that uphill climb at 46 -- we tried to reach for the latter -- performing aboutcollaborators, comfort women, and cosplayers.
Not because he can be mistaken for our own Blakdyak or his American Brand M-16 rifles he brought all the way from Jogjakarta are both Philippine-made. Or he, among us, was the jetsetter, from Canada to France to Thailand, getting all the grants and the girls. But because we share a common goal. Call it infotainment or what, that thing we have been doing can be better expressed through art. He is with his paintbrush and we with our pen.
Yet we both rely on action to demonstrate what we want to say. It is not that we resist what rehearsals, just like what sensei Seiji has required every artist since the 80s, more so from his students who happily paid USD100 to get into his three-day workshops on performance art (four times in Tokyo and four times in Osaka so far) this year alone.
Looking back, what we all aspire for is nothing but unpredictability.
This supposedly secret sauce separates performance art from, say, theater or film.
Just like the surprise made by the Blanket Act of Burmese Thwe Thwe Aye who is only an 18-year old English sophomore from Dagon University in Yangon yet she does magic aside from installation art with the New Zero's Next Generation while documenting performances. Or suspense built in combining the principles of Cheom (or beginning) and Bujory (or absurdity) of Korean Cho Eun Sung who actually studied A.B. Entertainment Business at Seoul Digital University in between her Joongcheonmu or a traditional Korean Kangryeong mask dance and her Ginseng soap-making on the side. Or the shock created by Indian Aishwarya Suultania when she took her ego-sized Eiffel Tower replica to Ecole Nationale Superioure de Beaux Arts where she had her M.A.Fine Arts.
Last Tuesday, at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, we got lucky to catch such major, major exhibits as the Japan Photographers Association's from the basement up. At last, we thought we found the portrait of an artist in theHuman Images of 20th Century's August Sander's photo of fatigued hod-carrier with an empty pocket.
Then we reached Love's Body: Art in the Age of AIDS, where we discovered a more meaningful metaphor for us, or for our search for our worth or whatever value we put inside our heart, or mind, in William Yang's Allan from the Monologue SADNESS, a series of pictures taken between 1988 to 1990 when his ex-, a Person with AIDS, died at the Sacred Heart Hospice in Darlinghurst that July: “Back in 1980 when I first met him, we were lovers for a year or so. For me the attraction was mainly physical and even then I wondered if I'd still like him when he lost his boyish looks. Anyway as it turned out, he left me. Now when I looked at him, his youthful attractions had evaporated but I found I could still love him. My feeling for him was deeper than I had thought at the time.”
Instantly, we realized the price we had to pay for taking more than we could give.
The State with the highest percentage of people who walk to work: Alaska
The key to succeeding in marriage is not finding the right person; it's learning to love the person you found.