|RACHEL GRANT (RIGHT) WITH SISTERS ANGELA AND REBECCA IN BALINESE ATTIRE|
VN: How Filipino are you, Ms. Rachel Louise Grant de Longueuil?
RG: I eat balut (by the bowlful). As a child my favourite street treat was green mango and bagoong. (It still is). I eat the dish Diningding (dinengdeng) almost every day in the Philippines. I mention this to Filipinos and they don’t know what it is! Does that answer your question? Funny how my answer is ALL about food. Go figure! Haha.
VN: What do you love most about the Philippines?
RG: The Food. The flavours are super exotic - tastes found nowhere else on earth! Miles of deserted beaches. The “anything goes” attitude. The way we celebrate – particularly religious festivals. Every trip is a pilgrimage for me. My faith, beliefs in God and universe are continually strengthened and made clearer with every journey I take home. I admire and learn much from Christian faith I see and experience in the Philippines. Elsewhere, I notice church attendance dwindling. It’s far from that in the Philippines.
VN: What do you hate most about it?
RG: Eating once a day. In otherwords… it’s continuous! It’s a love hate relationship with food. Why oh why we love to eat!?
VN: How was it being the daughter of the 12th Baron de Longueuil?
RG: Nothing to it much. Other than the origin is quite fascinating historically, it’s a good bit of trivia for interviews like this. 300 years ago I would have had quite an entourage I suppose. Technically I have the title Honorable Rachel Grant de Longueuil.
VN: Or was there a time when you were considered the “other daughter” being the sister of Angela (a model who recently qualified with the Royal Academy of Dance and opened the Angela Grant School of Dance ) and Rebecca (an actress known for her role as Sister Anderson in Holby City)?
RG: I was simply and always the middle sister. I didn’t have the privileges of the eldest or the attention of the youngest. I had it just right! I am very glad to have been a middle sibling.
VN: How's relationship with your family, especially, with your equally famous siblings?
RG: I live in the USA – away from all my family! We are continually in touch via email and skype. It allows us to be very close and helps us to achieve much. In 2007, to help reunite the ever growing and spreading family, we founded a charity called the Padua Charitable Fund. The Paduas are my Mum’s family spread over three continents. We raise money for poor communities in the Philippines. It’s been a super way to bring the family together and to each have the same goal.
VN: What attracted you to martial arts?
RG: My interest in martial arts movies led me to dabble in several forms of martial arts. However, when I moved to Hollywood, I did not expect to be introduced to the extraordinary culture of Filipino Martial Arts (FMA). It was my first experience with this unique fighting style. I was attracted to it immediately - not because it is Filipino and my heritage, because it is damn good! Since then, I haven’t looked back at the many other martial art disciplines I once tried.
Initially, I was attracted to the immediate use of weaponry and techniques of FMA. Unlike other martial arts that start with “empty hands” later adding the use of weapons, FMA starts with weapons and later moves on to empty hand techniques. This aspect and concept of FMA training is that movements muscles memorize and learn with basic sticks, applies to all weaponry as well as the empty hand. It is said that learning this way is faster and more polished - out of experience I agree. Above all, it is much more fun!
VN: How would you describe your experience from learning Kali from likes of Dan Inosanto?
RG: I first studied FMA at the world renowned Inosanto Academy in Los Angeles under academy owner Filipino American Guro Dan. Attending the school was an extraordinary experience and I learned much. Guro Dan is arguably the world’s leading escrima icon alive today and western founding father to this ever evolving Filipino culture. He has spawned dozens of Hollywood stuntmen and choreographers and was Bruce Lee’s top student and longtime friend. Guro Dan is awesome! He appeared as the Filipino fighter opposite Bruce Lee wearing his iconic yellow jumpsuit in the well-known, critically acclaimed film Game of Death. Bruce Lee left Guro Dan with the responsibility of continuing his system called Jeet Kune Do and was the only person given instructorship in his Jeet Kune Do of the third level. Guro Dan has continued with Bruce Lee’s innovative teaching and incorporation of FMA. He is probably the most revered living instructor today but remains a humble man and an eternal student to the art. I am very lucky to have learned from him. Filipino Martial Arts is the Philippine's greatest cultural export.
….along with Manny Pacquiao, of course!
VN: What is your most unforgettable adventure?
RG: I have many. A journey to the Galapagos Islands last year was certainly unforgettable. It was like visiting another planet. The bizarre, yet beautiful archipelago was the inspiration behind Darwin’s theory of evolution. It is host to a freak show of animal species, of which 43% are endemic to these 35 isolated volcanic islands. One adventurous dive in the Galapagos was enough to last a diver’s lifetime - a forest of garden eels, a wall of a hammerhead sharks, giant sea turtles, three spotted eagle rays and a “shiver” of sleeping white-tipped sharks amidst schools of snappers, barracudas, reef fish, trumpet fish, blowfish and thousands of colorful creatures! Amazing place. The Galapagos and the Philippines are by far the best waters I have dived in.