|RACHEL GRANT IN RIPLEY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT|
Vim Nadera: How was it bagging the Best Actress and the Best Fight Awards at the Shockfest Film Festival for Red Princess Blues?
Rachel Grant: It was a nice surprise to win two awards at that film festival. I was more surprised when I learned the festival director and founder is a Filipino American!
VN: What is your opinion about Philippine cinema?
RG: Whoops I don’t know too much about Philippine Cinema. From what I have seen it is very dramatic and there is some wonderful talent in the film industry – both in front of and behind camera.
VN: What television show do you wish to host?
RG: A travel show. Particularly one that takes the viewer around the Philippine Islands.
VN: What can you say about natural and man-made disasters taking place, especially, in our country?
RG: Yes, climate-related disasters are on the increase in the world and the Philippines is the most disaster-prone region in Southeast Asia. Deforestation seems to be an underlying cause of landslides. Unfortunately, lack of resources and weak law enforcement allow for logging bans to be ineffective. It’s time we learn from these disasters and help minimize/prevent further destruction. Simply being better organised, educating communities, informing and evacuating regions would be the first simple step. Even a bill board mounted high in a disaster prone region could get people informed and learn about deforestation, what to look out for, what website or number to call/text for weather updates. There seems to be a lack of urgency when it comes to warnings and heeding to them. Filipinos are leaders in gossip, social networking and texting. It’s astonishing news does not travel fast when most needed.
My Tito, “Mr. Typhoon" Michael Padua is a well-known storm chaser from Naga City. After witnessing much destruction in his region, he developed iTyphoon to help save lives. It is free application (iphones, ipad and Android) and the first of its kind. It gives typhoon updates and helps with early warnings. Green pin marks the user, red pin - the eye of the storm. Michael has been a storm chaser since he was 5 years old and his typhoon predictions are more accurate than leading weather sources. Barely 4 months since released, iTyphoon has already enjoyed 7 weeks as the No.1 weather app at the App store! Something to be proud of! It is currently covering the Philippines but soon to expand http://www.nueca.net/ityphoon/
VN: What about our heritage sites like our rice terraces, churches, or caves?
RG: I am passionately interested in the Philippines and my rich heritage. The country has several important caves - many still undiscovered! Palawan alone has Puerto Princessa Underground River and caves - announced one of the new 7 wonders of the world, as well as Tabon Caves with 24,000 year old human remains and the underwater Cathedral Cave – a crystal clear tavern under an island. The rice terraces of Banaue are considered the 8th wonder of the world and arguably the world’s oldest. Areas of the terraces date back to over 5,000 years! The Philippines has many unique churches including 4 unique baroque churches listed as Unesco heritage sites. With each journey, I discover more about my fascinating Filipino heritage.
VN: Do you have future activities that will help preserve, promote, or popularize them, including our epics and other intangible heritage?
RG: I continually blog, post pictures and write articles about my travels in the Philippines. I get a lot of good feedback and interest in the country. In the last week I have been bitten by the “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” bug and have created many of my own. One photo shows 3 people planting in the foreground of a magnificent view of Banuae Rice Terraces. The caption reads: Gardening. More Fun in the Philippines. Another photo shows a gleaming Philippine Airlines jet in full flight. Caption reads: Bored? Board. More fun in the Philippines. And a recent photo of me dancing the tinikling on bamboo poles in Bohol reads: Pole Dancing. More Fun in the Philippines. I think it’s a super campaign and is working better than expected. I read it is currently the top internet trend worldwide. In fact it became the No.1 Tweet just one hour after its launch!
VN: Why is your being a humanitarian seem like your second skin? Could you tell us more about your projects with the United Nations, Gawad Kalinga, Breast Cancer Awareness, among others?
RG: Yes I am very active with charities and humanitarian work. I am global ambassador to Human Nature, the now well-known social-enterprise in organic cosmetics helping poor farmers in the Philippines. Additionally, I am supporter of the United Nations recognized slum re-building scheme Gawad Kalinga and have been hands-on rebuilding slum houses, paving streets and painting homes. I also launched Breast Cancer Awareness Month twice in the UK - once, abseiling down London’s tallest Rugby Stadium.
VN: Among the hats you are wearing, which one makes you feel so comfortable?
RG: Perhaps my humanitarian work. Being around the (so-called) poor and in poor communities makes me feel comfortable. For me it’s such a breath of fresh air (ironically), particularly coming from such a pretentious industry. I can be myself, dress the way I want and I am free from scrutiny. Overall, to help others makes me feel good. It’s also the easiest thing I know to do.
VN: Do you plan?
RG: Plans? Yes, but I tend to take each day as it comes. Makes life more exciting!