Friday, April 18, 2003

Just got back from the SF International Film Festival opening. Palabuniyan Kulintang Ensemble got a cool little gig playing a couple of sets for the crowd. It made for a really really long day for me, but the event was lively enough to give me a second wind.

I raced over there after Kali class tonight. Our first set wasn't until 10:45p. As parking karma would have it, I got parking at Sinbad's right next to the Ferry Building for $10. Cool! It was a bargain. As I'm walking to the Ferry Building, a guy coming with leftovers from Sinbad's strikes up a brief conversation as we walk by.

the guy: "Going to crash the SF Film Festival?"

Me: oh, no. I'm performing. I get in Free.

the guy: "better watch out. I saw all these 90 year old fellas that looked like they were pumped on Viagra!"

Me: um, I will! thanks!

There were 3-4 major stages in the Ferry Building with tables of appetizers from paella, to ribs, to cous cous. By the time I got there, it was nothing but sausage, cheese, bread and sweets (but more on the sweets later). In addition, Vodka was free from SkyyVodka and wine was being served by Sterling Vineyards. There was plenty of potential to get plenty sloshed, but it's a performance. So a sip of the Sterling Vineyard 2001 Chardonnay which was light and crisp. I would have kept drinking but a delectable brownie entered my mouth which totallly killed any crisp fruityness in the wine. Mental note, no sweets with chardonnay. The crowd wasn't as fogey as the leftover guy said. It was quite a range and I really didn't spot too many cane generation set.

I manage to get there just before our first set in time to change. A Latin dance band called Jayne Brand played some groovin' moving sets followed by a Tboli Philippine folk dance by a couple of members from Likha Folk Ensemble. Then us. Whew! Were the gongs hot! We had made up this song list to play and just threw it out the window. We let the master (Danongan Kalanduyan) take command of the sticks and it was well worth it. Everyone was on! I wonder if it was because of the free wine and vodka.

In between sets we made our way long the rest of the building. There were stilt walkers and a golden clad accordianist, whose accordian too was draped in sparkling gold cloth. From the distance in the middle section we saw sparkly silver pom-poms rise into the air in unison as the echo of a marching band played. It was wild. of course, all of us in full malong and headdress regalia. There was a gentleman who asked us to pose with a cloth cutout of a doll, he called Stanley. He said it was for his niece who wanted to see people from all over the world. That too seemed odd. What's up with the doll? We figured it was some art project and we would find the pictures on the internet eventually. A jazz band played on the opposite end of the building.

For sweets, we found it all: Joseph Schmidt truffles, Just Desserts, Ciao Bella Gelato, Biscotti. Then there was a really popular chocolate stand, Rucchieli(?) homemade chocolate, I had a postcard from them then forgot it. I'm sure someone in the groups knows the name. Actually, I'm sure the person who took a tupperware container full of the leftover chocolate knows the name. They were solid pieces of chocolate, each with fine accented flavors. I had the chocolate orange rind that had a nice chewy texture and the Rose Caramel which was wow! If a person wasn't diabetic, they could probably induce it.

On the way back to our second set I picked up a glass of SkyyBerry Vodka and Sprite which was a good sipping drink. However, by the time I get to the stage, I learn, I'm going to perform Kali (it was improv night), so I take a small sip and cut the alcohol. Tipsy is ok. Tipsy is a nice relaxed swaying kind of buzz. But drunk with a sword...a bit of a problem. I borrow a Tboli sword which like most things Tboli have a string of bells attached to the end of the handle.

As I await my turn, I sit backstage getting to know it. It was my first time really using the sword, so it's good to start a dialogue. I felt the handle, checked it's weight. Spoke to it my intentions. Swords like to know what you're going to do with them espcially since you've yanked them out of their nice cozy scabbard. The blade was actually quite sharp. Yes, it's certainly a good idea to speak your intentions to a sword you're going to handle. If you piss it off, they turn on you.

While I performed, the sword told me how it wanted to be held. It asked me to give it short thrusts to make the bells sings. Oh and that sword loved to sing! Such a ham! Not the long lingering strokes that my kampilan sword likes to travel. No, these were strong short abrupt strokes. When you know what the sword asks of you, the heaviest sword feels like a feather. It's just no effort at all. You feel like the sword can stay in your hands forever.

Oh and that Tboli sword had such a sweet nature to it. I could hold it so my fingers fit just so long its handle while the blade rested comfortably along my arm, as if I didn't have a sword at all. Good swords are like that. Even when you hold them, people don't know you're holding one, it's as if it blends into your body. Once I took my own kampilan and held it in my arms as if cradling a baby. (Kind of the way I'm holding the stick here) Someone walked up close to me and said, "oh wow, I thought you were holding a baby."

There was an era when everyone carried a sword, partially for self-defense but also as a tool to clear a path or chop wood. They were our companions. Things we imprint with our life force to a point they too have their own life force taking on the nature of each previous owner.

I have seen people get hurt by knives. But that's mostly because they thought they were in "control" of the knife/sword. They thought they could force it into a direction, but then the sword rebels and pulls back. When I hold a sword, I give up control. It is the sword that tells me what to do. Just like a poem. It controls me. I just have to make sure to listen.

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