Χαιρετίσματα from Athens, Greece!
Or shall I say Aloha/Bonjour/ Mabuhay in my more native-ish manner.
I am writing this in Athens where I start my tour of Europe this year.
I am 26 years old and I have been fortunate enough to travel 89 countries over the globe and still counting.
It’s no wonder when people ask me where I am from, I must answer with an honest, “How much time you got?”.
It all started in Los Angeles (I know- the most common place to start). This is where I was born, but I am definitely not what you would call a Cali girl. As an infant, my family and I moved to Paris then to Bordeaux, which is where my father is from.
A sister, a happy divorce and a couple of persistent grandparents later, I found myself in the Philippines. Now that’s where this story begins.
At the early age of 4, my parents were still settling the details of their divorce, and so my grandmother took me and my sister into what I would soon call my Big Fat Filipino family.
We would live in the house my grand father built and where EVERY member of our family lived-13 to be exact.
13 loud, hungry relatives all one knock of the door away- which is ironic, because no one this house hold knocked.
What was my business was their business, and therefore up for grabs during dinner conversation (mostly ruled by the women in our family).
The men in our house were always the quiet ones. I’m not sure if that’s because they were innately reserved or because they never could get a word in.
Contrary to many Filipino households, ours was one ruled over by women.
Once I started to pick up on the Filipino language and nuances, I heard my grand father whisper under his breath, “Hay Naku, masyadong maraming pekpek sa bahay na ito”- translating to “ Dear Lord, there are way too many vaginas in this house for our own good”. After being caught in the act by the death stare of my grand mother, my Lolo (Gramps) would give me a cheeky wink and pinch my leg with his deadly toes….yes THAT WAS A THING.
All that being said, there was never a dull moment at home. The women in my family may be the loudest uncensored species of females known to mankind, yet they were…are the most colorful, playful, confident, and strong willed women you’ll ever meet. The lionesses…they would do anything and everything for me, their cub.
My grand mother was a real special one. She was the National Artist for music in the Philippines- a very famous artist who revolutionized choral music in Southeast Asia and then the world.
My story starts here. Lola- as we would call gran in the Philippines- started teaching music to me from the age of 5. Since then, all I ever wanted to do was perform continue to learn everything about it.
I went to a boarding school for music and theatre at 11 years old when my true discipline kicked in. Studying 12 hours a day- 6 days a week in this remote school in the mountains, I had my butt kicked daily as I started pushing my boundaries as an artist. This conservatory was a select foundation set up by the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Only 4 scholars were selected per year in the field of music and so there was a great deal of pressure to excel. In addition, living my formative years in a secluded mountain with a bunch of young artists (eccentric we shall call them), I found myself comparing this new world to that in the novel, Lord of the Flies. It was the hardest and most testing 4 years of my life and yet they laid the ground work for all that was to follow.
A few honors and a valedictorian medal later, I then received a scholarship to study in the American and Musical Dramatic Academy in New York.
All alone in the big bad apple of a city, I started to realize what the real world was really like and how trying it would be in this industry. It was all very humbling.
But there was no turning back- this was my life- this was all I knew.
However, as educational as college in New York city was, I learned more about being an entertainer than all my years in school combined when I set out to sea.
This is where it gets interesting- this is why I’m writing this blog.
I began to perform on Luxury Cruise Lines where I wrote and directed my very own shows. The best part was that I had a full orchestra to work with, a world class theatre with our own sound and lighting engineer and a fresh audience of 1200 people every week. This was my play ground- where I would fall on my face in the dirt and pick myself back up again- learning every day what it would truly take to be a world-class entertainer.
On top of everything, I travelled the entire world in 2 years. Every day was a different country, a different adventure and a different culture to sink my teeth into.
With such an active lifestyle, I have always been athletic and competed in a few races where I was selected as Under Armour’s new brand ambassador.
All that being said, whoever you are and wherever you’re from, come join me on this big adventure!
I invite you to travel the world with me as we dive through the different cultures, beauties and more.
I invite you to explore the different facets of fitness and well-being.
I invite you to join me on the search for our personal best and the best that this world has to offer.
This is ADDA LIFE.