Thursday, October 23, 2008

Yes, I'm still alive

Ah, sorry for the long delay in updates…things have been busy and chaotic as usual. For my update this time, I’ll just be documenting what has been happening since I last blogged.

This past weekend marked the first weekend I’ve had off since I’ve gotten here. Monumental! As I mentioned before, I had come down with some illness that everyone else is catching and has various reasons for its special appearance: the weather, being in the water, stress, etc.

I’ve said it before and I’ll still say it: this place needs its own reality TV show. Hollywood, are you listening?? Friday was my day off due to filming and it was spent mostly in bed as I was the most sick this day. I took my scuba test and passed, which means I just need to complete two more dives in order to get certified! Unfortunately, I’ve been sick and congested, meaning I can’t equalize my ears so I haven’t been able to go out. I think I've been pushing myself to excel so much that my body has been breaking down and getting sick.

Anyways, onto the good…

Even though I was sick on Friday, I tried to save up any energy I had for that evening because Dwight was taking us to a friend’s private birthday party. I had heard that this place we were going to was a gorgeous mansion, but I had no idea what to expect. The place WAS gorgeous! I wish I had pictures to show you…maybe later I’ll grab them from other people. If I thought the courtyard was beautiful, the living room blew me away, and nothing compared to the view from the top of their “patio”, which was of their gorgeous yard and pool. They had tiny candle lit everywhere along the pathways and pool with floating flower arrangements in the pool. They had another section of their “yard” that was set up with banquet tables and were serving the most delicious food. They even had koi ponds that reminded me of Grandma’s, of course, lol.

Saturday was spent at Shangri La, which is a very nice hotel nearby that has a nice beach area and pools. It was a nice day spent playing Volleyball (I know, ME, playing volleyball!) and seeing the sun set while having nice conversations.

Sunday was spent out by the Yacht Club, which is where the owner kindly invited us to hang out and go island hopping for the day. He has this amazing home built out of wood that sits on the edge of the island and has this little pier that goes out into the ocean. His place has these high ceilings with his living room being open out to the ocean so you get this amazing view and ambiance. It was his birthday so we had great food and cake to go along with the day. I wish I had pictures right now, but I don' hopefully later.

Monday was a day of learning. I hadn't planned on working in the next movie much and they suddenly called me in the morning to be a stand-in, which is someone they use in place of the actors to adjust lighting and all that. It's interesting to see how they film such a different movie so it was a learning experience.

Afterwards we met up with the same friends from Friday and Saturday and ate at this restaurant called Alejandro's, which has GREAT food! I knew there was good Filippino food here!

Tuesday was a much work and I'm still sick. I feel quite light-headed and dizzy by the end of the day.

Today (Wednesday) was a day full of photoshoots with Cathal. He's leaving on Monday, too! We did like 4 concepts, which is quite a lot for one day. It was fun though, because there was 4 of us girls instead of being alone.

Okay, that's a boring update, but it's just to let you know what I've been up to...until next time!

Friday, October 17, 2008


I can't believe how fast and slow time passes here. Each day feels like 3 days, filled with work and and a lot of exciting events. I think this place would be absolutely PERFECT for a reality TV joke, it would be way better and funnier than The Hills. I can already imagine the pitch..."Welcome to the Philippines." LOL. Everyone is such a character, no faking needed!

So Wednesday was our last day on the boat for filming. We only had two days left of filming and instead of finishing up the film, we're putting a hold on it until December because there is another movie starting filming Monday.

I thought that was funny with the girls tanning near the Hot Set. We're not supposed to touch the area of a Hot Set but they were done with it. Below is Ken giving direction for the next shot on the boat.

For those who wanted to see the catsuit, TA-DAAA!

I'm sorry, I'm a ham. But yes, me and the other girls had to wear this for hours at a time. It was definitely challenging but it made the shot look a lot better!

I thought our lunch that day was hilarious. Remember how I said they don't do vegetarian? Well they surprisingly attempted at having a vegetarian option that day.

Hahaha, it's just MORE green beans! LOL

Despite being focused on set today, we managed to have some fun. Jumping off the top of the boat was scary and exhilirating!

Of course, one of the risks of swimming in the water was jellyfish, remember? Poor Nelly, she got stung on the face and lips the day before while shooting a scene!

Here is my usual safety diver, Kakoi. They call him Cockroach as a nickname, lol. The crew guys are always joking around and seem to always have a good time. I wish I could speak Cebuano!

The best part of the whole day is the sunset. The sunsets here are incredibly gorgeous. The night before, there was a full moon and it looked so surreal to have the moon out, huge and reflective in the water on one side and then this beautifully colorful sunset on the other.

Here are the guys getting all the equipment off the boat. It's a long process!

And so ends my experience with Deep Gold...which is still on Hold, lol.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Day 101 of filming

Sunday (yesterday) was supposed to be my one day off but I ended up working on a few projects. I woke up, walked to this little market with my roomie, Marie, came back to buy a sandwich from FTV Cafe and was suddenly whisked away by Pe-tah (Peter) to wardrobe and makeup. I was needed as a body double for the film even though I'm not done with my certification but my instructor was confident with my progress in the course. It was a little intimidating but exciting at the same time.

Today was a good day. It had poured the night before so we were hoping for good weather (rain makes the water too dark and murky to film). The water level has really risen from the last photo I put up of the beach by our lawn. Good thing those houses are on stilts!

I'd also like to clarify my role as a body double: I'm NOT doubling as a nude body. I'm mostly in this black cat suit with scuba gear or a swimsuit. They send me with a safety diver in case I have any problems and makes sure I don't drown. Most of the crew are local Filippinos and they all have a funny sense of humor. They've been trying to teach me some Cebuano (the local dialect) and I have a terrible time pronouncing them or even remembering them. All I know is that "Gwapo" is handsome and "Gwapa" is beautiful.

One of my favorite parts today was that I got to use this little water scooter for one of the shots. We decided to name it Banana Split. Unfortunately, this also meant I had exposed skin as opposed to the catsuit and so I got stung by a lot of jellies. I never knew to do this, but to prevent them you either coat yourself in oil or lotion. If you're already stung, rub vinegar on your skin and it goes away pretty quickly.

Being on set is really fun and interesting. Things I never thought about are thoroughly thought about while filming a movie. Things like, continuity with a scene and its props are keenly observed. We do the same scene several times until it's perfect and I thank every moment I'm in the water that we're doing it in tropical waters for its warmth. They do a lot of BTS (Behind-the-scenes) so hopefully I'll get footage and photos to show you all.

I've never loved my job as much as I do while I'm on set. One of the best parts is seeing the ocean floor. My safety diver knows how fascinated I am with seeing everything and lets me know what I can touch and gives me random items to observe. He showed me a sea snake today (it was slithering along the ocean floor, striped black and white) and put a couple brightly colored sea slugs on my hand. They were so soft and smooth! It's a lot of fun and I'm constantly fascinated. It's also very beautiful when I swim through schools of fish. The tiny silver ones make it look like the water is glittering around me.

Anyways, that was just a recap of a day on set and tomorrow will be similar. Today we got off super early at like 6:30PM! So that means we can be social and go eat dinner, yay.

I wish I could introduce each of the amazing individuals I've met here so far, but I figure that would be some sort of invasion of privacy, lol. I honestly do think that it takes a certain type of person to fly way out to the Philippines, alone, ambitious, and willing to work hard. Everyone is so different but get along so well! I've never worked in an environment where I actually loved all the people. Usually I just huddle in my corner and do my work, but instead, I find myself having the best time with these people.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Out on the town

Last night was kind of a girls night out. Well, it started out that way and we met with people along the way!

Here we are in front of Casa[blanca] posing before we go out. They're all laughing at me because I fell over the curb. Typical.

We went to go eat at this restaurant called Spice Fusion and it is by far the best restaurant I've been to so far as well as my new favorite. Do you know what I found??

HAINAN CHICKEN! And it was decent! Not the best, but definitely decent and tasty!

We went to this place called Alejandro's and there happened to be some event going on where a local TV channel was looking for their new VJ. We just all went in and being foreigners, we tend to catch a lot of attention. Even me, people are always asking if I'm Japanese...I guess I do look Japanese??? I can't really tell. But yeah, they're always asking if I can speak Japanese (negatory). On the flip side, no one cares that I'm part Chinese (Sorry Mom!). I've always like blending in with the locals and my surroundings, but being recognized as a foreigner around here does give you perks. It looks good for the establishment to have a bunch of enthusiastic foreigners come and have fun so they often give us free drinks and the owners come meet with us.

Family, don't worry, I don't drink excessively and I always make sure I'm safe (or at least am in the most safe situation)! Cebu is actually one of the safer areas of Asia that I have been to. I'm not talking about the Philippines in general, but Cebu is safer than other areas I've been to. The people here are generally very kind and warm. People knew my name around here after just a couple days! It's a big difference from the States.

Anyways, I thought I'd introduce you to Dwight. He's our go-to guy for anything. He welcomes the models and takes us out to places so that we know where to go and stuff around Cebu. He also has one of the only single rooms in Casa and (gasp) is the only one with CARPET. This is a big deal, people. LOL

In other news, Tasha got this drink that was named "Lick my balls" and we were all just grossed out and curious about it at the same time. Apparently it just tastes like Orange soda.

Hope that didn't offend any of you!

As I mentioned before, there was some contest or search for their next VJ for some local channel and Mika thought it would be fun to try out.

So what we were supposed to do was:
1. Tell them about us ("Hiiii, my name is Kristen and I'm from California...the United States...::blink blink:: I here in Cebu to see what else is out there and to take in everything I can!")
2. Tell them why they should pick us ("I should be your next VJ because I'm spontaneous and always up for trying something new. Especially if it's food!")
3. Interview someone ("I hear men sweat and women glow, but I'm beyond glowing now; I sweat like a man. How do you stay so glowy??")

Anyways, we just did it for fun since, obviously, none of us are going to be there for long, but I definitely feel like I went out of my comfort zone and I'm pretty proud of myself for that! I'm pretty sure I looked as awkward as I felt because I tend to cover my face and turn my back to the camera (so they said).

After Alejandro's, we went to a regge place called Kukuk's Nest where a famous DJ was playing. He's apparently the guy who brought regge to the Philippines and it known throughout the country. Pretty cool!

Here is a closing photo of the place...all these places that we go to are generally pretty small. I haven't seen any nice big clubs like I'm used to in the States, so it's definitely a different feel. However, it's been fun and I can't complain because I'm with good company.

So here I am, Sunday morning, and I have a day off (even though most people don't because we're filming). Hopefully we get to go island hopping today...I'll be back with an update!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Current life is random with a chance of anything

The thing about my work is that it's completely unpredictable. Completely. In almost every sense of the word. It can be a great thing, full of fun and excitement and possibilities, but also many other frustrating things that lead to productivity and discouragement. My daily schedule varies on an almost hourly basis, but generally, it's supposed to be something like this:

7:30AM Morning Workout
I love them, but they're WAY TOO EARLY. I seriously need just a half hour more sleep. 8 or 8:30 would be perfect. Thanks to Ramon, we're getting some tone back into our flab!

This is Ramon (our trainer) and Nelly (being dramatic) lol:

9:00AM Underwater Breath-holding Exercises
They are exactly what they sound like. So far, my personal best is 3:01. The record is like 3:40 or something.

9:30AM Diving Lessons
I'm still getting certified for my PADI diving certificate to be a body double so I've been watching videos and diving for the past few days.

This is Senyo. He makes sure we don't drown while we're training.

1:00PM Usually lunch time around here after diving
I already gave you examples of the food here...

2:00PM Wardrobe
I'm working in wardrobe and I do a lot of inventory.

This is Ramiro and Fiona. Ramino is one of the best makeup artists in Cebu and quite famous, I hear. Fiona is my boss and the funnest French/Scottish girl from London. She totally reminds me of Ugly Betty and being in the wardrobe room, lol.

In between office work, I plan photoshoot concepts and basically whip up the whole thing from scratch. It's quite a lot of work and but I love coordinating creative projects by trying to figure out the timing with everything going on at the same time.

HOWEVER, if we're filming a movie...

If you're a body double, you're on standby all day. The second they need you, they call you and you have to report in. Also, we have to work 6 days a week for 12 hours each day...usually going over that, actually.

Today, I also had my first photoshoot! Yay! Cherry made me this amazing dress that was supposed to be remniscent of a mermaid (one of my dreamss!) with some crazy makeup.

Unfortunately, the shoot was probably a mess as I did get a little freaked out by being underwater the whole time. I want to improve, improve, improve! My safety diver would give me the regulator whenever I needed it, but it definitely was hard to get used to. Also, my dress was very long and while this gave wonderful movement to the photos, I had a hard time controlling all of it.

As my own update, Sunny left today! =( Even though I've been here for a little over a week, you'd be surprised at how much longer it feels. I'm here 24/7 so this little microcosm and small community definitely speeds up socializing. It's like college/dorms 2.0. Speaking of college, the school also had their graduation ceremony today.

Okay, tonight is a Saturday so we're actually going to go out tonight. I've only had one day off since I've been here and so I'm looking forward to some fun, to say in the least. Hope everyone else is doing well and that my post was entertaining enough!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

On Site

I haven't talked much about the company I'm working for yet...and I probably won't go into too much detail right now, but I thought I'd show a bit of the grounds.

This was the view of the area from the temporary room I was in the first night; as you can see, we have modern technologies like cars and buildings. The main building you see on the right is actually a huge pool where it is specifically built to film underwater scenes for their movies. It has lots of hand rails build along the sides and floor of the pool so that we can hang out in between takes as well as huge windows to film through. I will be body-doubling for the movie they're filming in that pool right now, actually.

You can see that the beach is right behind our property.

Here is the view from our outdoor lunch/bar area. That little shack you see on the left is called Tiki Bar and we come here at night to grab drinks and just hang out. Sunsets are really beautiful here. We have stray cats and kittens who come beg for food.

This is also the area is where they serve us free meals during filming days. Filming days are very long. We have unpredictable call times and stay past midnight. Thus, the better quality of food is really the only upside to those days (and good company). I'll show a few examples of what we eat in a sec.

Here are a couple zoomed in shots of the stilted shacks they have out there. The beach is very shallow for a far distance and there are locals out there every day collecting shellfish and other food items.

On filming days, meals are provided for us which typical meal generally consists of: soup, rice, a vegetable dish, two meat-like dishes, fruit and juice/tea. Being a vegetarian is nearly impossible here; everything has meat in it. One of my friends here is a vegetarian and whenever she requests vegetarian they give her either chicken or fish because being apparently they don't count as meat, lol.

We don't always get free meals so otherwise we either have the FTV Cafe which provides food and coffee and the Canteen which provides food like this:

But here are a few examples of what we are fed on set:

This was like, porkchop, some egg egg thing, fruit, veggies, soup.

The real winner was the pumpkin soup with the crispy buttered bread slices. It was the only truly delicious thing I've eaten here.

I thought their cafe name was funny though:

Look at all familiar?? LOL

Also, I thought this was kind of interesting; they put rice in their salt shakers to keep the moisture out!

Yes, it is very humid here. Wildlife is abundant amidst the buildings and despite the modern facilities we have we are constantly reminded that we are NOT in our developed home countries.

One example of such a reminder is the mutant creatures that thrive here. DO YOU SEE THE SIZE OF THIS SPIDER?? In this photo, it seriously was like 6 inches from side to side!

Oh. Mah. Gawd. I won't ever get used to it.

Did I mention we have ostriches on site?

Well, I hope that was a good intro for now...this post has taken me one evening and part of my morning to do since the internet is a bit slow with uploading photos! Hope all is well at home, I'll be updating about my diving lessons, the nightlife and other random adventures soon! So stay tuned...