Posted on 10 Comments

The Girl Proposed, Twice!

This is a blog post for all of you girls, ladies, women out there who have heard over and over again that you have to wait for a guy to take the lead on your relationship. First of all, let me just say that I can’t remember how many thousands of times I’ve been told this.

Girls shouldn’t take the shot first. Girls should wait. Wait for the right guy, he will come.

I am sure that for some people, this is the truth. This is what happened in your lives, and it worked out perfectly well. That’s fine, I’m very happy for you. But then this post is probably not for you.

This post is for other girls who questioned those sayings and advice. Girls who thought why do I have to wait? In fact, what am I waiting for anyway?

I’ll share with you that I’m on my second marriage now (after the tragic death of my first husband), and in both relationships, it was me who took the shot first. As in, I was the one who proposed. BOTH TIMES. Oh, it wasn’t anything romantic like me getting down on one knee in front of the guys.

My Two Marriage Proposals

With Oky, my first husband, it went somewhat like this: “Hey, let’s get married.” If he was surprised, he didn’t show it. He just smiled shyly and nodded. That’s Oky for you, sweet kind soul that he was. I was 29, he was 39.

With Cung, who had heard tales of my craziness and was (should have been) more prepared…it went somewhat like this: “Let’s sign some papers.” Cung is more cunning though, so he managed to stall it off a little bit, which was arguably for the better. We eventually had a little avocado-themed wedding. I was 33, a recently widowed young woman; Cung was 45.

In both relationships, the girl proposed! Indeed I decided to just go with it and forget about “traditional roles” because I knew it was what I wanted, at that time. There have been a couple times before Oky in which I almost got married (twice, in fact), but I called both of them off because it didn’t feel right. As much as I cared about them, I knew I wouldn’t be able to last more than a couple years with the lifestyle that we would have.

So what am I saying? I guess I’m saying that in my experience, there is no “timeline”. Sometimes things can happen quickly, too quick. And sometimes things happen too slowly for your taste. What’s important is to make sure that it feels right, and to be looking out for yourself first and foremost. Look out for your needs, wants, dreams, goals. Once you know that, then you will be able to ascertain which ones you are willing to compromise, and which ones you will not be willing to compromise.

When that is in place, then I would go for it.

For extra reading, here is a fun article on gender roles in relationships.

Posted on 2 Comments

Movie Review : In the Heights

One of the most exciting composers/creators of the music industry at this time is surely Lin-Manuel Miranda. He is currently most known for the hit musical Hamilton which retells the story of the American revolutionary via rap and involves a diverse cast and crew.

Miranda’s first musical was In the Heights, which premiered off-Broadway in 2007. At that time, nobody knew who he was. The New York Times published, “his name was a household name only in his household.” Since then, he has received much recognition and awards through his song “See the Line Where the Sky Meets the Sea” in Disney’s Moana, his role in the revival of Mary Poppins, and eventually Hamilton.

One of the best movie-musical to date

In the Heights was very recently produced into a movie-musical, and I must say it is THE BEST movie-musical up to date. It brings the genre up to another level. It is both movie and musical, and the final product here is a sum far greater than each of its parts.

What struck me most and left me breathless was how the movie was able to get out of the box of cinematography to create unforgettable, magical moments. The two most mesmerizing scenes were Benny and Nina’s dreamy duet “When the Sun Goes Down” and Abuela Claudia’s showstopper subway solo “Paciencia y Fe”. I mean, I’m a huge believer in the power of old ladies. Anthropologist Frances Bowden Affandy once told me that she believed old ladies are the apex of human evolution. They carry so many memories and wisdom in their minds and bodies, that it is no wonder old ladies as often seen as powerful witches. Yet, I have to say, I never see musical solos of glorified old ladies. Here, In the Heights pulled it off with hair-chilling choreography.

Motifs that hit home

The immigrants’ theme is a leitmotif with Miranda, as he himself is also an immigrant. This show focused on Latino-Americans’ lives and values: work hard, save up, make a better future for yourself than where you came from. This is always touching for me. There is one line where Nina’s father says what made me cry:

“This is where you become greater than me. Not because of some fancy degree, but because you can see a future I cannot.”

In the heights

This hit me personally because you know what? My father never said that to me. Never ever. Many times I share my dreams, my work, my passions. But for him, it didn’t matter. All that mattered to him was that I was not living the life girls should live, according to him. He saw one future for me, and that was that. It didn’t matter that I saw a thousand possible futures for myself. It took a long time for me to learn to distrust his figure of authority, and instead go with my guts.

This is why I love In the Heights and Miranda, because all of his work has a strong angle of women empowerment. From Elisa Hamilton to Nina, he always writes women alongside men in the narrative.

The music? Was there any doubt from the beginning? Never.

Posted on Leave a comment

Women in Theatre – Podcast Episode 7

About the same time I established the Bandung Philharmonic in 2016, I heard exciting news of a West Side Story production in Jakarta by a community theatre: Jakarta Performing Arts Community. I’m a thespian (musical nerd), and Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story has always been a favorite. So imagine my excitement.

To give some context, please know that theatre in Indonesia is still barely a scene. Cut that landscape by half when you’re talking about musical theatre. Now West Side Story is a HUGE production. The Jets, the Sharks, the choreography, the love and the deaths…it’s insane. When I watched the production at the Graha Bakti Budaya theatre, I was honestly impressed!

Fonnyta Amran during the Last 5 Years rehearsal

I remembered thinking who was the director that dared put on such a difficult show in Indonesia? When they called her on stage, it was this tiny figure of a lady, a head shorter than everyone else. Her name was Fonnyta Amran. And this was her first production as a director.

Whoa. I need to keep tabs on this person, I thought. I’d love to work together with them one day and support from the music side, or through other ways. Fast forward to 2021, and I interviewed Fonnyta for this very podcast episode on women in theatre. Not only that, we’re working together on The Last 5 Years, an off-Broadway musical by Jason Robert Brown.

In this podcast, you will hear someone speaking about their true love. And you will want to see this current show we’re working together on. Support women in theatre and buy your tickets now on Kiostix!

Posted on Leave a comment

Financial Freedom for Women

Everyone covets this. And if you’re not thinking about it, you should be, starting right now. It’s not about being greedy, it’s not about being ambitious, it’s about being self-sufficient and independent in this century. Interestingly, women think much less about financial freedom than men. Obviously, traditional gender roles in society play into this, but ladies hear me: DON’T FALL INTO THIS TRAP.

Don’t think that you’ll be safe as long as you have a husband that can support you, or as long as you have your parents’ wealth waiting as inheritance, or as long as you have a son that can work hard and will pay for you when you get old. If this is the case for you and your husband, father, son, are kind to you, then you are VERY LUCKY. You are not the norm. Statistically, there are much more women that are being abused by the men in their lives, and this includes financial abuse.

You can only get out of abusive relationships if you have your own money.

It’s a long haul towards financial freedom and independence, but it’s not impossible. There are women all around the world that have achieved financial security and are now supporting their families instead of being supported by them.

So how would you start on your journey of financial freedom?

  1. Make a habit of writing down all your expenses and income. Track everything very clearly, so you know exactly what you spend money on, why you are spending that money, and in turn where your money is coming from.
  2. Once you are in the habit of tracking your money, then see if there is a way for you to spend less and start saving more. Say you get an allowance from your husband every month. Can you open a separate bank account and save 20% of this routinely?
  3. If your expenses are so tight that everything is already essential, then try to look for opportunities to pick up another source of side income. Can you pick up a part-time job somewhere? It can be anything. There are all kinds of opportunities for those willing to learn and work hard. When you have secured a part-time additional income, then save that money away religiously.
  4. After you have to build a sizable enough savings from your side income, then start looking for ways to grow that pot of money. Money sitting in your bank account will only depreciate in value, so this is now the time to spend it! But spend it with the goal of more returns in mind. How? Stocks are a great place to start. Deposits in trusted co-ops are also good options. Or take some courses on entrepreneurship and small business, and start your own small business.

Of course, all of this is easy for me to write. In reality, it needs the discipline to write down all your finances. You need self-management to be able to curb expenditure and save more. You need the courage to look for a side job and to do it and be good at it. After all of that, you need to be able to take risks in spending the money. No, none of this is easy.

But take it from me, someone who started my journey of financial freedom 3 years ago: it’s worth it. Nothing tastes as sweet as independence.

Visit here to see more resources on financial literacy for women!

Posted on Leave a comment

Movie Review: Wolfwalkers

Oh oh oh. I’m sure you have all had this experience, where you see something interesting and decide to try it with no expectations at all. That was my case with Wolfwalkers (2020). It is an animation based on Irish folklore, directed by Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart. The story revolves around two girls. The first is a young girl hunter named Robyn Goodfellow, whose mother has died and is now living only with her father. The second is a wolfwalker named Mebh, who is a girl during the day and a little she-wolf cub at night.

Wolfwalkers pleasantly surprised me and won me over with the gorgeous artwork, anti colonization theme, women empowerment message, and friendship amongst different creatures. It reminded me of Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon, although with completely different artwork concept.

“I don’t want them to put you in a cage,” the hunter Bill said to his daughter.

“Can’t you see? I’m already in a cage!” shouted Robyn.

Synopsis

The Lord Protector whom Bill works for insists that the hunters kill the wolf pack that lives in the forest. Their death will show that the Lord Protector can control the forest, and as such is a brutal show of his power. Of course, his voice represents the voice of God, so everyone must listen. Everyone, but the rebellious Robyn and her mysterious friend Mebh.

Robyn met Mebh in the forest, where the cub accidentally bit Robyn to help save her from a trap. This bite turns Robyn into a wolfwalker like Mebh, and so Mebh shows Robyn the secret place which is the sanctuary of the pack. In this magical cave lies the sleeping body of Mebh’s mother, who has been in that state ever since her wolf body went missing months ago. Mebh is determined to find her mother, and Robyn promises to help her.

However, Robyn’s rebellious behavior attracts attention from the Lord Protector. Thus he instructs Bill to keep a reign on his daughter, or “reigns will be put on her.” As a result, Bill forces Robyn to work in the scullery (kitchen) under the watching eyes of other maids.

Will Robyn be able to fight back against her fearful father? Is her and Mebh’s friendship strong enough to overcome the many differences that lie in between? Will Mebh be reunited with her mother and protect their pack, or will they all be annihilated by the Lord Protector?

Please find out for yourself and watch Wolfwalkers. It was nominated for Best Animated Feature Film at the Academy AwardsGolden Globe Awards and BAFTA Awards. You won’t be disappointed at all!

A special perk of this beautiful movie is the song Running with the Wolves by Aurora.

Go row the boat to safer grounds
But don’t you know we’re stronger now
My heart still beats and my skin still feels
My lungs still breathe, my mind still fears

But we’re running out of time
Oh, all the echoes in my mind cry
There’s blood on your lies
The sky’s open wide
There is nowhere for you to hide
The hunter’s moon is shining

I’m running with the wolves tonight.

Have you come across this movie? What did you think?

PS: If you like wolf and magic put together, the book A Wolf for A Spell by Karah Sutton is a great fun read.