8 Powerful Spoken Word Performances for Women

First of all, let me take this opportunity to greet every woman out here for International Women’s Day 🙂

Happy International Women's Day! | Graphic by Niña Terol-Zialcita, created using Canva.com
Happy International Women’s Day! | Graphic by Niña Terol-Zialcita, created using Canva.com

As some of you may already have gathered from reading some of my previous posts, I’m a fan of spoken word poetry and have dabbled in a bit of spoken word myself. So, to celebrate International Women’s Day 2014, I share here a curated list of eight powerful spoken word performances that I believe every empowered woman must watch in order to remind her of her true worth in this world.

(Be warned: some of them are pretty intense stuff; I’ve cried watching them!)

If you love what you see here, please feel free to pass it on 🙂

1. Sarah Kay: If I should have a daughter (I’m obviously a Sarah Kay fan!)

2. Lily Myers: Shrinking Women (a great counterpoint performance to #1)

3. Sonya Renee:  The Body is Not an Apology

4. Katie Makkai: Pretty

5. Alicia Keys: P.O.W. (from her book, Tears for Water)

6. Becca Khalil and Nayo Jones: Ambiguous (for anyone who’s had to deal with rude questions on race)

7. Thea Monyee: Woman to Woman (for anyone who’s ever had to deal with ‘that girl’)

8. Najia Muhammad-Jaaber: Live Before You Die and Beat the Drum (An awesome spoken word performance by a female Muslim spoken word artist–what a revelation!)

Believe me, there is sooo much more good stuff where those came from, so I’ll be sure to post more spoken word performances in this blog. (To all Pinoys looking for more Filipino spoken word performances, stay tuned for material from Speak Philippines in Niña’s Notebook!)

Poetry: “You are not Broken”

First Wednesdays of the month are Poetry Slam nights for my favorite hangout, Sev’s Café (which I affectionately call my “unofficial living and dining room”). The “slam” consists of a competition for amateur spoken word artists and poets, while the open mic portion–as the name suggests–welcomes anyone and everyone who wishes to share a piece (or more!).

Here is a piece I’ve done for both the slam and our open mic sessions. I wrote it shortly after supertyphoon Haiyan (local name: Yolanda) flattened many coastal towns in the Visayas region in the Philippines. It was meant to encourage the typhoon’s survivors, but as I was writing it I also realized that I needed to write it in order to deal with my own brokenness. (And who among us isn’t broken in some way, right?)

I unfortunately don’t have a clear-enough video recording of me performing the piece, but once I do I’ll also post it here.

"Self-Portrait #2" by Niña Terol-Zialcita | Correction ink on board (2012)
“Self-Portrait #2” by Niña Terol-Zialcita | Correction ink on board (2012)

YOU ARE NOT BROKEN

by Niña Terol-Zialcita

 

Repeat after me:

 

YOU. ARE NOT. BROKEN.

 

I know that, right now,
It’s pretty hard to believe.
After all,
Didn’t a storm just
Wash away
Everything you had?
Left you with
Absolutely nothing
Except what’s standing
On your feet?

 

Didn’t a
Global catastrophe
Crush you–
Shatter you
Rip apart your
Hopes and dreams, and
Bring you to your knees?

 

You feel broken,
All right.
Pretty damn
Ripped
And bruised
And pounded
To bits.
And abso-fuckin’-lutely
Broken.

 

BUT YOU ARE NOT.

 

What you
Need to know
Is that the very same
World
That you fear
Is the very same world
That is cheering–
Pushing you
To go on,
Believing
In everything you’ve got–
Even when you think
You’ve got
Abso-fuckin’-lutely
Nothing left.

 

Because
You’ve got heart
You’ve got soul
You’ve got strength
You’ve got
The fucking courage
To stand back up
On your feet
And the resilience
To tell the
Whole wide
Fucking World

 

NO ONE–
ABSOLUTELY NO ONE–
WILL BRING ME DOWN
BECAUSE MY FAITH
IS STRONGER
THAN YOUR WINDS
AND MY GOD IS
STRONGER THAN
ANY FUCKING STORM.

 

YOU CAN PUSH ME,
DROWN ME–
YOU CAN TRY
TO SHRED ME TO BITS.
BUT YOU. WILL NOT. BREAK ME.

 

YOU WILL NOT BREAK ME.

 

I am bruised, yes–
Scarred, forever–
I am writhing
In pain
And screaming
For redemption
But I remain
WHOLE.
As sure as
My soul
Still sings
As sure as
My body feels
The stings–

 

I AM HERE
I AM WHOLE

 

I have fears
But I, too,
Have hope

 

And I
AM NOT
BROKEN.
AND YOU
DON’T HAVE
THE POWER
TO BREAK ME.

 

Take a step back
Look at yourself
And know
That you are whole
Because
You are loved
Whether you see it
Or not
Whether you know it
Or not

 

YOU ARE LOVED

 

YOU ARE WHOLE

 

YOU
ARE NOT
BROKEN.

 

If you liked this piece and would like to share it, feel free to post a comment here or tweet me at @ninaterol. I’d be happy to share it, given the proper attribution. 🙂

 

Want to see more spoken word pieces from the Philippines, check out the YouTube channel of SPEAK PHILIPPINES (SPEAK Phils). You can also click on their Facebook page. You can also catch us TONIGHT at SEV’s CAFE, at the basement of Legaspi Towers 300, Vito Cruz corner Roxas Boulevard, Malate, Manila. Visit the Facebook page to view the map and other event and reservation details. 🙂
Speak Phils

A Tuesday with Mitch Albom

Two of Mitch Albom's popular and best-selling books | Photo by Niña Terol-Zialcita
Two of Mitch Albom’s popular and best-selling books | Photo by Niña Terol-Zialcita

I was such a huge fan of Tuesdays with Morrie, the New York Times bestseller about professor Morrie Schwartz’s lessons on dying and death, as experienced and written by his student, Mitch Albom. Like many of Albom’s readers, I had always regarded him as an inspirational writer whose works are “must-reads” and “must-shares.”

So imagine my surprise (and elation!) when I got a call from my Rappler editor, asking if I would take on an assignment interviewing Albom during his trip to the Philippines. My answer was inelegant, and started with: OMG!!!

Fast forward to that afternoon, and I was fortunate enough to have been given 30 full minutes with Mr. Albom. We talked about his latest book, The First Phone Call from Heaven; his trip to the Philippines to rebuild libraries in Haiyan-flattened communities; his thoughts on success and fame; what keeps him grounded; and what he thinks of death and dying, seeing that he’s written a number of books about them.

Mitch Albom and Me ;)
Mitch Albom and Me ;)

My latest article from that interview is now out, and I’ll share an excerpt here:

“Tuesdays with Morrie was a book that most people didn’t want. I only wrote that book to pay Morrie’s medical bills,” Albom confessed.

“Everywhere I went… they told me, ‘No.’ ‘It’s a stupid idea.’ ‘It’s boring.’ ‘It’s depressing.’ ‘You can’t write it; you’re a sports writer.’ Almost everywhere I went, they told me, ‘Not interested.’ And I only pushed because I was trying to pay Morrie’s medical bills, and I couldn’t take no for an answer.”

Albom’s love and respect for his teacher, coupled with his dogged persistence, paid off. Tuesdays with Morrie not only paid for Morrie Schwartz’s medical bills, it also went on to sell 14 million copies in 41 languages worldwide, and was later on produced into a television movie by no less than Oprah Winfrey, winning 4 Emmy Awards. The book has also spun an Off-Broadway play and has been able to fund a number of charity efforts as well.

I shared a lot more in that piece–and will sharing a bit more in the coming days. In the meantime, I hope you can take time to read the full article… and I hope that you’ll be as inspired in reading it as I was when I wrote it. 🙂

Building The Social Enterprise Capital Of The World (Homegrown.ph)

(First published on Homegrown.ph on February 21, 2014)

How does a country recover from the unprecedented disaster unleashed by a supertyphoon? By creating new opportunities and creating a thriving center for enterprise.
by Niña Terol-Zialcita
BAGS FOR REBUILDING LIVES. [Clockwise from upper left] Taclob meets with master bagmaker, Mr. Yadu Saulo and Khumbmela/Yadu Bag’s managing partner Dhanvan Saulo; 5th grader Angelo is one of the first owners of the upcycled, storm-proof, hand-made Taclob Bags; behind-the-scenes at the Ambassadors of Compassion photo shoot; Jourdan Sebastian in Tacloban, with the first recipients of Taclob bags. All images from the Instagram account of Jourdan Sebastian, used with permission.
BAGS FOR REBUILDING LIVES. [Clockwise from upper left] Taclob meets with master bagmaker, Mr. Yadu Saulo and Khumbmela/Yadu Bag’s managing partner Dhanvan Saulo; 5th grader Angelo is one of the first owners of the upcycled, storm-proof, hand-made Taclob Bags; behind-the-scenes at the Ambassadors of Compassion photo shoot; Jourdan Sebastian in Tacloban, with the first recipients of Taclob bags. All images from the Instagram account of Jourdan Sebastian, used with permission.

Can the Philippines be the social enterprise capital of the world?

This was the bold question raised by Jourdan Sebastian, a filmmaker, producer, actor, and spoken word artist who recently co-organized “Operation Airdrop” to airlift much-needed relief goods to remote areas that were hardest hit by Yolanda.

A self-proclaimed “Dreamer Warrior,” Sebastian threw the question to guests at Homegrown’s Hanap Buhay jelly in December 2013, which was the stage for a forum on sustainable efforts in response to the catastrophe brought about by supertyphoon Yolanda.

He has since gone around to share this dream with audiences who want to listen.

This is an excerpt only. Read the full post on the Homegrown.ph website.

Surviving the 10-Day Lemon Juice Cleanse (Rappler.com)

NOTE: My first major piece for the year was the product of sacrifice, self-awareness, honesty, and a whole lot of lemon juice. THANK YOU to my editors at Rappler for allowing me to share this–and thanks to the many readers who made this one of the “most read” pieces for that cycle!

Sharing an excerpt here 🙂

"Surviving the 10-Day Lemon Juice Cleanse": A must-read on Rappler.com! :)
“Surviving the 10-Day Lemon Juice Cleanse”: A must-read on Rappler.com! :)

MANILA, Philippines – The Lemon Juice Cleanse, a.k.a. Master Cleanse or the Lemonade Diet, is a 10-day cleanse that involves fasting on all solid foods and drinking only a concoction made of freshly squeezed (or fresh pressed) lemon juice, pure maple syrup (grade B), and cayenne pepper. It was introduced by Stanley Burroughs in 1940 and regained popularity after pop icon Beyoncé Knowles reportedly lost at least 20 lbs. on the cleanse, for her role in Dreamgirls (2006).

A 3-time “survivor” of the cleanse, I first tried it in January 2009 as my way of detoxing after the holidays and preparing myself for a new job. I did it again in 2010 before embarking on the campaign trail; and, just recently, I did it a third time in order to “reboot” my system and get back on the path of health and wellness.

Here are some things I’ve learned along the way.

This is an excerpt only. Click HERE to read the full post on Rappler.com.

Mighty Aphrodite (Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia)

NOTE: This is a late post, and I apologize to my editors for not promoting the November 2013 issue of T+L Southeast Asia early enough. But between dealing with the aftermath of supertyphoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) plus all the traveling we did in November, there hasn’t been much time to catch our breath!

"Mighty Aphrodite" in Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia, November 2013 issueMighty Aphrodite

A young woman in the Philippines has made it her personal mission to save the seas. By Niña Terol-Zialcita

(Published in the November 2013 issue of Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia)

Many little girls dream of becoming mermaids. Not too many, though, take the mission to heart.

Philippines-based Anna Oposa is different. Her business card reads “Founder and Chief Mermaid of Save Philippine Seas,” and at the tender age of 25, she has already helped expose a smuggling ring that poached the country’s waters for corals, sea turtles and other precious marine species; started an independent movement to protect aquatic resources across the archipelago; and taken her mission to the international stage as a Young Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum. This woman’s love of the ocean is so deep, all she’s missing are flippers. Here, we dive into her underwater and on-the-ground pursuits.

Which came first—your love of diving or your passion for conserving the environment?

When I was 19, I volunteered in a cleanup dive to be exempted from an exam, and I saw diapers underwater. That’s when I told myself I needed to do more.

The interests complement each other perfectly. I am reminded of what needs to be conserved every time I dive.

This is an excerpt only. To read the full article, grab a copy of Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia’s November 2013 issue.

The November 2013 issue of Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia | Click on the image to visit their Facebook page to see more great content and cool promos
The November 2013 issue of Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia | Click on the image to visit their Facebook page to see more great content and cool promos

Amanpulo, Visayas Islands among the best of Conde Nast (Rappler.com)

(First published on November 4, 2013) in Rappler.com)

AMANPULO. Paradise in the Sulu Sea. Screen shot from http://www.amanresorts.com/
AMANPULO. Paradise in the Sulu Sea. Screen shot from http://www.amanresorts.com/

[See the original image here]

MANILA, Philippines – Amanpulo, the ultra-exclusive resort located in Pamalican Island in the Sulu Sea, has once again made it to Condé Nast Traveller’s list of Top 100 resorts, hotels and spas in the Readers’ Travel Awards 2013.

The resort was cited among the Top 20 in the Asia & India category, with a numeric rating of 77.88 over 100.

Amanpulo is the only Philippine resort to make it to this year’s Top 100.

According to Condé Nast Traveller, “[Readers] were asked to rate [their] choices according to various criteria, such as service, culture and value for money. From [the] responses, we calculated the average mark on each criterion, and used this to provide the overall satisfaction percentage figure…”

Condé Nast Traveller is one of the world’s leading travel publications, known for its independence and integrity in reviewing travel and hospitality establishments. The poll for the 2013 Readers’ Travel Awards was participated in by 80,000 jetsetters, who cumulatively cast over 1.3 million votes.

This is an excerpt only. Read the full post on Rappler.com.

Diniwid beach: The quiet side of Boracay (Rappler.com)

(First published on November 3, 2013 in Rappler.com)

DINIWID PARADISE. Heaven's painting. All photos by Niña Terol-Zialcita
DINIWID PARADISE. Heaven’s painting. All photos by Niña Terol-Zialcita

I kicked off my flip-flops and dug my feet into the cool, soft sand. It was the first sunny morning in a week of stormy skies and sudden rainshowers, and I wanted to make the most of it. I sipped the warm, sweet taho that I bought from a roving vendor, then I settled my glass snugly into the sand before finding my own sweet spot.

SWEET SPOT. Breakfast by the beach
SWEET SPOT. Breakfast by the beach

In front of me, the high tide was carrying strong waves in a sea of teal and blue. From a distance, I could spy a woman running toward the sea with her dog; in another direction, there were two little boys hopping and crawling on the sand. There seemed to be only a handful of people around me—I was in Boracay Island, yes, yet there were no beach-going throngs, no ugly windbreakers blocking the view, no jarring sounds.

SECRET GETAWAY. A handful of people, no jarring noises
SECRET GETAWAY. A handful of people, no jarring noises

This is how it is in Diniwid Beach, White Beach’s quiet, unassuming “little cousin.”

This is an excerpt only. Read the full post in Rappler.com.

#ThrowbackThursday: Paris in a Hurry (asianTraveler Magazine)

(First published in asianTraveler Magazine in October 2010)

Note: A colleague of mine is traveling to Paris in a couple of weeks, which made me fish out my old Paris booklets and re-open this old published piece. I share it here in case anyone needs tips for getting to know Paris in just 24 short but sweet hours.

PARIS COLLAGE by Niña Terol-Zialcita | View more travel photos at @ninaterol on Instagram
PARIS COLLAGE by Niña Terol-Zialcita | View more travel photos at @ninaterol on Instagram

I have to admit: it was a rather foolish decision to make Paris only a short pit stop between my trip to Prague, Czech Republic, where I had spent a week on a scholarship program, and the French seaside town of La Rochelle, where I was set to make a long-awaited visit to friends. Divided into 20 arrondisements (administrative districts), Paris is certainly a city that takes days—even weeks—to fully explore and enjoy. Even with enough time and cash on your hands, you will never run out of new experiences to savor in the City of Lights.

Still, my itinerary specified that I had less than a full day to enjoy Paris, so with my (broken) luggage in tow and with my spirit resolute to make the most of my Parisian experience, I set off to explore the city like a soldier on a mission.

The must-sees: The Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysées and the Arc de Triomphe, the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur, the Paris Opera House, and the Musée Louvre

The Paris must-sees | Photos by Niña Terol-Zialcita | View more travel photos at @ninaterol on Instagram
The Paris must-sees | Photos by Niña Terol-Zialcita | View more travel photos at @ninaterol on Instagram

I planned my trip around courtesy calls to the royalty of Parisian monuments. From my hotel in rue Cambronne (on the light-green Nation-Charles de Gaulle Étoile metro line) I took a long, leisurely walk to the École Militaire, the military school whose walls still bear deep, visible scars from the Second World War. The école sits right across Champ de Mars, a large, expansive park from where you can get an unobstructed view of the Eiffel Tower. Although named after the Roman god of war, the park is tourist- and family- friendly and also boasts a large Wall of Peace.

After ogling at the Eiffel Tower and snapping away with my camera for about an hour or so, I found my way to the Invalides metro station to take the train to Avenue des Champs-Élysées (where I was lucky enough to catch the tail- end of the Tour de France). The strip is also the city’s shopping district, home to many of the world’s most famous brands such as Louis Vuitton, Maison Guerlain, Zara, Adidas, Benetton, Sephora, and even the Disney Store, among many others. during the summer months, almost all on sale-up to 70% off, during the summer months. Right at its end sits the tall and proud Arc de Triomphe, which Napoleon had commissioned in 1806 to celebrate the victories of his army. Completed in 1836, it had once been called by the French literary great Victor Hugo as “a heap of glory.”

Another must-see in Paris is the Basilique du Sacré-Coeur (Basilica of the Sacred Heart), commissioned by the National Assembly in 1873, supposedly in commemoration of the 58,000 lives that were lost during the uprising of the Paris Commune from 1870 to 1871. Sitting grandly at the top of the butte (hill) of Montmartre, the highest point in Paris, the Sacré-Coeur is a majestic testament to the beauty of Romano- Byzantine architecture and looks even more stunning and awe-inspiring at night. From the top of the hill, and aided by the light of the full moon, we also saw a beautiful view of the lit-up Eiffel Tower, which sparkles every hour at night until 2AM in the summer (1PM in the winter).

Getting to Montmartre usually involves taking the metro all the way to the Abbesses (green line) or the Anvers (blue line) metro station, by the northernmost part of the city, and then taking the funiculaire (an uphill tram) or walking up Montmartre’s famed steps. I was lucky enough, to have some friends fetch me from Champs-Élysées and drive me up the hill, saving me a lot of time and foot stress.

It was already on the next day when I had the opportunity to walk around by myself and take a look at the Paris Opera House and the Louvre. The Opera House (which is a main stop of the Roissybus from Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport and can also be reached via the Opera stop on the pink or lavender metro lines) was inaugurated under France’s Third Republic. Its main auditorium features a ceiling painted by Chagall, and its deep underground lake, discovered much to the chagrin of its architect, Charles Garnier, was one of the inspirations for Gaston Leroux’s immortal masterpiece, Phantom of the Opera.

From there, I took the pink metro line to meet the jewel of my Parisian trip, the Musée Louvre. Although friends had warned me about how you can lose yourself in there for days (and still not finish viewing all of its exhibitions!) and I had only a few hours left before my trip to La Rochelle, I could not resist at least taking a sneak peak. The Louvre was built as a fortress in the late 12th century, converted into a museum in 1793, and is home to Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa and the ancient Greek sculpture Venus de Milo, among countless other masterpieces. It also houses collections of Western art from the Middle Ages to 1848, as well as collections of ancient Oriental, Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan, Roman, and Islamic art pieces.

A tip from the locals: to fully enjoy the Louvre, you must have enough time on your hands to spend an entire day there, maybe even two or three. The Museum offers free entrance every first Sunday of the month. Just be ready to spend hours just falling in line at the entrance!

Parisian slices of life | Photos by Niña Terol-Zialcita | View more travel photos at @ninaterol on Instagram
Parisian slices of life | Photos by Niña Terol-Zialcita | View more travel photos at @ninaterol on Instagram

What to eat and buy on a budget: art prints and chocolates, breads and cheese

TRAVELING ON A STUDENT'S BUDGET? Here are some inexpensive treats you'll find in Paris | Photos by Niña Terol-Zialcita | View more travel photos at @ninaterol on Instagram
TRAVELING ON A STUDENT’S BUDGET? Here are some inexpensive treats you’ll find in Paris | Photos by Niña Terol-Zialcita | View more travel photos at @ninaterol on Instagram

Since I was in Paris on a student’s budget, my only real shopping agenda was to buy enough art prints for my modest art collection and enough souvenirs and chocolates to keep the folks at home happy. The night market at Montmartre revealed lots of great finds, with art and souvenir shops lined up side by side. Prints of masterpieces by Monet, Degas, Klimt, Van Gogh, and other great artists can be bought for as little as €3 each; replicas of the Eiffel Tower can be bought for as little as €1. You can also have your portrait done in just 20 minutes by the street artists that line the square.

Ironically, it was while at the Avenue de L’Opera, one of the most expensive strips in the city, where I was able to buy my prize catches of the trip. Within the Opera metro station, somewhere between the ticket offices and the magazine stands, stands a small shop that sells beautiful bags and other genuine leather goods for the fraction of the price at the branded boutiques. There I bought a large, 20-kilo piece of luggage (to replace my broken luggage with) and a beautiful leather bag for well under €100. I also stumbled upon La Cure Gourmand, a specialty candy and chocolate shop that won the Grand Prix Salon International Paris in 1997. (Want a sweet surprise? Try their “chocolate-flavored olives”!) Another great shop was Bretano’s, home of more art prints and specialty paper products, where I found a beautiful replica of Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss for only €99. (Sadly, I had to forego the purchase because of my already- overloaded suitcase.)

One other thing I love about Paris is the fact that you can find a chocolaterie, boulangerie, or patisserie practically at every street corner and, sometimes, just within striking distance of each other. My favorite European boulangerie, Paul, is found throughout the city and offers a wide variety of savory and sweet breads to satisfy any palate. (A must-try: the sesame baguette with camembert!) The breads are also filling enough to satisfy hungry tourists on a tight budget.

Even with limited time and budget, I made the most of my day in Paris by soaking up the sights and taking with me as much as my senses (and my wallet!) could allow. That experience proved that anything is possible in just 24 hours–if you open yourself up and allow the world to come in.

PHOTO ESSAY: TRAVEL - Where are you headed next? | Photo by Niña Terol-Zialcita | View more travel photos at @ninaterol on Instagram
PHOTO ESSAY: TRAVEL – Where are you headed next? | Photo by Niña Terol-Zialcita | View more travel photos at @ninaterol on Instagram