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We Watched a Star Wars Wayang Kulit Show @ Jaya One, PJ

It was a celebration of all things Star Wars at Jaya One recently, as “This is the May – Nar Shaddaa Day” – organized by the Star Wars Malaysia Fan Club (SWMFC) – held its first fan event after a two-year hiatus.

May, of course, is Star Wars month (May the 4th be with you!); and the event saw dozens of cosplayers, dressed to the nines in their best Star Wars outfits. There were also booths selling exclusive Star Wars merchandise, art exhibitions, games, puppet making workshops, and performances.

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I’m not a big Star Wars fan (I keep mixing up my Wookies and Ewoks), but I’ve seen the films, and I think the original Star Wars story was brilliant for its time, and yet to be paralleled in the world of science fiction and futuristic fantasy.

My main reason for coming here was actually to watch the Star Wars Wayang Kulit performance (more on that later!), but since we had some time before the performance, the Hubs and I explored the main concourse, where most of the booths were set up. There were some pretty nifty things on display, including limited edition toys, props, and collectors items from overseas.

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Among the cosplayers were troopers, Mandalorians, a Queen Amidala, a Princess Leia, and Chewbacca, some of them armed with lightsabers. Speaking of lightsabers, there was a booth from a toy company selling custom lightsabers with interchangeable colours!
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Loved these Star Wars themed earrings!
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The highlight of the event for me was the Fusion Wayang Kulit show, a unique performance featuring traditional Malaysian puppetry (wayang kulit) fused with modern pop culture elements; in this case, Star Wars. It was held at the PJ Live Arts centre next to Jaya One’s main building. The puppets are made from leather, propped on sticks, and moved by the puppet master behind a screen.

Fusion Wayang Kulit was founded by Tintoy Chua and Take Huat in 2012, aimed at revitalizing the dying art by incorporating modern elements into it. The pair approached Kelantanese wayang kulit master (Tok Dhalang) Pak Dain for their project, taking meticulous care to ensure the roots of the plays are respected while giving it a breath of fresh air. The rest, as they say, is history. Fusion Wayang Kulit has since performed not just locally, but overseas. It was even acknowledged by LucasFilm and featured in the official Star Wars magazine!

Pak Dain himself performed the show. There were two parts: the traditional story which is an adaptation of the Hindu epic Ramayana, and the modern part which had characters and a story inspired by Star Wars.

To be honest, while I found the traditional puppets beautiful, the story was difficult for me to follow as it was presented in Kelantanese Malay (a dialect that is very different from standard Malay).

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There was a break in between the two sessions, where we were introduced to the concept behind Fusion Wayang Kulit, and how they designed the characters for the ‘new’ story. They’re all based on traditional characters, so “Sang Kala Veda” (Darth Vader) is based on the villain, while Puteri Leia is based on Rama’s wife, basically the heroine of the story.

The character designs are mind blowing. There’s so much attention to detail and respect for the source material, both new and old. Take Darth Vader’s face – which has been designed with fangs (similar to the villain), yet retains that triangular motif. We were also told that Malaysian wayang kulit is distinctly different from its Indonesian counterpart in terms of looks and design. Malaysian wayang kulit characters usually ride on ‘dragons’ or a platform of sorts (the Javanese version does not have this). So to suit the Star Wars theme, they made Darth Vader’s platform a smaller version of the Executor. Brilliant!

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Pak Dain performed the Star Wars story in standard Malay, which made it much easier to understand. Here Puteri Leia gives R2D2 the Death Star plans. Did I mention how beautiful the puppets are? They look modern yet traditional at the same time. Perfectly embodies the ‘fusion’ theme!

When the show ended, the audience gave a standing ovation. I truly hope that with this modernization of an ancient art form, they can continue to keep it alive and relevant to a new audience.

Sadly, there are not many puppet masters left in Kelantan, where Malaysian wayang kulit originates from. Once popular at family gatherings and other communal events, puppet shows were banned in Kelantan after the Islamic political party PAS came into power in 1990 (they banned it in 1998), as they deemed it “un-Islamic” (they also banned the Mak Yong, a traditional dance, but lifted this ban in 2019, subject to conditions). Now, wayang kulit shows can ONLY be performed at the cultural centre in Kota Bharu. Can’t help but feel like it’s a ‘token’ that they use to attract tourists, rather than a genuine art form celebrated for its historic value and artistry.

But I digress.

Even if you’re not a Star Wars fan, I highly recommend catching the Fusion Wayang Kulit show! Support the local arts, because I don’t think it’s promoted enough by the relevant bodies. To see ordinary Malaysians of different races and beliefs banding together to keep this old art form alive – not backed by any special funding, only driven by a love for the country and its arts – is, to me, the true spirit of Malaysia.

You can learn more about Fusion Wayang Kulit here. They also have a gallery in Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia’s First Ever Pokemon Festival ! @ Resorts World Genting

Want to see a bunch of bouncing Pikachus?

Then plan a trip to Resorts World Genting – as the Pokemon Festival descends onto the resort for Christmas and Chinese New Year!

From 1 December 2018 until 28 February 2019, join Pikachu and his friends as they frolic, play and captivate visitors with their amazing powers and adorable nature. Taking after the traditional of live Pokemon events worldwide, including the annual Pikachu Outbreak in Yokohama, the Festival will see a series of events big and small happening at the resort.

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90s kids will recognise iconic first-gen icons such as Pikachu, Eevee, Bulbasaur, Squirtle and Charmander on display in the malls, alongside dozens of other Pokemon species.

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Was at the media launch recently, where the crowd was entertained by a bunch of cute dancing Pikachus! You can catch them at various times daily as they meander through Level 1 of SkyAvenue. For Christmas, the parade will be accompanied by Santarina, Giant XmasBalls, and elves on two mini floats.

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Visitors will also find the world’s tallest Pokemon tree at Skytropolis Funland, Resort World’s Genting newly revamped indoor theme park. The tree  is decorated with hundreds of Pokemon figures, baubles and lights. Fans can also get up close and personal with a giant, inflatable 6-metre high Pikachu, surrounded by 50 smaller Pikachu plushies.

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Pokemon are scattered throughout the mall, so make sure to track down all 32 of them! Although, not all the characters have been unveiled, so you’ll have to wait for them to be ‘released’ over four stages – at Level 2 and 3 of Sky Avenue, First World Plaza, as well as Symphony Stage on Level 1 of SkyAvenue.

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There will also be a Pokemon Pop-Up Store on Level 3 of SkyAvenue, offering a huge array of premium merchandise and memorabilia imported directly from the Pokemon Centre in Tokyo, Japan.

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While you’re here, check out Wintry Santorini Above the Clouds, happening from 28 November to 1 January 2019, also at SkyAvenue Mall. Drawing inspiration from the island of Santorini in Greece, the ‘village’ emulates the brilliant whitewashed houses, deep blue-dommed roofs and graceful windmills, mingled with twinkling Christmas trees, golden bells and festive garlands. Indulge in Christmas treats and hunt for presents at the various vendors, as artificial snowfall gets you into the mood for a beautiful white Christmas.

More info on rwgenting.com/event-calendar/. 

Have a Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pedro n Coi @ Resorts World Manila – All Things Pinoy

Hey guys! I’m back with more Manila adventures 😉

So the Boy and I stayed at The Manila Marriott (blog post up soon fingers x) for a couple of days while I was in the city. We loved the place, but food options were severely limited to either: a) the in-house restos (which would burn an even bigger hole in our already bleeding budget lol) or b) the drive-through McDonalds.

We walked over to Resorts World Manila but again, restos were pricey. We finally settled for Pedro N Coi – a homegrown casual eatery owned by a former Miss Universe runner-up and her businessman husband. Pedro N Coi is a reference to the couples’ nicknames.

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The resto is themed around Filipino food and pop culture – and what screams Pinoy more than the ubiquitous Jeepney? Part of the dining space has been made to look like one, complete with a ‘drivers seat’, garish murals and quirky quotes like ‘Basta Sexy Libre‘ (Literally ‘if sexy, free’ ie you get a free ride – which is not applicable to yours truly :D)

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This man would definitely get a free ride if I was a jeepney driver winkwink.

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Murals of OPM (original pinoy music) album covers adorn the other side of the wall..

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As well as movie posters. This is from a popular fantasy drama series called Okay Ka, Fairy Ko.

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Colourful floral and fan decorations hang from the ceiling. The outlet also features wooden furniture and facades, complete with windows ala a traditional Filipino home.

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Of course.

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Boy says these are very commonly found in most Filipino households – jam jars turned into drinking glasses. 😀

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I’m not calling this a review per se because we only had one dish and a drink 😀

The ihaw moto (PHP150) is basically baked barbecue chicken fillet finished over a grill. The dish was served with rice, a side of pancit sotanghon (glass noodles) and topped with egg sunny side up. The chicken was tender and had a nice sweet glaze with a smoky aftertaste – pretty enjoyable! Sotanghon was seasoned well. I can see how hearty and comforting this would be for many Filipinos who work overseas and return to have their favourite dishes.

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Mango shake. Seeing as how the Philippine mango has such a reputation, I wanted to like this, I really did. I saw the kitchen staff peeling the mangos, even, so I know they prep it fresh and it’s not a bottled concentrate. It turned out quite bland. 😦

PEDRO n COI 

Fourth Floor, Resorts World Manila, Newport City, Pasay City

Opening hours: 11AM – midnight

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Bonus: If you’re in RWM by the way, check out this cool installation of an LED-light ‘rose’ tunnel – great for hipster pix!