Jay Menes 

Filipino Storyteller, Actor, Facilitator, Adventurer

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More than words in Morocco - Journey to North-West Africa

Posted by Jay Menes on July 23, 2015 at 8:00 PM

12th Edition International Festival Morocco Hikayate (Tales)

July 4 – 11, 2015

By: Jay Menes


Words came “I want to inform you that we support your airline ticket” from Morocco. It was relayed to me by a phone call and a message to “Whats App”. Coincidentally, it was on the deadline that I set on June 30th, that if I can’t find a sponsor in the Philippines I will not pursue. Everything seems so fast that my flight will be on the 3rd of July.

 

I arrived at Mohammed V International Airport in Casablanca around 2 pm. After my exit at the Terminal I, it’s the start of my journey in the Arabic speaking country and sometimes they do speak French as their second language.



 

As I was assisted by Yassine to the parking lot, to my amazement a tour bus is waiting. I am the only one that was fetched, so we are three in this bus ride – the driver, a Moroccan guy, and a Filipino. Travel time from Casablanca to Rabat – which is the capital city, is one hour and thirty minutes.

 

We stopped at the Centre des Formations et des Rencontres Nationales

(Centre Of Training And The National Meetings) Building for the registration of all participants, then they drop me off to Yasmine Hotel. At the hotel, I met the other guests from Egypt, Syria, and Bahrain. The latter is the one whom I can speak in English.

 


July 4th

Morocco is partaking in one of the Five Acts of Worship which is Fasting, as they are in the month of Ramadan (Ramad means scorching hot or dryness).


 

Chicken Bastilla is Morocco's famous chicken pie. A light, crispy warqa pastry shell conceals savory saffron chicken, spicy omelet stuffing, and crunchy topping of fried almonds sweetened and flavored with orange flower water. A garnish of powdered sugar and cinnamon adds to the fabulous blend of flavors.


Mr. Amine – our designated driver, picked us up to have our iftar (meal at sunset) and afterward we will go to Avenue Moulay Rachid Square in Temara for the presentations of different countries.

 

For this 12th edition, the festival organizers have invited several popular storytellers, actors, professionals and troops from the 18 countries: Philippines, China, Russia, Bangladesh, Syria, Kyrgyzstan, Indonesia, Jordan. Palestine, Bahrain, Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Lebanon, Mauritania, and The Emirate of Sharjah (UAE) is the guest of honor. We presented wearing our national dress/costume. From that time, every night there is a performance.


 


The bus took us back at the Center for our suhoor (meal before dawn) and then to the hotel. Almost daily we are reaching our place at around 3 am.

 


July 5th

My first performance is at Bab El Had. The stage was set near the gate of medina, a marketplace. By the way “El Had" in Arabic means "the edge of the sword". It is the place where they execute criminals by decapitation.


 


The area is filled with tents for the bazaar. Each country has a booth to exhibit their cultural aspects like brochures, programs, books, products, etc.

 

The audience is just around the performing area. I’ve told the story in English and because not everyone can understand me I let them say some words as interaction. It went well as I can see from their faces that they are trying to get the story by my gestures.

 


July 6th

At 1 pm, our service car came and we will be speaking at the conference at Universite Mohammed V Rabat.

 

Each of us will be talking about Storytelling (Oral Tradition) in our country and with the theme “The fantastic common treasure and permanent link”. This time I ask a friend, Ms. Malika from Marrakech, Morocco, to help me in sharing my insights by translating my words in Moroccan Arabic. Indeed, it was a great moment for us!


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Later, after I alighted the bus to our hotel to freshen up and get some sleep they call me up for I will be performing that night. So they sent a service car together with Jawad (a dear friend who speaks English well) to pick me up. Upon reaching the venue they put me on stage to perform, my story is in English. I just did the same technique during my first performance. Since I am the last one, it just took me five minutes to finish the telling. Then all of the performers went on-stage for a “production number” dancing to the music of the drums, wind instruments and clapping our hands.


 

 

July 7th

We visited two places in the municipality of Ain Aouda to promote the Festival. On the first stop, it is in the little market; they were invited by calling them out using a small drum to a vacant stall. Some of the performers that I’m with started to do the magic trick, told stories and shared information about the event. I did the greetings “Mabuhay! I’m Jay from the Philippines” and teach them the beat of the “Tinikling” and I make the dance. Unfortunately, the adult wasn’t able to follow the rhythm but it’s a good try. There’s this one man approached me, talked to me in English and said that he had some Filipino co-workers in the Middle East.


 


The next stop, a small village; we settled in under the shade of a big tree. Did some program with the group. Now, I introduced myself again and also did the “Tinikling” rhythm/dance. Gladly the kids got the beat; we dance together for a moment.

 

 

July 8th

The organizer invited us to go to Bab El Had with our national dress worn because there will be a television coverage. For the whole day I’m on a long sleeve barong. Then, at night they ask me to join them to perform to a new venue in Rabat. This is my third performance and my first wearing this kind of barong. Fortunately, my friend, Jawad, is with me to translate everything I will be saying in front. We did the “Tinikling”, it was better this time. The performance is well appreciated, we did a wonderful job.




July 9th

I went out together with Sara and Yousif to the Bibliothéque de l’université at the Université Mohammed V Rabat to give some books. Afterward, we stroll down the marketplace at the city center, the walk was like two kilometers. Apparently, I still don’t have the Moroccan Dirham to buy some souvenirs, I tried to exchange the Philippine Pesos, but they are not accepting it.

 

At night, I watched the show in Temara.

 


July 10th

This is my “me time” moment! I walked around the City of Rabat in the afternoon. Finally, reached Hassan Tower, which is one of the tourist attractions, where you can see the incomplete minaret of the Hassan mosque that was intended to be the second largest mosque in the Islamic world in the 12th century after the mosque of Samara in Iraq. Getting on the other side, the beautiful marina bay is breathtaking. They have a park where you can just sit around and be amazed by the lovely sights. As I continue, I pass by a Money Changer, here I attempt to have my pesos be changed to dirham but it is not allowed. With a heavy heart, I went to the market again without the money to buy. I just make myself familiar with the merchandise in Morocco.


It is the last day at Bab El Had. The participants who had their booth will be packing up things. Performers are still on stage for the closing act.


At the Center, while having our suhoor, one man started to chant, others are taking part, and after a couple of minutes everyone is singing and clapping. The musicians got their instruments played it with the rhythmic sound. Voila! It’s party time! Some are dancing, including me, we are just having fun!

 


July 11th

In the morning I pack all of my things as I will be transferring to Hotel Rihab (a few meters away).

 

The Festival’s closing ceremony is held at Avenue Moulay Rachid Square in Temara.

 

I don’t have any idea what is happening on stage, I’m just guessing on how the flow of the program is going, for they are all speaking in Moroccan Arabic. Towards the end they call me to get ready for I will be given a certificate and the recognition.


 


We end the event in the festive mood!

 

As I am preparing to ride our service car going to the hotel, they instruct me to be in another vehicle. It’s the automobile of the President of Conte Act Association! She wants to bid farewell in the hotel parking. What a sweet deed! I embraced her, thanking her for the opportunity she gave and most of all the kindness that was shared.

 

 


THANK YOU NOTE:

Many thanks to all of the people behind the 12th Edition of International Festival Morocco Tales.

 

I am in great joy to the Conte Act Association for the airline ticket. Thank you to Mrs. Najima Thay Thay Rhozali.


 


Let me give my thanks to Fatima Zahra, Sara, Yassine, Amine, Jawad Elbied, Malika Benallal, Siham El-Alaoui, Hattab Aziz, Dr. Yousif Alnashaba.

 

My heart is glad to all of my new found friends in Morocco – foreigners and local.

 

To Adarna House, supporters, and friends thanks to you. I wish there will be more!

 

Gratitude to Mercy Montes - Menes and to my children. Your love and understanding keeps me going.

 

Mabuhay Pilipinas! Shukran Morocco!

 


TIDBITS:

“Honestly you are such a nice man to get to know, many did not understand your story but they liked your performance. Sure I enjoyed your story and the way of telling it.”

Dr. Yousif Alnashaba - Bahrain

 


“You are an amazing storyteller and Philippine is proud to have you,

keep up the good work and hope we can meet again”

Malika Benallal – Morocco



"Jay, thanks to you and your participation in Morocco Tales Festival was outstanding, You have left a very positive impact on the general performance of Morocco's capital, Rabat. Many television channels have followed your participation on the various Festival stages. I would like to welcome you on this and hope to have you back in the future Editions." (original text in French)

Najima Thay Thay Rhozali - President, Conte Act Association

 



Even though few words have spoken; the warmth is felt, the happiness is enjoyed.


Storytellers are here to play the pleasure of stories. Let’s go to the next telling!

 


 

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