Jay Menes 

Filipino Storyteller, Actor, Facilitator, Adventurer

Life is Simple; Live Simple Life


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Feeling great in Emirates

Posted by Jay Menes on October 24, 2015 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (6)

15th Sharjah International Narrator Forum

September 25 - October 1, 2015

By: Jay Menes

"Mr. Menes, your ticket is cancelled." said by the ground personnel at the Emirates check-in counter.

Since this is my first time I asked what to do, they advice me to call up the one who booked my flight. I tried making a call to Mr. Aziz, my contact person in Sharjah, but my phone is having a problem of suddenly turning off when I am using it more than three minutes. Fortunately I was able to make a call however, I can't understand the voice. So, I just decided to send a message through texting, email and WhatsApp.

In the airport the free WiFi is not reliable so I've used my mobile data instead. My phone's problem is still occurring while I am typing the messages. Good thing that the person in charge is online, he answered my WhatsApp message, even though it is our first time using this medium in communicating. He advised me to wait for the confirmation of my plane ticket.

After a couple of minutes someone called up to my phone saying "Please go to the Emirates ticketing area" I"ve waited inside their office and I was there alone. As I approached the staff about my ticket, she told me that it wasn't there yet and I looked at my watch it was already 10:00pm. The last check-in for luggage is at 10:45pm.

One guy came inside the office inquiring about how much is the ticket from and to Dubai for December flight, this made me stop thinking for a while about my situation and eavesdrop. After their conversation, the ticket is now ready and they gave me the printout. I went to the check-in counter around 10:30pm. Finally I have my boarding pass and baggage claiming card.

The guy inside the Emirates office passes by to the boarding gate, we have the same flight schedule and I just say hi. After a few minutes chatting with him we became friends, his name is JT. Inside the plane we sat together at row 31 zone D. This made the eight hour flight not so boring. We talked about business in the Philippines and in Dubai.

I arrived at Dubai International Airport Terminal 3 at 6:00am. The Marhaba services got me covered as they gave my original U.A.E. Visa and assisted me go through the immigration procedure. Proceed to their lounge and have some coffee. After introducing to the driver he took my baggage and rides the service car - a brand new Chevrolet Impala. From Dubai airport to our hotel in Sharjah is about 10 - 20 minute drive without the heavy traffic.

September 26th

All of the participants met at Copthorne Hotel lobby.

We are from 20 different countries. In the evening, we leave to Sharjah Institute for Heritage (SIH) to meet the Chairman, Mr. Abdulaziz Al Musallam Al Khaaldi and welcome us to the event.

September 27th

The first day of the festival was held at The Cultural Palace. While waiting for the opening ceremony we stayed at the Reception Area for the chance to talk to each other. The program starts as the master of ceremony greets us in Arabic. The Chairman of SIH gave his speech and then followed by a performance from Spain who is a Syrian.

In the evening the opening of the book exhibition and the street of stories held at the Tales Road Tent. It contained what represented the street, shops, kiosks and corners that are all connected with the arts of narration. A stage is also been set-up for the three day performances.

September 28th

In the morning a phone call is received saying that we will go to SIH earlier. At the Institute, when we arrived there's some security measure going on, they checked my belongings and I wondered what is happening. A few moments later the Guest of Honor came, His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, the Ruler of Sharjah.

When he was inside the building he shook hands with everyone. All of us lined up and waited. Finally it's my turn to meet him "This is Jay from the Philippines" introduced by the Chairman. This is exciting, for it is my first time to shake hands with the "boss" of one of the seven Emirates. We were directed to the conference room to have a roundtable discussion with him.


After he left, the first forum was held at the Theater Hall. Consequently, they are speaking in Arabic.

In the evening it is my first performance. The venue is an open space but with roof in Al Majaz Waterfront. I am with Rosamaria (Mexico) and Julia (France). When we are having our sound check with the microphone the person manning the equipment is a Filipino, he's name is Gerry.

I started to extend the invitation to let them come and watch a storytelling show. Apparently, some are having apprehension because I am speaking in English. Nonetheless, I insisted to call the kids to sit down and we will start after getting less than ten spectators then I will perform my story. It will be followed by Rosamaria, supposedly after her is Julia, but her story will be in French and the translator is not available. So, I performed another story to complete the set. We ended up with good numbers of listeners including some workers in the area.

September 29th

We depart to SIH for the symposium. After the function, snack is served outside the Hall. I've noticed this lady who was also there at the opening ceremony. I approached her and asked. She is a Filipina, her name is Marjorie. We talked a bit about her work and the reason why I am in the Festival.

My second performance is at Central Gold Souk. The place is a mall for gold only. The stage is set near the entrance. Rosamaria and I were performing together. She goes first and then me. It is my first time to use the "Kubing" a jaw harp, before the story. We finished early because our audience is already there just roaming around.

Our driver, Rustam - a Kenyan living in Emirates, advised us to wait a bit for a cameraman will cover the activity.

For the second round, I go ahead and then Rosamaria. After we are done, an Indian guy approached me, saying that my story is similar to what they have in India. I told him, maybe because we are Asian; it travelled all over our continent.

September 30th

A roundtable discussion happened at the SIH. This time we have an interpreter and they are using a device by listening to the headphone.

My third performance is at the Tales Road Tent. I am the second Storyteller. Our audience are all grown-up who doesn't speak much of English. I tried to utter some Arabic words like kursii (chair), malik (king), jabar (giant) and shokran (thank you) to somewhat get their attention. Some stayed, some left and some are just being curious.

October 1st

The last roundtable conference was held at SIH. Right now, I actively participated by asking questions to the panellists. My thought that everything can be learned was mentioned. The use of technologies, gadgets and other modern approach were taught only, because another person introduced it to them. I suggest that if we can only offer to the young generations the beauty of our heritage/history in a way that is fun, interactive and interesting they will be engaged. Everyone in attendance seems got my thought.

While having our snacks, I asked Mr. Aziz if we have the time to visit Dubai for picture taking only. For the reason my flight back to Manila is tomorrow at 9:00am. He answered me with a yes! This was made possible due to the schedule of the closing ceremony will be at 8:00pm.

The journey begins from Sharjah to Dubai with my new friends Rosamaria and Julia. We reached the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Mall past four in the afternoon. What a joy!

As we travel back to Sharjah, Mr. Aziz informs us that expect a heavy traffic flow on our way. True enough; the streets are full of vehicles! This made me to get my camera to point and shoot some luxurious cars and beautiful buildings.

The path going to our hotel is not usual as we are observing. There are police cars and ambulance on the street. As we recall that we've seen a thick black smoke the other day. It is the Nasser Tower that was burned and that day they are making a clearing operation. The other lane is closed for they are cleaning the fallen debris on the street. And another incident happened on the next block.

We are at the hotel thirty minutes past seven in the evening. Quickly we change our clothes for the gathering.

A different driver fetches us going to SIH. It was Salah, whom he is married to a Filipina. We shared our experiences to him. While talking to him his phone rang, few minutes later he handed his phone to me, it is his wife. We speaks in Filipino during our conversation, her name is Allona.

During the recognition, Mr. Al Musallam gave the participants a certificate of appreciation, plaque, box of gift set and a leather bag. They also made an Arabic writing of my name.

At the hotel I saw the Filipino workers and I let them know that it is my last day to stay in Sharjah. They are Cember, Marian and Antonio, the others I didn't manage to have their names. These guys made it feels like home!


I am grateful to all of the men and women who worked hard for the success of the five day celebration which is always a one day event. Thanks to Mr. Abdulaziz Al Musallam, Mr. Aziz Reznara, and Ms. Aisha for making me part of the SINF.

Happy to have found new friends: Rosamaria, Julia, Rawan, Hassan (French translator), Muhammad (one of the drivers that I gave the Kubing) and among others.

To my countrymen that I've meet in Sharjah, you make my life far easier!

To my wife and to my children, you are all my inspiration.

Living the Filipino Dream. Mabuhay Pilipinas!


Indian Photographer and Jay inside the car

J: What is your name?

IP: Syahm.

J: You know what in the Philippines, your name means nine in English.

IP: In India nine is gay.

J: Oh, I'm sorry. How about Jay in India?

IP: Your name is winner.

J: Thank you! (fist in the air)

Tunisian and Jay inside the car

J: I saw your photos in the souvenir publication?

T: Really! J: You are with the Chairman and His Highness.

T: Where is it?

I show the page where it is located.

J: You are like the three wise men and then I sing "Three Wise Men" (to the tune of Three Blind Mice)

T: Hahahaha!

After which he shared it to the Chairman. (facepalm)

A Mexican woman revealed that my name Djalma - Jalma means "soul" and De is "to tell".

I will tell more stories coming from deep within - the Filipino soul.

Hop on for more adventures to come!

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

Posted by Jay Menes on July 23, 2015 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (0)

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.




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!



“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!



From Manila Bay to California Bay

Posted by Jay Menes on May 13, 2015 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (0)


By: Jay Menes

I arrived at San Francisco International Airport around 10:45am, after I got my check-in luggage I proceed to the money exchange counter to have some US dollars to use in buying the train ticket. The organizer told me to take the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and alight at the Rockridge Station then Vicky Reed will pick me up there. At 2:00pm, finally we’ve met at the station. She let me drop-off my things at 2635 Etna St. Berkeley, California. We stayed for a while at the residence of Diane Ferlatte – an Award Winning International Storyteller.


In the evening, we made an ocular visit to the venue, which is Orinda Community Center at #28 Orinda Way, Orinda, California. This is the Festival’s first time to use their facilities. The Festival Committees were there and I was introduced that I am from the Philippines. They prepared an acquaintance dinner for everybody. We went to dine at Siam Orchid Thai Restaurant and the rest of the group was already seated. I sat beside with the three featured Storytellers namely: Kealoha (Hawaii), Clare Murphy (London), and Kate Campbell (Nashville). Gay Ducey – Artistic Director, made an announcement and welcome us all.


April 24th

The Festival Staffs call time is at 2:00pm, but I went there early because I have to commute and take the train to Orinda Station. I walked from my place to Rockridge Station for about 25mins, got out to the next stop and walk for 10mins to the venue. The Chairpersons are Michael Baefsky and Steven Henegar, who designated us for the work to be done before the show begins at 6:00pm. I am in-charge of helping out for everyone. There are four rooms that we have to set-up, monitor and to standby for the duration of the Festival. We also prepared one room for the dinner that day.


The Pinole Valley High School Jazz Band performed as the audiences are filling up the chairs of the Main Auditorium. At 7:00pm the Opening Concert started, the Master of Ceremony welcomes and introduces the featured Storytellers they are Tim Tingle (Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma), Clare Murphy (London, England) Kate Campbell (Nashville, Tennessee)


After the show Vicky Reed together with Kate and Sara drove us to our place, that’s the start of us being together in the car, as she picks us up and drops us off in our designated house.


April 25th

The second day of the Festival begins at 9:00am, so all of us were there earlier to prepare the rooms. We designated one room for us to eat, serves as a stockroom and for safe keeping of our bags. The vendors are already in place.


Patrice Haan – Harper/Singer/Songwriter played some music before the crowd gets inside. All of the Storytellers performed at the Main Auditorium. There are break-out performances for the four of them in the different rooms throughout the day.


In the afternoon, I performed at the Open Mic Story Swaps and told them the story “La-on and the Seven Headed Dragon” by Gabby Lee and Marcy Dans Lee. It’s about the legend of Mount Kanlaon, an active volcano in Negros.

The evening concert featured the performances of the four Storytellers.


The rooms are all in full house attendance.


April 26th

The third day of the Festival is almost the same as the second day.


Peter Kasin – Irish Fiddle, serenade some music together with other two members. The morning concert performance was delightfully done by the four Storytellers.


This time in their break-out sessions they will be joined by a Mystery Guest/Storyteller from California. It is a privilege that I met one of them and had a good chit-chat; he is Joel ben Izzy – Author/Storyteller. I attended the Kid’s Concert, but there are only few seats occupied. They also have Kid’s Workshop: Stories and Crafts in one small room. We prep up the Main Auditorium for the final concert. Éclair de Lune sets the tone as she performs some music. The Master of Ceremony was Linda Yemoto, she called the Storyteller one at a time to perform. At the end of the concert they acknowledge all of the volunteers/staffs including me; it is their first experience to have a participant from the Philippines in their Storytelling Festival. They finish the Festival with their theme song and Kate Campbell plays her guitar as she always does in her performances.


Now it’s time to clear out the area, remove all the banners/signages, take down decorations, and pack-up our things.


The Committee organized a dinner party at the house of Linda Yemoto – Co-chair of the Festival. I took the time to thank them for the opportunity to be part of the event to learn, to perform and to enjoy their company. This is the only time that we have our photo op.



Let me express my heartfelt thanks to National Commission for Culture and the Arts for allowing me to take part of this momentous event.


Thank you to Bay Area Storytelling Festival and the Storytelling Association of California for the chance to witness how they are doing this wonderful festival of stories year after year.


I am grateful to Tina Bonanciar for trusting me her treasure to ensure that I will make it to the Festival in Orinda, California, USA.


My foster family in Berkeley, California namely: Maryclare McCauley, Guillermo Maturana, Bridget Moriarty, Olivia Maturana, and Stella (dog).


I appreciate you all of my sponsors, supporters, and friends.


To my family, thank you so much for your love and understanding.


Mabuhay Pilipinas!



I made a rebooking of my flight from May 10th to May 1st because the plan of visiting some Filipino groups / organizations in Los Angeles through the Cultural Affairs of the Philippine Embassy didn’t push through. As a result it made me homeless for the time after I left the house on April 30th at six in the morning.


So, I decided to do three things:

1. Go to the Philippine Embassy in San Francisco.

2. Ask the airline if I can rebook the flight back earlier.

3. Contact some friends in the Philippines and in California using Facebook messaging.


I went to the Philippine Embassy and talked to the receiving counter officer at the 6th floor that I will be asking for assistance regarding housing, the lady asked me to wait at the library. After an hour, Rey S. Sambitan approached me and made some suggestions. He left for attending some work, returns after 30 minutes with the decision. The Vice Consul – Carlyn Monastrial and Rey can help me to arrange to stay in the shelter (place for the homeless), but with the big luggage in me I think it is not a good idea. We went downstairs at the 5th floor to the travel agency to know if I can make the flight-out cut short. They decided that I should go to the airport to inquire.


I took the train from Powell Station to San Francisco International Airport and reached it at 2:00pm. At the airport I manage to find the aisle for Asiana Airlines, however it is already closed, for they only have one flight per day. I grab the phone and called up; fortunately I was able to talk to the personnel and was given a booking on the next day at 1:25pm departure.


With this in mind, I decided to stay in the airport until I can check-in my luggage and wait for the flight. This is like in the movie “Terminal” starred by Tom Hanks.


I notify the Philippine Embassy through text and email that I will sleep in the airport - with the permission of the police. That night Rey drop by and we had dinner. That moment I shared to him why I am in California, what I am doing and the future of my mission/advocacy. He also opens up his plan of what he wants to do in Legaspi City, Albay.


The last option is not a success either.


Being a (Travelling) Storyteller is indeed a journey that is full of stories. Till next time.


I've been Iranized by: Jay Menes

Posted by Jay Menes on March 15, 2015 at 8:55 AM Comments comments (1)

17th Iran International Storytelling Festival

February 16 - 19, 2015 in Kermanshah

Eleven Storytellers came and performed in Kermanshah, Iran for the 17th Iran International Storytelling Festival from February 16 – 19, 2015. The four days event was an action-packed filled day, totally wonderful, hilariously amazing, exhilarating minute by minute sequences.


The Storytellers were: Patti Warnock (Canada), Emily Andre (Brazil), Lillian Rodriguez – Pang (Australia), Kristin Pedemonti (USA), Iskuhi Avetisyan (Armenia), Julian Maya Anderson (Colombia), Onyango Owino (Kenya), Jawad El Biad (Morocco), Naziha Saleh (Lebanon), Maryam Kheirbaq (Syria) & Jay Menes (Philippines). This is like a United Nations Storytelling Festival that you could hear different languages spoken.


All of us performed with a translator on stage, some are acting it out, some are doing it with the character voices, and some are just feeling the story comes out. Off stage, they are guiding us with the interviews for television, radio and on print. They are also translating the story while the great Iranian Storytellers are on stage.


Now let me give you the highlights in Iran:



All of us finally met at Alborz Hotel in Tehran, since I am the last one to arrive. Around 5 o’clock in the morning we went to the Domestic Airport (Mehrabad). We will be on board going to the province of Kermanshah. It is my first time to see such a big bus to get us to the plane (Iran Aseman).


After fifty minutes, we are at Kermanshah Airport. The weather is -3° C. I’m wearing a T-shirt and a jacket with hood. We took the service bus going to our home. Our new place is the Parsian Kermanshah Hotel.


At the hotel lobby, we were greeted by children, a boy and a girl read a message in English welcoming all of us and then they gave us a red flower.


Just after getting our room key card, we set our foot for a tour. The first stop is Bisotun, to see the monumental relief of Darius I, King of Persia. A distinguished Archaeologist explains the importance of it in history. Then we went to the hotel to eat our lunch. Everyone met their translator except me for he will be arriving the next day from Tehran


Early morning after breakfast, I’ve met my translator, Mr. Mostafa Keivanmanesh, a University Professor in Tehran. We introduced ourselves to each other. I presented to Keivan - which is how he wants to be called – the story and what are we going to do on stage.


The Festival was held at the Kanoon Theater Center. During the first day it was started with an opening ceremony, the children presented a musical number, Mr. Reza Mozouni, Executive Manager welcomes us all in Kermanshah.


Jawad is the first international storyteller to perform with Sajad his translator. I’ve been notified that I will be performing in the afternoon. So Keivan and I look for a place to rehearse. This is my first experience to perform on stage with a translator. As we are in the room I’ve told him about the gist of the story and the movement will be done by me, Keivan will be doing the translations with such emotion. In between of this we are being invited for snacks and interviews.


The confirmation of our performance came; I will be the last Storyteller to perform. As both of us are on backstage I encourage Keivan to relax by doing some warm-ups, try to be silly and we did some stretching. When my name was announced we are onstage with much expectation to close the first day into high energy and much fun. True enough everyone in the audience just had so much excitement, laughter is everywhere, and it was a wonderful performance, thanks to Keivan for keeping up the pace.


We went to the hotel and had our dinner. They organize a visit to the Kermanshah Bazaar. It was very cold and it’s raining, for a man from a tropical country that is a chilling feeling. After the shopping, we reached our hotel and we’ve been called out for a meeting with Mr. Ali Khanjani – Author / Researcher of Kanoon for some questioning regarding on how to improve, develop and propagate the Art of Storytelling.


The second day of the Festival was at hand and the International Storytellers who performed were Patti with Hasti, Onyango with Amin, Naziha with Ms. Amirian, Maryam with Ms. Amirian.


We saw at the venue they already set-up a traditional Kurdish tent.


For the entire day we had some interviews and picture taking.


Before we cap the night we visited Taq-e Bostan - it is known for its rock carvings (bas-reliefs) of Sāsānid origin (3rd to 7th century ad). The carvings, some of the finest and best-preserved examples of Persian sculpture under the Sāsānians. We ate our dinner at Jamshid restaurant where they serve the best kebab ever (also the biggest) with a tender roast lamb in it.


Now on its third day the powerhouse International Storytellers performed they are Kristin with Maryam, Lillian with Nooshin, Emily with Azam, Julian with Behzad and Iskuhi with Mr. Ghazarian.


In the afternoon, we ate the special food – lentil soup, ash (thick soup) and bezhi (fortune cookies) at the Kurdish tent together with the bosses of Kanoon.


I was requested and other three International Storytellers to be onstage to do a small act. The scenario is a baby keeps on crying and we have to hush her with our lullaby, preferred song will be from our country. The puppeteer brought the baby and now the crying is getting louder so he asks us to help him. We did everything we could, I carried the baby (just a doll) and then Naziha and then Jawad got it but still crying. Emily have it and then she sang her lullaby, we joined her so the baby stops crying and went to sleep. Before we can go down the puppet challenge us to chant in Persian. We obliged even though it is a tongue twister and we had fun as well as the audience.


Once again, we were requested to have a meeting, now with Mr. Alireza Hajian Zadeh, Managing Director of Kanoon for some insights about the Storytelling Festival.


We had our dinner at the hotel and they announced that we will have a closing party.


At the party the bezhi (fortune cookies) was served. They reminded us not to eat the cookie instead just break it because one gold ring can be swallowed. Luckily it was Patti who got the ring.


There were performances such as:

• Storytelling by a young man and by a ten year old girl – Rana

• Comedy Sketch by the Puppet, Onyango and Jay. The premise is to help our brother propose to his girlfriend for marriage. This is quite odd because a Puppet has an older brother which is black and brown. I promise to give money to the wedding and Onyango to dance. The best part of it he gave a sample of a good dance moves together with the puppet that seems both of them don’t have any leg bones (the puppet has no bones actually).

• Dancing by ten Kurdish men who did the traditional Kurdish dance with the strong beat from a drum and a trumpet like instrument. The floor was shaking with their hard and strong stomp while they are holding hands doing the moves.

• Singing by the famous Singer in Iran and his six member band. They did some fast/danceable songs and some lullaby to honor the kids of Kanoon.


The last part is the unveiling and launching of the new books.


We are at the closing ceremony at around 9 o’clock in the morning. All of the bigwigs and the pillars of Kanoon were there. It is indeed a full house theater.



The children at the opening performed again. Kanoon’s children musical theater presented the story of water. It is about during that time when Iran experienced drought they prayed to God for rain. With fervent prayer of the children it rained on their cheeks, to their land and to their country.


The Festival Committee chose two Storytellers to perform they are - Jay Menes (Pilandok and the Crocodiles) and Farideh Mahmudi (A Pair of Shoes).


As our names being called on stage we are given a Golden Crow Trophy (a symbol of Kanoon), Certificate, Coarse Carpet (Kermanshah Handicrafts) and a small blue box (snowman inside)


The photo opp is outrageously fabulous. I just felt like I won an Oscar / Tony / Grammy award. Almost all types of human being came to us to have a picture taking. Now I know how it feels to be a Rock Star! The experience almost made me cry like a baby but no sound!


When everything was settled we hop onto our bus, went to the hotel to rest and then eat. They gave us the specialty of Kermanshah – khalal.


A surprise came that the boys will have a night out… swimming!


The hotel had a basement swimming pool, Jacuzzi, and sauna but for men only.



At the Kermanshah Airport - While waiting at the airport lounge we noticed Jawad is talking to a pretty lady named Shahrazad – is it a coincidence that her name is also the name of the Queen / Storyteller in "1001 Arabian Nights" movie? hmmmm - for quite a long time now. And they are both having a good time as we can see it at the corner of our eyes (wink wink). It seems they are alone in that moment.

Kristin saw a baby who is crying. She got her bottle that can produce bubbles and she started to blow it in the air. When the two year old baby saw it she stops crying and went to Kristin trying to catch the bubbles. Suddenly she sits on Kristin’s lap; they’re just having a fun time.


Jay while talking to Onyango about Jawad (he still talking to the pretty lady at this time), a group of 5 or 6 teenagers walk towards our area and started to sit in the lounge chairs where we are. They started to ask questions but the one that is good in English directed it on me.


Iranian Girl: Where are you from?

Jay: I’m from the Philippines. Are you having a fieldtrip?”

IG: Yes

J: Where?

IG: In Tehran

J: asking permission. How old are you?

IG: I’m 15, she is 16. Do you have a family?

J: Yes

IG: How many kids do you have?

J: 4

IG: Do you have a picture?

J: stops for awhile and get some photos inside the bag. Here’s the photo of my family.

IG: Oh, your kids are all pretty.

J: Thanks. Here’s the photo of my wife.

IG: excitedly get the photo. You have a beautiful wife!

J: answered calmly. Yes, deep breath. Because I am a handsome man!

The teenagers are laughing out loud.

J: You can’t have a beautiful wife if you are not a handsome man!

You can hear guffaws all over the airport. Then the announcement of our boarding came.


PEOPLE: Iranians are welcoming, warm, always ready to help, kind and willing to share. The children, men and women are good looking! The musicality of Iranian people is so high just like the Filipinos.



PLACE: Kermanshah is like studying world history and you are there. It is a province that has a cosmopolitan feel. The weather is quite interesting that they have snow not this year. They are building a train system that I think is a preparation for more tourists to come.


FOOD: There is a wide variety of food ranging from chelow kabab (rice served with roasted meat: barg, koobideh, joojeh, shishleek, soltani, chenjeh). The flat breads (nan) and lavash are good to taste. A diverse variety of salads, pastries, and drinks are interesting especially the one that you can only eat in Kermanshah.- khalal.



THANK YOU NOTES: I would like to thank the Institute for the Intellectual Development of Children and Young Adults (Kanoon’s) officers and staffs for the opportunity to experience Iran and the Festival, for letting me to share Filipino stories, our culture, and our country. It is a big push toward creating our own International Storytelling Festival.


I am so grateful to Minoo Abdollahi, an elegant woman, and an excellent coordinator. Also appreciating, Amin Davoodi, a prolific speaker who always gets our attention. Special thanks to our Translators because it is a golden way for us to communicate with the Iranian Storytellers and others. Big thanks to Mostafa Keivanmanesh - my good looking Translator and a great English teacher. And to the media who keeps the excitement alive, making the Festival a place to celebrate wonderful stories.


I am honored to share the big stage with the incredibly skilled ten Storytellers from all over the world. You have given me so much inspiration to keep on dreaming, pressing and achieving more. Lots of love from all of you! I would like to say obrigada to Emily for giving me the confirmation that my real name (Djalma) is from Brazil. Lastly to the Iranian boy who gave his drawing of me at the closing ceremony.


Most of all I am thankful to our audience for being so energetic, lively, full of life and fantastic lover of stories. The smiles radiates your soul how you appreciate our performances.


For all of the men and women who made this once in a lifetime achievement becomes a reality “Mabuhay kayong lahat!” Long live to all of you! See you next time.




If you want to follow the journey or just simply want to know what’s next you can like my Facebook Page: Storyhouse, check my website www.jaymenes.webs.com. You may drop a message to my email at [email protected].


You can also be our supporter/s by encouraging, inviting, sharing your time or by donating to our cause.


Let me be of service to you!



I will be participating at the Bay Area Storytelling Festival on April 24 – 26, 2015. Maraming Salamat!


Right now, in the process of organizing the International Storytelling in the Philippines (ISiP) on November 14, 2015. If you want to be part of it as our International Storyteller / Presenter kindly send me your confirmation on or before June 30th. We can only give you accommodations, food and lots of love. I’ll be arranging a tour to perform / workshop and to enjoy Manila! Stay with me for a week!


Storytellers are hiSTORYmaker

Posted by Jay Menes on August 8, 2014 at 9:50 AM Comments comments (0)

I am a Storyteller since 2002. It was an accident!


Why did I say so, for I've studied Business Administration in a state university. That I ever dreamt of was to become a millionaire doing business but to my surprise I went into becoming a performing artist.


It started of when the church I am attending recognized my voice for singing, so they let me audition and voila I'm in as a band singer. After being with them for quite sometime I joined another band.


Then another instance as I am reading a newspaper ad "Do you want to be a Host for children's party?" it get my attention and went. As I am inside their office I've noticed what they are really up to is to look for a Clown Host and so I did.


At that time I'm into performing it's either as a singer or a clown host then I started to look for something new and I ended up registering to a voice workshop by a theater company. After completing the sessions we had a recital that is like a musical play. Because I enjoyed this the next year I enrolled their Musical Theater class.


Now I am a theater actor. Due to small community of actors I was referred to try a small theater company that teaches street children into performing. I went there and became an Acting Teacher for children, teens and adults. Sometimes I do directing for other One-Act Play.


By the way before I go further I still do have a corporate work while I was doing all of that. I am a banker.


Another turn of event happened. The bank is preparing for a cultural show for the anniversary, they are looking for some employees who can sing, dance and act. So I am called and became part of it.


The director of the show noticed that I am good and told them that I'm into theater. They made an arrangement after the show, took me to be part of their theater company. Eventually referred me to one of their colleagues to do cameo role on television.


Also I opted out to try reading stories to children that I attended a workshop. This gives me more meaning what I want to do in my lifetime.


Now after having a good numbers of gigs, performances and shows I resigned as a banker and into full-time freelancer, doing some business.


The story is not yet done.


I found another love that is promoting the Art of Storytelling. In which I formed Storyhouse to do so. As to date I am so glad to meet other International Storytellers that are also making history.


To know more of my hiSTORY making click here www.jaymenes.webs.com. Like my Facebook Page: Storyhouse

"We die only once why not make history"

Art of Storytelling

Posted by Jay Menes on February 22, 2012 at 2:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Question: What is the quickest way that people listens when you speak?

Answer: It's your stories.

If you master the art of telling compelling stories that make unforgettable points, you will thrive as a powerful speaker that people will listens.


At its core, Storytelling is the art of using language, vocalization, and/or physical movement and gesture to reveal the elements and images of a story to a specific, live audience.


What is a story? Most dictionaries define a story as a narrative account of a real or imagined event or events. A story is more generally agreed to be a specific structure of narrative with a specific style and set of characters and which includes a sense of completeness. Stories are the building blocks of knowledge, the foundation of memory and learning. Also stories connect us with our humanness and link past, present, and future by teaching us to anticipate the possible consequences of our actions.


What is a telling? It is the live, person-to-person oral and physical presentation of a story to an audience. "Telling" involves direct contact between teller and listener. It mandates the direct presentation of the story by the teller. The teller's role is to prepare and present the necessary language, vocalization, and physicality to effectively and efficiently communicate the images of a story. The listener's role is to actively create the vivid, multi-sensory images, actions, characters, and events-the reality-of the story in their mind based on the performance by the teller, and on their past experiences, beliefs, and understandings. The completed story happens in the mind of the listener, unique and personal for each individual.

Storytelling is an interactive performance art form.

Storytelling is, by its nature, personal, interpretive, and uniquely human.

Storytelling passes on the essence of who we are. Stories are a prime vehicle for assessing and interpreting events, experiences, and concepts from minor moments of daily life to the grand nature of the human condition. It is an intrinsic and basic form of human communication. This is more than any other form of communication, the telling of stories in an integral and essential part of the human experience.

Storytelling is what happens when a story is told, face to face, eye to eye, mind to mind, heart to heart. The story is intimately known by the teller, spoken aloud, and shared, like a gift, with the audience.

Storytelling is the oldest oral art. Many years ago, when the only form of communication was by word of mouth, stories were the only means of gaining information and spreading news. Stories taught us who we were, where we came from, and how we should relate to each other.

Storytelling encompasses a vast heritage of lore, myths, epic tales, folk tales, traveller’s tales; tales of the creation of the world, tales of its destruction; sagas of Gods and men; all the great traditional legends from around the world. It includes personal stories and yarns.

Storytelling is more than just performance or entertainment; Storytelling can also educate, heal, lead to better practice in business, and inspire and change lives.


Storytellers have in common the need to expand and develop their speaking talents for this is a public speaking art form.


The Art of Storytelling draws upon other art forms such as:

• Oral Interpretation

• Stage Acting

• Theater Performance.

Benefits of Storytelling

• Motivating kids to read more stories on their own, thus improving their reading skills and building their vocabulary.

• Develops creativity and feelings of empathy for other people.

• It has great healing capabilities.

• Helps students better understand and later recall information.

Storyhouse is an open organisation which welcomes anyone with an interest in oral storytelling, whether teller, listener, beginner or professional. We are actively bringing like-minded people together to enjoy, discuss and practice the art of storytelling. Also offers opportunities, resources, workshops, coaching and accreditation for storytellers. We provide an avenue or forum for storytellers to share their skills. However, for us at Storyhouse, stories are TOLD, rather than read aloud. Stories are not read from books but retold by the tellers, making each interpretation unique.


Objectives of the Art of Storytelling workshop:

• Promote the “art” of storytelling.

• Create remarkable improvement in public speaking.

• Learning the crafts of International Storytellers.

• Develop communication skills.

• Enhance cultural understanding on Filipino traditions and values.

10 Delivery Guidelines for Storytellers

Posted by Jay Menes on July 24, 2011 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)

1. Don’t move all the time

If you are always moving then no movement will be meaningful. Your audience willnever know what’s most important. Move with a purpose. When there is no reasonto move, don’t.

 It’s the action in your story. Let the action in your story prompt your movement on stage.If you have a story in which you move from the living room to the kitchen, show that movement on stage. That means you must have designated spots for the kitchen and for the living room on your stage. And those spots must stay there for the length of that particular story. Listen to what might happen if they don’t.

2. Don’t forget about your face

Your facial expressions are more important than all your arm and hand movements combined. The eyes are indeed the windows to the soul.

3. Use yourcharacter’s gestures

Each story has its own characters and each character probably has his or her own way of gesturing. When you takeon the role and persona of that character, you should use his or her gestures. While rehearsing your speech, consistently ask yourself, “How would this character say this?” In other words, every character should not look and act like you. Each character should act differently, because that will help us see those characters with greater clarity. So again, keep asking:

How would this character say this?

4. Let the emotions drive

The emotions in your story will drive your movements. If you are intoxicated with your emotions while telling your story, the appropriate gestures will come. It will be effortless. Think about it. When you’re really angry at someone or something, do you have to think about what gestures to use? No, they come automatically. If you build the emotion, the gestures will come.

5. Use Surround-Sense Gestures (360 Degrees)

The most effective storytellers realize there is an entire area around them andthey utilize it. Feel free to gesture down for the lower dimension.

6. Don’t usethe same gesture over and over again

This is evidence of a habit and most likely distracts from your presentation.

7. Watch out for your resting position

This is the position your hands fall to when you’re not using a gesture.

8. Use an open hand

It’s better to point to your audience with an open hand rather than an index finger. It’s less threatening and more inviting. The open hand is also effective when calling back to spots on the floor as you revisit the points, characters, and stories you previously used. A body language expert recently told that palms up are much more welcoming than palmsdown as you deliver your message and especially when you point to someone in your audience. Apparently palms down can have a condescending effect.

9. Use bigger gestures for bigger audiences

Don’t mismatch the size of your audience with the size of your gestures. When the audience gets bigger, you must get bigger.

Also, make sure you match their energy at first. For example, if you have a laid back audience, you can’t come out screaming and excited, because they’ll be looking for the nearest exit. Instead, meet them on their energy level and then, once you connect with them there, they will follow you to your natural energy level. It’s called Pacing and Leading. You must initially meet them where they are, not where you are.

10. Smile

Often the first thing to go when a storyteller gets on stage is his or her smile. That’s unfortunate because the smile can connect you with your audience before you even say one word. So smile… when appropriate!

Telling Your Story Effectively

Posted by Jay Menes on May 26, 2011 at 2:05 AM Comments comments (2)

Thoughts to remember:

1. It’s the look before and after the character line that really makes that line work.

2. Both posture and positioning of your characters are important when delivering their lines.

3. Paint the picture of where each character is located. Should he/she be looking up, down, near, or far away, etc. when delivering the character lines?

4. Make sure the audience know which character is talking.

5. Make sure you take on the persona of each character. For example, the King should come across as authoritative.

6. Posture, Positioning, Persona and Proper Voicing will breathe life into each scene.

How To Be More Positive

Posted by Jay Menes on September 22, 2010 at 11:10 PM Comments comments (0)


1.  Stop comparing yourself to others


Stop comparing yourself to other people. Until you stop doing this, it will be very hard for you to feel grateful about what you already have. And if you always think other people are better off than you are even though you are the one who deserves more, it's going to turn you cynical and bitter over time.


- Stop comparing your career success with other people's. There's always going to be someone richer than you.

- Stop seeking approval from other people

- Compare yourself to yourself. See how much you've grown and how far you've come. Compete against yourself, but not with other people.

- Understand that everyone has different strengths and priorities


2) Consciously look for something good in everyone you meet

This will probably sound cheesy, but I strongly encourage you to try to lookfor something good in everyone you meet. It will help you act more positivetowards them.


- Think about "why" someone would do something rude and excuse their behavior the best way you can

- Do not make the assumption that everyone is against you

- Just set a good example yourself rather than trying to change people

- Think about what lessons you have learned from the encounter, even if it is "this is why I don't want to be like them



- Focus on the things they are good at rather than the things they are bad at

- Identify one or two things they can do better than you


3) Detach yourself from "fairness" or justice

I don't think it's a coincidence that most of bitter or less positive people usually have a strong sense of fairness or justice. Specifically, they tend to think the world has done them wrong or that "the world isn't fair". The world has never been fair and never will be.

Here are a few tips on how to dealwith it:


- Understand that fairness is subjective. What's fair to you may not feel fair to other people.

- Learn to deal with uncertainties and random events

- Tolerate and forgive

- Help people when you can, but don't get angry

- Do things because you ENJOY doing them, not because you expect anything in return

- Realize that no system or rules can benefit everyone all the time

- Adapt to the world rather than forcing the world to adapt to you.


4) Stop Thinking It's Either All Their Fault or All Your Fault

This is an extension of the last point about fairness. Stop seeing the world in black and white. It is hard to stay positive when there's always a blame game or negative self-talk going on.  Accept responsibility for your own actions - nothing less, nothing more. Do not blame others, but do not carry someone else's burden on your shoulders either.


- Stop thinking about things in termsof black and white. Accept the fact that sometimes both parties should take responsibility.

- If you're always blaming yourself, chances are, you should not be taking responsibility for everything.

- If you're always blaming other people, chances are, you should start looking internally as well


5) Focus on what you want instead of the problem

There's an old saying, "Focus on the solution, not the problem."Unfortunately, thinking about solutions often lead to other problems. People often think of solutions that are polar opposites and "get stuck" weighing the pro's and con's of each one. This gets them stuck in a loop that they can't get out of and they become bitter, negative, and angry. (It's hard to remain positive when all solutions seem to bring you additional problems!)


- Think about what you want rather than what your problems are

- Build an action plan that will help you get what you want

- REMEMBER what you want so that you can focus on your long term objective and ignore the short term pain when things get tough.


6) Improve your social skills

Many people feel angry and bitter because they feel disconnected from the world. They do not trust other people, but at the same time they don't understand why other people don't like them. If you belong in such a category, I'd recommend you:


- Learn to interpret body language and non verbal signals

- Make eye contact and smile

- Learn to be an active listener

- Learn to give compliments rather than criticism

- Take a few acting classes

- Volunteer and join a few hobby clubs

- Learn how to have fun with people

- Improve your own body language


7) Learn to manage your behavior

Learn to manage your behavior so that you can actively choose what you say and what you do. This will help you become a more effective communicator and people will see you as a more positive person as a result.


- Observe the effects your words and actions have on people

- Revisit your values and make sure they are congruent with your actions

- Take a few communication classes and get some third party feedback

- Avoid criticizing things and people in public

- Try not to say anything if you don't have anything nice to say.

- Get to know yourself under stress


8) Read Biographies

Read biographies of successful people and see how many normal, everyday people like you and me have accomplished the "impossible" by staying positive during tough times.


- Focus on their attitudes

- See their strengths and weaknesses

- Ask yourself what you could accomplish if you had the same spark or passion


Why Do I Love You - A Poem by Jay Menes

Posted by Jay Menes on September 21, 2010 at 7:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Why Do I Love You?

Jay Menes



Why Do I Love You?

Is it because I saw the sun in your heart


Why Do I Love You?

Is it because I saw the star in your lips


Why Do I Love You?

Is it because I saw the moon in your smile


Why Do I Love You?

Is it because I saw the sky in your eyes


Why Do I Love You?

Is it because I saw the light in your hands


Maybe yes, maybe not

But no matter what I saw

I will still love you.



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