Ian Wright Sews Pictures

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It would be a shame to travel the world and not capture what you see in either photographs, sketches, or words.

Globetrekker’s funnyman Ian Wright keeps some of his paintings and sketches online at his blog www.ianwright.tv, but he recently started sewing, too!

“My wife bought me a sewing machine,” he told me, during our interview last year (read the full article here) and I thought it quite comical, till I saw the finished products on his blog.

The tapestries are delightful colors of detailed beaded work and whimsical designs. See for yourself!

Around the World with Robin Esrock

Robin shooting in Cook Islands
Robin shooting in Cook Islands

Late last year, I interviewed Robin Esrock, the Canadian travel writer and host of “Word Travels” on Nat Geo Adventure. He gave us a lot of insights to share from his journeys and what he’s learned traveling the world.

It’s a great example of how global travel opens up one’s mind and heart, and gives one a better perspective on things. From my own experience with Living Asia Channel, I knew that Travel TV hosts, besides having one of the best jobs in the world, also had great potential to influence a huge audience in a positive way. In this interview, Robin talks about lessons he’s gathered from different cultures, and also tips on making it in the very competitive field of travel writing.

I don’t get Nat Geo or the Travel Channel on my German cable here at home, so I miss many of my favorite shows, but reading this interview brings Robin Esrock out of the TV screen and into the heart and mind of a writer who has truly learned to connect with and empower his audience.

Robin in the Philippines!

Read the full interview article on Mabuhay magazine’s online website, by clicking here.

What Ian Wright Said

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In late November 2011, I spoke with Globetrekker TV host Ian Wright via a long-distance phone call. He was so endearing, insightful, and funny! I’ve edited my questions here, for space, but Ian’s answers were too good to cut at all. Hopefully you can read it and hear his chuckles, feel his warmth and joy, the same friendly chap he is onscreen—the Ian Wright we all know and love!

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How did you get into this fun role?

I never had any ambition for TV, ever! Never thought about it; no interest! But at the time, I was making joke videos with teens in a community center. There was an ad in the paper that said, “Presenter Wanted.” They said to send in a show reel, so it was an excuse to make another joke video. A friend and I made a script and filmed it in two days, pretending London was the Caribbean*. I knew that the first ten seconds of the reel were the most important ever! They chose five people out of 3,000! I’ve been here now 18 years and they can’t get rid of me…I ‘aint goin’ nowhere!

(*View that original funny video at www.ianwright.tv )

 How do you choose the show’s destinations? Are you part of the production planning team?

We presenters really are the laziest ones in the crew, we don’t do anything. In the beginning, there would be a list of about 12 destinations, and if there was a place I really wanted to go, we would have a little wrestle with the other presenters.

 How many countries have you visited so far?

After 100, I gave up counting! It got too insane, really!

 What are your most memorable encounters so far? And who are the characters you’ve met who inspire you?

It’s really all those small things that are mind blowing. In the middle of Mongolia, walking down a side street, there’s a guy there covered in oil, he speaks six different languages and has got four degrees, and we’re chatting, and I realize: I can’t speak any other language and I got no degree! You know you are just lucky where you are born. You come across people like that, and you’re humbled. You think, “God I’m doing this stupid little travel show!” But you are the glue that glues these people and their extraordinary experiences together.

 How do you establish such a warm rapport with different people and cultures? Are you the same guy on and off camera?

You can’t practice funnyness. All my stuff is non-scripted; it’s who I am. You just get up and deal with the situation—whatever comes! Sometimes, you ‘aint got a clue what’s going on, you just react how you react. For me, it’s perfect because I’m so lazy, I don’t have to do anything!

How do you feel about being a “celebrity”?

It’s koo-koo out there in Southeast Asia, where they recognize me! It’s a little hard to deal with and spooky! It’s nonsense what you do, but people are looking at you, it’s a bit looney! So now, I don’t do any work on any local British channels ever, and I never will. Because this is the country that I live in, and I don’t wanna be a celebrity here.

On your other show, “VIP Weekends with Ian Wright”, you’re often in a suit. How did you adjust to that?

One of the most difficult, hardest things I have ever done was with royals Lord and Lady Canarven, at a banquet, in castle. Having to be part of that and having to start chatting, was one of the most intimidating things to do! I was so insecure, it was tough!

How do you keep the show fresh and hold your viewers attention?

I can’t help but be excited by things! If I didn’t get excited by them, it would show. I’m getting paid to go abroad and do these extraordinary things. It’s a privilege and a joy! Sometimes I meet cameramen who are jaded, and I think, “You’re mad (crazy)! You should enjoy every second! We are the miniscule percent who are privileged to experience this!” Ninety percent of people on this planet can’t even dream of stepping on a plane. Never forget that.

If Esquire or Vanity Fair ever asked you to pose sexily on their cover, how would you react?

Well, a sexy pose is a subjective thing. The only reason I would be on there would be for fun. If it was serious, there would be no point. Any magazine worth anything should reflect who you are, and your personality. With me, you can only get something funny. As for sexy, no one is that good a photographer, ha!

You have travelled all over the world and encountered so many cultures and people. What is something you have seen that is common in everyone?

What unifies everyone is humor! Everyone loves a fart joke! Southeast Asia is a buzz of humor; they thrive on it! Taiwan has dry humor like in England—it’s amazing! All over Asia, they’re all up for a laugh and maybe that’s why the program is successful.

You must have witnessed lots of sad things, too.

You know, you can read the Bible and it makes sense, but anyone in charge of it hasn’t got the strength of character to live by what they preach. People get corrupted by power. There have always been people standing up for their rights whom you never hear of—they are the real heroes. They are the most extraordinary. But in some countries, those who stand up against everything, they disappear.

Tell us about your secret hobbies!

My wife just bought me a sewing machine. I love it! It’s a different extension of painting or drawing, which I also do. My wife does sculptures and clay work, so we are quite an arty gang. She set up community centers doing art and drama. I used to teach art classes. She’s running the whole thing, trying to get funding, and when I come back from jobs, I help her as much as I can.

What would you suggest to world leaders, to make our world a better place?

Because of my previous work with the community centers, my thing is grass roots. You have to create opportunities and things to do in poor areas where they have nothing and feel worthless. The creativity that comes from anyone—given the opportunity—is off the scale. If you think you never have the opportunity, then you never better yourself.

Do you have a survival kit during tapings?

I don’t take anything. But did you know that Super Glue was invented in the Vietnam War to stop wounds? I take watercolors and my sketch book.

What are your plans for Christmas?

I’ll be here in England with my wife and family, and it’s gonna be Heaven. My wife is the best cook in the world and we’re gonna have an iconic, traditional Christmas. I couldn’t live anywhere that doesn’t have four seasons. It’s phenomenal, magical! Everything transforms and looks beautiful.

And lastly, of course we want to know: When will you visit the Philippines?

I was meant to go there around this time, but now we’re off to Singapore instead, so I’m quite annoyed. All the Phillies I’ve met are always loud and bubbly, just fantastic! So if the country’s anything like that, I can’t wait! …I will get there eventually!

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Note: The interview above was published in Mabuhay Inflight Magazine, December 2011. http://www.eastgatepublishing.com 

Englishman Ian Douglas Wright was born on May 17, 1965. He is the longest running host on the award-winning series, Globe Trekker (Lonely Planet). The travel/adventure show has been broadcast to more than 30 million viewers in over 40 countries. Visit Ian’s blog at www.ianwright.tv.

 

Interviewing Maria Aragon

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Below is the full interview I had with Maria, now published in this month’s issue of Mabuhay magazine (Travel+Lifestyle Inflight on Philippine Airlines). Enjoy :)

(Special thanks to Maria’s family for the interview.)

Maria Aragon: Pint-Sized Ambassador

(Mabuhay Magazine, September 2011 Issue)

In this digital age of reality-TV celebrities and overnight YouTube sensations, one eleven-year-old is using her voice to send the world a positive message.

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A lot of kids have access to the internet nowadays. What should they know about using it?

You should always be aware of the content you’re putting up. You should know that what goes on the internet, stays on the internet. Be careful and make sure that you’ll never regret it. Also, always ask your parents before going on.

So do you have internet rules at home?

No, I think I’m pretty trustable!

Tell us how you got on YouTube.

My sister filmed my video, then my dad and her thought of putting up the video on YouTube.

How did you learn to play piano and sing?

I don’t know how I learned—I just sang and it happened.

So it’s natural, you never took lessons?

I only took lessons after I went on Good Morning America and they gave me piano lessons.

Were you nervous on your interviews, or are you normally quite outgoing?

The first interview I had was on a local radio station in Canada with the coolest radio guy ever. He was so welcoming; he made it natural for me to talk on air. And I guess it just went like that!

Your mom and sisters go around with you all the time. Are you close with them?

Yeah. We always have to be close, there shouldn’t be any fighting.

What do you want to be when you grow up? What’s your dream?

I wanna be in the music industry, but that’s what I wanna do now. It may change in the future. But music and singing is my passion and I want to learn more about it.

When you finally write your own music, what are your songs going to be about?

About different situations, and that we should always be thankful for what we have. A lot of songs now don’t have much meaning to them. They’re just repetitive. I think I would want to be like Michael Jackson and follow his footsteps, but with a different style. If I end up doing music, I wanna let the world know I was there. I want to make a mark on the world. I want to do something different.

What did you think the Philippines was like before you got here what were you picturing in your mind?

That there would be a lot of Filipino people!

Tell us about other places in the world that you want to travel.

I would want to go to a place, not just to visit, but to do something to help children. I would want to be a part of UNICEF. These past few interviews, before coming here, I hadn’t really talked about my view of the children in need. In the Philippines, it’s different and a lot of children are underprivileged. I kind of realized, I’m in the Philippines now!—And I should be doing something to help them.

I heard you’re doing something for kids soon?

It’s a walk called the ANCOP Global walk, in Mall of Asia. I’m gonna be walking and the money from that will go to poor children in need of education, we’re gonna help them out.

You’re eleven years old now. If you could travel into the future and tell your 20-year-old self something, what would that be?

For me, it would be, always stay grounded. And be thankful. I will never forget God and all my values. Most of all: be healthy, never get into bad stuff.

Okay, I’m going to quote you on that when I meet you again ten years from now!

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Last August 21, Maria joined the ANCOP Global Walk as its Philippine Ambassador, singing the theme song a bonus track in her album, “One Hope, One Dream”. It was a fundraising event at Mall of Asia with the CFC ANCOP Tekton Foundation. The walk was held simultaneously in various major cities across the globe to provide education to underprivileged children. www.ancopglobalwalk.com

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Maria Aragon is the youngest of four children born to Filipino parents Bienvenido and Mitchilin Aragon, from Laguna and Ormoc, who migrated to Canada in 1997. Videos of Maria singing popular coversongs on YouTube caught the attention of celebrity blogger Perez Hilton, who notified popstar Lady Gaga, who later invited Maria to perform a duet with her in Toronto. Maria’s video went viral and has since been viewed over 38 million times. She also sang for the UK’s Royal couple, met with Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and guested on “The Ellen DeGeneres show” and “Good Morning America”. Last July, her family returned to the Philippines for the first time in 14 years to record Maria’s album under Star Records.

Join over 57,000 fans on her Facebook page, or Visit Maria Aragon for updates at www.mariaofficial.com

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Photos of Maria by Mel Gatchalia