the seagull on the rooftop (a poem)


(because i saw a seagull on a rooftop…)


dead centre there it stood

the seagull on the rooftop

watching the world for all it stood

in a standstill where it chose to stop


did it see the truck was blowing steam

did it know the rain would fall

did it ever, like you and me, dream

did it know the meaning of all


the seagull on the rooftop stood

where it stopped on the centre of the roof

watching the houses as they stood

eyes empty maws shut silent with reproof


was there life within those wooden shells

were the people happy there

what sort of folks did there dream and dwell

of what did they truly care


on the centre of the roof the seagull stopped

like a carving carefully placed

like a weathervane that had rusted stuck

contemplating what it might face


did it know what roof to choose or why

does it care the way we do

does it ever care if it lives or dies

do we stand on rooftops too


© Cindy Lapeña, 2014




























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12 Cards for 12 Occasions: A Big L.E.A.P. for Garden Home Seniors



Festive display of greeting cards made by senior participants in the Garden Home’s 2014 L.E.A.P. (Learning Elders Art Program) under the auspices of the PEI Senior Citizens’ Federation through funding from the PEI Department of Tourism and Culture, in cooperation with the PEI Council of the Arts.

The participants (14 regular) attended 12 weekly sessions to create 12 cards for 12 occasions.

The cards were displayed at an Open House Exhibit, where MLA Kathleen Casey handed out Certificates of Completion to the participants. Also in attendance was PEI Senior Citizens’ Federation Director Bill Oulton.

The experience was thoroughly enjoyable for the participants, as well as for myself! I would do participate in the LEAP program over and over again!

(The Garden Home is located on North River Road in Charlottetown)

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The tail-end of the storm…


The wind was so strong it pushed the snow through the screen on my balcony and covered the glass doors! The snow is knee-deep on my balcony by the doors, where the wind blew it and it caught with no where else to go. Down in the parking lot, the vehicles sit in cozy little wells except for the truck on the end, where the wind has blown the snow up on its side and over the roof of its cab. It’s actually nice and bright outside but the wind still howls and the trees sway here and there, swirling, twirling, confused in the wild north-easter.



there’s a tug-o’-war for spring
summer in no hurry to come
lazing somewhere in the tropics
winter struggling hard to stay
throwing temper tantrums when told to go away.

Charlottetown, 2014


My 2013 ArtSmarts experience


For the first time, I had the opportunity to join Culture PEI’s ArtSmarts program, and I must say it was an experience to remember!

This year, the program was organized in collaboration with the PEI Association for Newcomers and Sandy Macaulay’s Project-Based Learning class of pre-service B.Ed. students to fulfill the theme “Celebrating Diversity: Exploring Culture, Language, Identity and Global Citizenship.”

 I was lucky to be matched with pre-service teacher Robyn Christensen and Todd James, 7th grade Social Studies teacher at Birchwood Intermediate School, to work on a project that would be displayed at the Confederation Centre for the Arts on the 11th of December.
The first month, from mid-October to mid-November, was spent planning with Robyn. Todd had given her free reign over tackling the chapter on World War I. Originally, we began planning a performance that would be a combination of narratives and acting, more in the spirit of mime, but pretty much a “silent film news reel” type of performance so the students would not need memorize anything, considering how little time there was.
At our second meeting, Cecile Arsenault, who was then in charge of the ArtSmarts program, reminded us of the “diversity” aspect. Robyn and I agreed that the students would interpret the War from the points of view of the different nations involved. The prospect of creating a full production was daunting, so I suggested we use Asian shadow puppets, called Wayang Kulit, to introduce a new art form to the students. Robyn was reluctant at first, but warmed up to it when Cecile and Sandy both thought the idea was exciting. At our last planning meeting, Robyn constructed a shadow puppet from a model I had made, and from then on, she was completely hooked.
We decided that, to simplify the construction of puppets, that I would create the templates for the students to cut out and assemble, which they did in one hour. We spent another hour painting the puppets. Then, we took a whole afternoon to piece together the whole performance.
That afternoon was pure chaos. Needless to say, we did not finish blocking the performance and the students were all over the art room, where we were rehearsing. At the end of the day, Robyn decided we should just record the puppet show on video. I suggested that we might as well dub it with the sound effects and the students voices, so that I could continue directing even as we recorded each scene of the puppet show. I did a quick rewrite and blocking of the script over the weekend in preparation for our Monday afternoon recording session. We took the whole afternoon and completed 13 of 20 scenes. Then, we took the whole morning of Tuesday and finished the last 7 scenes. Robyn did the editing and dubbing and we spent all day of Wednesday at the Confederation Centre showing off the students’ work–puppets and puppet show–to all comers.
I must say that 5 meetings of putting a 15-minute puppet show all together, from making the puppets to staging the show, was a HUGE accomplishment for 7th graders! Everything they did was amazing. Understandably, the process of recording, which took 3 half days, proved taxing for everyone, considering these were 11- and 12-year-olds we were working with.
I have suggested that more time be allocated to interaction between the artist and the students, especially in junior high. Our biggest disadvantage was that we had short isolated sessions sprinkled throughout the week, only 2 of which were full hours, the rest just half hours. All told, I had 6 scheduled meets with the students, but had to take over 3 half days just to finalize the project. If we could have collaborated with more classes or, ideally, with all the teachers of the class we were working with, and a full quarter with 2 or 3 whole days a week dedicated to the art project, then it would be an amazing integration of all subject matter into a single art project!
The only sad note was that our class did not get to see their own puppet show at the Confederation Centre. Neither did they get a chance to visit the Gallery@The Guild to see the artists’ works on display. One of the reasons the Arts Council mounted the artists’ exhibit was so that the students would get a chance to see works by the artists they were working with.
All that aside, I will definitely want to participate in the ArtSmarts program, every single year, if possible!
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365 Things to Look Forward to — Number 41: Orwell Corner


(Orwell Corner Historic Village, PE. 17 September 2011). It was with great excitement that approximately 100 newcomers to PEI, along with about 4 or 5 staff members from the PEI Newcomers’ Association and a few EAL tutors gathered at the Kent St. entrance to the Confederation Court Mall on a sunny but very chilly windy Saturday. The group was unfazed by the cold, although several, who had expected a warm day, were starting to shiver as they waited for the buses that would ferry them to Orwell Corner Historic Village. Finally, the buses arrived–huge red and white behemoths that swallowed the people one by one. Sadly, a few newcomers have not yet learned common courtesy and etiquette. They have yet to learn that here, in Canada, we LINE UP and not rush for the door and cut into the line out of turn. Unfortunately, as well, they could barely understand English, so it was not something that could be easily explained. There was some head-shaking there, but that didn’t ruin the mood of the day.

The trip was a short one…not more than 40 minutes out of town taking the route through Stratford and somehow arriving at Orwell Corner after a series of pretty farmland scenes with corn fields and other fields, cows taking a noon nap, bales of hay rolled in white plastic wraps like gigantic white worms stretched across the fields, and gently rolling hills.

Once into the Orwell Corner turnoff, the road was slightly bumpy, as it was unpaved, unlike the highway. A bit of dust rose from the rear end of the red bus ahead of ours, but the buses were air conditioned, so that didn’t bother us at all. We pulled into a sharp turn that led into a parking lot, where our only view of the village was a dirt path bordered with log fences. Upon disembarking, we proceeded to follow the red dirt road to the museum and, of course, gift shop.

A view of the distant hills from the parking lot


Welcome to Orwell Corner!


following the red dirt road to the museum

Inside the museum, we were greeted by shelves of souvenirs, curios and other PEI products (like lobster chips, which I have yet to try), hand-made soap and goat milk soap. Unfortunately, this was a cash-less field trip, so I could only appreciate what I saw. Besides, everything was priced for tourists! Well, pretty much.

Once past the gift shop counters, we encountered huge and varied farm equipment, transportation modes, mostly for winter, and all sorts of alien machines. There was also a miniature log cabin and a miniature setting of a house–pretty much like a playhouse, with child-sized furniture.

Log cabin

There was even a little potty chair!

a little potty chair!

Outside the museum, we strolled down the road to the village proper, where the first thing you see is the cemetery in front of the Presbyterian church.

Orwell Corner cemetery

It was a nice peaceful quiet spot, God’s little acre where the old denizens of Orwell sleep for eternity. If I’d had more time, I’d have looked at the gravestones to see what years they were put up. Not that I’d find any relatives there! The sleepers would be from England and Ireland and Scotland.

The church was a simple building, a bright shiny white in the September sun. It looked pretty much like most of the rural churches around PEI. Simple, unassuming. I wonder if that is a characteristic of non-Catholic churches, or of churches built by the English, Irish, and Scots. Back in the Philippines, hardly any two Catholic churches look alike!

Orwell Corner Presbyterian Church

As soon as you stepped into the door, you could smell the old pine and cedar and the very strong smell of must in the air. The archway in the foyer above the door to the interior of the church bears the year the church was built: 1861.

built in 1861

The pews were sitting there, facing the pulpit. Old, solid, shiny from wear and some polish, I suppose.

The pulpit stood dead center of the altar area, dark and imposing, as it probably meant to be.


To be continued.


Two Ships (Poem and Painting)


Two Ships (watercolor on paper, 12″x18″)

silent dark water

bereft of light

two ships cross each other

in the silence of the night

what life is there on either

what work or play or fright

what unknown sea-bound voyager

in doubt awaits first light

how many lie in slumber

ensconced in surreal plight

how many wait and wonder

when land will be in sight

and still the ships forge deeper

in pertinacious flight

away from one another

away and out of sight.


© Cindy Lapeña, 2011


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