Becca Godinez: Flipzoids, A Must-See Play for Filipinos

I cannot imagine myself leaving and being disconnected with my own country. Just thinking about it feels disheartening and depressing. Despite of it all, I keep hearing stories of people who want to reside to another country to pursue better a life, specifically more beneficial to their families. It’s all true that immigration from the Philippines had increased unwaveringly. People work hard to bring their immediate families to their desired countries. It sounds like fear, uncertainty and separation; yet maybe a hell of a lot better than the Philippines.

I wonder what it feels to stay to an adopted homeland. Sure it’s not bad at all, just as long as you continue to have a strong connection with your roots, culture and tradition.

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“Flipzoids,” a play set in 1985 on the immigrant experience and all its respective aspects, teaches us how to embrace our culture, remembering who we are and where we came from. Written and directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera, also the Artistic Director for Playwrights’ Arena in Hollywood, CA. This award-winning theatrical work is brought to life by a trio of outstanding performers: Becca Godinez, Ellen D. Williams and Maxwel Corpuz.

Flipzoids Through Becca Godinez

“Flipzoids” is the victorious return to stage acting for Becca Godinez, a seasoned singer, songwriter, director and actress, whose career has taken her through numerous musical avenues, from country to musical theater and everything else in between.

We were able to meet her and listen to her stories about the glimpse between realities of her life experiences and the rise of “Flipzoids.” “Flipzoids was written in 1996 in New York by Ralph B. Pena, he wanted to be a member of the theater but with pushing for the Filipino theater arts. “Flipzoids” was born after forming the group May-i theater which performs English translated plays from the Philippines,” started Becca Godinez.

“A “Zoid” is someone like a zombie kind of a person, some jelly looking thing that doesn’t morph into anything. It’s just a being. “Flip” is a derogatory term for Filipinos that means “effing little island people,” that was being used before.”

She’s very lighthearted to talk to during the blog con. I bumped into a You Tube video of her just before meeting her that afternoon. She’s an amazing singer. Young minds like me may not know her, but upon research, she’s an outstanding musical actress and we did get to know more at the event.

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“I stop acting for thirty years. I quit. I’m a Theater Arts Major and I love the theater but I got burned out and went to pop music,” narrates Becca.

Surprisingly, the last two years took a different turn of things for Becca. By a fortuitous chance meeting, Becca was cast as the lead in a reading of best-selling author, Mona Simpson’s new book, “Coins”. This led to more readings and after performing a reading for Eve Ensler’s, “The V Monologues”; she never imagined she would one day be asked to audition for a play.

Flipzoids: A Story of Every Filipino Migrant

Becca Godinez was cast as the lead in “Flipzoids,” a dramedy in Los Angeles for which she gained rave reviews. On July 17, 18 and 19, Becca will be producing the play in Manila that will at the Music Museum in Greenhills. She is bringing to the stage the original actors and the director from the Los Angeles production. For tickets, please visit ticketworld.com.ph.

“Ralph Pena wanted to show culturally how different kinds of people react on living in a foreign land that they now have to call their own. He decided to show a story of three characters,” narrates Becca.

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“One is the young offspring of a very successful couple, goes to the States and wants nothing to do with the culture (played by Maxwell Corpuz). Second character is the nurse from Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte who goes to the US (played by Ellen Williams). Vangie, Aying’s daughter, just wants to belong to a small culture, to belong to a more intelligent group that makes her read the dictionary and memorize it.”

“Aying, my character is a 70-year-old traditional woman from Pagudpud who has absolutely no love for Anaheim, California. She complains constantly. This is the author’s phenomenal attempt at showing what happens to an immigrant when they uproot themselves from their home and try to belong in another country. She’s at her age where she is starting to lose her memory. There are so many laugh lines, it makes her character so interesting.” expresses Becca revealing her stories about the portrayal of having long monologues and an hour and forty minutes playing without intermission.

Becca Godinez as Aying

“Becca Godinez inhabits Aying with natural ease,” says one of the reviews on the Internet. She plays an older woman with a flawless mimicry of the character’s speech style.

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“New theater allows you to imagine and the actor has to be good enough. If you’re a good actress, everybody will believe with such a portrayal like playing for an older character for example. If you act so well your age, people will believe you are at that age. It’s also on how good you are  in using your imagination. It was an amazing experience for me. It’s my return to the theater after 30 years,” exclaims Becca with her preparations for the role and the art of building an arc for the character.

“All of us have to create a character. Because when you say a certain line, it has to be credible. When you approach the theater with an enough and a solid base in your character, then you’re credible. You can create a real person.”

Interpreting songs with cadence would also mean rendering the exact character’s speech style. “I talked to an Ilocano couple and I recorded them on how to enunciate and pronounce words properly in the Ilocano diction. Those are little things that you add to the character to make Aying credible,” proudly tells Becca.

Becca Godinez and her relation with Aying

Becca Godinez is proud that she is 100% related to the character of Aying. “I felt it most when I remembered that I have two cultures to live with, Rio de Janeiro and the U.S. When I go to the US, I am looking for anonymity. But then, there’s something missing. There’s a sense in me where one foot is in the Philippines and one foot is in the U.S.” What is it about here?” recounts Becca as she continues that she is reminded about the smells.

“The connection of someone who is uprooted from their country to the connection of home, that’s very strong for me. When I went to America, I went through loneliness, personal and cultural adjustments.”

“How do you allow the next generation to appreciate the culture that I love and the blood that’s running through my veins?” asks Becca pertaining to the challenge of introducing and teaching her own culture to her US-raised daughter. “Some people accept it, some people just don’t want to. That’s how I relate to Aying.”

Flipzoids: Longing for Home

Why is it easy for others to let go of the traditions that reminds about home? We all should grow up with the appreciation for our own heritage, culture and traditions. “Flipzoids” define it.

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“I’m so excited for people to come and see this. I’m a first time producer, I have so much trust in this project that I’m putting my own investment because I believe in it. Come and see the play because it is so worth it not because I’m in it. It’s an amazing script,” invites Becca. She plans on having more time to be creative, pursue her dream of writing a musical and hopefully staging a big band concert soon.

“At this age, the decision to do things now is because it really means something. I don’t want to do it anymore if everybody else is doing it or it’s the popular thing to do. I want to do it because it fulfills something inside that’s creative, even through interpreting lines.”

“My life happens to be uprooted. We’re lacking with memories when we uproot ourselves. Always remember your roots; this is what “Flipzoids” is all about. You will be proud of this play. You will laugh and cry. It’s both, it hits you,” ends Becca Godinez.

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