Jiaja, Candles, Fashion, Burgers and a bit of Magic. Bella’s Earth Hour

Jiaja was the musical element of Earth Hour at Bella, March 31 2012. Nazri Ji introduced himself and his brother Naza Aja, and they kicked off with some sixties songs, recalling the generation most likely to be sympathetic to climate change and care for the planet.

“I hope they don’t pull the plug on us,” said Ji, before they warmed up the night with “Something” by the Beatles, from the Abbey Road album.

When they sang “To Love Somebody,” by the Bee Gees, I remembered how they described raiding their father’s record collection and sheet music, and discovering that the Bee Gees had unusual harmonies, which were both interesting and challenging to replicate. [Jiaja: To be yourself and have your own music. That is what to reach for.]

Actually, plugs would be pulled at 8.30pm, and cool-as-a-cuke fashion designer Jeffie Jeff had it all in hand. In rehearsals, waif-like ladies shimmered in gold lamé and sashayed down a path which wound through the tables. These were the Breeze Model Search Top 7 finalists.

Outside, Chef Leo Velazquez had a grill, burgers and all the condiments laid out. The Burger Bombers! Bring It On! Sure enough, where there’s smoke there’s burgers, so the queue soon formed outside Bella, while inside Jiaja played Procul Harum’s “Whiter Shade of Pale”.

There were plenty of takers for those burgers, including Australian Michael Cassidy, who was in KK to attend a conference. I reckon he’ll be up for a few more of those…

Almost 8.30pm! Were we ready? Jeffie Jeff explained that we were in a for a visual treat: fashion designs modelled by candlelight. Clever Jeff!

After booking Jiaja for this gig, I found out that Aja is a member of WWF-Malaysia, and a couple of his WWF colleagues were coming to support the event.

Dila [left] and Edna Peter sat at a table near the stage, and I managed to have a chat, in the dark!

Edna explained to me the five areas which WWF-Malaysia focuses on:

  • Improving fresh water supplies in Malaysia
  • Protecting Malaysia’s marine and coastal areas
  • Preserving the rainforest
  • Protecting our endangered species
  • Educating the future generation

“We want to share education about the environment with our children,” said Edna. “For example, we bring young children to see where the giant turtles lay their eggs, and where we protect the eggs. The children see the babies and they say: Oh they are so cute! So we tell them, if you want to see turtles in the future, don’t eat their eggs!”

Edna said that WWF-Malaysia has 75 ongoing projects in Malaysia, which cost over 20 million ringgit to operate. “Right now, the funding for all of this comes from overseas. But it’s important for Malaysians to become aware of these issues and feel responsible for looking after their own country.”

Why? If foreigners are willing to finance these projects, isn’t that great?

“Yes, but if people overseas don’t want to help one day and they pull their money, all the development will have to stop. We have to take responsibility for our own problems and start to contribute ourselves,” she answered.

Edna said that WWF-Malaysia has booths in Centrepoint, 1Borneo and Wisma Merdeka, and that’s one way to contact them directly. She said WWF representatives do not deal with cash, and there is a very structured way to contribute to the organisation from either your credit card or your savings account, which involves the bank calling you personally to double check your identity and confirm your wish to support WWF.

Edna’s a cool speaker and I had to drag myself away :).

Jiaja played the 60’s guitar instrumental “Sleep Walk”. No wonder I had been lulled into a stupor – candlelight and soft instrumentals. Another person who plays this is guitarist and teacher Oswald Perera. He’s another musician who plays regularly at Bella – fortnightly on Saturdays. There’s more about him from an interview a few years ago. [Love your instrument. Sleep with it. Find your musician’s instinct to play. Oswald Perera.]

Jiaja played on: a very apt version of Clapton’s “Change the World” … “Stand By Me” … “Imagine” …

Amid the darkness, green florescent light flashed in the doorway between the Trattoria and the long dining hall. It was magic!

Outside, the Bella bosses Chef Leo Velazquez and Bella Manager Vince exchanged some thoughts.

The lights were on again! We sighed in unison, and were told that a jewellery collection show by Venezualan accessory designer Emilia Velaquez was about to start.

“Some of these accessories are made with Lava beads,” said Jeffie Jeff with authority. “So, unless you want to make your own and go into a volcano for the lava, I suggest you buy them from Emilia!” Right Jeffie!

Emilia’s jewellery will be displayed in a store called “1984”, and I will include links here from her new website and Facebook pages soon. Jiaja played us out with “Light My Fire,” and it appropriately wrapped up the night.

Read more about WWF-Malaysia here.
Read more about Bella restaurant and the Jesselton Hotel here.

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