Thank you to Joseph and Julie Rosendo. Shad shnorakal enk. To think I saw the film The Promise and the Rosendo’s Tracelscope Part I and II within a week has sent me into shish kebab heaven.
Imagine my excitement while surfing late night TV channels and discovering on Detroit Public Television that the Rosendos have traveled to Armenia. Yes, Armenia—the often neglected country not visited by travel filmmakers and “fair and balanced” news shows.
Armenia, the thousands-of-years-old country of our ancestors, which in 1991 became an independent republic for the second time, finally ridding itself of the Soviet yoke.
One cannot get effusive enough in appreciation but accolades to Joseph and Julie Rosendothe husband and wife team—and their filming entourage for their production on Armenia. Let’s hope this exposure will generate more tourism for that struggling country’s economy.
I was sitting in my gisheranots (nightgown) watching Joseph Rosendo bravely sipping that potent Armenian spirit called oghi and doing the circle dance in Yerevan on a sunny day. Mr. Rosendo in particular looked like a pro, moving his body and head to the rhythmic infectious beat of Armenian village music played by a group of men.
While Joseph produces, writes, and narrates the show, wife Julie assists as co-producer, photographer, and in public relations. They have an able staff who make it all come to fruition.
Mrs. Rosendo responded to my phone message about my elated happiness about their Armenian film presentation saying, “We truly loved Armenia, wish we could back. I’m saving your message for Joseph to hear.”
With future broadcast repeat information in hand, I quickly spread the news, including to the Manoogian Day School, for them to see that Armenia is finally getting recognition.
I remember when I was a youth I would eagerly scan the credits of a film or TV show for an –ian name only to be disappointed.
I watched the 10:30 p.m. and 4:30 a.m. rebroadcasts to breathe it all in and to take notes. The photography was beautiful; the narration by Joseph was well researched and presented. He and his crew provide excellent travelogues on all their presentations such as Rwanda (including information about the country’s wildlife and the 1994 genocide), South Africa, and Australia, etc.
The focus always includes a country’s history, customs, archeological sites, and interaction with locals, especially in their marketplaces and bazaars, with additional focus on artisanal crafts and special celebrations.
Many important Armenian sites were featured, including the beautiful, majestic Mount Ararat, which will always be identified with Armenia regardless of its so called present boundary with Turkey.
Archeological sites and digs were visited in Erebuni. Rosendo walked through the remains of the royal palace from 780 B.C.
Yerevan changed hands many times with the invasion of the Mongols, Persians, Byzantines, but their sacrifice made the Armenians resilient.
Without an ounce of fear, Rosendo said it loud and clear: “The Ottoman Turks committed a genocide against the Armenians 1915-1922, killing more than 1,500,000 Christian Armenians. In 1923 it meant you were dead or in exile. They began to continue the killing of Armenians they began in the 1890s.” I stiffened with admiration for Rosendo for that most important historic fact he declared bravely for all to hear.
He made a solemn visit to the eternal flame memorial to the Armenian martyrs. How beautiful it was to hear the Armenian woman singing “Ter Voghormya” just as it is sung every Sunday in the Badarak (Armenian Holy Mass).
He described Armenia as a country of rocks: “One-half of Armenia is mountains.” He visited Aragats. The Armenian art form of Khachkars (cross stones) in a cemetery became the focus, it was to assure entry into Heaven. The carved wheel on a Khachkar was a symbol of eternity.
He showed Lake Sevan and the St. Asdvadazin 11th century Armenian Apostolic Church, stating Armenia had hundreds of churches and monasteries, many in very remote locations. He also visited Medzamor.
The centuries -old Haghpat monastery was shown with a baptism taking place proving religious worship has returned to the nation that in 301 A.D. became the first nation to accept Christianity.
The camera showed the amazing beauty of Armenia—its mountains, distant churches, villages, and its people located on the old silk road.
Viewers were told that evidence of civilization existed in Armenia as early as the Stone and Bronze ages. The now famous old leather shoe was shown from thousands of years ago.
“Voila!” Exclaimed Rosendo as Armenian women rolled out traditional lavash (bread), slapping it against the hot tonir (oven) to bake within seconds.
He toured a bustling Yerevan market place of goods and culture showing a booth full of pomegranate shaped items. They had a cultural connection, Armenia is a pomegranate state, reflecting marriage and fertility. Displayed too were obsidian volcanic glass beads and necklaces. He said, “Markets are to meet people.”
Rosendo visited a private home in a village where oriental rugs are still made on a wooden loom, not like the present day machine made rugs. The 4×6 rug that was being woven would wholesale for $1,000. “Armenian rug designs live on as a craft long identified with Armenian culture,” he said.
The travelogue included the thorough cleaning and washing of a sacrificed lamb, but thankfully not the actual slaying of the animal. The meat was for madagh shared by everyone. All parts of the lamb is used, even hats are made from it. When Rosendo asked about the custom, he was told, “We believe in sanctity.”
a traditional Armenian scene? A table full of Armenian men and joseph eating, laughing, drinking oghi, known as Armenian vodka.
He said, “Present day Yerevan belies its turbulent history. The Rosendos gave us a two-part glimpse of our homeland.
As a result of the genocide, those exiles are found all around the world… But all our eyes remain turned toward Ararat and Armenia.
I wish to thank the Rosendos and their crew for visiting Armenia and putting her on public television. Also shown was a fountain that if you threw a coin into it, meant you would return to Armenia. How proud you made the Armenians—“this small nation that no one can destroy.”
Part I and II of the show’s DVDs are available at $19.95 each or $45.85 for both (includes shipping and handling). The episodes can also be streamed on Amazon.
Mail to: Travelscope, P.O. box 519, Topanga, Calif. 90290
phone: 888- 876-3399