Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

"Would you like a brownie?"
"Yes. Thank you."
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a heartfelt story about a 15 year old kid Charlie (Logan Lerman) who just wants to make it through high school. He's described as introvert and antisocial until he accidentally became friends with Patrick (Ezra Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson), and everything will never be the same again.

Partying, drugs, depression, suicide, sex, and other issues adolescents face were there. What sets the story apart from other typical high school flicks is the way it tells the dark secrets, the struggles and realities of life, in a way for the viewers to better understand why kids behave like they do.

Lerman did an excellent portrayal of the withdrawn Charlie. His acting looked natural, credible, and really moving. Miller's flamboyant performance provided the needed comic relief to the story. Watson showed she has really matured as an artist from her Harry Potter days, well, minus her quite unsuccessful attempt with her American accent.

The "look" of the movie is not very extravagant and all, but it has it's own sense of beauty which I really appreciated. Many of the lines thrown were unforgettable. I'm sure "We choose the love we think we deserve", "Welcome to the island of misfit toys", "I feel infinite", among others ring a bell for you. And there were scenes which are so touching. The most haunting scene for me was the finale at the tunnel where Charlie was standing at the back of the pick-up and narrated,
"But right now these moments are not stories. This is happening, I am here and I am looking at her. And she is so beautiful. I can see it. This one moment when you know you're not a sad story. You are alive, and you stand up and see the lights on the buildings and everything that makes you wonder. And you're listening to that song and that drive with the people you love most in this world. And in this moment I swear, we are infinite."
This is a timeless movie everyone can related to, regardless of generation. It is a work of art which is fun to watch, sometimes depressing, but it will definitely linger in your heart.

My rating: 90%

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Mistress


I’m really a sucker for Filipino films, especially those produced by Star Cinema. It’s one of my ways to support the industry. Why would I not support Filipino movies when film makers always try to make quality works of art?

Just last month, Star Cinema revived the John Lloyd Cruz-Bea Alonzo love team through The Mistress (directed by Olivia Lamasan). The Mistress is a four-sided story about the wife (Hilda Koronel), the benefactor (Ronaldo Valdez), the lover (Cruz), and the mistress (Alonzo).

The story is kinda predictable and cliche for me so I don’t want to share the details anymore. Perhaps the only twist of the plot was that JD Torres (Cruz) turns out to be the son (well, not actually biologically) of Rico (Valdez); hence, the line by Regina (Koronel) “Layuan mo ang mag-ama ko. Tagalog ‘yan para maintindihan mo.” (Stay away from my husband and my son. That’s in Tagalog so you would comprehend.)  In the movie trailer though, Regina just said “Layuan mo ang asawa ko…” (Stay away from my husband…) so as not to spoil the twist.

The usual John Lloyd and Bea throwing cheesy lines tactic was again used to make the movie lasting in the mind of the viewers. This technique in script writing proved to be successful for Star Cinema in making many of its films very memorable.

There were some parts of the film that left me hanging though, like:
  • What was JD’s real intentions for pursuing Sari (Alonzo)? Sometimes the attraction seems real. Sometimes it looks only as a means for revenge. In the end, it was still unclear for me.
  • How could the best cutter of the tailor shop make a serious error of using the wrong material to make a barong? Why did JD and Sari drive all the way to the province just to deliver the barong when they could just have it delivered by courier? These are just examples of many poorly written parts of the story.
  • What was the story of the kid for? Just comic relief? I think the scenes were unnecessary and did not help develop the plot or characters. There were many unnecessary scenes that when removed, could have shortened the film’s running time.


The lesson of the film or the reality shown by the story is that cheating never brings good. Everyone suffers in the process, and it was well-told through the misery that the characters went through. The part that I loved the most was the ending. For me, it was realistic and believable, and no other alternate ending could have been better.

I can say that I liked the film, though I didn’t love it. It actually made me cry and laugh. The finale took me by surprise. It totally blew me away and broke my heart at the same time. I just had some reservations with some of the scenes that I mentioned. Overall, I think it was a good (versus outstanding) film.

My rating: 75%

Bwakaw (Cinemalaya)

Movie poster
I was able to watch the limited cinema screening of Bwakaw last month at the Glorietta 4 cinemas. Bwakaw is a movie about an old gay man who does not have relatives living with him anymore. His only companion in life is a stray dog named Bwakaw (a Filipino slang for "greedy for food").

Bwakaw was one of the films under the Director's Showcase category during the 2012 Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival.

Synposis
Bwakaw is a drama-comedy about growing old, and everyone's fear of growing old alone. Rene is a gay man who came out of the closet at age 70. Ailing in his twilight years, he thinks it is now too late for love, even companionship, and that all there is to look forward to is Death.

He has made a will, bequeathing his few possessions to his even fewer friends. Everything is packed and labeled, ready for distribution. He has even paid for a coffin, taking advantage of a funeral home's Summer Sale. Nowadays the only companion Rene has is Bwakaw, a stray dog that hangs around his house and follows him wherever he goes.

Cast (in credits order)
As Rene waits for the day of his death, he gets the surprise of his life when it is Bwakaw who suddenly falls ill and is diagnosed with cancer. Rene is surprisingly affected, and he realizes that he values Bwakaw more than he thinks. In his struggle to get Bwakaw cured, Rene finds comfort in the most unlikely person: Sol, a tricycle driver who helps him bring Bwakaw to the vet and befriends him. Buoyed by Sol's friendship, Rene starts living.

Little by little he discovers simple joys. To the surprise of his friends, he even has his hair dyed to look younger. One day, he finally decides to make a move on Sol. The revelation that Rene is gay and has feelings for him surprises and disgusts Sol. He rejects Rene and leaves in anger.

In the meantime, Bwakaw's condition gets worse. Not even Rene's ancient Santo Entierro (a supposedly miraculous statue of Jesus Christ) can save Bwakaw. Bwakaw dies, and Rene's neighbors help him bury the faithful dog.

But Bwakaw's death, even while it was still only imminent, has made a difference. Rene has found a new appreciation for life and what is most important. He decides to unpack the things that he has already willed to other people and make his house more inhabitable. He is, after all, still alive.

My take on the movie
I liked the film. It has a very heartwarming and touching story. It showed the harsh reality that some gay men experience once they become old -- being alone. On the bright side, it teaches that one may be alone literally (in an abode), but one will realize that you have people (or a dog) around you who loves and cares for you sincerely.

The cinematography was pretty good for an indie film. There were no special effects, as it was not necessary. The locations and the sets were appropriately selected to give the desired mood of the movie.

The acting was outstanding. Eddie Garcia's portrayal of an old (discreet) gay man was believable. He was consistently in character throughout the film. Armida Siguion-Reyna's acting was moving. Soxy Topacio and Joey Paras provided the much needed comic relief to  instantly bring the viewers' emotions away from the very heavy dramatic scenes.

Overall, I recommend movie lovers (gay or straight, young or old) to see this film.

Movie trailer

My rating: 85%

Sources

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Bourne Legacy

This film is not based on the 2004 spy fiction thriller novel written by Eric Van Lustbader. This was written and directed by Tony Gilroy, which is based on the first 3 movies. The plot is a side story of The Bourne Ultimatum film (3rd of the series), showing scenes like the shooting of reporter Simon Ross at the London Tube Waterloo Station, Pamela Landy's expose of Treadstone and BlackBriar to the US Senate, the ongoing hearings, etc.

This time, the spotlight is not on Jason Bourne but on Aaron Cross played by Jeremy Renner. Aaron is also a super agent like Jason, and he is in danger of being assassinated like his fellow agents as part of the "elimination" of everyone connected to the controversial CIA projects exposed by Pam Landy.

The other targets of this elimination strategy are the doctors and the scientists who helped developed the enhancing drugs to the super agents. Dr. Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz) survived the seemingly planned killing at the laboratory and subsequent attempts to kill her. She then crossed paths with Aaron, as the latter was looking for him because he was running out of drugs to sustain his stamina. They travel together to the Far East to find the needed drugs and solutions for Cross and to run away from the CIA.

The beginning of the film was almost dragging, perhaps due to the lack of much needed action-packed scenes. There were clips showing scenes from The Bourne Ultimatum movie which looks like this film was recycling clips to unnecessarily prolong the movie. The part of the film that really excited me was the last part - the scenes shot in Manila, Philippines.

I have to commend the actors Renner and Weisz for doing such a good job delivering their characters amid the not-so-excellent script and story. They successfully showed the viewers several emotions like fear and desperation in the different situations they were in.

The people behind this movie did a good job in giving good visuals through the great cinematography and camera shots in the different locations (Alaska, Canada, New York, Virginia, Pakistan, Philippines, etc.). To be honest, I have never seen a Filipino action film that has shown third world Manila in such range of color and beauty. And the Finale shot somewhere in El Nido, Palawan, Philippines just totally blew me away.

Overall, I think this could be the weakest link from The Bourne film franchise, but is still worth to watch. It gives a different look at the CIA agents' stories and offers satisfactory action and wonderful visual treats.

My rating: 80%

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Healing

Many Filipino films would rather kiss the conservatives' asses than to create the intended work of art. But the people behind "The Healing" chose not to hold back. I was very happy to have watched a really good Pinoy horror film this year from Star Cinema.

"The Healing" is a movie about a group of people who sought the help of a faith healer to cure them of their diseases. But due to a horrible mistake by the healer, the souls of these cured people are to be collected as reckoning.

Was the film scary? Yes, definitely. It started quite calmly and then developed a frightening feel - making the viewers realize that indeed, there is a terrible series of events that's going to unfold. And when it happened, it never stopped until the very end. People in the movie house (including me) were screaming at the top of their lungs from the surprisingly forbidding scenes that they witnessed.

I also loved how the movie never hesitated to use blood. If there's one word to describe this movie, it would be "gruesome." Many other films have shown violence at the very minimum. But "The Healing" really showed how a horror movie should look like - how scary it is to die without being able to fight for your life from the unknown, and how death chooses no one: male, female, healthy, young, old. This is why the film got a rating of R-18 from the MTRCB.

I believe this is Vilma Santos' first horror stint. From her performance, I can say she's really a very honed, seasoned and versatile actress as her acting seems like she has done this certain genre many times. Superb acting was also delivered by the other casts which truly helped in bringing the much needed fear in the mood of the movie.

I noticed that the film used color themes (same color of outfits, backdrops, props) to set the different tempers of the film. At first it bothered me, but as the film progressed, I felt how it helped in setting the several tones of the movie.

The only thing that the movie could have done better was the special effects like the spinning eyes, tongue sticking out, the burning woman, among others. The dependence on computer applications for effects was very obvious and really looked fake. But this criticism of the film did not really drag the overall quality of the film down.

I am really looking forward to watching more Filipino films of this kind of quality. Horror is what viewers pay for, and that is what they should actually get in return.

My rating: 95%

The Dark Knight Rises

Prior to watching this film, I've read good reviews about it. So I had high expectations. And I wasn't disappointed. It didn't fail me. Another must-see Batman movie was truly born.

As I watched TKDR, I thought it would drag and bore me. But no, it was just great and just right. The action scenes were truly surprising, shocking and breathtaking. The story and the execution of the scenes were well-written and thought of.

The beginning of the film (the plane scene) was already very thrilling. The terror-at-the-stadium scene was equally horrifying. Fight scenes were definitely not fake. You can feel the angst with every blow, the pain in every hit and the desperation in every wound.

A good amount of drama was also incorporated in the movie which added to the playful mix of emotions. Alfred (Michael Caine) made a tear fall from my eye with his surprisingly heartfelt scenes. Indeed, no role is too small if you can act it really well.

And just as I thought Anne Hathaway would be the weakest link of the film (as the Catwoman), she never failed me. Her character was very funny, witty and her fight scenes were undoubtedly kick-ass too!

The good thing about Christopher Nolan's Batman movies is that it is very real. The scenes look like they could actually happen in real life, in a real city, with real people. The human emotions are genuine, thanks to the great direction and acting of the cast. Moreover, character development truly helped in making the viewers feel attached to the lives of the protagonists and antagonists.

This is definitely one of the greatest movies of this year. No movie fan should miss this one-of-a-kind Batman treat.

My rating: 90%

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Cinemalaya 2012


Now on its 8th year, Cinemalaya announces the finalists for the 2012 independent film festival, which will be shown from 20 to 29 July 2012 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and Ayala Mall Cinemas (Greenbelt and Trinoma). Below are the different indie films that made the cut:

New Breed Full Length Feature
  1. Emmanuel Palo’s “Santa Nina”
  2. Gino Santos and Jeff Stelton’s “The Animals”
  3. Vincent Sandoval’s “Aparisyon”
  4. Mes de Guzman’s “Diablo”
  5. Lemuel Lorca and Jerry Gracio’s “Intoy Syokoy ng  Kalye Marino”
  6. Alfred Aloysius Adlawan’s “Ang Katiwala”
  7. Marietta Jamora’s “Ang Nawawala”
  8. Paul Sta. Ana’s “Oros”
  9. Julius Sotomayor Cena’s “Mga Dayo”
  10. Loy Arcenas’ “Requieme”

New Breed Short Film
  1. Nadjoua Bansil’s “Bohe: Son of the Sea”
  2. Sigrid Andrea Bernardo’s “Ang Paghihintay sa Bulong”
  3. Mario Celada’s “Pasahero”
  4. Sheron Dayoc’s “As He Sleeps”
  5. Marianito Dio Jr.’s “Sarong Aldaw”
  6. Emmanuel Escalona, Jr.’s “Balintuna”
  7. Hannah Espia’s “Ruweda”
  8. Chuck Gutierrez’s “Ulian”
  9. Richard Legaspi’s “Manenaya”
  10. Jarell Serencio’s “Victor”

Director’s Showcase
  1. Adolfo Alix, Jr.’s “Kalayaan”
  2. Joey Javier Reyes’ “Mga Mumunting Lihim”
  3. Raymond Red’s “Kamera Obskura”
  4. Jun Lana’s “Bwakaw”
  5. Lawrence Fajardo’s “Posas”

Cinemalaya is a project of the Cinemalaya Foundation, Cultural Center of the Philippines, Film Development Council of the Philippines and Econolink Investments, Inc. It is an all-digital film festival and competition that aims to discover, encourage and honor cinematic works of Filipino filmmakers that boldly articulate and freely interpret the Filipino experience with fresh insight and artistic integrity.

The film festival is held every July of each year. Previously, screenings were only held at the CCP. But during recent years, participation of Ayala Malls have been secured to increase awareness and promote more public viewing by showing the finalist movies at their Greenbelt and Trinoma cinemas.

Every year, organizers invest PHP 500,000 to ten independent filmmakers (directors, producers). These ten finalists are selected from an annual average of hundreds of entries from all over the country. Their films debut at the festival, together with in-competition short films, as well as various out-of-competition works (showcase). The purpose is to help provide exposure to various quality indie films whose creators lack enough resources to produce films as compared to big-time, established mainstream film companies.

I try each year to watch as many featured films as possible. Apart from being entertaining, Cinemalaya films always try to present a fresh and "different" artsy look, which serves as a break from the traditional and typical Filipino films (which are mostly overrated, over-promoted and of less substance and quality). The stories of these indie films are unconventional, sometimes even weird (in good taste), and the overall worth are, most of the time, promising. There's no surprise that a number of Filipino independent films have already competed and won awards from film festivals around the world.

Sources:

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sidney Sheldon's novels I've read

During my relatively long staycation, I managed to read a lot of novels. Most of the books I've read were written by master storyteller Sidney Sheldon. Here are the different titles I have read.

Master of the game
Who is Kate Blackwell? She is the symbol of success, the beautiful woman who parlayed her inheritance into an international conglomerate. Winner of a unique position among the wealthy and world-renowned. And she's a survivor, indomitable as her father, the man who returned from the edge of death to wrench a fortune in diamonds from the bleak South African earth. Now, celebrating her ninetieth birthday, Kate surveys the family she has manipulated, dominated, and loved: the fair and the grotesque, the mad and the mild, the good and the evil -- her winnings in life. Is she the master of the game?

My rating: 95%

Memories of midnight

In "The other side of midnight", they played the ultimate game of love, lust, and death.

Now, in "Memories of midnight", the survivors meet to play one last time...

Shadowed by tragedy and burdened by amnesia, a beautiful woman desperately tries to return to reality. She is Catherine Douglas, destined to once again challenge the cruel, charismatic power of Constantin Demiris, the Greek shipping tycoon who murdered Catherine's husband. Now, in the glittering capitals and carefree playgrounds of post-war Europe, Demiris sets his deadly sights on Catherine -- and the single, treacherous secret whose shattering truth is known to her alone...

My rating: 80%

Rage of angels
Jennifer Parker is a brilliant, lovely attorney on her way up. But less than twenty-four hours after joining the district attorney's office in Manhattan, Jennifer finds her career threatened by a Mafia prince. Michael Moretti is a compelling, charismatic crime lord who seeks to expand his domain. He will let no one stand in his way... no matter her beauty or ambition.

Thus begins this mesmerizing tale of two relentless players struggling for absolute power in the greatest city in the world. And in their dangerous battle is a love more destructive than hate.

My rating: 100%

Tell me your dreams
Ashley, elegant yet haunted... Toni, sultry as well as vivacious... Alette, lovely and totally without conceit... three beautiful young women suspected of committing a series of horrifying murders. Now one of the most bizarre murder trials of the century is about to begin -- and reveal an astounding, startling piece of medical evidence almost impossible to believe. Sweeping from London to Rome, from Quebec to San Francisco, this tale from the world's reigning master storyteller is so much more than a mystery: It is a searching, riveting, and, finally, triumphant foray into the dark, wild depths of the human heart.

My rating: 95%

The best laid plans
He wanted power. Oliver Russell is fated to rise to the pinnacle of power, the office of President of the United States. She wanted revenge. Leslie Stewart is his betrayed fiancee, a woman dedicated to a single purpose -- the downfall of Oliver Russel. Amassing her own media empire, marshaling all her forces against him, she stands poised to destroy Russell on the eve of his most dazzling triumph.

From Sidney Sheldon, the unchallenged master of bestselling fiction, comes a story of blazing ambitions and thwarted love that enthralls and surprises with every page...

My rating: 90%

What I love about Sheldon's novels are the excitement it brings which makes me continue reading and not put down the book as much as possible. Sheldon manages to tell a story that catches your interest, develops the story and then suddenly surprise you with a twist or an unexpected event.

Sidney's books are not all about the excitement. While reading his novels, one realizes that there are new knowledge imparted to the reader about politics, law, crime or whatever the story is about. He was able to incorporate facts without making the art boring.

I know there are a lot more other novels written by Sheldon that I haven't read. I am totally looking forward to spend time again reading his books.

Source:
http://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/sidney-sheldon

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Nicki Minaj Live in Manila

Globe and BlackBerry offers its subscribers free access to one of the biggest concert parties of the year - Nicki Minaj Pink Friday tour concert at the newly opened SM Mall of Asia Arena this 11 July 2012, from 8:00pm onwards.


Who is Nicki Minaj?
Onika Tanya Maraj (born December 8, 1982), known by her stage name Nicki Minaj, is a Trinidadian-born American rapper, singer, songwriter and voice actress. She was born in Saint James, Trinidad and Tobago and when she was 5 years of age she moved to the New York City borough of Queens, where she grew up.

After releasing three mixtapes between 2007 and 2009 and being signed to Young Money Entertainment in August 2009, Minaj released her debut album, Pink Friday, in November 2010. It quickly became a commercial success, peaking at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 and being certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) a month after its release. She became the first female solo artist to have seven singles on the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time. Her second single, "Your Love", reached number 1 on the Billboard Hot Rap Songs chart, making Minaj the first female artist to top the chart unaccompanied since 2002. She also became the first female artist to be included on MTV's Annual Hottest MC List. Minaj was named the 2011 Rising Star by Billboard. Her second studio album, Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded was released on April 3, 2012.

Her current hits popular in the Philippines include tracks like "Super Bass" and "Starships."

How to get free access to the concert
Globe subscribers availing of the new BlackBerry Curve smartphones are in for the biggest treat of their lives with a free and exclusive access to a night of great music as they move and groove to their favorite Nicki Minaj hits. Subscribers getting a new BlackBerry Curve 9220 are entitled to one (1) free ticket (Gen Ad/Upper Box/Lower Box 2 area on a first-come, first served basis), while those purchasing a new BlackBerry Curve 9320 get two free (2) tickets (Lower Box 1/VIP/Patron area on a first-come, first served basis) to the concert party of the year. Existing subscribers outside their lock-up can opt to re-contract their account subscription and get the BlackBerry Curve 9220 or the BlackBerry Curve 9320 for the free tickets, while those within lock-up can either get a new postpaid line or purchase prepaid phone kit.

Everyone can get the newest BlackBerry Curve smartphones from Globe now by visiting www.globe.com.ph/blackberrycurve, going to the nearest Globe Store, or calling 730-1010 to become boom-ified with the Pink Friday gal herself, Nicki Minaj.

The tickets to this Exclusive Access event are not for sale. One will get FREE tickets when one avails of the latest BlackBerry Curve units with Globe Postpaid’s MySuperPlan. Both new and existing Globe subscribers may avail of the tickets. For more details on how to get tickets, one may visit www.globe.com.ph/blackberrycurve, visit any Globe store or call the Globe hotline at 730-1000.

SM Tickets will not sell tickets. It will just be a venue for one to claim the ticket that comes free from Globe and BlackBerry. One will just need to present a signed copy of the print out of the email from Globe that contains the QR Code of your ticket. After validation, one will then be given the actual ticket that needs to be presented at the venue.

Nicki Minaj Pink Friday Tour is brought to the Philippines by Globe Telecom, Blackberry and Wilbros Live.

Our free tickets
After applying for a new extension line for my mom (from my account) and availing the BlackBerry Curve 9220, I was able to get a free Lower Box ticket for the concert.

Last Saturday night (23 June 2012), Globe announced on Twitter (via username @enjoyGLOBE) that it will give away 2 free tickets each to the first 999 loyal Globe and BlackBerry users (postpaid and prepaid) which will sign up at the website provided on Twitter.

I was lucky enough to have read the tweet once it was posted and was able to sign up for me (2 tickets) and my sister (2 more tickets). I was able to claim another 2 Lower Box tickets for my principal postpaid account. However, due to technical issues with the email sent by Globe to my sister's email account, Globe had to resend an email with the QR code. Due to the 1-day delay, all Lower Box tickets were already given away and we were only able to avail additional 2 Upper Box tickets (free seating).

Through the promos, we were able to secure 5 free tickets - for me, my 2 sisters and 2 cousins. Amazing! It seldom happens that free tickets are given away just like that.

Thanks to Globe and BlackBerry for giving us free access to this cool concert! I'm sure we'll have a great time enjoying true blue R&B and pop entertainment from Nicki Minaj herself.

Sources:
http://blackberrycurve.globe.com.ph/
http://mypinkfriday.com/media/photos/26673/790733
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicki_Minaj
http://www.philippineconcerts.com/foreign/nicki-minaj-live-in-manila/

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bed Manila's Britneython

Bed Manila, one of the country's premiere gay clubs, offers Britneython to die-hard Britney fans and patrons alike, on 29 June 2012 (Friday). Bed's top DJ's will do an all-night marathon of dance music from none other than the pop princess Britney Spears.


Bed's very own drag queens, the Drag-on Ladies, will also be providing for the night's entertainment. Club will be open from 10:00pm onwards.

This event is part of Manila's Gay Pride weekend  which will be highlighted by the White Party 2012 Street Party on 30 June 2012 (Saturday) along the streets of Orosa and Nakpil, Malate, Manila.

Everyone is invited to come and be in one's best Britney-inspired outfit. The event is also being promoted by Team Britney Philippines, the Philippine BritArmy.


Bed Manila club is located at Unit 8, Maria Orosa St. corner Julio Nakpil St. Courtyard, Malate, Manila.

Sources:
http://www.bed.com.ph/2012/05/britneython-at-bed-manila-june-29th.html
http://www.facebook.com/BEDManila
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q143k63vRg8

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Lifespan of a social network

Screenshot of mIRC
During the early years of the internet, social networking was unheard of. When I was in high school (1997-2001) and early college (2001-2002), the "in" thing then was chatting via mIRC. If someone asks for your photos, you give them the link to your yahoo profile, pic link, or other photo uploading sites.

There was a high level of anonymity in using this internet relay chat client because you can basically use any username (that may or may not be related to your real name at all) and you are not required to upload a profile picture.

It is up to the users to post on the main channel pages and attract other users to chat with you. Many people post their location (e.g. "Makati anyone?") so that someone nearby may send them a message and start a conversation. Some post their interests ("Who among here reads the Harry Potter series?") for the same purpose.

Yahoo! Messenger also became a big hit because of its customize-able look (font, background, profile photo). This chat application also has different channels where a user can join conversations. There is less anonymity in this chat platform because it is connected to your personal email account which can be hacked.

Come 2002, social networking was born through the creation of Friendster.com. It is a networking site where a user can add his friends, family, schoolmates and acquaintances as part of his social circle. With the success of Friendster, other sites like MySpace and Facebook were created to challenge its success. MySpace became very successful in the US and became number 1. Friendster remained stable and strong in some countries like the Philippines until Facebook and Twitter became the new leaders, making the fall of Friendster inevitable.

I was lucky to have been able to copy all my photos uploaded in Friendster before it completely transformed itself to the social gaming site that it is today. Good thing I tried to read all messages and notifications on a regular basis even if I was more busy with Facebook and multiply then (year 2009).

http://vincimendoza.multiply.com/
Multiply.com is another social networking site that gained popularity here in the Philippines because of the ability that it gave users to create their own site where they can upload photos, videos, blogs, reviews, announcements and other stuff. However, the site also reached its dormancy stage and transformed into a marketplace (buy-and-sell) website that it is today.

Oh how I miss my multiply site. I dedicated a lot of time customizing it to give it a "me" look. Now, barely anyone visits my site. My problem now is how to transfer all the media that I have uploaded to this site to this current blog and/or to my Facebook account. I can't remember if I have a back-up of all those files so I might end up with the copy/save-as method which is very time consuming and cumbersome.

Today, Facebook and Twitter dominates the social networking world. What made Facebook an instant hit is its simplicity - no background design and customization, just posts - which made it easy to load and access, whether through a computer or a mobile phone. Still, it has all the features a social network should have.

Twitter logo
As for Twitter, it is also as popular as Facebook because it complements it. Its features do not directly compete with those of Facebook. Twitter, dubbed as "the SMS of the Internet," enables one to post tweets (up to 140 characters only) to update your followers on things that you are doing, your thoughts, feelings, share quotations, share links, make announcements and even advertisements.

The problem now is the ability to back-up everything a user has posted to these 2 major social networking sites. I started using Facebook last 2008. Right now, I know the company is still stable. But who knows when its demise might be, right? By then, how will I be able to compile all the photos, videos and other media that I have uploaded and shared? Sounds very difficult right? Same as with Twitter - as of now, I have posted 8,700+ tweets since I joined the site and I still have no idea how to compile all my tweets from inception to date.

With all the ups and downs that these social network sites have gone through, I think it's always safe to have a backup of one's media files (photos, music, videos, blog posts, etc.) so that whatever happens to these sites will no longer pose a problem in terms of recovery. In the past, people used to print almost all pictures taken with film cameras - and one can easily look back at those memories. Today, digital cameras allowed users to save their numerous photo files on their computers and simply upload them somewhere in the internet. Indeed, a reliable backup and recovery tool (e.g. USB's, external hardware) is the solution.

Let's stay connected. Whether we admit it or not, it's what keeps us sane. Feel free to add me on Facebook and Twitter, or send me an email. Cheers!

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)


This English-language adaptation of the Swedish novel by Stieg Larsson follows a disgraced journalist, Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig), as he investigates the disappearance of a wealthy patriarch's (Vanger) niece (Harriet) from 40 years ago. He is aided by the pierced, tattooed, punk computer hacker named Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara). As they work together in the investigation, Blomkvist and Salander uncover immense corruption beyond anything they have ever imagined.

Mystery is the main theme of the movie which it has successfully shown through the exciting scenes and the overall look of the film. The film was dark and cold - mysterious, and makes the viewer want know (assuming one has not read the book nor watched the Swedish film adaptation yet) what really happened to Harriet and who was behind her disappearance. Throughout the film, several scenes showing discoveries and new evidences were carefully told to lead the plot to reveal the truth about Harriet.

There were actually several stories in the movie - Blomksvist's career downfall after losing a libel case (against business magnate Wennerstrom) and his fight to get back up, Lisbeth's struggle as a warden of the state (with her guardian/family attorney), the love story between the two, and the mystery that has been haunting the wealthy Vanger family for decades. In the end, the story has shown how the different battles have ended - some in victory, some in defeat. The last scene proves the darkness and the coldness of the film - truth is, you can't have everything in life.

There were sexual scenes (heterosexual, homosexual and almost the sick kind) which were necessary to build up the story and which were done in good taste. The kind of relationship that developed between Blomksvist and Salander was really the surprising and unpredictable kind, and was reasonably explained by the circumstances surrounding the two.

Rooney Mara's acting as Lisbeth Salander was really impressive. She did well in consistently portraying the punk computer hacker role and surprised me with her disguise as a blond associate of Wennerstrom. Daniel Craig's acting was okay; I think he did not shine so much in this movie as one of the lead stars.

Apart from storytelling, the film seemed to be exposing some things about the Swedish society (which may or may not be true) - a society plagued by corruption, a society still divided by personal and political differences (presence of Nazi relatives), a society growing old with a large number of smokers, and so on.

The different shades of dark emotions stirred by the movie made it really interesting to watch and the unexpected ending made it stand out from the typical pure happy-ending kind of films. I will recommend watching this film if you're in for something out of the box.

My rating: 85%

Source (storyline):
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1568346/

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Rock of Ages (2012)


It's a typical story of searching, fighting for and living your dreams. Throughout the film, the lives of different characters - a superstar rock artist, rising action-turned-pop star, bar owner and his business partner, young ambitious girl, strip club owner and a righteous mayor's wife, were told to show how society and music were during the late 1980's. Rock of Ages is the movie adaptation of the 5-time Tony Award nominated Broadway musical. Although the film is quite entertaining, it might probably not get a nomination for any movie awards for me.

The plot was very easy to understand. This has been told and retold several times in movies like Coyote Ugly, Burlesque, or what have you. With this, it becomes pretty much predictable. The comedy that comes with the dialogue somehow compensated for the story.

When it comes to the stars who played the roles - I was quite impressed with Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russel Brand and Catherine Zeta-Jones. But my problem was figuring out who the heck were playing the other 2 lead roles until I find out that they are Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta. Besides being not really known here in the Philippines (or even in America), I felt like there could have been more popular and more rock-n-roll-appropriate starts that should have been cast for their characters. I expected some real bad-ass rock-n-roll flavors from these young characters, and what I saw was just cheesiness and pop. Their acting were not believable (especially at the start when the girl's luggage was stolen and it just took her like 10 seconds to be totally over it because a cute guy is in front of her) and moving either (supposedly sad/dramatic scenes did not jerk a tear from my eye). And please, adding R&B star Mary J. Blige didn't help. Good try though.

I felt that Tom Cruise tried really hard to project the typical rock star that the movie demanded, yet I still felt he could have done more. Yet, he made me laugh and he really surprised me with the kissing and sex scenes. Zeta-Jones' acting reminded me of her role in Chicago - she was almost overacting but in a likable, funny and effective way. Hough and Boneta sounded like they are dull characters from Glee. They even sound auto-tuned to me (which makes it more Glee-ish). Overall, singing was karaoke quality. It lacked power to ROCK the hell out of my world. The popularity of the songs used, however, helped put a smile on my face, making me remember these songs from my childhood (yes, I was born in 1984).

What impressed me was the dancing scenes. Upon learning that award-winning choreographer Mia Michaels directed the dance scenes, I knew it would be great. She really did not hold back on the steps, especially those of the strippers/pole dancers in Venus gentlemen's club. They gave all that they can, and they really did a very good job. If the dance scenes were highlighted more, this could have been a spectacular film. But this isn't Step Up or Center Stage; this is ROCK of Ages.

The cinematography was good. The Bourbon Club set looked like a real old dirty rock performers' bar. The lights of Hollywood, however, looked sad and not welcoming nor inviting.

The main message of the story, besides "no dream is unreachable", is that music never dies, especially when it has touched the hearts of people. No religion can say that a certain genre of music is evil and however they try, they won't be able to kill rock music. It was just disappointing how the film depicted the growing pop music of the late 80's, making it look like they're trashing or laughing at boy bands and their songs.

Honestly, I haven't seen the musical on stage yet, so I have nothing to compare this with. Though it is still amusing to watch, there's one thing I'm sure of - it's so not rock n roll.

My rating: 65%

Thursday, June 21, 2012

21 Jump Street (2012)

In this comedy action flick, Schmidt (Jonah Hill) was a dork and Jenko (Channing Tatum) was the popular jock when they were in high school (in 2005). After graduation, both of them joined the police force seven years later (2012) and ended up as partners riding bicycles in the city park. Since they are young and look like high school students, they are assigned to an undercover unit to infiltrate a drug ring that is supplying high school students synthetic drugs. In their pretend high school life, the tables have turned; Schmidt turned out to be the popular kid while Jenko's demeanor made him look like the weirdo or even the loser. They meet different kinds of kids, make new friends, fight their way to accomplish their mission and struggle to retain their jobs.

The story reminded me of the 90's movie "Never Been Kissed" where the female star (journalist played by Drew Barrymore) became an undercover reporter and went back to high school to complete an article in their paper about the teenage generation. This time, the protagonists are male cops and the purpose is different. Overall, the plot was really simple and pretty predictable. It seemed different aspects of the story were copied from typical teen flicks and action films, woven together to create a seemingly original story. What made it interesting was the funny dialogues and scenes. I was actually laughing most of the time! Watch out though for young viewers: there's a lot of cursing, teenage drinking, drug use, violence and some sex.

Playing the role of Schmidt and Jenko was just a breeze for the 2 actors. After all, it's relatively easy to play underachieving-bordering-almost-dumb policemen than to play real bad-ass or serious cops, which would require a lot of skills and swagger. In the beginning of the film, there seems to be no chemistry with the two but they really did a good job on making their best friend (or brotherhood) relationship look genuine as the movie progressed. Ice Cube's portrayal of Captain Dickson was so hilarious even though he tried to make it look so serious. Thumbs up! The kids of the current generation in America are portrayed in a sarcastic manner (blaming TV shows like Glee for what they have become) which added to the comedy.

The film was fast-paced. The action scenes were not overly made so as not to make them look dragging. Even so, these scenes never failed to excite the viewers. There was really a good mix of comedy and action in this movie. I can't even remember boring scenes!

Many realities can be seen in the film. Generations of teenagers evolve - the standards of what is cool and not cool in the past may not be the same today. The problems of society like drugs, racism, bullying, environment awareness, among others, were wittily incorporated in the story. Although predictable, the least the story can do was to teach that true friends can still be found, that hard work pays off, and that good will win over evil in the end.

I liked the film. It's fun and it doesn't take itself too seriously. I will recommend this movie if you're looking for something to make you laugh and keep a smile on your face after.

My rating: 85%

Source (storyline):
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1232829/

How I will write a review

Since I've been fond of writing reviews lately, I realized I might as well have a clear structure on how to create my reviews so that I won't be always thinking (and hanging most of the time) of how to even start one. Well I have to confess, upon thinking about this, I immediately typed "how to write a review" on google. Haha! And the first few links that showed up were pretty helpful in giving me ideas (refer to sources at the end).

Based on my quick readings, I have decided to follow the logical structure below:

  • Introduction - genre and synopsis/storyline of the movie
  • List of criteria to judge the movie or book or whatever, and whether they meet these criteria
    • Movie/TV show:
      • Storyline - was it exciting or boring? well thought of? too complicated? predictable?
      • Acting - were characters realistic? were acting believable? consistent?
      • Look - cinematography, lighting, special effects; were they good? looks fake? effective?
      • Things worth noting - important issues and lessons
    • Book:
      • Storyline - was it exciting or boring? well thought of? too complicated? predictable?
      • Characters - were characters realistic? believable? consistent?
      • Things worth noting - important issues and lessons
  • Overall judgement/reaction
  • Score

I guess I just have to keep it that simple and let my thoughts flow into the structure as I start writing. Let's just see if my next reviews would make better sense.

Sources:
http://deamer.wordpress.com/2007/06/12/how-to-write-great-reviews/
http://suite101.com/article/how-to-write-a-review-a77379

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cabin in the Woods

This film is very successful in pretending to be the typical horror film. In the beginning, you are laid out with all the usual things you normally see in a horror movie - a group of stereotype kids (the whore, the athlete, the nerd, the fool and the virgin) planning a weekend getaway in a remote cabin in the woods. Sounds predictable right? You'll think something bad and scary is really going to happen.

Wait until you realize there's a lot more to it that it seems. Turns out, these youngsters are sacrifices to ancient gods by a team of professionals controlling the environment around the cabin, releasing zombies to kill these kids and deliver the blood to the awaiting gods. Some are killed while those who managed to survive realized this truth and saw all the monsters locked up in the facility that they could have chosen to kill them.

The movie was creatively made to challenge the viewers to think that this couldn't just be a typical movie from the start by inserting scenes in the facility that controls the cabin environment. There were elements of reality TV shows (like Big Brother perhaps) and some comedy. Suspense and gore (yes, there's definitely blood) were still there, the way it should be. Acting was believable and makes one sympathize and hate different characters. This is definitely a well thought of and ingenious horror film.

My rating: 95%

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011)

In this fourth part of the series, the entire team (cast, director, crew) once again never failed to deliver a stunning masterpiece to the fans of the franchise. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol is one hell of an action treat showcasing unbelievable stunts, breathtaking scenery and marvelous technology.

In the movie, the IMF is shut down when it's implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin, causing Ethan Hunt and his new team to go rogue to clear their organization's name. The mission is dangerous, the complications are exciting, the locations added color to the film (Budapest, Moscow, Dubai, Mumbai and Seattle), some comedy is added, yet the film's overall plot and theme remained simple - to save the world, which made it easy to watch.

Acting was really good. The cast were able to stay consistent with their characters and their delivery of actions scenes were impressive. I have to commend Tom Cruise not only for doing the Burj Khalifa stunt himself, but for making the viewers believe that he is definitely not too old to remain in action films.

The best thing about the film are the unforgettable action scenes. I should say the climbing, scaling and jumping scene at the Burj Khalifa building in Dubai (the tallest in the world to date) is the trademark of this film. Other remarkable scenes include the bombing of the Kremlin, the man-chase during a sandstorm and the high-tech valet parking fight scene.

Cinematography, special effects and the technology introduced are fantastic and almost impossible to believe because they're just so cool. This makes the movie more fun to watch.

Overall, the movie is definitely worth watching, shouldn't be missed by fans of the series and ordinary moviegoers alike.

My rating: 100%

Sources:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1229238/
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/mission_impossible_ghost_protocol/

Monday, June 18, 2012

Living in the South of the Metro

Yes, there is a sub-region in Metro Manila that we call "south" - where there's less stress and where people are laid back. This area covers the cities of Paranaque, Las Pinas and Muntinlupa. We can also include the nearby greater metropolitan areas of Bacoor (Cavite province) and San Pedro (Laguna province).

Getting around
The area is quite far from the center of the happenings in the metro (Manila for many universities, Makati as central business district). However, transportation is easy, safer, and less hassle compared to commuting in other cities in the metro. Did I say safer? Yes, there are still news of snatchers and hold-up gangs in the south but not as rampant as in other cities. And if you have your own car, transportation should not be a problem. Also, riding a taxi in the area is seldom heard of. People in the south have been accustomed, used to and seem satisfied with riding the usual jeepneys, buses or FX's. Taxis are not so much in demand, unless you are in a rush to go to other places in the metro. However, some of the hassles that face commuters and drivers alike when traveling to, from and around the area are:
  • Heavy traffic during rush hours - Roads are relatively narrower in the mentioned cities compared to EDSA, Roxas Boulevard, C5 and other major roads in the metro. The high number of private and public vehicles in the south causes traffic jams during weekday mornings and late afternoons to early evenings.
  • Toll fees collected at Coastal Road and SLEX - The rates of toll fees in SLEX have become outrageously expensive! Good thing toll fee rate in Coastal remains affordable at PHP 24. There are alternate routes that do not have toll gates. However, expect travel to be considerably longer.
  • Taxis - If you're coming from other places of the metro and you took a cab going to the south, most probably the driver will ask for an additional fare on top of the meter reading because they will reason out that it will be difficult for them to get a passenger on their way back to the metro's center. As I mentioned, taxis are not in demand in the south.
What's unique about the south is you can travel within chains of subdivisions and villages to get from one place to another to avoid heavy traffic along the highway. In Las Pinas, this is called the "friendship route." However, one has to have a car sticker ("friendship" sticker) so that security guards will allow you to pass through their subdivisions.

Malls
Some of the famous malls that people go to in the south to shop, dine or watch movies are:
  • Paranaque - SM Sucat, SM Bicutan
  • Las Pinas - SM Southmall, SM Center, Starmall
  • Muntinlupa - Alabang Town Center (or ATC for short or fondly called "Town" by people in the south), Festival Supermall, SM Muntinlupa, Metropolis Alabang
  • Bacoor, Cavite - SM City Bacoor


Food trip
Apart from the malls that offer a variety of fast food chains and restaurants where one can dine, below are some restaurants that make the south famous for its food:
  • Soderno (at Molito Complex, Alabang, Muntinlupa) - considered as the Mercato of the south. See my blog post on this. (http://thevincidavinci.blogspot.com/2012/06/check-out-soderno-molito-alabang.html)
  • North Gate (Alabang) - mostly fast food chains and some new restaurants that cater to call centers and other offices in the compound.
  • West Gate (Alabang) - upscale restaurants and coffee shops.
  • Maty's tapsilog (Don Galo, Paranaque) - the tapsilog is simply one of the best in the country!
  • BF Homes (Paranaque) - Aguirre Avenue has a lot of restaurants to choose from.
  • BF Resort (Las Pinas) - BF Resort Drive and Gloria Diaz Avenue also have a lot of restaurants.
  • Sinangag Express (or "SEx" to young people) - this famous fried rice specialty restaurant actually came from the south, with its first branches in BF Homes Paranaque and Las Pinas.

Night life
The south seem to have a culture of its own when it comes to night life. Unlike other cities or places in the metro (Malate, Makati, The Fort, Ortigas, QC) where young people would most probably end up clubbing, people in the south prefer to chill and relax - to chillax. In fact, the term "chillax" was coined by people in the south (not sure if fact; this is debatable).

If you have a barkada or a groupie, the group would most probably have a favorite house - a friend's house where the group hangs out most of the time just about for everything - to eat, drink, watch TV or DVD's, play games, gamble, or whatever activity your barkada loves doing. These activities are collectively called "chillaxing" or house partying - trademark of the south!

There are also some people who want to go out to drink and have fun. The south actually offers some cool places to go to for this purpose:
  • BF Homes (Paranaque) - Aguirre Avenue has a lot of bars. Famous bars are Central BBQ, Tides, Cabooze, Laiya, etc. Central BBQ and Tides which now have branches in other cities in the metro actually originated from the south.
  • Festival Supermall has an area where there are bars that are open until the morning.
  • BF Resort (Las Pinas) - BF Resort Drive has bars like Central BBQ, Ultimate Liempo, etc.
  • Alabang-Zapote road (Las Pinas area) - one can find bars (e.g. KTV) along this long stretch.

Beware though - people in the south are pretty much laid back so you don't want to make a scene in the bars by dancing or being wild. Just sit back and chillax. After all, these places are not clubs! You can sing with the music you hear but cannot go crazy. It's a south thing, and one has to respect that culture.

Fashion sense
Unlike people in cosmopolitan cities and areas like Makati, The Fort, Ortigas and QC where people tend to dress up (wear pants or even dress formally), people in the south can basically get away with wearing shorts, shirts and slippers. Again, we're laid back.

People
Because the area is not overpopulated like other cities, the south seems like a small world. If you grew up here, everywhere you go, you might probably just meet people who know some of your friends (common/mutual friends) - most probably from high school, neighbors, relatives or whatever.

As mentioned above, people in the south are pretty laid back but are definitely as competitive as other people in other areas of the metro. And because of our unique culture, we often brag about being from the south as we believe we are more friendly, peaceful, sosyal (yes, we think highly of ourselves because many of us live in subdivisions and have studied in private schools *wink* ) and "cultured" (*double wink*). Nothing personal though, it's just a south thing.

**********
These are just general observations and not conclusive traits of people in the area. There can still be many exceptions of course.

Fellow people from the south, feel free to add or correct some information that I have mentioned in this post. Everyone, feel free to share your thoughts!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Wrath of the Titans (2012)

Movie background from rottentomatoes.com:
http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/clash_of_the_titans_2/
I was surprised that it got a very low rating from critics in reliable internet movie review websites such as rottentomatoes.com and imdb.com, although I wasn't expecting a high rating for it too. Most of the criticisms center on the movie's inconsistency with the mythology, and its focus on special effects alone versus character development & great acting.

After watching the movie, I felt that the writer and director purposely moved away from the original story of the gods to create an "original" story that depicts families in today's societies - where its members turn away from each other because of power, money or other selfish desires. I may be wrong on this.

I agree that the actors could have done better to easily stir emotions of viewers. But I believe that if I a person can relate to the story or values that the movie wants to teach, it can indeed bring about the intended effect. The themes were obviously laid out anyway - revenge, envy, fatherly love and strength of human spirit.

Overall, I think the movie is a good action and sci-fi treat rather than a mythology on-screen adaptation. It's worth watching, but will not leave a lasting impression though.

Movie reviews at imdb.com:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1646987/reviews

My rating: 70%

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Filipino society as I see it

Society plays a vital part in shaping a country, together with politics and economy. Social weather more often dictates what laws can be passed. People's culture and tastes are basis of the different products that companies can profit from. Most of the time, things that are against social norms are ignored and rejected.

There are so may things that we can be proud of our society and our culture. Some notable parts of the Filipino culture that I am aware and I can see around are:
  • Strong family ties - We love our families so much that we continue live with them even if one is old enough to be independent (based on other cultures' standards - e.g. 18 years old for Americans) and even if one already has a family of his/her own. Extended families are everywhere. This is one of the positive values that Filipinos have that show how much they love and want to stay with their families for a long time. Even in independent situations, Filipinos miss their families a lot, especially those who are in other countries for whatever reason. That is why reunions happen most of the time during holidays and special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries.
  • Bayanihan culture - Filipinos cannot take or even tolerate suffering of their fellowmen. Hence, they extend help to achieve common goals. This is evident in the hardest of times like when someone dies, people give money or "abuloy" to the relatives of the deceased. Rich people and even people living simple lives donate what they can to victims of calamities.
  • Hospitality - We are naturally warm to our guests may they be local or foreign. We serve food, clean for them, provide a place to stay, and even give them stuff to bring back home when they leave (pasalubong).
  • Religious practices - These are manifested in times of religious holidays when people flock to visit their churches to attend services. Major religious holidays in the country are Christmas and Holy Week/Easter for Christians and Ramadan for Muslims. In their own times, people pray a lot whether to ask for favor from the gods, ask for forgiveness, praise and thank the gods for all the blessings.
  • Fiesta celebrations - The country has a lot of feasts in different regions that make seasonal tourism a lucrative business for many. These are also chances for various provinces to boast their celebrations whenever they are featured on media. Government even declares national non-working holidays for major feasts, making the Philippines one of the countries with the most holidays in the world.
  • Sense of humor amidst poverty - People love to just laugh about almost everything, even the simplest of things. People can even find humor in the major events that they see in the news - even bad news. Jokes are evolving; everyday; there can be new jokes out of new events.
  • Filipino pride - We take so much pride in the achievements of our fellowmen. We love to announce to the world how great Filipinos are, even those only with less than full Filipino blood (if there's such thing as pure Filipino blood) in other countries. You can see on social media like Facebook and Twitter how easily Filipinos can make their fellowmen trend worldwide in their times of glory.
  • Love for food - People just love to eat! Even during simple events, we celebrate by eating. This love to eat strengthen the ties that families and friends have for each other, because they spend time with each other. With this big love for food, you can still hear a lot of people saying they will stick to a strict diet for them to lose weight but the next minute, you see them munching on food again. This is, however, a watch-out for people because one of the major causes of death in the country arises from unhealthy diet.

Sadly, there are so many other Filipino habits that I believe hinder progress, and more often than not create misunderstandings and even chaos. Below are some of them.
  • Colonial mentality - This is in irony with our Filipino pride. We may not be aware of it at times, but there are many instances where we value western culture, people or products more than our own. More Filipinos watch American idol (vs. local talent shows), NBA (vs. PBA), and other international TV series. Foreign films make more money than local films. People are willing to pay thousands of pesos just to watch concerts of international superstars, but do not want to watch a local performer even for free. We prefer international brands of clothing than our own. We make a big fuss about international franchises of food that come into our country, rather than favoring our local delicacies. And most of all, many people lack pride in the "Filipino look" - brown-skinned, short-nosed, etc. We spend a deal of fortune just to make our skin fairer, and some go as far as going under the knife to look "imported." Skin whitening products are everywhere and it's a big shame that Filipino marketing graduates from top schools in the country sell these soaps and creams. More so, local companies are profiting and growing from selling papaya soaps and gluta products that whiten skin.
  • Crab mentality - Admit it, more often than not, we easily get envious of other people's success. And this envy sometimes results to finding flaws in a person to the point of destroying another, pulling them down from the throne of their triumph, so that one can steal the spotlight.
  • Belief in misconceptions - We tend to believe in a lot of absurd things like:
    • All gay men dresses and acts effeminately.
    • Gay people look for love from straight men.
    • Gay men want to become women.
    • Misconceptions related to certain sicknesses that are totally false.
  • Superstitions - Educated people know that superstitions have no scientific basis. But there are many instances when we still follow these things, thinking "There's no harm in believing anyway" - even at our own expense.
  • Too much integration of Church in politics and society - This is one of the reasons why the Philippines is still poor. We cannot pass bills on reproductive health, divorce, death penalty, marriage equality, etc. because the Church (led by the CBCP) interferes a lot. Religion is good, they teach a lot of values to its followers that make them live good lives. But this is a democratic country where the government and society should stand on its own. Government should be able to enact and enforce laws that majority of the leaders deem would be beneficial for the entire country without anyone telling them that this is inconsistent with the bible. Different sectors of society should be able to express what they feel through are without fear of persecution from the church just because their belief is different. The Church is becoming pathetic; it seems like they just want to be involved in everything even if they're not invited. They just want to be heard even when people are not asking for their opinion. They just want to stop everything - even the progress of this country. Someone should do something about this. Many other countries progressed because they did not let religion stand in their way.
  • Tendency to complain/whine/blame - When the weather is hot, we complain. When it's raining and it's cold, we complain. We can't seem to be satisfied with just about anything. When something goes wrong, we simply whine instead of doing something about it. When we hear bad news, we tend to blame different people or sectors of society - instead of finding a solution for the problem.
  • Machismo, sexist/discriminative tendencies - Until today, many men believe that they are better than women. A perfect example is when a man is driving or is just on the road, and sees an accident or just a bad driver, he immediately says "Babae 'yang driver (The driver is a woman)." Chivalry is okay, as evidenced when men give up their seat in a public transport and offer them to an old lady, pregnant woman or a mother with a child. But nowadays, many women are stronger and doesn't give a damn. They can do everything that men can. No doubt about it. But words that Filipinos love to say often brings back these sexist tendencies. An example is "Kalalaki mong tao, ang duwag-duwag mo (You're a man, yet you're a coward)." It's as if males are not allowed to be scared of anything, and women are licensed to be afraid of anything - as if they're the weaker sex. And what hurts me the most are our tendencies to look down on gay people. When people say "Mayaman nga, bakla naman. (He may be rich, but he's gay anyway)" It's as if being gay makes one less of a person. Also, Filipinos relate cowardice to being gay. People say, "Bakla ka pala eh (Oh you're a fag)" whenever someone chickens out on a challenge. Gay people can look like strong masculine men too, as I have described in my blog about non-straight men (http://thevincidavinci.blogspot.com/2012/06/non-straight-guys.html). Sad to say, these discriminatory acts and beliefs towards gay people are reflected and magnified in media by stupid gay directors and writers themselves.
  • Racism - No one can say I am wrong about this. We laugh on the color of black people; we think it's dirty. We deliberately and mockingly call them "negro", "egoy," "negrito," or what have you without being politically correct (African, African-American, black). We think all Indians and Arabs have bad body odor because of the spices in the food they eat. We think blondes are dumb. The list could go on. Yet, the worse part is, we react so negatively when other people throw racist remarks against Filipinos, like when they imply that we are only good in providing domestic helpers to other countries, we are good-for-nothing monkeys who love to kiss a foreigner's ass for money, we all want to become Americans, among others.
  • Love of gossip - No need to elaborate so much on this. Gossip shows and columns are everywhere - and they sell even if most of the time the facts have been distorted or exaggerated. Serious conversations come to a halt when someone comes in who have a "juicy blind item." People love to hear about the private lives of local and foreign celebrities, even politicians.
  • Too much influence of media - This is highly debatable, but I believe many people rely most of their decisions on what they see on TV and other media. An example is national elections - people tend to vote for the candidate who has been very strong in surveys, and most of the time these candidates win. People listen too much to bad reporters who have bad manners like Mike Enriquez and Tulfo brothers, when strictly speaking, they shouldn't have qualified to become journalists. Media has become opinionated; they are sometimes very deliberate in taking sides, even if the word media (from the word medium) implies objectivity and neutrality. Money from advertising has indeed driven Philippine media into the rubbish it is today while sadly, people still listen to them as if they are totally reliable.

What do you see in our society today? Feel free to add and/or share your thoughts or even disagree with my opinions by commenting on this post.

Monopoly Deal

Last December 2011, I received a really nice gift from my friend Major through our exchange gift during our Christmas dinner - a set of Monopoly Deal cards (Hong Kong version). I just opened the card set and played with my friends on Christmas night in Tagaytay when we stayed in a hotel. Upon easily learning how to play it (through the instructions sheet), we got really addicted to it. I brought it in the office after the holidays and taught my colleagues how to play it during our break times, and they all got hooked too!

The game is very similar to the original Monopoly board game. But this time, there's no need for a banker, there are no more play money bills and miniature houses - just cards. In order for a player to win, a player simply has to collect 3 property sets so it is possible to win in a matter of minutes. Fast paced, but what makes it more exciting are the action cards like Debt Collector, Sly Deal, Deal Breaker and others that enable a player to either collect money or get properties from another player.

It tests a player's ability to manage the balance between available money and properties on hand (kept) or thrown down (already shown to all players). At the same time, it pushes a player to strategize wisely on using action cards - when to use them and whom to use them against. And of course, one's luck in picking the right cards also play a factor. In short - it's a game of strategy, courage, luck and fun!

Two to six players can play this game. If I'm not mistaken, there are several versions of the game - US, UK and Hong Kong (which reflects on the property and utility names). I think the Hong Kong version has more action cards than the other versions (Double Sly Deal, Go to Jail, Speeding Ticket, etc.), which makes it more exciting.

For more information on how to own your own set, here is the link to Hasbro's website: http://www.hasbro.com/shop/details.cfm?R=F3854DAA-728A-1014-B188-F10137905FA8:en_US&src=endeca&product_id=23453#. This is also available in local toy and hobby stores like Toy Kingdom, Hobbes and Landes and major department stores.

Frequently asked questions are answered at this site: http://www.hasbro.com/monopoly/en_US/discover/faq.cfm

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Corazon: Ang Unang Aswang

The movie tells the story of a woman who finds it hard to conceive a child, with her husband and the rest of their other co-villagers during the post-Japanese occupation era in the Philippines. After following a strict devotion to St. Gerard, she finally bears a child. However, the baby died during birth causing her to lose her mind and become an eater of babies and children - an aswang.

With the title translated as "Corazon: The First Aswang," I was confused whether the movie wants to teach Filipinos that the story about the first "aswang" or child-eating monster came about only after the time of war, when all along, aswangs have been part of local mythology since pre-colonization. On the other hand, it could just be from the point of view of the town where the story happened - meaning, Corazon was the first aswang of their town.

Furthermore, the title suggests that this is a horror film. However, most of the scenes are dramatic. It failed to achieve the objective of a horror film - to fear or loathe the aswang. Rather, the movie engages one to empathize with Corazon with the loss of her child, and to simply understand why she turned to snatching children and eating them. This caused the movie to lose its overall horror theme.

Acting could have been better, or maybe because the cast were good-looking ones. It is really hard to be afraid of Erich Gonzales' (as Corazon) face even with all the make-up because her face is angelic. Moreover, some scenes by Derek Ramsey (as Daniel, Corazon's husband) looked awkward - sometimes looking overly acted and sometimes lacking. There were scenes where Gonzales and Ramsey could have done better to capture viewers' emotions (e.g. birth and death of Corazon's baby).

I have to commend consistent quality acting from Tetchie Agbayani (as Melinda, a crazy woman astray), Epi Quizon (Naldo) and Mon Confiado (Berto). Bodjie Pascua's performance as Corazon's father proved that no role is too small for one to be able to stand out and shine.

Sadly and sometimes funnily, some extras acted really poorly - especially the gossiping mothers in the village. They sounded like it took them forever and a hard time to memorize a very short script.

Cinematography is good and special effects were appropriately incorporated in some horror scenes. Musical score, however, were not able to build the necessary suspense and horror, as well as drama in different scenes, that could have compensated for or complemented the acting. There were also several side stories and scenes that were unnecessary and just lengthened the film.

I like the overall concept of the film. It is very ambitious and really tried to create a work of art entirely different from other mainstream Filipino films. In creating future projects, directors and writers should focus on certain details of the film so as to totally engage the audience to believe its theme, to bring the necessary emotions, to have a consistent story, among others.

This movie definitely is worth watching to see how Filipino films have gone a long way from its stereotypes. Also, it deserved the B grading from the Cinema Evaluation Board.

My rating: 80% for a mainstream Filipino film
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