Monday, March 31, 2008


Last March 10, two of the greatest tennis players of all time - Roger Federer and Pete Sampras - squared off in a best-of-three exhibition in Madison Square Garden. There have been lots of discussion as to who the greatest tennis player of all time is, and having both Roger and Pete battle it out on a tennis court drew massive interest from people, whether rabid tennis fans or not.

The exhibition went the distance and the winner had to be determined by a third set tie-break that went 8-6 in favor of the current #1. Obviously, there would be no answer to the best-of-all-time question because Pete was 10 years older than Roger, and frankly there are other players who are worthy of being called the greatest (such as the legendary Rod Laver). But the exhibition was a huge success, and with 26 Grand Slam titles between the two of them (Pete has 14, Roger currently has 12 but you can expect him to win more), you won't find any other tennis exhibition that could boast of as many Grand Slam titles.

That is, unless you go over to women's tennis and stage a Dream Match between Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova. Which is exactly what happened in Tokyo on March 15, just 5 days later. Steffi and Martina teamed up with ex-Japanese #1 Kimiko Date to play their own "Dream Match" tennis exhibition on the other side of the world.

This exhibition was a lot more low-profile than Federer-Sampras, and I'm still surprised that there wasn't a lot of information shared about in the media, at least until the event was actually completed. Kimiko actually found her groove and beat both Steffi and Martina in their respective matches, but what most of the world must've been waiting for was the Steffi-Martina match.

These two ladies are arguably the best female tennis players ever (right up there with Chris Evert and Margaret Court, among others), and in fact are dead-even in their career head-to-head matches at 9-all. So it made perfect sense that their exhibition would follow in the footsteps of the Pete-Roger one. They played only one set, a Championship set which means that the first player to win 8 games wins. If they got to 7-all, they would play a tie-break that would be first to ten points. And amazingly enough, it did go to a tie-break, with Graf beating Navratilova by winning the final point with her trademark bazooka forehand that she hit for a winner.

Between these two ladies, you have 40 Grand Slam singles titles (Steffi has 22, Martina has 18). That's not even counting doubles titles (Martina, the most successful doubles player in history, has 31 doubles titles and 10 mixed doubles titles). So in that span of 5 days, four of the best tennis players - with sixty six Grand Slam singles titles combined - entertained the world with world-class tennis. If only the tennis gods can put all four of them together in a single event where they can all play tennis together...

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A double dose of Elliott Yamin

Last Thursday, I was getting ready to go the gym when my friend Emmy texts me "Turn on your TV. Elliott on Rachel Ray". Now I remember reading about Elliott Yamin's appearance on Rachel Ray a few months ago from the e-train but I never got to see the show. My TV was on so I just flipped the channel to the Lifestyle network. I caught Rachel Ray talking about on of her viewers - a 12-year-old girl who had diabetes. Rachel Ray invited this young girl to her show and asked her to come up on stage. A video was then shown of her and when the video ended, Rachel asked her who was standing right behind her? Lo and behold, it was Elliott! The girl (sorry, I forgot her name) was quite surprised by it and all she could initially say was "I'm a big fan."

After the break, Rachel talks with Elliott, and the discussion revolves mainly around the struggles that people with diabetes have to go through. This was clearly a few months back because Elliott said during the show that his album was almost gold, and all Elliott fans know now that his album has already reached Gold status (congrats, Elliott! :)) After the brief interview, Elliott performed his mega-hit "Wait for you". Rachel then proceeds with the rest of her cooking show, working on a recipe that is diabetic-friendly.

Shortly after that show, I caught American Idol in Starworld (the treadmills in the gym have TVs so I managed to catch it even while I was in the gym). Earlier that morning, another friend of mine, Meg, told me that AI would have an excerpt of Elliott visiting Angola for the Idol gives back program. I was expecting a video that showed a bit of Elliott but instead I was greeted with a really good feature that included him. And not only that. What was even better for me was that the video not only featured him but it also included my favorite female Idol of all time - Fantasia! It was so great seeing both of them in Angola together. Seeing that video actually made my day. They seemed to get along really well too, and I'm actually hoping that when during the Idol Gives Back show in the middle of this season, they invite both Elliott and Fantasia to sing together. Oh man that is going to be a blast!

It is still my dream to see and hear Fantasia perform live. And if I got to see Elliott perform in Manila (four times, at that), then I know that some dreams do come true, no matter how far-fetched they may seem. :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Damien Rice - 9 crimes

I first heard the song 9 Crimes by Damien Rice a couple of months ago while channel-surfing. As I passed through Starworld, "Live at Abbey Road" was on and the music being played instantly caught my attention. It was so powerful and haunting that I stopped flipping through channels and decided to listen to the rest of the song. I loved it so much that I just had to hear it again. So the next day, I searched for it in youtube (don't you just love youtube?) and found it.

Here's that snippet from Live at Abbey Road:

video uploaded in youtube by user annnaklara

In my search, I also ran across the video of this song. I initially found it morbidly interesting, and I later discovered that the video was inspired by a French movie from 1956 by Albert Lamorisse called "Le Ballon Rouge" or "The Red Balloon". The film is about boy who comes across a red balloon and discovers that the balloon seems to have a mind of its own. You can read more about it in this link.

Anyways, here's the video of 9 crimes:

video uploaded in youtube by noemigadu

Monday, March 17, 2008


I saved a lot of my earlier digital photos - circa 2001-2003 - in a desktop that we have in my family's home. Anyways, my brother had been meaning to have it looked at and wanted me to back up the stuff I had in there. The only files I had there though were my photos so I started transferring them to my laptop.

When I started sorting my photos, however, I couldn't seem to find the photos I took during a trip to Paris that I took in Feb 2003. I was aghast! I took a lot of pics during that trip, and it pained me that I may actually have lost those digital photos forever. I consoled myself with the fact that I at least printed some of the pics from that trip (I had been meaning to put them in a photo album for the longest time but I haven't gotten around to it, but that's a different story).

Then I realized - I printed them out! Now, obsessive-compulsive that I am, whenever I want to have photos printed out, I copy those photos into a CD which I then bring to Fujifilm where I normally have digital photos developed. So that means I may have actually copied at least some of my Paris photos onto a CD that I stashed somewhere (yeah, not only am I an obsessive-compulsive, I'm also a pack-rat).

So last weekend I started digging up all my old CDs. And by sheer luck, I actually found one that had my Paris photos! Wahoo!!

What was even better is that this CD that I dug up actually contained ALL my Paris photos (and not just the ones I had printed out). Apparently, I didn't save those photos in the desktop we have at home, but I did save them in the laptop I used in my previous job. I transferred those pictures to a CD when I got a replacement work laptop in 2004, and that's why I didn't initially find that CD with the rest of the CDs where I saved files from my laptop before I resigned in 2006. Confusing? :)

Anyways, finding those photos actually made my day. Now I am planning to sort all my photos during the long weekend. I haven't even gotten around to blogging about my trip to Austria so hopefully after next week, I can do it already.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Tracy Chapman - Talkin' about a Revolution

After posting that video of Hallelujah, I just realized that there is so much great music out there in the world (a lot of which I still haven't heard). So I figured, it might be good for me to use this blog to share some of the music that I really love.

So here's a video of Tracy Chapman singing "Talkin' about a Revolution"

video uploaded in youtube by daressalaam2006

A truly beautiful song performed by a truly magnificent artist!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Meet the Spartans: what a rip-off!

It's not so much the fact that it's stupid humor. You knew that coming into the show. It's not so much a fact that it's simply spoofing pop culture. You knew that coming into the show as well.

The main problem here is that the entire movie, including credits, lasts barely longer than an hour! Maybe 1:15. So you pay P150 expecting to at least go through stupid slapstick jokes for an hour and a half and you don't even get that. What a waste of dough.

It does have it's funny moments, but if I were you, I'd just wait for them to show this movie on HBO or something. Definitely not worth the ticket price. Ugh.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah"

Last week, Jason Castro performed the song "Hallelujah", which was originally done by Leonard Cohen. I got to hear it online early Wednesday, even before I got to watch the show on Starworld later that night, so I didn't hear the judges comments about it. The song sounded very familiar though (I later on figured out that I had heard the John Cale version in "Shrek") so I searched in youtube and in my search I ran into the Jeff Buckley version.

Now the only song of Jeff I knew prior to that day was "The Last Goodbye" which is an amazing song. And I knew from that song that he was an absolutely incredible vocal artist with an unparalleled mix of intensity, expression, texture, dynamics, and control. So I immediately listened to his version and I was immediately blown away! Have a listen and see/hear for yourself.

video uploaded in youtube by EmersonBlues.

You know how some people only sound good when they belt and some people only sound good when they are singing softer notes? Well, Jeff sounds amazing doing both. And dig this - he holds a note for twenty-four seconds at 6:09. You can't do that unless you have perfect vocal control and excellent breath control. And the guitar work on it, which I believe Buckley does as well, perfectly captures the emotion being conveyed by the lyrics.

After discovering this song, I kept playing it over and over and over again. I then started doing more research on Jeff Buckley to figure out which album or albums of his I want to get. This guy is truly magnificent and it's too bad he passed away before he could create more music and share it to the rest of the world.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Man on wheels

So guess what I did over the weekend? I went rollerblading! Or at least attempted to do so LOL.

Yesterday, my mom suggested that we bring my nephews to UP - they close the academic oval to traffic on Sundays and it becomes a huge park where you have dozens upon dozens of people running, biking, strolling, and even playing badminton. My mom felt that it would be good for us to bring my nephews outdoors and away from the weekend mall scene which is where we usually take them.

Now, when I was a kid, my dad taught me how to roller skate. He had these kid skates which I used and what I did as a kid was just put them on and walk around the garage in them. At some point, I managed to be able to move in them. I'm not sure how old I was when I last put on those roller skates, but it was definitely before I started high school. After that, my only other foray into skating was ice skating in SM Megamall a couple of times when I was in college. I was never good at it, but I enjoyed skating a lot. I also had fairly good balance and rarely fell on my butt. :)

Now way back in 2001, I was assigned in Japan for about half a year to work on a project there. I thought that it would be cool if I brought roller blades with me so I could head down to the park and roller blade there. So I bought these really cool looking roller blades that cost me a few thousand bucks actually. I had never tried roller blading before but I felt that if I could roller skate and ice skate, then I could surely rollerblade.

When I got to Japan, I got so immersed in work - it's the busiest I have ever been for that long a period of time - that during the weekends I ended up just resting. This meant only one thing - in the 5 1/2 months that I was there, I got to use my rollerblades only ONCE! LOL what a waste in investment. I had a lot of fun that one time I got to rollerblade so it sucked that I didn't get to use it more.

My rollerblades just sat in my room for the last seven years. I had been meaning to use them but I never got around to it - usually when I went to UP during the weekends, it was for running. So when the opportunity presented itself last Sunday, I decided to shake the dust off my rollerblades and give it another go.

As expected, I had a lot of trouble finding my balance when I had put them on. But after some time, I started getting better and began moving faster. It also took a while before I gained confidence in skating downslope - the UP acad oval wasn't exactly flat. I rollerbladed (really slowly LOL) for about 45 minutes before we decided to leave. It was a lot of fun, and my nephews did enjoy going to UP so we may just do it a bit more often.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Quick hits

Whoa! More than a month since my last update. That is so not good LOL. Here's a quick rundown of a few things that have kept me busy in the last month...

Attended my first beach wedding in Boracay

Tisha and Donald got married in Boracay on Feb 1. The last time I went to Boracay was in 2005 so I was looking forward to it. Especially since I had never been to a beach wedding before. Feb 1 was a Friday so I took the day off and spent the weekend in Boracay. The ceremony was held in the Parish of the Holy Rosary and the reception in Seawind. It was really cool! To add the experience, all the guests received a package when we got to our respective resorts. The package contained, among other things, recommendations on restos to try out and things to do. Coming up with a suggested itinerary was meant to encourage the guest to try out the same things. That way, when we think back to the wedding, we all remember the same things. Pretty smart idea, actually. So from the fact that we were in Boracay to the food tripping to the poker games to the beach volleyball to hanging out with really great friends, this wedding will truly be one very memorable one!

Valentine's Day Harana

The band org we have at work decided to organize some kind of Valentine's Day Harana thing - for a nominal fee, employees can request us to serenade anyone they wanted us to sing to. It was decided very last minute and only approved on the evening of Feb 12, which meant the email announcement would be sent only on Feb 13, a day before Valentine's day. We decided to make the activity last two days. That way, people more time to figure out if they wanted to avail of the service or not. It was so last minute that I was worried that not enough people would avail of it, but as it turned out, I grossly underestimated. In our building at least, there were a total of 18 requests sent in over two days. Now, that may not seem like a lot. But consider this - just because we had this event going on didn't mean we were exempted from work. Also, we had only two vocalists (myself and KC) and one guitarist (RJ) in our building (in our other office building, they got 8 song requests for only 1 day, and they had 2 guitarists and 3 vocalists). To top if off, most of the songs we would do, KC didn't know. So I ended up having to sing most of the songs (I sang solo in about 10 of the songs, and KC and I sang together in 4 of them).

I ended up having to work really long hours on those two days to make sure that my real work would not suffer from this activity. But it was worth it. Not only was it fun to sing for people but I also got to learn and perform a lot of really cool songs that I had never performed for anyone before such as "Fly me to the moon", "You and me" by Lifehouse, "Danny's song" by Kenny Loggins, and Kenny Lattimore's "For you". Considering that we didn't have a lot of time to prepare, I think we pulled it off quite well.

Still Oz reunion!

Well, kinda. Our bassist Sep just started a new job last November, but his scheduled is so whacked out - it changes from week to week - that we can't really gig just yet because we don't know when he's available. Anyways, our rhythm guitarist Bunky managed to get us a pro bono gig in Mayric's (where the great bands are born!) on Tuesday night last week, and Sep said he was free so we figured we might as well give it a go, even if we wouldn't get paid for it. Of course when we arrived, we confirmed what we felt before getting there - that our musical style wasn't exactly suited for the venue. I mean, the bands there play much heavier rock (as well as their original songs!) and here we are covering Dave Matthews Band. We were given half an hour to perform and we initially planned 5-6 songs but before we started we decided to trim it down to three. We did #41 and Grey Street by DMB, plus the DMB version of the Dylan original "All along the watchtower". It's the most uncomfortable I've ever felt on stage but the crowd was actually quite appreciative of our efforts. I'm still hoping Sep gets a more stable schedule so we can gig again soon.

Party for Raffa's 30th birthday

Raffa turned 30 the other day but Joh set up a birthday dinner for him last Friday night in Claw Daddy in Bonifacio High Street. Most of our barkada are already living abroad, and it just so happened that Pia was in Batanes and Meann in the US that day. So only Peegee and I made it to dinner. Joh invited Raffa's team as well - most of whom I knew - but she also invited Raffa's high school batchmates. Peegee had to leave early, and once dinner was done, so did the rest of Raffa's team. So I ended up hanging out with Raffa and Joh and Raffa's high school friends, having cheesecake and coffee in Miss Desserts in Serendra 'til past midnight. It was a great night filled with lot of great food and fun conversation. Thanks again for the blowout, Raffa! :)