Tuesday, March 27, 2012

"We are young" by Fun

I heard this song first in Glee, and now I hear the original version by Fun on the radio a lot. Can't stop listening to it, it's so anthemic!

video uploaded in youtube by FueledByRamen

The video is a bit freaky though, not sure exactly how it relates to the song. :)

Monday, March 26, 2012

Magnum (in the) P.I.

So Magnum Ice Cream finally makes its way to the Philippines! The funny thing is that I always thought it was available here LOL. In fact, in the last few months, I've sort have cravings for it and I'd go to the supermarket to look for it. Naturally, I didn't find it but I just always thought it was out of stock. So when I saw all those ads on TV saying that Magnum is now in the Philippine Islands, my initial reaction was "Oh so that's why I could never find it here before" hahaha. My second reaction of course was to go out and get it. And I did. It really is sooo good! :)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Phantom of the Opera!

Wow, I am so excited about this! Phantom of the Opera is coming to Manila in August! Public ticket sale starts on May 1st, but pre-selling for Citibank credit card holders and Infinity subscribers has started so we were able to get tickets already.

photo courtesy of Ticketworld

Apparently available seats are disappearing quickly - especially the good seats. In fact, we couldn't get orchestra seats on our first three date options! Thankfully we purchased early enough during the pre-sell. Makes me wonder how many seats will still be left by May 1st and whether they will add more dates.

We picked seats in the orchestra even if they are quite expensive because the slight sound glitches when watching The Legends and the Classics were very evident in balcony 1. As such, we figured we might as well get good seats when we watch this legendary musical. I've actually watched this show almost a decade ago when I took a sidetrip to NYC during a business trip to the US but I want to experience it again with my family. It should be an awesome night and I can't wait! :)

Friday, March 23, 2012

"If you have to go" by Geneva

This is a great song by British indie band 'Geneva'.

video uploaded in youtube by user avengeneva

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Liverpool make the FA Cup semis

Two more match wins are all that stand in the way of Liverpool being able to hoist their second piece of hardware this season. They are now in the semifinals of the FA Cup. Up next? A potential clash against Merseyside rival Everton. Of course, Everton still have to get past Sunderland who pose a strong challenge. In any case, the semifinals are slated in mid-April and I'm hoping Liverpool end up with another win and a shot at winning the FA Cup. Good luck, Liverpool!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Button wins the Australian GP!

The 2012 F1 season opened in Australia, and Jenson Button made his presence felt immediately by winning the first F1 race of the season. If Red Bull were thinking that they'd dominate F1 this year the way they did last year, McLaren gave them something to think about as Lewis Hamilton also made the podium in 3rd place, behind Sebastian Vettel.

More often than not, the winner of the first race of the F1 season has gone on to win the Drivers Championship. Hopefully this trend continues and Jenson ends the 2012 season on top of the leaderboard.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Legends and the Classics

Seeing one of them live is great enough. But seeing all three perform together in one show is epic. Philippine legends Lea Salonga, Cecile Licad, and Lisa Macuja all shared the stage in 'The Legends and the Classics'. Initially, this show was slated for only one night but they added another performance due to public demand.

photo courtesy of www.spot.ph

Thankfully, my family watched on the Sunday night because the 2012 Pyromusical Olympics in MOA caused gnarly traffic on Saturday night that resulted in a lot of people being late. I've watched Lea perform live a few times before ('They're playing our song', 'Miss Saigon', and 'CATS') and she truly is a brilliant performer. But I have always wanted to see both Cecile Licad and Lisa Macuja perform live. As such, getting tickets for this show was a no-brainer.

Needless to say, we immensely enjoyed it. As did everyone else. And how could you not? Lea was brilliant as ever, and I especially loved her Broadway medley that included 'I dreamed a dream' and 'On my own' from Les Misérables, 'Memory' from CATS, 'As if we never said goodbye' from Sunset Boulevard, and 'For Good' and 'Defying Gravity' from Wicked. She also reminded everyone that it was in CCP that she auditioned for 'Miss Saigon', the musical that launched her international career, and she sang 'I'd give my life for you' which she had to learn during that audition.

Lisa Macuja defied her 48 years (seriously, she doesn't look anywhere near her age!) by showing mastery of her body in the balcony scene from 'Romeo and Juliet'. She also joined Ballet Manila and performed excerpts from the ballet 'Paquita'. However, it was her performance of ' The Dying Swan' from 'Swan Lake', accompanied by Cecile Licad on piano and Wilfredo Pasamba on cello, that brought the house down.

Cecile Licad has impressed audiences throughout the world with her incredible talent and skill, and I can now officially be counted among the multitudes who have witnessed firsthand her musical prowess. She performed pieces from composers such as Chopin and Gottschalk that demonstrated her range, control, and masterful technique. And speed! That she made it look so easy was a testament to her sheer genius. This video of Cecile playing Chopin's Etude Nos. 1-4 isn't from the show, but she did perform it that night:

uploaded in youtube by user tiklado07

Naturally, The Legends and the Classics also featured collaborations of all three artists. I already mentioned the 'Swan Lake' performance with Cecile and Lisa, but all partnerships were represented. Naturally, the opening ('Nais ko') and the grand finale ('Sana'y wala ng wakas') featured all three ladies on stage simultaneously. The 5-minute standing ovation they received was well-deserved, and it also carried with it an appreciation by Filipinos of the pride that these artists bring to the country. The tickets may have been quite pricey, but they were worth every centavo.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Regular Rack of Ribs for half the price

I am soooo loving deal sites. A few months ago, I purchased a couple of P1000 Tony Roma's vouchers from Metrodeal for only P500 each (50% off). Given that I love this resto but don't eat here very often because it is quite expensive, I made sure I used them both before they expired on March 14. In each trip I took, I got a regular slab of ribs - and mind you, a regular slab is more than enough to fill your stomach - and refillable soft drinks. I ordered the Carolina Honey ribs on my first trip there and I got the original ribs on my second. I can't recall the last time I visited Tony Roma's prior to these two visits but the ribs here are really, really good! The funny thing is that on my second trip, practically every other patron there was using a discount voucher. I wonder if they made any money with this deal. I hope they did; that way, they may open a similar one in the future.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Val and Louie tie the knot

What a wonderful wedding! My college friends Val and Louie have been US-based for more than a decade and they got married there already, but as a lot of their family and friends are based in the Philippines, they decided to have their church wedding here. The ceremony was held in Della Strada in Katipunan, but I woke up quite late, got stuck doing errands, and ran into heavy Saturday traffic, that I didn't make it to church. Instead, I headed straight to Val's family's house where the reception was held.

A lot of our college friends were already there when I arrived - Mitch (and Ferg), Hes (and Migoy), Kermin, Lala, Letlet and Gosh, Jed, Aries, and of course Val and Louie. I also ran into my colleague Farah. I told her the couple and I were batchmates back in college and we've remained good friends all this time. I ask her what her link was and she said she and Val were cousins. Why I did not realize immediately that she shared a last name with Val (at least before Val got married), I don't know LOL. But it was nice seeing another familiar, unexpected face there.

A fantastic tapas spread greeted us in the frontyard and I could have filled myself with all the different appetizers plus the cheese and wine but I knew I needed to leave room in my stomach for the rest of dinner. And dessert! Once we were told that the buffet was open, I made my way to the dessert table first to get a piece of practically every dessert there - mango torte, strawberry shortcake, apple pie, sans rival, and a few other items I can't recall anymore. Plus the yema pie that Val made herself. I ended up with two full plates of dessert! And I ate almost everything I got. Yeesh! On top of that, I still filled my plate with the main course options in the buffet. Suffice it to say, I was stuffed.

But food wasn't just the theme of the night. The party was also filled with laughs. Practically every speech and toast made were hilarious. The guy taking the videos set up his camera right next to me and I'm afraid my unabashed and boisterous laughter will be heard all throughout the video! Louie actually mentioned to me that he could hear me laughing all throughout the evening. Then again, so was everyone else. But the laughter didn't end there. While everyone else had left at around 10pm, our gang stayed on until half past 1. We spent that time catching up, enjoying cheese and wine and apple pie and Nespresso, and reliving hilarious and gut-busting funny moments in the past. It was definitely a terrific evening and all the food and laughs definitely make this wedding very memorable.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

My Octoboy discount card

About a month ago, I took my nephews to Power Station in Shangri-la Mall so they could play Animal Kaiser and we ended up staying there until the mall closed at 9pm. We hadn't had dinner yet - we had some bread in Baker's Fresh right next to the arcade before they started to play - I decided to head to Tomas Morato since the restos there stay open 'til quite late. I know that my nephews enjoy takoyaki so we ended up in Octoboy. I had eaten there before and I know that the food is pretty good. The only question was whether my nephews would enjoy it as well.

Thankfully they did. My nephews ended up ordering different types of takoyaki while I got octopus okonomiyaki for myself. (Makes me miss my stint in Japan more than a decade ago where I had my first okonomiyaki.)

Now I am not sure why but one of the waitresses approached me during our meal and gave me an Octoboy discount card. Maybe the staff thought we looked like a cute, slightly out-of-place group; after all, it was half past 9 and everyone else eating there were adults. In any case, I thought it was great that I now get 5-10% off in that resto, depending on whether I pay via cash or credit.

A few weeks later, I again take my nephews to Power Station 'til mall closing, and my nephews asked if we could eat in Octoboy again. Unfortunately, I left my discount card at home. Nevertheless, we still had our late dinner there. Interestingly enough, the waitresses recognized us so they got my name to cross-reference it in their list of discount-card holders and they proceeded to take 10% off of our bill. Cool!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Disliked. Twice.

I put up videos of myself online for my friends who would like to see certain performances again. A few years ago, I uploaded four songs I performed in the wedding of my friend Stelz. Among the songs I performed was Kenny Lattimore's "For you". It's a beautiful song, but it isn't all that popular given that it didn't really break into the mainsteam. So imagine my surprise when my cover of this song turned out to be the most viewed of all videos of me performing (it's my 2nd most viewed vid; top honors go to my video of Elliott Yamin performing 'Free' in Market! Market! back in 2007).

Most of my personal vids average about 200-300 hits (so pretty much me and my friends LOL) but my performance of 'For you' has more than 1,800. Which means that this video has probably been viewed by stalwart fans of the original. Which probably explains why I ended up getting two 'dislike' votes. There are two 'likes' as well, but I had to ask a couple of friends to 'like' it for me to compensate for the negative votes LOL. If you are interested to see my most disliked video, check this out:

Thinking about it now, what does it really matter if people dislike my vids? I mean, I put it up for my friends so if random people happen to run into my youtube channel and not like something on it, then it is definitely their option to toss in a negative vote (or heck, who knows, maybe my friends themselves actually disliked the vid hahaha). After all, people with an online presence really do put themselves out there for anyone to see. As such, they also become subject to opinions, praise, and criticisms from strangers from all over the world. You certainly won't always like what people will think or even say about you. (I had one person leave a comment years ago that my blog was no longer interesting - so I guess at some point it was haha - and they wouldn't read it again. I didn't even realize strangers were reading this blog since I update it mainly so that I can direct my friends to it when I want them to check out what I have been up to.) As such, the next time any of my vids get a 'dislike', I won't bother asking my friends to like my vids to counteract it with a 'like' vote.

Sunday, March 04, 2012


Several months ago, I purchased five vouchers from Groupon/Beeconomic for Photobooks which I got at 77% off. I have hundreds of photos from several trips I had taken in the past, and while my initial plan was to have the pictures printed out so I could arrange them in a photo album, I figured it would be a better - albeit more expensive - option to create photobooks. So when I saw the 77% discount vouchers, I just had to purchase a handful of them.

Thankfully, they were valid for several months, which means I had time to work on them. In traditional cramming style, though, I waited until just a little more than a month before my vouchers expired before starting to work on my first photobook. It took some time to figure out how to use the design software, but after I put together my first book, I started to get the hang of it.

I've now created two of three books - Belgium, Switzerland, and New York - and I have a couple of weeks to use my remaining two vouchers. I'm planning to create photobooks for my trip to Mexico and my stint in Sweden. Given that some of these trips were made almost 10 years ago, I am definitely looking forward to receiving my photobooks in the mail. I hope they turn out great.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

'La Traviata' comes to Manila

I've been wanting to watch an opera for a really long time now, and I finally got that chance when CCP, in cooperation with the Opera Guild of the Philippines and the Daejeon Opera Company, brought 'La Traviata' to Manila. 'La Traviata' was created by Giuseppe Verdi and is one of the most performed operas in the world.

The title means 'The Fallen Woman' although I feel a more appropriate title would be 'A Woman's Sacrifice'. It tells the story of a courtesan named Violetta, who is the object of affection of a young nobleman named Alfredo. Initially she rejects him but she soon learns to love him, to the point that she abandons her rich and lavish lifestyle to live with him under more meager circumstances. However, Alfredo's father Giorgio pleads with Violetta to leave him because her reputation (she lived as a courtesan) is bringing shame to the family, which, in turn, threatens the engagement of Alfredo's sister. Despite her immense love for Alfredo, Violetta agrees to leave him.

When Alfredo finds out, he feels betrayed and assumes that she has left him to return to her former lover, the Baron. When they meet in a party, Alfredo demands that Violetta admit she is love with the Baron, which she does under duress to protect the real reason for her leaving Alfredo. As she does, he humiliates her in front of everyone. Giorgio denounces the act of his son, who eventually learns the truth about Violetta's sacrfice. By then it is almost too late. Violetta is dying from tuberculosis. Somehow, when Alfredo comes to her sickbed, she feels revived long enough for them to sing a duet together. It unfortunately doesn't last and the opera ends as Violetta dies in Alfredo's arms.

It's an incredibly sad story, as all operas are. But it is precisely this intensity and immensity of emotion that makes 'La Traviata' powerful and compelling. This opera was performed in CCP for three nights, with two performances topbilled by a Korean cast. We got tickets for the Korean show where Violetta was played by Yun-Kyuong Yi. While the entire cast was great, it was Yun-Kyuong Yi who really owned the show. Her voice is amazingly brilliant and can be heard clearly even when she sings with the rest of the chorus. Her control and range are absolutely astounding. The role calls for her singing while slumped over or even lying in bed and she navigated through those physical challenges with ridiculous ease. Naturally, she received the loudest cheers and strongest applause, and she got a standing ovation from everyone at the end of the show.

Check out this video of her singing the aria 'Sempre Libera' which is performed towards the end of the first act. If you don't want to listen to a 10-minute aria sung in Italian, then maybe you can skip to my favorite parts - 5:17 to 5:34 and 7:26 to 7:43. In these parts, she sings the same high note in two different styles - one with full power and the other with restraint. This is exactly how she did it when we watched her. Talk about control. (I checked other versions of 'Sempre Libera' and she seems to be the only one who does that power vs. restraint style, so I guess it must be her signature.)

video uploaded in youtube by jojiebadilla

After the show, the lead cast went outside for a meet-and-greet. A lot of people flocked around Yun-Kyuong Yi but we still managed to get her autograph and I also got to take a photo of my mom with her. It was a very unique and wonderful experience. The fact that we paid P1545 per ticket and sat in the fourth row made it even better (I think they must have gotten a lot of sponsorships because I found the tickets to be incredibly inexpensive for the seats we had in a show like this). A couple more operas are lined up this year, include Madame Butterfly. I reckon I will find myself in CCP again to watch that. In the meantime, I will continue to relish my first-ever opera experience.