Thursday, November 08, 2012

"Bring him home" (Les Misérables 25th anniversary)

I recently got the DVD of the 25th anniversary of Les Misérables. I have always been a massive fan of its music so it was a no-brainer for me to get a copy of the DVD when it came out. Lea Salonga played Fantine and a lot of amazing artists were in the cast but it was Alfie Boe, who played Jean Valjean, who stood out for me and blew me away. Here he is singing "Bring him home":

video uploaded in youtube by ChrSuper

Colm Wilkinson, who originated the role, did an incredible job so Alfie had very big shoes to fill. But he pulled it off in amazing fashion. His range, power, control, and expressiveness are astounding. I could listen to this over and over again. And, well, I have. :)

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Global Giving

Because of all the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) work I did for my company last year, I received a US$500 gift card in Global Giving. I used it last week, and it's amazing what US$500 can do. I decided to look for projects in the Philippines. Obviously, I couldn't support everything, so I ended up making the following donations:

  • $50 for blood and other lab tests for one woman or child undergoing cancer treatment (Project: Cancer treatment for 20 children and 30 women)
  • $40 to help 10 kids open their first savings account (Project: Teach 15,000 rural kids to save and invest)
  • $40 to provide water for a month's supply of fresh vegetables to ten families (Projects: Provide to 435 Poor Filipinos)
  • $50 to provide books for 10 schools and 6 children's hospitals (Project: Give Books to 3000 Children in the Philippines)
  • $40 to provide meals for 1 street family for 1 week (Project: Initiative for the Street Families of Manila)
  • $60 to provide disaster preparedness materials for three communities (Philippine Disaster Relief and Recovery)
  • $100 to inject capital into a local business (Project: Microloans to 16 Entrepreneurs in the Philippines)
  • $50 to help develop and maintain no-take zones that grow fish populations (Project: Reduce Overfishing in the Coral Triangle)
  • $10 to provide organic seeds such as rice and vegetables for a Filipino farmer (Project: Ensure Food Security for 500 Poor Filipino Villages)
  • $50 to provide medication for one surgery (Project: Free Cleft Surgery for 400 Filipino Children)
  • $10 to provide 40 mangrove saplings to their reforestation site (Project: Talim Bay Coastal Resources Management Project)
I was so pleased that I was able to help out all these great projects. For two of these projects, I was actually the first donor. I hope it triggers more donations for them later on. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I get another GC this year. There are a lot more projects out there that need funding and I would love to be able to help out again.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Zendee Rose on Ellen

Another Filipino is featured on Ellen. Zendee Rose Tenerefe became famous after a stranger took a video of her singing "And I'm telling you" in a mall (check it out here). Since then, Zendee has become a bit of a celebrity. She has performed on Party Pilipinas, now has a recording contract, and to top it all off, she has now guested on Ellen! Check it out here:

 video uploaded in youtube by gilbert haw

It was great to see her genuinely overwhelmed by the amazing response from the crowd. I also loved her entrance. I think she dances Gangnam Style pretty darn well. :)

Sunday, November 04, 2012

My first Shi Lin experience

I recently tried Shi Lin for the first time. I had a Deal Grocer voucher that was worth P600 so that meant I could go a bit crazy LOL. Naturally, I ordered Xiao Long Bao (P138 for 6 pieces):

I also got Shrimp and Pork Siomao (P165 for 6 pieces). Similar to Lugang Cafe, this version of siomai also has a bit of soup inside it.

Finally, I ordered Noodles with Braised Beef Soup (P248). This one was just okay.

I was initially thinking of trying their red bean dumplings for dessert but I was already stuffed by the time I polished  off everything. The menu of Shi Lin is not very extensive - they have a handful of choices each for dumplings, appetizers, main courses, and noodles, but the food  is pretty good and the price is reasonable. I'm certain to visit again soon, especially when I get a craving for Xiao Long Bao. :)

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Djokovic to end the year #1

Roger Federer still stands atop the ATP rankings at the moment. However, because he skipped the Paris Masters this week, he will be dropping a lot of points on Monday. At which point Novak Djokovic takes back the top ranking. Federer won the World Championships last year so even if he wins that event again, he won't gain enough points to overtake Djokovic. This means that Novak will be ranked #1 at the end of 2012. It will be the second year in a row that he ends the year #1.

It's been a really interesting and competitive year in men's tennis. For the first time since 2003, we have different champions in the four Grand Slam tournaments. Nadal is expected to return to tennis in 2013 and he will certainly be hungry to win. With Andy Murray having multiple solid wins over both Novak and Roger this year, it will be interesting to see what happens next year.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Carmen in Manila

Last weekend, I caught my fourth opera this year (and I'm not counting "Phantom of the Opera" hehe). I learned about "Carmen" from my friends Jane and Martin so I asked my mom if she wanted to watch and she said she did.

"Carmen" was presented by Lyric Opera of the Philippines and directed by Laurice Guillen. It was staged at St. Cecilia's Hall in St. Scholastica Manila (the acoustics here were incredible), making it the first opera I saw outside CCP. It's also the first opera I watched where the entire cast was composed of local talent (the three other operas I watched this year featured international artists from Korea, Japan, and Italy). The cast was really good. The standout performance in my opinion came from Randy Gilongo who took on the role of Don Jose. Of everyone in the cast, he best combined good acting and exceptional vocals. Ana Guillen Feleo, the daughter of Laurice, was believable as Carmen and Kay Balajadia Liggayu received strong applause as well for her performance of Micaela. On top of the great talent, the show also had pretty good production value, from the lights to the sets to the costumes.

curtain call

This four-act opera was created by French composer George Bizet based on a novella of the same title by Prosper Mérimée. It tells the story of Carmen, a fiery gypsy who catches the fancy of many men, including Don Jose. She and Don Jose become involved but, free spirit that she is, she eventually leaves him for the toreador Escamillo. Consumed by jealousy and not wanting to lose Carmen to any other man, Don Jose kills her in the end. A few of the songs in this opera are quite popular and even non-opera fans will be familiar with them. Among these are the overture, the Toreador song, and of course Habanera: L'amour est un oiseau rebelle. Most people who watched Sesame Street in the 70s and early 80s will know this song because of that scene where an orange sings this song LOL. Here is a brilliant rendition of this song by legendary opera singer Maria Callas:

video uploaded in youtube by Th Paw 

It's amazing that in a year where so many current and very popular international artists like Lady Gaga and Maroon 5 had shows in the country, I somehow find myself watching operas instead. :) Every show I saw, including Carmen, had a pretty good sized audience so I hope it means that more operas get staged in Manila.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

All Saint's Day

While most of the Philippines headed to the cemeteries today, I decided to stay at home and get some rest. I told my family that we should just 'visit' my grandfather "Tatay" tomorrow. That way, we get to avoid the traffic and the massive crowds.

My grandmother "Nanay" and I actually go to the cemetery almost every Sunday where we say a prayer for Tatay and our other relatives who have been laid to rest in the same area. There was a beautiful sunset there a couple of weekends ago:

Hopefully, it will be a good and quiet day in the cemetery tomorrow.