Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Killers Live in Manila!

The Killers finally made it to Manila! Last Thursday, they performed live at the Smart Araneta Coliseum and I was there to witness their amazing concert.

My friend Beck and I got Patron tickets, and since this was the standing area - or mosh pit as I would like to call it - we got there at around 6:30 P.M. to make sure we could be as close to the front as possible. Even then, there was already a pretty big crowd in front of us by (there were probably about 10-12 rows of people in front of us). The opening act, Sandwich, performed a few songs at around 8 P.M., and it was around 9:30 P.M. when the Killers finally took the stage.

I remember being very disappointed when they cancelled their Asian tour back in January 2010. (Lead vocalist Brandon Flowers unfortunately lost his mother to cancer in February 2010 and the tour was cancelled so he could be with his mother in her last days.) More than three years later and finally, The Killers make it to the Philippines. Brandon even said so, telling the audience "Mabuhay! Sa wakas, The Killers are here" or "...are in Manila" and adding "thank you for not giving up on us." It was definitely worth the long wait.

The concert was perfect for their fans as their repertoire consisted of their best and most popular songs from all their albums. They opened with Mr. Brightside which caused the crowd to go into a frenzy. I will say that I was annoyed that everyone in the crowd was singing along to that song - and not very well! LOL - and I couldn't hear Brandon very well. But of course that was expected. Apart from that, they performed Smile and Somebody told me from Hot Fuss, Bling (Confessions of a King) and Read my mind from Sam's Town (which I think is my favorite album of theirs so far), and Spaceman and Human from Day and Age. I don't have their Battle Born and Sawdust albums but they did some songs from those two as well. (Check out their full set list here.) Of course, the concert featured Brandon's keyboard that is set-up as the lightning symbol in their Battle Born album.

While I can't be completely sure, I think The Killers were pleasantly shocked that the audience that night knew and loved all their songs, even the less popular ones that weren't released. When the audience immediately recognized For reasons unknown during the intro and started to cheer, Brandon said "You know this one?" And when they followed up that song with From here on out, the audience once again cheered wildly and Brandon said with a massive grin on his face "You know this one too?"

I will say that Brandon Flowers has become one of my favorite lead vocalists of a rock band. He has an amazing voice: powerful, clear, unique, and instantly recognizable. On top of that, he performs with a fiery passion that comes straight from the heart and the gut. That his performance level is matched by the rest of the band makes for an incredible show.

Once The Killers "closed" the concert with All these things that I've done and the band cleared the stage, the clamor for an encore was astounding. Chants of "We want more" and loud cheers filled the Araneta Coliseum and people even started singing again the anthemic "I've got soul but I'm not a soldier" line from All these things that I've done. The band finally came back on stage and treated everyone to an amazing encore that included Jenny was a friend of mine and When we were young.

By the time the lights were all turned back on and the crowd made its way to the exits, I had been standing already for more than five hours. Needless to say I was tired and I had lost my voice but it was all worth it. I'm now in kind of a state of withdrawal, listening to their albums that I have to relive my excitement. I don't know what the odds are that they will return to Manila to perform, but I certainly hope I can see them in concert again.

Monday, September 16, 2013

UP places 2nd in cheerdance

It was bound to happen at some point, but I was hoping the UP Pep Squad could match UST's 5-championships-in-a-row from 2002 to 2006 before they eventually lost the title. Unfortunately, they got dethroned by a hungry NU and ended up in 2nd place. Nevertheless, UP maintained its unprecedented streak of having a podium finish in eighteen consecutive UAAP Cheerdance competitions. They got hit by a couple of major falls but overall, it was still a pretty good and entertaining routine.

video uploaded in youtube by TheABSCBNNews

(Sidenote: the DLSU Animo Squad had the best costume and props hands down, although the quick-change of UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe was pretty impressive too.)

UP clearly looked disheartened with their loss but hopefully they can bounce back and get back to their championship ways next year. Good job, UP Pep Squad!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Pinoy youtube sensation on Ellen

Aldrich Lloyd Talonding was invited by Ellen a few months ago to perform in her show after she saw a video of him performing "Dance with my father" on youtube. Somehow her message reached him as he and his cousin James (who plays the guitar while he sings) made it to "Ellen" a few days ago. Check it out here:

video uploaded by MrNoypistuff

Aldrich has an amazing voice, with great control, power and expression. (He also speaks English quite well and apparently he did practice his English before flying to the US.) What makes this performance more moving and what gives it even more meaning to him now is the fact that he actually did lose his father last June.

Fantastic job, Aldrich and James! And thanks a lot to Ellen for providing many Filipinos a global platform on which to perform.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Charice in the Guinness Book of World Records

Charice makes global news as she has been listed in the latest edition of the Guinness Book of World Records. She was 20 years and 150 days old when she mentored KZ  Tandingan, who won the the first season of the X Factor Philippines in October last year. This means that Charice is the youngest winning judge in any X Factor franchise globally. I don't know if there will be other X Factor shows that feature a younger judge in the future but I do hope Charice can keep this record for a while.

Way to go, Charice!

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Wildflour Croissant-Donut

One of the most popular items in the foodie world at the moment is the "Cronut" (although I understand that the word "Cronut" has pending trademark applications filed in the US and internationally by Chef Dominique Ansel and as such shouldn't be applied to any donut-croissant hybrids). Cafe France, Krispy Kreme, and Le Coeur de France all have their version, but it was Wildflour that seems to have started the trend in the Philippines. I had dinner there late last week with my friends, and while we were having coffee after an exceedingly heavy meal, a waitress approached us, telling us that they still have cronuts available and asking us if we wanted to try it. It's very difficult to get a cronut in Wildflour and even if you order in advance, it'll take a few days before you can get your order. So when the chance presented itself, we decided to get two cronuts.

The verdict? It's good. But when I had my first taste, I wasn't particularly sure yet if it lived up to the hype. When we had a slice each that evening (you can see one cronut missing a portion in the picture above LOL), we were all absolutely stuffed and we had just consumed a slice of salted chocolate cake that was really good. At that time, I felt that the cronut was overrated.

However, several hours later, I ate the rest of the cronut that we partially consumed while still at the restaurant (I took home both cronuts we ordered) and it tasted a lot better and didn't seem as overrated as my first bite. Even the day after, the other cronut still tasted good. I will say that the Wildlfour cronut is miles better than the Cafe France one.

So after thinking about it, I will say that the Wildflour croissant-donut is actually pretty good (albeit a bit greasy) and I wouldn't mind having one again. It is not cheap at P120 but it sort of lives up to the hype. That said, I surely won't wait in line for a long time for it nor make an effort to order several days in advance.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Rafa wins the US Open!

The King of Clay has extended his domain to the hard courts. Rafael Nadal wins the US Open trophy for this second time in his career, beating Novak Djokovic 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. Rafa by the numbers:

  • Major title #13. Nadal is now on solo 3rd place in the all-time men's list, behind Federer (17) and Sampras (14)
  • Tour-leading 10 titles, reaching the finals in 12 of the 13 tournaments he's played
  • 22-0 on hard courts this year. Hard court title count: 1 major, 3 masters. Impressive!
  • 60 wins, 3 losses in 2013
  • #1 in the ATP Race to London, and will be more than 3000 points ahead of Novak
  • First person since Andy Roddick in 2003 to win the Montreal Masters, Cincinnati Masters, and the US Open all in the same year
  • First person since Roger Federer in 2007 to win the US Open Series and the US Open, which meant that Nadal takes home $3.6 million in prize money. Wow!!
  • Grand Slam title count: 8 on clay court. 3 on hard court, and 2 on grass

photo by Clive Brunskill (Getty Images)

It was a strange (and stressful!) match, with its share of highlights and momentum swings. Rafa was dominant in the first set before Novak found his form in the second set and started playing incredibly well for a set and a half. The third set proved immensely crucial. Rafa was playing catch up mode for most of that set, with Novak up a break early before Nadal leveled things a few games later. The turning point had to have been that ninth game. Djokovic was up 0-40 with three break points. If he won that, he would have served for the set and have gone up 2 sets to 1. Instead, Rafa fought back, went up 5-4, then opportunistically took advantage of the break point he earned in the next game to win the set. Just like that, Novak lost steam and it was all Rafa in the fourth and final set.

This win now means that Nadal has beaten Djokovic six times in their last seven matches. It's a huge turnaround from 2011, when Novak was near-invincible and beat Nadal seven times in a row. Nadal now leads their head-to-head 22-15 and they have split their Grand Slam final meetings 3-3.


On the women's side, Serena won her 17th Grand Slam title, beating Azarenka in straight sets. Serena is head and shoulders above the rest of the women and while she is 31 years old, she is playing as consistently well as she ever has (I'd say she is playing just as well if not better than she did when she dominated in 2002-2003). While Steffi Graf will forever be my favorite player, I wouldn't be surprised if Serena equals or even surpasses Graf's Grand Slam count.


If Rafa Nadal plays enough tournaments for the remainder of the year and does decently well in them, he will almost certainly reclaim the #1 ranking from Novak Djokovic. When the rankings are updated on Monday next week, Rafa will be only 120 points behind Novak and with no points to defend the remainder of the year, the #1 ranking is within reach.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major

I heard this soul-stirring piece composed by Johann Sebastian Bach while watching an episode of the now-defunct Emily Owens MD. I loved it so much that I noted down its title and searched it on youtube. (Thank God for youtube and the internet!) Check it out here, performed by Denise Djokic.

video uploaded in youtube by cbcradio3

There's just something about a cello's sound that is so powerful and moving. It perfectly matches the melody of this hauntingly beautiful piece.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Buffet lunch

One of my friends, Joyce, felt bad for me earlier this year when I was having severe stomach problems and could barely eat anything that she gave me a voucher for a lunch or dinner buffet in Heat, one of the restaurants in Edsa Shangri-La Hotel. Somehow I wasn't able to use it until today. I woke up a lot earlier than I normally do during weekends and I ate some of my leftovers from the night before for breakfast at around 7AM. By noon, I was feeling really hungry so I thought the timing was perfect for me to have a buffet meal.

Not surprisingly, I ended up eating a lot. When I finally laid out all my plates of food in front of me, I thought for a second I wasn't going to be able to eat everything. Somehow, I did. :)

And as if all that wasn't enough, I followed up my main meal with a plateful of dessert.

The buffet comes with coffee or tea but no softdrinks or iced tea (a can of softdinks or refillable iced tea here costs a whopping P220+ after tax and service charge). Needless to say, I was absolutely stuffed after my meal and I didn't eat again until several hours later. Thanks to my friend Joyce for the awesome buffet!

Monday, September 02, 2013

Can't Hold Us by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Ray Dalton

This is my current favorite song. (In case you're wondering, Ryan Lewis is the producer. Ray Dalton is the guy whose impressive vocals you can hear throughout the song.) "Can't hold us" also has an amazing music video and, according to wikipedia, "shooting took place for three months, in 6 continents and 16 different shoots." Check it out here:

video uploaded in youtube by Ryan Lewis

It's no surprise then that "Can't hold us" bagged trophies for Best Cinematography and Best Hip-Hop Video in the recently concluded MTV Music Awards.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Family Weekend Celebration

To celebrate the birthday of my nephew, I used my ensogo voucher to book a 2-bedroom suite at Fraser Place in Makati for my family. Since my nephew had taekwondo (and had to be accompanied there by my brother), my other nephew had a school event, and my mom had work, I checked in with my grandmother "Nanay" ahead of everyone else. We all got together by around 6 PM and we decided to go to nearby Relish at Ponte for dinner. This restaurant never fails to deliver and once again, we all enjoyed our food.

We opted not to get any dessert from Relish because earlier that day, I used another ensogo voucher to get a Marjolaine cake from Sugarhouse. Only a couple of us had a slice of cake once we got back to our Fraser Place room (although once we got home the next day, most folks had a slice and only a small portion of the cake was left). My nephew and my brother headed to the swimming pool while everyone just chilled and watched TV. It was a relatively calm night and most of us were asleep quite early.

After checking out the next day, we had lunch at Heaven & Eggs Rockstar in Glorietta 4 since my nephew loves the shoestring potatoes there. We noticed that they had banana bread and raisin bread on sale there from Baguio Country Club and Nanay seemed interested in the banana bread but she felt it was too expensive, which each loaf costing P200. I decided to get her one loaf anyway and we were pleasantly surprised when, with her senior citizen discount, we ended up paying just P142. Not bad.

After lunch, we spent some time in the mall to go shopping for gifts for my nephew. That way, he could choose the stuff he wanted. I ended up getting him a Ninjago Lego set while my mom got him a jacket and a shirt. Clearly my nephews are getting older because in the past, they would always ask for toys but now they are also interested in clothes.

I was supposed take Nanay to the cemetery to visit Tatay but it started raining very heavily so we had to cancel those plans. I ended up just bringing everyone home then passing by the mall to get some food for our dinner. (I managed to a lot of free food because of my credit card charge slips!) We then headed to church to catch the early evening mass.

It was a great but full weekend, and I just realized that most of my weekends recently have been quite full. I got sick recently and had to take a few days off of work and go to the hospital to see a doctor. Thankfully, this coming weekend is going to be a relatively relaxed weekend for me so I will take full advantage of that.