Saturday, November 30, 2013

Donating to Yolanda victims through Globe Rewards

I recently got the following text message from Globe Telecom:

You can donate to the Yolanda Relief Operations using your Globe Rewards points. Just text DONATE[space]YOLANDA[amount] to 4438. Available amounts: 5, 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1000. Ex. DONATE YOLANDA5. 1 point = Php 1 donation. Text BAL to 4438 to check your points.

I never get to use my Globe rewards points so when I got this text message, I used as much of my points as I could for Yolanda relief. I texted BAL to 4438 and found out I had about 380 points so I donated as much of it as I could. The instructions said that the available amounts are 5, 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1000 so I texted the following to 4438:

  • DONATE YOLANDA100 (3 times)
  • DONATE YOLANDA5 (2 times)
That's not really a lot but it was a perfect use of my Globe rewards points that I would have otherwise not used. I intend to keep using my Globe rewards points for this purpose, at least in the foreseeable future.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Epic Ad

This Volvo commercial was uploaded in youtube last November 13, and in just two weeks, it has amassed more than 50 million views. When you see it, and you probably already have, you won't be surprised as it just makes an immediate and powerful impact.

video uploaded by VolvoTrucks

I don't know if this split while mounted on two trucks is real or not, but the point is, you can actually believe that it is real (possibly done with a harness on one of the trucks that was erased during editing). After all, Van Damme is the king of splits. Check out this video if you don't believe me. :)

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Manny Pacquiao: Highs and Lows

Manny Pacquiao has continued to make headlines over the last week.

Last Sunday, he routed Brandon Rios, putting in a very dominant performance and reminding everyone why he was once declared the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. This came in shortly after the Yolanda disaster, giving hope to millions of Filipinos. Manny himself dedicated the win to Yolanda victims, saying "This is not about my comeback. My victory is a symbol of my people's comeback from a natural disaster and a natural tragedy."

Just a couple of days later, however, Manny landed in the papers again, but this time under less desirable circumstances. News hit the media that Pacquiao's bank accounts were frozen since he supposedly hasn't proven to the BIR that he paid taxes in the 2008-2009 period. He allegedly has about P2.2 billion in back taxes. I think the point of contention now is that since he already paid taxes in the US - his winnings were taxed before he collected the prize money - he shouldn't be taxed again. Manny said that since his bank accounts were frozen, he had to borrow P1 million to donate to relief operations since he pledged to help out typhoon victims after his fight.

I don't know how this saga will play out in the end but needless to say, we will continue to see it in the news until it does.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Haiyan/Yolanda Aftermath

It's been about two weeks since Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda struck the Visayas region of the Philippines. This most horrific of natural disasters has been the worst that has hit the country in recent memory. As of today, the death toll is now 5,209 at more than 2 million people have been displaced. The damage is currently estimated at P22 Billion and while relief operations are ongoing, more help is still needed. A recent amateur video was published on youtube and the footage of the storm surge and how it just washed away a house is frightening.

video uploaded in youtube by itnnews

There are still a number of ways to donate. A good site to make a monetary donation via credit card or paypal is this site of the Philippine Red Cross: In this link, you can select the campaign to which you want to donate.

Thankfully, millions around the world have reached out to help the Philippines. The US, UK, Japan, and Switzerland are among the many countries that have donated several million dollars for relief efforts. International aid workers continue to head to the Philippines to provide assistance. News about 6-year-old Japanese boy Shoichi Kondoh and 6-year-old Russian boy Alexander Dzanaev who both donated the money in their piggy banks to Yolanda victims, made their rounds in the internet. Dozens of international celebrities have also helped out and they also encouraged their fans and followers to do the same.

Relief efforts are still being done and help is still badly needed so hopefully, as many of us can continue to do what we can.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

OneRepublic Live in Manila!

Okay so this blog post is two weeks late. However, I was looking forward to this concert for a really long time - I bought the tickets in late August, more than two months before the show - so I definitely still need to write about it. :)

I watched OneRepublic when they performed in Manila last November 6. Unlike the concert of The Killers where I was in the "mosh pit", my friend Meg and I sat some distance away from the stage at Upper Box B. I arrived shortly before 8pm, which was when the show was supposed to start, and to my initial dismay, I saw that the Smart Araneta Coliseum looked like it was only half full and I started feeling bad for OneRepublic. However, the show didn't start until about 30 minutes later (which was good as I had time to eat the overpriced Jamaican patties I bought there before getting fully settled). Just as the show was about to start, I realized that the coliseum was now packed. Awesome!

I have only one album of OneRepublic - the first one, Dreaming Out Loud - and I knew only a few of their songs from their succeeding albums (pretty much only those that they released internationally like Secrets, All the Right Moves, Good Life, and Feel Again, all of which they performed). This, of course, didn't stop me from fully enjoying their concert. What was fantastic was that most of the crowd seemed to know every song that they played that night. Every time they would start a new song, the crowd would go wild and in several cases, the people in the audience would be singing along. My friend Meg told me that she didn't expect to enjoy the concert as much as she did (she had already watched them perform live before in Singapore). You could sense that OneRepublic were feeding off all this positive energy, because at some point during the show, Ryan Tedder mentioned that they want to come back to the Philippines and do two shows! Their post on twitter after the concert proves just how much they enjoyed their concert here.

While I've always known Ryan Tedder to be a fantastic vocalist, hearing him live just made me a much bigger fan. He was able to easily slip from soft to loud and he effortlessly switched from chest tone to head tone like it was nothing. His ability to sing falsetto with just as much volume and projection as his normal chest voice was impressive, and he showcased his lung power by belting out some really powerful notes. He even went absurdly high in his falsetto range and each time he did, he got everyone in the crowd to cheer wildly. He also showed his artistic ability and control by playing around with his voice, going jazzy and stylizing a lot of notes. Absolutely brilliant!

I first discovered OneRepublic when I heard Apologize on the radio several years ago. Granted, what I heard was the Timbaland version. However, I was so drawn to that song that I searched it on youtube and kept playing it. I ended up buying both OneRepublic's "Dreaming Out Loud" CD and Timbaland's "Shock Value" CD. I even sang that song twice in company events and people had come to relate that song to me (it was a staple in my karaoke repertoire haha). So it was natural that the one song I was looking forward to hearing the most was Apologize. I wasn't disappointed. They even tossed in a bit of audience participation that made the experience really unique. Check out this video of their performance of Apologize:

video uploaded in youtube by isparkleen

I now know what I want for Christmas - the OneRepublic "Native" album! LOL I am hoping that they do come back to the Philippines like they said. If they do, I am definitely going to watch again and I will even try to get a front-row seat. :)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Last hurrah?

I was walking in Bonifacio High Street recently when I noticed that Kirin, the Chinese restaurant in that area, seems to now be closed. I'm not sure if it is permanent or if the restaurant is being renovated.

I hadn't eaten there in a really long time, up until a few weeks ago. It was a strange series of events actually. The inital plan was for me pick up my grandma, bring my mom and my nephew to his taekwondo class, take my grandma to the cemetery, pick up my mom and my nephew after his class, then have dinner before bringing everyone home. Sounds like a very long day with a lot of driving? Well, my grandma thought so too. So the moment we got to my nephew's taekwondo class, my grandma said she would just watch him in class and we didn't need to go to the cemetery again. I was thinking of where we would have dinner and I thought it would be nice to take them to a place where they hadn't eaten before yet. I figured Kirin would be a good place to go because my grandma enjoys Chinese food and my nephew loves Shao Long Pao (that's how they spell it here).

We over-ordered, which is what I usually do when I'm having a meal with my family because it means we get to try a lot of different dishes and we have enough left over to bring home for those who weren't able to join us. We enjoyed our meal and I've always liked the food here. If Kirin has indeed closed, at least we got to eat here just shortly before it did.

Monday, November 18, 2013

An evening of ballroom dancing

The last time I recall trying to learn ballroom dance was back in college. Through an interesting series of events, I ended up as part of the dance team of my department in an inter-department ballroom competition at work. All teams would have to perform a routine that consisted of boogie, jive, and cha-cha-cha.

This competition was the final event in our company sportsfest and our department was in a very good position to claim the overall championship. It would only happen if we had a good result in the ballroom dancing event. Talk about pressure!

To make matters worse for us, we finalized our roster only 3 weeks before the event, at which point other teams had already been rehearsing for a few to several weeks. We ended up practicing for about 2 weeks only but somehow we managed to put together a fun and entertaining routine.

We ended up taking third place, which is absolutely amazing considering the amount of time we had to practice. On top of that, because of our stunt-and-lift-filled routine, we had so much of the crowd cheering for most of our performance that we were also awarded crowd favorite. Cool! The best thing about the night however was that our department won the overall championship in our sportsfest. This was the first time we did this since 2009 and we definitely placed much better than we did last year (during which time we were 5th place).

I wanted to have a massive celebration last night but after the event, I started feeling extraordinarily tired. After a very late dinner with some of the colleagues, I headed home and got some much-needed rest. Ah well, I can always organize a late celebration next week. :)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Nadal is ATP year-end #1

He may have lost the final of the ATP World Tour finals to his current chief rival Novak Djokovic but Rafael Nadal posted enough solid results throughout the year to secure the year-end #1 ranking. It's a pretty impressive year: he won 10 tournaments, including 2 Grand Slam events and 5 Masters 1000 titles. He reached four more finals and two semifinals. Apart from that Wimbledon glitch, it was a very solid year.

By reclaiming the year-end #1 ranking, Nadal makes history as being the only player to reclaim the year-end ranking after relinquishing it on two separate occasions. He was #1 in 2008 and 2010 before taking the top spot again.

Congratulations, Rafa!

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Yolanda storms through the Philippines: How you can help

Such tragic news. Less than a month since an earthquake devastated Visayas, the Philippines gets hit by another major calamity. Haiyan (known locally as Yolanda) is said to be the strongest supertyphoon to ever make landfall, with sustained winds of up to 315 kph and gusts of up to a horrifying 380kph. The storm surge reached up to 15 feet in certain areas, submerging the first story of buildings (although some reports indicate that this may have gone up to 40 to 50 feet).

I had my TV on almost the entire night watching CNN, which covered, and still continues to cover, Haiyan/Yolanda. The news is just so heartbreaking. You can read a more thorough report on what has been happening so far in this article from CNN.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer facebook page shares some ways that you can help. Check them out here:

CNN also provides a link for people who wish to help internationally.