Saturday, May 30, 2015

More movie watching


Spy is so hilarious and fufilled that it is now one of my favorite films of 2015 so far. I wasn't expecting that and in fact I wasn't planning to watch this movie. I wanted to see Tomorrowland but when I missed the last full show so I checked the reviews of Spy and saw that has such a high rating on rotten tomatoes (currently 96%) that I decided to see it instead. Thankfully I did. Melissa McCarthy, Jude Law, Jason Statham, and Rose Byrne all portray their well-written characters really well, as do their scene-stealing supporting co-stars Miranda Hart (Nancy) and Peter Serafinowicz (Aldo). There are so many laugh-out-loud moments and awesome action scenes but it also still has a lot of heart. I definitely recommend this movie.

Pitch Perfect 2

photo from

One of two sequels I saw in the last few weeks, Pitch Perfect 2 is funny and entertaining, what with all the incredible a cappella performances. Their main competition - Das Sound Machine - was absolutely awesome and the first time they perform on stage was an absolute wow-moment. I do think that there were too many things going on in the early to middle part of the film that I felt weren't really bring the story forward but things started to come together midway for me and I started to enjoy it a lot more. I do think The first Pitch Perfect was better but this is still worth watching. Don't come in late when you watch this movie because if you miss the first couple of minutes, you will the key event that triggers the entire sequence of events. I also heard there is an end-credits scene which I missed so you may want to stay all the way until the end.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

photo from

I was bound to enjoy this movie because it's a superhero film and I'm a sucker for superhero films. I think I may like this a bit better than the first one, probably because the Marvel films have already established an ongoing storyline so this sequel can be more focused on action and not spend too much time on establishing the characters. That said, Avengers: Age of Ultron does put forward a few new characters that make the overall storytelling of the Marvel movie universe a bit more interesting and it also build more interest in future installments. I'm still not really a fan of the fact that the Avengers movies are Iron Man-centric and there were a couple of twists and turns that I didn't particularly like. Nevertheless, Avengers: Age of Ultron is filled with amazing effects, fast-paced action sequences, and edgy fight scenes that make it a good movie to see.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Two nights of karaoke

This must be how it is for me now. I don't have trips to videoke bars often but when I do, these trips come in bunches. Take this weekend, for instance. I had a planned to trip to Centerstage on Saturday night with some friends whom I hadn't seen each other in months. Then a few days ago, I got an invite for a friend's birthday on Friday night. As it turns out, the venue was in the VIP room of a bar and this room had a karaoke set-up. :) It took a while for people to start singing, which meant that I started singing before anyone else LOL. I guess it was also because it was like a mini-reunion, with people catching up with each other after not really getting to hang out as a group in a while. Towards the end of the night, the energy was really high and we were all starting to feel like rock stars so I ambitiously attempted "I'll remember you" by Skid Row which is notoriously tough to sing. I managed to make it through the song but it left my throat hoarse which didn't make life easy for me the next day. :)

For the second karaoke night, I figured would be late so I told everyone that my reservation was at 8pm when I actually booked the room at 9. I did arrive at 8 and almost everyone was late so I decided to walk down the street to have dinner and I stumbled upon H Cuisine. I tried their "Most Awesome Angus Beef Belly" and it was really good. As more people started to come, I told them where I was and five people ended up joining me there. It was kinda cool because everyone's tardiness allowed me to discover a new place that serves pretty good food. In any case, that good meal was just a prelude to the main event which was karaoke. As my voice was pretty hoarse, I stayed away from really high songs for the most part, although a friend of mine picked Sam Smith's "Stay with me" and asked me to sing with him since it is really high. Strangely though, every one seemed tired that Saturday night that at some point, everyone started to look really sleepy. I was hungry once we left Centerstage but everyone was ready to go home so I just had a quick meal in David's Tea House before heading home. Apparently, I was also really tired because I fell asleep almost as soon as I got home and I ended up oversleeping. :) It was a really long and exhausting week and my weekend was full too so I guess I deserved the extra hours of sleep.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Mama's 40th day

My grandmother "Mama" passed away more than a month ago and our family got together right around Mother's Day to commemorate the 40th day of her passing away. We started the evening by celebrating mass in Mama's honor. The timing was interesting because it was also Mother's Day weekend so the mass felt even more meaningful to us.

Afterwards, we headed to the house of my uncle where we had dinner. My cousin Rainier is a really good cook and he also brought his famed spare ribs which I got to try for the first time and they were really good! (And I'm not just saying that because he's my cousin.) His immediate family are really into food because his brother (and my other cousin) Mark recently opened a restaurant which was mobbed on its soft opening. Part of our dinner conversation was the fact that their family are looking at opening another restaurant that will feature family favorites. I'm definitely looking forward to that.

After dinner, my uncle's house turned into a makeshift tiannge as my other cousin Carina brought out a huge bag of overruns. A lot of us started looking through the clothes. I ended up getting five long-sleeved shirts because the shirts she had fit me pretty well, unlike a lot of clothes now which are often tight around my midsection (everything now is slim fit hahaha).

The party was far from over by the time I left late in the evening but I couldn't stay too long since I also had a despedida to go to that night. Nevertheless, I'm happy that while we all still grieve for the loss of Mama, we are all able to celebrate her life together. Mama may not have been physically present that evening, but she was definitely with us in spirit.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

El Gamma Penumbra wins Asia's Got Talent

Congratulations to El Gamma Penumbra for winning Asia's Got Talent!

I posted about them a few years back for their "Piliin mo ang Pilipinas" video which I thought was pretty impressive. They were also a finalist in season 3 of Pilipinas Got Talent back in 2011.

The finals of Asia's Got Talent featured 9 acts from different countries across the continent, including the Philippines, Japan, China, Mongolia, Thailand, and Singapore/Australia. Only the Philippines had multiple representation, with four acts: El Gamma Penumbra, Gerphil Flores, Gwyneth Dorado, and Junior New System. Since there were so many Filipino acts in the final, I actually thought none of our four contenders would end up with the title. Thankfully, that didn't happen as El Gamma Penumbra took the top prize of US$100,000 and a chance to perform at the Marina Bay Sands. They are the only act to have scored two golden buzzers: their first came during the auditions sending them straight through to the semfinals and the second one came in the semifinals sending them straight through to the finals. Check out her final performance, a moving tribute to mother nature and a reminder that we must take care of our environment (I hadn't made my mind up who I wanted to support but when I saw this video, I started rooting for El Gamma Penumbra):

video uploaded in youtube by Asia's Got Talent

Second honors went to Khusugtun, a musical ensemble group from Mongolia (I actually really like this group too since they really highlight their culture so I'm happy they placed second). Gerphil Flores whom I posted about a few weeks ago came in third. (Side note: it's interesting to see that El Gamma Penumbra won Asia's Got Talent and they were only a finalist in Pilipinas Got Talent season 3. Gerphil Flores joined the first season of Pilipinas Got Talent and only made it as far as the semifinals.) I will say though that I am very disappointed that Gao and Liu were in the bottom 3 of the 9 finalists. Given their incredible skill, I was almost certain they would be in the top 3-4 at least. Here's their performance in the finals. Gao was apparently injured here but you can't tell. Such a shame they didn't place better than they did.

Congratulations once again to El Gamma Penumbra! That was a well-deserved win.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Game night at DyceNDyne

Late last Saturday, I met up with some friends (and made a few new ones) in DyceNDyne, a boardgame hang-out in Pasig. We had been planning a follow-up game night over the last couple of months after the first time we played Resistance: Avalon and the One Night Ultimate Werewolf. We couldn't find a good venue until one of us discovered DyceNDyne.

photo from the DyceNDyne facebook page

Unit #3 Elements @Rosemarie Building, Pasig Blvd (right across the Seaoil station)

The cool thing about this place is that it stays open until 2:00 AM so you can hang out here for a long time. Another plus is that you only need to pay for food and drinks; there is no additional fee for staying here or using the games. The downside is that they don't serve hot coffee. (I ordered a large Americano and it turned out to be a cold coffee hahaha.) However, they do have beer which is a good match for crazy and loud evenings with friends. And you can get loud here without it being an issue. :)

We started playing Cards Against Humanity. It's a strange game but it is quick and easy to play so we ended up playing several rounds of it. We then moved on to Resistance: Avalon. Unfortunately, I found out a couple of days after our game night that we played it incorrectly as we had four red cards instead of three in our group of nine. As a result, red won almost all the games except for the one game where blue luckily picked all blue players and they stuck with that team for every succeeding mission. Nevertheless, it was still a lot of fun having that crazy interaction with everyone.

When DyceNDyne closed at 2AM, people still wanted to hang out so we moved to Rufo's in Eastwood. The initial idea was to play One Night: Ultimate Werewolf there but because it was a bit of an open area, we couldn't really hear the instructions from the phone. Instead, we played this game where you had to name a celebrity or fictional character whose first name starts with first letter of the last name of the celebrity or fictional character named by the person before you. (For instance, if someone says Scarlett Johansson, the next player has to name someone whose first name starts with J, like James Dean. The next person then has to name someone whose first name starts with D, like Dina Bonnevie.) If someone says someone whose initials are the same - such as Peter Parker - then everyone has to keep coming up with names with those repeating initials until someone can't think of a name within the allowed time. It is through this game that I discovered Promise Phan hahaha (youtube celebrities are allowed).

We hung out in Rufo's for a couple of hours before calling it a night. With the amount of fun people had, I'm pretty sure we'll be hanging out again soon for more boardgame play. :)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Madrid Masters

This is definitely has been Rafa Nadal's toughest start to the year. In yesterday's Madrid Masters final, he suffered a bad loss to Andy Murray, 3-6, 2-6. He showed glimpses of his claycourt prowess but he still seems to be beleaguered by confidence and consistency problems. He he had several chances to break Murray's serve but wasn't able to and this could be a problem for him going into the Rome masters as well as Roland Garros later this month.

This was one of his worst defeats in a claycourt final (and it was on home turf). The last time he lost this many times on clay was in his rookie year back in 2003. He has now dropped to #7 in the world and if he fails to reach the Rome finals, he can drop out of the top 8 before the French Open. I am still keeping the faith, though.


On the women's side, I am happy that Petra Kvitova won the title in convincing fashion, beating Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1, 6-2 in the final. In the semifinals, she beat a fatigued Serena Williams 6-2, 6-3, thus snapping the world #1's 27-match winning streak and handing Serena her first loss of the season. The last time Kvitova won in Madrid, she also won Wimbledon. Could this title be a sign of things to come for her this year? I'll keep my fingers crossed for that.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

U23 Asian Women's Volleyball held in Manila

The first-ever under-23 Asian women's volleyball tournament was held in Manila from May 1 to 9. China beat Thailand in the final in four sets, 27-25, 21-25, 25-21, 25-11. As a result of both countries making it to the finals, China and Thailand qualify for the FIVB Women's U23 World Championships in August. I felt bad for Japan who were a very strong frontrunner and they were up 2 sets to 0 against Thailand in the semifinals before the Thais mounted a stunning comeback. In the bronze medal match, that loss may still have affected the Japanese and the bowed out meekly to South Korea in straight sets.

The Philippine team held its own quite well in this tournament and made some international buzz. The team took a set off both China and Chinese Taipei. We also beat Kazakhstan and Iran in straight sets. As a result, the Philippines finished at a respectable 7th place. That's pretty awesome for a team that hasn't really participated in many international events. Having to play against global powerhouses like Japan and China will also serve us well in the long run as it provides us with the experience and exposure we need to help us get better. Great job, Team Pilipinas!

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Maya Plisetskaya: Dying Swan

Maya Plisetskaya, one of the greatest ballerinas of all time, passed away last Saturday, May 2, at the age of 89. I learned about her after watching some ballets in Russia and doing online searches later on about some of the most legendary Russian ballet artists. Maya is one of only 12 dancers to have been given the title prima ballerina assoluta.

One of Maya's most famous performances was The Dying Swan. This video shows her performance in Boston in the late 1980s when she was already 62 years old!!! (If you find that hard to believe, this other video shows her dancing when she was 61.) Take a look at her unbelievably fluid and graceful arms when she enters the stage, especially from around 0:28 to 0:38. It is just utterly astounding!

video uploaded in youtube by Esquire Jauchem

While she naturally was better technique-wise when she was younger (in her Dying Swan performance in 1959, she showcases the incredible flexibility of her back; of course, she was still in her mid-30s then), I think she had a much deeper emotional interpretation of this piece when she was older, making her latter performances more spellbinding. Maybe partly because she had done this innumerable times before and partly because she was starting to feel greater mortality - not just as a human being but as a dancer who could no longer do what she could when she was younger - thus providing her with a greater connection to the theme of death. I also think that her arm movement got even better as she aged.

While Maya Plisetskaya is no longer with us, she leaves behind an amazing legacy. She has given us countless treasures that will allow us to still marvel at and embrace her genius even as after her death. R.I.P., Maya Plisetskaya.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Sinag Pilipinas bring home Gold!

Despite Manny Pacquiao's loss on Sunday (Philippine time), it wasn't all bad news in the sporting world for the Philippines over the long weekend. Sinag Pilipinas defeated Singapore last Friday, May 1, to win gold in the 2015 Southeast Asian Basketball Association Championships (SEABA). Check out this Instagram photo taken by Kiefer Ravena of the team with their medals.

A photo posted by @kieferravena15 on

The Philippine team was extremely dominant throughout the tournament, winning all their games with massive leads. They beat all their opponents by an average of 68 points. Their biggest win was a 140-29 demolition of Brunei (that's a 111 point margin)! Against Singapore in the finals, the score was 82-56. This win qualifies the Philippines for the 2015 FIBA Asian Championships which will be held in late September to early October.

Congratulations Sinag Pilipinas!

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Pacquiao falls short

Sad news for the Philippines. Manny Pacquiao lost to Floyd Mayweather Jr. by unanimous decision in their fight early today.

I actually didn't see the fight myself. I don't normally watch boxing - even in the many times that Manny won - because I always feel sorry for the loser, regardless of who it is. (Heck, depending on how beat up both boxers are, I sometimes also feel bad for the winner!) I learned about the result when I overheard some of the waiters talking about it while I was having lunch with my nephews at the mall. I texted my friends who then confirmed the result. Too bad. Manny Pacquiao has been one of the biggest heroes in the country and everyone was hoping he would finally deal Mayweather his first loss. Alas, it was not to be.

There have been a lot of comments flying about how this fight went as well as its outcome but I will steer clear of all of that as I am not a boxing expert and cannot provide any semblance of expertise on it. :) What I will say is that even with this loss, I am proud of Manny and thankful for what he has done for the Philippines.


While this loss was terrible news, possibly devastating to many, it did come with a benefit for me today. There was almost no traffic in Metro Manila the entire day, which was good for me because I had to drive quite a lot.

Saturday, May 02, 2015


I recent had surgery on my foot and due to the location and the size of the surgical wound, the healing has taken quite a while. The early goings were pretty tough. It was really difficult to walk shortly after the surgery and in fact, one night as I was replacing the dressing, my wound started bleeding a lot and I had to rush to the ER to have it looked at. (I was taught a better way to replace the dressing to reduce and event prevent further bleeding. I was also given a tetanus shot as a precautionary measure since the location of my wound made it prone to getting dirty and possibly infected.)

Walking wasn't the only challenging thing. To help the would heal faster, I had to keep it from getting wet, making it very tricky and physically challenging to take a shower. I covered my foot in a plastic bag and tied an Aquazorb towel right beneath my knee to prevent any water dripping from my upper leg into my foot. I then had to assume many difficult "yogaesque" positions - often with a raised leg -  to minimize the the chances my foot would get soaked.

When I went back to my doctor for a follow-up check-up, I was told that my wound seems to have practically healed now so I can get it wet. I was also told I no longer needed to use the antibacterial gauze on my wounds. Finally! I will also try to put a shoe on my foot for the first time tomorrow; I haven't worn a shoe since the surgery since I didn't want to bleed into it. Hopefully walking with a shoe tomorrow will turn out okay.

Some bad news though: I gained about 5 pounds while nursing my surgical wound. I guess it's because I haven't really been walking a lot recently; I'd be sitting or lying down quite a lot. At least the wound is okay now. I'm still a bit wary though; I don't want to reopen the wound by walking too fast or flexing my foot too much. Hopefully, I can become active again soon.