Sunday, April 30, 2017

Nanay's 90th birthday

What a momentous occasion this was. My grandmother Nanay turned 90 and our family gathered together to celebrate this incredible milestone. I helped my tita organize and we agreed that we would keep the celebration simple since Nanay herself didn't want something too grand. We chose Relish in Tomas Morato as our party venue. I had taken Nanay to Relish before so I suggested a few menu items that I know she enjoyed so we could include them in our buffet spread. Despite having the party on a Friday night, a lot of our relatives were able to join us.

We didn't really have a program planned but a few days before the event, my mom asked me to put together a video that we could show during the party. My brother gathered some old pictures from Nanay's photo albums and I of course had a ton of pictures with Nanay, a lot of them during local and even international trips that we had taken with her. I am not handy at all when it comes to making and editing videos and I just used Windows Media Maker to showcase the photos we have. My mom also told me to use the kundiman song "Minamahal Kita" as background music since this was the love song that Nanay and Tatay used to sing to each other when Tatay was still alive. Despite my very amateurish effort and the grainy quality of the pics, the video was very well-received, mainly because we had some really obscure photos that included relatives and friends in their younger years. Everyone actually asked me to play the video again so they could take another look at the pictures. I ended up projecting the raw photos on screen after the second video screening so people could actually look at and identify each person in each picture.

I did have one big miss. I ordered a cake from Earnest Bakes but I very stupidly confirmed the wrong delivery date. Such a bad error on my part!!! Thankfully, one of my aunts and my cousin were staying with Nanay that weekend so my mom and I brought the cake along with some food to Nanay's house so that we could have a second (albeit impromptu) celebration to make the cake presentation a bit more special. We naturally took lots of pictures. I have to say, Earnest Bakes put together a truly amazing and beautiful work-of-art. I also love that the fondant figure actually resembles Nanay!

Cake by Earnest Bake

What I am very happy about and thankful for is that Nanay is still quite healthy and mentally sharp. She remembers, and is often the best person to ask about, people's birthdays and anniversaries. She still has a lot of landline numbers memorized. When I visit her during the weekend, she will normally remind me about certain things that need to be done or tell me to remind my mom about some important matters. From a physical standpoint, she can also still walk without a cane. Nanay is my only grandparent who is still alive and I am thankful that we are still able to have many wonderful moments with her.

Happy 90th birthday, Nanay!

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Happy International Tabletop Day

I didn't know there was such a thing as International Tabletop Day until one of my gaming friends told me about it. That made me understand why there were some tabletop game-related activities over several days leading to April 29 (and no, I'm not counting the game night in Ascott that I organized). First, Amazon had a one-day board game sale on April 24. I decided not to purchase anything from there since I was more focused on another sale that week: the Annapolis branch of Gaming Library would have its Summertime Warehouse Sale on April 26 and 27 and I decided I wanted to check that out.

This sale started at 10 AM and while I had wanted to be there when it started, I woke up late and got there at 11:30 AM. By the time I arrived, the place was packed and a lot of games, especially the popular ones, were gone. I had a list of games I wanted to get but only three of them were on the shelves when I got there. The way that the sale worked was that if you get any two items, you get 10% off. Get any three items for 20% off, any four for 30% off, and any five or more items for 40%. At that point, I had only three items in my pile so I had the brilliant idea to message my boardgaming friends to ask if any of them wanted me to get anything for them while I was there. Very quickly, my concern that I wouldn't be able to get five items to get me 40% discount was gone. In the end, I went home with a total of 14 games. Wow! Note that only five of those fourteen games were for me. :) It also occurred to me immediately after my shopping spree that 14 games are very, very heavy LOL. I got my exercise for that day as I carried all those games to my car that was parked quite some distance away. :)

My Gaming Library haul during their Summertime Warehouse Sale

My games include three planned purchases - Dungeon Petz, Tem-Purr-A, and Blueprints - and two unplanned ones. The first unplanned purchase was an extra copy of Tem-Purr-A which I decided to get since it was quite cheap and I thought I could use it as a gift for someone later in the year. The other unplanned game I got was Food Chain Magnate. I got "sales-talked" into it by three different customers. The first was someone who was getting a copy himself who explained to me how good this game was, the second was someone who saw me looking at that game and said that I should get it, and the third one was someone who saw my reserved stack and mentioned that Food Chain Magnate was really good.

While I was there, one of the gaming lib folks mentioned that they were having an All Aboard 2.0 event on April 29 and 30 at the Shangri-La Plaza Mall. This event was free and open to everyone. I had a few friends who were planning to go a board game place that same Saturday so I suggested that we go to All Aboard instead. As such, my friends and I played board games in the All Aboard event on International Tabletop Day. Cool!

We ended up playing Machi Koro, Lords of Waterdeep, and three rounds of Splendor before calling it a day. We also passed by the Gaming Library store in Alter Ego on the fifth floor to buy sleeves for the Sushi Go! Party I got for her during the warehouse sale.

It's amazing how deep I have gotten into tabletop gaming. It's a bit of an expensive hobby but it is a good one to have because it requires you to think all the time, helping you sharpen your I have also made so many new and amazing friends and gaming has strengthened my friendship with people who were already good friends to begin with since I now have a lot more shared experiences with them.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Funny Game Show Answers

I discovered this video a while back and it never fails to bring a lot of laughs. While it has a fair bit of misogynistic and politically incorrect answers, most of the others are absolutely hilarious.

video uploaded by theSeanGshow

Many people think that a lot of the contestants giving these answers are dumb but it's not purely a question of intelligence in cases when there is time pressure to come up with an answer. (In many cases, when the contestants answer, they immediately realize they have given an incorrect response and they themselves just laugh at the mistake.) Add the fact that the stakes are high (i.e. prize money) and that the shows are televised, often with a studio audience, and you can be sure of unexpected and crazy answers all the time. :)

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Quality time with family and friends

Tito Mario celebrated his 70th birthday this month. It was a simple yet beautiful celebration. His son and my cousin, Fr. John, celebrating mass as their house. Dinner was served after the mass, courtesy of Pink Chefs Catering, which apparently also caters a few ABS-CBN shows like GGV and Showtime. Cool! Karaoke-time followed, with my cousins asking me to sing a lot of songs. I ended up having a bit of a mini-concert LOL since I kept getting requests to sing more. As it was my uncle's birthday, I of course obliged. We wrapped up the karaoke session shortly before 10pm of course, and by then most people had left so I decided to call it a night as well. I'm really happy that I was able to join this milestone celebration of my uncle.

That wasn't the only milestone celebration I attended. My late grandfather's brother, Uncle Albert (yes, we call him Uncle even if he is two generations ahead), celebrated his 80th birthday in Shangri-La Makati. The cool thing is that the birthday of his wife, Auntie Isabel, is just a few days away from his so they had joint party with Auntie Isabel also celebrating her 79th birthday. Amazing!

One more amazing family reunion this month happened on Maundy Thursday. My uncle Jojit called both my grandmother and my mom very early that day to say that he had just arrived in Manila and wanted to have dinner that night. He was staying at Manila Pavilion so he asked if people were free to meet him at the hotel at 6pm so we could all have dinner together. Normally, my family doesn't go out on Maundy Thursday but since this was the only free date that my uncle had, we had to make an exception. A lot of places were closed due to Holy Week but thankfully, the original Aristocrat along Roxas Boulvard was open so we decided to have dinner there.

Aristocrat Roxas Boulevard on Maundy Thursday

I was absolutely stunned at the volume of people having dinner there that night. I think that due to the number of guests, Arisocrat used function rooms that would normally be reserved for weddings and events as regular dining areas for the guests that evening.

The Fountain at Rajah Sulayman Park right next to Aristocrat

I also got to spend some quality time with friends. Anna was in town for a few days so I met up with her and Chari for dinner. Since Chari lives in the far South, we agreed to meet in Rockwell. We had dinner in Wooden Spoon before moving to Dean and Deluca for coffee. I wanted to have dessert but I overate in Wooden Spoon. I did however try something different. Instead of my usual brewed coffee or Americano, I opted for a Macadamia Nut Latte. It was expensive but pretty good! I wouldn't mind having it again.

Finally, I had dinner with my friends Kathy and John. I hadn't seen them both since they got married more than five years ago. I had been meaning to visit them in Alabang but somehow it never worked out so when they moved back to Makati, I made sure to make time to meet up with them. This meet-up was also especially important for me since Kathy had just come through a very challenging medical situation and I'm tremendously happy and thankful to see her in good physical condition. Kathy prepared a sumptuous dinner, the star of which was a roast chicken served with potatoes and squash with walnuts. Just thinking about that dinner now is making my mouth water. It was also important for us to meet when we did because shortly after that, John left the country to work in Europe.

There was one more milestone event last month, but I will write about it separately.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

New Phone

This was several months in the making but I finally got a new phone. My old phone was not in very good condition anymore after I dropped many times, a couple of them quite badly. I did some research early last year to help me figure out what phone to get and I decided I wanted the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge. It's an expensive phone but since I was due for recontracting with Globe, I could get an S7 Edge at a huge discount. I had been calling Globe regularly since August or September of last year to check if the S7 Edge was available for recontracting but for many months, it wasn't. Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I called and they said it was finally available. My guess is that it is because the Samsung S8 is about to be released so they can let go of older S7 Edge stocks since less people will want them given that something newer is going to be available.

I am now using data on my phone on a regular basis. I also finally decided to install apps. For the last few years, my old smartphone was used only as an old-school mobile phone i.e. phone calls and texts. Many people had been wondering why I don't have any apps, and it was mainly because of privacy and security concerns. (Yes, I know, this is such a strange concern for me to have given that I write about my life on a regular basis on this blog LOL but at least here, I get to pick what information to share instead of giving apps free access to whatever information is on my phone.) For instance, a lot of apps pick up where you are located and can thus predict where you live and where your work. Many also require that you share the information of all your contacts and grant them access to all your pictures. As such, I wanted to steer clear of app usage before. What changed my mind is the realization that everyone else is using apps and their information has already been shared (and most likely, mine as well). I figured nothing is really, truly private anymore so I might as well get the benefits of being able to use apps.

In the short time I've had my new phone, I have downloaded and used a handful of apps already. Probably the most useful to me so far has been Waze, which allowed me to drive to some unfamiliar places in Manila and San Juan. I have also ordered from Foodpanda a few times (I love that you can pay for your order with a credit card while submitting your order, removing the need for a cash payment upon delivery). I now need to start researching what other apps will help make my life significantly easier.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Nadal wins Monte Carlo #10!

What an incredible achievement this is! Rafael Nadal already held the record for most titles won at a single event with 9 titles each in Monte Carlo and Barcelona and at the French Open and he just one-upped that with his 10th victory in Monte Carlo. He beat his compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the final, 6-1 6-3. Congratulations Rafa!

Apart from being the only man in the Open Era to win the same tournament ten times, Rafa is now also the solo record-holder for the most claycourt titles, with 50. He moves past Guillermo Vilas, who previously held this record with 49 titles.

This is Nadal's 70th title, and he is now only four championship trophies away from the legendary Rod Laver, who has 74. He now also has 29 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles, putting him just 1 behind current record-holder Novak Djokovic. I hope that Rafa gains confidence with this win and continues his good year throughout the claycourt season.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Game Night in Ascott

I have a few different sets of friends who enjoy playing tabletop and board games, many of whom I hadn't played with in a long time. As such, I decided to book a room in Ascott Makati and host a game night there. Ascott is quite expensive but I hadn't been there in ages so I thought game night was a good excuse to spend a night here. I also love its location which is in Glorietta, making it easy to park and easy to eat and buy stuff if and when needed. (I also loved the fact that Ascott has CBTL

I brought several games with me, including all the games I own: 7 Wonders, Settlers of Catan, Race for the Galaxy, Ticket to Ride, and my newly acquired Istanbul and Kodama. I also borrowed a few games: Lords of Waterdeep, Forbidden Desert, and Sushi Go! Party. (I actually also ordered a Sushi Go! Party from Amazon but it hadn't arrived yet when we had our game night). A few of the people I invited that night also have their own games and they brought a few with them.

A total of 8 friends joined us that night: Denise, Zaza, Kat, Melody, Jez, Pao, Doms and Yuan although Doms and Yuan were there just for the company and not for the gaming. The rest of us went through a lot of games that were played over several hours: Potion Explosion (twice), Kodama, Istanbul, Sushi Go! Part (twice), Battle Sheep (twice), and Tsuro (I didn't realize that there were two Tsuros; I had played Tsuro of the Seas before and while this Tsuro works on the same game mechanics, there is no dragon. :)) Everyone that night got to play at least one game for the first time. I am also getting pretty handy at explaining more and more games now. I think our game of the night was Potion Explosion which my friend Kat brought with her. It is quite easy to play and even to teach and after playing it only once, I was able to explain it to my other friends who joined later that night and who weren't able to play it earlier. I am now planning to get a copy of that game for myself since my friends enjoyed it a lot.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Small Wonders Exhibit by Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan

This was a new experience for me. I attended the opening of the Small Wonders Exhibit of Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan (Ang-INK) and Globe Telecom held at the basement of the Globe Tower in BGC. My friend is an artist of Ang-INK and she invited us to join her. I've been to museums and galleries before but never to an exhibit opening. It was a simple event and the gallery showcased maybe 30 pieces from the many artists of Ang-INK so I had time to look at and appreciate each artwork in detail.

My friend Jovan's piece is called Indayon, which apparently means swing. (I didn't know that so that was something new I learned that night.)


One of my favorites in the exhibit is this piece called Dog Mail Express. I have been thinking about getting this since I saw it but I'm just not quite sure where I can display it at home.

Dog Mail Express

You can contact Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan if you are interested in their art.You can also read more about Ang-INK here.

Ang Ilustrador ng Kabataan

Thursday, April 20, 2017

My Favorite Animated Films (Part 2 of 2)

I was talking to someone recently about why and how I feel that, mainly in recent years, I tend to like animated films on average better than live action ones. After thinking about it, I felt that this is because the creators of animated films have to make films that cater to children but that adults can enjoy as well. As such, the creators of these movies tend to focus more on story-building, character development, and strong and positive conflict resolution. When I put together a list of films that made an impact to me, a couple of them were animated. It made me wonder what my favorite animated films are. And since I had just seen Beauty and the Beast, I decided to take that question a step further and list down my top 10 favorite animated films.

Note that these are my personal favorites. A lot of great animated films, such as Toy Story 3, Wall-E, and The Lion King are not on this list, despite the fact that I love those movies. It also doesn't include some films that I think I would love but haven't seen yet, such as My Neighbor Totoro or Spirited Away. This list contains movies that had stories, themes, and/or characters that resonated with me.

Warning: there are a lot of spoilers here so read at your own risk.

Read Part 1 here.

5. How to Train Your Dragon

What I love about How to Train Your Dragon is that it is the about seeing things differently and making up your mind based on what you observe and what has been proven to be true rather than by what others have said or claimed to be true. When Hiccup discovers and understands that, despite what every other Viking believes, dragons will not "always, always go for the kill", he changes his mind about them and sets out to learn more about them instead of figuring out ways to kill them. He establishes a special bond with Toothless, the Night Fury and it is this special bond that ends up saving the day. The people of Berk initially refuse to believe that dragons are not as vicious and destructive as they have been believed to be, but when they see the Berk kids working together with dragons, they change their minds as well. The scene where Stoick saves Toothless and acknowledges his mistaken judgment to Hiccup is powerful and I wish more people in real life were like Stoick.

4. The Incredibles

This is probably the only film in my list that doesn't have any of the strong, overarching themes that the others in this list have. However, what The Incredibles does is paint a lively yet relatable portrait of what families are like. It shows the concerns and insecurities people have and what their aches and aspirations are. The interaction between the family members is all too real. I love that part when Elastagirl tells her daughter that the people on the island aren't like the bad guys in the movie who will show restraint because they are children; these people will kill them. That they are all superheroes struggling with these real life situations somehow makes it more relatable. The script is solid, the animation is great, and even the theme about being special - or not special - does provide some food for thought.

3. The Hunchback of Notre Dame

This is surely the biggest shocker in my list. A scant few people will talk about this one as one of the best animated films ever. This might also be due to the fact that it is based on Victor Hugo's classic novel and people who have read the book will naturally compare the two and the book will always trump the animated movie. The thing to remember of course is that none of the Disney cartoons have ever been 100% accurate. If they were, Ariel should have turned into sea foam at the end of her movie and there would not have been any dancing teapots and candelabras in Beauty and the Beast. What I love about The Hunchback of Notre Dame is how much of a departure it is from what previous Disney films used to be. Bambi and The Lion King showed us some pretty shocking deaths of important characters, so seeing Quasimodo's mother killed at the steps of Notre Dame within the first few minutes of the film is probably not all that new. But it also delves into a lot of other darker and more daring themes. I've never seen a Disney cartoon talk about eternal damnation and,  shockingly, even lust. This movie even devotes one chilling song to lust - Hellfire - and with a line like "it's not my fault if in God's plan he made the devil so much stronger than a man", it definitely blew my expectations out of the water.

Then of course, there is that natural theme about outer beauty and about being accepted. This isn't just an issue that the deformed Quasimodo has to deal with. It is also something that the beautiful Esmeralda struggles with. That scene of Quasimodo's public humiliation was heartbreaking (watch that scene here) and Esmeralda releasing Quasimodo from his cruel torment and standing up to Frollo was very powerful (watch that scene here). She wasn't the only one standing up to a tyrannical leader; when Frollo commands his guard to burn down the village to find Esmeralda, Captain Phoebus defies him and is consequently sentenced to death. What I also loved about it is it's painful realism. As critic Roger Ebert said, there hadn't been a Disney film where two good guys - Quasimodo and Phoebus - were both interested in the lead female (Esmeralda). In the end, Esmeralda goes with Phoebus, the good-looking guy with a good heart. It's a very real situation and somehow I would have found it too patronizing if she ended up with Quasmido in the end. That said, that triumphant ending when Quasimodo is reintroduced to the city folk and is finally accepted is just truly moving. Seriously, there is a lot of powerful stuff in this movie. Oh, and the music and the animation (for its time) are also breathtaking. I really, truly believe that this is one of the most underrated animated films ever. Looking at the comments on the links I've shared here prove that I am not the only one who thinks so.

2. Zootopia

I have written in detail about how much I love Zootopia. Not only does it create a beautifully imagined and artistically designed world, it shows us how easy it is for even good people to discriminate and make judgments and hasty generalizations about others even if they don't mean to and even if they themselves have been victims of discrimination. It also shows us that when we do make that mistake, we need to acknowledge it, learn from it, and become a better person. The fact that the film is easy to watch despite such a heavy theme makes it even better. Read more about why i love this movie here.

1. Up

As I have stated before, Up is my favorite animated film. This movie talks about grief, loss, and loneliness in such a real, human way. It talks about how dreams might not always come true, and that if they don't, we shouldn't feel as if our lives are any less valuable or beautiful. Dreams can change because life happens. What is important is that our lives are filled with love and are shared with the people who matter to us. Read more about my thoughts on Up here and here.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

My Favorite Animated Films (Part 1 of 2)

I was talking to someone recently about why and how I feel that, mainly in recent years, I tend to like animated films on average better than live action ones. After thinking about it, I felt that this is because the creators of animated films have to make films that cater to children but that adults can enjoy as well. As such, the creators of these movies tend to focus more on story-building, character development, and strong and positive conflict resolution. When I put together a list of films that made an impact to me, a couple of them were animated. It made me wonder what my favorite animated films are. And since I had just seen Beauty and the Beast, I decided to take that question a step further and list down my top 10 favorite animated films.

Note that these are my personal favorites. A lot of great animated films, such as Toy Story 3, Wall-E, and The Lion King are not on this list, despite the fact that I love those movies. It also doesn't include some films that I think I would love but haven't seen yet, such as My Neighbor Totoro or Spirited Away. This list contains movies that had stories, themes, and/or characters that resonated with me.

Warning: there are a lot of spoilers here so read at your own risk.

10. Chicken Run

I loved this stop-motion film for a few reasons. First, I loved its humor. Second, I had just mentioned how I love movies that end up with a strong positive resolution in the end and Chicken Run is very a good example of that. For a majority of the film, the chickens were depending on an American rooster Rocky to save them all. And if he did teach them to fly and escape the farm, that would have been okay. But in the end, the chickens, under the leadership of Ginger, work together to save themselves, which I found to be a much more satisfying conclusion.

9. Horton Hears a Who!

I'm thinking that everyone coming together for a common cause is a theme that I relate to deeply. The same is true for people going against all odds to fight for something that they is true. Horton Hears a Who! tackles both these themes quite well. Both Horton and the Mayor of Whoville had to face ridicule and even personal injury That scene with the entire Whoville chanting "We are here, we are here, we are here!" to try and get the animals of the jungle to hear them and spare them from annihilation gave me chills. You can see the scene I am talking about here. Even that moment when everyone in Whoville somehow loses hope when their loud sounds still cannot be heard was sobering. I also loved how the Sour Kangaroo changed her mind once she was proven wrong. Read more about why I love this movie here.

8. The Last Unicorn

I had written about this before since this movie is part of my list of films that will stay with me forever. The quality of the animation of this early 1980s Rankin Bass movie is not good, and the pacing is a bit slow. But it was the first cartoon I had seen that had a very deep theme about regret, sacrifice and love that other cartoons at that time didn't have. Read more about why I love this movie here.

7. Big Hero 6

Everyone else that year was talking about how the Lego Movie and How to Train Your Dragon 2 were the best animated films, but I had seen all three and I was rooting for Big Hero 6 to win the Oscar for Best Animated film despite the odds (it did). Part of it was because I am always a sucker for superhero movies. The other is that themes of loss and mourning tend to affect me more deeply. (Yes, I know that Hiccup loses his Dad Stoick in How to Train Your Dragon 2, but somehow his death there didn't seem to have as much impact on me; I guess I didn't connect with him as much as I did with Tadashi in Big Hero 6.) Read more about why I love this movie here.

6. Beauty and the Beast

This was the first animated film to be nominated for Oscar Best Picture. Two other animated films were nominated later on - Up and Toy Story 3 - but what makes the nomination of the 1991 version of Beauty and the Beast even more impressive is that it was nominated at a time that there were only five Oscar best picture nominees whereas Up and Toy Story 3 were nominated when up to 10 films could be nominated for the top Oscar plum. It also won a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy. This film is magical, with incredible music that elevates the inventiveness of the story and of the characters. However, it is the theme of doing the right thing even if it is difficult that made me a fan. I have always thought that Belle was a very strong female lead character. She is intelligent, imaginative, and hopeful. She sacrificed herself to save her father. Despite being imprisoned by the beast, she was able to see the good in him and change her mind about him, which is rare in real life because people often latch on to their first impressions despite evidence to the contrary. She makes adjustments so that other people are comfortable around her. When her father and the beast were in trouble, she came to their rescue. I think the fact that the lead character was so well-written made this film stand out.

Read Part 2 here.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Beauty and the Beast

I finally got to see a movie at the cinema for the first time this year. As a huge fan of the Disney animated movie that came out in 1991, I was definitely very interested to see the live action version of Beauty and the Beast.

What did I think of it? I found it enjoyable but I still think the animated version is better. I love the fact that the new version allows us to hear the same wonderful songs but it adds a couple of new songs that help add layers to the story. I love that it maintains the overall flow and feel of the original story but adds a few twists and makes a few adjustments that help make the viewing experience feel fresh and new. It's actually good that the Beast is now well-read, as you would expect a prince to be, and that there is some explanation as to how the he became "spoiled, selfish and unkind". The visual effects are absolutely stunning and they transport the audience to a wonderful new world. I also think it's cool that the movie also incorporates a bit more of the original fairy tale into it by having Belle ask Maurice for a rose and that the Beast actually throws Maurice in the dungeon for "stealing" a rose from his garden.

For the most part, the acting and the singing were solid. I think the revelation here was Luke Evans who for me stole the show as Gaston. I also thought that Kevin Kline was very good as Maurice and he portrayed the character more like a quirky inventor that the rest of the villagers couldn't relate to rather than a loony old man. I have to say though that as good as most of the cast was, the original voice cast - Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Potts, Jerry Orbach as Lumiere, and David Ogden Stiers as Cogsworth - can never be equalled. As one commenter on youtube said, Angela Lansbury's voice just has so much character that it's hard to come close to how much life she brings to Mrs. Potts and how beautifully she sings Beauty and the Beast. The animated version also has the more stunning ballroom scene. I was also a bit disappointed in Emma Watson's performance. Given how good she was in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, I thought that the cartoon Belle was actually a lot more expressive than her. I guess she was going for a more understated delivery but given how much Belle wants "more than this provincial life" and how much she wants to "have adventure in the great, wide somewhere", I found that Emma's low-key approach didn't quite work in portraying the emotions that Belle should have been feeling inside.

Since I started talking about the original voice cast, here's a fun fact: did you know that the same person - David Ogden Stiers - provides the voice for both Cogsworth and the narrator of the Prologue? I was shocked when I first found out because the voices of these two are so strikingly different. To remind you, this is the original prologue.

video uploaded by xiᴍᴀɢiɴᴀʀʏʀᴏsᴇ ❤

Another fun fact about the animated film: did you know that Lumiere is voiced by Jerry Orbach who also played tough detective Lennie Brisco for 12 seasons, from 1992 to 2004.

While I absolutely love the original movie and I enjoyed this new one, there has always been one thing that bothered me about it. I always though that the enchantress who cast a spell on the castle and all who lived there was mean and a bit of a bully. It was the prince who cast her away and yet she turned everyone in the castle into household items. I guess they try to address that in the new movie, with Mrs. Potts telling Belle that everyone in the castle allowed the prince to become the way he was so they were being punished for it as well. But come on, you can't really stand up to royalty in the olden days and expect not to get punished. (Think Game of Thrones LOL.) But I will just allow this movie that one flaw and enjoy everything else about it.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Awesome Liberos

Over the last couple of years, Dawn Macandili has established herself as a premiere libero in the country. She started out as one of two liberos in DLSU - sharing the role with Cienne Cruz - before taking on the role fully when Cienne left the team. It was at that point that her skill improved by leaps and bounds. Literally. Dawn has now gained recognition and praise for her amazing dolphin dives to save the ball, even if it means throwing her body and hitting the floor time after time. Her athleticism, speed, control, and commitment got her the best receiver and best digger awards in last season's UAAP (and she's on track to be awarded best receiver this season too). And to highlight just how amazing she is, she was also awarded best libero at the most recent Philippine Superliga (PSL) reinforced tournament and also the best libero and MVP - yes, MVP - at the PSL all-Filipino tournament. Wow.

This rally, in the second round match between DLSU and UST showcases Dawn's remarkable skills. Not only where the commentators at awe, even the court announcer credited Dawn for the point (even if it was Des Cheng who scored).

This rally reminded me of what might possibly be the best display of ground defense I've seen from both teams in one rally. It was in the middle of the final set of the NCAA men's volleyball finals between CSB and UPHSD (UPHSD won this point and had a massive lead but CSB prevailed in the end). There were about a dozen amazing saves, a few of them just absolutely sensational. Check it out here:

video uploaded in youtube by ABS-CBN Sports And Action


Of course, Dawn isn't the only libero to have been awarded as league or tournament MVP.  Japanese women's volleyball player Yuko Sano was awarded MVP at the 2014 FIVB World Grand Prix. Even more impressive was Brazilian men's volleyball player Serginho, who was awarded MVP at the Rio Olympics in 2016. While liberos used to have thankless jobs because the glory often goes to the players with the killer spikes or deadly blocks, it is good that more and more people all around the world are giving them recognition and credit for the fantastic and very difficult work they do.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Star Wars 40th Anniversary: Force for Change

This is really cool. For their 40th anniversary, Star Wars teamed up with Omaze to raise funds for UNICEF and the Starlight Children's Foundation and they are offering fans a chance to win three epic experiences:

  • an overnight stay at Skywalker Ranch
  • a chance to appear in the upcoming Han Solo movie
  • a trip to LA to join the cast at the premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi 

Wow, wow, wow!!

A US$10 donation, the smallest amount you can donate, gets you 100 entries. Higher amounts get you more entries and other bonuses, including shirts, a 40th Anniversary coin, and even access to very exclusive private screenings.

Check out the Omaze site to learn more about his campaign:

You can also check out this cool and funny video of Mark Hamill and Daisy Ridley talking about it.

video uploaded by Star Wars

Friday, April 07, 2017

The E-Waste Project

I've known for a while that ideally, you shouldn't throw used batteries along with regular trash because they contain heavy metals that can contaminate the environment. I had always wanted to find out where in the Philippines I can properly dispose of used batteries but I hadn't really put in the requisite research effort to figure this out. I also somehow decided not to throw used or busted light bulbs along with regular trash just because I wasn't sure whether you could. Because of this, I've kept all my used batteries and light bulbs at home.

Thankfully, my friend shared The E-Waste Project Facebook page with me recently. They were collecting old e-waste from April 4 to 7 at the ASCAL Walk in UP Diliman (which was then extended to April 21). I messaged their Facebook page to ask if their e-waste collection included used batteries and light bulbs and they said it did. As such, I made my way to UP on what originally was their last day of e-waste collection to drop off my stash.

I didn't have enough time to go through some of my other stuff at home, or even some broken electronics we have at my family's house. (I know for sure we have some broken cameras and DVD players, among other things.) I will start gathering these items and maybe put them in a box at my family's house so I can be ready if and when there is another e-waste collection effort.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Coldplay in Manila!

I can finally tick this one off my bucket list. I joined 35,000 people at the SM Mall of Asia grounds on April 4 to watch Coldplay perform during the Manila leg of their "A Head Full of Dreams" tour. (Was the crowd just really 35,000? It felt like there were a lot more people!) I was in line at 3pm, the earliest I have ever fallen in line at a concert. Since there were no seats at the grounds, I wanted to make sure I got as close to the front of my section as possible. Despite queuing up early, there were still hordes of people in front of me. Luckily though, I was able to make it to the front of my section. We were also very fortunate that the weather was great - it was neither too hot nor was it raining.

It was around 9pm when Coldplay finally appeared on stage. The moment the lights came on and the screens lit up, the energy of a crowd that was tired from being on their feet for hours was significantly boosted and wild cheers erupted from everyone, including myself. I couldn't believe I was there amidst a crowd watching a band whose music I had loved for years and that I desperately wanted to see live. It was incredible!

only one of two photos I got to take that night before my phone battery died

They played music from all their albums, making it a truly magical night for all their fans. The show was made even more spectacular by the incredible lights and fireworks display and the bursts of confetti. They played many of my favorites, including Fix You, Yellow, The Scientist, and Viva La Vida. Probably my favorite moment was when Chris Martin asked everyone to send love and positive energy to a part of the world that needed it, such as Syria, before he put on a powerfully moving performance of Everglow. The fans also loved the fact that he performed a short made-up song specially for the Philippines (Chris said that he was just making it on the spot but I have this feeling that it was prepared beforehand. :))

video uploaded by 316jet

He also asked people to send love to one of his fans, Ken, who couldn't be in the concert that night because he was battling stage 4 cancer. Chris actually visited Ken before the concert and performed Ink, which Ken had requested. Read more about this touching story here.

Amidst all of this, there were many challenges that conspired to make that evening miserable for me. I wasn't allowed to bring my point-and-shoot camera inside (even if the policy said that only pro cameras were not allowed) so I had to leave it in the baggage claim which meant additional queuing before I could head home. The very bad phone signal resulted in my phone battery getting drained just as the concert started, meaning that without a phone and a camera, I was only able to take one photo right at the start of the show. The audience sections were also changed, with the VIP section being enlarged and pushing everyone else further back so it wasn't good for all of us who weren't in the VIP section. Also, my xyloband very sadly didn't work so I somehow felt just a little left out when the xylobands were changing colors to fit the music and add to the amazing light show.

My plan to hitch a ride home with my friend who was in a different section also failed because my phone went dead. With thousands of people trying to get taxis or Uber and Grab rides to get home, I decided to walk all the way to Solaire resort where I had a very late dinner before queuing for a taxi. It was 2AM when I got home and after being on my feet for about 10 hours, I had a couple of blisters. Still, the concert was worth all the difficulties. Coldplay is one of my favorite musical artists and they have written some of my favorite songs. Watching them perform live is an experience I won't ever forget.