Liebster Award

liebsterFirst and foremost, I would like to thank Dave from http://daveexaminesmovies.com/ for introducing me to the Liebster Award, a blogger award “given by bloggers to fellow bloggers.” This is so awesome because  what better way to feel appreciation than a thumbs from your fellow writers from the blogging community, right? Thanks again Dave, for nominating me for this award. :D

So the rules are as follows. I’m copying this off Dave’s site because I’m kinda new at this awards thing :D

  1. The bloggers who have been nominated must link back to the person who nominated them.
  2. Nominees must answer the eleven questions given to them by the person who nominated them.
  3. Those nominated must choose eleven of their favorite bloggers who have less than 200 followers to answer their own set of questions When you are nominated, you cannot nominate the person who nominated you

Pretty simple, right? So, with that being said, these are my answers to Dave’s 11 questions:

1. What was the first movie you ever remember seeing? (This means, not the movie your mom told you that you saw when you were 2 years old, or god forbid, while in her tummy):
The first movie I remember seeing was E.T. I don’t remember all of it but I loved it so much that I used to go to the balcony all the time to secretly press my two index fingers together like ET did with Elliot.

2. In your opinion, what is the best movie ever made based on a video game?
A lot of the people will kill me for this but I really loved the first three movies in the Resident Evil franchise. I liked the movies mainly because I don’t have much of an idea about the video games. Mortal Kombat comes close second.

3. What is a generally hated movie that you openly love?
All about Steve was nominated for a couple of Razzies the year it was released and Sandy ultimately won Worst Actress for her role as crossword puzzle maker Mary Horowitz, but I loved the movie. I loved the character of Mary who was genuine, sweet and determined, to the point of insanity. I thought Steve, on the other hand, was a grade A jerk. Sue me.

4. What is a generally loved movie that you openly hate?
Spiderman franchise with Tobey Maguire. I just never really got behind Maguire as a superhero. I was rooting for Harry Osbourne the entire time.

5. What is the worst movie you’ve ever seen?
Hands down, the horror movie Hit and Run. There are many who come close but it hasn’t been dethroned yet in its place of honor (read:horror) in my mind.

6. What is the scariest movie you’ve ever seen…and why?
Gravity. The sense of helplessness I felt while seeing Sandra Bullock was alone in space was terrifying. At least in horror movies, there are ways to survive, no matter how slight, but there, in space, alone? Man, its giving me goosebumps right now.

7. Are there any TV shows you watch that you’d like to be seen made into a movie?
Not particularly. They’re awesome enough in TV land.

8. What was the craziest experience you’ve ever had in a theater?
Because there were too many people in the theater, the cinema oversold tickets placing us in the second row, only a few feet away from the screen which made us kind of dizzy, so my brother demanded they do something about it. they pulled out a couch for us and placed in a more manageable distance for us to enjoy the movie. :D

9. What has been the best performance by a male playing a female or vice versa?
Hillary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry

10. How excited are you to watch Planes 2?
Slightly more excited than the original. It looks more promising but it could just be the cool soundtrack they used on the trailer. We’ll see. :D

11. If you could have any superpower, what would it be, and what would be the origin story. Because “and why?” is too mainstream.
Teleportation most definitely. My origin story would be — a nosy child discovers a hidden talent that she can go anywhere wants in an instant if she sets her mind to it and thus begins her journey to adulthood as a mysterious journalist who travels to different locations and gets stories from the underground that are impossible to get. But an evil villain discovers her secret just as she discovers that her days are numbered as each transport puts a strain on her DNA and so she must fend off the enemy while breaking the most important story mankind has ever told. Its too mainstream because my origin story is a complete ripoff of superman, jumper and in time. Its was kind of fun putting it together though.

Now, its time for me to ask the questions. :D
1. What is your favorite horror movie of all time and why?
2. Why do you think Leonardo DiCaprio deserves/does not deserve an Oscar?
3. Who do you think is the most underrated actor/actress of this generation and why?
4. Indie vs mainstream? Which do you think works better?
5. Are you a fan of reboots? Why?
6. Who do you think played the best villain ever across all genres?
7. Name a great popcorn movie or movies which starred an acclaimed Hollywood A-lister. How did you feel when you saw said actor in the flick?
8. What is the best twist you have ever witnessed in a movie?
9. Are you a fan of big screen adaptations of books? Why or why not?
10. What is the worst movie you have ever seen?
11. If you had the opportunity to turn your life into a movie, which genre would it be and which actor should play you?

And here are my nominees:

http://www.dtmmr.com

http://www.iamipodman.wordpress.com
http://www.grace4films.wordpress.com
http://www.jmmnewaov2.wordpress.com

http://fastfilmreviews.com/

http://www.keithandthemovies.com/
http://www.horror-movies.ca

Awards

First of all, I would like to give a shoutout to http://grace4films.wordpress.com/ for nominating me for the Quintet of Radiance Award. Its my first time to be nominated and I’m really psyched to be part of it. So, I’m copying off the rules from http://insidethelifeofmoi.wordpress.com/2014/03/27/awards/ (a big thank you by the way), and the rules are as follows.

blogger1. Thank the person who gave you the award.

2. Include a link to their blog

3. Select 15 bloggers you follow and want to pass the award onto.

4. Nominate the 15 bloggers and inform them of it.

5. Finally, list seven interesting facts about yourself.

So, that being said, here are the seven interesting facts about myself :

1. I am an animal lover and I would have wanted to be a vet but I’m afraid of real blood. (For horror movies, my motto has always been the gorier the better).

2. In relation to Item #1, I absolutely love tigers and if given an opportunity, would want to raise one as an exotic pet.

3. I love to go on adventures and am willing to try everything at least once, but I am also a believer of the concept of a calculated risk. Thus, I try as much as I can to ensure my safety before doing anything extreme.

4. I would like to study abroad (preferably on a scholarship because I can’t go on my own)

5. I love my mom above all others

6. I would love to get a job in development communication

7. My dream is to backpack Europe

So, now for the Quintet of Radiance. It is a total of four awards. They’re pretty self explanatory :D

most-influential-bloggerabc-awardinner-peace-awardsunshine-award

In order to accept these awards, I need to describe myself using every letter in the alphabet. This is super tough so brace yourself.

A- Adventurous : I am always game to try out a new thing and see new places

B- Big hearted : I  have a soft heart when it comes to those in need.

C- Clumsy: Anything that requires balance or coordination? Count me out

D- Devoted: I am very loyal to my friends and family

E- Emphatic: I feel for others and understand pain and suffering

F- Fun: I always look at the positive side of things

G- Gregarious: I love to spend time with my friends and family.

H- Hilarious: I crack up my friends all the time. I must be funny.

I- Intuitive: I have a good grasp on stuff involving people.

J- Jolly: I like to smile a lot and be positive about things, even though things don’t always go as planned.

K- Kind: I try to show compassion where I can and try to be a good person most of the time.

L- Loving: When I give my heart, I give it completely.

M- Mischievous: I’ve been known to prank people once or twice. *wink wink

N- Nurturing: I like to share my experiences with others so that they may learn from it, whether its good or bad. I likewise like learning from other people’s journeys.

O-Ordinary: I’m a simple girl with simple tastes. I have big dreams though :D

P-Professional: I take a lot of pride in my work and my work ethics.

Q-Quirky: If you saw my list of quirks, you would agree.

R- Resourceful: I always try to make the best of any situation.

S- Strong: I would like to think that I am strong willed.

T- Temperamental: I have a mean temper, something I would like to curb and manage better in the future.

U-Underrated: I think that there is a lot to me that people don’t know yet, but they would be surprised, and pleased to discover.

V-Versatile: Life has taught me to go with the flow, and I have become quite flexible to different situations because of it.

W-Wide reader: I love to read. Nuff said.

X-Xenochial: I had to consult a dictionary to find a word that describes me using the letter X so I came out with this, which means hospitable

Y- Young at heart: No matter how old I get, I want to maintain a child-like enthusiasm for all things

Z-Zealous: I am a passionate person at heart for a number of causes.

Whew! As for my nominees, here they are:

 

 jonverzosa.wordpress.com
dtmmr.com
fitandfabmanila.com
iamipodman.wordpress.com
mannaforjenny.tumblr.com
strickenwithwanderlust.wordpress
rhodaline-escala.blogspot.com
grace4films.wordpress.com
jmmnewaov2.wordpress.com

So I hope you guys accept this nomination because you all totally deserve it. Ciao!

Wicked the Musical in Manila: Green is IN!

wicked the musicalA couple of years ago, I’ve read Gregory Maguire’s Wicked, about Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, the chief villainess of L. Frank Baum’s 1900 classic The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and immediately became a fan of his writing. I also became Elphie’s supporter because its hard not to admire the green skinned rebel who speaks her mind and uses her superior intellect and powers to protect the ones she loves most.

Since reading the book and learning of its musical adaptation in Broadway starring no less than Adele Dazeem *excuse me*, Idina Menzel and Kristen Chenoweth, I have hoped and prayed fervently for the production to come to Manila. When Phantom of the Opera came in 2012, I was elated, thinking that the Wicked team might be inspired to do so as well, seeing how successful POTO was. In 2013, my prayers were answered when it was announced that the Australian cast of Wicked was performing at the CCP Theater for the whole month of February, 2014. It was later extended to the first week of March.

Of course, I wasted no time in calling up friends to see who would want to see it with me. I like having friends along because its more fun having to share my excitement with someone. Because the prices were a bit steep (but still very reasonable considering the quality of this show) it came down to just my friend Mae and I.

GREEN TEAM. Mae and I wore green in support of Elphie. :D Thank you, random audience for taking this pic.

GREEN TEAM. Mae and I wore green in support of Elphie. :D Thank you, random guy from the lobby for taking this pic.

We arrived early to the venue. I think we were actually the first ones to come for the 1:30 screening. It was cool because we had the entire lobby to ourselves and we were able to take lots of photos without bumping into fellow guests. We were also able to check out the souvenir items, and choose what we wanted in leisure instead of having to jostle with the rest at the end of the show. Unfortunately though, our choices were limited because stocks of the items we originally wanted were out. See, we were only able to book tickets for the last day of the show so they were running low on shirt sizes and the like but we bought some mementos just the same. No matter, we were able to purchase portable binoculars (P75), which are really handy for people sitting in the Balcony seats to get a better view of the details of the stage. Its reusable so it can be used again when you need it.

Being early also meant we had the luxury of scouting for the proper entrance so we were predictably first in line (again) when it came time to open the doors. By the way, going to the restroom is a good idea prior to the show because the 20 minute break after the first act is not enough to visit the ladies’ room. The lines are nuts (and it goes for all floors. yes, even the ground floor). By the time the doors opened, I could feel the grin on my face grow bigger and bigger. When I saw the stage, I wanted to jump up and down, so excited was I to see the cast.

The Musical basically follows the same plot as the book, but some parts were adjusted to suit a wider audience. Maguire’s novel was great but some parts were quite dark, especially towards the end. The show explained how Elphaba (derived from the phonetic sound of L. Frank Baum’s initials) came to be, her sad life, her loneliness, her devotion for her sister Nessarose, her uncanny friendship with the bright and beautiful Galinda (later known as Glinda the Good), her affinity for animals and her attempts to rescue them from oppression. The play also touches on Elphie’s lovelife, and gives audiences a look into the true character of the Wizard, whom Ozians revere as their leader.

Australian actress Ali Calder played Elphaba and she was amazing. I was surprised to learn that she was only the standby Elphie because she was great. From the first time she appeared on stage, she was able to convey spunk and sassiness and at the same time a hidden vulnerability and longing to belong. Her solos seemed so effortless but her delivery was so effective that audiences can’t help but root for her. Justine Puy as Galinda/Glinda, on the other hand, was a gem. She was funny, she was energetic, she delivered her lines so naturally –even the ditzy ones — and she embraced her role so completely that she stole every scene that she was in. Most people hate vapid attention seekers like Galinda in real life but Puy made the audience love her, no matter how outrageous her antics were. Every time she appeared on stage, audiences knew they were in for something good.

FIYERO! Steve signs autographs for the fans waiting for him in front of the artist entrance/exit. It would be a must to bring a pen for fans who wish to ambush the cast after the show. Steve was really patient and cool. We also saw Justine but we weren't able to get a photo with her. (Mae Obispo)

FIYERO! Steve signs autographs for the fans waiting for him in front of the artist entrance/exit. It would be a must to bring a pen for fans who wish to ambush the cast after the show. Steve was really patient and cool. We also saw Justine but we weren’t able to get a photo with her. (Mae Obispo)

Steve Danielsen as the Vinkus prince Fiyero was great as the leading man. He was not only handsome but he brought an energy with him that he was able to use in his scenes with Elphie and Galinda. I liked that he seemed like a different person with each girl, so the audiences knew how he felt about each one throughout the show. He had a great voice too — not as polished as Jonathan Roxmouth’s Phantom but still, engaging enough to draw the audience to cheer for his budding romance with Elphie.

The rest of the cast turned up really solid performances. I was breathless after each ensemble number, so beautiful were the production numbers and the music. Accalimed Aussie actress Maggie Kirkpatrick as Madame Morrible, Jay Laga’aia as the Wizard, Emily Cascarino as Nessarose, Glen Hogstrom as Dr. Dillamond and the cutie Edward Grey as Boq, whom I wish had a bigger role in the show, as he did in the book, really stepped up and did their Broadway counterparts proud.

UNLIKELY ALLIES. Elphie and Galinda strike up an uncanny friendship. (www.yahoo.com.ph)

UNLIKELY ALLIES. Elphie and Galinda strike up an uncanny friendship. (www.yahoo.com.ph)

But the core of the show was really defined by the two girls’ ability to connect despite being different. They played polar opposite personalities so effectively that audiences become fascinated in their relationship from their first number “What is this feeling?” up to their last “For Good”, which was the main highlight of the musical. Their voices were impeccable, and their harmonies were to die for. My personal favorites were Defying Gravity and For Good.

GREEN IS IN. Ozians cheer for Glinda the Good in one of the bigger production numbers of the show. (credit to the owner of this image)

GREEN IS IN. Ozians cheer for Glinda the Good in one of the bigger production numbers of the show. (credit to the owner of this image)

The set was another thing of great beauty. The detail work in the props and the smooth transitioning from scene to scene was so fluid that I sometimes wondered how they were able to hide so much stuff behind the curtains and how many levels they were able to stock the major elements involved in the scene changes. The colors were so vivid yet so distinctive to the land of Oz that audiences had no problem identifying where they were. The illusion from the combination of lighting and effects added to the sense of unreality and wonderment, each scene seemed to have a different set and each set contributed to the magic of the show. It made Oz and the Shiz come alive, indeed.

My favorite part of the show however, was the music, pure and simple. The orchestra, led by conductor Laura Tipoki, was marvelous, but the songs and the lyrics by Stephen Schwartz just encapsulated the essence of the book in such a way that instantly connects audiences with the feelings that are being felt by the characters in specific points of the story. I loved that some of them were fun and some more serious. I liked that they showed range and variety. The music was so good that I hardly even noticed an hour and half go by after they announced the 20 minute break at the end of Act One.The production was so spectacular that it literally took my breath away.

My only complaint would have to be that the souvenirs weren’t as creative as I would have hoped. I was expecting the items to be more representative of the show but they were mainly just replicas of the show’s logo and poster so I was a bit disappointed. The shirts were cool but a bit pricey.

It would seem that at some point in this post, I have run out of superlatives to describe this show. I now understand why Wicked is such an international hit. The show is able to transport audience to the land Oz, and envelop them in its magic in the 2 1/2 hour long performance. Its unique, its entertaining, it boasts of beloved characters drawn from an equally beloved children’s book. At the end, I was moved to tears, I was muted by awe. My hands were numb from clapping after every segment. I wanted to record each moment in my mind because I didn’t want to forget a second of it until I grow old one day and become senile. Watching Wicked is an experience that I am glad I now have. Taken from Galinda’s number, it was unusually and exceedingly peculiar and altogether quite impossible to describe, but in a good way.

Thank you, Wicked, for coming to Manila and for making my dream come true.

ITS A JUNGLE OUT THERE.  Satisfied fans loiter the lobby of the CCP after the show. (Mae Obispo)

ITS A JUNGLE OUT THERE. Satisfied fans loiter the lobby of the CCP after the show. (Mae Obispo)

Conquering Pico de Loro: My first climb

pico (41)It was Chinese New Year and a holiday when my buddies finally convinced me to join them for a climb. If you knew me, you would know that I don’t have the best cardio in the world (far from it, really). I worry that I might hold up the rest of the group because I’m slow, or maybe I might injure myself in the attempt. After much negotiation, in which they pretty much catered to my every request (not to complicated climb, not too expensive etc., etc.), we finally settled on Mt. Pico de Loro in Ternate, Cavite as the destination of my first day hike (They’ve been there before, they just accommodated me. Yes, I have great friends).

Eventually, our small group of three expanded to 16. We were joined by my officemate Rene’s group of friends, and we were very lucky that they were an awesome bunch. We rented a jeep for P4,000 and met up at Dasmariñas before 5 am. We reached our destination at around 7 am and logged in at the DENR mini office at the base of the mountain and paid a minimal fee of P20 per head for the use of DENR facilties like the toilet and huts. There are times that the DENR personnel lecture hikers on the rules when visiting Pico de Loro.

Pico de Loro, also known as the Parrot’s Peak, is a popular destination for newbie climbers, although at 664 meters above sea level, it is one of highest peaks in Calabarzon, because it is actually part of the Mt. Palay Palay- Mataas na Gulod Protected Landscape. Because of the rich biodiversity in the area, it is essential for hikers and mountaineers to observe the rules when traversing the mountain. Its pretty simple, really — pick up after oneself and don’t destroy anything on the way up or down. Sadly, some of the hikers have vandalized some of the trees by scratching and writing on them, as well as the rocks. True, conquering mountains is a pretty memorable achievement but not at the expense of marring the beauty of Nature with markings.

Reaching the base camp took us roughly an hour, and we registered anew in a different log book. We paid another P20, this time to help with the maintenance of the site. However, the base camp does not come close to covering the first leg of the journey. It is merely an introduction to the challenges ahead for those who want to reach the top and tick off an item on their bucket lists. At the base camp, hikers can fill up their bottles and canteens with cool water sourced from a nearby spring. There are also two cubicles for showering/ answering the call of nature. There are no more of these amenities on the way up so this is a last chance for those who want to visit the loo or wash up. For dog lovers, there are some dogs who thrive on the attention of the hikers and they’re very friendly. Some even accompany their new friends to the top and serve as guides.

Following the base camp, the trail gets a bit more challenging as the path gets pretty uneven so its advisable not to use thick pants like jeans because it impedes movement. I was wearing jeans thinking they provide better protection from the shrubbery but alas, I miscalculated and paid the price for my folly. It is better to wear trekking pants which are lighter and gives wearers more room for movement, something that is essential in negotiating the bigger steps required for uneven surfaces. A trekking pole comes in handy for the assault parts of the trail. One thing I learned from my journey was that hikers call ascending paths assault. Assault is just about right because I felt like my muscles were being assaulted on the way up. So for beginners, training for at least a week before the climb is important or else, your muscles will be screaming halfway to the top. When I wasn’t focusing on catching my breath, I took the time to appreciate my surroundings and the serenity of the area. After all, its not everyday that one can commune with nature and out in some much needed exercise that is not readily available during the workday.

Hikers seemed to have agreed that the holiday was a good day to climb because we passed over a hundred of trekkers on our way up. Some were smarter and camped overnight the day before so they were already on the way down when everyone else (including us) were going up. I am not exaggerating when I gave the number estimate. When we reached the camp site some three hours (and a lot of perspiration) later, there seemed to be a convention of sorts as tents peppered the site to the point where late arrivals would have no place to pitch their own portable abodes.It was nuts, but I was glad because I felt the general sense of inclusion that mountaineers and hikers have in their community. No wonder there are a lot of people who enjoy the outdoors so much.

After the campsite, we headed out to the summit which was roughly 15-20 minutes of pure assault. It was more difficult to climb because soil was not too stable and there were a lot of rocks along the way. After a short breather, we had to hold on to cogons (wild grass) gradually make our way to the top. Everyone seemed to be really friendly and really happy to see each other. Strangers greeting each other when they pass by and a lot of them actively helping us out, literally reaching out their hands for us to cling to when the terrain seemed too tough, especially on the way to the summit. Not only were we coached and encouraged on climbing techniques by fellow hikers but four to five guys almost had to pull me up and pass me around before I reached the top. Same thing on the way down. They were probably more tired from the effort than I but that did not discourage me from extending their help to other members of our group.

At last! The view from the summit was nothing short of magnificent. A 360 view of mountains, seas and clouds surrounding Pico de Loro contributed to the sense of accomplishment I felt after the four hour climb. But it seemed like there was another challenge awaiting adventure seekers. Pico de Loro had not one but two summits, the second one being the Peak, a giant slab of stone that was next to a steep ravine. Those who dared to reach the top really had to dig in deep to rely only on their skill and single rope dangling from the top. I didn’t attempt to conquer the second peak because I was a beginner and a bit on the clumsy side. Besides, I promised my folks that I will go back home alive so I contented myself watching as half of our group ventured towards the next challenge and took pictures of their success instead.

Despite the exhaustion, my first climb was a great experience. One that I would surely be repeating soon. Challenging, true. But rewarding nonetheless. The sense of accomplishment and the opportunity to appreciate nature. Making friends and being embraced into a community of these great natured outdoorsmen? Priceless.

The rise of the #superselfie

Gary-Valenciano-Super-Selfie-Video

There are selfies. And there are super selfies.

Even before Oxford Dictionary declared selfie as the word of the year, Filipino celebrity Gabriel “Gab” Valenciano has been setting the youtube world on fire with his series of “super selfie” videos featuring himself in various ridiculous costumes, performing dance routines that are equal parts hilarious and amazingly skillful.

If this is your first time to hear the name, Gab is the son of Mr. Pure Energy Gary Valenciano, the Philippines’ version of Michael Jackson, who, at the age of 49, still manages to put dancers half his age to shame on stage. Apparently, Gab is the spawn who inherited the dancing gene, and his siblings Paolo and Kiana got the singing gene.

I only saw the videos today and I was not surprised that they went viral as fast as they did (Gab’s video featuring his dad has now over 1 million views. It was even picked up as a feature by Good Morning America). Gab, who also edits his own video posts, is really fun to watch because mainly of his lack of inhibition and his great sense of humor, truly an infectious combination that reaches out to youtube viewers. Not to mention that fact that he ropes most of his family members and friends into performing crazy antics with the same level of commitment he has, its really just entertaining. I, for one, appreciate even the short clips because they manage to somehow tell a story.

There have been a lot of viral videos that become a fad and fade away after a while, but I think that Gab has a couple more antics he needs to share with his youtube fans. I think what makes these videos really striking is the obvious amount of creativity and energy that goes into each clip from the choreography, to the editing to the sound. While the steps seem fairly simple, they are very hard to execute in such tempo and doing it in synchronicity is no mean feat. While there are surely those who would try to replicate this fad, they would be hard pressed to come up with the same results. So, to Gab, great job! I admire your artistry and I am now a fan. Check them out on youtube to see what I mean.

2013 in review

Every year since I started blogging, I have always looked forward to receiving an annual report from wordpress to see how my blog has been doing. Granted, I was a bit busy this year to focus on writing for my site but I’m happy to note that readers still drop in once in a while to check out my posts when I make them so I haven’t done too shabbily at the end of 2013. So again, thank you to you readers, subscribers, followers, friends and I hope that I can do better and come back with a vengeance in 2014. :D And thank you wordpress helper monkeys for preparing this report. You guys are awesome!

Here’s an excerpt:

Madison Square Garden can seat 20,000 people for a concert. This blog was viewed about 62,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Madison Square Garden, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Welcome Back Pacquiao! My wishlist for Manny’s last two fights

photo from USA Today

photo from USA Today

After back to back losses in 2012 to rising star Timothy Bradley and a knockout from long time nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez in their third rematch, Manny Pacquiao showed up naysayers dismissing his skills in the ring yesterday with a resounding victory against former WBO lightweight champ Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios at the Venetian, Macau. While Manny was understandably more careful, opting to pull a victory via unanimous decision rather than by knockout, it was a pleasure to see Pacquiao back to form. He seemed more relaxed entering the ring and more determined to prove that he is not yet ready to hang up his gloves. At the end of the night, the better fighter — the more experienced fighter outclassed the young up and comer and showed that he had a couple more fights left in him.

Admittedly, the Pacquiao-Rios fight had a lot riding on it. Even Coach Freddie Roach was saying that if Manny did not win against Rios, he would be advising his star fighter to retire. But the Pacman proved that he has a bit more juice in the tank, enough to run circles around Rios and make the world believe that there are a couple more fights left in the eight-division world champ, once lauded as the undisputed best pound for pound fighter in the sport. Now, talks have re-emerged about the possibility of a superbout between undefeated trashtalker extraordinaire (although he has mellowed in recent years) Floyd Mayweather Jr. and the Filipino fighting pride, but we all know that that ship has sailed due to money issues. Floyd will not fight Pacquiao and risk his undefeated status. While the young Mayweather has all the advantages against Manny, Pacman is just too unpredictable a fighter and a showman to ensure a victory over. So, no. I don’t think Manny should fight Floyd.

What I do want, however, is closure. Closure that can effectively seal Manny’s career and his status as one of the best boxers to every grace the sport. And he can only do this with these two fights.

PACQUIAO vs BRADLEY 2

What I do want is a rematch between Bradley and Pacquiao. In June 2012, Bradley defeated Pacquiao in a controversial split decision at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Bradley’s biggest fight yet. Bradley was not the top choice for the fight but after talks with Mayweather, Marquez and Lamont Peterson broke down, Bradley was the fighter who agreed to the terms of the fight and landed the main bout in Las Vegas. Coming into the fight, the betting odds were 7-2 in favor of Pacquiao but Bradley, despite being hurt by Pacquiao’s power in the first half of the match, found his footing and answered with a couple of flurries that swayed the judges’ attention in his favor. At the end of the match, he was able to prevail in two of the judges’ scorecards and pulled off a victory over the People’s champ, handing him his first loss in seven years. of course, the decision  was contested by Manny’s camp. After a video review of the match by the WBO, all five judges ruled in favor of the Pacman. Unfortunately, the decision could not overrule the actual results of the match. So, yes. I want Manny to fight Bradley, if only to prove that he truly won the first fight. I believe Bradley had an effective campaign against Pacquiao the first time and it would be interesting to see whether it would still prove triumphant in their second face-off. Both fighters need to prove something and it would be exciting to see how this goes.

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PACQUIAO vs. MARQUEZ V

Pacquiao and Marquez go way back. It is undeniable that this is one of the most followed rivalries in the sport and promoters for both fighters know it. In 2003, when Pacquiao was starting to make a name for himself in boxing, he and Marquez faced off in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and started one of the most epic faceoffs inside the ring. The judges ruled a draw that night but both camps claimed to have the victory. As Pacquiao moved up the ladder and matched up against some of the toughest Mexican fighters in the field, an opportunity to seal the deal came in 2008 where a rematch was set between the two in Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas. But it would seem that these two were doomed to post controversial decisions in every match as Pacquiao won via split decision with a lot of protests from the Marquez camp. In 2011, the possible end to the trilogy saw light and the two battled in yet another controversial fight with Pacquiao emerging the victor. Many believed that Marquez won the fight and in an unprecedented event, a fourth fight was staged between the two combatants. It was obvious from the start that Marquez was the hungrier of the two, training way earlier than Pacquiao and stating in various press appearances that he will win decisively against the Pacman in their 2012 match up. Come fight night, Pacquiao was ahead in points but a lethal punch in the sixth round had Manny seeing stars. Marquez won via KO and said that he would not fight Manny again. But for fight fans, hopes springs eternal that the competition will be enough to lure Marquez back in the ring with Manny.

I wasn’t really a big fan of the decision to go for a fourth match between the two because clearly, Manny’s style and Marquez’s skill as a counter puncher are really like seeing the same match over and over again. However, the grudge match angle on the part of Marquez (I haven’t seen Manny trash talk any opponent but Mayweather) seems to draw audience into the drama each and every time. And on that fateful last fight, Manny fell back to his old habits of being overexcited and careless, earning him a solid defeat in the face of his arch nemesis. Now that Marquez recently lost to Timothy Bradley, perhaps he would consider a final match with Manny to wrap up the saga.

Manny has had a stellar career in boxing. Not only has he cemented his legacy as the best boxer that the Philippines has produced but by far, he has made his mark in the international arena as the only boxer to win eight division championships. And its because of hard work and the ability to grow with the sport. He continues to challenge himself but if I were to be completely honest, I would like to see Manny retire at the top of the game. In wining against Rios, he proved that he can still compete with the best of them but his age is slowly but surely catching up with him. His punches, while still powerful, are not the same as before. His speed is not the same. And that is completely okay. I would just like to see him tie up these loose ends and not fall prey to the lure of the fight purse like so many champions before him. I wish Manny will not lose sight of his goal of being the best champion the world has every produced — fight Bradley and Marquez and walk out of the ring with a resounding statement to end his stellar career.

Related posts:

Pacquiao vs Marquez IV, anyone?
Life lessons I learned from Pacquiao

Faith in humanity, restored.

photo by Melanie Adrales

photo by Melanie Adrales

In the aftermath of supertyphoon Yolanda (international name: Haiyan) which devastated the Visayas region of the Philippines, causing billions worth of damage and leaving thousands killed,  the Filipino nation has immediately invoked the bayanihan (cooperation) spirit and tried to do what they can to bring aid to those who need it — survivors of the disaster who continue to plead for help, scraps of food and shelter, things that they were enjoying before the fateful disaster uprooted decades-old trees, destroyed homes, and tore families apart, levelling entire cities like they were nothing. The destruction seemed like excerpts from a disaster movie — only, the nightmare was real.

In the wake of typhoon Ondoy (2010), Sendong (2012), Habagat (2012 and 2013), Filipinos have always found it in their hearts to do something, especially the youth, who have used social media as a means to mobilize people into action. The outpouring of support was immediate and relief efforts became more organized with groups directing the action through twitter, trafficking volunteers and goods where it should be. The situations then were dire, but no amount of preparation could have braced our country for the wrath of Yolanda. Each image on television was, and continues to be heartbreaking. I personally refrain from watching the news because I can’t help but feel helpless in the face of the difficulty that my people are facing in another part of the country.

photo from Sera Fabunan's facebook page

photo from Cellifeand Oraneem’s  facebook page

After every disaster, it warms my heart that Filipinos always muster the strength pitch in, to share what they can, and as a nation continue to try to bring hope to those who have lost all. Those who do not have money volunteer in relief centers and companies pledge goods and funds to rebuild. Regular working class Pinoys sacrifice their meriendas, kids break their piggy banks. Everybody is involved. Everybody is on the same page. Perhaps, it is innate with the Filipino culture, this openness to lend a helping hand and when this nation comes together, it is magical to see. We can, as a nation, take action and it gives me pride as a Filipino.

I was really inspired by a recent volunteer stint at my school where, while sorting through various food items for repacking, we found notes taped to sachets of milk drinks and encouraging words written on canned goods donated to the relief drive. And apparently, it was happening in other relief centers too. My friend Sara, who volunteered for Red Cross, also found a facebook post about inspirational words on canned goods. While we really did not want to post anything on the social media regarding our volunteer work, the acts were just so touching and precious not to share. These were kids — whom our national hero Dr. Jose Rizal tagged as the future or our nation. The relief goods were simple, cans of sardines, packs of coffee — that they may have bought with their own allowance. To go to the office to volunteer their time, their efforts and share what little they have instead of posting their usual on Instagram, gives me hope that our youth can steer this nation to a bright future. Not once did these volunteers whip out their phones to check on their messages. No one took photos for selfies. And for the youth of today living on the brink of technology, this is something substantial. It means they understand the meaning of what they are doing and they are willing to do it. I believe, if they have the sensitivity to try to uplift the spirit of their fellowmen in need, if they can take the time to show their love, then they have what it takes to make things better. It starts with character. And this generation is proving that not only can they talk the talk (or post the post), they can also walk the walk.

There is also an unselfie campaign going around wherein instead of the usual selfies, Pinoys are using their profile images to direct people to websites that accept donations for Yolanda’s victims. And while there are the usual rants against the government, much deserved because of the politics in play, there is a genuine consensus among the netizens and the people on the ground. Everybody is on the same page. Everybody wants relief to get to the people of the Visayas and everyone is doing something about it.

People can make things happen. And this nation can come together. This outpouring of love and support — this is what makes us strong as a nation.

I continue to be inspired by the Filipinos — those who have survived the storm, and those who are on the other side trying to reach out to people they don’t even know. I salute the foreign volunteers who have arrived to the Visayas to provide medicine, food and shelter to our displaced kababayans. May God Bless You, and May God Bless our country.

Related post:

http://strickenwithwanderlust.wordpress.com/2013/11/15/for-the-love-of-leyte/

Remembering Kate’s babies: Ruffy and Balat

YIN AND YANG. The best behaved cats on the block

YIN AND YANG. The best behaved cats on the block

I lost someone dear to me yesterday. After five years, Ruffy passed away after a bout of liver and kidney problems. I tried my best to save him but it was not meant to be. Today, I remember Ruffy and his brother Balat.

My ‘kids’ all have different personalities. Some are rambunctious, demanding, crazy, quiet and affectionate but Ruffy and Balat hold a special place in my heart as my best behaved babies. Now that they’re gone,  years after they have given me so much joy, I know I will miss them terribly.

Ruffy is one of the sons of my eldest cat Katie. Ruffy was born in the same batch as Balat, and they share a common trait. Of all Kate’s offspring, these two stand out as the most well behaved of the bunch. Unlike other cats, they wait for their food and eat with a certain grace and hardly engage in any shenanigans that their brothers often involve themselves in.

ALWAYS POISED. Always ready for his close up, Balat was always the epitome of grace

ALWAYS POISED. Always ready for his close up, Balat was always the epitome of grace

For a time, I thought Balat was mute because he hardly ever made a sound, –literally. Throughout his four years, I only heard his meow twice. Balat was distinctive from other cats because he walked like a panther and his stance seemed like he was always posing for a shoot. He was very graceful and reserved, and he was very considerate, a fact that stuck with him until he left for kitty heaven, Balat never complained even when he was already sick. He chose to quietly endure instead of showing me that he was not feeling well.

He passed away last year while I was out of town with my friends. He did not want me to worry so he suffered in silence and died peacefully without me knowing, My brother and Dad found his body under our car. I found out when I got back :(

When Ruffy was little, his mom hid him and Balat from us and placed them on the roof. Being a curious cat, he wandered and fell off. Thus the name Ruffy (I used to spell it roofie but that was how the drug was spelled so I changed it).

MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING. One thing I know is that he loved me as much as I loved him

MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING. One thing I know is that he loved me as much as I loved him

My first bonding moment with Ruffy was over a saucer of milk that I was feeding to Kate (she was sick at the time). Ruffy was trying to stick his face in the milk and I was trying to keep him away from it the whole time. While admittedly, he only got a small taste, he started following me around, a habit that he kept at until he was a full grown cat. Throughout his life, he loved milk.

He was my mom’s favorite and if I were to be completely honest, he was mine too. Ruffy is super sweet and a lap addict. All I had to do was sit in one of the chairs on the terrace and he will sit on my lap (or anyone’s for that matter) a few minutes later, without need for any invitation. We spent many hours sitting around and just staying close and that is one of the things that I will miss most about him. After a stressful day at work, I could always count on a relaxing moment with my baby just sitting quietly at home.

Ruffy liked to be hugged. We would often spend time with me holding him close or stroking his soft fur, his tail wagging in pleasure. In those moments, I knew in my heart that he loved me as much as I loved him. One thing peculiar about my boy though is that no matter how much he likes to be stroked, he doesn’t like to be carried. To this day, I can’t figure out why.

My mom often referred to Ruffy as a decent/classy — the only one in the household who deserved the tag because the rest of the brood behaves like fraternity boys, always getting in trouble, fighting over girls. Not Ruffy. He chose to stay at home in his personal spot and wait for me on the terrace. His hobbies — sleep, groom himself and scratch on a foldable lawn chair he claimed as his own.

Ruffy, in my opinion, is a dog disguised as a cat. He is loyal to the core and would come to the door even before I could unlock it. He would come out to the gate even before my mom’s car rounds the corner. And that is one of the traits that endeared him to us even more.

I loved my babies and I miss them everyday. And I write this piece as a belated memorial to two outstanding furry felines who have made a mark in my life forever. I hope that wherever they are, they are together now and know that their mommy loves them very much.

The 34th Manila Book Fair at the SMX: A bibliophile’s paradise

Manila-International-Book-Fair-2013I missed last year’s Manila International Book Fair and it took me a year to get over it, especially after learning of the great deals that fellow bookworms were able to get at the event. As soon as I heard of its return at the SMX for September 11-15, I cleared my schedule to make sure that I became part of the action this time around.

I went to the book fair alone because everyone that I knew were either a) busy or b) already went to the book fair during the weekday. But as soon as I entered, it didn’t feel like I was alone. Rather, it felt like a homecoming of sorts, to be among people who shared the same excitement about being enclosed in a space lined wall to wall with books.

I must admit though, that I was bit overwhelmed — at first.

WHERE DO I BEGIN? As a first timer in the book expo, I was excited and overhwhelmed by the sea of people and reading materials available at the event.

WHERE DO I BEGIN? As a first timer in the book expo, I was excited and overhwhelmed by the sea of people and reading materials available at the event.

My initial dillema when I initially went in was that  I didn’t know how I was going to navigate the maze of book stalls of distributors, retailers and other specialized publishers. When my friends told me about last year’s book fair, I immediately assumed that the promo items would be free flowing and books that I wanted were going to be immediately accessible whichever way I went. In actuality however, it would take a while to get the complete lay of the land. It took me about 20 minutes to check out where certain types of books were before I finally buckled down to seriously hunt down marked down titles that I wanted. When I started to get the hang of it, it was pure heaven.

The book fair was pretty organized in terms of layout. The religious book stalls were organized in one area along with the inspirational and self help books of literature. There was even one stall that featured books from local authors, all brand new and all for the price of P100. I bought five books from said stall. I also checked out the National Bookstore stall where most of the stuff were 20 percent off. The Fully Booked stall was bigger but proved to be more difficult to navigate than the former. It seemed like two branches of the book retailers were inside the expo. The collection was that extensive. There were also travel books on sale that originally sold for over P900 but were on sale for less than P300. I lucked out and got a Lonely Planet guide to Beijing for P75. There were also bestsellers that sold for P99 each. I quickly nabbed a couple of them.

What really struck me was actually the Learning is  Fun booth where Children’s Book titles and activity books were being sold for a fraction of their original price. I got gifts for my nieces and godchildren for only over P100. The items were originally priced at over P300 in local bookstores so it was a total steal.

There were even authors scheduled to sign books purchased during the event, and there were prizes raffled off in most of the booths.

All in all,  I thought that the best thing about the book fair was the general air of excitement among the attendees. The opportunity to find books on sale makes these literary materials accessible to bookworms, parents and children alike. This not only advances the advocacy to continue reading, but also gives book lovers an opportunity  to add to their collections and spend hours curled up with words from their favorite writers. At the end of the day, I left the expo with my pockets a little lighter, my mood brighter, looking forward to the next book extravaganza. By then, I think I will be more prepared and more experienced in getting the best out of the book expo, hopefully this time accompanied by a friend with similar tastes.