Moving on from Manny’s loss


I would like to begin with a disclaimer. These are all just my thoughts post match and in no way a professional analysis.

It was the hype that ruined it all.

After the Mayweather-PacMan fight yesterday, Filipinos mourned the loss of Filipino boxing champ via unanimous decision. Of course, being the social media capital of the world (or close to it), netizens took their frustrations out in social media, poking fun at Mayweather’s game plan of dodging Manny’s punches and running around the ring to evade Manny’s attempts to corner him. Technically speaking though, clinching is legal and there’s nothing in the rule book that states that a boxer is required to stay put and slug it out with his opponent.

In short, Mayweather played it smart. He used strategy and used every advantage he had over Manny. He used his height and reach advantage to sneak in punches against the People’s champ and easily avoid his counter punches. He used the clinch to buy time and make Manny lose momentum. In Filipino, may konting gulang. But not enough to say that he didn’t win fair and square.

Floyd won the fight, fair and square. And if fans watched him in his previous matches, they would not expect any other game plan from Mayweather. He has always been very cerebral and calculating, so much so that he screens his opponents even before he agrees to a match, gauging their ability against his in order to determine whether or not they are a serious threat to his undefeated record.

The negotiations bogged down five years ago because Floyd kept dodging Manny at the peak of his career. But he kept the fans excited by building the rivalry between them through constant trash talking, social media bashing, and it worked. After Manny’s loss to Marquez, Floyd understood that Manny’s skills were not as before and that made him a viable opponent. Understand, that the Manny of 2010 was far different from the Manny of today. Let’s face it. Age has a way of catching up with even the most extraordinary of athletes and Manny is no exception.

Floyd is going through the same thing. He understands that and he has used his calculating brain to ensure that he will be able to spend his retirement in luxury. Thus, the MayPac bout.

Saying that fans were disappointed over the match would be an understatement. Manny explained that he had a nasty shoulder injury but that’s just one factor in the match.

As a fan, I knew that he was totally bummed that Floyd did not engage. He was bummed that he disappointed fans who paid big bucks to buy tickets to the Battle for Greatness, for the fans who purchased Pay per View from Showtime and HBO and countless providers all over the world. But it takes two to tango and Manny’s injury was another setback that prevented a more explosive match. A match that audiences deserved.

So, what’s the worst part of it all? Unfortunately, its not that Manny lost. There was a huge chance for that happening from the beginning. Its not that he did not try because come on, even the most cynical of sports analysts saw how he tried to go after Mayweather at every opportunity.

It was the fact that the match that was expected to revive the sport, may have been the bout that killed it. The match showed that the promoters cared more about the money than the fans and its hard to bounce back from that type of betrayal, especially after these same fans stuck to boxing loyally after its steady decline (due to MMA).

Its not Manny’s fault. Nor was it Floyd’s (because he never pretended otherwise that it was all a business to him). Its because the sport lost fighters that truly cared about the fans. And even if there still are (like Manny), their good intentions are still being overwhelmed by the business side of things where ticket sales are still the priority.

Its a sad, sad day for boxing indeed. Fans could only hope and pray for a return of the glory days with Ali, Leonard, Holyfield, Tyson, Jones and the like. One can always hope.



Feng Shui Essentials for 2015

(Photo by: Myra Abando)

(Photo by: Myra Abando)

Celebrating Chinese New Year has somewhat become part of Filipino tradition. So much so that Filipinos are even the first ones in the supermarkets buying round fruits to bring their homes good luck when this day arrives, even partaking of tikoy (glutinous rice) to promote unity among family members and friends.

The President has even declared the day a holiday owing to the number of the Filipino Chinese community in various parts of the country.

Filipinos have embraced Chinese customs and traditions for the Lunar New Year, and for good reason. Filipinos, like the Chinese share common values like love for family, religiosity and belief in starting the year right to inspire many happy returns.

This is why Pinoys are increasingly fascinated by feng shui, which translates to wind and water – the art of harmonizing one’s life with the elements to encourage positive things in life.

2015 is the year of the wooden goat. According to Feng Shui Master Joseph Chau Kam Shing, the year is filled with both positive and negative elements so it is helpful for believers to sport lucky charms to counteract the negative forces and channel them into positive energy.

In his book Feng Shui Essentials published by the Manila Bulletin Publishing Corp., Master Chau warns people who are born in the years of the goat, ox, rat and dog to be extra careful as they are offending the Tai Suey, or the star opposite Jupiter. While some difficulties await them, all hope is not lost as there are means to protect them from the negative elements.

Those born under the dragon (wood, gold), goat (metal), ox (water, earth) and dog (water) signs are also asked to refrain from going to funerals and burials this year.

According to Master Chau, the Master Protection Pendant should be worn by those who are born in the year of the rat, horse, rabbit, and ox and people whose surname are beginning in C, M, N, K, S and Y in order to counter the negative energy surrounding them this year. He says this is one of the best all round ways to remove bad luck, conflict and accidents.

For travelers, he advised the Safety Medallion to avoid road mishaps, and avoid evil spirits.

Females are in need of the Health Medallion this year because of the prevalence of the Serious Sickness Star in the Southeast. Master Chau advises women to carry the medallion in their wallets or put one in the Southeast area of their homes, bedrooms or offices.

Master Chau shares a variety of charms to enhance money luck this year. First, there is the Wealth Bucket, which symbolizes steady wealth and prosperity to the bearer. This item should be placed in one’s safety box, house or office to ensure stable income.

There is also the classic Jade Pei Yau, which is considered a money catcher. This animal is said to have a voracious appetite for money and encourages money to flow freely into the home.

For those having trouble collecting a debt, the Pay Back Collection Set may prove to be helpful. As part of the Financial Acquisition of Treasure (FAT) charm, this helps people collect on debts owed to them in the past.

The Trend Eight Antique Coins, on the other hand, should be placed inside one’s wallet, checkbook, passbook or record book by people having problems collecting on debts or stating out businesses.

For couples, the Brass Happy Couple encourages partners to have a faithful and harmonious relationship while theBrass Antique Pumpkin, which has carvings depicting long life, conjugal bliss, wealth and other positive relationship traits help couples have good luck and smooth sailing relationships.

The Jade Mandarin Ducks on Plate also depict harmonious relationships which usher in prosperity.

Career, Studies
The Jade Dragonhead Fish or pendant is one the most effective lucky charms for those who are starting out in their careers or needing help with their studies. A caveat is that the jade needs to be of good quality for it to be effective. ACicada charm on the other hand, helps children concentrate on their studies.

All the charms should be energized and blessed by a qualified person so that the positive chi within the ornaments will be activated. If not, the items will not serve its purpose and will only be decorative, Master Chau concludes.

This post was also published on cineramaetcetera’s partner bog Unli in the Philippines.

Liebster Award

liebsterFirst and foremost, I would like to thank Dave from 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:


First of all, I would like to give a shoutout to 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 (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


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:

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. (

UNLIKELY ALLIES. Elphie and Galinda strike up an uncanny friendship. (

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


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.