felix felicis

felix felicis: November 2011

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The faces you refuse to see

You can look the other way when you see her feed her children out of a trash can
You can pretend that they eat three square meals and happily live in poverty

Too bad you cannot know a mother's anguish when she loses her child to an illness

Or when she gives him away because she cannot feed him

You can question the figures

You can deny the causes of their death

But you cannot bring back the life of a woman who bleeds to death

You cannot hide the pain of a family who just lost their mother

These are the faces of the women who know

They and the women who have died are the data you choose to ignore

When will you see their faces?

When will you listen to their stories?

*The poem/speech was written by Sen. Pia Cayetano. I first heard it from Dr. Esperanza Cabral, former Health Secretary, when she delivered a lecture on Investing in Human Capital through Reproductive Health. This was during our 3rd Cities Convention last 18 Nov.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Breaking Dawn reviewed

After capping our City Tour and enduring a grueling traffic in EDSA, Ate Ann, Ate Fina and I decided to catch the latest installment on the Twilight Series-- Breaking Dawn. We were scheduled to watch The Sound of Music at Resorts World Manila, but because we left Valenzuela City at around 6pm and because the roads weren't cooperating we opted to go for Breaking Dawn. Not that they're of the same level of likability and all but you know, we need a feel-good movie to ease the pent-up stress from the recently concluded Convention. And true enough, we felt good after. When we got to Trinoma, we felt like the whole metro's celebrating with us-- there were fireworks everywhere and people are happily jostling around. Plus there's the greenlight sale. Hahaha. However, Trinoma's moviehouses weren't much cooperative. All the seven moviehouses were jampacked. So we decided to move to The Block and much to our delight (yes, delight. ugh), the queue is not like a long and winding road. Hahaha. After purchasing the tickets, we decided to grab something to eat before going inside. And then, movie time na. 

So what did I think of Breaking Dawn?

Ok so this is German. Picture grab= FAIL. Pfft.
I think the movie fulfilled the basic expectations I had when I read the series. I mean, it has a very predictable and common plot-- heaven and earth romance which is against all the odds, they fight to the death for it (pun intended) and eventually they triumph in the end. Also, unlike other books-turned-into-movies, I think Twilight was able to replicate it better. Partly because the direction was good enough but mostly because the storyline is relatively easier to adapt compared to Harry Potter and Hunger Games. 

The movie was split into two parts. The first installment would revolve around Bella's and Edward's wedding, their honeymoon and Bella's unexpected pregnancy. It will also provide viewers with a glimpse of Jacob's imprinting on Renesmee. Objectively speaking (since I'm not a fan of these blood-sucking creatures), I think the effects were good enough. The digital emaciation of Bella during her pregnancy was believable and the Cullens' make-up were better off now compared to their appearances in other movie franchises. Also, their locations were really nice. It lives up to the romantic feel of the movie. The soundtrack was also good. It was like watching a video montage with bluesy music on the background. Hahaha. However, despite the actors' and actresses' glittery status in the Hollywood scene, I think they still weren't able to deliver on their roles that much. Their acting was okay, nothing spectacular about it. Also, the script was really cheesy and all. I think, these defines the movie-- the acting and the script.

Ok, so I'm really not a fan so why write a review at all. Why not? I think the movie deserves a review from non-fans, much like the other movies showing on screens. It presents a better view on things. You know, balance. Hahahaha. 

As a final note, I believe Breaking Dawn Part 1 should be watched at home. For non-fans, that is. Or well, you could watch it on moviehouses if you're with friends so you could laugh about it in the end. Hahaha. I'm really mean I know. Hahahaha. In my humble opinion, Twilight's some sort of a masochistic novel. Who would risk her life, her family and friends just to be with a believed-to-be-dead person? Who would want to be stuck at an 18-year-old image forever? Well, maybe there are some. But really, it's just sick and saddening to know.

PS: Mejo kadur yung "hemoglobin smoothie" ni Bella. Hahahaha.

PS2: Funny yung soundbites from other members of the audience. Haha. One viewer was telling his friend that Renesmee is a psychic. Then, there's this other group who talked about the titles of the series' books. There was Half Moon and Dawn Watch. I was like WTH. Hahahaha.

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

For other more substantive reviews, check the following:

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post-Convention kemelars

Last Saberday (November 19), we capped our 3rd Philippine Cities Global Convention and Exposition or simply the Convention. Hahaha. The 3-day Convention really sapped all my powers and addled my brain cells. But all in all, it was still a fun activity. To be fair, it is but proper to provide my personal evaluation of our Convention, here they are:

1. It was a logistical nightmare. Ok, so I was never part of the initial team that decided the venue of our Convention since I entered LCP by August and they were already a fourth on the planning and preparations stage and also, our team was concerned with the substance of the Convention. This is viewed on a third person POV. I think, as an events organizer, it should be of primary concern to have a conducive venue-- one that is functional, practical and affordable. Also, it should be away from as much distraction as it could. Choosing Resorts World Manila may live up to the "Global" theme of the Convention since its a first-class hotel and is very accessible to the airport terminals, however, it fails on the categories of functionality and affordability. The complex requires too much walking (not that I hate walking but it is really a hassle for all the delegates) plus it presents too much distraction (i.e. boutiques, shops, cafes, bars and CASINO!). Also, RWM, being first-class, is too pricey for an event organized by a non-profit org. But maybe, I dunno, why not nalang. Hahaha.  
2. We had a lot of programme boo-boos. We had to extend our time allocations for each speaker and/or number. Also, we had to cut some Q and A's for most of the breakout sessions so as to give way to other speakers/ activities in line. Also, we don't have enough leeway to extend as this would result to another tranche of payment. Gah. There was also this incident that the Hotel would have to shut the aircon so we'll be forced to leave. Yeah, we're really forced to do so, at the expense of our speakers who were sweating profusely while discussing their presentations. Talk about manners. While, we can understand their reasons that they still have to prepare for the next event scheduled in their Grand Ballroom, shutting down the aircon would just make matters worst. You could have talked to our principals, instead.   
3. Despite these logistical nightmares and programme boo-boos, the whole Convention still exceeds expectations or at least meets it because of the high-level discussions it spawned and the interactions it brought to life. The speakers were really great, we learned a lot from them. Also, their presentations are of good quality. Participants were also enthusiastic to discuss these new ideas and replicate best practices during several Q and A's. Some discussions also made room for future policy decisions and programs for each local government. Both the local and foreign speakers were really good. There was an intelligent discussion between and among the delegates and the partners present. This actually saved the Convention. Hahaha. Well, that's on my opinion. :)   
4. The Exposition was also vibrant and ~alive. Hahaha. The first and last time we entered it (during the Closing Ceremonies), we were amazed with how the cities really propped up their booths. They even have flat TV's that showcase the best you can experience from their areas. There were also various local merchandises that were sold during the exposition.    
5. The City Tour was full of wonderful and insightful best practices. We visited Paranaque, Pasay and Valenzuela and listened to their simple lectures on their acclaimed best practices. I personally like Paranaque's peer-to-peer adolescent RH  education. In their program, former drug addicts, drinkers, smokers and those who engaged early in sexual activities would teach their fellow youngsters to avoid these vices. The city government, in partnership with their local parish and other non-government orgs, are spearheading such program. Currently, adolescents who undergo the program have been spared from these vices and instead turn to better activities. With full support from Mayor Jun Bernabe, the kids were really bent towards making this practice a complete youth empowerment program for other cities. In Pasay, Mayor Calixto is going for more services for the urban poor. As part of the FACES program, Pasay was able to educate their urban slum dwellers on urban agriculture. He also embarked on contructing a medium rise bldg for 150 families living on the dilapidated Hankins compound. Finally, our last stop was Valenzuela City. The mayor's staff toured us inside the newly contructed City Hall. Mayor Win's commitment to eradicate corruption and promote good local governance was very much evident on the whole City Hall Complex. The walls are made of glass so as to see people working; their BPLO was located on the first floor for better access and the whole complex is digitally wired. They are very much dependent on information technology which is really a good thing.

The whole Convention was a "blast" (Castro, eternity). We had our share of sleepless nights and lunchless days. We also had to bring the printer and a box of colored ink plus our laptops from Newport Theater to Marriott Hotel's Grand Ballroom which is like  toooo far. Parang PUP Main to Sarmiento Sports Complex in Teresa. Hahaha. But what I enjoyed most where the times we had to do extra tasks as a unit, it brought us closer. Well, in my opinion. Hahaha. And because our brain cells were addled, we also had our  own share of sabaw moments. Kuya Paulie sang a medley of Sound of Music songs. Ate Ann fell asleep on the meeting room couch. Ate Fina sang while we do cut-outs/ cue cards and it was like listening to I-cannot-explain-yah-know. Hahaha. Kuya Third was bickering with our co-organizer. Ate Vi thought her malong was a scarf. Hahahaha. Kuya Alvin asked Kuya Paulie what's a "chaffeur" and I replied, "chauffeur bass". Really now. Hahaha.

We even had a tally of "Ramona's" Battle BidaMan moments. It reached 25 ata. Haha. She hasn't really contributed that much, she even added to the problem. But oh well, hayaan na naten ang "the one that got away (Perry, 2011)."

Anyways, Ate Ann, Ate Fina and I spent our Saturday night at The Block to catch the latest installment of the Twilight Series. And we all lived happily ever after. 

PS: Pictures will be posted soon. And review on Breaking Dawn's right here. Hahaha.

Disclaimer: This is my personal take on the Convention. There's no intent to offend anyone. Anyways, for more details on the LCP Convention, please visit www.lcp.org.ph. The presentations of the plenary and breakout speakers can also be downloaded there. Thanks!

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Tuesday, November 8, 2011

on baking and gaining new heights

Before the month of November kicked off, I decided to take on a baking course-- at home. I was thinking of taking formal classes either in Tesda or some fancy baking school in the Metro but I can't find one which will fit my schedule. So, I asked my mother and cousin if they could teach me the basics and they happily agreed to take me in as their student. The ~informal classes started on October 30 and my first lesson was making puto!

I thought it was just that easy. But it's kinda difficult especially the mixing part. But it's more of a fun activity than a tiring one. The best part is seeing the finished product right in front of your eyes! It's just happy and fulfilling. Hahaha. My first batch of putos were some sort of a fail. Hahaha. We thought sobra siya sa itlog and kulang sa water so the texture was too compact and heavy sa tiyan. Hahaha. Busog agad lahat sa bahay. The taste, according to my father and siblings (syempre sila yung taste testers) is okay. The cheese on top enhanced the flavor so that's a plus point. We decided to improve our puto recipe-- the Goldilocks puto being the standard. I'm gonna do another batch prolly this coming Saturday and this time I hope it's better.

Meanwhile, I think I'm starting to like the idea of me baking pastries like muffins and cupcakes. It's really an achievement for me to be able to whip something delicious and special at the same time. Yesterday, I was able to perfect my no-bake blueberry cheesecake recipe-- the crust was thick enough and the cheesecake was really good-tasting. The whole family loved it. Hahaha. This is happiness! What's another plus factor is that I'm learning new things and gaining new experiences which is fun to share.

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Taare Zameen Par (Like Stars on Earth- 2008)

Last night, the whole family watched Aamir Khan's Taare Zameen Par (which is actually my second time). This was the second Aamir Khan- starred Indian movie we viewed, the first being Three Idiots. It's a story of friendship, school life and living up for your dreams. Despite 3 Idiot's three-hour running time, we enjoyed the story as well as the song-and-dance routines interspersed with every important scene. My favorite was the All is Well song sung by the whole studentry all around the campus (even inside the shower areas, hahaha). And may I add that I have a crush on Aamir (he's already 40 and he's married, IDC). Hahaha. 

Anyway, off to Taare.

Taare Zameen Par, Like Stars on Earth in English, is released on 2008 and is produced and directed by famous Bollywood actor Aamir Khan. The story revolves around an eight year-old boy named Ishaan Awasthi who finds the whole idea of studying tedious. He has difficulty reading letters, spelling words and solving math problems. His father believes such as an attitude problem so against his wife's approval, he sent Ishaan to a boy's boarding school, away from the whole family. Ishaan finds it hard to adjust in his new environment-- he still flunks exams and his handwriting still wouldn't improve. Because of loneliness, Ishaan loses the motivation to paint (painting is his hobby, the only field where he excels). When temporary Art Teacher, Ram Shankar Nikumbh observed his lack of participation in class activities, he takes interest in him, eventually discovering he has dyslexia. Seeing Ishaan's paintings after visiting his parents to tell them of his dyslexia, Nikumbh made every effort to teach him math, language and spelling. Their journey towards learning would then take its course throughout the rest of the movie. Finally, there's somebody who took the cudgels of responsibility and extra care to a special boy like Ishaan.

Ishaan's Painting
The movie's storyline is simple and easy to understand. However, the way it was portrayed by the actors, especially Ishaan, tugs one's heartstrings. There's a balance between the funny scenes of Ishaan fooling around and scenes where one couldn't help but shed a tear. Ishaan is a very likeable character, he is special and vulnerable, very much like every child around us. When the whole family watched it, my mother remembered how she struggled teaching my youngest brother. He finds reading and writing too tiresome; he even told Mama "tinatamad siya." Although he was not a dyslexic, still the effort to encourage a child to learn is really hardwork; what more for those parents who do not even understand their child sees the letters in their books "dancing"?

The movie also tackles themes on student competition, comparisons between a better sibling and a weaker one and being good on various fields of expertise. In the movie, Ishaan's elder brother Yohan is good at almost every subject. He is even a varsity tennis player and a member of their school's drama club. While Yohan is a nice brother to Ishaan, his teachers would still compare him and make him see how excellent his brother is (as if he's a low-lying life form). 

Ram Nikumbh's Painting
However, the bigger picture that the movie's trying to paint is how a parent's coercion for their children to excel affects their perspectives. I believe it can be both positive and negative. Parents can encourage their children to study because really it is for their future. They have every right to tell their children how important an education is and even motivate them to get better grades. But using derogatory language or shouting at children, telling them they're idiots or duffers or whatever is way below the belt. Ishaan's father in the movie does some of that. He thinks that Ishaan's dyslexia is just an attitude problem. To be fair, he never knew about it in the first place, until Nikumbh tells them, which is quite forgivable. But when he belittled Ishaan's artistic skills and told his teacher that it wouldn't get him anywhere in the real world is harsh in a sense. I believe that parents should be their child's support group-- they should encourage their children in every field of expertise they choose-- be it art, music, math or even cooking and baking. I mean they can make exceptions like drugs or other vices, but really that's discernible so never mind.  

The movie teaches parents to accept their children because no matter how extraordinary or lowly they are, they're still special in their own ways. They're God's gifts so they must be taken care of. In the absence of his parents' TLC, Ishaan finds love from his art teacher, Nikumbh, who took every effort to make him feel better. 

In the end, I think the movie was able to accomplish its goal. The audience would be able to feel the movie's fun and warmth at the same time. Also, the musical scores and cinematic shots are nice (I really dunno how to review a movie's technicalities. Hahaha). It's really a must-watch. 

5 out of 5 stars

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