felix felicis

felix felicis: January 2013

Thursday, January 31, 2013


I’m trying to revise my first presentation/report in class. The ideas were all there but I’m having a hard time organizing them. Gaaaah. Huhuhu. This is too much.

I need to do this. Kamown! Remember, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. Lezzdothis!

Playing in the background: One Republic’s Marching On.

#throwbackThursdays #tamadThursdays

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Walking on sunshine. And lahar.

We conquered Pinatubo! Wuhooo! \m/

It’s no easy feat, I must say. It zapped all the energy in me that Sunday morning. Gaaah. My legs and shoulders (because I had a backpack) were burning with pain right after we descended from the Mountains of Doom-esque lahar landscape.

I thought that the best thing from that trip was getting at Pinatubo’s crater and seeing its wondrous glory, but it’s not. It was beautiful and picturesque—I can’t imagine how it destroyed a lot of lives in 1991 when it released all its fury. But I guess that better experience I gained from that whole trekking thing was “the climb” itself. No Miley Cyrus song in the background. All I had was my backpack and a bottle of mineral water but I’m still good to go. I just loved how the boulders of rocks, the arid vastness of the place and the whole backpacker peg made me feel so adventurous and brave that day. Merida without her bow and arrow. Hahaha! I have yet to assemble and edit the videos I had that day so I guess the photos below might suffice for now.

Before that, you may want to consider going there too. My friends and I contacted a travel agency and availed their 10-person package. Each of us paid PhP1999 which included van transfers (Manila- Capas, Tarlac- Manila), and payment for the necessary trek permits and documents. You can choose to bring your own lunch or eat at the canteen at the town. They serve Filipino (PhP250/person) and Korean (PhP350/person) food. There’s also a spa there, if you want to relax. I think it costs around PhP500-750. I’m not so sure.

One last thing. The ATV ride from Brgy. Sta. Juliana to the starting point of the trek takes an hour and thirty minutes. From there, backpackers would have to walk for two hours or more (depends on how many pictures with the rocks you’ll take hehehehe) until you reach the foot of the peak. Yes, it doesn’t stop there. You’ll still have to trek for 15 to 20 minutes to get to the top. That’s where the “park” is. If you wanna get close to the lake, you’ll go down again to the crater. There. The point? Bring your lunch with you. Hahaha. And well, enjoy the whole thing! More photos are posted on my photoblog (click here)

Bring out the coins.

Timba at tabo.
Welcome sign. Plus segway photo ni Mayor. Hehehe.

ATVs all lined up.
Team A. Napuwing yung isa jan. Injured agad. Hahaha.

Team B. The musical team. Hahaha.
Alam na kung sinong injured.

Hitting the road with this one.
Friends. :)

127 Hours peg.

Ali Peak. Chebs.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Final Thoughts on the MMFF (for now)

I’m wrapping all my reviews for the remaining films in this blog post. Hahaha. It’s not because they’re not worthy of a separate space in my blog but because I felt I’m already late in posting my thoughts. As said in previous blog posts, the opportunity to watch this year’s MMFF entries were courtesy of complimentary tickets from the MMDA. Had they not given those as Christmas gifts to our organization, I might not have the luxury to pay 180 bucks or much more to watch these movies. Anyhoo, here’s a briefer version of my film reviews (arranged in order of viewing):

The Strangers is directed by Lawrence Fajardo
(Photo from www.dweetbox.blogspot.com)
The Strangers
I guess this was my first time to watch a horror film in a movie house. I’m not a fan so I don’t really spend bucks for such. The Strangers succeeds in building up terror in its first half. In the first scene, Enchong Dee and his wife are attacked by a strange creature. The screen blacks out and next we get to see Julia Montes and Enrique Gil as twins Pat and Max who’ll be celebrating their 18th birthday with family—Cherry Pie Picache is their mother, Johnny Revilla is their father and Jaime Fabregas is their grandfather. Janice de Belen plays Paloma, their grandfather’s superstitious caregiver. As soon as they blow their birthday cake, the family continues on a journey to the town of Murcia. Along the way, a series of creepy events would ensue prompting the family to stay in the middle of the forest with a group of townsfolk. Meanwhile, we see again Enchong Dee, this time he has an unusual crop of hair around his mouth. Creepier things happen and by the time the second half of the movie is shown, we already know what’s going to happen. The twist in the end may probably be good, but I felt that it took a lot of time for the director to build it up on the whole course of the movie.

In terms of effects, I like how the movie was able to establish an eerie feeling on its scenes especially those inside the forest. There were efforts to make the strange creatures look believable but it wasn’t really that good. With our love for horror films, I think this is where we should invest much on—using visual technology to create believable creatures or effects integral to elevating the movies we craft.

2 out of 5 stars.

Shake, Rattle and Roll 14: The Invasion
SRR 14 is directed by Chito S. Rono
(Photo from Star Mo Meter)
From the title we get the idea that this is the 14th installment of Regal Films’ SRR franchise. Seriously, we bought this one for that long. Ok, to be fair, previous SRR mini-movies shown during the 90s were quite ok and had succeeded in scaring the wits out of us. But the more recent installments were just plain money-making schemes. Well, ok, there may be a good episode, but seriously, just admit it. Anyway, let’s get to the movie.

The first episode reunites Regal babies Herbert Bautista (yes, the Quezon City Mayor who’s gunning for a re-election where he has greater chances of sealing a win), Nadia Montenegro and Janice de Belen as siblings who recently lost an estranged uncle who was a writer for horror comics. His butler played by Lou Veloso (yes again, he’s a former city councilor of Manila who’ll be Mayor Lim’s running mate) entrusted to them a chest full of horror comics which they have to take care of lest misfortune happen to them. Sure enough, a series of unfortunate events happen until they all converge inside their uncle’s haunted mansion. A lot more would happen inside until one of them escapes. Who is it; you’ll find out if you watch. Hahaha.

The second episode features a group of handsome soldiers (Dennis Trillo, Paulo Avelino, JC Tiuseco, AJ Dee, et al) in their quest to quell rebellion in an undisclosed territory. Their mission would then turn into a wild goose chase when several of their members were abducted, including their platoon leader who’s a Padilla (evident from his voice and kuba stance). In the middle of the forest they meet a small community of mothers and their children who strangely have no adult male population. Apparently, they were also abducted by a group of men calling themselves the Lost Command. The next scenes would show us what happened to the abducted men—it was an attempt to depict the horrors of war waged and the effects it has on the soldiers and the communities they were asked to raid. It has a shed of inspiration from zombie-themed movies which is quite ok.

The final episode was a clear reference to the Mayan prediction of the world’s impending end. We see Vhong Navarro and Lovi Poe as lovers who are about to meet the guy’s parents for a dinner when everything just crushes and blacks out. On the next scenes we see other survivors who end up dying from alien invaders. Only the lovers remain in the end where they get to talk to the chief alien who tells them they were chosen to recreate the Earth. Sorry, I was able to spill the whole plot but yeah, that’s just how it goes. They end up cloaked in alien outfit.

Of the three, I liked the first episode most because it was able to establish a relatively stronger story than that of the others. Its cast was also relatively better than the two so there. I felt that the plots were regressive in terms of development—it diminishes from one episode to another, we end up seeing a “chaka” final episode.

2 out of 5 stars.

Sosy Problems is directed by Andoy Ranay
(Photo from Wikipedia)
Sosy Problems
Sosy Problems is GMA Films entry for MMFF 2012. I wasn’t able to watch its trailer because I felt it would just be a lame parody of Sex and the City or whatever Hollywood that featured rich, spoiled, brat girls who after a series of events would emerge as better women. Actually, that was how the movie would go about. The plot was kinda predictable but what surprised me was the film’s execution. Rhian Ramos, Heart Evangelista, Solenn Heusaff and Bianca King star as the country’s it girls who have everything in life until their favorite hang-out place was bought by nouveau riche Bernice (Mylene Dizon), who intends to convert the polo club into a mall—a yaya mall according to these girls. The term yaya mall as well as a slew of other terms such as konyo, poor, and super duper rich were a bit politically incorrect or inappropriate. For one, konyo is a Spanish swear word (coño) but Filipinos use it to refer to rich kids with slight attitude problems. Hahahaha. But that’s alright because the movie’s saving grace is its strong lead cast. The girls were just like parodying themselves they end up good in their roles. I was laughing the whole time we were inside the theater—the lines were exactly delivered and the funny scenes weren’t “pilit” so to speak. Even the supporting actors were pretty good. The film wasn’t able to cap it off perfectly in the end, though. We hear a narrative telling us what happened to the girls after—different to the film’s premise where Ruffa Guttierez as a TV producer wants to expose the lavish lifestyles enjoyed by these girls. It could have been a better film had this story arc been exploited further, but as said, it was abandoned. But such does not diminish the fun this movie gave me. I think Andoy Ranay is quite successful in crafting an enjoyable movie.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

El Presidente
El Presidente is directed by Mark Meily
(Photo from www.video48.blogspot.com)
The movie is a biopic of former Philippine President General Emilio Aguinaldo. It stars Laguna Governor Jeorge “E.R” Ejercito as Aguinaldo, Nora Aunor, Christopher De Leon,Cesar Montano, Cristine Reyes, Ronnie Lazaro, Baron Geisler and a lot of other names, it almost looked like a reunion of the movie industry’s stars. The movie outlines the rise of General Aguinaldo—from the foretold childhood prophecy about his future as a leader to his gradual rise in the ranks of Katipunan and the presidency of the de facto government against the Spaniards, until the latter days of his life during former President Diosdado Macapagal’s term.  It tried to be historical but I felt it was quite different from the elementary and first year high school Philippine History lessons we had. In the movie, Katipunan’s Supremo, Andres Bonifacio (Montano) was painted as the thorn of the revolutionary government while General Miong was the true hero of the botched revolution.

I really wouldn’t believe such depiction hence my general dislike for the film. I was particularly disturbed to see DepEd’s logo flashed during the movie credits—does this mean they allowed such a film to be released? I mean, it altered history, hello. Ok, it maybe a plausible argument that the film was purely based on the General’s memoirs hence the bias towards him and against Bonifacio. But seeing DepEd’s logo there means they’re promoting a film with a biased sense of history—something we wouldn’t want our students to see. We already heard people behind us saying “Ay ganun, masama pala si Bonifacio no,” or “Ganun ba talaga siya? (referring to the lowly Andres)”. Hmmm, I guess DepEd should have looked into this before supporting such a film. Or maybe I’m just a Bonifacio-supporter. Charot.

In terms of visual effects, I think the film was able to achieve quite a feat. There were numerous attempts to suspend action and introduce excitement on the battle scenes by slowing them down. It kinda worked. The locations were also good. Geisler as the cruel Spanish General was believeable but Estregan as the lead man was such a failure. It was clearly a ploy to jumpstart his campaign for the upcoming 2013 midterm elections. Lols.

2.5 out of 5 stars.

Finally, I’m done! I wasn’t able to watch Enteng Kabisote because of time constraints plus I was kinda put off by the reviews I heard from friends. They told me it was a total waste of time—the other movies you could forgive but Enteng “daw” was just too much. I think such comments from the public should serve as a wake-up call for film outfits, the MMDA and the MTRCB to produce really quality films. You see the audience is already maturing—we’re demanding a better form of entertainment and not just some slapstick comedy or heavy dramas that glorify adultery. Seriously, one film is enough, two is just too much. A third or fourth or many more would be poison to our minds. We already had a start with Thy Womb—we mainstreamed indie cinema. It might be created for a different audience (read: the movie has European influence, I guess). Let’s do it again next year, this time with more critical views. I wouldn’t care really if the festival doesn’t get higher sales from showcasing better quality movies—it might be better than being mired into totally low quality ones.

You might also want to read my other reviews:

Contenders for Oscars’ Best Picture up next. J

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Sunday, January 13, 2013

One More Try (Review)

Star Cinema Entry One More Try stars
Angel Locsin, Dingdong Dantes,
Angelica Panganiban and Zanjoe Marudo.
Photo from GMANews TV Online
After seeing the trailers for El Presidente and Thy Womb, I thought of trying out Star Cinema’s melodrama movie for this year’s Metro Manila Film Fest, One More Try. The movie stars Angel Locsin as Grace, a single mother who has a child, Buchoy (Miguel Vergara) afflicted with a rare blood disease. When she found out she’s not a match, she went on to find the child’s estranged father, Edward (Dingdong Dantes)—who, after a few tests, is also not a match. The solution, according to Grace’s blabbermouth ob-gynecologist (Carmina Villaroel), is to conceive another child who would surely be a bone marrow match. Now, another problem ensues—Edward is already married to successful career woman Jacq (Angelica Panganiban) while Grace is engaged to Tristan (Zanjoe Marudo).

Ok, so the movie tries to spark some controversy with their plot—it complicates a situation that can actually be handled easier. For one, Grace should have consulted a pediatrician or a doctor who specializes on blood diseases instead of her talkative ob-gyne. Because they’re experts, they might as well provide better pieces of advice to the worrying mother than Villaroel’s character. But secondly, considering Buchoy’s deteriorating health (which is not really visible in the film except for a scene where he fainted and was brought to the hospital), conceiving and giving birth to another child who would be his donor is quite unbelievable. Just imagine the years it would take for the newborn child to be ready for an operation (see: Abigail Breslin in My Sister’s Keeper). But ok, let’s take the movie as it is.

I felt that the movie dealt more on issues of probable infidelity and the extent of choices people make in order to save another life. It also tried to present several stereotypical differences of women in a typical Philippine setting. We have Jacq who embodies a “modern” Filipina (the term modern is used loosely here)—career-oriented. She’s willing to sacrifice having a child for a better professional track, which she would later on feel guilty about. Grace’s character, on the other hand, provides us a picture of a “traditional” Filipina (again, loosely used). As a single mother, she juggles work and taking care of her sick child; and when she learns of his rare disease, she vows to do everything to save his life even if it means sacrificing a part of herself.

The characterizations presented might be true one way or another—that’s why in the movie, Panganiban’s Jacq is perceived as the kontra bida—she hinders Edward and Grace from conceiving a child even if it means saving another life because she feels it would mean a large crack in their married life. This is especially made problematic when we learn that Jacq had a miscarriage before and Edward partly blames her for it. In one scene when the doctor tells them that the surefire way to cure Buchoy’s rare disease is to have a sibling match, Jacq goes hysterical and says that with their money, they can opt to bring the child to the States and have him cured there. Of course, if that route is followed, the story abruptly ends. So we go to the more thorny recourse—the doctor pushes them to have a child.

I felt that the movie could have been given more grip and emotion if Buchoy’s character suffered more than the usual hospital visits. The child actor was cute but there has to more than the Ibong Adarna storytelling scenes. I guess if this was done, it might have helped in justifying Grace’s predicament as well as Edward’s torn-between-complicated-choices drama. It might have also given Jacq and Tristan something to really think about with regard to the level of sacrifices they have to make for their respective relationships to work. The happy family scene in the end was also quite unbelievable. Not that I don’t believe in reconciliations but seriously, would that really happen? I wouldn’t really know.

As a whole, I felt the movie has its potential despite the over-complicated plot. The first half gives us hope that it might be a relatively good melodramatic film after all. But when on the second half the actors started resorting to cheap lines and campy fights which are staples of typical Pinoy dramas, I was disappointed.

Finally, the issue on the movie’s similarity with a Chinese film was something that provoked debate on the state of the Philippine movie industry. For one, I thought that originality was something Filipinos are capable of. But second, in times that we choose to adapt storylines or base our works on a material that really inspired us, Filipinos should also be capable of admitting such. To be fair, One More Try’s plot was different from the usual infidelity movies film outfits were churning lately (i.e. The Mistress, No Other Woman, etc). It may not be as original as Ishmael Bernal’s Himala or Mario O’Hara’s Tatlong Taong Walang Diyos, but the more important value, I think, that should be upheld when we do adaptations, is to recognize and acknowledge the material’s source. Or maybe it wasn’t copied at all. Maybe director Ruel Bayani and his team of writers did not really know the existence of In Love We Trust. We wouldn’t really know. But one thing’s for sure, it’s a harsh lesson learned for our movie producers and filmmakers out there.  

3 out of 5 stars.

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Thursday, January 10, 2013

2013 Artsy Fartsy Calendar (Free Download)

I know we’re already approaching mid-January and the New Year hype is gradually dying down, but that’s ok. I’m still sharing the calendar I made for myself this year. I usually rely on my phone’s calendar app for dates and appointments but because I felt like desk calendars are more professional-looking and because the calendars I have in my desk last year were totally outdated (i.e. 2010 and 2011, no 2012), I resolved to do one. I customized it to something that would really motivate me. I’m sharing it to everyone who would want to have it. Here’s a sample calendar month. :D Print nyo nalang! J Download the PDF file here. J

Because March is my birthday month! :D

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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Sisteraka (Review)

Sisterakas is Star Cinema's 2012 MMFF Entry. 
Photo from Star Mall Online.
It was a spur-of-the-moment decision to catch Star Cinema’s entry to this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival. So on Friday, the whole troop (that would be me, my siblings and our church mates) flocked SM San Lazaro and braved the long theater cashier queues just to get the 5pm screening of Vice Ganda’s latest comedy. Of course, I used my pass. Hahaha!

Aside from the fact that the movie would gain box-office success mainly because of its star studded cast, I never had any other expectations for the movie itself. I felt that it would be better to enter the movie theater with a blank slate—I might find it entertaining to say the least. I guess it doing so helped. A lot. Hahaha. To be honest, I found the movie amusing to a certain degree. Of course, the whole plot was predictable and there were recycled jokes here and there; but in sum, I felt it was fairly tolerable.

The movie’s plot revolves around half-siblings Totoy Bernice (Vice Ganda) and Dette (Ai Ai Delas Alas) who both lead separate lives. Totoy Bernice lives in an affluent mansion and is the owner of successful fashion apparel, Ponytale. He vows to get richer and eventually take his revenge from his father’s (Epi Quizon) other family for abandoning them and pushing her mother (Gloria Diaz) in the stairs which made her a paraplegic. Detty, on the otherhand, has barely enough income to keep her two daughters (Kathryn Bernardo and Xyriel Manabat) from stopping school. After the small custom apparel shop she’s working in closed, Detty soon finds herself applying as Totoy Bernice’s executive assistant. She eventually gets the position and does everything to impress the coldhearted Bernice. Amid all the hardwork and the eventual small victories Detty achieved, Bernice barely thanked her. Their adventures and misfortunes were made much ~worse (if it really did) by Roselle I-forgot-her-surname (Kris Aquino), owner of Ponytale’s rival fashion apparel company. A series of other events marked by an exchange of lines full of pun and references to each character’s personal lives, campy fights and several product endorsements complete the other half of the film.

Ai Ai Delas Alas is Detty in Sisteraka. Photo from angsawariko.com.
The decision to put Star Cinema’s box-office giants in one comedic movie was both good and bad. For one, it would definitely rake in a huge amount of profit from ticket sales. This was proven in Vice Ganda’s previous movies Petrang Kabayo and Praybeyt Benjamin, with Delas Alas’ successful Tanging Ina franchise in the past MMFFs as well as with Aquino’s horror flicks that had become staples in Pinoy pop culture. The movie’s director, Wenn Deramas, had also been elevated to successful director status mainly because of the profitable franchises he brought to the big screen.

Such accomplishments, however, are put in critical light because most of these movies lack substance, quality and class. The same sharp criticism was thrown at their recent offering—Sisteraka. As said, the movie’s plot was predictable—we’ll know that the characters would fight but would end up happily together in the end. Moreover, the characters portrayed by each actor were never new.

Vice Ganda is always the bad-gay-turned-good the same with his characters in Petrang Kabayo and Praybeyt Benjamin. He has his moments—the scene in his house with Wilma Doesnt where they were served coffee by an old maid in a red dress was golden as well as his wheelchair banter with his godson, Angelo (Daniel Padilla). The rest were either recycled or plain corny.

Aquino’s character would have been ala- Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada or Glenn Close in 101 Dalmatians, if only she did good with it. She was awkward most of the time and the lines she delivered came out cheap-sounding because most of it were uncannily referenced to her personal life.

Delas Alas, on the other hand, gained a better footing compared to her co-stars. She fairly moved her audience to laugh with her adventures and sympathize with her misfortunes. But then again, we realize, it was the same character we saw a few years back—she was still Ina Montecillo of Tanging Ina only this time, she has two daughters compared to a dozen before.

Aside from the recycled characterizations and Aquino being deadweight, I felt the fashion industry backdrop was not given enough justice. Throughout the movie, we’ve never seen even an inch of the glimmer and color that highlight this glamorous industry. Instead, we’re treated to a pseudo-avant garde fashion sense almost similar to the eccentric choices made by eventologist Tessa Prieto-Valdes. I guess the overly-dressed characters were done in an attempt to add comical value to the plot but because it failed, it brought another low blow to the film.

As soon as I stepped out of the theater, the temporary laughs brought by the film subsided and I was left thinking what the movie’s added value was. I wracked my brains but ended up nothing. It wasn’t as trashy as it seemed, but the film’s lack of quality and wit proved a few things: (1) we’ll get bobo when we continue to patronize films that are founded on derogatory jokes, puns about showbiz lifestyle, and a flimsy plot; (2) film outfits would continue to produce films as such if the audience still line up every Christmas Day just to catch them; and (3) it’s a chicken-and-egg dilemma.

The extra cups of rice I had at Mang Inasal that evening filled my empty tummy. I hope the same fulfillment would be given by our local cinema in the coming years. And yes, it's a shame to admit that I watched it for the second time because friends asked me to accompany them. :( 

2 out of 5 stars.

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