felix felicis

felix felicis: January 2014

Monday, January 27, 2014

Endorphins X Serotonin

The resumption of classes had been both good and overwhelming. It’s good because there is enough distraction from bad politics brewing just about anywhere. Of course, the change from fiction reading to more academic and scholarly articles makes it quite overwhelming. Hahaha! Don’t worry; it’s better than doing nothing, so I’m going forth! Char.

Speaking of school and pressure, there’s no better way of chilling and getting some good vibes than watching good TV series. After marathon-ing the first two seasons of Suits, I’m half-way done with the Asian series called Hormones. It was created and produced by GTH Channel from Thailand and is directed by Songyos Sugmakanan (he made a movie of the same title in 2008). The 14-episode series has recently finished its first run and has been renewed for a second season.

The series tackles different issues that beset Thai teenagers: from the usual teenage concerns of making and choosing friends, maintaining academic standings, and occasional bullying, to more complex issues such as getting into vices (i.e. drinking alcohol, smoking), premarital sex, adolescent relationships, and sexuality. The themes may sound familiar to Filipino audiences used to Sunday afternoon teenage dramas that found its niche during the late 90’s to early 2000s (read: TGIS, Tabing Ilog, Click, G-Mik). But it’s quite new in Thailand; primarily because the country projects a conservative attitude towards these more “provocative” themes, which is also the reason why most of them are considered taboo. You’ll notice that when you get to see blurred images of cigarettes and alcoholic drinks throughout the series. In short, Hormones is halfway between the more daring Skins UK and teeny-bopper Filipino teenage series. Hahaha.

No full reviews yet since I still have two episodes to watch. If you are interested or just curious, here’s the Youtube link forHormones with English subtitles. The subs are mostly broken English but you’ll get the story anyway. It also has an impressive soundtrack, even if I don’t understand Thai. Hehehehe. I promise to learn to speak, read and write it in the near future. Hahahaha! Here’s a sample:

Enjoy! J

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Friday, January 24, 2014


Relatively tiring days should be capped off by good food. So when my parents told me they can swing by Eastwood to fetch me, I prodded them into trying Shifu—a semi-hole in the wall restaurant serving Chinese food at Gilmore. Just in time for my rumbling stomach. J

Their yang chow is good for four to five persons depending on the degree of hunger. Adding chili sauce to this dish would add spice, enough to make you go for another round of eating. Haha! I think I had four servings. Mini-servings just so you won’t accuse me of being a pig. Hahaha!

I failed to take "before" photos of the food because I was too hungry. Sorry, I only got these from my camera phone. Hahaha! The 3-egg polonchay was good but sorry no pictures for that one. Haha!

After the meal, we ate our favorite Korean ice cream. Enchooo!

If you’re looking for cheap and good food, head over to Shifu. If you’re coming from Aurora Boulevard, go to Gilmore Street, the side where most PC thingies are sold. It’s a few blocks from the gas station on your right. Same side of the Persian Grill Resto.  Enjoy! J

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Thursday, January 16, 2014

2013 MMFF Thoughts (Part 2)

Here’s the second half of the reviews. Thank you MMDA for the discounted tickets. :D

Boy Golden: The Arturo Porcuna Story 

 Directed by: Chito Rono
(Jorge E.R. Estregan, KC Concepcion, John Estrada, Baron Geisler, Eddie Garcia)

The decision to watch a movie with Estregan as the lead star was a slightly tough decision to make. Last year, I was made to endure almost three hours inside the cinema watching him twitch his face to portray General Emilio Aguinaldo. The movie boasts of a stellar cast with credible acting abilities, but Estregan just has to be the lead. Because he produced it? I dunno.

The same was done in Boy Golden. This year, Estregan’s entry to the MMFF was directed by Chito Rono and his leading lady is KC Concepcion. It is the story of one of Tondo’s notorious gang leaders, Arturo “Boy Golden” Porcuna and his quest to exact revenge from an equally villainous gang leader, Razon (John Estrada). Concepcion plays Marlady, a bar dancer, who by some twist of fate finds Boy Golden and together they pursue their bloody quest.

The plot is simple and the vivid cinematography was something to look forward to. It was also fun to watch because of the Elvis dance sequences. I felt that such sequences were able to balance the gruesome murders that also figured in the movie. But it suffered primarily by the decision of their executives to add unnecessary subplots and frames (the movie is two hours and fifteen minutes long). There was a sequence where Marlady gets to show off her martial art skills against a lady in a Japanese costume. It was ok at first but because it lasted almost five minutes, it became boring. Don't get me wrong, I liked Concepcion's portrayal here. Her character as a women seeking to exact revenge from the man who abused her gave the story a solid anchor. Quite solid than Boy Golden's quest, really. The script and even its delivery could have also been improved. There were lines which are “meh.” The bottom line really is for Estregan to refrain from taking the lead role and stick to just producing them instead. Seriously, it’ll do us enough good. J

3 out of 5 stars.

Pagpag: Siyam na Buhay 

Directed by: Frasco Mortiz
(Daniel Padilla, Kathryn Bernardo, Paulo Avelino, Shaina Magdayao, Matet de Leon)

In the tradition of MMFFs, horror movies have been staple offerings for the yearly festivities. One good thing was that they stopped churning Shake, Rattle and Roll X. This year, Star Cinema and Regal Films jointly produced Pagpag which stars the popular KathNiel love team. I’m not a fan of horror movies so it was only when a friend asked me to watch the film with him that I agreed.

The movie was based on the superstitious belief that a person should never go home directly after visiting a wake or a funeral to prevent the risk of bringing home evil spirits. The usual practice is to shake off (pagpag) the spirit or whatever curses it may have brought before going home. But of course, the lead character does not believe in such—Leni (Kathryn Bernardo) was asked to arrange the wake of Roman (Paulo Avelino), who happens to be the public’s number one enemy because of several evil legends attached to him. Cedric (Daniel Padilla) and his friends, after a night of hanging out, passed by the funeral place and soon they were violating superstitious beliefs, according to Eva (Matet de Leon), Roman’s sister-in-law. A few days after leaving the place, a series of strange deaths plague them and soon Leni and Cedric would have to find a way to stop the bad omens from further taking the lives of other people.

It is obvious that the movie has parallelisms to Hollywood’s Final Destination Series but the use of Filipino superstitious beliefs gives it a fresh take on horror. What I think should merit improvement is on how the story was developed, particularly on how the deaths (Spoiler alert: Many will die. Lelz) took place. I felt that it could have been more believable had the spirit only revealed himself to scare the characters and cause their own death instead of letting him do the malevolence. Anyway, the movie succeeded in delivering scare tactics to their willing audience. That’s good enough. And yes, Daniel Padilla was not singing so he’s not annoying. Hahaha!

3.5 out of 5 stars.

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

2013 MMFF Thoughts (Part 1)

This is a late entry but I’ll post in anyway. Before the Oscars race, I’m giving a quick review on the MMFF entries I was able to catch during the holidays.

My Little Bossings  

Directed by: Marlon Rivera
(Vic Sotto, Kris Aquino, Jaclyn Jose, Aiza Seguerra, Ryzza Mae Dizon, Bimby Aquino-Yap)
There’s so much buzz on this movie—both good and bad. The first week of the year was even marked by a flurry of open letters addressed to either Bossing Vic Sotto, his critics or his semi-apologists (semi because they categorically deny they’re not fans or whatever but they’re posting a letter to rebut or make ad hominem attacks on the movie’s harsher critics hahaha!). The movie made such an ~impact on our daily lives, so when Kris (one of the leads slash producers) admitted she and Vice Ganda had a minor falling off due to the film festivals’ tight competition, it made headlines. I’m like, WTF.

So what was the movie about? Because of a vast pyramiding scam pinned on her name, Aquino’s character was forced to let her son (Bimby Aquino-Yap) temporarily live with her accountant, Torky (Sotto), until the issue is resolved. The plot gets a bit ~complex when Torky would have to live with his estranged daughter, Ice (Aiza Seguerra) and a new kid (Ryzza Mae Dizon) she adopted. Then of course, the story is not complete without a villain—that’s Aquino’s scheming sister, Jaclyn Jose, and her henchmen, Jose Manalo and Paolo Ballesteros. We already know that it’s going to be riotous and filled with comic antics courtesy of the adorable Aling Maliit. Almost two hours after the movie, we already know that it’s going to end on a happy note, after all the movie promised entertainment.

Finally we ask, aside from the movie’s much- talked about leads and its glitzy promotions, what made the movie get blockbuster success (i.e. ticket sales)? Nothing much, to be honest. I’d be too generous to say that it has a story to tell except that it was sidelined by the many endorsements their producers (i.e. Vic Sotto and Kris Aquino) crammed into the two-hour movie. Aiza as the struggling daughter and Ryzza as the innocent street child were characters that could have given the movie a bit of substance, but it refuses to do so, hence the usual popcorn comedy flick formula. So for all its worth, the movie was fun to watch. Don’t just expect too much.

2 out of 5 stars.

10,000 Hours 

Directed by: Joyce Bernal
(Robin Padilla, Michael de Mesa, Mylene Dizon)
Parallel to MLB’s commercial success, 10,000 Hours rode the waves of crime thriller movies (e.g. Sean Ellis’ Metro Manila and Erik Matti’s OTJ) that received critical success last year. Robin Padilla is Senator Gabriel Alcaraz, a senator who is on the run after a series of events prevented him from revealing the details of a corruption scam in the highest levels of government.

In the end credits, the movie revealed that it was loosely based on a number of real-life events that made headlines in the country’s top papers. At one point, I was asking a friend if this was Senator Panfilo Lacson’s version of hiding from the police, but given Lacson’s seemingly secretive nature, he wouldn’t allow a portion of his life immortalized into a movie. That’s a theory. Lelz. Anyway, the movie is quieter and less gruesome when compared to Matti’s OTJ. Here, Padilla is a respected senator, a doting father and loyal friend. Quite a distance from the usual mercenary or macho man swooned by ladies he portrayed in his previous movies. It’s a refreshing version of Padilla, I’d say. The rest of the cast have also filled the roles assigned to them quite gracefully. Mylene Dizon as Padilla’s wife was worthy of an MMFF Supporting Actress nod.

10,000 Hours deserves the Best Picture Award. I mean: is there any other movie in the competition that can do so? It’s not as fluid as OTJ or Metro Manila, based on the reviews that abound the blogosphere, but it is something worth watching. They say films reflect the current realities that abound a certain society. I am inclined to believe that the film’s relatively happy ending presents a message of hope—we can still believe that something can be done to remove the entrenched evils in our government. Or lessen that monstrous greed, at the very least.

4 out of 5 stars.

Kimmy Dora: Ang Kiyemeng Prequel 

Directed by: Chris Martinez
(Eugene Domingo, Sam Milby)
The movie’s primary anchor was the success of its two previous installments along with the tried and tested wit of Eugene Domingo as a character actor. In this third outing, Domingo returns as both Kimmy and Dora—Kimmy is the intelligent and overachieving half of Dora, her complete opposite. The movie promises a prequel, how Kimmy and Dora was able to save the Go Dong Hae Enterprise from being usurped by Bogart (wait til you see the movie to know who this character is) and his/her conniving cohorts. Sam Milby plays Rodin Bartolleti, the twins’ object of affection and competition. Lolz.

The movie was peppered with the usual comedic treats from the twins, along with the standard cameo appearances from known names in the entertainment industry—a trademark the first two films already established. Piolo Pascual was a buko vendor, folks. Hehe.

It might be unfair to compare it to its two predecessors but one cannot help to do so. This third installment was relatively better than the second movie, but nothing beats the first time we saw Domingo take on the lead role in the big screen. Kimmy Dora 1 was able to give its audience an alternative comedy fare, a clear escape from the usual Pinoy just-for-laughs we get to see on TV and big screen. The second and third were just ok. The lesson learned, I’d like to believe, is we give prequels and sequels a rest. Tina Fey said it best during the recent Golden Globes Awarding Ceremony, “This is Hollywood, and if something kind of works they'll just keep doing it until everybody hates it.” Hahaha! Same goes with Philippine cinema.

3.5 out of 5 stars.

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Wake up!

The mantra. Source: http://twtvite.com/assets/images/event/logo_33928.jpg

My twitter feed was recently filled with mini-rants mainly concerned with extending the holidays and finding excuses not to attend classes. Additional epal points for me. To prevent boredom from eventually killing me off, the web was gracious enough to give me some motivational support. Well, that’s aside from catching up on my long overdue Suits marathon. Here’s an “elderly” couple dancing to Bob Marley’s Is This Love. So much win. Enjoy the week ahead! J

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Friday, January 3, 2014

Start the year right. Do your assignments.

Finally done with the required reaction paper for the Graduate Conference we attended last ~year (which was like just last December haha), and two presentations for two major classes. Yay!

Ahhhh. But work never ends. I still have to craft another presentation, three (three effin’) paper proposals and a major paper for one of our courses. And then of course, there’s pending workload from the office. And sideline. How can this be happening? You suddenly remember that you chose this life. Sigh. Dear Lord, I pray for strength and enough supply of positive thoughts to ward off potential bad vibes. Hehe. J

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Caught in the middle. Of calendar years.

I’m trying to wax poetic but my bleary eyes and wandering mind weren’t cooperating, hence the bad post title. Sparks were literally flying when the year ended and a new one lies before us. The coming days may still be the same or not. Of course, we’ll never know unless we’ve got the powers of Zenaida Seva or we hold the stars in the palm of our hands. We can only trust that the coming future will be kind enough to give us another year worth experiencing. My parents would always remind us that there aren’t bad years because everything is the Year of Our Lord (evident on the certificates and other pertinent documents we keep). They say that the whole year offers challenges, from seemingly insurmountable to those we can easily manage or handle. The challenges turn into blessings, usually in ways we don’t appreciate immediately. My parents’ ideas and life principles are majorly guided by our Christian faith, and sometimes, even if they sound too big to believe in, I tend to agree. Primarily because I’ve seen a good testimony from the lives my parents lived. So, 2013 was the year of our Lord and so will 2014. I’d like to believe that faith would always have to be blind; hope becomes your guide, and trust, your eyes.

We just came home from our Uncle’s house at Carmona, Cavite. Sort of like a New Year’s Eve Party. How cool can that be? Hahaha. It was fun and heartwarming but reality strikes when you come home and receive some breaking news that our church driver had a heart attack. Our parents had to rush to the nearby hospital to assist and I’m awake to wait and open the door for them. Finally, they’re home. Our churchmate had to be sent to the ICU and the hospital won’t admit because they can’t produce 15K magically out of their pockets. Errr, health systems in the Philippines are not just inadequate, they’re even inaccessible to people who most need it. That topic deserves a separate blog entry. The ‘rents already intervened just so immediate care will be given to our brother. We hope he gets well.

Time to sleep. The eyes have already given up and we still have New Year’s Worship Service later. A blessed new year, friends! It’s going to be good and it will get better. J

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We Can't Stop the Pop: Emy's Top 20 Songs for 2013

We're listing down my favorite tracks for this year. All of them figured much in my phone's shuffled playlist or frequent browsing visits on Youtube. Most of these songs were discovered via random FB posts or constant radio plays: I get curious and ask, what song is that or who sung that song? So, without further ado, here are the songs that made it to the list:

20. Everything Has Changed by Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift (Red)

The song's so heartfelt, you can't help but press replay. I love the fact that they're doing nice duets. And no, Ed and Taylor are not dating. Yet. I hope they don't. Hehe.

19. Ho Hey by The Lumineers (The Lumineers)

It's good The Lumineers released this as their first single. Ho Hey is a folksy, catchy tune that's sure to attract listeners in need of easy music. It's perfect for laidback or easy drives. 

18. If You Could See Me Now by The Script (#3)

 Unlike their other tracks, If You Could See Me Now stands out as a song dedicated for the band members' deceased parents. The lyrics remain to have the pain and heartbreak patented to the Irish band. While #3 showcased a more alternative pop beat, my favorite album remains to be their sophomore release, Science and Faith

17. Demons by Imagine Dragons (Night Visions)

 When I began listening to Imagine Dragon's album, I wasn't aware of the song titles because they were on shuffle. The lyrics of the song already caught my attention but it was a friend who randomly shared her favorite song in the album that I got formally introduced to Demons. This track has the right angst and when mashed with their equally amazing song, Radioactive, the result is a smashing production number. In my opinion, I guess. Check out their AMA Perf for a sample. 

16. Ain't It Fun by Paramore (Paramore)

 Paramore's one of the more bipolar alternative pop bands present market. We use bipolar in a good way here. They produce records that's full of anger, metal-lish riffs and pounding drums (Misery Business, That's What You Get), relatively quiet tracks (My Heart) to something fun and quirky (Still Into You). Ain't It Fun has elements of each; we can't really place the band's brand of music. Suffice to say that it "chooses its own audience," in the words of another friend, from time to time.

15. Clarity by Zedd ft. Foxes (Clarity)

Summer's biggest tune figures in this list because mainly of that achievement. It was only until later that I got hooked into this song; until after I listened to the lyrics. The Voice Season 4 runner-up Michelle Chamuel has a fairly decent cover for this overly-covered song. 

14. Same Love by Macklemore ft. Mary Lambert (The Heist) 

Another song that I appreciated later than others. I loved how Macklemore, a straight, white hiphop rapper, was able to send a strong message of support to the LGBTQIA community. This, considering the usual stereotypes of homophobia we usually associate with the hiphop community. It adds another layer of sincerity and cred when we learn that collaborator Mary Lambert experienced gender discrimination firsthand. "I'm not crying on Sundays" speaks volumes of how much the advocacy has progressed in terms of acceptance and how much more we'll need to work on in the future. Straight but not narrow. :)

13. Red by Taylor Swift (Red)
I was a Swifter ever since Teardrops On My Guitar. Huge fan after You Belong With Me. Swift's songs may be marketed for young girls and country music fans but it's evident that she attracted more. They became anthems for many who can relate to her ~genuine lyrics. 

12. Royals by Lorde (The Love Club/Pure Heroine)

It almost got into the same ~hyped state as Gotye's Somebody That I Used To Know, except Pink's Just Give Me A Reason already got that place. Don't get me wrong, I loved both previously mentioned song, I just don't get why they get so much airtime when there are others that are also good. Anyway, Lorde's Royals has so much swag in terms of melody and lyrics. I loved how it attacked the music industry's diva/queen bee attitude.  

11. Love Somebody by Maroon 5 (Overexposed)

 Maroon 5's becoming too pop and mainstream but I wouldn't really care for now. Their new album have more ok songs than stand out ones, relative to theor previous releases. Love Somebody's a good club filler or a nice roadtrip song. It's like Daylight, only sexier. Haha. 

10. Lego House by Ed Sheeran (+)
Ed Sheeran's a charming redhead with a nice, soothing voice. He's not too ~cloying, maybe because his brand of acoustic music is too good to be compared with others in the industry. Lego House was on the loop for quite sometime until I got too ~sentimental I switched to more upbeat songs in his debut album. Also, Ron Weasley as the obsessed fan was the music vid's plus factor.

9. We Can't Stop by Miley Cyrus (Bangerz)

The tail-end of this year became quite overwhelming for me in terms of school reqs and annoying people at work so Miley's ditty was an apt description for the feelings I had that time. It's like raising your middle finger to annoying stuff done with classy swag. Char. Haha! 

8. Heart Attack by Demi Lovato (Demi)
Heart Attack became the impromptu theme song for our HK trip, only because our friend belted it one time while we're busy arranging out things at the dorm. Haha! After that, we felt heart attack for every sale item we see during the trip. Hahaha! And yes, Demi's vocals were just damn good in this song. 

7. Wrecking Ball by Miley Cyrus (Bangerz)
Sorry, two songs from Miley. Only because her AMA Perf of Wrecking Ball, with nothing but a mopey-eyed cat on the background, elicited so much feels and became one of the more heartbreaking moments on TV. Char ulet. 

6. Treasure by Bruno Mars (Unorthodox Jukebox)

My brother and I immediately fell in love with Bruno's Treasure the first time we heard it at a party. After that, it figured into my usual morning playlist while working. The music vid's 70's-inspired feel was also something I like. This song's indeed a treasure. 

5. Wake Me Up by Avicii ft. Aloe Blacc

This song just had the right mix into it: lyrics, melody, and vocals. "I wish that I could stay this young, not afraid to close my eyes. Life's a game for everyone and love is the prize." It recently got mainstream airtime which is both ok and not so ok, I guess. Hehe. 

4. Fader by Temper Trap (Conditions)

I just love this soooong. Of course, I won't pretend to know every song from Temper Trap's album. The fact that it was released last 2010 and I discovered them just now (?!) makes me a late blooming fan. It's enough to say that everytime I hear this song, it gets me energized. 

3. Radioactive by Imagine Dragons (Night Visions)

The fact that the song was played with gongs in it was already awesome. The lyrics adds flavor and the Dan Reynold's cracked up vocals made this track more amazing. Rolling Stone dubbed this as the biggest rock hit for 2013 and Billboard called Imagine Dragons as the Breakthrough Band for 2013. 'Nuff cred, no? :)

2. Brave by Sara Bareilles (Blessed Unrest)

I always say that Sara is one of the more underrated music artists in the industry. After getting attention from Love Song, she went sort of underground again, until after King of Anything got some airtime. And then Brave, a song for a friend who's having a hard time coming out, got positive reviews. It's seeming similarity with Katy Perry's Roar only boosted its success. The album also has its share of good tracks. I'm happy that Sara's getting the praise she deserves. It's just about time. 

1. Counting Stars by OneRepublic (Native)

Ryan Tedder's songwriting skillz' just great. Burning Bridges should have figured in this list but Counting Stars was more ear candy for me. The whole album's actually a good playlist already. And I loved how great they sound live. They should do a repeat perf here in Manila. :)

Runners-up are the following:

Tonight I'm Getting Over You by Carly Rae Jepsen (Kiss)

Burn by Ellie Goulding (Halcyon Days)

Stay the Night by Zedd ft. Hayley Williams (Clarity: Deluxe Edition)

Story of My Life by One Direction (Midnight Memories)

Fall by Justin Bieber (Believe)

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