Sunday, December 13, 2009

"Let the drummer kick" by Citizen Cope

Here's a pretty cool song I discovered while watching some clips of "So you think you can dance" (SYTYCD) on youtube (specifically, this video of all Jeanine Mason's solos; Jeanine won SYTYCD season 5). The song is called "Let the drummer kick" by Citizen Cope.



video uploaded in youtube by user arturitis

I thought the song was pretty interesting so I got some of the lyrics, searched and found it online, and began listening to it. Apparently it is part of the OST of the film "Coach Carter". The song is really cool, and this video is pretty well done too. Some pretty slick editing! So I thought it might be worth sharing.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Killers are coming!!

A week and a half ago, my friend Yam gave me a heads up that The Killers would be pre-selling tickets to their January 31 concert in Manila. The Killers are in my to-watch-live list so I was ecstatic to find out that they were having a concert here. Naturally, I went to the online ticket reservation site to reserve tickets.

I didn't know when I could expect a reply, but last Thursday, I got an email saying my tickets were ready, but would be held only for a day (a day!). So I head to customer service in SM Megamall on Friday, and now I have my pass to see one of my favorite bands perform live! Woo-hoo!! It's still about two months away but I get excited every time I think about it LOL.

Check out the official website of The Killers for more info on their concert in Manila and in other cities in Asia and Australia.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Ugh, sick!

I guess I shouldn't be surprised anymore. December is always the busiest time of the year. One Christmas party or get-together or event after another. And with me somehow being in the thick of things all the time, I tend to spread myself too thin. I wouldn't have it any other way though, and most of the time I just get tired and get easily get back on track with a good massage.

But somehow, I seemed to have stressed myself out a tad bit more than usual in the last month. I had a bad bout of tonsillitis about 3 1/2 weeks ago, and it kept me on antibiotics (and away from alcohol LOL) for 2 weeks. It cleared up about a week and a half ago, but then last weekend, I got up to find my throat hurting more than it did when my tonsillitis first broke.

So I head to my doctor and it turns out my tonsillitis has pretty much cleared up but now, I apparently have acute pharyngolaryngitis. The doctor told me to go on complete voice rest i.e. no talking even! I also have to stay away from caffeine, spicy and sweet food, alcohol, and even fruits and fruit juices. Which now means I have (1) barely talked the last 3 days, (2) drunk only water in the last two days, and (3) not eaten anything sweet also in the last two days.

So far, so good. My throat hurts much less today than yesterday, and it doesn't hurt to swallow anymore. Hopefully I get my voice back by Thursday. It's such a downer being unable to talk to people and have dessert and coffee. :)

Monday, November 23, 2009

The end of the world

I recently watched 2012. I heard from practically everyone else who watched it that's it's awesome. Best disaster movie ever, they said. So why is it that I left the cinema feeling shortchanged? LOL

(Spoiler alert! Stop reading if you don't want to know details of the movie)

Actually, I do have one other friend who watched it and didn't like it that much either. I wouldn't say it's a bad film though, I'd still recommend people to watch it. The effects are obviously fantastic and the action is pretty edge-of-your-seat for most of the film. And any apocalyptic disaster movie will always invoke feelings of courage and triumph.

But there are too many components in the film that I took away from my enjoyment of the film. First, there was just too much "impossibility". As with most movies, suspension of disbelief is required. But in 2012, I found myself thinking that the lead characters had way too many lives. A stretch limo maintaining top speed even as it drives over one massive crack on the road after another, a beginner pilot successfully able to navigate two planes through the most difficult of conditions, an ark filling up with water successfully able to escape certain destruction, the lead character being under water for a long time after hitting his head and still making it out alive. I dunno, it just felt too over the top for me.

Then, it was too convenient. Here you had John Cusack and Amanda Peet being a divorced couple, with Amanda in what was portrayed to be a very good relationship with her new guy, Thomas McCarthy. Even her son thinks the world of her new partner. Naturally, John being the lead character in the film has to end up with Amanda. But with Thomas being a good guy, it would be awful for Amanda and John to end up together. So obviously the film kills off Thomas's character and naturally the two lead characters pair up again in the end. Of course, everyone else who died were people who were not as important, or people who were painted as evil. How amazingly lucky that every lead character goes through the toughest of circumstances and makes it alive. Too convenient!

And finally, the choices made in the film. You had an ark filled with thousands of people who were surely safe. You had thousands of people stranded outside the ark who would surely die (their ark was damaged and couldn't be used). Then they had 15 minutes left before a massive tsunami would hit them. Of course, they call it cruel to leave all those stranded people to their certain death. So with 15 minutes left, they open the doors to save the stranded people, and with some twist, the ark doors won't close and so the tsumami floods the ark. They manage to save the ark in the end, with seconds left before total destruction, so obviously it can be argued that the decision they made was correct. But in real life, if I was in a position of authority in that ark, with 15 minutes left before the tsunami would hit, I probably wouldn't open the doors anymore. If I wanted to open the doors, I would do it 1 hour, or even half an hour, before. They knew early on that one ark was broken, they should've decided then to split the people across different arks. Oh wait, it wouldn't be as exciting in the movie if they did that.

So yeah, great effects, lots of excitement, but not my favorite disaster film. But compared to other films I've seen this year, I'd pick a lot of other ones over this.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Allison from SYTYCD Season 2

My favorite contestant from all seasons of "So you think you can dance" is Allison Holker from Season 2. She was touted as a contender for the title, but was surprisingly eliminated during Top 8 week.

And so it's not surprising that one of my favorite solos in the show is this performance she does in Top 14 week.


video uploaded in youtube by user namnambaby

This number clearly demonstrates Allison's fluidity and athleticism (especially in that incredible sequence of movements she does from 0:15 to 0:24, awesome!!) and the fact that she showcases her athleticism so effortlessly makes her talent even more impressive.

How she didn't make it further than she did is beyond me. I personally feel she was robbed of at least a finale appearance if not the overall title. She apparently performed as a dancer in both High School Musical and High School Musical 2, and she is only 21 years old so I do hope she ends up with an amazing career in dance.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Congratulations, Manny Pacquiao!!!

It's his 7th different world title on his 7th weight class. Manny Pacquiao just made history with his amazing victory over Miguel Cotto, cementing his status as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world.


Congratulations, Manny! You have made Filipinos all over the world very proud. :)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Something old, something new

Last Saturday, my high school friends (Iona, Joyce, and Mitch and their significant others) and I decided to celebrate Iona's birthday by having dinner in Trellis in Kalayaan. It was actually Mitch who decided on the venue, saying she was craving for sisig and lechon kawali. I honestly don't recall the last time I was there but it must've been about a decade ago. Man how time flies!!

So over dinner, Iona asked us if we have tried eating in Adarna, a restaurant also along Kalayaan. I told her that I hadn't eaten there yet but that I saw it while trying to find parking. She said the food is gourmet Filipino food and that we should try eating there someday. I suggested that maybe after dinner we could have dessert there. I recently re-discovered hot chocolate - the Pinoy/Spanish kind, and not the milk chocolate-y type - so I was in the mood for some hot chocolate. Everyone seemed keen on the idea so once we polished off the last bits of mango KBS, grilled pusit and sinigang na baboy, we headed to Adarna.

The restaurant is decorated as if it were an old Spanish-Filipino house, with different dining areas in the different rooms. We sat in what seemed like the living area, and while it wasn't air-conditioned, it has these large ceiling fans that allowed us to keep cool. We ordered a few dessert items and while most of them got kape barako, I decided to get my hot chocolate (and man, it was very very good!). Even the china they used was really quaint (and we noticed that men and women were served different cups and saucers). We hung out there for a while before calling it a night. I would certainly want to go here again and have a full meal instead of just dessert.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Cynthia Alexander

So I've been hearing about Cynthia Alexander - and how incredible an artist she is from so many of my friends - for years. But for some unexplained reason, I never got around to watching her perform or listening to her music.

And so when my friend Lala invited me to watch Cynthia's gig in Conspiracy on Halloween night, I immediately agreed. And then I realized what a shame that I discovered her music and talent only a week ago. This woman is truly an amazing artist and I instantly became a fan!

She closed her show with this song entitled "Comfort in your strangeness". (This video wasn't taken from the gig I watched but it was taken in the same venue where Cynthia performs every so often).



video uploaded in youtube by user iRaRosales

Lala tells me this is like the 'National Anthem' of Cynthia country and I can understand why. It's probably my favorite of all the songs she performed that night. But all the songs she played are incredible, and my goal now is to get all four of Cynthia's albums soon. I am also looking forward to watching her next gig, and a lot more gigs after that.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Finding my way to the cinema

It wasn't quite a New Year's resolution but this year, I made a decision to watch more movies in the cinema than I have in the past. So far, so good. I've managed to make my way to movie theaters a lot this year, and the last few weeks are no exception. Movies seen: 'Julie & Julia', 'G-Force', '(500) Days of Summer', and 'Astroboy'. I also managed to finally watch 'A very long engagement' on DVD. I got the DVD a long time ago, but as I knew it was a heavy film, I never really got around to watching it up until last long weekend. It was a bit difficult to follow as there were many characters whose faces were muddied up a lot and were hard to recognize. Plus, there were some unfamiliar names that made it more difficult to attach the name and the face. But it is a great story, with excellent acting and amazing camera work and cinematography. Definitely worth a watch.

Every other movie I watched in the cinema recently were fairly light. I absolutely loved '(500) Days of Summer'. Definitely a story about love, but not a love story, I really did how the story was told - moving back and forth across 500 days - and I also thought the script was very well written. I also really loved 'Julie & Julia'. How could I not? It featured Meryl Streep once again putting in an incredible performance. It also brought together Meryl and Amy Adams again (with their other big film together being 'Doubt'), although they actually had no scenes together in this one. Will Meryl be nominated again? Maybe not for an Oscar, but maybe for a Golden Globe.

The other two movies I watched were more for kids. I just had to watch 'Astroboy' because I was a fan of the animated series back in the day, watching it on channel 9. It was definitely entertaining, but of course there were some weird concepts in it, like on how Astroboy was created. But apart from that, it's some cool animation and good fun. 'G-Force' was also a lot of fun, and the story was surprisingly good, with a pretty cool twist in the end.

I might catch Michael Jackson's "This is it" on the weekend. My nephews have indicated they want to watch it and I've heard it's worth a watch so let's see.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

F1 weekend in Singapore

So a month ago, I flew to Singapore to watch SG Formula 1 Grand Prix. It was my first time to watch a race live, and the fact that it was a road race at night made it even more interesting to watch.


The atmosphere in SG was electric, what with a lot of parties and concerts. I was hoping to catch the F1 Rocks concert in Fort Canning Park with Beyonce and the Black Eyed Peas on Saturday night but it was sold out. I did, however, get to see a few other shows. Travis performed in F1 grounds on Saturday night so I watched them instead. On Sunday night, I saw the Backstreet Boys perform about 5 songs before I left. And on my first night in SG, my friend Tim took me to an Underworld party in Suntec City.

The main attraction of course was F1. Two things you can't really pick up when you watch on TV are just how fast these cars go, and exactly how loud they are! When you enter F1 grounds, there are booths that sell an F1 survival kit which includes a poncho (in case it rains) and ear plugs. I decided not to get ear plugs so I could experience the race fully, and man oh man was it deafening!! I took a video of the cars once the race started, and while the sound volume doesn't quite translate, the blurry images of the cars as they whiz by indicate the incredible speed at which these vehicles are moving.



I was of course rooting for Jenson Button and Brawn GP to do well, and while neither JB nor Rubens Barrichello had a podium finish, both of them scored points. It was the other British driver, Lewis Hamilton, who took the trophy.


Of course, despite the busy race schedule, I still managed to meet up with my friends and do some shopping. On Saturday, I had lunch with Che, Marc, Gi and Pau with their son Gabe.


On Monday, I had lunch with Sarah in Raffles City. Then I bought a 500Gb external HD, a 4Gb thumb drive, and a card reader in Funan. Then I joined Ben mid-afternoon near Far East Square as he had a very late lunch while I just had a Coke Zero before heading to Plaza Singapura to have coffee with Jed. I ended the night having dinner then coffee with Denise, Yong Han, and Sandy in Dempsey Hill. Before heading back to Manila on Tuesday, I made my way to Novena to have breakfast with Kog.

So another awesome weekend made even more fun by friends. The downside is that I am now really short on funds, what with a couple of international trips in the last few months LOL. I definitely won't be spending any money on travel in the next few months! :)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sand Animation in Ukraine's Got Talent

My friend Kathy shared this link to me and I thought it was amazing and powerful. Check it out:


video uploaded in youtube by user anarchistica

The woman doing the sand animation, Kseniya Simonova, won Ukraine's Got Talent with this performance that moved people in to tears. According to the video information, it is meant to interpret the invasion and occupation of Ukraine from 1941 to 1945. The scenes she chose to create, the way she went from one image to the next, the music that played in the background, and her own performance skills, make this truly incredible.

I would never have thought that sand animation would make its way into any talent show, but after seeing this I am definitely not surprised she won.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Beach Life in Koh Samui

So this blog post is almost 3 months overdue but I promised myself I'd write about my trip to Koh Samui in Thailand last August so here I am.


This was my first visit to Koh Samui, and also my first trip to the beach this year. The purpose of this vacation was to chill out and unwind. So I stayed in a pretty upscale hotel (still in credit card debt coz of it LOL) and managed to get a great room with a good view...


So it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that I spent a lot of time hanging out by the pool of my hotel (there were two pools, the main one and this lap pool which had less people and was more relaxing to hang about in)...


...or playing pool. I am, and have always been, a lousy pool player but I realized that with practice, I could actually be quite decent. After several hours on the pool table, I actually managed to make several tough shots like balls against the rail or even bank shots!

I did visit the Na Muang falls where some scenes in "The Beach" (starring Leonardo Di Caprio) were shot...


And of course a lot of time was spent on the beach during the day...


...or in bars by the beach at night.


My friends and I made an attempt to go to the Full Moon Party on Koh Phanang on August 6. The Full Moon Party is apparently a massive party with thousands of people partying on the beach from late night until early the next morning. I was hesitant to go because I didn't feel I had the energy for an entire night (and morning) of partying, but my friends convinced my go. Worth the experience, they said. As luck would have it, there were major boat issues in the marina. We waited a few hours but the "mob" waiting for boats was still massive...


So we decided to throw in the towel and just find some bar on the island that was open where we could create our own night of debauchery.Before I wrap-up my blog post about my Samui trip, I have to mention the incredible Samui airport. It's probably the coolest airport I've ever seen! It has a very island-y charm...


And it does have some cafes, restos, and shops where you can hang out in while waiting for your flight.


So all in all, another awesome holiday. I have had one more big trip after that (I'll blog about that some time soon...) but I probably won't travel anytime soon. Time for me to start saving money again!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I'm back!

Wow, no posts in my blog for a month. But I've been so busy the last few months! A lot going on at work - both in terms of real work and 'extra-curricular' stuff, a lot of dinners, gimmicks, and parties with different sets of friends, a couple of holidays, and a whole lot of work on Ondoy relief.

Things have sorta stabilized now so hopefully I can work on keeping my blog fairly up to date again. In the meantime, let me leave you first with a really touching Pantene advertisement from Thailand that has gone a bit viral. It's a bit over-dramatic but I like how a beauty product has not taken the vanity route in its advertising. Plus, it's one of the best versions of Pachelbel's Canon I've heard.


video uploaded in youtube by user s4ur4bh

Sunday, September 06, 2009

"Battlefield' by Ryan Tedder

Here's the demo version of "Battlefield" that Ryan Tedder (lead vocalist of One Republic) wrote and was released by Jordin Sparks. I've been listening to this over and over again on youtube since I discovered it.


video uploaded in youtube by user
brandon02012


I'm familiar with the Jordin Sparks version and thought it was just okay. Hearing this version turned me into a fan of the song though. I guess when I found it was written by Ryan Tedder, my current favorite song writer, I appreciated "Battlefield" a whole lot more.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Long weekend part 2

It's still not over, but after my fairly hectic long weekend last week, I decided to take things a bit more slowly this weekend. Yesterday, I went to Glorietta to window shop. I needed some new clothes and I also wanted to see what belated birthday gift I could get my mom. Still haven't figured out what to get LOL so it seems my present to my mom will get even more belated. The rest of the day, I spent cleaning up my pad. I just had general cleaning done, but I had whole heaps of stuff that needed to be organized, so I loaded three DVDs - Outbreak, The Matrix, and The Wedding Crashers - and watched them while I cleaned up. I also spent a bit of time in the gym. For some reason, I had some pain in my knee - maybe from too much driving? - so instead of hitting the treadmill, I just used the elliptical machine.

Today my family celebrated in advance the birthday of my nephew Ciera. Last week, when we watched 'Up', he kept saying he wanted to watch the movie "Shorts", but today he changed his mind and instead wanted to go to an arcade. My family and I first head over to Greenhills to have lunch in Racks. The plan then was for us to head to Greenbelt after, and I'd take my nephews to the arcade in Glorietta while my mom took my grandparents shopping in Greenbelt. We decided to swing by Powerplant first coz my mom wanted to show my grandparents the Cory photograph tribute there. As it turns out, we ended up just hanging out in Powerplant the entire time. My nephews were keen on playing in the arcade, but they wanted to get new toys in Kidz Station first. Afterwards, their interest was fully on the new toys so they were ready to head home.

Thankfully, the long weekend is still not over as I have another day to rest tomorrow. I'll probably spend a few minutes tonight sorting out my expenses to figure out what items I saw during my window shopping I can afford LOL and head back to Greenhills.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A whole lotta sports

The premiership season has started and it sucks that Liverpool lost their opening match against Tottenham, 1-2. Thankfully they beat Stoke City 4-0 last week. If they beat Aston Villa later, the win will put them 3rd (although both Arsenal and Man City have a game in hand).

Most surprising news so far: recently promoted Burnley has actually notched a couple of massive wins, one against Man Utd and another one against Everton! Woo-hoo!

The suckiest bit of news though is that Michael Owen - who remains one of my favorite players despite all his injuries and the fact that he is past his prime - is now playing for Man Utd. Ugh! It really sucks coz I still want Owen to do well and score goals, but not for Man U! If he dare scores a goal against Liverpool when they play Man U, I will be pissed...

*****

Rubens Barrichello finally finishes top of the podium in F1 this season by winning the European GP. Lewis Hamilton could have two wins in a row if not for McLaren messing up in his pitstop. Jenson Button, after starting the season supremely, has lost the plot in the last 4 races, although his 7th place finish gives him a couple more points as he sits atop with an 18 point lead over Barrichello, who leapfrogs the Red Bull drivers to 2nd place. With Webber finishing 9th and Vettel unable to complete the race, Brawn GP reassert their position atop the Constructors championship.

*****

Federer is now the heavy favorite to win the US Open and bag his 16th Grand Slam title. Andy Murray, who is now ranked #2, dislodging Rafa Nadal, was a frontrunner after winning the Rogers Cup. But Federer won Cincinnati, snapping a 4-match losing streak to Andy Murray in the semifinals and a 2-match losing streak to Noval Djokovic in the final. With Nadal currently in below-average form due to his recent knee problems, there doesn't seem to be anyone in Roger's way. Makes me wonder now if he will end up winning more Slams than Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert, who both have 18.

Kim Clijsters has also put herself back on the tennis map by coming out of retirement to challenge the current crop of top women. In only two tournaments, she has beaten the following players: Marian Bartoli (#13), Patty Schnyder (#20), Svetlana Kuznetsova (#6), and Victoria Azarenka (#9). Her two losses have come against #1 Dinara Safina and #5 Jelena Jankovic. The question now is whether she can remain consistent, but if her first two tournaments are any indication, she looks to be on her way back into the top 10 or even top 5.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Thank God for long weekends!

Well for my few readers out there, you probably correctly guess that I am very busy when my blog remains unupdated (is that a word? lol) for a couple of weeks. But just to let you know, this blog is still alive. I've got a bit of catching up to do in this blog, so let's start talking about this long weekend.

Long weekends traditionally mean more rest but in my case I think I exhausted myself a whole lot more than I do in normal weekends. It stared out with Joyce's belated birthday lunch on Friday in Bellini's with the entire gang (or at least those of us in Manila) + families. It was my first time to eat there, and my first time to have lunch in Cubao in a long time so it was pretty cool.

Later that night I headed to my friend Marie's belated birthday party, which was a joint party with her sister. The coolest thing about this party was that they got Oven Toaster, the band that plays in Rockeoke nights in Mag:Net, to play a couple of sets in their party and they even got an official go-signal from Mag:Net to use "Rockeoke" to advertise their party. And since Marie is from a family of singers and most of her friends are incredible singers too, the party turned into an awesome music-fest. I got my 15 (or, well, 5) minutes of fame doing #41 by Dave Matthews Band. I just wonder how Marie is gonna top that in her birthday celebration next year LOL.

And from one musical birthday party to another, on Saturday night, I went over to Jason's house for his own rock party. He had a full band setup in his garage, and throughout the night, he had several sets of friends play music. Jason requested me to perform one song, and since someone before me did Mr. Brightside, I ended up singing Coldplay's Viva La Vida.

Before that party though, I was supposed to watch 'Up' with my family. My plan was to take my mom and nephews to watch it in Greenbelt 3 because they were showing 'Up' on 3D there, but when we got there in the late afternoon, the only available seats were for 9:40pm, which was a bit too late for me. So we ended just getting tickets for the next day, which was today, and it was a really good movie, as I expected. The montage they have in the first few minutes of the movie is probably one of the most heartwarming, touching and bittersweet moments I have seen in an animated film, and in traditional Pixar style, you really do end up emotionally connecting with the lead characters.

So yeah, a full weekend and I should log off soon to get some rest before the work week starts. Thankfully it's another long weekend next week!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Melissa and Ade dance to Maxwell's "This Woman's Work" in SYTYCD

(I just edited this post coz I noticed the previously embedded video had been taken down)

One of the most powerful dance numbers I have seen on "So you think you can dance?". I won't bother writing what I think about this video, I will just let you see it and hear what the judges' comments are.


video uploaded in youtube by user DGirlEmmy

I've watched this dozens of times now, and each time, it still impresses and moves me.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Surprise, surprise

I usually skip out on the UAAP basketball frenzy coz UP never really does well in it. So I only found out through a friend that UP actually beat Ateneo 68-58. I don't really know how that happened, and I have no idea whether they can replicate that win because that was their first in four matches this season and it was Ateneo's first loss. But it's still a bit of pleasantly surprising news.

*****

And who would have thought that Lewis Hamilton winning the Hungarian Grand Prix earlier today would be a surprise? After all, he is the reigning Formula One world champion. But in the first 9 races of the 2009 season, Hamilton in his McLaren hasn't been a factor, failing to nab a podium finish. That is, until today. Lewis drove a superb race to finish way ahead of 2nd placer Kimi Räikkönen and 3rd placer Mark Webber.

This F1 weekend included a lot of other surprising events. Scariest of which was Felipe Massa being struck on the helmet by a suspension spring that had fallen off of Rubens Barrichello's race car during qualifying. Now normally, being struck by a suspension spring while wearing a helmet won't be too bad, but if you get hit while you are driving at close to 300 kph, it becomes very life-threatening. The latest info is that Massa is in stable condition so that's good news.

The other surprises - Fernando Alonso losing a tire while in the lead (I can imagine just how pissed off he must be, could've been his first title this season) and Vettel being forced to retire also due to tire problems.

Clearly, Brawn GP has lost a lot of momentum, and Red Bull Racing is now narrow the gap. I think Brawn lost the plot somehow - I think they've made some poor strategic moves in the last couple of races - and RBR have remained very consistent. Jenson Button is still ahead of the pack by 18.5 points, but his lead is starting to dwindle. Hopefully Brawn can find some of the magic they had in the first 7 races this season and get JB back on the podium.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Feast Day of St. Michael Jackson

Okay well the title of my post is a bit misleading LOL but have you seen the tribute of the Cebu inmates to Michael Jackson? If I didn't know better, I'd think I was watching some religious celebration.

The original full video is apparently not available in my country so here's a shorter version of it:


video uploaded in youtube by user salaso2007

It's been a week and a half since Michael Jackson passed away but it's still making headlines all over the world. He truly is a legend. But while I immensely appreciate his talent and music, I'm in the minority in that I don't totally grieve his death. While his pedophilia was never proven, a lot of the other stuff - like MJ dangling his baby outside a window or him publicly denying that he had work done on his nose or his decision to change his skin color (why didn't he just have his "white spots" darkened instead of lightening his complexion?) - prevent me from feeling as bad about his passing on as the rest of the world. I surely do feel sorry for him though as the abuse he experienced in his childhood certainly contributed to his lack of stability His prolonged exposure in the limelight couldn't have helped him any.

Still, Michael Jackson will go down in history as one of the most influential music legends of all time. And I certainly do hope he is in a better place now.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Marathon #6. Woo-hoo!

Can't you believe it? I've done it six times now, running 42 kilometers for charity. Amazing!

Last July 5, I ran my sixth marathon for a cause, raising more than PHP 72,000 for charity patients in the Philippine General Hospital. You can read more about how my run went in my other blog:

photo courtesy of my friend Petite

I didn't have bike support for the first time this year so I don't have a lot of photos. One of my friends, Petite, was in a support station along the route and took a few photos, so here's proof of my run.

Thanks again to all my family and friends for the amazing support, encouragement, and generosity! :)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Friday night out

When I was with my friends Me-ann, Joh, and Raffa a few weeks ago in Eastwood, we decided that we wanted to try out the Platinum theater in Eastwood. This is the cinema where the tickets cost more than P300 but you get unlimited pop corn and soda. Of course, if we were paying that much for movie tickets, we figured that it should be for a pretty big movie. And the biggest one we could think of was Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Now since we knew Che would be in town in end June and Transformers 2 was showing in Manila beginning June 24, we thought it would be cool if we all met up for dinner in Eastwood and watched Transformers 2 in the Platinum cinema.

As luck would have it, the Platinum cinema was sold out by lunch time. And when we checked sureseats, only front-row seats were available. Ack! Not the best seats for a movie with a lot of very quick movement on screen.

We ended up watching in Shangri-la mall (tickets there cost P200! Man, I still remember when movie ticket prices were a tenth of that...) and having dinner in Sumo Sam. Anna Mae was also with us this time, and I realized that the last few times I had gone out for dinner with this particular set of friends, it has been in Sumo Sam (or its sister resto, John and Yoko). Che then treated us to some frozen yogurt in White Hat and it was pretty good.

So, the movie. The fortunate thing for us is that we all heard bad reviews about Revenge of the Fallen from both movie-goers and critics so our expectations were all very low heading into the theater. And true enough, Transformers 2 wasn't that good. Lame story (that quite frankly didn't make all that much sense LOL), bad script, a few cheesy and even downright stupid scenes, and some duh moments meant this sequel didn't really live up to the hype. But because we all knew it was going to be bad, we ended up pretty much embracing all the negative aspects of the movie and enjoying the action and special effects. I guess as long you know what to expect from the movie, it's still worth a watch. :)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tennis time again

So the first half of Wimbledon is over, and talk about your ironies - the first year that Centre Court in Wimbledon has a retractable roof, there hasn't been a rain delay LOL.

The sad part is that Rafael Nadal has pulled out of Wimbledon due to a knee injury. With Roger Federer high in confidence and in very good form right now, it is highly likely that he will win his 6th Wimbledon and 15th Grand Slam title overall, breaking Sampras' men's record of 14 Grand Slam titles.

I would like Andy Murray to win though, and he's been in pretty good form so far. It would be awesome if he does win as he Brits haven't had a home court winner since Virginia Wade in 1977 (and in fact, the last men's winner was Fred Perry, who won the last of his 3 Wimbledon titles in 1936!). And on the women's side, I would like Venus Williams to win her 6th Wimbledon title.

Speaking of the women, it's interesting that both Maria Sharapova and Michelle Larcher de Brito both lost on the same day. These two women have to be the loudest shriekers on the women's tour. As much as I respect Sharapova for her immense power, fight, and never-say-die attitude, I just can't root for someone who shrieks so loud it makes me want to switch the channel when she plays. I thought she was the loudest until I heard Larcher de Brito, who seems to have taken grunting to a whole new level as her grunts seem to last until her opponent hits the ball.

If you don't believe me, check this video out. Warning: not for sensitive ears!


video uploaded in youtube by user SharapovaPower

Now just imagine if these two played against each other....

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Getting read for my 6th marathon for a cause

So I found out about 3 weeks ago that the Milo Marathon was going to happen on July 5. Normally it is held in end July or early August so when I called the Race office, I was fully expecting to have about 2 months to train. As it turns out, I had only 1 month left!

I decided to start training but was still mulling over the idea of running on July 5 or doing another marathon later in the year. I knew there is a marathon in Singapore in December so I was thinking of doing that, but then I realized that it would be near-impossible to get people to pledge during December because it's Christmas. I was also told that there is a Pasig River marathon in November, but apparently the route is right along the Pasig River. Considering that it's hard enough to run/jog/walk 42 kilometers, doing it next to a river that doesn't exactly have the best smell in the world will be an even more herculean task.

So I gave myself a bit of an "ultimatum", if I could get to 18 kilometers after two weeks of training, then I'd do the July 5 run. And as it turns out, I managed to get to 18 kilometers by June 15 after training for 13 days. So I committed to running the marathon and now I'm officially registered:


This is definitely the worst training I have ever done for a marathon but hopefully, the motivation of raising money for PGH will help me complete my 6th marathon.

You can read more about my marathon for a cause here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Taylor Swift meets Coldplay

I am "stealing" this from my friend Mark who put this video up in his blog. Musician Jon Schmidt created this arrangement of Taylor Swift's "Love Story" and he thought it would sound good with Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" so he put them together. Check it out:


video uploaded in youtube by user carlosian2

It's a great piece, and it is beautifully played. I've heard "Love Story" on the radio many times but never thought of it as a beautiful song until I heard this arrangement from Jon Schmidt. And of course, the fact that it gets transitioned beautifully to Viva La Vida makes the whole piece even better.

The really ace thing about this performance? The cellist is actually playing cello and bass drum while singing! You can see it at around the 4:19 mark. Amazing! :)

To read more about Jon Schmidt, check out his website: http://www.jonschmidt.com/

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Not a good May

After a very valiant effort, Liverpool fall short - four points short, to be exact - of the English Premiership League title. They managed to win practically all of their last few matches apart from the one draw against Arsenal, but Man U unfortunately did not falter either and held tight the rest of the way. Too bad. I just hope that Liverpool can mount another solid campaign next year, and hopefully take the league trophy.

And to add to my disappointment, on the very last day of May, Rafa Nadal was shockingly ousted in the 4th round of the French Open by Robin Soderling. This is a guy who had never beaten Nadal and even lost to Rafa 6-1, 6-0 a few weeks before in Rome. But he played a tremendously powerful and precise game that stopped Rafa in his tracks. This was Nadal's first ever loss in Roland Garros, and his first even loss of a best-of-five match played on clay. Too bad. I was really hoping Rafa would hoist the 7th Grand slam trophy of his career.

*****

While we are talking tennis, I was immensely pleased to see Steffi Graf present the trophy to the women's champion, who turned out to be Svetlana Kuznetsova. A month ago, she was in Wimbledon. Then last week, she was in Roland Garros. This is the most I've seen her back in tennis circles since she retired a decade ago and it's pretty cool. Even more cool was that Svetlana mentioned in her acceptance speech that she met Steffi the first time before the match and she thought it was great that Steffi wished her luck and was presenting the trophy to her.

And while Nadal is still nursing a knee injury that kept prevented him from defending his title in Stella Artois title (which is now the Aegon), my second favorite Andy Murray has continued to do well, winning the title in Queens. It's his 4th title of the year, and hopefully his success on grass gives him confidence to do well in Wimbledon.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Summer

Talk about time flying by so fast. May's about to end. This means that school is once again about to start, which also means a lot more traffic on the roads once again.

To get ready for the new school year, my mom and I took my two nephews shopping for school supplies last Sunday. We went to National Bookstore in Shang Mall. It's been years since I was in grade school (can you tell? LOL) and I had completely forgotten that there are so many different types of notebooks - writing, composition, spiral, math, and music! My nephews weren't really too keen on shopping for school supplies - they wanted to get toys instead, big surprise there - but once we started they actually got quite into it. It was cool too coz for the first time, they were choosing their own stuff.

Of course, the start of the school year heralds the end of summer. Which sucks coz I haven't been to the beach yet! LOL I do have plans though. My high school friend Suzanne is planning a trip to the beach on the June 12 long weekend with some other high school friends. I am hoping that it doesn't rain then. Although to be honest, it's not like it hasn't been raining. I'm pretty sure more than a few summer holidays got screwed up in the last couple of months due to the very uncooperative weather. So at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter. Lots of fun to be had anyways, even if it does rain.

One other cool thing about this season is that the major movie companies start churning out most of the year's major blockbusters during this time. Over the last five days, I've seen three movies - Star Trek, Angels and Demons, and Terminator Salvation and I enjoyed all of them (Terminator not as much as Star Trek and Angels and Demons, both of which I really loved).

The next big movie I'm waiting to see is Transformers 2. I had dinner last night with Me-ann, Joh, and Raffa in Eastwood and while we were there, we said we should try the premier cinema there - not really sure what it's called, but it's the one where you get refillable pop-corn and drinks and sit in a Lazyboy, I think. Of course, we all agreed that we had to really like the movie coz it costs about P300+, and it turns out we are all looking forward to seeing Transformers 2. It will be shown in Manila on June 24, during which time Che will be in town, so there will be more of us to enjoy the movie.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Teardrop by Massive Attack + Newton Faulkner's cover

Here's a song I really love. It's Teardrop by Massive Attack that came out about a decade ago already. It's such a cool, chill song.


video uploaded in youtube by user pavelmurdoc

I was doing a search of this song on youtube just to check out it's very intriguing video and I noticed several other cover versions of this song. I was interested in how the cover version would sound so I checked some of them out. Of the ones I listened to, the standout was this version by Newton Faulkner.


video uploaded in youtube by user gietube

I have to say, especially considering that Newton is doing his cover with just a guitar, it's pretty awesome!

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Centre Court Celebration in Wimbledon

So I didn't get to go to London to watch Steffi Graf play with Andre Agassi and against Tim Henman and Kim Clijsters. But I did get the next best thing - they showed the entire thing on Starsports last night!

It was a really interesting set of matches to watch. It was clear that all the players were worried to some degree at how they would be playing - obviously none of them wanted to embarrass themselves. But as it turned out, all of them lived up to the hype and delivered the goods. Kim was very consistent and her groundstrokes still carried immense weight - heck, she managed to outrally Andre a few times! Tim's volleys remain some of the best I have ever seen. Andre's hand to eye coordination was still phenomenal and he still had amazing precision in his shot placement.

And Steffi. Well, where do I begin? LOL First off, of all four players on court, she still seemed to have the perfect athletic body. You take one look at her and you wouldn't think she retired from tennis ten years ago. Her fitness level would still put most pro women tennis players to shame.

And so would her movement! In her heyday, she was known for her footwork, speed, and balance, and watching her chase balls all over the court and run around her backhand like in the old days. I seriously thought Kim would blow her off the court, especially with her powerful backhand, but Steffi managed to keep rallies going with her very precise and well-angled slice backhands. Her serve still had lots of weight on it too. She did score a few service winners and manage to set up points with it.

Of course, any discussion about Steffi will not be complete without mention of her forehand. It doesn't have as much weight as it used to - after all, she is 10 years older and hasn't played that level of tennis in years - but she still matched Kim's forehand and even got the better of her on several occasions. There weren't any match statistics, but I'm sure Steffi got a decent number of forehand winners in the match.

She eventually lost the match, 6-4, but when you consider that Kim is 25 and planning to mount a comeback and that a lot of tennis fans are expecting her to still do great things and win a few titles, 6-4 is definitely not a bad scoreline!

Watching Steffi play definitely made me wish I got to watch the Centre Court Celebration live. But even more than that, it made me wish she was still playing. She did have a smile on her face for virtually the entire match against Kim so it was clear that she enjoyed herself immensely. Hopefully that will give both her and Andre the idea to play more exhibition matches in the future. Which would definitely be a treat for tennis fans all over the world. Hopefully, I can get to see the next one (if there will be any...)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Self-boxing

My friend Onin sent me this youtube link and it got me laughing. Check it out!


video uploaded in youtube by user sylar1717

Since it was a clean hit, the question is, who gets the point? ;)

Monday, May 11, 2009

What a great start to the F1 season!

So there's a possibility now that the F1 drivers' championship gets passed on from one Brit to another. Last year's world champion, Lewis Hamilton, ended up ahead of everyone else, albeit barely, by winning five of the seventeen races of the season. Now, five races into the season, Jenson has won four races and placed third in the other one.

If he keeps up this pace, he is on track to become F1 world champion. Heck, if he keeps this up, he could end up with a season in the league of Michael Schumacher, who holds the record for the most race wins in a year (13 out of 17, unreal!).

*****

And since I'm talking F1, I have to mention my friend David. He's the one who turned me into a football fan when he took me to watch the England-Albania World Cup qualifier match in a sports pub in London back in 2001. I have now been keeping a close eye on F1 and have been watching a lot of races ever since I took David to watch the Singapore GP last September in Handlebar. So apparently, whenever I watch a sporting event with David in a sport bar, I end up becoming a fan of that sport LOL. Fun times!

A P1000 discount on my shoe purchase in Adidas

So I was in some kind of shopping mode last weekend, mainly coz I needed some new slacks for work. At some point in my shopping spree, I thought of looking for new white sneakers coz the ones I currently use are no longer as white and have started looking at bit shoddy. I swing by an Adidas store and try on these Adidas Porsche Design shoes and I decided I wanted to get them. The shoes I got kinda look like this photo except the stripes on mine are black:

When I tell the salesman that I was gonna purchase the shoes, he asks me if I was going for the trade in (apparently he was looking at the Aldo shoe box I had with me - yes, I got some new dress shoes as well) and I didn't immediately get it. As I head to the counter to make the payment, I see this sign that talks about this promo in all Adidas stores in Manila (or maybe the Philippines?) where you can trade in an old pair of sports shoes of any brand and that are in decent condition, and you get a discount. You get P500 if the shoes you are buying cost PHP1,500 to 2,999 and P1000 if they cost P3000 or more. The shoes you donate will go to the Pamulaan Center for Indigenous People's Education (read more about this foundation here).

Now I had a pair of old Nike cross trainers that I hadn't used in a while and which I now only use for Habitat for Humanity builds coz I don't mind if they get dirty. I figured I could trade those shoes in. I get P1000 off on my new shoe purchase and I get to help out the Pamulaan Center. So I ask the salesman if he can hold those shoes for me and I would just return with my old pair. He said he would.

So I managed to get rid of my old pair of trainers, get a new pair at a big discount, and hopefully help someone out in the process. A pretty nifty deal if you ask me! The promo lasts only until May 17 so if you've been thinking of getting new sports shoes, you might want to consider getting them in Adidas.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Sports in 4, 3, 2, 1...

Manchester United have only FOUR matches left this Barclays Premiere League season. And with three-point lead atop the league table (plus a game in hand), the odds of Liverpool taking the league championship this season are almost non-existent. Which is a shame since Liverpool started the season incredibly well, and are in such good form over the last couple of months (they just beat Newcastle 3-0, increasing the possibility of Newcastle being relegated. Sorry Newcastle fans..). For Liverpool to score the most unlikely upset, they need to win all four of their remaining games and Man Utd have to either lose two of their remaining matches or draw three. I will still hang on to that incredibly think glimmer of hope though. Come on, Liverpool!

*****

I turned into a bit of a fair-weather fan of F1 when I watched the Singapore GP last September in a sports bar with my friend David. Since then, I've kept an eye on F1, watching a couple of Grand Prixs along the way. And this season, I've gotten on the bandwagon in support of Jenson Button, who was won THREE of the first four races. To be fair, though, since I am a fairly new fan, I haven't really gotten behind anyone yet, although since most people I know are pro-Ferrari, my tendency is to root for the underdog. So Jenson it is, at least this season LOL. I am hoping though that he ends up atop the Drivers' Championship at the end of the season. Good luck, Jenson!

*****

TWO rounds is all the irresistible Manny Pacquiao needed to knock out Ricky Hatton in the highly anticipated Battle of East and West. That rout - no, utter demolition - has to be up there as one of the most lopsided of major sporting activities. As proud as I am of Manny, I kinda wish he was the greatest in another sport aside from boxing as I always feel sorry for the loser. Not only does he lose, he gets beaten up in the process. In any case, Pacquiao has truly lived up to his billing as the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world and has made his country very, very proud. Go Manny!

*****

Rafael Nadal has now truly cemented himself as the world's number ONE tennis player. With five titles this year (with the Rome title coming just as I write this blog), the most of any player, he's distanced himself from Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray, who now all have a shot at the number 2 ranking in the next few months. Murray started the year off better than anyone else in terms of win-loss record, but Nadal has now pushed ahead of the pack due to the clay court season, winning his 30th match over Djokovic in the Rome final. Djokovic seems to have gained his the form that took him to the #3 ranking though, getting to the finals of the last two clay court tournaments he's played. He may just be Nadal's biggest threat in Roland Garros, but Rafa has to remain the odds-on favorite to take his fifth French Open title this year. Vamos, Rafa!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Movie watching

So over the last few weeks, I've been able to get some time to catch a few films at the cinema. I figured that there are lots of movie theaters right next to both where I work and where I live. So in theory, I shouldn't be missing as many movies as I do.

So here's a quick recap of the films I've gotten to see recently:

Dragonball Evolution. I've been told by so many people that it wasn't a good movie and that it was getting such bad reviews so my expectations were quite low. So I ended up being one of the scant few people in the world who thought it was okay LOL. I'm guessing though that if you are a fan of the cartoon series, you won't be pleased with how movie didn't stay true to the storyline.

Monsters vs. Aliens. In true computer generated animation fashion, this was really fun to watch. Lots of really hilarious moments. The storyline is really basic, to make sure that the kids who watch it understand what's going on. But the humor is adult and it makes this movie perfect for the whole family.

Slumdog Millionaire. After its massive success in the recently concluded Hollywood awards season, I was really looking forward to see this film. I have to say I was quite let down. I didn't seem to connect with the lead character, at least not for the entire duration of the movie. Maybe it's also because I live in a third world country where I've seen, to some degree, the stuff that was depicted in the movie. So probably the impact it had on audiences from developed countries was lost on me.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Definitely worth watching, although I must've had such high expectations of the film that I ended up being slightly disappointed. I think it's the whole regeneration thing. The utter immortality of the regenerating characters in the TV Series Heroes has gotten me slightly put off by this ability, and in this X-Men Origins, Wolverine's regenerative abilities remind me a lot of the same power in Heroes. I do have to say though that in my opinion, Liev Schreiber gives the best performance in the film. He is utterly chilling and ominous as Sabretooth. Oh, and there's a final scene in the movie, similar to The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man, but in all honesty, it's a useless scene and I felt cheated for having stayed all the way til the end of the credits for that one sh*tty clip LOL.

Still a few films I want to see, like "The Fast and the Furious 4". Hopefully I can get to see it before it disappears from theaters here.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A very successful run for charity

What a great way to start a weekend! Our Corporate Social Responsibility team at work and yesterday just held the "Run Forest Run, Kythe 3k lang" run-for-charity event in McKinley Hill. It was the first time we held this kind of run-for-charity event on the site-wide level (there have been two previous runs for charity but these were done on the department and sub-department level) and I'm very pleased to say that it was a brilliant success!

The organizers got there pretty early. I arrived at the site at 430am and the other organizers Wen, Zaza, Tiano, and Alvin were all there and had already helped in pitching 6 of the 7 tents. The other organizers Elaine and Carmela, as well as the rest of the volunteers (marshals, water station personnel, finish line checkers, etc) started coming in after, and by 6:30am practically all 91 runners were there, getting ready to run either 3, 5, or 10 kilometers. Since I was one of the organizers (and was also hosting the activity), I had to "organize" and as such, couldn't join the race.

We had two beneficiaries for this run-for-charity: Haribon and Kythe. Haribon is an environmental organization dedicated to the conservation of Philippine biodiversity. They are currently working on the Road to 2020, which aims to restore one million hectares of rainforest using native tree species by the year 2020. Kythe is an organization that aims to provide quality of life for pediatric patients by uplifting their spirits and strengthening hope in these patients and their families.

The funds for these two beneficiaries were raised through pledges that the volunteer runners would get from their friends and family for their run (exactly the same as how I do my annual marathon for a cause). With 91 runners, I'm crossing my fingers that we raised more than P150,000 for these two beneficiaries. We will only find out this coming week how much money was raised, so hopefully we meet our targets.

In any case, it was a great team effort. And with all the experience and information we gained through this exercise, I'm pretty sure our next run-for-charity will be an even bigger success. I can't wait! :)

Friday, April 10, 2009

An amazing week in Singapore

I just got back from Singapore for a few days of rest and relaxation with my many friends there.

Actually, there really wasn't a lot of rest and relaxation, but there certainly was a boatload of fun! From the few nights of bar hopping and solid drinking (such an expensive hobby in SG!!) to my return to The Mind Cafe to the movie-watching (I managed to see "Shinjuku Incident" and "Gran Torino" while I was there) to meeting up with my friends there (and meeting a few new ones while I was at it), my days in Singapore were pretty jam-packed as they always are.

I actually got to perform an impromptu, stripped performance of The Killers' "Mr. Brightside" in Timbre as well. The artist performing there, Michaela Therese, was a friend of my buddy Tim and he requested that I sing it while Michaela backed me up on keyboards. It turned pretty well.

The highlight of my trip though were the concerts that I saw while I was there. I got to watch Oasis on Sunday night in the Indoor Stadium and The Kaiser Chiefs in Fort Canning Park on Tuesday. I knew a few Oasis songs but I knew only one Kaiser Chiefs song so I was worried I wouldn't enjoy it. But strangely enough, as great as the Oasis gig was, I enjoyed the Kaiser Chiefs concert a whole lot more.

The Kaiser Chiefs' songs are so catchy that you can enjoy them even if you are hearing them for the first time. It certainly happened to me. And a lot of their songs have very easy-to-pick-up choruses with repeating lines that I actually managed to sing along with them, especially in "Na Na Na Na Naa" and "Oh My God" (Oh my God I can't believe it, I've never been this far away from home). And the lead vocalist Ricky Wilson just had such an incredible presence on stage and an infectious energy that he had the entire crowd rocking out with him from the beginning. I was so into the concert that I have become an instant fan, and I'm now planning to get all their three albums.

So anyways, here's probably my current favorite song of theirs, Na Na Na Na Naa from the album Employment.


video uploaded in youtube by user sarcasmmister

I couldn't really find a better video of them performing this song (everything else I could find was taken from a shaky hand LOL) but you really do need to see them live to realize just how good they are. In fact, if they somehow end up anywhere near flying distance, I would be very willing to head over to see them perform again. I guess they didn't win a 2006 Brit Award for Best Live Act for nothing.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Definitely not the result I was after

This is so not good. Liverpool just lost to Chelsea in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal. What's worse, they lost in Anfield. And as if that wasn't bad enough, they just had to lose with a scoreline of 3-1. Sh*t.

The only way they can get through to the semis now is to beat Chelsea away and by a better score than 3-1. It's a two-goal difference but if Liverpool win 2-0, they tie on aggregate but Chelsea move through due to the away goals rule.

It doesn't help that the English Premiership season is at its tail-end now and Liverpool are still barely behind Man Utd coz Liverpool can't really afford to have their attention divided at this point.

If I had a say in the matter, I would honestly let go of the Champions League. After all, if they manage to come from behind to beat Chelsea, they will most likely run up against Barcelona who just thumped Bayern Munich 4-0. Note that Bayern are a team that won their previous round with an aggregate score of 12-1 so this loss indicates just how good Barca are playing at the moment.

Strangely enough, I am now hoping that Man Utd can beat Villareal, get through to the semis., and have a rough time the rest of the way. The longer they remain in the Champions League, the better the chances that they drop points in the premiership and allow Liverpool to overtake them.

Oh well, just a couple of months before the season ends. I just really hope that Liverpool can somehow take the English Premiership...

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Sound of Music in the Antwerp Central Station

Check this video out (thanks for the link, Mark! :)). It is so cheesy and so cool at the same time LOL.


Video uploaded in youtube by user
saihttam1988.

Apparently, there is this reality TV show in Belgium about musicals, and they did this performance in the Antwerp Central Station to promote it.

It must've been really interesting for the people who were there at the time. Heck, if I was there, I would probably have missed my train on purpose to watch the whole show LOL.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

"Run" by Snow Patrol

Snow Patrol's "Run" was released back in 2004 but this beautiful song didn't enter my consciousness until this week. Maybe it's because this is one of those songs that you need to digest or listen to a couple of times before realizing just how great it is. So I encourage you to take another listen if you don't think you like it at first.


video uploaded in youtube by user topgearhannah2k6

I "discovered" the song on Monday, when I was chatting with Sep. We were talking about a couple of songs that our band is trying to learn - Snow Patrol's "Chasing Cars" and Collective Soul's "Run". He suggested that we take our cue in learning these songs from live versions that Snow Patrol and Collective Soul do. Which made sense so I decided to look up the vids on youtube. While typing in "Snow Patrol" in youtube, the text predicter suggested 'Snow Patrol Run'. Interesting coincidence, I thought, and I decided to check out the video. At first I thought it was okay but not wow. And as I read the comments, I realized Leona Lewis had a version. So I checked it out. It was good, but I realized I preferred the emotion in the original version. So I listened to it again, but this time I checked the lyrics out as well.

And suddenly, it home. For me, the perfect song is one where the melody, the lyric, the instrumentation, the flow and build up of the song, and the vocal interpretation and delivery all work together to deliver the same message. And that is exactly what you get in this song. It has now been elevated to one of my favorite songs of all time and I haven't stopped listening to it since I discovered it. I've even checked out some live versions that they've done. And of all I've seen on youtube, this one is my favorite. Mainly because of how intensely the crowd sing back the final chorus to the band (happens at around the 5:05 mark)


video uploaded in youtube by user rhyniemx

And the greatest thing about this is, I apparently have this song in my ipod!! It was in one of those compilation albums I got more than a year ago which had about 5 or 6 songs that I knew and kept listening to. Can't believe this gem was in that same CD all this time!!

"Light up, light up
As if you have a choice
Even if you cannot hear my voice
I'll be right beside you dear"

Brilliant.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Great weekend of sports!

I can't believe how things turned out in the English Premiership over the weekend. As of Friday, Liverpool were 4 points behind league leaders Manchester United. Chelsea had the same number of points but boasted a better goal difference which put them at second place.

Then things started to get interesting. On Saturday, Fulham pulled the shock of the weekend with a 2-0 win over Man U. Tottenham followed suit and beat Chelsea 1-0. Then Liverpool took full advantage of the opportunity and blasted 5 goals against Aston Villa. The rout was made even sweeter by the hat trick that Stevie Gerrard scored. Go Stevie!

This means that Liverpool are now only 1 point behind Man U and have leapfrogged Chelsea into second place. What's even better is that Liverpool now have the best goal difference in the league. This means that if they end up at the top of the league on equal points with Man U and/or Chelsea, they will take home the championship.

It's still Man U's to lose though, especially since they have a game in hand. But the dynamic has definitely changed somewhat, and Liverpool still have a shot.

*****

On the other side of the world, Rafa Nadal routed Andy Murray in the finals of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells to win his second title of the season, and his 13th Masters 1000 Event. With Murray defeating Roger Federer for the 4th straight time in the semifinals, Nadal's victory means he increases his lead at the top of the rankings, making it tougher for everyone else to catch him.

I hope that Nadal can continue his good form through to the clay court season and win his 5th French Open title. If that happens, who knows what other results can follow this year.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bad, bad traffic day

I hate being stuck in traffic. But when you live in Manila, it's one of the things you learn to deal with. You come to know where in the city, and at which times during the day, the traffic is bad and how long it will take to get from one place to another during these bad traffic moments. I still get pissed off when stuck in traffic every now and then, but I can kinda let it roll off my back for the most part.

The sucky thing really is when you are not expecting any traffic at all and it hits you squarely in the face. And that's exactly what happened to me yesterday.

I was heading to Manila for band practice at 3pm. I left my place at 2:15pm, fully expecting to be at the studio in time for band practice. But at 245pm, I realized that I had been stuck at the same stretch of road for about 15 minutes already and had barely moved. I thought it was just something going on at the stoplight and text my bandmates that I will be late. But as I cross the stoplight, I realize the traffic is still horribly bad. At the worst point of the jam, it actually took me about half an hour to move 500 meters!! I honestly don't recall the last time I was stuck in a traffic jam that bad.

I decide to get off the road I'm on and take a different route. It turns out the traffic on that road is just as bad. I was now half an hour late for band practice and nowhere near the studio yet. If I had run from my place to the studio, I would probably have gotten there already!!

As it turns out, there was some anti-drug rally in Roxas Boulevard and it caused the traffic horror in Manila that day. It took me almost 3 hours (2:45) to get to the studio. We spent three hours practicing before heading home (during which time the traffic had lifted but there were still a couple of bad spots). But at least we got to practice a few songs - including three new ones that we plan to do in our next gig.

I was supposed to head to dinner afterwards. Kathy was throwing a surprise birthday party for John. While driving home, I was still fully planning to head there. However, I had to head home first. Thing is, when I got home, it hit me that I was totally exhausted and couldn't muster the energy anymore to head out. I gave Kathy and John a call to apologize and they were very nice about it. I do hope I get to meet up with them some time this week for dinner since I missed the party.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Missed chance...

Last March 12, I logged in to ticketmaster.co.uk (at 10am UK time) to try and get myself a ticket to the Graf-Agassi-Henman-Clijsters exhibition in Wimbledon on May 17. I had trouble launching the page - the first few minutes I was trying to access it, I kept seeing a message saying that the event didn't exist. I knew it must've been a glitch so I kept on trying.

After several minutes, the page finally appeared. I reckon there must have been some delay in making tickets available. So I try to get a ticket and I manage to snag a really good one at that, it was in the section right next to the court. I was thinking whether I should book it when I noticed that it would cost me an extra £18.50 for ticket delivery since I wasn't based in the UK. The additional cost threw me off for a minute, and since I preferred a seat at the back of the court rather than the side (that way, I wouldn't have to keep turning my head left and right during points), I decided to let the ticket go. In any case, I figured that since I was able to get a courtside seat quickly enough, then it should be easy enough to get another one if I wanted to.

Moments after I let it go, I realize that the extra £18.50 wasn't too bad (it's a full tank of gas and a good lunch) so I try getting another ticket.

And as I tried getting another ticket, I realized that all my assumptions were way off base.

I spent the next half hour trying to get another ticket but couldn't. When I finally get one, it was at the worst possible section - the topmost corner. It didn't seem worth it for me to pay almost PHP5,000 for a bad seat where the players would look like ants to me. So I decided not to get the ticket, and essentially drop my plans of heading to London in May. Which means I missed my chance of watching Steffi Graf play live on Wimbledon. Sucks!!

Moral of the story: don't be greedy and want a better seat than you already have (especially when the one you have is a pretty damn good one!). And when you are talking about once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, don't scrimp. You can always earn back the money but you won't get back the missed chance. Oh well...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Brilliant performance!!

Liverpool followed up their awesome midweek display against Real Madrid with a very inspired 4-1 win over Manchester United. Four goals scored against two of the best clubs in Europe (heck, in the world!) and all done in five days. Unbelievable.

I watched that match last Saturday and I have to admit that after Man U went up 1-0 about 20 minutes into the match, I switched the channel LOL. I know, I know, if you are a fan, then you should stand by your team win or lose. But I guess I was really worried that Man U would win after that. After all, they were playing at Old Trafford and Man U are pretty good front runners. So when I switched channels again at half time, I found out that Liverpool has somehow scored two goals before the end of the first half to take the lead. Apparently, Torres tied it up and Gerrard put Liverpool ahead. Once again, the dynamic duo rescue the club!

Two more amazing goal - one a free kick from Aurelio and another a very late goal from Dossena - sealed the deal for Liverpool and narrowed the gap that Man U have atop the league table to four points. Granted, Man U have a game in hand and can widen the gap to seven points. And with not too many games left in the season, Man U are still heavy favorites to win the league. But the important thing now is that Liverpool have done their part. After Man U's opening goal, Liverpool could very well have been 10 points behind instead of just four.

It's too bad that Liverpool have delivered the goods against the top squads in Europe this season - They beat Real Madrid twice, Chelsea twice, and Manchester United twice - and yet seemed to lose points to lesser teams (like Middlesbrough, against whom Pool lost 0-2 recently!). If only they could have maintained their level throughout the season, they'd still be atop the league right now. Ah well. I'm still keeping my fingers crossed...

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Let's go, Liverpool!

I never thought I would see the day. Liverpool made history by blasting four goals against the legendary Real Madrid and handing the Galácticos their worst defeat in the Champions League.

I had high hopes for Liverpool to make it through to quarterfinals after they took a 1-0 advantage in the first leg of their clash with Real Madrid. But a 4-0 win was definitely not something I expected. So it was an incredibly pleasant surprise when I checked the news out this morning. What makes it even better is Torres and Gerrard both scored goals (Gerrard actually scored two) and when the dynamic duo of Liverpool are in scoring form, it's a good sign for the entire team.

I hope that they can take their Champions League success back home to England. They have a massive clash against Manchester United on Saturday, and a win will reduce the lead that Man U currently have as they sit comfortably at the top of the league table. I am still hoping Liverpool can go on a massive winning streak in England and take the Premiership title this season. Not the best odds of that happening but I will be keeping my fingers crossed...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Alicia Keys: "No One" (Stripped version)

Here's an awesome, stripped version of no One as performed by Alicia Keys.


video uploaded in youtube by user gleicarol

I got a link to this video from one of the forums I visit and I thought it was awesome. I think Alicia's voice, as great as it is, sounds quite strained in the album version of "No One". Her voice in this live performance, however, is clearer and more effortless. Much better than the recording IMHO.

But what makes this number stand out for me are the amazing back-up singers. At 3:23, they do these incredible descending scales that sounds so smooth and flawless that you think it's pretty easy to do. Then I tried singing it myself and I realized it was NOT as straightforward as I initially thought! Those back up singers are truly awesome!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Speed typing

My friend M sent me a link to this website, to which she claims she is addicted now. I took a look and it's indeed a fun site. You are supposed to type the words that appear and you are then scored on how many words and characters you can type in a minute.

I'm not sure what the average typing speed is but I thought I did pretty well. Haven't scored below 60 (one word per second) in all my tries so far. Here's my current best result:

84 words

Typing Test

Not bad. I know someone whose best score is 89 and I know someone else whose best score is 75. So I guess all in all I'm not bad (I used to think I was a lot slower than I apparently am). I'm not quite addicted to it yet but I do find it quite fun to try out every now and then.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Elliott Yamin's new single: "Fight for love"

Two years after he released his self-titled debut album, Elliott Yamin releases his new single, "Fight for Love". Woo-hoo!!!

The single was released in the US around Valentine's Day (I think it premiered on AOL on Feb 13). I've heard that it wasn't supposed to be released yet but the song somehow leaked. But in the end it kinda made sense coz it's a romantic song and a coming-out party on the Valentine's day is quite appropriate. You can listen to the full song in the Croshal Entertainment Group website.

"Fight for Love" is a really catchy song and the first time I heard it, I ended up listening to it over and over again (still do, actually LOL). Not only is the song very radio-friendly but it showcases Elliott's smooth vocals and soulful vibe. He seems to have increased his range as well as he hits a couple of really high notes that he didn't hit in his first album.

His new album is supposed to be released in the US on May 5th. The single hasn't been released in the Philippines yet, and no date has been set on international album release either. But considering his past success here, I hope it won't be long. Who knows, maybe he decides to make another trip to Manila soon to promote his new album.

Hopefully, the new album does just as well as the first one, if not better. Would be great if Elliott becomes a platinum recording artist.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

My last shot at a long-standing dream?

I checked out the tennis page on CNN Sports Illustrated the other day as I do often. And I was stunned by the piece of news at the top of the page:

"Agassi, Graf to rally first under Wimbledon roof"

My eyes widened and I immediately clicked on the click to read more about the article. Apparently, Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi will play an exhibition - dubbed "A Centre Court Celebration" - along with Tim Henman and Kim Clijsters in Wimbledon on May 17. Holy crap!

The event is being staged in order to test the playing conditions in Wimbledon Centre Court with the new roof and air management system. Wimbledon starts in end-June and I guess the organizers of this most celebrated of tennis tournaments want to gauge how things will be in Centre Court once the roof in place. That way, there won't be any surprises, and any problems with the playing conditions can be identified weeks before the tournament starts.

I have actually watched Steffi Graf play live once - an exhibition match against Kimiko Date in Tokyo, which was part of Graf's farewell tour in late 1999-early 2000. But I have always wanted to see her play in a Grand Slam event. Obviously, I didn't have the cash at the time Steffi was playing so I never got a chance to watch her compete. And this exhibition isn't exactly a Grand Slam event, but it will be played in the hallowed grounds of Wimbledon. Considering that Steffi is retired and no longer plays competitive tennis, this really is the next best thing.

What's more, she will be playing with her husband Andre Agassi as well as Henman and Kim Clijsters. I have actually supported and rooted for all these players at some point in my tennis fandom so it'll be great to get to see all of them share the same court (Wimbledon Centre Court!!) and play with/against each other.

Tickets will be sold at 10am UK time on March 12, and I will hope that I am lucky enough to get a ticket. If I do, I will figure out some way to fly to London. My pockets aren't exactly bursting at the seams with money and there is a global financial crisis right now so frivolous spending should be kept at a minimum, but this has been a dream of mine for such a long time now and another opportunity like this may never come again so it'll definitely be worth it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Falling Slowly (from the movie "Once")

Here's a very beautiful song called "Falling Slowly" by Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova.


video uploaded in youtube by user FoxSearchlight

This song never really got into the mainstream but it's claim to fame is that it won an Oscar for Best Original Song in 2007, beating out music from "Enchanted" and "August Rush". It never gained popularity here because the song is not really mainstream and the film "Once" wasn't shown here. I first learned about the film when my friend Michele suggested to me that I watch it, saying that I would most likely enjoy the music in it. My friend Chari got it for me as a birthday gift last year and I've listened to it (especially this song) a lot of times already. I also got the DVD of the film, although I have yet to watch it.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Miscellany

Liverpool just drew against Man City last night, which now means that Manchester United are seven points ahead of them and sitting pretty at the top of the league table. I don't want to throw the towel in just yet, but I don't want to be bitterly disappointed either so I'm going to hope for the best but expect the worst. Well, not really the worst. The worst would be if Liverpool to drop from 2nd place. I would be gutted if that happens.

*****

After five trips to the Oscars, Kate Winslet finally nabs the best actress trophy. I was hoping that Meryl Streep would pull an upset but I do have to say that I am still quite happy for Kate as she does deserve to have at least one Oscar - I mean, this was her sixth nomination! I especially love the bit in her acceptance speech where she says "I think we all can't believe we're in a category with Meryl Streep at all." I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that Hollywood will realize that Meryl will return to the winner's circle at least one more time.

I was really happy too that Sean Penn for the best actor trophy. I had a feeling that if there would be any upset, it would be in this category. Mickey Rourke had been winning every other award, and I felt that Sean Penn deserved some recognition for his portrayal of Harvey Milk. I do feet for Mickey Rourke though because I'm not sure how many other chances he will get to be nominated (this was Penn's fifth nomination and second Oscar).

And may I say that the opening act from Hugh Jackman was incredible! I thought for a second he wasn't going to be given a standing ovation but there was just some delay. :) That performance is worthy of some award too (maybe an Emmy or a Golden Globe? LOL)

*****

Okay this bit of news is a week old but Rafa Nadal managed to increase his lead over Roger Federer by reaching the finals of the ATP tournament in Rotterdam. It could have been an even bigger lead had he won, but he ended up succumbing to a knee injury and losing in three sets to a very in-form Andy Murray. Unfortunately he loses a bit of his lead over Federer because he had to withdraw from Dubai due to his injured knee. Roger withdrew from the same event due to a back problem, but since he lost in the first round last year, he doesn't have any points to defend.

I do hope Nadal gets enough rest and strengthens his knee soon. The clay court season is coming up and he has a whole horde of points to defend. It would be absolutely great if Rafa can win the French Open this year. If he does, it will be his fifth in a row. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for that...