Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Miss Philippines Venus Raj is Miss Universe 2010 4th Runner-up

 (image via: here)

We Filipinos are suckers for getting our proud little country into the limelight of the international stage hopefully for the right reasons (after the numerous road mishaps and the hostage crisis yesterday, we deserve a breather) and beyond Manny Pacquiao. Venus Raj did that today during the 2010 Miss Universe Pageant held in Madalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas despite her "major major blunder" during the question and answer portion. 

I guess I was a bit disappointed because after Miriam Quiambao, she was the only Pinay who came close to clinching the title; and it's been a while for us Filipinos to see one of our own make it as a finalist in one of the world's most prestigious competitions. The sad part is, the crown would have fit her beautifully. In my honest opinion, her exotic looks are a stand out. With a 22-inch waste line, she was exquisitely stunning in her swimwear; and she looked gorgeous, regal and elegant in her evening gown.

While I am no beauty pageant expert, I felt that she gave up after reaching the top five, probably too overwhelmed at the fact that she actually made it that far. The question too (minus the pressure and compared to those asked of the other candidates) was rather easy and personal. She was asked by William Baldwin (whom I remember vividly for his annoying role as Serena van der Woodsen's father on Gossip Girl) what she thought was her biggest mistake in life. I think it's great that she doesn't believe in regrets and have so far done nothing "major" in her 22 years of existence. What irked me in the way she answered though, was the way she continuously referred to Baldwin as a "sir" and why on earth she thanked him for that "(un)wonderful" question. It's a very typical Filipino beauty pageant filler of an answer.

In a way too, her continuous reference to Baldwin as a "sir" reflected our hierarchical society (even when the world is moving towards a system of equality and away from societies where social classes dictate the way of life for most) and and inferiority to other nations. In the Philippines, foreigners especially Americans  are always referred to as "sirs" or "ma'am s" for all the wrong reasons. While I appreciate the fact that Filipinos are (too) respectful, I still think that our use of titles are more of results of our feelings of inferiority towards other developed nations rather than as a genuine sign of respect. This is an awful generalization against my own culture, but it's a fact everywhere in the country. I've worked with Americans and people from other countries, and from my own experience, they would like nothing more than to be treated as equals with the right amount of respect and without the unnecessary attempts at patronizing. 

I think as a country, in order to actually become known throughout the world as a mighty nation, we should start moving forward and join hands with other nations in creating a truly border-less world where anyone can be whoever he/she wants to be. 

Despite all this, I am mighty proud of Venus Raj. I think she represented our country well. Her life story at the same time is really inspiring and I know from this point forward, she would inspire many. Though it's wonderful that she feels that she has done no "major major" (here we go again) blunder in her life, I think mistakes do matter because without them, we wouldn't learn. And lessons learned, make us better persons. But all in all, congratulations Venus!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Back, Surigao City Fire

It's awful to be sick. I was sick for more than a week two weeks ago. I literally couldn't get out of bed as a result and my entire body hurt. Flu has never hit me this bad. And when I finally did recover, work backlog consumed most of my time that it became impossible to even go online. My facebook page has never been this stagnant; and I'm unable to answer non-work related e-mails. I miss the internet and I miss blog-hopping. But now, I'm back with a vengeance. I will be visiting other blogs later. 

On to a different thing, I am sad to report that almost 200 families were left homeless after a fire razed through one of our city's biggest slum areas last Saturday. The fire started in the block directly in front of our church/ministry center. In the middle of all the chaos, I couldn't even do anything except text the worship team who at that time was supposed to start their practice for Sunday's worship service. I had to be in a beauty pageant in the school where I teach and I couldn't leave because I was at the judging table tabulating scores and also judging the students' pirate costumes. It's a relief that the fire never got to our church and no one I know got hurt or lost their properties. It is sad though that almost all of our neighbors lost their homes and properties to the fire. An old lady, whom I was told was paralyzed, didn't make it our alive either. There were two children who got trapped and died too. The houses in the area were made of combustible materials; so as a result, it took three hours to completely put out the fire. Here are some of the photos of the fire courtesy of Ma'am Sharon Guerra:

And what was left of the area after:

We praise God that our church is safe. Times like these are truly difficult even for us who actually made it out unscathed. However, looking at what was left, especially seeing the place so ghastly truly breaks our hearts. Even though the reasons are hard to understand at times, our Lord God remains sovereign and in control of all. Not everyone in church is able to give a lot including our family (with financial difficulties all over the place). But yesterday, even in our nothingness, we decided to pool in whatever we can give just to be able to give to those who lost everything. My mom and I raided our closets and so did the other members of our church. In total, we were able to give away 5 sacks of clothes and 2 sacks of footwear. I am also collecting pledges. Some of my friends have pledge to donate clothes, rice and toiletries. We will accept donations for as long as they will come. We are also willing to provide temporary shelter to those who have nowhere else to go. If you are willing to give something, either in cash or kind, please contact me through my facebook page.

Updates on the donations and all to be posted soon.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Unexpected Gift Art

My artist friend Jherry was working on my aunt's soon-to-open medical spa marketing campaign when he stumbled upon my stick figure drawings.*dies of shame here* So yeah, I really really love art but I know how much it doesn't love me back. I however, am for visual/graphical expression so with stick figures I somehow manage to visually express my thoughts and experiences. My friend doesn't openly criticize but he doesn't lie as well; so I was pretty happy when he said he enjoyed my drawings and even commented that somehow they are more "expressive". Two days later, I found this in the same folder where I save my stick figure drawings to:

He called it romantic rain and indeed it is. But boo! This is maybe his attempt to draw something stick-figure like but it fails to be anything ugly. It's still too pretty to be considered crude and man do I love the blush on both the girl and the boy's cheeks. Hehe!

Jherry illustrates for me and for most of our clients. Manga-style art is actually his specialty (since he loves anime like me!) but he occasionally does graphics design work and does character commissions over at Deviantart. He's still a college student though and his time to do freelance work is extremely limited but he's so talented that I sometimes coerce him to accept more projects. His artworks are actually diverse so do check his site out here.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Fullness of Joy

Jesus is indeed the sum of my desires and the fullness of my joy... I marvel in His presence.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


It's been a while since I last wrote something here and I do have an explanation for that but that will have to be done in the next entry because it's so hilarious that it deserves its own spotlight. For now however, I'd like to focus on reviewing one of the latest movies I saw. Our little city has not had any cinema/movie theater for at least 15 years now and since this is such a small city, theaters have difficulty operating profitably and has focused on showing either titillating films and/or those movies with mass appeals (mostly locally produced ones) that are so corny you'd drown in 10 truckloads of corn kernels while watching them. So anyway, during movie night we watched Bandslam.

I'm probably one of the very few people who actually prefer feel-good, predictable, and teenybopper films. I know saying that contradicts the other statement I made about corny films but with all due respect to the filmmakers of our nation, most Pinoy movies are really worse than the worst Hollywood-produced teenybopper movie you've seen. So knowing that Bandslam starred the likes of Vanessa Hudgens, I was expecting it to be a High School Musical-esque kinda film. But I was extremely wrong. Sure the movie had all the elements of the classic teenybopper/feel good/musical-themed movies but there's so much charm in the film that it somehow manages to elevate it self two notches higher than the movies of the same genre/target audience.

To recap, Bandslam is about two (plus one later) teenagers forming an unusual bond through their shared love of music. They would later assemble a crew of like-minded misfits and social outcasts to form a rock group that would later perform in a battle of the bands competition called "Bandslam". Because of its coming-of-age and musical themes, the movie had trite moments but the story presentation was handled so tastefully that it actually delivers despite the rather formulaic parts. Plus, all of the main characters: Vanessa Hudgens (Sa5m - pronounced as Sam with a silent 5), Gaelan Connell (Will Burton) and Aly Michalka (Charlotte Barnes) actually developed rather beautifully that you'd grow to love them despite the stereotypical natures of their characters. Plus, Lisa Kudrow is her usual brilliant self. Lisa plays Will's mom and unlike most teen film moms, the approach she gave her character is refreshing and becomes an integral part of the progression of the movie. On the plus side too, the film's source of conflict is rather unusual. Typical rom-coms would have its two main characters falling out because someone either cheated or was being untrue to himself/herself. While Bandslam had those bits, Charlotte's experiment and her reasons why as one of the films sources of conflicts was rather new and a welcome relief.

I also enjoyed Will's growth especially when he was placed under such a pressure situation. I was expecting him to breakdown but instead he used his pain to recover and made an amazing introduction for the band. Despite his internal conflicts, I do believe that the maturity he has gained from all those experiences made him a credible manager for such a band. Vanessa Hudgens was easy to love too. The character she played was admittedly very reminiscent of the Adam's family's Wednesday (with the black clothes and monotone) voice but when she started gaining confidence you'd see a sparkle in her eyes that makes you believe that she was actually born to perform. The supporting cast offers a great comic relief too. I especially loved the drummer and his affections for Will's mom. The bassists and guitarist are also perfect for each other even the brass players. The band also has characters who only knew how to play classical music (one is even obsessed with keeping her cello tuned) and watching them grapple with new types of music is really fun.

Another plus factor is of course the movie's music. It has everything from punk, rock, reggae, rap, ska and so much more. Plus, I really enjoyed how balanced "I Can't Go On, I'll Go On" in terms of identity and the kind of music they played. Phil's song (Somebody to Fall Back On) was such a sweet sweet song that I actually almost cried listening to it. I Can't Go On, I'll Go On's version of Everything I Own (Vanessa Hudgen's rendition) was also so amazing. American Idol ought to learn from them on how to make something familiar your own; and how to make it modern and relevant while still retaining its nostalgic feel. And also, the cameo appearance of Will's hero was so sweet! You'll have to find out who it is.

Overall, I'm pretty happy about the movie. It's kind of sad though that the film didn't do well commercially. Critically however, I believe it's a gem. Would have enjoyed watching it in the cinema but watching it on DVD is also really worth it. And no, actually owning the DVD is way cooler than just renting it. I believe it's worth the money and I feel like I can actually watch this again if only for the music. So in conclusion, here's a video montage of the film with Someone to Fall Back On in the background. Enjoy!


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