Saturday, April 30, 2011

Cinderella and her magic slippers got nothing on the royal wedding of the century of Prince William and Kate Middleton. I think every girl with a princess fantasy was crying over television screens all around the globe yesterday when a middle-class commoner married a future king, and in the process, became a real-life princess. Okay, the Duchess of Cambridge, actually, but who wants to be specific?

I have been to a few weddings in my lifetime and even though I "attended" this affair only via cable television and internet, I felt that it was one of the best weddings I've ever had the opportunity of witnessing. The sincere and obvious love of the couple in front of the altar was enough to make the event a moment to remember. Add to that the simple elegance of the ceremony, the dress and the over-all ambiance, it was such a remarkable experience.

Feeling the need to immortalize the event in any way, here I present the photographs I think most showcase the magnificence of the event.

And my favorite...

Just goes to show that even the most prim and proper royal gathering has to have one kid ruining absolute perfection. Cutest wedding photo.. ever.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Catholic die-hards are still reeling from the near fatal blow from the news of religious institution giant Iglesia ni Cristo's support on the much contested Reproductive Health Bill. Even though their stand on the issue has been released since October, it is just a few days ago that the decision was made public.

The controversial law-to-be (yes, I'm that optimistic) has been debated about since last year but it is just recently that one can see the razor sharp fangs of the church showing it's ugly head. Much has been said about  what anti-RH people have thought of INC's "sudden" change of mind, whether their leader was bribed with cash etc., but more apparently, much has also been photoshopped to show such distaste for the Catholic's lost ally on the fight against contraception and women empowerment

In the article before this, I tackled on my dream of having a religion-free world, one that is devoid of hate, wars and discrimination. I wrote about my belief (and John Lennon's) that the universe would be such a better place without contradicting faiths.

For those people who still need more proof that being a close-minded follower of a certain religion is detrimental to the unity and progress of our society, our anti-RH Bill (mostly) Catholic peeps are here to further enlighten your mind.

Photo by: San Carlos Manansala

Photo by: Alaska Dor
Source: Photos from the I Oppose the RH Bill Facebook Page

So, not surprisingly enough, not only is Iglesia ni Cristo's church being virtually vandalized by these irked and quite desperate followers, Atheism and even the Muslim faith (interestingly personified by Robin Padilla himself) is taking the blame. 

What can I say? Great job you self-proclaimed epitome of morality people. You have done a fantastic job showing to the world just that.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Somebody just told me (commanded me actually) that if I don't believe anymore in the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, I should start attending services of other sectors to prove my belief in God and my worth as a person. In short, I have to pick another church to worship in. No middle, no wiggle room. No grey area, just  black and white.

As a self-proclaimed freethinker (I believe in God / higher being, but not in any established religion because I see them as medium and sources of hate, wars, corruption and discrimination) I do not understand the concept of having to have a label attached to your name that you are either Catholic, Christiam, Muslim, Buddhist etc. to be considered as a good, God-loving, God-fearing person. It hurts me to think that other people see me in a different light just because I happen to not believe in the traditions and dogma that comes with established faiths.

Why can't I just live by my principles in peace without people thinking I'm turning into a devil-worshiper because I don't adhere with the rules and customs invented by charismatic people and believed by many? I do not understand how, in this day and age of technology and freedom of expression, people can still be so close-minded to think that there is this unwritten rule that you have to be a follower of a popular religious institution to essentially be considered as a person worthy to enter heaven or any alternative thereof of everlasting life. 

This kind of behavior further strengthens my belief that religion in general do more harm than good in the world. Yes, there is the hope that they give, the companionship, the idea that you can just come into this church and everything will be fine. But there are also wars, killings, various acts of violence, discrimination, hate, abuse and outright oppression of basic rights of people.

Imagine, sang John Lennon, a world with no religion. Imagine no suicide bombers, no 9/11, no 7/7, no Crusades, no witch-hunts, no Gunpowder Plot, no Kashmir dispute, no Indo/Pakistan partition, no Israel/Palestine wars, no Serb/Croat/Muslim massacres, no Northern Ireland 'troubles'. Imagine no Taliban blowing up ancient statues, lashing women for showing an inch of skin, or publicly beheading blasphemers and apostates. Imagine no persecutions of the Jews - no Jews to persecute indeed, for without religion they would long ago have intermarried with the surrounding populations.

How many people had their lives taken by some religious act of righteousness or gave up their souls for some higher purpose that involves blowing up a building full of innocent people? How many have been persecuted, discriminated and shunned just because their way of living isn't acceptable based on the faith of the people they are surrounded by?

Now, I believe wholeheartedly in the existence of a higher being, God, deity, absolute spirit, divine entity or whatever you may want to call it. And I know that a lot of people cannot separate the connection between God and religion because, for many, they are ultimately the same. But they are not, and in fact, in my perception, they are eons apart, for one is an ultimate being that transcends reason, science and logic, and the other is an organized belief system created and organized by  mere humans to feel more powerful and one with a higher realm. Closer to God, yes, but also closer to becoming one

I am a dreamer. I dream of a future where there is no hate, no wars based on contradicting beliefs. I know this concept is far from reality, but nothing is ever going to stop me from hoping.

Being alone in my belief (at least based on the people I know personally), all I can do now, is leave you this song by the legend John Lennon. I've never paid much attention to this song before, but have found it instrumental in my argument against religious labels and close-mindedness. With this, I wish the world love, happiness and peace.

Imagine there's no countries 
It isn't hard to do 
Nothing to kill or die for 
And no religion too 
Imagine all the people 
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us 
And the world will live as one

Thursday, April 21, 2011

As much as I love blogging, the old fashioned multi-paragraphed way, lately, I've realized that some of my best points regarding specific topics were best delivered within 140 characters. It will be a shame to just let them get buried in the Twitter rubble so I'm putting it here. 

So in celebration of Maundy Thursday, here are my recent choice tweets that clearly states my passion and advocacy for (hopefully) a future law, which is the RH Bill. Since the tweets are pretty recent, most of it are about the Baguio priest who lambasted Risa Hontiveros on the pulpit and asked parishioners to leave the church if they support the RH bill.

(Some of these tweets are made during a debate so notes are added for continuity purposes. Abbreviations have also been expanded since we're not constrained to limited characters anymore.)

My Top 10 Tweets About the RH Bill

10. I see your point. But their notion of what is a sin or not is suffocating even the (most basic) human right of HAVING AN OPINION. #rhbill (Response on an argument that it's the Church's prerogative to shun RH Bill supporters out of church)

9. They're having delusions of grandeur. Which is ironic bec. Jesus is all about living a humble existence. #rhbill (Response to a tweet saying that priests have forgotten that people ARE the Church.)

8. Ghandi was right. "I like your Christ. I don't like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

7. The ironic thing is that these are the same people who preach about love and acceptance and not judging people. #baguiopriest

6. I don't think Jesus himself would shun people out of his Father's house for believing otherwise. He would (patiently) teach and explain his side instead. #rhbill (Still about the Baguio priest)

5. The problem with the RCC (Roman Catholic Church) is that they insist that their voice is the voice of God when in fact it's just the voice of high ranking officials.

4. Dear CBCP, I thought God gave us the FREEDOM OF CHOICE. Why can't you do the same?

3. Church's job = maintain morality. State's job = provide needs of people. Teenage pregnancy left and right. Who failed to do their job? 

2. And here I thought the church is a place where everyone is accepted, even the lowliest of sinners. I was wrong. #rhbill (Response to Julius Babao's tweet regarding dismay on the Baguio priest's actions)

1. I THINK GOD Himself wants the RH Bill passed. Therefore I AM for #RHBill (Response to a fill in the blanks  question of "I THINK ____. Therefore I AM for RH Bill.")

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

After a couple of weeks of hiatus, Glee is back with more songs and more Charice, but less of everything else.

The episode started out as promising. The Glee Club is back from their regionals win and, surprisingly, nothing has changed. The golden trophy that has gleamed with importance back in season one has somehow lost its shine this time around. You would've expected that the club finally getting the coveted first place and a chance at competing at nationals would've paid more attention to the aftermath of such game-changing success, but no, that did not happen at all. 

Instead, we were treated with a lousy episode arc where Tina, Mike, Artie and Brittany has suddenly transformed into brainy geeks intelligent enough to win in an academic decathlon. It would have been feasible enough if there was an ounce of history of them showing off their studying prowess, but since there was none, the whole thing just sounded fake and forced.

Actually, the whole episode felt pretentious and trying hard. Even Charice's guesting didn't really brought much substance to the show except to enter another show-stopping musical number. Her role did not make much sense although I do applaud how her character seems so much of an alter-ego to Rachel's which is absolutely fantastic and opens up a lot of story opportunities. From her first episode in the show, I got this impression that her Sunshine will be another meek forgettable character but here, she proved that she's talented, she damn well knows it and she's not afraid to flaunt what she has. She is almost like Rachel, only smaller.

Enter the Concert for a Cause with only a handful of people in attendance. This did not make sense to me at all. They know no one's there in the first place, why push through with this? Instead of embracing logic, we were put through performance after performance of acts and songs which did absolutely nothing except establish the already known fact that Mike Chang can dance and Gweneth Paltrow can (somehow) sing. Plus, if they don't have money for anything, how did they afford to have an orchestra and a gospel choir in that benefit concert?

The episode did have its ups. I've grown fond of Paltrow's character Holly because of how she exudes coolness and surprising wisdom in everything that she says. Her character sorts of enter a moral lesson here and there in her lines and you won't even notice it. This week's theme is Heckling in the 21st Century.

In entirety, I think the producers and the writers of the show need to have their eyes checked. First of all, Glee is a TV show. A musical, yes, but a TV show nonetheless and not a concert. In the end, it is the engaging characterization and captivating plot lines that will make people stay addicted with the show. If they don't work on that as soon as possible, I see a bleak future ahead.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

There is something oddly satisfying playing God in a highly graphic and detailed virtual world where you can practically do whatever you like. The Sims 3 is an addicting alternate universe where you can create Sims with the look, personality and even life aspiration of your choice and guide them through a 3D world which you, yourself, has helped create.

I don't know about other players, but even as a 20-something young professional, I found this game highly addicting and entertaining. When I was a kid, I used to play with Barbies and doll houses complete with a highly detailed storyline in my head. I think this is exactly the same thing but with more potential because of the availability of interactive items, self-designed houses and personal relationships between Sims. If this kind of technology was invented in early 90's, I would've went insane from all the story-telling possibilities of the game.

So with all the stress and limitations that comes with real life, it's nice to have something to escape to where there are no boundaries and an unlimited number of possibilities exist. Even if it only exist in my laptop. ;)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

If you believe in love at first sight... Take a closer look.

To call this movie a 'love story' is simply misleading because people might expect flowers, light kisses and rainbows. But it is a story about love and all the things that come with it, and a provocative one at that.

Closer delves into the lives of four individuals who managed to get their feelings entangled up in each others' businesses. It is a searing story of betrayal, lies and deceit as well as uncontrollable yearning and obsession. The characters are captivating in their own ways and it gives a slightly distorted image on how relationships are formed and broken on this day and age.

The impeccable performance of the lead and supporting cast and the brilliant script is what made the movie work. It is a film devoid of action scenes and romantic cheesiness, but the story is intact and the characters are engaging. Raw emotion just shines through the screen I found myself intoxicated with it.

I would also like to commend the film for its ingenious scene blueprint, as the audience is only presented with moments where the characters are in crisis. The fluff and 'joy' of the story is left out leaving a constant intensity that holds the viewer's rapt attention with ease.

The ending may leave some scratching their heads if one is not paying attention to a specific scene. Some may even be disappointed if one is looking for a finale with a bang, but I, personally, adored the power in simplicity and the utmost passion of the whole 104 minutes.

The soundtrack did not veer far from it's mother ship. "The Blower's Daughter" sung by Damien Rice is a consuming song with brutal lyrics and a haunting melody. It is featured throughout the film and will leave you yearning for more when the credits roll.

All in all, one of the most intense film I've seen in recent years as it is saturated not only with astonishing confrontations and sex, but with overwhelming passion and emotions as well.

Orchestr-o-meter: A

Friday, April 8, 2011

Tackling various unconnected topics like the Ultra Stampede, Late Pres. Cory Aquino's burial, Manny Villar, DSWD, CHR, OFWs, famous Twitter folks like Jim Paredes, Agot Isidro and Aiza Seguerra and the advertisement pull outs, Willie Revillame rocked the local entertainment scene once again with his blunt comments and direct hits.

If you can stomach it, here is the recorded version of the popular game show host's latest litany on his show Willing Willie, aired April 8, 2011.

However you look at it, one thing is for certain, the power of social media is uncontested at this day and age. It can bring down governments and dictators, and as the videos showed, also entertainment tyrants and pseudo patron saints for the poor.

Never underestimate the power of thousands of thinking minds and typing fingers.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

I've never been to Greece but upon visiting the Eastwood Mall branch of the restaurant franchise, I might as well have.

Having been put to the waiting list after arriving at the restaurant, I could tell it was going to be a great lunch. Thankfully, the staff was pleasant and accommodating so we didn't mind waiting for a table then waiting again for our dishes to be served.

Roka Salata Salad
Aside from giving shade, leaves are a perfect addition to the diet, especially if mixed with honeyed walnuts, feta and Parmesan cheese and a special secret Greek vinaigrette. Added perk is how their solo order is good for 2-3 persons. Seriously, I wouldn't be able to finish that gigantic solo plate if I wanted to.

Chicken Souvlaki
Next is the heavenly skewered meat platter with the equally tangy dip and sort of shredded vegetables on the side. I especially love it when served with Greek roasted potatoes.

Most surprising fact of the night? I never knew Watermelon and Lamb Salad could taste so good. Seriously.

So, even with the more-than-one-day's-worth-of-minimum-wage price tag, I'll definitely be going back to dine in this place because, to quote a skin care brand, my taste-buds are worth it. ;)

Orchestr-o-meter: A

Photos taken from:

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Day Of The Unborn

Like a horror movie, thousands of zombies and clueless puppets marched to Quirino Grandstand last March 25 to attend the first culmination activity of CBCP's (lack of) brain-child, aptly named, "The Day Of The Unborn". (enter scream and horror music here)

As thousands wandered at the stadium, hearing words like "Abortion!" and other words and sins (all of which have NOTHING to do with the RH Bill but then we all know that CBCP has its way of connecting completely unrelated immoralities with it) that would surely send a person to the deepest pits of hell, millions of other Filipinos ponder on the unfairness and ridiculousness of it all.

Battling a century-old religious institution (with billions of followers around the globe) in promoting safer sex and reproductive health is probably one of the most daunting task that RH Bill supporters have to face. But it is a challenge that has to be done in order to save the increasing population of our country and the diminishing quality of life of our fellow citizens. It is not a one-shot solution to poverty, but it is undoubtedly a step in the right direction.

Honestly, would you rather worry about those who are not yet born rather than those who are already in the world and are living a miserable existence?

Sex and Religion in Manila
The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines declares: The separation of Church and State shall be inviolable. (Article II, Section 6), and, No law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. The free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed. No religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights. (Article III, Section 5).
Having stumbled upon this documentary on YouTube, I think it mirrors quite well how politics and religion clash here in our nation. The Constitution clearly states that there should be a separation of church and state. Yes, there is supposed to be the free exercise of any religious profession and worship, however, there is nothing stated that a religious institution can pressure government officials to, let's say, pass a barangay ordinance prohibiting the sale of condoms and other contraceptives without the prescription of a doctor.

I do believe that one can love and worship God without turning a blind eye on reality. Being religious doesn't mean one has to follow blindly to the teachings of one's church. We all have a mind of our own and using it is certainly not a sin.

I am not saying the the teachings of the current Roman Catholic Church about the RH Bill is nothing but twisted truths and half lies. (Well, personally, I think it is but I'll let you decide for yourself.) All I plead is that people do their research and understand fully what they are fighting about before taking a side. At the least, it will save time and face when debating about the bill on the world wide web of contradicting opinions, both informed and otherwise.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Ever noticed how local teleseryes have the same plot, aired over and over again just via different titles and "It" actors of the month, or no plot at all?

Well, I did too and in the years that I've spent airing lamentations and quips to family members who were unfortunate enough to be beside me while watching local programs, I think it's time to actually put these thoughts on paper so that they will finally leave me be.

Here I present the Top 5 Cliches of Local Teleseryes regardless of being Kapuso, Kapamilya, Kapatid, Kamag-anak, Katropa, Kabalitaan at Kakampi etc.

5. Defying Laws of Physics. I know that the the special effects here in the country is not that advanced, but still, it's not an excuse for the numerous reality twisting scenes I've seen on local television in the seldom times I wasted my time in front of it. From Agua Bendita's tears trickling down her cheeks while she's supposedly UNDERWATER, to mid-air action scenes which look anything but, I wish the production crew would pay attention more to the details of their output rather than the way Marian Rivera's curls are supposed to be moving in the breeze.

4. Greenwhich got it right when it said on its commercial: "Paboritong Eksena ng mga Pilipino: SAMPALAN". While TV series on other countries settle their disputes via court hearings and reputation destroying Internet posts and texts, ours do it in a more primitive, in-your-face-literally way with matching enthusiastic hair-pulling.

3. "Luke, I am your father." Star Wars got nothing on the bewildering family trees of Philippine TV dramas. The scene where the lead character finds out that her true father is her best friend's stepdad but really is her lover's sperm donor back in 1980 when he had a one-night stand with the mother who turned out to be his real aunt is not at all surprising anymore. Just confusing, really.

2. Middle-class citizens do not exist. The world (or at least our country) is composed of high bred elitists with haciendas, 20 cars of different sought-after brands and a billion peso corporation headed by one insanely rich clan. On the other side of the spectrum, there is this dirt poor family with mothers in dusters and fried fish on the table. All their children are heaven sent because they study hard and respect their elders even though they don't have enough money to buy everything they need..

Let us not forget the eternal SOP of these drama series that Poor = GOOD (except your occasional armed tattooed goons) and Rich = EVIL (except one member of the family, preferably the good looking hunk who falls in love with the poor perfect protagonist). [see item #1]

...and the No.1 Cliche of Local Philippine TV Drama is:

1. The protagonist is a faultless creature of excellence (preferably coming from the poverty-stricken sector of the society). She is undeniably virtuous and brave, smart and persevering, and she is generous to the point of giving everything even though she hasn't got much. She is beautiful inside and out and a lot of people are envious on how her inner light radiates from her smile and kind nature.
She has no flaws, and even though she is always punished and humiliated by someone with more money and a garage of cars, there is no sinful thought in her brain because she understands, she endures and she asks god for help whenever things get hard. She fights back but not in a way that would tarnish her perfection. She will undoubtedly enter heaven and be canonized as a saint decades later.


I just want to make it clear that I am not ridiculing the standards of the entertainment industry, but cliches are cliches for a reason, and one of those reasons is that they are (mostly) true. Hopefully, this article will make someone smile and help push the industry to be better in more creative ways. Cheers.
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