Thursday, July 28, 2011

I've been partially blind for practically half of my life. Okay, that was an exaggeration, but seriously, since 6th grade, I needed something to aid my vision or else I would bump into posts, greet the wrong people and fall into manholes. I'm nearsighted as a... very nearsighted creature and honestly, I will not be able to read the laptop screen that I'm staring at right now if not for my glasses.

This handicap has paved the way for the inevitable geekiness that came with wearing glasses in high school. The years I've spent with wire and glass sitting grotesquely at the top of my nose were the moments I felt most unattractive. I honestly felt shackled by this evil contraption on my face.

Then, the sun appeared and the heavens parted. Contact lenses entered my life and my existence returned to normal. No more need to have a clean cloth handy to wipe off smudge, no fogged up vision when eating soup, no more pesky rain splotches on my glasses that made me think they should have a built in wiper like those in windshields of cars. To cut it short and make it more dramatic than it should, contact lenses saved my life.

Now, for the longest time, I've been wearing clear ones, obviously with grade, but I've been meaning to try on colored contact lenses since late last year but never get around to actually do it. I've been convincing myself that it's not vain to do so because I actually do wear ones anyway for the correction of my vision problems. 

See, I poke fun at people who go all the trouble of buying, cleaning, managing dry eyes and other irritations just for the sole purpose of having different colored eyes. It's too much hassle for a cinnamon or charcoal colored iris, not to mention expensive.

Now, as fate would have it, the last time I went to Executive Optical, they didn't have the grade of the clear contacts I was supposed to by. The optometrist there sales talked me into buying a colored one, which surprisingly turned out to be cheaper than the clear version, and ultimately I went home with my very first poser iris lenses.

In hindsight though, I wish I didn't try on their testers in the store

I asked for the most subtle colors they have, ones that won't make me look like a trying-hard Caucasian wannabe. I was given a choice between Cinnamon and Amethyst. The lady said I could try both to see which one looked better. So I did. 

It was after leaving the store that I realized that these lenses that they have for fittings were not being sanitized properly but just cleaned with ordinary solution and stored in this airtight bottle. What did I expect anyway, that they autoclave it? But still, I just think it's unsafe to have these lenses tried on by different people without first establishing that they are free from any infections. I still love the EO shop but I don't think I will ever let those communal contact lenses touch my sclera again.

That said, I'm pretty fond of my Amethyst eyes but getting bored of it pretty quickly. I didn't pick it because of the violet tinge but because, out of the two, it looked less conspicuous. There was almost no difference, except for the slight doll eyes effect. Now, I wished I had picked the more obvious one just for the kicks. But hey, there's still an entire lifetime to try lenses in all the colors of the rainbow.

It's not like my eyesight's getting better.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 will be leaving the theaters in a few weeks. By then, all billboards, posters and advertisements will be taken down and replaced with scantily clad models trying to sell bikinis in this monsoon season. Worse comes to worst, they will be replaced with Edward Cullen's bloodless face sparkling in the sunlight. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1. Kill me already.

So is this really it? Is the epic journey over? Is our generation of quality literature and commendable role-model characters left orphaned by the conclusion of the film franchise? Will hormone induced sex-crazed supernatural teenagers take over the theaters, bookstore and Internet fandoms?

I don't think so.

I am a Harry Potter fan from the very beginning but I'm not one who fawns over movie premieres and merchandise. Offer me a genuine "wand" direct from the Hogwarts set and I won't know what to do with it. Gift me a shirt with Daniel Radcliffe's face on it and I probably won't wear it outside the house. But write me a superb, addicting and exceptionally-written story about any character in any place inside JK Rowling's magical world and I'll remember it forever.

Movie or no movie, it's the characters that I'm in love with together with the Wizarding World we have all lived in. It's the taste of Butterbeer in the coldness of winter, it's the unpredictability of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, the mystery in the secret rooms of Hogwarts, the childish pleasures of doing magic in the corridors and the comfort and warmth of snuggling by the fireplace in the Gryffindor Common Room.

It's the world in my head that makes Harry Potter special, not these million dollar productions. And it can and will survive without them.

See, the movie may have rolled its final credits, but Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived, is still very much alive in the hearts of many. As long as there is imagination, creativity, love and appreciation for the enthralling world we have lived in for more than a decade, Harry will continue on living in the childhood of this generation, and in the hearts of millions to come.

And in the future, decades after this day, if ever a grandchild catches me excitedly watching one of the eight movies or lovingly perusing with misty eyes a Harry Potter book, and asks me, "After all this time?"

To quote the Boy Who Loved, Severus Snape, my answer would be: "Always."

Monday, July 18, 2011

This may very well be the last time I would get to write a Harry Potter film review, for the highly successful franchise has cast its last spell and will be closing its curtains forever. There will be no casting choices left to  scrutinize, no deleted scenes to be angry about, no trailers to look forward to and no more movie date release to anticipate with bated breath.

It all ends with this.

And what a magical swan song it was. From the moment the WB logo floated onscreen up to the rolling of the credits, it was a thrilling spectacle ride for readers and non-fans alike. Having worshiped the books from the start, I am the kind of anal retentive movie-goer who frowns upon changed scenes and plot cuts. Fortunately, neither was rampant in this David Yates' masterpiece.

Part 2 of the Deathly Hallows was packed with action, spells and rubble from start 'till finish. One need not know what the bloody hell is happening just as long as one is aware that Harry's the protagonist and the bald guy with the non-existent nose is the evil one and it will still be enjoyable to watch. Even my Muggle  movie companion was mesmerized by the sheer brilliance of almost every scene. It was a breathtaking experience to witness the Wizarding World in shambles. One can really tell that this is the final hurrah and Harry is determined to go with a final bang.


The film wasted no time in trying to explain the complicated aspects of Wandlore nor Dumbledore's shady past, and for that I am grateful. There is no way you could explain that much information to an illiterate audience who did not even care to crack open a single Harry Potter book. Instead, the screenwriters decided to tone down the plot details and hyped up the chaos and pandemonium, which translated better on the big screen. It was a wise decision indeed.

And as our heroic Trio found themselves back in Hogwarts, the plot and my heart took flight. This was it. This was the moment we've all been waiting for. The Great Battle. The ultimate war between the power of love and love of power. And I think every reader could attest that there was distinct feeling of thrill, exhilaration and awe upon watching the scene unfold right before our very eyes.

As with the book, the moment Professor McGonagall animated the once lifeless suits of armors and exclaimed, "Hogwarts is threatened! Man the boundaries. Protect us!"  and the remaining faculty started to take matters in their own hands and use their highly developed skills in magic, chills ran down my spine. 

There is something astounding about finally seeing rather than just imagining. The impressive protective sphere, the spells, the fire, the rubble, the smoke and the thundering music set the perfect atmosphere for the raging battle that has yet to come. I could not have asked for a better set design. This was the battle of all battles, the final duel between good and evil, and it sure felt like it.

The scenes were reasonably paced, with the hunt of Ravenclaw's lost diadem, the Fiendfyre in the Room of Requirement, the duels and the overall pandemonium inside the once peaceful halls of Hogwarts. It all blended together in this wonderful adrenaline-induced cacophony that could make Lord of the Rings proud.


A review of Deathly Hallows Part II would not be complete without the mention of the unbelievably accurate portrayal of Alan Rickman to the endlessly complex and brilliant character that is Severus Snape. I will admit, the chapter entitled "The Prince's Tale" of the 7th book is my most read chapter in the entire series. I prefer my characters complicated, dark and with a secret that could shatter thousands of hearts, and that is exactly what JK Rowling did with our once hated Potions Master. 

Before the release of Deathly Hallows the novel, I remember all the talks behind the power of Harry's green eyes, because in countless of interviews, our queen creator has mentioned that it will play a big role in the final book. Nobody could understand it and probably very few speculations got it right. The shock that it was not some supernatural power never before witnessed by the Wizarding world but just, yet again, the uncontainable force of love, blew me away. And reduced me to a blubbering goopy mess the moment Harry stepped out of the Pensieve.

It is for this reason that I fell in love with this character who was often described as greasy and bat-like. Because it shows that everybody hurts, yet everybody loves. And no matter how despicable a certain person looks from the outside, if you just care to look a bit further, there would be always something there that could surprise you.

Okay, then. Now back to the movie.


I think the only criticism I could give is that the closing battle at Hogwarts (the one which transpired after Harry came back to life) was underwhelming at best. Where were the centaurs, who upon seeing Harry's lifeless body decided to take a stand and fight against Voldemort? Where were the House Elves who have valiantly left the kitchens to stab Death Eaters in the ankles with paring knives? Where were the ordinary village people of Hogsmeade who overcame their fear of the Dark Lord, left their barrels of butterbear and came to fight alongside the wounded students of Hogwarts?

I know no single feature film could meet the millions of wild imaginations, all of which have created their own version of the epic final battle in their heads, but I just feel like these details shouldn't have been left out. It was the turning point in the book, showing how united the Wizarding World was in defeating a powerful tyrant. I regret to say that it was the only part of the film that felt sloppy and hastily made. 

However, I do understand why the producers felt there has to be an intense one-on-one battle slash chase scene between Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort, with both running around the castle physically trying to destroy each other ala Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader's final Lightsaber match. It's a cinematic staple, a sort of movie template every great archenemies are expected to have.

However, in this case, I can't help but feel how out of character those scenes were. First of all, never could I remember imagining Voldemort run, much less chase Harry around Hogwarts. A little longer and I would have expected both to be pulling each other's hair, if Voldemort had hair.

But still, epicness prevailed. The ultimate end of Voldemort was much more silent than I anticipated, with just the wands doing all the talking, but the concluding image of the once feared sorcerer slowly dissolving to ashes was a satisfying image. 


And it all came to a full circle.

Platform 9 3/4: In the middle of the busy bustling train station filled with families and cages of various kinds of pets, we see them.

Ginny sporting Mom Hair, Harry looking basically the same, some random kids who are supposed to be James and Lily (both of whom nobody really cares about) and then there he was... Albus Severus Justin Potter Bieber.

Then there was Ron with his beer belly, Hermione who also looked quite the same and Draco Malfoy who just looked... weird.

The next generation of talented mischief managing wizards were on their way to Hogwarts. And we were left with the image of our beloved trio, Harry, Ron and Hermione looking wistfully on.

As a fan, I expected a lot and quite honestly, those expectations were mostly met. The film is a perfect mix of action, suspense, horror, comedy and a little bit of romance. It has a heart as big as Harry's, wit as sharp as Hermione's and loyalty to the novel that could make Ron proud. 

Thank you for giving the end of my childhood justice.

Orchestr-o-meter: Thousand points to David Yates & Co. !

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Teenagers are just children with breasts and raging hormones. They know nothing of the complicated truths of the world and should be shielded from inconvenient facts that could tarnish their perfect views of our flawless universe.

They cannot choose for themselves for they do not have their own innate principles so responsible adults should be tasked to make the hard decisions for them. Because of their innocence, their eyes should be forever blindfolded and ears plugged from the sinful coil of earthly desires. Sex is bad, sex is immoral, sex should not be spoken in the sacred confines of an academic institution, nor publicly, nor anywhere else for that matter unless it is a speech about abstinence or the Virgin Mary.

Talking about sex with adolescents will lead to an increase in promiscuity because teenagers are a special kind of human specie who are more inclined to do something when presented with the dire effects of such actions such as illnesses and pregnancy. Talking about ovulation and fertilization will wake up the thundering libido in each and every one of them, resulting to more premarital sex, more unplanned births and more abortions, because minors do not have any conscience.

Lastly, as mentioned before, no one should take away these children's innocence, because the media and the internet is doing such a great job at that. There are no pornographic materials in the internet, no false information on websites, no sexually charged advertisements on billboards and on television shows. This is a great nation we live in where sexual intimacy is only present in the confines of a church-wed bedroom between a man and a woman who have been blessed by a God-fearing, non-SUV loving, non-homophobic, sexually abstaining Man of God.



iWitness Special Coverage - GMA 7

Monday, July 4, 2011

Craving for pizza? Dialing 789-9999 or 911-1111 might rob you of the remaining 1k in your wallet. Fret not, dear baked cheese lover, I have exactly the right thing for you, and it doesn't cost 2 days of minimum wage earnings.

Hear ye, our Homemade Garlic & Shrimp Tasty Pizza (because it's made of left over tasty bread, geddit?). We made it twice already in our home, the first time we had proper rounded pizza crust but then we forgot to buy one the second time around so we decided to work with what we had, which turned out to be days old bread in the freezer. But don't worry, in the end, the senile bread was pretty darn delectable.


  • Old Tasty slices
  • Cream Cheese Spread
  • Shrimp bits
  • Garlic, chopped
  • Cheese, grated
  • Tomato, sliced
  • Mushrooms, sliced
  • Basil leaves, diced

I did not put any measurement on the above ingredients because I think one of the best parts of homemade concoctions is the freedom of putting whatever you want, how much you want. 

Anyway, the dish is simple.

  1. Take the tasty slices and apply evenly a generous amount of cream cheese spread.
  2. Sprinkle grated cheese on top.
  3. Drizzle one cup of chopped garlic (Kidding! But you want to put a LOT of this in, trust me.)
  4. Add the shrimp, mushroom, tomato slice and a few specks of diced basil leaves.
  5. Put in the oven until shrimp is pink and cuddly.

Remember to adjust the oven heat preferences so that the heat is coming from the TOP and not the bottom so as to not burn the bread before the shrimp is cooked. 

Bon appetit!

Friday, July 1, 2011

I probably am the perpetual teenager when it comes to reading choices. Since elementary days up to post-college years, I still enjoy reading novels targeted at hormonally imbalanced pre-adults. When it comes to YA Novels, I think I've read them all, at least the ones people are talking about. Yes, I've endured even the phenomenal Twilight series with its neuron-killing plot and a heroine you'd want to beat with Thor's hammer.

Stephanie Meyer's books aside, I just love the genre. There's this light and free-flowing feeling I get when I read books in the YA category. I especially like those which are infused with supernatural / dystopian alternate universe element to them. Think The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins and The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare.

And yes, it gets formulaic sometimes, when the Ordinary Girl meets Tortured Mysterious New Student Guy Who May Or May Not Be Human in Science class. Then there's the sexy and heart-palpitating Forbidden Love arc after we find out that the protagonist is actually a Vampire / Werewolf / Fallen Angel / Witch. Reading novels like these is simple and entertaining and I pursue it even though it may not give a 20-something young professional like me bragging points when asked what kind of books have I perused.

The problem is this: There may be a myriad of books to choose from in this category with international books, so much that sometimes their world and themes overlap, however, there is a lot of catching up to do with regards to our local literature. All I see are children's books, chick lits and award-winning deep novels about poverty, corruption and drugs that are way too depressing for a teenager to spend time on. There is simply not much to choose from in the YA arena, if at all.

Having read countless of these kind of novels set in New York, or some other city in the United States, I do wish to be able to read one set here locally in our country just so it can be much more relatable to our teens. Imagine Good vs. Evil battling it out in Tondo or a Shopaholic desperately haggling in Divisoria. Our country, our places, our customs, mannerisms are so rich with potential I'm disappointed that, with all the talented writers we have, not a lot have attempted to flourish in such a popular category. 

I believe in the power of reading and how it helps form the mind of an individual, especially when they start at a young age. Young Adult fiction books have their own special power because the characters in the books are especially formulated so that readers can relate to them. It puts a person into other worlds and situations that would be dangerous otherwise if done in real life but gives off the same lessons that could be learned from such scenarios. 

I do hope that with the rise of the international YA scene, our country follows. There is so much untapped power in the genre that I think, if written brilliantly, could upset the long standing bestseller's list dominated by international titles. Now that is a novel I would be proud to read.
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