Tuesday, December 31, 2013

12 Random Things I Learned This Year

12. It's not too late to turn life into a musical.

11. It's easy to be in the same place as someone and still not be with someone, easy to keep quiet and still hear the noise in your head.

10. Friends come and go. True friends come, go, come, go . . .

9. Ignorance is bliss. Being ignorant by choice is stupidity.

8. Conferences don't change people. People change conferences.

7. When people disappear, they usually don't want to be found. When they are found, they usually are better off gone.

6. Drugs kill people. 

5. Planning is more enjoyable than the actual execution.

4. Weddings are awesome. 

3. Coffee is not more important than your cell phone and house keys. Priorities.

2. Typhoons pretty much look like the inside of my room when I don't clean up for, like, a month.

1. Rising from adversity is a process that doesn't just take a hop, skip, and some clicking of the heels. The song from the famous movie Land Before Time got it right. "If we hold on together, I know our dreams will never die. . ."

Have an awesome possum 2014! God bless!

PS Also, haircuts are awesome. :)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Tada!: A Tribute to Loki’s Movie (oh, wait, it was Thor’s movie)

Those who have not seen the movie yet, please turn away because spoilers aren’t fun, and I’m about to say some things that may ruin the fun in it for you. Okay? Good.

Now, for those who have seen the movie, wasn’t it awesome? I’m just going to do the obligatory “I like this movie because . . . but I’d like it better if” here, then I’ll start my raving on the wonderful world of Loki.

Thor 2: The Dark World

The movie was okay. I’m one of those moviegoers who haven’t exactly read the Thor stories, who don’t know the Asgard histories, and who don’t really follow everything Thor (origins, plot of the story and not the movie, film stats, cast). Having said that, I’m still going to say that I love the movie for its execution. As far as I’m concerned for the aesthetics, I love the CGs, the layout of Asgard, the stars, the universes, the realms, the costumes. I even love the 3D effects because they got the parts that can be in 3D right. (Mind you, some movies just put everything in 3D without thinking about background-foreground.) What I don’t love though is still the plot. Maybe it’s just because I haven’t read the books, but okay, I’m just not liking it because it’s not the kind of movie that can make you think days after watching it. It doesn’t need you to think and realize a lot of things—you know, the didactic type without the scolding. But hey, we do need to watch movies just for entertainment. Anyway, at least this plot’s better than the last one. This movie actually had the “Hmm, the Aether couldn’t have been blown up just like that. It’s too easy . . . and there it is again.” You know, the “That was it? . . . Oh not yet” type of twist. So yeah, I like this movie better than the last.

What’s weird though is Natalie Portman trying to be comical. Or maybe she pulled it off. But it was weird. I don’t know. Something was off. Though, I guess she does get some props on having to slap Thor (2x) and Loki.

I also love how messed up the world is when they started crossing dimensions and all that. It was fun. And nobody really knows where they would end up when they passed through. I wonder what those fighter pilots thought about the new world they just discovered. It was like “Beam me up, Scottie” gone wrong. I love it!

I don’t love Thor like I love Captain America or Iron Man, but I guess gods don’t have everything. (I particularly dislike the part where the camera had to pan up Thor’s upper body. Really? Did you have to? You didn’t get much reaction from the crowd I was sitting with though.) The movie does give Thor a better character. We see his humanness although he’s technically not human. And we see the bond he has with humanity. And his brother. And I’m going to have to end the Thor review here. I love the movie overall.

Loki 2: The Dark World

This movie, though, was amazing. Loki, I don’t know why you’re a bad guy, but people love you. Just stop killing other people.

Loki has this something in him—humor, you may call it. I’m not sure if he’s intentionally doing it (as a character, of course, since the actor is intentionally doing it [very well, I might add]), but he makes people laugh and the situation they’re in isn’t even funny.

“I love this . . . it’s so clandestine.” And he starts talking and talking and talking. Yeah, basically all I can remember about the movie are parts that Loki was in. My guess is that the movie didn’t really start until Loki started doing his part.

“You might want to take the stairs to the left.”

I love the part where the prisoners were fighting and Loki was just in his cell, reading. Most probably bored. I love that he was reading because any way to promote reading is a good way. (People should definitely read more.)

Then when he found out that Frigga died . . . it was beautiful. That one surge of power he used to express his anger was perfect. It broke my heart. And when we see Loki again, without the illusions, we see a broken man, but with his pride still masking his feelings, he denies the pain but relishes the opportunity for vengeance. So Loki.

Then he starts talking when they get out and starts changing costumes. Admit it, everyone loved that part. I was secretly waiting for him to turn into Hello Kitty but duh. And I read from an FB status message that Captain America had a cameo, but I wasn’t expecting him to take over Loki for a while. It was hilarious! "I can feel the righteousness surging within me."

And the threats. “If you even think of betraying him . . .”
“You’ll kill me?”

Loki did a very good job at commentating. Oh for crying out loud, I might as well post his whole script here (but of course, I won’t).

Anyway, Loki was awesome. He’s the bad guy everyone loves. When he “died,” I was starting to think George R. R. Martin had something to do with it. “Why is it that when we start to love a character, the filmmakers decide to kill him?” Then they realize that there is no Thor without Loki. And therein lies the power of the movie.

Thor: The Dark World is awesome because of Loki—okay, and the other characters, even Erik. It’s a must-watch if you like that sort of thing, and the effects and cinematography were good. Go see it, now.

“Take this train, three stops.”

Zachary Levi is a chameleon. You sly spy, Flynn Rider, person.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

I Have a Bad Feeling About This Mission: A Gravity Movie Review

First and foremost, a disclaimer for those who think I did not understand the movie or think that I don't know what I'm talking about. I know what I'm talking about. And for those who haven't seen the movie, I may end up spoiling things . . . but then again, the movie's trailer pretty much shows you everything that happens in the movie. But I still encourage you to watch it (in IMAX 3D if possible). Have fun!

Now I just want all of you to be reminded that this is based on my opinion alone. If you want a better, more reliable review of the movie, read Buzz Aldrin's review from the Hollywood Reporter.

Gravity, a movie that has the simplest, most profound plot that I have ever seen in a long time. It buries itself in the long-questioned thought of what happens in outer space. What happens if we end up floating away? And the movie is amazing in that it employs very little to show a lot. I'm quite in conflict as to saying that this is a low-budget movie (and I mean it in a good way) or saying that they've really pulled all the stops in making this. I mean, let's see, they have two extremely amazing actors, one random space cowboy, two dead bodies, two abandoned space stations, some random voices from Houston and China, a wonderful view of the earth, and lots and lots of space debris. That's it! You have one of the best space movies ever (I'm putting this in the leagues of Apollo 13 and Armaggedon). It's beautiful!

Some points I love about the movie

  • I love that they go straight to the point. No back story. No launching. No scenes from the earth. No flashbacks. Just good ole space. They needn't show what the world looks like from down here; we see that every day. The first scene: a splendid landscape of the earth from miles and miles away.

  • I love the camera panning from the sun to the moon in one sequence of events. When Ryan Stone (Sandra Bullock) starts spinning, drifting away from Explorer, the sun was on the horizon. They were talking about the sunrise. I kept wondering if, in contrast to Armageddon, they wouldn't burn if they are hit by the sun's rays. But then she starts spinning and drifting until she hears Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) talking to her. And then there it is. The moon. The dark side of the earth. Night. It was beautiful, and it reminds viewers who watched the background instead of the spinning Stone that there are two sides of this earth: one that has light, and the other that has night, and each side takes a turn. It's just beautiful.

  • I love Matt Kowalski. He's the annoying type of person you just can't help but love. He sees things differently. He's just enjoying life. And I find it really sad that he dies (Boom! Spoiler?). I mean, I'm not angry, outraged that they killed his character. It's just a sad feeling, the kind you have when you know of someone old who just passed away and you think that it's good because they don't have to suffer anymore. It's just the sadness of inevitable death. And all that sadness for Matt Kowalski is just perfect for the movie. We're all rooting for at least someone to get back to earth (I can't imagine an ending where they all die) . . . (oh, wait, I can) and I guess we can't help but hope Kowalski would be one of them. I also love his lines: "I have a bad feeling about this mission," "Now that we're a distance away from each other, are you attracted to me?" "I know you can't help staring into my handsome face" (or was it "I know you're only just realizing how incredibly handsome I look"? something like that), "What kind of a name is Ryan for a girl?" "You've got to see the sun on the Ganges." Of course, those lines aren't verbatim, but you know what I mean if you've seen the movie.

  • I love how the camera gives viewers a view from inside an astronaut's helmet. God knows I've always wanted to be an astronaut, and for a few minutes, I got to see what they saw. I love the part when Stone spins in space (actually, Stone spun in space for most of the movie) and the camera moves from us looking at her, to letting us see the reflection from her helmet, to how it sounds and looks like inside her helmet, and finally to us looking out from the helmet. The fluidity of the transitions was perfect! 

  • I love how they portray aloneness. It's beautiful in a weird way. When Stone screams inside the Soyuz capsule and it sounds really loud from the inside then the camera just walks out of the capsule and we hear nothing, it was breathtaking. The silence. We see her frustration, but in space, there is nothing to carry sound. And all throughout the movie, we know that she's all alone in space, but also there's that feeling that she's not. Do you get what I mean? It's like the movie does show that she's alone, but the whole idea of it . . . I deny it. Some part of my unconscious brain insists otherwise. It's like I know something, but I don't want to think about it. I know she's alone, but there's always that hope that someone else is still out there to save her. But of course, she is just alone, and she has to make it work by herself. But the whole idea of it! Being stuck in space by yourself! No wonder she just wanted to die.

  • I love how the movie makes me feel like I'm also spinning in space. There were some scenes that made me a bit dizzy because I felt weightless. My feet felt like they just left the ground. All that space in one huge screen somehow lifts viewers into another world.

  • If you watched it in 3D, you will also notice the many random space debris that fly out into your face. I loved that. I blinked a couple of times because that's what pictures zooming in at high speeds make me do. Especially when the International Space Station (ISS) gets ripped apart by the annoying space debris from a random satellite. The utter destruction!

  • I love the utter destruction! It was weird and scary to see the ISS, a man-made housing structure in outer space that was supposed to be able to withstand extreme conditions, shatter into a million tiny and not-so-tiny pieces. It just disintegrated! Like cardboard getting soaked in water. It just . . . poof! Scary beautiful. (Random note: Stop Polluting Outer Space!)

  • I love the earth. I love the view of the earth. So no matter what they say about this movie extinguishing a child's dream of becoming an astronaut, I still want to go up there and watch in amazement the bigger picture: an earth that contains life. The earth we live in.

  • I love the human element of Stone. I love how it ties to her escape. I know many people who want to escape from situations in their life. I've been there. There's just that feeling when you want to be as far away as possible from something. Stone got space. And I love how different her pain is, at the same time how it can connect to so many people. (Here comes another spoiler.) Most stories involve death in the hands of a murderer or a freak accident or a fatal disease. Stone's daughter was playing tag, slipped, hit her head, and she was gone. I guess it is also a kind of freak accident, but there's just no making sense of it. When someone gets murdered, there's someone to blame. But when someone dies like that . . . slipped and hit her head . . . it's just, you can't see sense. And that added emotion to an already I-don't-know-how-to-describe-it movie just makes everything so rooted to humanity. It's beautiful.

  • I love the trailer! Whoever made that trailer should get an Academy Award. That person is brilliant. The first time I saw the trailer, I didn't know what to make of it. What's the story? Really? They're in space and they end up falling to earth? Is that it? The trailer doesn't seem to show any story, when in fact, the trailer showed the whole story. It showed everything that happened sans the dialogue. To fit that much intensity in a few seconds (did it reach a minute?) is utter genius. Kudos to you, trailer people!

Some random things I can't categorize

I find it funny that for a movie titled Gravity, the word's essence only appears at the very last of the movie. The greater part of the show had gravity absent from every single scene. Ironic? Well played!

I find it would have been utterly preposterous to have Stone drown inside the Chinese Soyuz capsule once she landed on earth. That would have been anticlimactic. And funny. Facepalm type of funny.

I have never worn a spacesuit, but how hard is it to hold on to something?

If space doesn't have gravity, I assume they're drifting because of the inertia because they initially had some force exerted to make them float in a certain direction. (I'm not a space expert, but humor me here please.) If that's the case, then when Stone's foot was tangled on the ropes of the ISS and she grabbed on to Kowalski's line, if she tugged on the line with enough force, he would have floated toward her, right? Or would she have been more able to pull the ISS toward him? I'm open for discussion, and I'm also willing for simulation and live examples. =)

Did they shoot the whole movie in outer space? That is so awesome! (I'm kidding, of course. But the thought does seem awesome and highly dangerous, but I'd volunteer.)

I should stop before this gets too long

My final verdict: the movie Gravity is indeed fast-paced in a moonwalk kind of way. It is awesome in a geeky, wide-eyed explorer kind of way. It can be a bit boring for those who want guns and car chases, but let's face it, space debris is cooler than auto junk. (There's also blood and tears, by the way. And cool fire effects.) Gravity is the type of movie one would want to watch if one likes anything to do with outer space, if one feels lonely and wants to disappear, if one feels like breaking out into song, if one feels like burning up in spontaneous combustion, or if one just wants a really good movie with really good effects and with really awesome views of the world outside. 

I highly recommend watching Gravity in 3D and with an audience who respects the silence in space and does not make any unnecessary commentaries while the movie is showing. 

Gravity is awesome!

And yes, I still want to be an astronaut! So if anyone is out there, NASA, you know what to do.

Notice that I didn't have any negative or sarcastic comments about the movie? That's how much I love space. =)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Redemption Series: And Peter

"But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. there you will see him, just as he told you'" (Mark 16:7).

*The verse above is a reminder for me not to forget what I'm supposed to be writing about.*

See What Drugs Can Do?

First of all, my condolences to the family and friends of Cory Monteith. I'm sorry for your loss, and I pray that you find comfort in the One who has a plan for everything through everything.

I'm also sorry for harping on the topic of Cory's death like this. there must be a million other writers out there talking about it and how drugs can steal a person away from his full potential. And although I don't exactly have the facts straight, I guess there's no better time than this to talk about how this world is turning into a death trap. And maybe somehow Cory's death can eventually save other people's lives.

A Natural Response

I was scrolling down my FB's news feed when I first saw the #RIPCoryMonteith tags. With all the fake deaths circulating in the Internet, I refused to believe the news until a reliable source confirmed it. The fact that CNN's website had a headline about Cory was enough evidence for me. Cory Monteith, 31, was found dead.

What happened? Was there an accident? Was it murder? Robbery? Drugs. They say it was drugs that did him in. At that, grief gave way to frustration and anger.

I couldn't help it. The sympathy went out, and in came the questions we all end up asking people who use drugs: Why? What pushed him to do it? Stress? Peer pressure? Couldn't he have found another outlet for release, for solace, for peace?

It is perhaps a trait humans have---the ability to blame instead of understanding there's really nothing anyone can do about it now. The deed is done. The boy is dead.

What a Waste

The next couple of days, TV stations showed movies that had Cory as one of the cast. There were tributes for him. Cyberspace was filled with news about him and Lea Michelle and his other friends. It was another waste of talent.

I watched Monte Carlo the Tuesday after the news spread. And every time Cory comes on screen, I find myself exhaling and bombarding him with questions and frustrated accusations that are all for naught. "Look what you've done! You were a good actor! You could have been bigger! You could have gone really far! But you just wasted it all!" Accusations that would fall on dead ears.

Say No to Drugs

It's one of the most common slogans in the world. We've heard it all before. They've bombarded us with slogans like this since we were young. We all know the dangers and implications and social perceptions of taking drugs. We know, but we've probably desensitized ourselves from the truth: Drugs can kill.

It boggles me that people who seem to have all they need still succumb to the temptations of drugs. I'm not just talking about Cory now. I'm talking about all those people, the friends we have, the celebrities, and even the kids on the streets. Well, for the street kids, I guess that's because that's all they've ever known. Nothing seems better than getting high. They don't know better. But for those who've had the privilege of education, it's depressing to think they would choose to waste their life.

And herein lies one reason I think people take drugs: depression. Happy people are depressed. Sad people are depressed. Rich people. Poor people. Intelligent and intellectually challenged people. People in general get depressed. And this is what pushers and drug lords jump on. Got a problem? Get high. Just broke up with a girlfriend? Have some LSD. Lost a deal? Lost a friend? Fed up with boredom? Do drugs. It's a marketing strategy rigged to be successful, because, really, everybody gets depressed.

There's no such thing as stopping depression through drugs.

You're Welcome to Come Back

I will not pour my frustrations on the seeming rise of drug-related casualties here. I've done enough of that in my mind. What is more important now is the fact that there is a way out. And it's not necessarily just rehab.

A Man Named Peter

years and years before, there lived a man whose life revolved around fishing. His name was Peter. He is today best known as the apostle who built the Church. But way back then, he was just a fisherman. That was until Jesus called him and he followed. There started Peter's journey of grace and faith.

The events of Peter's life were filled with excitement and danger. Peter was impulsive. He walked on water. He severed the ear of a soldier to prove that he would fight for his savior. He promised to follow Jesus forever. His loyalty was limitless. Almost. He wasn't perfect. He was only human, and in his humanity we can find a common ground.

I Love You but I Lied

How many times have we done that? How many times have we promised something then break it? How many times did we say we'd do one thing then just end up doing another? We are fickle-minded humans. Liars. We make mistakes. We ask forgiveness then sin again. Over and over. We do it on purpose. We don't do it on purpose. The point is we sin.

Atheists do not believe in a higher moral being. Christians believe God has delineated right and wrong. Other people have their own beliefs about sin and forgiveness and good works. Whatever the belief may be, there is right and wrong, and we are wrong most of the time.

We stumble through life in a desperate race to survive, to make the right decisions, to make it to the top of the ladder, to live. We try our human best, but we fail. We hopelessly fail, and in our failures we seek an escape. That's why some do drugs.

Peter Failed

Peter failed miserably. He failed in a scale that would cause the Japanese to commit harakiri. He disowned his leader. He denied him. He did this not just once but three times. A one-time denial might be forgivable. "He was stunned. He couldn't have had denied him on purpose." A second time might be a little disconcerting. "Why is he denying Him? didn't we see them together all those years?" But a third time is the spellbinder. "Maybe he really doesn't know Jesus. maybe it really wasn't him."

And so Peter retreats, goes back to his boat probably, and may have even sulked because of what he had done.

Sounds familiar? How many of us have gone to lengths to prove that we're loyal only to fall short in one fell swoop? And in this failure, do we also tend to run away and hide? To opt for flight instead of fight? To go on living life as if nothing happened for the past years of our lives? How many of us retreat and give up, thinking there is no way back, our sin has cost us the world, and no one would be able to ever take the shame away?

I know I'm a Peter. And I thank God I am.

The Upside of a Downfall

"But go, tell his disciples and Peter, 'He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you'" (Mark 16:7).

The context of this verse involves Jesus's resurrection. The women found His tomb empty and saw an angel in place of the body. This is what the angel told them.

What's unique about this version of that account are two simple words. Words that I wouldn't even have noticed if not for one of the authors who write so keenly on this subject. There are two words in this verse that can bring us assurance that God indeed gives second chances.

And Peter

Remember, Peter already denied Christ. Three times. He failed. Yet after everything, out of all His disciples, the angel/Jesus singles out Peter. Why?

The answer is both simple and profound. It's the very nature of God. He loves. He forgives. Of course He gets hurt, but God being a god of love would not allow us, His children, to suffer in sin and guilt. In short, He gives second chances. A lot of second chances.

God calls us back. No matter what we've done. Even when we think that we've just made an unforgivable sin, when we feel as though our filth and shame and past has covered us to the point of rejection, God offers to clean us up and continue to love us. Remember, "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

There is nothing in heaven and earth that can separate us from the love of God, so there is absolutely no reason for us to think He won't take us back. All we have to do is take that step.

I can't express enough how much "and Peter" is an encouragement. I can't make it more dramatic like other writers do. I can't convince you of stopping whatever unnecessary experience you are pursuing (in this case, drugs). But I can tell you the truth. And the truth is that no other god can give us second chances like the one true God of this universe. No one can love us more than God. Whatever we've done, whatever we've become, God can take us back.

You know what He's waiting for? You.

There is a way out of the mess we've made out of our lives, and it's not through drugs or any other form of perversion. It's through God's love, in His arms, trusting His heart.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Comfort in a Stranger's Smile

Blinking cursors waiting for attention. Nodding heads fighting sleep. Restless feet seeking adventure. Aimless wandering to not really anywhere.

Another day ended; a new one will soon begin. Yet the day's tiresome, mundane routine has exhausted the life out of the girl. She walked to nowhere, wanted nothing, and had no one. So she went home.

The crowd was packed. Apparently, there was a celebrity. She didn't care. What happened to me? she wondered. In a time long past, she would have been the first to have waited, the first to have showed up to that gathering. Now she walked alone to the authorized and designated PUV stop.

Seriously, this jeep can fit five more people? Her musings might have deafened her if the driver's voice was only a bit softer. She scooted to the side and let someone else sit properly on the jeep's too-narrow seat.

"You can make yourself comfortable. I'll be getting off soon," she told the girl who had to walk with careful dexterity around the feet of other passengers in the crowded hull of the jeep.

"Thank you," the new passenger said, making sure to still leave space for the girl to sit.

She smiled. They both smiled.

The girl's musings turned soft. She could feel the italics slowly lean back and revert to roman. The smile told of something other than random thankfulness. Somehow it said, "We both had a long day. We deserve to smile about surviving it."

The girl got home.


Sometimes in life, a smile is all we need to get through the day. As tiresome as the day may have been, a smile, even from a random stranger can change things. They say that you're never fully dressed without a smile. They say that the best accessory you can wear is a smile. I think there's some truth to it.

Once upon a time, a thought occurred to this thinking processor we shall call my brain. What if we just randomly smile at people we pass by the street? What if we walk around smiling at people? Sure, the first thing that went through your mind is that people will think we're crazy. People will think there's something wrong with us. People will think that we're not all there, if you know what I mean. People will think. Well, we are not the people. We are the ones smiling. Besides, when we've passed the people by, we don't need to see their reaction.

On a certain trip to a certain place one certain time ago, we were in a convoy. There were a couple of cars with my relatives inside as we made our way to that certain someplace. It was a long trip, and children, like me, will get bored eventually. Someone had the great idea of waving to random people we passed by on the road. Like celebrities. Or politicians. So what's there to lose? We waved around. We waved at kids. We waved at strangers going about their daily lives. We waved and some even waved back. But the experiment (rather the boredom buster) has given us an even better result. The cars behind us saw it. They saw the smile on the people's faces. They saw the confusion then the amusement in their reactions. Of course they knew we weren't really celebrities traveling by random cars in a near-middle-of-nowhere road, but they enjoyed the idea of people waving at them. A social experiment, we might call it. I don't know.

Maybe as humans we enjoy smiles. We enjoy random events that don't really make sense but somehow lifts us up from the muck of daily life. Humans probably enjoy the thought that other humans are smiling at them as if they knew one another. Or maybe they enjoy contemplating on what's wrong with the smiling person. Did they just win the lottery? Get a promotion? Got a wife? Got diagnosed with excessive happiness?

The point is, as simple as a smile really is, it can make a difference to the people around. Try it. Smile while you're on your morning commute. You don't have to smile at anyone in particular, but smile while staring out the window. Smile while you pass your fare to the driver. Smile while you wait for the other passengers to get seated. Smile when you're walking. Sometimes you don't even need a reason to smile. When you find that you don't have a reason to smile, smile, and by some bizarre phenomenon, you'll find yourself thinking, There must be something wrong with me. I'm going crazy. Et voila! A reason to smile, because you know there's nothing wrong with you. You're not going crazy. You know it, but the people around you don't. Now what better reason to smile about than knowing something that no one else knows about?

Finally, to end this random smiling post, I'd also like to point out that smiling at people can also comfort them. "I'm here for you. I'm human too." I don't know how that works, but smiles tend to show vulnerability and ultimately the humanness of all of us. An existence based on weakness is nothing really to be proud of, but knowing that another mortal, another person who may have a more difficult life than the one you have, takes an extra effort to use those facial muscles for the better might actually spark hope for the human race. Humanity is not that doomed after all.

So yeah, I'll stop here.


Monday, April 29, 2013

Someday, You, and Me

Elusive. That's what you are. Cunning. Clever. Downright hard to catch. You are there when I want you, but you are never there when I can have you. I desire you, but you are just too elusive.

They told mE to pursue you. "It's not enough," I said. "It's never really enough." They shook their heads but smiled, knowing someday I will break my resolve. "Why don't you?" they asked again. I looked down and pretended not to hear. It was eXasperating.

I was alone today. The throngs of people walked by, immersed in their own worlds. They looked happy. I smiled. I was happy, but I wanTed you. I shifted my bag on my shoulder. "I shouldn't," I told myself. "I should just go home." I followed my feet. My steps took me where I should not have gone. My steps took me to you.

"Just once. Just tonight." That was it. I couldn't take it anymoRe. I couldn't wait, but they made me wait. I had no choice. You were probably smirking. You were probably snickering. You are elusive.

The jeep couldn't run fast enough. I wouldn't have wanted it faster but still. Then I was home. Home where it's just you and me. Home where I cAn finally be with you without feeling that people are judging me because of you. Home where no one else matters. Just you and me.

But you weren't there. You weRen't here. You were not with me. You are not with me.

What happened between getting from your place to mIne? What happened while I waited for a jeep, while I held on for dear life as the jeep sped like a fighter plane across the busy streets of this city? What happened when I opened my room and you weren't there? Nothing happened. You were not there.

Sometimes I wonder why you are so hard to get. Sometimes I wonder why I can't always have you. There are people out there who get more than they need. And though there are also people who will never know how it feels to have you, at least they will never know how it feels to lose you. Sometimes I wonder if you're just doing this on purpose. Then again, I know you wouldn't. You Couldn't. It's still my fault.

I rest tonight thinking of what might have been. I rest tonight wishing I made sure you'd be here. I rest tonight still longing for you.

But I will have you. Someday, when the time is right, when, as they say, the stars have aligned, you will be mine. That glorious day will be wonderful. Maybe less for you than it is for me, but it will be magnificent in every way imaginable. You will be mine. Someday, we will finally be togEther. Someday, you, and me.


*So you probably skipped to this part hoping to find who this letter is really for. I'm afraid I won't be writing it down this time. But if you really want to know, there are random mistakes in the letter above that spell out just for whom this letter is for.

**Why I wrote it? Let's just say I didn't get what I ordered.

***And one more thing, check your items before leaving the counter. =)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

A Year Ago

One year ago, I woke up and got ready to fly to Cebu. We went to the airport, and I got on a plane. I arrived and got to my first boarding house. First in both senses: It was my first boarding house in Cebu. It was my first time to live in a boarding house. Since it was a Good Friday, most shops were closed. There weren't a lot of cars. I had to explore. I walked around. I crossed the street to Jollibee, which is always a reliable store. I walked around some more. Then I went back to my room. I didn't have any beddings, so yeah, I slept on a wooden bed with only the bedsheet to soften my bed. I didn't have my own fan. I had my laptop to keep me company though. I wrote a song. Then that was basically it. That was a year ago.

A year later, that is, today, I woke up and rolled around on my very comfortable bed. I stared at the ceiling, the one that always seemed to surprise me with indoor rain, and wondered what I should do today. I finally got up and cleaned the bathroom. Yeah, it was a very productive decision. Then I turned the aircon on because it was hot. I got ready to go to Ayala. I rode a taxi to Ayala because I spent about thirty minutes waiting for a jeep. And it was burning hot (figuratively of course). I ate lunch. Then I went to SM. I bought some water filters. I rearranged the books at Booksale (hihi). I bought three books (at Php110, yey). I had dinner. I went home and decided to record my first public cover of a song. I decided to let you guys hear it. Don't judge me.

So what am I trying to say here? I'm saying that there really is no telling what and where we will be throughout the years. (See what I did there? Those who know me will get it.) We can plan all we want, but it will always be God's plan that will work out. You see, I never planned on staying here this long. Actually, by my timeline, I was supposed to be pursuing further studies right now. I didn't get the scholarship. That's why I'm still here. But I think it's also because God is still preparing me. Sure, I'm not sure what it is yet, but I'm sure it's going to be awesome. Really. So while I'm still here, might as well make the best of it, right?

For the past year, I've made a lot of adventures. I met a lot of friends and did a lot of death-defying stunts (like crossing the street on my own). I also had crazy moments at several places that involved strength of body and will (Skywalk Adventure and the safari thing *oh no I forgot the name* at Mabolo *is that right?*), tests of control (numerous sales at several tempting stores like Converse, NBS, Fully Booked, Booksale, etc.), and freedom of expression (costume parties!). There was also an opportunity for me to relive my music-geeking days for free (Bloomfields, Spongecola, The Company, Rachel Ann Go, etc.) and for a fee (Phantom of the Opera and a1 Live in Cebu). The past year was exciting, disappointing, and sometimes boring and heartbreaking, but it was last year. It was last year that the journey started.

The journey continues.

So yeah, this year (well, for calculation's sake) will be another unknown year. Who really knows what will happen? Google thinks it nose [sic]. But really, you know what I'm going to say about that. The next couple of months will be something of an epic battle. Let's see who wins this time. Let's see if the war is finally over. Let's see if this little bird can finally fly.

Yeah, everything in the hands of God.

So about that song. I was supposed to record (haha such a professional term to use) the song I wrote last year, but I don't know, I got scared or something. I decided to let you hear this instead. Please don't make fun of me. Yes, I cheated with the audio settings. Bleh. Because I can. But you can also just skip it and move to another post or something. Go save yourself from the terror of my voice hehe. Yeah.

Anyway, another year, another destiny. Go, go, go!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Time Travel: Graduation Season

Official photo? Every time we talk about graduation, this photo seems to pop up.

Four years ago on this day, we stepped out into the real world, full of hope and excitement for the things to come. We stepped out and away from the portals that have cared for us and equipped us for what we might face. Futures were about to be taken hold of. Lives were about to change. A generation of beginnings was to be born. Four years ago on this day, we transferred the cord of our hats from one side to the other to signify our crossover from who we were to who we will be. Four years ago on this day, we graduated.

For some people, leaving the confines of student life was simple. They had plans. All their dreams were lined up and ready for the taking. Some people had careers waiting for them. Others had a season of leisure and rest. Still, there were those who had no idea what to do next. Where do we go from here? What's next?

I've had friends continue their pursuit of education (and most of them are also graduating this year). I've had friends who decided to jump into the sea of business- and lifestyle-concentrated work forces, gladly sharing their time, talent, and treasure to institutions who may or may not have their own best interest set out for them. I've also had friends who, like me, decided that a little rest could do well. The point is, after graduation, we are on our own.

Decisions were made. Now, four years later, where are we? What has come out of our journey toward self-actualization? What have we gained from life's pursuits? More importantly, have we reaped what we have sowed four years ago?

This is actually the first time I've written about our graduation. I reminisce, yes, but I have never found the time (or effort) to put onto writing what has been floating in my head for a long time. So here goes.

Someone once told me that I must be feeling really sad to finally leave school. It was after our graduation when I had talked with someone who realized what I haven't realized yet. I lived in the university's dormitory for four years. It has practically been my second home. Being that the dormitories were inside the campus, it goes without saying that I lived all those four years literally in school. Every day I would have to wear my ID or bring it with me. Every day, I wake up to find myself already in school. Every day for those past four years, I gradually grew accustomed to the life of school confinement. It wasn't all that bad. I mean, how many people can say "I'm going home early today . . . tada, I'm home" while they were still ten paces out of the classroom? It was fun. The people I got to meet, the adventures that we shared, and the numerous nights of just waiting for the bell to ring, calling us into another day of learning, were all part and parcel of a package we unknowingly bought when we enrolled for college. It was fun.

But when we left . . . when I left, it tore a part of me. *cheesy* It was like leaving home all over again. Imagine, staying four years in the same place with the same people doing practically the same stuff. It wasn't boring, not all the time. It was family. And now they're gone. Off to other places. Off to pursue their dreams. Leaving school was leaving home. And four years later, I realized that the comforts of those four years were luxuries the working life has denied us of.

When I left school, I was lost. Seriously. It was like I had done all that I had planned to do . . . and then what? For some bizarre reason, my personal timeline has only gone up to college. Work had been too far off to think about. Maybe that's why it took me a while to decide what to do. So this is what I have to say to all of you new graduates:

Enjoy life as it comes.

To the graduates

You endured a lot while being in school. You had to go through exams and stress and long sleepless nights and coffee sprees and pancit canton feasts and what-not. You had to listen to countless lectures and make seemingly pointless projects and talk to people who sometimes didn't make any sense. There were times when you might have wanted to quit. (I wanted to quit college when I was in my second year.) There were times when you started the day wrestling with the thought of leaving the loving arms of your own bed. There were times when going to class seemed like the worst thing to spend time on. Those were days when life is so much more meaningful. Cherish those memories. You survived and that's what's important. Retell your story. Savor the adventures. Those times will never come again.

Now that you have escaped academia, you may hear people telling you that life in the real world is way different and n times more difficult. It's true, life is different out here. You may fall for a job that has no relation whatsoever with what you've studied during college. You may end up working for something that you never thought you would. You may not like your job but have to stick to it just so you can survive without the student allowances. There are many factors that the real world will introduce into your life's equation. You will encounter different (and strange) people through it all. Things may not work out the way you planned it. But remember this, everything you've learned in college, and the past twenty or more years of your life for that matter, will make itself useful . . . somehow. Someday, you'll find out that the trigonometry problem you had to solve five times on three sheets of intermediate paper would actually save you and the company you're working for from billions worth of damages. Someday, you'll find out that the annoying voice of your classmate will actually guide you into the speaking business and teach future orators or debaters or random engagement speakers how not to speak. Someday, you'll find out that the ruined group project you had to redo using money from your own pocket and the subsequent teenage squabbles on how things will never turn out good and how we all should just drop out and join the circus will set a spark in you and inspire a best-selling, major-motion-picture-in-the-making, future-classically renowned novel. Who knows really? There's a wide assortment of opportunities waiting on your doorstep, and you get to step out fresh from school only once (unless you keep pursuing further studies, which actually makes you really awesome from my perspective). The trick is to stick to what you're doing until you've made it much better than when you first started holding on to it. Does that make sense?

But never think you're a failure when you start stumbling into "hermithood." Sometimes, being out in the real world can become depressing. We end up thinking, What am I even working for? And sometimes there just isn't any answer other than money. Sometimes we find ourselves wishing for another path, another chance to start again, another life to live. Sometimes we end up living in those past days, years, and lives that we think are so much better than where we are now. Don't lose hope. The real world is just what it is: real. As the Mythbusters say, "Failure is always an option." When you fail, that gives you a sign of what not to do. Then you get back up again and carry on. Keep calm and carry on, the famous line circulating pop culture says. When you find yourself lost and bored and pointless, pause and pay attention. Maybe there's something you're missing. Maybe there's something that's not yet ready for you to take hold of. Maybe God is still preparing what was really for you in the first place. Pause.

Four years later, on this special day, I do still find myself wishing I'd taken different paths. There were things I would have wanted to do, things that I still want to achieve. Four years later, dreams are still dreams. But I tell you one other thing: You're still alive, right? Then there's still hope to achieve great things. We are to achieve great and greater things. I end this semilong discourse on what I partially think of graduation and the past four years of relentless dreaming with a quote from the Grouchy Rabbit:

We are all time traveling into the future . . . at normal speed.

Enjoy the freedom of unemployment, savor the challenge of job hunting, and celebrate the victory of employment. And always remember, four years ago (or however long you stayed in school), you were once young, spirited, lost, free, and loving every moment of life. Stick with it.

Love lots and congratulations,

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Signs: No Stopping Any Time

I am no expert at traffic signs, but I'm pretty sure of what this sign means.

So if this sign is pretty clear, then explain this.

From Carlo Montoya's Flickr
For some weird reason, I was drawn to writing about stop signs. Actually, lately I'm drawn to writing about any kind of sign. (Cue background singing: I saw the signs, and it opened up my eyes *Pitch Perfect version.) And to start my series of traffic-sign-inspired posts, let's talk about the No Stopping Any Time sign.

Is it human instinct that we just want to break rules? Is it really that hard not to stop at a No Stopping Any Time sign? Does that sign just make us want to stop, contrary to what it actually means? Is there a program somewhere in us that steps on the brakes and suddenly halts us from whatever we're doing just to stare (mockingly) at the No Stopping Any Time sign? It's like saying to someone, "Hey, don't look now, but that strange person has been staring at you from across the room for a while now." And then what does that someone do? There is a big possibility that instinct will drive that person to turn around and look, oblivious of the first two words that someone's friend just said after hey. We say "Don't look," they look. We say "No talking," they talk. We say "No stopping any time," they . . . don't even listen.

Let's analyze the sign, shall we?

No Stopping Any Time

Isn't it beautiful? The first word of the sign says no. That is probably one of the shortest words in the dictionary (possibly next to I ). It means "not any" as in not at all, not ever, not really ever at all. It simply means no. How hard is it to understand that? When we were kids, they told us "No playing with matches." Admit it, we played with matches and fire behind their back (or wanted to). When we were in school, teachers told us "No talking." We kept talking because that's what kids do. When we got to a higher level in school, they told us "No cheating." We didn't. They also told us "No lying." We did. No jumping on the sofa, no junk food after dinner, no TV after six, no computer games after six, no talking after six, no standing, sitting, sleeping, eating, playing, thinking, breathing, reading, and on and on it goes. No. We've been trained to listen to that word but never really understand it. What does it mean? I mean, what does it really mean? No.

It can be the cause of heartbreak. No, I will not marry you. It can stop you from going to school. No, the scholarship goes to someone else. It can take away your happiness. No, you can't eat chocolates anymore. It can take away your life. I'm sorry, your jeep stopped where it shouldn't have stopped and now you're in the hospital suffering from a terrible car crash between the truck on the road traveling behind your jeep and the jeep you were riding on that stopped at a No Stopping Any Time sign. You have ten seconds to live.

No Stopping Any Time

Taken from the word stop, stopping is its -ing form. Duh. There are so many songs with that root word like "Stop right now, thank you very much. I need somebody with a . . ." or "Stop in the name of love before you break my heart (is that right?)" or "Stop, look, and listen. Stop, look, and listen. Beep, beep, the small jeep is . . ." Yeah. Stop is a very popular word. And this word people actually believe in. Hmm. Actually, I've just had two realizations while typing this down. One is that maybe drivers only see the Stopping Any Time part. No is such a short word and such a small one that people can so easily miss it. So maybe they thought they were following instructions? I don't know. And my other realization is that maybe they're too smart for the makers of this traffic sign. No and stop are negative words. It's a double negative. To avoid such redundancy, maybe they opted to negate it and just stopped. By removing one element, say, the no, then Stopping Any Time becomes more likely of being obeyed. And if stopping would be removed, No Any Time still doesn't make sense, so they stop to try and understand it. It's actually rather clever.

No Stopping Any Time

Any. Another tiny word in a very important sign. It rings of the possibility of something. Are there any more objections? Any more papers to pass? Would any one like to date him? It reeks of excitement and plausibility. Any. The word bounces off like a name, like a longing for something, anything, that can make life different. Any. Just a bit. Just a moment. Just a tiny slice of whatever it is that you are slicing. Any.

No Stopping Any Time

I probably should have closed anytime since that's what we really usually do at work. I think. Anyway, time. Yeah. Time is a beautiful word. It's long and short and forever and always and never all at the same time. It's what we are all running after but never getting enough. It's what we all have but never really take much notice of. We take it for granted until that very last few seconds of life when we realize all the time we've spent on things we should have not spent so much time on. Too much time. Too little time. Time holds us together and breaks us apart. Time runs out on us. Time is expensive. Time sometimes stays in the newsstands for too long. Add an x after e and you get another very expensive piece of time. Time is precious and it's slipping away (and I've been waiting for you all of my life *cue Christina Aguilera and Ricky Martin*). Time.

No Stopping Any Time

Well, I guess this sign basically means "not really ever at all stopping just a moment in the nonspatial continuum that makes up the past, present, and future of humanity." No wonder we still find ourselves sitting in jeeps and staring at those No Stopping Any Time signs while waiting for other passengers to climb aboard. (A post shall follow on how passengers can be more civilized and respectful of traffic-sign makers.) No wonder we still find ourselves turning away from the No Stopping Any Time sign when we see it  looming ahead and as we nonchalantly tap on the handrails to signal to the driver that we want to stop the jeep and get off the vehicle . . . there. Right there. Right in front of the No Stopping Any Time sign.

No Stopping Any Time

On a much different note, No Stopping Any Time is actually an encouragement. It means, go on, keep moving forward. Don't quit. Don't stop. Keep running. You're almost there. It means, keep holding on. The last few miles (or meters) may make the difference you were waiting for in your life. It means keep telling your friends the Good News. It means keep smiling (keep shining, knowing you can always count on me). It means life must go on. It means No Stopping Any Time. Keep moving.

No Stopping Any Time

I'm sorry, but I'm going to break that rule now. Here shall I stop, and here shall I  say farewell, for the dawn is coming and the night has passed. I bid you good-bye and remind you to not stop at all, ever.

Have a blessed keep-moving day!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Unboxing BDJ Dec-Jan Box + 7-Day Challenge

Don't you just love receiving presents? I know I do.

This post will mostly talk about this blogger's attempt at being a beauty expert. Let's start with the experience of receiving my first BDJ Box.

If you're wondering what a BDJ Box is, think Christmases past when as children we get to open loads of boxes of gifts with all sorts of toys and chocolates and goodies. Yep, that's exactly how I felt when I opened my box. If you want a better description (that does not include toys and chocolates), you can check their website. That's a more reliable source than I am. =)

Now, on to the seven-day challenge!

BDJ has asked subscribers to use the products in the box we received for seven days and to document the process. Being a little lazy on the documentation part, I decided to make this instead.

Presenting the process of trying to be girly with the help of BDJ. (PS, You have the right to skip this video. =)

What video? haha removed the vid due to personal fear of discovery. =p

Obviously, that wasn't done for seven days, but I did follow the rule of using their products for seven days. (I keep saying seven days; now I can hear Sadako saying it on the phone. Grrrr.)

So here are the products used in order of appearance.

Flormar Longwearing Lipstick

This is the first time I've ever heard of this lipstick, and it's made a very good impression on me.

BDJ says this is a brand from Turkey, and if it really is, then they are about to be really popular here. They weren't kidding when they named it longwearing. My test to prove this was to sleep on it. Okay, not literally, but I did wear it while sleeping. When I woke up, it was still all there. I felt like one of those actresses on TV who wakes up wearing makeup even when they're supposedly from a poor family. Side story aside, the moisture content of this product is also unbelievable. Most long-wearing lipsticks tend to dry up the lips because of the duration of time the product is on your lips. Flormar's lipstick doesn't dry up lips at all. Actually, even when I lick my lips (which I have recently found out that I shouldn't do), the lipstick retains its moisturizing ability.

I do have some qualms with the product, and it would be unfair if I don't warn you ahead of time. When they said "Longwearing," they really mean it. That also means it's a bit hard to remove. Also, the picture can't show it very well, but the color I got is a bit too metallic and glittery. It's a beautiful color, but for my personal preference, I would have liked it without the metallic glitter effect. Then again, it does look good on camera, doesn't it?

Pantene Pro-V All Day Smooth Miracle Water

Help your hair maintain perfect moisture balance. Use this as a finishing touch to your daily hair care regimen (after shower), leaving your hair fragrant and moisturized. For best results, use with the full Pantene system.

Miracle water indeed. I have to admit that I'm a Pantene user since the time my parents decided they shouldn't allow me to experiment mixing other shampoos in the bath. Yes, that was way, way back when my hair was long and straight and was a guinea pig of sorts for my random hair care concoctions. So when I got this bottle of Pantene Miracle Water, I knew I was getting something fairly better than any other.

Although I've only used it a couple of times, I can tell that it is really, really effective. It makes hair feel soft and bouncy and smooth. I don't know if it looks anywhere near commercial-model hair, but I do feel that it's getting there. Plus it's not sticky like most leave-on conditioners are. Once you've placed the product on your hair, it glides on and gets absorbed as if it was never there at all. I would definitely recommend this to those who stay for hours inside air-conditioned offices as the Miracle Water protects hair from drying, avoiding those awkward static-hair moments.

If anyone's wondering why I haven't used this a whole lot if I'm saying that it really works, that's because I've recently digipermed my hair, and I still don't know if the product would be okay for chemically treated hair. If anyone has an answer to that, I'd be glad to hear from you.

Snoe Beauty Beso Balm

This is by far my favorite product of the batch.

I don't know if you can read the warning, but it says, "Prolonged use may attract the opposite gender and may cause intense flirting."

This wins best product copy in my list. The print on its packaging says it all. I even have a funny story attached to it. 

Always heed the warning. I started using this balm right when I received the box. The next day, the magnetism the product says would attract opposite genders started to attract "other species" (scare quotes intended). There was a sudden spotlight turned on me, and frankly, it was a weird and conspiratorial change. Could the balm have been that effective? I don't know, but I plan to keep using this until it finally runs out, maybe find myself a Marius in the process too.

For those who prefer reading more informative reviews, I'd just like to say that the balm is the bomb (read like a surfer dude). At first swipe on your lips, it would seem to be like any other lip balm, but when a few seconds pass, it starts to cool your lips like menthol candies. I'm not sure about the "freshens breath" part of its advertisement, but it does make me feel like my breath doesn't stink much. (Not to say that it does at all, but you get the picture . . . I hope.) The Beso Balm is like a welcome lip care product for those days when wearing lipstick doesn't make you feel any prettier. It's also very effective in cold places and doesn't chap lips.

Burberry Body Eau De Toilette

Ever tried rubbing your wrists on one of those catalogs with scents to sell? Well, I got the better version.

 Yes, that is indeed Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. Sexy model for a sexy scent. I love the Burberry Body scent simply because it's not the overpowering kind of scent. It's more of powdery and soft. I obviously don't know the right words to describe scents, but soft and powdery are the nearest descriptions I have of the scent. It's also not the old-woman type of scent. It's subtle and sweet and has quite a long staying power.

Unfortunately, the packaging is always too small. Sample sizes should be bigger. =))

Nevertheless, I loved using this perfume. I'm going to have to save the rest of it for special occasions like . . . Mondays. =)

Etude House Moistfull Collagen Trial Kit (Emulsion and Freshener)

I'm going to say it first just so I can let it out. What I don't like about this product is that I don't know how to use it. Blame it on me for not using the wealth of the world wide web, but I can also blame it on the fact that the only English words in the whole trial kit would be the product name. There are no instructions. Sniff. I had to go to Etude House and actually ask one of the girls which one is which. She told me the facial cleanser was like the toner and the emulsion was the moisturizer. I took her advice.

That being said, I love the aftereffect of both products. Since my face is sensitive and only really loves Asian products, a Korean skin care kit is perfect. It keeps my face feel soft and (yes, I'm going to say it because I love the word) fluffy. I'm not totally convinced about the product though, but I'm sure it's also going to work on other girls around the world.

Absentee Products from the Video

Flormar Supershine Nail Enamel

I love this nail enamel. <3

Okay, I have no idea what people say when reviewing nail polish, but I'm just going to leave this part saying that the color is absolutely gorgeous, the polish doesn't chip easily, and that it's perfect for people like me who like to make DIY nail art. See pictures below.

I'd have to thank the person who gave this notebook to me for the inspiration of polka hearts. And just a little trivia nobody really cares about, I used poster paint for the polka dots and hearts on my nails. Just saying. =)

Last but Definitely Not the Least

Pevonia Botanica Phyto-Gel Cleanser

Feel velvety soft skin!

Meet the Phyto-Gel Cleanser. It's one of those facial washes you wish you'd never run out of.

My skin isn't usually accustomed to new products. I have reservations when using new products, especially on my face. When I did risk using Pevonia's cleanser though, I found it really worthwhile. Unlike other cleansers that leave your face like it's been sucked out of life, Pevonia's cleanser makes your face feel (I don't even know if this is the right word) plump. I mean I think I could feel the pores tighten, and my face felt firmer even after just the first wash. It's that effective. And for sensitive skin like mine, it doesn't feel soapy or extremely moisturizing like lotion. It foams just the right way, and a little goes a real long way. The packaging of the sample may be small, but it packs a punch. I've used this for almost a week now, and my face feels just as clean and just the way as when I first used it. Its efficacy doesn't wear out the longer you use it. Instead, it works even better when used daily. I love this product, and yes, I'd love to have the full-size version of Pevonia's Phyto-Gel Cleanser.

For those who can afford it, you definitely need to try this one. If you try it but it doesn't work well with your skin, I heard that there are other products from Pevonia that would suit any skin type. Plus, know that there is soMEone here ready to use it for you. =)

So that's the seven products I got from the BDJ Box.

But wait, there's more!

Tony Moly Broccoli Sprout Cleansing Cream

Here's another trivia about my rookie adventures in the beauty department: I actually thought this was a facial cleanser and wondered why it wouldn't foam. Hmm. Epic fail?

Don't you just love Tony Moly's packaging? And yes, I'm sorry for not removing my own broccoli from its wrap.

The cleansing cream is cool on the face and is really effective in removing dirt and dead skin cells on your face. It's also very effective in removing makeup.

What I love about this cleansing cream is that after using it, my face doesn't feel like it went through the harshness of makeup removers. It has antioxidants from blueberry, tomato, lavender, rosa canina fruit, and spinach that help revitalize skin. (Wait, I didn't read broccoli in the ingredients.) But like other Korean products, they don't have English instructions. Other than that, this product is best for those who don't have the time or the strength to wash their faces before sleeping.

Tony Moly Tomatox Magic White Massage Pack

This is the cutest case ever.

Yeah, I thought the tomato was edible too.

Anyway, this tomato belongs to my mother. She has the full-size version of the Tomatox massage pack. I first got to use it last Christmas, and it was a refreshing feeling. Yes, it does detoxify, as the product name suggests. It also helps clear impurities. It's like the equivalent of a face mask, only without the mask.

I may not be totally sold to this product since the first time I used it caused me to have two medium-sized pimples, but I think people who have much less sensitive skin than I have will cotton to this product. It's a splurge and a treat for the face and would go well with a long vacation and a glass of iced tea. Tony Moly's product is, like other Asian products, definitely suited for people who like to try out new items and people who enjoy aesthetic packaging as well as content.

And that's all I have to say about my box's content.

Excited to get my February BDJ Box.

On a lighter and more personal note, I'd like to thank BDJ for the FMN ideas journal. I love it! I love notebooks or notepads or anything related to writing. So yeah, thanks a whole bunch!

So what's my beauty resolution for the year? It's to always keep my face clean and not to keep touching it, especially when I've just handled money. That, I think, is one of the most basic things I need to do. And I should probably also take care of my hair since I really prefer just leaving it alone to its own devices. What's your beauty resolution? <3

Love lots everyone, and always remember that your inner beauty is still more important than the outer beauty.

Obligatory hashtags: #bdjbox #bdjbox7day #beautybox
Visit www.bdjbox.com for more info

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Love Letter to Les Misérables

(Note: May contain spoilers. Be warned.)

Dearest Les Misérables,

You took my breath away. There is no better way to say what you've done to me. No, I didn't die because of it, but I do remember literally holding my breath (as with everyone else in the cinema) while watching. You made us cry. I could hear my seatmates sniffing during the movie. I was a little more hesitant to let my feelings go, but in the end, when I stepped outside and finally realized the movie was over, well, you made me cry too.

You were so beautiful. I must admit that I am not your biggest fan. I haven't read the book. I have only seen the movie with Liam Neeson just last year. I have only listened to the musical last year also, and it was the tenth anniversary version, so everyone was either just standing or sitting down. This latest movie, however, is simply divine. You have melded together the plain movie and the musical seamlessly. You have shown that you are ambitious, and yet your effort has paid well. I salute you.

To the people who made this movie possible, thank you. 

The cinematography was beautiful. I couldn't help but feel a bit of Tim Burton in some of the scenes, but I guess I'm just biased when it comes to musicals and Europe. (I'm obviously referring to Sweeney Todd.) The buildings, the set, the sudden zoom outs, and the camera panning was a perfect combination of digital and actual (I think) shooting. It wasn't soft. (Soft being a term I use when the buildings and images look too smooth and computer generated.) I love your smooth transitions, from day to night, from year to year, from place to place. I love the way the camera pans and then everything just changes. I love the details. I don't know if there were chroma boards used (amazing if there weren't), but the backgrounds were a bit too painted for me. I mean, they weren't photo studio background types (like the ones studios ask you to stand in front of to make the picture look like it was taken somewhere else), but they did look a bit chalky. A bit too still too. Then again backgrounds don't really matter much when you have a cast as powerful as the ones you have. I love the falling furniture. I love the ship and the harbor. I love the effect of gun powder going off in the faces of the revolutionists. I love the seemingly lack of blood when the guns go off, then the red rainwater runoff on the streets after the fight. I love the stone walls of Paris. I love the colors of the scenes---warm, cold, bloody, and gray. I love the . . . oh, pfft, I love everything.

To the casting director, you had your job cut out for you, didn't you? Nevertheless, you did awesome. *clap clap*

Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean

I've only heard Hugh (feeling close? =) sing during the 84th Academy Awards, so I'm not very familiar with his vocal range. I know that he sings; he's obviously proven that with this movie. And I definitely know that he acts very, very excellently. Now combine those two talents and place them in a character role that has been probably coveted by numerous actors/artists and you get what we all saw Hugh did. His acting was impeccable. His role was the toughest because he had to be a convict, a mayor, a runaway, and a father all in one movie. He had to lose weight then gain weight. He had to age during the movie. And his eyes were very expressive. You could see his eyes burning, tearing up, or just dying 'til the end. Yes, he was the best choice, as Tom Hooper (director) had said. But I am a bit unsure about his singing. Given, his performance was amazing, but I guess I was expecting a deeper, manlier voice from him. His voice as Jean Valjean seemed too high. I could compare it to Christine in the Phantom of the Opera in Manila whose voice was too powerful for her character (remind me to post about POTO someday). There were high notes that seemed too high. He hit them and hit them well, no doubt, but something felt . . . different. Perhaps it's because I heard Colm Wilkinson sing those songs first. And yes, it must have been so challenging for Hugh to perform as Valjean when the original Valjean was also there, as the monsignor! Yeah, Colm has aged, but his voice is still as powerful and deep and enchanting as ever.

Russell Crowe as Inspector Javert

The first feedback I heard about Russell playing this role was from Adam Lambert saying that they made nonsingers sing and that ruined the movie for him. Well, I beg to differ. Again, I may just be biased because I love Russell and still think of him as Maximus no matter what movie he's in. His performance in Les Mis is still brilliant. Granted, his voice was "underwhelming" (a term from someone else), but I think he pulled it off well. I actually like his voice better than Hugh's. (Okay, pretend you didn't read that.) It was deeper and more . . . bass? Rounder, I would say. (I have adjectives for certain things that seem inappropriate for normal people, sorry.) I liked his songs. I loved his acting. I love his anger, his confusion. I love how he seems so mean, then seems so lost. I love his character, and I love how he brought Javert to life again. What I didn't love about his part was when he jumped off the bridge. I mean, really? The bone-breaking sound? Pfft. I was snickering silently in italics when I heard it. Cartoonish sound effects aside, Russell as Javert was awesome. I love how official he looked when he drew his sword to fight Valjean in the hospital when Fantine just died. He looked so posed and poised. I love Maximus! *hearts all over*

Anne Hathaway as Fantine

Anne couldn't have done it better. Her role as Fantine was epic. Her voice was amazing with a capital A. And the feelings! Her "I Dreamed a Dream" was epic. And to think all the camera focused was her face. There was nothing else to distract the audience with. It was like watching a live broadway musical with the singers right in front of you. You could see every expression that crosses their face, and Fantine's song had a lot of expressions in it. Anne's voice control was awesome. Hitting those notes WHILE crying? *jaw dropped* For such a short airtime, Fantine wowed everyone with her singing. Acting-wise, Anne was spot on. From the defending herself, to the cutting of her hair, to the you-know-what, until she died, she gave it everything she's got. She didn't care that she looked really (for lack of a better word) ugly during some of the scenes. Her face just contorted into something very human and unlike the faces we see in movies. When she cried, she just cried like every other human does---scrunched up face and all. Anne-believable. <3 (pun intended) PS I did think it would have been better if she wasn't wearing pink in the factory. She stood out too much even though she really needed to stand out. Just saying.

Amanda Seyfried as Cosette

There were many comments about Amanda not being a good choice for the role. I really have nothing to say to that. Whenever I see Cosette, there's always a teeny tiny voice in my head that starts singing "Honey, honey, how it kills me, uh huh." Yeah, that's from Mamma Mia. That was one of my comfort movies when I still had my VCD of the movie, and because I kept watching it over and over, whenever I see Amanda, I always associate her with the Mamma Mia. For her role as Cosette though, I think her voice was, hmm, amazing in terms of pitch. Man, she can hit those almost-whistle notes. She can also sing while crying, which is something this movie has a lot of. I'm going to stop with Amanda now before I start going on about her eyes. =)

Eddie Redmayne as Marius
Well, hello there, handsome! Hihi. See, that's my new crush. He's got the voice of someone I can listen to forever. I actually started daydreaming about bumping into him in a corner bookstore somewhere in London while I was singing Eponine's song to myself and he eavesdrops on me and . . . then I realize I'm still in the cinema, staring at his face while he sings about tables and chairs. *sigh* He's about to make waves in the movie industry if he wants to. His voice can drown me. The control on those low notes, whew. And his expressions of love, pfft. You're one handsome fellow, Eddie, and yes, I do want to bump into you in a corner bookstore somewhere in London while singing Eponine's song to myself and you eavesdropping on me. <3

Samantha Barks as Eponine

Now she's a surprise. She's new to me and very rarely does someone new make a tremendous impression on me. Samantha did just that. She's so pretty. And her voice is beautiful. She is awesome. Her first full body shot also took me by surprise. (I know the rest of the audience were also surprised, judging from the collective gasp/reaction I heard.) She's so thin. And I mean really thin. Was that her real waist? Nevertheless, she sings like a dream. "On My Own" has never felt so heartbreaking until I saw and heard her singing it. You could see her pain and the bits and pieces of her soul drowning in the rain. Her facial expressions were beautiful. I bet every other girl who has felt the way she felt also cried when she cried. Whew. I am officially going to memorize that song even if I can't hit her notes. And Eponine's dying song, "A Little Fall of Rain," was just . . . wow. I know I'd like Lea Salonga to keep her role as Eponine, but Samantha is doing great on her own. (Oh, pun.)

Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen as the Thénardiers

Now I would be crazy if I forgot to mention these two. As usual, Helena is the best at roles like this. She and Sacha brought so much color and comedy to the movie that without them, it would actually be a bit of a drag. They were like breathing spaces for those who had to wipe their tears away before the next intense scene came up. The pair of actors were such a good match. I was half hoping that Johnny Depp would pop out somewhere or the rest of Sweeney Todd would make a surprise appearance. The Thénardiers make the movie so real. They make life during the French revolution so real. They bring the movie back down to earth with their antics and money-making schemes. And these two, Helena and Sacha, could do it in the movie better than anyone else. If anyone disagrees, then it's "off with your head"! =)

For the rest of the cast, you guys are awesome. I especially love Gavroche because he's still so young and his voice sounds awesome. He acts really well too. And I love the singers of "At the End of the Day" because they make it look so easy. The blending was flawless. It was beautiful.

By the time Javert threw himself off the bridge and Marius and Cosette finally got together, I didn't know what to expect. As I've said, I haven't seen the full musical and the plain movie version's ending was a bit vague. So watching Valjean die was something I didn't expect. And seeing Colm there meant he was dead too. And Fantine's appearance as a ghost was a bit funny, like a soap commercial. Then they heard everyone who died, singing "Do You Hear the People Sing?" and it was the most beautiful ending I have ever seen. We couldn't wait to clap afterward. I wanted to do a standing ovation, but then I remembered that I wasn't in a real theater. It was the perfect conclusion to such an epic movie.

In the end, I guess what makes the movie so beautiful is that the story itself is timeless. We've heard about the story in so many ways. We've read references to the book and explanations on what really happened. We've seen the nonmusical version. Yet through all that, the reality of the story still draws us in. It is a story of humanity, of freedom, of the will and desire to change, of pride and denial, of love, of truth, of sacrifice. It is a story of how people can come together for want of change. A story of humanity's desire to be equal and yet, and the song goes, "we're only equal when we're dead." A story of heartbreak and hope. Les Misérables is a timeless tale, and the movie is definitely a must-see. Don't wait until it's too late to watch it on the big screen. It's worth every coin and minute you have.

Again, thank you, Les Misérables, for making my first movie of the year awesome. Thank you for your effort. You have made this girl's life and dreams ignite once more. Keep it up and God bless!

PS I probably forgot to write about other stuff I've noticed in the movie, but I'll let that slide. The point is, I'm inviting all of you to watch it and see for yourself what you would miss if you don't watch it. Get it? Got it.