Posted in Movies & TV series, Reviews, Uncategorized

My March Watch List

Last month, I didn’t get to watch films more than I wanted to. However, I did see many series and docuseries on Netflix. So here is March’s watchlist:

MOVIE

Title: The Adam Project (2022)

Where to Watch: Netflix

Synopsis: Adam (Ryan Reynolds) is a renegade pilot who crash-lands in 2022 and forced to team up with his 12-year-old self (Walker Scobell) to save the future.

My thoughts: 

The movie may not be as spectacular, but it’s a kid-friendly film worth your time. It may have some action scenes, heart-stopping car chases, and impressive special effects (of course, the Reynolds stamp of humor). Yet, at the heart of it is just a kid grappling with his feelings of grief after the unexpected death of his workaholic scientist father (Mark Ruffalo) and his attitude towards his mother (Jennifer Garner). 

It was a tear-jerker during the end part (no spoilers here). And I am reminded that I should do my best to express my feelings towards my loved ones as often as possible, especially to my family. Life is too fragile and short to wait for the “right time” to do it. I also love the on-screen reunion of Ruffalo and Garner since it made my 17-year-old heart flutter… albeit it was short. You see, I’m a fan of their pairing at “13 going 30“. Overall, it’s a good one to watch for family movie night.

SERIES

Title: Life After Death with Tyler Henry (2022)

Where to watch: Netflix

Synopsis: 26-year-old psychic medium Tyler Henry offers clarity and closure to ordinary people. While he tries to bring the same to his own family. 

My thoughts: I know many people don’t buy reality shows, especially about the supernatural, due to their authenticity. But with Life After Death, you don’t need to be a believer to see and feel how empathetic and warm Henry is. He does not claim to have actual conversations with those who have passed away. Accordingly, information comes to him in bits and pieces that he needs to make sense of – primarily in flashes of imagery and specific physical sensations. Additionally, he connects his artistic abilities to his skills as a medium (he paints on canvas). And during readings, he scribbles on his pad to gain a clearer understanding of the messages sent to him.

What makes him endearing is his ability to bring emotional closure to people – celebrity or not. He gives people hope, courage to move on, and peace through his readings. And I think that’s what really matters. 

I also like his humility to admit that even if he’s a medium, he still needed others with similar gifts as him to help his own mother. And I think it’s sincere and makes him human.

Now I don’t claim that Henry is the real deal because I haven’t met him, but I believe what is more important is the positive impact he leaves behind on the bereaved. So if you’re interested in afterlife communication and mediums, this is a nice watch.

Title: Worst Roommate Ever (2022)

Where to watch: Netflix

Synopsis: This documentary explores the true accounts of some of the worst cohabitant experiences of ordinary people having con-artists and serial killers as roommates. 

My thoughts: In the many years I have moved around and lived in shared apartments, I can definitely say you can never know your roommates all too well. It’s a blessing if you meet kind souls you feel safe being around. After watching the series, I couldn’t help but feel a bit scared of the fact that it could happen to anyone. I think the series is a good reminder to be vigilant of the people you welcome inside the space you call home. An interesting watch for fellow true crime fans, but some caution for the paranoid. 

Title: The Final Table (2018)

Where to watch: Netflix

Synopsis: In this fast-paced cooking competition, professional international chefs compete in teams to create dishes that will impress celebrity judges and chefs. And create elevated dishes based on the country chosen for each episode. 

My thoughts: As a foodie, I just love each episode and learned a lot from this 10-episode series about food and cooking. I’ve watched similar reality cooking competitions, but The Final Table is my favorite so far. Mainly because it introduced me to different renowned chefs and the restaurants they owned – which I’m planning to dine in should I get filthy rich enough to do so. If you’re interested in world cuisines and the tension of contests, then watch it. Bit of warning though… it will make you go hungry.

YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Channel name: Goldrush Paranormal

Description: Costas, a Paranormal Investigator, ITC Researcher, and Spirit Communicator, speaks to spirits using various tools to uncover the mysteries about their death and hear their messages from the afterlife.

My thoughts: I first saw his video communicating with deceased Thai actress Tangmo Nida as one of my YouTube recommendations. Honestly, I have reservations regarding direct conversations with the dead via techie gadgets. Although some may be convincing, I don’t automatically believe them to be genuine. Looking through his channel, I saw there are many videos with him talking to dead Filipino celebrities and other big names such as Kobe Bryant, Bruce Lee, and Michael Jackson. Plus a controversial one claiming to have spoken with passengers and co-pilot of the ill-fated Malaysia Flight MH370. These are bold claims, yes, and I’ve even watched some out of curiosity. I’m still not convinced it’s authentic, but I’ll leave it up for you to decide if you think it’s real.  

Posted in Mi Vida, Personal Thoughts

Cat mode Saturday

I had the most wonderful time yesterday because I finally had a proper day off where I had no schedules or commitments to people. Just a day for myself to sleep, do some cleaning, eat and sleep again… so I was on cat mode.

You see, this is the first Saturday for me at home since 2022 kicked in. Yes, my faithful 3 readers, I am that busy and active in the Filipino community putting on many hats – as a volunteer trainer, content/show writer, secretariat cum coordinator for Expo 2020 Dubai events with the Filipino club I volunteer for, etc. 

And since the Expo has ended last Thursday (March 31st), my task is finally over, and I get to take off one hat and reclaim some time for myself. Hence, I spent the morning sleeping in – a delightful feeling because I haven’t experienced that in a loooooooooooonnnnggggg time! 

I woke up by 10 AM and had breakfast with my aunt and landlady. She’s in her Outlander marathon for days now that I’m beginning to identify a character or two. Afterward, the personal worktable cleaning commenced – a need due to the piling trash to get rid. I discovered my stash of faded receipts from restaurants, salon treatments, and groceries I did in 2021. There were also discount vouchers for baby items and children’s apparel which I continually forgot to hand over to my married friends – unfortunately, all expired last January 31, 2022.

Once done, cabinet cleaning was next, and I felt mixed emotions. Glad to finally organize my topsy turvy closet (which my aunt often describes as an anaconda lair), and a tinge of bitterness, because reality finally sank in that I’m no longer dress size 8 or 10. I guess all those years of eat-all-you-can buffets and 30-something metabolism has promoted me to bigger curves. Marie Kondo-ing my closet was therapeutic because I’ve learned to let go of clothing I owned since college and be left with the essentials. Bigger closet space means more stuff to put in…haha I’m joking… well, not. 

Aging has also toned down my clothing preferences… before I made sure I looked like a Vogue model material when going out in stilettos and high heels. Nowadays, I only wear 1-inch heeled footwear at Dubai Opera performances or special events at the PH Consulate, then fancy sneakers at work. The closer my feet are to the ground, the happier my lower back is… plus I’m running low on Salonpas patches and liniment.

I felt drowsy after all the cleaning I hibernated for some time while Bailey Sarian was yakking on TV about the idiocy of a criminal who murdered his wife for an insurance policy claim. I woke up to my aunt poking me in the foot because she cooked some cabbage-pork dumplings and ube (purple yam) cheese sticks for merienda. Ahhh… this is life!

Our late dinner was also delicious with home-cooked lechon kawali doused in Mang Tomas, followed by peaches and cream. My landlady & aunt were still on their season 4 Outlander marathon, so I got in bed to catch up with my Criminal Case games. I dozed off eventually until I dreamt of a large fluffy diva cat singing loudly in my ear… it was my alarm clock waking me up at 7:30 in the morning.

Posted in Movies & TV series, Reviews

My February Watch List

I had a busy February still with tons of activities on my schedule: the Philippine National Day at the Expo 2020 Dubai, writing for a newly launched online talk show, and volunteer teaching again after 2 years. I had a lot on my plate, and it was tiring, but I signed up for it, so panindigan my friend! 

With that, my means of relaxation is watching movies and online series… and even though it wasn’t much, here is February’s watch list:  

MOVIES

Title: The Privilege (2022)

Where to watch: Netflix

Synopsis: A traumatized teenager from an affluent family (Max Schimmelpfennig) struggles as he finishes his remaining months at an elite high school. He and his friends begin to uncover a mysterious chain of supernatural events which put their lives in danger.

My thoughts: Ever heard of the Filipino cold dessert halo-halo? It is a mix of different sweetened ingredients such as beans, fruits, gelatin and topped with shaved ice, ice cream, and milk. They blend perfectly well together and complement each other’s taste and textures. 

The German film “The Privilege” is one such mix, and instead of blending in harmony, it’s a messy mishmash of genres. What started out as a teen psychological romance drama with a weird non-naked threesome, turns into a supernatural mystery with dark apparitions floating around. Then goes on a conspiracy angle with a dollop of social commentary next. At this point, I began to see it as a comedy that shouldn’t be taken seriously.    

It’s interesting to see Schimmelpfennig in a film after recognizing him as Noah in the Netflix series Dark. But it was Lea van Acken that made the movie bearable. For an hour and 47 minutes film, it felt like 3 hours. The twists and turns were haphazardly done and didn’t go well as intended. If you’re in for a crazy ride of genres and have extra time to spare, give it a try. 

Title: Spiderman: No Way Home (2021)

Where to watch: theaters

Synopsis: After Spiderman’s identity got revealed, there’s no separating from his life as Peter Parker and the hero. After asking for help from Dr. Strange to restore his secret, the spell unexpectedly tore a hole in their world, pulling in villains all the Spidermen fought from different universes.

My thoughts: Honestly, I’m not a huge superhero movie fan, so I really didn’t have many expectations. I have a few Marvel favorites, such as Captain Marvel (because, Goose), Shang-chi, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Because of the hype and the friends flooding my social media feeds about it, I decided to watch Spiderman.

The movie exceeded my expectations in many ways. For starters, I’m glad to see a representation of Filipino characters (Ned and Lola) and even use Tagalog in the scene. As a Filipino and an aspiring screenwriter, I’m proud that we are seen in the media. And having a piece of our culture put out there for the world to see is phenomenal! 

I also appreciated that they didn’t go the easy way by having a happy ending. I liked that they humanized Peter Parker and how they went back to the essence of his character, which was loved by many in the comics. It’s a nice reunion for the stars, and happy to see them sharing the same screen. If you haven’t seen it yet, do it. You don’t need to be a hardcore fan to enjoy it.

SERIES

Title: All of Us are Dead (2022)

Where to watch: Netflix

Synopsis: A man-made virus gets unleashed at Hyosan High School, with the infected transforming into flesh-eating zombies. A group of surviving students must work together to stay alive as their friendships get tested along the way. 

My thoughts: Korean production + zombies = an intense watch worthy of another season! In the past few years, Korean films and series under the zombie/undead genre have crafted tasteful characters and powerful storytelling which hooked viewers from around the globe. This is one of them. Its stellar cast composed of Jeon Bae Su, Kim Byung-chul, and young stars Park Ji-hoo, Chan-Young Yoon, Park Solomon makes it a great watch.

This series is not just all hype and does have something interesting to offer.

Documentaries

Title: Catching Killers Season 2 (2022)

Where to watch: Netflix

Synopsis: This docuseries follows police and prosecutors as they arrest, investigate, and convict some of the world’s most violent killers. Highlighting cases such as BTK, The Phoenix Serial Shooter, and the Toronto Village Killer.

My thoughts: Being a true-crime fan, I’m anticipating the series’ succeeding seasons. It didn’t disappoint me because the second one is riveting like the first. The testimonies from law enforcers involved in the case are heartfelt and speak of the sacrifice they had to make just to put these atrocious criminals behind bars. If you’re a fellow true-crime fan, this is a must-watch.

Title: Downfall: The Case Against Boeing (2022)

Where to watch: Netflix

Synopsis: An investigation into the two crashes of the Boeing 737 MAX plane, which killed 346 people, exploring both its root causes and its human impact.

My thoughts: This documentary from award-winning filmmaker Rory Kennedy is a grim reminder of what happens to businesses if they value unabashed greed over quality and safety. 

I cried watching the film because you can’t help but feel the pain of the bereaved families and anger towards the Boeing officials who barely cared for the consequences of their actions. I hope that this movie will keep the conversation alive on aviation safety, especially when hundreds of lives are at stake. This may not be a comfortable watch for people scared of flying, but it is a compelling story that needs to be told no matter how painful.

YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Channel: Faces of the Forgotten

Description: Run by Ron Carlson, this channel recognizes people who have passed on long ago and are, as of today – mostly forgotten. It also features some graves and tombs of famous and infamous people and associated events.

My thoughts: I came across this channel during one of my office lunch breaks and YouTube recommendations. I find his videos fascinating since he goes to the actual graves and tombs to pay homage to the deceased and narrates the life and death of the featured individual. Listening to these stories taught me that some of them are far stranger (and scary or sad) than fiction. If you’re interested in stories about historical events or people of the past, this channel has it for you.

Found or watched anything of the same genre? Let me know what you think.

Posted in Movies & TV series, Reviews

My January Watch List

A new year and I have a new list of films, series, and YouTube videos that occupied my free time (whatever free time means, haha). This may come a bit late but I think it’s better late than not sharing at all. I do have a commitment to my faithful 3 readers.

Way back in January, my aunt enjoys Korean dramas, and since we share the same room and TV, I watched with her. It’s funny how it took me back to memories of my dad’s K-drama addiction eons ago. He has a big plastic box the size of a Coleman camping cooler full of K-drama DVDs. I have no idea what happened to it now, and appa doesn’t watch them on Netflix anymore (I guess it was a phase for him).

Besides the featured below, I also finished a bunch of documentaries but will write a separate post about it (Inshaallah if I don’t get pulled out for another project). Anyhow, enough of the intro, and here’s my list for the first month of the year:

MOVIES

Title: Anna (2019)

Where to watch: Netflix 

Synopsis: After living a life of pain and abuse, Anna Poliatova (Sasha Luss) is recruited as a KGB agent and was sent to Paris for a hit. Things went complicated when the CIA gave her an offer to become a double agent.

My thoughts:

A few minutes into the film and it reminded me of Léon: The Professional. I was spot on because “Anna” was directed by the same guy: Luc Besson. The story isn’t as spectacular or as gripping as La Femme Nikita, but it has its charm somehow. Like it’s not new yet it offers something a bit fresh. What struck me most was Helen Mirren’s stellar acting as Olga the KGB supervisor of Anna. She’s such a thespian and a goddess that she can step on me, and I’d say thank you! Special mention as well for Cillian Murphy’s stunningly beautiful eyes… they’re like uhhh eye candies to drool at?!?! Overall, Anna is a nice deja vu spy action film of sorts but don’t get your expectations too high.

Title: The House (2022)

Where to watch: Netflix 

Synopsis: Spanning across different eras, this British anthology explores the lives of a poor family, an ambitious developer, and a miserable landlady happening in the same mysterious house.

My thoughts: The moment it got released on Netflix, I watched it right away because stop motion movies will always have a special place in my heart. The House may be an animated film, but it’s not ‘for the kids.’ Albeit it has some scenes which can be unsettling for young viewers and mind-boggling for the adults. But I love films that allow me to think and make my interpretations of events and endings. People may disagree on the storytelling part of the movie, but we can all agree on its artistic value: the gorgeous sets and the attention to detail is just phenomenal! “The House” deserves a nomination for the animation film category from prestigious award-giving bodies (Hello Academy? beke nemen?) If you’re watching this, a word of caution, it has its weird moments and loud silences that most get bored easily. You can actually enjoy the creative aspects, just disregard its bewildering side. 

Title: Will You Marry? (2021)

Where to watch: Netflix 

Synopsis: Widow Honey (K Brosas) gets a second chance at love with Fritz, a Danish man, through an online dating service. She travels to Copenhagen with her daughter Sweet (Elisse Joson), who doesn’t trust her mother’s fiance one bit.

My thoughts: I seldom watch Filipino films because of their run-of-the-mill plots that revolve around adultery, revenge, sappy heartbreaks, and puppy love. But this one is a feel-good family dramedy I wouldn’t be ashamed of recommending. I like the authenticity of the concerns by Honey’s kids regarding online matches. In a way, I too, am reluctant to try online dating stuff because I’m worried my would-be hubby would insure me for USD2 million and push me down the stairs to claim the insured amount. And that’s where Sweet’s fears are coming from, the sincerity of Fritz towards her mother. I also applaud K Brosas in her portrayal of Honey, she’s an absolute joy as a comedienne yet this film showed her acting skills. I must say that the breathtaking views of Denmark go well perfectly as you ponder on second chances for widows and widowers and the personal struggles they feel in embracing that new love.   

SERIES

Title: Live Up To Your Name (2017)

Where to watch: Netflix 

Synopsis: Oriental doctor Heo Im (Kim Nam Gil), is the best acupuncturist in Joseon. He ends up traveling 400 years into the future and meets Choi Yeon Kyung (Kim Ah Joong), a cardiac surgeon at a modern hospital. At odds at first, they eventually travel through time together and fall in love. Will there be a future for these lovers divided by time?

My thoughts: I fell in love with Kim Nam Gil in his hilarious role in The Fiery Priest. And he is very much into this smart yet goofy role of an old-time acupuncturist. Ah, Joong is also lovely and funny. She may seem familiar because she’s the lead of the 2006 hit film “200 Pounds Beauty”. I like the dynamics of their relationship and the story’s plot. Despite my being a nurse, I also believe in the power of complementary & alternative medicine, and this show portrays the complexity of Western and Oriental medicine applications in the modern world. If you’re patient enough to watch this 26 episode rom-com, then, by all means, watch it and you’ll have a great time!   

Title: The King’s Affection (2017)

Where to watch: Netflix 

Synopsis: Set in the Joseon Dynasty, the Crown Princess Consort gives birth to twins – a boy and a girl. Seen as a bad omen, she sends the girl away to protect her. A few years later, her son got killed accidentally, so she made the twin sister assume his identity as Prince Lee Hwi (Park Eun Bin) while hiding her real self and her affection towards her first love Jung Ji Woon (Rowoon).  

My thoughts: I read the early chapters of its manhwa (Korean comics) but didn’t get to finish it. So I was also curious about its drama adaptation. There were adaptation changes, but it worked quite well with the drama. I also adore the drama OST, and my favorite track is “If I” by Baek Ji Young, which is an absolute tear-jerker. Of course, like most Joseon dramas, the drama’s plot revolves around the rivalry amongst the members of the royal family and throne succession. Another thing I enjoyed about this drama is her dreamy bodyguard Kim Ga-On (Choi Byung-chan). He is too pretty that he can pass for a prince! His character doesn’t speak much until the later episodes in which he takes on a bigger role in the King’s fight against her enemies. If you’re a Joseon drama fan and don’t mind its typical plot, then be my guest and see this.

YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Channel: Weird World

Genre: The Weird World channel explores unusual topics like history, mysteries, and the paranormal.

My thoughts: As someone who enjoys paranormal stories, I find this channel interesting because of its bite-sized videos with good narration. They have released many videos since they started in 2015, and they keep on uploading every few days. I stumbled upon WW during one of my lunch breaks, and I’ve been watching their old posts as well as new ones. However, I don’t like some stories because they seem too good to be true bordering on fiction or highly dramatized. Nonetheless, it’s good for lunchtime spooky stories.

Did you watch any of these and what do you think? Would love to know your thoughts on the comments.

Posted in Hobbies, Jigsaw Puzzles

8 Tips to Enjoy Putting Together Jigsaw Puzzles

One of the best feelings in life is to see a jigsaw puzzle in its full completed glory. Be it 200 pieces or 24 pieces one, the sense of accomplishment and seeing the fruit of your labor brings incredible joy.

Some 1,000 pieces kits I got for a bargain.

However, jigsaw puzzles can be overwhelming when you see so many pieces and how you are supposed to put them all together. Looking beyond that, it can be an entertaining stress-relieving activity that can be done alone or with some company.

Here are some tips that will help make your experience with jigsaw puzzles fun and trauma-free:

Before the Game

A 500-piece kit I did while on tea breaks at the office.
  1. Start with Small Puzzles

– If doing it for the first time, pick something like 50-100 pieces. Sure, you always wanted to complete that Sistine Chapel ceiling painting comprised of 42 thousand pieces, but great things start from small beginnings. That way, you can build your pace and playing skills, plus it’s easier to see your progress.

2. Have a clean, good workplace

– It is best to have a well-lit workplace with a larger table than the size of your puzzle kit. If I don’t have enough space or a table to put on my puzzles, I use a big illustration board and cover it in a plastic bag when I’m not playing to make sure no piece is lost when moved. You can also buy a nice roll-up jigsaw puzzle mat, but it’s not a necessity.

3. Know what you want to do with the completed puzzle

– Once finished, will you frame and put it on display for the entire world to see? Or, will you just play for a bit and deconstruct it later? If you want to exhibit your work, it needs to be glued together before framing. I glue my puzzles together without a backer board by brushing the front area with regular all-purpose glue. When dry, I then brush the backside and it’s done!

And if you just wanted to play the puzzle for de-stressing and take it apart to be enjoyed again later, then be my guest.

4. Have a container to store your puzzle pieces

– You can use the original box to store your puzzle, but for those with small packaging, it would be better to transfer them in a container to avoid losing pieces. I used an old clear plastic box with compartments to keep them or, in the original box but placed the pieces into small plastic bags.

Piecing it All Together

A 1000-piece kit I finished for 7 hours during lunch breaks at the office.
  1. Check the pieces and Sort Them Out

– Lay them all face-up on the table to see the colors and shapes of the pieces. Pick out the pieces according to colors, patterns, or sections of the puzzle. I usually sort them according to the patterns: trees, flowers, etc., and I look for the puzzle borders, which is key to the next step.

2. Set up the Borders

– Start piecing together the borders to make it easier to determine the boundaries and the outline of the entire puzzle.

3. One Step at a Time

– Move to make small sections at a time. Place them where it’s supposed to be even if it doesn’t fit in with the borders or the other parts yet. And it doesn’t matter where you start – top to bottom or sides to center. Pay attention to the shape of the pieces, and it will be easier to the missing portion quicker.

4. Take a Break.

– If you get bored or tired, then take a breather. Puzzles are supposed to be fun and not a torture device. Do something else, and when you get back to it later, you will be surprised at how easy to find the right ones quicker and put the pieces fit easier.

Two 1000-piece kits I got framed.

Once you complete your puzzle kit, congratulate yourself for a mission accomplished no matter how long it took. I finished the 1000 pieces in 7 hours, and my friend finished his kit after 7 months. It is not exactly a race to make them, so do not beat yourself if you’re making slow progress. Progress no matter how gradual is an achievement by itself. 

And if you love the time spent playing the kit, then perhaps you can move up another level and tackle a more challenging puzzle next time! For me, I’m saving up to get a 10,000 pieces kit.

Posted in Mi Vida, Nurse Z's life

Holiday Drunkenness and What to do When You or Somebody Starts Vomiting

It’s party season again!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year where all the good food, music, people, and booze are overflowing! Though alcoholic drinks liven up the party, too much can actually do the opposite.

As a nurse, I’ve functioned as a caregiver during certain events where people go over their alcohol limit and make a mess – figuratively and literally. So here are some tips I can give you from the perspective of a healthcare worker and as someone who’d been there done that:

1.) When you start feeling nauseous, try to position yourself comfortably (preferably over the toilet or sink for easy clean-up) so you can vomit as needed. Don’t stop yourself from vomiting because you may end up choking. Let nature take its course.

2.) Get hydrated after vomiting, if still conscious, frequently with water or fluids with electrolyte content such as Pocari sweat or non-caffeinated sports drinks. You can also make an Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) with 1 liter of clean water, 6 teaspoons sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Take frequent sips instead of gulping down a glass. Staying hydrated will also help lessen if not avoid a bad hangover in the morning.

3.) When somebody is throwing up, JUST LET THEM BE. Don’t talk or touch them unnecessarily. The body can become ultra-sensitive at the peak of intoxication, and touching or speaking can add more stress to the person. Ensure their safety as well as their privacy (and dignity – don’t take videos or photos of them like that!).

4.) When the person passes out, help them recline comfortably with head turned to the side, or put them on their side to prevent vomit aspiration. Keep them warm with a small blanket or a jacket draped over them.

5.) Observe closely if further medical attention is needed by the person. Alcohol poisoning is a serious deadly condition that happens when large amounts of alcohol are consumed in a short span of time. Check if they have trouble breathing, seizures, or don’t respond to any attempts to wake them, then call for help ASAP!

6.) Do rest the following day. Listen to, and respect your body.

7.) Keep in mind that you don’t need to binge on alcohol to have fun. Especially when you’re no longer that young (and you have a bunch of medications to be mindful of)! Getting drunk is not cool, it makes the night a disaster for everybody else. As you sip on a glass or two, just remember that your gift of presence is what really matters.

Happy holidays and stay safe everyone! Cheers!

Posted in Mi Vida, Personal Thoughts

My Letter to Santa

Photo from my mom

Dear Santa,

Christmas is just around the corner, and I’m pretty sure you’ll be swamped with letters from kids all over the world. This may come as a surprise for the adult me to be writing to you, but I too have a few requests this holiday. I already prayed fervently to Jesus Christ for my Christmas wishes, but I just want my bases covered.    

I’m a practical person and not hard to please, so I’ll make this straight and quick. For my Christmas wishes, I have three:

  1. I’m on my third day of working from home due to fever and sniffles. It’s not COVID, thankfully, and I petitioned God for the gift of early recovery. Hence, I wish to have a basket of get-well-soon goodies: a few pieces of fresh fruits (peaches and seedless white grapes would be appreciated), Panadol advance (plus cold & flu vapor), vitamin C supplements (effervescent tablets also accepted), nasal spray, and liver supplements – I can only imagine the stress my liver is in due to the various medications I’ve taken recently. Oh, and some reduced sugar treats would be welcome too!
  2. This would be my third Christmas away from family and loved ones. And given the present pandemic conditions, I wouldn’t be able to travel soon and see them. With that, my greatest wish and prayer is for the Lord to bless them with good health and long life. In addition, I’d like to ask you to make their internet connection excellent so we can have uninterrupted video calls during this occasion. I’ll be happy too if you can send top-up cards for my pre-paid phone line.
  3. For someone availing of alternative and complementary medicine, I wish for a discount voucher for my therapy sessions because it’s expensive and not covered in my health insurance policies.

Thank you in advance, and I believe in your powers combined.

Love, 

Zyra

P.S. I would also be grateful if the Lord Jesus and you would send me signs for the combination of numbers to win the grand prize of the Mahzooz draw. Not only will I be able to pay off my loans, but I can also share financial help with the needy.

Posted in Movies & TV series, Reviews

The Fabulous Filipino Brothers: A Flavorful Fiesta Plate with a Heart

The Fabulous Abasta (Basco) Brothers

After reading a short film review & recommendation days ago from Sir Ron Awa, the Emirates Short Film Festival CEO, I finally watched the directorial film of Fil-Am star Dante Basco. Although the title makes you think of a showbiz autobiography, it is an entertaining intergenerational family comedy about the real-life Basco brothers, Dante, Derek, Dionysio, and Darion, playing the fictional Fil-Am Abasta siblings, and their colorful lives.

Set in their hometown in Pittsburg, California, the movie opens with a mysterious narrator (who plays a key role later) and a big family celebration: a wedding. We learn of each brother’s stories days leading to the joyous event. During breakfast, Dayo (Derek) suddenly declares to shoulder the expensive wedding feast despite having financial difficulties – because it’s a matter of panganay (eldest) pride. Hilarity ensues as he gets thrown in an illegal cockfight with grandma in tow just to get that extra cash for the promised feast. Brother Duke (Dante) goes to the Philippines for the first time only to encounter his old flame Anna (Solenn Heussaff) and rekindles their romance only to have a shocking twist to it.  

While preparing for the wedding feast, David (Dionysio) finds himself in the presence of a fiery seductress. Their sparking mutual attraction leads to some lascivious foreplay with food (I can never look at lumpia or siopao the same way again), while Lola is a silent witness to the entire spectacle. And lastly, Danny Boy’s (Darion) is a warm tale of a broken heart getting a chance at love again with an unlikely person. 

With the script written by siblings Dante, Arianna, and Darion, the movie is like eating at a local fiesta wherein you stuff your plate with a variety of flavors: it is sweet, turns jarringly dark, spicy naughty next, but with lots of heart! Additionally, food is quite deeply embedded in our culture, so it was expected to have its share of screen time. And it couldn’t get any more Pinoy than seeing the boys eating rice with viand, then had pan de sal with longganisa (Filipino sausages) or the cheesy ensaymada (a Filipino take on a sweet Spanish pastry) which Duke mistakenly calls ‘ensanada‘ repeatedly.

The subject of holding on to one’s culture despite being in a foreign land which was also touched in the film resounded to me well. As an OFW living for almost a decade in the Middle East, I have seen how Filipino parents of children born and raised here struggle to keep and instill our own values despite the influence of the host country’s norms. The lesson is subtle yet leaves you pondering later.

Dante is highly commendable for being not just the director-writer-actor but as an executive producer too. This movie is truly a passion project with the participation of Fil-Am filmmakers such as Andrea Walter (DOP), Lawrence Iriarte (AD), and the Basco family members playing supporting roles. It’s refreshing to see them on screen, and they are great actors! Plus, seeing veteran actor Tirso Cruz III was a pleasant addition despite being short. 

And because Filipinos are innately gifted in music, it’s no surprise that the movie’s featured songs are hands down awesome! With tracks from the happy sad face, A.J. Rafael, and even the Basco brothers, I love how they showcase these talents and give the film its unique vibe. 

Cheeky and full of abs-forming gags, “The Fabulous Filipino Brothers” is an amusing and touching film that celebrates family relationships, brotherhood, and a great deal of love. Catch it on Netflix and prepare for a sore jaw.       

Posted in Books & Comics, Reviews

Of Black Cats and a Compassionate Reaper

If you’re into sad stories that will leave you shedding a bucket of tears, then this read is perfect for you.

Image from Jenny-Jinya Facebook Page.

Meet “The Loving Reaper” and the Black Cats comics compilation.

Jenny Hefczyz or popularly known as Jenny-Jinya is an amazingly talented artist and illustrator in Germany who went viral on social media after she posted her comic strips about animal welfare. Since then, she has created more comics that talk about animal abuse, habitat destruction, and pet abandonment.

Be careful though, her art isn’t for the faint of heart as it portrays the grim reality of what animals go through which we may -but ignore- or may not be aware of. Jenny draws the Grim Reaper as a compassionate entity as he takes the souls of these poor animals and comforts them as they leave the cruel world. But she breaks hearts for a cause because she donates 30% of her earnings to various animal shelters and animal welfare organizations.

I love animals and support causes related to them, so her art spoke volumes to me. I’m always a sobbing mess each time I read her works, and it pains my heart because all her stories are the truth and unfortunately are still happening. So if you want to have a good cry and maybe donate, then be my guest and check her works on her website or Facebook page.

Posted in Movies & TV series, Reviews

My October Watch List

A lot of stuff happened to me the previous month, which involved moving to a new apartment, late-night shoots, and interviews with key personalities of the Philippine pavilion for our weekly online series.

Despite the busy schedule, I managed to squeeze in some time to watch some films, series, and YouTube videos. So here is last month’s list:

MOVIES

Title: No One Gets Out Alive (2021)

Where to Watch: Netflix

Synopsis: The undocumented immigrant from Mexico Ambar (Cristina Rodlo), comes to Cleveland to chase the American dream. She ends up in a boarding house, which quickly devolves into a nightmare she can’t escape.

My thoughts: I enjoyed how this film depicts the struggles of undocumented immigrants in the States – how they get taken advantage of by abusive employers, become powerless and voiceless victims of crime, unable to ask for help because of their status. The horror is palpable – not of the supernatural kind but knowing that this happens for real. The cinematography and music go very well and create the hopeless atmosphere of Ambar’s world. And it would have been worthwhile until the revelation of the supernatural creature towards the end. It deflated whatever tension I had during that supposed climactic scene. I think it would’ve been more effective had they left the monster to our imaginations. But overall, it’s a good story.

Title: Dead Silence (2007)

Where to Watch: Netflix

Synopsis: When Jamie’s (Ryan Kwanten) wife was murdered shortly after receiving a mysterious package, he comes back to his hometown only to unravel a curse involving a long-dead ventriloquist and her dummy.

My thoughts: The film has a good plotline, and the execution was also good, although I have some issues with the sound getting louder all of a sudden that I have to fumble with the remote and lower the volume. The detective was an amusing comic relief to diffuse the rising tension, and the dummies give you the creeps. As one of James Wan’s earlier horror films, Dead Silence can also hold its own amidst his blockbuster hits.

Title: The Protégé (2021)

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime

Synopsis: Legendary assassin Moody (Samuel L. Jackson) takes in the very young Anna (Maggie Q) and raises her to become the world’s most skilled contract killer. When Moody was killed, she vows to avenge him no matter what it takes. But as she pursues the mastermind, Anna becomes entangled with a mysterious assassin (Michael Keaton) and ultimately decides her fate.

My thoughts: Batman and Nikita in one hot movie are like having a cheat day with double chocolate dessert! It is fast-paced and action-packed with stellar performances from these great actors. Far from perfect but has good twists and turns. 

SERIES

Title: My Name (2021)

Where to watch: Netflix

Synopsis: After her father’s murder, Yoon Ji-Woo (Han So Hee) vows to take her revenge with the help of her dad’s best friend and powerful crime boss Choi Mu-Jin (Park Hee-Soon). She enters the police force under his direction to track down her father’s killer.

My thoughts: Honestly, this limited series surpassed my expectation. I thought So Hee is too pretty to portray a badass female character, but she pulled it off quite well, even the physically demanding fight scenes! It’s well written, with a great soundtrack that you couldn’t help but wish for a better future for Ji-Woo.  

Title: 双镜 / Shuang Jing aka Couple of Mirrors (2021)

Where to watch: YouTube

Synopsis: Set in the Republican Era Shanghai, You Yi (Zhang Nan), a well-liked sweet socialite and a successful writer, lives a perfect life. But things go wrong when her husband and best friend betray her. Distraught, she seeks refuge in her friendship with the aloof photographer Yang Wei (Annie Sun Yihan), whose past harbors a dark secret. 

My thoughts: One of the best Chinese series I’ve watched so far this year! Adapted from the manhua of the same title, Couple of Mirrors boasts of remarkable performances by Zhang and Yihan. The gripping mystery tale keeps you guessing who’s who, and the finale just blew me away! Not spilling anything but watch it yourself. It’s worth it. 

Title: Inside Job (2021)

Where to Watch: Netflix

Synopsis: Anti-social prodigy Reagan Ridley (voiced by Lizzy Caplan) with Brett Hand, her ‘yes man’ partner, and their team composed of human-dolphin hybrid, a sapient mushroom from hollow Earth and reptilian shapeshifters controls and keeps conspiracy theories a secret from the rest of the world on behalf of the mysterious hooded overlords. 

My thoughts: Dark and hilarious, Inside Job is one cartoon that’s not for the kids. I watched the series due to its intriguing premise – I too read conspiracy theories, though I don’t believe in 100% in them. With only ten episodes, it chronicles the life of the prickly Reagan and her daddy issues as she prepares her egomaniacal self to be the next Chief of the organization. The supporting characters didn’t really have much character development, and everything is just too absurd that you just have to laugh it off and not take it too seriously.