Thursday, September 30, 2010

Another 'too long for Twitter' post

Seriously, people are getting angry NOW that Carlos Celdran is in jail (For the record, I love what he did), when the Catholic Church has been screwing this country since the Spaniards landed on our shores and was responsible for the death of perhaps, one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, Filipino who ever lived

Not to belittle Celdran's effort; I guess I just can't get over Filipinos' sense of priority (e.g., avoiding contraceptives even if they can't afford a child if it means not suffering eternal damnation) and history (short-term memory).

No one else should have to sacrificehandcuffed and put to jailto expose the Catholic Church's sins. Please dust off your Noli Me Tangere and read up on history and current events.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My lola

I will never forget what my lola recounted to my mother about her close brush with death: that it was literally, "hinahabol ang hininga." (Literal translation: running after one's breath.) As with most metaphors, I've always dismissed it as a trite expression, but after hearing lola's story, the phrase had taken a profound meaning for me: I imagine, as I've never witnessed it firsthand, a dying person struggling to inhale that last breath, gasping for air that gets elusive for each second she exhales, until finally, it never comes. (My lola would later have another bout with breathing but lose; she succumbed to lymphoma in 1996.)

I was reminded of this story last night because I finally heard it. I was in a hospital, visiting a friend, when I heard the labored breathing and (what will now be) the haunting moaning of the old man in the next room. It went on for the next five minutes until he stopped—and then there were hysterical screams in the hallway from his daughter.


Monday, September 13, 2010

The UP Fighting Sunflowers, lol. (Braaaaiiiins!!!)*

*Plants versus Zombies inside joke :-P


UPDATED: Added number 2 in favorites

I'm still on a high from UP Pep Squad's win at yesterday's cheerdance competition. Aaminin ko, kinabahan ako ng major, major sa FEU kasi parang mga monsters na sila sa bagsik ng stunts nila pero deep in my heart (LOL!) I didn't lose faith in UP.

Here's why: I was stunned when we were shown our seats—front row and no obstructions in our line of sight. It was my first time to see the cheerdancers so up close—as in I could see how nervous, clammy and scared some of them were. Some would make the sign of the cross immediately before they make their tumbling passes, and once they've accomplished the task, you can see the relief on their faces. I also clearly saw how polished/unpolished their stunts were. FEU, while boasting difficult stunts, had wobbles in their partner stunts and mounting. Some members were also tentative in their executions, hence they lacked synchonicity and fluidity in their movements.

On the other hand, UP learned its lesson from its past extremely well. Since its errors in the 2009 routine were the reasons the squad only landed in third place that year, then it made sure there'd be no such errors.

The theme was fiesta, a routine that highlighted the Ati-Atihan, Panagbenga (flower) and Masskara Festivals. Di ko kinaya ang execution ng UP Pep Squad—despite another difficult routine, sobrang pulido nang execution nila—walang wobble, walang hesitations, fluid yung transitions (at ang bilis). The cheerdancers all looked tanned and glowing and they were gliding on the floor oh-so-lightly—nabuhayan ako kasi feeling ko Miss Universe nanaman, haha! And they all looked happy from start to finish—winner ang showmanship.

I posted this query on Pinoy Exchange: I asked why the squad decided on its final pyramid because I found nothing special about it, I said.

A few of them responded and tama nga naman sila—for the bases: ikaw na ang mag-pasan ng weight ng dalawang tao; for the second base: ikaw na ang magbuhat ng tao using only your arms; and for the flyer, ikaw na ang ihagis sa second base at mag-balance ng sarili mo para di mahulog.

So basically, this is a combination of three 1-1-1 (one base, one mid-base, one flyer) partner stunts with pitch throw mounting (basically, hinagis sila pataas para mabuo ang pyramid, walang hawak-hawak) ending in a double hitch pyramid (yung dalawang 1-1-1 sa gilid) with the Oblation partner stunt in the middle (sorry, di ko alam ang tawag dyan; first time yata yang stunt na yan sa history ng cheerdancing ever, lol.)

If you review the video below, you'll see how UP made such a difficult stunt seems effortless—their faces and body signals show no strains at all. I think that sums up why UP won this year's championship.

Here's the 2010 UP Pep Squad routine (amateur video ito kasi walang ka-future future ang cameramen at director ng Studio 23 sa pag-cover ng UAAP Cheerdance) and my other fave moments:


1 Forming the letters 'U' and 'P' in a different "font," lol! (Helvetica daw yan na italics, haha!) 0:45 in the video.

2. The ABS-CBN 'One Summer' station ID segment at 1:00. (The squad appeared for that particular station ID video). Three partner stunts, mirrored by another three, for a total of six stunts: double hitch pyramid and an assisted heel stretch with a cartwheel dismount; a pair of full twist pitch throw mounting; a pair of deadman lifts, and which is then modified to the Swedish falls—all with the same set of flyers and all within 20 seconds, whew!

3. Yung sunod-sunod na stunts sa 2:03. Nosebleed na ko dyan, sobrang dami ng pinaggagawa nila at di ko na alam yung mga tawag, lalo na dun sa babaeng nag front handspring (2:08), tinoss at nag-flip, sumugod sa pyramid, hinagis sa pyramid, nag-inverted split sa pyramid, at nag-handstand sa ibabaw ng pyramid, lol.

4. Bwahaha, ang tumbling passes segment (2:25). This was where choreography mattered and where quantity trumped over quality. Since FEU has the best tumblers among all eight schools (seven full twisters in its routine), what UP did was perform the longest tumbling segment in UAAP CDC history—36 seconds of it—di tuloy gaano napansin na tatlo lang yung full twisters ng UP. I'm sure asar ang FEU dito, hehe.

5. The Panagbenga-slash-sunflower segment (3:05). I can't help but chuckle every time I watch this. By the way, sunflowers line up University Avenue, which leads to the Oblation :-)

6. So akala mo nang-gagago lang sila (gawin bang pompoms ang sunflower, lol), but no, biglang nag-segue sa isang malupit na tumbling pass (3:46), ending in a flip toss—at ang mga bird front toss, ginawang pang-dismount na lang (3:53), haha!

7. At ang THE BEST!!! Ang apat na rewinds (4:02)!!! (Nakakainis, di nakita 'to sa TV). They ended this with a total of eight scorpions.



8. Gusto ko ulit yung choreography and music ng Masskara segment (4:25). Two squad members perform perfectly executed jacknife tosses (4:39).

Those are my observations so far—usually it takes me a lot of viewing to see UP's other technical merits, so I'm quite impressed by cheerdancing judges who get it right the first time they see a routine on the floor :-)


Thursday, September 09, 2010

The best UP Pep Squad routine of all time

This post may take a while to load due to the .gifs

Ito, first two minutes palang ng routine, alam kong champion na. I didn't get to see this live, unlike the last two routines I posted, and I remember watching this on TV with my mouth open. Ang galing ng transitions going to the opening pyramid, marked by various proud (and stylized) warrior's poses.



The theme for this 2008 routine is Tribo and the entire performance shows a warrior being called into battle—sariling interpretation ko na lang, but I think you can tell the story on your own: from the gathering of troops, to the animal sacrifice, to the call for arms and finally, preparation for battle.



Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Top 2 UP Pep Squad routine

This post may take a while to load due to the .gifs

I initially ranked this as my number one UP Pep Squad routine but I decided to give bigger props to style, creativity and choreography over skills, which I'll explain in my succeeding entry. Nonetheless, this competition piece is the cleanest, best-executed routine by the squad ever, ending UST's five-streak wins, and which includes this awesome mounting for its first pyramid:


Better than Rome: Flat-back to Double Hitch pyramid—built in one count!



Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Top 3 UP Pep Squad routines

I've been a fan of the UP Pep Squad for as long as I can remember. Even before my freshman orientation, I already knew that the squad was one of UP's celebrated teams in the UAAP. And it never disappointed: it consistently placed in the Top 3 of the Cheerdance Competition, and its golden years were during the time that I was still a university student. I liked how they incorporated themes into their Cheerdancing Competition routines, especially during their championship years (1999, 2000, 2001): hip hop, taebo, synchronized swimming, etc.

After those years, I could only slap my forehead as the UP Pep Squad donned some of the most baduy costumes ever worn at the CDC. As in yaaaack! I couldn't help but admire and feel jealous of the UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe, who always managed to look pristine not only in their uniforms, but also in the execution of their stunts.

Fortunately, in 2007, UP saw the light and experienced a renaissance, lol. The female members cut their hair and the squad wore one of the best CDC uniforms ever. They also brought their routine to a whole new level of angas. From then on, the squad has performed some of the most memorable routines in CDC history.

One of UP's signature moves: the Oblation pose via toss-to-hands extension to cupie (1:02 in the video).
(Trivia: I, Mon and his sister are wearing the whitest shirts among the UP crowd; try to spot us :-P)
photo: www.paulryantan.multiply.com

For the next few days, I'm posting my Top 3 UP Pep Squad CDC routines.

At number 3:



Third-place, 2009 UAAP Cheerdance


As I wrote in detail in this entry, this routine is the UP Pep Squad's salute to UP and its students. The members wore stylized school uniforms with a sablay, the sash used during commencement exercises. As props, there was the Ikot jeepney, UP's main mode of transportation, that transformed into an eagle as found in the school's seal.

The reason why I only ranked this as third is because of three major errors that I felt cost UP its crown: the failed throw pitch mounting to A-frame (0:33); a tumble in one of the tumbling passes (2:02); and a fall in of the six heel stretches prior to the bow-and-arrow (2:15). However, this is a strong performance in that no other squad in the UAAP has ever done a full twist, throw pitch mounting and at 1-1-1 at that!!! (0:22) (Kahit na ba assisted.) The series of pyramids that start at 2:26 are also impressive: two swedish falls; two deadman lifts; and two 2-2-1 pyramids with half-twist mounting with three single-base extensions (one unassisted and one with a female base). I also love what is becoming their signature move, the four successive tosses. For this year, it's the kick basket toss, with two triples and two doubles (0:08). The last pyramid,  the difficult 3-3-4 (three main bases, three mid-bases and four flyers), is icing on the cake.


Monday, September 06, 2010

Eep!

OK, I just panicked. The last book I read for my One Book A Month project was back in May (and it was hardly a 'smart' read) and it's now September! Must hide my PSP and get around to finishing Edith Hamilton's Mythology, which I started re-reading in June!

I posted it here so you can all be my witness: I must finish three books this month.


Ready? OK!

Updated with photos


photo: www.iamvishnu.multiply.com

Next to the Miss Universe pageant, there is one other annual event that I look forward to each year—the UAAP Cheerdance Competition (CDC)! It is the most-attended UAAP event, surpassing even Ateneo-DLSU championship games, though it must be noted that all eight schools participate in the CDC. (This year's event is scheduled on Sunday at 2 p.m., Studio 23.)

It helps that UP, unlike its basketball team, is a force to reckon with at the CDC, although it's a shame that cheerdance is not considered a sport by the UAAP, and is thus, not part of the tabulation for the UAAP Overall Championship.

To give a short history: the UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe is the most awarded group with eight cheerdance championships, followed by the UP Pep Squad with five, and the FEU Cheering Squad with two. These three squads have placed in the Top 3 in the last six years (2003-2009) and are considered the Holy Trinity of UAAP Cheerdancing, until the Ateneo Blue Babble Battalion barged into the second spot last year and dislodged UST out of the tier. It was the first time Ateneo ever made it into the Top 3 since Cheerdance's inception in 1994; for UST, it was the first time it fell out of the Top 3. UP remains the only squad that has been in the Top 3 since 1995.

UST has always been considered a major threat for the CDC crown with its flawless execution and synchronicity in its routines but all that changed in 2007 when UP and FEU considerably leveled up their routines and moved closer to what we see in the National Cheerleading Championship (NCC) and international cheering competitions. This year, aside from UP, FEU and Ateneo, the DLSU Animo Squad and NU Pep Squad (which hired foreign coaches to train them) are reportedly contenders for the coveted Top 3 spots.

FEU is the reigning CDC champions and with eight (I think) members who are gymnasts for the National Team, the squad is understandably heavy favorites this year. However, the team lacks originality (its routines are normally a mix of the best from UP and UST) and sophistication in terms of choreography, music and props. Nonetheless, it is a squad that attempts to elevate the difficulty level of its routines—it has the best tumble passes among all eight schools—so it will be interesting to see how it has harnessed the skills of its gymnasts this year.

FEU's gymnast members doing the Scorpion just before
they tucked their foot under their chins.
photo: www.iamvishnu.multiply.com

UP, I feel, is the only major threat to FEU's back-to-back championship. Even if it only ended up third in the 2009 CDC (6 points behind FEU, and 0.3 points behind second-placer, Ateneo), it has earned the respect of cheering fans for consistently having the most difficult routines among all eight schools. Its weakness: the nerves that seem to get to the members each time they perform. It had several errors in the 2009 routine, which got the team deductions and cost it the CDC crown. A flawless execution would no doubt help UP regain its title: it has the best flyers, pyramids, stunts and choreographers among all schools.

UP's 3-3-4 pyramid
photo: www.iamvishnu.multiply.com

With Ateneo's 1st runner-up placement, you know that the DLSU Animo Squad can't be far behind. It has undergone a massive makeover these last 12 months, even joining the highly competitive National Cheerleading Championship and ending up fourth place (check out the video; Ateneo placed 9th in the same competition.) Its halftime performances this season has been inconsistent but from the YouTube videos, it looks like it fared better than Ateneo. Its determination to beat its main UAAP rival might just propel DLSU into the Top 3.

DLSU at NCC 2009. Its strengths are in the partner stunts, plus
a couple of good female tumblers. Let's see if that number increases this year.

Throughout these years, UST has insisted on its winning formula that got them a five-peat CDC Championship from 2002-2006: a safe, and thus, flawless routine matched by a very 'pop' theme and music. I thought the troupe hit an all time-low with its bee costume in 2007. (I've always admired UST for its clean and streamlined uniforms... until that year.) UST SDT fans on Pinoy Exchange are hyping their squad in this year's CDC but the troupe's skills remain to be seen: its halftime performances have been real sloppy. I've also read that its main goal this year is really just to make it back to the Top 3.

UST's Coliseum pyramid
photo: www.paulryantan.multiply.com

Another inconsistent halftime performer is Ateneo but it does generally show lackluster routines until the championship. It will have to prove that its second finish at last year's CDC was no fluke but with the many strong teams this year, it will be an extremely difficult job for the team to improve or even retain its ranking.

Ateneo's 'moonwalk' stunt
photo: www.iamvishnu.multiply.com

At the end of the day, the ranking will have a lot to do with the judges selected for this year's championship (aside from each squad's performance, of course). Until 2009, each of the eight judges came from the competing schools, which made the CDC results susceptible to heavy bias. The most respectable panel of judges only came about last year, with its mix of representatives from both national and international cheerleading associations. This meant that technical merits were given more importance than style, props and judges' indebtedness to one's alma mater.


Friday, September 03, 2010

On heart and sleeves

Just came back from my and the boyfriend's vacation-slash-his birthday celebration in Hong Kong. I hadn't been there in 6 years (!!!) so I totally looked forward to checking out both the new and old places the city had to offer.

We were initially apprehensive about the trip due to the Manila hostage crisis that enraged Hong Kong nationals; fortunately, our nervousness quickly disappeared as we easily breezed through immigrations, and later, as we traveled from the airport to the hotel, and I realized that life seemed to go on normally for them, at least from the outside. I also fortuitously bumped into a former colleague at the MTR, and he said that while there has been public outrage over the Philippines government's botched response during the crisis, the Chinese have remained peaceful. Still, he said I was smart to have worn black (I told him I consciously left out bright colors from my Hong Kong wardrobe as my sign of respect for their grieving) as his father, who's also in town for a vacation, wore a shirt with the Philippines flag and its colors upon his arrival, to my colleague's 'surprise.' Curiously enough, we did see two other tourists wearing Pilipinas shirts—I couldn't decide if that was stupidity or bravery.

Aside from the muted colors, I also wore the ID lace of my company as we are headquartered in China and we're in the business of helping mostly Chinese small and medium enterprises. But other than that, I never had to deny my nationality and declare I was Malaysian (an initial plan, I admit; and in any case, I do pass for a Chinese) and we freely spoke Tagalog in public.

Although yep, we didn't get a hotel upgrade :-P (Asa pa, di ba?)

Anyhoo, here are some excerpts from yesterday's South China Morning Post:



Basically, the gist is that no, they don't foresee themselves visiting the country in "years," even though one travel agency pointed out that they don't usually go here to visit Manila but to go to beach destinations, such as Boracay and Palawan. There's just no point, is what the article seemed to have suggested,


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