Sunday, September 30, 2012

Zac Efron at his fan conference for Penshoppe

Lightning round questions for Zac Efron 
Penshoppe fan conference, SM Mall of Asia Arena, September 29, 2012

Zac Efron is easily one of the most handsome faces I've seen... on a video screen that large, lol. Although I did see a glimpse of him onstage, our seats were too far away and the fan girls were in a frenzy, standing up on their chairs (blocking my view even if I'm tall) and screaming expletives, e.g., "Oh my f*cking god!" and the more subtle, "F*ck me! F*ck me!"

My friends, who have personally interviewed him, say he seems to be a genuinely nice guy. At the fan conference for Penshoppe, he easily charmed the crowd by teasing the fans about finding his ideal woman/wife here *insert deafening screams*. Hands down, one of funniest 'fandom' hysteria I've seen :-)

Monday, September 24, 2012

The 2012 UAAP Cheerdance Competition: UP sets itself free

In my review of the UP Pep Squad's 2011 Madonna routine, I wrote:

UP ended the routine... with an homage to the woman who, like the UP student, espouses independent thinking and freedom of expression. In its open-mindedness, the UP Pep Squad is able to do what other squads may have limited themselves from doing.

For that routine they ended with this:

Photo: InterAKTV/Markku Seguerra

This year, they opened with this:

All screenshots are from Sir Facebuko

... which seems to mean a continuation of the narrative. This time though, they are stripped bare of the blonde hair and flashy costumes, and instead, shaved their heads and wore flesh-tone costumes in honor of the school's icon, the Oblation. (The symbol would recur throughout the performance.)

Compared with some of the teams with their garish costumes and makeup, the UP Pep Squad looked like a blank template—androgynous—and in the context of the normally noisy and anarchic CDC environment, almost not of this world. They had a peace and immaculateness to them that just have never been seen in the competition before. It was chilling.

Shaving one's head, whether willfully or in the process of cancer treatment, has often been described as a cathartic process. It was from this perspective—the purging and purification—that I viewed what UP described as its "Freedom" theme.

Aside from challenging the gender construct, freedom is also achieved by facing fear, and in this case, the Fighting Maroons defied gravity.

(By the way, here's an article I wrote for InterAKTV on how to judge the UAAP Cheerdance. It might help as I discuss the technical merits of UP's piece.)

I was floored by the stunts that took place one after the other. All partner/group stunts and pyramids were mounted by tossing the flyers to second or third level and their formation and lines look so clean.

(I am not a fan of flyers who have to crawl on top of the base, particularly those that grab on the shoulders of other flyers to steady themselves; I find it unsightly.)

Impressive sequence: the alternating inverted split hanging pyramid and handstand pyramid

Some of the upgraded stunts include the two 2-2-1 flatback pyramid (2:20) which was mounted through a full twist; the three tumbling passes that went straight to assisted rewinds (3:55); and the highlight of all stunts: three toss-mounted 1-1-1s (4:21 in the full video) featuring a rotating arabesque-scorpion-arabesque sequence, which then transitioned to an alternating handstand and inverted split hanging pyramid. (Adding to its difficulty is that it allowed no room for error—if any of those partner stunts fell, it would be almost impossible for them to catch up to the sequence; see clip below.)

Video clip taken from Sir Facebuko

Almost the entire squad can now do a standing backtuck (opening sequence) and a running backtuck (2:24). The tosses are mostly full twist layouts, with one kick double (1:10), one double full twist layout (4:13), and one bird front to x-out (5:27), among others.

(Regarding the "triple cupie" as I called it on Twitter, I am now not too sure upon reviewing the video. The weight of the outside flyers seemed to rest on the assistants'. However, visually, it does look awesome.)

Not quite sure if it's a legit triple cupie but it's still visually arresting

Speaking of the bird front toss, that began the dance sequence (5:25) that would become my favorite part of the routine. As blank templates who have abandoned individuality (selfhood), they then embody the symbols of all UAAP schools beginning with the Archers:

The Maroon Archers launch an 'arrow' into the air

... followed by the Eagles, Bulldogs, leaping Tigers (medyo di ko pa gets kung ba't lumipad yung tigers, unless sila si Tigress from Kung Fu Panda, lol), Tamaraws:

The Maroons form FEU's tamaraw logo

... Falcons, Warriors, and finally Maroons. (In the video, look closely for the transformation of the flyer—from arrow, to bulldog, and to tiger—just fantastic!!! I also love the voice over and the music, ang lakas maka-Hans Zimmer!)

I highly doubt other UAAP teams can pull off representing all schools in cheerdance with justice :-)

For the final stunt, they then form a 1-1-1 pyramid, similar to their 2010 pyramid, although from one, they have four this time. Alas, the group that was supposed to carry the UP colors fell in an unfortunate miscalculation. Nevertheless, that error was not enough to cost them the championship. With this minimalist but extremely difficult routine, they were simply on a league of their own.

Video by Sir Facebuko

Friday, September 21, 2012

What to expect in the 2012 UAAP Cheerdance Competition


2011 champions: UP Pep Squad
Based on leaks, spoilers, and rumors, tomorrow's UAAP Cheerdance is bound to be a hotly contested competition. (Live telecast at 2 p.m., Studio 23.)
Last year, I ranked FEU ahead of the DLSU Animo Squad, but it seemed the judges gave more credit to a fairly difficult and polished routine than a more difficult but error-laden (laden talaga?) performance. To be fair, DLSU's video is one of the two I can manage to watch repeatedly because I enjoyed how they executed their "archer in the woods" theme and how they incorporated their traditional cheer into their performance. Of course, the other video would be UP's :-)

Second place: DLSU Animo Squad
I think the battle would still be between the UP Pep Squad and the FEU Cheering Squad (who reportedly got Douglas Nierras as its choreographerI can't confirm).

Third place: FEU Cheering Squad
An error from either squad could potentially spell victory for the other team.
I've heard different versions about UP's 2012 routine. One said the routine will be five times more difficult than the Madonna routine. Another said it's good but is relatively a minor upgrade compared to 2010-2011. (Well, a minor upgrade would still mean a major leap for the other squads.) As for the theme, the Fighting Maroons will be "embracing freedom." No, I don't expect it to go the way of Oblation, but then, who knows? Also, like last year, they are doing something new with their hair for Saturday.
Twitter search results last Tuesday showed that a lot were quite disappointed with UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe's general rehearsal. It sounded as if the most they could hope for was a third place finish. It's heartbreaking to note how the Tigers have fallen behind the competition. It's also become quite obvious from their performances that they have lost their confidence, perhaps because they've failed to land in the podium in the last three years. From champions (they have the most number of championships at 8; they last won in 2006), they have become the underdogs.
NU is the league's perennial underdogs, even outside of cheerdance. They've been improving in recent years, thanks to the financial support of magnate Henry Sy. (More funds = better training. At homecourt lang naman nila ang SM MOA Arena.) I'm also of the opinion that they've been unfairly ranked (too low) in the last 2-3 competitions. I'm hoping for them to at least make it to Top 4 in recognition of their efforts.
ADMU and Adamson are wildcards this year.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

How to spend—and write—it (updated)

I tweeted this earlier:

If you blog about your free P6k+ haircut and write it as "value for money" better make sure you're returning and paying for it next time.

For context, this is what the blogger wrote about her haircut, which made me raise my eyebrow. Tinagalog at binakla ko (lol) kasi ayoko ng ma-google search nyo pa kung sino sya. I'm also passive agressive like that.

Worth it ba? Oo naman! Hello? Hair. Believe me, ayaw mo naman tipirin 'yang buhok mo tapos chaka naman gupit mo.

My main issue is how she made P6k+ sound like peanuts when she didn't pay for the service in the first place.

For the sake of disclosure, I've also received expensive, sometimes pricier-than-a-haircut items for free (e.g., Hong Kong trip, by the invitation of the island's tourism board) and consequently wrote glowing reviews about them. However, I'm careful to a point that should a reader follow my advice, I know he won't be at the losing end of the deal because I conscientiously wrote a balanced case for or against the product. (Tip: If the product is so bad, then quote the company/PR representative instead of lying through your teeth. Or just don't write about it, period.)

The blogger, meanwhile, found no fault with the service. At this point, I'm questioning the value of the haircut because based on her photos, there's a disconnect between her glorious feedback and my opinion of the end-result.

To reiterate, taste is relative. If you feel like the service is absolutely worth the hefty price tag, then knock yourself out and be a loyal client.

Hence, that is exactly what I'm daring the blogger to be. If she could make P6k sound like peanuts, then she better shell out that amount like it's no big deal on her next haircut.

* * * *

For reference, here's how you may write for high-income consumers. (I need to remind myself of this as well. Also, this doesn't necessarily bear any relevance to the blogger's post.)

Key points:

  • Temper your tone/language. What may be ooh and aah for you may be ho-hum for others.
  • No need to underline how expensive it isthat's for your readers to decide on, ideally, with your objective review. What may be pricey for you may be loose change for others.
  • Second point also avoids having your readers construe your positive feedback as defensive. By stating the price matter-of-factly, you may justify the purchase as you please.
Homemade palabok, P25. Not worth it :-P
The pricier Jollibee palabok is way better.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Woman Who Had Two Navels

"Riding home with her father, she heard a cock crowing––a sound that only yesterday, if heard in sleep, would have yielded images of bare feet in brown water, the smell of ripe guavas, the echoes of summer laughter in the country. Now she heard the cry itself, the pure, lonely, urgent cry––and it started no echoes."
- p. 165

All over the country in those days, young men were tending newspapers, writing poems, going in politics, looking for gold mines. The ferment of the Revolution had bred a climate in which poets and artists had political effects... In two swift decades they would find themselves obsolete––discarded and displaced persons gathering in each other's parlors to revile the present and regret the past.
- p. 170

I looked at the list of books I've read in the last two years and felt ashamed for having only included two Filipino authors––national hero Jose Rizal and my best friend, Pam (lol). (Oh, I forgot to include the writer of Ilustrado--09/24/12.) I made a mental note to include more, particularly the classics from the post-war era. I did not do a google search nor asked for recommendations from friends, but for some reason, at the bookstore, I gravitated toward Nick Joaquin's The Woman Who Had Two Navels. What a beautiful case of serendipity it was.

Published in 1961, the novel is set in Hong Kong and revolves around upper-class Filipino families, whose lives took a turn right after the Japanese occupation. (Just how rich are these families? One household employs a Chinese houseboy––in Hong Kong. Those were the days, indeed.)

There is a lot of... erm, navel-gazing on how the Philippines should move forward. The optimism was a no-brainer: given the publication date, which was less than 20 years after the World War II, the Philippines was the second strongest economy in Asia, second only to Japan. (Six years ealier, Joaquin wrote A Portrait of the Artist as Filipino; my similar review here.)

I'm hard-pressed to think of what problems the country must be facing at that time (if there were any), that Joaquin at one point in the novel boldly makes the argument––through a Catholic priest character at that––that committing a mistake is okay, as long as it is done out of free will. In justifying adultery:

"Some people can rise very high only because they have fallen very low. The bigger the crime, the deeper the need for salvation, and the more heroic the repentance. Without sin, there can be no repentance––and, therefore, no upheaval or transfiguration or growth of the spirit."

To which, a straighlaced character quipped, "Then I must be hopeless... I'm certainly not very spectacular as a sinner."

Twenty years later, oh how the government has spectacularly sinned against its people, having declared Martial Law and plunging the Philippine economy to wretched depths. Hence, it was with dark humor that I revisited this quote, still from the same book:

"I don't understand why you men won't honor the labors of women to make themselves lovely. Beauty is a virtue too––or, anyway, a responsibility. A rose that was ugly had disobeyed God."
- Concha Vidal to Father Tony, p. 156

It turned out that the rose's name would be Imelda Marcos.

It's a beautiful, grand novel on the Philippines, complex in its layers and symbolism without resorting to hysterical surrealism or labored language. I'm sure I have barely scratched its surface with this entry.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Film review: I Do Bi Doo Bi Doo

I should have reviewed this sooner, but while you still can, do try to catch the film musical, I Do Bi Doo Bi Doo, which features the songs of Apo Hiking Society. I don't intend to do a glowing review, hype it, and set your expectations too high (as I do have a few misgivings about the plot and casting) but as a feel-good movie, it works.

Two families—one, extremely rich; the other, lower middle class—are marrying off their teenage kids, who are expecting a baby. As they do so, the songs of Apo expertly weave themselves into the storyline: some are contextually obvious; most are a pleasant surprise in their wit and fresh interpretation.

Eugene Domingo can do no wrong, and whenever she's onscreen, it has become easy for her to eclipse her co-actors thanks to her comedic timing and nuances (whenever she tries)—but in this film, Ogie Alcasid, who plays her husband; and Frenchie Dy and Sweet Plantado, who play her bestfriends, hold their own. In fact, it is her chemistry with the said actors that mark some of the memorable scenes in the movie, most notably, what is becoming to be known as one of the best bed scenes in contemporary Pinoy cinema. (Or as Bandera put it: Boobs ni Eugene nagmumura, bukol ni Ogie pinalakpakan)

The lead stars—Sam Concepcion (though I wish he had more grit, and I'm not talking about his awkward bronzer/dark foundation) and newcomer Tippy Dos Santos—are charming and adorable, and the audience could easily root for either or both. Neil Coleta, playing the groom's best friend, almost steals the show but smartly holds back by underplaying his... exuberance.

My primary misgiving is with Gary Valenciano, who seemed lost in his role as the rich father of the bride: he switches personalities so often and quickly, from dominant to non-dominant; from aloof to cheesily romantic, that I wondered if he was in fact, playing twins.

The Blue Jeans vignette didn't fit into the narrative; I thought its social commentary is for a different movie altogether. (It is however, one of my favorite APO songs.)

There are potholes in the plot but you see this movie for the music. No explicit premarital sex education here—that's the parents' job—but there is a lot of fun.

Rating: 7/10

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