Saturday, July 31, 2004

Kestrel Studios' head honcho Dean Alfar has already posted a (insert superlative) detail from the planned cover of Siglo: Passion in his blog. And here I am still nowhere near starting with the pages. Let's see what I've done so far is I've already illustrated pages 2-12, scanned 'em and still in the process of cleaning them up and fixing the panel borders. I've yet to do page 1 since I'm having trouble fixing the original thumbnails with the script. Yeah I'm unhappy with the thumbnails for the first page and I don't think I could go on with it until I'm satisfied with everything. Which translates to the fact that I can't start with coloring the whole thing until I finish the first page which I can't because I'm still trying to get around this big boulder of a mental block barricading the way to this big idea because I'm not satisfied with the thumbnails– you get the whole idea. Other artists have posted previews of their works in their blogs which turns up the pressure for me to stop dilly-dallying around and get right down to it.

Friday, July 30, 2004

What do you mean you have to go?!

Contrary to what critics say, I found Around the World in 80 Days to be fun and very entertaining. I'm not sure how much of the original story has been changed since all I know about the story came from watching old cartoons shown in TV. British actor Steve Coogan's Phileas Fogg is a joy to watch, a laid back Stan Laurel to Jackie Chan's Oliver Hardy in Passepartout. This time Director Frank Coraci's adaptation of Jules Verne's classic has Fogg as an eccentric man of a science who longs to break free from the sameness that present science has to offer. He longs to see things yet to be invented like machines that could help man fly, electricity illuminating the night sky, modes of transportation without the help of horses and other beasts of burden, etc. That's why when the opportunity rose up for him to head the Royal Academy of Science through a wager between him and the head of the Academy, Lord Kelvin (Jim Broadbent) that he could travel around the world in 80 days then the vaunted position would be his but if not his house would be demolished and he would be barred from inventing anything ever again. So off they went to fulfill a quest and on their first stop the way they were joined by the lovely and headstrong Monique (Cecile De France). She's a coatcheck girl cum frustrated artist who became enamored with the idea of seeing the world on a whim. Also on the duo's first stop in France you'd see three familiar impressionist painters peering from the background, two in the art salon and one in the bordello. I'm not sure if there are others but the three painters shown were Henri Matisse, Vincent Van Gogh, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Half of the funnies and most of the visual treats come from Jackie Chan's trademark martial arts stunts which he still performs with much aplomb though I miss the old stunts he did in his previous movies. And all in the spirit of fun, various actors and actresses have made cameo appearances throughout the whole movie playing an assortment of oddball characters like Arnold Schwarzenegger as the egotistical art collector, Prince Hapi of Turkey who commissioned reknowned sculptor Auguste Rodin to do a customized version of "The Thinker" for his birthday, the villainess General Fang played with glee by Hong Kong actress Karen Mok, Sammo Hung Kam-Bo appeared as the leader of the mysterious 10 Tigers and brother of Jackie Chan, Macy Gray as a sleeping French woman, Rob Schneider as a hobo in San Francisco who has a creative way of panhandling, Luke and Owen Wilson as the Wright Brothers in their pre-airplane invention days, Mark Addy as the captain of the steamer en route back to England, John Cleese the skeptical sergeant of the Bobby, and Kathy Bates as Queen Victoria. Even Director Coraci couldn't resist appearing as an English pedestrian. I just didn't like the absence of real danger from the villain. Lord Kelvin was bad enough and Karen Mok's character just doesn't cut it at all, all she does is parade around like a refugee from the Chinese theater. In fact the whole production could have done away with the Chinese General (the confrontation scenes in China and New York feels overdone) and not be affected by the lack of one character. Not that the movie suffers at all, aside from the usual slow moments involving the cliché scenes of betrayal-of-trust-between-two-friends-progressing-to-a-joyful-reconciliation-before-the-big-finale and Jackie's stereotyped role as an-emissary-from-a-village-in-China-sent-to-the-West-to-bring-back-a-stolen-treasure which is really getting old, the whole thing was one big enjoyable ride. Just keep your eyes peeled for famous historical personalities and events scattered throughout the whole film. Like this one trivia which is tied up with the movie: There is a Lord Kelvin who headed the The Royal Society - The UK National Academy of Science from 1890-1895. His whole name was Sir William Thomson Kelvin and though he wasn't related in any way to Queen Victoria, he formulated the Law of Thermodynamics and a refrigerator brand was named after him.

* Check out also the review in Hollywood Jesus for more insightful reactions to this great movie.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

We never never thought we could pull off last night's first deviantARTists' EB but we did. The idea was first brought up by Jac almost a month ago in the mailing list. An idea borne out of the time she started working as a full time staffer in the College of St. Benilde. Her contacts in deviantART who are also students in that school requested an eyeball meeting with her. One thing led to another and before you know it me, Jac, and Az came out with the idea of organizing the first "deviantART Manila EB". We held it last night at the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf café in Greenbelt 3 in Makati City. There were close to 30 people who arrived excited to connect the faces to the geniuses behind the artworks posted online. Here some of the pictures from last night's event:

We left the place past midnight and there are already some plans to do another one a couple of weeks from now. The gathering of artists might be regular one if things work out more than we expected. Hopefully that's another thing we all could look forward to in the coming months ahead.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

I'm not a fan of Ran-ma 1/2. Nope. Not one bit. Not one iota or a smidgen. Any similarities with Ms. Takahashi's anime is just one big coincidence. Yup.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

I'm toying around again with a not-so-new idea for the comic compilation I've been planning since 2002. The good news with this thing is that I don't have to bother with no ISBN number since I won't be distributing it in any big chain bookstores, I won't have to shell out obscene amounts of money for thousands of copies and having to worry about paying for it while it gathers dust and cobwebs in one corner of my room. I can produce whatever number of copies are needed and fast. I can even produce colored comics without worrying about the skyrocketing price of color separation. I could even toy around with experimental stuff that could become a trademark! I'm talking about releasing the comic compilation of CLASS in CD-ROM format (or CD-ROMics) minus the fancy-schmancy graphics of an interactive menu (which will cost me more than what I want to pay to hire tech people to do that). I got the idea after reading Tobie's blog about his Diliman CD-ROMics being given away in Comic Quest, Megamall. If the demand is there then sure I'll be churning out the book compilation.

Monday, July 26, 2004

I'm taking a bit of a break from doing the assigned twelve pages for Siglo: Passion to concentrate on my comic strip. I just finished all the illustrations and I'm in the process of cleaning the scanned artwork before coloring it. The thing here is that I've got all the illustrations down pat but I'm having trouble with the dialogue for the second panel. While action's funny enough in a Rumiko Takahashi way I feel I have to change the original script to match the expressions on the faces of the characters. Aaaargh! This is the sort of drawback I don't need right now.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

For the longest time I've been living in an area that lacks description. It's neither here nor there and though sometimes it's the most comfortable place in the world being a place of rest one should follow the general rule of not staying there more than one ought to. One runs the peril of being average if he or she does so. They who stay absorb the character of the place themselves leaving no sense of individuality and no better than a pack of lemmings running with no goal nor direction in mind. Blind following blind, dictating upon themselves their own sense of what's right and what's wrong. Changing the landscape to suit the mood of the moment but in reality those changes were only in their fevered minds. Mistakes were covered with more mistakes and they called it good. Morals slowly moved its polarity shifting from right to left. Everyone applauded everyone and they patted each other on the back. This is the world I've been living in no matter how much I denied it. I dare not participate in their exercises nor did I lift a finger to speak what it is in my mind. At best I am a fence sitter. Like an orchestra slowly building in crescendo the voice of God constantly calls me to step down and continue the race I left behind. He calls me every time. Unrelenting in His pursuit. Uncompromising in His ways yet gentle enough to drive all fears away. Bringing light to show me the nothingness that I intently observed. But I've been staring at nothing for so long I found it hard to turn away. "Train my ears to your voice," I pleaded in shame whenever my guilty conscience finds me. God still chooses to ever so gently whispers that at times the background cacophony of chaos threatened to drown it out like a siren calls men to their death. With ever increasing patience, God still calls and I hear its sweet sweet symphony stirring a longing I have long forgotten. Mayhap tis' now time I heeded the call, took His hand and ran away from this place called forgetful.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

I'm now feeling the burn. A slow burn actually. I underestimated the time needed for a big, big project that should have been handed in some two weeks ago!!! A lot of expectations are riding on this. I've worked with other publishing people in the past doing commissioned artworks here and there but it's totally different when one's working for their peers. Established peers at that. Creative pioneers whose footsteps created the sure and narrow paths the up and coming (and even those that are unsure of the way) are now following. I'm sure I'll be ridiculed for thinking so lowly of myself but I really can't help it. I don't know at what stage the others are in their assigned pages but there's this dreadful suspicion that I'm the only one lagging behind. Crud.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Another set of funny strips from Speed Bump whose humor reminds me of this one panel strip from the 50s or 60s (my uncle has two books compilations of this strip but the title escapes me now). The dinosaur strip came out the other day while the "Mozart" and zombie strip came out last July 14 and July 11 respectively.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

After last year's Batman: Dead End fan film which made headlines at the San Diego Comic Con, now comes Grayson. The movie's also done in the same dark, brooding atmosphere that true blue Dark Knight fans have come to love. The summary goes thus far:
"Gotham's Son Returns! Two decades after the golden age of superheroes has passed, hope has abandoned Gotham City. Corruption has infected Gotham's highest levels of power and led to the death of its greatest champion. Now, former boy wonder, Dick Grayson, will emerge from the shadows of retirement to avenge the murder of his legendary mentor."
Watch out for the appearances of Superman (Alex Ross' version), Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Green Lantern, Joker, Penguin, and The Riddler. Movie's available only online; Running time is 5:27 minutes (Requires Quicktime 6.3). Written, produced, and directed by John Fiorella.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Everyone's a comedian. I'm going to explore this more in future "Super-sized" storylines for this strip.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.
Here are some shots from last night's night out at the town. After fetching our sister from her office in Pasay, me and my brother went back to the hotel to fetch our parents for some dinner in Greenbelt 3. Then it's back to the hotel for some TV with our coffee and pastry.

Dad and mom being cozy together.

My brother looks shocked at the potential amount that will be reflected on the bill.

Shot of the lights reflected on the soup taken by my brother.

Lovely loo.

I moved at the last second but this shot still came out great.

Indulging in a little "surreal" portrait.

View from inside the drinking glass.

Pooped out from watching cable.

I took lots of shots inside the bathroom owing to the good lighting, mirrors, black and white floor tiles and marbled walls. Something about all these sent lots and lots of creative juices sloshing through the noggin. Me and the sibs went home around past midnight after getting our fill of the room.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

We brought my mom earlier today to Mandarin Hotel in Makati City for the first day of her and dad's overnight stay in a hotel (our gift for their 37th wedding anniversary). Traffic was horrible on the way in which wasn't supposed to be the case on a weekday, so's with the crowd in suits and dresses waiting for their cars outside the entrance. The reason for which I found out later was a birthday lunch for socialite Rosemarie "Baby" Arenas feted for her by her friends. I espied ABS-CBN newscaster Julius Babao and his wife, TV personality Christine Bersola chatting with their friends while my mom picked up the key at the front desk. The room was nice and definitely better than the one we stayed in at the Manila Hotel last month (which looked like it was stuck in an early 80s time warp). Before I left I taught her how to fiddle with the TV remote control so she could enjoy herself watching her favorite shows. Me, my brother, and sister will be bringing my dad later so we could hang out for a while. Right now I'm thinking that one of these days I should treat myself to the same. Just me, myself, and I looking out the window at the world below pondering about a lot of things mish-mashed together in one incohesive gibberish that makes a lot of sense.

We saw the Imelda movie last night in Glorietta 4, good two nights ahead of the general populace. The film started after several loops of the cinema's happy-happy joy-joy soundtrack which annoyed the crowd composed of expats and hoity-toity groups. The documentary's very good and very informative. I didn't know that Imelda's aunt and grade school teacher were still alive and very spritely as they gamely answered questions as to what the former First Lady was like as a kid. And revealing answers they did provide, giving the viewers bits of anecdotes here and there about her fantasies of being a princess or at least an awareness of her "importance" at such an early age. Not to say that her family was well-off rather she grew up in poverty. One anecdote they recalled told of a story about this one time she went to school wearing a dress made of discarded parachute. She was pleased to show off her dress since it felt and looked like a dress made out of silk. One of the really interesting stories she herself told was sometime during the 1930s when she was invited by Gen. Douglas McArthur to sing before his guest, Irving Berlin. She sang "God Bless the Philippines" to his surprise and when he told her that she got it all wrong, she insisted that she was right because those were the words her teachers taught them. Mr. Berlin told her that she was wrong because the song was really called "God Bless America" and that he was the one who composed it. So what he did next, as she recalled, was to go to a corner by himself for twenty minutes and composed a new song for her to sing in an inauguration or something. That's something that doesn't happen everyday. Another incident that hews closer to home was the botched assassination attempt on Imelda which everyone is talking about. I recently learned as it was revealed to us by my dad last week over dinner, that the assassin was his cousin and that he was held in Camp Crame along with the other businessmen (holding a bazaar within the Nayong Filipino Park at the time) right after the incident for suspicions of complicity. This piece of news both a source of pride and shame for all of us. I don't know what to feel about all this, but I guess it's okay to bring it out in the open. I won't talk about Imelda's reaction to the incident. I was just dumbfounded about her deadpan humor about the whole thing. If, it was intended as a joke like she says.

As far as documentaries go, this one continually entertains and is never, ever boring at all. It opens the eyes and minds of the viewers, affirming our worst fears and suspicions about the Marcoses themselves right from the horse's mouth. Like, did the former President Ferdinand Marcos create Imelda or did Imelda create Ferdinand Marcos? What's with the "Seven Portals of Peace and Order"? Can you apply the "Pac Man Theory" to yourself? Is the link between Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and the internet valid? Where does she get these wacky ideas? Would you pity Fr. Reuters for listening to Imelda talk for four hours straight (minus the video about her talking about the same topics) if he got six pounds of Hersheys chocolate in return? But in the middle of this sea of irony you can find two poignant scenes where for a brief moment the viewer is afforded a glimpse of sobriety. In both quiet scenes she talks about her love for Ferdinand and how much he loved her in return. In both instances I guess it's perfectly okay to excuse yourself for feeling for her. I wouldn't join the popular chorus of laughter and mockery after watching this film. If at all it afforded me a glimpse into her sense of reality. For how could I laugh at someone living inside a bubble? Laughing at her would be bordering on the cruel. It's a pity indeed those she took into her confidence didn't have the nerve to pop her protective bubble of a world when they had the chance. I just hope and pray to God that He would send someone or something that would open her eyes before it's too late. Another thing, what if Ramona Diaz continued to train her camera on other colorful characters like say, Kris Aquino? I'm sure she wouldn't mind talking about herself and her mind before the camera nor would she petition the court to put an injunction against the showing of the movie. That would be something. Or better yet, no.

Monday, July 19, 2004

I can't believe I've been struggling with the layout of one comic strip that was supposed to be one the simplest things I ever planned. This doesn't have any of those lines that usually surround the panels, the storyline is done straight with nary any twist, and the dialogue sparse. But why oh why can't I do it correctly? My mom was trying to draw me into a conversation at the same time. There I was struggling with the drawings while trying to figure out what it is I'm doing wrong and composing a nutty dialogue at the same time. Possibilities for linear thought suffice to sustain a dialogue with anybody is impossible. I know and I tried to avoid it by going upstairs and downstairs but all the frustrations and helplessness have already set in. I'm taking a break for a while. I scanned whatever illustrations I have and I'm leaving it for a short time while I try and figure out what direction it should take. I know I'll figure out something, I just hope it's real good.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

There are days I wish I could just go out for hours on end without going home while the sun's still up and there are days I wish I could spare a few hours rest before going out again. I just barely got home from church service when I was met by the family eager to go out to the malls. I shucked my rest period and said yes to the invitation, never mind if I just had my lunch and merienda in one. Our first stop was Robinson's Galleria in Ortigas and the deal was me, mom and dad were to go around and check things out while my brother and sister did their workout at Gold's Gym for a couple of hours. Then the thought hit me that I should have brought my sketchpad if we were to wait for them to finish. Well yeah, the afternoon snack at Max's Fried Chicken was good but I'm not going to force myself to spend another minute browsing through the department store looking for nothing in particular. I don't know how my mom does it but I haven't got the patience to walk around a humongous room full of tupperwares and clothing trying to figure out what's good enough to buy. So I went straight to National Book Store and bought myself a brand new sketchpad. The way I figure it it would be best to spend time giving life to thoughts racing around the noodle. Then I joined my dad at the cafe inside the gym's compound. After a while when everyone came out from where it is they came from we went to Greenhills and went with my sister to look for more items of clothing. It didn't take long before I started feeling real restless again. I told them I would be heading to another part of the mall where the pirates thrive to look for mp3 CDs. After completing my purchase I joined them for dinner near the store where I left them. Singer Pilita Corrales and her family, including son, actor Ramon Christopher and his kids were also dining in the same restaurant but they were sitting outside where there were lots of people. I guess they didn't mind being gawked at every once in a while but I don't think the people were gawking at them in an obvious way. Unlike my mom who would watch them go about their business and speculate about Ramon Christopher's separation from his wife. We had to constantly address her to just mind her food and not stare too much. By this time a storm was raging outside and I watched a group of Chinese or Korean tourists try to hail a cab. I also tried to to compose my plans for this week's strip but everytime I did I would fail. I already have the general idea as to how I would do the drawings but the dialogue needs some more fine tuning. Maybe I can do it later and besides, so ran my thoughts earlier, I need to finish this sketch I already started in this new sketchpad. After dinner we had our coffee and more conversations in another upstairs cafe. I was already full but I'm not one to complain about having free dessert anyway. I don't think I'd be able to do the drawings tonight. Maybe tomorrow. For now my bed, my pillow, my sheets, and my pajamas beckon.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

The invitation originally specified a graduation party cum birthday party only. I understood it to mean that there would only be a few of us people from the New Worlds Alliance group. It also specified that the party would start at exactly 6 p.m. but I got there almost an hour later due to the heavy storm slamming the whole of Metro Manila at the time. It was a good thing too since the start of the party was moved to 7 p.m. which means I got to Barrio Fiesta Restaurant right on time. I was surprised to see a huge group of people wearing Hawaiian themed shirts gathering near the entrance and welcoming the others. I was also wearing a hawaiian shirt so it was kinda embarrassing having them stare at me trying to decipher whose family I belong to. Turns out Gabe's clan was also having a grand reunion at the same time. Hector was there the same time as me along with another girl (whose name escapes me right now). I had a lot of fun watching the whole proceedings, seeing it would be a nice fodder for future comic stories. The others arrived one by one right through the middle of our meal. Here are some of the pictures from the party earlier tonight: 

Carl and Hector strike a pose while Az was caught unawares.

"Akala mo ikaw lang may dalang camera?"

Lady Gabe sings Annie Lennox's Academy Award winning ditty "To The West"

Miao tests his invention - the Kare-kare Sandwich

"Stop it na! Yan o you're making me blush na!"

Ricky, me, Hector, Gabe, Az, Miao, Carl (partly hidden) and...

The party was capped with dancing to beats from the 70s up to the 90s. Out of the many people in our table only Az and Gabe were getting jiggy with the others on the dance floor. I haven't danced at all since high school nor do I have any plans to embarrass myself in the coming years.
First the good news... I WON THE BIDDING WAR AT EBAY!!! I'm now the proud owner of an original wardrobe costume used by my favorite actor John Goodman in the made-for-TV movie version of A Streetcar Named Desire. Yessirree! I reached the reserve price and I am the highest bidder of them all!!! HOOWAH!!! To those who aren't familiar with who Mr. Goodman is, he's an underrated character actor who came out in almost a hundred movies like The Babe (in the title role as Babe Ruth), as Jeff Bridges' wacko Vietnam Veteran bowling partner in The Coen Brothers' The Big Lebowski, he starred as Richard Dreyfuss' best friend Al Yackey in Always, he also starred opposite Al Pacino in Sea of Love and Denzel Washington in Fallen. And he also supplied voices for animated characters like Baloo the Bear in Jungle Book 2 and Sulley in Monsters, Inc., among others. Some people might think it a frivolous purchase but this isn't any different from other people collecting stuff that they decide are important to them. And besides this is an original piece of Hollywood history which is billions and millions of lightyears better than any stuff I ever bought or had. That's right! Mwahahahaha!!!

Now the bad news: I never expected someone to try and outbid me at the last hour sending the original price right through the roof. No, let me correct that... right through the sky and into the edge of the universe! While I am glad I put double of the original amount as a security thing just in case someone tries to outbid me at the last minute I didn't expect the whole thing to cost as much. Sure it'll blow up a huge chunk of dough out of the money I've saved but then again who am I to complain? I've got one of the best collectible pieces in the whole world!

The loot

Woooooohoooooooooooo!!! I can't wait till it gets here!

Friday, July 16, 2004

Me and Rollan were chatting last night over the YM and while talking about the Artists' Den we reminisced about the old days when we would have those late night meetings in Perk 21 some four years ago. Me, Rollan and another friend/churchmate Jo, founded the support group last 1999 since we noticed then as now that there are only very few artists' groups who're into adopting artists from different backgrounds and getting them together into one group. The purpose of the group was to mentor artists by helping them find their identity and true calling enabling them to do powerful artworks and repeating the cycle all over again with the next generation of artists. Initial members of the Artists' Den composed of theater actors/actresses and singers a sprinkling of musicians and visual artists. We would usually hold our meetings, discussions in different coffee and art houses in and around Metro Manila. The original group broke up near the middle of 2001, Rollan planed out of the country to work in the Middle East, I concentrated on my comics and dayjob, while Jo concentrated in the theater arts. A small number of us like Ryan, Lyndon, and Az kept in touch regularly through the internet but mostly whenever they dropped by the internet shop I was managing. Eventually Az revived the group by establishing the mailing list and calling for another round of regular Friday meetings in the summer of 2003.  

Rollan only recently joined the mailing list after a very long absence and he's excited to see the large number of artists involved these days as opposed to the older group. He's now working as an Art Director in one of the ad agencies there and in wanting to meet the others in the group, even online, he suggested that we post pictures of the new members. That's when I remembered I had a group picture of the group's core members in my hard drive: 

Standing from left: Nelz, me, Divine, Lyndon, and Rollanseated from left: Janet and Jo

This was taken last February 2000 during VCF's Singles Valentime Party at the Makati Sports Club. Sporting a goatee hadn't yet entered my mind nor dyeing my hair blue. Anyway, in the course of our conversation he opened his idea of having his short story illustrated, published, and sold locally. In order to pick the right person to illustrate his short story he opened the idea of holding a contest exclusive to the group. He was nice enough to leave the details of the contest to me and Az and Lyndon to work on. I don't have a clear idea how to go about it as of now but I'm really excited about the whole idea of proposing a project to showcase the talents of the members of this group. He also sent some screen captures from one the old meetings in Perk 21 that we taped on camera:

Ojie (left) signs out while Janet (right) sings her heart out for the camera.

Nelz and Lyndon (left); We always took a long time saying our goodbyes after the meetings (right).

Fluxx with a new haircut (left) while Az laughs at his own bisyonen joke (right)

Ryan (left) wonders if the images would be used in a hentai site; Lyndon gives a thumbs up to the meeting.

Me with a thin mustache and goatee (left) and Rollan's semi-kalbo head (right).

Also among the pictures he sent were a bunch of pictures of their band Dyip. The band was an early pet project of the group and the members composed of Rollan (bass guitar), Jo (songwriter/vocals), and Agong (songwriter/accoustic guitar) did original songs that defy categorization. Well except maybe for the general term indie or underground music. These shots were taken right after the meeting and in it they were talking about what the group was about, its goals and its music. They plan to get together again for a short while to cut a limited CD album. That is if things go according to plan.


Thursday, July 15, 2004

We ate out at the Outback Steakhouse in Makati City as suggested by my dad. It was just a quiet dinner for just the five of us (my brother and his wife backed out due to some previous commitment). The conversations at the beginning were nice, revolving around job perks that my brother recently got from the office and the possibility of my having a comic strip in one newspaper. When the subject of politics and problems around the house came in everything went downhill for a while. Good thing compliments about the food were injected every now and then so it wasn't a complete loss. As much as possible I stay away from talking about politics unless it promises to be short and entertaining. The subject of my bidding in eBay was also brought up and it was the first time my sister learned about what I was bidding on. As usual, she thought it was real weird of me to be willing to shell out that much money for a keepsake. But I reminded her it wasn't any ordinary keepsake but rather a souvenir. Then after dinner we went to Starbucks upstairs in the cinema for some coffee. We continued our conversations about our wedding anniversary surprise for them (an overnight stay at the Mandarin Hotel on Tuesday) and my wanting to have a German Shepherd. I don't think there's any space for the dog right now owing to our present dalmatian. Besides my mom won't have another dog going inside the house sleeping on my bed. We went home some 45 minutes later. 

We like calling this "chocolate bread" even if it's not.

Nice view of the condotels from the Starbucks ledge.

Hotel Intercontinental where high school peeps from the 80s had their proms.

This Foxtrot strip that came out in today's paper had me guffawing loud enough to wake the dead.

Well not really but it's hilarious.
Happy 27th anniversary mama and daddy!

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

There might be some confusion as to how the panels go, so just follow these instructions so you won't get lost: first panel---> uppermost top right panel---> panel below it---> upper-bottom left panel---> lower bottom left panel---> upper-right bottom panel---> panel below it. Got it? In any case there are lots more fates worse than being forced to watch The Mighty Ducks 1-3. Like being forced to watch Glitter or Shanghai Surprise movies for three straight days.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

I lost the bidding war at eBay but I'm trying out again. There's a reserve price but it looks a lot bigger than what I originally set to shell out. Man, this is going to cost me much more than a couple months' paycheck.

Monday, July 12, 2004

I really hate it when ideas for comic strips come out half baked even after more than a week's worth of percolating. I have everything laid out but the way the punchline is built up doesn't satisfy me. It's weak and lacks a certain "oomph!" that I can't put my finger on. I did manage to come up with three more panels than the usual during dinner. Thought it would be worth taking the risk  doing the illustrations first. The script will write itself in a weird if-you-build-it-they-will-come-sort-of-way. I hope. After dinner at the mall I transferred to my usual haunt, ordered their house special-tea (lemon flavored) and sat down to do my work. A couple of people passing by would stand and watch me work. It proved to be distracting and it didn't help any that I was still struggling with the build-up and punchline. This time I just wanted to be left alone. I don't need an audience watching me work nor anyone attempting to draw me into a conversation (I'd snarl and bare my fangs at them if they did). I finished everything some three hours later, hopeful that the dialogue would write itself up. I haven't a clue what time I'll be sleeping tonight, what's important is that I got to turn this in before 4 a.m. Whatta nightmare...

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Depending on the type of crowd you're hanging out with high school can either be a trumatic period you wouldn't want to go back to or it could be a time of über coolness that you's be reminiscing over and over again. That's the premise the movie Mean Girls means to explore. The movie is fun and though it tries to follow closely in the tradition of Heathers and Clueless it can't quite keep up with the pace its two predecessors have set in terms of unforgettable characters and memorable lines. The story revolves around Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan), the daughter of two zoologists who recently moved back to America after spending considerable time in Africa. Cady has been home-schooled most of her life so her attending high school in a real school was a real shocker to say the least. The first day of school was filled one blunder after another and all she got was a lot of laughs and embarrassing situations with the teachers. It was better on the second day when she got to meet two social pariahs Janis (Lizzy Caplan) and Damian (Daniel Franzese) who befriended her in class. Lunch time of that same day she was befriended by the most popular group in school headed by Regina George (Rachel McAdams), Gretchen Wieners (Lacey Chabert), and Karen Smith (Amanda Seyfried). They were curious about the new girl in school and invited her to hang out with them. Cady had no intention of hanging around the "plastics" (as they were called in school) but her two friends thought it brilliant opportunity for one of them to infiltrate the ranks of their enemies. Eventually what started out as a spy mission that would divide and conquer the clique changed course in the middle of the plan. Cady was betrayed by Regina and thus the fight became personal and instead of getting them to fight each other in a web of deception, she only turned Gretchen and Karen against their "queen bee" and took over the throne. Her friends were aghast at her transformation and tried to pull her out before it was too late but before they could do so a series of chain reaction set off by her insubordination was started, opening a can of worms that affected not only the two warring groups but the faculty and the whole school as well.

I really could sympathize with Cady's situation as the new kid in school. I myself had a really bad time during my senior year in high school when I transferred to a new school. Having spent most of my school life in an exclusive school for boys (and being at the bottom rung of the social ladder) I thought things couldn't get any worse than what I've been through. I was wrong big time. First, having very little to no experience with the girls I didn't know how to relate to them at that very awkward stage of my life which equaled to me feeling very small. Then I was unfortunate enough to be the laughing spud boy of the bullies in that school (when you're a senior bully, all freshie, sophomore, and junior bullies bow down to you). It was the longest nine months in school I ever had. That was the first time I felt social pressure for one to constantly perform up to the "dictated" par set by the populars and bullies. I dunno if I would have taken the same path Cady did but this I know, and, I don't mean to brag, but years after graduation I know I have the easiest time of them all now. Back to the movie, I don't have any idea how close it hews to the actual experience in American high schools but I guess it has to follow a certain comedic high school tradition like that of Pretty In Pink, Sixteen Candles, Parker Lewis Can't Lose, Freaks & Geeks, etc. Girls play as hard like the guys but the difference is that they're more subtle in their actions and, dare I say, even deadlier than their counterparts. The book has its roots in a book called Queen Bees & Wannabes that serves to help parents understand the social hierarchy in schools today. After all this generation's a lot meaner than the previous one so there's very little comparison to the "old days." There are  lot of funny moments but underneath it all the movie also dwells on the price of popularity, the confession of shallow levels pop culture has spawned in today's generation, and the teenage perception of adult as clueless folks with their heads wrapped too tightly with their own business. I like it a lot, though movie ends up conveniently enough with everyone forgiving every one and everyone finding their own place in the general scheme of things, it wouldn't hurt a bit to show the main characters getting the brunt of the consequences of what they did from parental authority. It just seems as though Cady's parents let her her off very easily right after that prom speech about having lessons learned. But all in all, it's really good and something I myself would recommend the others to watch.  

* Check out also the review in Hollywood Jesus for more insightful reactions to this great movie.
I just arrived from Marj's wake today at the Manila Memorial Park in Parañaque. It's been a long day crammed with activities that started sometime before lunch when I fetched Abi in Galleria Mall. We took the bus down south and along the way we had this engaging discussion about the relationship between Christianity and art (Abi's a writer for one of the big TV networks), where does one draw the line between what's acceptable and what's not, the absence of the Church in this field, the need for expression, the use of movies and fairy tales as modern parables, why people think artists' agendas are worth squat on their priority scale, etc. This last premise is something that really boggles the mind. Before heading to the wake we first made a side trip to a friend's baby baptismal. It's his third kid and I haven't seen him almost since we graduated from high school. Besides I haven't been making good with my promises everytime he would make an opportunity for us to mee up.  Owing to my past trauma about large crowds in parties I begged Abi to accompany me so I could also make a legit exit from his house without feeling really awkward. It's a good thing I did since we were made to wait for almost two hours (we got there eight minutes after the appointed time) with his little daughter to entertain us. One perculiar thing she told us was this invisible guy "Jeffrey" who had a fatal wound at the back of his head standing by the door to their house. She was pointing to the spot over and over again and kept asking us if we were seeing "him." This reminded me of one of the ghosts in the movie Sixth Sense and I have to ask my friend one day what he thinks about his daughter's statement.

After a nice feast, I apologized that we had to leave early. His wife was a gracious hostess and I told my friend Edgar that we have to get together one time and catch up on a lot of things. Then we went straight to the funeral parlor at the Manila Memorial Park. It was my first time to get inside and I must it's a really beautiful place and I should plan a visit one day to take pictures. Once inside the funeral parlor we were met by Marj's older brother A.D. who is Abi's officemate and co-scriptwriter. We gave our condolences to the grieving mother before taking a peek inside the casket. Then we sat down and got the whole story about what happened from A.D. It turns out that what started out as a diagnosis for dengue turned to anemia in one hospital turned out to be pneumonia complicated by leukemia when they got another opinion in another (better) hospital. It all happened so quickly they never expected things to turn out for the worse, even Marj herself expected herself to recover. Some thirty minutes later, Rey, another PExer and friend came to visit. I had been in communication with him the night before, exchanging text messages about what happened. He was in Baguio at the time and he cut his trip short to be able to attend the wake with us. We left the place an hour and a half later so Abi could still catch the 5 p.m. Sunday service in Galleria. On the way there Abi told me that what she initially thought (an impression given her by other people who know him) that A.D. was an atheist turned out to be false. He's still a Christian although he doesn't like attending church services after everything he went through. What happened was, he had a lot of questions about his faith and what he believed in but everytime he would ask them from his discipleship leader he would be rebuffed and his questions would be ignored. He got a lot of indifferent reactions from other leaders in different churches which he thought would help him. He dropped off the church circuit after that. That's when I brought up the idea for putting up a discipleship group exclusively for artists since we have different needs and wave length from other people. I heard one of his questions and I didn't think it was absurd. This guy was hungry for deeper things and had had enough of the "surface faith." While I guess those leaders he asked before had their reasons for doing what they did, the best thing they should have done was to refer him to someone who knows how to answer his questions instead of leaving him in the dark. Abi promised me to help establish another get-together sometime after the wake on Thursday.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

It was 9:03 p.m. and I was in the middle of eating dinner with my mom, sister, and brother at this Tuna place in San Juan when I received this text message in my phone:

Marj Ho's (p0werpuffgirl) wake starts tonite at bonifacio chapel inside manila memorial park along sucat paranaque. patxt po wen u plan 2go. sabay ako. pls ack.

I was very stunned to say the least and I didn't understand the message at first. So I replied and asked what the person meant with that message (plus I didn't know at the time who was this person sending the message). I got another message after a couple of minutes:

abi of vcf gale, n pexer, too. m referring 2 marj whose username in pex s powrpfgrl. rmmbr her? she died 2day of leukemia.
Marj was one of the few friends I first met online. We first got to know each other in the PinoyExchange.com message board three years ago. She was still living in Vancouver, Canada and over time we and a couple of others took our chat beyond the confines of the site and would often have an online conference yakking and chatting about the mundane and the profound. She barely got out of high school at the time and had to defer going to college for a while due to financial constraints. In the meantime she took a job in one of the fastfood joints and supported her younger brother's schooling. We often encouraged each other and she would often open up and discuss matters of the heart which was lolling between infatuation and friendship towards another close friend we also met online. She would often tell us that she's reading Josh Harris' I Kissed Dating Goodbye and in between gushing how cute the author was she told us the impact it was having on her life. Then one day she told us that she has decided to remain friends with him and pray that God would lead him to open his heart and receive Jesus as his Lord and Savior. It was a big step and a brave one at that but more importantly she told us she had no regrets with her decision. Those days were a big trial for her as the journey often lead to a steep uphill climb but it was her faith and fervent wish that he would be where we were someday.  
About a year after that, she went here to stay for good since she felt she was being called on a mission trip to minister to her family. She went to school in De La Salle University and attended the VCF Church in Alabang, then Galleria. We finally met in one of the EBs organized by the PExers (netizens of PinoyExchange.com) and again in the succeeding outings by Christian PExers who wanted to organize a regular Bible study. We drifted apart after a while and didn't get to see much of each other online. Last month Abi sent me a private message to inform me and a few others that Marj was in the hospital because of Dengue but she was feeling better and the nose bleeding had stopped. She was asking for prayers for Marj's full recovery. I did pray for her but I thought nothing of it. I know healthy adults like Marj could survive this bout of Dengue. That was the last I've heard about her until tonight. Honestly I'm a little envious of her right now. Not because she already left the cares of this world behind, but because of the fact that she's enjoying the company of the Savior she loves. I know it's weird but I wish i could ask her right now what Heaven looks like and what she did she do when she first arrived there? How does food taste in Heaven? What's the smell of Heaven? There's a million and one questions I want to ask you right now but I guess it would be better for me to see it for myself one day.
These people all died controlled and sustained by their faith, but not having received the tangible fulfillment of [God's] promises, only having seen it and greeted it from a great distance by faith, and all the while acknowledging and confessing that they were strangers and temporary residents and exiles upon the earth. Now those people who talk as they did show plainly that they are in search of a fatherland (their own country). If they had been thinking with [homesick] remembrance of that country from which they were emigrants, they would have found constant opportunity to return to it. But the truth is that they were yearning for and aspiring to a better and more desirable country, that is, a heavenly [one]. For that reason God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them. (AMP)
Thanks Marj. Be seeing you!
There are good movies and there are "mmm... nyeah!" movies that you wish could have been a lot better if they did a reshot and a rewrite of the script. That's what the movie The Prince & Me should have been, the movie me and my mom saw last night. The story's out of every girl's fantasy of having their own literal prince charming coming down from his ivory tower and sweeping them up from relative obscurity into a platform of fame, fortune, and acceptance. But in a modern twist this "fairy tale" damsel doesn't swoon into her prince's arms and live happily ever after. Well not yet anyway. She has to assert her own individuality and wants and dreams of going on a medical mission to poor countries outside her lover's shadow (apparently, she hasn't heard of Princess Diana) so she breaks the engagement right before the Crowning ceremony and goes back to her simple life in America. No that there's anything wrong with the Prince, her would-be in-laws and the people of Denmark who have accepted her as one of their own. No, she had to be this little spoiled girl who wants her big cake and eat it too. I like Julia Stiles as an actress since she comes across as this intelligent head-strong woman who could also be your best friend and lover. But this movie just plain sucks! They made her character to be this indecisive college student who makes one impulsive decision after another without ever thinking of the consequences of her actions. In real life, what she did in the movie could have caused a large scandal that would have shamed the whole Danish Royal Family and made them a laughing stock of the world. And what's with the end of the boom mike peeking out from the edges of the screen?

Friday, July 09, 2004

This may be the craziest thing I've done so far, but I'm thinking of bidding for an original movie prop on eBay. I'm no stranger to eBay but I haven't gotten around to biding on stuff found there particularly because I could live without most of those offered online. But that was before I stumbled upon an original costume used by my favorite actor in the CBS production of "A Streetcar Named Desire". When I saw it I knew I had to have it no matter how much it costs. I started texting my friend Gabe regarding her successful bid for an original Hollywood movie costume asking her advice on how to go about it. She replied and and gave me an useful tips on how the whole thing works and how much her item cost including the international shipping rate. This reminds me of the time I saw this original Filipino Revolutionary costume in one of the antique stores some years ago back when I was in college. It's close to a hundred years old and it costs P20,000.00. Though anyone would balk at the price tag, I didn't care about the amount as long as I have an important piece of history. My mom didn't like the idea of lending that huge amount of cash so I had to kill my urge to acquire it (as oppossed to just suppressing it). But not this time. I have no idea if the stuff I'm bidding for would go up the same rate as Gabe's did but I'm willing to take a stab at it.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Those familiar to the popular 80s American comic strip Bloom County would probably find traces of one of them classic strips and pelt me with tomatoes for being so unoriginal. Well, I apologize. I had my back against the wall and I still hadn't fixed the build up and punchline of the strip. I swear on the hairs of Bill the Cat's chinny chin chin it won't happen again. I promise.

* West Side is published weekly in Philippine News.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

It's been a while since I went out by myself so I grabbed the opportunity to do so when I found a break from the flurry of schedules. Dinner consisted of two strawberry shakes and chicken sotanghon (Jollibee's latest offering in their menu). And though usually myriad thoughts fly through my mind during these mall excursions I felt I was navigating on automatic pilot all throughout. The 'ol noggin's blank and still resting in bed.

Monday, July 05, 2004

I deviated from the usual practice of doing the comic strip early in the afternoon here at the house and did it in one of the quiet cafés nearby. The change was good and I got really inspired by the change of scenery, finishing the whole thing ahead of schedule (drawing the stuff usually takes three hours and I did in two), scanned, colored, and lettered the whole strip in another record breaking time of two hours and sent it to the paper. Though I'm rather disappointed with the background I used. I couldn't find the stock photos I took from school. I'll probably change it later. I dunno.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Happy but very, very exhausted. Me and my brother went out past 10 pm after getting a go signal from Harold. We were to fetch them at the Traders Hotel that time after the FAP Awards ceremony. Harold was happy about the given opportunity to hobnob with the glitterati of local showbiz, but he wasn't beaming since he didn't know who's who among the stars. What he was raving about was the speech given by the old actor given the Lifetime Achievement Award (he didn't catch the name) that rally the directors, producers, actors, and actresses to bring back the old glory of local cinema when we were the ones teaching all of Asia on how to do it. Before proceeding to Eastwood to check out the clubs, we went to Aristrocrat Restaurant in Malate to meet with an old friend of Harold's from Hawaii. She's origin ally from Batangas and she's here on a 7 month respite to visit her mother. From there we went to Eastwood City to check out the famous Manila nightlife. Of course in this perspective, the nightlife visitors to Mahila are expecting are inside the clubs with throbbing music and gyrating bodies. Since I didn't go for that kind of thing (I'm more of the talks-in-quiet-cafés sort of person) suggesting that we go to Eastwood City was a mistake. Clubs in this area are frequented kids whose age ranges from high school seniors to sophomore college students. The rest of the folks frequenting the area were contented to sit inside restos and outdoor cafés bonding among themselves. Now, I'd also like to point out the annoying habit of Filipinos staring long after the object of their stares have stared back. Be as it may that our guests came from a formal ceremony, Harold's girlfriend May was still decked out in a black number and shawl (Harold brought an extra shirt with him so he was able to do a quick change), some of the folks sitting outside the places we passed by stared rudely and longer than normal as if was their first time to see someone wearing a formal dress. I coould excuse them if they stared out of curiosity and continued on with their business but this wasn't the case here. They stared and mockingly smiled even if we stared back at them. I've half the mind to walk over to them and start asking what their problem is but I thought better than to sink down to their level. We brought them home feeling a bit disappointed after going one round the area. On the way home we discussed the possible places we could go to when they come back, like Greenbelt 3 where people our age mostly hang out.

Earlier today, right after the morning service at The Fort, we fetched Harold at Ate Emmie's place to be able to start reshooting Kris' part in the group's AVP. The AVP's actually 92% finished, it just needs a little tweaking here and there. Besides, being a Fil-Am group that hopes to highlight the Filipino's creativity they thought it would be nice to show a familiar Manila landmark as a backdrop in contrast to the others' backdrop showing downtown San Francisco and the SF Bay. We were already set to start filming when two security guards stopped us from doing so and told us taking videos around Luneta Park is illegal and a permit should be secured before doing so. I don't know about taking photos but we're thinking "What the- Is this some kind of parody for the 9/11 thing?" like an Abu Sayaff member would commandeer a Philippine Airlines or Cebu Pacific plane and crash it on top of the Rizal Monument? We were directed to the office of the head honcho at the other side of the park and what they told us was that they had bad experiences in the past when people would take videos of the Rizal Monument and use it to put down the country or something. Something like Michael Moore taking shots of the White House and using it in Farenheit 9/11 or something. Before we left the place we drove by the monument two times taking guerilla shots of park. I suggested we try the Remedios Circle and the Bay Walk along Roxas Boulevard but there still wasn't enough outstanding features for it to be recognizable as Manila. Harold said that he wants a shot of the cityscape of Manila with its requisite tall buildings. That's when Kris had the brilliant idea to shoot inside Fort Bonifacio where a nice view of the cityscape of Ortigas Center could be seen in the distance. We went there and got to set up the shoot near the Filipino-American World War II Cemetery. The whole thing took many takes because Kris kept fumbling his lines. Then we looked for a Jeepney terminal where we could shoot the whole thing again as an alternative to the cityscape shots. We finished shooting around 3:40 p.m. and we brought Harold to the bus station in Pasay. He was going to join May (who went ahead of him earlier that morning) and her dad in Olongapo and from there they would be catching a flight back to San Francisco tomorrow night at 10:30 p.m. I'm going right to sleep right after this. Never mind dinner.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

We had another great time last night which started very late in the afternoon when me, my friend Jo, my brother Kris, and Harold held a meeting at Starbucks, in Annapolis Street, Greenhills to discuss the plans for The Filament team here in Manila. It was a short meeting since we still had to pick up May in one of the salons dotting the Greenhills area, pick up their charcoal portraits, and meet Harold's cousin's family for dinner.

After leaving Greenhills, we dropped Jo off in Pasay and we went ahead to the lone commercial area in Macapagal Avenue (I forgot what's it called) to meet up with Harold's cousin, Ate Emmie and her family. Originally, I thought we were going to be dining out in Dampa near the airport but Pantalan Maynila was suggested so off we went. Harold's nephew, Keg rode with us in the car and we all had a great time getting acquainted with each other. He's a lively kid at fourteen, very vivacious and knowledgeable about a lot of things. We learned later that his schoolmates tended not to pull their punches and called him names, so he prefers the company of adults more. There was a good flow of conversation that time practically flew by without us noticing that it was already late in the evening.

Ate Emmie, Kuya Rommel, May, Harold, me, Kris, and Keg

While earlier today we woke up extra early to fetch Harold so we could sit down with Mowelfund's Chairman Nick Deocampo to discuss a possible partnership between the two companies with regards to one of the major projects The Filament has. We had a hard time finding where Mowelfund is in New Manila. Everyone we asked, it seems, had different ideas where the street we're looking for was located. Or they didn't have any idea at all. At the time it was like looking for a needle in the haystack and it's as if went in every street available in the area. When we found the place, we were about six minutes late for our appointment. But it didn't matter much since it also slipped Mr. Deocampo's mind and with profuse apologies through the phone, he asked that we meet in a nearby café called Green Eggs and Blue Bacon (or is it the other way around?). It's a quaint little café cum resto that caters to the artsy-fartsy types.

When Mr. Deocampo arrived, my brother Kris opened the discussion with a little bit of background of the group and asking some questions about the history of Mowelfund. We let Mr. Deocampo talk about the reasons that led to the foundation's establishment (we found out that "Mowelfund" means "Movie Workers Welfare Foundation", interesting eh?), how it manages to survive, all the film projects and festivals they've handled and the deplorable state of local cinema. After getting all the information out in the open, Harold opened the group's proposal for a possible partnership with the foundation. Mr. Deocampo seems impressed with the goals laid out before him and told us to pass the necessary papers for review. Then he offered to take us on a tour of Mowelfund's building while telling us the plans for the upper floors which are as yet unfinished.

Nick Deocampo exlaining plans for the different floors.

When we left the place to go to Ate Emmie's place (where Harold and May are staying for the meantime) we discussed everything that had just transpired and we were all in agreement that everything's good and the possibilities for the success of this partnership are endless. It's just a matter of discussing it with the other members of the group. We ate our lunch there and afterwards Harold showed us one of the documentaries he's directed and one of the group's first project about Filipinos in America (I'm keeping my lips zipped about this project but the idea is so good and so inspiring that even Mr. Deocampo himself was interested in securing the rights to showing it in the next indie film festival here). We made our critiques about the documentary and Harold agrees that the editing still needs work. Then afterwards he and May got ready to attend the Film Academy Awards Night at the CCP. One of his best friends here secured two invitations to the formal event. We dropped them off near the entrance and he told us to get ready later since we might be going out again to check out the clubs for a taste of the famous Manila nightlife. I'll be needing all the hours I could get from hereon to catch up on my sleep.

Friday, July 02, 2004

I received an email out of the blue from a fellow cartoonist way out there in Boston, Massachusetts. His name's Lawrence San (I thought at first that he was a fellow Filipino). He informed me about an old portfolio site that I put up about a couple of years ago when I didn't know anything about HTML (I still don't know much about that stuff but I made some a little bit of progress since then). Right now I sort of regret putting up my portfolio in a site that requires a log-in registration. Anyway, it was a great surprise for me to read shout-outs from here and there. I also checked out his site (Cartoon Stories for Thoughtful People) which is pretty cool. I mean "deep freeze" cool. His cartoons don't talk about the usual stuff that can be found in the dailies but rather he uses them to ponder on the deeper side of life. Those that we think about during the times we're alone and philosophize on the Why's of life. Check out also his new blog Creative Notebook, where he discusses his thoughts about them creative stuff that goes on behind the scenes. These are real good stuff and I'm hoping to be able to talk with him more.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

It was full and exhausting day for us yesterday. I wasn't surprised since my brother warned me about it the other day. What happened was we took his Fil-Am friend Harold and his girlfriend, May around Metro Manila for a tour, since they're only here for only two weeks to settle some business. They've been staying with with Mae's relatives in Olongapo the past week and they arrived in Manila only last Tuesday. By the way, Harold's a short-film director and one of the founding members of a multimedia group called The Filament (my brother's one of the core members).

The tour started after a bank errand (those people behind the counter need to realize that they need to start moving in real time!) we first went to the Powerplant Mall in Rockwell Center to have our lunch. On the way there Harold took a shot of one of the most notorious landmarks we have along EDSA - the pink urinals. He took a video of this little curiosity for a few minutes while we waited inside the car. Then afterwards he went down again and took another shot of the Joya Lofts and Towers where they're looking to buy or rent a unit after seeing it promoted in the Bay Area. We took them to the basement area where majority of the restaurants were located. We picked a Mediterranean resto since they wanted something different and the others were already too crowded. Then we transferred to the store next door for dessert before going upstairs to check out the Joya Loft showroom. We were properly impressed with what we saw and Harold's resolve to get one for the group was firmly cemented. Then we checked out this nearby optical shop and they were floored by the extreme affordability of them prescription glasses (around $70 compared to the $400-$700 back home). They spent a good amount of time picking out the ones they like before going upstairs to buy advance tickets to the Spider-man 2 movie showing.

Afterwards, they brought me home to help with some chores while they proceeded to go to Greenhills to buy some stuff they needed back home. They didn't get back till after four hours later and in between the powerline in this neighborhood kept going out like crazy (storms can do funny things to the powerline). We went out again with one and half hours to spare for dinner. Since Harold have been hearing a lot about the nightlife in Eastwood City, Libis we thought it be more appropriate to have our dinner there. We picked a resto called Something Fishy which, according to my brother, has a proven fast service compared to the others.

Full fishy diners (left to right): me, my brother Kris, Harold, and May

After dinner we raced back to the Powerplant Mall to catch the last showing of Spider-man 2. The credits were already rolling when we got in and missed some of the earlier Alex Ross art being shown. The movie's more than great and we were raving about it and we also talked about the planned sequel/s for the film (I read before that actor Tobie Maguire signed up for 2 movies so I'm not sure if there's going to be a 4th movie). By then it was nearly midnight and we took them home to Harold's cousin's house in Las Piñas where they're staying during the duration of their stay in Manila. On the way their we talked about various projects that The Filament could get into, his network of friends working in the SFX field in Hollywood, and my inclusion in their coregroup (YEHEY!!!). After that we went home happy as a clam and very excited about future prospects in this group.

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