Monday, June 27, 2011

OMG! I was at the wrong awarding event!

I have attended countless events in the past which were mostly related to my profession as a marketing consultant. I had few opportunities attending affairs that mainly cater to celebrities and which I consider purely “rest and socialization” rather than work. Since I don’t get to experience these a lot, and I rarely get to watch TV at home these days, I am not really familiar about the latest buzz on the most talked-about personalities, much more with the not-yet-known or upcoming stars.

As much as I’m compelled to write more about the main juice of the event and the showbiz crowds, which I’m sure movie and entertainment writers and bloggers would be coming out with their own versions of the same thing, I decided to feature another angle which highlighted an unforgettable funny experience.

Last week, my wife passed on to me an invite for the first  Yahoo OMG! Awards. It was said to be the first of its kind to acknowledge the most searched and the most talked about showbiz personalities in the Philippine entertainment circle. The event was held in one of the hottest social gathering hubs in the metro – Republiq Club in Resorts World, Pasay city.

It was my first time to visit the place and I found myself grasping my way to get there. As I approached the marquee entrance of Resorts World, it was hard not to notice limousine services and luxury cars piling up. One by one, famous celebs disembarked from their vehicles in their gala evening attires.

My attention was quickly captured by Ms. Sandy Andolong wearing an elegant evening gown. Beside her, of course, was Mr. Christopher De Leon in a fine black bow-tie suit. The lobby, by then, was already crowded with fans and media people trying to get snap shots and ambush interviews with some of the stars who came in early. I didn’t bother to ask for directions since I assumed most of the people were going to the same place anyway. So I just went with the flow.

As I was about to enter the venue, the atmosphere became filled with the glitters and glamour of famous showbiz personalities as they cruised on the red carpet in their evening designer collection gowns and suits. From there, I began to wonder because I never thought that the Yahoo! event would be that formal. The brief I got from my wife (who couldn’t attend because she had to cover Cirque du Soleil’s Varekai for was that the event would be a cocktail party type with some casual preppy type of crowd.

As I went inside, I showed the receptionist the purple invitation from Yahoo! but she didn’t bother opening it. She just handed me an entrance ticket (which I also didn’t bother looking at) while another guide ushered me to my seat. I was already sitting comfortably when I heard the names of Boy Abunda and Aiai Delas Alas introduced as the masters of ceremonies. I was further surprised that, as they ran down the lists of sponsors, Yahoo! was never mentioned.

That was the moment I became worried and frantically texted a friend who was supposedly there already. After a few text messages and a little bit of confusion out of ignorance, I realized I was in the wrong event. For almost 20 minutes, there I was watching the PMPC Star Awards Night all along! OMG! So, I immediately stepped out of the venue went to Republiq as directed by my friend.

Finally, I got inside the right venue. My friend, Jeman, with a silly grin on his face, guided me inside making sure I won’t be lost again. Within the cordoned-off section of Republiq, I found familiar faces both in the entertainment and the media circuit having their own fun time socializing with Yahoo! OMG nominees.

Guests and celebs alike enjoyed the bottomless drinks open bar night courtesy of Absolut Vodka with cocktail food being served by roving waiters as the crowd awaited the opening of the program. I’m not the social drinking type so I tried to control my alcohol intake to the barest minimum of my capacity because I know it could be a long night.

There, I had a chance to talk to Sam Concepcion who I’m quite familiar with and who I congratulated for bagging the Most Awesome Young Actor Award that night. I also got to have my photo taken with Mr. Jim Paredes who was there as a nominee presenter. He mentioned his upcoming solo project entitled Butong Pakwan which quite intrigued me as I started to wonder how he would sound like singing solo. Let’s wait and see, I guess.

As the crowd grew thicker, I noticed the ever gorgeous Ms. Carmi Martin standing right beside me and who was chatting with Angelu De Leon who is stunningly beautiful as well. I was also introduced to a new aspiring talent named Rez Toledo of Someday Dream, a young man who has quickly captured the hearts of young audiences with his electronic music genre. He is being managed by Champ of the former alternative pop-band Hale.

The hosts, JM Rodriguez and Andi Manzano, did a pretty good job in keeping the night lively and the crowd pumped up. It was exciting meeting a lot of celebrities that seemed more than I could handle in one night. As the evening progressed and  while surrounded by old and new friends, celebs and non-celebs alike, I began to realize my glass was never left empty as if it’s being refilled by somebody. I don’t know. That’s the time I decided to go home before I cross my limits and end waking up in somebody else’s house the next morning.

In the heat of the night, I bid goodbye to those who were still enjoying themselves and took nothing but pictures (courtesy of and memories. After all, events like these rarely come often in a lifetime. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Movie Review: Mr. Popper’s Penguin

Jim Carrey is certainly one of my favorite Hollywood personalities because he never fails to reinvent himself. He started out sky-rocketing his career in the big screen with his one-of-a kind loony antics before shifting to playing several laid-back and serious characters. Because of his transition, for a while, many thought his comical genius ideas have grown thin. He then slowly inched his way out from that short period of hibernation and metamorphosized into another new look giving his avid fans another fresh Jim Carrey entertainment perspective.

I’m glad he went through that kind of slow transformation --- from being known for dim-flexi-slapstick-manic antic comedy to playing mature and sometimes lucid comical characters. Perhaps his body and facial morphing can only go so far, especially for somebody who is almost 50. Nevertheless, he has proven over time that he can take on ordinary characters like a lawyer, a salesman, or a newscaster and remain humorously entertaining.

Last week I had fun time watching Mr. Popper’s Penguins which is based on a 1930’s children’s book by Richard and Florence Atwater. In the movie, as much as a lot of things were changed to fit the modern context, the plot was pretty much generally the same as the book. Carrey’s character, Tom Popper, represents the typical business sales rookie who wanted to prove his worth among his company’s bigwig partners. Facing a life of anxiety from a divorce, Popper tries his best to juggle his life trying to be an ideal father to his two kids and clinching business deals to get him to the top his career.

In the midst of his busy life, he was suddenly confronted with an inheritance -- six penguins from his long lost dad who has passed away. Faced with a major dilemma that adds another obstacle to his already chaotic business career and personal life, he then later realized that the problem he wanted to get rid of so badly became the vehicle to the solution to his misery.

This vintage story, found in children books for decades, is now resurrected in a fun-filled movie that is glazed by Jim Carrey’s comic wonders and bundled with a winter wonderland theme in a kind of National Geographic sort of way. It’s something that’s great to watch with the whole family.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Race Review: My Merrell Adventure Run Experience

June 18, 2011
The 2nd Merrell Adventure Run
Timberland Heights, San Mateo, Rizal

At around 3:00am yesterday, protecting ourselves from a little bit of rain shower, my wife  (you can read her version of this event here) and I left home and boarded a bus that will take us to Batasan, Commonwealth in Quezon City. There, we took a cab which brought us to Timberland Heights, San Mateo Rizal. This was the venue of the 2nd Merrell Adventure Run, one of the most awaited trail running race of outdoor enthusiasts and both leisure and competitive seasoned runners in Metro Manila. According to Merrell people, this is by far the most challenging course they have organized.

On our way up to the venue, cars started to pile up as we navigated our way up the steep hills of San Mateo, Rizal. We arrived at the race course at exactly 5:30am, 15 minutes before the gun start for the 21km racers.

I had some trail running experiences in the past but this would be my first ever trail race in a course and terrain I am not familiar with. Having some running experience in both flats and trails, I was a bit confident I can finish a 10km run but my wife (who was worried about my safety given that I was recently diagnosed with diabetes) asked me to register two weeks ago for the 5km race instead.

As we toured ourselves around, we were greeted by familiar faces and friends from Merrell who ushered us to the Merrell booth where the new line-up of trail running shoes were on display including the most talked about Barefoot series. I was glad and proud to show them my Trail Glove which I bought especially for the race.

Considering the unpredictability of the weather, I was surprised to see swarms of people gracing the event. According to the organizers, more than 1,500 runners registered for the race and everybody seemed very excited as I was. It was our first time in Timberland Heights and we found the place spectacular because the views were really breathtaking. As we waited for the 5km race to start, my wife and I took photos of the runners and the picturesque background.

Shortly after the 10km participants set off, I took time to do a little bit of stretching and merged with the 5km crowd. According to the announcer, 5km runners were estimated to be 800+ and I was near the far end of the crowd. After the gun shot, it took me a while to cross the starting line due to the large volume of runners. And because of the rough terrain, a lot of runners in front of me were slow in getting their paces. So I tried to navigate and go pass them to catch up with the lead pack.

The terrain was challenging indeed. The pathway along the 1st kilometer was a mix of mud and loose rocks with a combination of dried leaves and grass on the sides of the trail. The 2nd kilometer was mostly uphill along a narrow path which is very slippery. As I was about to catch up to the lead pack, I felt a sudden call of nature. For a while, I tried to ignore it and stay focused.

But as I was nearing the 3rd kilometer leg, I could not hold it much longer and was forced to take a detour beside a bushy portion of the trail to unload the contents my bladder. As I was doing my thing, there was a bit of comic relief because several runners followed and peed beside me. At least, I had people to share my embarrassment with as five to ten runners who were passing us found it funny.

With the time lost from the short detour, it became harder for me to catch up with the leading runners. Much as I tried to increase my speed to regain the time I lost, the trail became narrower and more challenging. After a very steep climb, and as I felt I was about to lose my breath, we came to a plateau where water stations are placed. The last stretch was a steep descent and very muddy but I felt quite smug because my shoes were not holding as much mud while others had to slow down to try and kick off as much mud as they can from their shoes.

photo borrowed from KB Photography

I did gain my second wind but it was too late. The lead pack has left me behind. Still, I pushed myself a little further and tried to finish the run as fast as I could. Based on the unofficial results, I crossed the finish line with a clock time of 40min. 07sec. I ranked 66th out of 800+ finishers. Not bad for a first trail run.

After that very tiring and very challenging race, runners were encouraged to cool-down in an open air shower line where everybody can rinse the sweat and mud from our bodies. As I dried myself off, I was greeted by a few Merrell people and I shared with them the excellent performance of the Merrell Barefoot Trail Glove I wore.

I didn’t get any place in this race but at least I, and a couple of other hopefuls, had fun posing as my wife took photos of us on top of the winners’ podium while we continue to nurture dreams of becoming champions someday.

As we boarded the bus for home, I recollected my journey and was grateful at the new found wisdom I gained from my short training period on barefoot running, the recuperation from minor injuries, and the lessons learned from mistakes committed.

Through all these, I felt really happy that I was able to do so much sans any high rank or medals. For me, that is already one heck of an adventure :)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Training on Barefoot Running

For barefoot running neophytes, it is said that in order to achieve the substantial strength needed to endure a trail race, ideally, one must do training for a period of 40 days. But since the Merrell Adventure Run happens in less than two weeks from the time I bought the shoes and because I was already running for quite some time, I thought of slashing my training period to 8 days.

Mistake number 1: Training periods are designed for a good reason. Never do short-cuts.

The following is my 8-day training journal on barefoot running and some mistakes I made that should not be followed and I hope you learn lessons from:


I started my run around 4pm to 5pm and began with my routine stretching exercises. I added more focus on calf and lower-calf extensions, calf flexing, and lunges. My training course is located in the undeveloped area of Filinvest’s Corporate City Complex in Alabang. The road is paved with asphalt and is free from debris.

In order for me to feel and accustom myself with the roughness of the terrain, I first walked for 1.5km on my bare feet -- just an intimate encounter with the road and my soles. However, I don’t suggest this type of warm up if your training course comes with potholes and loose pebbles.

I was too excited to do barefoot running in the right form, I focused a lot on doing away with heel-strike running and tried my best to do middle foot landing. Being new at this, it was like running on tiptoes most of the time and which, I supposed, made me look ridiculous.

The recommended distance for this should be 1 to 3km of brisk walking or short stride running. Since I was pressed for time, I decided to extend my distance to 5km. Once I got the light weight feeling and bounciness, I switched to longer strides.

Shortly after, I felt soreness on my calves which, according to the instructional video, is normal so I just slowed down for just a bit. After a while, the soreness on the calves extended to my lower calves. That was the time I decided to stop and went home.

Mistake number 2: Never overdo warm-ups. This might lead to injury.


I woke up the next day feeling Day 1 was a disaster only to find out that Day 2 would be even worse. I felt like my calves and the rest of my feet were about to explode. It’s like running for the very first time where certain muscle groups were suddenly awakened from long years of dormancy.

To ease the pain, I took pain relievers and analgesics thrice that day. Walking around or even standing for a long period of time became a challenge. Running would further be impossible. I searched in the internet for some quick remedies or some kind of self-management therapy but to no avail. Most of the seasoned barefoot runners were recommending to just wait it out as healing will take time.

A brief review on human anatomy: Muscles are like rubber bands. If certain muscles become unused for a certain period time, they lose their elasticity. When that happens and we decide immediately to do a tedious physical regimen, muscles will tear. That is why it is recommended to have sufficient warm-up and stretching before running.


It’s seven days before the run and I can barely walk. All recommendations I read told me to wait for the muscles to heal. In order to reduce the feeling of immobility, I decided to cross-train and go biking. I started to do gradual stretching three to four times the whole day before I took pain reliever meds.

I did this because I didn’t want to totally block-off the pain while I stretched and to know my limits if movements become too painful. I needed to be reminded that my muscles were still in the healing stage and I didn’t want to tear them again by overdoing the stretches.


Biking is a good cross-training discipline because it involves another group of muscles used for the circular motion as you pedal. Somehow, it isolates the ones which are still recuperating and it doesn’t hurt as much as walking.

I divided my cross-training regimen into three parts. At 8am I biked for 6km and maintained a slow, constant RPM using the middle ring for an easy leisure ride. In the afternoon, I did more gradual stretching with indoor lunges and upper body toning like push-ups and pull-ups. In the evening after work, I repeated my 6km biking regimen again.


The soreness and pains have slowly worn off. A friend of mine suggested I wear the Barefoot shoes again even if I’m not running. To be honest, after the traumatic experience, I felt a little apprehensive of wearing them again just yet. But I knew I needed to conquer this obstacle.

So just again, just to get the feel of the shoes, I wore them while doing about almost everything -- when I biked, as I worked, did my usual chores, bought groceries with my wife, etc.

It worked. After the end of the day, I was at peace with the shoes again.


It’s three days before the run and I felt my preparation was a complete mess. So I decided that this day would comprise my self-assessment depending on the result of my run after 5 days of recuperation.

To bare or not to bare was the day’s question.

I started with a few breathing exercises followed by gradual stretching. I tackled the first km with a leisure walk. After the 1km mark, I stretched again focusing on the calves and lower calves. So far, so good.

And then I ran in small strides focusing on my form while maintaining a consistent slow pace. After 5kms, I felt a solid core. Shortly after, I decided to run some more and raise my game a little higher. After the 10km stretch, I was on top it.


I decided to run again for two reasons:

One, I needed to know if I’m up to endure the steep hills of Timberland Heights in San Mateo, Rizal.

Two, I needed to reserve the last day for rest and for preparation. In the morning, I felt a little soreness on my calves but it was manageable. I was consistent in my daily stretching at home and my morning bike ride. In the afternoon, I ran another 10km and I felt great after.


Today, I rested. I reviewed my training journal for the whole week and, despite the setbacks, it was all good.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Movie Review: Green Lantern

I have always been a fan of super hero comic books as soon as I knew how to read them. I vividly remember my Dad bringing them home from Clark Field Air Base, Pampanga when he still served in the Philippine Air Force. Those were the days I was introduced to heroes like Superman, Batman and all the rest of the popular ones who wear their undergarments over tight pants with matching capes and masks. I used to think those were ridiculous costumes.

Since I was then too young to appreciate them, the comic books became my big brother’s property. Mischievous toddler that I was, I found that the only way I could enjoy those comics was to add some artwork of my own by drawing permanent colored pens on every page. Expectedly, that made my brother very furious at the time.

Through the years, the comic books were eventually destroyed. Some pages became the favorite snacks of our resident rodents while several floods took care of the rest. It was only during my teenage years when I realized their value and importance. That was the time I started collecting copies of my own. Unfortunately, I needed to save money from my meager allowance to buy them.

Around the time I began enjoying reading comics, I discovered my talent in sketching and art. I guess my drawing practices during my toddler years paid off after all. Among the super heroes I liked to draw were Batman and Green Lantern because they are two of the few comic book superheroes who are humans.

It’s great that technology in motion pictures progressed over the years such that cinematography and special effects became so amazingly realistic and fascinating especially when used in films adapted from comic books.

I’m so thankful that a friend from Warner Bros. Philippines invited me to watch the premier showing of Green Lantern yesterday with my wife. Prior to the screening, I had the chance to meet some DC / Green Lantern aficionados with their matching green lantern shirts and glowing rings. With them, I was able to rehash my comic day memories and as we swapped Green lantern stories, I double checked with the “experts” some details I might have missed.

For guys like me who have some comic books background, the movie is one great film to see. The character that Ryan Reynolds portrayed in the film as a cocky, easy-go-lucky, and immature guy fits the personality of Hal Jordan and how he was described in DC comics. The voices of Geoffrey Rush and Michael Clark Duncan were also a perfect match for popular Green Lantern characters Tomar-Re and Kilowog respectively.

The special effects and CGIs were also fantastic. But since the story revolved around the beginnings of Green Lantern, it dwelled more on the story and dialogues and less on the action and fight scenes which I would have liked to see the most. I was expecting more of the stuff of what the power ring can do. Still, all these cool stuff were amplified by the 3D effects which added dimension to the scenes.

DC comics “hardcore” experts, who criticized some details of the film, were also generally satisfied about the production’s turn out. I was able to have a chance to meet some of them in their full cosplay Green lantern outfits. We even had our photos taken with “Sinestro” because he really looked the part.

You know, when you think about it, if the powers of a Green Lantern come from imagination and will, then all of us can be superheroes. Just a thought.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Hunt for Running Shoes Part 2: Discovering MERRELL’S Barefoot Trail Glove

(NOTE: Part 1 of this post can be found here.)

Very recently, I was introduced to a new line of running shoes by Merrell called the Barefoot Collection. I was fortunate to meet someone from Merrell two Saturdays ago who oriented me about the products' features and encouraged me to test one in the upcoming Merrell Adventure Run at Timberland Heights, San Mateo Rizal on the 18th. 

I became excited because although I had some trail running experiences in the past, it will be my first official Trail Run Race. Five days later, I visited the Merrell store in Festival Mall, Alabang and registered for the run. I also checked out the Barefoot line of shoes.

First good impressions

I tried several styles and sizes and landed on the Trail Glove model. I was told that the recommended ideal fitting should be almost the same length of one’s foot to give a contour feeling as the shoes hug the feet. The lace adjustment in the middle-foot area acts as stability support – this is an advantage for people like me with high-arched feet.

One thing I noticed right away is that even if the shoes fit snugly, the cavity in the toe area is much more spacious and allowed my toes to move in all directions. So, aside from registering for the race, I also caved in and bought myself a pair of Merrell's Trail Glove shoes.

Read my post about training with Merrell’s Trail Glove next.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Wooden Horse: Serving Delicious and Affordable Steaks

The first steak experience I had happened many years ago when the president of the company I used to work for treated me and my colleagues to a popular steak house in Makati for a “job well done” celebration. If I remember correctly, the steak was approximately a ½ kilo slab of rib-eye, certified Angus beef priced at a staggering P800 per plate. This was in the early 90’s.

The second time I had an Angus treat was a couple years ago in another well known steak resto in Pasay, courtesy of gift certificates my wife was given by a client. Prices of what I ate need not be discussed because they were so unjustifiably expensive. Even if I had the bucks to pay for it, I would surely have had second thoughts of splurging my money for a steak treat with the thought that the cost would already cover the budget of an average Pinoy family for a week.

The gastronomical indulgence only came once-in-a blue moon for me; 15 years apart to be exact. But the tastes and the experiences still lingered every time I remember them. Nowadays, with the sky-rocketing prices of basic commodities, the only luxury I could afford is to dream of eating high quality, true-blue steak.

And yet, sometimes, dreams still do come true. My wife and I recently met with a client at the Wooden Horse Steak House located at the Molito Complex, near Ayala Alabang. It was exciting just thinking about eating another steak meal. I like the restaurant’s interior which comes in a typical western rustic design. We were received warmly by the restaurant crew dressed in their savvy cowboy attires.

Anticipating high menu prices, I was surprised to see that they are relatively low compared to my expectations. Imagine, a P360+ top blade certified Angus beef exists in Wooden Horse!

Just like in any fine dining establishment, we were served with whole wheat house bread dipped in balsamic vinegar sprinkled with parmesan, followed by a clam chowder soup specially prepared by their resident chef. Other entrée dishes were served such as a seafood mix baked in cheese, eggs and rice. I had a wonderful time eating them while we waited for the main course which is the top blade steak. 

I was even enlightened by a bit of cattle education shared to us by our client regarding beef-cuts and parts. He said that there is a part on a cow’s shoulder, called the top blade, which seldom moves thus making it very tender. The steak was served in a hot sizzling plate, glazed with special sauce and coupled with a side dish of mixed vegetables sautéed in butter and garlic. One special feature of this top blade is the intricate preparation of the chef where he painstakingly removes the tough ligaments marbled within the meat. All that’s left is 100% pure tender beef served on your plate.

I had the most enjoyable time at the Wooden Horse Steak House. And this time around, I would no longer wonder when I could afford to eat steak meals at least once in a while. Finally, a steak meal no longer remains food for the gods but food for average Joes like me as well.

To see other photos and read my wife's review of Wooden Horse, visit her blog here.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Hunt for Running Shoes Part I: Discovering Barefoot Running

I’ve been running for more than two years now and alongside it is cross-training with a mountain bike during weekends or every so often. But even with this kind of physical regimen, I felt that I was not achieving my best form.

A few months back, a friend of mine mentioned something about “barefoot running”. This is actually a way of running using a type of shoe that makes one feel like running in one’s bare feet. When I asked around, I was enlightened by some new insights about this new kind of running form.

A New Running Culture

Many experts say most conventional runners land on their heels which receive most of the shock-load of the body as you run. It’s called the heel-strike. No wonder most of the running shoes available today have better cushion on the heel part and in other parts of the sole to lessen the pressure on the feet.

As footwear technology progressed over the years, running shoes have become more cushioned, more protected, and more light-weight. As a result, certain muscle groups in a runner’s feet, calves and legs become lethargic in a way because they are now seldom used thereby limiting a runner’s fullest potentials to run longer, faster, and stronger.

A Brief Review on Vibram’s FiveFingers

As I became more curious, I stumbled upon an interesting product called FiveFingers by Vibram. I found it so radical the way the shoes’ design conforms to a runner’s feet including the toes. Since Vibram made it, I felt it might be worth the purchase. I got so excited; I almost bought myself a pair. But I decided to ask for more information from seasoned runners and shoe experts before making a final decision.

Through conversations, I gathered stories of actual experiences of people who actually bought and used FiveFingers on different terrains. I got extreme responses! For some breeds of barefoot runners, they said the shoes’ performance was excellent. Sad to say for some, they found the shoes less than satisfactory. Their discontent stemmed from reasons that range from small blisters to excruciatingly painful ones as well as the death of several toenails.

From these contradictory feedbacks, I came to the conclusion that the main reason could be because not all toes are created symmetrically equal. Even for one person, extremities are somehow different from the other. For example, it is very common that many women openly express that one breast is bigger than the other while some guys complain that a testicle sagged more than its pair.

As for me, I grew up knowing that my left foot is a bit bigger than my right foot and that the index toe on both feet are overly extended. I’d guess it’s genetics because I’ve seen the similarities of my dad’s toes to mine.

So, if I wear a pair of FiveFingers in a size that can accommodate the length of my overly-extended index toe, it will be too loose for the rest of my toes. On the other hand, if I get a size that will fit most of my toes, the shoe will be too tight for my index toe. This is not ideal because the shoe will give my index toe too much pressure as I run. You see, barefoot running involves landing on the middle of the foot and not on the heel like in conventional running form.

I’ve seen a lot of peoples’ feet and toes and many of them have their own “deformities” to share. Fortunately for those who were blessed with equally symmetrical toe lengths, the FiveFingers will fit them like a glove. But for others like me who were created “less than perfect”, we will have to look for other types. And that is exactly what I did. 

Read Part 2 of this writeup here.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Movie Review: Kung Fu Panda 2

It seems like martial arts movies, particularly kung fu movies, have never been as popular anywhere in the world than in the Philippines. Most especially among the guys, martial arts movie stars like Bruce Lee and Jacky Chan, among others, have become inspirations for some Filipino men’s machismo image. As for me, I’ll admit I’m not much of a fan of martial arts films. They don’t appeal to me much unless the movie is breaded with humor and comedy. That’s the only time I find delight in watching them.

Among the very few kung fu movies I enjoyed watching was Kung Fu Panda. The comic clumsy character of Po perfectly matched the personality of Jack Black. I’ve see many Jack Black movies and I enjoyed every single one of them.

When my wife was invited to watch the premier screening of Kung Fu Panda 2, I looked forward to watching it with her. Unfortunately the invites were limited so I wasn’t able to tag along. It’s a good thing one of her PR friends gave her free Ayala Mall movie passes a week after so I brought three of my kids to Glorietta 4 last weekend. Since the boys saw the film already (courtesy of another screening sponsored by HP Philippines), they chose to see another movie while I went to watch Kung Fu Panda 2 all by myself in peace and without interruptions.

Along with the new twists in the story, I was glad to see the Furious Five again with their individual Kung Fu style moves plus new animal characters in the movie animatedly brought to life by the voices of popular movie stars like Jean Claude Van Damme, Gary Oldman and Michelle Yeo.

In part one, there were certain unsettled differences that surrounded Po’s personal past and which were finally reconciled in the sequel. Po’s personal conflict was also resolved when he discovered his inner peace that consequently became his ultimate weapon in defeating the enemy.

At the end of the film, audiences were treated with a sneak peek. There’s an open-ended scene that will surely raise everybody’s anticipation for more panda action soon.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Runner by Choice

I've always considered myself to be a sporty type of a person, but I am more into sports that don’t involve ball games. When I was still a student, I tried playing volleyball and basketball several times just to impress a girl, but failed miserably. There was even a scene that became a laughing memorabilia for some of my friends (including the girl) which completely shattered my future basketball career. So, I became reconciled to the reality that I will never be good in playing with balls other than the ones attached to myself :)

From then on, I got more involved in something that I believed have a much lower “learning curve” requirement – running. How hard can it be when I’ve been doing that all my life?

photo borrowed from

So I started running short distances because it wore me out easily. For a while, I found it enjoyable and relaxing after every run, until busyness with other things took over my priorities. Eventually, it came to a point where short distance running became short distance walking. And then I got too lazy to go out of the house to run or even just walk.

My preoccupation with work and being lethargic for almost a year made me pay a hefty price. My blood sugar level sky rocketed. This was made worse by a genetic history of diabetes from both sides of my family. Last April, I was finally diagnosed with diabetes.

I became alarmed with my health condition but was too confident to see an expert. I decided to self-diagnose by going back to running and eradicating rice in my diet all at once. The change was drastic although I thought I was getting myself back on track, unaware of an impending danger from the self-medicating regimen.

Running again became an almost daily routine. I wanted to lower down my blood sugar level so bad that for almost one week of strict diet without a single grain of rice or any carbs for energy, I decided to increase my running distance from 3km to 6.6km. And it worked! The run was so effective; it became a life and death situation for me. My sugar level went dangerously low and I experienced hypoglycemia. I was nearly unconscious when my wife rushed me to the hospital.

I was confined for four days and all the doctors and nurses were so baffled by my stupid stunt. All told me that I could have ended up in a diabetic coma if I waited a little longer. Upon discharge, I was prescribed proper medication, diet, and exercise, this time under the management of specialists.

I learned several lessons from my four-day hospital stay: one, totally taking out carbs from my diet was not a good idea after all. Two, there is no such thing as a special diabetic diet. Diet for diabetics is just like anybody else’s diet. You can eat almost everything but via small frequent feedings.

Slowly, I got my momentum back. From leisure walks to brisk walks and short stride running, I was running 6.6km again. Just recently, my family and I participated in World Food Programme’s Walk the World Philippines -- a walking and running event against hunger at the SM Mall of Asia grounds. My wife and kids took the 2km walk and I registered for the 5km fun run. I was able to finish my run in 34min and 52sec. Not bad for my first official race.

I choose to run not because I lack the height or skills for ball games. I choose to run not because I’m diabetic. I run because I want to live my life at my own pace. That is why runners call it “fun run”. For most leisure runners like me, getting ranked in a race is only secondary. Ultimately, a runner competes with nobody but with himself. When I run, I feel this sense of freedom where almost everything else is optional. It’s all about my time, pace, stride, distance, and speed. It’s a runner’s choice … my choice.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A few days ago, I watched the premier movie screening of Hangover 2. I and some of our male friends had a blast watching it although my wife found the story too rowdy for her taste. 

The best description I could give of this movie would be something in between the following categories. Let me explain further …


I’ve seen many sick, odd freaky movies in the past (which I enjoyed watching), but this one went-off the charts! Kudos to Director Todd Philips and the writers for their “out-of-the box” imagination in coming up with this kind of film. The idea of having three American friends, wasted from an all night party in the heart of the reddest district of Bangkok, Thailand is a work of geniuses. I would think that a story plot such as this can only mean that the writers must have had tons of hangover experiences, including the pre- and post-effects of alcohol and drugs that could simply transform normal people into pandemonic maniacs who will do stuff that are beyond crazy.


Describing the funny stuff would spoil everything. But the mix of diverse personalities of the characters of Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Justin Bartha and Zach Galifianakis from a mild-mannered dentist to someone with ADHD combined with questionable social behavior problems is a riot to the tenth-degree. If the Vegas bachelor’s party in part one was disastrously hilarious, the setting in Bangkok, Thailand, with its colorful red-light district, gangs and “she-male” prostitutes will make you laugh all the way to Venus.


Every good story involves a problem where, at the end, a solution would somehow present itself that normally concludes to a happy ending. Here, the three friends tried to find their way back (to the island they were supposed to be at) and out of Bangkok with no recollection of what they did the previous night. Little by little, they found themselves in more and more serious, and closer to life-and-death situations, as well as critical elements that resulted to near-disastrous consequences. When it seemed that there were no hopes left, the three tried their best to sober themselves up and find a solution. Thus, in many scenes, you’ll find yourself laughing, wondering and deducing the story in between.


For the overly-critical and one-track minded people I know (my wife is protesting she’s not one of them), movies such as this will never get to their favorite lists. For me, beyond the “wildness” of the scenes and the story itself, is a lesson in acceptance and the adaptability of every human being. In the story, Stu finds it hard to win the favor and acceptance of his future father-in-law, someone from a different race, and was perceived to be a lesser man. But in the process of his two-day journey in the heart of the city and having been immersed in the realities of Bangkok, he discovered that he has actually become a better person thanks (and no thanks) to his good, and yet eccentric, friends.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Movie Review: X-Men First Class

For guys like me who grew up in the late 70’s and 80’s, Marvel and DC comics were among the highlights of my high school life, even up to college days. For the new generation of today, like my kids who are all goofed up with game consoles and social network sites, it’s very seldom anymore to see young ones hanging around in comic book shops and buying or collecting hard copies of comic books. Often times, we see older people buying them instead.

Last night, I had a wonderful time watching another segment movie of the X-Men courtesy of 20th Century Fox at the SM Mall of Asia. After seeing the last three batches of X-Men movies, I still have this excitement and anticipation of how this new movie would turn out. It’s like after reading an X-Men comic book, you’ll start to wonder what will happen next and can’t wait to buy the next copy. Only this time, you’ll get to appreciate the advances of technologies in motion picture, whereas in comic books, you can only imagine.

The movie is another prequel of the X-Men saga. For non-comic aficionados like my wife, previous X-Men movies may have left you with some questions which finally came out clear in prequel movies like this one. But for the comic freaks, who have eyes for details, we can’t help not to be too critical when we see some inconsistencies of the movie. I am not typing those down, however, so as not to spoil your viewing pleasure.

But overall, this latest offering gave me more than just entertainment but excitement as well in anticipation of the next X-Men movie to come out.


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