Archive for August, 2009

Philippine Film: Dinig Sana Kita Review

Posted in All About The Philippines, Duke420 Articles, Philippine Film with tags , , , , , on August 31, 2009 by JJ Duque

I got to catch the 3pm screening of  Dinig Sana Kita (If I Knew What You Said) on Monday August 31st at the Robinson’s Galeria, and when I stepped out of the theater still a bit misty-eyed at the story, I caught Mike Sandejas (Writer, Director and Producer) just at the foot of the escalator. I went up to him immediately, and told  him outright, “I’m so touched. Surprisingly, I’m touched.”

Now, Mike Sandejas and I are no strangers, and are very close, considering that (1) we’re groupmates and batchmates in Upsilon Sigma Phi; and (2) we both have a passion for film-making. And while we both may not see eye-to-eye in our creative pursuits of film (of course everyone has their own stories to tell and a different way of telling it), I couldn’t help but feel that he did well with this movie. He was ambitious, and he made it happen. And I was touched, and still am touched! I didn’t have that many nice things to say about his first movie, but Dinig Sana Kita, – I only have positive superlatives.

The basic story-line is about Kiko (played by Romalito Mallari), who is a hearing-impaired boy that loves to dance and teaches sign language to deaf children; and about Nina (played by Zoe Sandejas), who is a rocker girl that feels a disconnection from her parents, and cosnistently gets herself into trouble.

Facing expulsion from school, Nina is then required to attend a camp in Baguio where hearing and hearing-impaired kids interact in various developmental activities. There Nina meets Kiko, and the rest is the story of how their relationship grows, the dramas that ensue, and the love that transcends despite their obvious difference of communication.

Is it a love story? Well, it has that angle, but it isn’t a cheesy romance flick with all the pitfalls of your standard showbiz love team make-up. In fact, it lacks a kissing scene, but I’m pretty sure direk Mike Sandejas may have had some difficulty incorporating that into the script, considering Zoe is his daughter.

What’s really remarkable about the film is the manner in which Mike Sandjas tackles the world of the hearing-impaired. In fact, Dinig Sana Kita is the first movie to ever make use of a deaf person in a lead role.

Romalito Mallari engages the part of the deaf boy and really rocks it. Of course, it helps that he is also hearing-impaired, but even then, his expressive ways of communicating – the funny, the dramatic, the angry – all come alive through his sign language and his very expressive eyes.

Equally impressive is the angsty performance of Zoe Sandejas, which is quite a shocker for me, who has seen her grown up to become the young lady she is. (I’ve known here since birth.) Her teen angst is not the typical screaming brat of Philippine cinema, who usually breaks off into an uber-melodramatic spiel that goes something like, “AYOKO NA SA IYO! DI MO AKO NAINTINDIHAN!” Actually, Zoe does well in subduing the emotions of her character, and the depth of her own silence comes across much stronger than the hysterical teens Philippine showbiz has gotten us used to.

Romalito Mallari and Zoe Sandejas in Dinig Sana Kita

Romalito Mallari and Zoe Sandejas in Dinig Sana Kita (If I Knew What You Said)

It’s the careful treatment between the sensitivity of these characters that Mike Sandejas brings out so well. It leaves a lot for the audience to understand all that is not being said, and it does so  in a movie where deafness and silence is the theme. That kinda puts the bow on the ribbon in capturing the true element.

In fact, a lot of praise has to go into the handling of the hearing-impaired dialogues and quirks, and the look into the world of the hearing-impaired from a different angle, from a different perspective. I was expecting it to be a bit preachy, and maybe come out that the hearing-impaired will certainly be misunderstood, but I was surpirsed that it didn’t. The story flowed naturally, and it was up to you to really try to catch up with what was going on – even at parts when there weren’t subtitles – because you were taking in Nina’s POV, and if she couldn’t understand it, then neither could you. That was nice treatment that way.

Then, there’s the part where Nina suffers a near deafness, or an aching in her ear that has a distorted sound. The audience is made to feel her deafness, or the little of what she could hear. Of course, not that the style hasn’t been done before, but it’s just masterful how all of that are woven well together in the story.

Anyway, as I write this, there will be one day of screening left in the Robinson’s Galeria with showings at 1pm, 3pm, 5pm, 7pm and 9pm. After that, there is still no word on where else it will show around Manila. Maybe the next chance to catch Dinig Sana Kita, will be at Brussels or Toronto and whatever other film festivals it’s been entered in. There are a couple of them, and Mike Sandejas is just happy that his movie will have the opportunity to be seen in other venues. Whether it wins or not, well… Of course, it’ll be great to win.

Incidentally, Dinig Sana Kita won the People’s Choice Awards in the recent Cinemalaya 2009. I didn’t get to watch the other films, so I can’t give a comparison about who really deserved what award, but despite the awards and accolades, I sincerely believe that Dinig Sana Kita is a movie that is well put together.

I think the fact that Mike Sandejas involved close friends and family – Zoe Sandejas (his daughter) in the lead role; Nina Sandejas (his sister) and Francisbrew Reyes (his future brother-in-law) wrote the wonderful music; May Genato-Sandejas (his wife)  is the line producer;  – and then the rest – well it gives the movie and the production a healthy kind of wholeness. When you have that kind of cooperation with loved ones who share your passion, it certainly makes it easy to put things in their place.

Great movie, Mike! Great performance Zoe! Great job, Rome!

PS – I love the club scene with DJ Roberto “Danger” Sanchez behind the deejay booth. Although the sound is not his regular house signature, it’s nice to find him in the movie looking cool as always.

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Philippine Sports: Brandon Vera Takes On Krzysztof Soszynski in UFC 102

Posted in All About The Philippines, Duke420 Articles, Philippines Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2009 by JJ Duque

UFC 102: Couture vs Nogueira is coming up with some big names when it kicks off at the Rose Garden Arena in Oregon. The highlight event is, of course, a clash between former heavyweight champions Randy Couture vs Antonio Nogueira.

A co-feature will be a light heavyweight duel between Keith Jardine vs Thiago Silva.

And then, the fight that most Filipinos will be focused on will be that of our own Philippine pride Brandon “The Truth” Vera vs Krzysztof Soszynski.

Brandon Vera has a pretty impressive 10-3 record in mixed martial arts, but he’s only won 2 of his last 5 MMA fights. Of course, things were different back then, and well he showed that he was in great shape in his last fight against Mike Platt, whom he defeated via TKO due to leg strikes.

Brandon Vera Demolishing Frank Mir

Brandon Vera Demolishing Frank Mir

Krzysztof Soszynski – I don’t even really know how to pronounce his name – is nicknamed The Polish Experiment, and one look at the guy makes you really think he was kept in some dark dungeon where they did all sorts of experiments on him. Igor-ish looking dude for sure! But anyway, Krzysztof Soszynski has an 18-8-1 MMA record, and while it may not seem that impressive, Krzysztof Soszynski has won 6 consecutive MMA fights, including two submission of the night awards. So, certainly, Brandon Vera will have his hands full at trying to stop The Polish Experiment.

In any case, I’ll be cheering for Brandon Vera and hope he does well in UFC 102. Pinoy Pride, baby!

UFC 102 Tickets and Ringside Seats Are Still Available Here!

Philippine Television: Urbantribe Is Making Waves On Philippine TV

Posted in All About The Philippines, Duke420 Articles, Philippine Entertainment, Philippine Music, Philippine Television with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2009 by JJ Duque

Tribomanila is a five-piece band that fuses electronic music with funky percussive beats that have people going crazy on the dance floor. Founded by Dj Roberto “Danger” Sanchez, Tribomanila was initially created to add some spice to the Philippine night life scene. However, at present, Tribomanila is making more noise on television, particularly in TV5.

Urbantribe is the name of the show that features the members of TribomanilaMinco Fabregas, Marcus Maguidad, DJ Roberto “Danger” Sanchez, Stefan Loewenstein and Alvin Cornista – who host various segments in this magazine format show that airs every Monday night at 11:30pm on TV5.

TriboManila

TriboManila

“Pinoy Beat” is a segment hosted by drummer Minco Fabregas, who also came up with the idea of the show while studying in film school in Cebu. The segment featues one-on-one interviews with Filipino achievers and leaders “Pogi Points” is a segment hosted by Stefan Loewenstein of Austria and Alvin Cornista of Canada, who give a humorous foreigner’s view on the Pinoy culture. “Downtime Zone” is hosted by the affable DJ Roberto “Danger” Sanchez, who gives tips to unwind and relax. While “Wingman” is hosted by Marcus Maguidad, who gives tips to males on things like dealing with chicks, gadgets and online finds.

Urbantribe is certainly making a lot of waves, and earning a lot of loyal support from viewers. Of course, the band Tribomanila is very sought after with their brand of electronic and indigenous fusion. Stefan plays the Timbales; Marcus does some beat-box and plays the percussions; Minco has a steady hand on the drums; Alvin adds some depth with the saxophone; and Danger puts a Latin-house foundation mix with the turntable.

And then – they also have their day jobs – Minco dabbles in mkaing AVPs and commercials; Marcus writes for a magazine; Stefan promotes a bar and cafe and Danger runs a DJ school.

“The challenge for us now is marketing the show. It’s not just about coming up with content, filming it and editing it but also selling the segments [to sponsors],” Minco said.

Hey, people, sponsorship. Show Tribomanila the money!!!

Check out video clips of Urbantribe in the Urbantribe TV Show Facebook Fan Page.

Philippine Politics: Will Manny Villar Become The Next President?

Posted in All About The Philippines, Duke420 Articles, Philippine Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2009 by JJ Duque

Former Senate President Manny Villar is currently leading the Pulse Asia survey on whom the Filipino people would want to become the next Philippine President to succeed Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

If the survey holds up come election day on 2010, then indeed we could certainly see Manny Villar become the next President of the Philippines.  Will he really become the next Philippine President? I think – yes.

Why? Well, while all the other Philippine presidentiables were still in the process of deciding whether they would run or not, Manny Villar already stated his intention to run a long time ago. Of course, it’s easy to just simply make a press release in the papers to say that you would run for the Presidency, but in Manny Villar‘s case – he actually committed vast resources and efforts in preparation for his campaign.

And we’re not just talking about campaign materials. We’re talking about the vast resources of talented people who would help him run his campaign throughout the country.

As early as now – Manny Villar has ads on television. These ads have been on the drawing board a long time, and have been carefully plotted out. The earlier versions of this ad were carefully screened, critiqued, re-edited, and really went through a thorough process. What is being shown today in television is the result of a well-planned and well-executed ad that certainly makes its mark on its audiences. Its proper time-slot placement and frequency of air-play is just as impressive.

More than the ads – Manny Villar has aligned himself with several key people who will be certainly instrumental in his campaign. Just recently, Philstar.com published an article on “The Honor Guards” of Manny Villar. And just who are these “Honor Guards?”

Manny Villar and His 'Honor Guards'

Manny Villar and His 'Honor Guards'

First, there’s the young Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, an Ateneo Law Grad who helps out the Tropang Villar as the one in-charge of “national interest matters.” Then, there’s Laguna Representative Justin Marc “Timmy” Chipeco, who is a Law graduate from the San Beda College and Arellano Law School, and is in charge of  “local governance.” Former Pampanga Representative and Upsilonian Juan Pablo “Rimpy” Bondoc, who earned his masters degree in Public Administration form Harvard University takes charge of  “finance and economics.” Adel Tamano is the current president of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) and the first Filipino Muslim to have graduated fromt he Harvard Law School with a masters degree in Law, and is in charge of “education, legal and Mindanao issues.” Former Cavite Representative, news anchor and Upsilonian Gilbert Remulla, who earned his MA in International Affairs from Columbia University in New York, is in charge of “political affairs.” Lastly, Bukidnon Representative Teofisto “TG” Guingona III, an Ateneo Law/Economics graduate, is in charge of “budget and Mindanao issues.”

These 6 honor guards of Manny Villar are all members of Villar’s Nacionalista Party(NP) and are the spokesmen for the NP, on the varous issues stated above. Obviously, the NP is a political party that has some sleek brains and a very ready attitude to tackle the work needed for a Presidential campaign (or even for a possible run at Senator as in the case of Adel Tamano).

Their combined teamwork and resources set them apart from the rest of the other political parties who still cannot decide on who will be their bet for President. The other political parties will squabble and hold countless meetings and politicking before coming to a decision. By that time – the political machinery of Manny Villar will be ten steps ahead of any competition, equipped with a solid political platform that will provide answers to our country’s problems.

The next leader will certainly have several problems to face in order to uplift the Philippines from its current state. If we are to move forward as a nation, we have to be able to back up the leadership with a solid  political will that is ready to address the many concerns of its people. One definitely has to be prepared. This preparedness of the Nacionalista Party is what sets them apart from the other presidentiables. And if this is the kind of attitude Manny Villar will bring with him to Malacanang, then rest assured that the country will be in good hands. Because, at least, Manny Villar has shown that he is prepared to lead at a time when others can’t even decide which route to run.

Philippine News: Imelda Marcos Sides With Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

Posted in All About The Philippines, Duke420 Articles, Philippine News, Philippine Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2009 by JJ Duque

There has been a lot of fuss recently about the $20,000 dinner tab racked up by Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in posh restaurant Le Cirque in New York City. Many are saying that such expenses are too extravagant for a government official, especially at a time when the Philippines doesn’t have any money. Of course, such extravagances have led Filipinos to believe that the $20,000 bill was paid using taxpayers’ money.

Now, if there is any0ne who knows about extravagances, there is no other expert than former First Lady Imelda Marcos. After all, the term Imeldific has been defined by urbandictionary.com to mean “ostentatious extravagance.”

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Imelda Marcos

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Imelda Marcos

And recently Imelda Marcos commented that the $20,000 bill at Le Cirque was not at all that extravagant.

“You know, we’re talking about a dinner for a President for an anniversary, and in America, it’s double, triple the prices. And you cannot put them in the sidewalk for their anniversary. Maawa naman kayo, para yon lang! Nakakahiyaa ‘yong pinag-aawayan. Doon sa Amerika, ‘di malaki iyon,” Marcos was quoted by ABS-CBN in an exclusive interview.

Besides, it wasn’t really Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who footed the bill. Instead, it was Leyte 1st district Congressman Ferdinand Martin Romualdez (the nephew of Imelda Marcos) who paid the bill. Now, I personally know Martin Romualdez firstly because he is my fraternity brother in the Upsilon Sigma Phi, and I know for a fact that he can afford to make these kind of payments. Is it because he is a Romualdez and also a relative of Marcos ? Definitely!

Most Filipinos are appalled at the thought that expenses like this are being racked up while the country was mourning the loss of former President Cory Aquino, but really – a $20,000 dinner is nothing. P Diddy spends that much on a night on just champagne. Madonna spends nearly that much just by taking her private plane out for a spin. You want to take about ostentatious extravagance – take a look at Real Madrid who spent 350 million euros as a collective trade deal for 5 footballers. At 60 pesos per euro, that’s roughly 21 billion pesos. That would be enough to feed every single Filipino 3 square meals for an entire year.

1 million pesos – that’s not even a brand new car! Filipinos just fuss over it because it may seem ostentatious, and probably because they envy the fact they can’t celebrate that way. I’m not that wealthy, but just because I don’t have that cash doesn’t mean that I’ll look unkindly towards the ones who have it and can spend it. What can you do – there are just some people who can afford things that some people can never reach.

That’s life. Get used to it.

Philippine Sports: Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 Philippines At Camarines Sur

Posted in All About The Philippines, Duke420 Articles, Philippine Events, Philippines Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 21, 2009 by JJ Duque

Eleven-Time Ironman Champ Lisa Bentley

Eleven-Time Ironman Champ Lisa Bentley

Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 Philippines! What else can be said?

It’s the most trying kind of race that will cover 70.3 miles (113 kilometers), and includes the disciplines of swimming, biking and running. Triathletes will be covering a 1.9 km swim, a 90km bike ride, and finished off with a 21km run. Wow!

The Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 Philippines to be held at Camarines Sur this August 23, 2009, is the first of its kind in the Philippines. There have been triathlon competitions, but none with the scale and scope of an Ironman. The promotions for this have been so well done that several professional triathletes from around the world have committed their participation. Among the big names in the sport of triathlon who will be here in the Philippines include: Gina Kehr, Tim Marr, Pete Jacobs, Bree Wee, Chris McCormack, Terenzo Bozzone, Lisa Bentley, Cameron Brown and Charlotte Paul.

Representing the Philippines, we have our very own Arland Macasieb, August Benedicto, Kim Mangrobang and Monica Torres. Arland Macasieb is hoping to finish among the top 10 despite the tough field of international pros competing here.

“It’s the satisfaction of competing in such a challenging sport and against the best athletes in the world that will push us to the limit,” Macasieb said.

On a personal note – long-time acquaintances Amanda Carpo, Leica Carpo, Jon-Jon Rufino and fellow Upsilonian Anthony Pangilinan will be competing, and I wish them well.

Other friends, such as Nonoy Basa and fellow Upsilonian Leo de Guzman and Raoul Floresca will be participating in the relay under Team Sabak-Supersonic (Woot woot!); Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan will be swimming as part of the relay team Tri-Umph; and Lara Parpan will be running for Women’s Health Timex. Go for it!

Me – I’m envious. I wish I could’ve been a part of this. But unfortunately I hadn’t prepared enough. The only time I ever ran 21km was in Subic last year, and I had to walk the last 6km due to threatening cramps in both legs. But at least I crossed the finish line. I would’ve loved to just cross the finish line at Cam Sur, maybe not as a full-pledged triathlete or Ironman, but even just a part of a team that gave it their all and surpassed their personal best in effort and determination. After all, that’s what really this is about. It sounds unfathomable and crazy for anybody to want to go through such torment, but to be able to push your mental toughness and physical endurance to accomplish such a feat is a reward on its own.

Anyway – to all the athletes participating in the Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 Philippines at Cam Sur – my sincerest wishes on the achievement of your goals. And to the organizers, especially to Ironman 70.3 Philippines Chairman Wilfred Steven Uytengsu – galing!

Philippine Sports: Can Miguel Angel Cotto Stop Manny Pacquiao?

Posted in All About The Philippines, Duke420 Articles, Philippines Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2009 by JJ Duque

Being a biased Filipino – my simple answer is NO.

I haven’t been the best fan of Manny Pacquiao. When Manny Pacquiao rematched Juan Manuel Marquez, my money was on Marquez. Well – the payout for the odds was much better, but even at the end of the fight, despite Juan Manuel Marquez kissing the floor, I still believed Juan Manuel Marquez did enough to win the fight. But oh well.

When Manny Pacquiao faced Oscar De La Hoya, I expected it to be a bloody battle that would push the fight to the last round, and eventually the judges favoring Oscar De La Hoya. And while I cheered for Manny Pacquiao, I didn’t feel that confident. I mean Oscar De La Hoya is THE Golden Boy. Well, I was wowed by Manny Pacquiao, and certainly I’m not alone there.

When Manny Pacquiao faced Ricky Hatton, I was thinking that Manny Pacquiao might be a bit too over-confident, and that he would eventually get tagged by the famous Ricky Hatton body shot to the liver. Once again, I was proven wrong.

But don’t get me wrong – it’s not that I don’t want Manny Pacquiao to win. It’s just that I’m never 100% on Manny Pacquiao because he can be careless at times, and of course there are the equally awesome reputations of the fighters he’s faced.

Miguel Cotto Rocking Shane Mosley

Miguel Cotto Rocking Shane Mosley

But now – against Miguel Angel Cotto – I’m 100% behind Pacquiao. Miguel Angel Cotto may have an impressive 34 wins and 1 loss with 27 KOs – with some big wins against the likes of Shane Mosley, Zab Judah Oktay Urkal, Carlos Quintana and Alfonso Gomez, but in the world of boxing, you’re only as good as your last fight.

In the case of Miguel Angel Cotto, his last three fights include a TKO loss to Antonio Margarito, where he gave up his WBO Welterweight belt. Of course, Miguel Angel Cotto gained the WBO Welterweight belt back again when it was left vacant. This time he KOed Michael Jennings in the 5th round. In his last fight, Miguel Angel Cotto was able to defeat Joshua Clottey, but in a split decision. So, it’s not really that impressive.

Meanwhile, Manny Pacquiao has been more than impressive in his recent wins. And well, Miguel Angel Cotto looks to be another victim that will soon be added to those that Manny Pacquiao will run over.

The Manny Pacquiao vs Miguel Angel Cotto is scheduled for November 14, 2009 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The two boxers will be fighting at the weight of 145 lbs., which falls under the welterweight category. And although there has been no announcement that Miguel Angel Cotto will put his WBO Welterweight Title on the line, it is expected that the WBO Welterweight belt will definitely be on the line. Firstly, if Miguel Angel Cotto refuses to make it a title match, then he will be stripped off the belt, and the title made vacant, and eventually free for Manny Pacquiao to win. If Manny Pacquiao wins – it will be another championship in a record-setting seven weight classes.

Incidentally, Miguel Angel Cotto has expressed his intention to retire from boxing before he hits the age of 30. Currently, he is 28 years old. According to reports on Miguel Angel Cotto’s website, Cotto would like to retire to enjoy fatherhood.

“I have four little ones between the ages of 3 and 13 who require a father… because one wants to play an instrument, another wants to play tennis, if you ask another, golfing, and the small child is three years old and I do not know what he wants to do, but I need to be there,” Cotto explained.

As for Manny Pacquiao – he has a new sitcom TV series coming out on local Philippine TV called Show Me The Manny which will co-star the Philippines’ Queen of Primetime Marian Rivera.  I guess if Manny retires, then he’ll have showbusiness to fall back on.

But in the case of the Manny Pacquiao vs Miguel Angel Cotto, I just hope I’m not wrong again. But something is telling me this could be a trilogy.

Manny Pacquiao vs Miguel Angel Cotto Tickets Available Here.

Manny Pacquiao vs Miguel Cotto Odds Here.

Online tickets tip: If you buy early, it costs less. If you buy closer to the date, it will be very pricey.