Friday, September 29


The last couple of days has proven that we only truly realize how valuable something is when we lose it. Electricity, for instance. Countless millions of Filipinos are lacking in this one basic thing right now, and it's enough to drive you nuts. Malls are crowded to overflowing by masses seeking to escape their dark, hot and electricity-lacking homes. Staying and working in the office powered by generators is much preferable than just sitting around slavering in the shadows without anything to do. Electricity powers or supports our senses to enjoy things- from being able to read a book or magazine to powering our television sets, computers and appliances. It's at the center of all the things we do, so it's not surprising that now that it's gone, we're all scurrying like ants left without a scent trail to follow.

I am loathe to leave the office right now to go back to home to the prehistoric cave The Sanctum has become. But what the heck... home is home, and at least you can rest and recollect your thoughts. Perhaps this is better. Perhaps I can learn to meditate on my actions and see where I could have done better, done more. In the end, maybe this was all for the best and I will be a better person for seeing that I am an electricity addict (as are we all), and should work on looking inward instead of outward at the brightness given by electric power.


Ah, screw that. I want to frickin' play Xbox360 and surf. PLEASE let there be frickin' electricity back when I go home. PUH-LEEEEEZEE...

Thursday, September 28


I spent the whole day in the office, working and keeping my eyes firmly set on my job. It helped to kill the hours which I had to spend here in the Salt Mines instead of at home. On the bright side, I guess it was better to be in the office and actually be productive. It was also better to be in a place with electricity and a working internet connection, instead of being cooped up in the cold but dark confines of The Sanctum. Nothing's more impotent than a fully-wired electronic entertainment pad without current.
Anyway, it was surreal to just stare out into the storm-swept metropolis, seeing the wind eventually die down to a whisper. However, signs of Milenyo's fury could be seen everywhere. Downed trees and plants were everywhere, and the sight of pedestrians just walking haphazardly this way or that on the streets of Ayala Avenue just showed you that not all was right in the world. We watched the news in the Main Conference Room and through all the various sights of storm-stricken provinces and news of people being displaced and victimized by the weather, there were two things that surfaced to be quite significant over it all. One, that large advertising billboards are pretty much now recognized as public safety menaces during storms seeing as over a dozen of these large commercial signs fell over (and at least one caused the death of a person). The other thing is the annoying and pretty embarrassing way that in each of these billboard-crash sites, there are always these hooligans who swarm over like vultures to grab the scrap metal to sell for a quick buck.

Dinner was a bit of a trick, since the nearby restaurants were almost all crowded with hungry people. Eventually we were able to find a place in Jollibee and satisfy our cravings. The whole atmosphere of the place had this weird, 'calamity-stricken' feel... there were huge gaps of out-of-stock items in the menu, and periodically you'd see attendants drag out these huge bags of take-out or delivery orders (without a doubt bound for some office or call center full of starving people).

It's still blacked out in most residential places- I'll probably try to stay and wait it out until things get more stable. It would be so cool if, when dawn strikes tomorrow, it will find a Metro Manila seemingly unscathed and good as new. Of course, that won't happen.

But life goes on anyway.
Life's a Pitch

The typhoon Milenyo is set to arrive in Metro Manila today, packing winds of up to 130 miles an hour. Since yesterday, it has been announced that all classes in all levels would be cancelled. Flights have been grounded. Work suspended in many offices and workplaces. But darn, I'm here in the office for some reason. Well, the reason was that we have a pitch- which is basically us competing with other agencies for a new account... and we can't just lay down because of some, oh, storm.

So I headed off and got a cab (MRTs tend to suck or totally jam in storms), which thankfully wasn't too hard. As we went on the usual route to Makati, you could see the signs of the Storm's coming. Uprooted trees, downed signs and stripped billboards, and the odd tumbling umbrella (in place of tumbleweeds). Once we got to Makati, the wind seemed even stronger. There were still surprisingly a lot of people clustered in the entrances of buildings, huddled to keep from the rain and the wind.
I got to the taxi drop-off and as I opened the taxi's door, it was immediately flung open by the wind. I jumped off without even bothering to open my useless umbrella. Once inside the building, I saw more signs of the storm's fury- like the statue in the middle of the building's courtyard, tumbled to the ground by the wind. Yikes. Depending on what happens from now on, it'll either be very easy or very hard to get home. Well, what can you do but do work while you're here.

Oh, and the pitch date was postponed. Gah.

Wednesday, September 27

Going LIVE

I've had my Xbox360 for several months now, but it was only recently, in fact, only over the weekend, that I was able to experience the most the console has to offer- namely, going online on Xbox Live. For the uninitiated, Xbox Live is Microsoft's exclusive online component for their entertainment consoles (both the original Xbox and Xbox360). All you need is a broadband internet connection, some know-how and bam! You're online.
Xbox Live has quite a few treats- you can go to the Xbox Live Marketplace to download demos of upcoming games, videos and trailers, and even chat or converse with other gamers (whether they're in the country or halfway across the world). Of course, you can also go and compete with other human players in various Xbox Live-enabled games.

While a lot of stuff like demos and videos are free, you WILL need to spend real money to get credits (or Microsoft Points) to get some stuff, like expansions for games (new maps, areas, characters, etc), and to play online with other players. Luckily, despite the fact that the Philippines isn't officially a supported region, Filipinos CAN actually go online on Xbox Live and enjoy their consoles to the fullest. Thanks to Pinoy Xbox, I am now one of these gamers.

It's quite amazing; I have so far downloaded several demos and videos, and even gotten to play some rounds of Dead or Alive 4 against some players in Japan (got my butt kicked though). It's fun and I do see myself using the service from now on, whether I spend to keep subscribed to the Gold Membership or not. Once you go on Live, you can't go back. The future or gaming right there. Awesome stuff.

Monday, September 25

Not So Final

Most of us Final Fantasy VII fans have probably watched and re-watched Final Fantasy VII Advent Children and gone back to our everyday lives, happy and secure that Cloud Strife has found peace and Aerith is alive and well in the Afterlife. We can finally close the book one this chapter of our videogame lives, right? WRONG. At the recently-held Tokyo Game Show, Sony has revealed a NEW itineration of the popular CG movie.
Called Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Complete, this 'director's cut' version will be released on Sony's new Blu-ray format and have additional scenes. What scenes, you may ask? Well, so far only one has been reported, that of big baddie Sephiroth stabbing Cloud through the chest with his Masamune and hoisting Emo-boy overhead like a gutted fish. Will there be other scenes? There probably will, but I really don't think the story will be significantly different.
Still, completists will probably want to invest in a PS3 or a Blu-ray player to see the next Final Fantasy flick. Articles indicate FFVII ACC will be due out next year. Enough time to save the centavos, I guess.

Sunday, September 24

DOA: Dead or Alive

Fighting and Fanservice.

Okay, I've finally gotten to see what all the fuss has been about. I saw DOA: Dead or Alive in a theater here in Manila, and so far it seems the movie is doing well (a print ad for the film has DOA being "The No.1 Movie in Manila"). That's not surprising since we love beautiful and sexy people here in the Philippines, and the movie has more or less an Asian flavor thanks to the HK director Corey Yuen.

As I've no doubt explained in tons of earlier posts, DOA follows the time-tested, If-it-ain't-broke-don't-fix-it plot of "Shady organization holds martial arts tournament, attracting various fighters". In this case, the DOA Tournament is set up by the smarmy Victor Donovan (Eric Roberts), who took over from the previous administrator. Of course since this is Eric Roberts, you know something bad is behind all the precedings. Dead or Alive's schtick is the abundance of hot lady competitors in the cast, and the movie wisely focuses on this. Charlie's Angels meets Enter the Dragon, indeed. For the most part, the film version follows the source material closely, save for quite a few liberties with some characters.

Kasumi, for example, is played by Asian model/actress Devon Aoki, whose main facial expression is looking bored out of her head. Whether you accept her as the character or not depends on whether you like the actress or not. Luckily for me, I do find her fetching so what the heck. On the other hand, her slightly aloof manner lends well to her character as some sort of ninja royalty. And her bored look CAN be accepted as 'looking focused' (It worked in Sin City). In terms of action scenes, she does have some nice moves in the film, having the most wire-fu stunts of the girls.

Christie, played by gorgeous Aussie star Holly Valance is the most radically changed from the game. Instead of the cold-blooded assassin from the game, we get a more benign but still deadly femme fatale, but with a more playful side. Otherwise, Miss Valance gets the look down and the feel that this is one dangerous but hot lady.

But the one who really gets her character down is 'My Name is Earl's' Jaime Pressly, who plays Tina Armstrong. The movie version of Tina has the big sister/tough cowboy babe personality without the obnoxious star complex from the game, so she's likeable off the bat. That Miss Pressley has a killer physique makes her even more believable that she can kick your butt.

There are two more main girls- Sarah Carter's Helena Douglas is a simplified version from the game... she isn't French, nor is she an opera singer. But she's hot and classy and plays the role well, acquiting herself well especially in the fight scenes. Finally, Natassia Malthe plays Ayane, Kasumi's rival, and has the dubious pleasure of going through the movie in a purple wig. To be fair, she's quite easy on the eyes and has the vicious glare and cool poses with katanas down pat. It would not have hurt to have given her a bit more screentime.

The rest of the supporting cast do well- real-life wrestler Kevin Nash as Bass and Brian White as Zack are note perfect. Kane Kosugi seems a little young for Hayabusa, but otherwise he's great in his fight scenes. The Matrix's Colin Chou makes a late appearance as Hayate, but he's pretty awesome while he's there. The rest of the DOA character have to make do with little cameos; Bayman and Leon at least have good exposure as Donovan's henchmen, though lose their backgrounds and become mainly villain muscle. Lei Fang and Gen Fu are seen up close in some scenes and share a short fight. Other than that, the rest pass by in flashes that you will miss if you blink. Brad Wong is seen getting smashed by Bayman. Jann-Lee falls to Christie. Eliot is seen briefly in a fight with Hayabusa. Karate kid Hitomi is in the credits but I never see her. It'll be fun to pause through the opening fights on the DVD to see the cameos in full.

Well, after all that, the fighting action makes up most of the movie, with the plot developments happening in between- kinda like cutscenes in the game. It's fast and at the very least- never boring. I only wish that some of the fights were longer. Director Corey Yuen clearly knows what he's doing, borrowing imagery and stunts from some of the best recent martial arts flicks such as Hero, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and House of Flying Daggers. There's wirework and CG stuff but still you do see that the stars, the girls in particular, put a lot of work to make the fights look good.

Are there any faults? Yeah, quite a few. I really dislike the characters of Maximillian Marsh (Mathew Marsden) and Weatherby (Steve Howey)... both are pretty irritating (Marsh is a smarmy scoundrel who gets by totally with luck while Weatherby is a creepy computer geek) and really, unnecessary to the precedings. Perhaps a way to please the supposed gamer market? Please.
I also dislike the way that the 'Ultimate Weapon' is a pair of skill-enhancing sunglasses that can be removed so easily... why not goggles? They won't fall off. Or how about getting some straps to keep your ace-in-the-hole from falling off your face, Donovan? Oh well.

In the end, the movie's a fun, enjoyable watch. It's not an Oscar wannabee but there's a fun, playful tone to the whole thing that makes it pretty clear that it's not really taking itself too seriously, and that's refreshing. It also certainly doesn't hurt to see so much hot bodies around in the film, though I've read so many reviews seeing this as a negative. It's FUN, people. Turn off the serious brain side and just enjoy the action and the beautiful people.

So, when's the DVD coming out?