Tuesday, December 31

10 Things to look forward to and occupy my time this new year 2003

It's not even 2003 yet and my time already seems to be spoken for...

1. Publishing a new Angel Ace comic. THIS is a priority!!!

2. Working and Playing on with my Questventures friends: Arnold and Cynthia (who are engaged!!! Congrats!!!!), Carl, Dean and Gig, Jason and Cams, Dino and Vinnie Mike.

3. Updating the Hinirang website with more Immacolata pages.

4. Work. Yeah, yeah. Well, it pays the bills and stuff.

5. Playing the latest PS2 and Xbox games. DOAX, Panzer Dragoon Orta, Final Fantasy X2, Soul Calibur 2... This year is going to be a Gamer Year.

6. Watching TechTV not just for Extended Play, but for Anime as well!

7. Movies. X-Men 2. Matrix Sequels (and the Animatrix too on DVD). Return of the King. DAAAAAAMMMNNN!

8. Getting my hands on new stuff. How about a widescreen TV? Digital camera? Okay... I'll settle for upgrading my PC.

9. Making more people read this blog and go Stark Raving MAD. Heh.

10. Insert Other Stuff to DO HERE. I can always change this!

HAHA! THE WORLD IS AT MY OYSTER!!! (Or something like that...)
A Quiet New Year

Every year, the Philippines' New Year celebrations are getting less noisy. I remember in my youth, it sounded literally like World War 3 every January. As early as Christmas, you could hear firecrackers exploding in the distance. My family also usually have some kind of noisemaking pyrotechnics, mostly from my brother or dad. But these days, safety rather than old tradition seems to be reigning. Every year, stupidity costs hundreds of people fingers and other body parts (or even their lives) by playing dangerously with firecrackers. It appears that the campaign of various media to curb the use of firecrackers is working. Since last year, our house has just watched or listened to other people burn their money on expensive booms. I don't spend a centavo on even watusi anymore.
Perhaps it's also because of the recent terrorist activities; maybe people are paranoid of explosions. Sigh. Anyway, right now, it's actually raining... a rarity on New Year. Maybe it's a sign. But then again explosions will probably never truly disappear from the Philippines. Maybe someday we can all just move from firecrackers to fireworks instead.

Whatever. Only a few more hours to go. A new year is coming... like a thief in the night. Heh.
Looking Back at 2002

This past year wasn't my best year. It was pretty much a year of establishing new stuff, coasting with it, and getting motivation to eventually leave the status quo. I found a new job midway into the year, kept in with a creative and prolific gang of friends and compatriots, and found time to work on group projects such as the Filipino fantasy website Hinirang and the anime/manga/comic event of the year, the C3Con.
It wasn't all good; I had to go through (and am still going through) difficulties at work, having to deal with many difficult... elements. However, I am a trooper and I will be professional about it. If anything, I am looking forward to doing better and greater stuff this time around. Another thing, this time outside of work, is that I wasn't able to release a comic by myself. Yes, Angel Ace had to stay grounded for a year. Sorry, Angel.
But this year, it's going to be different. Firstly, I WILL release a new Angel Ace issue this year, hopefully within the first half of the year. I will participate and try to help in some interesting new projects and collaborate with my friends to produce cool, exciting stuff. And that's going to be my theme for the year; pushing it all a bit further. Will I do it? We'll see. But we'll give it our darndest.
Oh, and one more thing; I WILL get a copy of Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball. Soon. Very soon. Heh.

May everyone have a safe, happy and prosperous new year.

Monday, December 30

Dabbling in Cyberpunk

Been working for the past few days. Working. During the holidays. Actually, it's fun work, so no biggie. I kept on pencilling some more pages for the next Angel Ace issue, as well as writing for the comic script thing I'm doing. Have to keep at that until automatic writing kicks in and I finish it. Well, I think it's been mentioned somewhere before, so why not say it outright. I am working with Jason Banico of Dynatica on his Baylans graphic novel. Baylans is Jason's baby, a comic/story about a future Philippines where technosages and rebels battle a military dictator and supernatural forces for the fate of the nation. The GN will be about 150 pages long, and I need to give the script over to Jason by the first week (working week) of January for his artist to work on.
Well, anyway I am not as political as Jason, nor am I a whiz at researching Filipino mythology. But I am injecting what I can from my side to make the Baylans come alive. If anything, this will be one of at least two comics I will have a part in next year (the other, of course, being Angel Ace). Well, it's coming along nicely.

36 pages done... 114 to go. HAH! Child's play. HAHAHAHA!

Er... Can someone find me a child?

Sunday, December 29

Just like old times

Last night, I went to our college batch Christmas reunion. The venue was at our friend Andrew's house, which is, aside from my house, our group gathering place. The good news was, there was an abundance of food. It was supposed to be pot-luck, so I brought a bucket of KFC chicken. Butch brought Pancit Malabon. Pot brought ice cream, Alex and his girl Weng brought cheesecakes, Mayee and Jaime brought leche flan, while Andrew's family prepared for us simply SOLID barbecue, pancit, spareribs and drinks. It was a feast. The problem was, there weren't that many people. Aside from our own group, the rest of our batch cancelled or begged off at the last minute. Sigh. Anyway, we spent the night talking about old times, bad fashions and music from the 90s, and stuff ranging from gross toilet stuff to Alex and Pot's escapades with ladies of ill-repute. Heh. After about midnight, we went off each carrying a load of food for take-home. Next year, I suggested, we make it a gang reunion party. Who cares about the rest. Bah. Well, another year, another year.

Saturday, December 28

C3Con Cosplay Pics!

It took some time, but here are some images from the C3Con Cosplay Competition! This year’s batch of contestants really went all out and gave all of us judges a hard time. Thanks to Cynthia for the pics!

H.R. Giger’s Alien. Who’d have thought he’d have a nice voice?

Anji from Rurouni Kenshin. Stayed in character throughout. Cool.

Kagome Higurashi from Inu Yasha

Oni Gang member Hannya from Rurouni Kenshin. Literally smoking!

Lulu from Final Fantasy X. Dig that skirt!

Pakunoda from Hunter X Hunter. Another character-perfect performer.

A crowd favorite: Sadako from The Ring. Oh, it’s a guy.

Tomoe from Rurouni Kenshin.

Yuna from Final Fantasy X. Last year, she would have won.

The winners, along with Culture Crash’s James. Congratulations!
Have... to... go... OUT...

Despite feeling under the weather and having a bit of an intestinal bug, I ventured out finally today. Staying at home just made me prone to staying inside the sanctum, which is NOT recommendable. I stopped sweating and continually slept, which is not very productive and resulted in me having haphazard bouts of sleep in the early hours of the morning. HAD TO GO OUT!!!
Went to Greenhills on a stoopid cab who tried to pad his fare by going a long route. Anyway, got there and found myself DVDs of Tenchi Muyo OAV and Space Adventure Cobra. Tenchi can be described as a Japanese Archie with the plain Jane titular character being fought over by various women of alien/powerful backgrounds. Substitute Veronica with a space princess and Betty with a space pirate and you have Tenchi. Lots more action and sci-fi romance comedy though. Cobra is a classic (read: OLD) anime by manga/anime great Buichi Terasawa which is all about a space bounty hunter whose adventures often get him into raunchy situations with lots of sexy, nubile women. Heh. Also grabbed two impressively clear DVDs of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Die Another Day for the parents to watch. Finally, got PS2 games: Mystic Heroes and King of Fighters 2000. Side Note: Mystic Heroes was defective; have to return and replace that tomorrow.
Went to Comic Quest after a LOOOONG wait at the FX station. New stuff had arrived, so I picked up the first issue of Newtype USA (which only arrived now), Athena Inc. Agent Roster and Previews. Newtype USA has converted me. The pages really emulate the Japanese counterpart, and the extras are stellar. I've gotten free DVDs with the first episode of Noir and some other anime, and with this issue I have a DVD with the first episode of Earth Girl Arjuna, an environmental anime which I had been curious about. Talk about timely! As for Athena Inc., I got it soley for Pinoy artist Jay Anacleto's art (I can't comprehend the actual comic) and may use it for ideas on SIVA designs in Angel Ace. He's got an electric girl too, like me. Heh. As for Previews, it's a matter of course for me. Just love to scan through stuff.
After closing the store (at 10 again! I really feel sorry for the staff at the store), we went over to Salsa Rossa for talking and having some late dinner. Dean told us his Japanese trip horror stories (which are simply hilarious) and once again I am glad that all I experience from Japan is their manga and anime. We went home shortly after midnight and it's another day!
Have a college batch post-Christmas reunion later today. Hope I'm up for it. Anyway, maybe I can pencil some pages tonight or do something. I'm still very much awake. Darn.

Friday, December 27

Blah Blah Blah

I spent most of the night and morning (early morning) pencilling more pages. Since there was nothing to watch on TV that I haven't seen already, I popped in the DVD of Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, and turned on the audio commentary. The speakers included George Lucas himself, and several special effects guys (who handled editing, visual effects and sound). Overall, the comments didn't have the 'wow' factor of other commentaries I've heard, and a lot of the little 'Easter eggs' are split second things that NOBODY except the most die-hard and sharp-eyed of Star Wars fans would see (in particular, how C3P-0 actor Anthony Daniels appears in a cameo in the Coruscant bar scene). I also got the general feeeling that Lucas changes a LOT of things after shooting, so there are tons of scenes with re-done stuff, people/characters added or removed, etcetera.
Bah. Give me LOTR anyday. Heheh. I am SO biased. Star Wars has lost the luster.

Thursday, December 26

New Angel Ace Pages

Can you guess how many unconscious ninja girls are in this picture?

Yesterday, I stayed at home and worked on pencilling the pages for the next Angel Ace issue. As I tend to do, I have decided to throw out all the pages I have done so far (well... actually I just put them away for storage) and started fresh. The advantage here is that I think my art has improved, and I am more motivated to draw this time around. Anyway, the first four pages or so will deal with updating the story for new readers (a kind of 'The Story So Far...'). They are all full-pages, each one summarizing the action in a corresponding issue of Angel Ace Again.
So far, the next issue will reveal more of what happened at the end of Again # 4. We will focus quite a bit on Kai and her ninja commandos, and on the ones that sent them. The action will move to several months later as Kai and Ren are sent once again into Newhaven City for another secret mission... where they encounter a certain masked, maniacal, psychotic criminal mastermind... oh, wait. He doesn't want to be called psychotic. Heh.
I will try my best to make the next issue a self-contained issue; even if this pushes the page count to 64 or more. This should be a cool, action-packed story, and should bring Kai and Angel's conflict to a climax. If everything goes well, this new story should be out within the first half of 2003.
Well, the day's before me. Should be able to do more in the days ahead.

Grrr. He's blocking my sun.

Wednesday, December 25


It's December 25, the birth of Jesus Christ and a time for goodwill towards all men and women. We had Noche Buena after attending mass at the village plaza/chapel (second dinner; my parents and me, my brother and his two kids and the household help. We had spaghetti, steak and some of my mom's first-ever potato salad (which tasted great). We exchanged presents and after that my bro took pictures with his digital camera. That's pretty much our family Christmas gig... simple, but satisfying.
Anyway, it's early in the AM but I'm still awake thanks to all those carbonated drinks I had. I finally watched M. Night Shaylaman's Signs, his third film about a former priest (played by Mel Gibson) who discovers aliens invading his farm at the same time he rediscovers his faith. Pretty creepy at times (one particular segment had me cackling at its creepiness), but it's plainly not as scary as Sixth Sense, and is occasionally funny. Never got to see Unbreakable though. Maybe next year.
Today's Christmas; it's a non-working holiday; though I guess service-oriented jobs like restaurants and movie theatres will still have people working. The films of the Metro Manila Film Festival will be showing in ALL theaters starting today (which is partly the reason why The Two Towers is delayed here...), but I don't feel like going out today. Maybe I'll venture out on the 26th or 27th, and scope out the post-Christmas atmosphere at Greenhills and Megamall. Ah. It's so nice to be on holiday. Heh.

Once again, Merry Christmas to one and all! Stay safe and happy, everyone!

Tuesday, December 24

T'was the Day Before Christmas...

I finally finished my Christmas shopping yesterday. Talk about photo finish. Anyway, I plan to just chill in the Sanctum for the next few days, going out only for meals. Heh. Sessions with Suikoden III, sketching out the pages for the next Angel Ace issue, writing a script for a secret comic project and watching some new anime and some DVDs will be priority.
The funny thing is, I've piled up most of the anime VCDs, DVDs, books, comics, magazines and other stuff I've bought recently that I haven't been able to look at in-depth. I'm going to 're-discover' them this Christmas as my gifts to myself. I've actually got a LOT (that includes the 2nd DVD of Rahxephon, the 4th DVD box set of Inu Yasha, a Chobits DVD and VCDs of The Ringu 0 and Char's Counterattack). This also includes that couple of pose books I got at the C3Con, which will no doubt be very useful. I also have a pile of comics and at least two Blade of the Immortal issues, two Elektra issues and the WHOLE Shidima series. I plan to really appreciate them all in the holidays. Just of the few blessings I've been fortunate to have this year. But then again, looking back at what went well and what went not well this year is for another post.

Monday, December 23

C-Day (The First Philippine Comics and Anime Convention)

Flashback to several months ago. Culture Crash boss James Palabay called together a meeting of some of the nation’s young (relatively) creative minds in the fields of comics, books and publications. The reason for this was his intention to hold a ‘convention’, where the best of Pinoy creativity in comics and animation would be featured. Part of the reason for this was AXN Network’s apparent suspension of holding their annual anime event for financial reasons. After some discussions, the meeting ended with the plans for a Philippine Comics and Anime Convention more or less being agreed upon.
There were no solid outlines yet. The venue was unsure. Tentatively, many of the groups and individuals that attended had pledged support… but that could change in the many weeks that lay then until the actual convention.

Fast forward to several months later, a few weeks before the Convention. I received a call on my cellphone from James. He asked me for artwork from Angel Ace for the Convention (now dubbed C3Con) ashcan/portfolio. I agree to develop spreads both for Angel and for our group’s then-secret project, Hinirang.com. James would call several more times, about my lecture, 10 Things You Need To Make Your Own Manga. The C3Con is now only a few days away. I was still swamped with work at the office, so it still seemed like light years away at the time.

Fast forward to the night before the C3Con. I have been working on my cue cards/lecture outline/art for my lecture, and it took me several hours. I had just spent the night with Mike, Arnold, Cynthia, Carl and Jason (who would be leaving for Davao in a few hours then), so I only got to try and finish my notes after midnight. By the time I finished, it was already four in the morning, and I had to be at the C3Con venue, Megamall’s Megatrade Hall, by nine. That meant I had to wake up at seven to fix up all my things, take a cab and reach Mega. As usual, my tension kept me awake. I estimate I had less than an hour of sleep between the moment my head hit the pillow to the minute my alarm/TV turned on to TechTV.

Day One: Saturday

On the day of the C3Con, I got up squarely at 7:30 and gathered up my stuff… which consisted of laser-printed pages of Angel Ace Again # 4 and some old colored illustrations mounted on illustration boards, an extra shirt (a new Blade of the Immortal tee that I got from Comic Quest) to change my work shirt, and my exhibitor pass for the convention. Luckily, I didn’t have to go through much trouble getting a cab since it was a Saturday.
I arrived at Megamall just after nine AM. Arnold and Cynthia, who would be my first boothmates at the Questventures booth at the C3Con, weren’t there yet when I arrived at the Megatrade Hall. I found our spot pretty bare except for After Eden posters taped to one of the six panels we had. I at once began trying to set up my artwork, but unfortunately the masking tape we had wouldn’t hang onto the waxy panel surface. Fortunately, Culture Crash’s Taga-Ilog came by and gave me a reel of simply invaluable double-sided Polar Bear tape. In no time, I had the booth spiffed-up with Angel Ace art and pages. Arnold and Cynthia showed up in a while, and we marveled at how the place was little-by-little shaping out.
Workmen were setting up everywhere, both on the main stage area and the individual booths. I eventually learned that I had to set up MORE art at the C3Con’s Photo Gallery, so I had to go to a Photocopying Shop to enlarge cover art for display. As I headed out of the Megatrade Hall, I was startled by the long line of Pinoy manga and anime otaku and other people who were already lined up and waiting to enter the Con. I was amazed. I was glad. It looked good, and I had a feeling that James’ worries about the C3Con bombing from a sparse attendance were all for naught.
Later in the day, after feverishly setting up all my art, I finally was able to ease up and change into my Blade shirt. Carl joined us as the booth as we stared out into the sea of manga and anime otaku that flowed into the hall, to fill up the large central seating area, to wander among the many booths and just mingle with the various creators and progenitors of the country’s printed creative entertainment materials.

What to do, what to do…
Aside from us at Questventures and Comic Quest, other participants that were present included Questor, Beerkada, Ground Zero, CATS Collectibles, Comic Alley, Comic Sale Central, AEGIS, Shirley’s Pets, Alamat, We Are Anime and more independent comic, collectible, toy, comic, anime and special interest groups. Strangely enough, there was even a Club Panoly Resorts booth there, for some reason. With all this fun stuff around, there was more than enough stuff to keep manga/comic, anime and toy enthusiasts’ eyes sparkling throughout the two-day convention.

New Comics on the Block

Iconoclast is just one of the many new comics that debuted at C3Con.

Aside from the stuff to buy and ogle, there were the various creators and their comics featured to meet and mingle with. We featured our stuff: Angel Ace, Ang Kagila-gilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah, Dean Alfar’s Levi’s comic Ab Ovo and After Eden. Elsewhere, Alamat’s Budjette Tan released the long-overdue Batch 72 # 3. Would it be really the last Batch story? We will have to see. A large gallery of other independent and new comic/manga titles were for the discovering all around the convention floor, which is REALLY great. New titles I saw included Minsan Ako’y Nanaginip, Blitzworx, Prismatic Orb, D’Koi Junkie (by Taga-Ilog’s girlfriend!), Ryan Orosco’s Stricken (from Beerkada) and Iconoclast.
I have to say that the sheer number and enthusiasm of these new titles filled me with an excitement that I have not felt in a long time. If only for the opportunity for these titles to be given a great venue to be seen, holding the C3Con was a GREAT idea.

But of course, a large part of the fun in the two days are the various activities and anime/manga-themed contests and numbers. Throughout the two days cosplayers walked about, dressed up as their favorite anime, manga and/or movie creature or character. Having judged at the AXN cosplay competition a year or two ago, I had the initial impression that this year’s competition was a bit subdued… that would change later.
I was chosen to help judge the convention’s Choreographed Fight Scene competition, along with Culture Crash’s Taga-Ilog and James. About six or seven groups showed us their stuff. Several were basically just guys showing off katas without too much of a story, so they were easy prey for the three acts that won out. Winning 3rd Place was a one-man wrestling match, whose participants included Jon Mallari, our budding manga artist and contributor to Angel Ace, as a referee. The whole thing showed a guy fighting himself, playing both heel and face. Funny stuff. The 2nd Place went to a sentai-themed skit (live-action Japanese superheroes) by the Blitzworx people. Finally, the First Place went to a spoof, Crouching Dragon, Hidden Rooster. It was a Rurouni Kenshin (Samurai X) skit featuring a ‘rematch’ between series’ bad good guy Sanosuke versus the good bad guy, Saito Hajime. Saito was played by the same guy who won the AXN cosplay competition I last judged (he declined the actual cosplay contest, naturally) and he still had the character’s coolness down pat. In terms of choreography, attitude, music and resolution, this was hands-down the winner. Hmm. That’s the second time I let Saito win. That guy owes me. Heh. Anyway, cash and printers and scanners from Epson were for the winners, so that’s pretty cool for having fun horsing around on stage.
The rest of Day One was spent listening to J-Pop and J-Rock, which latecomers Dean and Gig truly loathed and ran off eventually because of. A high point for me was coming upon the nice otaku crew of Iconoclast manga, and finding out they were avid Angel Ace readers. One of them even reads this blog! Hi, Keiko, Lex, Monmon, Lico, Agent Impish, A. Sandoval and the rest!

Though I was tired, totally dehydrated (the Con was so crowded, it was HOT!) and dizzy, I still had to contend with our Christmas Party later that night. I spent the hours before closing down Comic Quest buying gifts for Mike, Dean, Gig and Carl, and drinking soft drinks. Later, at Le Grande condominiums, we had a nice meal with Crispy Pata, barbecue, roast chicken and lots of steaming rice. Noel ‘Flim’ Lim contributed a gallon of Mocha Ice Cream, to Gig’s delight. The high point of the night was an impromptu and totally spontaneous shooting of a short film starring Carl and Dean, with a hilarious ending. I will leave that to Dean’s Blog for details. Sadly, I had to leave relatively early since I had to get some sleep and make ready for DAY TWO.

Of course, I still had only about three hours of sleep.

Day Two: Sunday

Embattled Angel, Nasty Kai. Watercolours by Arnold Arre.

I got up a little later on day two, since there was no rush to set up anything. There was, though, an Open Forum about the Philippine comic scene that I had to be a part of. When I got to the Megatrade Hall, I was alone for awhile since Carl was still dressing up at Le Grande at that time, and Arnold would be present only in the afternoon. I joined James, Taga-Ilog (who went with his trademark bucket headpiece/mask), Budjette, Robert Magnuson (Shirley’s Pets) and more to answer questions from the crowd about Pinoy comics and stuff. I have to say I don’t think we really had time to say as much as we would have wanted to, but I guess it filled the time and gave a bit of seriousness (and national/cultural relevance) to the general fun atmosphere of the C3Con.
Carl arrived a bit later, and for a while we were there just watching cosplayers walking about, doing the odd sketch for free (we’d sketch anime stuff and leave it out for people to ask for it). A lot of guys even passed by and gave us sketchpads and papers for us to sketch something… anything… on. I obliged every opportunity. It felt good.
Various people, acquaintances, friends and compatriots passed by, including our good friend Dexter Lira. There were people who wanted me to sign Angel Ace issues, the C3Con ashcan and more. Carl signed off Zsa Zsa issues. Arnold signed After Eden. We coasted along great.
There were several high points for the rest of the day. One was the arrival of the elusive Pol Medina Jr., creator of the very popular Pugad Baboy comic. He was able to sign the piles of PB comics given to him, and even helped judge the cosplay competition.
Pinoy Cosplayers are TOPS!
If I felt that this year’s cosplay competition was sparse compared to the one I saw a couple of years before, I was dead wrong. The entries were amazing, and featured lots of enthusiasm, imagination and talent. At least two dozen costumed anime/manga/game otaku came before us, making our jobs as judges incredibly HARD. The ones that stuck in my mind were an Alien Hunter (from the movie, Alien), Hannya and Anji from Rurouni Kenshin, a sexy assassin/office girl from Hunter X Hunter, Honey from Fighting Vipers (INCREDIBLE costume), Yuna and Lulu from Final Fantasy X.
There were some particularly funny moments; the Hunter X Hunter Assassin girl and the monk Anji character stayed in character even during interviews and skits. I admire their ability to do so; Anji’s praying in the face of the sexy assassin was priceless. Another funny moment was the interview of the Alien. The creature was crouching and in total character as the otherworldly monster; but when he talked, it was a mild, friendly college-guy voice. Heh. A great audience favorite was a guy dressed as Sadako from The Ringu; The Japanese thriller was a hit in Manila, and this made the character a hit. He creeped out everyone with his lurching, crawling movements. Too bad though it was a guy, and he didn’t shave his bare legs. Great scene; the Alien being harassed by Sadako. HAHAHAHAHA!
Anyway, there were so many funny moments, even off-stage. A cute Dita Liebely (from the Vandread anime) tried to take pictures of us at the judges’ table, but people from the stage production kept getting in the way. Eventually though she was able to snap some shots; luckily, she had a digicam (so she didn’t waste film).
In the end though, it had to come down to only three winners. Luckily, TWO competitors were given equal prizes for Third Place: The Alien and Hannya (who amazed everyone since he could make smoke puff out of his demon mask at will). Second place went to Culture Crash’s Mina; a girl who really got the character down pat (it didn’t hurt that she was cute). Finally, First Place went to Honey from Fighting Vipers, thanks to her great and intricate costume.
Once again, I must say that the Pinoy cosplayers are world-class. A JOY to see!

Closing Down
After the cosplay, it was all a matter of winding down. It was tiring and exhaustive, but seeing and hearing how happy the people all over C3Con were really kept me alive and excited. A guy who introduced himself from the PNP Print Department or something like that went up to me asking about how to do a comic. I told him the same thing I tell everyone who asks how I got to reach how I am now... PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE.
To close the event, James went up onstage and thanked all who helped and participated in the Con, to make it a resounding success.
In the end, I brought with me tons of nice memories, as well as a lot of other things. I had a ton of new independent manga and comics to peruse and admire. I got a simply ADORABLE Angel Ace toy hand-made and given to me by Angel Ace reader, Elite (I will treasure it always!). I have not one, but TWO original Arnold Arre watercolor paintings of Angel and Kai, which I will have framed ASAP. I have a ton (perhaps too much, I think) of anime and manga stuff like VCDs, pose books and mags. And yet again, I have another souvenir I.D/Pass to remember I was a participant and contributor to this successful event.
The First Philippine Comic and Anime Convention was a big success, I think, and I am really happy to have been a part of it. To be able to give our young people a great venue for expression (yes, that includes the loud J-Rock and Japanese lyrics) and just a chance to have fun and mingle with a like-minded crowd is a worthy thing to do, indeed. It doesn’t hurt that part of the proceeds will go to charity as well.
I am tired. I am spent. I have to buy another Christmas gift tomorrow. But I am happy. The C3Con is over. When will the next one be?

All I can say is, if and when the next Comic and Anime Convention happens, I must have two things. First, a Digital Camera so I can take pics of the fun. Second… A NEW Angel Ace issue to show to my readers. That’s a promise.

Epilogue: I never actually got to do my lecture on Ten Things You Need To Make Your Own Manga. Oh well. Maybe I can make it into a book someday. Heh.

Angel Ace in stuffed-toy form. CUTE!

Friday, December 20

An Early Christmas Vacation

Yesterday, I decided NOT to go to my office Christmas party. Well, I guess I thought that it would be best to go as an Invisible God. Anyway, WORK IS OVER! The next time I set foot in my office, it will be in January. HAHAHAHA!!!
Oh well. I spent the night at Megamall with Mike, his friend Marc and Noel Lim (Flim from Flim's Flimsy Films). We had dinner at the Food Court after I handled the stuff needed for tomorrow's C3Con (particularly the 'covers' for the Angel Ace Again Collection Pack) and bought gifts for the family. I still have two young boys and my parents to get essential gifts though. I also donated blood once more at Comic Quest, getting myself the latest copies of PSM (Playstation Magazine), Newtype USA, and the newest Blade of the Immortal issue.
Not bad at all since the DVD that came with PSM has tons of great footage from upcoming PS2 games, including a creepy look at Silent Hill 3. This time around you play a girl who wanders into a nightmare realm full of monsters and twisted demons. The graphics are incredible, yet I don't exactly know what's realtime in-game stuff and what's CG. The facial expressions are incredible, the music once again that melancholy guitar riff, and the monsters as bloody and horrendous as ever. The segment ends with a disturbing scene of your unconscious (or dead?) heroine being dragged off into the darkness by a monster... perhaps the Continue Screen? Wooh.
Other great stuff on the PSM DVD include stuff on GTA: Vice City, Soul Calibur 2 and Devil May Cry 2 movies. Best of all, it's a DVD instead of a demo disc, so you can play it on any DVD player.
The Newtype USA issue comes with a free DVD which features the first episode of Noir, a somewhat dark anime about a pair of female assassins searching for their past. Haven't looked at it, but it should be cool. The US version of this originally Japanese mag has impressed me so far, so I will continue to get issues. Lots of posters, great art and articles makes it a great buy for the anime fan.
That's about it. I have to finish the Angel Ace Collected Packs tonight, and have to firm up my outline for my lecture on 10 Things You Need To Make Your Own Manga for tomorrow's C3Con. As I said, I'm going to wing it, so I hope all goes well. I am just planning to have fun, so it shouldn't be at all bad.

Thursday, December 19

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

It happened quite unexpectedly, and abruptly, and the circumstances and situation in which it happened does not escape my notice. I was just sitting at my workstation, surfing and actually watching some videos of LOTR:TTT (particularly the new 'Gandalf the White' video) at theonering.net, when my officemate and friend Lyda walked up to me. I was half-expecting her to talk to me about work, so I closed the browser window and turned to face her... and found myself looking at a ticket to the Philippine Gala Premiere of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers! Okay, I have to say that I was for a moment flabbergasted and just babbling thank yous at that point. Mind you, few things would make me do that... perhaps a brand-new copy of DOAX for the Xbox, or a check for a million pesos (at least) or... well, actually, a lot of things could make me babble, but I really didn't expect anything like that to happen at that moment. Well, thankfully, our clients were sponsors of the event, so we had tickets. I got one and suddenly early evening (the show was slated to start at 7:30 PM) seemed so far away. And it was 4:00 right then.
Well, I finished surfing and doing whatever had to be done (which was really not too much). In a while I was zipping down the hall, out the elevator and down Ayala Avenue to Glorietta. Once there, I had a quick and early dinner at KFC before making my way to the cinemas.
Of course, there were loads of people there, waiting for the showing with tickets in hand. At the far corner, there were cocktails being served. In the middle of the area was a Philips flatscreen TV which was showing a looped segment of Russell Crowe's Gladiator (the Battle of Carthage). I have to admit, the higher pixels and stuff of the TV really, really changes the look and movement of the picture. I can't describe it... it seemed to make the movements of the images onscreen FULLER. Like I was watching a home video of Gladiator (in a good way). Damn, that was great. If only these darn flatscreen/plasma TVs weren't so expensive... I want one. NOW.
Anyway, to the movie. At 7PM, they began letting in people into the theater. There was free food and drinks to be had at the front; sandwiches, spaghetti, chips and iced tea. I turned them down except for a drink, then made my way to the interior. I met some friends from work and we sat together in the middle area. I have to say, though I was filled with anticipation for the show, the pre-showing events tried my patience. The attendants and hired help/ushers/thugs were pretty obtrusive, and they bothered people in order to accommodate reserved sponsors. There was the predictable radio show giveaways, which we were swearing at to just GET ON WITH THE DAMN SHOW. It didn't help that we had been waiting to the tune of inane radio commercials looped continuously for about an hour and a half.
When the Philippine National Anthem finally played, signalling the start of the show, the wait STILL wasn't over. There were some stupid trailers (including a horrible trailer for Femme Fatale with Antonio Banderas and Rebecca Romjin-Stamos) and commercials, and another span of dead air. Just when we thought we were in for another wait... finally... the film started.

And here my review begins. SPOILERS AHEAD.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers takes up after the first movie, The Fellowship of the Ring, ends. Actually, nope... that's not right. It starts a bit before the end of FOTR; specifically during Gandalf's sacrifice. We see him falling deep into the bowels of Middle Earth with the fiery Balrog... and then... BOOM! Frodo awakens. It was a dream. Or was it?
TTT dispenses with any prologue or explanation of past events. We are thrust into the meat of the LOTR trilogy, and the makers of this film expect anyone watching it to have seen Fellowship. Which describes me just fine, so that's great. The once-united Fellowship has now been broken into three groups: The warriors Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas are off searching for the kidnapped Merry and Pippin, while Frodo the ringbearer and Sam continue their trek into Mordor. The movie tries very hard to evenly share the film with the three paths, though markedly the story of Aragorn and the impending genocidal invasion of the human kingdom of Rohan by Saruman is at the center of the movie. There are some sudden changes of scene, which are not always perfect, but do the job well. Some scenes, such as flashbacks of the Arwen-Aragorn romance, may slacken the pace a bit, but it's never Episode II-horrible. Heh.

Anyway, being the middle movie of the epic trilogy, TTT is where the plot gets thicker, the mood gets darker and the battles get a lot bloodier. Aragorn and his comrades reunite with an old friend (three guesses who this is) and soon find themselves taking a direct hand in the war between Rohan and the forces of Isengard (Saruman's Uruk-Hai). Merry and Pippin are able to slip away from their captors and fall in with a sentient, moving tree, or Ent, named Treebeard. And finally, Frodo and Sam meet the creature known as Gollum, former ringbearer and corrupted hobbit-being. From here, the stakes get higher as the forces of evil start attacking from two fronts, seeking the extermination of man. The hold of the ring gets stronger over Frodo, little by little corrupting him against all he believes in.
As with the first movie, TTT spans almost three hours, and that's just enough to contain the door-to-door action. This middle parter has more action and less explanation than Fellowship, and scabs more political atmosphere as new characters join the cast; King Theoden of Rohan and his scions, Eowyn and Eomer. A new villain is the slimy Grima Wormtongue, Theoden's poisonous advisor and spy for Saruman. Much of the film concerns Aragorn's entry into Rohan and their struggle to get the land's defenses up to par as Saruman's hordes are brought into play. The various skirmishes, chases, subplots and other events eventually lead up to the Battle of Helm's Deep, easily the most impressive battle scene I have ever seen put to cinematic life. Several hundred men, many of them old men and young boys, against 10,000 (count 'em) Uruk-Hai. DAMN. When this battle draws nearer, you can feel the tension. You can see what's at stake. And you will have your breath taken away by the scale of this truly powerful finale.

I have to say that TTT is exhausting, yet rewarding in the fullest sense. LOTR fans rejoice, this film is yet another feather in director Peter Jackson's hat. The spectacle, the drama, the action, the special effects... they all deliver.

If there is anything negative to be said, here it is. It is not perfect, and I honestly prefer Fellowship.

Why? Because Fellowship still remains the definitive quest movie; the romance is there... the introduction of characters, the forming of the fellowship, the great establishing scenes of the beloved heroes and their wonderful worlds. The mystique of dungeon crawling, of a small party heading into uncharted territory... Fellowship is THE fantasy heroic quest movie. Truth be told, it has the greater setpieces: The prologue battle with Sauron, Moria and the Watcher in the Water, the coming of the Balrog; that incredible flight down to the bridge... If only Fellowship could stand alone. But that is not so, and this IS a trilogy.
The Two Towers is more spartan; Edoras and Rohan are wooden and plain compared to Lothlorien, Rivendell or even the Shire. Other places and sights are either mundane or intentionally forbidding (Mordor). We see little character development (everyone stays true to their characters, to their credit), and little of the intimacy of Fellowship. Characters who we loved to see onscreen in Fellowship get far less screentime here; Gandalf and Saruman in particular. The elves Arwen, Elrond and Galadriel are reduced almost to cameos.
But that's to be expected, since TTT has the burden of being the 'dark' chapter. It is all about battles and wars and less about wonder and magic. On the upside, the character of Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) shines in this one, as does Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) for providing solid comic relief. Legolas fans will be swooning in contentment as there are tons of lingering views of Orlando Bloom's visage. Despite a somewhat reduced role, Elijah Wood once more shows a remarkable performance as Frodo, this time delving into darker, more tortured depths as his character is slowly corrupted by the ring's evil. All in all, the cast are wonderful and play their parts to the hilt.
As for the film's CG creatures, there are tons of eye candy to enjoy; Massive oliphaunts, orcs on wargs (twisted wolves), Nazgul on new steeds and of course... Gollum. He'll make you laugh and cry and just gape. As CG creatures go... he's damn convincing. Those huge anime eyes... those wet lips... that leathery, smooth skin... DAMN. He may sound like Donald Duck and is cookier than a box of Chips Ahoy, but you won't be able to take your eyes off him. Jar Jar and Dobby be damned. Gollum/Smeagol will kick their arses in a second. Kudos to the special effects team (WETA) and actor Andy Serkis, after whose performance Gollum is derived.
But of course the movie's biggest pay-off is The Battle of Helm's Deep; a CG creature in itself. From the building up of the defenses to the unexpected arrival of some allies, to the bloody, brutal fighting to the heartbreaking sacrifices made in defense of mankind... it is hypnotic. DO NOT GO FOR THE LARGE SOFTDRINKS. You have been warned.

There. I came in with high expectations, and went away with ALL these expectations covered. Yes, it felt long. Yes, it is more battle and noise and spectacle. Yes, it does not have the soul or intimacy of Fellowship of the Ring. That said, I want to watch it AGAIN. The Two Towers is every bit the fantasy epic we expected it to be, and once again we will be transported to Middle Earth. Watch it in a theater when you can and revel in the sheer size and majesty of it all.

And now... another year till Return of the King... DAAAAAAAMMMMMMMNNNNN!!!!!

Wednesday, December 18

Office Santa

I spent most of my time at the office giving away little trinkets and comic books as Christmas gifts to the people I worked with; creatives, studio artists and account people. Got a couple of gifts back too, which is really nice. Work seems to be mostly over, though an account or two promises to be ready to pounce on me on the crack of the first day of work in 2003, which I hope will at least be on January 6. Some people actually believe that there will be WORK on the 2nd of January? DAMN! The echo of the firecrackers hasn't even died yet and you're getting up for work?? NEVER!!! Heh.
Anyway, tomorrow's our office Christmas Party, and I am contemplating not going. If I DO decide to go, I have to scrounge up whatever stuff I can wear to come as a 'god'. I am thinking of going either as the 'God of Gambling' (dress up fancily, then bring dice), or the 'God of Cookery' (borrow a chef's outfit from Dean and carry a wok). Hmm. Whatever. Maybe I'll just be the Sleeping God and just stay at home and hibernate. Or at least get ready for the Con. Yeah, right. Hahaha.
Currying for Flavor

Tonight me, Carl, Gig and Mike had dinner at Japanese restaurant Rai Rai Ken. We would have eaten at the Food Court, but we had a lady present so we opted for a nice cozy place to hole up instead of the open rowdiness of the mall's main eating area. I ordered a katsu curry rice bowl and miso soup, then some iced tea. I have to say... this was the BEST meal I've had all week. DELICIOUS. I wanted to lick the remaining curry sauce from the bowl. Ironically, I gave a pretty crass comment about how my dish looked very un-Japanese when I got it (presentation-wise, it looked... Nnnh). But the crispy breaded pork was perfect, the sauce was spicy and savoury and melded well with the soft rice, and the soup complemented it all perfectly. Ahhh. A bit pricey, but worth it. The only problem was... the smell of curry stays with you the whole night. Had to take a shower immediately after getting home.
The good thing was, I was able to buy gifts for all three of my nieces. All bags, all from EGG (Exciting Gifts and Goodies), which they giftwrapped for free (in nice, bag-like wrappings). I also got three issues of Zaturnnah to give as Christmas gifts at the office, as well as a bunch of anime knick-knacks. Finally, for myself (I couldn't resist) I got a Tenchi Muyo Anime Art book at Comic Quest.

Ah. Tomorrow is the last day of work for 2002... hopefully. Then it's all Christmas parties and readying for the holidays. I wish I could say it was all fun and games, but with several parties and the C3Con this weekend, rest is not something I will get, I think. And finishing Suikoden III will have to wait a little while longer... Arrrgh.
C3Con Tickets Now Available

Tickets for the First Philippine Comic Book and Animé Convention 2002 aka the C3Con are now available at Comic Quest. They will also be available soon at Comic Alley and Anima Anime. Prices: P150 per single day ticket/ P250 for a two day pass. You can also buy your collectible card tickets at the event proper. C3con: Dec. 21 and 22, Megatrade Hall Megamall Bldg. B.
The C3Con will feature tons of anime and manga merchandise on display, sale and for trade, lectures and appearances of your favorite local comic and manga artists/creators, contests, musical performances and more. Culture Crash has pulled out all the stops to make this first C3Con a pretty spiffy event... Hopefully we'll do good enough to see another con next year.

Tuesday, December 17

Angel Ace Again! Collection 'Cover' Art

Get the Angel Ace Again Collected Pack and you get this nice artwork.

With potentially thousands of anime and manga otaku headed for Megamall and the First Philippine Comics and Anime Convention this weekend, I'm hoping several won't have read Angel Ace Again, or have friends who haven't. That's why I'll be putting out on offer the 4 Again! issues in a bag, along with a nice 'cover' artwork that I will have printed on photopaper. This will be the closest I guess I will get to a 'compilation' of issues. I'll be preparing 20 sets, though I can probably supply double that and more if need be. Any ones I don't sell will go back to be sold at Comic Quest.
Prepping for the Convention

It still hasn't really sunk into my mind that in about four days I'm going to have to stand before hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of anime otaku in The First Philippine Comics and Anime Convention at the Megatrade Hall, Megamall. I'm going to try and talk about what I know about making your own manga comic, and not make a fool of myself doing it. Aside from myself, Arnold Arre (Mythology Class, Trip To Tagaytay, After Eden) will also be speaking, as well as speakers from the comic group Ground Zero, Lyndon Gregorio (Beerkada) and perhaps even Pol Medina Jr. of Pugad Baboy.
I haven't actually even started on the materials I will need to visualize my points; I am thinking of just buying a large sketchpad and drawing in it with markers. Well, why do that now when I can just cram it all on the night before the show? HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!
Anyway, I actually started preparations last night. I put together 20 copies each of Angel Ace Again! issues one to four, and will try to have them packed in plastic with a special new artwork. This special four-issue package will be sold at the Con at a discounted price of 300 pesos. Who knows, maybe we can sell a few. Or more.
Sigh. Still finishing up work at the office. Tomorrow's the last working day, so I hope everything is finished by then. Then it's all downhill. Hope, hope.
The Super-duper, Extra-special, Out-of-this-world, Headspinning (with matching Cartwheels) Adventures of Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah

Carl Vergara deconstructs Darna in his irreverent new opus

My friend and comic book creator Carlo Vergara (One Night in Purgatory, Isaw Atbp) has just released his latest comic book creation; Ang Kagila-gilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah. For english-only readers, the translation of this long title is pretty much encapsulated in the title of this post (at least, I think, in spirit. Heh).
It's all about a beautician named Ada, whom fate chooses to be the bearer of a mysterious stone, which when swallowed endows it's user with super powers. If this reminds you of various superhero myths, especially the Philippines' own classic Darna, it's on purpose. Carl's twist on the theme however, is unique. For Ada is a homosexual, and the owner of his own beauty parlor. When, at the suggestion of his assistant Diddy, he swallows the stone and shouts the name 'Zsa Zsa' (the name is engraved on the stone), Ada turns into a voluptious, superhumanly strong woman!
But it seems that with great power comes great responsibility since as Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah emerges, so do various threats to the land. Giant frogs, zombie hordes and a group of alien Amazons are only the first challenges to meet out hero (heroine?). But with Diddy and her object of affection Dodong at her side, Zsa Zsa goes into every fight fists and boobs flying! Oh. Did I say boobs? Heh.
This book is HILARIOUS. I have to say that Carl has outdone himself this time, and the tone and mood of Zsa Zsa is a refreshing change from the more serious, heavy drama of his past works. Comedy in comics is hard... but he pulls it off excellently with great dialogue that is sometimes tempered by biting honesty. Also captured is the classic campiness of the old Darna movies, but this time with a loving touch of sarcasm and parody.
It doesn't hurt as well that the art is gorgeous, with lots of great action, over-the-top facial expressions and even manga-esque SD, and more of Carl's trademark 'muscular' art. Suffice to say, both male and female readers get fan service in this one.
Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah is now available at Comic Quest branches, at P120 for 65 pages (black and white). It's been rated for mature readers ever due to some strong language and mature themes. Get yourself a copy now and more for a friend in time for Christmas, folks!
Cheese Pops and Blue Fizz

I finally got the chance to try a couple of things I have been eyeing for some time now; cheese-flavoured microwave popcorn and Pepsi Blue cola. The latter I've been wanting to try solely for my desire to find out just what the color blue tastes like (I kind of imagined it to be similar to chlorine and swimming pool water). Well, I popped the corn and got a glass full of ice for the cola. Mike advised me to virtually freeze the Blue cola and drink it as it's near frozen. Of course, I didn't have patience for that.
The popcorn was on the salty side; the cheese taste was recognizable, but unfortunately wasn't as zesty as the cheese popcorn you could get at the cinemas, or the ones that came with cheese flavor bags. Maybe I didn't mix it well enough. Oh well. As for the blue cola, it tastes very bland; it didn't even have the aroma of say, Dr. Pepper. Very forgettable, but it was a cola. Well, the blue color is kinda cool. And it was pretty nice to see blue fizz. Not as great as purple fizz, but what can you do?

Monday, December 16

Car Sick

Today I spent most of my time in a car. We had to present some storyboards for a TV commercial to client, and they were all the way across the world from Makati at Aurora Boulevard. The traffic was predictably heavy, so our vehicle was crawling most of the way. When we finally arrived at the client's office/factory, our entire presentation (which went quite well) took only an hour or so. After the meeting, we piled back in the car for the trek back to the office. We left the office at two. We got to client at three. Finished at four. Arrived at the office by five. Three hours, but it felt like double that. Yawn. Oh well. This is the last working week of the year 2002, so it should be just a sprint before we break the tape to our vacations. Not doing too bad. Not bad at all.
Waiting for The Two Towers (Some Spoilers)

I HATE waiting. I really do. So much that I often wish I had a cryogenic chamber to jump into so I can 'fast forward' to stuff I want without having to... wait. The second part of The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, The Two Towers, will be showing in the US a few days from now. But we poor Manilenos have to wait till early January. DAAAAAAAAAAMMMMMMNNNNN!!!
Anyway, reviews are beginning to filter in at sites like Aint It Cool News, and so far they are all uniformly raving about TTT. Remarks are generally that the action has been kicked up a notch, Helm's Deep finale kicks butt, and Gollum is one twistedly realistic dude who could make actor Andy Serkis (the actor who 'plays' the corrupted hobbit) a contender for Best Supporting Actor. I've seen the new 30-second trailer showing on US television, which features more of the film's CG creatures- Wargs, Ents, Nazgul on Fell Beasts, and tantalizing glimpses of HUGE battle scenes. My GOSH. Can't wait till January. It will be hell resisting bootlegs till then.

Sunday, December 15

Araw Awards

I got to see the Araw Awards on TV, which celebrated the years' best in Philippine advertising. Lots of ads, and I saw quite a few familiar faces. I really have to admit that I have little interest in the pomp and pageantry of these gigs. It doesn't help that I just got to my present agency so I don't have many entries in.
My takeaway from the awards show... WEIRD. Lots of really bad use of talents (including a very embarrassing segment/spoof by the actors from the hit McDonald's commercial 'Lolo') through horrible spiels and writing, and direction. And what the hell is Ronald McDonald doing as a presentor? THE HELL? He's a MASCOT for God's sake!!! Well, it could have been worse... Jollibee can't even talk. Maybe he would have had an interpreter...
And one more thing... haha... can't get out of my mind the sight of Monobloc chairs being used in such a prestigious event. Well, maybe it just shows how ad people can be frugal. In some ways. Heh. Monobloc. Sheesh.
Hard Work. Hard Life.

I went with my dad to have my four pairs of denim jeans cut. I think it's pretty much been more than two years since I got them, but I only NOW thought about cutting them to size. All this time I had been making do with just folding them (Levi's style). I don't know... I just felt I had to. I needed a change. Perhaps it started with me buying a two new pairs of shoes (one pair of classic anyday black leathers and one pair of black rubber shoes) last Friday. I got rid of my old pair of leathers, which had been serving me for the past two years as well, weirdly enough by leaving them on the bus I was riding on. I imagined quite romantically that they'd find their way into the hands of someone who would have them repaired and use them again. Later, Carl told me that more likely, they'd probably be mistaken for a bomb. Well, they weren't, so I wasn't worried. Heh.
Anyway, I had decided to cut the pants; me and my dad drove off to where my parents usually had their tailoring stuff done. Thanks to my dad's wonderful directional sense, we almost missed the hole-in-the-wall tailor shop. The tailor, Mr. Olympio, was an old man who lived in his tailoring shop with at least two of his grown children and their spouses, and at least two kids. We walked in and gave my pants, which turned out, needed not only cutting, but quite a bit of repairs to the pockets, and patching some frayed parts. The whole time I looked about the somewhat untidy, grimy shop. It wasn't the most furnished of places; there were two sewing machines, lots of threat and spools about, a calendar on a wall, a Sto. Nino picture hanging on another, and a cabinet with an old guitar that had only one string left. Atop a cabinet were, seemingly out of place, numerous trophies for bowling and darts.
The old tailor worked on the pants, all the while talking with my dad on various subjects, though mostly on his health (which was apparently failing since the man was pretty thin). I gathered that he had to go to the hospital recently; my dad would later tell my mom that the man had cirhossis; a result of heavy drinking in his earlier years. As Mr. Olympio and my dad talked, my dad would try to insert advice to the man to quit alcohol. Of course, Mr. Olympio agreed. When the job was about finished, one of the tailor's chums came in, apparently inviting him to drink. From what we hears, going cold turkey wasn't a priority. Oh well. It was his life to live.
I had my pants finished after about an hour or so. I paid the man, and my dad gave him a bit of extra for Christmas. As we left, I regretted not giving him even more, but to go back and give him extra worried me that it may seem like pity, which I did not want to project. Man still had his pride.
I reflected on how the old man sewed the reams of cloth in the pants, manipulating it with grimy old fingers and working the manual sewing machine with expertise that has been honed through years of labor. You need to be damn precise to do that kind of thing; yet he gets paid very little relatively to people in business. In contrast, I get paid quite a bit more doing rough concepts and vague thoughts. That's why I guess in the US, menial laborers are paid more. Here, it's pretty different and quite depressing.
Oh well.
He did a good job with my pants. Damn good job.
The Other "Ring" Movie

No-brainer Tip: Don't watch cursed videotapes.

I finally got to watch The Ringu, the Japanese horror hit that's been making the hairs stand up on the backs of many Filipinos' necks for the past weeks. I am glad that I caught it; the only hitch is that I hope I don't get visited by some evil spirit now...
The Ringu revolves around a strange urban legend and myth about a cursed videotape that brings death to whomever views its eerie contents. When a young girl named Tomoko and several of her classmates die after watching the said video, her cousin, a reporter named Reiko, feels compelled to investigate. As she delves into the mystery, she uncovers strangely distorted photos, a quiet cabin in the province, and finally, the sinister video itself. After she watches the images... strange, blurry clips of a woman and some disturbing scenes, she suddenly receives a phone call. "Seven Days." says the voice. Seven days till she dies. In her desperation and growing fear, Reiko calls upon her ex-husband, Ryuji, to help. A professor and psychic, Ryuji himself watches the tape, apparently dooming himself as well. But perhaps they can escape the horror that awaits them if only they can unearth the secret behind the tape...
Okay, this film is freaky. If you're used to Hollywood slashers, gore-fests and CG monster movies, this should be a breath of fresh air. It is alien... the pace is different, the look is very un-cinematic and ordinary (it kinda reminds me of a low budget short film) but that all just contributes to how mundane life is until something supernatural bursts in. After that, the buildup starts piling up as the days count down to the inevitable. The Ringu relies a lot on disturbing (but not really gory) images, some sudden bursts of music and peripheral vision tricks to unnerve and scare. It also has the somewhat funny way of making people just 'pop up' out of nowhere; Reiko is just standing alone, and then some other character is just THERE. I speculate that either they are all descended from ninja so no sound is made when they approach... or it's because of their socks. Hmm.
Anyway, I liked it. I can't say I was scared by it, desensitized as I am, but I was fascinated and creeped out. I found the images freaky and disturbing, and the plot was very intriguing... so that even through the quiet, long pauses I was held in place. It doesn't hurt as well that lead actress Nanako Matsushima is quite easy on the eyes (actually most of the women in the film are; gotta love Japanese women). On the con side, the film does take a bit to build up, but maybe that's intentional so you're lulled into a false sense of security before the GHOST LEAPS UP BESIDE YOU!!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!
Ahem. Watch it if you can. If you dare. I liked it so much, I am now actually considering watching the US remake. Just to see if Hollywood can elicit the same chills... or if they can improve on it.

Hmmm. Cursed videotapes. Good thing I prefer DVDs these days.

Saturday, December 14

Anime Overload

Was looking through Virra Mall's anime shops and I saw DVDs of anime series such as Aquarian Age, Witchhunter Robin and quite a lot of hentai DVDs. I eventually just turned them all down and bought Chobits. Hmm. Not too much in an anime buying mood ever since I spent a bundle getting stuff from Comic Alley. Anyway, it's fine since I have a backload of anime at home that I have yet to watch: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Tenchi Muyo Galaxy Police Transporter, The 4th Inu Yasha Box Set, Fushigi Yuugi OAV, Love Hina Again (VCDs though), the whole Full Metal Panic series (VCD as well) and more. Sheesh. Now that I look at it, I have enough anime to last me throughout the holiday till the new year. Still, it would be perfect if I got my hands on the second half of Gatekeepers 21. That eludes me. Grrrr.
Hits and Misses

Not everything went as planned this afternoon. Getting a cab was a maddeningly frustrating experience, so I wasn't able to meet Dean at Greenhills. Instead, I talked him through the cell to the gameshop where he could get his PS2. Everything apparently went smoothly, except for the fact that they will have to wait a bit to play Suikoden III since their copy is with me. Anyway, I got to Virra Mall at about 3:30 pm and proceeded to go about my usual Saturday ritual. I was finally able to start my Christmas shopping by buying a DVD set of Band of Brothers for... my brother. Yep, I am sure he won't be seeing this blog, and even if he does, he already knows what I am getting him anyway. Heh. I also got some discs for myself; a Japanese movie entitled The Phone which seems eerily similar in theme to The Ringu, except... this time, it's all about a phone. Hmm. Also, I finally got myself a copy of Volcano High, so I'm happy for that.
I passed through some anime shops and got myself a copy of the cutesy romance/sci-fi anime, Chobits, which is supposed to be very popular in Japan. It's all about a time when in Japan, guys can buy themselves a 'girl', which is in this case a robot or computer in humanoid form. The hero in Chobits finds himself one such computer girl in a junk heap, and takes it home. Later, he finds out that the girl isn't the ordinary robot that she seems to be. Hmm. Robotic girlfriends. This is probably set in a future Japan. Say, about three years from now. Heh.
I finally got tired of the crowded alleys of Greenhills and decided to bail. A long line at the FX terminal headed for Megamall made me just take a straight jeepney to Robinson's Galleria. The Ringu is showing at the theaters, so I got myself a ticket. I'll give a review as soon as I am able. Right now I am killing time before I plunge into the film that my friend Carl called "freaky". Cool.
Game Monger

Today I accompany Dean to Greenhills where we hope to get him a Playstation 2. The Alfars finally gave in when their favorite RPG, Suikoden, finally came out with an installment on the console. Along the way I hope to pick up some anime and games myself. Since it's kinda early, maybe I can try to watch The Ringu at Megamall later.
After the customary Saturday Lunch with the family, my brother showed me his tiny Umax digital camera. It was pretty handy and cool since you could just snap away. Of course, it was just a quickie camera, not one of those megapixel things... it may not be great for hi-res, serious photography, but at the very least with it I can take fast pics that I can post online and stuff. I am still deciding whether it's worth the 3000+ pesos to spend for it. Or maybe I should just hold off on spending too much. Well, whatever. I like these kind of problems. Heh.

Friday, December 13

Weekend Prospects

It's the end of the second-to-the-last working week of the year 2002. With pitches, print ads, TV commercial concept design and all the rest of the work pretty much done, I expect only light stuff before our inevitable Christmas party and the long break till the new year. My boss, our creative director, has already left for her much-deserved vacation. I won't be seeing her till 2003. I intend to put in for vacation leave so I'll have a solid 2 weeks of vacation time. That's time I ought to use to finish up all my requirements, including writing gigs, artworks and new pages for several comic projects. I also have to finish Suikoden III, which I put off due to the high amount of work.
Oh gosh... I also have to start my Christmas shopping. My priorities are my family, and then the barkada, and then close officemates. Darn. Have to start on that... pronto.
Have to start taking vitamins so I don't waste any of my holiday just stuck in bed. Have to do some serious fun and productive stuff.
Look what mom brought home...

No home should be without the Croc-o-rock.

My mom showed me last night this hilarious little gift she got from one of her amigas. At first it appears to be a painted statuette of a crocodile, standing on top of a flat rock. It's kinda painted dark green, with white teeth. Looks a bit menacing, actually... until you press a button and it starts SINGING. Yep. A jazzy song with lyrics about how the croc wouldn't like to go into a hot pot start blaring out... and during the refrain, the croc actually moves and opens its mouth to sing the words, swishing its tail along with the tune.
In a word... freaky. But funny. And according to my mom, my sister got a similar singing toy... except hers is a fish. Yes.... Freaky...
An Impending War of Boobs and Balls

DOAX's Tina versus Outlaw Volleyball's Summer. Anime perfection versus Offbeat sluttiness.

Next year, not one but two beach volleyball games are hitting the Microsoft Xbox. One is the massively-hyped Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball, while the other is the irreverent Outlaw Volleyball.
DOAX features graphical beauty and expertise from Tecmo of Japan's star development team, Team Ninja. These programmers have fashioned games that have consistently pushed the capabilities of every platform they've worked on, from the original Playstation to the Xbox. They've always produced graphically-superior games and gameplay, but unfortunately they are most famous (or infamous) for the Dead or Alive series' bouncing breast animations. If they ever really tried to conceal their use of sex and skin to spice up and sell their games, they've dropped every pretense of it in DOAX. Set entirely in a place called Zack Island, DOAX stars the women of the DOA fighting game series as they take an impromptu vacation, earn money by playing volleyball and other minigames on the island, make friends, form a killer volleyball team, get a tan, and fill up their closets with as many of the estimated 300+ swimsuits and accessories available in the game.
DOAX will require players to find a partner for their main girl, and then 'build a relationship' with that girl to make the team stronger. This means buying gifts and lots of them (a lot like real life), which gives DOAX aspects of dating simulations (another popular genre in Japan). Of course, the teammates are both girls, so don't expect anything more than close, huggy and affectionate friendships. Aside from the main volleyball game, DOAX will feature tons of other activities and minigames to do, including gambling at a casino. It also features the ability to watch certain animated situations wherein the girls 'relax'... of course, the voyeuristic camera will be yours to control. Yes, this is a Japanese game through and through.
The US-original Outlaw Volleyball reflects its more occidental roots.The visual style is more western and realistic as opposed to the idealized anime-esque characters in DOAX. A volleyball game through and through, OV will feature at least 18 players, which consist of an equal number of males and females (as opposed to the sparse 8 all-female playables in DOAX). In contrast to the idyllic island setting of DOAX, OV will send players to such colorful venues like a women's prison, an oil rig and a sewer. The playable characters match the surroundings; they will include strippers, tattooed bikers, British punkers, Elvis impersonators, hillbillies, trailer trash and more pleasant folk. As with the developer Hypnotix's previous game, Outlaw Golf, you will be able to initiate fights during a volleyball match, letting you steal momentum from a winning opponent.
Anyway, I have to say that both games are pretty intriguing, and I'll be sure to check them out. My money's on DOAX, of course, since I'm a longtime DOA fan. Still, slutty biker chicks in thongs are strangely appealing. Don't know why, though... Heh.

Thursday, December 12

Live-action Anime

Last week I was able to watch the recent Korean film, Volcano High, which is quite simply, an anime with real people. It's all about Kim(Jang Hyuk) a transferee to the school, and how he mixes in with the local faculty and students... which is quite a blast since everyone seems to have either super-powers or super martial arts skills. What you have are people flying across hallways ala Matrix, blows sending opponents through walls, psychic powers that can change the weather and control the very molecules of water and other cool stuff.
In order to re-establish order in the chaotic campus, the evil vice-principal is seeking a certain codex or mystic book that will give him ultimate power. With a group of powerful, evil teachers/masters of death on his side (including a totally awesome dude in a cool flowing trenchcoat), he's out to crush everyone who dares resist his rule.
Of course, Kim won't stand for that, and along with his rival Jyang (Kim Soo-roh) and the icy-cold kendo mistress Chai-I (played by the quietly beautiful Min-a-Shin), he's going to win back the rights of the students to rumble in Volcano High.
This film is hilarious. There isn't really as much action as there is attitude and posing, but when things start flying, you can't take your eyes off the screen. The plot really is inconsequential to the style, fun and special effects, so don't try to reason or rationalize this wacky but masterfully-done film by director Kim Tae-Kyun. The cast and crew just look like they're having so much fun. And this is one of those HK-type films... the stars often do their own stunts. Just watch it and laugh your head off.
Had the chance to get the DVD of this last week. I should make it a point to really just pick up a copy the next time I have the chance.

Kendo queen Chai-I (Min-a-Shin) strikes a pose.

On a side note, Director Kim's next movie will be titled Fist of Chosun (Chosun is the old name for Korea) and will start filming in February 2003.
Prepaid Internet

On my jaunt around Glorietta, I bought a Blast Internet prepaid card. I haven't really tried too many cards; I just started with Blast and just got used to the fast, sure log-ins and the relatively brisk connection speed. I get 9 hours of internet for 100 pesos, which is not bad; and far more affordable than the thousand-plus I spent on an internet subscription. I also occasionally buy I-Tipid, which gives you no less than 20 hours of browsing time. However, the flaw is that it's often HELL to connect (lines are always busy). I have found out though that there are certain times when connecting is a lot easier, so I got used to using it. However, there were no I-Tipid cards at the stall I went to, so it's Blast for now. There. Now I can surf (and blog) again at home. Cool.
A Short Break

After a somewhat productive morning, I went out to have lunch and a walk. After a little deliberation I finally decided on a simple but satisfying barbecue pork chop at Sizzler Glorietta. The meal was made exceptional by its speed; I had just sat down on my chair when lo, my order was already before me! Talk about fast food. Maybe there was another person who ordered the same thing but left without claiming it before me. Or maybe I blacked out into a time warp without knowing it. Who knows? Anyway, after that I walked around and revisited the stall where the rainsticks were being sold. I resolved to buy one soon; I just had to decide whether it was as a gift or as a neat knick-knack at the office or sanctum.
Walked a bit more, getting myself several VCDs of The Breed and De Sade at Tower Records. Hmm. Feeling R-rated today. Heh. After that, I walked back to the office, resisting the urge to just take a cab. I passed by the underpass and noticed that the stink of dead cat had grown stronger and had spread over a wider area. There were some maintenance men checking out the grates at the side. I hope they find it and get rid of the thing. The place smells like it really needs a good fumigating. And speaking of bad smells, I passed by a couple of foreign backpackers on the way back, and they... phew... well, they weren't as bad as the dead cat, but... Mmm.

Anyway... am back in the safety of the office. Week's almost done, so things are just peachy.
A Nice Coaster!

I went to Comic Quest yesterday for my weekly bloodletting. I got the latest issue of Official Xbox Magazine, which comes with a DVD full of game demos. I also got the latest issue of Elektra, which still comes with the customarily excellent Greg Horn cover. Luckily, the interior art isn't bad and the story seems to be getting interesting. But the pick of the night has got to be an image CD specially-made for Comic Book Artists, which features over 650 varied poses. All I can say is... WHAT A LEMON! The poses are limited and pretty useless, consisting of a few dozen shots of a white-trash couple drinking, smoking or acting weird. Along with that are some random pics of cities and... RUBBLE. WOW! I guess I can use them if I need to have references for my comic set in a city with rubble starring a girl with boots looking scared as she smokes and drinks and smooches with some guy. Woohoo! I will treasure this CD always.
Hmph. I know. I'll give it away as a Christmas present for the guys at the office studio. Reference material. BAH.

Wednesday, December 11

Hard Times

Today, I rode a bus to Cubao going to work. A while later, a man got on and started passing out envelopes. He dropped one on my knee, which promptly fell off. I just kept staring, knowing that it was another one of those people asking for contributions, or love offerings. To my surprise, the guy said that he was asking money for Christmas ("namamasko"). He then started singing what seemed to be a Christmas song, complete with a rattle or cymbals he had. He sang for about a minute or two, then collected the envelopes and was off.
Everyone from religious groups to workers' unions and poor families beg on buses. There's also this spot at Santolan, near Camp Crame, where the attendants at the Minute Burger stand actually board buses, selling hamburgers (2 for ten pesos). Talk about taking your product to the consumer.
It kinda depresses me to see these things. Have to not let if affect me too much though. Times are just hard. You do what you can to get a little more money. As long as you don't steal.

Tuesday, December 10

A Spooky Stowy!
(Based on real, and recent, events. Like, just now!)

It was after normal working hours, and I left the almost-empty office to go to the comfort room. I passed by the elevators on my way. All I could hear were my own footsteps, and the distant hum of the elevators going up or down the shafts. Mmmmm- up... Mmmmm- down... Mmmmm.
Anyway, I got to the Men's Room and answered the call of nature. I then headed for the sinks, where I proceeded to wash my hands. Now, the building being a modern facility, the water faucets don't have handles you turn or flip. The water is activated by placing your hands directly in front of the infra-red sensor beneath the faucet. Then, and only then, will the water run. Cool, eh?
Well, as I finished washing my hands... the faucet next to mine started running. It started RUNNING. There was NOONE there!!! It could only mean... A presence was... present! It was a brush with the supernatural. At long last, I looked into the spirit world, and it stared right back at me with its own baleful gaze...

Well, admittedly, it might have been just a simple malfunction, or the sensor being activated by the vibrations of the passing elevators. Or one of a thousand, thousand other reasons.

But the ghost story is the reason that's FUN. Heh.

Damn. Maybe I can get interviewed on that spook show, Verum Est. Or start my own cult. Haha. This is great.
I can feel it in the air...

It's DONE!!! Hahahahaha! Our secret project has finally borne fruit. Can't reveal it in full, but it's a website filled with tons of neat stuff from our little group. It will be launched during the upcoming Philippine Comics and Manga Convention this December 21-22. Anyway, the Immacolata comic I've been working on is part of this, along with a lot of other creative works from a bunch of fun-loving, creative individuals. Soon. SOON! HAHAHAHAHAHA!
Death and Taxis

I AM beginning to be totally dependent on taxis. Today I took no less than four taxi rides. One from home to work, another from Greenbelt to Makati Cinema Square, another from Greenbelt to Glorietta, and finally a taxi from Glorietta back to the office. Damn. It's addicting to just relax and sit back in an airconditioned space you've paid for, letting someone else trouble himself to get you where you want to go. Dangerously addictive... and expensive. But at least it gets me places, unlike some other addictions. Anyway, it's still not as pricey as maintaining your own car and parking space in Makati, I guess. I tell myself I hate driving and could probably never get used to it. I'd probably make a bad-tempered driver too, with road-rage just wanting to spill out at the slightest opportunity. Then, out comes the rocket launcher...!
Hmm. I think I'll stay as a commuter. Till the day I can afford my own car. And driver/lackey/bodyguard. But who can I trust?
Maybe I could get myself cloned. Have my own little Driver-Me to take me around town. And I'll pay him with Xbox games. Nice deal, I think. Yes. That's an idea...
City Hunter

I went out at lunch to find a couple of... um... esoteric objects. Blood sample slides and particular music CD. Don't ask why... I am not at liberty to tell. Let me just say that they're for some agency purposes. That's how weird some ideas can be, requiring some pretty unusual things to become ads or merchanising materials.
Anyway it wouldn't have been too bad if the stuff were easy to find. As it was, I got strange looks from the pharmacist at one store when I asked for the blood sample slides. I had lunch at Pancake House Makati Cinema Square and got absolutely HORRIBLE service. The pancakes weren't as fresh-hot as they should have, the waiters didn't set or clean my table until they actually had the food served to me, and irritatingly, the waiter brought the bill to my table as I was eating. THE HELL?! Good thing it only took a venomous look from me that the guy took a hint and withdrew the offensive thing. FIRED. ALL OF YOU. If I had any say in it. You can't really expect great service from any place in Makati Cinema Square though... it's pretty much a basement warehouse dockyard de-militarized zone trying to pass for a mall. Bah.
Anyway, I had to ride all the way to Glorietta to find the blood sample slides, which turned out to be called Microscope Sample Slides. Ah. Well, apparently you can't buy them in singles, so I had to buy a box. As for the music CD, I actually had the option of getting either a Frank Sinatra or a Louie Armstrong CD... as long as the song we were looking for was there. I scoured the Jazz section of Tower Record to find only ONE CD to have the song. It was a Louie Armstrong compilation that cost almost a thousand pesos. GAH. I called my Creative Director on the cell, asking if we needed it that badly. She eventually said yes. I would have bought it there and then if not for a tiny voice that said, WAIT!!!
So I balked and took a bit of a walk to the only other music store in the area, Odyssey at Park Square. Lo and behold, it only took me a few minutes to find not one, but several Frank Sinatra CDs that had our needed song. And the cheapest only cost 200 pesos. YAHOO!
With my weird stash in had, I took a taxi once again back to the office. My deed was done. I hope it was all worth it though. Walking kilometers in city traffic, spending on taxi rides, putting up with bad service all take its toll on you. I might lose my belief in my fellow man.
Burning the Midnight Brain Cells

It's already a new day and I'm still at the office. Darn, I hate overtime. Anyway, we're doing a final sprint towards the finish since we have not one, but two pitches to handle. FYI for non-advertising types, a 'pitch' is an agency's attempt to win a business. This involves producing grade-A ads that are supposed to blow your prospective clients' socks off, and the opposing agencies' campaigns out of the water. Well, we're hoping to do just that and have a merry Christmas. The office is pretty empty, dark and kinda creepy at night, despite there being a cheery tree and blinking lights on the doorway. Hopefully I'll be on a cab headed home in a while. At least before daylight starts creeping up the skyline.

Monday, December 9

A Quiet Despedida

Tonight we had a little office get-together to say goodbye (kinda ironic, I guess) to one of the writers from the Creative department. We gathered at Frescano restaurant behind the office (chosen so we could easily walk back after since we had overtime) and had a simple eat and drink party. Anyway, the air was kinda subdued but everyone was glad that the guy seemed to be doing well as he already had a job as a deejay in a popular radio station. Apparently, aside from getting paid more, he also worked for only 3 hours a day. Whoa. Nice deal. Well, if you're willing to put up with the wild life of a radio jock, calling people, getting weird calls from all types of psychotics and whatever, and being able to work a turntable. Sounds like fun... but not my bag.
Well, after dinner we said goodbye and went back to the office. Life goes on.
Almost Too Good To Eat

Last night, just before I admitted defeat to the Sandman, I caught several minutes of a special about Shanghai on Discovery Channel. It centered mainly on Shanghainese cooking, particularly dimsum. I have to say that my mouth was watering at the imagined taste of real, Chinese dumplings... but I was really pleased at the beauty of the things. We've got dumplings here in Manila, from Chinese restaurants. But to get the really beautiful, delicious stuff you would probably have to go to some really expensive places (nope, Luk Yuen won't have them). I really doubt that even the best, most authentic Chinese eateries here will have the incredibly beautiful and exquisite dumplings I saw; little green dumplings that emulated Chinese cabbage, made green by real cabbage juices... an almost transparent 'purse' dumpling with a seaweed cord around the top... cute little 'piglet' dumplings... a dumpling made of glutinous rice with sesame seeds wrapped in dried leaved tied 13 times... Works of art, all.
I wonder if I'd eat them. They looked too good to eat.
Bah, who am I kidding. Of course I would have. Heh.
Spooky Surveillance Video

A short segment in TechTV's 'Cool Stuff' caught my attention a few days ago. A wrecking yard in Oklahoma City is claiming that it caught a ghost on camera. This creepy story made the local news and features a few seconds of the video surveillance tape showing a spectral, humanoid figure circling the yard, as if looking for something. According to some paranormal investigators, there were several cars in the yard involved in fatal accidents; the 'ghost' may be from one of these tragic events...
Hmm. Just goes to show that even in the US, they believe in white ladies.

Click here for a report and the spooky video! Realplayer required.

Sobering Realities

On my way to work, I'd always pass by an overpass to the highway. This morning, as I stepped down the stairs, there was an old woman there, sitting on the lowest step. She was dishevelled and looked a bit like a beggar, and frankly, was probably not in her right mind. She was talking to the air, gesturing with her hands. As I stepped down, she looked up at me and said, "Good morning, anak." (Anak is Filipino for 'child'). What could I do or say? I just kept walking. I could hear her still talking to the air behind me. It got me thinking how some people here in the country have dozens of cars and houses to spare while others have to live under overpasses and in trash heaps. The reason for much of this is because our government officials suck out millions for their own pockets, stealing from projects which should give our country's poor at the very least a roof over their heads and a hot meal every day. DAMN. Now that's really something that you can call MAD. Goddamn fricking MAD.
Weekend Roundup

Overall, my 'long weekend' wasn't all that bad despite a slight invasion by workload on Friday. We weren't able to catch a film as we did usually on Saturday, but at least we were able to spend a nice Chinese dinner at North Park with Dean and Gig. The choice of cuisine was inspired when Carl and I watched the Korean film Volcano High at Comic Quest. Okay, it was Korean... we didn't know any good Korean restaurants nearby, so we settled for Chinese. It was a nice meal, but after it seemed to affect us since we all went home immediately after.
Yesterday, Sunday, I stayed at home. I busied myself with finishing page contributions for the C3Con or Philippine Anime and Comics Convention that's being sponsored by Culture Crash. I did a spread for both my own comic, Angel Ace, and for our group's special website project. James Palabay, CC's head honcho and writer/creator of One Day, Isang Diwa, came to the house himself to pick up the CD with the images.
Anyway, after that I just basically chilled for the rest of the day and night. I was able to watch the third Austin Powers film, Goldmember, on DVD. All I can say is... DAMN it must be so easy to sell crap when you establish a franchise. The first two Powers movies were okay... but this third one was just a bit too much scraping the bottom of the toilet bowl. The new character, Goldmember, played by Mike Myers as well (he plays Austin Powers, Doctor Evil and the returning Fat Bastard as well), is simply not funny... just disgusting and odd. I wonder what people from Holland think of that character? Oh well. Die Hard Power freaks may dig it, but I just watched with a blank stare for most of it. Even the MOLE joke didn't get to me. Though the cameos of various stars was kinda neat.
If anything, I got to recharge a bit, which is always good. Still, I am looking forward to finishing off the whole advertising plate in the next couple of weeks for the Christmas vacation.

Saturday, December 7

Retro-Gaming Picks

Games like DOA make my old PS worth keeping around.

Yesterday, me and Jason walked around Megamall looking for some old PS1 games. Apparently, he got himself a PSOne so now he's looking for stuff to play. Since he heard so much hooplah about Final Fantasy VII, we went looking for a copy. We went up and found mostly old or crap games. We thought about getting him some of the Final Fantasy anthologies, but they looked... too primitive. Actually, the funny thing is that we found it kinda embarrassing to walk into a gaming store crowded with kids and then ask for a game that's about six years old. We would probably have gotten the same reaction you'd get if you ordered milk in a western saloon. Stunned silence. Heh.
Anyway, I tried to recommend some cool games. Even in these days of CG quality Xbox, PS2 and Gamecube games, there are tons of PSOne games worth keeping. For RPGs, you simply can't beat the wealth of Final Fantasies (VII is the best, progressively getting slightly not as good with the succeeding games, VIII and IX). There are Resident Evils and Silent Hill for creep-out games. Action gamers have the original Tomb Raider I and II, and tons more. Medal of Honor gives you one of the best FPS experiences you can get on a console. Of course, in terms of fighting there's the original Tekken and Dead or Alive and tons more. I'd never throw away my beloved PS. Even after more than seven years, there's still great fun in the 32-bit wonder. Sometimes I think of getting a cute little PSOne to replace my old gray box. Who knows... maybe someday.
Portable Rain

I was walking around in Glorietta a few days ago and I came upon a row of stalls and kiosks selling native products and items. Amid the various ethnic trinkets and doo-hickies which I cared nothing for, I saw a Rain Tube, which is really cool. It's a big bamboo tube which has been decorated with enthic flavor and filled with... stuff. I don't know what is inside; it could be anything from beads to thumbtacks to little bugs. Anyway, the effect is that if you turn the tube over the stuff inside shifts, making a sound which is supposed to replicate the sound of rainfall. It's actually quite nice and soothing, and I would have bought it right there and then. Now thinking back, I may buy one for myself and another for a gift. I just hope it's still there when I pass by Glorietta the next time.
I want to be a Forensics Expert.

And I can be... by playing the PC game version of CSI: Crime Scene Investigations. This game, based on the popular detective/drama series by director Jerry Bruckheimer, will be coming out in March 2003. First it was a comic (which is still upcoming), now a game. Who'd ever thought that poking at dead bodies could be so absorbing? Ooh. Engrossing, or just gross? Heh. Anyway, it's still a ways off, but I may have a bit of ghoulish pleasure in a similarly themed-PC game I just got recently: Post Mortem, which puts you in the shoes of a detective out to solve a ritualistic murder case. Lots of creepy fun to be had on PC. On consoles, I can recommend games like Fatal Frame on PS2 or Xbox, and Silent Hill 2 for more creeps and freaks rather than gore and guns as in Resident Evil.

Friday, December 6

Salvaging a Holiday

Today is a holiday here in Manila, but I had to get up and work. On the bright side, I was able to get adequate sleep. Furthermore, instead of staying cooped up in the office, the creatives met up at the posh Rockwell Power Plant mall. We spent some time at the Press Cafe at the Bookstore formerly known as Page One. While the other guys worked on their stuff, I spent the time thinking up storylines for TV commercials as I munched on a Cheesesteak Sandwich and bottomless Iced Tea. All in all, it really wasn't that bad. Working outside the office, in a nice, relaxed and uninhibited setting makes for relaxed and uninhibited thinking. I got the storylines approved and I was free for the rest of the day!
Anyway, I decided to walk around Power Plant. Not Page One is pretty cool and I love the rack of comics and graphic novels (thought about buying Will Eisner's Graphic Storytelling book but eventually decided against it... for now). However, the rest of the mall is strangely barren for me. Lots of clothing and "grown-up" stores that I really have no use for. I don't know if there is a single electronics or gaming shop in Power Plant, but if there is I couldn't find it. BAH. Give me Megamall or Greenhills anyday.
Well, I will probably walk around to kill time before tonight's dinner and meet with Mike, Dean, Nikki, Jason and the rest. Looking forward to a nice night's discussion and laughs. Maybe I should catch The Ringu (The Ring Japanese version) at Mega? We'll see. Ah. My weekend looks safe once more. Hope, hope.

Thursday, December 5

Insert Shameless Plug Here! (Yay, Carl!)


After his first comic book, the gay-themed One Night In Purgatory, garnered acclaim by landing a finalist slot in the recent Manila Critics' Circle National Book Awards and being mentioned in the Sanghaya Yearbook of the National Commission for Culture and Arts as the best comic book of 2001, Carlo Vergara is set to release his second book, Ang Kagila-gilalas Na Pakikipagsapalaran Ni Zsazsa Zaturnnah.

Zsazsa Zaturnnah tells about Ada, a gay man, who receives a mysterious stone that grants him the power to transform into a woman. As Zaturnnah, Ada defends his hometown from extra-terrestrial amazons. Joining him in this light comedy adventure are his sidekick Didi and his secret crush Dodong. Written in Filipino, Zsazsa Zaturnnah is for mature readers due to suggestive content and strong language.

The 65-page first part will be available in mid-December at all ComicQuest branches (SM Megamall, SM North Edsa, Festival Mall Alabang) for only Php120. The second part will hit the shelves in late-February.

For an 'Ispeysyal Preview' of Zsazsa Zaturnnah, click here.