Friday, February 14

Greetings from the Beach!

Hello from Boracay! Well, as luck would have it, the local tourist center has an adequate Internet center where I can surf and blog. So here is my first day on Boracay and confirmation that I am really a cyber-addict. Sigh.
Anyway, I got up at about four in the morning after having about two hours of actual shut-eye. A taxi which we contracted would be arriving at about five to take me to the Manila Domestic Airport. On the dot, the cab came and I was off after saying goodbye to my parents and locking up the sanctum. The drive was pretty fast since it was abysmally early; no traffic at all. I arrived at the airport at about five-thirty, paying the cab fee and giving the driver a tip that made him thank me for his Valentine's Day expenses. Heh.
Once the group was all together, we readied for the flight. We were flying on SEAIR, or Asian Spirit, I think. Since it was a domestic flight, the plane we were taking was a small plane with 2 propeller-driven engines. The interior was spartan, and there weren't even any stewardesses; the only crew was the pilot and copilot. We were all hyped to go until we realized little by little that the plane was refusing to start. Apparently, the left engine (which was right outside my window; I was seated at the front, right behind the pilot) wouldn't ignite; and after about ten minutes the pilot taxied to the back part of the airport where we were herded into another (and older) plane. The explanation was that the engine's battery was dead. Oh-kay...
Anyway, the back-up plane started up fine and we were off. The thing about planes... I always feel that the darn thing is really exerting itself to take off. You know that feeling that you're lifting up and you feel like you could just drop at any second... but thankfully, we didn't. Soon, after the ear-popping climb we were cruising towards our destination: Caticlan in Aklan province, where we would take a ferry ride to Boracay. The flight took about an hour, and all I can say is that during the last fifteen minutes or so my right ear hurt terribly. Argh.
After touching down on Caticlan's small airport, we got on a coaster for a three-minute drive to the beach where our bangka-ferry awaited. We piled in, donned makeshift lifejackets and waited as the men pulled and forced the ferry out to sea. The boat ride took about 20 minutes, which I enjoyed since the day was cloudy, the salty sea spray was cool and the scenery was magnificent. The last time I saw Boracay was several years ago, and the feeling of arrival still makes me calm.
Our group would be staying at the Pearl of the Pacific Hotel, which is odd to me since the last time I was here I didn't remember big structures or buildings (or maybe I just didn't walk around too much). There are loads of small but lovely buildings, resorts and even a place called D' Mall which is the island's version of a shopping center. Cool, in a beach sort of way. Anyway, as I said before, this wasn't a vacation so after arrival we met up and discussed SHOP talk. Advertising and all that jazz. The most I can say about it is that it didn't last too long, and we soon had free time after a nice lunch at a place called Jonah's (which serves killer shakes! The best on the island, they say).
I slept for a while and came out during the sunset; some of the guys and gals were playing beach volleyball, which made me remember DOAX. Heh. Actually, my gamer genes were piqued as I looked about and saw traces of the PC game Beach Life AKA Spring Break and other little details. Sigh. Well, I was able to get in some wading and floating in the cool waters of the beach, and watched the sun go down and the lights slowly twinkle along the various shops, restaurants and resorts along the coast. Beautiful. Things like this make me glad I came. Despite the sand. I hate sand... ahem...
Me and several of the guys passed eating at a posh bar to go and look for more economic surroundings. We found a small eatery called Mikay's where we pooled our money and got a nice native dinner of Bistik Tagalog, Kilawing Blue Marlin (DELICIOUS and SPICY!) and some barbecue. After the nice meal, I went off and walked along the length of the beach, and eventually found myself in the Tourist Center (which is probably at the opposite end of the island from my Hotel!). And then, I blogged.

Tomorrow promises another round of sessions for talking and hopefully more chances for me to get souvenirs for the gang, and a sarong for my mom. And maybe the odd knick-knack. Who knows what I can find? Anyway, I'm having a great time.

Still, it doesn't excuse the fact that there's no TechTV on our cable... and no Disney Channel. I WANT MY KIM POSSIBLE AND EXTENDED PLAY FIX!!!

Heh. Later then.

Thursday, February 13

Off to the Beach!

Tomorrow morning, I leave for the sunny shores of Boracay, a world-reknowned beach paradise located in the Western Visayas region of the country. I've been lucky enough to see the white sands of the place twice before; now I am going to spend my Valentine's weekend there. However, it won't be a vacation; it's a work thing, called an 'Away Day'. This will probably mean some seminars, talks and rah-rah sessions designed to make us work doubly harder when we come back to hum-drum Manila. Heh.

I am not a traveller by nature. I have spent too much money, effort and time to make my sanctum comfortable and filled to overflowing with things that give me pleasure and interest. So I only leave it grudgingly. But I can't say I am not a bit excited going to Boracay. I actually went out early after work to get myself a brand-new pair of Mojo-type sandals and new slippers (since my old slippers are far too raggedy to show outside of my room) to use on my trip and beyond. I went to Megamall and went along with Mike to buy groceries; mostly snacks to bring along for the trip.
Aside from clothing, personal effects and snacks, I am bringing along a load of paper, a sketchpad and my own drawing implements. Who knows... maybe I might get inspired. Or it may pass the time. But will I really be drawing comics when I could be running along a beach or swimming in crystal clear waters..? Aside from that I am also bringing along a brand new copy of Protoculture Addicts and an issue of Newtype USA (both anime mags) for reading. Wow. I am armed. I wonder if the hotel has cable? Maybe I can get Extended Play and Kim Possible there... Argh...

Anyway, unless there is a good internet cafe there, or if the hotel I am staying at has a decent business center, I might not be able to update until I come back on Sunday. Till next blog, then. Later!

Yay! Marc's taking us to Boracay. Let's do a swimsuit special! Heehee...

Mmm. Sand between my toes. Nice.

Two words. No GAMES. This sucks.
Early Bird gets packing early.

Before I finally left the office, I made up my mind to eat my much-delayed dinner at Wendy's along Kamias Avenue in Quezon City. I could almost taste the Wendy's spaghetti on my lips when the bus I was riding overshot my destination. Rather than stopping at a Nowhere Zone and having to walk some dark length of highway, I got down at SM North EDSA. From there, I took a taxi to Philcoa, near my alma mater, University of the Philippines Diliman. I went into McDonald's, only to find out they only had fried chicken, spaghetti and apple pies left in their menu. Oh well. I finally settled on Gotoking, and had myself a pretty heavy meal with Tapsilog, (marinated deep-fried beef, garlic fried rice and egg), arroz caldo (chicken rice porridge) and puto (rice cakes). How's that for going Pinoy? Oh well, actually I was quite satisfied by the meal but I found the food pretty bland (I guess they were short on MSG since it was kinda late).
I had the impression that the whole of Katipunan Ave (a university area) is pretty dead these days; there were hardly any, if any, restaurants open. It was all DEAD. Particularly at the junction between Aurora and Katipunan, there are NO eateries, the one lone convenience store closed down, and even the new Jollibee doesn't seem to be doing that well. Maybe the area is just unlucky.

I arrived home a bit later and soon after started packing for my trip on Friday for Boracay. I piled up several shirts, shorts and underwear, a towel and some more knick-knacks. I tend to overpack, but I think that's not necessarily a bad thing. Later today I will have to see to getting myself a cheap pair of sandals or sneakers I can use to slosh around with. I don't think I should bother with sunscreen... probably won't be spending that much time idly walking around in the sun. As I said before, it's an office thang, not a vacation.
I switch on the TV on HBO and see Colin Farell on TV as Jesse James in the film American Outlaws. With luck, when I get back to Manila I'll be able to see him taking another role, this time as a Marvel Comics villain, in the new movie Daredevil. Cool. Heh.

Wednesday, February 12

A Late Dinner

Still at the office. I will probably be able to get out in a while, to have a somewhat-delayed supper. Yet again, Chowking beckons since it is the only place open at this time in Cubao. Or maybe I should just buy some instant snack at a convenience store for later?
All this overtime has sapped away time from drawing pages, and this will most probably delay my Immacolata update; I still plan to finish it and have it submitted to Hinirang sometime next week though. I will just add a couple more pages to make up for the delay. Heh.
The day after tomorrow, I will make for the beaches of Boracay with my whole department from the office. It won't be a vacation (DARRNNN!!!), but rather an office thing. Which pretty much sucks since it is going to eat away my whole weekend. No TechTV. No games. No anime. No DVDs. No comics. No Kim Possible. No malling. AAAAHHH!!!

Nothing but sand. I hate sand. It's course. And rough. Gets everywhere.

Thinking like this can move one to the Dark Side...
DVD Picks

On my way home I was able to snatch up some choice new discs. One is an anime; Sakura Taisen OAV3: Kanzaki Sumire Intai Kinen ('Retirement Commemoration'). The other is X-Men 1.5, a somewhat enhanced version of the Marvel Comics movie adaptation which will see a sequel later this year.
The Sakura Taisen or Sakura Wars series is all about the adventures of a group of opera actresses/secret mecha pilots who battle demonic threats to a steampunk Tokyo. Though the rest of the world probably only knows the Sega games and the anime about the series, the actual Sakura Taisen franchise extends far more- into TV series, live concerts, radio/CD operas and drama shows, manga and stories. The series apparently ends with the retirement of Sumire Kanzaki, one of the principal members of the Opera Troupe. The Intai Kinen OAV adapts this curtain fall to the series.
To commemorate her exit from the stage, her teammates and friends hold a special performance. It's a very emotional episode which will be more character-based (as most of the Sakura Wars anime tend to be), and I wonder if I will be touched by it. I have seen a lot of Sakura Taisen anime, and consider myself a fan of the franchise (I DO own a DVD of one of the Sakura Wars live concerts...). Despite this, I know that I have only scratched the surface of the series relative to any Japanese otaku. It is a fine addition to my collection though (which consists of the TV series, the movie, and the first two OAVs).
The X-Men 1.5 DVD is a two-disc set which includes the movie with deleted scenes and commentary by director Brian Singer. The second disc holds a lot of extras, featurettes and Making Of snippets. Predictably, there are sneak peeks at X2, the sequel to X-Men, and a Daredevil trailer. It's a nice set and should tide me over until X2 hits theaters in May. Daredevil should be here by the time I come back from Boracay next week.
Cool stuff. Now if only I can find time to actually watch these things... Argh...

Monday, February 10

Taxi Talk, Security Guard Libido and a Neat Surprise on my Way Home

After leaving the office, I was easily able to get a cab (lucky for me, they wait around outside our building during late hours) for my way home. The taxi I got was one of those cars equipped with a CB radio, so I felt pretty safe. I sat back and relaxed as I listened to the taxi drivers' garble. One driver (not mine) was commenting about how he had to refuse someone a ride since he wanted to go to an especially remote location.

"Tell him we're all looking after our own safety these days. Times are tough and there are lots of Iraqis out there (translated from tagalog)." said the Taxi Dispatcher.

The conversation between the driver and dispatcher went on for a bit, even reaching a point where they were talking about how they could handle would-be attackers or hold-up men, as long as they were alone or didn't have a gun. Hmm. Unpleasant stuff. Well, the CB died after a while, and the sounds of the radio came up to the fore.
The radio was on an AM station, where a DJ named Doctor Love was talking with a caller who worked as a security guard. Apparently, the guy had a live-in partner, but had a new love interest in a twenty-year old girl. The new love was apparently from Cebu, and was out of touch with her parents. The guy said he was 'conflicted' on which one he loved more. For his part, the DJ firmly told the guy to try and NOT wreck the twenty year-old's future by getting her pregnant or something.

How that radio story ended, I do not know since I got down shortly after. I disembarked from the taxi near the still under construction MRT, and to my surprise, I heard the sound of a train coming down the tunnel! I looked and yes, there it was...
An MRT car!
I guess that what I saw was the first or so new MRT car being delivered finally on site on the tracks. The new MRT is probably many months away from total completion, but seeing an actual train present and running on the tracks was a good sign. This new MRT line would be my ride home often when it is finally finished someday. Cool.

Anyway, that's that. My ride home was pretty interesting so I just had to note it down. Tomorrow's another day, and will hopefully bring more odd rides. Later then.
Good Burger

It's almost 11PM and I'm still at the office. At the very least though I got to eat a free (albeit late) dinner from Good Burger, which delivers in Makati. They of course specialize in burgers and, unlike their namesake in the Nickelodeon comedy skit, they serve really good burgers. There's a wide variety of toppings and extras to go with your chicken patty (they serve only chicken meat patties though), and the burgers come in GOOD, BETTER and BEST variants (I guess that translates to size). I got a sticky concoction called a Bacon Mozarella Melt burger, and it tasted divine to this hungry copywriter. Oh well. I hate to eat and run, but it's almost midnight and I have to run. Run home that is. Signing off then.

So Bad it's Good: On Deadly Ground.

Early this morning I caught the first thirty minutes or so of On Deadly Ground with Steven Seagal. I know Seagal got to do some pretty horrid movies during his stint as the ponytailed action man, but this one stands out like a bad... um... ponytail. It's all about a demolitions expert named Forrest (Seagal) who works for an oil magnate named Jennings (Michael Caine, who plays a cartoon here). He was called in to check out some incidents and malfunctions at Aegis-1, an oil rig in Alaska owned by Jennings. But soon after he arrives, he finds out that his employer has some pretty nasty plans to take over the whole region's oil resources, and he doesn't care if he destroys the environment in the process. Bad luck for him though, as Forrest turns out to be a bad-ass, dark dream turned reality-in the flesh former special forces something. Soon, Seagal's armed himself with his convenient weapons cache, allied with the local Eskimos and ready to shut down Jennings and Aegis-1 for the greater good of Mother Nature.
The funny thing about this quite violent and bloody rampage-fest for Seagal is that it's actually a very preachy environmental message. That is, if you can catch the casually-mouthed infobits and facts from Seagal in between his single-handed extermination of Jennings' army of hired thugs, mercenaries, oil workers and accounting staff (yep).
The film makes Seagal's character not only look or feel bad-ass, it has to actually make the bad guys orate minutes-long monologues saying how terrifying Seagal's character is. The fighting scenes though are inferior to fights from his better films, such as Under Siege, and border on the ridiculous. In one scene, Taft pretty much saunters into a darkened area swarming with camouflaged, hidden and dodging enemies and takes them all out without breaking a sweat. In another scene, a mercenary leader who acts like a prudent, wily veteran gets the drop on Seagal... only to waste his time blabbing his mouth and getting stupidly in range for a predictable gun swipe.
Yep, it's a cartoon, with some of the preachiest and incredibly violent peace-lessons I have seen in a movie; watch Seagal bitch-slap an obnoxious oil worker to a gibbering, bloody mess, swearing to be a better man. You just have to see it to believe it. Heh. And then there's the ending... where Seagal does a long speech on the environment and how we have to take back our world from destruction by the corporations. WOOHOO!!!
I have to say, despite being SOOOOO bad, if there's nothing on, it's better to just watch On Deadly Ground than turn off the TV. Almost makes trash like Exit Wounds and Half Past Dead look good. Almost.
Immacolata Update

I will be submitting an update for the Hinirang webcomic Immacolata: The Fury of Hinirang, later this week. When last we saw Imma, she had just blown up an entire kuta (fortress) of beast men all by her lonesome. Unfortunately, she got knocked out in the process and was last seen sinking to her apparent death in dark waters. Of course, she'll probably survive... but will she be in any shape to take on the owners of the fort she just destroyed? Especially when the said landlords are the infamous and powerful Camorra family! The first of the comic's villains- unica hija Adele Solera Perfecta Coronades Camorra- makes her debut. She's young and pretty... pretty maniacal, and has a penchant for dark magic, puppetry and sharp objects. I'm sure you'll all love this bratty little senorita. Heh. Look for an update on the Hinirang website soon.
Heroes for the Text Generation

The Textmen are here! This superhero team/manga-style comic was created by Dynatica's Jason Banico (Baylans) with art by Armand Canlas (Armored Troopers), story written by Nikki Alfar and Filipino translations by Dean Alfar (Kestrelstudios). It's all about super-powered youths wielding incredible powers through their cellphones, and nefarious villains who are out to conquer the world through text! If it sounds like a blast, try it out! Textmen #1 is available in full color at a bargain price of P60.00 and should be available at National Bookstore, Powerbooks, Filbar's and Comic Quest. So what are you waiting for? Start texting your friends about it now!

Sunday, February 9

A Devil of a Good Time

Today I parlayed my Greenhills foray to judging a Daredevil On-The-Spot Drawing contest sponsored by a radio station, 89.1 WAVE. I was there with Mike, Carl, Jason and Cams. Unfortunately, Carl had to leave early, so it was left to Jason, me and Mike. There were nine contestants, the youngest being 7 years old, and the oldest being 29. Yes, it was a gross difference in age and expertise in art (unless the kids were somehow art geniuses), but we were able to convince Mike and the event organizers to award the young 'uns special prizes. Anyway, after about 45 minutes we went around and decided on the winners. They were hardly professional artworks, but we were quite satisfied in deciding on clear winners. The prizes included cash and some gift certificates, and a lots of gift packs. Afterwards, the WAVE people treated us to dinner at Max's Restaurant. I enjoyed a chicken dinner with extra orders of rolls and butter. Mmmm. My only complaint is that the chicken wasn't crispy like the old Max Fried Chicken restaurant did; but then again, these days the 'House that Fried Chicken Built' has changed quite a bit. Oh well, still a nice meal.
We met Dean and Gig later at UCC Coffee, having a nice chat with the Alfars telling us about their travails in Hong Kong and stuff like weird Chinese medicines and foods. We called for the bill after midnight, and went home. Mike and I went over to the sanctum where he finally saw DOAX and sampled Panzer Dragoon Orta. Tomorrow I will have to make up for my Greenhills trip... I fear for the cosmos if I should fail to do so...