Friday, December 24, 2010

Meeting Don Bosco

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Photo by my sister. :) 
Yesterday, 23rd December 2010, I went to St. John Bosco Parish Church in Makati City.  They were having a very special occasion in welcoming the Relic of St. John Bosco to the community. A crowd of priests, missionaries, students, and parents were there. The army and the police force were there for security as well.

Actually, I went there too early, like around 4:00 PM. But I wasn't the only one. The organizers were there beforehand. There were bands from schools and the army. They were the from of entertainment that we had until around 4:30 PM, when the convoy of the Relic started to appear. The priest who was in charge instructed all of us to sing which goes "St. John Bsoco, our loving father, now we lift to thee our voices...."  So, I sang with them. It was weird because I haven't sang that song for 6 years now, and yet I could still memorize it.

When I saw the big truck with a picture of Don Bosco, my heart started to beat fast as I was slowly teary eyed. It's like meeting a special person you've been looking up to for a long time. I have understood how fans of Michael Jackson would cry when they see him in person. However, I held tears back. I didn't want to cry in front of the crowd.

The Relic inside a casket was slowly removed from the truck. The priests then had a solemn ceremony as they lined up for a short procession going to the church. As I saw the parade, I remembered my high school days. Back then, we were instructed to wave our flags and sing at the same time. So, it's all the same in every Salesian Community. Lots of people were taking photos too. But I didn't have a camera so I was more focused on the feeling of this experience.

The relic was Don Bosco's right hand. It was preserved then laid in a glass box. After that, it was put in a series of boxes made of zinc. The Vatican then placed a seal on the last layer of box. Finally, everything was put inside the wax figure. (Please see picture below; Disclaimer: Not my photo. I found this in the internet)


I was part of the crowd and the priest told us that we will be the last in the procession. So, I didn't move from where I was. Being early, I positioned myself at the boundary to the parade. :) I could see perfectly well. First in line were the sacristans, then priests, lay ministers followed, after them were cute kids dressed as Don Bosco in his black robe. Finally, the casket surrounded by the police were next. The first thing I saw were the pair of shoes of the wax figure. I got very excited as I anticipated to see the whole relic. However, two policemen were blocking my way. I prayed for them to move and two seconds later, they did. I clearly saw the wax face of Don Bosco. It was almost real and it gave me goosebumps. Wow! This is very rare. I thought to myself. What was wonderful about it is that the procession stopped for a minute or two while the casket was near me. :)

After saying a short prayer, I followed the crowd into the church. We were given white handkerchiefs with prints Don Bosco's picture and his motto "Give me souls". We were to wave them in the air as the casket was going to the altar. The Holy Mass presided by the Cardinal. By this time, the crowd doubled it's volume. Some people were standing at the back of the church. I had another souvenir of the event as they gave us program guides. :)

After the Mass, the relic was opened for viewing. But I didn't line up anymore. Earlier at the procession, Don Bosco's relic stopped by near me. Being an early bird has it's advantages after all. It was an overwhelming experience for me, to know that Don Bosco came to me so that I won't have to go to the queue for him.

And for that, I offer him a song:

St. John Bosco, our loving father
Now we lift to thee our voices
As we gather around thine altar
far and wide the world rejoices

Oh Don Bosco, we're thine dearest
whose protection are imploring
for in Heaven thou remainest
as apostle 'mid the adoring

Don Bosco thy children,
on many ashore,
shall love and revere thee till time be no more



Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Harry Potter 7, Black Swan, and The Tourist

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Movies this week don't match up to my taste. There's no science fiction or psychological thriller. Sigh! I am in the mood of watching a good movie and writing a review about it. However, with this week's lame line up, I'd rather spend this time dreaming about the movies that I will watch sooner or later.

There are great movies to watch out for this Holiday season. It will definitely make up for the films that are shown this Fall. Yes, and the lineup for great movies will be marked by the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows this November 19, 2010. The official website of the movie is http://harrypotter.warnerbros.com/harrypotterandthedeathlyhallows/mainsite/index.html





The trailer is awesome and it raised my expectations so high that I am afraid of disappointment. Don't worry! I know it will be worth the risk. I will watch it in IMAX 3D. I waited for a good movie for the last three months and I deserve this break.

That's not the only reason why I can't wait for Harry Potter 7. The movies following it are of high caliber as well.

On December 3, 2010, this prestigious movie starring Natalie Portman will be shown in the cinemas. Entitled "Black Swan", it was featured in the 2010 Venice International Film Festival. Portman is also nominated for best actress in the upcoming Academy Awards. This movie is a psychological thriller about a dancer named Nina (Portman) who worked hard to get the lead role in the musical Swan Lake, until she was caught in the politics inside the theater. More information at http://www.foxsearchlight.com/blackswan/




Yay! A movie starring my favorite actor Johnny Depp! And Woah! His leading lady is my favorite actress, Angelina Jolie. I will never ever miss this! It's like a dream come true when both of Hollywood's A-listers come together for one adrenaline pumping movie. The Tourist is about Frank (Depp), who went to Italy in order to mend a broken heart. But along the way, he meets a British woman named Elise (Jolie) who sets him up in hoax and deception. I smell gunpowder again! I'd love to hear Jolie speak in British accent again. The setting of the movie is in Venice, Italy. So expect romance here too. The Tourist will be shown on December 10, more information at http://www.sonypictures.com/movies/thetourist/site/



Hollywood should make more good movies. I can't wait to watch these three movies so that I will have inspiration to write again. Sigh! How I wish it is more that three though. :)




Sunday, August 29, 2010

Vampires Suck

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Rating:★★
Category:Movies
Genre: Comedy
Vampires literally suck in this movie. And they have fangs as opposed to the original one. Don't expect too much on the "common sense" department. True, this movie has a lot of stupidity but it was created for a laugh. Of which, it successfully delivered to the audiences.

The story is a parody of the movies Twilight and New Moon. It even has a spoiler to Breaking Dawn. The movie also has a spoof of Lady Gaga and Buffy, too.

Everything about this movie -the costumes, actors, and plot- is very close to Twilight. But this version has a funny theme. The story about a teenager named Becca, who moved to her father's house in the town of Sporks. In there, she met Edward Sullen, who obviously became her vampire-boyfriend. And from then on, a lot of mishaps were encountered by Becca, one of which was the threat of being eaten by Edward's family every time she drops by for a visit.

This movie is very hilarious. Some worthy of your laugh is the scene where James' Coven was mistaken to be the Black Eyed Peas. Another is when Jacob transformed to a chihuahua instead of a werewolf. And of course, who can resist the "It's Raining Men" dance number from the Quileutte boys. Funny scenes were everywhere. But sometimes, it can go overboard. The producers of this movie focused on teen angst and sexual content to add humor.

The actors were very good at their impersonations. Jenn Proske, the one who played Becca, did an excellent job. She nailed Bella's mannerisms and reactions. It was like- wow!

Special and sound effects were decent. Of course, it's a parody. But it wasn't that bad. And the plot was a little bit confusing, the writers weren't able to combine the storyline of Twilight and New Moon into a smooth ride.

This movie can make you laugh. But it doesn't deserve your money. It will just remind you of the Twilight Saga in a stupid perspective.

Ratings:

Plot: 2 stars
Special effects: 1.5 stars
Sound effects: 2 stars
Promotional materials: 2 stars
Overall: 2 stars



[Review] The Last Airbender

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Rating:
Category:Movies
Genre: Kids & Family
Disappointing. Dreadful. Boring. I tell you, don't even bother watching this crappy movie. Good thing I was late for the 3D screening. Else, this review would have become a rant. I waited months for this movie and my expectations were high. M. Night Shyamalan ruined Aang.

Well, alright, let me start with the basics. The Last Airbender is the movie franchise of the Nickelodeon's top animated series. The original title is Avatar: The Last Airbender.

The movie version is focused on the first season that centers on the "Water" element. The story was set in a war-stricken world where the tyrannical Fire Nation ruled. The people hopelessly waited for the one they call the Avatar to bring back peace and order. However, he disappeared 100 years ago. After Katara and Sokka found their generation's Avatar, Aang, they went on a journey to learn how to "bend" the elements, starting with 'water'.

The movie had a disorienting plot. The events were everywhere and it wasn't organized. The pacing was slow. And there were some scene cuts that didn't seem to follow. They were going from one place to another. And they failed to give the transition in that. So, the audience got confused.

The battle scenes were so uncool. There were a lot of soldiers fighting and no drop of blood? Or even injured ones? And what was Aang doing on the last part where he went into the trance-like Avatar State and made a big tidal wave, then later of subsided it? He didn't destroy any Fire Nation ship. What was that all about? I think he was just showing off his powers. Nonsense.

Well, here's another part of the movie that will give you a headache. You don't need to be a good observer to realize that something is definitely wrong with the main characters. Hey, you see a white skinned boy and girl amidst a tribe of Eskimos. But wait! It was only the characters, but the setting and costumes were so out-of-place.

In Nickelodeon's animated version, the Water Tribe were influenced by the Eskimos, the Air Nomads were like HImalayan Monks, The Earth Kingdom were derived from the Asian nations, and the Fire Nation was the combination of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cultures.

Sadly, the movie didn't follow through on that. But on the bright side, they successfully imitated the buildings as true to the animation. Just like the South Water Tribe's city where everything was ice.

Special Effects were not good. This movie focused on the element of water, but all the water, liquid or ice, in it was obviously fake. The movie was like filmed during the early stages of 3G. The sound effects didn't help either. Yeah, just some orchestral stuff and were pretty average.

So let's talk about the actors. Amongst them all, I could only find one who was successful in portraying the character to the core: Dev Patel as Prince Zuko. I could see in Dev's face the rage, anger, determination, and shame as Nickelodeon's Zuko would. There is just one major error: on his face is supposed to be a fire burnt scar, not a flesh colored black eye.

All the other actors were average. Jackson Rathbone as Sokka was naturally good, but he didn't put into life the real Sokka's funny personality and leadership. Same is true with the others. They were good actors, but not good enough in their respective roles. And the actor Noah Ringer who played Aang, has still a lot more to learn. His acting wasn't convincing at all.

So all in all, this movie sucks. Fans like me expected a lot of this movie. I went into the cinema excited and came out unhappy. Better stick to the animated version then.


Ratings:

Plot: 1 star
Special Effects: 1 star
Sound Effects: 1.5 stars
Actors: 2 stars
Overall: 1 star

Thursday, July 15, 2010

[Review] The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner

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Rating:★★★★★
Category:Books
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers
Author:Stephenie Meyer
This novella acts as a supplement to Eclipse. In that book, the Cullens continued living in Forks, Washington. All the while, Bella was awaiting her high school graduation. However, conflict arrives and they were forced to fight a group of new vampires. They termed it as newborn vampire army. And Bree Tanner was a a member of that army.

However, Eclipse only showed the Cullen's side from Bella's perspective. It didn't expound on the tactics of their enemy. Reading Eclipse alone is incomplete. That's why this novella is a must.

'The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner' is about the story of the newborn vampire as indicated in the title. Her story is presented in the first person perspective. Her world as a vampire is very different from how the Cullens live. There was chaos, pain, and gore. And worse, she felt like she didn't have a choice but to live with it. On the bright side, she had two friends from her coven: Diego and Fred. At first, it was only with Diego whom she talked to. Together, they sought to find out the truth about their creator, only known to them as 'her'. There was a lot of mystery uncovered, until Bree found out the truth but it was too late. As the title suggests, it's not a happy ending for her.

Of course, the whole plot and character development evolved only on Bree. Her thoughts and emotions were mostly of fear, angst, and confusion. The delivery was good as I was able to feel with her. She also fell in love, but unlike Eclipse, this novella is not cheesy.

This novella by Stephenie Meyer is the first one that I have ever made the effort to actually analyze and solve the puzzle. I give her credit for that. I got logical and emotional during the climax of the story. The mind reader, whom Bree called as 'the redhead', played a significant role in it. I was able to appreciate the mind reader in this part rather in any other Twilight book. His skill of hearing thoughts far surpasses any purpose in this novella. Through Bree's awareness of the mind reader, she revealed the whole truth in an unexpected way.

This book, however short, tells a good story. It can even act as a stand alone story from Eclipse. You can finish this book in one sitting. It is highly addictive as it allows you to feel and think at the same time. And as you progress, you will get to feel how it is to be Bree Tanner herself: a wild hunter, a confused newborn, and a good friend.



Sunday, July 11, 2010

[Review] The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

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Rating:★★★
Category:Movies
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Eclipse is way better than its two predecessors. Maybe a new director, David Slade, and an 80-million budget was what Summit Entertainment needed to pump up the movie adaptation of the book. There was definitely an improvement in every aspect: the plot, the scenes, the finally, the musical score.

However, the pacing of the events is too fast that it failed to give ample character development. Well, there were scenes wherein Jasper and Rosalie's past was shown. But the other vampires and werewolves had a low profile.

On the bright side, this movie remained true to the book as much as possible. Those who have read the book might have understood this movie, but for those who haven't, well, expect a lot of questions from your head. It is a fast paced movie. Almost all the events were summarized in less than 2 hours.

The rivalry between Edward and Jacob was clearly emphasized right from the start. It goes beyond vampires vs. werewolves thingy. They were fighting mostly for Bella. It's a love triangle, you get it.

What I appreciate from this movie is that they have shown parts of the villain's side. How Riley headed the newborn vampire army and his affair with their creator. One significant character was even shown there: Bree Tanner. She had more exposure in this movie than in the book version of Eclipse.

There were a lot of mushy scenes here. The kissing scenes lasted for like, 30 seconds. Even the first scene had a kiss. Uh! It's annoying to have a lot of that! And the PG-13 rating had something to do with that, too. Well, these events also happened in the book, so there's no room for complains.

The actors were okay. Some stood out, some didn't. Kristen Stewart as Bella Swan did pretty well in her character: the stubbornness and the bravery was there. Of course, Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen is one of the excellent actors here. He lacks the physical attributes of Edward, but he did well in bringing life to his character. He was good in giving an emotion typical of Edward: patience in times of anger, or self-control. The character of Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black, on the other hand, is not as perfect as it should be portrayed. Jacob's personality in the book is the noisy, happy-go-lucky type. Sorry but Taylor didn't deliver that. But he did an excellent job in portraying the physique of Jacob. Another highlight worth taking is the role of Jackson Rathbone as Jasper. Jasper had a lot of exposure in the book version, and in this movie too. It was attributed to his experience in fighting newborn vampires in his past. Well, Jackson Rathbone didn't seem natural in his acting. His exaggeration was evident in his deep voice, his facial expressions, and most of all, his eyes.

The special effects were a whole lot impressive now. The werewolves were true to life now and the vampire marble skin was literally real. It was cool when the vampires fight and stone marbles of flesh spread out! The human to werewolf phasing was smoother and the furs were cute. The vampires have convincing red or yellow eyes, too.

The fight scene between Edward and the villain was even better in the movie than in the book. Stunts and choreography were flawlessly done. It brought about the emotion of thrill and suspense. Even though this scene didn't stay true to the book, it was way better.

There was also the other fight scene: the Cullens vs. the newborn vampire army. However, this part wasn't as meticulously done compare to the fight scene of Edward. There was poor group choreography. A lot of the actors were just crowding each other. And it didn't give the emotion of thrill to the audience.

The sounds are a whole lot better now. Unlike in the previous movie, New Moon, you can't hear singing voices during the fight scenes anymore. The orchestral score was more appropriate now, though I could hear an off violin somewhere. However, the lines said in whispers were hard to understand. The sound effects? Well, this movie is a good improvement to the Twilight Saga. The wolf howls were close to real and the vampire snarls and growls added to the attitude.

Would I recommend you watching Eclipse? Definitely. But don't expect too much.


Ratings:
Plot: 3.5 stars
Special Effects: 4 stars
Sounds: 3.5 stars
Actors: 4 stars
Poster/Trailer: 3 stars
OVERALL: 3.5 stars



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