Tuesday, November 26, 2013

[Review] The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

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The second installment to The Hunger Games trilogy is Catching Fire. We continue to follow Katniss Everdeen's life which has now evolved into that of a victor. In this movie, she encounters more challenges as she re-enters the arena for the 75th Hunger Games, or now known as the 3rd Quarter Quell. 

Photo credits: Lionsgate, Entertainment Weekly, as tagged.

The movie plot seems to focus more on Katniss Everdeen. Well, the movie is more faithful to the story than any other book-to-movie franchise I have seen. Since the book was from a first person perspective, it was more on Katniss there. The first movie, being in the third person perspective, was balanced in terms of character development. But the second one is not. 

The other actors performed excellently. I got to give two thumbs up for all of them. Every actor, main, supporting, or extra, were all superb. However, their performance were shadowed by Jennifer Lawrence’s ability in portraying Katniss. Her emotions were very convincing. There was one scene where she made me cry when she was saying ordinary words, the kind that you hear in every sad soap opera. But tears rolled down my eyes. Good job. 

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss and Josh Hutcherson as Peeta. Photo courtesy of Entertainment Weekly

Unlike in the book, Josh Hutcherson’s character Peeta was not given as much exposure. Peeta’s role as Katniss’s point of reference in a maddening world was quite crucial in the book. The movie didn't show that at all. More emphasis was given to Liam Hemsworth as Gale. I'm glad to see that Gale's role was true to the book and Liam portrayed him well. 

Now Finnick Odair! Okay, fans of Suzanne Collin's trilogy will definitely go gaga over this guy. Described as the ultimate and hottest heartthrob in Panem, Finnick is the type of man that could steal your heart in just a glance. But when I saw the teaser photos, I doubted if Sam Claflin would be a good fit.

Trust me, he is better on screen.
But when I saw him on screen, I saw THE Finnick Odair. Those pictures didn't do enough justice to the actor. Sam Claflin's gestures and speaking manners were very much how I imagined Finnick would be. 

Well, I have been skeptical as to whether Francis Lawrence can do better as Gary Ross. But in the end, I can't compare. Both directors are skilled and have their own way of presenting the story. Both movies have different camera angles and cinematography. Gary Ross laid down the foundation for the sequels. The visual effects of Panem, the Capitol, the gamemakers' room, and the districts are the same as they were on the first. The mood of the musical scores are still pretty much the same. But what I am very happy about is, the Francis Lawrence improved on everything! He polished the visual and sound effects. 

Disappointments? A few: Francis Lawrence put the most beautiful scenes in the trailers. Those scenes could've generated thrill, surprise, fear, or even joy to me in the movie, if I hadn't seen it in the previews. Peeta’s role could be further expanded upon. It felt as if the shift of character focus on Gale was to make the whole love triangle affair more prominent which is not really the case in The Trilogy. Now what is left for you to get excited? Finnick Odair. 

This awe-inspiring scene could've been left to the movie.
For Catching Fire, the aesthetics were lovely. The actors are excellent. The plot was very true to the book. However, I didn't feel the pounding of my heart, or the thrill and excitement I felt when I watched The Hunger Games. This might be true for someone like me who has read the book. And what was left was just to judge the presentation as to whether or not it followed the Suzanne Collin’s plot.. 

This movie is good in its own right. But my favorite movie is still The Hunger Games. I will never forget the emotions it generated in my heart: confusion, worry, desperation, to do everything to keep the one you love alive. However, when it comes to the book, I still prefer Catching Fire, as the book was able to play upon the nuances in emotions and bring them to life.

I would judge the movie to be a good one overall. Run time is 146 minutes. It is definitely worth your time and money. Watch this on IMAX for a much better movie experience. Now a lot of you might wonder why it is titled that way. Well the only way to find out is to read the book.


Ratings:

Plot: 4 stars
Visual Effects: 5 stars
Musical Score: 5 stars
Promotional Materials/Trailer:  5 stars
Actors: 5 stars
OVERALL: 4.5 stars


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Catching Fire Advance Screening with Hunger Games Philippines

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As I have mentioned before, Catching Fire is my favorite book in The Hunger Games trilogy. So I made sure that I will be one of the first to see it on the big screen. When I found out that Astroplus, MCA Music, and Hunger Games Philippines were to organize an advance screening, I literally jumped for excitement and spent out some moolah for the tickets! 

Last November 20, fans head off to SM Megamall Cinema 12 for the most anticipated movie of the year! Sorry I don't have photos guys, our cameras and cellphones were confiscated for the moment. (T_T) So just take my word for it. (^_^) But I do have a few photos of the things I got which I took at home. 

The deal was to buy a Deluxe Edition Catching Fire Original Soundtrack and you get a ticket for free! That was a steal. 

The ticket and the Catching Fire OST 
I arrived at the venue at around 6:00 PM, but the queue was way too long for comfort already. I didn't expect to see a lot of fans an hour before the screening. So all of us stood and waited for a long long time. 

While on queue, I saw familiar faces from previews events. The fans of The Hunger Games are intelligent, fashionable, and well-mannered. That is how much influence a politically and socially relevant book can have. I'm proud to be a Tribute (LOL!). I also saw the people behind Hunger Games Philippines but I was too shy to approach them. Heehee~ 

At 6:45, they started to let people in the cinema. Each of us were given free coffee at the gates. Just the thing we need, coffee for a nighttime screening. Yay!

Yay free coffee! 
There was a short program before the movie started. Angel from Hunger Games Philippines gave us all a warm welcome. She hosted the games and raffle, too. Unfortunately, my ticket number didn't win. I guess the odds were not in my favor. LOL! Prizes from Urban Ears was up for grabs. Oohhh..... It was all so pretty and colorful (Sorry guys, no pictures).

Come 8:00 PM, the lights were dimmed for the movie, but not after a series of trailers which heightened the anticipation and excitement of the audience for Catching Fire. And when it started, screams and shouts filled the cinema! On screen was Katniss Everdeen, then everyone fell silent. 

It was fun to watch with fellow Tributes, we got emotional altogether. We laughed, screamed, cried, all of our reactions were the same. Ah~ So this is how it feels to be seeing a movie with a fandom where you belong. I absolutely love it and would like to have some more! 

At the end of the movie, we clapped and shouted our loudest yet.The director, Francis Lawrence, really pulled out all the stops to breathe life into the pages of story. Watch out for my movie review of it next week, guys! 

Phew... it's been so long since I wrote a lengthy post with few pictures. But I really need to share this. I had a wonderful time with fans and Hunger Games Philippines. Thanks a lot, HGP, for all the hard work you do for The Hunger Games trilogy. See you again in future events! 


Monday, November 18, 2013

Me? On a Diet?

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LOL! This is not me at all! I love food. I explore all cuisines and savor flavors. I especially adore chocolate.

But then came the shock of my life last Saturday, when I went to a Nutrition Club and had my body analyzed. I found out that I have body fat at 27.4%! Females ages 25-29 have body fat data at: Excellent 18.9%, Good 22.0%, Medium 25.4%, and Bad 29.8%. So with my data, I'm almost at boundary of the bad side. Ugh. 

It came as a surprise to me because, I don't look fat at all.  Well, maybe in some angles I do. LOL! But it is quite alarming to know about it.And in the future, who knows what it may lead to? Maybe diabetes or even high blood pressure. Both of these are present in my family history. Scary.

Then I was given a diet to follow. Ugh. Nooo! In a day, I only need, give and take, 1452 calories. So here it is....



I'm not really sure if I can do this. LOL! But discipline is the key word here. I do hope I can pull this through. I do know someone, the person I look up to, who really really loves food, yet has a well maintained and toned body. Yep... who else could it be...


This man loves food! Photo by Rain Angel
Since he is my inspiration in all things, I will follow his example in looking good, as well. And oh, don't worry guys, I will still be the old food blogger. Just this time around, I will eat in moderation. 



Sunday, November 17, 2013

How To Live

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CNN Correspondent Anderson Copper has brought me to tears with this report...

News footage courtesy of CNN and shared by Gugma Ilonggo on YouTube


We’ve seen people with every reason to despair, every right to be angry, instead find ways to laugh, and to love, to stand up, to move forward. -Anderson Cooper

It is difficult to get up after life has brought you down. When something uncontrollable happens and you feel so powerless. I admire the strength of my fellow Filipino in the affected areas. Amidst the struggles, they accepted the will of God and still put their hope in Him. He gives them the strength to rebuild. 

This gift of accepting suffering with my whole heart and surrendering to the Divine Will, is something I still need to learn and master. 


Hair Care for My Eighth Sample Room Haul

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After seven hauls of skin care, I finally grabbed the chance to get samples for the hair. Sample Room offered Vidal Sassoon products weeks ago. But I didn't get them when they first came out because I got excited to have samples from VMV Hypoallergenics and The Body Shop. LOL! 

I made a promise to myself that I have to find the perfect product to fix my very dry wavy hair. It made my day when I heard that Vidal Sassoon samples were given away. There are a lot of skin care samples available in the website and quite little for our crowning glory. And of course, most of them are gone. 

Vidal Sassoon has two hair care series: Premium Base Care and Color Care. Since my hair is not colored and needs moisture, I chose to have the Shampoo and Conditioner of the Premium Base Care Series. The set cost me 104 SR points.

Vidal Sassoon Shampoo and Conditioner Premium Base Care Series
Plus, more happiness is here as full sized bottles were given away! Yay! The shampoo came in a 190 mL bottle, and the conditioner, in 184 mL. Oh joy! 

Right: Conditioner (184 mL). Left: Shampoo (190 mL)
I fell in love with the packaging and the color at first sight! Actually, this product arrived a week ago. I'm under time constraints and I apologize for not writing about it immediately. LOL! I have been using it for five days now and so far, I'm happy with the results. Watch out for my review of it soon!

Good news is here for you, too! There are still a lot more samples available in http://www.sampleroom.ph/ Yay! So there is still a chance for me to get that Premium Base Care Treatment, and for you to get your samples, too. This service is only available in The Philippines.

So are you also ready to #GetSassooned? 


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Let's Help

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Photos and videos alone can speak for themselves. Here in Manila, I, too, have experienced heavy rain and strong winds on that day, and to think it was only the tail of the storm Haiyan (local name: Yolanda) wreaking havoc. The droplets of rain was huge. You could feel how heavy the volume of water is in every raindrop once it hits your skin. It hurt. The wind was roaring and scary, my umbrella broke that day. In a matter of minutes, the streets gushed out flood. 

That day, I was lucky enough to get home from work safely. But other people weren't. To see those aftermath photos are heart breaking enough. One just can't feign blindness to the situation. (T_T)

The victims of the typhoon need our assistance. 

People lining up for help. Photo by Julianne Love de Jesus/Inquirer.net
There are a lot of ways to help. You can search various charitable organizations if you want to donate items or money. But me, I choose Caritas Manila. They are not as popular as other institutions but I trust them. They have been around for a long time, actively participating in relief operations. 

About Caritas Manila. Click to enlarge.
Visit their website at http://www.caritas.org.ph/Call-To-Action/about.html to find out more.

No one is too rich that they cannot receive, and no one is too poor that they cannot give - Pope John Paul II


Monday, November 11, 2013

Emily Marysia

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Hi dearies! I would like to dedicate this post to one of my favorite bloggers, Emily Marysia, from the UK. I love to read her blog because she writes about K-Pop and J-Pop fashion and makeup. It's nice to be updated with the current trends, especially from Korea. The only Korean that I'm addicted to is Rain. LOL! So it's nice that I am able to read about Korean fashion and makeup through Emily's blog. I am broadening my knowledge about Rain's country, too. (^_^)

And tadah! She is having a blog giveaway right now! My contest loving self just couldn't resist to join. LOL! You can also join by checking out this link: http://emilymarysia.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/150-followers-giveaway.html

The prize? An Etude House Pink Play Party Mask Set! I mentioned before that I am obsessed with face masks. So I am loving this prize!

The box of the Etude House Pink Play Party Mask Set. Photo by Emily Marysia

Love 'em all! Photo by Emily Marysia
I have seen the masks here in the Philippines, but not the box. So uhm... K-Pop fans out there, I know what you are thinking! 


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Catching Fire is Heating Up!

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My teen fiction book is got to be The Hunger Games Trilogy! My favorite in the series is Catching Fire, which I only finished in one seating. So you can pretty much feel how excited I am for the movie franchise.

All these photos and trailers are generating hype. From the looks of it, everything looks promising. But we know that there is more to a movie than just aesthetics. Plot, character development, and some philosophical ideas should be present to make sure it will be unforgettable. 

Photos posted herein, without my watermark, belong to Lionsgate. Other credits as tagged.


Catching Fire is about the Quarter Quell, much like your ordinary Hunger Games but this time around, it will be champions vs. champions! So it's more lethal and scarier.


The district champions battle it out for the 75th Quarter Quell
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen shines more beautifully in the movie! I look forward to her performance in the film as these photos show a lot of promise.



Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen. Photo credit: Entertainment Weekly
Other than Finnick Odair (LOL!), the chariot scene is one of my most anticipated scenes. Get to know Katniss, the girl who was on fire (and still is!).


I'm so happy I found a gif image online. Photo source: here
I really expect a lot from the film because I wasn't interested in the books at first. It was The Hunger Games movie that got my attention and made me read the trilogy! The first one was good, but Catching Fire was way better! 

However, with the change of the movie director, I hope that it will be as good as the first. Gary Ross (The Hunger Games) is a greatly skilled director. I hope Francis Lawrence (Catching Fire) is, as well. Let's find out on November 21, shall we? (Note: here in the Philippines, the movie will be released on Nov. 21. In the US, Nov. 22)

But why wait for November 21 when you can watch it a day before! Fellow Tributes (LOL! The Hunger Games has the fandom name that gives me the creeps Haha~), Astroplus/Astrovision is giving us a chance to watch the pre-screening of Catching Fire on November 20, Wednesday, in SM Megamall. All you need to do is pre-order the Catching Fire soundtrack (PhP650) and get the ticket plus a poster. Yay! 

Of course, as a hardcore Tribute (LOL!), I already bought mine yesterday in Astrovision Glorietta 2. I was the third out of forty on the list so there are lots more slots to fill in. Get it before it's gone! 


Katniss is on fire! The poster and the ticket


The ticket to the pre-screening of Catching Fire (^_^)
For more information regarding the promo and the participating stores, check out this link by clicking here. Or just click on the photo below.


Poster by Astroplus
Ooohhh... I'm so excited to see the movie! I originally planned to watch Catching Fire on IMAX but I want to see it as soon as possible! Oh, I do hope SM Cinema 12 is Digital 2D at the least. But ah well, my Tribute side will still appreciate this movie. I am sure of that! 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

[Review] Berry Topper from Jamba Juice

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Aside from my favorite smoothies, I decided to try another type of food in Jamba Juice. This time, I tired the Fruity Yogurt Parfait menu and chose Berry Topper among the list. Why? Because the color and the texture reminded me so much of my favorite Berry Bitten. I miss it a lot now. (T_T)



The fruity yogurt concoction is topped with granola and bananas! It broke my heart to destroy the beautiful piece of art crafted by the Jamba Juice barista Majoy. I met her before in the EDSA Shang branch but I don't know if she still remembers me. But I didn't remind her. LOL! 

I like how the bananas are at just the right level of ripeness. The granola add crunch and texture to an otherwise plain drink. The flavor is quite sour and bland. Well, it is healthy so it's okay if it lacks sweetness. The whole flavor is all about fruits and fresh juices and nothing else. I even saw chunks of strawberries and whole blueberries in there. But it is the sweet bananas that overpowers them all.


Beautiful! Banana toppings!

Berry Topper, PhP150.00
Overall, this parfait is heavy on the stomach. So I consider this as a good and healthy snack! It took me about an hour to finish it. I wanted to savor every detail of taste. All those goodness in a single cup! :) 



Sunday, November 3, 2013

Praises

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Psalms 145

I will extol you, O my God and King;
and I will bless your name forever and ever.
Everyday will I bless you;
and I will praise your name forever and ever

The Lord is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The Lord is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.

Let all your works give you thanks, O Lord,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your might.

The Lord is faithful in all his words
and holy in all his works.
The Lord lifts up all who are falling
and raises up all who are bowed down.


In times of need, our hope is in the Lord. Life and suffering go hand in hand I guess. And I ask God to alleviate the pain. Whenever my request is fulfilled, I always pray to not forget to give thanks to God. And for this, I give him praises, my never ending gratitude for always encouraging and motivating me whenever I'm down. 

Praise the Lord forever and ever. Photo source


[Review] Chocomint Frappe from J.Co

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I visited the J.Co store in Makati and tried something new. I wanted donuts too but the queue, as usual, was long. I wanted something sweet so yogurt was out of the list. That left with only the beverage line! The Chocomint Frappe (PhP150) got my attention and so I ordered it. My purchase came in with a free Glazzy donut. Yay! So I didn’t miss out on savoring a J.Co donut that day. I don’t know the duration of the promo, though. 


Chocomint Frappe in Duo Size (PhP150) + Free Glazzy donut



Unfortunately (or fortunately), the City of Makati forbids the usage of plastic cups. So we can’t see how the Chocomint Frappe looks like for real. However, the J.Co paper cup and the graphics on it is so cute, it makes you want to say “Awww..”. 


Cheers! 
Only the whipped cream and the chocolate caviar topping is seen on the drink. It is a thing of beauty, too. 

Does it look yummy or does it look yummy?
Let me say this, the whipped cream is thick and fully charged. Unlike in another popular coffee shop where the whipped cream is weak. I like J.Co’s better. It is much more flavorful and thicker.  Throughout the course of time, it never melted and I had to put in some effort to mix it with the drink. But if you prefer, you can eat the whipped cream alone, too. :)

The Chocomint Frappe drink is delicious! It is creamy and you can taste the sweet flavor of the chocolate as well. There was only a hint of mint in my drink. The mint flavor is not readily tasted and it leaves no cooling sensation in the throat. I like it that way. The coolness doesn't stay long, too. I guess I prefer more chocolate than mint in my drink. 

I think this one has crushed cookies as one of the ingredients because I saw some adhering to the sides of the paper cup. This added texture and sweetness to the drink. 


The Chocomint Frappe from J.Co
This drink tastes like Christmas! With the season getting near, I think I have found a new favorite. But year round, I don’t have to wait for Christmas as I can drink it anytime!


Saturday, November 2, 2013

[Review] Jean George Llong Sun Block for Women

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Playing the Yutnori game in the Too Cool for School booth last BDJ Box Beauty Social got me three skin care samples as a prize. One of the things that I got is a sachet of Jean George Llong Sun Block for Women. 


My sachet is of Jean George Llong Sun Block
This is the first product that I have tried from Too Cool for School. So I researched about this and I am satisfied with the description:



Jean George Llong Sun Block. Photo source: www.roseroseshop.com
Hmmm.. So, it is a sun block but doubles as a makeup base or primer. Cool! It is kinda like BB or CC Cream in that sense. But it is labeled as sun block so let's stick to that. Ooh... the packaging of the full bottle is very lovely too! Heehee~ (^_^) 

Here is the sample that I got from the event. It is a small sachet but it lasted for two weeks with once a day usage. See, I only road test one product at a time up until I use up the whole sample. It is in this way that I can fully observe the effects and results on my skin. 


The description at the back is in Korean.
This product has a good powder-like smell. It has that creamy consistency, too. Upon application, it glides well and gets absorbed by the skin easily. However, it looked too unnaturally white on me at first. But don't worry, after about 5 minutes, it adapted to my skin color. See, it didn't feel like sun block at all. It gave me that BB cream feel. 

Here are a few swatches:


The product on my skin.

It disappeared, leaving a healthy whitish glow on my skin. :) 
My skin adapted well to this product. They didn't declare sebum control on the packaging but I have observed that my face didn't get oily for up to four hours the most. Good news, right? Breakouts didn't occur and my face looks more plump. So the anti-wrinkle claim works, then. 

Lastly, unlike BB or CC Creams, this one doesn't give a dewy-shiny look on my skin. And I like it like that, just plain matte and naturally white. Having a huge amount of sunblock, claimed at SPF 50, I am not scared to be exposed to the sun at all! 

I haven't visited a Too Cool for School store yet so I don't know the price of the full bottle. But online, it costs about $12 - $15. With an impressive product like this, it made me all the while curious to try out the other two samples I got from the Yutnori game. Or better yet, I guess it's time for me to pay them a visit in SM North EDSA. 


Friday, November 1, 2013

Scream for Mjolnir!

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Have you watched Thor: The Dark World already? Well, I just watched it last night and I give it a rating of 80%. Watch out for my review about it. But yeah, it's worth a watch. 

But the topic now is not about the movie but something related. Weeks ago, in anticipation of the second Thor movie, Jollibee promoted the new Cheesy Bacon Mushroom Champ Burger and a Mjolnir USB Flash Drive that come with it. 



If you want to avail of the flash drive (LOL! It was my motivation in the first place), all you need to do is buy the meal worth PhP165 and pay another PhP95 for the Mjolnir 1GB USB.

Remember, you must buy the meal (burger+fries+Coke) to avail the flash drive
So the burger... I give it a rating of 5 out of 10. The buns were good, the patty was tasty, but the bacon was salty. And because of the overpowering saltiness, I couldn't taste the cheese well.  Being a Champ, this one is pretty heavy on the stomach. 

Jollibee's Cheesy Bacon Mushroom Champ Burger
It's okay guys, that excitement of owning a Mjolnir -of finally becoming Thor- will conquer your senses. You won't even regret buying that expensive meal.

Mjolnir 1GB USB Flash Drive from Jollibee

You gotta admire the fact that this one looks and feels pretty close to the real thing. LOL! For a flash drive, it is quite bulky and heavy. The details on it are accurate, too. I like how it is made! I feel like Thor! LOL! 

Mjolnir, a thing of beauty!

About the movie Thor The Dark World

Look at those abstract details! 

Details! Details! Details! 

There is the USB end. :) 
Now throw it away and scream "Mjolnir!". Who knows it just might come back! LOL! Just kidding guys. But really, it's great to own one. Ooh... it would be great to own a Thor, too! (^_^)

Ah~  Thor! 

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