Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Ateneo Press Christmas Booksale

We are happy to invite you to the much-awaited Christmas booksale of the Ateneo Press, from November 27 to December 15, at the press bookshop in Bellarmine Hall, ADMU Campus. All books will be sold at 10 to 50 percent discount. Sale hours: Monday to Friday, 8am to 12 noon, 1 to 6pm.

As always, browsing--like the warm salabat--is free.

To reserve copies of your favorite titles, call Vangie or Anne at 02-4265984.

Ateneo de Manila University Press
Bellarmine Hall, ADMU Campus
Katipunan Ave., Loyola Heights
Quezon City, Philippines
Tel.: (632) 426-6001 loc. 4610

Monday, November 27, 2006

Random Stories

It's Monday and it seems so many stuff has happened over the weekend but I had to cope with a stiff neck. So that's news for you.

My boss is finally back, and the World Battle of the Bands held in Hong Kong is over, so it should be an interesting week (read: work!) on how it's going to affect us.

Late Saturday evening, I suddenly receive this phone call from one of my classmates in high school saying that there's this alumni homecoming and I should hop right over to Xavier. Except you know, I was dealing with a stiff neck and I was in Pasig. Of course now waking up and doing the math, I graduated in 2000 and if homecomings are supposed to be held every four years, the batch is supposed to reunite on 2008, not 2006.

Friday was another Pulp photo shoot and involved a visit to Victoria Court. Of course the female staff didn't want to be seen entering the place, while I had to run back and forth between the office in Ortigas (near Tektite) and the shoot location on foot because of miscellaneous duties that needed to be done.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Buffy Season 8

Entertainment Weekly has a recent interview with Joss Whedon and he talks about his plans for a Buffy sequel that's part of the canon. Faithful fans, however, might be disappointed (or thrilled) at the new medium: comics.

From: Newsarama

Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Launch

Because they bribed me (they arrived at our office with eight boxes of doughnuts and there was barely anyone at the office: no graphic designers, just the AE's and two writers):

Krispy Kreme will be opening on Thursday, November 30, 2006 at 8:30 am at the City Center in the Fort (Near Serendra). First customer to ring the cash register will win a one year supply of Original Glazed doughnuts, while the first 500 customers will be getting a limited edition Krispy Kreme original t-shirt. There'll also be raffles for the 2nd up to the 500th customer.

And if you're wondering how much they'll cost, the Original Glazed Doughnuts are selling for P30 each, while Assorted Doughnuts for P38 each.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Dennis the Menace

I never thought I'd experience what Mr. Wilson felt from Hank Ketcham's Dennis the Menace comic.

At random days in the morning, fumes of smoke would seep into the house, choking my sleep-deprived lungs. I didn't know the source until today, when my mom entered the guest room and randomly blurted the fact that the enigmatic source of the smoke were our neighbors (which isn't really a surprise because it's either them or La Salle) who were practicing Buddhists and burned paper at regular intervals.

Unfortunately, as much as I'd like to say my woes ends there, this is also the same neighbor that is known for its maids singing out of tone at midnight with the volume of the karaoke at maximum. Back in the day when Virra Mall was still known as Virra Mall and not V-Mall, there'd be regular song competitions on the weekends, and the reason why the radio of most stores in the vicinity are loud is because it's to drown out all that horrible singing (to be fair, not all the singers are out of tone, but every weekend I drop by, there's always someone singing horribly). The shop I was working for was located in the third floor and we could hear the singing (damn centralized sound system!) even if the contestants were at the ground floor. That's what it feels like on certain days, when you're weary and tired and want to get some rest, and then you hear the awful shrieking of their maid (at least I hope it's a maid singing those Filipino songs, with a shrill voice, and horribly out of tune).

Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume 2 Book Launch

Philippine Speculative Fiction Volume 2 Book Launch
Sunday, December 10, 2006 - 3PM
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf
Ground Floor, The Promenade
Greenhills, San Juan, Metro Manila

Copies of the book will be available then.

Afterwards, the anthology will be available at Fully Booked, Comic Quest and other venues.

From: Dean Alfar

Pacquiao for the Victory

I'm not really what you'd call a natural sports aficionado. That domain belongs more to my brother who was a basketball jock back in his day. I didn't enjoy watching games like basketball, boxing, or billiards, although I did enjoy participating in the casual basketball games we had in school, as much as a guy who can't dribble and can't shoot can enjoy it.

It was only after exposure to sports anime--and manga-- that I'd develop an appreciation for such sports. Slam Dunk, for example, taught me about the rules of the game (aside from the basics that I already knew, such as traveling) and the dynamics of the team (I didn't even know there were five people on the court) more than my Physical Education classes ever could. And during my college years, I did watch the basketball games of my alma matter, especially as they'd make it to the finals but falling short of winning the championship (except on one occassion when they finally succeeded). Of course nowadays, I don't watch much basketball as I never really followed the sport and what kept me interested in basketbaall during my college years were the personalities I became familiar with.

The other popular Filipino sport which suddenly had a resurgence is boxing. Again, I'm a neophyte in terms of my knowledge of the sport, but my anime indoctrination with the likes of the show Hajime no Ippo has made watching boxing much more interesting. As a spectator, a fight (or any game for that matter) is more interesting if you know what's going on, who's winning, and what the viable tactics are. I mean to someone unfamiliar with boxing, it all seems like people duking it out in the ring, throwing random punches and jabs. But in reality, it can be a complex sport with feints, counters, body blows, and a lot of seemingly unseen attacks to the casua viewer that makes boxing so exciting.

Writer Krip Yuson once wrote that Filipinos excel in sports that begin with B's: boxing, billiards, bowling, but alas, not basketball despite fervent interest in the sport by Filipinos. One of the country's living sports icons is Efren Bata Reyes, a recognized billiard champion, not just here but internationally as well. Yet in a certain way, he has less impact than a Manny Pacquiao fight. Perhaps it's because we've grown accustomed to Efren Bata Reyes, who has dominated the pool scene for quite some time. Efren is perhaps best described as the vanguard of Filipino billiards, the reigning champion and guardian of the sport. In other words, he is expected to win his fights, and is this seemingly otherwordly skilled master of the sport.

Manny Pacquiao, on the other hand, is a boxer that is the complete opposite of Efren Bata Reyes. While talented in his own right, Pacquiao is a protagonist fitting for a soap opera. He has all the elements, everything from a rags-to-riches story to a youth discovering himself to the underdog winning fight after fight. He's the country's black knight, the man whose odds are aren't in his favor, yet he manages to win fight after fight just the same. Filipinos not only empathizes with Manny Pacquiao's because of his common-man roots, but they feel that he's earning each reward with each fight, a very mortal man slowly earning his place as a champion step by step (Efren Bata Reyes, on the other hand, seems like he was destined for his greatness because it's simply been so long that he's dominated the billiards scene).

To the uninitiated, perhaps the best analogy I can give of Manny Pacquiao's popularity is that of Bruce Lee to Hong Kong. Back when The Green Hornet TV show was airing in the US, the Chinese in Hong Kong were watching it as The Kato Show. Bruce Lee inadvertedly became a hero to many Chinese despite the fact that being an accomplished actor, while an exemplary feat, isn't really a unique profession. I mean Manny Pacquiao probably garners more attention than his foreign rivals and counterparts would in their own home country.

Anyway, Manny Pacquiao's third fight with Erik Morales came to a conclusion today. Losing to Morales in their first encounter and making a combat in the second, it seems like fate when Manny Pacquiao won his third fight on the third round--after knocking his opponent thrice, twice during that pivotal round--and establishing himself as one of the world's finest boxers (at least at this point in time). To the casual viewers, this is probably the best fight they've watched of the three matches that Pacquiao's has had, simply because a lot of blows were exchanged early on and there were a lot of knockdowns. Unlike other sports, combat sports (and not just limited to boxing) aren't necessarily the most rewarding shows to watch visually. The problem with fighting is that attacks are usually quick and fast, and depending on the range, don't necessarily have lots of audience appeal. The best example I have are the UFC fights where both contenders are grappling. To a spectator, it seems like two people hugging. It's really difficult to see the strikes going on there (because it's being covered by the grappler's bodies) and the strain it puts on both fighters. That can also happen in boxing, especially when both boxers are in-fighters. That wasn't the case with this fight though as both Pacquiao and Morales were fighting with range, and there were a lot of head blows as well as body blows.

It wasn't a first-round knockout but it was nonetheless an exciting fight. Both warriors slugged it out in comparison to their previous fights where both fighters were more cautious and avoided long exchanges. There were also knockouts instead of depending on the judge's scorecards to determine the winner (and has come to plague a couple of Filipino boxers in our history) although I will applaud Morales for getting up after not just his first knockdown, but his second as well.

Again, I know Pacquiao's previous fights were just as fierce and competitive, but three-round victories and winning by knockout is what comprises drama. It was a pleasant fight to watch and only serves to increase Manny Pacquiao's image as this macho, courageous Filipino.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

American Anime Awards in 2007

The New York Comic Con which will be held in late February next year will be having an Anime Awards ceremony. Personally, I'm just wondering how the fan community will be receiving it, whether they'll laud the event or simply ignore it (I mean it's not exactly the first time that someone's tried to host an anime awards ceremony).

Of course the cynic in me is thinking that this is all being done to try to get more non-American comic readers into the con. On a side note, why is there a separate category for "best actor/actress in a comedy?" It's like saying there are just two kinds of anime, those that are funny, and those that aren't. The fact that there's a "best comedy anime" doesn't help change that perception.

From Newsarama

I've Forgotten How to Write!

Not quite true, but it seems so long since I last had a blog entry that it might as well be true.

I'm currently in the phase of my life where I'm simply unproductive. No books read, no writing done, and there's no money in the bank.

Anyway, the weekend game was a mix of both good and bad. The former because me and my friends got to talk about D&D and created our optimized 20th-level characters. Bad because the game we joined wasn't our gaming group and well, let's just say there were a lot of things that made the game sub-optimal play (I think I should stress that one should never play in a party composed of a dozen players and you know something's wrong when the one taking initiative [the person who keeps track of whose turn it is] asks "when's it my turn?").

Thursday, November 09, 2006


Back in grade school, high school, and college, I wasn't a fan of studying. In truth I'm one of those lazy people who gets bored easily. Reading is one thing, studying is another thing. The latter involves repetition and reviewing, a chore that gets dull too quickly. (On the other hand, a subject like Math can't be studied because there's nothing to review. I can work on problems and that's it. And Math is designed in such a way that once you know how to solve a certain problem, you know how to solve the rest so there's really no need of say completing a word problem that involves simple addition.)

Early this week I received news that if everything goes as planned, there'll be a one-shot D&D game this weekend. I miss playing D&D and it's been a year since I last played an authentic game. So I'm really looking forward to the game this weekend. It's a high-level game however, 20th-level at the very least, so creating a character will be far from quick.

I'm quite familiar with the game and one of my goals whenever I create a character is to optimize them... within limits of course. An example of a limitation would be that it might fit well into a story, for example, or perhaps a restriction such as no spellcasting or easy to use. Right now, my current plans for the character is that 1) it won't be using Polymorph spells (basically spells that alter a character's form and abilities) because it leads to too much game imbalance and rules clarifications, 2) won't be spending much time buffing, and 3) relatively easy to use.

In order to fully optimize a character, one needs to be familiar with all the options that's available. Unfortunately, D&D releases hardcover books every month (a hardcover is usually twice as large as most hardcover fiction books but thinner... barely 200 pages at most, but they're usually in full-color) and I have quite a huge collection. I found myself last night, doing of all things, studying.

Not that I mind of course. For me it's fun, assembling data as if it were a jigsaw puzzle and suddenly discovering pieces that "fit". What's interesting for me is how we perceive certain subjects. I mean the only other thing I dislike more than studying is doing research. Yet when it comes to subjects like say anime, I don't mind doing the leg work. Simply put, there are certain subjects for me which are interesting, even if they're boring and tedious to the rest of the world.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Still Alive

Still alive, although this is definitely one of my more positive moods.

Last year, I ranted about how Christmas songs precedes Halloween (and in fact Christmas hits the Philippines as soon as the first 'ber month hits) so all I'll say now is enjoy the sales, and do your Christmas shopping early.

On a side note, right now I'm enjoying the benefits of Google Docs and Spreadsheets, which not only gives you an online word processor to store and save your documents, but the fact that you can also selectively share them.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


I'm one of those people with low self-esteem and a lack of confidence. When I'm thrown something I'm not qualified for, I remember that if I only keep on doing the things I think I can do, then that will indeed be the only things I can do, in the future as well as in the present.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Politics and Religion

I question the belief that the two are separate, or that they should be so. When the Philippines claimed “independence” from its Spanish conquerors, one of the proposed constitutions was the distinction between church and state (a reaction to some of the corrupt practices of the church during that era). Yet I don’t think that separation was fully upheld. Our Catholic forbearers remained Catholics, and they put into practice their religious belief, be it in their political life or their personal life. Nowadays, one can’t make a political decision without taking into consideration the reaction of the church – and in many ways, it does hold a vestige of authority in the country. Many theorize, and I agree with this proposal, that the reason why population control in the country was never successful in a post-Marcos era was because of the church’s stance against the use of alternative methods of family planning (the only option given to married couples are withdrawal or the rhythm method). Of course the educated of our society will rebel at this idea, at how religion interferes with the state. Yet taking a closer look, in certain ways, such unity is inevitable.

What most people fail to see is what politics and religion have in common. More than the propaganda of politicians or the promises of salvation by religion, the common cause of the two is that they both unite people. Whenever a civilization congregates into a cohesive force, they’re usually following a political ideal (i.e. something as simple as fair wages to something as complex as democracy) or a religious one. In fact, I don’t really see any distinction between the two except for the fact that most people treat the latter as irrevocable truth and the former as a necessary evil. What I find interesting is how the two forces manipulate people into following their tenets. Politics usually employs force of the law in the real world, either a fine or some physical punishment. Religion, on the other hand, employs something subtler. It can be punishment in the form of being socially ostracized, and in some cases, actual physical recompense. However, more often than not, religion threatens your faith, usually the afterlife, more than having an immediate, real-world impact on the offender.

The literati might clamor for a clear distinction between the two yet society’s answer is otherwise. Metro Manila, the capital of the Philippines, is for all intents and purposes a Catholic-centric city. I can only assume since I have no experience with Mindanao that that part of the country is similarly Islamic-driven in nature. Yet ours is far from a unique case. I mean one simply needs to look at America, a nation of the free and hodgepodge of cultures. Yet if we are to believe the courtroom dramas we see on television, why does their judicial system swear on the Bible for witnesses to testify the truth? If I weren’t a Christian, aren’t I less obligated to state the truth considering my oath to honesty is less binding than that of a Christian believer? Of course colonial America is merely one example of religion seeping into a country’s political system. There’s China for example, where preaching and distribution of the Bible has been restricted by the government to say the least. And what of various other Islamic countries where obviously, Islam is the dominant religion and how it wields much authority in the political arena?

As much as people want to separate the two, I think the telltale signs of any civilization is the existence of politics and religion, and how it manages to govern the lives of its members. Would it be possible to live in a country where the two are clearly and cleanly separated? If only the human psyche can be broken down into distinct components but alas, we are all but too human, and we must accept things in their totality than simply by their individual parts. Even if our political system was segregated from religion, our political leaders will no doubt still be influenced by their political beliefs.