Author Archives: Cathy Dellosa-Lo

About Cathy Dellosa-Lo

Cathy Dellosa Lo is a freelance writer by day and a geek by night. She constantly struggles between sniffing the novels lined up in her bookshelf and trying to whip up something unusual in the kitchen, much to the dismay of her loving husband. To this day, she still has not cooked a decent meal. She one day hopes to soar the skies as a superhero for her future children, but for now, she strongly believes in saving lives through her works in fiction. She also maintains a personal blog on her rookie misadventures as a noob wife at http://quirkylifeofthenoobwife.blogspot.com/ .

sionil

Philippine literary masterpieces that need to be adapted for the big screen

Thursday, 14 July 2016 | Written by
sionil

Just like the big Hollywood trend of adapting novels to movies, Filipino literature has immense potential to be blockbuster hits. Here are just some of the most interesting local masterpieces that should definitely get their own screen time in our theaters.

  1. Si Amapola sa 65 na Kabanata by Ricky Lee

Here comes the epic story of a manananggal who goes out on a mission to save the whole country. Oh, and did we mention that the said manananggal is gay? The plot practically writes itself onto the big screen, and if this isn’t something that’s worthy of a blockbuster hit, we don’t know what is.

Where else can you find such a unique twist to the classic Filipino mythical creature? This kind of genius at work can only come from the master storyteller and screenwriter himself—the critically acclaimed Ricky Lee. Dubbed as a political comedy, Si Amapola sa 65 na Kabanata follows the chronicles of a gay manananggal while scattering all over the novel some hints and subtle truths about the political problems of our country today. The story is even set in vibrant Tomas Morato, and it has just the right amount of love and revenge to keep any reader engaged.

ricky

His works are no strangers to the movies.

Fantasy and romance take center stage as Ricky Lee masterfully fabricates the tale of Lola Sepa, who, of course, falls in love with none other than Andres Bonifacio. She vows to keep him safe against the opposing forces of Aguinaldo, and when she and Andres develop a tentative romance, she vows to renounce her witchy ways, too—which means she’s no longer feasting on human flesh all for the sake of her undying love. Eventually, this little secret romance takes a bad turn when her jealousy takes control of her and she betrays Andres. Because of this crippling treachery, she soon discovers one morning that she had become an ordinary human—a fitting punishment for what she had done. Can you not already see the long lines at the cinema when this surefire hit comes out?

  1. Heartbreak and Magic by Ian Rosales Casocot

Born in 1975, young genius Ian Rosales Casocot is currently already weaving beautifully fantastic stories and stealing the hearts of readers with his unique tales. This creative journalist from Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental took up his studies at the International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan, as well as in Silliman University in Dumaguete City. Here, he graduated with a B.A. in Mass Communication, and he’s been garnering awards (including the Gregorio C. Brillantes Prize for Prose for Fully Booked’s Neil Gaiman Philippine Graphic/Fiction Awards in 2006) and wowing everyone with his jaw-dropping written works of art ever since.

ian

Fantasy set in the Philippines? Yes, please!

Heartbreak and Magic is no exception. The collection of short stories tells tales of magical time travel, evil spirits, local mysticism, mythical beliefs, shocking horror, fascinating science fiction (involving a clone of our national hero Jose Rizal), and, of course, young love and heartbreak. With titles such as “The Last Days of Magic” and “How Sarah Broke Up With Me”, how can anyone not get intrigued?

One particular tale that is aptly titled “A Tragedy of Chickens” talks about the Filipino obsession for eating chicken meat, and when Dumaguete runs out of chickens, it sparks an apocalyptic tragedy that plagues an entire town—and probably even the whole country. Philippine speculative fiction is definitely at its finest with Ian Rosales Casocot’s work, and if we’re ever hoping to get our own brand of fantasy on the big screen, this collection is definitely the way to go. Neil Gaiman would definitely agree!

  1. Ermita by F. Sionil Jose

Who hasn’t heard of or read about the great F. Sionil Jose? His works have not only collected several accolades over the years, but they also have been a part of our Philippine literary culture since forever. In Ermita, F. Sionil José captures the plight of the titular prostitute during the tumultuous era before the imposition of Martial Law. This historic event declared by Ferdinand Marcos in the 1950s is the backdrop for Ermita Rojos’ tale that involves her mother—one of the unfortunate victims of rape during the Japanese occupation. In the year 1941, the Philippines is going through the trauma of the Japanese Empire’s attacks and occupation while suffering through the effects of the Second World War at the same time.

mass ermita

So many good ones…

This novel has such a universal theme that even Korean journalists have translated the piece into the country’s native tongue. This is because of the parallels between the history of Korea and the Philippines. Indeed, both countries were colonized by greater powers, which is probably why the messages in the book resonated so much.

Ermita Rojo was shipped off to a convent following the shameful raping of her mother, and little Ermita was brought up among orphaned children. Despite this, she grows up happily with the nuns in the convent, but when the truth eventually catches up to her, things go downhill from there. Her Aunt Felicitas takes her in and she serves as a maid for the Rojo family as she bides her time and plots her revenge—it’s got all the makings of a hit drama film right there, don’t you think?

  1. Mass by F. Sionil Jose

Because F. Sionil Jose is so epic, we just had to include another one of the author’s works. The 1973 historical novel Mass is a political narrative that’s part of The Rosales Saga. It is also set around the declaration of Martial Law in 1972, and deals heavily with strong themes of human rights, advocating reform, the struggle of student rights, and protests from the masses. José “Pepe” Samson from Tondo, Manila is the main protagonist of the novel, and his journey includes becoming a drug dealer as well as a revolutionary for the rebel group The Brotherhood. I can still remember poring through the pages of this tragic tale back when I was still in school, and seeing this story come to life on the big screen would definitely be an unforgettable experience.

sionil

This National Artist is a local treasure!

Do you have any personal favorites when it comes to local written masterpieces? Which titles would you absolutely love to see in theaters near you? Let us know in the comments section below!

*Photos from official Facebook accounts.

oli

Most beautiful weddings in Pinoy showbiz

Tuesday, 12 July 2016 | Written by
oli

June may have already passed, but it doesn’t have to take June brides to have the most gorgeous weddings in showbiz. Check out these celebrity weddings that made us fall in love all over again.

1.Dingdong Dantes and Marian Rivera

When Dingdong Dantes proposed to Queen Marian one fine Saturday during her primetime dance series, the whole nation was enthralled. On his knees after some special presentations for Marian Rivera’s birthday special, Dingdong asked the actress to marry him and she responded with an enthusiastic kiss. They have been together for more than seven years, and through everything—including issues with Karylle Tatlonghari and Heart Evangelista, the couple has stayed strong despite their relationship’s ups and downs. The controversies in showbiz didn’t stop this power couple from tying the knot on December 30, 2014 in Cubao at the Immaculate Concepcion Church. This was the same church where Dingdong Dantes was baptized, and on that day, Marian Rivera certainly stole the spotlight with her extravagant and elegant gown that allegedly cost approximately two million big ones. It was beaded intricately, and the silk white dress sported an off-shoulder look with a full skirt and even longer trail as designed by Michael Cinco, the Filipino haute couturier. All eyes were definitely on her, but her eyes are only on her dashing groom!

marian

Here comes the bride!

  1. Isabel Oli and John Prats

Who could forget the flash mob proposal that John Prats gave longtime girlfriend Isabel Oli in a Quezon City mall? Their intimate May wedding reception in Batangas had an autumn-themed reception because their wedding rites at the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage Parish Church had a winter theme, while the lunch that followed was summer-themed. The Christian wedding rites at Nayomi Sanctuary Resort were inspired by the four seasons. How clever and romantic! Isabel Oli wore a classic yet stunning sleeveless gown in white that had detailed beadwork and delicate lace patterns. This was designed by Pronovias for the Catholic rites, while the sweetheart neckline and ruffled skirt was designed by Vera Wang.

Of course, a number of close friends and celebrity guests were there to celebrate the big day with the couple. Camille Prats, Angelica Panganiban, and Sam Milby were even part of the couple’s entourage, while Nikki Gil and Gerald Anderson were present as well.

oli

I do…

  1. Toni Gonzaga and Paul Soriano

Vera Wang was also the designer of choice for reality television host and actress Toni Gonzaga when she tied the knot with Paul Soriano (in a debonair Hugo Boss suit) in Taytay, Rizal. The beige gown had a sweetheart neckline and sported a mermaid style that accentuated and emphasized her petite figure and gorgeous curves even further. The radiant bride married her boyfriend of eight years in a beautiful ceremony at the United Methodist Church, where Toni has been attending church since she was a young girl. Fulfilling her parents’ dream of seeing her get married there, she followed the rites with a lovely reception at the Rockwell Tent in Makati.

The maid of honor was none other than Toni’s little sister Alex, and some of the famous sponsors included Manny Paquiao, Mayor Joseph Estrada, Kris Aquino, Boy Abunda, Dr. Vicki Belo, and ABS-CBN president and CEO Charo Santos-Concio. Who would have thought that after meeting each other at a Gary V. concert in 2006, the couple would finally get hitched, and on Independence Day, too?

  1. Heart Evangelista and Chiz Escudero

The fairytale wedding of Heart Evangelista and Chiz Escudero is one of the biggest and most talked-about celebrations in Philippine showbiz history, and it’s not just because the couple got married in heavenly Balesin. Actress and model Heart Evangelista, inspired by Grace Kelly, wore an Ezra Santos gown with matching crystal encrusted Louboutin pumps that were monogrammed. She also wore a touching locket with a photo of her parents who couldn’t be there at the wedding. Instead, Heart’s cousin read a letter out loud that came from Heart’s father. Still, despite her parents disapproving of their relationship, Heart was able to reconcile with them in 2014.

Part of the entourage included Solenn Heussaff, Alex de Rossi, and Lovi Poe, with Grace Poe as the veil sponsor. The officiating priests were Bishop Arturo Vasquez, Fr. Jerry Orbos, and Fr. Roger Joseph Erestain. The private wedding in Balesin was followed by another reception in Manila. Heart, in her Monique Lhuillier gown, held the second reception at Blue Leaf Filipinas in Aseana, Parañaque City.

chiz

All dressed in white!

  1. Kitchie Nadal and Carlos Lopez

Kitchie Nadal made headlines when she got married because contrary to other celebrities, she wore a ready-to-wear gown that only cost Php799 at a boutique shop in Makati. The event really proved that it’s all about the bride and not about the gown, right? At the Hacienda Isabella in Tagaytay, the couple held the intimate autumn-themed wedding with only 15 guests. Kitchie even did her own makeup for the big day!

  1. Andi Manzano and GP Reyes

One of the most picturesque weddings was when DJ Andi Manzano got hitched with publicist GP Reyes in Baguio in 2013. Andi wore a charming long-sleeved gown in white with a romantic sweetheart neckline and a full and laced skirt. Despite people’s criticisms regarding Typhoon Yolanda during that time, Andi posted that “It doesn’t mean we are oblivious to the plight of our brothers and sisters in Tacloban and Bohol…We are not being insensitive…we [are] just not the kind of people who broadcast our charity work.”

  1. Lloyd Lee and Shamcey Supsup

When Filipino-Chinese model and entrepreneur Lloyd Lee met beauty queen Shamcey Supsup during her 2011 birthday party in May, history began. Shamcey Supsup totally rocked her champagne-colored gown that’s made more elegant by sweet lace details and designed by Cherry Veric, while Lloyd wore the same color in his suit. The wedding itself was filled with elegant lace and romantic pastel colors, and president of Mercator Artist & Model Management Jonas Antonio Gaffud took absolutely stunning photos that we can thankfully view online on Instagram!

  1. Bianca Gonzalez and JC Intal
bianca

Greatest day of their lives!

There’s something about ready-to-wear gowns that just proves how practical and simple the bride can be. Bianca Gonzalez completely owned it when she strut her stuff down the aisle in a classy Rosa Clara gown, and star basketball player JC Intal couldn’t keep his eyes off her during their intimate island wedding in El Nido, Palawan. The white, long-sleeved dress she wore for her party in Manila had adorable butterfly patterns with intricate beadwork around her slim waist, showing once again just how simple can be sexy, too!

  1. Chito Miranda and Neri Naig

Controversies abound for this particular celebrity couple, but they powered through just fine despite the leaked sex video online that went viral in July and August 2013. Trials only test relationships and make them even stronger, and that’s exactly what happened with Chito Miranda and Neri Naig. Their beautiful wedding was certainly proof of that!

chito

Partying the night away!

*Photos courtesy of official wedding videos.

kramer

Showbiz parenting styles: Who wins best dad?

Sunday, 10 July 2016 | Written by
kramer

It’s the Battle of the Best Dads as we round up the most popular fathers in Pinoy showbiz. By pitting their parenting skills and different styles against each other, who do you think wins as the best dad? Here are some tidbits to help you decide!

1.Richard Gomez 

As a hands-on father to his daughter Juliana, Richard Gomez advises her not to have a boyfriend like him, but to marry someone like him. He does admit that boys are now taking an interest in Juliana, but he fully supports her and encourages her with whatever aspirations she might have. Despite his hectic schedule as an actor, model, athlete, director, and politician, Richard Gomez always makes sure he has time for lovely Juliana, and that’s a winner in our book.

  1. Zoren Legaspi
zoren

Carbon copy!

Carmina Villaroel was one lucky lady back in 2012 when Zoren Legaspi gave her the most romantic proposal-cum-wedding in any fairytale ever, and she still is now as Zoren is one cool dad to their kids. The adorable twins may slowly be getting exposed to showbiz now, but their father never pressured them. On the contrary, Zoren wants them to engage in regular activities away from the limelight. He makes it a point to spend time and play with his kids, like when he runs with them, pulls off hilarious pranks with them, and plays sports (tennis and basketball) with them. Zoren truly is a friend second, but a father first, and that’s the perfect balance.

  1. Doug Kramer

There’s probably not a single netizen in the country who doesn’t know who Team Kramer is. As a self-proclaimed “natural father”, Doug Kramer believes that parenting is not about sacrifice, nor is it something to think about. He believes that parenting should be a priority, and this is why he always looks forward to spending time with his children. The professional Philippine Basketball Association player is loving husband to actress Cheska Garcia and dear dad to Kendra, Scarlett, and Gavin. Despite their family’s fame, with over 1.2 million followers online, Doug knows that the birth of his first kid is considered as one of the most important moments of his life. He wanted a girl as his firstborn, and he’s always been a hands-on parent. He bathes his kids, prepares the baby’s milk, reads Bible stories to the children, and makes sure that they pray before meals so that they will grow up to be God-fearing individuals.

Doug is also a disciplinarian, but he never disciplines out in public. Instead, he takes his kids aside, gives them fair warning, and talks to them properly. He also uses a discipline stick for spanking, and never uses his hands. He knows just when to be strict and when to be a good guy, and that makes them a happy family. “I’m setting the standard for my kids, for what a real man should be in their life,” he says.

kramer

Team Kramer is one big happy family.

  1. Albert Martinez 

When actress Liezl Martinez passed away due to cancer, Albert Martinez was left to be both a father and a mother to his three children. Staying strong for Alfonso, Alissa, and Alyanna is a tough job, but he does it and so much more. He wants them to grow and marry well so that he can have grandkids soon! And with how these three children carry themselves in public, you can be sure that they are a testimony to how well he was able to raise them with his wife.

  1. Richard Yap

The Be Careful With My Heart star has been enjoying quite a measure of success with women of all ages throughout the country and abroad as a doting father on TV. In reality, he’s quite the dad himself as well, with Sir Chief being the father of two kids. He admits to being strict with his children’s studies and social media usage, stating that they have to look out for their safety and check their privacy settings for better security. He also says that he is about 70 percent similar to his on-screen character, and that it’s not that difficult to play the part. He’s really happy that the show promotes good family values that his kids can learn from.

He does, however, still give his kids some liberty when it comes to doing what they want as long as they’re not doing anything wrong. He also values spending time at home with his children despite his busy schedule; he even goes out to watch movies with his kids. As a single dad, he believes that making time for your children is very important as they grow up way too fast and thinks they won’t need him anymore as time passes. But with such a kind heart as his, we don’t think his kids will be neglecting him any time soon!

yap

Why hello there, Sir Chief!

  1. Martin Nievera

Martin Nievera may have had a non-happily-ever-after marriage with his estranged wife, but his annulment with Pops Fernandez never stopped him from being a good dad. His two sons Ram and Robin were even glad to accept Martin’s son Santino with Katrina Ojeda into their family. This kind of positive behavior is a true testimony that Martin has been a good father despite being in a broken marriage. There are different kinds of families, and this one, despite being a bit unconventional, is definitely still intact.

  1. Aga Muhlach

Aga Muhlach knows how wonderful it is to be a father, and he’s not afraid to express it. He says that he can’t wait for the day when his son Andres asks him for his first real car, or when his daughter Atasha rants to him about her fair share of heartaches. These twins are Aga’s kids with gorgeous beauty queen Charlene Gonzales. He believes that these milestones aren’t necessarily easy to go through, but these just prove how much they are growing up and that he is there to grow with them. What can be more touching than that?

Did we miss any of your favorite showbiz dads? And with that list, who do you think wins Best Dad Ever (aside from, of course, your own dear ol’ Dad)? Let us know your votes and bets in the comments section below!

*Photos from Facebook accounts.

ricky lee

Of museums, books, and scriptwriting: Exciting news in local art

Tuesday, 5 July 2016 | Written by
ricky lee

This month of July is buzzing with new developments in the world of Filipino culture, and why wouldn’t it? There’s the chance to see the Spoliarium up close for free, an invitation to learn from a master scriptwriter, and a charitable initiative to spread the love for books to Filipinos everywhere. Read on and see just why you should be excited, too!

1.Free entrance to the National Museum forever

museum

Pinoy pride!

What better way to celebrate Pinoy pride than by taking a trip to the National Museum? Cultural treasures and priceless artwork abound as visitors can now enjoy universal access to the National Museum of the Philippines for free beginning this July 1, 2016.

Previously free only during certain events, the general admission used to be Php150 for adults, Php120 for senior citizens, and Php50 for students. Visitors used to be able to enjoy waived entrance fees (and subsequently causing spikes in visitors) during occasions such as International Museum Day, National Arts Month, Independence Day, National Heritage Month, National Women’s Month, and National Museums and Galleries Month. Now, in order to encourage more visitors, as well as pique the interest of more young Filipinos, the Museum’s Board of Trustees decided to permanently forego the admission fee to widen the reach of the Museum towards a broader audience. This is possible because of a “solid institutional budget drawn ultimately from all Filipino taxpayers through the national budget.”

The Board has always believed that in their efforts to foster this kind of universal access, they can proudly boast of national patrimony and exhibit a deeper sense of love for our local heritage, not only in the metro but throughout the whole archipelago. Visitors can also drop by these institutions for free: the National Art Gallery, the National Museum of Natural History, the National Planetarium, and the National Museum of Anthropology.

Excited to soak in Filipino culture like you’ve never done so before? The National Museum of the Philippines is open for everyone Tuesdays to Sundays from 10am to 5pm at Padre Burgos Drive, Manila. It’s been around since forever, and this is your chance to marvel at the jaw-dropping collection of 1,032 pieces of art from the 18th to the 21st century. You can also get awestruck by the archeological pieces that include the 3,000-year-old Manunggul Burial Jar, as well as 300,000 specimens of natural history. Best of all, you can see the largest painting in the Philippines up close, and that is the grand Spoliarium by Juan Luna made in Rome during 1884. Depicting a heartbreaking scene from the Roman Colosseum’s exit room “Spoliarium”, the painting focuses on where injured gladiators are taken or the brutal and horrific area where the ones who have perished are dragged after their performance.

  1. Free scriptwriting workshops from screenwriter extraordinaire Ricky Lee
ricky lee

It’s time to write away!

Ever dreamed of seeing your work on the big screen? After nine years (the last one being back in 2003), Ricky Lee is finally continuing his free scriptwriting workshop that will last for three months. To be led by acclaimed screenwriter Ricky Lee himself with the help of some ABS-CBN and Star Cinema writers, the workshop hopes to inspire young writers and aspirants even for those who have no prior experience in writing. It’s open to everyone, and if you’re a fan of the Filipino classics such as Himala, Brutal, Salome, and Moral, playwright and novelist Ricky Lee should be your mentor at all costs.

Ready to reach your full potential? You can submit your application form, resume, and written work sample at the drop box at ABS-CBN’s ELJ building or at the Star Cinema website at www.starcinema.com.ph on or before the 6th of July. Lee emphasizes that young writers today need to be patient as building a career in writing does not happen overnight. There is no easy formula for instant success in the industry, so a young aspirant must be willing to take his time. He also stresses how important it is to focus on proper research when writing your piece, as works of art need to be as believable as possible. Fantastic elements must not come at the expense of verisimilitude, after all. Finally, there is nothing more crucial than being humble, even when you reach the height of fame and triumph. It’s the proper attitude towards success that keeps you successful, and if you’re ready to be all these, then go on and submit! After all, what’s there to lose for the fulfillment of your dream?

  1. The Book Stop Project
book stop

Free books? Yes, please!

Speaking of fulfilling dreams, books have always been the advocacy of William Ti, Jr.. As Principal Architect of WTA Architecture and Design Studio, he reimagined the classic library for the modern society and thus came up with the pop-up library The Book Stop Project. Now located at Intramuros, the travelling book stop aims to foster the love for books as well as encourage sharing and learning among individuals. It also provides a space for human interaction, as the project goes by a “give a book, get a book” initiative. The bite-sized library was launched during International Book Day when Instituto Cervantes’ Dia Del Libro 2016 celebrations kicked off on April 23rd at the Ayala Triangle Park in Makati. What’s even more impressive other than the honesty system of the project is how simple yet magnificent it looks, made from wire mesh and steel bars that create a futuristic and modern portal, as books line the shelves inside where people can share their stories with each other. And since reading a book truly does allow readers to enter a portal, or a different dimension, the design of the book stop cannot be more appropriate.

With a plan to move the pop-up library around the metro, The Book Stop Project hopes to become a platform in encouraging and pushing for more permanent public libraries. In order to be a part of this wonderful project, you can opt for a funding pledge to help with operations, fabrication, and maintenance costs. You can also be a venue partner by giving your permission to let the Project install one unit of The Book Stop in your community for two months so that your location can benefit from this public library. Finally, you can donate your pre-loved books at the venue itself, or drop by the office at 224 Ortigas Avenue, Greenhills. Is there any other reason to delay?

*Photos from official Facebook pages.

stargirl

Book Review: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Thursday, 30 June 2016 | Written by
stargirl

Now that everybody’s all about going back to school, why don’t we revisit an oldie but goodie? When it comes to the high school jungle, nobody knows about its perils more than Stargirl, and in Jerry Spinelli’s novel that features her brilliant uniqueness, we’ll learn about the costs of fitting in—and just how important it is to be true to yourself.

The recent success of The Little Prince and its big screen adaptation should be a clear indication that the dull adult world can only be truly colorful if we each embrace our own unique quirks. When we stay true to what makes us shine bright as illuminating individuals, the world becomes so much better in so many levels.

stargirl

Shine bright, Stargirl!

Just like suppressing the Prince’s individuality removes the life in life, embracing Stargirl’s rareness makes readers see what it truly means to live. Told through the point of view of Leo, the book begins with his penchant for porcupine neckties, showing us just how much he values eccentricity. True enough, when Susan Caraway a.k.a. Stargirl steps into Mica Area High School and into his life, he becomes attracted to her in the most inexplicable way. Homeschooled all her life, Stargirl is not one to take conformity very seriously, and she does just that by wearing strange bucksin, kimonos, and even 1920s flapper clothes. She makes every class interesting by adorning her desk with flowers and a tablecloth, and she likes to sing birthday songs to students she has never met with her trusty ukulele. She loves dancing in the rain and she oddly cheers for both teams during school sports events, and she always makes sure she is kind and full of heart in her own unusual way.

While she gains a tentative popularity in campus at first because of her amusing antics, she eventually becomes an outcast, prompting Leo to question his own budding feelings for her. What ensues is a heartbreaking romance as they try to make sense of their feelings set in the backdrop of a school that shuns them. Caught in the struggle to be socially and publicly accepted, especially for young students in high school, Leo will have to decide what’s more important to him—his desire to fit in, or his relationship with the brilliant girl who does anything but?

This theme is especially relevant as we’ve all experienced the same thing in school one way or another. Looking back, did we decide to go with the flow in order to be accepted, or did we violently refuse to be boxed in? Social norms, even now as adults, follow us and haunt us wherever we go, whether it’s at work in the office or simply in our culture and society as a whole. Too often do we see brilliant minds refusing to be unique, dulling their shine, and suppressing their brilliance for fear of what society might think or say. And it’s a sad reality that even as we’ve already made our way out of school, the need to be socially accepted and to conform is still an overpowering suppressant that oppresses us in real life.

stargirl art

Stargirl has inspired so many school activities such as Stargirl Societies and various arts and crafts!

Claiming our unique identities should not be a problem, and the success of stories that explore these themes such as The Little Prince only proves further that we are in dire need of a harsh wake-up call. High school may very well be a microcosm of the real world outside, and just as high schoolers often face peer pressure to avoid ruffling any feathers, we are in constant fear of being rejected because we might not fit in. Still, the overarching motif here is the idea that love should and does make everything better. The romantic love between Leo and Stargirl takes center stage, but what the book really wants to bring across to its readers is the idea of self-love and love for strangers. Stargirl is in the beautiful habit of wanting to brighten the lives and lessen the pain of those around her, whether they’re friends or complete strangers. Moreover, despite her brief stint at trying to be “normal” and trying to fit in to placate Leo, she eventually and ultimately decides that she doesn’t give a crap anymore and she embraces her lovely quirkiness, reclaiming her identity through the powerful act of self-love. We do, after all, say that you can never hope to be loved if you don’t love yourself first, right? Plus, there’s an important lesson in love here for us adults, too—and that is that we should never be in a relationship with anyone who wants to stifle our creativity, dull our shine, and who cannot accept us for who we are, quirks and all.

Despite the rocky events in the middle of the book, a touching ending shows a sort of epilogue where Stargirl inevitably influences the school and changes it forever, so much so that Mica Area High School is never the same again after she leaves. She inspires random acts of kindness throughout the school and town, and the cheering for both teams as well as the ukulele both make lasting marks on the school, too. This just goes to show that we should never try to be anyone other than ourselves, because we will never know how we will influence others just by simply being who we are—and that’s as beautiful a message as any to live by every day.

jerry

Thanks for the book, Jerry!

Stargirl has been an internationally acclaimed success in the literature world for quite some time now, and aside from its play adaptation, a movie is supposedly in the works.  Young and promising actors Joey King and Charlie Plummer will star in the Catherine Hardwicke-directed adaptation to the silver screen, and while it’s been quite some time since we’ve had any updates on the production progress, we’re eagerly hoping for its release as it’s sure to be a big hit. And with more and more children’s stories like The Little Prince teaching lessons to us world-weary adults, why the heck not? Maybe it really does take a look back at our younger years to teach us what’s truly important in this life, and with Stargirl, you just can’t go wrong.

*Photos from Jerry Spinelli official website.

Top 10 Most Remarkable Commercials

Monday, 27 June 2016 | Written by

While commercials mean welcome pee breaks for most of us, some ads are more entertaining than the actual shows that we watch. The Super Bowl, for one, is known for showing some of the most memorable commercials ever, while Thai ads always make you wonder why there aren’t enough tissues in your house to keep those tears at bay. Here’s a quick round-up of the funniest, wittiest, and most heartwarming commercials from 2015 up to the present so far.

1.A very vengeful Liam Neeson for Clash of Clans

Okay, so we’ll start you off with some comedy gold with Liam Neeson and this sorta parody of Neeson’s hit film, Taken. We’re all very familiar with his stirring performance in the action movie, and in this clip, let’s just say that he doesn’t take losing very well. With his incredibly terrifying speech on how exactly he’s going to take revenge (all while waiting for a scone in the most menacing way possible), anyone who’s anyone will truly be sorry they ever messed with AngryNeeson52.

  1. Finally!

Some say it’s annoying, but some say it’s catchy—Ariel’s “Finally” ad does prove to be effective if you want to be top-of-mind for consumers. Because of the jingle that the whole country now memorizes, everyone knows that Ariel is now Php7.50 and that it’s finally “happened to me”.

  1. Harrison Ford as The Ocean

Only Harrison Ford can give a voice so distinct, so powerful, and yet so incredibly terrifying at the same time. His threatening delivery of the script that supposedly comes from the point of view of the Ocean definitely gets the message that Conservation International wants to bring across—and that is humans can’t live without the ocean. If we don’t start taking care of our environment, we’re not going to survive. The ocean doesn’t owe us a thing, and it can always take back. Every living thing in this earth needs the ocean. Ford says it so perfectly—that the ocean once covered our entire planet, and it can always do so again. What if we can hear nature speak this way? When are we going to start listening?

  1. Love really is all around

In a world where horrors and evil seemingly abound especially whenever we watch the news, we have to remember that love still conquers hate. In the Ad Council’s three-minute ad called “Love Has No Labels”, powerful feelings of love went viral. The commercial appealed to viewers of all genders and demographics precisely because of its universal message of love and truth. Love truly is everywhere regardless of racial barriers, age, gender, and personal disabilities. This highly inspirational clip will strike a chord with anyone who believes that love conquers all. It really does make the world go round, doesn’t it?

  1. Dove and dads

Speaking of love, is there any greater love than that of a parent? Fathers’ Day just passed last week, but honoring dads and remembering how much they care for us should be an everyday thing. Dove Men+ Care combines various dad clips together and helps us see how much our fathers have been with us every step of our lives, and that their love for us makes them strong.

  1. America has seen the light with the Bud Light Party

So, we’ll take a short break from the heavy commercials for a bit and feature this light-hearted clip from Bud Light. Starring Amy Schumer and Seth Rogen, this Bud Light commercial parodies political parties and even introduces cameos from some of our most-loved comedians in Hollywood. Oh, and did we mention that they quote Independence Day? Because they do, and it is awesome.

  1. Kung Fu Panda and Wix

The 2016 Super Bowl commercial from Wix has somehow put together parodies of viral commercials together and yet was able to promote both Wix and Kung Fu Panda 3 simultaneously all in just 30 seconds. If that’s not a feat worth including in our top 10 commercials, then what is? The best part of the clip is Po imitating those Old Spice commercials we all know and love, prompting an angry Tigress to chase after him.

  1. Karen’s message lives on as everyone’s favorite granddaughter

McDonald’s Philippines did an outstanding job with its Karen commercial. So this one is not really from 2015, but it is just so good and so memorable, we just had to include it in this list. The oldie but goodie is short and sweet. No fancy music, no special effects, no overly analytical script—just Karen and her Lolo sharing an intimate meal in McDo.

  1. The moving power of Garbage Man

What is it about Thai ads that makes each and every one so darn heartbreaking? Commercials from Thailand have a knack for going viral because of their tear-jerking elements, so much so that they have been dubbed as “sadvertising”. At the forefront of this trend is the agency Ogilvy & Mather for Bangkok’s Thai Life Insurance. They have created commercials involving different degrees of family, with the value of life at the core of their campaigns. In this particular commercial (done in the style of Asian dramas with the impressive span of only three minutes), when a teacher asks her class to draw their favorite superheroes, a certain student draws a picture of a Garbage Man. With special equipment and even more special powers (which you will see towards the end of the ad), Garbage Man has a soul-crushing story behind him that will reduce even the toughest strongman to a sobbing heap. Darn it; why are our eyes always tearing up? It’s just so dusty in here and we don’t even know why.

  1. Tears. Tears everywhere.

So we saved the best for last, and in this touching Thai ad, what starts off as a funny commercial turns into something more tragic towards the end. Misers and Scrooges will definitely think twice after watching this commercial, and you won’t even realize that it is advertising security cameras until you watch the whole thing.

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: The Rise of the Pinoy by Mike Grogan

Thursday, 23 June 2016 | Written by
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If there’s anything that last week’s Independence Day celebrations have taught us, it’s that the Filipino people are strong, resilient, and made for success. It’s only a matter of confidence, and there is certainly no lack of it in Mike Grogan’s book, The Rise of the Pinoy. Just what is it about our proud race that makes us so incredibly awesome? If you’re not quite sure what to answer, then this book is for you.

Heartwarming, thought-provoking, simple, purposeful, and packed with the wisdom only true Pinoy pride can bring, The Rise of the Pinoy aims to transform mindsets and empower Filipinos to reach their full potential. It already has and is still changing lives with its inspirational messages that will stir any go-getter to action with challenges, tips, and encouragements. The book is the perfect roadmap for anyone searching for their purpose, their passion, and the meaning of their lives, as this masterpiece is all about living life to the fullest and looking forward to a better and brighter future for our country. It truly is a force to be reckoned with.

Journey to the core of your very being and go on a personal voyage to a compelling self-development and awaken a whole new you!

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Irish Motivational Speaker Mike Grogan has traveled over 30 countries before deciding to live in the Philippines as his home. Because he is all about Filipino Excellence, he firmly believes that we’ll have a First World country someday soon, and if this life coach and trainer knows that as an absolute certainty, then why shouldn’t we?

Are you ready to keep your passions burning and soar to greatness? If you’ve ever found yourself struggling with your place in this world, fret not. The Rise of the Pinoy offers practical and actionable tips in all aspects of life, whether your hurdles are all about your career or centered on your love life. As you unleash your potential as a true Pinoy in this ever-growing world, you will realize just how extraordinary you truly are and emerge as a better version of yourself on the path to success.

The Filipinos have had a long history of subservience to foreign conquerors, and with this hardship came our hard-earned resilience to overwhelming adversity. Through the years, we as a people have learned to overcome difficulties against all odds, and yet somehow, the book states that we still lack the confidence to take matters into our own hands when it comes to owning and mastering multinational companies and undeveloped industries. We still need to strive, but we certainly thrive in whatever environment we are in.

This is because Filipinos excel when it comes to high-quality service. We are always concerned, always patient, and always hospitable. Filipinos can be world-class, and if you have ever doubted that for a minute, Mike Grogan says that you shouldn’t. It’s all about the mindset—if you instill that idea into your head and let that reflect your attitude and disposition in life, then you’ve already won—at least, you’re halfway there. To help you on your way, the book has particular challenges and exercises at the end of every chapter. It’s imperative that you do these exercises to inspire you and set you on the right course. They’re incredibly simple and surprisingly effective; you’ll know just how powerful these little exercises can be once you start doing them. Some take only five minutes of your time and yet can affect your whole life!

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Mike Grogan also suggests that readers join The Rise of the Pinoy Community group on Facebook to share stories and learn more about being a power Pinoy. If these aren’t enough, the book offers a wealth of personal experiences and success stories that will move you to action from role models and entrepreneurs such as Josh Mahinay who is the founder of Bag 943, Best-Selling Author Francis Kong, and Krie Reyes Lopez who is the founder of Messy Bessy. Their personal encounters, recollections, and meaningful anecdotes will provide more than enough motivation to set Filipinos towards greatness—something that has always been within us all this time. For instance, according to Bo’s Coffee CEO Steve Benitez, you should not rush into finding your passion. He says that if you can’t find your passion, your passion will find you—this kind of advice will help you take the leap and yet be cautious enough to know that what you are doing is what you really love to do. To add to that, Mike Grogan says that you should never follow your dreams. What you should do instead is to test your dreams and find out if it’s really for you.

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It’s also an important habit to remember your inspiration every single day. What is it that inspires you and encourages you to do what you do each day? What is your motive? The problem is not really the lack of inspiration—it’s often how forgetful we are that’s the real issue. We usually forget what motivates us, so we should make a conscious effort to remember what spurs us on every day. Moreover, if you have the wrong motive for what you are doing, then nothing will ever be right. Take time to think about your big WHY. Another idea is to think about how unique you are and how much you have contributed to society as a whole. What fantastic achievement in your community or in your family would not have happened if it weren’t for you?

Here are more random but powerful bits of insights from the book:

  • What are you afraid of? Who is your greatest enemy? Instead of focusing on your fear, focus on your past successes and victories. Think positive!
  • Embrace the pain. Every hardship and every broken heart has a unique purpose. These make you stronger, and if you let the healing process begin, you’ll be better than ever.
  • Even the smallest victories can change you. Think about that 1% effort in your life that makes you even just 1% better every day. What amazing thing can you do today?
  • Success is a choice, so choose it!

Oh, and by the way, 10% of all the royalties of the author from The Rise of the Pinoy goes to donations for Gawad Kalinga. What can be more empowering than that?

*Photos from official Facebook page.

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Top 8 Most Exciting Stuff From E3 2016

Tuesday, 21 June 2016 | Written by
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e3_2016_logo The annual E3 has always been a much-awaited event that we gamer geeks just love to look forward to. With so many things to gush about this year, here are just some of the biggest highlights from the expo.

1.Sorta-Kratos has a beard now in the next God of War game

When Sony showed off its mind-blowing footage of the next God of War game in the works, we’re not quite sure if the protagonist is still the same Kratos we’ve known from the franchise. He’s definitely older now and sporting a glorious beard, and if he is the same Spartan demigod we’ve come to know and love, then he’s got a son in this incarnation (gasp!). Still, that doesn’t mean there’s any shortage of brutality here—the same blood, gore, and violence will definitely keep fans entertained. And in this clip below, there’s some pretty hard core tough love going on, as Sorta-Kratos teaches his son how to hunt for a deer. On this supposedly simple quest, some unexpected enemies show up, prompting the player to act quickly and dive right in to some fast-paced and brutal action. And then, the tender but morally questionable moment of the son killing the deer follows. The ten minutes of this gameplay trailer alone is definitely enough to make anyone want to play the game!

  1. All about Star Wars and VR

Star Wars Battlefront X-Wing VR Mission literally brings the Star Wars franchise to life. Superstar Amy Hennig from Uncharted is also working on a Star Wars game that’s reminiscent of Uncharted styles based on the sneak peek. Plus, Bethesda Softworks is taking its open world action-packed game Fallout 4 to Virtual Reality. The future is here, ladies and gentlemen.

  1. Titanfall 2 and its single player campaign

Want to know more about Isaac Asimov’s laws of robotics? EA’s sequel now features a single player campaign that most gamers were requesting for in the original game. The promising campaign also features sentient Titans, so you can expect a lot of personality from them.

  1. Resident Evil VII goes VR

The series is already so incredibly creepy as it is, but if you add all that to VR, then prepare to suffer through countless sleepless nights lying awake in sheer terror. The teaser alone is enough to make anyone develop permanent anxiety. See for yourself below.

  1. EA launches Play to Give Initiative

How would you like to rack up points and convert your scores to actual charities in life? Gamers can now earn in-game achievements in some of EA’s games (Star Wars Battlefront, Star Wars Galaxy of Heroes, Battlefield 4, Battlefield Hardline, Madden NFL 16, Fifa 16, etc.) so that the publisher can donate up to a whopping one million dollars to charitable institutions such as Code.org, SpecialEffect, Code2040, HeForShe, and National Center for Women & Information. Talk about gaming with a heart!

  1. The Amazing Spider-Man for PS4

Developed by Insomniac Games of PlayStation franchise Ratchet & Clank fame, the exclusive Spider-Man game for the PlayStation 4 has a trailer that looks absolutely, well, amazing. You don’t call him the Amazing Spidey for nothing! Just check out the trailer in the clip below.

  1. Hideo Kojima makes the fans go wild

Because this is E3, it’s quite obvious that the great and legendary Hideo Kojima would make an appearance. There was some in-engine footage of Norman Reedus for Death Stranding, and while we’re not sure what the game is all about just yet, Hideo Kojima alone is a good bet.

  1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is Nintendo’s game-changer

Of course, last but certainly not the least comes Link’s next adventure. Nintendo certainly kicked off its presentations with a bang with the massive demo for merely a fraction of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. The expansive map is already impressive as it is, but the depth of experiences that the stunning game offers doesn’t stop there. The open-air adventure features interactive environments (where you can do things like cut down trees to cross ravines) and Shrines of Trials totaling about a hundred locations scattered everywhere for eager gamers to look for. This quest entails countless puzzles and compact challenges that will keep even the most skilled problem solver intrigued. There are a number of ways that the puzzles can be solved so that players can earn a Spirit Orb from the monk masterminds.

While players are busy exploring these puzzling Shrines, they can also earn different Runes that can unlock certain skills. For example, when you use the Stasis Rune, you can stop moving objects for a time. The Magnesis Rune enables you to lift up and throw metal objects. The Cryonis Rune makes ice pillars appear and helps Link freeze water.

As for combat systems, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild does not disappoint. There is a wide variety of new weapons that players can use, some of which you can take from your enemies while some you can find. Be wary as the weapons gradually wear out as they are being used, so scavenging for weapons is a must. And speaking of scavenging, Link can also forage for food such as apples and mushrooms in his local environment. If you like to cook, you’ll be happy to know that cooking different raw ingredients together not only replenishes Link’s health but also provides special effects such as limited heat or cold resistance. This kind of resistance is useful for when different climates occur—Link can keep himself warm during low temperatures with proper clothes, a torch, or the right kind of heat resistant food. Climate is pretty dynamic here, as Link can attract lightning bolts if he is wearing metal equipment during lightning storms. How cool is that?

zelda-logoEven more ground-breaking is the game’s compatibility with Nintendo’s amiibo, and you can catch The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild when it launches for Wii U and Nintendo’s top secret system called NX in 2017.

What are your personal favorites from the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2016? Did we miss anything that you wish were on this list? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

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On Changing Lifestyles: Why You Should Switch to a Healthy Habit Now

Saturday, 18 June 2016 | Written by
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While sitting around eating chips all day seems like such an enticing idea, it is not exactly doing anything to help give your body the TLC it deserves. Add that to the mind-numbing stress of the daily grind, and your body is bound to deteriorate until it eventually gives up. When it comes to switching to a healthier lifestyle, it is always easier said than done. But if you truly believe in your personal wellness—and you really should—then it is better late than never.

Architect Edward Saveron knows all about neglecting his health and wellness. As a former chain smoker for more than a decade, he knows what it’s like to seem like everything is fine on the outside when it is anything but. “With a sedentary lifestyle, I look normal, but I know that my body is weak. People close to me [would] see me go through times when my body gives in,” he shares. He used to often catch his breath from everyday tasks such as climbing stairs, and his knees used to weaken, causing him to fall from simply standing up. “I always wanted to quit smoking but it seemed impossible, just like what every smoker would say and feel.”

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Arch. Edward running in Davao

Changing his lifestyle was not easy, but Arch. Edward now runs four to five times each week and is healthier than ever. All it takes is a conscious decision to chuck those bad habits out the window, and you can be on your way to a healthier and happier you!

Overcoming past hurdles

The very first step in changing your lifestyle is actually to examine your past and current habits. “Back then, I was a heavy smoker, finishing half a pack of cigarettes on a normal day and more than a pack when I am out drinking. This lifestyle went on for more than 15 years,” says Arch. Edward. When you overindulge in a bad habit, it is important to take things one step at a time. You can, perhaps, set intervals between cigarettes, or have a support group that will keep you on track. For Arch. Edward, it was his personal encounter with Jesus Christ that set him towards the right direction. “Everything changed when I came to know Christ. By His grace, I surrendered my life to Him and made Him my Lord and Savior. Little did I know that He was starting to renew my life, one step at a time,” he says.

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Arch. Edward’s church group in Manila

According to Rani Whitfield, M.D. from the American Heart Association, it is important to think about kicking bad habits as a replacement rather than a form of deprivation. This concept is exactly what helped Arch. Edward with his journey to physical wellness. “Having the desire to quit this bad habit, I learned that by removing one thing in your life, you need to replace it by another. So I quit smoking, and started running, all for God’s glory,” he says. “Running is also therapeutic, especially for someone who just stopped getting high with nicotine.” He explains that you can forego your smoker’s high and benefit from what is called runner’s high instead. This releases natural endorphins after every run, and will help expose you to positive feelings of euphoria. This means that you get more endorphins, effectively making you happier and more energized.

Making that turning point

The next step is to commit to whatever it is that you want to focus on to replace your bad habits. Just why is running so appealing for Arch. Edward? He believes that running is a less expensive sport compared to other ball sports out there—at least, initially. Getting started with running does not require any special equipment or a particularly intense gym membership—all it takes is your drive, and of course, some safe roads. “There really is not much excuse for anyone. It will only depend on your personal determination,” Arch. Edward says. “This also became my quiet time away from the busy world whenever I want serenity.”

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One of the architect’s projects

And in his busy profession, serenity is indeed a rare but much-needed. Aside from owning a small construction company, he also helps in managing his family corporation that makes plaques and trophies, as well as fabricate metal products. Still, despite all of his business commitments and work priorities, he always finds the time to run, doing 8k to 10k runs several times a week. Proactively committing to this healthier lifestyle has changed his life dramatically. “Comparing it before sans the exercise, I can sleep better at night,” he says. “I [also] have a sharper memory and better endurance.”

Running towards the bright path ahead

“Next month will mark one year [since I started] running,” Arch. Edward shares. Back then, he joined his first 5k marathon run, and then did his first half marathon run with 21k seven months later. Afterwards, he ran his 32k marathon, which was just last week. He is currently training in preparation for his full marathon run, which will take place in October. “After that, I am looking into cycling and swimming so [that] I can fulfill my dream [of] joining a triathlon competition next year,” he says.

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With his wife

His personal goals are indeed admirable, especially coming from his drastic change in his daily habits. He also has the loyal support of his loving wife, Arch. Doryn So-Saveron.  “Running is one of the few sports where it is not necessary for you to have a partner in order for you to do it, though it would be nice to run with someone every once in a while,” he shares, and yes, Arch. Doryn does run with him as well. He keeps that kind of strong support and his unwavering faith with him every time he runs. “The Proverbs say [that] you can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail. So right now, I am just enjoying every day in training, remembering how God changed my life in running, and waiting for what He has planned for me to unveil.”

So for those who have yet to make the conscious decision of switching to a healthier lifestyle, how can you develop the commitment to stick to and maintain these new healthy habits? Honestly, it’s all about your personal determination and your patience—and you need a great deal of it. According to Arch. Edward, you have to commit, set your goals, and go slow. You can start registering for short distance marathons first, opting for 3k or 5k runs. You can also join running clinics, which will be the perfect avenue for you to meet passionate individuals who will encourage you and inspire you to achieve your goals and maintain your commitments. This will be the best way to help you improve. For Arch. Edward, it was the Brooks Running Clinic that helped him.

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Brooks Running Clinic

Of course, making all these commitments comes with basic heart-healthy practices you can do at home bit by bit as well. Aside from regular exercise to boost your metabolism and keep you mentally alert, you have to watch what you eat, letting go of your junk food in favor of crisp veggies and fresh fruits. Do not overeat or binge on snacks when you are stressed, and remember to drink plenty of water (with eight glasses or two liters of water a day). Keep your calories in check, as well as your alcohol intake; drink in moderation to keep those beer bellies at bay. Finally, go out and hang with your friends! Spending happy, healthy, and quality time with your best buds actually helps keep you feeling young and alive. Studies show that there is a greater risk of heart disease for individuals who combat loneliness due to a lack of strong peer networks and family relationships, so go ahead and reach out to your pals every once in a while—and no, we do not mean on social media. Go and be with your family and friends physically. You wouldn’t want to maintain your relationships through a computer screen, would you?

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With that said, the road to switching to a healthier lifestyle is definitely within reach. It is just as Arch. Edwards says, “When you say ‘lifestyle’, it is not something you do once a month or even once a week. This is something you would integrate in your everyday life. You’ve got to have a strong reason [as to] why you want to do it. You need to know what you’re getting into, so [that] you can embrace it—and better yet, love it.”

*Photos are original.

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Want to rule the galaxy? Be a stormtrooper at ToyCon!

Tuesday, 14 June 2016 | Written by
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What has plastoid composite body armor for blast protection, modified sniper plates for field operations, and a soft spot for helping others? It’s none other than a Stormtrooper from the 501st Legion, and at the ToyCon 2016 at the SMX Convention Center last June 10-12, these troopers with a heart of gold spread the terror (and love!) of the Empire all weekend.

Bad guys doing good

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Comics galore at ToyCon!

Every year at ToyCon, avid collectors hold exhibits of their prized possessions, trusted merchants lay out their wares for eager bargain toy hunters, and cosplay fanatics duke it out on stage and revel in the sheer joy of wearing their fandom. While the other participants of ToyCon last weekend lined up for much-awaited comic book signings, rocked out to Kristian Nairn (who will always be revered for holding the door for all of us) and his Rave of Thrones, and gushed out to Dean Cain’s interviews, the members of the 501st Legion’s Philippine Outpost patrolled the grounds in the name of the Empire. Of course, when they’re not trying to rule the Galaxy or trying to scour the scene for trooper hopefuls, they’re happily posing for pictures with devoted Star Wars fans—all in Vader’s name, of course!

“Some people join The Rotary Club, The Lions Club, or other charity organizations. The 501st is no different,” says John Sideño, trooper since 2011. “Currently, we have a membership of 7,000 members worldwide within possession of at least one screen-accurate Star Wars costume.” So no, they are not mascots or cosplayers, and yes, the 501st Legion is that huge. As the leading force in fan-based charitable occasions, Vader’s Fist not only promotes undying loyalty to the Empire, but it also dedicates itself to brightening the lives of the less-fortunate people around the world—one humble Stormtrooper at a time.

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John on the far left as Clone Captain from Attack of the Clones

The official Philippine Garrison of the 501st Legion is a non-stock, non-profit volunteer organization. Aside from ruling the Galaxy, all they really want to do is to volunteer for charity, which is why they never charge for appearances in events. They have already helped organizations such as Tuloy Foundation, PGH Silahis ng Kalusugan School, Kythe, Inc., HERO Foundation, Make-A-Wish Foundation Philippines, and so much more. “Last year, we raised over 14.7 million USD for charity coming from Garrisons all over the world,” says John. “It’s fulfilling, but it’s also hard work.”

For the love of Star Wars

Dressed as Attack of the Clones Clone Trooper Phase 1, John is a true Star Wars fan. During this weekend’s ToyCon, he had photo-ops with Daniel Logan, star of Episode 2 as Boba Fett. “Wearing fiberglass in tropical weather is probably some crazy person’s version of a good time, but for us, it’s a labor of love—the love for Star Wars,” he shares. Their costumes are born from meticulous research and loads of hard work, usually built by their own hands and painstakingly assembled with a passion that’s unlike any other.

That doesn’t mean he and his fellow brothers-in-arms can’t take breaks from their armors every now and then, especially since ToyCon has so much to offer. The geeky merchandise have definitely increased this year, with more busts and displays of DC Comics fan faves, a Suicide Squad prison booth and a tattoo parlor from Harley Quinn, retro gaming paraphernalia, adorable Tsum Tsums stacked on top of each other, dazzling Disney Princess figurines, more comic book hardcovers on sale, and an awesome Stan Lee exhibit.  Visitors also got a chance to meet top comic artist and creative director Pat Lee for sketches and autographs, as well as test out new board games with friends. There was a full-on Tokyo Underground Experience with Hiddy from Secret Base, Electric Ribbon, Yanakiku, and an electrifying music jam from DJ Kasu, who brought on waves and waves of nostalgia with well-loved opening and ending themes from favorite anime shows of old. After all, who can resist screaming cha-la-head-cha-la at the top of their lungs?

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Get a taste of retro gaming!

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Why can’t these two just get along?

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Beauty indeed.

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Tsum Tsums have found their way out of our phone screens into real life!

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Excelsior, Stan Lee!

Of course, there was Funko Pop galore in almost every corner, with large Pop statues of Frozen characters, the Hulkbuster, and even our very own local mythical creature, the Manananggal. The highlight of the displays and the favorite photo-op for all the visitors was the gigantic Voltes V model that even the 501st Legion couldn’t resist to pose with. What used to be an approximate of Php100 as an entry fee during previous years is now Php500 per head, but that’s only because ToyCon 2016 is bigger and better than ever.

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Here are the bad guys doing good!

The Empire wants you

Still, if you want to attend next year’s ToyCon (which will be held on June 30th, July 1st, and July 2nd 2017) with a different kind of ultimate fan experience, why not sign up for the Philippine Outpost of the 501st Legion? They’ve been part of the Philippine Toys & Collectibles Convention since 2005, and if you’re loyal, hardworking, and fully expendable, then yes, the Empire wants you!

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Come to the Dark Side.

“The 501st has very strict requirements. One must have a screen-accurate costume from the Galactic Empire, meaning the villains from the film’s and expanded universe. One must also be at least 18 years of age and is required to participate in one major SW event once a year to be on the active roster,” says Clone Captain John. “One must also do handler duties before becoming a member. Once the Legion sees that all requirements are met by Legion standards, you will be issued a Legion ID number based on your character.” John’s is Legion ID TC8358.

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A fan posing with John who is under that armor.

Once you become a member of the 501st Legion of Stormtroopers, also known as Vader’s Fist, the most important aspect of your work is your heart that’s bursting with charitable love. “The 501st and the Rebel Legion visits hospitals and is a favorite of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, especially when it’s for the kids,” shares John. “They are the true heroes. Each day, they struggle to stay alive—and the joy we see on their faces when we do visits [makes it all] worth it.”

If that’s what it means to be Bad Guys Doing Good, then you’d better not wait to sign up! Strap on your cycling unit, pressure-sealed body glove, ration-filled utility belt, and your integrated comlink—a Galaxy of charitable opportunities awaits.

*Photos are original.

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