Author Archives: Lean Panganiban

Photo from the official Facebook account of 'Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children' movie.

Books to read before the movie comes out this year

Friday, 13 May 2016 | Written by
Photo from the official Facebook account of 'Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children' movie.
Photo from the official Facebook account of 'Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children' movie.

Photo from the official Facebook account of ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ movie.

Hollywood is adapting a swing of literary fiction, graphic novels, and non-fiction masterpieces to grace the big screen. To jumpstart your reading list, here are 5 of the most exciting movie adaptations this year!

  1. Alice Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Caroll

In this sequel to Alice in Wonderland, Alice returns to the fantastical world and discovers that time moves backwards in the Looking-Glass world. The novel carries her through several adventures, gets her kidnapped by the Red Knight, and pits her against the Red Queen in order to save the Mad Hatter.

Alice Through the Looking Glass might not get as much attention as the first novel, but ahead of the second film adaptation, you should definitely read it.

Who stars in it: Johnny Depp, Anne Hathaway, Helena Bonham Carter, Mia Wasikowska

Film release date: May 27, 2016

  1. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

This romance novel places Will Traynor and Louisa Clark together after both suffering a major setback in their lives. More than a love story, theirs is a story of the bravery and sustained effort needed to re-direct the path of a life pushed off-course. Prepare your hearts of steel. This one’s a tearjerker.

Who stars in it: Emilia Clarke, Sam Claflin, Matthew Lewis

Film release date: June 3, 2016

  1. The Big Friendly Giant (The BFG) by Roald Dahl

This classic children’s book tells the story of Sophie who befriended her captor, the Big Friendly Giant (the “BFG”). Sophie also helps him deal with the other giants who consider him an outcast for refusing to eat children. Together, the two of them try to stop other monsters from eating children.

Who stars in it: Ruby Barnhill, Mark Rylance, Penelope Wilton, Rebecca Hall, Bill Hader

Film release date: July 1, 2016

4. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander

We’re (finally) being blessed with another movie from the world of Harry Potter! This book introduces Newt Scamander, aka J.K. Rowling, several decades before Harry ever read his textbook and describes a plethora of magical species located all over the world.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will be the first in a trilogy of films and is sure to be every bit as wonderful as we imagined it from the book.

Who stars in it: Eddie Redmayne, Ezra Miller, Colin Farrell

Film release date: November 18, 2016

  1. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

After a family tragedy, sixteen-year-old Jacob journeys to a remote island and discovers the ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As he explores the hallways of the building, the mystery and danger deepen as he realizes that the children were more than just peculiar and powerful — they may have been dangerous, and possibly still alive.

Who stars in it: Eva Green, Samuel L. Jackson, Ella Purnell, Judi Dench

Film release date: December 25, 2016

Yes Please

5 Books to read after graduation

Tuesday, 19 April 2016 | Written by
Yes Please

Hey there, bookworm. Congratulations! Here’s a belated graduation gift for you. Below are 5 uplifting books that will serve as your incredible guides for the real world. Some of these books will smother you with post-grad ennui; others will provide inspiration; and some are just really useful for navigating your new life. These pair perfectly with your nanay’s pancit canton and a glass of iced tea (also a feeling of infinite possibility that’s occasionally tempered by a stabbing pain at how terrifying the real world is!). You’ll get through it, gorgeous.

  1. “Adulting: How to Become a Grown-Up in 468 Easy(ish) Steps by Kelly Williams Brown

AdultingThis breezy read is an insightful book into what to expect and be prepared for when entering adulthood. It provides helpful advice to college graduates who are trying to find their first career, living on their own for the first time, etc. It has a plethora of topics from personal finance to friendships and familial relationships. The writing is not boring or preachy, but more like a guide from your older, wiser, and funnier sister who is showing you the ropes of life so you enjoy it to the best of your abilities.

“One of the most jolting days of adulthood comes the first time you run out of toilet paper. Toilet paper, up until this point, always just existed. And now it’s a finite resource, constantly in danger of extinction that must be carefully tracked and monitored, like pandas?”

  1. Paano Ba To? by Bianca Gonzales

Paano-Ba-ToBianca Gonzales enlightens Filipino readers with experiences everyone faces in his or her life such as falling in love, keeping good relationships with family members and friends, excelling in your career, being fashionable, and finding purpose in life. Experts and celebrity columnists chimed in on various topics— Ramon Bautista talked about that awkwardness of having a crush at school, Iza Calzado shared her journey into loving herself, Atom Araullo details the path to discovering what he wants to do in his life, etc. I wish One Mega Group published this book sooner. It could have been really handy in my tween years.

“Na-realize ko na ang goal ay hindi maging #1, ang goal ay maging “the best version of yourself.”

  1. Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Yes PleasePoehler’s funny, honest memoir is filled with nuggets of advice all grads can use, with chapters organized into three sections: “Say Whatever You Want,” “Do Whatever You Like,” and “Be Whoever You Are.” It features Poehler’s vignettes from her childhood and early career, testimonials from her parents, chapters about her step up to fame, and a frank take on her history of recreational drug use. Most of her entries are self-deprecatory, but surprisingly, they always have empowering lessons to impart! While the move from college can seem intimidating, Poehler’s words remind everyone that the most important thing to do in life is to have fun.

“I asked the indefatigable Betty White what she was going to do when she got home. She told me she was going to fix herself a “vodka on the rocks and eat a cold hot dog.” In one sentence, she proved my theory and made me excited for my future.”

  1. Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer

into the wildThis is the ultimate inspirational book about travel and finding meaning in life. The story is about a young man who donated all his savings to charity and hitchhiked to Alaska on his own after graduating from college. Rachel Friedman details his decision to take off and quit playing it safe in life. His words are honest and relatable, no matter what stage of “figuring it all out” or WHERE you are in.

A word of caution about this book: read it with a clear mind. The last thing your parents need right now is to find your abandoned car in garage and a letter saying you took off to find yourself.

“I’m going to paraphrase Thoreau here… rather than love, than money, than faith, than fame, than fairness… give me truth.”

  1. The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan

Opposite if LonelinessThe author of this book, Yale student Marina Keegan, has a CV boasting of internships at the Paris Review and the New Yorker. Five days after her graduation, she died in a car accident. This book is a collection of the essays she left behind: nine stories and nine essays, including the final essay she wrote for the Yale Daily News, The Opposite of Loneliness, a reflection on the future awaiting her and her classmates after graduation. This book is a composition of her life that describes hope, doubt and inspiration. Some words, written light-heartedly, are stabbing reminders of what will never be: “I plan on having parties when I’m thirty,” she writes. “I plan on having fun when I’m old.” This book is a great reminder that while we are young, we don’t have enough time. We should figure our shit out the soonest time possible.

“I read somewhere that radio waves just keep traveling outward, flying into the universe with eternal vibrations. Sometime before I die I think I’ll find a microphone and climb to the top of a radio tower. I’ll take a deep breath and close my eye because it will start to rain right when I reach the top. Hello, I’ll say to outer space, this is my card.”

*Photos courtesy of Facebook. 




How to Fact Check the Internet

Thursday, 24 March 2016 | Written by
  • phone-1052023_640 Today, every info imaginable is at your fingertips. You can google anything you want, from a summary of the recent presidential debate to the world’s rarest colors. While readily available, these information are not filtered for accuracy and we users turn into Chicken Little over the latest hoax, rumor, or scam! This is why it is important to evaluate the source or information. Below are tips to help you fact check the internet.

    Your First Source Is Not Enough

    No matter who wrote the article or where you found it, it’s wise to double-check it against other sources. The idea here it to find a news outlet that released the original report, not from anonymous sources. You can do this by searching official websites and/or checking some printed sources like books and newspapers. If you find the same information in these sources, the information is more likely to be accurate.

    Start with Sites You Know

    Information from official government, news, and educational sites are always the most reputable ones. If one had to choose between getting your news from The Philippine Daily Inquirer or Cracked, a sane person would choose PDI, because it’s a name people know and trust. If you want to know the summary of the recent presidential candidates’ debate, visiting your most trusted news outlet’s website is a great place to start. If you want to check symptoms of Zika virus, go to the official site of DOH and see if their website provides the information you’re looking for.

    Determine the credibility of the author

    I once wrote a news online, saying that my favorite boyband, while on tour here in the country, recruited me to be their tour guide. I got hate letters when it was supposed to be a fan fiction! Anyone can publish anything they wish and it is often difficult to determine authorship of online sources, and even if the author is listed, he or she may not always represent him or herself honestly, or he or she may represent opinions as fact. If you’re looking for information about scriptwriting, a well-known writer who has been practicing for years is a more reliable source. To determine the author’s credentials, check personal homepages on the Web, government directory entries and information retrieved through search engines. You can also check print sources. You can also check the writer’s social-media accounts and look for a blue check mark near their name on their Facebook or Twitter pages. This means their occupation has been verified and they are who they say.

Also, ask yourself these questions before believing the author:
Is the name of the author/creator on the page?
Are his/her credentials listed (occupation, years of experience, position or education)?
Is the author qualified to write on the given topic? Why?
Is there contact information, such as an email address, somewhere on the page?
Is there a link to a homepage?
If there is a link to a homepage, is it for an individual or for an organization?
If the author is with an organization, does it appear to support or sponsor the page?
What does the domain name/URL reveal about the source of the information, if anything?
If the owner is not identified, what can you tell about the origin of the site from the address?

Evaluate sources (including WikiPedia!)

Note that unlike information that can be found in printed sources, information from the internet are not regulated for quality or filtered for accuracy. However, knowing the motive behind the page’s creation can help you judge its content.

Ask these questions first:

Who is the intended audience?
Scholarly audience or experts?
General public or novices?
If not stated, what do you think is the purpose of the site? Is the purpose to:
Inform or Teach?
Explain or Enlighten?
Sell a Product?

A reputable source includes hyperlinks to research, while a fake site offers no backup and may have spelling and grammatical errors.

Check if the photos are photoshopped.

Checking such photos is easy. Drag the suspicious photo into Google Images’ search box. This way, you can verify the subject of the photo and where it has appeared online. Also, keep an eye out for details that don’t match up. (Example: One part of the image is crisp; other areas are blurry.)

Go to sites that debunk internet hoaxes.

Before going off on a Facebook rant, check the news’ validity against neutral, intelligent sources. Here are a few:,, Snopes, About Urban Legends, and Break the Chain. Take these as granddaddies of all fact-checking sites. Some of the worst chain spams even quote them with an embedded link to give their email an added level of authenticity. Of course, a site like Snopes, has been known to be wrong and has changed its listings on several occasions. It has also become commercialized over the years, but it’s still a very complete site.


Hello, sunshine! Five ways to jumpstart your morning

Friday, 26 February 2016 | Written by


Some people wake up before the first light of morning, but not many rises with the sun to usher in a new day with warmth and ease. Below are some suggestions on how best to start a day, from the scientific to the inspirational.

1. Put your alarm clock out of reach.

Put your alarm clock far from your bed so that you actually have to get up to turn it off. You can even keep it close enough to the bathroom door if you want an extra motivation to go straight to the shower! Alternatively, you can download alarm clock apps that take some time to shut off, such as Mission Alarm Clock for iPhone users and/or Challenging Alarm Clock for Android users. You actually have to be awake in order to stop the clock from going off!

2. Stretch!

Perform a couple of posture alignment exercises such as sun salutations, joint rotations, or any basic stretches to wake up your body. Morning exercise will help you get ready to be productive. Eden Grinshpan, host Cooking Channel TV, shares that alongside the exercises, she likes to “write down a list of all the things [she] needs to accomplish that day, including a list of groceries [she] might need for dinner.” Morning routine helps her stay more focused on the task at hand for the day.

3. Do the biggest tasks first.

People usually want to dive right into the heavy stuff while their energy is high. The downside here is that you do not get time to reflect on your workflow practices and patterns. We also forget that we are limited with self-control that draws from a common resource that gets depleted over time. Think of of self-control as a musclefatigue sets in after exertion.

Researchers at the University of Nottingham and the National Institute of Education in Singapore reviewed 83 studies on self-control and observed: “The longer the day goes on, the more fatigue your self-control experiences, the more important it is to make those early morning hours count.”

So here’s one simple trick: Do the biggest tasks first. When you start with a big item, you allot more time for the task that might take a lot of focus and work to accomplish. Once accomplished, you move on to the simpler and easier tasks.

4. Motivate yourself to do great things.

Take it from Steve Jobs. In his commencement address given at Stanford back in 2005, he revealed the motivational tactic that he used to start each and every day.

“For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself this:

If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?

And whenever the answer has been no for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

Pretty powerful stuff to break the morning fast, huh.

5. Give thanks

Start your morning routine with gratitude. Think of three specific things for which you are grateful. This practice will give your mind a positive focus and help you see opportunities throughout the day where others may see problems. This will also put you in an awesome mood!




[Project Zero Inbox] Email hacks to boost productivity

Friday, 19 February 2016 | Written by

at-99377_640Email, if not used properly can seriously derail productivity. Naturally, we make a big deal out of managing it. Let’s not make the mistake of following complex systems, when all we really need to do is change a few behaviors and complement these with some tried and tested techniques.

1. Unsubscribe from any lists that aren’t providing you with valuable information.  Notifications from group newsletters tend to fill up your inbox fast. If you are not getting what you had signed up for from the site or company anymore, unsubscribe from the list.

Alternatively, you can filter. The idea is to take the sea of email coming in and reroute it into several smaller, more manageable streams. This way, only the most important ones get into your inbox. You can browse the folder where these messages to go at your own convenience.

2. Remove yourself from any personal and internal company and business threads. This may not apply to everyone; if it does, take note of this and take action.

3. Use the one-click rule. The one-click rule has long been a staple in email management. It basically suggests that as soon as you click the email open, either reply, forward, delete or archive it immediately. Opening an email message, then closing it and reading another, accomplishes nothing.

4. Apply the 3-sentence rule. Most emails, such as those arranging a time and place to meet, hardly need more than a sentence or two. Therefore, when you reply to an email, respond with 3 sentences or less. If you need to write more than 3 sentences, pick up the phone! If you’re more of the talker and not the writer, this will be easy for you.


5. Be concise. According to a study made by New York City-based management-consulting firm McKinsey and Company, the average worker spends 28 percent of their day reading and answering emails. Eliminating extra information from emails can help you reclaim some of this time and improve your chances of getting a reply.

However, if important issues are being discussed and need documentation, a brief email will obviously not be enough. You should still make sure that an email is no longer than it needs to be.
6. Come up with an easy follow-up system. Try yourself on the emails you want to remember to follow up with. Let’s say I email someone requesting materials for an event. Since I BCCed myself, I can then easily move or tag it to a folder labeled “follow up” when it comes back to my inbox. I generally check this folder every three to five days to stay on top of messages for which I expect a reply.

7. Make your subject line actionable.
Have you ever gotten an email from someone with the subject line: “Important”?

If it’s long, you have to read through the whole thing, looking carefully for the point of the letter. This is a ridiculous waste of people’s time. Let your recipients know what you need them to do when they see the email show up in their inbox so they can accomplish the task more quickly. Do this by writing the subject of your email last, starting out with a verb that describes what needs to be done and a noun encapsulating what the email message is about. For instance, an email reminding your team members to bring laptops for your meeting tomorrow will be more effective when the email subject lines says “Please bring your laptop for tomorrow’s meeting” than “Meeting tomorrow morning, February 29”

8. Do not use your Inbox as your to-do list. Whatever you have to do, get your to-do related emails out of your Inbox and get it down to zero. Use, instead, any free app available for download, or some good old-fashioned organizer and create your to-do list there.

9. Use the two folder system. Go really minimal and use just two folders: Archive for anything you want to keep, and Trash for anything you don’t need.

kultura kamp

Voluntourism: Go beyond taking beach selfies

Saturday, 28 November 2015 | Written by
kultura kamp

My friend Gaston likes beaches, but doesn’t like to go sun tanning all day. During a trip with some of our closest friends, he announced that he “wants to be busy”. We were then hanging out at the beach gazeebo and can’t be bothered with deep talks, so we shrugged what we thought was a harmless comment and just took another sip of our cold pinacolada. When we got back to work the following day, Gaston resigned from his day job in the publishing industry. A few months after that, he became a full-time globetrotter and social worker.

VolunTourism is not new. The trend probably started sometime in the 90’s with short vacations that gave travelers the chance to combine their trip with short-term work that would help the locales they were visiting. Here in the Philippines, the idea got a big boost after Typhoon Yolanda when thousands volunteered to help save Tacloban, and Malapascua and Bantayan islands in Cebu. Many city dwellers decided to camp in the areas, fill sandbags, build homes, and extend help to people in ways no tourist ever could.

I decided to write this article out of respect and envy. Here are some of local organizations that can fuel many Gastons of the world. May you guys leave a mark on every country and province you visit.

black pencil

  1. Black Pencil

Black Pencil helps Philippine barrio schools through meaningful outreaches. By closely working with like-minded groups of people (e.g. mountaineering groups and civic organizations), it makes collaborative platforms crafted to foster mutual cooperation.

It organizes photo treks in far-flung provinces. During these photo tours, light school materials collected from donors in the city are brought to the communities. Photographer-volunteers are the organization’s avid volunteers and excellent ambassadors, promoting the advocacy on a personalized level through pictures and words.

Black Pencil also reaches out to unchartered islands and mountain communities and helps improve local education and health programs through distribution of age-appropriate and culture-sensitive study packs and basic hygiene kits to beneficiary schools during an outreach program.

  1. Route +63

Route +63 is a social enterprise that aims to promote the Philippines and contribute to local development initiatives through tourism. Founded by young professionals with a background on social entrepreneurship, community organizing, environmental protection, and government work, Route +63 offers travelers a chance to take part in the rich culture of our country and the unique experiences it has to offer. It is not your usual tour and travel agent as going on a trip with them means not just enjoying a trip, but giving back to the communities you visit as well. “By bringing travelers to destinations where local tourism hasn’t been so developed yet, we thought we could increase local economic activity and awareness regarding issues like biodiversity conservation and cultural preservation,” the founders share.

Route +63 also partners with social enterprises, government units and other development organizations to promote sustainable tourism development. Their trips are carefully designed with relevant stakeholders to maximize the impact.

Route +63

  1. Tribo Co. Kultura Kamp

Kultura Kamp aims to bridge the cultural gap between various Filipino indigenous groups and us who are living in highly urbanized areas. They do this by offering city dwellers camping trips that put together the value of kapatiran with avenues for learning that educates the participants and, at the same time, empowers indigenous people through their role of educators of their culture. Participants immerse in the indigenous community; interact with the locales and experience their day to day activities and witness traditional customs and practices. TriboCo. also aims “to empower Filipino indigenous peoples and assist them in attaining sustainability of their communities and cultures by ‘giving’ them the role of teachers of indigenous culture and tradition.”

  1. World Activity

World Activity partners with organizations like Haven for the Elderly, BYSMP Tondo, Good Food Community and Wildlife in Need, and offers ‘voluntourism’ packages that range from 3 days, 5 days, 2 weeks to one month. The organization also offer several volunteer placements around Manila and customize projects upon request. For more information, please check their other volunteer options.


Dignity and Protection of Vulnerable Population in Emergencies

Saturday, 21 November 2015 | Written by


The past few years have brought the worst natural disasters we have experienced in recent history. Consequently, the government is investing significant resources in disaster preparedness initiatives. However, often disregarded in these initiatives are the special needs of vulnerable population (poor, disabled, pregnant women, elderlies, and certain members of ethnic minorities). These groups of people, who are physically, psychologically, and/or mentally challenged, face acute difficulties in understanding instructions and/or receiving orders during emergencies.

Below are some efforts executed by different governments from different nations that champion the dignity and protection of vulnerable population during disaster.

  1. Aid and resources should be consumer-oriented.

While there is a vast number of infographics disseminated through the Internet, the majority of these resources cannot be easily accessed by people who do not have access to the Internet and/or understood by other vulnerable groups including the mentally-challenged and people with different levels of literacy. The government should therefore identify these potential communication challenges, and then working with professionals/translators/special need experts, craft messages that can be easily accessed and understood. Materials that are free or with pictorial representations may be effective in reaching these groups, and can even reach out to a diverse population of elderlies and people with differences in language across countries and regions of origin. 

  1. There should be a collaboration between the government and community, faith-based organizations.

One lesson learned from Typhoon Lando is that community groups and faith-based organizations, and even local business owners were valuable assets in community responsiveness and recovery, particularly in small barrios. Collaboration and communication among these groups and the government, therefore, are critical pieces of the emergency preparedness because they can focus on their local and more likely to do immediate response and recovery of infrastructure during disasters. 


  1. Protection of Women and Adolescent Girls During Disasters

Women and adolescent girls have specific needs and concerns, and face much greater risk of violence, physical and mental trauma, and exhaustion during conflicts and calamities. Organizations and the government can consider deploying hygiene kits, obstetric and contraceptive supplies, trained personnel and other support to these groups during disasters. 

  1. Utilitarianism

This principle states that actions need to have a similar consequence or impact to the majority of beneficiary. However, the principle might also translate into a policy of attempting to save the greatest number of lives, and thus, direct treatment to those who are most likely to benefit from it. So for instance, emergency response teams and health care providers may withhold medical resources and procedures from individuals considered unlikely to benefit from them or who can prevent people from healing, complying with medical protocols, or caring for themselves after treatment (such as people with multiple illnesses, those who suffer from drug or alcohol abuse, or people with social or behavioral problems). Not all countries support the utilitarian principle as it raises many questions about distributive justice. The government should therefore find a balance in observing this principle: customizing care while still following ethical and moral values.

All of these efforts contribute to that one big goal of providing EQUAL CHANCES to all people, regardless of their background and state in life. This requires all people to give each individual an equal chance to survive and that each person’s life is equally valuable to him or her.

Images from ‘Zoriah’ and ‘Earthquake’ from Some rights reserved.

Maine Mendoza A.K.A. Yaya Dub

Lessons Millennial Women can learn from Maine Mendoza

Tuesday, 17 November 2015 | Written by
Maine Mendoza A.K.A. Yaya Dub
Maine Mendoza A.K.A. Yaya Dub

Maine Mendoza A.K.A. Yaya Dub

For most millennial women, Maine represents the exception to every rule; the damsel not in distress, the crazy but good girl, and the Pinay Cinderella. One can study any single segment of Maine’s life and learn about being real, patience, and cultivating an internal core of wisdom that doesn’t even need words.

Allow me to do the talking.

1. Less is more.

While Maine is pretty and smart, she doesn’t mind looking goofy on cam, often posing and “dubsmashing” with her signature flared nostrils and wacky facial expressions. Many fans find these crazy antics adorable. Ladies, in general, find the idea of her accessible and achievable.

2. Old school values reign supreme.

Her character portrays a Lola’s girl, often seen following Lola Nidora’s orders and taking the old woman’s words of advice to heart. What made her character on screen (and personality off cam) appealing and relatable to our generation is its seeming revival of most cherished Filipino traditions on family and self. Furthermore, despite the fact that Alden is already going gaga over her, you’d rarely see her try to take advantage of his affection by trying too hard to make her fall for her even more. It’s no surprise, then, why even the Catholic media is all praises for her actions of spreading virtue and good values.

3. Don’t give up on that ideal yet.

I don’t know about you but my tummy turns into a house full of butterflies on steroids whenever I see Maine and Alden. Even without the conversations and mushy performances, I am no blind to “the glow” millions of people notice on the young couple’s faces. Their story is one that draw us out of the perverse world of modern romance where digital hookups and dating applications are deemed legit and sad substitutes for the real thing. Indeed, the couple champions the standards and principles of how Filipinos fall in love and remind us of what romance should be: one that is fueled by respect, patience, service, and a lot of flowers and chicharon. 

4. Don’t put too much effort on what you look like.

I lost count on how many times Maine Mendoza didn’t really care what she looked like. If you’re diligent enough to search for her on the net, she has a background that will not strike people as someone who will do all those crazy stints. She started off as a YouTube sensation, a dubsmash queen flashing her signature flared nostrils. This is extraordinary, especially in a world where we embrace social media for beauty and for allowing us to be someone we are not. Maine reminds us of a time when we actually had to work at becoming an improved real version of ourselves for ourselves and the sake of the ones we love.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

5 films to watch if you can’t read the original book

Friday, 25 September 2015 | Written by
Photo courtesy of Flickr.

It’s the chorus you’ve heard many times as everyone leaves the cinema: “The book was better.” This article is in support of the underdogs, a few of the films that made us cheer the loudest and proved that sometimes the movie can actually be better than the book.

Disclaimer: The films I reviewed here are those adapted from books that I have also read; hence, I am justified to compare the works. If you have other films in mind that you think surpasses the author’s original work, please pipe in.

1. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest 

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

One of the reasons this film made it to the list is its powerhouse cast. When I finished reading the novel after watching the movie, I couldn’t imagine somebody else portraying McMurphy and Nurse Ratched other than Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher. Since the adaptation’s release in the 1975, the Miloš Forman film has been certified as one of the Top 100 American Films by the American Film Institute, bagging prestigious awards such the Best Screenplay Adapted from Other Material (Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman), Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Actor (Jack Nicholson), Best Actress (Louise Fletcher), and Best Director (Milos Forman). Certain key elements make the movie a bit better than the novel, too. In the film, McMurphy was portrayed as a roguish con man than an unpredictably fearsome guy prone to bursts of violence against others to achieve his ends. As a matter of fact, his character remains the same roguish nonconformist up until his lobotomy! The film also visually portrayed well the themes of natural versus institutional, battle of creative nonconformity against arbitrary and autocratic authority, and the haphazard effects of unstable feminine dominance.

2. Atonement

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Ian McEwan’s historical novel is regarded by many literary critics as highly dependent on narration that it feels deeply anchored to its textual form. Joe Wright’s film adaptation respected this and didn’t streamline the novel’s scintillating chain of events. However, most of the novel’s fragmented storyline suits the film more. For instance, the novel tumbled when it moved into World War II, where Robbie pondered his innocence. Wright manages to cutout some of this drag, replacing it with a five-minute tracking shot that had the viewers view war with frightening tenacity and glorious visuals—a riveting example of ‘showing’ what even McEwan could not tell in such a capacity. The movie didn’t skimp on the characters either; it framed the action from many different perspectives (especially Briony’s), thereby, making the audience understand the flips and turns of the plot and revealing the truth behind the misunderstanding. The film is indeed a tense family drama that remained faithful to the overwhelming power of words.

3. Fight Club

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

This has got to be the hardest review to write. I am a big fan of the book and believe that both Palahniuk’s novel and Fincher’s film are comic, dark and clever. Hence, I am just gonna play it safe by saying that this is included in my list only because the movie improved the book. I give the movie a bit of an edge here because it gave all Palanhiuk’s fans a greater sense of closure in the end. Fincher’s film closed on the sight of buildings collapsing as the now mentally sound narrator and his love interest, Marla, hold hands. In the novel, the ending is dark and up for interpretation: the narrator is still in a mental institution and the spirit of Tyler Durden is not entirely extinguished. Both endings work, but the film tightened up on some of the more disturbing fetishes that Palahniuk’s book scatters throughout. Palahniuk even revealed in an interview that he preferred Fincher’s streamlined adaptation as his novel is too wretched at some points to stick with the generation-X audience.

4. Lord of the Rings

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

There’s no denying that Tolkien is a superb writer, but much like the depths of Mordor, I find his writing too deep, cold, and dragging. The trilogy is quite lengthy, derived from a fictional universe with multiple intelligent races (Elves, Dwarves, Hobbits, Ents and Men), speaking many languages and dialects, existing in a highly developed historical narrative. The result of all this is a level of complexity that is very difficult to comprehend just by reading it.

Peter Jackson’s movie adaptations capture the epic scale of Tolkien’s writing with a much better pace and a lot more action. For one, watching a battle is more epic than reading it. It’s not the same narrative and tone as that of the War of the Ring in Tolkien’s, but it’s still a true and visual telling, nonetheless. Also, the themes of the tale, as well as its human and mythic qualities, are abundantly attended by Jackson and better expressed than they are in Tolkien’s text.

5. The Little Mermaid

LITTLE MERMAIDHans Christian Anderson’s version is the most tragic thing ever. In this original version, the mermaid, after hearing the news that her prince chose to marry another woman, throws herself into the water and dies. Also, the book version of the Sea Witch isn’t evil, as she just facilitated the Little Mermaid’s fate. The idea is extra sad because if it weren’t for the deal, she’ll just be floating happily under the sea, singing songs with the whole crustacean bunch. The movie is a much more feel-good and less unreasonably tragic version. The prince marries Ariel and got her fill of happily ever after, with the perfect shower song to boot!

Holiday Diet Ideas

[Holiday Diet Ideas] Last Quarter Push to Battle the Bulge

Wednesday, 23 September 2015 | Written by
Holiday Diet Ideas

Holiday Diet IdeasThe holidays are full of feasts, hearty dinners, and sweet desserts. Add seasonal stress and the inherent sense of laziness that comes with long vacations, and you have a great recipe for holiday weight gain. If you feel me, repeat after me: NOT THIS YEAR! Below are some strategies and motivational techniques to make fitness part of the celebration, Quezo de bola be darned.

  1. Prepare your tummy for the feast.

According to Patricia Bannan, RD, a nutritionist in Los Angeles and author of Eat Right When Time Is Tight, one of the most effective ways to burn fats during parties is to prepare the tummy for the feast. Bannan suggests that eating a high-fiber breakfast, drinking plenty of water, and exercising the morning of the party will set your tummy down so you will not overeat come party time. Alternatively, you can also munch on foods that are high in water and potassium to flush excess water and reduce bloating.


  1. Do not skip meals on the day of the party.

Eating sensibly throughout the day will take the edge off the appetite and empower a bit of restraint during the actual feast. Dr. Katherine Tallmadge, MA, RD, explained in her book, Diet Simple, how skipping meals undermines weight loss. According to her, people should eat normally on the day of the party because “people who skip meals to save up calories tend to overeat everything in sight once they get there.”  If you skip one meal, by the time you arrive at the party, you are probably going to choose larger portions of the wrong types of food, and you may not be fully aware of this effect even as you eat that larger meal. “To maintain good energy levels and feel full, you should eat every four to five hours,” Gee adds.


  1. Stay active. While some people assume “physical activity” means sweating it out at the gym, many of the fun holiday activities you do for fun could quite easily be exercise. Walking around the mall (while on a hunt for gifts) are great for your legs, an evening of skating with your friends is sure to get your heart pumping, and the cook-fest will keep your spirits up. The same could be said of doing house chores. An hour spent crawling and climbing all around the house while hoisting Christmas lights is comparable to an easy workout. As strange as it might seem, doing these other chores are great ways to burn some calories. They will help make your home look clean ready for the holiday fun, too!
  • Doing your laundry
  • Sweeping the floor
  • Cleaning windows (yes—even the top corners!)


  1. Take advantage of family time by exercising together.

Squeeze in a light workout and also bond with family members! Set a 30-minute family walk around the neighborhood after every meal. Ask your nephews and nieces to play simple games like tag or hide-and-seek during down times. These will not definitely burn 1,000 calories, but they will sure beat going back for more of that bibingka and cassava.


  1. Observe discipline.

When you’re eating at a friend’s or a relative’s, choose a seat that is far away from junk food. Alternatively, you can bring a healthy dish that you can munch on liberally. You should also be picky. Hors d’oeuvres, which are being passed at every turn, are small, but they add up real fast. Choose healthier alternatives over the usual fried and fatty fare: Kamote sticks over French fries, carrot nibblers over the bean casserole, whole wheat rolls over another stuffing of siopao. Also, just say no (or joke your way out of the situation) when Tita Lorna insists that you have another plateful of her leche flan.

When you play hostess, cook a lighter fare (make your champorado with oats rather than the usual malagkit or serve saba con hielo instead of the usual fruit salad). And since leftovers from previous dinners are even more delectable and easier to overindulge in, send guests home with baon bags.


  1. Add fun and games to the party. Think Pinoy Henyo, badminton, or any board games! The best parties include dancing, so why not make dancing after eating a new holiday tradition for a great form of fun and recreation? Wii Tournament!

Christmas parties and gatherings are meant to be used to bond with loved ones. Make this year’s holiday parties unforgettable by celebrating your personal relationships and recognize that you’re not just there for the food.

May your days be merry and bright! J

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