My Memorable Trip to Singapore

September 24, 2017 at 12:56 AM | Posted in Travel | Leave a comment

I just got back from Singapore on a business trip and had such a wonderful time. I’ve never been to Singapore so I was really excited to go there. Granted that my stay there was only for three days, I had hoped to squeeze some personal time to do some sightseeing. And fortunately, I was able to do so.

Singapore at night

It was a good thing that the hotel I’m staying at was very near the Marina Bay, which is one of the major tourist attractions in Singapore. I only had to walk about 15 minutes to reach the place. It was night time when I first went to Marina Bay. I came back to the hotel after work then headed out to explore the area. Too bad I wasn’t able to ride the river cruise or watch the fountain show because I went there a bit late already. But I still had a fantastic time. Never would I have imagined that I would see the Marina Bay Sands for real, and I’m just awed when I saw it.

Marina Bay Sands

I also had the opportunity to visit the famous Orchard Road. But I wasn’t impressed by it and was actually disappointed when I got there. There was nothing much to see there except rows and rows of high-end malls selling branded items. Unless you are keen to shop for expensive things and have the money to splurge, Orchard Road is not worth seeing. For me, going there was just a waste of my time. I did not stay long there.

As a traveler, I’m more interested to see the local culture of the place instead of shopping at modern malls. I’d rather go to museums, cultural spots, art galleries and flea markets than go to the mall. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go to the museums in Singapore as I was pressed for time. I was really keen on visiting the ArtScience Museum within Marina Bay but there was just not enough time.

Gardens by the Bay in Singapore

Anyway, I decided to go back to Marina Bay after I went to Orchard Road. My work colleagues in Singapore recommended that I visit Gardens by the Bay, which is just within Marina Bay. Of course, I couldn’t leave Singapore without trying the hawker food stalls there. So I went to Satay by the Bay and enjoyed a local meal there before heading to Gardens by the Bay, which was just a few strolls away.

I had such a fantastic time exploring Gardens by the Bay. The place is really huge and filled with greeneries. I loved it there and would have gone exploring the entire garden but I was in a rush that day because I had to catch my plane back to Manila.

ArtScience Museum in Singapore

Eye of Singapore

Despite of my short stay, I still had a great time visiting Singapore. Here’s hoping that I’ll be back there eventually.

“It’s Just a TV Show,” So They Say

September 10, 2017 at 1:45 AM | Posted in TV | Leave a comment
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How many of us are glued to the TV screen or computer every week watching our favorite shows and be completely engrossed by the story we are watching? Have you ever shed tears while watching a show or curse and yell at the characters you see onscreen? For some people, TV shows are just a form of entertainment – a past time that they do after a stressful day at work or grueling hours in school. They don’t dwell too much on the story or get invested in the characters of the shows they’re watching.

Photo credit: me.me

But for others, TV shows are more than that. Watching a show can be a life-changing experience for them. While it can be a form of escape for others, for some it can be very influential that it affects their decisions in life. For me, watching my favorite shows is inspiring. It sparks my creativity. It inspires me to be a better writer. That’s why I get annoyed when I read comments online that they find it funny that some fans of a show are so emotionally invested in the story and the characters. They usually say, “It’s just a TV show. You realize they are just fictional characters?”

Well let me tell you that it’s more than just a TV show. I’ve read enough articles, cast interviews and fan comments to know that these shows have had great influence on fans that they became a better person. Some even have launched successful careers based on the fictional characters they’ve watched and loved.

Photo credit: fredfarm.com

One fine example of this is The Scully Effect phenomenon. The Scully Effect is attributed to fictional character Dana Scully, a forensic pathologist and an FBI agent from the hit series The X-Files, which I also happen to love. The phenomenon saw female fans of the show pursuing a career in medicine, science or law enforcement after watching Scully on the show.

Photo credit: rebloggy.com

While I didn’t pursue a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) career, the show still influenced me in the way I view women in society. I look up to Scully and see her as a role model for women. She is strong, smart, independent, can hold on her own and is not afraid to speak her mind. After watching The X-Files for years, I now look for shows with a strong female character in it. I get disinterested with shows or movies with underdeveloped, two-dimensional female characters. I especially get annoyed with shows or movies that have damsel-in-distress or objectified characters in them.

Another example of how life-changing a show can be is the fandom of Orphan Black, collectively known as Clone Club. As a fan myself, I’ve heard so many stories from fellow fans of how much the show mean to them, especially for the LGBT community. Many fans have said the show inspired them to embrace their sexuality and come out. To those who haven’t seen the show, Orphan Black has themes on female empowerment, diversity and inclusivity. Tatiana Maslany, who plays the lead character on the show about clones, also plays other characters, which includes Cosima – a young bisexual student – and a transgender named Tony.

Photo credit: pastemagazine.com

I’m sure there are other shows out there that have a profound effect on fans. That’s why it’s wrong to assume that TV shows are just a form of entertainment that should be taken lightly. There are many good shows out there that inspire people or spark meaningful dialogues about society, politics, religion, science and many more. And I know there are shows that hire consultants to make the story believable or scientifically accurate. Shows can question or challenge your belief on anything, or it can validate whatever you believe in. That’s how significant they are.

My Ideal Book Conference

August 21, 2017 at 9:48 PM | Posted in Books, Writing | Leave a comment
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Are you a bibliophile? Have you ever gone to book launches by your favorite authors and lined up for hours just to get an autograph? How would you react if you meet your favorite author in person?

I was lucky enough to meet my favorite local author Jessica Zafra years ago. I used to work for a company before and we had to organize a book launch for her latest book. Of course as a fan, I was excited – and also nervous. I admired her for years and loved her writing. I have her Twisted book series in my collection. It would be my first time to see her in person. And so I did. It was a thrilling experience.

Unfortunately, since I was part of the team that organized the book launch, I wasn’t able to get an autograph from her. I remember being caught up in a flurry of activities during that time, basically just making sure that the launch ran smoothly. I didn’t even get to thoroughly enjoy watching her read passages from her new book nor was I able to fully listen to the Q & A portion where she answered questions from the fans. I was backstage most of the time. The opportunity to come up to her and ask for an autograph didn’t happen.

All the same, that was still an enjoyable experience for me. It’s rare that you get to meet your favorite author in person, much less organize a book launch for them.

Wouldn’t it be nice, though, to see your favorite authors gather in one roof? If I were given the opportunity to plan a book event myself, it would be a gathering of authors, editors and publishers. I think it would be interesting to have a mix of experts in the industry as part of the conference so that the learning is not limited to the field of writing only.

Photo credit: guardianlv.com

For the panel, I would imagine my favorite authors to be part of it. It would be awesome to see Anne Rice there in the panel. I know she often gives writing tips on her Facebook page but I think seeing her talk in person would be an immersive experience. It would also be interesting to see Neil Gaiman talk about his writing process, especially when he’s writing the TV or movie adaptation of his books.

Gaiman has already been in Manila twice but back then, I never read any of his books or comics and wasn’t a fan. But I heard he was super nice to his local fans. Now that I’ve read some of his books, I’ve become a fan. If he ever comes back to Manila, I would definitely want to meet him in person.

As a book writer wannabe myself, I know there is much to learn when it comes to publishing your work. That’s why my ideal panel for a book conference would involve editors from major and independent publishers. It would be good to hear tips from them on their editing process, or how they pick fresh material to publish, what kind of stories they think readers would want to read, etc.

Photo credit: quirkbooks.com

I’m particularly interested to hear people from Quirk Books. I think they attracted quite an attention with their Quirk Classics line. Did they ruin the classics by injecting humor and horror into them? How did that idea of reimagining the classics come about?

My ideal book conference would be in a casual and informal setting. I think it would be great to have a Mad Hatters Tea Party as a theme for the conference. Imagine authors and editors sitting next to fans and interacting with them at a long and lavish table in an al fresco setting. I think that would be more fun and lively than the usual traditional conference set up. Throw in other notable authors like Pablo Neruda or Umberto Eco (yes, I know they’re dead but they can always appear as ghosts!) in that panel and you have an interesting mix of people. And who would be perfect as moderator in the panel than the Mad Hatter himself? I think he can share his nonsense poems and riddles with the authors.

Of course, these are all just wishful thinking. I’ve had enough experience organizing corporate events myself and some conferences can be pretty boring. This imagined book conference would be my take on how I would want an interesting event to go.

Organizing events can be fun but it can be stressful too. It’s a good thing that there are helpful online tools out there such as Eventbrite that make an event planner’s life easier. And there’s nothing more satisfying than to see your events turn out to be as successful as you hope they would be.

 

Righting the Wrongs of Many: Orphan Black Series Finale Review

August 17, 2017 at 11:34 PM | Posted in TV | Leave a comment
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SPOILER WARNING: This review contains major spoilers of season 5 of Orphan Black. Read at your own risk!

 

Weeks prior to the show’s series finale, I was in total denial that Orphan Black was ending. I mean, I love the show, most especially the story and the characters. There’s nothing like it on TV that I’ve ever seen.

It felt like it wasn’t that long ago when I first watched the pilot episode of the show. I remember watching the main character, Sarah Manning, meeting her clone Beth Childs at the train station for the first time. And I was hooked after that.

For it to end after five seasons is really sad. But I know that the show’s creators, Graeme Manson and John Fawcett, wanted it so. And I agree. The story didn’t need to be stretched for several seasons more. This was a little BBC show that could. It became a hit despite the low viewership. Its story could be told in few seasons only.

So I braced myself to watch the final episode of Orphan Black this week. And it did not disappoint. It’s only fitting that the title of the final episode is “To Right the Wrongs of Many” because it spoke of the wrongs that the villains have inflicted on many people – the wrongs that Sarah, Cosima, Delphine and the rest of the Clone Club wanted to right. The title also alluded to the entire five seasons as the final episode tied the loose ends and everything just fell into place perfectly.

Photo credit: vulture.com

The final episode started with a flashback between Sarah and Mrs. S. I was pleasantly surprised to see Mrs. S again. Most fans were still reeling from the previous episode where she was killed by Ferdinand. The episode shifted quickly to the scene where Sarah and a very pregnant Helena were trying to escape the facility where Helena was being kept in. I was on the edge of my seat as I watched them escape because Helena was about to give birth and Virginia Coady’s men were after them.

I love to hate Coady. She’s a cold-hearted villain who would not hesitate to kill anyone that gets in her way – not even the last Castor clone Mark, her beloved “son.”

I watched transfixed as the following scenes unfolded. Sarah had a one-on-one encounter with main villain P.T. Westmoreland. This guy was something else. He wanted to prolong his life through parabiosis. His evil plans to use Helena’s babies to be forever young needed to be stopped. And Sarah was right there to stop him – for good. And I felt a sense of satisfaction when Helena finally killed Coady. Yup, Helena who was minutes away from delivering her twin babies still managed to fool Coady and finish her off with the help of Art.

Coady and Westmoreland’s death was the final blow to Neolution, as the group was crumbling and several of its members had died. Their evil plans had been exposed, thanks to Cosima and Delphine leaking the files to the media.

Photo credit: observer.com

Helena giving birth in the basement of the facility was pretty intense. It was the first time I ever saw Helena so vulnerable and scared like that. And I’m so glad that Sarah and Art were right there with her to help her give birth. The look of relief and happiness on Helena’s face when she cradled her twin babies were touching and heartbreaking at the same time. It was a moment of pure sisterhood between Helena and Sarah. They were initial adversaries in earlier seasons but now they bonded as true sisters.

I know that Tatiana Maslany played the different clones in the show but it still amazes me to watch her play the part of every clone. She truly deserved that Emmy win as best actress.

The second part of the series finale was lighter than the first half. Here we saw the sestras several months later after the incident at the facility. Sarah went back to finish high school – at least she’s trying to. Cosima was still busy with her science and searching for the rest of the Leda clones. Alison was living a new, happy life with Donnie, and Helena couldn’t make up her mind what to name her babies – so she temporarily named them Orange and Purple. Crazy, right? But that’s Helena.

Orphan Black has always been known to end a season with something special. Season 2 ended with the now-famous Clone Club dance party. Season 3 ended with a dinner scene involving the four clones – Sarah, Cosima, Alison and Helena. And now the series finale featured a baby shower. Practically every notable character was in that scene – Felix, Kira, Art, Delphine, Donnie, Scott, and even Charlotte.

Photo credit: digitalspy.com

There was a poignant scene of the four clones hanging out together after the baby shower. Sarah at this point was feeling lost and apparently still grieving about the death of Mrs. S. But her sestras were there to show their support. It was a delight for fans like me to find out why the show was called Orphan Black in the first place. Helena called her written autobiographical book as “Orphan Black” – a story about them and about sisterhood. And guess what she finally named her babies? It’s Arthur and Donnie – named after Art and Donnie – the two important men in her life who treated her like family.

Overall, the Orphan Black series finale was beautifully written and ended in a very satisfying note. Kudos to the brilliant writers of the show for their consistent quality work and their dedication to show science as accurately as possible. This was truly a remarkable show and would go down in my list as one of the best sci-fi shows out there.

 

Side Notes

  • Rachel becoming a softie. I think deep down she cared about the Clone Club.
  • What happened to Krystal? I guess she would forever believe there’s a conspiracy among the cosmetics companies. I would love to see more of her vlog and her beauty tutorials, though.
  • The fact that there were more than 200 Leda clones out there spread across the globe.
  • Whatever happened to Kira’s dad Cal and Helena’s boyfriend Jessie?
  • Anybody ever tried making Helena’s “jamburgers?”
  • Art: You alright?

 Helena: Most excellent! (Just one of the many Helena-isms)

 

Of Books and Bookshops

July 30, 2017 at 10:33 PM | Posted in Books | 1 Comment
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I just finished reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods last week and I’m sort of looking for a new book to read. I wasn’t supposed to buy a new one because I still have several books piled up in my collection waiting to be read. But there were two books I’ve been meaning to buy for years but kept putting them off, so I convinced myself that I just had to have them.

I’m a big fan of Anne Rice, so when I learned that her famous Vampire Chronicles will have a continuation, I got excited. It had been my intention to buy her 2014 book, Prince Lestat for years and I finally did this weekend. I cannot wait to revisit my beloved vampire characters again in the book, especially Lestat and Louis, and find out what they’re up to now. I know Anne Rice has two more recently released books about Lestat, and I’m also looking forward to read them.

The second book I bought was Memories by Lang Leav. I kept hearing about Lang Leav for years and how popular she is so my interest was piqued. Out of curiousity, I checked out some of her poems and was surprised that they were really good. I’m a sucker for heart-wrenching poems and Leav certainly captured that in her work. And it’s only recently that I finally decided to get a copy of one of her books.

My recent trip to several bookshops this weekend has got me pondering about the state of books these days. When I entered the bookshops, I was saddened to see that the books have become limited. There were hardly books in the stores; all I could see were rows and rows of art and school supplies and standard textbooks. There used to be a time when bookshops were packed with books in many genres. Today, with the advent of mobile devices such as Kindle and smartphones where people can just read books in digital form, bookshops now only sell limited titles.

Times are changing and I know that there are advantages of digital books, but I’m an old-fashioned book lover. I’d rather read a book in printed form than in digital form. For me, the experience I get in reading printed books is different. It’s more personal and intimate that way. It’s just not the same when reading digital books.

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