Thursday, May 31, 2007

RadioBlog 2007.05.31

After months of listening to BoA, I've gotten a bit tired of her songs already. So, I'm swapping her out with some of my favourites. Left a few good ones though:

  • BoA - Feel the Same
  • BoA - Goodbye
  • BoA - Meri Kuri
  • BoA - Pit-A-Pat
  • Aled Jones - Count Your Blessings
  • Bic Runga - When I See Your Smile
  • Carly Simon - I've Got a Crush on You
  • Diana Krall - S'Wonderful
  • Eagle Eye Cherry - Burning Up
  • Gotan Project - Last Tango in Paris
  • Hayley Westenra - Pokarekare Ana
  • Lesley Garett - I Want to Be A Prima Donna (from The Enchantress)
  • Kathy Troccoli - If I'm Not in Love with You
  • Katie Melua - The Closest Thing to Crazy
  • Kevyn Lettau - Sunlight
  • Lani Misalucha - Ang Iibigin Ay Ikaw
  • Lighthouse Family - Lifted
  • Lisa Keith - None Better than You
  • Lou Pardini - What Might Have Been
  • Meja - All about the Money
  • Morten Harket - Can't Take My Eyes off of You
  • Paul Jackson, Jr. - If I Go Away
  • Robbie Williams - Rock DJ
  • Robbie Williams - Somethin' Stupid
  • Sarah McLachlan - When SheLoved Me
  • Shanice & Jon Secada - If I Never Knew
  • Simply Red - Stars
  • The CompanY - Baka Ikaw
  • Vonda Shepard - Hidden Persuasion
  • Wet Wet Wet - Goodnight Girl
  • Wet Wet Wet - Shed a Tear
Like the songs? Head over to

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Books, Photos, and a Hot Chocolate

Today is a good day. The local library is having a Monster Book Sale. It's my first time to join one, so I'm pretty excited. I got there around 10am, and the sale area is packed with people already. At 50 cents per book and 20 cents per magazine, it's no wonder. These guys came prepared, unlike me. They brought with them backpacks, empty boxes, grocery bags, trolleys, shopping carts, prams, etc. Me, I had to make multiple trips to the car. I must admit I now have more books than I can finish reading for years to come. Then again, if I need more space, I can always donate some of the books to other libraries.

Afternoon, I went to the State Library of NSW with a friend to see the World Press Photo exhibition. I've seen the exhibit for three years in a row, so it's becoming something of a custom for me. I see it as a way for me to improve my picture-taking skills. The only downside is that I tend to get a bit depressed after seeing all those pictures of grief, tragedy, pain, and helplessness.

What better way to lighten up than having a cup of (free!) hot chocolate and an interesting conversation?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Queen and the Lawnmower

Went to Hurstville Civic Theater to watch The Queen. The movie runs for an hour and a half, but it feels much shorter than that because of the fairly straightforward plot. The movie is set in 1997 right after Tony Blair's election as the first Labour Prime Minister in 18 years. Jump to a few months later when Diana and her friend Dodi Al-Fayed figured in a car crash in the Pont de l'Alma tunnel in Paris while being chased by paparazzi on motorcycles, which resulted in their deaths. People all over the world, especially the British public, were shocked. People came in droves to Buckingham Palace, leaving flowers and gifts at the gate. Blair read the pulse of his constituents pretty accurately. He immediately issued a statement, calling Diana "the people's princess, beloved by the world." He got lots of brownie points for that one. Meanwhile, the Queen and the royal family were holed up in Balmoral Estate - far from the madding crowd. Following protocol, the Queen didn't issue a statement. No half-mast flag at Buckingham Palace. No public funeral as Diana's not HRH anymore after the divorce.

Things took a turn for the worse. Day and night, more and more people came to Buckingham Palace to express their grief, and they're starting to get disgruntled with the Queen's indifference. Some even starting calling for the abolition of the monarchy. Alarmed, Tony Blair makes an appeal to the Queen to reconsider. The Queen is caught in a bind - on one hand, Prince Philip and the Queen Mum have been telling her to stick to her guns and stand her ground no matter what the public says; on the other hand, she feels she's getting out of touch with the times and her people, and this might be her last chance to set things right again. Left with no choice, she followed Tony Blair's advice and came down to London with the family. A royal funeral was also arranged for Diana - patterned after Operation Taye Bridge, which is supposedly planned for the Queen Mum. Of course, Queen Elizabeth's not too happy about that. The Queen appears on live TV and gives a speech praising Diana's many contributions to the world. At the end of the day, all is well again in the kingdom.

Very authentic portrayal of the Queen by Dame Helen Mirren, even though I've never seen much of the Queen myself. If ever the royal family needs someone to stand in for the Queen for some boring social event, they definitely should give her a call.

I went home after the movie to find the front lawn nicely mowed and the thick grass under the metal fencing neatly trimmed. Turns out the neighbor saw the sad state of our front lawn and asked my mom where I was and if she needed help with the mowing. Before she could answer, he went to get his gear, came back, and did the work. It was all finished by the time I got home. Thanks, neighbor. I owe you one.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Out in the Open

A truly joyous day. I finally got a copy of Out in the Open, which I've been searching for for years. I used to have a tape of the song, but lost it somehow. The last time I went to Manila, I checked out all the major record stores, but they don't carry it anymore. Nothing on the P2P networks, too. Fortunately, after searching long and deep on Google, I was able to find a reference to the composer, and he was gracious enough to send me a copy. Thanks, Adel! Sure brings back some good memories.

First time I heard the song was during the 1996 Metropop Festival on GMA7. The original songfest ran from 1977 till 1985, but it stopped for a while. It was revived in 1996, and lots of excellent entries made it to the finals. First song to open the competition was Out in the Open, interpreted by Zebedee Zuniga (brother of Nonoy) and Angelika. Written by Adel Gabot and Bobby Serrano (of The Tux), it is a light upbeat song with the couple openly declaring their love for each other. Story goes that the then-unknown Lani Misalucha (now Asia's Nightingale) auditioned for the song, but the songwriters thought her voice wass too strong, so they turned her down.

Interestingly enough, Lani Misalucha was still part of show, interpreting Jimmy Borja's haunting Ang Iibigin Ay Ikaw. During the interview segment, Jimmy was saying that he saw Lani perform at this bar a couple of times. He was so impressed by her singing prowess that he wrote this song specifically with her in mind. More trivia: Lani used to record karaoke/multiplex tapes, so she was very skilled in mimicking the voices of Whitney Houston, Barbra Streissand, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, etc. Well, there was no mimicking when she sang Ang Iibigan Ay Ikaw that night. Her passionate, heartfelt performance blew me away. If you think she's good on the Metropop CD, she's 10x better during the competition.

Other notables are Trina Belamide's Shine, interpreted by Ima Castro. Trina Belamide is the prolific songwriter behind such hits as Now that I Have You by The Company, You've Made Me Stronger by Regine Velasquez, Tell the World of His Love - official theme song of World Youth Day '95, May Pag-Ibig Pa Kaya by South Border, etc. Shine won second prize in the competition.

First prize goes to Sometimes You Just Know by Danny Tan, interpreted by Jaya. Many consider this to be her breakout performance. Whereas before she's known only as the daughter of comedienne-singer Elizabeth Ramsey, now she's known as the Soul Diva. Personally, I would've liked Lani Misalucha to win, but Jaya really deserved that 1st place.

Other songs I remember are Bagong Umaga by Bayang Barrios, Now and Hereafter by Nonoy Tan (interpreted by Arthur Manutag and Ella Mae Sayson, one sung by Rico J. Puno, and more. If someone out there has the complete track listing, please send me a copy. Email me the songs, too, if you don't mind (adching / at / gmail [dot] com).

Monday, May 07, 2007

The Great Outdoors in North Sydney

All this time I've been working in North Sydney, I always go out for a short walk after lunch. Lots of things to see/visit around the area. Just beside the office is the Greenwood Plaza with its shops, foodcourt and restaurants. Within Greenwood Plaza are some small patches of grass where people can sit and soak up some sunshine. Across the street is the Northpoint Plaza. If you head down Blues Point Road and turn right at Union Street, you end up at the Graythwaite Victorian estate. Back at Blues Point Road, if you turn left at Lavender Street, you'll pass by Watt Park and Clark Park. Further down Blues Point Road, make a left at King George Street, follow the narrow footpath, and you'll end up at Lavender Bay. Magnificent view of the Harbour Bridge, Opera House and Luna Park. If you follow the shoreline, I think you can go all the way to Luna Park. If you follow Blues Point Road to the end, you'll reach Blues Point Reserve for an even better view of the Bridge and the Opera House.

I've only started to explore the north side of North Sydney this week. There's the myriad of shops and restaurants along Miller Street. There's the Mary MacKillop Chapel on Mount Street and the museum beside it. Best find so far is the Stanton Library further down Miller Street, just after the North Sydney Council Chambers. Three levels of books and magazines and a HUGE collection of classical CDs. Membership is free, and you can borrow up to 30 items at any one time for three weeks. Lunch breaks were never this fun!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Top Gear - Revved Up

I don't know why, but the guys in the office absolutely love Top Gear. The weekly show at SBS on Saturday nights is apparently not enough for them, so they go scouring for Top Gear videos on YouTube, and send each other the links. I watch Top Gear myself, though I can't see what's the fuss about. I like sleek and fast cars; the show's challenges are original (though sometimes childish); the hosts have genuine chemistry and sometimes funny; but that's about it. If you don't want to sit through whole seasons of Top Gear just for the good bits, then get this DVD.

Top Gear - Revved Up is a collection of the best and most requested segments of Top Gear's seasons 3, 4, and 5. We start off with Jeremy Clarkson, James May, and Richard Hammond duking it out on the beach of Pendine Sands with a Porsche, a Jaguar and the new BMW 6 series. If they didn't use doubles while sliding and drifting their cars on the wet sand, then I must say they're quite good. In DB9 vs. Train, the guys race each other to reach Monte Carlo - James and Richard commuting and eventually riding the 200mph TGV, while Jeremy drives an Aston Martin DB9. Guess who won? How about a Mitsubishi Evo racing against a bobsled with no brakes down the mountains? Or an Apache helicopter trying to get a missile lock on a sub-1 ton 200hp Lotus Exige?

In one of their stunts, Jemery tried his hardest to destroy a Toyota Hilux to no avail. The pickup was driven down a flight of stairs, bashed around industrial Bristol, left to drown in the sea, blown up on top of a tower block, bashed with a wrecking ball, and torched. Despite all this, the Hilux lives to drive another day. In another challenge, the guys were give 1,500 pounds each to buy a Porsche, which they have to drive to Brighton in one piece. Then they were told to sell the Porsches again and see how much they can make. Funniest segment? Hammond starts a people carrier race series, featuring two Renault Espaces, a Toyota Previa, a Toyota Spacecruiser, a Mitsubishi Space Wagon, and a Nissan Serena in the inaugural race. After much bumping and crashing among the champion drivers, the Espaces win the race with a 1-2 finish.