Monday, 30 January 2017

2017 Tawag ng Tanghalan: Victorias City Welcomes Noven Belleza!

I noticed his huge billboard on the stage the night before. I couldn't read what the big letters said because the Victorias City plaza in Negros Occidental, Philippines, was dimly lit.

The next morning, under the bright Saturday sun, I had to ask what 'NOVEN' meant as it was the word written in caps on the billboard, the word I couldn't make out the night before. I later learned 'NOVEN' was Noven Belleza, a native of Victorias City in the Negros Island Region, who made it to finals of Tawag ng Tanghalan, a singing competition held by a noontime show in Manila, Philippines.
         (Thousands waiting for Noven at the plaza)
He was going to arrive at the city plaza for a homecoming, where he would be welcomed by his neighbors, fans, supporters, and the students of the Victorias National High School, his alma mater.

Among the thousands who welcomed him, Miss Divina Farinas, his former teacher at Victorias National High School, told me that Noven actually finished his high school four years ago, but couldn't go on to college because of financial difficulties. Noven, she said, had to work on the farm to help his family.
(Current and former teachers from 
the Victorias National High School)

From the videotaping of the dancers and drummers on an almost empty plaza using a drone two hours before Noven actually arrived, to the nicely decorated vehicles that would fetch him from the Bacolod-Silay Airport, and his calculated entrance into the plaza while riding a vehicle that was preceded by drummers and dancers, Noven's homecoming was obviously scripted by the people behind the TV show, much like a homecoming of the finalists of American Idol.

But scripted or not, the loud cheers and screams from his young supporters, especially those from the Victorias National High School, proved that they were indeed proud that he and his vocal talent made it big in Manila. 

(They're just happy to cheer and welcome Noven)
       (Even tricycle drivers wanted to see Noven)

I learned from his teacher that Noven used to compete during area meets while he was still in school and even borrowed long sleeve shirts to wear during singing competitions. Now, he probably has his own glam squad behind him.
                    (Noven is welcomed by his kasimanwa)

I heard that before he got famous, he would seek help from some government officials for financial assistance but didn't get much. But during his homecoming, I could see a lot of local officials riding on his popularity. Hmm.
                       (The boy who used to work on a farm 
                         stopped city traffic)
I don't exactly know about the details on how to vote for Noven during the finals in Tawag ng Tanghalan. But if you're a follower, I'm sure you know how to vote and make him win the competition, which will surely change his life forever.

I looked up his performances on Youtube and I think he sounds like Arnel Pineda, the Filipino vocalist of Journey who replaced Steve Perry. He also sounds like Air Supply. So, in the future, if Arnel retires, Journey's type of 'sound' can still live on with Noven providing the band's vocals. Who knows? 

Good luck, Noven!

(Note: Less than two months after this homecoming, Noven returns to Victorias City as the champion)

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Lucky 888 on The Year of the Fire Rooster!

I heard that the number '8' is a lucky number among the Chinese because its pronunciation sounds like the Chinese word that means 'fortune'.

So, when a few ocho-ocho (eight-eight) snacks were on my plate, I realized this must have been my lucky day! And it was! 

This Filipino snack, made of ground sticky rice, which was deep fried and bathed with caramelized brown sugar, is not only very sweet, but also very crunchy on the outside, then soft and bland on the inside. But the caramel mixture turns the whole thing enjoyably sweet.

And for everyone celebrating the new lunar year with your own Chinese delicacies, let me wish you all the 888 lucky on this year of the fire rooster!

Kung hei fat choy!

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Street Food: The Corny Vendor

During my holidays in the Philippines, I was looking for some healthy snacks in the market one morning when I stumbled upon a market vendor selling newly boiled, sweet yellow corn. 

Some were being sold for 10 pesos a piece; others 15. Indeed, they were sweet, crunchy and still warm. And healthy, too!

I remember they also sold boiled corns at the neighborhood market in Seoul, but these ones from the Philippines were much sweeter. And cheaper!

The next time I crave for some healthy snacks, I now know whom to look for: the corny vendor.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Ensaimadas, Pinipig and Tablea Tsokolate!

Holidays are over, but the eating isn't. 

For everyone, the Christmas holidays gave us a good excuse to eat whatever we wanted, but just because the holidays are over doesn't mean we have to subdue our craving. Life is short, you know. Ha-ha-ha!

So, after the Mary Grace ensaimada breakfasts, we had the local island's Consing's ensaimadas and pinipig to pair with my mom's rich tablea tsokolate.

And after scoops and scoops of pinipig, and bites of ensaimadas, who cares about holidays or diets? As long as you want it, I strongly encourage that you eat it!

Again, life is short, you know. :-)

Friday, 13 January 2017

A New Year of Fun and Delights!

Starting the first few days of 2017 with enjoyment, I made sure I treated myself to the various yummy local delicacies.

Walking around the local food market and rummaging through the goodies offered by the stalls selling Filipino delicacies such as bitso-bitso, baye-baye, puto, egg pie, panara and a lot more, I wondered whether this new year would also offer innumerable opportunities of great fortune, fun and adventure for me and for everyone else.

And just like the unique flavors, colors and memories each delicacy offers, each of our new year, I pray, will be special and memorable.

Have a fun, rich and memorable 2017, everyone!

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

A Pinoy @ The Movies: Assassin's Creed

This is why I liked the film: a sci-fi movie with 15th century Europe origins, lots of stunts and a Da Vinci Code-ish conspiracy!

When I saw the official trailer of Assassin's Creed, the interesting BASE jumping scenes from medieval Spain's towers and its intriguing genetics-slash-reincarnation-slash-medieval-Spain history were all I needed to decide to watch this. (BASE stands for buildings, antenna, spans, Earth - from which a BASE jumper jumps or takes off.)

As the movie's title says, Assassin's Creed is the story about assassins, whose main obligation is to fight the Knights Templar, the Pope's private army. This reminded me of Angelina Jolie's Wanted, where she also played an assassin for the Fraternity, a group of assassins who kill to change the course of human history.

The trained killers in Assassin's Creed were like ninjas who perfected the art of parkour, running through the narrow alleys of Madrid, jumping from rooftops and balconies while engaging their enemies in hand-to-hand combat. They also love to stand on rooftops to enjoy the view of the city.

The stunt director, as well as the stuntmen and women, deserves a Templar knighthood because, one, the action scenes in the buildings and narrow alleys of 15th-century Madrid and on the plains of Spain (where the rain mainly stays according to Eliza Dolittle!) were captivating, and, two, those stunts were not easy to do while wearing thick robes and passing through cafĂ©s serving yummy churros con chocolatĂ©, and resisting to stop by. Ja-ja-ja!

Michael Fassbender, who played Magneto in X-Men: First Class, plays two characters: Aguilar de Nerha, an assassin during medieval Spain, and Callum, a convicted killer condemned to die through lethal injection in 2016. 

Marion Cotillard plays a scientist, who runs a high-tech laboratory in Spain, but whose accent is British when she's happy and becomes American when she's inside the lab.

Her father in the movie is played by Jeremy Irons, one of my favorite actors, who was elegantly sinister, just like in Reversal of Fortune, the movie that won him an Oscar.

Unlike Da Vinci Code, Assassin's Creed is more like an action film with a dash of sci-fi, conspiracy, and a few Spanish language lessons. Yes, if you speak a little Spanish like I do, you'd probably test your proficiency against the English subtitles while the actors deliver their Spanish lines. And you'd probably also realize that you badly need to review a lot of your Spanish lessons, too! Ja-ja-ja!

I didn't know this movie was based on a video-game series. But even if you're not a fan of the game, or even if you don't have an X-Box to play with after, you'd still enjoy the action scenes, the story and the Spanish lessons.

My favorite quote of the movie?

"We work in the dark to serve the light."