Earth Hour

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Things to See at the Nayon Filipino

Filipinos about my age would still remember the Nayon Filipino (Filipino Village) in what is now Terminal 2 of the international airport. The park was a showcase of the best tourist destinations in each region of the country.  It was a favorite place to go to during our school field trips.

Unfortunately it had to be dismantled when previous governments ago decided to build a new airport.  A new park was built in the former Clark Air Base and it was much smaller than its predecessor.

We visited the park last Thursday.  It is only an hour or less away from Manila.  It is easy to get there from the main gate of the base since there are directional signs along the way.

Here are some of the things one can see in the park.

The Heroes Park which features a replica of the Aguinaldo mansion.

Nayong Filipino

the Mabini house

Nayong Filipino

and the Barasoain Church where the first Congress of the Philippines met.

Nayon Filipino

There are also mini villages representing those from the Mountain Province.

Nayong Filipino

Nayong Filipino

Nayong Filipino

Nayong Filipino

There were also representations of characters from Filipino myths and legends like Mariang Sinukuan, Malakas and Maganda, and others

Nayong Filipino

Nayong Filipino

Nayong Filipino

There's a cultural show three times a day at the Teatro near the Heroes Park that features dances from the colonial times, Mindanao and of course during the barrio fiesta.  I only wish that they get more graceful dancers and they improve the seating arrangement.

While the new park does not evoke the same feelings as the old one, it's still worth to visit and show off to your visitors.

Nayong Filipino

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Rega Announces Planar 3 Turntable

While I was busy from February to March, something great slipped my attention. Rega announced an update of their award-winning turntable RP3, which they called the Planar 3 2016.

I guess by now, you have guessed that I am actually looking for a new turntable to upgrade my Rega RP1 with.  I love my RP1, but I feel that I have outgrown it.  It still is running very well, but I did give it the performance pack as a minor upgrade.

Rega explained on its website that it took them two years to develop the new Planar 3, rebuilding it practically from the ground up and with only two components being carried over.  The improvements promise to bring "improved ergonomics, usability and first and foremost, sonic performance."

Here are the details of the Rega Planar 3 2016 straight from the Rega website:

RB330 tonearm - Designed using the latest 3D CAD & CAM technology, the new RB330 is the culmination of more than 35 years of tonearm design experience.  Featuring a brand new bearing housing and our latest tonearm tube designed using intelligent redistribution of mass ensure this arm will exhibit fewer points of possible resonance. Extreme stability with almost friction-free movement from the new high precision bearing assemblies guarantees to gather more information from your vinyl than ever before.

  •  Featuring a new bias assembly, re-designed stiffer vertical bearing housing, integrated
  •  arm clip and an improved spring housing with easier-to-read numbers.
  •  Rega made, new low capacitance phono cable with Neutrik plugs,
  •  Improved lower friction, precision horizontal and vertical bearings
  •  New design 100g mild steel balance weight.

Plinth - High gloss acrylic, laminated plinth, stiffer and vastly improved appearance, ergonomically positioned power switch. Two plinth finishes at launch: gloss black & gloss white.
Double braces - Improved thicker 3mm phenolic bottom brace and new metalized skin phenolic top brace.
Bearing housing – Re-designed brass main hub central bearing, improved fit and construction reducing stress on the bearing itself.
Sub platter - Re-designed sub platter, improved accuracy, and improved stiffness.
Platter - New float glass ‘Optiwhite’ polished rim 12mm – Improved accuracy in manufacture and stunning looks.
Re-designed foot - New, improved foot to increase stability and reduce vibration transfer.
24V motor - Improved new motor control PCB with integration for the addition of TT-PSU for electronic speed change and improved advanced anti-vibration circuit (sold separately).
Motor cover tray with integrated cooling.

There are still no details on how much this baby will cost. I hope it will be within my budget so it can be my early bonus for myself.  As to when it will reach our shores, I asked a local dealer, and he gave me a "probably by June" period.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Where Have You Been All My Life? by Villagers

This is not a review, just my impression of this album.  However, I have to confess that its title might also be my initial reaction after hearing this album from the Irish band, Villagers.

I didn't know anything about this band until Spotify recommended them - this particular album -  since I listened to Sufjan Stevens. I don't even know the kind of music they make until I listened to it and instantly liked them.

I found out later that the album is actually a re-work of materials from their first three albums.  Now, what band would come out with a compilation of limited earlier works?  And they even completed the album in one day in London.

The 11 songs on this album are stripped-down versions of the original release, but they worked for me.  Besides, I am not particularly fond of music with too heavy production and overdubs.  Here, the voice of the singer, Conor J. O'Brian, was pushed front and center with only a minimal number of acoustic instruments backing him up (although in some songs, there was quiet electronic music). The effect was a quiet, introspective album that makes its listeners focus on the lyrics.  It was as if O'Brian was confessing to his listeners.  In some songs, he openly talks about his sexuality.

As it is, I think this is a good introduction to the band. My copy is green-colored vinyl with a voucher to download its digital version with three bonus tracks. This is one album that I could listen through from start to finish.  The album closes with one of my favorite country songs, "Wichita Lineman," and I have no complaints about their version.   

I will also listen to the records where these materials came from, though I already listened to Darling Arithmetic, where I believe most of the songs in this album came from.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Facebook Reactions Now Available Everywhere

Wow, I didn't know that the Philippines was among the few countries where Facebook tested its Reactions - those emoticons that appear when you press on the "Like" button long enough- since October last year.  But a few minutes ago, Facebook officially released the Reactions to everyone on their social network/

I actually enjoy using these emoticons because it gave me more flexibility in giving feedback to my friends's post. It was a bit constricting before when there was only the "Like" button. I mean how do you react to news about the passing of a friend's relative? "Like" doesn't do the job well, does it?

When they first released the Reactions last year, Facebook included a "Yay" button which was a smiling and blushing yellow orb.  Too bad they dropped it after a few months. Maybe it didn't have enough users to make the Facebook guys to keep it.

Anyway, "Wow" is good enough for me. But I hope I wouldn't get to use that "Angry" button too often.

To add a reaction, hold down the Like button on mobile or hover over the Like button on desktop to see the reaction image options, then tap either Like, Love, Haha, Wow, Sad or Angry.  For those looking for the "Dislike" button however, I don't think it will come anytime soon.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

You Now Need to Shop at Least $45 at Amazon to Avail of its Free Shipping Option

If you are someone like me who shops on Amazon,com and avails of their free shipping, you will now need to buy at least $45 worth of items before you can have your item shipped for free.  Let me make it clear though that this offer is available only in the US of A or when you ship your items to a U.S. address.

Add at least $25 of books in your cart and all other eligible items in the order also ship free, An eligible item has a "FREE Shipping" messaging on the product detail page, that is fulfilled and shipped by Amazon and contributes to your free shipping order minimum.  The site says the method takes about 5 to 8 business days but per my experience, most of my orders take only five days maximum.  

The online retail giant did not offer any explanation for the increase but many suspect that it's a way to lure more customers to their Prime service.  Amazon Prime offers a free two-day shipping for it's members. Aside from this, the $99 annual membership also comes with free music and video streaming.  Be warned however that again, the free streaming is only available for customers who are in the U.S.  

For more information on this, click here.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Baby Labbits!

What's cuter than Labbits?

Labbits with babies, that's what!

I love Labbits! Those lovable rabbit character created by San Francisco pop artist, Frank Kozik for Kidrobot. They come in different forms and the most famous is the original smorkin' Labbit variety but there are also the happy Labbits while some can also be found sporting a handsome 'stache.

Now Kidrobot introduces a 24" plush Stache Labbit which is the first of it's kind, coming with five adorable baby Labbits, also known as Littons. Zipped in the 24" Labbit's stomach you will find the removable 4" Littons inside. Isn't that cute.  I just hope this one gets here in the Philippines through Secret Fresh maybe.

I think the smile on those little Littons face is enough for me to get one for my collection. What do you think?

Saturday, February 13, 2016

As Hunger Continues to Affect Millions, UN Pushes for Zero Hunger

Last month, the Social Weather Station released the results of its survey showing that some 11.7% of Filipino families they surveyed experienced hunger in the last three months of 2015.  I checked the official statistics and found that some 6% of Filipino families experienced hunger in their last survey in 2012.

While the same survey indicated that hunger incidence has decreased, it's still quite surprising considering that the government continues to take pride in the fast economic growth in the country.  In fact, the same survey reported that the number of those who experienced involuntary hunger at least once a week (severe hunger) went up from the third-quarter figure.

Hunger is, in fact, a global problem. The United Nations reported that 1 in 9 people is chronically undernourished.  That is some 800 million people in total, and most of them are in developing countries. The highest number of hungry people are in Asia, accounting for two-thirds of the total.

It's good to know that world leaders have formally agreed to tackle hunger at its roots.  They adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development last September 2015, which includes 17 global goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. Each goal has specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years. 

No less than the UN Secretary-General pushed for the eradication of hunger by 2030.  He proposed a Zero Hunger Challenge which calls on all stakeholders to "work together in an integrated manner, and recognizes that Zero Hunger can only be achieved if all elements are taken together: zero stunting and good nutrition, and access to adequate food for everyone at all times; sustainable, inclusive and resilient food systems, with no loss or waste of food; and support for smallholders, especially women and young people." (

Below is a diagram of the five objectives of the Zero Hunger Challenge.

Let me end this piece by quoting the UN Secretary-General when he issued this challenge to world leaders.  “In a world of plenty, no one, not a single person, should go hungry. I invite all of you to join me in working for a future without hunger, Zero Hunger would boost economic growth, reduce poverty and safeguard the environment. It would foster peace and stability,”

Sources of data and information:
The Social Weather Stations
Philippine Statistical Authority
The United Nations
Zero Hunger Challenge

Friday, February 5, 2016

Sinful Kare-Kare Bagnet at Pino Restaurant

We recently had lunch at Pino Street at Maginhawa St., the famed food haven of Quezon City. We chose Pino from other eateries in the area because I read about their best seller, the Kare Kare Bagnet.

I love kare kare. It's a special dish for our family.  For the uninitiated, it is a traditional Filipino stew in thick peanut sauce.  It contains vegetables like eggplant, string beans, among others.  We usually use ox tripe but some people prefer ox tail, beef, pork leg, even mixed seafoods.  To give it an extra kick, we use bagoong alamang.

Bagnet  is an Ilocano delicacy made from pork loin that is deep fried until the skin and outside layer of meat become crispy while the inside remains juicy.

The picture at left is the first thing that you will see upon entering Pino.  It is actually a line drawing that filled an entire wall.  We decided to sit under it.  The place is rather small with just around 10 tables for three to four persons.  It wasn't full when we got there but I immediately noticed that there were only three persons serving the tables and it looked like the orders were taking some time.

From the picture in the menu, the Kare Kare Bagnet looked like trouble for someone watching his diet.  Two of us, including me, chose the Kare Kare Bagnet while the other two decided to try the seafood kare kare.  Maybe they got scared of what they saw in the picture,  It took almost thirty minutes before our orders arrived.

The Kare Kare Bagnet did not disappoint.  It consisted of three slices of bagnet with vegetables on the side and the sauce in the bottom. The set meal also comes with a cup of steamed rice and a glass of ice tea.

It tasted good, even the bagoong that came with it complemented the taste of the food.

But it is so fat! I could only finish one slice of the bagnet and I already felt heady.  If you have problems with your blood pressure like I do, I advise that you be careful with this one.  In a word it is sinful - gloriously sinful.

At its price point, the meal is a good buy. But don't over indulge or you might get more than you wished for.

Friday, January 29, 2016

This 8" Sketracha Dunny will definitely spice up my collection
Here's something I want to include in my Dunny Collection. It's an 8" Sketracha Dunny from LA artist SKET ONE.

SKET ONE has been doing Dunny impressions of different condiments from Heinz like its ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard.  So it isn't surprising that he will do what is fast becoming a very popular spicy condiment, the Sriracha.

 The Sketracha Dunny comes with two chopsticks but take note that it does not contain any edible Sriracha.  

This Dunny actually puts two favorite things in one package: the sriracha sauce which I put on a lot of food and of course Dunnys which I collect.  I hope it becomes available here soon as it is a welcome hot member of my growing collection.

There is also a clear "half-full" version in 8-inches.  Both variants are also available as a 3-inch Dunny.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Funko turns Pac-Man & Company into Pops!

Funko must have heard me.  Just look at their recently announced Pops!

Classic video game character Pac-Man is coming soon in Pops! The yellow dots gobbling blob will be joined by Ms. Pac-Man in this adorable form.

Of course the series will not be complete without the four ghosts - Blinky, Inky, Pinky and Clyde - who'd probably chase Pac-Man around until they turn into a Blue Gost.

I'm sure I am not the only one feeling nostalgic about this.  The series will come out in March this year.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Panasonic Unveils new Technics SL-1200G, will reportedly sell at $4,000

Panasonic recently unveiled the new direct-drive Grand Classic SL-1200G at CES and sent every music aficionado in a frenzy. Why, even my friends got excited upon seeing the photos and specs. The question on everybody's lips was of course, ‘How much?’

We all knew that it won't be cheap but we almost fell off our seats when we found out that the new model will reportedly cost $4000.  That's according to this article from What Hi-Fi.   

That basically takes the new SL-1200 out of reach for many of us.  At an exchange rate of 47 pesos to a dollar, the new machine will set us back by almost 200 thousand pesos!  That doesn't even include the taxes and other costs levied upon imported goods.  So it is not really an overstatement that the initial excitement turned to outrage,

There's no official word yet from Panasonic but there's buzz in the Internet that the huge price increase was due to the complete redesign of the deck to improve its performance.  It will also have a set of unique features that will control vibrations in the motor.

The new SL-1200G (I suspect it's for Grand Classic) will come our in Summer this year.  There will also be a 50th Anniversary edition which could even be pricier than this one.

And here are the specs straight out of the Technics website:

All New Design for Redefining the Direct Drive Turntable
Twin-Rotor Surface-Facing Direct Drive Motor
Direct Drive Motor ControllerHigh Sensitive Tonearm
Brass-Top Turntable Platter

Technics Definitive Design
Inherited SL-1200 Series
Heavy Aluminium Top Plate

Turntable Speeds33 1/3 rpm, 45 rpm, 78 rpm

Variable Range Pitch
±8%, ±16%

Dimensions & Weight
W: 453 mm (17-27/32 inch) H: 170 mm (6-11/16 inch) D: 372 mm (14-21/32 inch)
Approx. 18 kg (39.7 lbs ) *Tentative *Height including dust cover

Phono Output x 1 / SIGNAL GND x 1

Images are not mine and came from various sources in the Internet

Monday, January 11, 2016

David Bowie, 69

The biggest news this week was the passing of a true music icon, David Bowie. Bowie was part of the soundtrack of my college life,  with "Let's Dance," "Modern Love," and "China Girl."  But even before this, I already knew that he took on several personas. The one that I distinctly remember was the Thin White Duke.

Later in college, when I did some broadcasting work, I was introduced to his expansive work. Life on Mars, Starman, and Space Oddity became instant favorites.  Around this time, he starred in a fantasy film called Labyrinth, where he played the magical goblin king.  

I also remember one Christmas time, I saw footage of him singing The Little Drummer Boy with Bing Crosby.  However, there was an interesting back story to the duet. Bowie did not like to sing the song, so he did a beautiful counterpoint called  Peace on Earth.  The result was a classic,

The day before his death was announced, I listened to his latest release,  Black Star, on Spotify.  I already ordered it on vinyl without any idea that he was already dying of cancer when he completed this album.  

In fact, he even released a music video a few days before his death. The video Lazarus from the Black Star features Bowie in bed with his eyes covered. 

Thank you for the music, David Jones, Star Man, Ziggy Stardust.  You will never be gone as your music will remain with us.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Some Notes on Star Wars: The Force Awakens

After a full year of waiting. Episode VII of the Star Wars saga finally landed in theaters last month. What's the best way to prepare for its coming but to watch all the six previous episodes.  It was a good idea since it helped me appreciate this new installment.  It also helped me string the events in the latest story with the past stories and become a little, uhm, critical.

Let me start by saying that I am happy with Episode VII: The Force Awakens.  I was excited to see the familiar, if not iconic objects from the past episodes (like the Millennium Falcon, lightsabers) and characters.  It was also fun to see the new stuff and I admit it was love at first sight for me with BB-8.

The Force Awakens is visually stunning, especially when you watch it on IMAX in 3D.  Kudoa ro JJ Abrams for keeping the visuals clean.  It was a relief to see his images which were not as cluttered as Episodes I to III.

That being said I will now go to my impression of the meat of the movie, it's story.  If you haven't seen it, please be warned that the next paragraphs contain major spoilers.

After the initial excitement over the film, I went to think about its story.  I realized that Abrams employed his usual formula: putting together bits and pieces of previous versions of the films and stringing them into one story.  He did this with Star Trek and he did it again here.

He basically followed the patterns of Episode IV.  From the rebel alliances being pursued by the force for some secret transmission, a droid being given a special mission to bring a code or something to an important figure in the alliance.Note that like R2-D2 before it, BB-8 and was only saved by Rey from a trader.

There is also the obvious effort to make Rey's background similar to both Anakin and Luke Skywalker.  From being able to support one's self at an early age, to not knowing who her parents were.  One question to be asked of course is if she could remember that she was abandoned by her parents, perhaps she has some memory of how they look like?  Which is also my issue with Finn who cannot remember his name but knew that he was taken against his will when he was still a kid to become a stormtrooper.

But what stood out for me was that Han Solo and Chewbacca never really got out of their old life as smugglers.  All along I thought that after Episode VI they were considered as heroes in that galaxy far away, but there they were in Episode VII still being pursued by bounty hunters.

Anyway, these did not get in the way of enjoying the movie.  I am still looking forward to Episode VIII.  I heard that it will be out by 2017 but in between Disney will release something like Episode 3.5 which will explain how the rebellion got the diagrams sought by Darth Vader in Episode IV.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year 2016!

I must admit that I have been preoccupied by so many things in 2015 that I didn't do much blogging. I resolve to be more active in 2016.  There's so many things to talk about.  Will begin posting soon.  In the meantime, let's all relish the first day of the new year.

Here's wishing everyone the best in 2016.