Earth Hour

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.