What would happen to the world if chickens suddenly started gaining sentience? This was what the comic Elmer was mostly about. Jake, a rooster with great need of anger management, has to go back home since his father Elmer was quite sick and expected to pass away soon.

Elmer finally passes away and Jake's mother hands over to Jake his father's diary. Once Jake starts reading the story of Elmer, the reader joins his journey in tracing the history of man's reaction to chicken's gaining sentience. Obviously, it was not something that men nor chicken easily accepted. I mean how else would you react to your dinner suddenly talking and some even attacking you? And in the midst of such a global issue, how did it affect individual lives of humans and chickens?

The theme of discrimination is nothing new. It has been an age-old tale that has been told over and over. What makes Elmer different, other than the fact that the tension is between human and chickens, is the beautiful story telling and line work of Gerry Alanguilan.

Alanguilan has made quite a name of himself in the international comic scene for his comics art. So it is no wonder that the art, especially the details, of the comics is impeccable. I could not helped but be awed by the painstaking effort he put in each feather, in each cloud, in each leaf on a tree.

The story was also able to infuse social issues with personal ones. The discrimination is not something that chickens experienced, Jake also has disdain against the human fiancee of his sister. His anger has bred tension in his home, yet it is also understandable because Jake somehow thinks that being a chicken has affected his own search for a job.

There are so many layers in the story, which theme can be considered simple but with an execution so unique. The menage a trois of the story, the storytelling and the artwork truly makes Elmer deserving of its Will Eisner nomination.


Launch of Gerry Alanguilan's Elmer

I have been wanting to get a copy of Elmer for almost a year now. I was able to find a copy in Comics Odyssey for P650 but I did not have that money at that time. During the Summer Komikon I was able to read a few pages of Elmer in the Komik Nook which got me more and more interested in the comic. Gerry Alanguilan announced in his blog a while back that there will be a mass release in paperback with National Bookstore.

It took several months since his announcement for NBS to release the comic but finally last October 15, there was a launch at their Best Sellers branch in Galleria. Jan and I attended the launch which was hosted by Jiggy Cruz.

I was happy with the turn-out since there were quite a few people present. It's always nice to see local arts being supported. What was more fun about it was Jan and I won a special edition Elmer shirt. Woot! I usually never win any thing in raffles. After the interview and the Q & A, there was some pica-pica served. Guess what it was. Chicken lollipops and Coca-Cola. Jake must want to claw our eyes out if he finds out. LOL.

My fingers are crossed that I win either the Trese iPad or the Elmer iPad. Because that would be more awesome than winning a shirt!



Last October 8, Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo launched the fourth book of Trese. (I would have been there if not for a fiery celebration of basketball victory down in Katipunan.) This collection, I have been waiting for since... well, since I finished reading the third book.

Cover of Trese 4: Last Seen After Midnight

For the unitiated with Trese, the comic is about Alexandra Trese and the Kambal. Whenever there's some strange crime in the neighborhood, some crime which can not be explained by forensic science, Sgt. Guerrero of the police calls on Trese to do her own version of underworld sleuthing. Trese deals with white ladies, kapres, manananggals, duwendes and a slew of elementals and mythological creatures from Filipino folklore.

This is way beyond Lola Basyang stories. Budjette has succeeded in merging the world of the living and the world of the undead. There is still something to fear in them, but they can also fear us and they can fear each other. Kajo was able to render Budjette's ideas with his beautiful yet gritty and dark artwork. I could not imagine any other artist who can illustrate the story of Trese better.

The dustcover

The fourth book is like most Trese compilations with four stand alone stories. "Cadena de Amor" is about a young sapling running amok looking for the gardener Florabelle. "A Private Collection" is about the mystery of a murdered manananggal. Trese tries to discover the cause of deaths and coma cases that occur during the same time in one dormitory in "Wanted: Bedspacer." The last story, "Fight of the Year" is an interesting inside look at the unusual albeit almost benevolent manner of achieving glory and fame of a world-renowned boxer.

All the stories are engaging and have quite interesting twists, though Private Collection could have been fleshed out more. However, I discovered that it was supposed to be the plot for the short film they were trying to make but due to budget constraints had to be shelved. It would have made an AWESOME movie! The Bangungot, I would say, has joined the ranks of my favorite Filipino mythological creatures, alongside the Kapre, Tikbalang and the Duwende.

To be honest, however, I like the other compilations better. But that should not take away from how good Trese 4 still is. It still offers a lot of excitement very much worth reading. I could say with conviction that Trese is one of my favorite comics ever, local or international. It's that good!

If you have not read any of the books, get all of them now! If you are a Trese collector, go out there and get the latest book!


Johnny Chow in Resorts World

It was my first time to visit Resorts World near the airport last Saturday. I'm actually quite impressed. It looked quite posh and high end which made me look like my mother's alalay wearing old baggy jeans and trekking sandals.

Our agenda was dinner. We proceeded to the second floor where the restaurants were located. It took us a while to choose where to go since we really did not have any particular craving. I ruled out Filipino and New Orleans cuisine though.

The last two restos we had to choose between were Mr. Kurosawa (European-Japanese fusion) and Johnny Chow (Asian Fusion). I was actually more attracted with Mr. Kurosawa in terms of presentation of their menu and food photography. Johnny Chow's menu needed a lot of work in terms of lay-out and food photography but it won my brother and I out with its Coffee Spare Ribs and Lantau Island Tuna dishes.

I had some issues with the naming of their food which tried to have a theme but really did not make sense. For example, in the "Pork Dynasty" section, they had "Maggie Woo," "Broken Arrow" and "Sweet Sour Pork" dishes. So I was scratching my head wondering why they used actors, movies and the actual name of the dish in one food section. They even had Chuck Norris for fish. As to why the names were that way, I could not find any connection.

Their chairs had pop art faces on them, the waitresses were wearing colored wigs and the waiters had gelled hairstyles. It was actually what got me a bit hesitant to try the place. It was projecting itself as young and hip, but the audience seemed to be families. Judging from the full resto and the people waiting, one could guess that there must be something in Johnny Chow.

True enough, it did not disappoint. In fact, their food was a pleasant surprise as it was all absolutely delicious! All six of us enjoyed the food that we ordered.

Tropic Thunder was their version of fresh spring roll. The sweet sauce completed the taste of the appetizer.

Wu Mountain was also good. The tofu was really feathery soft and light and absorbed the sauce really well. I don't remember enjoying not-crispy tofu like I did Wu Mountain.

The Lantau Island tuna was one of the dishes on the menu which attracted me with its description. Seared tuna with mango salad. I imagined a regular sized tuna rather then the bite sized pieces that we received. Each order had eight mini-servings on top of mango ensalata. Eat everything all together to get the full flavor. Yum!

The other dish which attracted me was the Coffee Pork Spare Ribs with a side of kimchi. There were bits of coffee sago (tapioca) with the sauce.

It was to be paired with the kua pao. Indeed it was a good combination. The spare ribs tasted more like asado than coffee. It was actually quite sweet thus working with the siapao dough. It was good but not the best dish of the bunch.

The chicken we ordered, and which name I forget now, was really really good! The crispy fried Asian chicken was really crunchy. The crunch as well as the herbs worked well together. Not being a big fan of chicken, it was a bit of surprise that I consider this my favorite dish of the night.

The chicken worked quite well with the Johnny Chow fried rice, which is like your typical Yang Chow, except with more veggies.

Chuck Norris was salmon with buttered vegetables. It also came with lemon butter sauce. The salmon was really tender. The sauce was perfect for the salmon and the vegetables were very crunchy. Again I'm not a fan of beans, but Johnny Chow had me eating more than my usual share.

The last of our order was the salt and pepper spare ribs. It's best to remember to dip the pork in the vinegar because they weren't kidding with the salt and peppery taste. The vinegar gives it a balance for that perfect bite of meat and fat.

Overall, I was glad I got over the bad food photography and decided to be attracted to dish description and the number of people flocking the restaurant. It's a bit pricey but it's good for an occasional food treat.


The Collective at Malugay St.

It was one of those unplanned get-togethers. Jan and I were almost ready to go home when Nin sent a text inviting us to join her and Jerry at the Collective. Jan was planning to jog when we got home and I would do anything to get away from exercise. I convinced him that it would be raining when we got home and we would just be stuck in traffic for most of the night. He said yes and we were off.

The Collective is located in Malugay St., near the Avida Makati West Tower where we were waiting for our little studio unit to be ready soon. I would say the Collective was what I was most excited about living in the area, next to finally having our own place.

The gang went to the Outer Space gallery where they were having an exhibit of photos taken in airports. There was also a crude world map painted on the floor and this sign below.
If you leave an unwanted souvenir and place it in the map where you got it, you can get a free poster. The poster shows the heights of the world's mountains and depths of the world's rivers. It's an ingenious gimmick for an interactive installation art! Cool, huh?

We didn't get to leave any but I do plan to go back and find something from my stash to take part of this collective art! There were a few things others have left behind though.

My favorites were a Delftware ceramic Dutch house from Netherlands (I want to steal it to keep the one I have company!), an unopened Stolichnaya Vodka fro Russia (whu? If I drank alcohol, I would have finished that one up!) and a maple leaf from Canada (pretty!). There was also henna powder from India, a Buddha figurine from China and beauty contestant postcards from Thailand. The Africas and the Balkan states are still empty, so if you have been there, leave one for the map. It's on until October 30, 2011.

Above is a photo of a photo taken by the artist. Awesome "No Gizmos!" sign. It's so dated that it features: Gizmo the Gremlin, a radio, a walkie talkie, a beepr and a clunky mobile phone. I wonder if kids nowadays will get the Gizmo joke? :P

The "living room" area of the gallery was also a treasure of old books and classic items. Too bad they weren't selling because there were a few items I'd love to get hold of! This Luke Perry autobiography in Spanish is not one of them though. LOL.

Walking around the rest of the Collective, I found this gem of a bust. Hail Rene Requiestas! May he rest in piece.

From their last the Collective visit, Nin and Je were raving about Ritual, the resident organic store, and its variety of dark chocolate flavors. We got Dark Chocolate with calamansi and dark chocolate with green mango and salt. There were also other food items like salad dressings, coarse sea salt, organic rice and dark muscovado sugar. They also sold ketchup gasera, melon scraper, nescafe glasses and even a classic engineering notebook.

I can't wait to buy some of my groceries here when we move!

The plan was to have dinner in Wingman for some chicken wings but first we passed by Offbeat Cafe to have a taste of their nefarious Offbeat Burger which had a thick beef patty, bacon, cheese and friend egg sandwiched in between Krispy Kreme Donut!

We ate the chocolate and the Offbeat Burger at Wingman while waiting for our order. I loved the chocolate with green mango and salt. It was a nice mix of salty, tangy and bittersweet. The calamansi zest also added a slightly sweet sour zing to the chocolate.

We girls enjoyed the Offbeat burger. The patty was very juicy and its flavors burst. The donut gave that extra surprise of unexpected sweetness. The boys however preferred to have the regular bread with the beef. Typical. :P

In Wingman, we ordered lemon pepper and garlic parmesan chicken wings with extra bleu cheese dip as well as pulled pork. We were so excited to eat that I forgot to take a picture. Teehee. The food were all sooooo gooood. Really good! Definitely a must-try.

So we ended the night early, with soul food from the art and body food from a few restaurants. The sign from The Outer Space gallery says it all...


Loving Harry

There I was wearing my cape, with a packet of tissues, anticipating the start of the last movie installment of Harry Potter. I ooohed, aaaahed, clapped, teared-up, anticipated and yahoo-ed throughout the movie. I dreaded the end of the movie anticipating a hollow in my heart after the credits rolled, but it did not come. Instead, I felt satisfied. I felt closure.

* * * * *
Harry Potter and I knew each other for 11 years, when I was introduced to him in 2000 by a friend who has the same penchant for books on fantasy, magic and children. It was when Hagrid brought Harry to Diagon Alley to buy things for school that I knew I would be with this boy until the end of the series. It was when Ollivander and Harry had their conversation at the wand shop that I felt the magic. It was when Harry and Ron shared their first chocolate frogs that the wizarding world became real for me.

What is it with Harry Potter that it took the world by storm? Many fantasy geeks would argue that "The Lord of the Rings" is better-written and has a more complex mythology. I wouldn't argue against that. One could say that Tolkien was a pioneer in creating fantastic worlds and characters and peoples beyond Aesop's fables and Grimm's fairy tales. The same could be said of his friend CS Lewis and his "Narnia Chronicles." Yet for both writers, the world took a while to realize the genius of their work. But when people finally did, they paved the way for the likes of Douglas Adams, Neil Gaiman, Lemony Snicket and JK Rowling.

Rowling was lucky in the sense that the world has gotten used to magic and fantasy (though she had her share of "HP is the work of the devil" haters). It took a few years for the her wizarding world to fly, but when it did, it was like riding a Firebolt to fame. Every other attempt to follow suit was a ride on a sad Cleansweep 7.

What kind of magic did Rowling cast? It has been pretty much established that it had to do a lot about love. But I also think beyond the typical battle between good-evil, it was her care in details that made the world not just like Harry and his gang, they wanted to be like them! It did not matter if you were 12 or 21 (my age when I began) when you started reading the book. I remember discussing with Pia how butterbeer would taste like, and closely approximated it to Zagu's brazo de mercedes brew. Pia was also our generous donor of Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans from the US, of which I knowingly chose weird flavors like grass and pepper (vomit and booger were still in production) which tasted the way it was advertised. I had to finish off with buttered popcorn so as not to have the same aversion to the treats as Dumbledore. Crissy brought home Chocolate Frogs from Australia, which included a limited edition card. I was half-expecting the frog to move about once I opened, but to no avail. Rowling presented broomsticks like they were the latest car models, that one is better on the other, taking into consideration the maker, the model, the drag and what have you. The spells were delightful (Riddikulus, Expecto Patronum, Petrificus Totalus, Avada Kedavra, Crucio, etc. etc) and the magical items awesome (floo powder, portkey, sneakoscopes, remembralls, howlers, etc. etc.) and the mytichal creatures mystical (grindylows, cornish pixies, centuars, giants, house elves, ghosts, etc. etc.). I could go on and on and on. For me, it was all about the intricate details that Rowling put together to make the wizarding world more magical, more fantastical and more real to its readers.

The details also went into the people. The characters in the book were quite complex. With the teen-agers, you can imagine the insecurities they had to deal with and realize you were once or are like that. Hogwarts students had to deal with bullying and pranks and falling in love. They had to face the dreaded exams or deal with terror teachers. And in the end, they had to deal between the choice of good and evil, right and wrong. They had to grow up in a world at war.

As for the adults, many had complex histories (it is now I realize that we know little of McGonagall. Hmmm.). You had an truly evil Voldemort who never experienced love and therefore could not understand it. You had an unfathomable Snape, whose enduring love for Lily Potter kept him from going to the dark side before or during Harry Potter (thank you, Star Wars!). You have Horace Slughorn, who along with Snape, showed that being Slytherin does not necessarily make you evil but emphasizes on slyness and cunning. You have Remus Lupin, whose kindness of heart is shadowed by the stigma against werewolves. The list goes on and on and on. Bottomline is you get to know the characters in the book as persons and not just names.

Rita Skeeter wrote sensationally. Rowling wrote lovingly.

And so in the last 11 years, I, along with millions of Potter fans, saw many characters grow up, some grow old and a few pass away. The younger fans grew up with Harry while I felt like the three's bigger sister, proud with their achievements, sad with their pains.

We alternately waited for the next book or the next movie to come out. The anticipation is sometimes more exciting than reading the actual book or seeing the actual movie. What made the anticipation delightful was it was shared with many people. The funny thing is, Harry Potter is one of those things you don't mind the world likes/loves along with you. I mean, I know friends who lose interest in music or books because other people caught on. But Harry... you want to share him. You want others to experience the magic as you have.

* * * * *
The anticipation for Harry Potter truly has ended when the last movie installment has shown. Waiting for this last unkown Harry Potter franchise rooted itself in nostalgia, led me and a lot others into tears thinking it was THE end. It was like knowing family will be going away.

And yet, when I saw the final movie, I did not feel the sadness that I expected. What I felt was closure... even peace and contentment. It is AN end, but not THE end. Rowling and Dan Radcliffe were right when they said, "The stories we love best lives in us forever."

Harry Potter will live on in the pages of the seven books, in the cel of eight films and especially in the hearts of its fans.

So along with the thousands of fans camped out waiting to watch the UK premiere of HP as Jo Rowling was making her speech, I shout "Thank you, thank you, thank you!" to her. It was a wonderful ride of which I would be sure to take over and over and over.

Thank you for the wonderful wizarding world of Harry Potter. He is truly "The Boy who Lived."


Fave HP 7.2 moments

Beware: Spoilers ahead.

I want to emote about the finality of the anticipation of Harry Potter with this movie. But thankfully, the movie did well in providing a closure to the wonderful, magical journey I had with Harry and the rest of the wizarding world. The drama may be for another time since I still have two to three weeks to cling on to since the movie just started showing.

So for now I relive moments in the movie that had a lot of impact on me. I want to write it down and relish them without watching the movie over.
  • Dobby's tombstone. "Here lies Dobby. A free elf." Dobby knows much more about freedom and choice more than most people we know.
  • Snape's silhouette framed by a tower window then cut to the scene of Hogwarts students marching into the castle. Once the camera pans to Snape's face, you see he takes no delight. Also, the scene below is a contrast to the colorful, noisy greeting of Hogwarts in the past movies.
  • The Gringotts dragon. Such a beautiful, majestic creature! My heart bled with its chained neck. Beautiful creatures like that should be allowed to roam free!
  • The Gringotts massacre. I don't remember having read this in the book. And I hope it really wasn't there. Poor goblins! But uhm, why were those security wizards dressed like regular cops?
  • Hermione as Bellatrix. HBC does great in impersonating Hermione impersonating her character. Priceless. Ron wears a wig and goatee as H's companion. That look actually suits him!
  • Neville coming out the portrait with Arianna Dumbledore. That was a wonderful moment in the book for me too! I missed seeing Hogwarts in the first half of the book and first installment of the movie. And of course, knowing he will soon be out, Mayette and I were squealing "yey, Neville! Neville."
  • Harry meeting with other Hogwarts students. The look on the students' face, especially Seamus, when they discover had no plan. Priceless! :P
  • Snape fleeing Hogwarts. That short duel with McGonagall was the first sign of the coming battle. She may look old and a bit Miss Minchin like at times, but she's a bad-ass witch so don't mess with her!
  • McGonagall animating the Hogwarts statues. Like a giggly school girl she tells Molly "I've always wanted to use that spell!" I was laughing so hard I had to clap. And so did a good number of people in the cinema.
  • McGonagall instructing Seamus to work on pyrotechnics. If you did a marathon of the movies like I did, you will notice that Seamus gets blasted in the face almost all the movies. I was so happy with that reference but only a few seem to have got it. :/
  • The shield slowly covering up Hogwarts. I don't remember if there was music playing, but I was literally at the edge of my seat as it was happening.
  • Voldemort speaking to everyone in Hogwarts. His voice was soft, yet the malevolence was creeping on my skin. Wow.
  • Tonks and Remus holding out to each other when the shield was about to break. A pair of lovers, a pair of warriors.
  • The twins having their last conversation before the battle. I couldn't hear what they said to each other though. But still... my heart was in knots knowing what is to happen to one of them.
  • Neville aangas-angas with the Voldemort followers when they could not pass the shield. Then running as fast as his feet would take him when the shield broke. When he re-appears he goes, "That went well." Though I wish he said "I'm okay" because that was his dialogue everytime he fell in the earlier movies.
  • Ron and Hermione finally kissing! When and how. Big moment. Of course, clapping from most of the audience here. Sa wakas lang no!
  • Snape's death. It broke my heart.
  • Snape's love for Lily Potter. It broke my heart again. His love for Lily was as true as her love for Harry. Alan Rickman, you did justice to Snape. Thank you
  • Fred getting disarmed. Nooooo!
  • The death toll in the Great Hall. The undramatic manner of the showing the dead Fred, Remus and Lupin. As no fuss as it was in the book. Which makes it more heartbreaking.
  • Snape saying "always," Lily saying "always" in separate scenes. Sigh!
  • Draco crossing from Hogwarts flank to the Death Eater's side to be with his parents. Disappointing but expected.
  • Voldemort thinking Neville was joining the death eaters. "I was expecting someone better. I'm sure we will find something for you in our ranks" And the mockery in his voice as he said it.
  • Neville daring to speak up against Voldemort. Go Neville, true Gryffindor!!
  • Harry at King's Cross with Dumbledore. Conversations between those two are just full of quotable qoutes!
  • Neville cutting Nagini's head off. Yeaaaah!
  • Battle between Harry and Voldemort. (but not as Epic as the Voldemort-Dumbledore duel though)
  • Luna and Neville sitting quietly together. The pride in Neville's face. Win!
  • The last scene with the triumvirate 19 years later.

I did feel disappointed that they did not show Harry repairing his old wand with the elder wand. I really, really love that scene in the book. But oh well...
    So obviously, I enjoyed the movie. And I am glad to have known Harry Potter and his magical world.


    taal volcano monster

    One of the difficult things I had to deal with in Komikon was finding the right comics to purchase. It was unfortunate that I had little lead time to research on the indie comic book artists present during the event because I could have made a more informed choice on which ones to buy. As much as I would like to support all artists, my benevolence far exceeds my purchasing power. I ended up focusing my energies on the more famous comic books.

    I knew I wanted to get Elmer and other Gerry Alanguilan works but he made a previous announcement that he won't be able to sell during the Komikon. Bummer! I knew I should have gotten Elmer at Comic Odyssey when I had a chance!

    I brought my previously purchased comic books to be signed by the artists and writers. Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah had to be left behind since I had Carlo Vergara sign it during the ZZZ Ze Musikal at the CCP. I even bought the first installment of the next ZZZ when Ada and Dodong have finally arrived in Manila. I also brought Andong Agimat, hoping that Arnold Arre might be there. Apart from the Budjette and Kajo team-up, Arre must be the artist I the most collection. Unfortunately, my Martial Law Babies have been reduced to a stuck-together mess by Ondoy, my favorite Mythology Class situated in Davao and After Eden stuck somewhere in limbo of transferring from one hand to another. Unfortunately, Arre was not present in the Komikon. I was hoping to grab a copy of Trip to Tagaytay which a friend recommended.

    During the Komikon, I felt like a little child with P20 in her pocket with so much craving for sweets but daunted by all the wonderful colors of colorful candies and scented sweets. This is where friend recommendations come in! Thankfully, I bumped into a friend from the office who had so much conviction in recommending Macoy's...
    TVM vs. ESP2 was just a photocopied comic book (I like it that way!) which cost P30. I was immediately captivated by the illustration in page 2! By page 3, I was convinced that the comic contained the kind of humor that I appreciated. Mahirit, makulit and pakyut. By page 4, I was in-love with the TVM. His dress code propriety was impeccable.

    It's interesting to discover that the comic was just made in 2 days. I thought it was done in one. Just kidding! I would dare conclude that it was precisely the rush, the cramming which added to its charm. The story is simple and straightforward with little fru-fru but abundant with heckling. That's precisely why I enjoyed it immensely.

    If you pass by Comic Odyssey or Sputnik (I've never been here!) and you have P30 to spare. Go grab the TVM vs. ESP2. I can imagine the chuckling happening as you read it. Unless you're the kind of person who prefers a hearty laugh to a good joke. Either would be good for the heart. ;P


    I love my Larry Alcala stuff!

    ybe a couple years back, Freeway launched their National Artists tribute. I've always wanted to get something from their collection, but could not find anything that suited me. The clothes were great, albeit a bit expensive, but I don't mind getting something to honor great artists of the Philippines.

    I've never been able to get any from Freeway. I know they launched F. Sionil Jose and Jose Garcia Villa. Their names, I am familiar with. Their legacy, I am aware of. Unfortunately, I have not read any of their works. This fact embarrasses me a lot, moreso that I still have not bothered to get their work. They also launched a Ramon Valera line which makes me doubly idiotic because I hardly know the work he's done for fashion.

    So imagine my joy when Solo, Freeway's sister company, launched their own great Filipino series with Larry Alcala! This man, I am extremely familiar with! I remember spending Sunday mornings looking for him in his Slice of Life cartoons. I've read a few strips of Siopawman and Kalabog and Bosyo. Larry Alcala is one of the most popular comic strip artist in Philippine history! And I love his work!

    I immediately trooped to Solo the weekend after they launched his line. Unfortunately, they still did not have all the shirt designs shown in their website. The ones they launched were the more formal kind that costs an arm and a leg. I decided to get myself the watch instead.

    Lovely watch! So Filipino with trademark Larry Alcala drawings of Filipino games. It's a bit difficult to wear, but it tells time and it's cool, so I love it!

    A few months later, I was finally able to get another Larry Alcala item. I was finally able to get hold of their Telepono shirt. Among the other designs there, this shirt fit me the best and its illustration was the one I liked most. So it was perfect! I didn't get it immediately though. I left the store to go around the mall some more and to ponder if I should really get it. I've already spent too much on the Komikon the day before, would it still be okay to purchase another whim?

    Well, I did end up getting the shirt. I loved the design. I loved how it fit me. I loved how Larry Alcala it looked.

    Now I have two LA items, it might be time to stop getting them na. I'm hoping if they release another artist line, they wait for a few more months when I've saved up again. I can imagine how my pocket will hurt if they decide to launch a Jess Abrera or Nonoy Marcelo or Pol Medina, Jr. Oh dear.


    Happy Easter

    May the glory and love Jesus has shown always be with you!

    In celebration, I cut my hair really short. I'm happy. :)


    using technology for Lent

    We did not have the new way of the Cross for our Stations of the Cross. So what did I do? I looked for a free app on via crucis. I found two and read them on my iPod touch during our Visita Iglesia. I was the only one who was using a technological device I observed. Cool!

    * * * * *
    These last two years, I have just spent Holy Week at home. It's often a more difficult way to spend the culmination of the Lenten season since everyday distractions like the internet and television are there to tempt me. It's been a struggle keeping away from FB and twitter, though I've allowed myself to read blogs and news.

    There are, however, some gems on the internet that help me achieve my desire for reflection and deeper understanding of Jesus' sacrifice.

    My particular joy for these last two Holy Week period is the website Pins of Light. Last year, I was able to spend time reflecting on God in the Dungeons. This year had another interesting theme, the Fugitives of Lent. Younger people may appreciate recollections found on the Pins of Light because it uses secular songs, popular songs, in the context of Jesus' love. I never realized how apt Leona Lewis' "Bleeding Love" is for Good Friday!

    The Fugitives of Lent is an online recollection that looks at the journey of Christ through the lives of three "bad boys" --

    Fugitive # 1 - Judas Iscariot (Holy Thursday)
    Fugitive # 2 - Pontius Pilate (Good Friday)
    Fugitive # 3 - Simon Peter (Black Saturday).

    The first two are obvious choices, but the third may be interesting for some since Peter did become the first Pope and the rock of the Church.

    As I matured and experienced a bit of the ways of the world, I have learned not to take Judas and Pilate as villains but rather victims of their own circumstances. And true enough, the online recollection allows the retreatant to see these two outside their vilified status. And to see our own moments of being/encountering Judas and Pilate.

    The other two were very insightful but I would say my favorite was the recollection with Peter. I think it is easier for people to falter the way Peter has. To claim much love for the Lord, yet in the end, when it was necessary to proclaim him, he denied Jesus because of fear.

    Holy Week hopes that we see how much love Jesus has for us that we forget our fears. Tomorrow, I look forward to the hope and love that Easter brings. :)


    Holy Week reflection guide

    I resolved to immerse myself in prayer and reflection during this Holy Week period. This is one of those times when technology can bring you closer to God. I really have not gone out of my room for a spiritual encounter.

    In case you would also like to have your own journey inside the screens of your computers, here are some websites which can be your spiritual guide.

    Sacred Space Lenten recollection. Around four hours for retreat including those quiet moments for reflection.

    The Fugitives of Lent. Experience the grace of Holy Week by understanding the "bad guys" in Jesus' life.

    Seven last words. By Mark Roberts and the Passionists. Go through the last moments of Jesus before he dies on the cross.

    * * * * *
    Happy Earth Day, by the way. Maybe you can add a reflection on our stewardship of Mother Earth in your reflection.

    Pass by google.com to see their tribute. So cute!


    donsol: swimming with the whale sharks

    Who would not put swimming with the whale sharks on their things to do before ___?

    I've been wanting to go for a long time already. Thanks to Jerry and Ninin's invitation, I was finally able to do it. It was such an AWESOME, AMAZING, WOW experience. No exaggerations there.

    I'd skip through the lousy Zestair experience to get to Legazpi and go straight to the adventure part of the story. Jerry and Ninin arrived a few hours ahead of us and signed up for a tour for the next day at seven in morning.

    A morning tour would be advisable because the heat would not be as bad. In our case, it was also an advantage because it was raining in the afternoon and I would think the visibility would not be as good. I'd also say have a heavy breakfast because you need all the energy you can get to fully enjoy this wonderful experience.

    Most resorts and boats have a tarpaulin reminding tourists the proper way of swimming with the butandings. To be honest, it's hardly followed but do try your best for your own safety and for the good of the butanding too.

    Tarpaulin explaining the proper way to interact with whale sharks.

    We were lucky that the day started bright and sunny. The sun's reflection danced merrily on the water's waves. The gang were quite excited as we slathered ourselves with sunblock.

    When spending time with the whale sharks, it is a must to have your snorkeling gear, including fins. I brought my bro's gear with me but they fit neither Jan nor me so we ended up renting the entire set from the resort which cost us P300.

    Our BIO (butanding interactive officer) was Johnson. He was a burly man with long hair. He has been doing this for so long that his skin has this permanent burnt quality to it. Johnson gave us instructions to be alert when he gives the signal. He would tell us which side of the boat to go and jump from.

    Before we actually dove in with the butanding, he made us look at the water and taught us a bit of how to spot one. It was quite easy in that weather. From above, you'd see a large moving shadow a few feet below the water. That signified the butanding was there.

    I opted to use a life vest since I'm not a very good swimmer. I don't want to mar my whale shark experience by almost drowning, you know.

    After a few minutes, Johnson signaled for us to sit on the edge of the boat and wait for his signal. A butanding was nearby.

    Feet with flippery fins

    Johnson shouted "go" and dove in. Ninin, Jerry, Jan and I dove after him. At first, we could not see anything but water. Then our BIO pointed ahead of us. The whale shark was coming our way!

    It was magnificent.

    There it was, right in front of me, the largest fish in the world. It was coming right at me. I was both nervous and excited. I could see its slit of a mouth. I could see it's very small eyes. I didn't know if it could see me but if it did, it did not seem to mind because he was still coming our way.

    When you see a creature, the size of a small car coming at you, I don't think it's wise to crash into it. So I made a U-turn and moved out of its path and swam along with it. This is where the flippers helped. I could float easily and swim fast and with little effort.

    I was finally swimming along with the whale shark.
    There it was beside me, in all it's spotted splendor. It was intimidating. Yet, it did not seem to care about the people who were crowding around him. It must think that we were just like the other fishes that would hitch a ride with it.

    Little fishes hitched a ride on its spotted back. They looked edible. Photo by Jerry.

    Wow. Amazing.
    We dove into the water around eight times. Seven of those times, we were able to swim with the whale sharks. One swim went as long as eleven minutes! All the others lasted for more than five. Every time was as amazing as the previous swim. I can't get over how thrilling the experience is!

    There is a bit of a downside to it though. While the tourism office says that there should be one boat (or six tourists) to one butanding, that is hardly the case. Our awesome BIO was great in spotting whale sharks, and doubly skilled in getting us to be the first group to be with the butanding. We were quite lucky with him. However, most of the time, other groups would flock to our butanding and join us in the viewing. It would be perfectly fine if they were just behaved. But noooo! I had flippers hit me in the face in arms. I had someone who had her arms hit my snorkeling mask. Several times. I don't really think they were intentionally being rude, but they were just too focused on having the butanding to theirselves that all politeness and etiquette just flew out of the window. In the middle of the sea, people would cut you or get in the way, much like motorcycles in rush hour Manila. It was really quite annoying and I really ranted about it. But I refused to have that little problem get in the way of the joy of spending time with whalesharks.

    We had so much fun swimming with the butandings that my feet started to blister. My big toe started to chafe and my other toes had little bubbles of air. Ouch.

    Chafed big toe. Just ignore the hair. :P

    I noticed the pain around the fourth dive, but that did not stop me from keeping on. I hardly noticed it while swimming. Or I think I did, but chose to pay attention when there is this resplendent creature swimming right in front of me.

    Every dive was awesome. There was a time when the butanding started going up, as if trying to get to the surface. Guess who located on top of its dorsal fin? I had to scoot out of the way before we could bump into each other. For one, we were told not to touch the fish. Second, I don't want to find out by experience which one of us has the smoother and softer flesh. No thank you.

    During our last dip, we were lucky to be the only ones with the butanding. Jan and I were by the head while Ninin and Jerry were with Johnson at the back near the tail. While watching it swim, we saw its head jerk nervously. We decided to get away from it lest it does something crazy. We saw Nin, Je and Johnson a few meters away talking about the major tail swish. Apparently, the BIO accidentally touched a part of it which agitated the monster. I could imagine how exciting the view of the tail do a big sway, though I could also imagine how terrible it would have been to get hit a SUV-sized fish.

    After that, we decided to call it a day and go back to the hotel. We were lucky with the crew we were assigned to and could not ask for anything more.

    Jan and I were talking about it for days. I enjoyed the experience so much that I would like to do it again the next year! Seriously. It was just so exhilirating and surreal that I need to have more of it!

    Thanks to the WWF for this great idea! Not only did the experience give people a good time, it also helped the community see the importance of co-existing with other wonderful creatures.

    Do go if you can!


    Summer 2011 Komikon

    Finally, after several attempts to attend a Komikon, I finally made it! It was only through Gerry Alanguilan's tweet that I found out there was one. This was last Thursday. I had to beg/force Jan to promise me that we will go. There has just been too many times that I missed it! Unfortunately, I was stupid enough to forget my camera so I had to do with photos from my iTouch. Kainis.

    We arrived around 11AM. I actually wanted to get there earlier to participate in the games. Hahaha! But well, it's really no fun to rush on a Saturday morning. It was good that the venue was quite large. There were just a few people in the morning but I was certain there would be more coming in the afternoon.

    Indie tiangge of comics. Comics as low as P20!

    Animahinasyon clips were already showing on the screen. I'm happy to observe that we have so much potential with animation. There was a Siopawman clip shown, as if a trailer for a cartoon series. I'm not sure if it is for real though I very much hope it is.

    This little girl was enjoying the shadow art style animation.

    I was happy to see that there were a lot of independent comics producers. Many of their products were actually just photocopied original art. I think that adds to the charm. In case any of the guys that I bought would become rich and famous, I would have a collector's item. :P

    Comic Odyssey also brought their comic book store at the Komikon. They discounted their stuff to as low as 80% off! I actually wanted to buy the X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men:First Class. They also had single issue comics and I saw one Sin City title and New Mutants #21 which went for P20. I wanted to get it too! Two things stopped me - 1) I did not budget for it and 2) I was intent on supporting local comics for this event.

    The Comic Odyssey section.

    Another section of the indie tiangge

    Around lunch time, they had a Hero Sausage sandwich eating contest. The host asked for 10 hungry guys to come on stage. One of the guys who went up was Danny Acuna (more on him later). The winner would, of course, be the one who ate the sandwich fastest. I didn't really bother finding out who won.

    Danny Acuna is the guy in black with white hair.

    It was the girls' turn after the boys finished. At first, there were only three girls who came up. It took a lot of prodding before the ten contestants were completed. Again, I did not bother waiting for the winner. :P
    Enjoy the sausages, girls!

    After a while, Jan and I decided to go around the venue to look at the comics sold. I was also intent on looking for the celebrities of the Philippine comiverse. I actually brought with me the three volumes of Trese, the first compilation of Kiko Machine, 12 and Andong Agimat for the writers and artists to sign.

    We bumped into a couple of Jan's friends from UP Fine Arts who had their own booths. There was Elmer Damaso who created Cat's Trail with his wife. We also bumped into Carl at his Electromagnetic Tentacle booth selling shirts that gave foreign superheroes a local twist. Jan bought the Lobo for me and Dirty Harry and Green Parol for himself. I also wanted to get the Batmanananggal and the Friendly Neighborhood Spiderfight but our funds were not up to our whims anymore. :P

    I also bought three comic books from Macoy. I discovered that he was from Gabay, an organization in the Ateneo. I love his artwork!

    Pol Medina, Jr. was there! It's awesome how he was able to sustain Pugad Baboy through the years. Up to this day, I love the humor of PB. Unfortunately, I rely on my brother for PB comics so I did not have any for him to sign. I was thinking of buying one but then I really had to be smart with my purchases so I just took a photo. Next time, I will get my bro's stuff and have them signed instead. :P

    I saw a Freedom Wall. Since I can only stick figures, I just had my photo taken with it instead. There's a little drawing that's trying to hit me in the head though. :P

    A few months back, I heard about the Filipino Heroes League through Jonas Diego's blog. I wanted to get it but have yet to find it in bookstores. Finally, I was able to lay hands on it today. It was a surprise to find out that Paolo Fabregas of the Coca-Cola "Bridesmaid ka lang" commercial with Belinda Panel actually created the comics! I've only read the first two pages so I could not say anything about the story, but I really liked the artwork.

    Paolo Fabregas, FHL creator. :)

    My signed copy of FHL!

    I was most excited about meeting Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo, the team behind Trese. I absolutely love Alexandra Trese and the Kambal. The characters and the concept are superb! And how I wish they can produce as many issues as possible! I'm so in love with the comic that we bought two collector's items posters -- "Maliksi" (#157 of 1300) and "Hannah and Ammie" (#57 of 1300) I also bought Presinto 13 which Budjette did with David Hontiveros.

    We saw Manix Abrera there as well. It's Jan who's really the fan of Kiko Machine. I liked his work on 12 most. It's amazing how you can tell so much without words! I would say that Manix is the best when it comes to signing his comics. He takes so much care in doodling your name and writing with care plus a little drawing to match. Rakenrol!!!

    Manix signing my copy of 12

    A sample of his meticulous autograph signing. Asteeeeeg!

    I felt bad that I did not know much about the Filipino legends in comics. I saw this old guy who reminded me a bit of Stan Lee. He was signing some posters, so I knew he was someone big, someone younger artists looked up to. At first I thought he was Alex Nino, the guy which Neil Gaiman mentioned as one of his favorite artists when he was younger. Upon more snooping, I found out he was Tony de Zuniga, creator of Jonah Hex!

    I had to get something from the man! At first, I wanted to get the Star Wars poster, but I decided to think about it first. Mali! It was sold out by the time I decided to get it for my brother. I had him sign a Conan the Barbarian poster instead. While I was enjoying the signature on the poster, I realized I was envious of my bro. I decided to get one for myself as well. While the Jonah Hex posters were exquisitely done, it was much too dark for my taste. I decided to get an illustration I liked but I absolutely had no idea who it was. Hehe! Still I finally have a Tony de Zuniga signature!

    I only had my photos taken with Tony de Zuniga. Here was after he signed the poster for me.
    The poster he signed for my bro.

    For my bro.

    For me. Any idea who she is?

    I also several other old guys in the event. I tried as much as possible to get their names, but it was a bit difficult. It would have been better if the organizers put some name plates or their names on the IDs so the fans can easily identify them. I was unable to find out the name of the guy below. Sayang.

    I discovered one of the other legends present was 87-year old Jess Jodloman, who illustrated for some horror-mystery comics in the US.

    He seems intent on the Komikon newspaper.

    There were several other artists I was trying to get hold of, but it was a bit difficult. The last two I was able to encounter were Rico Rival and Danny Acuna. Rico Rival did some work in the US but was more prolific with the local comic scene.

    Rico Rival in yellow and Danny Acuna in black. Both of them were sketching for clients. DA was doing mine actually. Hehe!

    I already said that Danny Acuna joined the Hero Sausage eating contest. During the contest, he showed the host the empty wrapper of his sandwich as if saying he won. When the host asked him if he was done, he showed his half eaten sausage. It was at this point that he endeared myself to me. He was a funny man with a quick smile that I could not help but be drawn.

    When we were looking around and he was doing a sketch of a young man, he talked to me and said, "ikaw sunod." I agreed even without knowing what his style is or how much it costs. I just wanted to have a moment with a legend. I also bought three of his comics, each at P30. So he did sketch me...

    Danny Acuna doing my sketch.

    As usual, I was conscious so I was laughing while he was sketching me! I had a headache from smiling too much.

    One just had to pay a donation for the sketch. Jan bought some Filipino comic artists portfolio for P300, I bought three of Danny Acuna's comics for P90. In total we gave him P500. He gave me a fourth comic for what we gave him. He's adorable. :)

    His signed works.
    His sketch of me. Not too much like me but it's still a DA work of art!

    Overall, it was a great day of comic bliss! To be in the same room with all these artists really made my day. I ended up spending much more than I expected but I really don't mind helping out struggling artists or affirming established ones. I dream that the comic book industry in the Philippines prospers and reaches more people in the country and even abroad.

    Looking forward to the next Komikon in October/November!