Lifestyle Blogger. Promdi. Filipina.

Friday, July 31, 2020

The Art of Racing in the Rain

Pets. I have never had pets of my own. I do not think that I am a pet person to be honest. I have always wanted one, but it is too big a commitment for me that I never got around to having one. I have never enjoyed movies that featured animals but when I saw the trailer for the movie The Art of Racing in the Rain, I felt that it was something I would want to see. When my sister mentioned that she had seen the movie the night before and that she had cried so bad I decided to check out the schedules so I could see it too. 

Based on the novel of the same name, the story revolves around a golden retriever named Enzo (voiced by Kevin Costner), who is dying. He starts to tell the story of his life with Denny (Milo Ventimiglia), a race car driver who bought him as a puppy.

The viewer then sees Denny’s life through Enzo’s eyes: his racing, meeting his wife Eve (Amanda Seyfried), the experience of having a daughter, the death of his wife, and the custody battle that he had with Eve’s parents when she died.

The film shows how involved Enzo was in Denny’s life and how loyal and beloved he was in his family. There were many moments that show this throughout the film, the most noteworthy being when he ran away with the settlement agreement that Denny almost signed to give his in-laws custody of his daughter just so that he would change his mind and fight. 

By the end of the movie you would be a cold-hearted person not to feel bad when Denny gives Enzo one last ride in his car on the racetrack where he teaches. It truly is a heart-tugging moment because even Enzo knew that he was about to die and was looking forward to what he believed would be his next life as a human being.

At first I thought that the movie might be a little corny since you had a talking dog as the lead character in the movie but Kevin Costner’s voice and the way he delivered as Enzo throughout the film was actually very soothing and endearing that I ended up loving Enzo a lot. It was not corny at all.

Despite the tragedies that happened to Denny, I felt that this was a feel-good movie that ultimately had a happy ending. After everything that he had gone through, Denny became a race car driver in Italy for Ferrari and was with his daughter. And, as revealed in the end, in a way Enzo was still with him. 

It was that last moment that really made me cry. I did not expect to cry watching this movie. I had watched the wife die, saw the struggle with the custody battle and the death of Enzo, but it was that ending reveal of a young Italian boy with golden hair who was also named Enzo whose age was about the same as the number of years since the dog died, that was what did me in. I was crying so much than it was possible if I were a pet person. Imagine if I were someone with a pet dog, I would probably have been bawling like crazy!

Of course, I cannot fail to mention that the one of the reasons that I watched this movie was because of Milo Ventimiglia. I have been a fan for a long time, and I am happy that I have been seeing him in movies and on TV often these days. I hope to see him in more in the future. This is Us has been good for him. 

It was a good movie. A little depressing midway but it was sweet and a tearjerker. If you love a good drama with a feel-good ending, you will enjoy this one.


Thursday, July 30, 2020

Pandemic Diaries: Planning Ahead

So much of this pandemic has me feeling uncertain of the future. I feel like we do not know what tomorrow might bring. I often say that I try to live my life the best I can because tomorrow is never promised, but I think that this is something that has never been more real until this pandemic started.

We do not know where we can get the disease. We do not know who will bring this into our homes. We do not know who will get sick in our families. We may wish that no one will, but at the rate things are going, it is not that far off that we will know someone who has been infected or at least became a PUI (person under investigation).

I know people are thinking that if we are careful, we are going to be fine. Yes, it helps. But it only takes one person who is not careful to infect us in some way. Just one. And we do not know who that is or how that can happen. I have read of a couple who have not gone out since the lockdowns started and have just had everything delivered and they still got infected. These days we really cannot be complacent. We must be on guard and ready for anything.

I have often thought about this but now I am seriously thinking of making plans just in case anything happens to me during this pandemic. It is not about being morbid and thinking that I could die, but more of being able to make sure that my family can be ready in case anything happens to me, that includes being sick and possibly isolated. God-willing of course I would not want that to happen, but I feel like it is something that I need to prepare for, just in case. My family depends on me for a lot of things so being ready for anything feels like the responsible thing to do.

Image by David Schwarzenberg from Pixabay

The plan for me is this: to have a notebook where I will write down all the necessary details in case of an emergency. If I need to go to the hospital, it is a list of allergies, medication I take, my blood type and my medical conditions/history. Then of course there are other things: contact details related to people who can help with my Philhealth and my social security. PIN numbers for ATMs they can use, account details and passwords for accounts that they may need to access in case I am unable to do so myself. People to contact in case they need help for something related to me. It seems a scary thing to think about but during these times, it seems practical.

As much as I am preaching about this, I must admit that I have not gotten around to doing it yet. It is a plan, but the reality of it naturally makes me think of more morbid things so the superstitious in me fears doing it even if I want to. I still plan to; I am just trying to gather enough courage to get that pen and paper and write things down.

Has anyone else thought of making plans during this pandemic? I am not even talking last will or anything, just something just in case something happens to you during the pandemic? Have you thought that far ahead or is it just me? I wonder if I am being too paranoid and afraid and it is that fear and paranoia that has made me think this way.

It would be nice to have this pandemic end soon. I know that’s wishful thinking, but I still wish it could. If I could ask for any miracle right now, that would be it.


Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The Titan Games

People who know me from the time when I was a young girl would know that I am not the healthiest person out there. I would love to be the girl who does sports and is physically fit and active, but my body is just not built for it. I’ve tried many times to ignore and overcome this “weakness”, but my body has told me many times over that it is the boss and I cannot make it do things beyond what it can accomplish. Despite that, I still dream that one day I can. One of those dreams? Getting on a truly physical competition like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s The Titan Games.

Just to be clear, I am a person with many health issues. It will take a village (so to speak) to get me in shape for anything as gruelling as this but in my head, if I can and if my health permits, I would love to try The Titan Games. I just love watching this show and seeing people from all walks of life try it out. Seeing them overcome these insane obstacles makes me wish that I can do them too. When DJ says “Titan Strong” — wow, I want to be that. I do not know how but I want that.

I have just finished watching the first season of the show on Netflix and it was inspiring to see the female winner of the show, Charity Witt, just smash through all the challenges from start to finish. Knowing that before all this, she was (like me) a person with heart disease who was told that she needed to take medication to survive. She got a second opinion from another doctor who encouraged her to take control of her life and she got into sports and became a power lifter. Watching her win and knowing where she started was inspiring for me. As afraid as I am to challenge what my doctor says, I would love to be as strong as she is (maybe not as big with the muscles though).

The second season of the show is currently on TV and they have taken it up a notch by having the contestants compete with people who are called “the best of the best” and hand picked by The Rock himself as Titans. That means that not only do these contestants have to overcome the challenges, they must overcome these amazing athletes who clearly have an advantage over them.

Surprisingly, several of these handpicked Titans, based on some of the episodes I’ve seen so far, have lost to the contestants who, while they are in no way ordinary themselves, do not have the kind of training most of these elite athletes do. So far, it seems that the underdogs are the ones who will end up on top.

The challenges on the show are all overwhelming to see as they are being done, with the final round being the even more intimidating Mount Olympus, which takes you on several challenges at once. It should be noted that men and women take on the same challenges, nothing is changed when the women do it — which makes the show even more impressive. It does make me wonder though if they will ever try to make the women compete with the men at some point since it seems some of the women finish faster than the men in certain challenges.

With the challenges being harder in the second season, I cannot help but wonder what they will come up with in season 3. I was a fan of American Ninja Warrior a few years ago but after a while, it becomes repetitive and just not as exciting when it is basically the same thing all over again. I like that they switched it up with Titans being challenged in the competition but what more can they do with it for season 3?

DJ, surprise me!


Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Netflix Picks: Warrior Nun

You are dead. Then you are alive again, waking to some sort of monster murdering the only other person in the room with you. You make a run for it and are surprised that you can because you were previously paralyzed. Not only that, you begin seeing things that you normally would not see and are able to do things that are impossible to do. What happens next? That is what the Netflix series Warrior Nun is about.

I decided to try watching this show because they said that it reminded them of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I did not see that similarity, but I thought it was worth giving it a shot. A little tip though: if you intend to watch because of the trailer, I am telling you now that the pacing of the show is not the same. It is much slower, to my disappointment.

The previously dead and now newly living Ava is the lead in this series. A young girl who used to live in an orphanage and was bed-ridden prior to her death, she decides to explore the world with her new life, not knowing that her newfound power had responsibilities that came with it. 

The story involves the legend of the warrior nuns, led by one who wears the halo of an angel that gives her powers to help slay demons. The nuns are part of the Order of the Cruciform Sword, which still exists in the present. It is these nuns who are on the search for her to decide if she is worthy of the halo and be part of their order or if the halo should be taken away (and along with it, her life).

There are a couple of subplots here and there about a scientist who wants to cure her son and open a portal to another dimension (which the nuns believe to be hell), the romance of Ava and JC, a con artist she meets while she’s roaming around the city, and the power struggle within the order for control of the one who has the halo.

The series only has 10 episodes in its first season, and I am glad it was only that short because I felt that they were dragging it too long even if they didn’t have that much to work with. The subplots for me felt unnecessary. They could have done away with the love interest (do powerful women always need to have a guy, really?) and the whole story with their gang of con artists who “borrow” the homes of unsuspecting owners who are out of town. Even the plot with the scientist felt pointless to me, especially after the part where she is going after Ava and later it did not seem like such a big deal when they finally met.

I think that the show would have been better off focusing on the Order of the Cruciform Sword and the nuns who are in the core group of characters in the series. There were bits and pieces of how they came to be a part of the order but it would have been nice to see their back stories and understand why their characters were the way that they were throughout the series.

The ending, which was a cliffhanger, was a little disappointing. Even the twist at the end didn’t feel like it was executed in a way that would shock the viewers because I felt that the back stories were not established enough to make the viewers that affected by it. I am aware that this is from a comic book series and adapted for the screen, but they should have at least tweaked the story to make it more interesting…and as I said earlier, they could (or should) have made the pacing of this a little faster.

According to some of the websites I have gone through, Warrior Nun will have a second season, although it is probably not going to happen until well after this pandemic is over. I hope that gives the writers enough time to make the second instalment a better/more improved version of the first. Hopefully, it becomes more exciting in the second season.

Keeping my fingers crossed.


Monday, July 27, 2020

Pandemic Diaries: Going Local

This pandemic has been such a trial for many people financially, me included. There have been extra expenses to make sure we are all living in a safe and healthy environment. The cost of so many things have gone up and some items that we usually need have been harder to come by than usual. 

It has been an adjustment for all of us, especially for those whose jobs and businesses were lost during all of this. For those of us who still have jobs and are blessed to have a stable source of income, it has been encouraged that we support local business so that our economy can survive this pandemic.

Even if things are a little tight for me right now, I make it a point to buy local as much as I can. It means buying from the meat vendor around the corner or the neighbor or friend trying to make ends meet by selling different types of food and groceries. Or it could be as simple as supporting someone who is trying to make a living as a rider who delivers food, buys groceries or other items so you do not have to go out to do it yourself. Times are tough, if we can help by supporting each other's efforts to get by, we really ought to do what we can. As that song says, we are all in this together.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I decided to use washable masks instead of disposable ones. To buy local, I got my masks from a Filipino seller, Syala Collections. I also bought sleep wear from them recently and they are nice and easy to buy from. I highly recommend them.

When buying things online (which is what I have been doing a lot lately since I am afraid to go to the mall for the things I need), I often check if it is a local seller. I have made it a point to buy local right now so if the seller is not local, I tend to pass on the item.

Even when it comes to food, I try to support the local places when I can. The coffee shop that we used to go to often pre-pandemic is one of them. The cafe a former co-worker currently owns is another. The pizza place we used to visit back when it was safe to also gets orders from us from time to time. The Japanese place we loved buying ramen and sushi from, even if deliveries can be a little difficult, has gotten our support as well. There are more that we would like to buy from but some of them do not deliver and since we would rather not go out as much as possible, we have not been able to buy from them.

I think that during this pandemic we are taught to adapt to the current environment. Local business needs to reach out to its customers more than ever by being available online and accepting that they would need to make deliveries possible. If there is a will, there is a way, if I am to base it on the local food places we have here.

One Chinese restaurant that we ordered from normally does not accept online payments, but they decided to finally make it possible. They do not usually deliver to our area, but they partnered with local delivery services (like Lalamove) to be able to reach the customers they normally would not be able to deliver to.

The coffee shop we order from has partnered with a local tricycle driver who normally would not have a regular income (since their allowed days out are limited) so that he would be the one to make deliveries for them. They also made it easier for people to order by making a website with online payments, making it convenient for those who would rather not pay with cash during this pandemic.

Local business in our area have slowly been allowing for other options for their service to be available these days. I commend them for keeping up the fight in these financially challenging times. I hope that they all will be able to survive this pandemic. I will do what I can to support them whenever possible.

What about you? Are you supporting local business as well?


Sunday, July 26, 2020

Series Review: What's Wrong with Secretary Kim

I have been going through some of the Korean TV series available via streaming as per my cousin’s recommendations. With her prodding and because I had finished and enjoyed another one of the other shows of the female lead, I decided to hunker down and watch the show What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim on Viu.

Starring Park Seo Joon and Park Min Young (who was in one of my favorites, Her Private Life), the story of this show is about a CEO who is suddenly faced with the resignation of his Executive Secretary. 

I have never heard of Park Seo Joon before this show (I know, he has been here in the country before, it was a big deal to the fans, etc. I am sorry, I might have been sleeping when this all happened!) so I did not have any preconceived opinions of the guy when I saw this. Yes, I heard people have raved about his acting in Itaewon Class, but I have not seen that one either. Sad to say, I did not like him in this one. I found his character annoying, even in scenes when it was supposed to be a nice moment for him. It was like he only had one or two expressions in this. I know that might be because of the character he played, but that was just the way he seemed to me.

Park Min Young, as always, was adorable. Her role (and the plot, to be honest), seems slightly like that of Her Personal Life, but I felt like the other show executed the story better than this one. Even the mix of dramatic, romantic, and comic moments felt better in Her Private Life compared to this. 

The show had some dramatic moments and twists that dealt with the younger years of the two characters. I was expecting a romantic comedy, and I felt there was too much drama that was not that necessary. Did they really have to make the events of their youth that grave? Again, Her Private Life was lighter on this part...and more believable in my opinion. Plus, given that ending twist of him knowing who she was from the start did not make sense given the way he was treating her in the beginning. It was just weird for me.

Still, I must give it to the two leads for having good chemistry together. Everything they did just felt like they really fit well together — which is probably why so many people thought that they were together in real life.

As with most Korean dramas, there were supporting characters who also have their own plots/love stories. Usually I enjoy a good supporting cast but this time around I did not like them as much. Apart from Kim Mi So’s sisters, I would have been happier without too much time on the other supporting characters (i.e. the officemates). I thought they were a bit over the top at times and not in a good/entertaining way. I would have prefered more scenes from the lead characters than scenes from the supporting characters. They were not as necessary to the plot anyway.

Park Seo Joon’s fans would probably enjoy the many shirtless scenes of the guy in the show. I must admit, he has a nice body. Those abs are unreal! His skin is flawless!

The ending of the show was a bit cliche by having the leads get married, but it did fit well with the plot of two childhood sweethearts ending up together in the end. It was a happily ever after thing, and I think that viewers would be satisfied with that ending in general.

Although I did not enjoy Park Seo Joon in this series, I am thinking of watching another show of his that my cousin recommended called She Was Pretty. Let us see if it can change my opinion of him when I see it. 

Wish me (or him?) luck.


Saturday, July 25, 2020

Movie Review: Code 8

Stephen Amell is one of the male TV celebrities that I admire and follow online. He and his cousin Robbie Amell (husband of another TV favorite, Italia Ricci) recently made a movie that was released online called Code 8. It is an action/sci-fi movie set in a world where there are people born with powers, but this does not necessarily mean that life is better for them with it. 

Based on a short film of the same title, the movie is about Connor, a man with powers who is looking after his sick mother while he tries to make ends meet. People with powers are regulated in this world that they live in and they are monitored by drones that attempt to control power-related crime. 
It is odd how people with so much power in this movie allow normal people to treat them badly when they could just as easily fight back since they have superhuman abilities. I was a little confused by that, but I suppose the powerful drones that were shown to try to control/police them were probably stronger than most of those with powers. 
But I digress. Connor is trying to make ends meet and his mother is sick (actually, she was dying). He decides to take a job that turns out to be with a gang and its illegal activities. The leader of that gang (Stephen Amell) notices Connor’s potential and decides to take him under his wing.  
Throughout the movie there is the power struggle between the gang and the syndicate that is peddling drugs made from the spinal fluid of people with powers. Things take a turn for the worse when the police get closer to catching them and Connor’s mother dies.  
In the end, Connor goes to jail and the gang leader (played by Stephen Amell) becomes the new head of the drug syndicate while the cop that was after them (played by Sung Kang of the Fast and the Furious movies) gets an award for taking down the syndicate head (who was replaced, but who cares?). 
I think that it was impressive that this movie became a full-length one after it was shown as a short film. I am interested to see that short film to find out the basis for this whole movie because I felt that there was more that could/should be told or explained in the movie but just was not included. 
According to some sites I have gone through online, the movie will be converted further to a TV show, albeit a short-form series on Quibi. Interesting. No word on whether this series will be a prequel or a sequel to the events in this movie, but it could be promising.
As far as the effects and the action sequences go, I thought they were surprisingly good. Considering this is not one of those big-budget Hollywood superhero movies, they did well in that department.  
If there is one thing that I will complain about with this movie is that the women were underused. There were very few women in the movie. It was very testosterone heavy. The main females, while they all had powers, did not get to do much in this action film except to die or be rescued/allowed to escape by the leading man. Hopefully, this can change when they make the TV series. 
Some critics have given bad reviews about this movie, but I did not think it was that bad. Sure, it was not “amazing,” but it still entertained me in the time that it had to share its story. Considering that I am probably not the target market for this film and I still enjoyed it, I think that it is not as bad as some people peg it to be. 
Code 8 is available on Apple TV (and Netflix in the US if I am not mistaken). 


Friday, July 24, 2020

App Review: Quibi

The pandemic has made many of us even more dependent on the internet and on our mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. Personally, I do not think I have ever seen as much streaming movies and TV shows before compared to during this pandemic. All the sleepless nights for me have resulted in streaming so many shows these past few months (might as well do something while I'm up and my mind is racing). It also introduced me to the new streaming service, Quibi. 
Just what makes Quibi different from the other streaming sites out there? For one, it seems that Quibi’s shows are all produced specifically for the streaming app. One of the selling points of the streaming service is that everything you watch on it can be viewed horizontally or vertically on your mobile device. The video adapts to whatever way you decide to view it. Shows are also streamed smoothly online but you can also opt to download the episodes if you prefer.
One thing that I have to add about Quibi is that unlike other streaming services that you can watch online, Quibi can only be viewed on mobile devices (i.e. your phone or tablet). I suppose it is because it is meant to be something you can watch on the go so it was made specifically with mobile device use or access in mind. I don't know if that will change in the future but when I tried to cast it to my TV, it wouldn't work on it.
All the shows are made for the people who want to stream but may not necessarily have the time to watch for more than an hour. The name Quibi comes from the words quick and bites, precisely because their shows are short-form programs that can go for about a maximum of 10 minutes only. 
I was lucky enough to download the app just as it was released so I got a trial that lasted more than the now 14-day period. I got to enjoy several shows on the app that I did not think I would be entertained with given the short length of each episode. 
There is a good variety of shows on Quibi. There are TV shows that range from drama to comedy, reality shows to docuseries. There are also news and other lifestyle shows, but I was not able to explore those shows while I was on the trial period (some shows were daily, so there were way too many episodes to catch up on). 
Here are some of the shows on Quibi that have caught my attention: 
Most Dangerous Game - an action drama starring Liam Hemsworth. More on this in a future post. 
Nikki Fresh - a comedy starring Nicole Richie, the show is a satire about celebrity culture and trends as presented by her rapper alter ego. Did not quite enjoy it, but it was interesting. 

Kirby Jenner - a comedy that features online performance artist Kirby Jenner, who often superimposes himself in photos with the Kardashians. He takes it a step further with this show by presenting a reality show ala Keeping up with the Kardashians that features him interacting with the rest of the family (using previously aired KUWTK footage that now includes him). If you enjoy watching KUWTK (a guilty pleasure for me), you will enjoy this show. 
Chrissy’s Court - an arbitration court show featuring Chrissy Teigen as the Judge. According to Chrissy herself, the cases are real, and the decisions are legally binding (although I do not know how that is possible). Chrissy has been always be hilarious online on her social media, so it was no surprise that she held her own with this one! 

Thanks a Million - A show where celebrities get the chance to thank the people who have made a difference in their lives and asking them to pay it forward, starting a chain of giving that makes me cry every time!
Gone Mental with Lior - a mentalism show where Lior Suchard messes with the minds of the celebrities he is featured with in every episode. 
Cup of Joe - a reality show starring Joe Jonas with some celebrity guests (including his wife, Sophie Turner) as he travels the world. 

As much as I enjoyed watching the shows on Quibi, at P409.00 per month it is a bit expensive. I currently have a Netflix account which is around the same price and has a wider selection of shows and movies to choose from so I had to make the decision to choose NOT to subscribe once my trial ended. 
Although I must admit, when I heard that Most Dangerous Game would have a second season, I have become seriously tempted to change my mind. We will have to see when that second season comes out. 


Thursday, July 23, 2020

Movie Review: Endings Beginnings

During the lockdown, I heard about this movie called Endings Beginnings that featured a love triangle composed of Shailene Woodley, Jamie Dornan and Sebastian Stan. On the merit of having those two handsome male leads alone, I decided to purchase it online and watch it. 

The story revolves around Daphne (Woodley), who just broke up with her boyfriend (played by, to my delight, Matthew Gray Gubler from Criminal Minds). She just moved into her sister’s guesthouse and meets two handsome guys at a party who happen to show interest in her. These two guys, coincidentally, are friends and opposites of each other:  Frank (Stan) is your typical bad boy, while Jack is the kind of guy you settle down with and bring over to meet your family because he just checks all the right boxes (so to speak). 

As a recently single woman with two hot guys pursuing her, Daphne decides to see them both at the same time, which is a bad idea since, obviously, she was two timing and was doing it with guys who were friends. It does not take a genius to figure out how this story will end.  In one sentence, I can sum it up as, “You can’t have it all.”

According to the press about this movie, the actors were given free reign over their lines and were encouraged to improvise during their scenes. It was like the script was a suggestion rather than the direction the story was supposed to go. No surprise here that the movie ended up being a bit on the dragging side and honestly, as much as it pains me to say this of a movie that involves actors I admire, the story was boring. It was like it was trying to be more profound and thought-provoking than what it was, and it was trying to hit points in the story that just were not getting there. It does not matter how talented the actors are. If the story is not good enough, it is just not going to work. It was a wasted opportunity since these actors are all so talented.

A little side note: the intimate scenes between Daphne and Jack compared to Daphne and Frank showed just how different these two guys were. It was amusing to see the former Mr. Christian Grey (Dornan) having an intimate scene completely covered by a blanket after watching him in the 50 Shades of Grey movies. Since his character was the conservative one, this was a not surprising.  Sebastian Stan’s scenes with Shailene Woodley, on the other hand, were a bit on the raunchy side and supported the bad boy image of his character.

I was looking forward to enjoying this movie, but I was disappointed by it. Maybe it was my fault since I was expecting too much, but I felt that the movie could have been better. I would have loved more scenes with Matthey Gray Gubler that explored the history of their relationship. I thought Jamie Dornan could have had more scenes not just with Shailene Woodley but also with Sebastian Stan – something to further establish their friendship and how different they are from each other.

If you are a fan of the three actors, you might want to watch this movie. At the same time though, you might also NOT want to watch it because you will probably be disappointed. I guess the right way to put it is to say that you should manage your expectations about this movie. My opinions are my own, and I am in no way a professional film critic so other people might think differently about this. But as an ordinary fan who loves a good romantic drama, I did not like it. 

Sebastian Stan was hot in it though. 


Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Netflix Picks: Memories of the Alhambra

Korean actor/heartthrob Hyun Bin is all over social media these days because of his product endorsements for a local phone network and a local clothing line. This is all thanks to a renewed fascination with the guy because of the popularity of his recent TV series Crash Landing on You, which was on the top 10 list of Netflix Philippines for quite some time.

I say renewed fascination because Hyun Bin already had another series that became popular in the country in the past: My Lovely Sam Soon (where he was the male lead and had Daniel Henney as a co-star). I must admit, my attention was not on Hyun Bin back then, but Crash Landing on You made me pay attention to him now. Because of that, I decided to check out another one of his TV shows on Netflix, Memories of the Alhambra.

The series is about Hyun Bin’s character Jin Woo, the CEO of a tech company that is developing an optical device that he aims to use for augmented reality applications. He receives a phone call from a young man who sends him a copy of the game that he has developed that makes use of his optical device. This starts an adventure from Spain to South Korea as he tries to figure out the mystery behind the game and what happened to the young man who created it.

I loved the concept of the series, of this man who was obsessed with this game and finding out how it works. The effects for the parts where he is interacting with the game were amazing, I actually wondered how it would be like if something like this existed in real life (without the dying for real if you died in the game, that is).

A romantic element was added with the story about the ex who married his former friend (and fiercest competitor) and the sister of the young game developer (played by Park Shin Hye), but I felt that those were secondary to the main story and were not that necessary the story. You could easily skip those elements and still have a good show. 

Hyun Bin is very handsome and charming in this series, just as much as he was in Crash Landing on You. I love that there are a lot of action elements to this that lets him show off as an action hero. The whole troubled genius role also meant seeing a side of him that I have not seen him play with the other roles that I have seen him in before.

This series is equal parts action, adventure, romance, and mystery with gaming as the centrepiece. All of it set to magnificent views of Spain and South Korea. If you like any (or all) or these elements, you would probably like Memories of the Alhambra. At the typical Korean drama format of 16 episodes, it is a quick watch and good enough to binge on. Honestly though, I wish there were more episodes or, if possible, a second season.

The last episode and the way it ended left some room for there to be a second season -- but with the way most Korean shows are, there probably will not be any. Still, the ending left a tease that makes me wish that there were more. With all the swiping at high tech graphics that Hyun Bin is doing in his commercials for Smart, I cannot help but be reminded of his role in this TV series and wishing he could do another season.

With technology the way it is today, I do not think that the game/concept they presented in the show is that far off. Except for actual death in game happening in real life, I would love to see that game exist in our reality. If it can have a virtual Hyun Bin in it, even better.


Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Pandemic Diaries: Reconnecting

For so many of us, the COVID 19 pandemic has been a difficult challenge to face. There are people suffering, dying, losing loved ones, losing their jobs. It seems there is just one bad news after another every day because of this pandemic. It has been hard to find the good in the bad, but more than ever, that is what we need to do. We need to find the positives in all this. We need to find ways to lift our spirits to survive these trying times.

One thing that I can say has been positive about all of this is that I have been reconnecting with so many people. Maybe it is the fact that during the lockdowns people did not have that much to do. Or maybe it is because during these uncertain times people tend to grasp at things that are familiar and comforting. If it means reaching out to someone from a time in our lives when things were good and happy, that is what we do. 

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

During the Enhanced Community Quarantine, I got the chance to talk to a friend who I have not seen or talked to in more than 20 years. It was good to hear from her and finding out how she has been through the years. I genuinely appreciated the fact that she took time to check on me and my welfare during the ECQ even if we have not been in touch for so long. I think it shows a lot about a person’s character what one does during tough times. The fact that she reached out to me during this pandemic shows that I am lucky to have her on my side and that she is someone I can call a friend.

Just before the ECQ was announced, I had posted on social media that I was running out on some of my maintenance medicines and was having a hard time finding them in the pharmacies in my area. I was touched that two of my cousins made the effort to find some for me and sent them over during the quarantine. Because of their efforts, my heart health during the lockdown was secured. Considering that my cousins and I only get in touch these days during family get togethers during the holidays, it was a big deal to me that they helped me out during this pandemic. 

I do not think I have messaged with my cousins more in a year than we have been doing now that we are all experiencing this COVID 19 pandemic. Like I said, we tend to reach out to the things that remind us of life when it was good, and my cousins fit into that category. There have been some health scares here and there, but I am thankful that right now we are all healthy and powering through this whole experience.

More than ever, I have appreciated the people that I have been keeping in touch with during these crazy days. It is good to be able to reach out and share our experiences and knowing we are not alone. It is good to realize that the feelings we have are not unusual and that many of us are going through similar emotional highs and lows.

For all those who are feeling the need to improve on their mental health during this pandemic, I would advise reconnecting with people you value and are close to your heart. It does wonders to feel connected to those who are important to you during these trying times. Just reaching out for a short chat makes a difference — that helped a lot for me and I’m sure that everyone else would benefit from something similar as well.

What are you waiting for? Reach out to someone now and ask (in Joey Tribiani fashion): “How you doin?”

Stay safe everyone.


Monday, July 20, 2020

Netflix Picks: Oh My Venus

My cousin and I were exchanging Korean TV show recommendations during the Enhanced Community Quarantine and there were several of them that I had placed on my “To Watch” list. One of those shows was the 2015 series called Oh My Venus starring So Ji Sub and Shin Min-a, a show that is currently available on Netflix Philippines. 

Oh My Venus is the first time that I am watching a series with these two actors. I am aware that both have an extensive list of successful dramas but for some reason I have not seen their other projects other than this one. I have been reading through some of their other shows, but they do not seem to interest me compared to other Korean dramas. I probably would not have noticed this show based on the leads because of it. Luckily for me, my cousin recommended this romantic comedy — otherwise, I would have missed out on a good one. 
The show is about Kang Joo Eun, otherwise known as the “Venus of Daegu.” She was the hometown beauty that all the guys fell for. Unfortunately, 15 years later, she has become overweight and her boyfriend dumps her for another woman. She meets a man who helps her to lose weight and gain back the confidence she used to have when she was younger. As with many Korean rom-coms, Joo Eun and her “coach” end up falling for each other in the end. 
I loved a lot of things about this show. It was about health, friendships, family relationships and romantic love and the many ways that all these types of relationships can be both simple and complicated at the same time. 
Korean dramas have this knack for having a good ensemble cast, with supporting characters that have their separate storylines that strengthen the show instead of just being support that do not have depth to their characters. This show reminded me of Crash Landing on You in the sense that the viewer will end up loving and rooting for the supporting characters and their happiness as much as for the leads. 
While mostly a rom com, the show did have its share of drama, particularly when it came to the family life of the male lead, Kim Young Ho. I liked that it provided the right drama to show that his life with Joo Eun was the "sweetness" or the happiness in his life. 
Joo Eun’s character was someone I could relate to. The eldest daughter, someone who let her job take over her life at one point and has hypothyroidism. I do not have a coach like “John Kim” though -- would be nice if I did! 
To me, Joo Eun is a good character/person. Despite her problems, she showed that she stands by her principles and that even if people did not treat her well, she still responds with kindness. I loved when she repeatedly said that she believes that she could do anything she sets her mind to. If she did not reach her limit yet, she was not going to give up. 
As with any romantic drama, there were several sweet and “kilig” moments in this show. My favorite moment(s) would have to be whenever Young Ho opens his arms to welcome a hug from Joo Eun. I found that cute. The way he proposed by knitting a scarf that had the ring inside was a nice touch too. 
The show ends with Joo Eun regaining her starting weight because she was pregnant. To me, it was the show’s way of saying that you do not need to be a certain weight to find happiness. She thought it was her weight that was the problem when she lost her boyfriend but when Young Ho fell for her even when she was overweight, she knew it did not matter. The only reason he wanted her to be a healthy weight was because he wanted her to live a long life so they can be together as long as they can, not because of the way she looks. I thought that was a good message to send. It is not about the looks; it is about our health. It is not about the outer appearance but about our inner happiness. 
I still have a long list of shows to watch, many of them Korean dramas. Will post more reviews as soon as I finish them! If you're interested in something light, cute and romantic, you would probably want to watch this!


Sunday, July 19, 2020

Movie Review: Bloodshot

One of the movies that I saw during the Enhanced Community Quarantine was the action film Bloodshot starring Vin Diesel, Eiza Gonzalez, Guy Pearce and Sam Heughan. It is about a Marine who was killed in action and resurrected with modern technology to become an enhanced super soldier. 

The movie starts with Diesel’s character, Ray, waking up and being told that he was brought back to life with nanite technology developed by Dr. Harting (Pearce). He meets a group of enhanced former military like him, although he does not get along with everyone. Later, he gets flashbacks of his wife being murdered and he becomes obsessed with getting even with the person responsible. 
Ray kills the mercenary responsible for his wife’s death, and it is revealed to the viewers that Ray’s memories were fabricated precisely so that he would go after the man identified as his wife’s murderer. As soon as he killed the man, he was taken back to the laboratory where he was again put under to wipe his memories and place a new face on the man who supposedly murdered his wife. It was Dr. Harting's plan to use Ray to kill his competition by planting false memories in him to make him kill them. 
When Ray found out the truth that his (ex) wife was alive and his memories were only planted, he teams up with enhanced soldier KT (Gonzalez) to get even with Harting. 
I was looking forward to watching this movie because I initially thought that Sam Heughan had a good role in this. Unfortunately, he was the typical bad guy who was just — well — bad. No motivation, no back story. Just the bad guy who did not like the good guy for some reason. He did not get to do much action except for the final fight scene with Vin Diesel. I wish there were more to his role, but there was not. 
Another thing that I was disappointed in was how in the end, despite how it was not established enough during the movie, Eiza Gonzalez’ character and Vin Diesel’s character are suddenly a couple. I didn’t think that it was necessary in the story to have that love angle and it was a disservice to Gonzalez’ character of a strong woman suddenly being just the love interest in the end. It does not help that there is an obvious age difference when you look at the two actors. It makes the female love interest feel like a trophy girlfriend to me. 
The movie felt like it was banking too much on the action sequences to make viewers forget that there was not much going on in the movie and the plot itself. I’m not sure if the comic that this was based from was as bad as the movie,  but when I was watching it I was thinking that this would probably be one of those movies where the "book" was better than the film. 
Considering that this did not do well at the box office and that critics mostly panned the movie; I am surprised they are thinking of continuing this franchise. I heard Bloodshot is the first of three films and that Vin Diesel’s character is the main role in all three. Based on what I have seen, I do not think I would be interested.  
I cannot believe that this movie is the start of a franchise film. It does not feel that way. It does not feel like there is something to look forward to in the future of this story. I could be wrong, but based on what I have seen I do not think I would want a part 2 (or 3, as some news articles have mentioned). Unless they bring Sam Heughan back for the next instalments, I most likely will not be seeing it. 


Saturday, July 18, 2020

Series Review: A World of Married Couple

The World of Married Couple is a Korean drama that I watched while I was on a trial period for the streaming service Viu. It tells the story of, obviously, a married couple as they go through their relationship, part ways and deal with the consequences of the fallout of their marriage.  

To be honest, I only fully watched the show for the first half of it. The second half was something I only “half-watched.” That meant that I was doing other things while the show played in the background. It was a bit much for me emotionally, so I decided to keep some sort of distance from the show while I watched it. If I focused enough, I often felt like I was going to be stressed from everything that was happening! 
The series centers around the marriage of Ji Sun Woo, a doctor at a family clinic and her husband, an aspiring director named Lee Tae Oh. She finds out that he is cheating on her and discovers that even their friends know about it. Not only that, her husband’s mistress subtly rubs it in her face by going to her clinic to become her patient and talking about her “boyfriend” when they see each other. 
Taking the advice of lawyers, she secretly works on getting a divorce and custody of their son, which eventually happens when he husband accidentally hurts her during a fight at home. Her husband then marries his mistress and they have a daughter. 
Of course, the story does not end there. The way that all the characters involved deal with the change in circumstances brings about a whole new set of issues and complications. There are also several subplots that add to the complication of their story. 
There are so many unexpected things that happened in that show, so many actions from the characters of the show that made me wonder out loud how unbelievable these people were (but at the same time being aware that these things do happen in real life). It really got to the point where I found it hard to watch what was happening so I would rather read the subtitles and not pay attention to the video/audio because the scenes got so stressful at times for me. 
All the actors in this show were amazing. I thought they portrayed their roles as realistically as possible to the point that I was rooting for some and was so annoyed with others based on what they were doing. I also loved that in this show there was no “perfect” character. Every character had his/her flaw and made mistakes. In a way some of the things that happened to them, while awful, were also a consequence of their actions/choices throughout the show. 
The show had some controversy with the viewers in Korea because of one episode that featured a violent scene where the Sun Woo was attacked in her home and it was shown in a sort of first person view, like the viewer is the one attacking her during the scene. Yes, I agree it was troubling to watch, but there were also several other scenes prior that bothered me in the show, so I guess I was not that shocked about it. Troubling, yes. Shocking? Not so much. 
If you enjoy a good drama and are the type who would scream at the TV because of how crazy the characters are acting, you will probably enjoy this show. If you have been through a divorce, mental health issues, or have experienced domestic violence, I would say skip this one because it might feel a bit (?!) triggering for you. Otherwise, it is a good show. I probably would not re-watch it, but it is still a good one. 


Friday, July 17, 2020

Pandemic Diaries: Between a Rock and a Hard Place

How has living in this pandemic been for you so far? On my end, it has been OK. A bit challenging, a bit scary, but if I take a step back and look at what I have instead of what I do not, I will say that I am doing better than most. Life is not perfect, but it is still fine...better actually, now that my boss has FINALLY allowed me to work from home. I report at the office once a week but for the rest of it I work from my home. It has given me a bit of comfort and peace of mind knowing I am tucked away in my home for work instead of exposed to all the people going in and out of our office, which was a concern I shared in a previous post.

Image by Queven from Pixabay

It's very sad to know that so many are not so lucky. My problems seem small compared to so many others. Watching TV and listening to stories about how many businesses have closed and the many people who have lost their jobs due to this pandemic breaks my heart for several reasons. For one, my family and I have gone through similar financial conditions a long time ago: we did not know where to get money to pay for our bills. We had to ask friends and relatives for help just to have food on the table. We had to make do with whatever we had just to get by. I know how hard it is, I do not wish it on anyone. To know that there are many suffering a similar fate, and with many not being as lucky as we were because we had friends and family we could turn to, it is a sad thing to hear about. That man on the news who broke down and cried on EDSA because of how hard life has been? My heart goes out to him. I know many other people in the country are feeling the same way. I feel helpless because there’s nothing I can do to help ease their pain.

So many people have had to take whatever jobs they can just to make a living during this pandemic. I admire those people who are resilient enough to push forward and find something to do to help their families during these times, no matter how challenging it has been. So many are trying to make do with selling just about anything online but are now having to deal with the challenges of various government rules on how they are currently trying to make ends meet.

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Another group of people I admire are those who are working in conditions that put them at risk. The people in the health profession, the people in the food and service industry, people whose jobs are needed for the public to have access to their basic needs during this time…as much as they want to stay home and be safe, they cannot risk losing their jobs. Not in this pandemic, not with the economy being the way that it is. The expression of being between a rock and a hard place comes to mind when I think of these people.

Some people are lucky that they have enough financially to tide them over while this pandemic is going on. For most of us, we are trying to control whatever finances we have on hand to ensure that we are not left with nothing during these times. We do not know when this will all end, so we need to be careful.

I cannot begin to share how many sleepless nights I have spent trying to find ways to earn extra money during this pandemic. Whatever savings I have had have been depleted by how much we have had to spend from staying at home. With everything being delivered and everyone being whole all the time, expenses have been higher. Do not even get me started on our electric bills. As challenging as my workplace situation may have been when I was not allowed to work from home, I had no choice but to grin and bear with it since my income is what my family depends on right now. Like I said, “Rock, meet Hard Place.” I'm just lucky that my boss finally took my health into consideration. 

As stressful as it has become, I am still grateful. I have a job that pays the bills. I have a roof over my head. I am surrounded by people that I love at home. We are all healthy, we are all safe and we are all — most importantly — alive. So many people have died from COVID 19. So many have lost their loved ones. So many are continuing to suffer from the disease that can ravage you for months. As difficult as these times have been, learning about how others are faring during this pandemic puts all these things into perspective.

I wish there were something more I can do to help other people during this pandemic. Financially, things have become a bit tight, but I try to support local business as much as I can when we need something at home. Money is not enough to donate right now, but I do what I can by at least supporting those who are trying to make a living as well. 

At the risk of sounding cliche, all I can do right now is pray. As impossible as it might be, I hope that things get better sooner rather than later. There are so many people suffering not just from the virus but from the effects of this pandemic on the economy. I hope we all come out of this as better people and a better nation. I hope that soon, things will get better.


Thursday, July 16, 2020

Pandemic Diaries: The Mask Situation

It is everywhere. Videos of people protesting about wearing masks. Grown adults throwing childlike tantrums for being asked to wear a mask in public during this pandemic. People complaining that their rights are being trampled on just because they are being asked to put on a piece of cloth over their nose and mouth to help prevent the spread of COVID 19. Just what is the big deal?

Image by Juraj Varga from Pixabay

According to the people protesting, mostly in the United States, wearing a mask violates their human rights. I do not understand how that is a violation considering that wearing a mask helps people to prevent the spread of a life-threatening disease. Wouldn’t it be more a violation of human rights if we prevent people from taking precautions that can save lives?

There has been the argument that wearing masks for hours at a time is not healthy and that it lowers our oxygen levels. Doctors have repeatedly gone on TV and on social media to disprove this. If doctors can wear masks for hours during surgery and not get sick from doing it, we can wear masks too. A video of a nurse using an oximeter before and after wearing a mask also disproves the argument that it lowers oxygen levels. Sadly, the propaganda against wearing masks is still ongoing. 

Here in the country, particularly in my area, most people are wearing masks. I say most because there are still several people who I run into who are mask-free. Some argue that they are too far from other people to need them, that the social distance they are keeping from others is enough protection (I disagree, but then I am not a doctor so I am not going to start arguing about it). There are also others who have this misconception that with restrictions lowered and no new cases in our area, it is safe not to wear a mask. To me that is wrong. As long as the virus exists and there is no vaccine, it is not safe. 

Yes, our area is safer than others since we have not had a new case in a while and those existing cases reported have since recovered (two, sadly, have passed away). That, however, is not enough for us to be complacent. The virus could enter and infect at any time. It could come from other places that people in our area have visited.  Just one person who is asymptomatic can unknowingly bring this virus over. All it takes is one. I have seen the movie Contagion; I have an idea of how this could happen. It could be passed in such unsuspecting ways then have deadly consequences. We really cannot take any chances. If wearing a mask makes a world of difference, why are we refusing to do so?

I admit, it is a bit of a hassle to be wearing a mask, especially since it is not something that we are used to doing. At first, I would use those disposable surgical masks but after realizing that it was not good for the environment (and those in the healthcare profession need it more), I switched to reusable cloth masks. There’s a whole other argument over how effective cloth masks are vs surgical masks but as long as the doctors I’ve seen on TV have said cloth masks are OK, I will continue to use them.

The masks I use now are masks that I bought from local clothing company Syala Collections. There are various options to choose from, but I prefer their plus size masks, which I bought in plain colors (gray, navy blue and black - to make them easier to mix/match with my clothing). The masks have inserts where filters go but I find that the material is good and thick enough even without it. I wash the masks after every use. I think the material is of good quality and that it will last me a while even if it is washed daily because when I place it in water, it does not get wet easily. It makes me think that means that any droplets from the mask outside does not go inside and vice versa, which is comforting.

Each mask cost me only P78.00 and Syala’s customer service is very friendly and helpful, which is why I highly recommend them or masks (#NotAnAd). Their plus size masks are my favorite because of the coverage. I bought their adult size masks, but the plus size ones cover the lower half of my face more. 

To me, wearing a mask is not just about protecting myself, but it is also about protecting the ones that I love. If I can prevent getting infected and infecting other people just by putting it on, I have no complaints. I really wish other people would think the same way. I dread the thought that it will only be when they or the ones they love get infected that they will realize the importance of this precaution.  Everyone should start wearing masks now, before it is too late. 


Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Pandemic Diaries: Frustrations

The COVID 19 pandemic has taken practically half of the year away from us and the end is not yet in sight. These challenging times have brought out the best in some, the worst in others. It has elicited a lot of fear, anxiety, and frustration in many. There are so many unknown factors when it comes to this virus, so it is hard for many to process their feelings because of how uncertain everything is until a vaccine is produced and distributed.

Image by cromaconceptovisual from Pixabay

From what I have seen from people around me, some have dealt with the frustration and the uncertainty of the situation by blocking it out. Some have even opted to stop getting updates on the virus. They have stopped watching the news and skip past any online updates they get on social media. While I respect that they are doing what they can to cope, I am also worried that this affects the way they behave during the pandemic. That maybe blocking it out and trying to live their lives as “normally” as possible but I worry that it causes them to be complacent about the precautions that need to be taken to ensure that they do not get infected or, if they are possibly asymptomatic, to prevent others from being infected.

It is alarming that in spite of repeated reminders for people to stay safe and take the necessary precautions, many are not taking it seriously. Watching the news and seeing how many people do not wear masks and are gathering in large groups in many parts of the world is enough to make me scared. Even with news that hospitals are finding it difficult to manage the volume of patients that need to be treated and how painful it is to suffer from COVID 19, many people are not doing what they can to stay safe. Sure, they do not feel anything, and they are not getting sick. But for some it will only be a matter of time. For others, they can be asymptomatic and spreading disease to others. I do not understand why these people do not seem to care. Do they not understand the gravity of the situation?

I have heard some people say that the lockdowns were so long, and they missed going out and seeing family and friends, that’s why when restrictions were eased, they decided to go out. But, as another person told me, it would be a waste of her time on lockdown if she stopped taking precautions now just because of lighter restrictions. If the months she spent not leaving the house staying safe are wasted by getting infected after only a couple of hours out to see friends, that for her would be unacceptable. While allowed to go out, she opts to stay at home as much as possible. She limits her trips to essential travel for food and other essentials, making sure to wear a mask when she does. 

I think we all need to have that kind of mindset. The virus is still around. Restrictions may have eased, but it does not mean everything is back to normal and that we are all safe. We are far from it. We cannot put it all on the government and those in the health care industry to keep us safe. We all need to do our part too. This is something that everyone has to work on.

Recently, I overheard two people talking about how one of them does not follow the required distancing on public transportation, specifically riding a tricycle with more than one passenger. One asked the other why she is doing that when it is not allowed. She reasoned that it's fine, she just gets off before the checkpoints so that they don't get caught. I know some people think that the government is being unreasonable with its restrictions, but social distancing is something that is being asked of us for our own good. So that we do not get infected. So that we do not infect others. 

It is, admittedly, harder now for all of us because restrictions make public transportation a challenge, but we also have to understand why those restrictions are in place. We can't be stubborn about things like that when our lives and the lives of people we love are at stake. I know that not all of us are privileged enough to not take public transportation and many have no choice but to take the risk, but for those of us with options like the person I overheard, I think that blatantly disregarding the rules is very selfish during this pandemic. As the saying goes, those of us to whom much is given, much is required/expected.

The frustrations that many people feel during this time are understandable. There is the frustration that there is no cure specifically for the virus, just methods of treatment that can help those suffering from it to recover. With a vaccine still a long way away, infected individuals who are not asymptomatic have to deal with months of hospitalization that takes a toll on their bodies (and their finances, to be honest). As upset as we are that there are not enough hospitals, a need for improved testing and tracing and that there is no cure or vaccine, there is nothing we can do about it. This is a situation that is being experienced all over the world and this is the first time in a long time that something like this has happened. The whole world was not prepared for this. We can only hope that a solution can be found soon. In the meantime, we all need to do our part to stay safe and not spread the virus further than it already has.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

We all need to remember that what we need to do is the bare minimum to help ease the burden of hospitals and to ensure that the people around us and the people we love are safe. As I mentioned earlier, we can complain all we want that not enough is being done to prevent the spread of the virus, but it goes both ways. We need to do our part too. It is not that hard.

  • Stay home. Only travel for the essentials or for work. Avoid social gatherings/large groups in the meantime. If we all do that, we can prevent the spread of the virus and have a lifetime more of gatherings together in the future.
  • Remember to wash your hands. If you cannot wash them right away, disinfect with alcohol.  
  • Wear a mask. Avoid touching your face.
  • Socially distance from other people. Keep away from large crowds. 
  • Take a shower/disinfect once you get home from being out. Disinfect items you receive from outside before using or storing it.
  • Take your vitamins. Get some exercise. Eat right. 

We still have a long road of this pandemic ahead. It would help if we were all alive to do so. Please stay safe and take care of yourselves and your loved ones. Let us all do what we can and hope (and pray) for the best.


Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Pandemic Diaries: THAT Meralco Bill

Meralco. I think the word inspires as much terror for me as the term COVID 19 does. When word got out that the recent Meralco bills of almost everyone I knew were way more than double of what they usually were, I already expected the worst when the meter reader came by to read our consumption. When the bill arrived, I was still shocked, but not altogether surprised.

Based on our bill, our consumption for the month of June was more than 2x our highest bill from last year. While it was explained in the bill that our previously paid past two months were deducted from the bill, it was still unusually high. I tried calling the hotline, contacting them via Twitter and Facebook but was not successful. I did, however, read the explanation from Meralco that when the temperatures are high, not only do we use more electricity but that the consumption is naturally higher because our appliances work harder during situations like that. They have also said on the news that they will send each customer a personalized letter explaining the bill shock. Not sure if I buy it, but does it matter? I could not reach anyone from Meralco who could help me with my concerns and lower my bill, plus they did say they will only explain the bill shock and not lower the bills…which meant that I am supposed to pay for it anyway.

As much as I wanted to go to the Meralco business office personally, I had heard that the lines were long and situated outside the building. There were too many people and there was a cut-off time when they literally send people away — not that I can blame them. I heard there are always way too many people and that social distancing is a challenge with the crowd. Given that kind of situation, I cannot risk going since I have health issues that make me susceptible to COVID 19. I am not going to gamble my life with this issue when I have heard that most of the people who complained were not able to resolve their problems and ended up paying the same amount anyway.

To be fair, I have heard of people who had managed to get their bills lowered. Someone sent a very nicely worded email and got her bill reduced. Another sent a photo of her meter taken the day the meter reader went to their home and got a bill deduction (Note to self and to everyone else: we probably need to do that from now on). I wish I was able to do the same but I couldn’t reach their email (it was bouncing back to my inbox for some reason), and I didn’t think of taking a photo of the meter until a couple of days after we got our bill, which was more than a week from the reading. 

Meralco has provided its customers with the option to pay via instalment. Unfortunately, this cannot be done online via the app: you need to go to the (already crowded) payment centers to do so. Again, something I do not have the option of doing given my health issues. I decided to pay online instead then request my credit card company to convert it to instalment. 

I was talking to a friend who commented that she regretted paying for her last two bills when they were averaged. She was concerned that she was paying more or twice as much because the consumption was again charged with the other fees even if this was already done with the averaged bills. Even with the payment deducted, how can we be sure the fees, which change from time to time, are the same? We cannot know for sure because the bills they produced during the period have been deleted from the app/online service.

There is nothing more I can do about it now. Nothing except to next time learn to take a photo of our meter on the day that the meter reader comes over (had to research and learn to read the meter for next time too). It goes without saying that we are more conscious now (as if we have not been already) of our electric consumption. 

If only I could afford to have solar power for our home...that really sounds like a particularly good (albeit a bit expensive) long-term solution to this problem right now. 

We will be getting our new bill in a few days. I am worried about what they will charge us this time. After that bill shock, I think everyone will be scared or worried about the next one.

Anyone else with Meralco bill stories to share?

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