Lifestyle Blog from the Philippines

Friday, February 26, 2021

Pandemic Diaries: Disappointments

One of the things that I have learned during this pandemic is that sometimes, life can turn on a dime and lead to things that we never expected. For the most part, it has led me to things, to life, that I am not used to. It has also led other people to different situations in their lives and, just like me, they are forced to act (or should I say react) the best way they can because of the circumstances.

It surprises me how this pandemic has brought out the best and worst in people. Some people surprised me with how strong they have been through these times and who still make the effort to help other people out in these crazy times. But then there are also those people who surprised me in a not-so-positive way by acting in ways I never thought they would before this pandemic. People who are taking advantage of the situation and using it to get ahead of others. It is disappointing to realize a person’s true nature this way, but it also helps me to see which people I need to keep at a distance or be careful of in the future. 

Image by photosforyou from Pixabay

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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Movie Throwback: Bituing Walang Ningning

Back in the 80s when I was a little girl I was a big Sharon Cuneta fan. I loved her movies and the theme songs that came along with them. One of those movies was Bituing Walang Ningning, which was recently aired on PBO. 

Bituing Walang Ningning is a movie about Dorina, a poor girl who is a fan of superstar singer Lavinia. With the help of Nico, Lavinia's former flame, Dorina eventually becomes a star herself and is popular enough to compete against her idol. In the end, however, she chose to give up her career for a life away from the spotlight with the man she loved. 

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Monday, February 22, 2021

Netflix Picks: We Can Be Heroes

My nephew is currently seven years old. I used to bond with him watching Baby First (which these days he says are “for babies”) but now we bond while watching cartoons on the Cartoon Network. During one appointed bonding time with him, I decided to try something new: we watched the movie We Can Be Heroes on Netflix.

We Can Be Heroes is a sequel to the movie The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl that attempts to continue the superhero story now that Sharkboy and Lavagirl have grown up and, like all other heroes, have their own child. This movie is directed by Robert Rodriguez, who was also the director of the original film as well as the Spy Kids movie series. 




In the movie, there is an alien invasion happening and Marcus Moreno (played by Pedro Pascal), a retired superhero, is forced to suit up and leave his daughter Missy under the care of the Heroics Headquarters. Missy joins a group of children whose parents are also a part of the superhero team called the Heroics, which includes a new grown-up Sharkboy and Lavagirl.

The Heroics end up captured and the children decide to take it upon themselves to escape and rescue their parents using their own powers. They stop over to train with the help of Missy’s grandmother, (who had trained the Heroics) and then they travel to the alien spaceship to attempt their rescue mission. 

After several challenges, the kids all realize that they have to work together and make the best of each of their talents to save the planet and their parents. In the end, it is revealed that the aliens were actually not serious about their takeover but were merely testing the children to see if they are ready to become heroes themselves.  

I thought that We Can Be Heroes was a good movie that shared some good lessons for kids and adults alike. It taught lessons on leadership, teamwork, and how sometimes adults take things too seriously and end up complicating things. It was also a fun, light-hearted watch for kids because my nephew enjoyed watching the different powers that the young heroes had. To this day he plays and pretends to be one of the kids in the movie when he says he is a superhero.

My favorite part would have to be realizing that one of my childhood crushes, Christian Slater, is in the movie. I know I am aging myself with that one, but I have not seen him in anything in a while so it was great to see him acting again. Another (more current) crush, Sung Kang (Han of the Fast and the Furious movies), is also one of the parent superheroes in the film along with Slater.

Sadly, while this is a sequel of the Sharkboy and Lavagirl movie, the original Sharkboy was not able to reprise his role in this one. This meant the actor who took his place mostly stayed masked compared to the rest of the heroes and did not say much during the film. The original Lavagirl, Taylor Dooley, did most of the (unmasked) talking for them. 

I have heard that some people were confused about who the original actors of Sharkboy and Lavagirl were. Some thought that Alexa Penavega, who was in Spy Kids (another Rodriguez film) was also Lavagirl. Add to that the confusion that some people think her husband, Carlos Penavega, played Sharkboy. They even had to go on Instagram to say that they were not part of the movie because people seemed to think they were. I have to admit I had confused Alexa for the girl who played Lavagirl too. 

If you want something to watch with your kids that is light and shares some good values, this is a movie that you might want to see on Netflix!

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Friday, February 19, 2021

Pandemic Diaries: Mental Health

There is a lot of emphasis during this pandemic on making sure that people take care of themselves not just physically but mentally. I have seen a lot of people post tips to make sure that we all have our self-care days or moments because our mental health is just as important as our physical health during these times. The mind is a very powerful thing. If we can keep ourselves positive and mentally healthy during this challenging period, I believe it can help us to be physically healthier as well. 

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

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Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Movie Review: Baggage Claim

 

Do people marry because they want to and are committed to it or because they have to?


That line was the premise for the movie Baggage Claim, a romantic comedy starring Paula Patton. The story revolves around a single 30-something who is being pressured by her mom to find a significant other after her younger sister announced her engagement. She then goes off to find Mr. Right in time for her sister's engagement party.




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Monday, February 15, 2021

Netflicks Picks: Rebecca

As many of you are aware, I have been spending a lot of my free time watching movies and TV shows online. Sometimes I catch good ones, sometimes not so much. Other times, I am not so sure. The Netflix movie Rebecca, starring Lily James and Armie Hammer, is one of those movies.




Labeled as a romantic thriller, Rebecca is based on a novel of the same name that was published in 1938 and was turned into a film by Alfred Hitchcock in 1940. The story revolves around a young woman who meets and falls in love with a rich widower named Maxim de Winter. The two have a whirlwind romance and end up married, and she is introduced to his household as the new Mrs. de Winter.

As the new lady of the house, she attempts to befriend the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, who is hostile to her from the first time that they met. Mrs. Danvers even manages to set her up to fail twice to anger her husband, and she realizes that she is in over her head with the situation that she had married herself into. 

I know that it is supposed to be a thriller, but it did not feel as much to me. It was attempting to, that was obvious, but it just did not have enough to make it feel scary or creepy to me. The sets were amazing, the costumes and the lighting were wonderful, but apart from that, I did not feel entertained while I was watching the movie. I felt like I was waiting for something that just did not happen. 

I felt that there was more that could have been done or established with the mystery of the first Mrs. de Winter’s death, who was named Rebecca. The complexity of her character could have been more emphasized along with the events that lead to her death. Armie Hammer was puzzling enough as the charming yet mysterious Maxim but sometimes it fell flat. Although I have to admit that given his recent controversies, watching this movie again might give him a creepier look now that I have seen the alleged messages and photos from his supposed finsta (fake Instagram aka secret personal Instagram account). 

Lily James played the na├»ve Mrs. de Winters well. She was so in love and charmed by this man with wealth and good looks that she did not think twice about marrying him and going away with him even if she barely knew who he was – to the point that in the end after everything she still joined him for their “happily ever after.” 

Kristin Scott Thomas, who played Mrs. Danvers was probably the best actor in this film. She was able to show the bitterness she felt from Rebecca’s death, the loss of the young girl that she practically brought up, and her anger that she was replaced. Unfortunately, I did not think that it was established well enough why she would go to the extremes that she did in the end (or why she even stayed after Rebecca died, for that matter). 

There were scenes where ghostly events were happening, but for the most part, they did not make sense to me and I do not think that they led to anywhere in the story except as a space filler. I really wish they could have tied things together a little better.

Rebecca was a visual treat if you like films from that particular era, but if you are looking for a really good story and you were hoping to get some scare factor in, this might not be the movie for you. 

If you want to view it with renewed interest in Armie Hammer and the controversies he has been in, I think the knowledge of his alleged creepy behavior would be helpful in having the effect on you that the movie is obviously trying to give.

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Friday, February 12, 2021

Looking for a Heart of Gratitude

In these trying times, it is extremely difficult not to encounter bad news. The act of opening up Facebook and Twitter or any other form of social media means encountering the latest in the slew of negative news that could be anything from the environment, politics, or the pandemic and its related issues. With so much bad news it is sometimes a struggle to stay positive, especially when people we know or their family, friends, or loved ones have suffered and died in the past year alone. 


Image by Foundry Co from Pixabay


These days it feels so hard to find the light in the dark. There is so much going on during this pandemic that it has given me so much anxiety and paranoia. These times have made me have low points that I have not felt in a long time. 

It is also no joke to be semi-quarantining with family. While I do go out for work once a week and my sister does go out when necessary, most of the time we are all just at home together, all eight of us in one home. I completely understand why a lot of relationships are failing during this pandemic because constantly being around the same people, even those that you love can take its toll. With me and my family, I think we get on each other’s nerves sometimes with the pressure of this pandemic and it is not easy being in the same place 24/7 means we cannot give each other the space we need. We do not fight or anything, but we are all aware that we sometimes get annoyed with each other. Thankfully, being a family that loves each other, we do our best to be patient with each other. When one is annoyed, the other steps back. So far no one has clashed yet in our house, but even stepping back can be stressful in itself so it is still a challenge. It made me realize that cabin fever is real, and it is not good. 

Even before the pandemic, I have read that one way to keep ourselves positive is to be more grateful for what we do have in our lives. Many people recommend listing at least three things that we are grateful for every day because it helps a person to focus on the good things in life. It will ultimately help to give a person a more positive outlook, which I think is something that we all need during this pandemic. I have to admit that it can sometimes feel like a challenge to list down those three things daily with everything going on around us.

I find myself worrying too much these days. When I list what I am grateful for every day, it is always these things: I have a job. I have a roof over my head and food to eat. I have my family. I am alive. I know that that is supposed to make me feel better but for some reason it makes me worry even more. I find myself thinking I have a job, but for how long? I have a roof over my head and food to eat, but how long can I afford to? I have my family, but I worry about all of them and their health during this pandemic. I am alive…but again, for how long? I also have this guilt about having the things I am grateful for when I know people who are struggling and are worse off than I am. My mind just will not seem to let me win. 

These days, if there is anything that I pray for (apart from the end of this pandemic), it is to have a heart of gratitude. I need more positivity in my life, and I need to see the world in a different light if I can. I wish I can keep my mind and my heart focused on gratitude; I really need it right now.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Movie Review: Coffee Shop

If you have read some of the reviews I've made on this blog, you would know that I am a sucker for made-for-TV movies. I once caught another one on (the now-defunct) DIVA Universal that got my attention for two reasons: (1) it was about a coffee shop and (2) the leading man had the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen.

Coffee Shop is a romantic comedy about a young woman who owns a coffee shop that is in danger of being closed down. Starring Laura Vandervoort, it features a life I’ve dreamed of having: owning a small coffee shop (and ending up with a really nice guy, I have to add that). 

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Monday, February 8, 2021

Book Review: The Five-Year Hitch

This is a new one for me. Whenever I listen to an audiobook, it is usually one that is based on an actual book that you can read. These audiobooks usually take hours to finish and if I get tired of listening, I could switch to reading them myself. For the Melissa de la Cruz book The Five-Year Hitch, I could only listen to the book, because there is no written copy for me to read (that I know of anyway). Despite that, I decided to give it a try since it featured the voice talents of two actors that I admire: Rachel Boston and Daniel Di Tomasso.


Credit: Audible

Rachel and Daniel have previously worked together with Melissa de la Cruz on the TV series Witches of East End, an adaptation of de la Cruz’ book of the same title. Based on that, I think it is a given that these two would be able to play well off each other since they have already worked together in that series. I loved that show and I love seeing these actors in their individual projects. I knew from how they act on romantic movies for TV that they would be good people to listen to for a romantic audiobook like this. 

Unfortunately, this is a short audiobook and apparently a special audio-only project for Audible. It was about an hour and thirty minutes and I really wish that there had been more to it because I was enjoying listening to the two actors play the leads in the story that was being presented. 

Do not expect this to be the kind of audiobook where the actors narrate events the way they do in books. The Five-Year Hitch sounds more like a podcast where the two lead characters are being interviewed about their love story. I found that to be a refreshing change to most (if not all) audiobooks that I have read, and I think that with the way that the actors delivered their lines, it was a good thing. It sounded like a real couple sharing their story. I could imagine sitting with them somewhere while they shared their story.

It is a quick and easy listen, and I enjoyed it. However, I have read that so many people are complaining that this was not good enough and that they did not enjoy it, but I have to disagree on that. It was a good story, and the actors played their characters really well. If there is any complaint that I have about this it is that it was too short and that there should have been more. They could have gone on to talk more about their story so that it can be longer than it is because I enjoyed listening to Rachel Boston and Daniel Di Tomasso. 

If you enjoyed stories of friends who ended up together like One Day and Love Rosie, you would enjoy this audiobook. It is a light-hearted version of these two stories, where the two friends come and go into each other’s lives and end up together in the end. 

I would love to see this as a TV movie or something similar. I thought this was a cute story that would be great on screen, hopefully also with Rachel Boston and Daniel Di Tomasso. I have not been on Audible for a while now but I when I read about this, I signed up again and I think that it was worth it. If you have the time and would like to listen to a romance-themed audiobook, this might be a good thing to check out!


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Friday, February 5, 2021

Confusing Coins

To my readers from the Philippines: is anyone out there as confused as I am with our coins? 

We have so many coins here in the country: 1¢, 5¢, 10¢, 25¢, Php 1, Php 5, Php 10, and Php 20. Take note that there are also two versions of these coins. One set is from 1995 and another was launched in 2018. Both sets are still in circulation and are considered legal tender.


Image by Ri Butov from Pixabay


I find it so confusing that we have these two sets of coins. There are coins from one set that are the same size as the other, but both coins would have different values. It can get confusing when you are in a hurry and accepting change or paying someone with these coins. It can also be a bit of a hassle when the coins get old and become dirty because it is hard to distinguish which coin it is. 

It is tough these days because whenever I buy things the change would almost always be in coins – the smaller denominations. I got to the point that I had to use a coin purse because of all the coins I have with me. But then sometimes there would be too much that my coin purse would be full, and I cannot even zip it up. 

I think the whole situation, along with the fact that they are so hard to differentiate from one another, confused me to the point that I started to hate using coins. I began to avoid using them. Whenever I am given coins as change, I tend to put it in my piggy bank of sorts: I opened a coin hole from a used alcohol bottle and use it to keep my coins. In a year alone I was able to fill it up with various coins, mostly the smaller denominations, so it was an achievement that I was able to fill the bottle. My sister suggested that I should open up the bottle and have the coins exchanged since the older set of coins might become demonetized and that would be a waste of money.

The bottle is deceivingly heavy. I weighed it at 7lbs before I opened it up. I say deceivingly because it was small but very heavy and yet when I counted the coins it only had Php1,251.40 in coins in it. I managed to exchange some of the coins, but not all of them. Apparently, some places do not accept the smaller denominations (25¢ and below) because they do not have much use for them. It makes me wonder why we even bother with the smaller coins if a lot of places do not accept or use them anyway. They give it to us as change and when we try to exchange a bunch of them for paper bills, they do not accept them. The fact that I had so many of them that it could amount to a paper denomination meant that it was ultimately a waste of money. That is definitely not good. I mean, what is the point of having them in the first place then?

Security issues aside, it would be nice if we can have the NFC payments here in the country, so that you do not need to take out money when you are paying someone, and we could all easily pay each other without the use of coins or paper bills. Maybe I am just obsessed with Korean shows that show how they use that there in South Korea or maybe I am just really, truly sick of these coins and how they confuse me so much. 

Do these coins confuse you too? What do you do about it? What do you think of NFC payments? Leave me a message and share it with me!

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Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Book Review: Ugly Love

Colleen Hoover’s book Ugly Love was something people were saying that was going to be the next 50 Shades of Grey. Curious, I read the book and I just have to say this: if you’re looking for a 50 Shades kind of book (read: the S&M stuff), this is not the book for you. To be honest, I don’t get the comparison because I thought that Ugly Love was nothing like 50 Shades of Grey.


Credit: Atria Books


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Monday, February 1, 2021

Netflix Picks: Bridgerton

I think this is a post that requires no prior explanation. After all, around 63 million have already streamed this movie on Netflix (or so they say). I am, apparently, one of those 63 million. I have watched/streamed/binge-watched Bridgerton on Netflix and I loved it! 

Word of advice: do not watch this with your parents. It does not matter if you are already an adult or have children of your own, just do not do it because it can get pretty awkward. I was watching this over breakfast with my mother when suddenly Anthony Bridgerton was getting it on with his opera-singing lover (and they were not being quiet about it if you know what I mean). We both ended up pretending nothing was happening on the screen until I slowly put up my hand to stop the video. Considering how I later discovered how many more steamy scenes there would be between Simon and Daphne, it was a good call that I later decided to just watch it on my own.




For those who have become hermits during this pandemic and have not heard of this show, Bridgerton is a Shonda Rhimes series on Netflix that is based on a series of novels by Julia Quinn that revolve around the Bridgerton siblings and finding love during the Regency era. The first (of many, hopefully) season of the show centered around the story of the eldest daughter, Daphne, and her eventual love story with Simon, the Duke of Hastings.

The story is set during the social season, where eligible women are presented to the Queen and to high society so that the eligible men may be able to meet and court their future bride. In between balls and whatnot, it is shown that everyone is also obsessed by the publication made by a certain Lady Whistledown, who shares insider gossip about the people in the ton (British high society) during this season. As much as everyone hates Lady Whistledown for what she says about their respective families, people are still obsessed about her work because of what they say about other people. Even the Queen herself is curious about Lady Whistledown and wants to find out who she is. 

There is so much to talk about when it comes to this series. There is the fact that they have decided to do what they called “colorblind casting” where the actors may be of a different race from what was originally intended but were given the roles that they played anyway. In the world of Bridgerton, they have not just white people as part of the ton, but other races as well. They have even played on the historical rumors that the Queen of the time was also part black, which was the reason why people of color were welcomed into the ton in this storyline. Then there are the Regency-era cover versions of popular songs from people such as Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift that were used as background for some scenes of the show. And who can ignore the beautiful cast that they have? It makes me look forward to more seasons so that I can see the other characters find love next!

I have only read the first book of the series but watching this show has made me interested in reading the others as well. I have never been a fan of these kinds of stories, but this show made me think of taking a second look before I skip reading them. There were some (welcome) changes to the series compared to the show such as Freddie Stroma playing a Prince who also fell for Daphne, but I did not mind at all (I mean, hello, look at Freddie Stroma, wouldn’t you want an excuse to include him too?). 

With the confirmation of a second, Anthony-centric season, I am hoping to see more from this series. In the meantime, I will read the books to catch up while they are still waiting to decide when the next season will come out.

Have you watched Bridgerton yet? Tell me what you think!

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