Sunday, June 9, 2013

Bubble Music Video by Yelle

Monday, January 17, 2011

AXN, Southeast Asia's Best in 2010

Richard Herrera and Richard Hardin in The Amazing Race Asia Season 4
FINALLY back to our regularly scheduled programming after quite a lengthy absence and some technical difficulties. Let’s start this year right with some of our thoughts about 2010. Sure, I know a good number of people (okay, myself included) who would say that it wasn’t exactly a great year for them from a personal standpoint.

Be that as it may, 2010 still gave us a good number of reasons to smile and be proud as a Filipino. There’s Manny Pacquiao, who clinched his nth world title by decisively defeating Mexican challenger Antonio Margarito. There’s singing sensation Charice Pempengco who had a memorable guest appearance in the top-rated musical series, Glee and pretty much stole the opening episode from lead star, Lea Michele. And while everyone did not agree with the actual outcome, the conduct of the country’s first automated elections was at least regarded by the majority of the voting populace as generally smooth and clean.

And then there’s Richard Hardin and Richard Herrera of Team Philippines who finally took home the bacon in AXN’s reality-based competition, The Amazing Race Asia. Since the show’s second season, Filipinos have always been regarded as the competitors to beat especially after the consecutive runner-up feats of previous participants. But it wasn’t until 2010 when our team finally made it all the way to the top.

As for the cable channel that brought TARA 4 and other exciting shows into our living rooms, winning has been pretty much everything for quite sometime now. With an average of 10.2 million viewers every month in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines from January to October 2010, AXN is once again the number one international channel in Southeast Asia.

Home to some of my favorite shows like the CSI franchise (Las Vegas, Miami, New York), Chuck, Numb3rs, Damages, Reaper, Criss Angel Mindfreak and the newly-rebooted Hawaii Five-O as well as reality sensations Top Chef, So You Think You Can Dance, Wipeout and yes, The Amazing Race Asia, among others, AXN continues to offer plenty of reasons to stay tuned.

The Malaysians certainly did as AXN beats its closest competing English network in by 24 percent in the primetime ratings. Out of the 14 first-run shows that AXN aired in 2010, 10 premiered at the top of the ratings chart. In Singapore, AXN is also ahead of all English pay-TV channels in Singapore in primetime ratings among cable 15+ audience, Ditto with us here in the Philippines as AXN leads in the English general entertainment category among cable 16+ audience, quite an impressive feat given the ultra-competitive nature of our local market.

Ricky Ow, Senior Vice President and General Manager of SPE-Asia, cites the recently concluded TARA 4 as one big reason for AXN’s success this year. Another is the remake of Hawaii Five-O starring Australian sensation Alex O’ Loughlin (Moonlight, The Back-Up Plan) as the new Steve McGarett and Scott Caan (Ready To Rumble, Ocean’s Eleven) in his recent Golden Globe-nominated role as Danny “Danno” Williams. Since its season premiere last November, the show has been a big hit particularly in Malaysia and Singapore.

The new Hawaii Five-O
“It is precisely because of the outstanding support from our Southeast Asian viewers, cable partners and sponsors that we have been able to expand our AXN family of channels, which today includes Animax, AXN Beyond, Sony Entertainment Television, as well as ONE,” Ow acknowledges. “With this expanded suite of channels, we will be able to cater to even more viewers, provide greater variety and deliver a diverse range of programs to suit the whole family’s viewing preferences. We have enjoyed a good year, and it is my promise to all our viewers that 2011 will be even more exciting.”

Well, I for one am looking forward to the fulfilment of that promise, especially since both AXN and my new HDTV-ready LCD TV are indeed giving me plenty of reasons to stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

PLDT myDSL Wi-Fi Modem



ONE is simply not enough. 

Not in a household where my sister needs to communicate with her OFW husband in the Middle East. Not in a household where my nephew and niece, now teenagers, need to constantly update their Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr or whatever social networking site is currently on vogue. Not in a household where I need to write and yes, email my articles on a daily basis.

It doesn’t even matter that we have a desktop PC, a netbook and even the latest touchscreen smartphones at our disposal. When we all need to go online at the same time, one single wired broadband connection is simply not enough for all of us to share.

And that is why I for one am very glad that there’s the new PLDT Wi-Fi Modem that can now settle our longtime dispute of who needs to go online first and what time? Now all of us can and anytime we want to.

As an acknowledged leader in the telecommunication industry, PLDT has time and again came up with innovative products that has never ceased to amaze a lot of people. As innovations go, the new PLDT Wi-Fi Modem from PLDTmyDSL goes beyond broadband with its triple play service.

The modem’s 4-port hub switch can accommodate up to four wired and multiple wireless connections, allowing for wireless connection within the range of 25 meters anywhere at home. With its 4-port hub switch that can accommodate up to four wired and multiple wireless connections, subscribers can enjoy simultaneous connection. The entire family can now go online using desktop computers, laptops, and mobile devices simultaneously. Immediate access to news and entertainment, online shops, social networks, and any information we need to look up has never been this immediate.

“The digital lifestyle isn’t an option,” PLDT AVP and head of PLDT myDSL Gary Dujali says. “It is what life has become. So it’s important for everyone to have unrestricted access to the web at home whenever they want, wherever they want.”
Availability of connection in one’s area or barangay can be checked with PLDT myDSL. Applying online means fewer fields to fill in and also guarantees customer feedback on status of application within 48 hours.

It gets better. PLDT is launching its PLDT Wi-Fi Modem in a big way. Those who would like to avail of it when they visit SM Megamall on December 3 to 5 will be treated to an exclusive offer at the Ultra Broadband Blowout, PLDT myDSL’s biggest and most exclusive broadband sale of the year.

Here, the new PLDT Wi-FI modem itself is up for grabs at P1200 only and not its regular P2,200 for Bundled Plans 990 and 1299. Those who will upgrade the PLDT myDSL Plan 990 can get it for free as well those who are already subscribing to myDSL high speed plans of 999,1995 and 3000 that compares favorably well to its P1000 regular price.

On December 4, all roads lead to the Republiq as more than 1,000 of the city’s best known movers and shakers will party the night away as Natural Born Klubbers or NBK presents its NBK Greenhouse Effect 2, the annual Christmas party of party promoters. The event will also coincide with PLDT Wi-Fi Miodem’s official public launch. With the expected unique and exciting performances by DJ’s, dancers and musicians, yes, there is a lot to celebrate as wireless internet access in our own homes is something that we no longer have to merely imagine.

“We at PLDT recognize the importance of evolving our products to provide our subscribers with services that conform to their needs,” Dujali says. “It’s all about making life current, convenient, and comfortable for everyone in the family.”

And convenient and comfortable it is. Commercial Wi-Fi zones are known as hotspots. Well, with the new PLDT Wi-Fi modem, I personally thought it was both comforting and exciting to see my entire home turned into a hotspot itself.

Because one shared connection was simply not enough. Now one will never be enough.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Flavors of Thailand at Marriott Hotel Manila

FOR some reason, I often find myself associated with many things Thai. Back in the 90’s when Thai restaurants were all the rage, I wrote about two popular fine dining joints, Sawasdee and Ayutthaya on two separate occasions for The Manila Times.

Later that decade, I got the chance to cover a Microsoft event in Phuket, my very first trip outside the country and last year, I finally got the chance to visit Bangkok for an Intel event coverage and made quite a few friends in the process, too.Based on my two brief visits, I'd have to be of the opinion that there are plenty of good reasons why this wonderful country is called Amazing Thailand.

This year, I also wrote about a Michael and Jenny Cocuaco, the Zamboanga-based Pinoy couple who placed second in the recently concluded Ultimate Thailand Explorers reality competition, both for this blog (twice!) and in the July issue of H & L (Health & Lifestyle) magazine.

Chef Krobsuay
So it was hard to say no when I got a recent invite from Marriott Hotel Manila to sample authentic Thai cuisine in the ongoing Flavors of Thailand food festival at the Marriott Café.

In partnership with the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Embassy of Thailand and Thai Airways, the food fest aims to celebrate rich and unique flavors of Thailand with a delicious showcase of authentic Thai dishes prepared by Thai chef Thanathorn Krobsuay, flown directly from the JW Marriott Bangkok.

Even though I’m not gifted with many would call a spicy tongue, I always found Thai food to be very intriguing. And there was a lot to like from Chef Krobsuay adventurous cuisine that started with a piping hot serving of the sweet and spicy Tom Yam Goong, a spicy prawn soup with lemongrass and galangal.

Following this act is Som Tum, a spicy salad starter made of shredded green papaya, beans, and dried shrimp. Then there were the classic main dishes like the Thod Mun Pla, a marinated fried fish cake with green beans and herbs swathed in sweet and sour sauce and served with pickled cucumber,

There’s the Larb Gai, minced chicken salad with mint and ground rice enhanced with the natural flavors of lime juice and fish sauce, popular favorite Pad Thai considered a national dish consists of stir fried noodles, eggs, been sprouts, shrimp, chicken, and tofu combined with oriental ingredients such as tamarind juice, hot chili, and fish sauce that produces a nutty, pungent taste.

Pad Thai
Chef Krobsuay ends his literally hot Thai feast with the refreshing kanom thai ruam, selections of Thai royal desserts that offer a sweet and salty balance of taste. Usually made of coconut milk based or sweet sticky rice, Krobsuay says all desserts feature piquant Asian ingredients and recipes.

The Flavors of Thailand is available during lunch and dinner for the entire month of August at P1,350 net for adults and P675 net for children during weekdays and Sunday Brunch at PHP 1,650 net. Children below 12 get in for half the price and children below 6 get in for free.

To further sweeten the deal, diners who avail of the Flavors of Thailand buffet also get a chance to win a pair of roundtrip tickets to Thailand courtesy of the Thai Airways and Tourism Authority of Thailand. The prize trip includes a three-night stay with breakfast at the Rennaisance Koh Samui Resort and Spa Thailand.

Sawasdee!

For more information, visit www.marriott.com.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Julianne

CURRENTLY promoting her new single, “Liwanag,” I thought this would be a good opportunity to revisit Julianne and repost an updated remix of a 2007 feature that I wrote about her for the Manila Bulletin.

Oh, and the new single sounds real good, too.

SOUL CHILD
By EDWIN P. SALLAN

SHE could have gone the bossa nova route, sold a lot of CDs and probably be a household name by now. As a matter of fact, that was exactly what one major record label wanted her to do after hearing her demo music.

But singer-songwriter Julianne Tarroja or simply Julianne won’t have any of it. While she has nothing against the recent bossa nova craze and can in fact, jump in the bandwagon and easily be a standout doing it if she wanted to, the 26-year Interior Design major says that’s not exactly what she had in mind when she submitted those demos.

“Yes, I always wanted to write my own music and have a purpose to doing it. But I want to keep everything real, to keep things organic without being afraid of being judged for my artistry.”

With musical influences that include Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Erykah Baduh, India.Arie, Jill Scott and at one point, even Jewel, the lovely, acoustic guitar-toting chanteuse does know a thing or two about keeping things real. Writing introspective songs about personal choices and fateful circumstances (“the dark and bright sides of life,” she quips), very few singers can match the gritty honesty in which she bares her heart and soul in her songs.

All of this is not lost on MCA Music’s Ricky Ilacad, whose musical instincts are widely acknowledged in the industry as usually spot-on. Without seeing Julianne as something else and just allowed her to do her thing, Ilacad’s MCA Music rolled the dice and made her the label’s first-ever OPM signing.

Julianne’s music, a unique fusion of folk, jazz, neo-soul and R & B would later be given the name “OPM Soul” by MCA’s drumbeaters, is further honed and enhanced in the studio by Mike Luis of Freestyle who produced most of the album and Dan Gil of The Chilitees who oversaw two tracks. Other veteran musicians who played in the CD that would later be called Grateful include Rivermaya’s Mark Escueta, Wendell Garcia, Rommel Dela Cruz, Daniel Crisologo, Dexter Aguila, Sach Castilo and Kakoi Legaspi.

The result is one of the year’s most original releases. Grateful opens with Tulak Ng Bibig, the first single and lone Tagalog track. “It’s a frustrating love song about a person drawing the line with somebody who says something but actually means another,” Julianne says.

In describing some of the album’s other tracks, you can’t help but be reminded that Julianne is in fact, still a very young 24 and it shows in her songs. She says it’s easier to write songs “when I’m sad unlike when I’m happy, I just want to shut up as I really don’t have much to say.”

Grateful is one of my most special songs and is about being happy and thankful for that special someone in your life, the one who got you out of that dark place,” she continues. “I wrote it after a really bad breakup. The Queen In Me is about knowing the guy is for you if he brings out the queen in you. I’m still looking for that guy while Choose To Believe is me in a bad position, sad, stuck and trying to look for God.”

During our interview, Julianne wasn’t just describing these songs to us in detail, she was actually singing a few bars of the songs in between. We were impressed not only by her soulful vocals (which devoid of studio magic still sounds very beautiful) but also by her deft guitar playing. “Music has always been a big part of my life,” she recalls. “My dad, who was the musician in the family, taught me to play the piano and guitar. I have been part of a choir and was also with a band for almost five years.”

“I just want to perform. This is what I know, this is what I do best,” she declares. “All it takes is for one person to like one of my songs for me to find doing this very rewarding. I don’t want to be just another flavor of the month sensation. I find that very limiting. I’m thinking ahead. I want to stretch my wings and go global with this, too.”

Visit Julianne’s official website at www.juliannetarroja.tk.

Acer's Digital Campus Store in Ateneo

AS if concept stores like the ones opened by HTC and Logitech aren’t enough, another tech vendor is following the lead of Apple and opened its own concept store at the Ateneo De Manila University campus.

Here’s my news story about it as published in the Infotech section of the Manila Bulletin last year.

ACER OPENS OWN IN-CAMPUS STORE IN ATENEO
By EDWIN P. SALLAN

ONLY a few months after an authorized reseller of Apple launched its iCampus store at the Ateneo De Manila University, popular PC vendor Acer Philippines recently opened its own “Digital Campus Store” right beside it at the Loyola School Bookstore inside the Manuel V. Pangilinan building of the campus.

With its new in-campus store inside one of the country’s top educational institutions, the already affordable and popular Acer desktop PC’s, laptops and LCD monitors are available at specially discounted prices exclusively for students and faculty members of Ateneo.

“The Acer Digital Campus Store aims to empower the youth even further in harnessing the endless benefits of information technology by making affordable yet world-class quality information technology products within their reach,” says Acer Philippines General Manager Manuel Wong.

William Mallari, Director of Ateneo’s Loyola School Bookstore said that “in-campus options like the Acer Digital Campus Store and iCampus are also reflective of the school’s efforts in addressing the computing needs of its students as well as the increasing clamor for accessible stores like this.” Mallari, who graced the official opening of the store along with other Ateneo officials admitted that Acer’s presence in Ateneo will give students more computing options in accordance with their available budgets.

Awarded by the I.T. Journalists Association of the Philippines as I.T. Company of the Year during its recently conclude Cyberpress ICT Awards, the Taiwan-based tech firm is now the number one personal computer brand in the country number two worldwide according to industry research specialist Gartner.

“We’re happy that with the long hours spent by the Acer sales and marketing team to come up with exciting ways to generate more awareness about Acer products among our target markets, we were able to give customers here the perfect alternative to the usual PC fare,” Wong earlier said. “The steady growth in the number of Acer users proves that we are on the right track.”

XSite Solutions, a sales partner of Acer Philippines will manage the store’s day-to-day operations.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

M-150 Unleashed Northern Adventure Race Part 2

So how did the M-150 Unleashed Northern Adventure Race went down? Well, read on.

The race

As the race progressed, the only way we were able to monitor how the other racers are doing was through hourly updates at WAVE 89.1. When our car radio signal became weak on certain areas, Paolo’s Manila-based sister kept us abreast with the radio updates via text messages.

It was there that we learned that Team Lighthouse Subaru, who breezed past us and other cars at the North Luzon Expressway misread the map, missed a crucial turn and ended up in Dinalupihan. By the time they turned back and barely made it to the checkpoint, almost two hours have elapsed and they just decided to bow out of the race and went straight to Subic.

They weren’t the only ones who had a hard time understanding the assigned routes. It took our own team a while to figure out the first checkpoint in San Fernando, Pampanga, which was only marked Essels and only by asking residents in the area were we able to figure out that Essels was actually a supermarket.

We made it to the first checkpoint in 30th place out of the 35 racers. As we made it to the succeeding checkpoints, we were encouraged by the fact that not only did we improve our standing at every stop, we were also aware of the difficulties the other racers were facing. Thanks to the updates of Paolo’s sister, we learned that some got momentarily lost while others had the expected car troubles.

Unlike those who were test driving vehicles for the first time (probably not a good idea for a lengthy race like this to begin with) the kid’s familiarity with his everyday car served our team in good stead. It also helped that his modifications turned out to be spot-on.

“The rims and the suspension are some of the factors as to why we did not end up with flat tires while negotiating the bad roads because putting race specs are not intended for rough roads, they are only used for flat smooth surface race tracks,” Paolo points out.

The big finish

As a passenger, I would have loved to stop at certain points for some photo ops and maybe even for some pasalubong items (after all, my intention was to merely cover the race) particularly in Baguio, one of my favorite places in the country.

But I could see from the fire in Paolo’s eyes that he intends to finish this race in a respectable manner at the very least especially when our standing kept improving with every checkpoint. From 30th place, we climbed back to 28th, then 21st, 16th, 11th and by the time we made it to San Fernando, La Union for the mandatory one-hour rest, we were already in ninth place.

As the race came down to the homestretch, we learned that Team P-1 Motorsports of driver JP Cariño and navigator Angelo Tambo, who led most of the way actually ran out of gas in the middle of the long and winding SCTEX. The grinding halt came just when the TIPO Gate (exit to Subic Bay Freeport) was already within their sight. They didn’t notice they busted their gas tank back in Checkpoint 9 in Tarlac. Team DKC of Arnel Carlos and Nino Sarte passed them by 20 minutes later.

As for us, we continued our progress as we finished 4th, 3rd and 2nd at the remaining checkpoints. By the time we entered Subic, we were already in a neck and neck pace with Team DKC. We somehow managed to shake them off shortly after entering Olongapo and yes, finished first ahead of everybody else.

We still lost the race, though. Maybe because Eslao is not an experienced circuit racer (many of the participants weren’t) or maybe because of his lack of familiarity with the time control concept (he was yet to be born when the last race of this type was held in the country), our team actually checked in early at the San Fernando, La Union pit stop that we were meted a stiff penalty equivalent to one hour and 15 minutes.

The decision

While that would suggest or imply that we did not follow traffic rules and was running faster than we were supposed to, the same could be said for the other racers who arrived earlier at that checkpoint, only they were smart enough not to “officially” check-in. Since that was allowed, I personally thought it defeats the purpose of the race’s whole safety first objective. Oh, well.

With an official time of 11 hours and 26 minutes with minimal or no penalties at all, Team DKC, who arrived second at the finish line, ran a clean race and won it all, including the P50,000 cash prize plus M-150 Energy Drink products, a special edition jacket and more importantly, bragging rights as the very first winner of M-150 Unleashed race.

“Our struggles included our car breaking down during the early part of the race going to the second check point at Bamban,” says Nino Sarte of Team DKC. “We had a busted CV boot resulting to the overheating of CV joint and busted axle. Despite all the troubles we still managed to finish the race at Subic.”

All told, it was a successfully-staged race and was exciting enough to merit a clamor for a similar race this year. Just like The Cannonball Run, this is one movie that deserves a sequel and talks of an even bigger M-150 Unleashed! (Southern Adventure, perhaps?) event have already made the rounds of the racing community.

As for Paolo Eslao, who by the way is based in the South, he is still very happy with how our team fared overall. “Well, we did finish the race,” he smilingly says with a sense of fulfillment. “With no accidents or mishaps whatsoever, we already achieved a great feat considering how hard we drove. Official or not, I think we owned them all.”

Indeed we did. Indeed we did.