French Wingz takes flight

The French Wingz Crew gave Filipino mall-goers a glimpse of the French hip-hop scene during their performance at the SM Aura Premier Sky Park. A joint partnership between Alliance Française de Manille and SM Aura Premier, with the support of the Embassy of France to the Philippines, the event promoted French artistry and culture through dance and music. Hip-hop dancers Archad Ali and Stevens Taillasson also known as Crackers formed the French Wingz Crew when they became partners and won a dance battle in 2008. Archad is a hip-hop enthusiast who made his first steps in the industry with a local group named Afro Jam while Crackers is a hip-hop dancer and a circus performer. They have toured around the world showcasing their unique talent. In 2013, they created their first piece called “Mistral Gagnant,” which helped them join competitions such as France Got Talent, Got to Dance Germany among others. During their SM Aura Premier performance, the duo wowed the audience with PoéGraphie and Recontre Parisienne, two 20- minute performances that combined acrobatics ad poetry. PoéGraphie is about the aesthetic universes of the two characters who find a rare complementarity through their meeting. Rencontre Parisienne, on the other hand, is a poetic hip-hop duet about how the two foreigners meet in Paris and try to communicate with each other despite the language barrier. The French Wingz Crew performance is one of the many cross-cultural events that happened at SM Aura Premier.

Piolo Pascual on keeping a promise

Celebrity heartthrob Piolo Pascual knows all too well that being a father, a sibling and also a son to his family comes with big responsibilities. That is to love, to care, to secure, to protect and provide for your loved ones wherever they are. But it all becomes a challenge when financial troubles arise. A man of his word, Piolo said he wants to give his family the best life possible and that pushed him to work hard and seize every opportunity that comes his way. “But more than just earning money, it’s how you manage your finances that makes a difference. Fortunately, I have the guidance and help of one very special lady: my very own sister, Chiqui Pascual-Gonzales, who also happens to be my Sun Life Advisor,” Piolo said. His sister has been instrumental in ensuring that his dreams for his family will all come true. “It’s a partnership through and through. With her help, I’ve been able to make it all happen while still pursuing my own passions and advocacies,” he said. Piolo and Chiqui’s story inspired Sun Life’s latest campaign, highlighting a client’s journey with Sun Life throughout the different stages of her life. It represents the many promises that Sun Life has helped bring into fruition for the past 123 years. Sun Life hopes that the campaign, as well as Piolo’s story will inspire more people to take the same path in their financial journey. “As the longest-standing life insurance company in the Philippines, we have witnessed many promises being fulfilled throughout the years and have served generations of clients. It is an honor for us to serve all our clients and help them secure their future and those of their loved ones” Sun Life chief marketing officer Mylene Lopa said. “The promises we make to our loved ones are sacred and Sun Life knows this. That’s why they are committed to helping clients achieve their goals no matter what happens,” Piolo added. “You can’t ask for a better lifetime partner than that!”

Bring back ‘smart’ TV

“Domestic violence and black comedy don’t seem a natural match, but the film pulls it off.” I am proud to say that I grew up with my TV being “smart” and kid-friendly. Morning, afternoon and even late evening shows consisted mostly of infotainment, documentaries and animation. Well, there were the traditional soaps -- and, let’s admit it, they will never be out of business because they are the networks’ bread and butter -- but they did not litter TV like they do today. We were the generation eager to wake up and sing, “Tayo na sa Sineskwela/Tuklasin natin ang siyensiya (Let’s go to Sineskwela/Let’s learn science)” or hum along with the theme songs of Bayani or Hiraya Manawari. Come afternoons, we would do the mad dash towards our living room and be glued to our favorite Japanese and Western animes. Before we slept, we would be left pondering on stories that “woke” our sensibilities as the impressionable lot that we were. Documentaries like Brigada, I-Witness and The Probe Team were not relegated to ungodly hours. They were not aired as late as they used to be, and are now actually shown in a news-oriented channel, such as the case of the first two shows mentioned. I still believe, though, that they should be placed on mainstream channels again. That was TV then. I believe that TV is a powerful medium. Everything that comes out of it helps shape perceptions and value systems. I am thankful that news channels were made because, at least, I can tune in to news and more substantive and relevant shows. My concern is more for the young ones who are not yet fully capable of discernment. If kids these days had the same privilege that we did when we were young, I bet they would grow up to be more discerning. I concede that the challenges then and now are vastly different, with social media disrupting the equilibrium of information. But TV, I believe, at least in this part of the world without lightning speed internet, still takes up huge amounts of viewing from the general populace. That’s why there is this nostalgia ─ these thoughts of the time when TV was used properly as a medium for learning rather than just a repository of campy and salacious shows. Thus, it was such a pleasure to cross paths with that one person who made TV a fun and learning viewing experience during my time. I met Dr. Ruby R. Cristobal, the chief science research specialist of the S&T manpower education research and promotions division of the Department of Science and Technology’s (DoST)-Science Education Institute (SEI) one afternoon at the offices of the Film Development Council of the Philippines in Kalaw, Manila. Her office was conducting a filmmaking workshop with young students, who wished to join the third edition of the DoST-inititated Indie-Siyensiya Filmmaking Competition. The two agencies have formed a partnership for the third edition of the competition, which now looks for filmmakers that will field interesting narratives with focus and central themes of science and its effect in the community and country. The competition is divided into two categories: Youth and Open Category. More information can be found here: I was there to ask her for a rundown of said filmmaking competition. During the course of our short conversation, she shared her optimism, hopes and dreams for the sciences as a whole. I felt her passion for the resurgence and sustenance of STEM or science, technology, engineering and mathetics. As a practitioner and insider, Dr. Cristobal knows what she’s talking about, and she lamented the waning interest in the sciences and its allied disciplines, which are facing a “massive decline” in enrollment in universities. This came after I asked her the question about science being underappreciated as a whole in the Philippines. I have to admit I’m one of those people who would jest that I took an English course because I wasn’t inclined in the sciences. Of course, it’s one of my running jokes in life, but that’s a half-truth. But then, even though the sciences and mathematics were not my favorite subjects, I did not completely detest or ignore them because of shows like Sineskwela and MathTinik. Those were shows that made these intimidating subjects entertaining and understandable. Thus, imagine my delight at meeting Dr. Cristobal, who revealed to me that she was the consultant for Sineskwela from 1993 to 2007. She worked hand in hand with the brain of the show, former Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez. “We hope that one day we will have shows like Sineskwela back. Sineskwela, Apol Epol, Pahina and Hiraya Manawari were all from Gina Lopez,” she mused, although she did cite some shows like iBilib, Matanglawin and Born To Be Wild as akin to the shows she did before. She continued: “The foresight of Gina was really something. Even at that time, we were asking about the feasibility of some of her ideas. It took us about half a year to develop Sineskwela and make a concept that was quite different. It had to factor in our culture, our learners, our teachers and our educational system. But I think we did it well. I worked there for 14 years and the clamor is still there. The scientists who are working with me right now are Sineskwela kids. Whenever I play the theme song of the show, they all sing along with it. It’s still the same lyrics that they used to sing as children and they cry. They would say ‘Why are there are no longer shows like that?’ They would tell me that the reason they went to pursue the sciences was because of Sineskwela.” She shared that though her Sineskwela team had gone on to other companies, they still get together. In fact, she revealed one tidbit that got me excited. “Sineskwela is a phenomemon. It really made an impact and I think the network should look back and see and try to develop and produce programs like that. I still miss the show. That would be my post-retirement job,” she ended.

Fil-Am film in LA fest

“Domestic violence and black comedy don’t seem a natural match, but the film pulls it off.” Outfest Los Angeles, the oldest film festival in Los Angeles and considered the preeminent LGBTQ film festival in the world, kicked off on July 12 with 11 days of world-class films, panels and parties. One of the more than 150 feature and short films to be shown to an audience of more than 40,000 people is Bitter Melon, a film project chosen last year for funding and support under Cinematografo Originals. Bitter Melon is the third feature film H.P. Mendoza directed (Fruit Fly, I Am a Ghost). The film had its world premiere at the CAAMFest in San Francisco last May. Dennis Harvey of Variety described it as “invigorating” and Mendoza’s “best directorial feature to date.” KGO Radio praised it as “a rare and wonderful movie.” Tim Sika of the San Francisco Film Critics Circle hailed it as “an indie masterpiece.” Harvey describes the brilliance of Mendoza and Bitter Melon: “Domestic violence and black comedy don’t seem a natural match, but to an impressive degree Bitter Melon pulls off their shotgun marriage.” He added that “the film has juggled a lot of tonal, plot and character elements with aplomb — Mendoza’s screenplay achieving a kind of high-fiber, low-fat emotional shorthand furthered by energetic input from Juli Lopez’s widescreen lensing and Sylvia Fernandez’s editing.” Bitter Melon was shown on July 13 at Harmony Gold Theater, a landmark, historic state-of-the-art screening and event facility on West Sunset Boulevard at 7 p.m.

Search for the next catwalk superstars

There’s going to be a new batch of runway stars. Catwalk Philippines 2018 is set to conquer the runway on July 20 at the Winford Manila Resort and Casino. The event is a modeling competition spearheaded by the Designer’s Circle Philippines (DCP) and AMT Multimedia Production Hauz Corporation. Twenty male and 20 female models are set to participate in the final runway competition. One male and one female will be adjudged as the next catwalk superstars. They will also win contracts with top fashion directors and fashion designers from the Philippines and abroad. Aside from the modelling competition, the event will also feature themed parties such as “Neon-Techno Party,” “Coachella Summer Heat” and “Glitter-Gold Extravaganza.” This year’s theme is “The Party That Never Ends: Millennial Fashion Party.” The DCP was established in June 2017 by a group of seasoned and promising Filipino fashion designers. Visit their official Facebook page Catwalk Philippines 2018 for more information and updates.

Today is 35th National Children’s Book Day

Children of all ages are invited to the celebration of the 35th National Children’s Book Day (NCBD) today, July 17, at the Main Theater Lobby of the Cultural Center of the Philippines from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with the theme, “Sa Aklat May Laya.” Held every third Tuesday of July, the NCBD highlights the best works of children’s book writers, illustrators and publishers, and celebrates the importance of nurturing the young readers’ curiosity and imagination. The event’s morning program consists of the awarding ceremonies for the 2018 PBBY (Philippine Board on Books for Young People)-Salanga Prize, 2018 PBBY-Alcala Prize, 2018 PBBY Wordless Book Prize and the 2018 National Children’s Book Awards. Towards the end of the morning, the PBBY “Sa Aklat, May Laya” Exhibit will be launched as well, featuring artworks related to the PBBY-Alcala Prize. This is derived from the children’s stories that won the PBBY-Salanga Prize, Becky Bravo’s work entitled May Alaga Akong Bakulaw. The exhibit is free and open from July 17 to 22 at the CCP Little Theater Lobby. At 1:30 p.m., My CCP Tour activity will commence at Little Theater Lobby led by the CCP Arts Education Department. This will be followed by free sessions on storytelling, arts and crafts and music and movement prepared by the Pinoy Kids Read Pinoy Books group for children at the Main Theater Lobby at 3 p.m. The CCP event is free and open to the public. For pre-registration and details, contact Ms. Kim Lim at 551-5959, or 0919-3175708. As the second part of the NCBD celebration, the PBBY stages Salaysayan 2018, the 2nd Storytelling Festival at the Museo Pambata with emphasis on Read Aloud as a strategy to bring to life books and the written word. The Salaysayan will run from 1 to 4 p.m. Registration fee is P250. Contact the PBBY Sectoral Representative for Librarians at On July 21, the PBBY, together with Kasingkasing Press and Hubon Manunulat, brings the NCBD to Iloilo through workshops on book design and illustration to be held at Cinematheque Centre Iloilo, and a series of talks on children’s literature at the UP Visayas. Registration fee for the talks and workshops is P500. For details, email at or visit the PBBY Facebook page.

Get to know the geeks in your life

For such a long time, being a geek has had a negative implication. Movies and TV have often portrayed geeks as social outcasts and constant targets for bullies. Fast forward to today, where so many things have changed and everything geeky is celebrated. Now, society encourages individuality, allowing you to wave your geek flag high and proud. The advent of the internet has more people banding together online, indulging in fandoms, discussing fan theories in forums, and helping each other discover new things to geek about. We now have a day all to geeks. Geek Pride Day on May 25 celebrates all the things that bring us together as geeks. Let’s celebrate the different types you encounter every day. The Box Office Master Citizen Kane, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, In the Mood for Love, these are just some of the films that movie geeks will most certainly have watched. They are infinitely fascinated by the styles of cinematic giants like Stanley Kubrick, Francis Ford Coppola, and Wong Kar-Wai. They can go on for hours about Andrew Bujalski’s creation of Mumblecore or the brilliant use of color in Zhang Yimou’s film, Hero. They cried while watching Ratatouille, and nearly lost it when Andy let go of his beloved toys. And up to this day, they celebrate Star Wars Day every May. Movie geeks are as diverse as the genres and subgenres in the cinematic universe. They make movie watching more exciting giving insight into the inherent artistic value of a film you’re watching, they even have a movie line apt for almost any occasion. The King of TV Wondering about what you should start binge-watching? Then the TV Geeks are your guys! They know what shows are generating buzz. They hold a treasure trove of TV trivia, from long drawn-out jokes in Arrested Development to the tropes explored in the Amazing World of Gumball, they’d surely know it. They can go into the lore and political theory behind Game of Thrones and even revel in the parodies of Rick and Morty. They even take pride in knowing every 80s reference in Stranger Things. They go on and on about the newest Netflix hit or that new Korean drama starring Park Bo Gum. They are incredibly obsessed with everything on television, making them the perfect partner when you just want to stay at home and chill. The Comic Book Connoisseur Do you know who Bill Finger is? Who are the original members of the Avengers? Or maybe you find yourself asking what influenced the art of Alex Ross? If you know the answer to these questions you most certainly are a comic book geek! You’ve gone with countless reboots, powered through different timelines, and went with one-shots just to know what happened to your favorite superhero. You are the indisputable source of comic book information, you can recite the Green Lantern Oath, and even identify all members of the ever-expanding roster of the Justice League. The Gamer Guru May it be the classics like Super Mario, Starcraft, and Street Fighter or current ones like I am Setsuna, Overwatch, or Fire Emblem, you can bet that they’ve already played it. It’s no surprise that they’ve run through almost every console imaginable may it be a PlayStation, Xbox, or a Nintendo 3DS and even a Switch, they’ve even got a fully spec’d out PC especially dedicated to gaming. Some idle time while on their daily commute? They’d spend it hunched over their mobile phones playing the latest game. Though they are the paragon of the techy gamer, they are still passionate about old school board and card games. They’re master tacticians whether in Dungeons and Dragons or Magic: The Gathering and they can handily defeat you or any foe in whatever battlefield you choose. The Anime and Manga Hustler They’ve watched it all, from the classics like Yu Yu Hakusho, Dragonball Z, and Voltes V to the modern masterpieces like My Hero Academia, Attack on Titan, and Rakugo. They’re also enamored with the source materials, pouring countless hours to reading manga like Shingeki no Kyojin, One Punch-Man and One Piece. They know every trope, and almost every subgenre of anime available. And best believe they’ve read almost all types of manga they can get their hands on. Some even go as far as studying Nihongo and traveling to Japan to visit some of the largest animation studios and manga publishers in the country. Now if you can’t call that devotion, I don’t know what is! We’ve listed down just five phenomenal geeks, but there are so many other types out there, so dare to explore and discover every kind of geek! And to help you banner your inner geekiness, you can always drop by Headquarters or HQ! HQ is a concept store that promises authentic finds for authentic fans. Its goal is to curate officially licensed merchandise from different parts of the world and make them more accessible to Filipino fans. It aims to be the go-to store for rare and unique finds that appeal to a wide range of interests, may it be comic books, movies, anime, video games, music, or other areas of pop culture. HQ is located in Uptown Mall in Taguig, so visit today and fly your geek flag high! For more information about HQ follow it on Facebook ( and Instagram @hqstoreph (

Philippine orchestra wins in Vienna

The Manila Symphony Junior Orchestra (MSJO), under the baton of Jeffrey Solares, emerged triumphant with a first-prize victory in the String Orchestra competition category at the 12th Summa Cum Laude International Music Festival held at the Golden Hall of the Musikverein in Vienna, Austria, on July 8. The MSJO played their entire program from memory consisting of music by Mozart, Dvorak, Alcala, Florante and Castillon. After their 25-minute set, a member of the jury, Christoph Ehrenfellner from Austria, stood up and gave a quick comment about their performance, remarking on the warmth of their sound, and their movements on stage evoking the waves of the sea, something that he and his fellow Austrians envy about the Philippines, as they are in a landlocked country. This year’s MSJO delegation had 84 participants that included 47 young musicians aged 10 to 23, three teachers (conductor Jeffrey Solares, violin and viola teacher Sara Maria Gonzales and cello teacher Arnold Josue) as well as 34 chaperones led by their main patron, Standard Insurance Group chairman Ernesto Echauz, who had been supporting the group since 2017. Other winners in the string orchestra category include the Israel’s Jerusalem Conservatory Hassadna String Orchestra (joint first place with MSJO); Montreal Suzuki String Orchestra (third place) from Canada; The Nanyang Girls’ High School String Orchestra from Singapore (fourth place); and the UWCSEA String Orchestra (fifth place) also from Singapore. No second place was awarded. The 12th Summa Cum Laude International Youth Music Festival is Austria’s most prestigious music festival with over 30 participating ensembles from 14 different countries. It is supported by the Austrian government and by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Mari Jasmine, out and proud

Blogger and TV personality Mari Jasmine revealed that she is in a relationship with director Samantha Lee. More details were revealed by the Australian celebrity in her verified Instagram account @mari_jasmn. “Pride is about celebrating love, equality and owning your truth. So here’s mine: in the little time I’ve spent on this earth, I’ve had the privilege of being in love with both men and women,” she started. She recalled how she was warmly received as a foreigner working in Manila. She then segued to her revelation, which showed her participation at last month’s annual Metro Manila Pride March she attended with the Baka Bukas director. “My dream is for the same kind of love, compassion and understanding to be shown to the LGBTQIA+ community. We still have a long way to go to reach acceptance and equality, especially here in the Philippines. My dream is to live in a world where I feel safe walking down the street holding my girlfriend’s hand. A world where I have the same fundamental human rights that I would be entitled to if I were in a straight, heteronormative relationship,” she wrote. Mari Jasmine was in a relationship with actor Sam Milby in 2016. A year later, it was reported that they had broken up.
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