28 June 2007

Transformers the Movie 20th Anniversary Special Edition DVD Review

The movie poster
How I came to own this Special Edition DVD is one of life's pleasant surprises. A Marketing firm from the US came across my blog and wrote me asking if I would be interested in doing a review of the 20th Anniversary Transformers DVD. Do I ever! So a DVD was sent over to me. [Actually, I nearly failed to receive a copy because one was sent to me last year (2006 was the 20th anniversary) but not having received their package after about 3 months, they decided to send me another. Whew! Post office people... where's the first DVD!?!]

Anyways, that weekend I watched the movie in both widescreen and full screen versions including the special feature where snippets of trivia are displayed while the movie is playing (called easter eggs). And then I watched the bonus features. Is it obvious that I was hyped when I got hold of the DVD? I hope not. haha.

First off, the packaging is cool. The front design was a "holographic" (I don't know how to call it) photo. View it from an angle and you see Optimus Prime and allies; from another angle you see Rodimus Prime and friends. See the difference between the cover below and the one at the left? The cover is actually a small poster you can display anwhere else. Nice bonus item.

It is essentially, a representation of what the movie is all about: a transition from Gen 1 to the new characters.

The restoration done on the movie is awesome. The colors are brilliant, the picture sharp. It's like seeing the movie in a new light, versus the VHS copy (which I have, but I suspect molds have gotten to it already). The death of Optimus Prime is still as heartbreaking today as it was when my younger self first saw this movie.

“…one day, an Autobot shall rise from our ranks, and use the power of the matrix to light our darkest hour.” - Optimus Prime

It was Transformers that broke the unwritten rule that nobody dies in American cartoons. Or is it a reflection of its Japanese heritage, where death is not uncommon in anime? At any rate, its effect on the 80s generation is recounted a number of times in this DVD. Many kids cried in the cinemas, others left without finishing the movie, the publisher got a barrage of complaints and letters of outrage from kids and parents alike. It was indeed a very daring move for the famous Transformers series at that time.

I learned later on in the bonus section that this public reaction affected the way the G.I. Joe movie ended, where a leading character was also supposed to die.

Speaking of the bonus section... it's a treasure trove for Transformers enthusiasts on facts, interview, and fun trivia. It was, for example, interesting t0 learn that Mr. Orson Welles (the voice behind Unicron) died a few months after he lent his voice to the movie. His role as a planet-eating planet was ultimately going to be his last role for the movies before moving on. Another interesting trivia I learned was that G.I. Joe and Transformers, two of the high-ranking cartoons at that time, shared talents. For example, StarScream and Cobra Commander of G.I. Joe had the same voice actor. An episode aired only in Japan also showed a transition of sorts from the TV series to the movie, something that was never aired on American soil, but is now included in the DVD.

Lots, lots more to discover in the bonus section, including toy commercials and TV spots for the movie.

The advertisements for the toys really brought back a lot of childhood memories. Saturday Fun Machine would not be complete without the American kids playing with these action figures and it would make you really, really want to own one.

Overall, the Transformers 20th Anniversary DVD is a must-have for Transformers enthusiasts, for people from the 80s, for toy collectors, for kids today who appreciate their cartoon history, for those who will watch the Michael Bay film starting today, for those who want to own a piece of animation history, for the kid at heart. It's one adventurous ride!

Get your DVD from Amazon.com
Movie poster photo credit: Soundtrack Collector

26 June 2007

Transform, and roll out!

If you were a kid of the 80s, then you would know that the word "transformers" means a lot more than those metallic boxes that enable your 110v appliances to operate in our predominantly 220v environment. More than just a cartoon show (or anime, if you will), Transformers fueled the imagination of an entire generation.

Like many, I got hooked into Transformers mania. Though our family did not have the budget for the expensive merchandize, we managed to occasionally borrow action figures from friends, along with the catalog or box art that we would meticulously copy onto bond paper. We actually got so good at drawing these that we could draw them without the aid of the original material. We'd return these toys to their rightful owners, only to have them back again after a couple of days. These toys were really something. Most of them were of die-cast metal, and the details are outstanding (unlike today's plastic counterparts).

These toys were so influencial on me that I managed to buy some of these in the late 90s via eBay. They were indeed more expensive and have been elevated to collector's item status, but it was like regaining part of my happy history, and the cost didn't matter. I got, for example, Grimlock as my first purchase at a little over 100 US dollars, complete with box and manuals. I was able to add some more to my collection within a couple of years. Other priorities have since taken its course, but my cherished collection is still with me.
My humble collection

Last weekend, I was unaware that there was a Transformers event at EDSA Shangri-La until friend Emil SMSed me about it. I thought I would never be able to see the exhibit, but finally made it at 5:30PM.

The displays were incredible! Loads of toys in glass cases! There are indeed serious collectors out there! It was also heartening to learn that one of the artists for the Comics version of the Transformers is a Filipino, with some of his works displayed there. Argh, I forgot to take photos of the covers.

I frantically searched around for Emil and was in trying to call him when a guy cosplaying as Optimus Prime strode past. There he was with sidekick Bumblebee!

It was a really wistful moment, like I was back in the 80s, with the added touch of flat screen TVs showing the trailer of the upcoming movie, and new toy merchandize.

What?! No shirt for sale? And no discount on the toys? Oh well, at least the show was for free.

22 June 2007

So many islands, so little time

It was, first and foremost, a business trip. A business trip that happens to be in one of the more famous tourist destinations in the Philippines.

The City of Alaminos in Pangasinan is home to a place called Hundred Islands National Park. How that group of over a hundred islands came to be in that place is a marvel to me. Incidentally, the event was going to be held in an open-air restaurant that affords a wonderful view of the island group beyond. So... they want their guests to enjoy the scenery while on this business trip! Yep, that was our cue.

(Is it obvious that I'm trying to justify our little excursion? hahaha)

Very early the next day, we set off for the Hundred Islands. We only had a couple of hours to spare, so our boatman sped off to our first stop, Governor's Island. Incidentally, this is also the place where an alternate house of the reality TV show Pinoy Big Brother is located. We curiously looked around and took photos.

We took a dip and lingered only for a few minutes before setting off to Quezon Island. The beach here was nice. Not white sand, but fine nonetheless with relatively calm waters.

Soon enough, we found ourselves at Children's Island where the water is quite shallow. So shallow that you can actually go to the next island just by wading.

These three islands are the main focus of the tour. There are caves to explore, but we just didn't have the time to do so, with the event drawing near. We nevertheless felt rejuvenated from this side trip.

And of course, it's off to the local market and souvenir shops for pasalubong!

Longganisa is a popular delicacy here. This is the first time I saw these sausages tied like it was meant to be a necklace! Each tasty lump is separated from each other by toothpicks.
Bagoong, or fish sauce, is also popular.
Of course, shirts and decorations made from shells are not to be missed.

With my souvenir shirt to remind me of this quick but wonderful trip, it's back to bustling Manila. Til next time!

19 June 2007

Jo-Lo is 2 years old!

I couldn't care less when they say how kids grow fast. But now that we have Jose Carlos, I couldn't help but be amazed at how fast the transition was from crawling to running, from milk to solid food. I can still remember the time when I held him in my arms in the hospital room as I tried to burp him on Father's Day.

And last weekend, we celebrated his 2nd birthday! We had the party at home, and we asked our parents and siblings to help out with the perparations. My mother does wonders with macaroni, and she made her famous macaroni soup and salad with sugar beets, along with lumpiang shanghai (the secret is in the shrimp!). My sister cooked kare-kare, her specialty. My wife's brother cooked menudo with gusto, while my mother- and brother-in-law Jojo made fresh lumpia with that special peanut sauce. My brother's wife made buco pandan. The fresh veggie salad was my idea but because I was busy with the decorations, my wife obligingly prepared it. I delivered the cake. :-) The kids (and grown-ups too!) had hotdogs, ice cream, and cake, and an assortment of sweets. And of course, no birthday party is complete without pancit for long life, lovingly prepared by my sister.

Throw away your diet plans today, ladies and gentlemen!

This was the day before the celebration. While the afternoon sun provided cool light and warmth, the preparations turned were moved outside the house.
Candle-blowing marked the start of the festivities
Eating time!
After lunch, the kids had loads of fun with games. Yours truly was one of the hosts so I wasn't able to take many photos. There was the "palayok", relays, newspaper dance, stop dance, and lots more.

I was amused when I announced "Next game: Trip to Jerusalem! Those who want to play, raise your hands!" I was met with curious stares. What game is that? When I explained that they have to grab chairs when the music stops, their faces lit up and and raised their hands eagerly. Me! Me! hahaha!

Ummm... Mommy Tina, where are you bringing that cake?
And of course, it was gift opening time at the end of the party! Jo-Lo likes this huge Command Center with sounds. I like it too. May I borrow it, Jo-Lo?Happy 2nd birthday, Jo-Lo!

[More photos can be found at Jo-Lo's Blog!]

15 June 2007

Kinabuhayan Cafe in Dolores, Quezon

We stayed at the Kinabuhayan Cafe for our weekend getaway (not to be mistaken with Kinabuhayan, which is a different place altogether. The former is a bed and breakfast estblishment, while the latter is a jump-off point to a trek in Mt. Banahaw). The facade looks unassuming enough; cemented but with an open-air atmosphere. But once you enter the premises, you find yourself in open spaces.
We had dinner here in the garden. And what a wonderful dinner it was! I didn't know chicken can be sooo delicious. And the rice... how did they come up with such a delicious medley of spices, mushrooms, and whatever it is in the rice that made it oh so yummy!
Notice the pink things on top of the veggie mix? They're actually flowers! And they were edible. When Jay (one of the owners of the place and chef extraordinaire) walked about and asked how our dinner was going, we enthusiastically answered, "delicious!" But then he saw us delicately pushing the flowers aside and he bellowed: "What are you doing?! Those flowers are edible! Eat them! Eat them!" And so we did. The flower must have a delicate taste for the rice and chicken overpowered it so I'm not sure how it tastes like but it was ok.
There's a langka tree at the back with loads of fruits hanging about. We stared at these hungrily. We noticed that it's not being harvested. The fruits were just being left there until they become ripe, then overripe, then unfit for consumption already. We wanted to ask for some but we became "mahiyain" at the last minute.
You can also play billiards for free. Yipee!
It was, overall, a most relaxing break. I hope we can do it again soon!

And this brings to a close our wonderful weekend vacation in Dolores, Quezon.
Happy weekend, everyone!

12 June 2007

Return to Kubli Springs in Dolores, Quezon

I wrote about Kubli some time back. It was just a quick side trip then, as we were given permission to visit the place. It's private property and is a secret place of Kinabuhayan Cafe (which, based on the many articles written about it in the Net, is no longer quite a secret). If you are checked in at Kinabuhayan Cafe, you may request Jay to hold one of your meals at Kubli.

We intended to have our dinner here, but Jay cautioned strongly that lunch be done instead. "I wouldn't like my guests swept away by the river!", he said. The rainy season has come and it has made the river moody at night. So lunch it was.

Inspite of the absence of the dreamt vision of the moon shining above us and the torches strategically placed along the riverbanks, we had fun nonetheless. The sun would hide amongst the clouds and take a peek occasionally. It even started to drizzle ever so slightly. But that didn't dampen our spirits as we enjoyed the scenery and the company.

At half past 12, the food started arriving. Great. We worked up a good appetite from coming to Kubli earlier and playing about the water. Soon we saw smoke nearby and learned they were grilling tilapia for us. yum yum.

And here comes the food!

Curried vegetables, salad, and steamed tilapia. We washed our hands and got down to business. Yum yum!
It was my first time to taste pako', a form of fern harvested along riverbanks. Tasty!
Sorry, no photos of the freshly-grilled tilapia. We were all grabbing plates already when the fish were served. And no frogs were harmed in the making of this post! :-)
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