29 April 2008

In memoriam: Canon Powershot S2iS

I bought the Canon Powershot S2iS a couple of years ago from a friend. Prior to my possession of it, he had the camera for a little over a year. He gave me a good package: the camera, 8 pieces Energizer rechargable batteries with recharger, bag. When I got the camera, I instantly fell in love with taking photos; it was a fun companion in our treks and family outings.

Alas (or shall I say, malas? hehe), the camera simply stopped functioning a couple of weeks ago. I was taking some shots and then suddenly it was giving me "whitwashed" photos. 80-90% of the photos were white. My companions said it just might need some rest, so I gave it a break and tried again. Same result.

A few days later, it finally started working again but this time there were fine, horizontal lines.

It was time to bring it to the Service Center.

I dropped by the Canon Center along Pasong Tamo in Makati one morning to have it checked. The front-line service took a look while I described the symptoms. He then said that the lens assembly was malfunctioning. Did I happen drop the camera recently? Nope, I said. And then he proceeded to explain that the aperture is supposed to close when taking shots, but it's not doing so, thus the overexposed shots. And the horizontal lines mean that there really is something wrong with the lens.

Then he said "thank you."

How much will it cost to repair the camera? He took a quick look at his laptop and wrote the cost on a piece of paper. 10,000 pesos!

I asked... what if I purchase one of those wide angle lens / photo lens thingies instead? The agent said that the malfunction is in the integral part of the camera, so that won't work. I really need to have it fixed.

Then he said "thank you".

And then, like an afterthought, he said that they can "buy back" the camera and deduct this price from a new Canon camera. And how much rebate can I get from this? 1,800 pesos. Whaaaatttt... I bought the camera at around 20k, and all I get is 1,800?

And then he said "thank you."

Man, the "thank you" parts were really very irritating, like he wanted me to scoot the soonest possible time.

I feel that giving away the S2iS at the price of 1,800 is really unfair, even when it's malfunctioning. I would have expected that Canon thinks more highly of their products. But that's consumer products for you I guess.

And so I left the service center feeling that I did not get the service a customer deserves. Well, Jo-Lo now has a new toy to play with (he's a wizard with gadgets! At two years old!) and I hope I can have a new camera soon. I need to save up; the Canon S2iS was a great companion and preserved a lot of happy memories, but this time I'm getting a Nikon.

Anybody need a part-time writer / contributor? :-)

24 April 2008

Forbidden Kingdom - a review

Like most boys growing up in Baguio City in the late 70s to the 80s, we watched a lot of Martial Arts films. Foremost of these is Jacky Chan's movies. The fight scenes are meticulously thought out and performed like it can be done by everybody else. And as can be seen in the outtakes (which is a trademark ending of his films), you can see the dedication Jacky Chan pours into his movies. It is a passion that shows in his performance.

And then came Wong Fei Hung of the "Once Upon a Time in China" series. Jet Li wowed us with his moves. While Jackie Chan loves injecting humor into his performance, Jet Li exudes a calculating and serious mood. I wondered if there will come a time when these two will face each other in a single movie. In my wildest dreams.

Lo and behold. My wildest dream came true! The ironic part is, I have never even seen a trailer of this movie. Just the posters at which I stared in disbelief. It's for real!

And so last weekend, my wife, Jo-Lo, and I trooped to the cinema to watch Forbidden Kingdom. I knew early on that there has to be a confrontation between these two stars and eagerly anticipated this. I was not disappointed. It's one of the best martial arts sequences I have seen.

An added bonus is Jackie Chan reprising his role as a drunken master. Some of his earlier films portrayed him as a character who was taught the art of the Drunken Fist, whereby the martial arts technique required drinking copious amounts of alcohol while fighting and getting drunk in the process while at the same time becoming more invincible! And Jet Li maintained his composure as a Monk; his Wong Fei Hung persona really suits him.

Hmmm... I really do not want to give away spoilers at this point because the movie is still relatively new and you might not have watched it yet, but if you have, I would like to hear your take on the immortality concept of the movie. That part was confusing to me.

As for the overall plot of the movie, it actually reminds me of another movie called Warriors of Virtue where an American kid loves going to this Chinese food shop. He had braces on his legs, but this did not stop him from dreaming of becoming a football player. An accidental drop into a whirling water storage of sorts (he was cajoled into crossing a narrow plank by kids who need a really good spanking) transported him to the mystical land of Tau where he met these Runes possessing powers of the five elements.

Hmmm... I do see the resemblance with Forbidden Kingdom. There's also this dude who loves frequenting a Chinese store - this time a pawnshop - and is forced by a gang to do something bad and he falls.... into the magical land of Ancient China where there is a prophecy that the Monkey King will rise again and defeat the oppressive regime.

Yes, dear boys and girls. The spotlight is shared by this lanky kid who grows in strength and willpower as the story progresses. I have read some reviews that said the movie needed a touch of American for it to sell in the US and give it an international appeal. I disagree. In my point of view, these critics are misguided. I believe the story did call for an "outsider" entering the mystical, ancient China, and who to better personify it than somebody of a different skin and hair color? It wouldn't be as effective if an Asian dude played the part.

The fourth character in the team is played by a lady called Golden Sparrow. She's quite attractive, and lethal.

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. The theme - a fantasy and action flick is very appropriate as I remember their films of old, when Jackie Chan and Jet Li were known only to our side of the world.

21 April 2008

NAIA woes

We were enroute to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) one Saturday to welcome back my younger brother Dodi who works in Jeddah and is coming back to the Philippines for a 2-month vacation. Wow. Has it been 2 years already?

Anyways, I do not particularly like the NAIA when going there as either the sending-off or the welcoming party, principally because NAIA is not particularly equipped for these "rituals". Welcoming party members, for example, has to stay behind the railings way off from the arrival area. And they guards shoo people away like a pack of rats.

At any rate, the cab driver informed us that he will be dropping us off at the 2nd floor departure area because cabs are restricted at the arrival area. See what I mean? There's just no clear-cut definition where people ought to stay. When you get there, that's the only time they direct you where to go, which is a major inconvenience because you have to walk a looong way back.

When Dodi was finally at customs, we took the stairs going to the ground floor arrival area. That was where we learned that the alleged waiting area was relocated at the parking area or thereabouts. So we had to walk all the way down the length of the road to get to this area. Which begged the question: how do we get a taxicab which was lined up right at the entrance of the arrival area?

I called up Dodi. Incidentally he just made the exit and so we saw him and his luggage. Waving frantically we saw each other, and the guards took pity I think and relented for us to meet there and get a cab.

And then came this guy in white barong and directed us to the Taxi Service. I thought he was part of the airport personnel and was guiding us for security purposes. But he entered the Taxi Service Office and shortly reappeared with a receipt on hand and asked us where we were going. To Makati, which is really not to far off. So imagine my surprise when we was charging us 800 pesos! We protested that it was too expensive and then he said "kayong bahala" (it's up to you") and left us. A lady who was standing nearby approached us and asked how much the guy was charging us. We said 800 pesos. She said she was being charged 650 pesos, also bound for Makati. What's this? Taxi fee based on how many luggages you have and on how affluent you look?

The nerve of these people! Veer away from this place which faces the arrival gate.

Then a guy from the yellow cabs lined up near the entrance approached us and asked how much we were being charged. After our reply, he advised us to take one of the yellow cabs intead. They're airport metered taxis.

Yellow cabs lined up. You can't miss them.

We trooped to the ticketing station. The fee is still higher than the regular cabs but at 70 pesos flag down rate and 4 pesos add-on thereof, it was still way preferable. So we boarded at once.

The cars are new and they have the metering system which gives you a receipt. Our driver was courteous as well. Our bill? 160 pesos!

I wonder how those people can get off charging exorbitant fees. Thank goodness NAIA already has this metered taxis at the arrival area. The problem is, how to get one because it is a restricted area after all. Perhaps they also have a lane at the waiting area? So next time you're there, I recommend that you take one of these yellow cabs!

The arrival area at the left immediately opens up to a row of yellow cabs. Get one of those, not the Taxi service across this road.

18 April 2008


Going to meet-ups (or eyeballs or EBs, as they are more commonly referred to) is always loaded with fun and laughter. In the 90s, I used to attend a lot of these but it was with only one group: the CampV5 people. Some of us still get in touch occasionally but in our heyday it was every week!

Well, I haven’t attended that much social gatherings, and I’m not particularly fond of going to parties anyway where I am not acquainted with half the people mingling about. But with blogger EBs, it’s different. People who meet face-to-face for the first time ask how the kids are doing, how was their vacation last weekend was, and share laughs like they’ve known each other for years.

And when it rains, it pours. This week, I was in three blog-related EBs. The first one was at the book launching (see previous post) last Monday. And then there was the big EB at the Mall of Asia by good online friends Ann and KD last Tuesday. Among the merry crowd, I was only familiar with a few so I whipped out my pen and paper and got their “autographs”:

Razzy’s Anything Goes | Left without a note | Litaniya ni Tekla | Masterbetong’s Vantage Point | Lady Cess’ Occupation: SAHM | Cielo's Brown Pinay | tin-esopheric.blogspot.com (not found?) | Malaya’s My so-called World | Wendy’s The Maven | Rems’ Bigrhome.com | Rachel’s Life is Fun | Noemi’s About my Recovery | Sexy Mom’s The D Spot

Photos courtesy of Masterbetong:

Whew! That’s quite a list! If I forgot to include anybody, let me know please! The hosts, husband and wife tandem KD and Ann are nice company. I chatted with KD and Masterbetong most of the time, and learned some interesting tidbits about significant happenings in their online life. Thanks again for the wonderful meet-up and the loot bag full of goodies!


And then, the following day, Blogkadahan had a dinner EB at BatJay’s favorite place, Pots and Noodles located at SM Megamall. We also had a special guest that night: Mec and Jojo’s son Yakee! It was great having dinner with Doc Emer (http://emeritus.blogspot.com/), Mari (http://avantgarde-deux.blogspot.com/2008/04/ang-batang-kaning-lamig-take-2.html), Apol (http://apolthegreat.blogspot.com/), Tito Rolly (http://titorolly.blogspot.com/), Mec (http://delisyusness.blogspot.com/2008/04/meeting-legend.html), Jojo (who I met years ago), and of course, BatJay (http://kwentongtambay.com/), who was interviewed that night and signed some more books for us.

Photos courtesy of Doc Emer:

After dinner, we trooped to Starbucks for late night coffee and we ended up leaving the shop when the chairs and tables were already being piled up. Hahaha. Thank you, BatJay, for the treat, and have a safe trip going back to Jet!

14 April 2008

Mga Kwento ng Batang Kaning Lamig Book Launch

What fun! We attended the Fox Literary House, Inc. book launch which includes the second book of BatJay: Mga Kwento ng Batang Kaning Lamig. What's even more fun is seeing fellow bloggers Tito Rolly, Apol, and Pauline. Ajay also showed up along with her cool digital camera. I'm sure she was able to get wonderful shots, unlike these ones from my camera phone.

Oh, and we had an impromptu google ads session from Mr. Manuel Viloria. Thank you so much for the tips! Sir, pahingi nung photo! hehe

We were seated at the back. Shy ako e. hehe. BatJay, whose book was sold out, explains what it is all about while the artist Kenikenken looks on.
Group photo of the authors
BatJay's long line of book signing

Ajay showed up just in time with her hi-tech camera!

The authors, many of whom are literary masters through their college degrees, work, and accolades, took turns talking about their books. It made me buy the other books actually. I will be reading through these and post some book reviews! Hope you guys also patronize these books and support Filipino authors.

09 April 2008


Do you notice anything out of the ordinary in my photo below?

While trying to see what made us take the ordinary-looking photo above, I'd like to share some snippets of information for the week...

Elegant wine glasses at 35 pesos each!

Yep, you read it right. These wine and margarita glasses are a steal at 35 pesos each from The LandMark along Makati Avenue here in Makati. Of course, at this price you would expect these glasses to have some minor defects, such as bubbles. But they are really not so noticeable, especially if it's going to be used at a busy party. Plus, it won't hurt so much if a guest accidentally breaks it. We bought some to be used for drinking water. We'd feel like eating in a restaurant even when at home! :-)

Short Sharp Showers this month of April

That's this month's Do the Green Thing task. Well, this will be easy compared with last month's where I had to go meatless. Of course, the tasks does not only apply for the month it was assigned to; you have to integrate it into your daily living. But that said, this month's task is very doable, especially since I usually rush for work in the morning and I have been taking short sharp showers for the longest time already. This will be a walk in the park. Chicken feed, even. haha!

03 April 2008

Batang Kaning Lamig Book Launch

BatJay of Kwentong Tambay is at it once again with a book entitled Batang Kaning Lamig. If you enjoyed his first book, you will surely have a blast with this one as well.

BatJay is now based in California, but he will be in the Philippines for the Book Launch! Here's your chance to meet a fellow blogger who wants to make a difference in the literacy rate of the Philippines by making reading fun!

So head on to Fully Booked at the Fort on April 14 at 3:00PM to meet and greet BatJay! I will endeavour to be there as well. When you do recognize me, do holler! I'm sorry I'm not so good at faces and names. But still, when we do meet there, it will be a nice small EB for us as well!

01 April 2008

Bringing in of food and drinks a must?

We went to a Hot Springs resort last weekend, and this sign greeted us at the gate. Can anybody help explain what it is about?
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