25 June 2008

Book, Film, and Food

The tragic events of the last weekend has sent me spiraling into a sort of depression stage; I did not feel like writing or going through my usual internet haunts. But I have to snap out of it and so here goes my post of sorts after a couple of days moping about:

Book and Film
We visited the new National Bookstore along Makati Avenue just to see what they can offer so we can just run to their shop in case we need something instead of going all the way to Glorietta.
The book on my table

But lo and behold! This book caught my eye and sat there, begging to be bought. I picked it up immediately I felt a connection... that it's going to bring me to a wonderful adventure. And so just a few minutes later, we were walking back to the office with Spiderwick Chronicles in tow.

I am down to the last chapter, which I reserved for tonight. And my reaction compared to the movie adaptation? Reading the book is waaaaay better than watching the movie.

The movie was able to faithfully adapt the book from the beginning only up to the time where they find the boggart's nest in the kitchen. From that point on, you recognize only bits and pieces of the book, such as the visit to their Aunt Lucinda (wait... that story was also interestingly different). A lot of the twists and tales in the book was changed to make a rushed version for the movie. That said, I gained a better appreciation of the book, and certainly deserves the New York Times Bestseller Serial recognition.

'm not saying that the movie was not great; in fact, it was quite an enjoyable fare. And I would not have bought the book had it not been for the movie. But since the movie "took a life on its won" (after all, how would you fit two hours' worth of storytelling from a 5-part series?), reading the book was like seeing a whole new world of Arthur Spiderwick, and it was quite an adventure!


And Food.
I was in Walter Mart Makati when I espied the Japanese Grocery Store at the second floor and I remembered JMom's post on Furikake which I stumbed upon her food blog while hopping around.

I made a beeline for the shop and went straight to the counter. "Do you have Furikake?", I asked. The shop clerk's face brightened up and led me straight to the row of the mysterious "seasoning". Since there were many flavors to choose from, I asked which was the most popular, and he indicated chicken. Whoops... I forgot momentarily my DotheGreenThing pledge to choose veggies (or fish) over meat and went home with the chicken variety.

Furikake is simply a Japanese seasoning that is meant to be sprinkled over rice. I'd love to mention here the ingredients of the one I bought, but it's in Japanese. I haven't tried it yet, but I will definitely blog about it soon. Mine was P135.00 a bottle. Feeling adventurous? Radish Boy has a recipe in making your own.
This version costs P75.00 each.
On the way to the cashier, I chanced upon these Meiji chocolates. I normally get headaches from indulging in chocolates, but I've found out that black chocolate actually agrees with me. So I bought a bar.

This post has officially made me hungry and longing to go back home to finish the book.

UPDATE (June 26)
I just had my second meal with Furikake awhile ago. Last night, I had some too at Chowking (yeah, I now keep the Furikake in my bag). Ummm... I think I put too much on my rice. The taste was strong for me. I think I put too much. I'll sprinkle only a little bit next time and mix it up with the rice.

And I have finished reading Spiderwick Chronicles as well. And guess what... even the ending of the book is different from the movie! Strange. huh?

19 June 2008

The Incredible Hulk: a movie review

This year is undeniably one of the busiest summer movie seasons that has found its way to the Philippines. There are really great movies left and right! Well, for my taste anyway, I can't seem to get enough of the films coming out one after the other.

Last night, we watched the Incredible Hulk. I did not get to watch the Ang Lee version on the big screen but despite its lackluster performance in the box office, it was an enjoyable version, depicting the Hulk as a very powerful and agile character. The current version, however, makes the Hulk a more believable character in that it does not dwell so much on the Hulk's angst but the Bruce Banner's continuing battle with his inner demon and his search for a cure is given equal screen time as the famous green giant. In the previous version, a lot of time was spent as well on telling the story of how Banner came to be the Hulk, and that part was over and done with in the introductory sequence in the new movie and more time was thus available for plot development.

I also like how they are trying to link the movies together. Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr. a.k.a. Ironman) appears in the movie to talk about the S.H.I.E.L.D.'s initiative to form a band of super heroes. Another fun part is the appearance of no other than Lou Ferrigno, the Incredible Hulk of the hit TV series in the 80s! And the years has been kind to him; it looks like he did not age much! Edward Norton likewise fits the Dr. Bruce Banner persona, although being an 80s kid, I still like the TV version of Bruce Banner, Mr. Bill Bixby :-). However, I rather thought the pre-Abomination soldier's acting was a bit bland.

Overall, I loved the movie. I actually thought Liv Tyler will suddenly mutter something in Elvish and have some water horses come rushing down any time in the movie (she's quite the Elf personified) but she's quite a beauty, isn't she? The plot, character development, and how everything is being fit together into one HUGE production (read: AVENGERS!) makes the movie even more interesting and engaging. After watching, I can almost feel the electricity from the comic book enthusiasts in the audience as they discussed what will happen in this franchise. Yep, comic book people are having a field day with Marvel movies these days.

16 June 2008

White Island Sandbar at Camiguin

Picking off from where we left at Cagayan de Oro, our next destination was a short trip to Bukidnon's pineapple plantation, followed by the sea travel to the lovely island Camiguin. This island is so beautiful, with majority of the roads well-paved. Lots of greenery, very clean, and lots of schools too! That was an amazing part. We saw a lot of schools, considering that it is quite a small island.

I am devoting a blog post for the wonderful White Island just off the coast of Paras Beach Resort in Barangay Yubing. All it takes to get to this island is a banca ride of less than ten minutes.

The sandbar is uninhabited, although there are manmade shelter areas in one area of the island which, I believe, is the part that doesn't sink come high tide. The sand is white and, though not as powdery as Boracay's, is still a delight to feel the sand between your toes.

Early morning is the best time to explore this sandbar due to space and sun considerations. Oh, and there are souvenir sellers and food on the island, too!

The sandbar with Camiguin Island in the background

Jump for joy!

This ocean is alive!

It's just the place to unwind.

10 June 2008

Kung Fu Panda: a movie review

What makes something special "special"? Is it an added ingredient to a recipe? A signature move to a skill? Putting in a lot of flowery words to a speech?

This question was eloquently answered in the movie, and this ultimately decided the fate of the Valley as their powerful enemy Tai Lung escapes the heavily-fortified prison and plans to get the Dragon Scroll - which keeps the secret to becoming the all-powerful Dragon Warrior - by force.

Unnervingly placed in the predicament is Po, a happy-go-lucky Panda Bear that loves martial arts and dreams for adventures while helping out his father run the noodle shop, a family business. Such is fate, for you should be careful of what you wish for or you just might get it. Po got his wish, but not the approval of the five Martial Arts Masters who trained hard to protect the village and ultimately, each desiring to be chosen as the Dragon Warrior.

Excellent animation, action, and lots of humor make this a family favorite. At first I thought only Jack Black was the only actor lending his voice to the movie, but was surprised to learn that other famous people were behind the other voices as well: Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Jackie Chan, Lucy Liu, Ian McShane, David Cross, Seth Rogen, Michael Clarke Duncan, James Hong, Randall Duk Kim. And here's another trivia: our very own Sam Concepcion sang the song "Kung Fu Fighting" for the movie! Isn't that grand?

(The toys from Mcdonald's are real nice too!)

Never a dull moment. This is the epiphany of awesomeness. Go watch it!

06 June 2008

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian

I have just finished watching The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Today is the first day of showing and I simply cannot pass this one by, even if I had to watch it alone.

The scriptwriter and director took some liberties at telling the story and adapting it to the big screen. But I must say, they did a pretty good job at it. Not like the Harry Potter movies where some elements just have to go away for lack of time, Prince Caspian somehow managed to keep the essence of the book intact.

But of course, having read the books for quite a number of times now, I can't help but compare it with the movie. So here are my observations, without trying to divulge too much:

- Aslan comes much later in the movie. I think this is for dramatic effect. In the book, the kids meet Aslan even before they head to Aslan's How.
- The book spends a considerable number of pages narrating the merriment that happens after the battle. That is changed in the book.
- The River God is grander and so much more dramatic in the movie
- There were more fight scenes in the movie than in the book
- I don't recall the Minotaurs making an alliance with the Narnians in the book, though the twist they did in the movie was a nice touch indeed.

How long was it since the first movie? A couple of years? But how they have grown! Especially Lucy. There was a theory that they did this movie after the first one because they were trying to catch up with the kids' growing up, and I think that's it.

The movie was grander than the book and had more action in it. I am quite dismayed by a couple of things, though.
- When Aslan joined the fight only later on, all he could say as the reason was "It doesn't happen the same way." A better explanation could have been better. So many Narnians died!
- I didn't like Prince Caspian's accent. It sounded forced.
- Also, Prince Caspian looked utterly bewildered when he first sets sight on a couple of Narnians. He was so much wiser in the book.
- I was kinda hoping I'd see the dance of the naiads and draiads and Pan, but I guess drinking-induced dancing would have been a no-no for a PG movie?

But there are sweet highlights as well.
- Ripeechip's a delight! I swear, if an action figure of him comes out, I'll buy one.
- It's great seeing the White Witch again, even for a moment (this is no spoiler; this was revealed in the trailers).
- I loved the battles with the hippogriffs, centaurs, minotaurs, fauns.

I enjoyed the movie. There were dramatic moments, humor, and lots of action. It's sooo good to return to Narnia again.

03 June 2008

Manila Ocean Park

We visited Manila Ocean Park last April. It took me some time to blog about this because this was also the time I sorely missed my Canon camera, which went kaput only a few weeks prior to this adventure. See my photo below? I still brought it along in this trip, hoping that it will magically repair itself. *sigh*

Anyways... my brother just arrived from Jeddah on this day and we decided to visit some noteworthy places before we head out to Baguio, where he will surely be staying put for the rest of his vacation.

Each adult costs 400 pesos. Whew! That's a lot of money. But if you think about it, it does not cost as much as the ones in HongKong and Singapore. Well, perhaps it's because those abroad have carnival rides and other attractions in them whereas ours is an oceanarium with some human conveniences built in such a hotel, mall, and restaurant.

Still, even at 400 pesos per head, the place was jampacked! We had to wait two hours to finally have our tour. Here are some photos to tell the rest of our story.

The first stage is the outdoor aquariums.
Here, the guests can touch the starfish.
Nemo (a clownfish) and Dory (hmm... forgot what species she is) are very popular with the kids and adults alike. Upon entering, everybody would wonder aloud, "where's Nemo?" and shrieks of delight would come from people who sees the clownfish.

Very beautiful collection. This one below, was amazing. It was huge! Its tank was kept cold.
The nautilus! One of my favorites. Did you know that this was the inspiration for the submarine?
The deadly lionfish.

There was this section of the park where huge aquariums are located and schools of fish swim effortlessly in groups. It was mesmerizing.
This photo is dark because flash photography is not allowed. And I think I just used my iPhone for this one. When you enter this tunnel, you can no longer go back.

This place goes through the largest aquarium in the park, with sharks and large fish and stingrays swimming above and beside you. Beautiful.
Now I know why the parks in HongKong and Singapore had a moving pathway in their tunnels. So that people wouldn't linger. As it happened here, the people stayed for the longest time in the tunnel watching the fish swim everywhere, making this the most congested area.

We were lucky! A couple of divers went in to feed the stingrays and a shark of sorts. The stingrays would glide by the diver and they would insert the fish into the mouth. I think it's the poor galunggong that's the meal of the day.

The Manila Ocean Park is quite a spectacle. I am glad that we have one now.

But of course, some minor quirks:
1. As with the other bloggers, I am not too happy about the starfish-handling section. For one thing, nature appreciation and conservation is all about letting them be. I think that letting the people just touch and get those starfish out of the water is sending the wrong message: that we can simply catch these starfish when we see one in the wild.
2. The aquariums at the open air area were quite blurry with green algae growth. I think it's because they're under the sun, and it's making the algae grow more rapidly than anticipated. Isn't this bad for the fish?
3. I was supposed to say, fake or dead corals as added decor (whoops! there, I said it) but understandably, it will truly be very difficult to maintain live corals in aquariums in such a huge environment.
4. I did not manage to look at the restaurant's menu but if there are fish in it, then wouldn't that be ironic?
5. The place was not yet finished at the time of our visit.

It will be great to see the place completed and surely more attention will be focused on nature conservation. But overall, we enjoyed the trip.

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