Friday, December 30, 2016

7 Things About Die Beautiful

This review may contain some harsh comments but that doesn’t mean that the movie is altogether
ugly. The 42nd Metro Manila Film Festival is made of ultra-high quality films – what more can I ask for?

My goal is to give my best (and also my most brutal) review of the films with the desire to help the filmmakers and actors alike. The Golden Age of the Philippine Cinema is here and these people need inputs and insights! This is what exactly I am trying to achieve through this blog.

Before anything else, I’d like to congratulate all the people behind the film “Die Beautiful”. I hope these inputs help you in your next films – or whatever.

1. Very impressive concept

I like the fact that this film banked on Paolo Ballesteros’ superb make up transformation skills. That skills set is impressive and I would love to see it in a movie. I believe this is also one of the reasons why Die Beautiful won the hearts of many – it was already loved even before it came out. Now for filmmakers this is double-edged sword. Can it live up to the expectations of the discriminating crowd or will it just settle for being one of those highly entertaining films? Or can it do both?

Overall, Die Beautiful is a likeable film. It may not be my most favorite Filipino film ever but still undeniably raised the standard of quality of local films. This is how films should be like!

2. Good and bad actings

There are two people who stood out in the film – the actor who played Barbs and then Joel Torre. 

Barbs is so good you would believe the role was intended for him – or that he was involved in the conceptualization of his character. He owned it – even outshone Paolo Ballesteros at some point. All his lines and nuances are all in the right places at the right time. This guy should be thrown more projects!

On the other hand, Joel Torre was scary! I have seen him do dark and sinister characters before but his performance here is just amazing. He should do more projects like this.

While there are good actings, there are also remarkably bad and unconvincing actings. I got disappointed with Iza Calzado and the guy who played the high school crush of Paolo Ballesteros. These are pivotal roles and I thought the actors for these should have been carefully chosen.

The role seemed to be not for Iza – but as they say there are no wrong roles. Despite this, I knew Iza could have done better. I really loved her in “Milan”. Can she channel what she did in that movie again in her next projects?

About the guy who played Paolo’s high school crush, there is something that’s telling me that this guy is not for “serious” projects like this. He can play roles in feel-good, light and comedy movies but Die Beautiful is just not one of those films.

3. You could have “milked” some more the 7-day wake

The whole film centered on the 7-day wake of Trisha, Paolo Ballesteros' character. It is on each day of the wake that the anticipation for the make-up transformation of Paolo Ballesteros is being built upon. All the make-up transformations of Paolo are fantastic. And this is remarkable to me because make-ups and prosthetics are things that I don't remember Philippine cinema is excelling at.

Because of this very powerful material  (Paolo's make-up transformations), I believe that the 7-day wake should have been developed some more. For example, the make-up transformations can have a pattern – allowing one to lead to another – to build up a much better momentum for the story. Or connections should have been established between the make-up transformation characters and the stories for each day.

The mind loves patterns and connections. By using this insight alongside a raw material that is already powerful in itself, I believe that the film will be able to outdo itself.

4. Emotions checklist

In every film that I watch, I always do an emotions checklist. A film should be able to convince or confuse the mind while it tickle the emotions and activate the imagination. Below are the emotions I remember during the film.

a. Funny – The film is funny. Thanks to Barbs and his witty lines. Also, Paolo Ballesteros did well.

b. Scary – It doesn’t have to be a horror film to induce fear. Thanks to the excellent acting of Joel Torre playing the homophobic father of Paolo.

c. Drama – The film, of course, also has drama. Which Filipino film doesn’t? However, there are not much crying in this film – which is a little bit sad because the film has a great opportunity. At some point, I even found myself waiting for it. I am not looking for dragging drama scenes but there are parts of the film that should have been developed some more to inspire some sobbing.

d. Love – Two more elements that should have been explored more is the love between Paolo and his adopted daughter and also the love between Paolo and the guy who died of leukemia. I felt it fell short on those aspects – even though the film itself testified on the importance of these two relationships for the lead character.

e. Curiosity – The film gave us all a glimpse into the lives of the “beaucons” or beauty contest joiners. While I laud the film for taking this road less traveled, I think that it did not necessarily excel in it. It just did okay. I was waiting for more “aha! moments” about the lives of the beaucons. What are some of the remarkable things that world should know about them? The film already had the chance to tell that important story. It should have fully arrested that opportunity.

5. Cameo performances

What are the cameo performances of famous celebrities in indie films for? Are these just for PR stunts or because the story itself calls for it? 

I believe Die Beautiful excelled in this aspect. The appearances of Iza Calzado and Eugene Domingo are excellent. I just have nothing much to say on the acting of Iza. And also, on the wig and overall appearance of Eugene Domingo as a recognized fashion designer. I just don’t think fashion designers “overdo” it. Eugene Domingo did well in acting though.

6. Some far-fetched, unresolved and unconvincing ideas

Below are some unresolved issues inside of me because of the film.

a. How the guy who died of leukemia confessed that he had been stalking Paolo for so many years after that fateful night is just too far-fetched and unbelievable. It was too contrived. I believe the writers could have done better with this one.

b. The reunion scene of Paolo with his ate, Gladys Reyes, was unsatisfying. Aren’t they friends when they were younger – Gladys was his "ate" and the only one who truly understood him? They don’t even have a mother anymore! How can the writers be so un-generous with their protagonist like this?

c. How the adopted daughter of Paolo grew up so fast that the movie started with her being pregnant is just too amazing! Should the movie really have to start with that premise? Even without it, the film will stand.

7. Anti-climactic or just bad ending?

Okay. Let me begin by saying that the film had successfully created sequences that were so solid for an ultra-satisfying climax to stand. However, until now, I am not sure if I’ll call the film anti-climactic or the ending is just so bad. 

Anyhow, below are some of the better endings that played in my mind.

a. Barbs and friends stole the body of Trisha for additional suspense and thrill. This was followed by a car chase or someone getting hit by a bullet. It can be Barbs – and then Barbs dies beautifully too as he laid down his life just to fulfill the last wish of his friend. I dunno. Something like that.

b. Joel Torre turned out to be gay too and buries his son's body peacefully.

c. Trisha wakes up from a very long dream. Cuts right through the scene where he will answer the question, “If you were given the chance to live again, who would you be and why?”

Overall, I still believe that Die Beautiful is an awesome film that is worth-watching. I am so proud to be a Filipino – especially nowadays. Also, only quality films deserve lengthy reviews. They are worth the time.

Thank you for the opportunity, Die Beautiful.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

4 Things I Like The Most About Coconut Mogu Mogu

1. Not too sweet  For the past weeks, I’ve been finding myself reaching out for coconut Mogu Mogu whenever I visit convenience stores. I even get the 1 liter size from time to time.   The reason why this is fast becoming my most favorite drink of all time? It’s not too sweet.   Mogu Mogu claims that there is real coconut juice inside the bottle. Perhaps it’s one of the contributing factors why the flavor is great with just the right amount of sweetness.   Some people go for healthier drinks nowadays and no wonder, like me, they are going for the coconut flavor too – though all of Mogu Mogu flavors are good!  2. Yummy nata de coco  Aside from the fact that nata de coco is healthy, it’s also very yummy.   I am just so glad that nature has a way of giving us yummy and chewy desserts so that we don’t always choose the high fat, high sugar and high calorie ones.   3. Cutest packaging  Unarguably, Mogu Mogu has one of the cutest and the most eye-catching packaging among all those that are in the shelves.   I realized packaging must be unique too so that it’s easier to find.  4. Super refreshing when cold  A cold coconut Mogu Mogu is one of the best things in the world. Really, next to water, it’s what I search for whenever I feel thirsty.

1. Not too sweet

For the past weeks, I’ve been finding myself reaching out for coconut Mogu Mogu whenever I visit convenience stores. 

I even get the 1 liter size from time to time.

The reason why this is fast becoming my most favorite drink of all time? 

It’s not too sweet.

Mogu Mogu claims that there is real coconut juice inside the bottle. Perhaps it’s one of the contributing factors why the flavor is great with just the right amount of sweetness.

Some people go for healthier drinks nowadays and no wonder, like me, they are going for the coconut flavor too – though all of Mogu Mogu flavors are good!

2. Yummy nata de coco

Aside from the fact that nata de coco is healthy, it’s also very yummy.

I am just so glad that nature has a way of giving us yummy and chewy desserts so that we don’t always choose the high fat, high sugar and high calorie ones.

3. Cutest packaging

Unarguably, Mogu Mogu has one of the cutest and the most eye-catching packaging among all those that are in the shelves.

I realized packaging must be unique too so that it’s easier to find.

4. Super refreshing when cold

A cold coconut Mogu Mogu is one of the best things in the world. Really, next to water, it’s what I search for whenever I feel thirsty.

Thank you Mogu Mogu for coming to the Philippines!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

3 Things The Viral "Sandy Hook Promise" Ad Taught Me About Advertising

sandy hook promise viral ad evan bbdo new york1. Relay the message. Use advertising if necessary.

In advertising, message is king.

Everything depends on it.

Sand Hook Promise has a solid message and I believe this is what made all the difference.

“No cares to see the signs of gun violence.”

Banking on this solid brand message, they were able to conjure a mind-blowing ad that relays it.

Indeed, no one could care to see the signs of gun violence because we are so busy in our own little fantasy world.

Heartbreak only comes after the effects of gun violence had finally been realized.

2. If the message is powerfully relayed, it becomes a solid ground for the call to action to stand on.

“Gun violence can be prevented. Sandy Hook’s advocacy is to help us read the signs.”

Some ads fail to relay the message with enough clarity and impact that sometimes, even the message has to be “explained”. This shouldn’t be the case.

The message itself must be relayed clearly and powerfully enough so that it becomes a solid ground for the call to action to stand on.

When a message is relayed clearly, the audience themselves voluntarily clamor for the call to action or “What’s next?” on their own.

When this happens, the call to action is anticipated not contrived.

3. You can use an entirely different ad as a springboard for the “real” ad.

Sandy Hook’s ad tried to hook its audience into a story which was enchanting and exciting on its own – only to find out that that was not the “real” story it was trying to tell.

And then during the resolution part, I told myself “Yeah, I didn’t see that.” – which was exactly the point!
“No cares to see the signs of gun violence.” 

After feeling a little bit bad about myself, the ad itself offered a solution through the call to action part which was what Sandy Hook Promise is all about – reading the signs of gun violence everywhere and helping them prevent it.

Sandy Hook Promise is a non-profit organization in the US which was led by some of the family members of the victims of the shooting in Sandy Hook Elementary School last December 14, 2012.

Learn more about the organization by clicking here.

More power to Sandy Hook Promise and BBDO New York!

Watch the ad below.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

3 Lessons I Learned From The Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them Movie

1. Don’t judge a beast by its cover.

Newt Scamander will pass for an animal rights activist in the modern day time.

Even in the magical world, the magical beasts were mostly feared and misunderstood. They have the capacity to kill and destroy. But that’s because not too many are like Newt, a magizoologist, who dedicated his life training, taming and understanding them and even studying their benefits to the wizarding world.

Without Newt’s influence, there may be no Buckbeak nor thestrals which are very important creatures in the whole Harry Potter saga.

For muggles or no-maj’s who are clueless, Buckbeak is the giant bird which Harry and Hermione rode on during the Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban movie. It’s the same bird that you’ll also see in the front cover of the book with the same title. It was illustrated by Mary Grandpre for Scholastic.

Thestrals, on the other hand, are the invisible winged horses being used by Hogwarts to transport its students from Hogsmeade to the castle. The thestrals are very powerful magical beasts that its tail hair was the one used to create the Elder Wand, the most powerful wand ever made.

One of the things that I learned in Fantastic Beasts is that we can’t always judge anything or anyone through the outer appearance. What’s ugly or scary is not necessarily evil.

The exact opposite is Grindelwald, which was described by Rowling as charismatic and brilliant. This wizard turned out to be one of the most dangerous wizards of his time until he was defeated by Dumbledore.

This character is to be played more extensively by Johnny Depp in the next Fantastic Beasts movies. Can’t wait!

2. Do not suppress your magic.

This blog is by no means supporting any kind of witchcraft, sorcery, divination or any related practice whatsoever.

I’d like to consider magic as a metaphor for our innate talents and skills which, I believe, we should develop and hone.

Rowling made a beautiful story through the Fantastic Beasts movie about the magical children who denied and suppressed their own magical abilities. Because of persecution of the witches and wizards in the past, some children with magical abilities chose to hide their abilities. This character was portrayed by the young man named Credence Barebone. 

And we know what happened to Credence. He became an obscurial for suppressing his magical abilities.

I believe that this is not too different in real life. One of the most tragic things that could happen to anyone is to deny himself of the development and enjoyment of his talents and abilities just to avoid persecution. 

Rowling made a persuasive invitation to discover and develop our talents and skills by painting a perfect (and scary) image of what can happen to us if we don’t – an obscurial.

3. Hufflepuff’s are not duffers.

“Everyone says Hufflepuff are a lot o’ duffers.” –Hagrid to Harry, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Among the four houses in Howarts, Hufflepuff may be the most unpopular one. 

It was said that if you are courageous, you go to Gryffindor. If you are a pureblood, you belong to Slytherin. If you are brilliant, you may be sorted to Ravenclaw. All the rest, go to Hufflepuff.

But Rowling, being who she is, is a huge lover of the underdogs and the unpopular ones.

Hogwart’s representative for The Triwizard Tournament during Harry’s time was from Hufflepuff – Cedric Diggory. And then Newt Scamander, the star of the first Fantastic Beasts movie, is a Hufflepuff.

In the world of J.K. Rowling, the bullied and the downtrodden ones take the center stage. 

I sincerely believe  that this is the reason why her books are loved by many. 

That includes myself.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

4 Things About Subway That Impressed Me

1. The power of choice and customization

I really like restaurants (and other products and services) that allow their customers to choose and customize what they will get. In Subway, they allow the customers to choose everything – the flavour of the Sub, the bread to be used, the size, the extras, the veggies, the sauce and whether to make it a meal or not. This works, I think, because when there is more freedom, the customers become more involved in the process. When there is more involvement, there is more fun. Plus it comes rare too as not too many restaurants (and other products and services providers) offer this.

2. Fresher and healthier ingredients

That night, I was actually looking for a new and healthier option. (I think I’ve memorized all the restaurants inside Robinsons Galleria already). So even though Subway is an overpass away from the mall, I pursued it.

Subway actually became a perfect choice for what I was looking for that night. Looking for something new? Check! Looking for something healthier? Check! It is Subway’s brand promise actually – eat fresh and healthy. Subway provides a better alternative for those who are already sick and tired of the run-of-the-mill (and sometimes unhealthy) choices.

3. Simple and organized ordering system

From the starting point to the cashier, Subway’s ordering counter makes sure that the customers are guided in every step of the way. First, I was made to choose the flavour – I tried Steak and Cheese. Second, the bread – White Italian for me. Third, the size – 6 inches. Fourth, I have to choose the extras – I said yes to cheese. Fifth, the veggies – I chose all. Sixth, the sauces – I chose Southwest and Honey Mustard because I like it spicy and sweet. (Customers are allowed up to two sauces of choice.) And lastly, I upgraded it to meal – I chose Lay’s over chocolate chip cookies. And I chose iced tea for drink. I really like that I am also the one who will get my drink from the dispenser.

4. Very friendly crew members

Well, they have to because patience is much needed when there is more customer involvement in the ordering process. Some customers may change their minds too easily and ask too many questions – just like me. But they were all so polite and accommodating.

Kudos to the people behind bringing Subway to the Philippines!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

3 Things I Understood About Putting Up A Business While Eating At Angel's Burger

I wasn’t particular hungry tonight but there is something about Angel’s Burger, a 24/7 burger and hotdog stall in the Philippines, that made me come to it. Perhaps, Angel’s reminds me so much of all those sleepless nights when I quit my job to become a freelancer and all I did was write, write and write. I am in that “write zone” kind of night again and maybe that’s why Angel’s popped into my head.

And so I set off into the night only to come back with a blog post idea in my head. These are the three things that I understood about putting up a business while eating my favorite footlong hotdog (with coleslaw and hot sauce) at Angel’s Burger.

1. Availability is king.

No matter how good and no matter how affordable your product is, if it’s not available, it won’t sell.

I remember three remarkable lessons from the past that are aligned with this statement.

First, when I was still working for Lamoiyan Corporation (makers of Hapee toothpaste), there was a season when the most popular toothpaste brand in the Philippines, Colgate, disappeared in the shelves of the supermarkets of the biggest mall chain in the Philippines, SM. It was one of our highest grossing seasons in terms of sales not necessarily because buyers shifted voluntarily to Hapee. But because their brand was not available. I knew back then that the people from Colgate are in big trouble.

That’s when I learned my biggest lesson on availability and distribution management. I realized that no matter how much we, as marketers and manufacturers, work our assess off, if our toothpastes won’t make it to the shelves of our distribution channels, our work are in vain.

Way back in college, I don’t remember being excited about my classes in distribution and channel management. Then in the real world, I realized that the availability of the product is actually as important as manufacturing. This totally changed my perspective in my work as a Trade Marketing Assistant.

My second lesson is now when I am practicing as a real estate broker. In our business, location is king. The philosophy is no matter how beautiful and no matter how affordable your towers are, if they are in bad locations, they will be very hard to sell. In fact, the other side can also be true. If you have an ugly tower in a high-demand location, chances are people will still – at the very least – inquire about your project.

My third lesson is about McDonald’s. I read somewhere before that what made McDonald’s popular is not because it had the best tasting burgers and fries in the world. They key  – as the author discussed – is because it made itself very much available to everyone. It may not serve very tasty food but when the price is right and it’s fast, convenient and available, most likely, it will sell. And sell McDonald’s did!

So, there really are a huge lessons on availability and distribution management. For people like me who would like to put up a business, let us not put availability in the backseat. Some businesses placed it in front like Angel’s and look at where they are now.

2. Price is queen.

The key – I believe – is becoming lower than the competition in terms of price. Let’s say Angel’s biggest competition is Jollibee’s Yum burger. Even without checking out the price, I know that Angel’s win in this category.

But not only that, Angel’s even introduced a new purchasing scheme – the perpetual and the never-ending “Buy 1, Take 1” promo. Through this, buyers were placed under the impression that they can actually buy two for the price of one. In Tagalog, we even have a term for it – “sulit”. Or getting more of what you pay for.

But of course, Angel’s is not doing a sacrifice sale every single day. That is called suicide, not business. The price for two is actually the price for two. Period. No special promo going on.

But what Angel’s unlocked is this – all else equal, Filipinos will most likely choose the product that has a freebie over the one that has one.

3. Overall quality and taste are the heirs to the throne.

Personally, I like Angel’s footlong hotdog with coleslaw and hot sauce. With its price, I find it even tastier than the schubligs, bockwursts and other foreign-sounding sausages you buy in cinemas. You see, when you are stingy, the price becomes part of the overall quality and taste. Haha!

But no, seriously. Angel’s got some hotdog that is good enough for a repeat purchase with a low barrier to entry in terms of price and availability.

Kudos to this burger stall that has kept me company during those sleepless and hungry nights while doing some overthinking – just like tonight.

P.S. Photos were taken on a different day.

Monday, November 14, 2016

3 Things I Like About Train To Busan

1. Not a typical scary movie.

When I was young, I saw a movie entitled The Others by Nicole Kidman. At a young age, I already know that The Others is different from the other scary movies that I usually see. Not so much of annoying and deafening sound effects. Not so much of scary make-ups. What I realized upon seeing The Others is this – I can actually be scared by the depth of the story and how intelligently the plot was masterplanned. The Others definitely elevated my taste in scary movies that it became difficult for me to appreciate movies from the same genre henceforth.

Until Train to Busan came.

TTB ended the long drought of my appreciation for horror movies. Finally, there’s a new scary movie that I can actually like. Just the right amount of sound effects. Perfect make-ups to portray the zombies. Superb acting by everyone – especially by the main cast. And above all, a good story to base all these elements on.

2. All emotions in a single film.

TTB scared me and made me laugh and cry at the same time. I call it a “complete film”. When filmmakers attempt to create completes film, I praise them in my mind. I sincerely believe that the enjoyment of their audience is their top priority. For one, it takes careful planning to plot out each and every emotions in the film. You cannot just place the emotions anywhere you like – it will be a disaster. I believe there's a plan or a certain sequence that must be followed and it takes a highly skilled filmmaker to successfully plan let alone execute this.

3. Koreans are master filmmakers.

I thought Koreans only excel in love stories and dramas. I even counted myself once as a fan of hit TV series such as Stairway To Heaven and Endless Love. For a season, I also became curiously addicted to Korean movies and this is when I discovered awesome movies such as “Sunny”, “Man From Nowhere” and “Windstruck”. These movies are from varying genres such drama, action, romance and comedy. And these - I believe - are some of the greatest movies ever made.

Adding TTB to the list of my favorite Korean movies, all the genres are now complete. In my mind, I am now convinced that Koreans as master filmmakers.