Friday, August 31, 2007

Zazzafooky

I am sooo raving about my new blog template. Aint it sweet???

While I was surfing the net for blogs and blog templates, I came across the site of Zazzafooky and I just fell in love with all the really cool templates that the author/artist TJ was featuring. Most of the templates are for a fee, but some of them are free, yes as in FREE! TJ will even do the installation of the template and side bar customization.

But what I'm really raving about (aside from my Birdie Love template) is TJ herself. She has to be the nicest person on Earth. I'm really new at blogging but she answers all of my inquiries with utmost patience. She even got me hooked on Blogrolling which as she had suggested, would be an easier way for me to manage links without having to crawl through the entire html script of the template. And since I have zilch of an idea where to insert the javascript code on Blogrolling, TJ just asked me to email the code and she'll plug it in herself! She's even going to do the same Birdie Love template on my third blog.

I'm just glad that I came across TJ and her amazing templates. For now, I'm just going to sit back and stare at my blog which for me, has the most beautiful template in the world.

FYI: I instantly fell in love with the Birdie Love template because I grew up with African Lovebirds and Parakeets at our front lawn since my entire family are pet lovers. I remember kissing the birds we sold goodbye every time a buyer came to our house, and I just couldn't help but be reminded of that when I saw this template. A million thanks again, TJ!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Jumong

Jumong (tv series) tells the story of Jumong Taewang, founder of the Kingdom of Goguryeo and son of the rebel leader Haemosu, who grew up in the Kingdom of Buyeo and raised as King Geumwa's son. As he grew of age, half brothers Daeso and Yeongpo battled with him fiercely in order to be the next king, often pulling dirty schemes while conniving with the Queen, their mother. Jumong and Daeso fall in love with the same girl So Seo No, and a battle to win her heart ensues among the two.

As Jumong faces challenges brought about by his half brothers and circumstance, the truth that he is not a true prince of Buyeo is revealed to him, he decided to leave the kingdom and continue his father's dream - to free the people enslaved by the Han's. During one of his battles, Jumong is badly wounded and is carried away by a a strong river where he is found by Soya who nurses his wounds and tends to his recovery. Months passed before Jumong is able to return to Buyeo, where he finds that while he was gone, So Seo No was already married to Wute, one of their merchant tribesmen, out of fear of being Daeso's second wife, then married to the daughter of the governor of Yonto. Eventually, Jumong falls in love and ends up marrying Soya and has a son named Yuri with her.

Fate is bitter for Jumong, as he is separated from his family and and his beloved mother Yuwah who then were held captive in Buyeo by the King. During one of Yuwah and Soya's escapes from the palace, Yuwah is caught and slain by King Geumwa himself, and Soya and Yuri are taken for dead.

Distraught, Jumong moves on and is ever closer to fulfilling his father's dream. With the help of his ever loyal friends, Jumong is able to build his own nation with the help of So Seo No, and still continues to battle with Daeso.

How Jumong is reunited with Soya and Yuri is a real tear jerker, but So Seo No then decides to leave the kingdom she helped establish to avoid conflict as to who will inherit the throne between Yuri and her two own sons.

Jumong is aired Mondays through Fridays on GMA here in the Philippines. The story is a bit long, since it starts off with Jumong's parents and ends with his own son. But nevertheless, there is never a dull episode. My personal favorite was when Jumong, Daeso and Youngpo were engaged in a duel amongst themselves. Jumong's secret trainings with his teacher (who, unknown to Jumong was his real father) pays off tremendously as he easily beats the crap out of his two step brothers.

A lot of things - actually, too many things - happen to Jumong that molds him into the hero that he was. After fulfilling his father's dream of freeing the people enslaved by the Hans, Jumong puts down his sword and turns the kingdom over to his son.

Jumong dies at the age of 40 due to a battle wound that reached his marrow. And as narrated in the final episode, Daeso is slain by Yuri and leads a prosperous life in the kingdom his father has established.

Starring Song Il Gook, Jumong is a big hit here in the Philippines and I am sooo addicted to watching it. :-D

N-Age

My husband is pretty hooked on this new mmorpg N-Age which the open beta was recently released. I was honestly surprised that he took the time and effort to play during the closed beta days, knowing that his character would eventually be wiped out when the open beta is released.

N-Age (short for Neo Age) is released in the Philippines by Gplayon. The game has really cool graphics, and features four characters, martial, brandish, chakra, and prana. The martial class does military arts using hands and feet. They are best for short range attack and for fighting multiple opponents at the same time. This class wears bracelets or gloves on their wrists.

The brandish class attacks at close range with the use of swords, clubs, lades, and other blunt weapons. The brandish also renders high damage and their skills damage surrounding enemies.

The chakra class specializes in the use of supernatural powers and has long ranged skills. Equipped with wands, chakras deal the highest damage.

The prana class has spell skills and buffs that they can use on themselves and others. I particularly like this character since it wields guns as weapons.

One of the things I like about this game is that players have the option of choosing the gender of their character. There are also quests one can perform aside from levelling up. What I also like about this game is that you can survive alone, without the need of a healer like Ran Online, and buffs are available at the local npc for a certain fee.

Another feature of this game I really like is that your character is like living in real life. You can sit on benches, ride motorcycles, do a part time job, and even take care of a pet. You can also join a union and participate in union wars. N-Age is also free to play, and I'll try to write some more as soon as my husband's character increases in level and I'm able to see all of his skills.

A Really Cool Blog

As i've said before, I'm relatively new at blogging, but I have to admit it's something i'm already hooked on. As I searched for tips and tricks on blogging, I came across the blog of Peter Chen (I've linked his blog for easy access) and it helped me understand a lot of things related to blogging. I swear, I check his blogs out daily, but the blog that he got me hooked on is the one entitled Enviroman Says , which I've also linked.

The blog Enviroman Says helps to spread environmental awareness. I've always had a soft spot for saving the environment, being a student activist back in my college days. I remember when I was younger, I always made funny paper mache figures out of our newspapers since I thought it was such a shame to throw all that paper away. And whenever I bought notebooks/notepads for school, I always chose the ones made from recycled paper since they're often cheaper and more affordable. I guess was lucky to have environmentally-aware parents.

The problem I see here in my country, the Philippines, is that recycling is something that is not thoroughly advocated and supported by our government. I grew up throwing garbage in just one bag, since waste segregation was only introduced about a decade or so, I think. There are no known and nearby recycling plants where I live, and even waste management is a problem. Whenever it rains, you can bet on floods to follow. People tend to litter wherever they are, mindless of the consequences of their lack of discipline.

If I were given the chance to be President for one day, I'd impose a hell of a lot of sanctions for people who litter and dispose of their garbage in the wrong places. I'd also make recycling mandatory for everyone.

Here's a bit of trivia for everyone which I picked up from Enviroman Says: When your screen is white - an empty word page, or the Google page, your computer consumes 74 watts, and when it is black it consumes only 59 watts. The article referred to above is Black Google Would Save 750 Megawatt-hours a Year. Pretty cool, huh.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Pugad Baboy (Swine's Nest)

Pugad Baboy is a comic book written and illustrated by Pol Medina Jr. Medina got the inspiration for writing the book (which originally started out as a strip in the Philippine Daily Inquirer way back in 1988) while working as an overseas filipino worker (OFW) in Iraq. It features the day-to-day activities of the residents of Pugad Baboy whom literally, are as fat as pigs, save for the househelp, Brosia (my favorite character ever). It also features Polgas, a talking dog, as one of the main characters. Due to the popularity of the strip, a series of comic books followed, and even mugs, t-shirts, figurines, and other novelty items have been made, including a tv version of the strip.

The people featured in Pugad Baboy are typical characters one would come across with in your everyday life. What makes the comics click is the dialogue - witty, often sarcastic, but always funny and with substance.

The strip also features general sentiments of the Filipino people regarding elections, taxes, corruption, or just the everyday Filipino pop culture. Sometimes the strip also makes spoofs of popular commercials, people, or situations any normal person would find himself in.

For some readers, Pugad Baboy may seem like just another comic strip but for avid fans such as myself, it's a lot more than that. For me, Pugad Baboy is real life illustrated and contained in frames. Always and ever up-to-date with politics, the economy, and social events, pugad baboy is often a satirical yet a different view of real life as it is.

War Rock - An Improvised Version of Counter Strike?

War Rock is released by ABS-CBN, one of the leading network stations here in the Philippines. Right now, they are giving away Php 20,000 to the player with the most number of player kills. For those of you who are familiar with Counter Strike, it's basically the same, except for a few things.

War Rock is an online game whereas Counter Strike (CS) can be played through a local area network connection. War Rock also features four different characters - a medic (female), an engineer, a sniper, and a heavy trooper (all male) each with their own specialties. Obviously, the medic can heal herself and her team members, the engineer can repair all sorts of vehicles, the heavy trooper carries the bombs and the biggest guns in the game, and the sniper - well, he's a sniper. They're all appropriately and automatically equipped with their own weapons, accessories, and ammo. They can also mount tanks and motorcycles, crawl, and plant bombs. As of now, War Rock offers 5 different maps where you can unleash your gun slinging wrath on other players.

On the contrary, CS characters (Terrorists and Counter Terrorists) are all male - the only choice you have with regards to personalizing your character is to change the character's skin. There are no sorts of vehicles to mount, and once you're hit, there's no way to heal yourself. You also need to buy your own guns and ammo while you're still at your base. There are a lot of different maps to choose from (including the infamous De Dust map), and best of all, when you have no one to play CS with, you can always team up with bots and and kill other bots. You can even set how good you opponent bot will be.

In a sense, War Rock is a role playing game (RPG) since you can choose from different characters that I've mentioned and even change your character in-game. The thing is, your account - yes your account, not your character - increases in rank (level) with the more number of player kills you have for each round. However, once you start playing, everyone's back to square one - the same medic, sniper, trooper or engineer you were when you started the game.

What I don't find appealling with these two games is the first-person view, which honestly makes me dizzy. Although I like RPG's, I'd want my character to acquire a different set of skills/clothes reflective of my level that would in turn, differentiate me from the newbies. I would like the number of hours I've spent playing the game to show on my character. And lastly, well, I guess I just don't find violence appealling.






Thursday, August 23, 2007

RAN Online

The Omen began 18 years ago. A terrifying solar eclipse engulfed the skies above Asia. From this gaping darkness, a vicious torrent of meteors hurtled down, leaving a wake of smoldering rubble and scorched earth. Chaos and paranoia swept over Asia, forcing the rest of the world to quarantine the continent, an island onto itself.

Two years later, from this apocalyptic wreckage, a clandestine organization known only as the Sacred Financial Group ascended to power, shrouded in myth and mystery, brimming with untold wealth and influence. The Group would found four schools, each one unique in its own way: Sacred Gate, Mystic Peak, Phoenix, and Leonair Campus. Only the smartest, strongest, fittest students were recruited to these institutions.

Yet beneath its quiet fa├žade of learning and academia, an unsettling truth began to surface. These were no ordinary schools. Their infrastructures, rising menacingly above all others, were strange and alien in design, as if echoing an ominous, inescapable fate.Suspicion grew. Where these sports institutions meant to breed a new generation of genetically-enhanced athletes? Where they military centers meant to recruit and train bio-engineered soldiers?
Soon, rumors began to spread about the alarming activities conducted within the four campuses. Students, they said, were being trained in cryptic, deadly forms of combat beyond the understanding of even the military’s most accomplished intelligence agencies; they were studying forbidden scrolls and texts believed to hold incomprehensible, supernatural power—power to create as well as destroy; and being taught the use of weapons exiled long ago for their genocidal role in the Ancient Wars.

The question was: Why? Why train these students in such brutal arts? The answer would arrive with startling implications. A dimensional riff some attribute to the meteor storm had opened the gates to a demonic realm, poisoning the living and possessing the dead. Only the four schools proved immune to this paranormal plague. Force shields were believed to protect the boundaries of the four schools and its students, keeping them safe within the schools’ borders. The shields, however, were beginning to show signs of weakness. There were reports of creatures infiltrating school grounds and of students being taken almost daily, never to be seen again.It was only a matter of time…Leonair in the East was the first of the four to fall, its entire student populace devoured seemingly overnight, the campus left a graveyard of memory. Of those who have attempted to brave the haunted campus grounds of Leonair since, few have returned, and those that have, speke tremulously of a presence so dark, so evil, it would in time, come to destroy all mankind.

So many questions remain unanswered. What caused the meteor shower? From what dimension did this supernatural evil originate from? How did the Sacred Financial Group know of the storm’s destructive, malevolent power?

Today, everything is calm and peaceful at the three schools, even as they wonder which of them is next.When will their time come? How long will their shields hold? For now, the students continue their studies. Waiting. Training. Praying.**

Wasn't that cool? I just love that introduction.

RAN Online is a massive multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) locally released here in the Philippines by E-Games. Players can choose from four different characters - an archer, brawler, shaman, and swordsman - all with different builds and a different set of skills for each build. Each episode of RAN Online brings new maps, monsters, and skills that players can acquire once the necessary level/stat points are met. One can stick to a pure build, or you also have the option of becoming a hybrid.

Even before when Diablo was the hottest game around, I loved playing role-playing games on my pc, particulary those with a third-person view (I never liked Counter Strike or Doom, sorry). I also particularly liked being able to dress up my chosen character and being able to equip her (i always choose female characters) with different weapons. The graphics of the game is something I also look for - not that full 3D graphics really mean a lot - but the game should have a certain "it" factor that would make me want to play it again. The sound effects used in the game should be pleasantly nice - not distracting you from the game, but not too nice to the point that you'd end up just listening to the music. If you're tired of levelling with your party, you can also perform various quests with different rewards like a new skill, a set of clothes, access to a certain map, or even be rewarded with upgrading items you can use to add defense to your clothes/armor, or increase the attack power of your weapon.

Which is why I just love RAN Online. I find the concept that your character is a student, learning to use different weapons and skills appealling. I also like the fact the campuses are beautifully created and each have their own unique look, including non-player characters (NPCs) named after real people you see in school such as the Student Director, the Nurse, the Technical Teacher, the Physics Teacher, the Janitor, etc. Once you go outside the campus, that's where the real fun begins. You and your party can level up in construction sites, the fallen Leonine campus, the Trading Hole, the Wharf Passage, the Hang Out (more popularly known as HO), and other maps each with a different set of mobs.

Improvements such as your choice of a male archer, a male shaman, a female brawler and a sword-yielding female would be great, since at the moment archers and shamans are limited to being female, and brawlers and swordsmen are only male. The introduction of new characters such as a male/female gunner would also be great. But all in all, RAN Online is a great game to play just as it is. Best of all, it's free to play.

The archer at the far left is my character, a dex type archer stuck at level 111. The swordsman in the middle is my husband's, and the one at the far left is our guild leader Chas.


Still my archer with my +7 refined horn bow. I accidentally sold that darn bow really, really cheap instead of the millions it's really worth. *sigh*

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tonight I Can Write


Tonight I Can Write
by Pablo Neruda, translated by W.S. Merwin
Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example, 'The night is starry
and the stars are blue and shiver in the distance.'

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is starry and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another's. She will be another's. As she was before my kisses.
Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

Oh well, what can I say? For me, this is the best poem ever.

Gerry Alanguilan's Wasted

One of the few comics I read and stuck with me.

I think I was still in high school when I read this. I think it's been almost a decade (or even more) when I read this, but I still remember the character's dialogues as though it were yesterday. Don't know how I'll get a hold of wasted (returning the book I borrowed was a bad idea which I still regret till now) so for everyone who's actually reading my blog, you know what to get me for my birthday and/or Christmas.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

House

House is a medical drama featuring a brilliant doctor who trusts no one whom you'll either hate immensely or love deeply. He handles cases that other doctors can't solve using techniques of his own that (most of the time) puts his patient's lives at stake, something he doesn't mind that much. I got hooked into this series through AXN Philippines, and I've never stopped watching.

Most often than not, tv series always provide a gripping introduction of the show, the cast, and a plot that seems to-die-for. But when you get to the middle part of the series, it begins to be a drag, and a hasty conclusion to all the events that happend in the entire show is put to a close. This, thankfully, is not the way House goes. Although he and his staff handle different cases, one can see the effects/results of the decisions each character makes per episode and how it changes them until the season ends.

I've always believed in the goodness of people until proven otherwise but for House, everybody lies. His motto, in his opinion, has helped him save thousands of lives and solve numerous cases which other doctors have given up on. But his belief has led him into a life of isolation, a life that is without true love. After the incident that left him with a limp, House has been more stubborn than ever, but has proven to be even more brilliant. Often high on Vicodin, House proves to be the stubborn yet brilliant doctor he's known for.

Through watching House, I've learned a lot of things, especially about trust. If you've been hurt deeply by the person whom you love the most, life does get pretty hard and trust becomes an issue. Little by little, House learns how to trust and love again, and hopefully, he'll emerge from the shell he's crawled himself into.

Ouija - A Review

Ouija is a 2007 GMA and Viva Films horror movie starring Judy Ann Santos, Jolina Magdangal, Iza Calzado, and Rhian Ramos. Incidentally, this is Magdangal and Santos' first horror movie, and they're also cast together, Santos belonging to a different network at that. I heard that this movie will have international screenings under the title Seance.

The Plot
Cousins Ruth (Ramos), Sandra (Calzado), and half sisters Romina (Magdangal) and Aileen (Santos) are reunited due to the death of their grandmother. After the burial, the girls and their friend Lucy decide to use their grandmother's Ouija board which they've used before when they were kids in order to call their grandmother's spirit. Hoping that their grandmother may still have some message for them, they call upon her spirit using the Ouija board. What happens is that they call instead a different spirit, a hostile one at that. By accident, the ouija board is burned, trapping the spirit they've called into our world. What happens next is a series of disastrous events that can only be stopped unless the girls find the body of the spirit they've called and put it's remains to rest.

What I Think
I'd have to commend the director, Toppel Lee, for making this film. I think this movie is absolutely superb. I love how the movie leads the viewers into thinking one thing, and proving you wrong at the end. Yes, there is a twist at the end of the movie, something that the girls only realized until it was too late, but still, the movie was well done. The actors chosen for this movie were all great, they acted really naturally, and they were all perfect for their roles. Just hearing the sounds alone used in this movie is enough to make your hair stand on ends. And the visual effects - wow. This is honestly the first time I was actually scared while watching a local horror movie. The effects was truly awesome. I'm proud that Filipinos can now actually make a movie of this caliber. Hopefully, this movie will also be noticed by people in Hollywood, like one of Calzado's previous horror movie, "Sigaw" which as we heard, an international remake is already in the works.
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