Thursday, February 25, 2010

Rhulyx and Rizza: Husband and wife

Rhulyx and Rizza, CONGRATULATIONS!!

Noah and Au, see you at the next wedding.

At Alba and Starbucks

Three reasons to celebrate; Ninang and Ninong sponsored; Spanish restaurant in Westgate Alabang; musicians in the background; caffeine overdose right after!

Photos by Rochie and Anna (who can't wait to get lens filters)

At the Rent signature wall

Their shirt colours ALMOST matched those in the Rent wall! Cool!!

Rent is being performed at the Romulo Auditorium at the RCBC Plaza, Makati for a limited run only.

IFSA Orientation 2010

Jam-packed seminar room with potential recruits for this year. Slideshow of photos, below.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Rent The Musical

Life is precious; we have to make the most out of it. Starting NOW. That's my take on what the late Jonathan Larson wanted to bring across to the audience in his magnum opus: Rent. Eerily to the point, since he died a day before the curtains opened in the Broadway production.

The story revolves around a year in the lives of friends living a bohemian lifestyle in New York's Alphabet City. All under the shadow of poverty and the then-misunderstood disease known as AIDS. Mark captures the ups and downs of their lives in this little nook of New York: Roger and Mimi reluctantly go into a relationship; Collins and Angel, knowing that time is short, went into it headlong. Joanne and Maureen, both with strong personalities, try time and again to smooth things out; Benny, the practical one, marries into a rich family and tries to kick everyone out as the city undergoes gentrification.

As this is the first time I've seen Rent (and I haven't seen the film version), I am happy with the performances of everyone in the cast, especially Fred Lo (as Mark), and Carla Guevara-Laforteza (as Maureen). Gian Magdangal (as Roger) and Cara Barredo (as Mimi) performed well, but they are simply overshadowed by the convincing and touching performances of OJ Mariano (as Collins) and Job Bautista (as Angel).

Despite their great performances, I think the desperation often seen in people living on borrowed time (and with the threat of constant financial insecurity) is largely absent in the cast. Only Angel and Collins act like there's no tomorrow. The cast is a tad too happy, I think. This forms a disconnect with the message imparted by the play list. The songs emphasise the importance of spending time with people you love because they are all dying young, dying soon (except for Mark, who hasn't contracted AIDS). The performers also insist on living to the fullest (although in their non-conformist way).

Speaking of songs, I thought Seasons of Love will remain my favourite (which was performed during last year's "The Gift" concert). However, this song is replaced quickly enough by No Day But Today. La Vie Boheme remains the most lively and Over the Moon seeks (and succeeds in getting) audience's participation (Moo!).

All in all, I love the show. I liked it a whole lot. Not a bona fide Rent-head yet, but definitely becoming a theatre audience.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Flying high with Gibo

Gibo Teodoro, the pilot, focuses on the future if seated as President in May 2010. Another advocate of positive campaigning, his advertisements also have catchy tunes, thanks to Rivermaya and Rico Blanco. "Sulong Gibo" and "Posible" attract the attention of the younger voters. Plus, he outlines his deliverables: food security, college education, free medicine. He does not have the rags to riches story of Manny Villar that the masses have a penchant for; but he seems to have the chops to lead, based on his experiences in his youth and his achievements in public office. He promises to use galing at talino to bring progress to Filipinos.

His ratings in the surveys are now on their way up, being behind Aquino and Villar; if he plays his cards right, he just might have a chance to win the presidency. I don't think he will have trouble in getting the votes of the youth; rounds at the universities and colleges would surely increase his name recall... specially since the Aquino charm has started to wear off from the common Pinoy months after the former President's death, those votes might transfer to him. Plus, his answers in debates really are impressive. And he is not one to dabble in issues that throw negative light on the competition (I don't think I've heard him say anything about the C5-Villar controversy, for example).

The only thing going against him is his connection with Malacanang, as the standard bearer of the current administration's party, and as a former Cabinet member of the current President. Citizens irked with PGMA would not like her party mates to remain in the top posts of government. These are the people Gibo has to convince that he will not be a PGMA; he has to persuade them to vote for him.

Party affiliation aside, he seems to be one great leader. I must say that he is one of the better candidates in this year's elections. 

To know more about Gibo, just click on the link.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Medgroove/Medrhythmia 2010

02.06.10 - UST Medicine Auditorium

The Association of Philippine Medical Colleges Student Network National Capital Region (APMCSNNCR - what a long acronym!) presented this year's Medgroove/Medrhythmia with the theme, "Ako Mismo MD (Makatao't Makabayang Doktor)."

It is a choral and a dance troupe competition. I had fun watching the performances. So, these are some of the things med students do to relax. =) The winning groups won all-expense paid vacations at the Bagac Bay beach resort in Bataan (a welcome break from all their hard work, according to the program's host).

Thanks, Noan, for inviting me to watch this show. The UST field trip was fun!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Jun and Tran's joint birthday celebrations (2010)

Lunch at the GQNPC! The cucumber salad and the noodles were great! Happy birthday to the January celebrants =)

In Tarlac =)

We went to Tarlac City to bring Ninang Trining and Ninong Romy to the medical mission they were participating in at the Tarlac Provincial Hospital. Afterwards, we went to Robinson's Pampanga to check out the outlet stores.

The Manny Villar Playlist

Play. If there is a competition for the best campaign jingle for this year's elections, the people behind the Naging Mahirap campaign would be the obvious winners. Easy on the ears; easy on the throat; easy on the brain. That's the way a campaign jingle should sound like. There is no need for professional singers and celebrities to grace the plug; unknown children sang (although a few of my friends have noticed that the song the kids mouthed has different lyrics from that which is heard on the television).  A catchy tune nonetheless.

Senator Villar certainly knows which buttons to press. It's so obvious, with his improved popularity based on the nightly surveys news broadcasts highlight on the television. This song tugged at the hearts of the masses. The song portrays that this candidate is one of them. He wants them to believe that he is the man to emulate because he got himself an education, he was able to rise from the challenges of an impoverished life, and he became a businessman and a high-ranking political figure. All this he did with Sipag at Tiyaga. With his success, he should be able to lead everyone else into a better life. 

Rewind. Other less memorable campaign ads (many were shown before the campaign period) highlighted what he did: he supported students through scholarships; he assisted overseas Filipino workers; he encouraged entrepreneurship through livelihood programs; he made the Filipino dream home a reality for many families; he donated a lot of relief goods in the wake of natural calamities. Also, I haven't seen a political advertisement of his that criticised any of the country's administrations. He concentrates on leaving a positive vibe in the audience, just like the light-hearted and happy Akala Mo campaign that I think catered to the younger voters.

Continuing with the happy mood, he enlisted Michael V. and Dolphy, two famous comedians, to help him convey his message to the public. People easily identify with Dolphy, being the image of a doting father living on a Home Along da Riles, or in close proximity with the ever-critical mother-in-law. His grandfatherly nature endears those voters who weren't born yet during the John en Marsha days. Michael V., on the other hand, "interviewed" Senator Villar based on the issues raised by ordinary people, a sure way of getting his proposals across to the masses without being boring.

Students and practitioners of marketing and advertising could certainly rip a track or two off the Manny Villar playlist and benefit from it.

Fast Forward. It seems to me that his campaign strategy was to highlight his strengths and position himself as someone with the abilities to lead the country forward. This is certainly a good move for him, now that he is hounded by negative publicity. In the past few days, the media focused on alleged overcharging in the C-5 road extension project, and that Senator Villar apparently benefited from it. The topic obviously polarised the Senate, and the resulting squabble was very unbecoming of legislators. A smear campaign, it seems because of the timing - it is projected that he's going to gain the lead in surveys as Election Day approaches. 

The question is, will he win mainly because of name-recall, or will he win because people believe in his track record? If he does get enough votes to get that coveted Malacanang Palace seat, does it even matter how he won?

Click on the link to see Manny Villar's website. 


Friday, February 5, 2010

My take on the Noynoy Aquino campaign playbook

Noynoy Aquino is the leading candidate in the 2010 Presidential elections; that's according to the latest surveys which nightly news broadcasts never fail to feature. His popularity peaked in part due to circumstances that surround his family: the martyrdom of his father, the Presidency and the death of his mother, the celebrity status (and the lack of privacy in the life) of one of his sisters, and the dramatic events centred upon his bid for the highest position in the country. 

The death of former President Cory Aquino stirred once more the hearts of Filipinos born during the time of former President Ferdinand Marcos, and gave the younger generation an opportunity to get a glimpse of what her fight was all about. Her death is serendipitous for Noynoy's campaign: to win, he needs the votes of the new generation and of those of his parents' supporters. As expected, he was thrust into the Presidential campaign (with the accompanying media-hype), when it was Senator Mar Roxas who was previously positioned to run.

A lot of movie stars graced the first campaign music video released. However, it seems to me that this advertisement was released all too soon. When the other candidates began showing their platforms, they started to close in to Noynoy's lead in the surveys. I suspect that this is partly because their material showed their strengths, their accomplishments, and what they plan to do as President. The catchy one-liners and jingles also definitely boosted their name-recall. In contrast, the next political ads in Noynoy's playbook emphasised what he won't do: he will not steal. What bothered me was the focus on the guidance from his late parents. Yes, they were great and influential people, and they did a lot for the Philippines; but to me, these advertisements portray them as larger than life, who can guide this country even after death. In these ads, it seemed that Noynoy was staying under his parents' shadows. 

Having a great genetic background does not automatically mean that the progeny would be of the same impressive phenotype as the parents.

In the latest plug, he was shown stating his platform. He says he will fight against corruption - a thinly veiled critique of the past and the present administrations. He attributed poverty and the shortage of quality public utilities to corrupt public officials. Though better than the previous ads, this latest one also fell short. How different is he from the other candidates then? Nobody in his or her right mind would publicly declare that they're corrupt. This ad didn't say something new; it didn't say what Noynoy plans to do to battle corruption. It wasn't even as powerful and empathic as former President Erap Estrada's "Walang kaibi-kaibigan at walang kamag-anak-anak" promise that raised the hopes of millions of impoverished Filipinos (only to have them nastily erased by his alleged extravagant behaviour).

With a few more months before Election Day, I think that his next advertisements should start to outline how he plans to tackle issues or how he has done so in the past (and composing the clauses of a law shouldn't be counted; that's the job of legislators). Mix these with an appealing theme song, then he is almost certain to get that seat in the Palace.

Click the link for Noynoy's website.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Act I: Juggling

Inhale. Exhale.

Two papers down, one more to go... and the deadline is on Monday, the 8th!! Is it time to throw in the towel and plead for an extension to my deadline? This is Rochie pushing the panic button!

Juggling revisions for the two papers, additional experiments for the third one, and getting everything done on time are a challenge! The first two papers were okay because they were submitted before their deadlines. But I'm in a fix for the third one.

The experiments are all done, and the data analyses are almost finished. Tired, and with a wrist threatening another bout of tendonitis (thanks to the mouse), I just had to stop (and live to fight another day). Tomorrow, I'm going to try my best to submit a revised draft to the boss. =)

Fingers crossed!!!

And then off to Act II (more juggling). Read: more experiments and more writing. =)

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Accepted!! (Updated)

Something to be cheerful about this week (just like these two stiltmen at the IRRI ANIbersaryo, 2009)...

After prolonged agony, two papers I've been working on have been accepted for publication! Please watch out for these articles (2010):

Cuevas, RP, VD Daygon, HM Corpuz, L Nora, RF Reinke, DLE Waters, MA Fitzgerald. (in press). Melting the secrets of gelatinisation temperature. Functional Plant Biology. 
Accepted 29 January 2010. 

Cuevas, RP, VD Daygon, MK Morell, RG Gilbert, MA Fitzgerald. Using chain-length distributions to diagnose genetic diversity in starch biosynthesis. Carbohydrate Polymers. (doi: 10.1016/j.carbpol.2010.02.004)
Accepted 03 February 2010. 

Please click on the title to see the abstract. These abstracts are in the "Papers in Press" section of the journals' websites and will be removed once these are assigned an issue and page numbers.

On to paper #3!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Survey says...

A lot of surveys on the popularity of presidential wannabes are being shown on television nowadays as the 2010 elections approach. Plus, polls conducted via SMS seems to be popular in talk shows. In the spirit of the election season, and of the popularity of polls, please feel free to check out this comic strip by Jorge Cham (2010).

Open Season!!

The countdown to the 2010 Philippine elections has begun (last month, officially)! People eyeing various posts in government have started making themselves more visible, with campaign ads in different shapes and forms, and increased appearances in televised debates and talk shows. 

The question is, with all these candidates vying for the Presidential seat, would the winner really gain a convincing majority vote?