Sunday, February 27, 2011

behind the scenes of the Mel & Joey taping

Coloured rice varieties, among other nutritious food, are featured in tonight's episode of Mel & Joey. Aired on GMA-7 (8:30 pm, GMT+8), the Iba Ito segment, produced by Lemuel Lorca, explores why some people choose enliven their rice consumption with black, red, and brown rice grains.

The segment producer, staff, and crew visited IRRI to shoot the feature on coloured rices. Here are some photos from the segment taping.

rice samples being prepared

closing in on paddy rice
    
dory and fe on cooking rice
    
final briefing before the camera rolled

... and, action!

liz, after prepping the cooked rice display
    




ferdie watches the interview

liz, fe, and dara watching the interview

cooked rice on camera

crystal eating the red rice

ferdie demonstrating dehulling of paddy grains

Saturday, February 26, 2011

beginning of the end: the last flight of Discovery

The Space Shuttle Program of the USA National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is on its final three missions. The first to fly in this program's closing chapter, is Discovery. On this mission (STS-133), it will deliver the crew and various equipment to the International Space Station.

One thing I've always been fascinated with on space flights is the way the spacecraft is assembled and then transported from the Vehicular Assembly Building (VAB) to the launch pad. My dream of being close to where these spaceships are became true in 2005 when I went to the Kennedy Space Centre and joined a tour of the facilities. The tour took us to the giant doors of the VAB, which still had signs of damage from Hurricane Katrina (I was there a few weeks after the hurricane had passed), and to the launch pad observation gantry, which had the best views in the house! 

With Discovery flying off to space one last time, its final roll-out brought back happy memories of my trip. Here is a video of Discovery's final trip to Launch Pad 39A, posted by NASA.


That happiness is mixed with a tinge of sadness. The last three missions mark the end of an era in space exploration. What will come next, now that the Constellation Program has been scrapped?  

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

drip filter

I convinced myself that purifying water at home is much cheaper than buying at the sari-sari store (that's the village version of the convenience store)... more convenient too, since I don't have to lug around a jug of water every few days. And so I ended up buying a drip filtration set (multi-stage filter) at the nearby mall.

It has a ceramic filter, which should remove the particulates from the tap water. Apparently, the pores in this filter are so small that even normal-sized bacteria couldn't get through! Then there's this cartridge with several layers: activated carbon, silica, and zeolite. Granular activated carbon and silica are said to trap the off-flavours and off-odours plus some more bacteria that are small enough to pass through the ceramic filter. Zeolite, on the other hand, acts like an ion-exchanger. Because of this behaviour, zeolite is used to attract heavy metals that are harmful to the body. Just before water gets ready to drink, it passes through a final stage where mineral stones are found. These stones are the nutrient-booster of the group since they "fortify" the water with important elements such as potassium and sodium. 

As I wait (impatiently) for the water to go into the lower tank, I remember my stay in Sydney Uni where I had to filter water as well... 

2006. My experiment was about measuring the particle size of starch polymers suspended in water. The machine I was using to take measurements was so sensitive that it could mistake dust (which tend to collect in water) as the target material. That was why I had to make sure that not even viruses could contaminate the distilled and purified water I was to use in my experiment. My water reservoir (distilled water) was way up above the bench; a long Tygon tube snaked its way from the reservoir to a collection bottle found on the floor. Atop this bottle was a filter that had pores smaller than the smallest viruses. Since the pores were really small, the filtration process was tediously slow: it took all day just to get enough dust-free water for sample preparation... I used so many filters because they kept getting clogged up by whatever was suspended in the water during filtration.

Back to 2011. Water flow is indeed faster in my home set up than in what I was using in school. However, it wasn't fast enough for me to stay up. I'm going to bed. Tomorrow, there should be enough water for taste-testing. 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

identifying rice the high-tech way

From the grapevine: the Philippine Rice Research Institute is going to launch the use of molecular biology technology to identify whether released rice varieties are hybrids or not based on their genetic profiles. The idea of using genetic markers is not new, having been used in forensic sciences and in quality assurance (particularly in the food industry). It has also seen a lot of action in agricultural research. This time, it will help ensure the quality of seed material for farmers.

Manila Bulletin writer, Marvyn Benaning, went over to PhilRice to cover the story.

To read the story, please click on the link:
http://www.mb.com.ph/articles/303786/philrice-sets-standard-naming-rice-strains

Monday, February 14, 2011

flight line tour at the hot air balloon fiesta

The aerobatic shows and the flight demonstrations were all fascinating enough. However, a big yellow fence kept the audience a distance off the aircraft and the balloons. Thankfully, there's a guided flight line tour during the 16th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta offered by the Aviation Society of the Philippines. For an additional P250, people could walk along the flight line -- or the airplane parking lot, as I called it before the tour -- and learn a few things about what it's like to be pilot. Naturally, I wouldn't pass a chance to join a tour like that, specially since I've never been permitted to walk on a flight line before.

Donning the VIP passes (the yellow reflectorised vest), we started the tour with a look at ultralight planes inside a hangar. They all looked like dragonflies up in the sky (when I first saw them in a morning performance) but up close and personal, the simplest ones looked like trikes with wings! There's a more fancy one that looked like a pod from a science fiction movie. 

the kite-like ultralight
this space-pod-like ultralight 






From there, we made our way to the flight line where the other planes were tied down at. The tour guide taught us the anatomy of the airplane using terms in aviation. To make her point clearer, she brought us to planes with increasing degrees of complication. Throughout the tour, however, I was struck by Philippine civilian planes' registration number. They all began with RPC. Well, well, well... it looks like the planes and I have the same initials! Hehehe :)

philippine-registered (RP) civilian (C) plane

The Coast Guard staff were conducting what looked like a post-flight check-up when we arrived at their spot. We interviewed them about what it's like to be a member of the Coast Guard. It turns out that they're the emergency response team. Someone else flies the plane! And I thought that they had to know how to fly a plane AND how to give first aid to patients. This team of rescuers were involved in rescuing a lot of people during Typhoon Ketsana's (aka Ondoy) destructive trip across Luzon. 

the Coast Guard team paused and posed for the tour group.

The last planes we looked at during the tour were a set of fighter jets of the Philippine and of the US Air Forces. The Philippine set looked like Aermacchi S-211s, which are used in pilot training. They're not as cool as the F-16s featured in movies and seen on CNN, but maybe that's because the gear (and the artillery) had been taken off and the cockpits had been covered for display and safety purposes. When used on duty, I'm sure that these planes look more combat-ready than what's seen here.

the S-211 display... all the cool stuff in the cockpit were covered.

There only one more point in our guide's airplane anatomy lesson that we had to see (and I bet that it included a tour of the giant plane parked on the flight line because it involved the fuselage) but a whiff of fuel odour and black smoke billowing from the parade/demonstration grounds cut the tour short. The sirens of emergency rescue vehicles blared as we rushed back to the starting point of the tour. Strange, I thought, that the Coast Guards we saw earlier were still conducting routine checks on their plane as the tour group was shepherded off the ramp. The "emergency", it turned out, was a demonstration of search and rescue procedures! Now we know that in case of an emergency, extra personnel (or tourists just like us) are not allowed near any of the planes.

The tour is a a good way to go behind the scenes of the hot air balloon fiesta and learn more about aviation. Now, I understand a little bit more about aircraft because I've seen and come close to the real things rather than to the scale models. These are truly toys for the big boys (and girls).

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Nat Geo Earth Day Run, Manila

With tendonitis still a thing to work on, I'm planning to resume my routine dirt road runs in March. The first event I'm going to join and prepare for (starting this week) is the 3k run at the sports fest at work. That will help me gauge whether I'm ready for another road race or not. Meanwhile, I'm starting to look around for a race I could join in.

Luckily, I saw the Nat Geo Earth Day run ad by the souvenir shops at the balloon festival. Now, I've got a run to look forward to! It's on April 10 this year at the Bonifacio Global City. 

Gym, here I come. :)

the little sister having a photo op by the Nat Geo Earth Day run ad

16th hot air balloon festival

Anna and I went to the 16th Philippine International Hot Air Balloon Fiesta at the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga on Feb 12, 2011. The long trip was worth it because the fiesta had a lot of attractions other than the hot air balloons for those who missed the morning flight (which started at about 5.30am).  

Since Anna and I watched the balloons fly off from the car (we were still on the queue for parking space), we had commanding view of some of the hot air balloons as they floated off across the road :) But because we didn't see them go up, we stuck around until evening when the balloons were re-inflated and lit.

While waiting for the night glow of the balloons, we passed the time while we watched the flight demonstrations, paragliding, skydiving, and team kite-flying on the open fields by the tarmac. We also went on the tour of the of the flight line and behind the scenes of the hot air balloon fiesta.

balloons from other countries

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Review: Tangled (2010)


    
(photos of posters from Disnology)

"Tangled" is the retelling of the story of the Brothers Grimm's Rapunzel, a girl with magically long hair. She is a princess who was kidnapped as a baby by an old lady who takes care of Rapunzel and uses the magical powers of her hair to look young and beautiful. One day, a thief, Flynn Rider, chances upon Rapunzel in her tower and their adventures together begin... until they live happily ever after.

I watched this film with Anna and Ate Maddie at the Alabang Town Centre. All I can say is that the 9pm show was worth the wait. The movie was shown in 3D. The animation was superb, similar to cartoons such as Cars, Up, and Toy Story. The dialogue was snappy and quick-paced. The characters had expressive facial expressions. I want to see it again!

We were laughing throughout the show because the characters were just too funny! In my opinion, despite the title of the movie being a reference to Flynn and Rapunzel's developing relationship (thanks to the hair, of course), the spotlight is shared equally by the main characters with the two sidekicks: Maximus, the palace horse, and Pascal, Rapunzel's pet chameleon. I expected Max to be just like other cartoon horses, haughty and poised but always the silent supporter of the prince until he comes face to face with the witch/evil stepmother. However, he is more talented than the other horses. He rivals a bloodhound on the trail of a prey, and he's pretty persevering as well. On the other hand, Pascal, the diminutive chameleon, reminded me of Jiminy Cricket because Pascal acts like Rapunzel's conscience. He also reminds me of Moshu the dragon because of the size and because they're both reptiles. The resemblance ends there, however, because Pascal has the ability to blend into his surroundings and he doesn't talk in the movie. Moshu tends to stand out, both because he's a dragon and because of his big mouth.

The antagonist isn't too bad in my opinion. Mother Gothel is no Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty); she doesn't even come close to the evil of the wicked witch in Snow White nor of Queen Narcisa (Enchanted). Rather, she is more like Lady Tremaine (Cinderella); I think that Mother Gothel has no intentions to kill Rapunzel... just make herself pretty and comfortable while making the princess' life miserable whether intentionally or not. 

Rapunzel is the most protected of the Disney princesses because she's always been locked up in the tower. As such, Rapunzel's first venture outside the tower is naturally wrought by mixed emotions, literally a pendulum of extremes (thanks to her hair once again). Princess Jasmine is in second place now, in my opinion. Even Princess Aurora, albeit under the constant guard of the three fairy godmothers, is allowed to venture off into the forest despite the threat of a pinprick on her life. Every girl who grew up with strict parents, and/or sent off to all-girls' boarding schools, could surely relate with Rapunzel's escape from the tower. 

Flynn, on the other hand, is just like Aladdin. An outgoing fellow who takes the princess out to see the world, teaching her life lessons along the way. 

One thing I missed here in Disney's 50th animated feature, is the theme song I can easily remember Rapunzel by. The Disney Princesses I've watched all are associated to signature tunes. Specifically, Jasmine has "A Whole New World", Ariel has "Part of my World", Aurora has "Once Upon A Dream", Snow White has "Someday My Prince will Come", Pocahontas has "Colours of the Wind", Cinderella has "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes", Mulan has "Reflection", and Belle has "Beauty and the Beast". Even Giselle has a song, "That's How You Know". For Rapunzel, I drew a blank. There were a lot of songs for her in Tangled, but they're not very memorable.

In contrast, the iconic Tangled song for me is "Mother Knows Best", which is sung by Mother Gothel. Strange, I thought, the antagonist has a song!

All in all, I loved Tangled. It hasn't replaced Mulan and Beauty and the Beast as my favourite Disney Princess cartoons but it comes in as a close third. 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Sting, Live in Berlin (2010)


Sting is currently on the Symphonicities tour around the world. Unable to watch him live, I opted for the next best thing: buy the Live in Berlin album. I bought the pack that contained both the concert DVD (ring-side seats to the concert!) and the companion CD (perfect for easy listening in the car). I've enjoyed watching the DVD (there'd be an encore sometime this week) and the CD is my current playlist in the car. 

That concert featured Branford Marsalis, saxophonist, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of the energetic Steven Mercurio. With them, Sting's songs, performed along with his band, were just magical!

What can I say? It's a two thumbs up for me!

FYI: I bought my copy of Sting's latest album at Odyssey Music Store (SM Calamba City). It's quite on the pricey side at P550 but it's a great buy, especially for Sting fans.

To listen to how different the songs are from their originals, please click the link. That'll bring you to the tracklist website.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

the semantics of the senses

Yummy! Delicious! 

Ugh! Yucky!

These are some of the first words we hear (or exclaim) as we take our first taste of food. As we continue munching on it, we dissect what makes the food pleasurable or revolting in our mouths. How do aromas, flavours, and textures contribute to the sensory experience of the food? 

As we ponder how to describe the food, we initially come up with textural dichotomies like hard or soft, sticky or slick, rough or smooth. At the same time, we figure out the individual flavours of the food that sum up to the overall taste; how saltiness, bitterness, sweetness, sourness, and umami contribute to the roundness of the food; how the aromas leave an aura to the dish, heightening the sensory experience.

Often, this is where we hit a dead end. For instance, without further prodding, we stop describing food at "hard". What do we mean by "hard" food? Is it firm? Is it tough? Does it even matter? After all, the antonym of these three adjectives (to a person who uses English as a second language) is "soft". 

Are they really the same though? Jello can be described as firm  and overcooked kangaroo meat may be tough but they certainly aren't hard as rock candy. Hence, on a deeper level, these three descriptors of the difficulty of biting onto food aren't equivalent at all. No wonder that we, consumers, have difficulty describing what we like and do not like to people who develop food products. 

This is where semantics comes into play. Semantics is the field of linguistics that looks into the meanings of words. And the meaning of words arise based on the cultural experience of the users of these words. Do we have enough words to describe what we perceive through our senses? I would think that we do, we just have to find them... and not confine ourselves to the English dictionary. Just like the word "umami". It's not English; it's a Japanese word that describes the savoury sensation of food, perhaps that feeling of warmth and comfort after drinking a bowl of hot soup (that is actually perceived on the tongue).

For developing food with superior quality, finding these descriptors and then figuring out what makes the food that way is a real challenge. It's time to look outside the rigidity of the sciences and to explore the  flexible world of linguistics.

house-hunting

In the future, I'll be investing in real property. 

As a friend told me once, it wouldn't hurt to look around now even if I am not yet in the financial position to buy property; this is so I could get a feel of what I want in a house and in a community. So one day, Anna and I went out "house-hunting" with our aunt who wants to look at interiors of model houses. 

Since we were pressed for time, we only had a chance to visit two gated communities in Laguna. The first one, Madison South, developed by Excelsis Land, Inc., is located in Calamba City. The second one, Pramana Residential Park, developed by Greenfield Development Corporation, is located in Sta Rosa. 

Madison South
Located close to the Batino Exit of the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), this gated community offers easy access to the industrial parks of Laguna. The developer offers to its clients their very own piece of the American suburban lifestyle. What I found, however, was quite different. 

The units he showed us are all built on 80-100 sq. m. lots. Because of the small lot sizes, these houses had to be built as two-floor buildings; the first floor features the living room, the dining area, and the kitchen; the second floor is reserved for the bedrooms and the bathroom. 

Frankly, these houses are all too small for me. One of the model units doesn't even have a spot for the garage. The ones that do have garages too narrow for my taste. There is a plus in some of these houses though: the balconies are really spacious and offer good views of the village. The tiniest of them all, however, charmed my sister because of the white picket fence and the way the decorators had arranged the interiors. If I may give a suggestion to the units' decorator, I would say that it might be best to do away with the bulky couches and dining sets. These enormous furniture may be popular with American suburban homeowners, but their houses are much larger, I'd imagine, than the houses on offer in Madison South. With such tiny rooms in the houses, sleek and modern furniture might be the ticket to give an illusion of space.

My verdict: For a little over P3,000,000, people can purchase the most spacious house and lot (floor area around 120 sq. m.) in the best part of the village. While Calamba City real estate property isn't cheap, buying a spot here is certainly more affordable than buying a tiny condominium unit in Metro Manila. The houses are ideal for those who'd rather start investing in a house rather than perpetually paying rent for apartment units. I think yuppies working in the industrial parks and with young families would be attracted to the price and to proximity to their work areas and to reputable schools. 

Would I buy property here if I had the capacity to? I have to think long and hard on that one. With house dimensions not to my liking, this place will not be one of my top picks. So perhaps I might venture on and find a more affordable area so I could get an even larger lot for the spacious house I'm dreaming of.

Pramana Residential Park
It aims to bring people closer to nature by giving residents clear views of Mount Makiling and the Tagaytay ridge. It emphasises green living by setting aside many spaces for parks and gardens. It advocates healthy lifestyles by putting in bike lanes and running paths. Located close to the Eton City exit of the SLEX, Pramana is another community strategically located near reputable schools, upscale shopping centres, and the industrial parks. Just one look at the venue, and I knew that this property caters to the upper classes. 

The model units are more to my liking in terms of size and design. Floor areas of 151-186 sq. m. are set on two levels with living room, kitchen, and dining area (some have the lanai as well) on the first floor and bedrooms, baths, and an office space on the second floor. The laundry area is also spacious, but it makes me wonder how clothes and fabrics will be dried out in this village if clotheslines aren't allowed to be set up. The sales agent assured us that homeowners can install low rods instead of clotheslines... but that doesn't address the drying of bed sheets, curtains, and tablecloths. Surely, an eco-friendly village such as this will not advocate frequent use of dryers which etch deep carbon footprints.

The overall architectural theme, if I understand it correctly, is modern Asian tropical. The spaces inside the houses feel more relaxed because of high ceilings, large windows, and uncluttered areas. All units have provisions for garages, a big plus point for me. The balcony area is small in units that have it, but that's hardly a bad point in a house where nature seems to be within reach from every window. Interior decorators who staged these model units have done a terrific job in simulating living spaces. My only issues, which can be tweaked if I buy property here (and that's a big if) are: (1) the common baths don't have windows (or if they do, they're too small) and (2) I don't remember seeing handrails by the stairs of any of the units. 

My verdict: This community is not for the faint-hearted or for the entry-level yuppie. Rather, the developers cater to more financially established clients. Case in point: the lot (no house yet) I like best in the pre-selling development (the Solen Residences) costs upwards of P2,500,000. In Pramana, which is the inhabitable community, the lot price is surely much higher. That doesn't come as a surprise, specially with the amenities the developer offers. Note that one of the perks of living in this vast community is the free shuttle service for the house help on market day (Yes, the developer has provisions for the house help. See how high-end this community is yet?). 

Would I buy property here if I had the capacity to? I would because it offers what I'm looking for in terms of house size, location, and proximity to greenery. The only consideration that will make me think twice once I've got the purchasing power is the practicality of buying here. Aren't there real estate developments with similar philosophies that don't cost as much?

After this exercise, all I can do is sigh. House-hunting is not as easy as it seems. My friend's advice is definitely a good one. I'm already looking forward to the next expedition!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Review: Hachiko: A Dog's Story (2009)

Hachiko, an Akita Inu, is the subject of the 2009 film "Hachiko: A Dog's Story". It's directed by Lasse Hallstrom and stars Richard Gere and Joan Allen. Of course, this movie is based upon the life of the real Hachiko of Japan and his devotion to Professor Hidesaburo Ueno.

The story began, as any dog story does, when the man meets the dog. In this particular movie, a professor (played by Gere) formed a strong bond with an Akita Inu puppy named Hachiko. This bond was so strong that as an adult dog, Hachiko accompanied the professor to the train station on his way to work, went back home to wait, and then came back to the train station to accompany the professor back home in the afternoon. One day, Hachiko went to the train station to wait for the professor, but he never came back. He had died while teaching a class. Despite his passing, Hachiko continued to go to the train station to wait for the professor until he died ten years later. The movie ended, as extraordinary dog stories do, with a bittersweet tone. The faithful dog was reunited with his human at last.

It was heartbreaking to see Hachiko go to the station everyday, waiting for the professor, and living off the food and water given by the train station manager, the hotdog vendor, and the butcher. The daughter had good intentions when she let him go back to wait at the train station, but it was hard for me to watch as the dog made a broken carriage his home rather than go back to her house (I think it hurt me more to see that the daughter didn't even go to the station to collect him in the evening). No animal should have been abandoned by his family like that.

As I grabbed the remote to change the channels, my tears continued to flow for this very loyal dog (this, despite having cats as pets). Although my cats don't walk with me to and from the train station, I always see them run to the gate to welcome me (and the car) home and they do walk with me for two blocks on days when I don't drive.

If ever I wouldn't return, I certainly would love it if someone would take care of them.

Friday, February 4, 2011

off with their heads!

At this month's First Friday Mass, the Gospel focused on the story of John the Baptist's fate.

Herodias had her chance on Herod's birthday, when he gave a dinner for all senior government officials, military chiefs, and leaders of Galilee. On that occasion, the daughter of Herodias came in and danced; and she delighted Herod and his guests. The king said to the girl, "Ask me for anything you want and I will give it to you." And he went as far as to say with many oaths, "I will give you anything you ask, even half my kingdom." She went out to consult with her mother, "What shall I ask for?" The mother replied, "The head of John the Baptist." The girl hurried to the king and made her request: "I want you to give me the head of John the Baptist, here and now, on a dish."
The king was very displeased, but he would not refuse in front of his guests because of his oaths. So he sent one of the bodyguards with orders to bring John's head. He went and beheaded John in prison; then he brought the head on a dish and gave it to the girl. And the girl gave it to her mother. When John's disciples heard of this, they came and took his body and buried it.
Mark 6: 21-29 
One of the more brutal and blunt Bible stories I've read. It reminds me of the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland because her favourite expression is: "Off with his head!"

The priest posited, however, that it wasn't John who lost his head that day. The people who did, according to priest, were: Herod, Herodias, and her daughter (Salome). The all "lost their heads" when they had John the Baptist killed. Herod didn't want to lose face because he had given a promise in front of guests. Herodias was angry because John had condemned her for being the wife of her ex-husband's brother/ her uncle (Herod). Salome followed her mother blindly and didn't have her own mind. In short, these characters lost their heads to save their reputations and because they were concerned about how people saw them.

The priest ended the homily by asking, who are we like: John or the three other characters? 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

chaos in Egypt

It's absolutely chaotic in Egypt at the moment. CNN is showing live feeds from Tahrir Square, Cairo: the fighting between pro- and anti-government people, the absence of police and military forces, flames and smoke all over. There have been deaths and serious injuries already as the fighting turned more violent.

I tuned in a week too late. The fighting has been going on for a few days already, and it's the first time I've stopped to have a closer look at the news. I still need to catch up on what the protests are about. Luckily, Wikipedia has summarised the events leading to today's CNN broadcast. 

When I first read about this event, I thought that it would be similar to the more peaceful EDSA Revolution (1986) that installed Corazon Aquino as the Philippines' first woman president. However, the Egyptian protests became bloody and violent in Cairo as can be seen in this video (from CNN).


I hope that the clashes are stopped soon and peace is reestablished. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Review: Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)

As the credits started rolling, I felt that "Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time" had lots of similarities to other films. Thanks to these elements and to the effective portrayals of the actors, I enjoyed watching the movie so much that I forgot that today is a weekday... I felt that it was a Sunday. 

So anyway, back to the movies that had a similar feel to the Prince of Persia...

Aladdin (1992)
The protagonist, Dastan, was born a street rat, just like Aladdin. The antagonist, Nizam (played by Sir Ben Kingsley), reminded me of Jafar. Perhaps it was the expression in the eyes; definitely, the hair and the headpiece kept the two characters distinct. In both movies, the opposing characters were after a specific object: in Aladdin, it was the magical oil lamp that contained the Genie; in Prince of Persia, it was the magical dagger that could be used to go back in time. 

300 (2007)
Jake Gyllenhaal (Dastan) had well-defined abs in this film, just like Gerard Butler in 300 (he played King Leonidas). Aside from the physical similarities of the leads, the two movies both used slow motion visual effects quite liberally. 

The Mummy (1999)
Both movies were set in the desert. The characters in both movies travelled to some remote region in the world to get or to hide an object. Mysterious characters attempted to stop the protagonists from reaching their destinations, but with different objectives.

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
The Prince of Persia is based on a video game, just like Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. Time reversal was also a focal point in both movies. Lara Croft and Dastan went back in time to save their worlds using relics: Lara used the Triangle and Dastan used the dagger with the sands of time.

After the credits finished rolling, I was reminded that tomorrow is another work day. Off to bed!