Tuesday, 22 December 2009


Went to see James Cameron's Avatar the other day, and I must say, it was one of the better movies released this year.


The film, like many box-office releases of late, is heavy on CGI and special effects. Unlike some Michael Bay films though, the whole storyline and plot was not overwhelmed by the insane effects.

The film itself was rife with undertones, most noticeably its political and environmental ones. I love the idea of two differing people ultimately having the same end-goal, and finding that love is indeed color-blind. The rather anti-war and anti-violence themes in the film was barely concealed as well, with many of the human leaders reminding me of early Bush Administration tactics. As for the environmental undertones, it was a little exaggerated at some parts (think Pocahontas) but it was sensitively done in my opinion. I like the overall 'green' mentality of the aliens ("blue monkeys", in the words of the human military leader). It's a fresh perspective at a time when most films concentrate on the 'flash-bang-gore' experience for the viewers.

This has to be Sam Worthington's best film yet, much better than his performance in Terminator. A lot of the cast were unknown to me, but I think they did an awesome job, especially the one who played the alien princess.

All in all, great story, greater undertones, impressive performance, and very nice battle scenes. My only regret was that I did not go to the loo before watching it; it turned out to be over two and a half hours long. :P



Saturday, 19 December 2009

The Term

Sorry for the inactivity, readers. I just finished the toughest term of my life here in De La Salle University.

First of all, I had a hard time in my subject KASPIL1. It's the history of the Philippine national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal and his life, work, and philosophies. I had a rough time, mostly because I had no background in it. No excuse, I know. The thing was, my group mates really let me down and I received an initial grade of 1.0. :( Good thing I appealed and showed my personal work and scores to my lecturer and she approved my appeal! I managed to salvage it to 2.5, God bless her kind soul.

As for my other hard subject, International Law, my paper scores weren't too grand (8.8/10.0), but thank goodness I managed to survive it. The reading materials literally could drown a human being. Final grade isn't out yet, as I did another extra paper for it in hopes of getting a higher grade.

Other subjects are alright, and I'm going to miss American Cinema class. Thank you for introducing me to the art of films, and I will never critique the same again. :)

Secondly, I have decided to not continue anymore as a cheerleader in the Animo Squad, and instead refocus my abilities and skills with my crew, Skittlez. Being the daddy of the crew this year and next, I want to make sure the new guys are taken care of just like how the crew took care of me for 3 years. We WILL be back in the top spot in the Lasallian dance scene, just you wait. ;)

However, I love the squad, and I am proud to say that I am now the official student manager of the Animo Squad. :) Much thanks to the Office of Sports Development for having faith and trust in my abilities.

Thirdly, long story. :(

Fourthly, it's going to be Christmas in a few days. :)

More updates soon!


Wednesday, 25 November 2009

New Moon

New Moon. The second installment in Stephanie Meyer's Twilight saga.

Three things I can say about the movie:
1. Jacob Black is definitely on steroids.
2. Boring as f***.
3. Big CGI wolves are kinda cool.

I was asleep in the last 15-20 minutes of the movie. It's a total WOMBAT (waste of money, brains, and time). Aside from the cheesy teenager-ish lines, horrible visual acting of Edward Cullen, Jacob Black, and Bella Swan, the "ghostly-Edward" scenes, and the Volturi (vampire Interpol, anyone?), the movie was a total bust. Only the wolf-CGI was worth watching, and that would be like, three to four scenes? OMFG.

Thank God the popcorn was nice. Wasabi flavor!

Better go watch something else.. anything else.



Sunday, 15 November 2009



I went to see the disaster film 2012 earlier.

I'm a sucker for disaster films. In my top five favorite movies of all time, the great scientific boo-boo Armageddon is included. Don't ask why, but the sight of landmarks getting thrashed and whole cities going into flames are things that morbidly fascinate me. They are just so.. preposterous.

Then comes 2012.

The movie brought together just about everything that could go wrong with the planet. Earthquakes? You got it. Tsunamis? On just about every continent. Volcanic eruptions? How about Hawaii disappearing under lava? The movie is probably the zenith of all disaster movies ever made, and for sheer disastrous-ness, I personally give it an 11 out of 10.

As on my previous paper on musicals where I touched on the CGI-fed audiences of today, 2012 is also probably the most CGI-blasted movie of all time, and what CGI it had! My favorite digitally made scene has to be Californian cities getting eaten up by earthquakes. It was a literal feast for the eyes; I suggest watching the movie or YouTube these particular scenes. Amazingly horrific. The Oscars for effects should go to 2012 by default!

Then comes the plot and characters. Don't even bother looking for a cohesive plot; the cliches of disaster movies are everywhere. The most sickening scenes for me were the 'limo escape' and the 'little airplane escape'. A limousine handling like a souped up Nissan R34 being driven by a divorced author (with his family inside) while driving through the broken and disintegrating landscape of Los Angeles (I think it was LA) AND escaping relatively unharmed was.. let's just say "WTF?" was running through my head. The CGI were pleasantly distracting at this point. The characters had no development whatsoever as well; an RV-residing prophet foretelling the impending doom of humanity? Come on! I suppose the characters were there mostly just to show people in the movie. After all, it was two hours or so of effects anyway. Even the 'touching scenes' looked a little too scripted to be touching as well. At least the goodbye scene in Armageddon was intense and very heartfelt. In 2012, all the goodbye scenes would make you go, "um.. okay?"

I also found the language very technical and scientific. I was pretty glad of my science background as this enabled me to understand quite a bit about what was happening in the movie. I doubt many understand the technicalities with plate tectonics, magnetic pole reversals, and neutrinos. If you do, however, you would appreciate the movie a teeny bit more.

Oh and the "Noah's Ark" thing..? Too much. Way too much.

I appreciated the film mostly because I took it literally as an entertainment; nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else. If one would ask one's self, what has this to do with the Mayan calendar crap, I would say next to nothing. It's a movie for those seeking pure time-burners (which was what I did) and not for those who want to be watching a gripping plot.



Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Scorched Earth.. and then a Flower

A 4.0 paper on the journeys of Casablanca characters Rick Blaine and Viktor Laszlo, for the subject American Cinema (USACINE, also known as USAPOPC).



It was a bloody conflict, lasting six years. It took tens of millions of lives. Continents were ravaged, whole populations destroyed. Hope, faith, and love were merely words that once existed. Yet in the midst of all this worldly turmoil, in a tiny, insignificant corner of the world, unknown to all who were involved in some way with the war, a painfully glorious love triangle emerged.

In my eyes, Rick Blaine’s and Victor Laszlo’s journeys to the tiny jump-off city of Casablanca, while shown to happen at different times, more or less meant the same thing: the very human search of hope, when hope was virtually non-existent. The mechanized tentacles of the Third Reich reached deep into every corner of Europe, North Africa, and their allies had an iron grip in Asia. Only the Americas seemed to be safe for the moment. Blaine’s journey to Casablanca not-so-subtly reflected America’s foray into the 20th century; young, idealistic, and morally upright. When one gives one’s all into something that one believes in so much, and see it happen all over again at a much bigger scale, disillusionment sets in – exactly the case of Blaine, and to an almost exact extent, his motherland, America. America did a lot to put an end to an idealistic war, and when it was all over and then happens again, it did all it could to look out for itself, much like how Blaine retreated and isolated himself in his Café Americain. Laszlo, on the other hand, was a man who exemplified what generations of Americans have envisioned themselves to be; courageous, persevering, charismatic, resourceful, and above all, patriotic. I believe that his and Blaine’s characters reflected well the turmoil that went through many Americans’ minds about joining the “European War”, as some would call it. Laszlo, at the end of his rope, finally went to Casablanca to secure a pass that could allow him to help in the war effort in the best way he knew how, unlike Blaine, who appears to be more gung-ho in his previous war efforts. In my opinion, Blaine and Laszlo represented the two conflicting ideals on how to be involved in the War, and yet, deep in their hearts, both men had the same goal, and that was for freedom to prevail over tyranny, and for the world to be liberated from the horrors of war.

Many of the dialogue within the film were off-hand and rather witty. In years that offered so little to laugh about, Casablanca’s dialogue that used affectionate terms such as ‘kid’ as a term of endearment most probably made a lot smile. I believe that the lack of very long and winding dialogues were a welcome break from the dozens of long and detailed radio reports that everyone was hearing broadcasted over the airwaves everyday. Quick, direct exchanges between the main characters like Blaine and his French associate Renault were definitely appreciated more than the stiff, very German-like lines from Strasser, the local German commander. Many scenes also portrayed humanity overcoming the horrors of war. At a time when almost everyone would kill to escape to America, Ilsa Lund could not bring herself to kill the man she loves, even if it meant sacrificing the opportunity to escape for both her and Laszlo. I particularly admire the scene in which Blaine – a self-confessed all-around neutral – allowed the ‘battle of the anthems to happen in his café. His actions spoke of a neutral man finally choosing a side to believe in, and to fight for. He showed that when the proverbial object hits the fan, it was time to take decisive action. Also, Renault’s hypocritical actions – the gambling scene for instance, when he forbids gambling in the café one second, and takes his winnings the next – also lend a touch of humor. Perhaps everything was not so bad after all if, as seen in Casablanca, Blaine’s patrons could still give themselves the occasional enjoyment. Perhaps the most stirring part in the film was when La Marseillaise overcame The Guard on the Rhine in Blaine’s café. The Germans had every right to be happy and to sing nationalistic songs; they held Europe at gunpoint. However, Blaine allowed the long-simmering feelings of patriotism to finally overflow and explode among his patrons as they drown out the German voices with a powerful rendition of La Marseillaise, led by the idealistic Laszlo.

Casablanca showed that not even war could stop humanity from prevailing over conflict, no matter how big or overwhelming that conflict may be, and that human nature such as hope, faith, and love do have permanent places in each person’s heart, so long as they answer its call at the right place and the right time, much like how flowers seemingly just appear in blood-soaked and scorched battlefields, reminding the living that living is more than just being alive.

© J.Cruz, Bachelor of Arts, International Studies (American)
De La Salle University - Manila


This paper is available to anyone for reference, as long as its primary source (me and/or this blog) is cited. Say 'no' to plagiarism. :)


Saturday, 7 November 2009

Skittlez at 1CBE

Skittlez was the opening act of De La Salle University - Manila's College of Business and Economics (CBE) 1CBE Party and launch of Acupuncture (a new brand of kicks). Skittlez featured so many new faces for this gig. We've come a long way, over two and a half years now. :)

We're hot. :P

We're fierce.


Them boys.

Them girls.

We got colors :P (note: see why I'm the 'black skittle')

Fail. :D

More random shots. :)

Thanks to CBE for continuing to give Skittlez gigs. :)
Welcome, newbies.


Friday, 6 November 2009

The Rehearsal Hall

A friend of Gayle and I, Monica, had to shoot "a couple, and they must obviously be dancers". Apart from being models for a while, Gayle and I had some pretty nice shots as well. :P

Thanks Mon. :)

My favorite shots. <3


Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Hair Job

Apologies for not blogging; thesis writing and reading lots of cases for International Law has been a real drag!

I got my first hair dye job about a month or so ago. :P I know, it's kinda late, but this is something new for me, so bear with me. :P I chose a color that's called 'red mahogany', but basically it's medium brown. Ahaha.. The names people come up with. Here are the pictures, with some others at Art's Cream Gallery after the dye job, and the toy expo at the Robinson's Place atrium.


End result.

At Art's Cream.

Toy expo.

Ronald McDonald vs Jollibee. :D


Saturday, 24 October 2009

Skittlez Crew - Remix 09

Enjoy. :)

Due to technical rules of 20% of finals score coming from the eliminations round (a very silly way of making a dance competition, in all honesty), Skittlez missed out on the overall top 3 rankings, BUT did place in the top three for the Remix 09 Finals itself.

Moral of the story:
Organizers need to be, um, better organized.
Eliminations, in case they suddenly turn out to be ridiculously important, must be taken very seriously.



Wednesday, 21 October 2009


I was admitted to the hospital last weekend. :(

After spending 3 days and 2 nights (wow, like a hotel stay, really) at the Manila Adventist Hospital (used to be called the Manila Sanitarium, which I prefer) from last Saturday to two days ago (Monday), I've had quite a life-changing experience. Mostly due to the fact that this was my first time to be admitted in a hospital.

Last Wednesday, I experienced some severe pain on the upper-middle area of my abdomen. I dismissed it as a light acid reflux (heartburn), and hoped it would go away. It didn't, and by 1930 hours, I was at the university clinic receiving some Maalox suspension liquid (it's basically liquid magnesium and liquid calcium; tastes horrible) for the pain. Pain went away a little.

Thursday, I was fine.

On Friday, I had severe pain again, and I went to the university clinic to get some treatment. Pain was almost unbearable (9/10 on my pain tolerance scale) and it seemed like every time I would take medication, it would aggravate the pain even more. What helped was a very hot water bottle on my abdomen.

Saturday morning, about 0330 hours, I rushed myself to the Manila Sanitarium. Pain was at 10/10, and I could barely stand straight. I knew something was terribly wrong. I'm not one who would easily succumb to physical pain (university therapists, nurses, and teammates know this) but this time it was really bad. I received a direct-IV injection of Nexium, and was prescribed 40mg Nexium tablets.

Saturday afternoon, about 1630 hours, after taking the Nexium tablet, the pain came back. This time, it felt like I was shot in the abdomen. I was with Skittlez, and thank goodness Jake and Gayle could rush me to the Sanitarium. I was finally admitted.

After a blood test, a urine test, an ultrasound, hooked up to an intravenous line, various poking and probing, I was diagnosed with severe hyperacidity due to stress. Wow. Apparently, I need to chill out more often.

Will post pictures of the hospital stay after I get them.
All fine now. :)


Thursday, 8 October 2009

Citizen Kane

My answers on the first paper on the film Citizen Kane. I also posted this in our USAPOPC Yahoo! Groups website (the top three papers were all posted). :)
A paper on the major subject American Pop Culture and Cinema, with regards to the theme and innovations of the film Citizen Kane, ranked as the "best movie of all time" by the AFI.



Before Citizen Kane, I would have thought that movies such as Casablanca or The Godfather would be #1 on the AFI list of the best movies of all time. However, many innovations in Citizen Kane were considered revolutionary and ground-breaking.
Citizen Kane showed a typical well-meaning citizen "turning evil" in pursuit of power. It showed Charles Foster Kane's story through flashbacks of several people, perhaps indicating that a memory of one man's life must be told from several points of view, to completely (or at least, attempt to) understand why a person would strive to acquire so much more power than he really needs. It is said that 'power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely', and this quote was on my mind throughout the latter part of the movie. No other movie that I have seen captures that saying as well as Citizen Kane, as the movie literally traced back Kane's life from death to childhood to death.
In terms of innovations, I noticed a stark difference between Citizen Kane and all the other classic movies I have seen: Citizen Kane utilized a lot of low and extreme low angles. The viewer is therefore appearing to look 'bottom-up', and the characters look far more imposing. Scenes of 'frame-within-a-frame' are also rampant, especially obvious in scenes such as the adoption, the first interview with Susan Alexander, and in the firing of Jedediah Leland. Artistic shots such as these are fast disappearing in a world filled with computer-generated movies. Also, I noticed that throughout the movie, most objects in any given frame are all in sharp focus; modern movies usually blur objects to highlight in-focus subjects. Citizen Kane relies much in lighting to achieve this instead.
For me, the most telling aspect of Citizen Kane's position as the greatest movie of all time is the symbolism behind the movie's most famous quote ("rosebud"). It was interesting that the movie showed a man who could literally have everything, but instead never forgot his humble beginnings, i.e. childhood ("Rosebud" was Charles Foster Kane's childhood sled, which I was surprised to see he kept!), and yet, unlike movies with 'from rags to riches' theme, Kane did not have a happy ending, losing all - friends, wife, friends, property - to his insatiable megalomania.

© J.Cruz, Bachelor of Arts, International Studies (American)
De La Salle University - Manila


This paper is available to anyone for reference, as long as its primary source (me, this blog, or USAPOPC Y!G) is cited. Say 'no' to plagiarism. :)


Sunday, 4 October 2009

Ondoy - The Morning After

The morning after Typhoon Ondoy stuck my area in San Andres Bukid, Metro Manila.


Super Typhoon Goes North

Title says it all. :D
We're all relieved.

Thanks to Inquirer.net for updating the Filipino citizens with satellite maps.


Friday, 2 October 2009

Super Typhoon Is Here

In the words of Philippine officials:
"Say prayers, prepare and brace for the worst."

Peping (international name - Typhoon Parma) is here.


Typhoon Ondoy

For the past five days, my city, Metro Manila, has been undergoing intensive recovery and relief operations. Last Saturday, this capital of the Philippines was struck by a categorically mild Signal #1 typhoon named Ondoy.

Ondoy turned out to be the worst typhoon in over 40 years in this country. Almost 300 are confirmed dead as of today, and thousands are left homeless. Over 2 million people have been severely affected by this typhoon, due mostly to the deep floods that it caused.

Most of the fatalities caused by Ondoy were due to floodwaters. In some 'fortunate' places like my area near Taft Avenue, the waters were only chest-high; in badly-struck areas such as Cainta and Marikina (Google them), the waters reached four, sometimes five meters. Insane, and very sad.

Schools at all levels have been suspended since last Monday, and today, with reports of another typhoon - reportedly a super typhoon of Signal #5 strength - coming in later tonight or tomorrow morning, the Philippines has been hit pretty hard. We can only pray that all these would end soon, and that Typhoon Peping would just veer off and spend itself over open ocean.

Will update whenever I can. Keep praying.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

2009 UAAP CDC Photos

I know, I know. Way behind schedule. I have Remix 09 to prepare for and a whole new term, you know. :P

Some pictures from the Araneta Coliseum locker room (which we shared with the University of the Philippines Pep Squad two years in a row now).

Our coaches and General Manager.

Araneta shots. Look at the crowd!

During results. :)

Honoring our university, our supporters, and the Lasallian community.

1st: Far Eastern University
2nd: Ateneo De Manila University
3rd: University of the Philippines

I am proud to have worn the green and white of De La Salle University. I am so proud and honored to have been in the pioneer two years of the new-look Animo Squad (formerly known as the DLSU Pep Squad). Teammates, you guys are awesome and some of you are just sick (double full-twist, anyone?). Coaches, thanks for every skill I've learned, and all the lessons you four have imparted on me. Our manager, thanks for the responsibilities that made me a better person. :) DLSU, thanks for the opportunity. Gaylie, thanks for the support. <3 :D

Animo La Salle!