Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mutant History

X-Force, Circa 1992
Cable-less X-Force, my favorite lineup of the ‘90s team. Cannonball, Boomer, Warpath, and Sunspot are now X-Men, while Siryn, Shatterstar, and Rictor are current members of X-Factor. Feral is still dead, but her spirit reappeared during the fight over Rahne Sinclair’s newborn child. Lila Cheney still helps out from time to time.
Cassandra Nova
Professor X’s twin sister was a Mummudrai, an entity that copied his form in his mother’s womb. She used Sentinels to wipe out millions of Genoshan mutants.

Cool Random $#!+ Part Ten

The team just lost the synchronized flying competition. Falcon is pissed.
"Damn those f$@*ing Silver Hawks!"
Alien powerhouses Super-Skrull and Martian Manhunter.
"Yield, Skrull. I have telepathy, super-strength, eye-blasts, flight, intangibility, super-speed and shape-shifting!"
"I see. Flame on!!!"

"A Different Love: Being a Gay Man in the Philippines" by Dr. Margie Holmes. Very enlightening book launched in 2005. Had my copy signed. One of my favorite parts:
“Characterizing a person’s actions as sinful, as in 'Woman, sin no more' certainly smacks of judgment to me. To characterize a person’s actions as sinful is NOT compassionate; it is downright demoralizing and judgmental. We must become more aware of the mixed messages we give people. We must be more honest about the feelings we have for people, so we don’t say 'I love them' (which implies equality) but don’t condone your deeds' and in the next breath say, 'I’ll be praying for you, praying that you see the light at last' (which says clearly that you are better than they because you see the light whereas they, poor souls whom you love despite themselves, don’t). If that’s compassion, I’d much rather people be patronizing. At least they would be more honest that way.”

"Cap, why are we just standing around? Iron Lad just destroyed Vision! And aren't we going after the real culprit of the mutant decimation?"
"Shush, Carol. The script said we should just look shocked in the background and let them escape, even though there are dozens of us here."

Kevin Zegers portrays Titanic’s ambitious metallurgist

Kevin Zegers portrays Titanic’s ambitious metallurgist              
(Published May 27, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

“This doesn’t deal with the sinking of the ship,” clarified Canadian actor Kevin Zegers, who stars in the History miniseries “Titanic: Blood and Steel.”

“It’s more about the culture of Belfast in that era and a lot of political things that were going on,” he told the Inquirer in a phone interview.

Zegers, 27, plays a young metallurgist, Dr. Mark Muir, who worked on the ambitious but doomed RMS Titanic ship.

“There’s a love story; there’s a class struggle,” he said. “It’s a period drama. Titanic is sort of the backdrop of the story.”

The actor grew facial hair for the role and worked with a voice coach to prepare himself for the 12-hour series. “I wanted to get the accent right,” he said. “It’s something I really quite enjoyed and would like to do again.”

Zegers appeared in commercials as a kid and landed roles in movie and TV projects such as “Air Bud,” “X-Files,” and “Smallville.” In 2005 he played the teen son of Felicity Huffman’s character in the acclaimed film “Transamerica.”

Prior to “Blood and Steel,” he had a recurring role on “Gossip Girl.” He considers himself fortunate for the opportunities to portray diverse characters.

“I started as an actor when I was 12, doing Disney movies and stuff,” Zegers recalled. “I always want to get better and do more. I’m very fortunate to be working; I try not to ask too many questions. I kind of just go with it!”

Co-starring with Neve Campbell, Chris Noth and Derek Jacobi on “Blood and Steel,” Zegers said working with the cast was “quite incredible.” Shot in Serbia and Dublin, the series centers on his character’s complicated life during the construction of the ill-fated Titanic.

“[Dr. Muir’s] a very strong-willed guy who wants to change the system,” Zegers said. “It’s a very old system that he doesn’t think is conducive to things moving forward. He likes to challenge authority; he’s very ambitious. I like that.”

Zegers revealed that he’s not exactly the type of actor who’s comfortable repeatedly watching his own movies: “‘Transamerica’ was definitely one of my favorites among movies that I’ve been in; I was 20 when I did that. I don’t really like to watch things that I do, to be totally honest.”

The actor now counts “Blood and Steel” among his favorite projects. He worked on the series for over five months, and found the experience very rewarding. “We worked six days a week, 14 hours a day,” he said. “Just the workload was a lot. Just being consistent every single day was a challenge. Over the course of half a year, people got sick, tired and grumpy. But as an actor you have to be very driven and consistent… This is what I’m probably most proud of in terms of what we accomplished. People will see this when they watch; it’s an incredible story to tell!”

(“Titanic: Blood and Steel” airs Sundays, 9:00 p.m. on History.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Back in black, back in time

Alien-policing Agents K (Tommy Lee Jones) and J (Will Smith) return in a more affecting installment of the science fiction-comedy “Men in Black,” their latest adventure requiring them to fight a time-traveling villain, Boris (Jemaine Clement).

Like the previous parts, “Men in Black 3” introduces a variety of harmless and threatening extraterrestrials, kept in line by the intrepid human agents. Boris “the Animal” becomes Agent J’s priority when the hostile alien manages to eliminate K in the past. Traveling back to 1969, J teams up with a much younger Agent K (Josh Brolin), who has yet to become the more tight-lipped, humorless old man he knows today.

The retro-styled adventure brings back the familiar gadgets and arsenal, as well as the cool, collected crime-fighting procedures. We get to see sophisticated but less portable and less sleek technology during the earlier time, and a somewhat more upbeat Agent K, whose future demeanor is explained in detail here.

This third part, still directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, looks good in 3D; its fancy effects impressively pop out from time to time. Humor-wise, it’s pretty much the same; odd “humans” are usually aliens, or are heavily influenced by them. What’s different and quite funny this time is Agent J trying to adapt to 1969; there are references to the bygone era’s transforming pop culture and racial tensions. And while it’s a simple, periodically fun “MIB,” it’s surprisingly poignant and appropriately dialed down at certain moments.

“Men in Black 3” opens today. The new, 6-minute “Amazing Spider-Man” sneak peek will be shown before every 3D screening. 

Spoilerish Avengers Musings

Finally watched it a second time. I appreciated the pace and story details more. My other thoughts on the movie, with spoilers this time.

- Cool Buffy-esque treatment of Black Widow during the mob interrogation scene. I especially like that Agent Coulson was just cool and assured of her competence during the beatdown of her “captors.” It’s also nice to see her fleshed out through her interactions with Loki and Hawkeye.

- Alexis Denisof is the alien middleman The Other! Loved the actor as Wesley in “Buffy” and “Angel.” I hope to see Joss Whedon’s other actors next time.

- Speaking of next time, I read that Whedon is hesitating to do the sequel. I hope he agrees to do it. The humor and interactions just wouldn’t be the same without him.

- The Hulk still looks incredibly like Mark Ruffallo amid the mega-buffness. Was really impressed with the Helicarrier slugfest, and the hilarious “Puny god!” scene.

- Tom Hiddleston a.k.a. Loki. The actor and the character kick ass. As pointed out by some people, he’d probably make a great Doctor Who someday.

- I wish they showed Cap and Iron Man beating the heck outta each other. But the insult-hurling worked just fine.

- The team needs more females, with powers. Maybe the Wasp and Scarlet Witch can be members. As for new male members, maybe limit it to one or two. The Coulson-as-Vision rumor is interesting, but we’ll see if that happens. Perhaps Henry Pym can be introduced as well.

- Have Loki organize a team of super-villains in the next movie. It’d be nice if he were to meet and fight alongside Thanos in the sequel, too.

- Thanos! Whedon called him “the most powerful and fascinating Marvel villain” in an interview. Would really love to see the filmmaker bring the nihilist god to life.  I can imagine him and the team in a no-holds-barred fight. That would be totally epic. 

Over-quirkiness, ad nauseam

“Dark Shadows” is Tim Burton’s expectedly quirky take on the supernatural soap of the same title, joined by frequent collaborator Johnny Depp as its recently awakened vampire Barnabas Collins. It’s not their best collaboration; this horror-comedy, while well-cast and visually appealing, has many undershaped and squandered characters.

The characters getting enough development are the vampire antihero and his spurned immortal ex, Angelique, a witch played by Eva Green (who already previously portrayed magic-using females; she played the ruthless Morgan in the short-lived “Camelot,” and witch queen Serafina in “The Golden Compass”).

Angelique’s vengeance involves making her former master Barnabas suffer by transforming him into a vampire, imprisoned in a coffin for nearly two centuries. He finds himself unearthed in the early 1970s, attacking random, unlucky bystanders and blaming his old tormentor for his misdeeds.

Again, it’s nicely cast. Michelle Pfeiffer, Burton’s Catwoman 20 years ago, plays the descendants’ cunning matriarch; Chloe Moretz plays her restless and rebellious teen daughter; Johnny Lee Miller, Helena Bonham-Carter and Bella Heathcote have roles that significantly add to the already bizarre mix.

You get tired of the forced weirdness, however. While it’s easy to sympathize with the vampire antihero for his suffering, his monstrous actions are just repulsive, so you don’t really get invested. And such offbeat and potentially enchanting supporting characters ultimately end up only half-realized. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Not Everyday People

Bat Brothers
Dick Grayson, Damian Wayne, Tim Drake, Jason Todd. Or Nightwing, Robin, Red Robin and Red Hood, respectively.

My favorite Walking Dead character.

Whedon fans Lexy, Nance and Argus, after watching Avengers. Commissioned by a contact.

That’s so bloody ‘Raven’

Versatile thesp John Cusack memorably portrays the celebrated poet Edgar Allan Poe in the crime thriller “The Raven,” an often-tense mingling of fact, fiction, and reinvention.

Creatively shedding light on the mysterious final days of the author, “The Raven” reimagines a reality where Poe’s dark tales are the basis for some gruesome crimes committed by an elusive figure. Recruited in the investigation by a by-the-books detective (Luke Evans), Poe must solve the puzzles left by his deranged reader and prevent other innocent victims from perishing horribly.

Directed by “V for Vendetta’s” James McTeigue, “The Raven” is pretty much a typical serial killer flick, albeit a compelling one set in a drearier period and involving an intriguing real figure. Poe here is a much-underestimated but unyielding character, a role mined properly by Cusack. Interestingly, the author’s dark works belie the man’s more optimistic and (alcohol-fueled) sunny demeanor, making him quite the beguiling paradox in this interpretation.

And the smart crime conundrum keeps those already jaded with slasher flicks rightly baffled. It gets pretty gory from time to time, repulsively establishing the inhumanity of the perpetrator, obsessed with the disturbingly imaginative art of the rather simple but influential author.

“The Raven” is an Ayala Cinemas exclusive opening on May 23.

May Daze

Status updates, compiled.

May 10. Saw that other Whedon-written movie Cabin in the Woods! Funny and clever. Love that Amy Acker and Tom Lenk (from Angel and Buffy, respectively) had parts.
May 10. Missed a couple of Vampire Diaries season 3 episodes. But I've been able to catch newer ones, and it's like I didn't miss anything. Same old hybrid-vamp war and the never-ending parade of characters' relatives got really uninteresting. The big bad's gotten pretty stale; he's been around for two long seasons. But I saw the most recent ep and it looks like they're changing things. Finally.
May 10. Glad that AvX tie-ins this week (WatXM and XM:L) are acknowledging Rachel Summers' previous Phoenix connection.
May 17. Sang along to Puck and Coach Beiste's duet of "Mean." I like the drama that preceded the song. There's hope for you yet, Glee.
May 19. AvX # 4. Man, JR Jr's art. That Colossus vs. Spidey and DD page looks really rushed.
May 20. For those familiar with the local talent show Starstruck, why were contestants called "Starstruck Avengers?" What did they avenge, exactly?
May 20. Dear Lady Gaga protesters, there are real things to worry about, like atrocities being swept under the rug by your religious leaders.

Cool Random $#!+ Part Nine

Namor and Sue Richards.
"I'm going to kiss you passionately in front of my friend Marrina."
"I don't mind. Shut up and kiss me!"
They didn't say those things, but it happened in FF # 261. Namor and Marrina dropped off Sue at the Baxter Building, and they kissed each other goodbye. Real slow.

Captains Marvel!
"How are you, Marvel? Me, I'm still dead."
"You're lucky, Mar-Vell. I just got rebooted again. They made Billy Batson a prick!"

Bought this six years ago, a few months before the release of the film. I'll always be moved by Valerie's letter.
"In 1976, I stopped pretending and took a girl called Christine home to meet my parents. A week later, I moved to London, enrolling at drama college. My mother said I broke her heart… but it was my integrity that was important. Is that so selfish? It sells for so little, but it’s all we have left in this place. It is the very last inch of us… but within that inch, we are free."

Sneak preview, yo.
"Puny Hulk!"

Glorious guffaws: 10 cackle-worthy comedies

(From the May 16-31/“Happiness” issue of The Fortnightly)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

   Here are some worthwhile comedy flicks, a few recent ones and a couple from the previous decade or so, in no particular order:

Shameless culture-shocking: Borat (2006)
   Sacha Baron Cohen’s Kazakh character Borat shocks and stuns with his odd and sexist behavior. His activities during his American visit include stalking former Baywatch star Pam Anderson and exhibiting outlandish table manners, among many others.

Back-to-school bumbling: 21 Jump Street (2012)
   Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill play cops who go undercover in this adventurous re-imagining of the ‘80s teen cop drama series. Memorable cameos also make this film even more enjoyable.

Sisterhood celebration: Bridesmaids (2011)
   Poignant when dealing with some female friends’ suffering relationship, but gut-busting when depicting their bungling or icky situations, Bridesmaids offers a uniquely rewarding viewing experience. Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph are just so incredibly talented.

Gross-out romancing: There’s Something About Mary (1998)
   The Farrelly Brothers’ hit rom-com/gross-fest is timelessly riotous; Ben Stiller and Cameron Diaz’ unforgettable and much-talked about scenes are still effective and somewhat disturbing.

Espionage eccentricities: Austin Powers (1997)
   Bombastic and colorful, the first Austin Powers pointed out and parodied the absurdities of the old Bond films. It introduced the groovy, time-displaced agent and his constantly disrespected arch-foe Dr. Evil.

Rib-tickling sibling revelry: Step Brothers (2008)
   Unapologetically lowbrow, the film has crude titular siblings played by Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly. There’s a consistently irreverent tackling of maturity and family issues.

Superb super-spy spoof: OSS 117: Cairo Nest of Spies (2006)
   Jean Dujardin plays an arrogant, ignorant agent, a self-absorbed lout with repressed feelings for his close male friend. A parody of the James Bond character, OSS 117’s brashness and politically incorrect antics inspire hearty laughs.

Loony law enforcement: The Other Guys (2010)
   The action-comedy flick’s odd couple-ish detective partners struggle to prove themselves; Mark Wahlberg and Will Ferrell are surprisingly funny together, and Michael Keaton charms as the captain with multiple jobs and TLC references.

The temporary amnesiacs: The Hangover (2009)
   A bunch of friends gather for an impending wedding, but forget where they left the groom after a night of intense partying. It’s just wrong--and amusing--on so many levels.

Good times a-changing: Superbad (2007)
   Two teen best buds’ friendship is changing, and high school is ending. Michael Cera and Jonah Hill’s characters confront their fears and figure in some endearingly awkward scenarios. Plus, Christopher Mintz-Plasse’s McLovin gets away with stuff!

Smiling at suffering, laughing at limitations

(From the May 16-31/“Happiness” issue of The Fortnightly)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

In Ang Babae sa Septic Tank, Eugene Domingo hilariously plays a more exaggerated version of herself, poking fun at the demanding and meddlesome nature of some actors.

The comedienne elicits well-deserved guffaws, not only when portraying herself as an artist who’s gotten tired of mainstream roles and projects, but also when presenting herself as a diva who believes she can vastly improve the indie project of some young filmmakers.

The acclaimed Ang Babae sa Septic Tank focuses on an ever-evolving script, its scenes discussed in detail by its young director Rainier (Kean Cipriano) and his collaborative producer Bingbong (JM De Guzman). The partners envision an ambitious, groundbreaking endeavor, hoping to tell a story of a desperate mother who resorts to shocking measures to survive poverty.

Directed by Marlon Rivera and written by Chris Martinez, it immediately satirizes the artificiality and forced outrageousness of certain local independent film projects; by deliberately focusing on unflattering imagery of a garbage-strewn community, it makes fun of some filmmakers’ penchant for using squalid conditions for shock value and supposed artistic grit.

From the casting of their main actress to the subsequent scenes that are meant to disturb, the director and producer discuss various points, including their story’s believability and even potential awards! Septic Tank’s script wryly talks about the creative process, giving viewers a revealing look at the behind-the-scenes imbroglios of filmmaking.

It firmly parodies unspoken rivalries between some filmmakers, as well. En route to Eugene Domingo’s house, Rainier and Bingbong run into an award-winning but conceited director at a coffee shop. The caricaturish character is an infuriating, self-centered dimwit, accompanied by an entourage of yes-men.

Ang Babae sa Septic Tank skilfully presents its keen observations on storytelling. Its characters are underdogs that you don’t always root for--the self-aware figures periodically grate, which is just fine. Cipriano and De Guzman are adequate; they add necessary naivete to the equation. Their silent sidekick, production assistant Jocelyn (Cai Cortez), also amuses with her shtick.

And Domingo, as usual, is delightful. She’s quite disarming in the dramatic parts of the imagined movie and easily tickles with her less-than-serious moments. She complements Septic Tank’s snappy script and is integral to the movie’s scathing and riotous commentaries.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Destiny, Dichotomy

Old New Warriors
Young Avengers circa 1992! Well, kinda. Six of these New Warriors became Avengers (Nova, Marvel Boy, Speedball, Firestar, Rage* and Darkhawk). I read the title for two years (issue #s 1-25) when I was a teen.
*Yep, Rage was an Avenger before joining the Warriors, but rejoined them later.

Harvey, Dented
Harvey Dent, a.k.a. Two-Face! One of Batman’s really messed-up rogues. 

Award-winning performers in Chinese circus

(Published May 11, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

The Grand China National Acrobatic Circus, which previously performed in the country in December 2010, is back this week for a “grander, more heart-stopping experience.”

At the press preview in Gateway Suites, Cubao, two young, colorfully clad female gymnasts briefly demonstrated their skills, working in tandem on basic stunts. They were later joined by two other costumed performers.

According to Huang Bin, deputy director of the China Performing Arts Agency, the summer shows are different from older performances, but still retain the characteristically daring and “gravity-defying” presentations.

“We have new numbers like the ‘soft wire,’ an award-winning act, [performed by] this boy who is only 15 years old,” Huang said. “He has won an international acrobatic competition award.”

Huang added that familiar parts have been updated for this set. “There’s going to be over 20 people riding one bike,” he said. “This year, we also have some comic acts; [they’re] not clowns but they’re very comical. And we have some magic acts.”

The Chinese circus show, titled “Legends of the Dragon,” started its six-day run last Tuesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Huang elaborated that the new theme intends to introduce something “deeper,” aside from previously unseen feats.

“In Chinese culture, it’s the year of the dragon. The show is something very new to Filipino people; we want to show Chinese culture, not just acrobatics. There will be around 40 performers onstage. We have prepared 14 to 16 acts. They’re so remarkable. They’re all award-winners!”

Huang also revealed that the group’s roster has changed since their last visit, and that the “Legends” show is part of an ongoing tour. “Some of the people are new faces … We have teams like this, and we’re touring all over the world. The total number of performers in our troupe is around 400,” he said.

(“Legends of the Dragon” runs until May 13. Photo by Marianne Bermudez.)

Mayest I Be Amused

May 6. Really good Avengers Academy issue, as usual. Nice seeing the Utopia teens interacting with the Academy students in the AvX tie-in.
May 6. AvX # 3: Yay, Illyana Rasputin! And yay, Cyclops exploiting the loyalty of future daughter Rachel!
May 6. Different blogs, identical content. Hmm.
May 6. Natalie Merchant, Heather Nova, Joni Mitchell. Voices I keep listening to almost everyday.
May 7. Sakit ng kalamnan ko sa pagji-gym. Gusto ko pa.

Cool Random $#!+ Part Eight

AvX: She-Hulk and Gambit.
"Hey, Gambit! Wanna ditch this fight and grab a beer?"
"She-Hulk, chere, I'm really good at grabbing... beer."

Bought this a week ago. Love it. There's a character and corresponding basic info per page; some photos previously appeared in the Visual Dictionaries, but that's forgivable. Most of the movie characters are in it.

"Bill, isn't the Phoenix's arrival Annihilators business?"
"Surfer, be thankful we weren't there. Bendis would have killed us off-panel in the first issue."

This thesaurus retired a few years ago. But I still use it from time to time when I'm not online.

Thor was gloating about the Avengers movie, so Superman punched him.
"In my world, it looks like the dials go up to eleven!"

Black and White Drawings, One

Spider-Man and Black Cat
Pencil drawing, 2002. I gave the original 11" X 17" drawing to a company I was submitting samples to, in exchange for a Spider-Man movie ticket. One of the company's pencilers, Wilson Tortosa, was kind enough to hand me that ticket for the opening day screening at Megamall. I reviewed the movie immediately; it became my third published PDI article (May 13, 2002).

The Ancestors
Pencil drawing, Jan. 2001. Old characters from my universe. 

‘Revenge’ best served cold, sweet

(Published May 9, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

A young woman avenges her wronged father in “Revenge,” an addictive drama with lots of wish-fulfilment scenarios.

The show takes soap-tested situations and cleverly structures them to expand on the protagonist’s mission in every episode. There’s a never-ending list of villains that she must destroy without physically harming them.

Amanda Clarke (Emily VanCamp) has taken the identity of Emily Thorne, a rich young socialite. She returns to the Hamptons to systematically ruin the family responsible for the framing of her late father David (James Tupper), blamed for terrorism in the ‘90s.

Emily befriends the Graysons, getting close enough without arousing suspicion. She plots the downfall of the elegant but devious Victoria (Madeleine Stowe) and her philandering husband Conrad (Henry Czerny). Emily also targets the Graysons’ various accomplices that her father named in a letter.

The first few episodes focus on Emily’s well-planned schemes, elaborately humiliating specific persons from her list. The “game” becomes more intriguing when wild cards are thrown into the mix. Emily’s best friend from juvenile detention previously agreed to take the identity of Amanda Clarke, but her presence in the Hamptons complicates things. Another unexpected player is a charming con man whose activities often contradict Emily’s plans.

It’s easy to root for Emily, thanks to unending flashbacks that add bits and pieces of her suffering at the hands of the Graysons and their underlings. She’s also quite ruthless, attracting Daniel Grayson, Conrad and Victoria’s handsome son, who genuinely falls for Emily.

Stowe is incredible as the manipulative and condescending Victoria and VanCamp often utilizes a stoic facade that gives Emily an air of mystery.

It’s a familiar and worn-out concept, but it’s retooled appealingly. This particular revenge fantasy is sweet, a scandalous dish that’s consistently and rewardingly served cold.

“Revenge” airs Mondays (5 p.m.) and Tuesdays (5:05 p.m.) on Star World.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Marvel Ages

New drawings.
Uncanny X-Force
Drew this for a contact. Loving this new-ish team composed of Wolverine, Psylocke, Archangel, Deadpool, Fantomex, Nightcrawler and Deathlok. I included Fantomex's protege Genesis (a.k.a. Apocalypse's clone).

Original Avengers
The original comic book team members: Hulk, Thor, Giant-Man, Iron Man, Wasp. Enjoyed using my new markers on this.

CNN in town reporting live for ‘Eye On the Philippines’

(Published May 2, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit
“The Philippines is a very digital nation,” said Hong Kong-based CNN anchor and correspondent Anna Coren during a recent interview at the Shangri-La Makati.

She elaborated on ways that the network continues to stay competitive and accessible via a variety of platforms, and how Filipinos can get the latest news from the media outlet.

“People here are tech-savvy and social media-savvy,” she said. “CNN is very interactive. We have the official website (cnn.com). We have iReport, which is big now in “Eye On” coverage. We invite people in the Philippines and people who have traveled to the country to send in their stories. And people here can follow us on Twitter.”

Coren is in the country for CNN’s weeklong “Eye On the Philippines,” focusing on different aspects of Filipino life and culture. The live reports started Monday; several portions and interviews are airing this week.

Previously involved in “Eye On Thailand” and “Eye On Mongolia,” Coren is intrigued by Asia’s radically different cultures. “[‘Eye On,’] offers viewers an in-depth look at a country and its people.”

Coren enthused that people had been generally cooperative during her “Eye On” visits. She described Filipinos as “hospitable and warm,” and the country as a “place [with] so much potential.”

“There’s foreign investment coming in, which is why the world is taking notice of the Philippines. That’s also why CNN is focusing on your country,” Coren said.

Coren started as a reporter and presenter in Australia, and has been with CNN since 2008. “I certainly have an affinity with this region,” she revealed. “Coming to CNN is certainly stepping up. It’s a global news organization, so that’s where my interest lies, and I feel very much at home at CNN. Asia is important; it’s becoming a place that the rest of the world is watching.”

She interviewed, and was impressed by, Filipino singer Charice Pempengco last year. “Charice was fantastic,” Coren gushed. “She’s a pocket rocket—she’s amazing! She’s a beautiful girl. What a voice! She’s certainly a great export.”

Last week, Coren interviewed President Aquino for “Talk Asia,” airing on Friday. “He was very open and generous with his time,” she said. “He went through a range of subjects—the economy, corruption, poverty, contraception, his family. We covered it all. We certainly grilled him on certain points!”

According to the anchor, “Eye On” coverages and reports are seen in about 280 million households. A 10-member CNN team is currently in the country, covering different stories.

“Our focus is on business, the economy, politics, culture, the whole gamut. One of the stories is, ‘It’s more fun in the Philippines.’ That’s a great government initiative. Another is the fact that the Philippines has become the call center capital of the world. And my colleague Andrew Stevens interviewed the Zobel de Ayala brothers.”

Coren noted that her visits across Asia have exposed her to disparate people with universal desires: “At the end of the day, everyone’s pretty much the same. They want the same things—a roof over your head, better quality of life.”

Live reports air daily until May 4 (7 a.m.) on “World Report.” “Eye On The Philippines” airs May 4 (11 p.m.),May 5 (6 p.m., 11:30 p.m.) and May 6 (8:30 a.m.). “Talk Asia: Jaime Augusto and Fernando Zobel de Ayala” airs May 3 (12:30 p.m.); “Talk Asia: President Benigno S. Aquino III,” May 4 (5:30 p.m.), May 5 (8 p.m.), May 6 (6:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.


Ten years and over 530 published articles later, I still feel lucky and honored to contribute to the Philippine Daily Inquirer. My sincere thanks, PDI!

I’m also grateful to my late editor, Sir Louie Camino, who asked me to keep submitting articles after using my first one, back in April, 2002. I also thank my other editors Ma’ams Emmie and Cora, Pam, Pennie and Ruey from the Entertainment, Super and Sunday Magazine sections for giving me assignments. My thanks to Inquirer Libre as well for using exclusive articles back in the early 2000s. I continue to learn and evolve as a writer, and continue to appreciate meeting and conversing with different people.  

New ‘Zaturnnah’ zips and zooms

(From the May 1-15 issue of The Fortnightly)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit            

National Book Award-winning comic book Ang Kagila-gilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni Zsazsa Zaturnnah introduced a unique super-heroine in the titular character back in 2002. A gay beautician, Ada, transforms into the sexy and super-strong Zsazsa Zaturnnah, thanks to a gender-bending rock.

Zaturnnah faced threats like invading warrior-women, a giant frog, and a horde of zombies in the first series. The character crossed over to other media in 2006; the newbie heroine was portrayed by Zsa Zsa Padilla in Zsazsa Zaturnnah Ze Moveeh, and by Eula Valdez in Zsazsa Zaturnnah Ze Muzikal.

The source material’s mythology continues to expand with a new sequel by author-artist Carlo Vergara. Zsazsa Zaturnnah sa Kalakhang Maynila is a three-issue miniseries that follows beloved characters Ada and Dodong, currently in a chaste relationship and adapting to life in the big city.

The first issue is an 85-page extravaganza; Vergara triumphantly brings back and further fleshes out Ada’s (and Zsazsa’s) world. New characters are introduced, among them the enigmatic Ginoong Lakas, and similarly mysterious super-foes.

Vergara imbues his creations with individuality and depth, finally focusing on missed opportunities. The new comic book touches on the characters’ more complex issues. Almost immediately, we witness Ada’s horrific, violent nightmare involving an ex. We also meet someone from Dodong’s past. Intriguingly, Ada and Dodong also come across potential new threats to their hard-won relationship.

The cleaner, more solid figures and linework showcases Vergara’s artistic growth. Even more impressive is his development as a storyteller; there’s clarity in his panels and his background details are well-placed and unobtrusive.

Vergara characteristically enlivens the scenarios with snappy, profanity-laced dialogue, reminding us that the book is intended for mature readers. Fans of the original series might find something missing in Kalakhang Maynila, specifically the riotous and unapologetically loud Didi. But there are two remaining issues and he might still reappear.

Nevertheless, Zsazsa Zaturnnah’s new adventure is promising; the humorous and dramatic scenes are inspired and surprisingly balanced, and there are more characters to care about in the newly expanded Zaturnnah-verse. 

Cool Random $#!+ Part Seven

Blade and Buffy team up.
"That's the Cullens' house. Just dust the sparklers after they run out. And Buffy, don't fall in love with the dreamy ones!"
"Hey! That only happened once. Okay, twice."

'80s comics. Rom, What If, Teen Titans, Crisis, Dazzler, X-Men. Ah, those were the days. By the way, those Dire Wraiths were dang creepy

"Hey, Barda, can I--"
"You are NOT borrowing my Mega-Rod!"

One of my old Rolling Stone mags. I love this special issue; it's got interviews with Madonna, Sheryl Crow, Tori Amos, Joan Jett, Natalie Merchant, Shirley Manson, and other fantastic female music artists. And it has that cool cover gallery supplement, too.

Happy Avengers Month! They have a Hulk!

Thirst Quenched, Time Drenched

Thinking openly, et cetera.

April 27. Good stuff, great stuff, and some awful stuff during the week. Must rest and drink cold, cold water.
April 27. It's interesting that some people who come off as obnoxious online are surprisingly nice people in the "real world." But there really are people who are as disappointing as their online personas...
April 27. I often wonder how different my life would've ended up if I didn't meet certain people, or if I reacted to important situations differently. In that world, I'd probably be perfect. Or a Bizarro.
April 27. Enjoying this period of not worrying about things and people.
April 28. Sumakay ako ng bus kahapon. Grabe, ambilis. Ang pinapalabas na DVD, 'Avengers.'

Pinoy pride, world-class sensations

(From the May 1-15 issue of The Fortnightly)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit
Filipino ingenuity thrives in different industries. In this day and age, nothing’s stopping world-class talents from really making it big, especially in entertainment. They become inspirations for succeeding generations in showbiz’ various fields, reassuring countrymen that anything’s possible. Here’s a quick rundown of some of our most successful fellow Filipinos who have made waves, or continue to do so elsewhere.

Screen and stage sensations
Pinoy moviegoers and TV fans feel extra-proud when performers they rooted for back in the day impress and win over fans from other countries.

Tony-winning Lea Salonga proved her brilliance during her much-revered Miss Saigon run over two decades ago; the former That’s Entertainment regular would eventually land singing parts in beloved Disney films Aladdin and Mulan.

Oprah Winfrey’s teen discovery Charice Pempengco was dubbed “the most talented girl in the world” by the influential talk show host. The YouTube star soon recorded her self-titled debut album, briefly appeared in Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, and had a recurring role on TV series Glee as uber-talented Sunshine Corazon.

Arnel Pineda, meanwhile, started singing with local bands when he was in his teens. The former Amo and The Zoo vocalist’s recorded performances attracted the attention of American rock band Journey. By the end of 2007, he became Journey’s lead vocalist, recording an album and touring with the legendary ‘80s group soon after.

Over two decades ago, other local actors in internationally released films include Bembol Roco and Kuh Ledesma (who both played Indonesians in The Year of Living Dangerously with Mel Gibson and Sigourney Weaver) and Tetchie Agbayani (who had a role in The Emerald Forest).

Behind-the-scenes talents
Dynamic animated flicks require serious planning and imagination in different stages, involving some of the projects’ sharpest thinkers.

Pixar’s Gini Cruz Santos has animated scenes and several characters for big-screen favorites Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, and The Incredibles, among others. As an animator, she’s worked on particular sequences where she expounds on characters’ motions and nuances.

Santos’ colleague, fellow “Pixnoy” Nelson Bohol previously worked on Fox’s Titan A.E., and was responsible for co-creating the old town Radiator Springs for Cars.

Storyboard artist and director Ronnie Del Carmen previously worked on Batman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond. He won a Daytime Emmy for his work on the show Freakazoid! and is co-directing an as-yet untitled Pixar project that will be released in 2014. 

Pinoy filmmakers
Some award-winning Filipino directors continue to receive recognition in various international film festivals, aside from local ones.

Lav Diaz’s lengthier-than-usual films tackle social and political topics; the former journalist’s Batang West Side won various awards in the Singapore International Film Festival and the Independent Film Festival of Brussels in 2002. His Melancholia won the Venice International Film Festival’s Orizzonti Grand Prize in 2008.

Pepe Diokno’s debut film Engkwentro centered on vigilante killings; it was awarded the Orizzonti Grand Prize in 2009, and won the Best Asian Film (Network for Promotion of Asian Cinema) in the Jeonju International Film Festival the following year.

Brillante Mendoza, meanwhile, won the Best Director award for his controversial Kinatay in the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. 

The part-Pinoys
While they didn’t grow up in the Philippines, or are only half-Filipino (or less), there are certain celebrities who acknowledge their Pinoy roots, or are idolized nonetheless by Pinoy fans.

Comedian Rob Schneider, star of the Deuce Bigalow movies and the sitcom Rob, was often called “bastos” by his irate mother when he was a kid, Schneider recently told hosts of The Talk.

Actor-dancer Dante Basco appeared in the movie Hook and voiced fire-wielding Prince Zuko in the hit animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Currently playing a gay teen on Glee, singer-actor Darren Criss has a Cebuano mom and an Irish-American dad.

Fil-Am American Idol contestants Jasmine Trias and Camile Velasco made Pinoys pay attention during the third season. Now, gifted Filipino-Mexican singer Jessica Sanchez is getting consistent raves from AI judges, who also saved her from elimination recently.