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A dystopian TV series from Brazil, this is another take on the recurring theme where impoverished citizens are pitted with each other to alleviate their status. In this case it's a series of tests (it took an entire season even) that assess their merit on whether they deserve to reach the Offshore (the utopian society counterpart).

We start with a handful of primary characters who are of varying personalities and intentions. Initially we already get our stereotype favorites only to hate them later on and vice versa. This is one of the best character developlment I have ever seen on a TV series that I already finished Season 2 and I still could not decide whose side who I'm on and if it matters at all. It's as if all of the main 5 characters (Michelle, Fernando, Rafael, Marco and Joana) are their own protagonist and antagonist of each other at the same time.

Season 1 involved different tests and their backstories. We see them breakdown and rise to the occasion. We learn how each and one of them deal with the situation they are thrown to and how those decisions change them in the process. Season 2 was filled with revelations, deaths and a character I never expected to be back. Their allegiances also change erratically here. It ended on a positive note and we could either see how it would come to fruition or probably fast forward to when the foundations are already set.

There are so many options for Season 3 and I hope the momentum they've set on S2 would not falter. While there are not much questions left to be answered, there are still a lot of stories to tell based on what was already revealed so far. My forecast range from the downfall of the Offshore to a better Inland which would result to bigger stakes and bigger gaps between the two. Who knows, maybe we'd get more "cities" involved if they even still exist in this world.

Image: From The Verge

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Staycation: EDSA Shangri-La




My pick this year is at EDSA Shang. I've been once and didn't like it because it seems old. But as our list this year wasn't really what I hoped for (ahem, Okada) I just chose this so I wouldn't repeat my choices. 

The room I booked was triple sharing and based on the room I got can fit 4 but you have to compromise on the size of who actually sleeps there. I requested for an additional person but they didn't allow me which is probably because the room itself could not fit an extra bed anymore. The view is just OK but there's an eyesore beam that blocks the pool from our window at the bottom. I don't know why they didn't just remove it.






The bath have no tub, but we liked that they have a bench for sitting inside the shower. I enjoyed the smell of the toiletries (probably aloe vera) and they are decent on the hair and body. The rain shower I am not sure if it's just ours but it was disappointing, it barely dripped water. The handheld had really good pressure so I don't know why that is. One cool feature I haven't seen anywhere else is how you can control the sound of the TV from the room to the bath. And what maybe cool was actually weird too because we could barely hear the TV from the beds. We had to put it in full volume from the bath so we could decently hear it. I also discovered on my morning shower that when the TV is off there's a sweet melody on the speakers. 

The famous buffet at Heat was our breakfast. Choices are really good although my mom and sisters find the pancit canton too salty. I liked the crispy bacon, their danish pastry and their omelette. Unfortunately I was too full to even try the choco chip ice cream. It's too early too. The line was already long when we left around 8 am. It was a good two hours. All my disappointments on our room was totally forgiven by the breakfast alone. Now I know why my officemates kept on choosing this every year. 



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The Good Place




TGP is hounding my recommended list so I took the plunge yesterday. When I found myself sleepy I was already halfway through. I didn't notice I was already watching so many because the show is engaging. I was also convinced when I first saw the credits, that they are under Fermulon the same guys producing Parks and Rec and one of my favorites: Brooklyn Nine Nine.

Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) died and found herself on The Good Place-- a neighborhood of people who have done really good deeds when they were alive. What's wrong though is why Eleanor found herself there when she has not lived a life that is near to what her neighbors are. Together with her soulmate Chidi and her condescending neighbor Tahani and her soulmate Jianyu they attempt to figure out how to solve the problem that is Eleanor and how to save her in going to The Bad Place.

One of the endearing aspects of this show is how diverse the cast are and I'm not even talking about their nationalities. Where else would you find a robot that knows everything and still know nothing, a wannabe DJ and a girl who represents someone we all know who can't stop mentioning the famous people they know and achievements no one even asked for. And yes they are all in the main cast!

Season 2 is not yet in Netflix and I would really like to know what happens after the unexpected twist. I hope they don't wait until S3 before they update their list. 
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Happy!




I am surprised that Netflix have taken Happy! under their wing. I heard about the graphic novel from the podcast Comic Book Noobs so I got interested on it. I heard it's violent and dark but with a cute and unusual side kick. It reminded me of Sin City so this is right up my alley.

Our anti hero is Nick Sax, a cop turned corrupt assassin who on one of his heart attacks was visited by an Imaginary Friend named Happy, an optimistic blue unicorn (complete with a pink horn!). Almost half of the series involved Happy trying his best to convince Sax to help him find his best friend that also happen to be Nick's kid, abducted by a delusional Santa. 

I was able to procure a copy of the graphic novel (got the last copy from Fullybooked!) the day I finished the series and found a lot of those episodes inspired most of the scenes. I could say they have improved on the story a lot, bringing in more stories on the characters involved. Even Mickey's mom have a lot of air time. The series have also made it possible to add more "color" (literally) and action to confrontational scenes. Even the most memorable one near the end when Nick was about to be tortured is nowhere to be found on the novel but I swear is an oddly fun addition. Oswalt is really great as the voice of Happy and Meloni is perfect for the role.  The small details make it fun, the fake housewives reality tv show, the deranged mind of Smoothie (Fischler) and the Jerry Springer bits. 

From the news I read that they're going to make a Season 2 which is not on the novel anymore. It gives a whole lot of leg room for the scriptwriters to tell new stories where Nick and Happy solve crimes and I assume to put an end to Mr. Blue (wait till end credits!). 


Image from Variety
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Lion King (03.31.2018)





Back when I was young, going to the cinema was one of those things we never had regularly. But one of them that we were able to watch was the Lion King. My parents even bought us the tape so we could listen on the tracks at home. Fast forward to this 2017 when I first heard they're taking the musical here. I wouldn't miss it for the world!

The moment the link for ticket reservations were OK, I've booked both Reagan and I to watch. Later on I would realize that the chairs I chose were so close like 2nd row close.  Amazingly the chairs are good! There were a lot of times that the cast walked down our aisles complete in animal costumes. I was screaming internally in glee! 

Notable actors would have to be the guys who played Scar and Zazu. Props are also really good and how they've managed to dress the stage is creatively awesome. All the colors pop and the performances are goosebump inducing. When they say that if there's only one musical you have to see your entire life they are not joking. It's so impressive I would make it a point to always see them when they're in town. 
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Bataan 2018 Part 2




+ Crowne Royale Hotel +

One of the things that have allured me with Bataan (upon staying for a few hours) is how there's an abundance of tricycles. We don't need to remember jeep routes at all!

Our hotel is just a few minutes away from either the bus terminal or Jollibee Balanga or even from the Plaza. We are also near a Chowking and a branch of the famous The Beanery. If I've only known that they'd be closed the next day (Good Friday), I would have had dinner there on our Day 1.





The hotel from the outside appeared like it had acquired a few properties near it's vicinity because reaching our room felt like it's a different building altogether. I wonder how many rooms they really have on. From the facade it didn't look like they could afford sqm for function rooms!

Our rooms are spacious. We requested for an additional bed which they fit in the middle of the two beds easily. They have a cabinet, tv, tons of outlets and the aircon works properly.



Rooms come with plated breakfast on the next day. Basic toiletries and slippers are available too.

The bath is a good size, lots of thick towels. Water pressure and temperature can be controlled. The only thing I hated is how the door seem to need to be slammed to fully close. I hope they can fix it in the future.





Price: 4565.83PHP (+500 for additional bed)


+ Mt. Samat +




The next day we were supposed to take a bus to be dropped off near the mountain. Unfortunately  we were told that since it's a Good Friday, there were a lot of drivers who aren't going to travel at all. We managed to get a tricycle from our hotel to the drop off point. From there we were told to get another tricycle that will bring us nearest the top.



Initially we asked if we they'd allow us to take a tricycle just one way but the driver we were talking to refused so we booked him for round trip to get it over with. We were quoted 100 each. We paid him on the way back, didn't even bother to get a deposit. Basically you both have to trust each other.

While we're heading to the top I realized one thing. Why the hell would I walk this long!! Sure there are a lot of shade available but I doubt I could last that long in walking. Maybe someday.



After a long ride in the tricycle with my ears splitting due to motor noise we have finally arrived at the gate. In spite of the lack of public transpo, it seems that most tourists are already here. The parking has already exceeded capacity, some are already parked a good walk from the gate. My sisters and I were joking how even at this far we're already tired what more if we attempted the 2 hour hike from the base!



There are two tiers: the first where the museum is and that glass stained open hall you see on the Lupang Hinirang AVP shown at the first / last cinema showing and the higher one with the famous cross. To reach the first tier, the easiest would have to be the steps IN THE MIDDLE. For the love of all things holy do not use the steps on the right even if seems closer. There's also a longer route where a wheelchair could be rolled to in case you have old people with you.




When we reached the first tier, we walked some more to reach the cross. I was hoping to reach the top but unfortunately the elevator inside the cross is temporarily closed for maintenance for the upcoming festivities.

We went back to the museum. Granted how cheap the entrance fee is (do not lose the tickets you pay for at the gate because they ask you for those) it didn't surprise me that the museum is ANYTHING BUT well kept, well lit and a working AC. Someone needs to renovate the place and ensure that there's a limit on the capacity of people let in at a certain time. The lack of AC and the scorching heat outside IS NOT A GOOD COMBINATION.



Mt. Samat, given the history it had deserve better than all of what we saw. Proper seats would be nice, a restaurant, clean toilets and better facilities.

Entrance Fee: 30PHP


+ The Rest of the Week +



We tried to go the the Bataan Museum at one of the schools but it's another one that's closed because it's a Good Friday. We ended up going to Plaza Brew to eat for lunch (and later on for dinner) after we're done with seeing the Capitol and nearby buildings. Even Galeria Victoria and the Beanery near  is closed. We basically idled at the hotel when it has gone too hot, went out around 4 just in time for the procession and ate at the only restaurant open.




Our trip the next day to the Port is really early (I couldn't afford to be any late, I still need to go to Lion King) that we had to have our breakfast to go and instead of taking our chances with a tricycle I decided to rent a van because I was anxious in getting there by 7am.


Based on what we saw so far, I have no doubts that going to Bataan would be something I would like to pursue in the future, even if I travel alone. It ticks a lot on my checklist: easy to reach, easy to navigate, affordable among others. 
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Bataan 2018 Part 1




Another last minute trip, we thought of going someplace near to spend Holy Week. I really wanted to go to Antipolo, there's this nature resort I would love to just spend breathing all the fresh air in but the prices are too exorbitant for a one night stay. So there we ended up going to Bataan.

The most popular means of going there is by land. But I don't want to spend my hours at the bus so we just booked a ferry instead.

Booking the ferry is quite easy. You just have to login here. It's safe (I think) and was able to book 3 tickets to and fro. Make sure that you time your travels because weekend trip back is only 8 AM and 3 PM. Did I mention it's half the price when walk in? As of writing it's 450 vs 799. Why won't you even book online with that price?


+ 1Bataan Ferry +



The port in Manila cannot be anymore convenient. It's just at the MOA Complex near Vikings. You just have to sign in (don't forget your print outs and IDs of all passengers) and wait till they call for board. There's an ample space for waiting both in and out of the building but would really get congested when there's too many group tours. Be aware also that there are two desks there, one is for Caliraya.







Interior of the ferry is decent. I didn't get to try the toilet though. I know that the travel time is not that long but I hoped the chairs where more plush and all have cup holders but the spacing in between seats is fine. Enough to bring in a bit of luggage (I know it's not allowed but I've seen other people bring strollers!!) Time of departure was a bit late. 

When we arrived at the Orion port, we were ushered to a bus that would take us to the city proper (this is free). I chose Jollibee as our stop because it's nearest to our hotel. While there is an abundance of tricycles in Bataan (seems to be the transportation of choice) locations to points of interests are kms apart. Based on what I gather from the bus conductor, going back we need to take a bus to Moriones and get off at the light house (I honestly didn't get to see what it looks like) and a tricycle to the port itself.

Before we start touring we left our bags at the hotel. Tricycle rates usually rate 30PHP so be ready with smaller bills. Longer trips could be 100 per person. It's also convenient that the bus that will take us to our first destination is also just a tricycle away. 

+ Las Casas de Azucar + 




The trip is an hour away but give ample to time in how long before the bus leaves and when the tricycle you get takes you there. The road leading to where Las Casas is is just a long highway so you wouldn't (if you're like me) scared of taking it. 

Based on the google maps the bus should take us near the dirt road that leads to Las Casas. However that is not the case. There are two entrance points that will get you nearer the location just from the bus alone but both is not feasible. The first one (which the maps I was looking at was pointing to) is where you won't ever get near. The bus would not really do a right turn as hoped and would only do a U Turn. The next one would be a small alley way that the bus would let you off but that entrance would not allow visitors to come in as well. Your best bet is to get off the Friendship marker (you will never miss it) and get a tricycle there instead.

Our driver charged us 150 but have discreetly pocketed my 10 peso change. I was waiting for him to return it to me but have left after getting my number for the ride back. We didn't get him again and just let the people from Las Casas phone us one.

The full price of the day tour gets you the ff:

1. Welcome drinks (get it before leaving at Casa New Manila)
2. Heritage Tour (with cold wet towel after)
3. Calesa Ride
4. Hotel de Oriente Access
5. Dining Credit (500 PHP worth of dining credits on any of the restaurants in Las Casas)
6. River Cruise



After the welcome drinks we took a jeep (free to go around) to take us to Casa Lubao. This is where the Heritage Tour will start. Be aware of the time when they are going to schedule it. Ours was just a few minutes away for the next one so we only had to wait a small bit.

When you do the tour make sure that you have brought your own umbrella or even some water bottles to cool off. You will be walking around in and out old houses as well that needs your shoes removed so try to get here with the easiest ones to slip on and off on.





If it's your first time to go, maybe try to do the tour because of the history that you would never get just by roaming on your own. The tour ended with the tour guide handing us our wet towels.




We are now terribly thirsty and hungry that we didn't went around looking for our best options on where to eat and simply went to the nearest restaurant: Casa Onisan.


Price: 2500 per person

+ Casa Unisan +

Casa Unisan was a previous house that was converted to one of the restaurants in Las Casas. The restaurant is Filipino themed so we are sure that we could get rice meals.




Since there are three of us we get a 1500PHP credit of meal. We eventually ended up paying overboard due to the desserts and shakes we added. We got plain rice, Lechon Carajay and and Pinakbet Bagnet, leche flans, gabi ice cream and varying shakes. I remembered enjoying our meal very much.

This would be odd but hear me out. I have forgotten to bring my powerbank so it's a relief that we are seated next to outlets! We asked and we were allowed to use them. We were able to fully charge our phones while we're there. Yay!


After our meal we tried all the transportation available that are free to use: calesa, jeep and the tram like vehicle we used to get back to Casa New Manila (this is where guests are welcomed). We also finished all that is included in what we paid for. Out of everything, the River Cruise is my most favorite because there's a section there that you could not see if you aren't on a boat. A small canal is built for houses that are exclusive to guests and one selling point is that you get to use boats to get to them! I hoped it was a longer ride. It felt like we're in a different place.










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