I’ve been starting at my laptop’s screen for the past 45 minutes or so, but I can’t seem to know how to start writing this entry. I’m still reeling from watching the second of Magpakailanman‘s 5th Anniversary Specials entitled Kuwentong Marawi, Sa Mata Ng Isang Sundalo, featuring Alden Richards as Pfc. Jomille Pavia.

One word: BITIN. I want more. :grin:

First of all, for a TV show, the production values are top-notch. :thumbup: The screenplay, cinematography and production design are fit for the big screen. The battle scenes are well-executed; you won’t see as much blood and gore due to the limits of it being aired on Free TV, but the ‘feel’ is there.

As for the story itself, the writer was able to truly present the situation in Marawi in the eyes of a soldier who witnessed all the ugly realities of war: brothers killing each other, women of all ages being sexually violated, even children who sacrificed their lives at an early age because they were brainwashed to do so. The episode was also able to show how war truly affects not just those who are on site, but also the families of the soldiers deployed for battle. It’s something that all of us who are tucked safely in our respective homes do not fully relate to because we are shielded from it. To paraphrase what the character played by Phytos Ramirez said, “isinasakripisyo ang buhay ng isa para makabuhay ng lima” (they sacrifice one life so that five more will live).

Of course, I can’t leave this entry without talking about the acting. :thumbup: I kinda expected this because it’s Alden, but my golly… he still surprises me with the depths that his talent can reach. He started the episode with some light moments, at times even unleashing his expertise at bringing in the kilig. :hihihi: Sorry, I know it’s not about the love story and it’s a big issue to some people in the fandom, but can you blame me? Alden just has that innate chemistry with any on-screen partner and Reese Tuazon is no exception.

Then came the heavier parts, and while I already expected him to do well, Alden was still able to bring his skills to a whole new level. Alden is famous for acting with just his eyes, and he was able to fully utilize that here particularly on those parts where Pfc. Pavia was slowly realizing how unbelievably devastating war is. I always have scenes where the acting makes a mark on me and on this episode, I have two: (1) When Pfc. Pavia saw for the first time the number of innocent civilians who were killed in battle; and (2) when he realized that the kid whom they chanced upon when they arrived in Marawi was a child sniper from the Maute Group. In those scenes, I felt how Pfc. Pavia was terrified, not for his own safety, but because he can’t believe that war could be THAT cruel. In his interview with Ms. Mel Tiangco, Pfc. Pavia was asked what he was praying for while on the battle field. His answer was, he’s always praying that God would forgive him for killing those people because he knows that one of the Ten Commandments is ‘thou shall not kill’. I was surprised at that. One, because the usual human instinct is to pray for his own safety but Pfc. Pavia isn’t like that, which is surprising for someone who used to have a happy-go-lucky lifestyle as shown in the story. Two, because Alden was able to accurately portray that trait of Pfc. Pavia in those scenes that I mentioned above.

The supporting cast also gave credible performances. Special mention goes to Marc Justine Alvarez who played the child sniper. I was seriously terrified when it was revealed that he was with the Maute Group. The kid gave a very effective performance. :thumbup:

All in all, it was an excellent episode and a fitting tribute to the heroism of our brave soldiers. Kudos to director Mark Sicat Dela Cruz and the people behind this Magkailanman episode for a job super-well done. :clap:

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This is a part where I will drop my remarks which are bordering on shallowness. :hihihi: Hey, I’m a fangirl. I’m allowed to be shallow at times, right?

1. There’s only one part that I nitpicked on the episode and it’s this: That scene where one of the Marawi survivors said that it’s her birthday and going home will be a great birthday gift for her. As I have learned from my Muslim friend who’s also an avid Alden fan, Muslims do not celebrate birthdays and particularly those from the Maranao Tribe are very strict about it . :razz: It’s a very minor detail, but I’m a chronic nitpicker, so…

2. I’m not Kapampangan so I really don’t know if they did the Kapampangan dialog and accent right (except for Roi Vinzon who is from Pampanga), but every time Reese Tuazon delivers her lines I could hear my Kapampangan boss talking in my head. So I guess she did well?

3. It’s such a delight to see Alden not sporting his usual gelled hairstyle for once. :hihihi: He looks so hot whenever he removes his helmet. Hey, RJ, it’s been three years. Time to change the hair, maybe?

4. Alden in military garb = :drool: It’s been rumored – and he has expressed desire to accept the role ;) – that he might be playing Big Boss in the local adaptation of Descendants Of The Sun. If this Magpakailanman episode is a look-test for his future participation in the Pinoy version of DOTS, then he certainly passed with flying colors. :thumbup:

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It might look like a slow year for Alden, but I think 2017 is a great year for him as an actor. Let’s see, he had:

1. Franco, a person with autism, for Eat Bulaga’s Lenten presentation, Kapatid – he won a Best Single Performance By An Actor award for this one;
2. Dr. Dalvie Casilang, a doctor to the barrios, for Wish Ko Lang;
3. Jessie in Daig Kayo Ng Lola Ko, where he showed his flair in comedy;
4. Boni Ilagan, in the critically-acclaimed documentary Alaala;
5. Pfc. Jomille Pavia for Magpakailanman.

Not bad, right? I mean, we had some (some? :grin: ) issues with Destined To Be Yours but Alden had quite a number of acting highlights in that drama, too.

If things will turn out the way it’s planned to be, I am so looking forward to what’s in store for Alden Richards in 2018. :smile:

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Mini-Review: Man To Man

  • First of all, I’d like to thank my good ol’ friend Charity for recommending this drama.  She was raving about our sentimental favorite Park Hae Jin’s performance and let me browse through Episode 1 during an impromptu O-nite with some of my Voltes friends.  I super-liked what I saw and promptly asked for the files but didn’t start on it until a week later, for maximum focus.  :tounge:
  • I can’t remember the last time I did a sleepless-night marathon for a Korean drama.  I did remember almost doing it with Goblin, but work and migraines got in the way that I finished it in several installments.  With Man to Man, I finished it in two installments for two consecutive days, with the second installment finishing at almost 5:00am.  I just couldn’t stop watching it.
  • One reason why it took until early morning for me to finish this drama: there were several instances where I had to pause for a minute or two because the scene affected me so much (in local parlance, hindi ko kinaya).  It’s either I had to stop to swoon at Hae Jin, or because I was laughing too much that I can’t concentrate on the next scene so I had to press ‘pause’.
  • This drama is classified as “action-thriller-melodrama” by Wikipedia, but I don’t know exactly where the ‘melodrama’ part is. :shrug: I do know that the one thing that impressed me with the story is that you won’t know who exactly was the villain until around Episode 14 or so.  You thought you already knew, but you don’t. It has many surprises along the way until the very end.
  • Dare I say it? Despite the many similarities with Descendants Of The Sun (the writer of Man To Man is the second writer of DoTS, after all) I liked this more than DoTS.  I’m talking story- and storytelling-wise.
  • The only thing in favor of DoTS per my tally is the leading lady.  Sorry to any Kim Min Jung fans here, if any, but I really don’t get her.  She’s actually annoying in this drama.
  • Then again, ALL the female characters in Man To Man super-pale in comparison to all the men.  They only acted as decorations or plot machines here for me.  Otherwise, you can take them all out and I’m perfectly fine with it.
  • May I just rave about the men some more?  :drool:  It’s not even because they’re hot men (most of them are old hahaha), although Park Hae Jin is incredibly cute and hot here in a very Song Joong Ki way.  It’s the way the male characters interacted with each other.
  • The sense of humor and sharp with of the creators of this drama are the type that I like.  The random genre switches didn’t look nor feel off at all.  They make viewing more interesting. Of course, there are loopholes and goofs along the way but that’s normal for even the most critically-acclaimed films and TV dramas.
  • As mentioned above, Park Hae Jin is the main reason why I watched this drama.  He is the Voltes team’s sentimental favorite, having met him twice in two of our trips to South Korea.  I started liking him in Family Outing, then I started loving him after we met him the first time at a random office supplies shop in Seoul. It was an ambush meeting and he was on his private time, but he was gracious and kind to us.  My love for him was cemented after he showcased amazing acting chops at My Love From The Star.  Thus, it didn’t came as a surprise that he gave a performance with so much depth and versatility as Agent K.  The only part that surprised me is his physique.  He used to be reed-thin and frail-looking. Now, he’s lean and smokin’ hot. :drool:
  • Random comment coming up:  I read on Wikipedia that GMA-7 already got the rights to air this drama. It seems the network execs like Park Hae Jin? They’ve already aired some of his dramas, ie., My Daughter Seo Young and My Love From The Star.  Once Man To Man starts airing here, I most probably will be taking out my photos with Hae Jin again. :hihihi:
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Mini-Review: Kita Kita

With all the hype surrounding this year’s surprise box-office hit, I felt that I *must* see Kita Kita. You know, just to see what the fuss is all about. Also, to see with my own two eyes if people are really coming to theaters in droves just to see the movie. Well, we saw its last full show at Megamall, and the theater is full. The hype is real, people. No paddings there. ;)

I’ve read several socmed posts about the movie, analyzing it using deep prose and profound meanings. You’re not going to see that here. See, the main thing about Kita Kita is it’s simplicity. It’s very Japanese, and I’m not just talking about the filming location. The story, the execution, the “feel” of the entire film is very Japanese. If you have seen a Japanese romance movie, you’ll get what I mean. I can’t even describe it as “Korean” because Korean romance movies tend to be on the dramatic, borderline hysteric side. Japanese romance movies are simple and subdued. Kita Kita has a very simple story with a very simple execution, but that’s what makes it beautiful. It’s the type of movie that will make you cry and laugh and cry and laugh and then stab you right through the heart. And then, when the end credits roll, your thoughts about the movie will be reduced to one word: AWWW. :dream:

The movie only has two major characters and a smattering of supporting ones. Alessandra de Rossi, an actress who is famous for her indie-type underacting is perfect for this. Her characterization of Lea is just flawless. As for the newest heartthrob in town, comedian Empoy Marquez as Tonyo stripped down his usual antics and came up with a performance that will, for some reason, make you fall in love with him. It’s strange, but true.

On the technical side, the cinematography is breath-taking. It captured the beauty of Sapporo – Hokkaido, in general (thanks to my friend Mavic for the correction) – that you’ll just find yourself adding it to your bucket list.

I won’t be elaborating much further. Just give in to the hype and see it for yourself.

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  • I’m using the above photo as my featured image, because those three made Goblin such a viewing pleasure. At least, for me. :grin:
  • I don’t remember the last time I actually lost sleep because of a K-drama. While I didn’t exactly do a marathon viewing because work and migraine got in the way :aargh: I know that if I could, I would’ve done it. It’s that engrossing.
  • This is one of those K-dramas where you kinda knew how it would end, but for some reason you want to know exactly how they would end it. You thought you already knew, but na-ah! There’s a twist in there, somewhere. This is what got me hooked for all 16 episodes.
  • I was never a fan of Lee Dong Wook – actually, if you search through all my old entries, you’d find that he’s the subject of one of the biggest rants I’ve ever written on this blog – but I find him to be super-adorable on this drama. :drool2: And at the same time, he delivered some pretty brilliant acting on some of the latter scenes. I won’t specify which is which for the benefit of those who haven’t seen it.
  • It’s kinda weird how Gong Yoo is not your traditional Korean pretty boy leading man, but he’s attractive in a lot of ways. His charisma here reminded us why everyone went gaga over him at Coffee Prince.
  • There were quite a lot of downright laugh-out-loud moments, and you would laugh louder if you’re familiar with the references. Watch out for the movie house scene. :lmao:
  • I share this observation with my niece: Gong Yoo doesn’t exactly nail the sageuk look. :neutral:
  • I’m familiar with the age gap issue that some viewers have with this drama. I didn’t quite mind because Gong Yoo’s character Kim Shin is 900+ years old in the first place, so he’s basically much older no matter how old the leading female character is. :hihihi: I did feel a little grossed out at the ending. :shutup:
  • One big factor that made Goblin work is the chemistry among the cast. They seem to have gotten really close and it radiated through the screen.
  • I absolutely love the OST.
  • I wouldn’t mind seeing Gong Yoo and Lee Dong Wook in another project together.
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    I will try my best to make this spoiler-free, but just in case:
    ***SPOILER ALERT***

    10 Things I Learned From The Korean Zombie Movie ‘Train To Busan’:

    1. A zombie apocalypse won’t stop people from taking video footage and uploading it to social media before they die/become zombies themselves. Expect Instagram/Twitter/Snapchat posts with hashtag #zombies #brainssss and the like.

    2. A zombie apocalypse won’s stop Koreans from searching it on Daum/Naver and complaining about it on internet bulletin boards.

    3. Koreans never watch zombie movies (because apparently, Train to Busan is the first ever Korean zombie movie), so they don’t know what the heck to do in the event that a zombie apocalypse happens.

    4. Helicopters and trains can work in Korea even if they’re not manned by a pilot/driver.

    5. Korean zombies can see and hear, but cannot smell. Therefore, even if you’re reeking of kimchi and/or soju, you’re good as long as you hide yourself and be very, very quiet.

    6. As in all Korean dramas, Koreans can outrun moving vehicles. Including KoRail trains.

    7. It doesn’t matter if they’re human or a zombie: an asshole is an asshole, no matter what state they’re in.

    8. It is possible to hate on a child and wish she becomes zombie chow. (Sorry. I tried not to hate. I couldn’t stop myself.)

    9. Always carry a coat or jacket. It might become handy in case zombies come-a-crashin’.

    10. Learn a hula song. Who knows, Pearly Shells may end up saving your life.

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    Random comments, in bullets:

    1. Gong Yoo never seems to get old.

    2. Out of all the zombie movies I’ve seen, this movie has got to have the coolest zombie swarm scenes, ever.

    3. If you’re into zombie films for the gore, you might be disappointed. But since I’m perfectly fine not being grossed out, I’m ok with it.

    4. I won’t tell you exactly how it ends. But prepare to be heartbroken.

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