Coffee and Clocks: A "UCC Clockwork" Review - 3rd Wave Coffee Shops in Manila

UCC Clockwork has some of the most Instagram-worthy dishes, and it’s something you have to visit if you’re on the lookout for pretty food to add to your feed.

Snow Ice Treats: A Hobing Review

Bingsu is a popular Korean dessert composed primarily of ice shavings, topped or mixed with various ingredients such as fruits, beans, milk, and nuts.

Carnivore Craving: A "Yoree Korean Barbecue Dining" Review

I was glad that it was going to be a smokeless cooking because we still had to get back to work and we didn’t want to come back smelling like we were the ones barbecued.

A Reply to Sean Ellis' Love Letter: A "Metro Manila" Review

Normally, good visuals with a great story is hard to come by in a time of poverty exploiting indie films. Yet, this time around, not only was it a great story, but visually stimulating as well.

Bayan o Sarili: A "HENERAL LUNA" Review

Tarog's feature is a masterful "work of fiction based on facts" that's needed to be seen by everyone who considers himself a patriotic Filipino.

Potato Corner Caramel and Green Peas Flavors

HUUUUUGE news, everyone (well, for me at least)! Well, I don’t know if I’m just late but apparently our much-loved Potato Corner now has Caramel and Green Peas flavors.

I first got a taste of these goodies at the launch of The Food Circuit at SM North a few days ago (you’ll also find Potato Corner there). At first I didn’t pay much attention to the flavors on display because they just looked like the Wasabi and Barbecue flavors. Turns out those were Potato Corner in Caramel and Green Peas!

The Caramel Flavor would be the sweeter option among the existing varieties, and I’m guessing this would be a favorite among the kids.

Potato Corner Caramel flavor
The Green Peas flavor on the other hand, tasted similar to Snacku. It was okay but I’d choose the other flavors over this one.

Potato corner Green Peas flavor
Now I’m not sure if these are already available in certain branches but I’m hoping for at least the caramel to be available soon. With the recent introduction of the Wasabi flavor and now Caramel and Green Peas, looks like Potato Corner is already finding more ways to keep our hands on their already irresistible fries!

Now I wonder how much a Potato Corner franchise is (or if ever they franchise at all). Would you know?

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As Spooky as Reality: A "THE CONJURING 2" Review

By Gio Potes

THE CONJURING 2 is not only an effective haunted house horror film; it's an interesting public housing critique. Whereas the predecessor dabbled with kitschy horror intertexts, these tropes worked better in the sequel, in lieu of a grim social phenomenon it undoubtedly commemorates.

Based on a true story, the CONJURING sequel finds the Warrens (Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson) facing a new strange paranormal activity in England. After a few episodes of spooky encounters, they are called to investigate the case of an eleven year-old girl named Janet Hopgson (Madison Wolfe) who seems to be possessed by a certain Bill Wilkins. Under much cynicism on the young girl’s behavior, everyone else seems to be walking out on the Hopgsons. But the Warrens found a piece of the puzzle that connects their own haunting memories to the Hopgsons – a key to end their conjuring.

The Conjuring 2 Trailer

A piece of horror pastiche, the tropes resound like inevitable ghosts - a distressed single mother, pasty-skinned Emily Rose victim, seniors as demon-ghosts, cranky old house with shaky furniture and even a Nosferatu throwback. While newer schemes in cinematography and editing bring in the spooks, what is much apparent in Wan's horror-drama is his heavy reliance on these horror intertexts that extend to the political background. CONJURING 2 takes its cues from THE EXORCIST, POLTERGEIST & THE OMEN as it finds its 70s youth in ethical and moral chaos possessed by an agitated spirit that must be calmed down as it still rests in confinement. Wan subversively plays with elements of 1970s England, mixing its pop culture and political climate in providing weight to its central horror story, that it is not just about a ghost haunting a family.

And in this case, a lingering TV image of the Iron Lady herself can attest to the Thatcherism that looms like a specter above the introduction's poverty situation that has struck Enfield, as neoliberalism possesses the political economy of UK like a habit-toting demon disrupting state services like healthcare, education and of course housing projects. As with classic 70s supernatural horror films, the anxiety wrought about by the bigger picture on the smaller unit of a family is expressed in demonic possessions that provide only clues to their oppression.

In a subtle manner, American conservatism takes center stage to "save" possessed youth, that's why its sudden shift to cheesy romantic sentimentalism is needed. A Hollywood-stamped ending that proves only (Christian) Americans can save the day as they blind the discourse away from the political to the personal aspects of married life and family.

These old tricks still prove effective, and they anticipate the Catholic-backed Reagan era in the US, and even in our case the Aquino administrations. While James Wan has become horror’s most iconic visionary, he understands the fact that reality is indeed scarier.

Credits to the images and videos used in this post go to "The Conjuring 2" and/or to their respective owners. We do not own these materials. No copyright infringement intended.

#NorthEats: The Food Circuit at The Block

Quezon City is one of the areas that come to mind when talking about food trips. There’s the perennial Maginhawa Street (the whole Teacher’s Village, actually) with concept shops and food establishments coming and going, and also Katipunan Avenue which also has it’s own fair share of must-visit restos. Just a few days ago, another foodie haven has sprung up in QC, and this time, it’s inside a mall.

I introduce you to The Food Circuit as SM City North EDSA. The ground floor of The Block, which used to house the Hypermarket only, has been transformed into a “food circuit” offering local and even international flavors. 

The Food Circuit at The Block was launched last June 19, 2016.

Here is a sneak peek at what you can expect:

Rock & Seoul
Sweetea's by 

GoNuts Donuts
Costa Coffee

This place deserves its own foodtrip! Here is the complete list of food establishments you can find at The Food Circuit:

Savory Delights:

Almon Marina,
Casa Italia,
Eat City,
Grind Burgers,
Gyro V,
Mr. Pizza

Many of the restaurants at The Food Circuit offer Asian special dishes.

Classic Favorites:

Bistro Remedios,
Café Adriatico,
Conti’s Bakery and Café,

From Cafe Adriatico Express

Asian Flavors:

Bubble Tea,
Osaka Ohsho,
King Chef,
Rock & Seoul,
Nadai Fujisoba

King Chef Dumplings

Delightful Desserts:

Baskin Robbins,
Café Shibuya,
GoNuts Donuts,
Costa Coffee,
La Lola Churreria,
La Macaronerie,
Sweetea’s by,
Tous Les Jours.

Signature Cheese Tart by Kumori
The Food Circuit is conveniently located at the ground floor of The Block, SM North EDSA.

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It’s Just a Story: A "Me Before You" Review

Every year, there’s always that one movie that has its eyes on teenagers, women, and maybe a few of my gay friends. This year, that movie would be Me Before You. Initially. I wasn’t familiar with the movie/novel at all, and If I wasn’t following Sam Claflin on Instagram, I’d be clueless about it entirely.

Okay, so we have Ed Sheeran songs plus a familiar face from a popular TV show (Emilia Clarke looks like a normal person, nothing like the Mother of Dragons), and you now have a working formula for a hit chick flick. But then, articles of boycotting the film keep popping up prior to the premiere in the country, although the trailer seemed sweet in the most sugary of ways, so it’s so hard to boycott it. With all the controversy, it made me want to see the movie even more. I had the same feeling when I watched Noah - the more controversial, the more interesting.

The movie started out like many novel-based chick flicks I know - with a solemn life in a happy town. Lou (Emilia Clarke) just got fired from her job at a café, and she found it difficult to get a new job until her agent found an announcement for a caregiver for a disabled man. Then, girl meets disabled brooding boy, Will Traynor (Sam Claflin). He’s the town’s rich kid - used to be a daredevil and lived a carefree life, until his unfortunate accident that led him to have a spinal cord injury. You can guess what happened next - they slowly fall in love, and suddenly Lou finds out that Will has decided to undergo assisted suicide after six months. So, Lou makes it her mission to change Will’s mind by a series of activities and trips.

There was no guilt in enjoying the movie. It definitely had its lighter moments, such as Emilia Clarke’s overly expressive eyebrows. One would definitely want to pinch her cheeks with the lightness of her character. However, the one that surprised me the most was Matt Lewis a.k.a Neville Longbottom from Harry Potter. He plays Lou’s simple health buff boyfriend, Patrick. He made Patrick’s simple-mindedness too likable that it wasn’t too hard laughing along with the rest of the characters. 

Those eyebrows should win an award on their own.

If it weren’t for the suicide part, this movie would be the same as the other John Green-themed stories. There’s nothing positive about suicide. However, it’s not my story, nor is it entirely Will’s story, it’s Lou’s. It’s her journey of finding herself, getting support, and learning to give the support that she’s once failed to have. It seemed that the introduction of assisted suicide was too forced, though. It would’ve been better if they gave more scenes focusing on Will’s depression to justify his decision.

There’s a certain sadness that most people do not understand. It’s always expounded with a lack of friends or weirdness. This movie lacked a bird’s eye view on Will Traynor’s depression on not having the life he once had. Since I’m not Will Traynor, I don’t know what that feels like. His part is too much of a fantasy in my book, but there were parts that are too damn realistic, though. Lou mentioned she’s 26 years old, and then Will points out that she’s still in her “potential” stage. It made me want to vomit.

Credits to the images and videos used in this post go to "Me Before You" and/or to their respective owners. We do not own these materials. No copyright infringement intended.

Funny or F*cked Up?: What is Up with Oishi’s Comics?

Depending on whether you’re a targeted audience or not, you may have already seen one of the comic-strip posts by the Oishi PH Facebook Page, which in spite of the cute characters and illustrations, actually show a relatively darker story.

Case in point – the comic strips have character resembling Oishi snacks, with stories often ending up with one snack eating the other. Yep, cannibalism…well sortof.

The posts are presented in a humorous, comical way. Personally, I didn’t mind and I think that the nature and style of the posts are part of their charm. To me these are somehow reminiscent of illustrations by Joan Cornella, or the cute but brutal comic-strips of Cyanide and Happiness. To each his own, yeah?

This Independence Day post gives "sacrificing yourself for your country" a whole new meaning

Whoever wrote this is not a a fan of happy endings.

Was this also the reason why recess time is your "favourite subject"?

One of my deep dark fears

There are still a bunch of these "funny" posts on the Oishi Facebook page so you may want to check it out if this is your brand of humour.

What do you think of these kinds of posts by Oishi? Is it Funny? Creative? Or F*cked up?

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Warcraft: The Beginning Review

You know those movies that you are 95% sure would be a disappointment but you still go ahead and see it anyways? Warcraft: The Beginning would be a legit example.

With a plot that seemed to make sense only when you’ve actually played the game, Warcraft: The Beginning takes us to the fantasy world of Azeroth, at a time when it is being ravaged by Orcs whose own world has already died. With the help of the power of the Fel wielded by Gul’dan, the Orcs were able to raid human villages in no time, sacrificing human prisoners to fuel the portal that will bring in the Horde.

However, the Orc Durotan – chieftain of the Frostwolf clan, realizes that Gul’dan’s power brings only death wherever it goes, and he’d know better than to entrust his people to the Fel. Out of desperation, Durotan tries to strike a deal with the humans in order to save both Azeroth and his clan. Little did they know that somebody more sinister is working in the shadows, setting the stage for war.

In spite of the huge investment on heavy CGI, I can’t help but think that Warcraft: The Beginning wasn’t really aiming to go big primarily because it seemed to be targeting Warcraft fans only. I say this because if you haven’t previously played the game or are unfamiliar with its storyline, it would be a challenge to relate with the film, and those who are not accustomed to Warcraft as a game may be alienated from the movie’s story.

If you’re a fan though (or someone who has actually played the game like me), you may be able to appreciate it just for the sole reason that this is an adaptation of one of your favorite childhood computer games. You won’t say that the movie per se is good, but since this is something that’s close to your childhood, you go ahead to see and try to enjoy it anyways. Pretty much like seeing your best friend dancing on stage. He sucks at dancing but you go ahead and cheer for him because hey, he’s your best friend.

To be fair with Warcraft: The Beginning, it is, for the most part, loyal to the game it was based on. The film’s storyline was parallel to the game’s, and its emphasis on detail was noteworthy – the structures, the armor, and clothes of the characters are reminiscent of Warcraft. Game-players would also find amusement in the minor details that mirror the computer game – like how some characters need to go back to their “home base” to recharge mana, hexing enemies to turn them into sheep, and how runes and teleportation are skills that can turn the tide during battle.

However, even if you have an innate love for Warcraft, it’s not easy to shake off the film’s lack of star-power, and the virtually unknown cast didn’t help in making the movie appealing to non-fans. It’s like these are the set of actors that you would see from a computer game cut-scene, and not for a high-budgeted Hollywood movie. I guess the CGI ate up most of the budget that there was none left even for just one recognizable face among the cast.

He's like Aragorn minus the charm.

If anything, there’s no doubt that Warcraft: The Beginning was a visual treat. The CGI may not be 100% realistic but it was a spectacle to see, and if there’s any reason why the uninitiated may want to see this movie, it has to be because of the special effects. Best appreciated in 3D.

Warcraft: The Beginning is definitely not for everyone, as those who may find joy in it are only those who are already familiar with Warcraft. To those who have played the game – this is an enjoyable chance to reminisce and see the characters you once played for come to life. But for the rest, it may feel like a lamer version of The Lord of the Rings.

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Credits to the images and videos used in this post go to "Warcraft: The Beginning" and/or to their respective owners. We do not own these materials. No copyright infringement intended.

Must Try! Kuya J Halo-Halo Espesyal

The occasional showers are suggesting that summer is about to end, and that rainy season is just around the corner here in the Philippines. But before we say goodbye to beach parties and the extra-scorching heat of the sun, I made it a point to make one last hurrah and experience one of the best things that I love about summer – the liberty to go all out on chilled desserts!

One of the first things that come to mind when you’re saying “dessert” and “summer” in the same sentence is the well-loved Pinoy Halo-Halo. This is so popular here in the Philippines, that we have lots of versions of it already, with several restaurants coming up with their own special Halo-Halo varieties. With this much competition, it’s a challenge to stand-out, and I can only count with my fingers the ones that are most memorable to me.

Just recently, another entry was added to my “Must-try Halo-Halos” List. I saw one of my friends rave over Snapchat about how she’s not a huge Halo-Halo fan yet she can’t get over how good the Kuya J Halo-Halo Espesyal was! With my curiosity tickled, I knew I had to get a taste of the Kuya J Halo-Halo Espesyal.

I visited the SM Manila branch of Kuya J with a few of my blogger-buddies to finally satisfy the curiosity of my taste buds. The best part of the meal? Kuya J’s endorser, Jericho Rosales himself, was also in the restaurant to accommodate and entertain us while we have our lunch. What can be a better appetizer than Echo himself singing to you while you’re waiting for your food?

To prepare us for our much-awaited dessert, we first had a full meal made up of Kuya J’s specialties and best-sellers. I’ve already had a taste of Kuya J’s dishes several times before (you can check out my review here), and I’m glad that they’re consistent with the quality and taste. Here are what we had for lunch:

Danggit Rice
Kuya J Lumpia Presko
Crispy Catfish 
Kuya J Crispy Pata
Kuya J Grilled Scallops
Kuya J Sisig
Kuya J Kare-Kare

The best part of that meal was saved for last. After all the crispy pata, rice, and Kare-Kare that I hungrily gobbled-up, I thought I can’t eat more and yet, when the Halo-Halo came in, my eyes widened and apparently so did my stomach!

One look at the Kuya J Halo-Halo Espesyal and you can already tell that this is different from the regular Halo-Halos that you might know. The shaved ice was paper-thin, and appears to be cotton-like in smoothness. Most of the ingredients were also found at the bottom of the glass. It looked so simple yet also gives an impression that you’re in for a treat!

After digging through with my spoon and having a taste of the shaved ice, I knew what makes the Kuya J Halo-Halo Espesyal different. The shaved ice is not just plain water, but is made of rich, creamy milk that has that melt-in-your-mouth consistency. Unlike other Halo-Halos where you have to rely on the other ingredients for flavor, the ice in Kuya J’s Halo-Halo Espesyal is already flavorful on its own! Pretty much like the Korean Bingsu.

Other people prefer to eat their Halo-Halo as it is served – that is working from the toppings, then digging their way to the bottom. My style is to mix and stir the whole thing up until I get one delightful mixture of ice, fruits, and other ingredients (it is after all, called “Halo-Halo” for a reason). The array of meaty macapuno strings, nata de coco, caramelized saba, ube jam, and glazed langka found at the bottom of the glass were also served in a generously. To top it all off, you have a thick chunk of homemade leche flan, and crunchy corn flakes on top of the heap. As if this wasn’t good enough, the whole thing was also drizzled with ube ice cream!

I finished a whole glass by myself, although one order may also be good for sharing if you don’t have an appetite like mine.

All this goodness for only Php 99.00! Honestly I was expecting it to be more expensive because other Halo-Halos I know were already priced somewhere near Php 100.00. But hey, I’m not complaining!

If you haven’t been to Kuya J (I strongly suggest that you give it a shot), you can know more about their specialty dishes and desserts by following them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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