Friday, August 2, 2013

Cinemalaya 9: backtracks

Hey! It’s time to resurrect my blog back into life again. Haha! I’m the worst in being consistent with this. My life’s been a bit ugh and hopefully I get back as soon as possible. Anywaaaaaaaaaaaaay, back to business.
It’s the last week of July and every film enthusiast knows what it means! Cinemalaya time! Oh yea!
I have been exposed to the wonderful world of Cinemalaya back in second year college, through my friend who invited me to watch. I don't remember what we watched back then but right then and there my life changed. chos!  Hihi! Being me, I’m easily interested with anything new and intriguing plus the fact that it’s so affordable (it was still 50php for students years back) .

So I’ve scanned through my scrapbook and saw this. It says it’s my 1st Cinemalaya ticket. haha! I guess me and my friend wasn’t able to watch back in 2008 or maybe I just lost the ticket. idk.

 Since then I always see to it that I take part in this wonderful festival every year even just a film or two to see. Cinemalaya is such a breath of fresh air from all those cliché-filled films in the market (even if they say countless of times that their storyline is new, uh, not really). The films showcased in this festival bring us to a world where you would see more into life through the character’s eyes. It  tackles a wide variety of issues from gender, OFWs, miners, organ donors, criminals, sex workers to more other stories of people that might haven’t even crossed your mind from the very start. The range is endless that no wonder each year more and more patrons flock in to see what’s new.
Last Friday, July 26, 9th Cinemalaya Independent Film Festival and Competition with a theme of "Cinesthesia: Synergy of the Senses".  This year 5 films (Amor y Muerte, Ekstra, Porno, Sana Dati and Liars) in Directors Showcase; 10 films (Babagwa, David F, Debosyon, Instant Mommy, Nuwebe, Purok 7, Quick Change, Rekorder, The Diplomat Hotel and Transit); and as 2 sets of Short features with 5 in each. The festival opened with a film entitled “Jazz in Love”, a documentary film by Babyruth Villarama-Guttierez which is free for all to see.

Last Saturday I went with my friend and as expected a lot of films are already sold out. Ekstra and Diplomat Hotel were already sold out even days before the opening. We arrived before 12:30pm and we’re left with no choice for the 12:45, 3:30 and 6:10 slot. We still pushed thru with those 3 films and just decided to pass on the 9 pm slot which still have 2 films available (Porno and Quick Change). And that’s what you get when you come after noon with no pre bought tickets in a weekend. sad.

First stop: Nuwebe
So basically it’s about a Filipina who got pregnant at the tender age of 9, thus the title, and how she and her family dealed with it. The film followed the story of Krista, the 9 yr old girl, as she narrates her experience. It's based on a true to life story of incest, an issue that's not different nowadays. 

Honestly, I wasn't too charmed by how the story went. Nevertheless, it received a generous amount of applause in the end. I just felt like the story went too slow and quite dragging, you know those times where you can go pee because you won't miss something big if you go. I'm also quite confused with some of the lines Krista had, there are times that it doesn't feel like it fits the character. Idk, but I felt she overdid it at some point. But anyway, in terms of the story, it was good. They injected some factors that made the film interesting.

Purok 7

This is another film in the New Breed Full-length category by Carlo Obispo. It follows the story of Doray and his brother as they live their lives on their own waiting for the time their family becomes complete again. 

This film is heartwarming by its own. It made me laugh, cry and giddy as the story progress. Hands down also to the 2 main leads ( Krystle Valentino & Miggs Cuaderno) who acted so naturally that it felt so real making you feel that genuine longingness for their family. 

It also injected some kilig factor, the puppy love for young ones, that balanced the feels. We saw it during the gala night so the director and some of the cast and crew were there. I believe they succeeded on their goal because everyone in the main theater that day saw and heard how the audience reacted and connected with the film. 
It was simple yet full of emotion you'll bring the character's feels as you go out the venue. It was no extraordinaire that will make you "woah" but it was something plain and simple, told in the eyes of the siblings that made the film genuinely good, and awesome.
PS. I think my love for dancers/bboys came back after seeing this. hihi.

Quick Change

I just saw this yesterday with my hs friend. Stories like this are the reason I kept coming back every year. It's about issues not too talked about or quite new, for my case, that you get too much information afterwards, but it's all good. haha. 
The story revolved around Tita Dorina, a transexual who makes a living through her underground operation. She "helps" her fellow bekis and others in achieving their pegs in life through injecting "collagen". This was new to me that's why I'm so hooked on how the story progressed. I never knew that this things happen. I mean I know nose lift and stuff is done in private clinics but I never knew that some do this underground, it's just too risky. scary.

 Anyway before I get completely sidetracked, the story was nicely plotted. They tackled the life of transexuals, the usual love and acceptance and mainly the risk and outcome of such "work". It also has the comedic side which everyone liked. I'm uncertain with the last part because it felt like they ran out of time that they pushed the story to end the climax. I don't know, it was just.. yea, expected but hasty(?). Anyway, I still loved the film because it tackled a lot of things that I'm not too aware of so it was a nice experience and also entertaining, nonetheless.

To get things straight, I'm no movie critic though, I'm just a film enthusiast and an avid fan of such films so please bear with how this is so MABABAW. hehe. I just like to share how I felt while I saw these films. I hope I could see all other films especially those in the New Breed categories because it's there I see mostly the gems in this festival. 

The Mexi Combi parked upp the CCP ramp which gained a lot of curios stares. Their pork soft tacos were superb!

One more new things this year is they let some food establishments make some makeshift stalls in the balcony side of CCP. That was a very smart and useful move indeed. July to August is a rainy season so it's really not practical to go down and snack out every break while waiting for the next film. So thank you so much for that Cinemalaya organizers! Maybe next time you could also make some vacant space/room/hall as a waiting area especially for those going alone. hihi. Just a suggestion. =]

"DON'T go beyond this point"... what sign? ... uhmm..

I believe Cinemalaya 9 was very successful this year, judging by the ticket sales and the films and the directors that were given a chance to showcase their talents, yet again. Never disappointing. Props to Filipino film makers, more and more each year are enchanted by your work of art. Thanks for sharing your talents with your fellow Filipinos!

PS. I feel like a whiner now. haha! But I really think that Cinemalaya organizers should consider stretching the festival for at least two weeks, maybe. I mean the following is significantly large right now unlike in the past years. Even tickets for weekday sched are selling like pancakes too (the case in CCP) so I hope they stretch the schedule next year so other could still have the chance to see other films they like. More days, all happier. right? C'mon, O hope somebody suggests this to them.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Baiyoke Sky Hotel review

So this almost "long forgotten" post was meant to be done last year but then I enjoyed being a bum after our board exam and savored every moment with my mind free from everything. Aaaaah... LIFE! =] Anyways, I'm back to my blog and hoping I could finish the drafts I made last year given my short term memory. And now let's get to the gist of this.

Last October 18, 2012 I went to Bangkok with Mama as her gift to me after undergoing the grueling 6 months of review and 4 days of board exam. The result was released a day after (Oct. 15) the last day of the exam. So we already strategically placed our vacation days near the results day so whatever happens everyone will be happy. haha! And fortunately it was a very happy ending indeed. Thank God! =]

We flew to Bangkok via Cebu Pacific where we experienced another transfer of gates just like in our last trip with them, though its not that much of an issue compared to a delayed flight that some do encounter. We had just planned this trip less than 2 months before our departing date so it's a bit hard to keep the costs low. We booked our hotel at AsiaTravel again. This time we chose to spend our 4 days vacation at Baiyoke Sky Hotel which is located at the Pratunam area where you can shop till you drop which is just perfectly perfect for us! haha! We arrived at our hotel 2 hours before the check-in time so we decided to roam around the area first.

And because as always, I like experiencing every place in the way locals do, I convinced mama not to take a shuttle service and instead take the public transpo and get lost in the way. haha! From Suvarnabhumi Airport we took the Airport Rail Rink located in the lower ground of the airport. There are signs around so it's not that hard. It operated everyday from 06.00 to 24.00.  It has 6 stations and ticket ranges from 15baht to 45baht. For a one way ride a token will be given to you which you would drop in before entering the gate. We waited for some time before the train arrived. It gets crowded so make sure you're near the exit door if you're already going down in the next stop. The train's a bit slow so the ride took about 25-30mins.

Here's a map to guide you in getting around the city through train. The pink one's the Airport Rail Link.

Going down the Ratchaprarop station we walked for roughly 5 mins. going to Baiyoke Sky Hotel. We look for the highest builiding before going down the station so we could get some idea on which direction to go. It's about 3 blocks I think.
*A/N: So while writing this blog I accidentally stumbled on the greatness of Google Maps! haha! So expect some more real time photos brought to you by Google Maps. oyea! =]*

 We saw a sign directing to the hotel and saw a dead end that we even thought we turned the wrong direction but we already saw the back side of the hotel and then saw this gate which is luckily opened, which then eventually lead us to the parking area of the hotel. haha!

I think this is the street where we turned to which is just two block from the station.
And this is the gate I'm talking about! =]

 So weird that we entered through the back side. Anyway, who cares, it saved us some mins. from walking under the heat of the sun. hihi! But in case you can't still find your way make sure to ask specifically for "Baiyoke Sky Hotel" because there's a lot of Baiyoke hotels in the area.

We checked in then left first our baggage in the hotel and went out to find a place to get our money exchanged. The best rate we had is from this money changer which is just a few steps from the hotel front near the "No Problem" store. Then we had lunch at Black Canyon located in Indra Square. There's also KFC, McDo and Dunkin Donuts inside if you want.

We went back to the hotel past 2pm with our hands already full of shopping bags and feet tired from walking so as we went up to out hotel room in the 25th floor, we truly appreciated those fluffy, comfy beds waiting for us. Aaaah. life. =]

We only got the Superior Standard Zone. They have 3 diff. zones to choose from wherein the Standard Zone occupies the 22nd - 45th floor of the hotel. They also have this Sky Zone from the 46th - 63rd floor and Space Zone from the 64th - 74th floor.

The hotel lobby. This is the area where I usually sit at while watching people and enjoying the view. =]
 One of the views from the 18th floor hotel lobby

As we entered the room I was amazed on how spacious it was given that it's only a Superior room in a Standard Zone. Now I wonder how spacious it is up their in the Space Zone. haha! Though the only window in the room was a bit of a let down. I would love to have a floor to ceiling window. choosy lang. haha!

So here's a tour of the room.

Excuse the plastic bags in the above picture. Just look at this cool water bottle below. The hotel's complimentary water bottle with a customized engravings. Amazing! haha!

The main door and the door leading to the bathroom 
Spacious bathroom complete with basic toiletries.

Yes, their shower has its own space, separated from the bathtub. :)

This full mirror near the walk in closet.

Not a panoramic shot. Believe what you see, it's really is spacious like that! =]
 Mini bar was not stacked up when we checked in. It only has this 2 complimentary water bottles, 2 glasses and some coffee/creamer/sugar in it. No worries, I even think this is a practical idea because for sure most travellers don't even avail this overpriced items the mini bar offers in a room and besides they have a convenience store in the lobby. Define convenience. Nice! :)

Those snacks above were bought from the convenience store. :)
The next morning we had our breakfast at the Bangkok Sky Restaurant which is up high in their 78th floor.
Good morning Bangkok!

They have these wide variety of food from Western to Asian. A lot of pastries to choose from and fresh fruits and even a choice of fruit shakes! They can also happily make you a sandwich of your choice. The reasonable price of the buffet is just right for what they offer. :)

 First dish. Just because I love anything cute. =]

More shots from the view in the 78th floor.

Back down in their 77th floor is the observation deck and Bangkok mini-museum which means photo ops for a lot. They also have these multimedia kiosks with a map that shows what building you can see in front of you.

Plus these miniature model of the Baiyoke Sky hotel, the highest building in Thailand.

 And going up to the 84th floor is their Revolving Roof  Deck which is free for hotel guests. It revolves 360-degrees in a slow pace so you won't get dizzy. I think I went up there 3x in the duration of our stay. haha! And I always went up ALONE because Mama is as always afraid of heights. I love the cold breeze of air at night plus the city lights and those street lights, big dreams all looking pretty in New Yooooork! chos! haha!
 high speed elevator going up.

 No decent photos from the revolving view point. I suck at night photos adding also the fact that the platform I'm standing on is moving. =[
 Cute!!! =]

 I lounged at the 83rd floor where their Rooftop Bar is also located. They have chairs there in one area where you can sit and still be engulfed by the view if you get tired standing up in the observation deck. In here you can get some more decent shots of the night lights in the city.

Would definitely book in this hotel again! :)