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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

“INCREDIBLES 2” Premiere Spurs EPILEPSY HEALTH ADVISORIES Following “FLASHING-LIGHT” Scenes

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When Disney-Pixar released “The Incredibles” in 2004, they awakened in their fans a new appreciation for the studio: the ability to make a superhero movie that is just right for the whole family. Perhaps it would become a factor in Disney eventually acquiring Marvel, who knows. It is known however that the House of Mouse was good enough for a repeat performance, such as with the Marvel-based “Big Hero 6” in 2014. This month they have revisited the old stomping grounds with “Incredibles 2”, premiered Friday last week. The sequel was well-received so far, but for receiving a health advisory.
USA Today reports that Disney is now issuing an official warning for movie audiences who are out to watch “Incredibles 2”, mainly concerning those who have epilepsy. Shortly after its premiere across US cinemas in June 15, some of the viewers of the film went on social media to discuss a sequence in the middle of the film. In this scene the “Screenslaver”, one of the antagonists, hijacks a TV broadcast with flashing imagery that puts whoever is seeing them under mind control. Flashing lights have been notorious for triggering epileptic seizures, as well as causing migraine headaches in others.
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Before premiere day was out, Disney has begun sending advisories to theaters showing “Incredibles 2”, asking them to warn audiences of the potential health hazards in that scene. Said memo has been shared on social media and goes: ” ‘Incredibles 2’ contains a sequence of flashing lights, which may affect customers who are susceptible to photosensitive epilepsy or other photosensitivities.”
In addition, the Epilepsy Foundation has added its own weight with an official statement pertaining to the Screenslaver scene, noting that 3% of epileptics are susceptible to suffering seizures when exposed to flashing lights with specific intensities. Such “photosensitive epilepsy” is common in children and young adults. Their statement concludes, “(We) appreciate the efforts some theaters have already made to post warning signs for people waiting to see the movie.”
Theaters receiving the advisories have been quick to respond to the epilepsy concerns. Mauricio Mencia, supervisor for the AMC theaters at Universal CityWalk in Los Angeles, notes that the advisory has been disseminated to the staff, with the cinema guest greeter who receives and tears viewer tickets also now tasked to inform them about the epilepsy health warnings. Mencia remarks on the rarity of such a move saying, “I’ve never seen something like that happen.”
Images courtesy of Inverse and Pixar Post

No Kidding! Japanese MANGA About JOSE RIZAL Coming Online Soon

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As early back as the days of “Astroboy” and more importantly “Voltes V”, Filipinos have been exposed to the prominent bastion of Japanese pop culture that is their animation, called Anime. And with the advent of “Dragon Ball Z” and similar shows, we were introduced to manga or Japanese comics, from which these anime usually originate. In the past decade Filipino artists even consciously emulated the manga style in published works. Such is the Philippine fascination for manga/anime, that they might appreciate this new upcoming print work from Japan, about probably the greatest Filipino of them all: Dr. Jose Rizal.
Yes you read right; a manga about Jose Rizal is being developed by a publishing and distribution company in Japan for online perusal, according to CNN Philippines. The simply-named “Jose Rizal” manga is expected to run 100 pages long, telling a biography of Jose Protasio Rizal Mercado y Alonzo Realonda – doctor, author, philosopher, and the most celebrated patriot in Philippine history – as interpreted through a story by Takahiro Matsui and artwork by Ryo Konno. There is no detail yet regarding how much of Rizal’s life will be covered by the manga. Once online, its first pages will be viewable free.
The “Jose Rizal” manga will be published by Torico Corporation, and is the brainchild of Torico representative Takuro Ando. Ando notes that the idea for the manga took root during a stroll through Tokyo’s Hibiya Park, where he noticed the bronze bust of Jose Rizal. Curious, Ando began researching Rizal’s life, and through communication with Filipino sources, he understood the extent that the Philippine patriot affected the world through both his travels and writings. “Japan, too, was affected by the genius of Rizal, who had changed his country not through violence but through his knowledge and hard work,” he said.
Torico’s online manga service Sukima.Me, will host the original Japanese-language version of the “Jose Rizal” manga starting Tuesday June 19. Creative Connections and Commons (CCC), a Philippine tech company based in Davao City, stands as Torico’s local partner for producing an official English version of “Jose Rizal”, which in turn will be made available on Manga.Club at the same time. A new page of the manga will release every Tuesday.
During his life before returning to the Philippines – where he was eventually martyred – Jose Rizal travelled around the world, throughout Europe, across America and even in Asia. He lived in Japan for a month and a half in 1888, where he met and fell in love with Tokyo local Seiko Usui, known in his writings as O-Sei-san. His talent for languages helped him study the Japanese language, and he is also reputed to have learned oriental martial arts like jujitsu.
Image courtesy of ABS-CBN News

Thursday, June 14, 2018

10K PASSPORT APPOINTMENT SLOTS Opened by DFA Thursday Noon, Tonight

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Nowadays, more than ever, increasing numbers of Filipinos count the passport as among their most vital documents. Whether it is for preparation to be employed overseas on lucrative job orders from abroad, or simply as a means to travel internationally for tourism, passports are a highly sought-after personal document commodity. That said, the process to apply for a passport can get somewhat pricey and very time-consuming, factoring in the usual crowds at various offices of the Department of Foreign Affairs. In addition, appointment slot systems are in effect; and they do not come open often, resulting in many disappointed applicants.
But that particular worry may be alleviated by this bit of news as reported by CNN Philippines. The DFA has dropped quite the bombshell this Thursday, June 14, by announcing that they have 100,000 passport applications slots – no more and no less. The slots will open up for online applicants in two batches; the first started at 12 noon with 50,000 slots and the second batch with the remainder will be made available later tonight, at 9 PM, according to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano. This development is welcome news for many prospective passport owners scrambling for precious time.
This opening of a large batch of passport application slots by the DFA was the beginning of steps being taken by the Department in response to harsh criticism for passport-seekers since January, that their system of awarding passport appointments in slots led to quickly filled-in times for both new applicants and renewals, lasting up to March. The DFA has taken great effort to try and increase the number of open appointment slots distributed at certain hours of the day.
Sec. Cayetano notes the agency hopes to have 10,000 appointment slots open every day, Monday to Saturday (six of seven days). As with this first wave on Thursday, they will be divided into two batches of 50,000 slots to fight over in online application, one half at noon and the other at 9 in the evening. We wish all passport-seekers good luck in their future applications.
Photo courtesy of DFA/CNN

$1B Invested on GRAB by TOYOTA, Tech-Sharing Part of Package

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The ride-hailing market worldwide can be pretty cutthroat. Much has been said of the travails suffered in Southeast Asia by Uber, the ride-hailing giant. Nigh-invincible on its stateside turf, it found itself outperformed by similar, local companies. These days Southeast Asian ride-hailers tend to rely on Grab, a tech company based in Singapore. They were the ones that finally put Uber SEA out of its misery by acquiring their assets for a multi-billion amount. Remarkably, Grab is about to make that investment back, in a way, by getting invested on in turn by one of the top automakers in Japan.
CNN Philippines reports that Toyota has just put an investment this week amounting to $1 billion on Singapore’s GrabTaxi Holdings Pte. Ltd. It was immediately recorded as the biggest investment ever made by an automobile manufacturing giant on a ride-hailing service. And this is not actually the first time; Toyota’s trading division already invested an amount never publicly disclosed on Grab the year before, so a relationship is already established. The two companies revealed the latest deal between them this Wednesday, June 13. Interestingly, Toyota also made a 2016 investment on Uber, though this is dwarfed by the Grab one.
In Toyota’s announcement, Executive Vice President Shigeki Tomoyama remarked, “I am delighted that we are strengthening our collaboration, which utilizes Toyota’s connected technologies.” This is because there are other arrangements attached to the deal. For starters, a Toyota executive now joins the board of directors for Grab, followed by another man joining the ride-hailing startup as a full executive. Next, the Japanese automaker will commence tech-sharing with Grab, making the service’s vehicles a test-bed for car software that is “smart” enough to alert drivers when their automobiles are due for maintenance checks. Grab for its part will use this round of investment for further developing two features of their platform: mobile payment and food delivery.
Singapore’s Grab is well on its way to dominance over all other ride-hailers operating in Southeast Asia, with its app good for getting transport not just in its home country but in Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and most of Indochina. This was bolstered by their buying up all local assets left by Uber in their failed bid to establish a foothold in the region. Other carmakers have already invested in Grab before Toyota, but none near as much: Honda and Hyundai, for undisclosed amounts.
Photo edit courtesy of Fintech News Singapore

“JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM” Remains Exciting, for a Plot Retread

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Those who had childhoods growing up during the 1990s would most likely have been among the most enchanted (if a little bit scared) by the wonder of dinosaurs brought to life by blending then-revolutionary CGI and puppetry, as seen in Steven Spielberg’s 1993 epic, “Jurassic Park”. Such was its success for Universal Pictures that it was developed into a film franchise, though after “Jurassic Park III” in 2001 it would not be until 2015 when the saga continued with “Jurassic World”, setting up a new status quo. “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” is a direct sequel to that, and so far, its merits have been hit-and-miss.
Time-wise, both the film in-universe and we, the audience, have seen three years pass since the glorious view of a new and commercially successful dinosaur theme park in “Jurassic World” – and how quickly it all came down due to human hubris, causing the humans to, like in the original film long ago, quit the island and let the cloned ancient beasts live without their intrusion. It probably would have been the end of it but for an ecological event: the formerly dormant volcano on the park’s island sit has gone active, threatening the resident dinosaurs.
Meanwhile, former JW ops manager Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) has started the Dinosaur Protection Group NGO to rally support for getting the dinosaurs off Isla Nublar before the volcano erupts completely. In this she gets help from aged billionaire Sir Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), revealed to be a former partner of John Hammond, founder of Jurassic Park and the InGen genetic think-tank which created the tech for cloning dinosaurs. Through Lockwood’s assistant Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), Claire gets signed on to a presumptive mass relocation mission to bring the dinosaurs to another place, bringing two people from her DPG team, former JW IT tech Webb (Justice Smith) and ex-Marine “paleo-vet” Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda).
But that’s not all. Mills seemed especially insistent that among the possible dinosaur rescues they need Blue, the last surviving JW raptor. This necessitates Claire’s search for Blue’s former wrangler Owen Grady (Chris Pratt) before their group gets airlifted to Isla Nublar. But the moment they reach the soon-to-explode island and locate Blue, the whole “rescue” operation takes on an entirely unexpected and sinister undertone. Back in the Lockwood Estate, the old man’s orphaned granddaughter Maisie (Isabella Sermon) discovers some dark secrets of her own.
When “Fallen Kingdom” writers Collin Trevorrow and Derek Connolly talked about the film during production last year, they mentioned that this direct sequel to “Jurassic World” will eschew past franchise installments by limiting the time spent on Dinosaur Island and focusing more on the effects of the genetic cloning knowhow that brought them to life to the rest of the world. This was done by an establishing scene with the US government debating on whether to intervene on Nublar, with them being dissuaded by none other than an older Dr. Malcolm from the first two “Jurassic Park” movies, in a cameo performance by Jeff Goldblum.
In execution, the movie did just that. The characters never stayed on the island long (and the special effects of Nublar’s final destruction were both attention-grabbing and tear-jerking). Unfortunately the scene progression was a lot streamlined than expected, with Claire (Owen and the others tagging along) returning to the Lockwood Estate in northern California after departing from there earlier in the movie. In a way that makes the Jurassic World disaster appear to be contained and downplayed. The human antagonists were also too obvious and occasionally bumbling in their actions, with the only real danger being their genetically-engineered new bio-weapon, another customized dinosaur that pushes the envelope for reptile intelligence.
Not all is spoiled though. There are some moments of heartwarming scattered about, such as recorded footage of Owen training Blue and her fellow raptors as babies. Then it takes dark undertones when it is revealed that his training research was used to make the new original “Indoraptor” capable for following orders like an attack dog. Were it not for Blue’s own resilience and undying loyalty to Owen, there would have been a downer ending. And in a way, the actual ending does have some dangerous story hooks for the planned sequel, were it not for just how limited the dinosaurs actually taken from the doomed park are in number.
“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” tries its hand at showing new things for the audience, only to seem like it was rehashing points and visuals from its predecessor. It is more like the franchise is merely retreading old ground and putting new skins over them, rather than attempt to do like the 1993 progenitor did: be original. Perhaps that will be the task of the next film. At least Pratt/Owen and Howard/Claire are confirmed for it.
Image screenshot courtesy of Nerdist

A New Premier Tourist Resort Accommodation on SARANGANI’s GUMASA Beaches: The KAMARI RESORT AND HOTEL

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While it might come off as bad form to take advantage of another’s misfortune, many places in the Philippines – especially along the country’s super-lengthy combined shoreline – are looking to capitalize on the half-year long closure of Boracay in order to entice tourists from local and international quarters to visit their places instead. Normally that means an alternative vacation spot would boast having the same white-sand beaches as the premier Philippine summer getaway, but also promoting the fact that its area is not that over-developed. Among the many locales joining this scramble to attract some displaced Boracay vacationers is Sarangani Province.
Sarangani is in a sense, well equipped in passing itself off as a formidable resort destination of its own. The province, geographically divided in two with GenSan in between, covers most of the coastline of the bay that gives its name, and there are many fine beaches along that coast. But Sarangani, in particular is especially focusing on promoting their own stretch of white sands at Glan municipality, specifically at Barangay Gumasa. That place after all, is the heart of what’s being hailed as Mindanao’s “biggest beach party”, SarBay Fest in May. And now, tourists dropping by at Gumasa are going to be blessed with a soon-to-open resort hotel the equal to any that can be found over at Boracay.
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This is the Kamari Resort and Hotel, the latest and the best resort and accommodation venue to be found at the white-beach Gumasa area of Sarangani province. It is the brainchild of the prolific national co-op, the Adventurers’ Multipurpose Cooperative (AMCOOP), which owns the resort and manages its operation. Just a mere glance at the complex is enough to cement it as THE place to go and stay when vacationing in Sarangani’s white beaches. Now we will go over why.
In terms of guest accommodation, the Kamari Resort and Hotel has ten hotel rooms in its main building, with two classes: Superior Twin (with twin beds) and Superior Queen (with Queen-sized bed). For visitors who are interested in some quiet privacy, Kamari offers no less than 17 guest villas. They are divided into the Deluxe Queen (with Queen-sized bed), the large Sarangani Family villas, and the Bay View villas with their stunning balcony views of Sarangani Bay, and private outdoor Jacuzzis on top of that.
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All rooms at the Kamari Resort and Hotel are fully air-conditioned, with genuine five-star quality furnishings – bed foam, sheets, pillows and towels. The Superior hotel rooms have 32-inch Full-HD LED Cable TV, while the villas do one better with 40-in HD screens. Every accommodation also has an indoor phone and Wi-Fi Internet, and stocked with complimentary bottled water, and instant coffee and tea packets. The villas on the other hand boast their own facilities for brewing coffee and tea, plus a stocked minibar for those inclined for that kind of beverage. Lastly, all rooms and villas have good morning kits and beach slippers for guests.
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For maximum comfort, all Superior rooms, and the Deluxe and Bay View Villas are all strictly for double occupancy only. Guests checking in at the Kamari Resort and Hotel get a complimentary breakfast on the first morning of their stay, and arriving guests who have made reservations also get a round of welcome drinks, as with all major tourist resort-hotels.
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But if you think all you’re getting from Kamari is a place to bed down for the night, no matter how well-appointed it is, then you have not seen everything yet. Being in Gumasa, the Kamari is a fully-fledged beach resort in itself. And for the benefit of their guests the Kamari Resort and Hotel also has two dining options: the in-hotel restaurant Café 92 with all-day Filipino, American and Asian cuisines; and a Resto Bar offering all-day beachside meals, cocktails and a selection of alcoholic drinks, exclusively for the people staying at the hotel. The Kamari also has a dedicated Activity and Events Hall available for reservation to serve as venue for business and social gatherings or special occasions.
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With all these wonderful perks, a stay at the Kamari Resort and Hotel will easily be the equal of going to Boracay, minus the overcrowding. They are looking forward to you staying with them soon, so go ahead and make your reservations now. You may do so by directly calling (not texting) this mobile number at 09177010529, or by checking out their official Facebook page. Online booking and room reservations will be available as soon their official website is online. The Kamari Resort and Hotel is located along the National Highway at Barangay Gumasa, the Municipality of Glan, Sarangani Province.
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Photos courtesy of the Kamari Resort and Hotel on Facebook

REESE WITHERSPOON Confirms Return as Elle Woods in MGM’s “LEGALLY BLONDE 3” Due for 2020

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In 2001, the first year of the 21st Century, a modest comedy film by way of MGM came into theaters and became a hit for main star Reese Witherspoon. “Legally Blonde” followed the misadventures of airheaded fashion student and sorority president Elle Woods, who followed his ex-boyfriend to Harvard Law School to win him back only to come into her own as a brilliant (if “bunny-eared”) lawyer. Its surprise success (and Golden Globe nomination) led to a sequel and even a musical adaptation. Now, some 17 years later, word has come out: The Blond is coming back for a third.
 Variety has it that MGM has announced its plans to produce a third cinematic “Legally Blond” film (disregarding the direct-to-DVD spinoff “Legally Blondes”), with nobody else but Reese Witherspoon returning to reprise her breakout character Elle Woods. In terms of the producing team, it is also shaping up as a reunion of sorts, with the first film’s producer Marc Platt returning and working in tandem with Adam Siegel, President of Platt Productions, and Witherspoon herself through her Hello Sunshine production company. Karen McCullah, script-wrote for “Legally Blonde” based on the original novel by Amanda Brown, has been tapped by MGM to do it once again for the third movie, with the help of Kirsten Smith.
Reese Witherspoon chose to drop the bombshell on her involvement on the project in a totally “Elle Woods” manner this Thursday, June 8. It came in the form of an Instagram video, showing the actress lounging on a pool mattress in a “Woodsy” pink bikini. Witherspoon’s comment was brief and verifies all initial reports regarding her being in talks with MGM to reprise her character: “It’s true… #LegallyBlonde3”. In just 20 hours the post has garnered some 858,018 likes, as well as some 49,308 reviews.

“Legally Blonde” was a big box office blockbuster for MGM in 2001, with a $141.8 million worldwide gross. Critics praised Witherspoon’s performance, with the film being nominated for the American Film Institute’s Top 10 Courtroom Drama Films in 2008. Its direct sequel, “Legally Blonde 2: Red, White and Blonde”, premiered in 2003 and earned a smaller but still respectable $124.9 million globally. The second movie saw Elle Woods settling down in Washington DC as a high-profile lobbyist, and her status was referred to in the “Legally Blondes” home-video spinoff which followed her twin British cousins. “Legally Blonde 3” is slated for a February 2020 release.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

KATE SPADE’s Husband Sheds Light on Fashion Handbag Designer’s Death by Suicide Due to Depression

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Collectors of trendy handbags might be more likely talking about what brands like Louis Vuitton would be bringing out next from their designers, but back in the 1990s there was another name that was on the mouths of many girls and women of the time: Kate Spade. One might say that her bags, the brainchild of her fashion housed based in New York, became something of a symbol for the city in that decade. Unfortunately the founder and visionary came to a sad end Tuesday this week, when she was found hanging lifeless in her apartment, a victim of depression.
By now it is confirmed by police investigators that fashion designer Kate Spade died of suicide by hanging on June 5. The New York Times sheds further light on this development, with the revelation by Spade’s husband Andy, revealing on Wednesday that she had been suffering from bouts of depression. Moreover, the two of them have been living separately for 10 months almost to a year before her tragic death. However Andy Spade, also Kate’s business partner who helped her in turning her fashion house into a major brand, clarified that despite their arrangements they did not talk about divorcing.
The story of Kate Spade once again highlights the treacherous nature of clinical depression, in that oftentimes, a person who admits to suffering from it, but is apparently handling oneself well, will suddenly be discovered to have taken his life. Andy Spade has noted this saying, “We were in touch with her the night before and she sounded happy. There was no indication and no warning that she would do this.” He adds that the greater part of Kate’s struggle with depression came when she was 49 years old, but she actively corresponded with her doctors to monitor her condition.
A great outpouring of condolences for Kate Spade came from many quarters, be it from her brother-in-law, actor David Spade who posted a Christmas photo of himself and Kate as told by CNN, or from a Canadian woman who, according to the New York Post was moved to write an open letter to the late designer, talking about how she and her then-age 5 daughter shopped at a Kate Spade shop in Florida, and how her child chose not a handbag but a pair of fluffy earmuffs to bring home.
Andy and Kate Spade were married 24 years. They started two fashion brands, Kate Spade New York in 1993 and then Frances Valentine in 2016.
Photo courtesy of NBC News

Thursday, June 7, 2018

First Full TRAILER of SPIDERMAN INTO THE SPIDERVERSE Now Up

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When Sony/Columbia Pictures, which held the film rights to one of Marvel’s iconic superheroes Spider-Man, went into an agreement with Marvel Pictures to allow the friendly neighborhood wall-crawler to appear on the Marvel Cinematic Universe (played by Tom Holland), they reserved the right to continue making their own films connected to the Spider-Man comic mythos, if not as part of the MCU itself. That explains their “Venom” spinoff with an alternate take on a Spider-Man adversary played by Tom Hardy, and “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”, which just had a new trailer released by Sony several months after its initial teaser.
The Hollywood Reporter has it that a new and longer trailer has been put up by Sony Pictures Animation for “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”, the 3D-animated feature film spinoff of the highly popular Marvel hero. To be precise, it is about an alternate version of the main Spider-hero Peter Parker: a younger half-African-American and half-Puerto Rican Brooklyn youth named Miles Morales. Story details remain sparse even with this new preview on the movie, although it does help to nail down more of its voice cast, comprised of rapper-actor Shameik Moore as Miles and Jake Johnson from “New Girl” as Peter.
Miles is portrayed in the trailer as a hapless New York schoolboy who is a tad embarrassed by his rather overprotective police officer father, while feeling some affinity for the superhero Spider-Man. After he finds himself awakening superhuman abilities upon being bitten by a strange spider, Miles stumbles into a battle between Spider-Man and a monster, where he and Peter learn of each other. The older hero then becomes something of a mentor figure for Miles, teaching him how to use his powers and instilling on him a sense of heroic responsibility and unique self-identity. For while Miles can do what Spider-Man can, Peter advises him, “Don’t do it like me; do it like you.”
What follows next are a cornucopia of intensely frenetic action set pieces with both Peter and Miles in costume fighting  a variety of similarly colorful opponents, as well as some moments of humor like Officer Morales insisting his son say “I love you” to him before entering school (done by the bullhorn on his car, even). One breakout segment however depicts the entrance of another – female – Spider-person, similarly famous alternate Spider-Gwen (Stacy) voiced by Hailee Steinfeld who is also starring in “Transformers” 2018 spinoff “Bumblebee”.
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“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” also stars Mahershala Ali, Live Schreiber, Bryan Tyree Henry, Luna Lauren Velez and Lily Tomlin. Avi Arad produces alongside former “Solo: A Star Wars Story” directors Chris Miller and Phil Lord. The film arrives December 14.
Screenshots courtesy of Sony Pictures Entertainment

RAINY Weekend and START of RAINY SEASON Coming by Way of “DOMENG” According to PAGASA

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While things remain relatively warm and sunny in most of the Philippines, Mother Nature is starting to flex her meteorological muscles again and reminding us that this month of June is perceived as the traditional starting point of the Rainy Season. And this latest demonstration of Nature’s power might be very strong indeed. In June 4, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) noticed a low-pressure area due northwest of Palau. It had just transformed into a tropical depression, and by the time in entered the country’s Area of Responsibility, was named Domeng. The Monsoon rains are coming.
CNN Philippines reports that PAGASA has projected some interaction between tropical depression Domeng and the southwest monsoon now beginning to build up. They predict that Domeng’s course will intensify the monsoon winds and will lead to rainy weather for days on end at some parts of the Philippines, even providing the rainfall needed to officially declare the beginning of Rainy Season. Domeng has been plotted as of June 7 to be 835 kilometers East of Casiguran, Aurora Province. Its last record of 45 km/h maximum sustained winds and 60 km/h gustiness has strengthened itself 55 km/h and 65 km/h respectively.
PAGASA forecaster Obet Badrina is fully expecting the weather bureau to declare the Rainy Season before the week is out. While the prospect of heavy rains is not welcome on the first week of school, there is at least good news in the fact that Domeng will most likely not hit the country directly according to Badrina. He does note in the report that the close proximity of the depression to the western parts of the Philippines will still see moderate to heavy rains hitting the MIMAROPA and Western Visayas regions starting right this Thursday, thanks to pulling the monsoon.
In addition, Badrina’s fellow forecaster Nikos Peñaranda also projects that this day the Bicol Region is due to experience the same level of continuous rainfall, and that by Friday June 8, winds brought by Domeng, if not Domeng itself, will visit some wet weather on the nation’s capital Metro Manila. The tropical depression of focus is currently moving in a north by northwesterly direction at a speed of 15km/h, and PAGASA predicts Domeng being gone from the PAR the evening of Sunday, June 10. Before then however, the mentioned areas above are advised to prepare for a very rainy weekend.
Meanwhile, the weather bureau is also monitoring Tropical Storm “Ewiniar” (international name), boasting 65 km/ maximum sustained winds and 80 km/h gustiness. It is however, already 1075 km west of Basco, Batanes and moving further away, so PAGASA is confident that this stronger weather disturbance will not bother the country.
Satellite Image courtesy of PAGASA

Warner Bros. Planning “JOKER” Spinoff Film in DCEU with JARED LETO Starring and Executively Producing

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The critics may have been very unkind to its premiere in cinemas back in 2016, but “Suicide Squad”, a film featuring antiheroes and super-villains in a deniable-ops team set in DC Entertainment and Warner Bros.’ DC Extended Universe (DCEU), still achieved some respectable box-office gains for that year. Part of the myriad reasons it was still a hit with moviegoers was its eclectic cast of characters interpreted by some breakout actors. One of these is Batman bad guy the Joker, played by Jared Leto. His one-off appearance was so memorable that Warner-DC is green-lighting a spinoff with Leto as star.
Variety tells us that sources in the studio have revealed that a DCEU “Joker” standalone film is now being conceptualized, with Jared Leto set to reprise his role from “Suicide Squad”. The actor is reportedly also sitting as executive producer for the project, which is being slated to start production after another planned DCEU film starring Harley Quinn, portrayed in “Suicide Squad” by Margot Robbie to positive reactions. This was a surprise development considering that last year Warner-DC announced plans for a Joker origin story film that is not part of the DCEU, with Joaquin Phoenix taking the lead role.
News of this movie comes as a great relief to fans of Leto’s take on the iconic DC super-villain, which was starkly different from previous live-action portrayals. It was also regrettably short in “Suicide Squad”, belying the amount of promotional hype drummed up for his role. The Academy Award-winning actor is quite pleased that it was given the go-ahead by Warner Bros., as he had expressed interest following the 2016 premiere of “Suicide Squad” further expand his characterization of the Joker in future DCEU movies, preferably in a starring role.
Leto also has plenty of time to prepare for this future undertaking, following his most recent roles as an antagonist in 2017’s “Blade Runner 2047” as well as the online film “The Outsider”, which premiered for streaming on Netflix this March. The next step of the embryonic production unit is to find a writer for the Joker film, as well as to decide when to start filming. It is already slated that a sequel to “Suicide Squad” begin production in 2019, and Leto is also returning there as the Clown Prince of Crime. Also up in the air for now is the other, unrelated Joker origins movie with Joaquin Phoenix.
Photo courtesy of Twitter

SARANGANI BAY BOAT TOUR: A Day Voyage to Underwater Wonderlands

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We are now just about a month and a half past since the fateful order was given to shut down the resort island of Boracay for six months, for the sake of some badly needed environmental rehabilitation measures. So until October 2018, Filipino resort vacationers and overseas tourists will just have to find their warm and sunny seaside getaways elsewhere. Many people in Southern Mindanao have no hurry to go elsewhere when they already have a wonderful sea destination so close at hand, a bay with a coast shared by GenSan and the province that bears its name: Sarangani Bay.
Due to its partly enclosed position, Sarangani Bay is capable of serving as a sanctuary for marine life from the larger expanses of the Celebes Sea to the south. This enables a remarkable amount of biodiversity in the creatures living deep in its waters, from corals to fish, all a boon for the fishing communities living on its coast. The bay’s quality as a natural harbor is helpful to the growth of GenSan along its indentation to become a booming port. And parts of the shore also boast white-sand beaches that tourists love; that’s why Sarangani holds the Sarbay Fest.
Still, for those tourists who would like to explore Sarangani Bay a bit further out more than just swimming from the beach, then perhaps you might want to consider taking a tour of it by boat. It’s a lot more accessible than one might think. Most major resorts in the area, like GenSan’s London Beach Resort, already operate tourist craft ferrying passenger groups for a runaround in the bay, visiting nice swimming and snorkeling spots for timed tours. They in particular have a boat tour lasting three hours, which my team and I have had the pleasure of trying out.
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Our London Beach Resort Boat Tour vessel was a sturdy outrigger boat, capable of comfortably carrying up to 15-20 passengers with both main and sundeck. It was replete with the necessary amenities: bathroom and shower stall (with freshwater storage); kitchen facilities from gas-powered stove to side-hanging grill; a kayak and sound system. There’s even a folding stairway for swimmers and divers’ easy entry into and exit from the waters of Sarangani Bay. Our crew of three was friendly, all were competent men of the sea, and we were happy to be having them take us out for our three-hour tour.
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I cannot stress enough how helpful the London Beach Boat Tour crew has been. At one point we had one of them row one of our team ashore at a fishing community to buy rice to cook for lunch; they were gone and back in less than ten minutes it seemed, and we were back on course without much time lost in the day. Our first destination was a reef formation called S’nalang, and it happened to be just directly offshore from the Pac Man Beach Resort of Senator Manny Pacquiao. Thanks to its marine sanctuary status, we were able to enjoy what came next.
With our boat safely anchored just over the reefs, our team went right on to having fun under the sun. While our rice was cooking on the stove and our lunch roasting on the spit, we took turns jumping off the boat, diving with snorkels to check the coral and fishes swimming amidst them, and lazing about on the kayak. Our crew even gave a showcase of their fishing background by catching fish on a line using bits from our own fresh fish before they were grilled. Our meal was delicious under the summer sun.
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After lunch was done, but with over an hour left on our tour time, we headed for a second reef location called Tampat, close to the cliff shore of Sarangani’s Maasim municipality. Erosion has eaten away at the cliff face where we lay anchor, next to a large boulder formation on the water, reachable from the boat. Tampat reef was notable for its sheer contrast in shallow areas interspersed with deep blue filled with fishes; several local fishermen were in the area when we arrived, and the crew caught a few more themselves. Our team spent what time we had left on our tour exploring the surroundings like we did at S’nalang, before speeding back to London Beach as the sun began to go down.
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Having gotten back to firm ground, I find myself looking back at the events of our trip, immortalized in the many photographs and a few videos we took from the many cellphone cameras between us all. To think, in three hours we visited two spots in Sarangani Bay filled with wonderful marine life, but there are many others beyond the scope of our one trip. Our team is looking forward to a chance of exploring more of the bay that is part of our home, and we would like to invite others from the rest of the Philippines and abroad to come over and check this out for themselves. It is no Boracay island, but it does not need to be. It is Sarangani Bay.