Wednesday, November 28, 2018


In the year 1999, Nickelodeon premiered a kooky animated series starring an anthropomorphic square-shaped yellow sponge that lived in a pineapple (house) under the sea. “Spongebob SquarePants” may have initially left parents watching with their children scratching their heads, but eventually the show won them over with its plentiful grownup bonuses and witty writing, eventually building itself up to become the most watched animated program on Nickelodeon and the most famous face of the children’s cable network. Its success can be attributed to creator Stephen Hillenburg. But now, Nickelodeon and “Spongebob” fans are devastated with the news of his death.
Variety has it that Stephen Hillenburg, the American cartoonist, animator and marine biologist who created “Spongebob SquarePants” for Nickelodeon, and produced and directed the animated series for much of its run, has died Monday, November 26, at the age of 57. This was announced only on Wednesday, November 28, by the cable channel, a part of MTV Networks, on social media. “We are sad to share the news of the passing of Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants,” Nickelodeon wrote on its official Twitter page. “Today, we are observing a moment of silence to honor his life and work.”
In a follow-up in-depth statement the cable channel elaborated that Hillenburg died of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the neuron degenerative disorder famous for having affected baseball player Lou Gehrig and British scientist Stephen Hawking.  The creator of “SpongeBob” was initially diagnosed with ALS sometime in 2017, but announced to Nickelodeon that he intended to keep working on the show for as long as he was able. “Steve imbued ‘SpongeBob SquarePants’ with a unique sense of humor and innocence that has brought joy to generations of kids and families everywhere,” the network stated. “His utterly original characters and the world of Bikini Bottom will long stand as a reminder of the value of optimism, friendship and the limitless power of imagination.”
Stephen Hillenburg’s journey to creating “SpongeBob SquarePants” began when he was teaching marine biology in California during the 1980s. He created a comic strip that taught about tidal pool animal life like sponges, and the characters he conceptualized for this were further developed when the idea was later transformed into animation. The concept was enough to carry “SpongeBob” through 12 seasons and some 249 episodes on Nickelodeon, winning several Emmy Awards, and becoming an indelible memory in many millennial childhoods.
To pay tribute to the memory of SpongeBob’s creator, we will add the lyrics to his show’s introduction down below:
Arr ya ready kids? (Aye-aye, Captain!)
I can’t hear you! (Aye-aye, Captain!)
Who lives in a pineapple under the sea? (SpongeBob SquarePants!)
Absorbent and yellow and porous is he (SpongeBob SquarePants!)
If nautical nonsense be something you wish (SpongeBob SquarePants!)
Then drop on the deck and flop like a fish! (SpongeBob SquarePants!)
SpongeBob SquarePants!
SpongeBob SquarePants!
SpongeBob SquarePants!
SpongeBob…Square Pants!
Images: Polygon, YouTube

YOUTUBE Shifting Future PREMIUM Exclusives for FREE VIEWING with ADS

YouTube, the first name in mind when it comes to online video upload and sharing, has certainly come a long way since its introduction over a decade ago. From short snippets to full-length movies, from free membership to subscription-based streaming options, the platform has evolved with the times, often with varying degrees of success. A good example is their paid subscription model YouTube Red, launched in 2015 and rebranded as YouTube Premium last June. But mere months later its future has been cast in doubt as the company announced a new shift in their marketing that makes it somewhat redundant.
Business Insider reports that YouTube is planning to make its original streaming content, or at least some of them, to be viewable for free with inserted ads by users, starting anytime from 2019 to 2020. This was announced by YouTube’s parent company Google this Tuesday, November 27, in a bid to drum up more viewers for their exclusive paid-subscription programming, which includes a number of sci-fi dramas and reality shows. In effect, the only reason for getting a YouTube Premium account would be to be able to watch this content without constant ad breaks, as with the free video uploads.
Launched three years ago in some 29 countries, the YouTube Premium subscription service has been involved in a free-for-all with other streaming services such as Hulu and Netflix, to name a few. While some of its exclusive originals have managed to gain a following, YouTube feels they could do with further increasing interest in their shows among the international viewer base on their platform. Furthermore, enabling non-subscribers to see their exclusives is said to allow them some greater flexibility in how to market their programs. Analysts however feel that this would only drive more Premium subscribers to discontinue the $12-monthly Premium service by that point.
The current YouTube Premium subscription service has two major selling points, the YouTube Originals exclusive content and the Spotify expy YouTube Music. The music library is extensive enough, and among the Originals that have garnered positive reviews is “Cobra Kai”, the popular sequel series to the iconic 1980s “Karate Kid” film franchise. These originals, that have started streaming on YouTube Premium before the 2019-20 schedule for when the platform will make its newer exclusives viewable with ads, are guaranteed to remain behind the $12 monthly pay wall, according to YouTube.
Image courtesy of Android Police


While not as advertised perhaps as its national teams for basketball and soccer, the Philippines also has a formidable stable of athletes competing in the martial arts. Expected disciplines in which the country is represented include karate, judo, taekwondo, wushu. But there are also competitors for less generally known forms such as pencak silat and jiu-jitsu/jujutsu, the Japanese grappling system from which judo is derived. The older jiu-jitsu discipline adds to the familiar judo throwing and pinning techniques with joint locks and even strikes. So uncommonly heard is jiu-jitsu that the news of a Filipina winning the world championship for it made the national news.
CNN Philippines has it that the 2018 World Jujutsu Championship in Malmo, Sweden was dominated by the Philippines for the first time in its history of competition. This achievement was accomplished by Meggie Ochoa, 28 years old, who can be considered well prepared to throw down with the best in the world due to prior victories in other jiu-jitsu tournaments around the world this year; and evenly spaced so that she could rest and train before the next contest too.
In the final match of the Jujutsu World Championship, Ochoa, competing in the women’s senior 49-kilogram weight division, made history in that particular tournament when she bested Ni Ni Vicky Hoang of Canada, in a brief encounter that ended in a decisive 2-0 win for the Philippine contender. With that, Ochoa made a hat trick of accolades, being the first Asian to win the gold medal in the Jujutsu World Championship (ironic considering the origin of the martial art in question), the first from the Philippines, and definitely the first Filipina on top of that.
Meggie Ochoa was in peak condition going into the world championship of her martial art, thanks to two jujutsu tournaments prior. She first saw major action last March at the Jiu-jitsu World Tour in London, where she also won a gold medal. Come August, Ochoa was part of the Philippine contingent for the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia. This time around she nabbed a bronze. For all these triumphs Ochoa was given accolades by the Ju-jitsu Federation of the Philippines, the country’s national sports association for jiu-jitsu representing 50 distinct clubs, and a regular member of the Philippine Olympic Committee.
Image courtesy of Cosmo PH

Monday, November 26, 2018


When Disney first announced in the early 2010s that they were going to make an animated film about a videogame villain and the secret lives of game characters in a video arcade when there are no humans about, potential viewers were wary until it was revealed that some heavy licensing ensured that the original main characters would be supported by plenty of actual established videogame franchise regulars in the story. Starring John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman, “Wreck-It Ralph” became a surprise smash hit in 2012, leaving moviegoers with a wistful desire for a sequel. Surprisingly, Disney has come though.
In order to expand the storyline of the world of videogame characters in a single game center, “Wreck-It Ralph” filmmaker Rich Moore with input from his co-director Phil Johnston decided to give the sequel see videogame baddie Ralph (Reilly) and go-kart racer Vanellope (Silverman) a means to explore a larger world. They did by introducing the plot point of the arcade’s owner Mr. Litwak (Ed O’Neill) install a Wi-Fi router to his establishment. Conflict is generated when the steering wheel of Vanellope’s game is broken, and the only replacement part was listed on EBay. So begins “Ralph Breaks the Internet”.
Where sequels are concerned this definitely fits the expected element of escalation. To get the game part RalpH and Vanellope must travel through the expansive online environment of the internet. This is where Disney outdoes itself. Whereas the original had licensed games, now the licensing is for internet and online brands to appear in the film. Seeing Google, Amazon, Twitter, EBay and every other internet household word on “Ralph Breaks the Internet” makes for a fun game of spotting the shout-outs, and will facilitate the Pause button overuse for when the movie makes home media.
During their internet quest however, some issues arise between Ralph and Vanellope, who became close buddies since the first film six years ago (in and out of universe). They have followed the routine of playing their arcade roles during the day and hanging out at night, but while Ralph is fine with it, Vanellope is feeling constrained by the monotony, especially with her game. To Ralph, this is a disaster, especially when Vanellope finds a kindred spirit in Shank (Gal Gadot), an antagonist driver in online racing game “Slaughter Race”, where the two have gone to earn online money to pay for the needed part.
On Shank’s advice, Ralph decides to make cash by making viral videos and uploading them to sharing site BuzzTube, overseen by trend algorithm Yesss (Taraji P. Henson). Part of this moneymaking scheme involves Vanellope taking a popup ad to the Oh My Disney! Fansite, where the most promoted sequence in the whole film takes place: Vanellope meeting the Disney Princesses.
I feel this part really needs its own section, with how significant this encounter turns out not just to be a one-off gag, but a Eureka moment that spurs Vanellope’s character in the sequel. Disney also takes this opportunity to gleefully skewer public perception about its Princess characters, as illustrated by Rapunzel’s question to Vanellope if, like them, people assumed her problems were solved with help from a big strong man. The experience gets better due to most of the Princesses being reprised by their original voice talent where possible. They even get to save the day in one way.
Performance-wise, both John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman manage to nail the voices of their characters down pat as if six years ago were only yesterday. Furthermore, they also get to delve deeper into what makes their alter egos tick, which is more the driving force of the storyline than the adventure through the internet to buy a game spare part before it gets junked.
If there are any flaws perhaps to the overall presentation of “Ralph Wrecks the Internet”, it is that the spotlight is firmly planted on the two leads of Ralph and Vanellope. This is sad considering Fix-It Felix Jr. (Jack McBrayer) and Sgt. Calhoun (Jane Lynch), both of whom carried a good part of the plot before, were merely shifted into the background with a secondary plotline involving raising videogame character children that gets resolved off-screen.
But if this was the only part that managed to drag the experience, then the rest can be considered to have done their parts well. If “Wreck-It Ralph” was Disney’s love letter to the gaming community, then “Ralph Breaks the Internet” is their subtle dig, plus light commentary, plus heartwarming affirmation for the internet, its memes, and Disney’s own nigh over-bloated media umbrella. One can appreciate the CG-animated cameos of internet celebrities here and there, as well as the first posthumous appearance of the late Marvel Entertainment legend Stan Lee. I cannot say if the film did break the internet, but ultimately it matters not.
Image courtesy of Roger

Film Legend JULIE ANDREWS Revealed Part of “AQUAMAN” Supporting Cast

On December, Warner Bros. Pictures and DC Entertainment return to their DC Extended Universe superhero franchise after last year’s epic team movie “Justice League”. This time, it returns to focusing on a solo primary hero as Jason Momoa reprises his role as the super-strong guy who can talk to fish in “Aquaman”. The film delves into the titular hero’s origin as a human-Atlantean half-breed who could potentially unite the underwater inhabitants of Atlantis and the surface-world humans. Momoa is back by a formidable cast himself, but there is also one legendary actress in play here, personally unseen but heard clearly.
Entertainment Weekly has it that Warner-DC has revealed the involvement of veteran actress Julie Andrews in “Aquaman”, coming out next month. Her role is to provide the voice for Karathen, a mysterious deep-sea creature who may be the key that Arthur Curry/Aquaman (Jason Momoa) needs to convince the Atlanteans and surface-worlders to work together against the planned conquest by his half-brother Orm the Ocean Master (Patrick Wilson). The film’s producer Peter Safran explains the casting of Andrews for a superhero flick. “We wanted the Karathen to have the voice of a classic British actress, albeit somewhat digitally altered,” Safran says. “And when we found out Julie was interested and available and excited to do it, casting her was a no-brainer.”
Julie Andrews is easily considered one of the royalty figures of the global motion pictures industry, easily remembered because of her role as Maria von Trapp in “The Sound of Music”. Despite losing her distinctive singing voice following a botched operation in 1997, she continued appearing in films in the 2000s such as “The Princess Diaries” and going into voice work such as for the “Shrek” sequels and Universal Pictures’ “Despicable Me 3”. Though she has not been in a major movie for around the past 10 years, she did appear on Netflix in the preschool educational show “Julie’s Greenroom”.
The timing of Andrews’ reveal as part of the “Aquaman” cast is also notable, considering that the DCEU movie is premiering in the same part of December as Disney’s distant sequel “Mary Poppins Returns”, starring Emily Blunt in the role of the titular nanny that was originated by Andrews herself in the 1964 original. Andrews already said she would not appear in the sequel in any role (unlike her costar Dick Van Dyke) in order not to draw too much attention from Blunt. But Peter Safran cheekily notes, “Who knew that Aquaman would have the real Mary Poppins this Christmas?”
“Aquaman” premieres December 21 in theaters, but will also have an advance screening for Amazon Prime members on December 15.
Image from Comic Book Movie

Friday, November 23, 2018

APPLE Resumes Making iPHONE X Due to LOW XS/Max/XR Sales

Last September, Apple made plain that their long and storied iPhone line of mobile devices will continue off from 2017’s iPhone X, when they announced its successors the iPhone XS (and XS Max phablet); a more entry-budget variant, the iPhone XR, arrived the following month. In doing this, they also cut short the production life of the original X, after just 10 months being the iPhone “anniversary” variant to the iPhone 8’s. Unfortunately for Apple, it seems their regular buyer-users do not see much need yet for an iPhone XS yet. This has led Apple to resume manufacturing the X.
The Verge reports that Apple has deemed it necessary to once again start making more of the first X-line iPhone following its discontinuation in September, due to the slow sales numbers of its successor XS, XS Max and XR models due to low demand. It had gotten so bad that Apple has slashed their production orders for the new iPhones. The XR variant in particular has been struggling despite its introduction as a budget option for consumers, due to their finding an even more affordable choice in the iPhone 8 instead, which is now priced lower and remains in stock.
One more factor in Apple’s decision to resume manufacture of the pioneer iPhone X was due to an agreement with one of its major parts suppliers, Korean electronics giant Samsung, in the purchase of a set number of OLED screens. With the curtailing of production for the OLED-equipped current-generation iPhone XS, Apple is instead looking to make use of its remaining OLED components in the iPhone X which used it as well. In addition, even the X’s less-than-a-year age is enough to cheapen the cost of its other parts and components, allowing Apple to perhaps recoup its XS low-demand losses.
An update on sales figures for the XR in overseas markets like Japan illustrates with sobriety just how the next-generation iPhone X’s were floundering for lack of buyers. Japanese phone carriers that offer the XR for instance, are now being offered subsidies by Apple so they could lower the prices more. Yet even so, Japanese iPhone regulars feel they can keep to their smartphone budget by relying on the still plentiful stocks of the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus phablet.
Whether the reinvigorated iPhone X run will become available in as many countries as possible cannot be determined. What seems certain is that Apple will send the new manufactured units to resellers and mobile carriers rather than offer these on their own stores. For instance Amazon, recently authorized online retailer for Apple, has an iPhone X listing with a Simple Mobile plan, priced at $899.
Image courtesy of Phone Arena


Disney is all out to make sure that they dominate the cinematic scene for 2019. Whether it comes from its distinct subsidiaries like Marvel and Lucasfilm, or with its own production studios, the House of Mouse has everything covered: superhero films, space opera, animated movies and live-action adaptations of their older animated features. No less than three of them are premiering in theaters next year, all of them a mix of live-action and CGI characters in one blend or another. This thanksgiving, the first trailer for arguably the most popular and anticipated among them was finally shared to the world.
Variety reports that Disney dropped the initial trailer for their live-action remake of “The Lion King” to make a wonderful Thanksgiving present for their fans. It was first aired during the NFL Thanksgiving Day Game with the Dallas Cowboys, after which it was then uploaded for online streaming. What awaited viewers was a wonderful extravaganza of familiar vistas and sequences, long burned into the memories of Disney fans that saw the original animated film back in 1994, almost 25 years ago. And it would be a full quarter century by the time its adaptation premieres.
A lot of sequences were replicated in familiar, but not totally identical fashion: the iconic African Serengeti sunrise, the animals turning to the light and marching under the majesty of Kilimanjaro. All the while James Earl Jones in voiceover, reprising his role of King Mufasa, echoes one of his lectures to his son Simba, as a herd of wildebeest stampede down a gorge in a foreboding omen. What follows is the other unforgettable element of “The Lion King”, the movie version of the theme song “Circle of Life”, while the trailer shows baby Simba being blessed by Rafiki the baboon and presented to the kingdom.
Longtime Disney collaborator Jon Favreau, who has directed the first two “Iron Man” (2008, 2010) films and the live-action “Jungle Book” adaptation (2016) returns to the helm of this Disney feature, which comprises CGI work to make photorealistic animals “talk” (and to animate the more intense animal sequences like the stampede). Also returning from the animated original are score composer Hans Zimmer and singing-songwriting legend Elton John, who will have assistance from Beyoncé Knowles-Carter on the featured musical numbers.
Beyoncé also stars opposite Donald Glover’s Simba as Nala, with James Earl Jones, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner, Chiwetel Ejiofor, John Oliver, John Kani and Alfre Woodward rounding out the all-star cast. “The Lion King” arrives in cinemas on July 19, 2019.
Image courtesy of Hollywood Reporter

Thursday, November 22, 2018

GOOGLE ASSISTANT Now Works on iPHONE with Custom SIRI Shortcut

In the age of the smartphone one action has become a common sight: users talking to their phones and devices and asking them to do some task or other. This is the function of the virtual assistant, software agents that interpret vocal commands into functions to activate tasks, usually accompanied by a female voice. This has seen the rise of Siri on iPhones, Cortana on Windows, and Google Assistant which answers to the summons of “Ok, Google”. As a Google app, Google Assistant can also be downloaded for use on Apple iPhones, and even be configured for activation via Siri.
Tech Crunch has it that the latest update on the iOS version of Google Assistant can now be launched courtesy of an iPhone’s own in-house virtual assistant Siri. This is not an automatic feature however, and can only be utilized by means of recording a “Siri Shortcut”, or custom command for Siri to have her open up some app or feature on the phone that its default command library does not cover. Upon activating the updated Google Assistant, it will facilitate the input of a new Siri Shortcut for itself. For example, you can set to activate the Assistant by saying “Hey Siri, Ok Google”.
At least, that is the recommended phrase by Google for their Assistant app, carried over from its available version on the competing Android smartphones. Still, in programming the needed Siri Shortcut a user can change the command to anything else (but must have “Google” in it to be registered properly). So with a spoken “Hey Siri, Ok Google” to one’s iPhone with Google Assistant installed, the user need only wait for the app itself to open up, before starting to make a request or query. Already though, the notion that two “competing” virtual assistants can be stringed together like that is drawing some chuckles online.
The Google Assistant was initially launched in 2016 as part and parcel of two systems, the Allo messaging app and the Google Home smart speaker. It has since been developed into an app all its own, accepting input in “natural voice” and keyboard input. While praised as being potentially more intelligent in interpreting commands than Siri and Cortana, as well as the older Google Now feature of the Google Search app for mobile, it has also been bashed for its poor privacy levels, encouraging users to enable its tracking of web and app activity, translated to tracking browser history, GPS location and credit card purchases.
Image courtesy of The Verge


Filipinos who were in the prime of their youth during the 1990s in the Philippines would be proud to claim that they listed, while growing up, to the awesome alternative tunes of the four-man rock band the Eraserheads. In particular, they may recall hearing from the underground music scene during the early part of that decade, the tunes that would comprise their debut studio album, titled in tribute to popular 1970s robot anime “Voltes V”. That album was officially released in 1993; now, half a century later, long-established fans and new inductees can once again listen to “Ultraelectromagneticpop!”, but better-quality.
CNN Philippines tells us that a re-mastered edition of the Eraserheads’ first album “Ultraelectromagneticpop!” is due to be released to a still-very appreciative audience going into the weekend. This was revealed in Tuesday, November 20, by the band’s front-man Ely Buendia on his Instagram page. He had posted a new take on the original album cover, now with “25th Anniversary” added under the name to signify the time that has passed from 1993 to 2018. He was joined on social media by band-mates Raimund Marasigan and Buddy Zabala, who posted photos of their Converse sneakers worn on their original album art, now worn with age.

American Audio engineer and Grammy winner Bernie Grundman was in charge of re-mastering the magnificent tunes of the Eraserheads in “Ultraelectromagneticpop!” which includes many familiar songs that have been part of many Filipinos’ lives in the nineties: “Ligaya”, “Tindahan ni Aling Nena”, and the one of the Pinoy teens’ anthems for that decade “Pare Ko”. “Relive the memories of this groundbreaking Filipino music milestone,” wrote Buendia on his Instagram photo caption, and where he and the rest of the Eraserheads are concerned, that would not be a difficult thing to do by their many fans.

The four then-youths who would become the Eraserheads – lead vocalist-rhythm guitarist Ely Buendia, lead guitarist Marcus Adoro, bassist Buddy Zabala, and drummer Raimund Marasigan – came together in UP Diliman on the last year of the 1980s. Starting with covers, they went on to popular original material that would later go into a series of albums for almost every year of the nineties, even managing international releases that earned them fame outside the Philippines, receiving awards including one from MTV.

Perhaps no Filipino is ignorant of their compositions, easily playing and singing lyrics from “Fruitcakes”, “Ang Huling El Bimbo” and more. Officially the band broke up in the 2000s and has only come together for reunion performances and tours since, but fans may be under the impression that nothing has changed.
“Ultraelectromagneticpop!” 25th Anniversary re-master will be released digitally on Spotify and other major music streaming platforms this Friday, November 23.
Image courtesy of GMA Network

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Upcoming DCEU Superhero FILM Gets KOOKY Official “HARLEY QUINN” Subtitle

When DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Pictures brought out their third installment to the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) of superhero films, at first glance it felt like a risky gamble. After all, “Suicide Squad” is about an ad hoc team of incarcerated super-villains being deployed as a deniable-asset black-ops team by a corrupt government liaison, in exchange for sentence reductions. Still, it managed to overcome negative reviews and run wild at the box office thanks to the performance of its main cast, particularly Australian actress Margot Robbie who plays violent anti-heroine Harley Quinn. With her next DCEU film appearance coming soon, she has cheekily revealed that future movie’s full title.
As The Hollywood Reporter tells it, the eighth feature film chapter of the DCEU, slated to premiere in 2020 under the name “Birds of Prey”, did not have its complete title revealed just yet. Its current name is already the title of a long-running DC Comic book about an all-female team of vigilantes related to Batman, who also operate in Gotham City. It happens that Margot Robbie is part of the cast reprising has Harley Quinn, similar to her comic-book version in the past. And she just revealed that “Bird of Prey” has a subtitle.
In an Instagram post she shared with a photo of her film script, Robbie had written, under the typed “Birds of Prey” title, the addition “and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn”. Following the media buzz, it was confirmed by DC-Warner to THR that it is indeed the official full title of the film. Robbie in fact is taking the lead role as Harley, assembling a team of costumed lady vigilantes – Cassandra Cain (Ella Jay Basco), Black Canary (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and Huntress (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) – to take on crime boss Black Mask (Ewan McGregor).
The subtitle mentioning “emancipation” for Harley Quinn is a reference to the character’s DC Comics history. Created in the 1990s as a female sidekick/girlfriend for Batman’s archenemy Joker, Harley (formerly psychiatrist Dr. Harleen Quinzel) was eventually reinvented as an independent character in the 2010s, after highlighting in storylines that Joker was an abusive and manipulative lover to her over the years. Writers have since built up Harley as a solo antiheroic figure that became a breakout popular character under the DC brand. Her emancipation in terms of her DCEU version would likely come from how she would act in “Birds of Prey” following “Suicide Squad”.
“Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of Harley Quinn)” is to be produced by Sue Kroll and directed by Cathy Yan on a Christina Hodson screenplay. It is due to release in February 2020. Meanwhile, DCEU films “Aquaman” starring Jason Momoa, and “Shazam!” starring Zachary Levi, premiere respectively on December 21 and April 2019.
Image courtesy of Slash Film

International RTA Furniture Giant IKEA Opening MASSIVE STORE in Philippines

When it comes to affordable furniture that is ready to assemble (RTA), perhaps only one name stands above the rest in most of the world: IKEA. Founded in 1943 by a Swedish carpenter, it became something of a global leader in the development of furniture that could be assembled and taken apart easily as needed, as well as offering a variety of kitchenware, appliances and home accessories. With over 400 stores in 50 countries, IKEA is totally a recognizable brand, and pretty soon, Filipinos will get to know too with the upcoming opening of its first, and huge, IKEA store.
CNN Philippines has it that IKEA will indeed be making its first footprint in the Philippines sometime in the year 2020. This was revealed by Swedish Ambassador to the Philippines Harald Fries during the media launch of IKEA Philippines, which will partner with SM Holdings to set up its first shop at the Mall of Asia, with construction already underway between the MOA Arena and the SMX Convention Center. And what a grand debut in the country it will be.
The IKEA Store will be housed in a new extension linked to the main mall, with store space, warehouse, ecommerce infrastructure and call center under one roof, occupying 65,000 square meters in all. That means the first IKEA Philippines store will be the size of about 200 basketball courts in floor area, making it potentially the new biggest IKEA in the world. According to IKEA Southeast Asia development manager Georg Platzer, the upcoming store will follow the usual mold of the global RTA chain, emphasizing a “democratic” design prevalent in their knockdown furniture: function, form, quality, sustainability, and low price. “We would like many people to afford it,” says Platzer, saying IKEA products serve to “help everyone live better lives”.
In a similar way perhaps as the Amazon HQ2 initiative that has recently been announced for Long Island City, New York and Arlington, northern Virginia, the first IKEA Philippines store is expected to bring new employment opportunities for local residents. No less than 500 openings are being eyed by the company to work in the store, and that does not include additional personnel for logistics, waste management, banking, transportation and more, all of which will be filled by local partners.
Georg Platzer is fully confident in the economic growth of the Philippines, along with plenty of housing and condo residents needing RTA furniture, to push for IKEA including the country in its worldwide market. He remarks, “It’s a super fast developing country and it’s about the right timing for Ikea to be part of it.”
Image courtesy of ABS-CBN News

Tuesday, November 20, 2018


Ever since the venerable real-time strategy game “Warcraft III” from Blizzard Entertainment gave rise to the mod game entitled “Defense of the Ancients”, it ushered in a new genre of networked online play called the mobile online battle arena (MOBA), where two teams engage in RTS combat to eventually reach and destroy the opposing base structure. Among the first “original” MOBA titles to emerge in the scene was “League of Legends” by Riot Games, which became rather popular because of its play modes and an eclectic collection of playable characters.
But while the backstories of the characters, a weird mix of fantasy warrior types and steam-punk or contemporary battlers, have been fascinating reads, a general plotline for the game setting has been rather lacking. That is why, according to The Verge, Riot Games is turning to a major comic book publisher for help in fleshing out its in-game lore. And they are going straight to one of the best: Marvel Entertainment. The two companies have already put their heads together to develop a major introduction to the in-depth universe of “League of Legends”, by means of a graphic novel set to come out May 2019.
By that it means a printed collection, but the graphic novel, entitled “League of Legends – Ashe: Warmother” is going to start with a digital format launch in December. The story will be written by Riot Games’ senior narrative designer Odin Austin Shafer, with “Heavy Vinyl” creator Nina Vakeuva doing the artwork. It will follow the origins of the titular Ashe, a Frost Archer (one of the initial-release 40 characters) from the game, and her life in the icy regions of Freljord, and how she first ventured out into the larger world to save her people.
Marvel Editor-in-Chief CB Cebulski said in a statement that franchise collaborations like this one with Riot Games are something of an old hand with their company. Back in the 1980s they worked with Hasbro to create a new storyline for the re-launch of military action figure line “G.I.Joe”, which led to the iconic “special missions force vs. terrorist organization” plot used in the Sunbow-produced animated series and its various successors. For their part, Riot Games development head Greg Street says they hope to conceptualize three variants of “LOL” comics with Marvel: origin stories like Ashe’s, narrative-advancing plots, and alternate-universe one-shots.
Other major game companies that have found success in comic-book adaptations of their universes include Blizzard’s “Overwatch” courtesy of Dark Horse Comics, and “Injustice” from NetherRealm Studios/WB Interactive, via DC.
Image courtesy of Hollywood Reporter