Friday, March 29, 2019

TNT BOYS Discuss School Life amidst Busy Schedule, VOCAL PUBERTY

Years ago, when Canadian wonder-teen Justin Bieber first broke into the music scene, fans were very taken by his singing voice: a curious blend of a child but with intense vocalizing power. Filipino music fans can understand that feeling with a more recent singing act, the TNT Boys. With their impressive lungs, the trio of kid’s reality singing competition veterans took the world by storm through later show appearances such as this year’s “The World’s Best” on CBS. But all child singers must pass a milestone in their lives. The Justin Bieber of today no longer sounds like the one who belted out “Baby” in 2010. The same is also coming to pass for the TNT Boys as of now.
CNN Philippines’ The Source” had a chance to interview Keifer Sanchez, Mackie Empuerto and Francis Concepcion of the TNT Boys this Friday, March 29. Among the topics discussed with the news network were their current educational arrangements owing to their busy performing schedule, as well as the onset of vocal evolution in their voices brought on by puberty. The boys were especially popular with fans due to their immense range enabling them to cover power ballads and similar songs from pop divas the world over.
But as Mackie puts it, the more they sing in that fashion, the more they are starting to experience some difficulty in holding the notes. “It’s a bit challenging for me because we’re still singing high notes while my voice (goes deeper) now that I’m undergoing puberty,” he says. To this Keifer adds that their constant belting on stage also carries health risks. “Sometimes it’s uncomfortable when I belt out high notes,” He notes, “because sometimes we get coughs.” The boys also remark that at times they have felt un-well following performances, such as during “The World’s Best” last month.
On the matter of continuing their education despite the grueling regimen they go through, Mackie, Keifer and Francis state that they are being home-schooled at present, after almost considering dropping out of school. That never came to pass after their parents and social media fans encouraged them to stay. They also tend to spend their time between singing practice and performances studying. Currently, Francis is now Grade 5, Mackie Grade 7, and Keifer Grade 8.
Mackie Empuerto feels that of the three of them in the group, his puberty has had the greatest effect on his voice so far. Nevertheless, he is finding some workarounds to the tonal shift thanks to techniques being taught them all by their vocal coach. “I can still fight it,” Mackie confidently declares, turning to his fellow TNT Boys before adding, “I hope that they can fight it as well.”
Image courtesy of Inquirer Entertainment


When it comes to international air travel, the quality of an airport can mean a great deal in measuring the experience of travelers, from occasional and seasonal tourists to regular sky-hoppers. Said quality has determined in many elements of the airport: location, design aesthetics, facilities, amenities, efficiency of service, and a myriad of other criteria. Scoring high marks on all these is vital for airports that happen to be international travel hubs, and being awarded as the best of the best is a sought-after honor. Singapore’s Changi Airport has been ruling the roost in the prominent global airport rankings, and this year is no different.
Travel and Leisure reports that Skytrax, a UK-based airline and airport review and ranking consultancy, has uploaded its 2019 edition of the World Airport Awards. To regular travelers who keep up with statistics such as these, they will not be surprised to learn that Changi Airport in Singapore has topped the world ranking once again. That would make it seven straight years in a row for them now. This rank placing according to Skytrax jives with Travel and Leisure’s own airport ranking list from 2018.
Skytrax, originally Inflight Research Services, determines its annual world airport ranking through the record opinion of travellers participating in a global customer satisfaction survey that they source their data from. It is an honor Changi Airport rightly deserves, with the impressive facilities and featured within their expansive complex: cinemas, swimming pools and even a vibrant butterfly garden that never fails to amaze the never-ending parade of travelers arriving and departing from its four massive terminals. And one can assume that Singapore’s iconic air hub will ace the 2020 Skytrax ranking as well, what with the seven-story Jewel indoor garden complex scheduled to open two weeks after the Ranking was publicized.
The Changi Jewel garden, enclosed by an impressive framed-glass dome, is said to house the largest varied collection of plants in Singapore, tastefully laid out in a multi-tiered urban forest setting, where a hotel and nearly 300 different shops are arranged around the Rain Vortex, which is being touted as the world’s biggest indoor artificial waterfall. At 130 feet tall, that boast could well be confirmed by Guinness World Records. The Jewel will serve as a sheltered “connecting area” that can be reached from Terminals 1 through 3. Interestingly, its YOTELAIR Hotel also has 130 rooms where passengers will also be able to check in their bags before their flights.
Of Skytrax’s Top Ten world’s best airports for 2019, seven are from Asia. Following Singapore Changi are Tokyo Haneda (2), Seoul Incheon (3), Doha Hamad (4), Hong Kong (5), Centrair Nagoya (6), and Tokyo Narita (9). Munich (7), London Heathrow (8) and Zurich (10) fill out the Top Ten list.
Image courtesy of Business Insider

Thursday, March 28, 2019


The focus of Filipino beauty pageant followers right now might be on current Miss Universe title-holder Catriona Gray, but never far from their hearts is the Australian-Filipina’s “predecessor,” the 2015 Miss Universe Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach. She did, after all, finally break the long Miss Universe drought for the Philippines, after Margarita Moran won way back in 1973. Since that momentous occasion over three years ago, Pia has engaged in various activities, from acting, to contest judging (“Asia’s Next Top Model: Cycle 5” and Miss Universe 2017), and humanitarian advocate. Many accolades have been granted to her, the latest being her own Madame Tussauds wax statue.
CNN Philippines has it that Madame Tussauds Hong Kong has finally unveiled their wax statue rendition of Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach. Commenters who have seen the image on social media are mostly in agreement that the wax museum has captured the beauty queen’s likeness accurately. The statue shows Pia as from the 2016 Miss Universe pageant held in Manila, where she passed on her crown to that year’s winner, Miss France Iris Mittenaire. Pia also posed with the statue, which is depicted holding a replica Mikimoto Crown, as if to put in on the head of somebody in front.
Other details of the wax statue were faithfully copied from Pia’s appearance over two years ago. The beauty queen reveals that Michael Cinco, who designed the blue evening gown she wore for the 2016 Miss Universe coronation night, actually went and duplicated the garment to be worn by the wax statue. It is, as expected, a perfect fit on the body, as Pia recalls how it had taken the Madame Tussauds Hong Kong design team four hours to fully measure her dimensions for the project.

The official Madame Tussaud’s Hong Kong Instagram page featured more photos of Pia Wurtzbach and her wax double from the unveiling held at the EDSA Shangri-La. Tussaud’s billed her statue as the first for a Filipino. She even went as far as putting on her original Michael Cinco gown and accessories to fully sell the twin effect, with her and the statue being almost indistinguishable from one another. Also included in the photos are Madame Tussauds general manager (HK) Jenny You, plus representatives from the wax museum’s sponsor Cathay Pacific. On her Instagram account, Pia thanked her family and all Filipinos for their unfailing support before, during and even after her time as Miss Universe.

Pia’s Madame Tussauds wax statue will be exhibited to the public for a limited time at the SM Megamall Mega Fashion Hall starting this Friday.
Image courtesy of GMA Network

MICHAEL DE MESA Directing Tonight’s Episode of ABS-CBN’s “ANG PROBINSYANO”

ABS-CBN’s top primetime teleserye “Ang Probinsyano” is now being touted as one of the longest-running TV soap operas today. Based on the film starring the late Fernando Poe Jr. the teleserye with Coco Martin has seen the lead character go from police officer to fugitive to rebel to vigilante in his 6-season quest for justice against organized crime, corrupt police, terrorists and national dictatorships. Fans even half-seriously predict the network extending the show to last until at least 2048. Its longevity has also proven a great platform for Filipino actors to return to the spotlight, like Michael De Mesa who has “graduated” from supporting cast to behind the scenes too.
ABS-CBN News tells that Michael De Mesa has been especially privileged to be given the chance to steer the March 28 episode of “Ang Probinsyano” from the director’s chair. Having originally come on board the production in 2016 as a guest star, De Mesa’s role has since been extended to the point that he has recurring appearances up to the latest story arc of season 6. Now, he actually gets to direct an episode himself, especially with the running storyline having reached a critical point.

On his official Instagram page, De Mesa expressed how honored he was to be put by ABS-CBN to direct the latest episode of “Ang Probinsyano” airing Thursday night. His follow-up also seems to indicate that the network may have elected to assign him several future episodes as well. If that is the case, De Mesa will be joining the pool of 11 other directors who have overseen the direction of the popular, award-winning and well-cited action teleserye. This includes the star Coco Martin himself, who is credited on-screen by his birth name of Rodel Nacianceno. Other names include Enzo Williams, filmmaker for the 2014 historical film “Bonifacio: Ang Unang Pangulo.”
On-screen, Michael De Mesa plays “Manager” Ramil Taduran, a criminal figure who befriended Cardo while he was framed for corruption by the Tuazon crime family, and eventually follows him to form the vigilante group Vendetta.
At present, the story arc of “Ang Probinsyano” sees Ricardo Dalisay (Coco Martin) and his fellow vigilantes of Vendetta being forced to accelerate their plans to overthrow Philippine President and criminal underworld patron Lucas Cabrera (Edu Manzano). This is following the death of Presidential son Brandon (Mark Anthony Fernandez) at Vendetta’s hands, which has spurred Lucas to expand his manhunt of Cardo to include his family, friends and acquaintances regardless of innocent bystanders and collateral damage.
Recently, the Vendetta have finally put down the ambitious hired terrorist Homer “Alakdan” (Jhong Hilario), and are moving on to strike at Lucas himself during the state funeral for Brandon. Lucas however has prepared a trap during the event with a militarily-equipped private army. “Ang Probinsyano” airs weekday nights following “TV Patrol” on ABS-CBN.
Image from mdemesa24 on Instagram

Wednesday, March 27, 2019


In 1979 a 20th Century Fox sci-fi horror film starring Sigourney Weaver became a box office hit and a codifier of the survival horror sub-genre in space. “Alien,” directed by top-rank filmmaker Ridley Scott was also commended for its set design and special effects work that went into the titular alien, which eventually became one of Hollywood’s most recognizable movie monsters. Forty years later, and with plenty of sequels, prequels and other related media under its belt, the “Alien” franchise was pleasantly surprised at just how permeated their intellectual property is with people, if a high school musical adaptation is any indicator of mass appeal.
That was no fake news. Entertainment Weekly reports that over the weekend the intrepid drama club students of North Bergen High School in New Jersey has staged a two-night run of their stage adaptation of “Alien.” With a sufficiently convincing sci-fi spaceship stage setting and a mind-blowing full costume of the monstrous Xenomorph alien from the film, “Alien: The Play” has wowed not only its audience of parents and teachers, but also outside observers and Hollywood itself once videos of the production started spreading on social media. North Bergen even made a trailer for it.
One major plus for the “Alien: The Play” stage production was the fact that all materials used for props and setting were literally taken from the trash, in a magnificent example of recycling for art. “This is going to sound really funny but (the set crew used) garbage essentially,” remarked North Bergen High senior Justin Pierson, who was on the stage play’s sound crew. “Just anything that was lying around like cardboard and metal.” From the reactions posted on social media by those who watched the production this past Saturday and Sunday, one would think they had a Broadway-level budget.
Having North Bergen High School adapt Ridley Scott’s “Alien” for the stage was the brainchild of their drama teacher Perfecto Cuervo. Working with the movie screenplay, Cuervo devoted two months’ worth of evenings and weekends to create the 1-hour and 40-minute treatment used by his drama club students. And with the praise from the official “Alien” franchise Twitter account, one cannot help but think a theatrical outfit might try bringing “Alien: The Play” to Broadway eventually. It is not a musical, but it makes for some very intense horror drama coupled with practical stage effects. You never know for sure.
Image from New York Times

JUSTIN BIEBER Leaves Music Scene for HIATUS; Addressing “ISSUES,” MARRIAGE

It really is very difficult to be a recording artist. It gets even worse if you become a star, and more so if your audience reception turns rather divisive. When you are equally loved by your fans and disparaged by detractors to the point that your life becomes a meme, it does feel hard. Nowhere is this truer than in the life and career of Justin Bieber. A lot has happened between his first online videos as a kid with a guitar, to an adorable young idol, to a troubled celebrity. When you want out of that life for a while, it is quite understandable.
And that is why, according to CNN, Justin Bieber announced on social media that he is taking time out from making more music. The message, a rather lengthy post on his Instagram page dated Monday, March 25, laid out that he needed to get away from the scene to look after both his own well-being and his recent marriage to model and TV personality Hailey Baldwin. He did however leave an assurance that he has not retired, and that he will return with a new album after putting his personal and private affairs in order.

Bieber’s Instagram entry noted on the sheer quantity of social media messages to him from fans regarding when he might release a new album following 2015’s “Purpose.” In a long ramble he recounted how he has been an active performer at a young age. “I’ve toured my whole teenage life, and early 20s,” he said, adding that his fans may have noticed his comparative lack of enthusiasm on the “Purpose” tour which ended short of its full run two years ago. “I want my career to be sustainable, but I also want my mind heart and soul to be sustainable.”
For the moment, Justin Bieber explains that he must focus on “deep rooted issues” he currently has so that he does not “fall apart” for his own sake and that of his marriage to Baldwin. He notes that “Music is very important to me but, “Nothing comes before my family and my health.” Nevertheless he made a bold promise that he will be back with an album when his rest is complete, adding that his “swag” is undeniable and drive so indescribable that he could never stay away for long.
Drawing on his Christian upbringing which he shares with his wife, Bieber signed off with: “The top is where I reside period whether I make music or not the king said so…but I will come with a vengeance believe that.”
Image from Consequence of Sound

Summer 2019 to See Possible NEW VARIANTS of NINTENDO SWITCH

In video-gaming history, Japanese company Nintendo is known for two achievements. First, their Family Computer/NES console significantly restored the reputation of home gaming computers following the 1981 “Videogame Crash.” Next, Nintendo showed resilience and determination to remain relevant and innovative even when showed up by their competitors. Against Sega’s Genesis, they countered with the SNES. When Sony’s PS2 and 3, and Microsoft’s Xbox 360, were the market leaders, Nintendo answered with the revolutionary Wii. And in 2017 they made up for their dismal Wii U follow-up by releasing the hybrid console-portable system the Switch. Two years later, the company is hinting at variants of it.
The Verge reports that as early as summer of this year, Nintendo will be introducing two alternate versions of their runaway hit Switch game system. According to the product announcement, the new Switches will function as sort of varied-capability variants of the basic Switch that hit the market March 2017. One is said to be a more affordable model with some features cropped, while the other is a high-end alternative that ups the basic system performance. In a way, this is a method similar to the latest smartphone releases of certain manufacturers, which come with a basic unit, a high-performance unit and an entry-level unit, all with appropriate pricing ranges.
Specific differences of the planned upcoming Switch models are scant at the moment, particularly in what they Nintendo has chosen to add or subtract from the basic. What has been shared is that the economy-version Switch might have its Joy-con vibration features removed, as an example of cost-cutting measures to justify a lowered price. The other variant’s hardware/software improvements are vaguer, with the word only that it packs “enhanced features targeted at avid video gamers.”
These low-end and high-end variations on the normal Nintendo Switch is part of the company strategy laid out by Nintendo president Shuntaro Furukawa, the better to entice more gamers to try the celebrated hybrid game system. “Going forward, we aim to generate such demand among consumers as they feel like ‘I want to have my own Nintendo Switch console’ through measures such as software offerings,” Furukawa had said in February. “Not necessarily so that each person will have one, but so that each household will have multiple Nintendo Switch consoles.”
For gamers wondering when in 2019 the other Nintendo Switches might be unveiled, the likeliest occasion has been pegged as the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) this year, which will be held from June 11 to 13. The new variants will presumably hit the market a few months after their introduction.
Image from The Daily Star

CONOR MCGREGOR RETIRING Anew from MMA According to Social Media

Casual followers of the mixed martial arts (MMA) scene would at least have knowledge of some of the biggest names in the intense and violent sport. One might recall Ronda Rousey, who was the household name for women’s MMA prior to joining the WWE (and playing Sonya Blade in “Mortal Kombat 11”). The same goes for the likes of Conor McGregor with the men; he is ninth in the UFC pound-for-pound rankings, and he is remembered with varying degrees for his 2017 pro boxing debut against Floyd Mayweather Jr. His MMA career is easily described as storied. And like Ronda Rousey, he may be seriously leaving the sport as well.
ABS-CBN Sports would have it that UFC fighter extraordinaire Conor McGregor may have just announced his retirement from MMA on social media. A “quick announcement” post on his official Twitter page dated March 26 would have it that he has made a decision to leave “the sport formally known as ‘Mixed Martial Art’ this early Tuesday. He adds that he wishes his old colleagues well as they continue in competition, even as he joins his “former partners in the venture” who have retired before him.
Granted, this is not exactly the first time the now-aged 30 Irish fighter suddenly sounded that he was leaving MMA. The first time he did so was in 2016. He termed it as wishing to “retire young” following a loss one month prior to Nate Diaz. That decision lasted barely a day when he got into an argument with his promoters regarding a rematch with Diaz. It went through and McGregor won their next encounter, spurring the former to carry on in the UFC, even as quirky stunts like his fight with Mayweather and embarrassing run-ins with the law began to overshadow his MMA career.
Conor McGregor moved from featherweight to welterweight through his time in mixed martial arts, debuting on the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2013. In 25 total professional fights he won 21 -18 by knockout and one by submission, the same manner by which he suffered his 4 losses. As a boxer he only fought once against Floyd Mayweather Jr., after which he had a UFC hiatus until returning in fall of 2018. In October of that year he lost to Khabib Nurmagomedov and got a fine and six-month suspension when he caused a post-match brawl. Following an arrest in Florida this early March, it seemed McGregor really needed to fade from the public for some time.
Image courtesy of Sky Sports