Tuesday, April 30, 2019


On January 7 of 1989, upon the death of his father Hirohito, then-Crown Prince Akihito became Emperor of Japan, the 125th of a traditionally unbroken dynasty that began according to legend more than 2,000 years before the birth of Christ. He was considered suitably prepared for his ascension. The Japanese people were endeared to him when he married a commoner, his Empress Michiko. The economy of his country at the time was also strong, a worthy inheritance. On the last day of April 2019, after a 31-year reign, Emperor Akihito can retire as he desired, as he begins his ceremonial abdication to his son Naruhito.
CNN reports that as of Tuesday, April 30, the ceremonial procedures for the 85-year-old Emperor Akihito of Japan has begun. This is the scheduled last day of his period of reign which was titled the Heisei Era, with the reign of his son and heir Naruhito set to begin the following day, May 1. But first, the current Emperor must first perform the Taiirei-Seiden-no-gi, a ritual announcement of his resignation from the Chrysanthemum Throne of Japan, at which point he will receive an audience of representatives from his government and the people one last time in his dignity as monarch.
For Akihito this has been too long a time coming. Medical complications coming with the ravages of his advancing age had spurred him to actively seek a means to step down as Emperor. This was not provided for in the Imperial Household Law which governs how imperial transitions work. Public outcry for his well-being on account of his public address led the Japanese government to issue a one-off bill that would allow him to abdicate to his son. Upon Naruhito becoming Emperor, Hirohito will be known as a Daijo Tenno/Joko, or “retired emperor,” the first for Japan in two centuries.
Born in 1933, Akihito was still a child when the defeat of expansionist Japan in World War II saw the Imperial Family lose fortune, political power and even the traditional reverence of divinity. Growing up he was seized with a vision of bringing the Emperor’s household closer to the people. His 1959 “love match” marriage to commoner Michiko Shoda, whom he famously first met at a tennis court, was a step in that direction. Akihito got to demonstrate validity in his intent to be the “people’s Emperor” when he and Empress Michiko visited refugees of the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, something the beneficiaries treasured.
Once the pertinent ceremonies of the day are concluded at the end of April, Akihito will be considered retired and the Heisei Era at an end. Naruhito will be acclaimed as Emperor the next day, beginning his reign era of Reiwa, with a formal enthronement ceremony scheduled for October 22.
Image courtesy of The Mainichi


Another Sunday means another episode has run of the precious total of six for the final season of “Game of Thrones,” HBO’s most prominent money-maker for this past decade. Viewers who followed the show whether from its 2011 premiere or from its literary basis of the unfinished novel series by George R.R. Martin, tend to love it for brutally subverting storyline narratives like ruining the “good guys” while villains thrived. This eighth and final season has built up an existential zombie apocalypse hanging over the competing factions for the Iron Throne, which only sets up a major subversion once the episode “The Long Night” finishes.
For background, the so-called Long Night is the legendary battle from the dawn of civilization on Westeros where ancient men and Children of the Forest fought against the ice-humanoid White Walkers and their army of undead wights. It was supposed to be the reason the ice-made Wall was built afterwards. The White Walkers have indeed returned (as seen in the later seasons) and they destroyed the Wall in the finale of the penultimate season. Now the cold invasion is doing a number in the North, where the largest concentration of forces hostile to the Mad Queen Cersei have gathered, forcing them to deal with it.
Following the build-up from the premiere and episode 2, “The Long Night” sees happening what is probably the biggest large-scale battle ever choreographed on “Game of Thrones” production history. While experts on medieval battle tactics may cringe on how the engagement is carried out, the dramatic elements manage to pay off, and again reminds viewers that this is the fantasy show where people die in droves. Several characters major and minor die here in battle against an army of Death itself. It turns out their sacrifices are not in vain.
While Kit Harington and Emilia Clarke’s Jon Snow and Daenerys expectedly take the fight straight against the Night King, they and their dragons against him and his dragon-wight, what happens on the ground tugs on the heartstrings some. The many-resurrected Beric Dondarrion (Richard Dormer) dies for the last time here. Death also claims Stark allies Lyanna Mormont and Edd, both of whom are turned against their companions when the Night King raises their corpses as wights. Daenerys and Jon are thrown off their dragons, the former surviving only through the sacrifice of her loyal protector Jorah Mormont (Iain Glen). The living would have indeed been slaughtered if not for Melisandre (Carice Van Houten) appearing where she foresees she will die.
It cannot be surprising that Sandor Clegane (Rory McCann) is creeped out at both fighting the White Walker army and by the copious amounts of fire being conjured to fight them (his phobia after all). He gathers himself thanks to the fearless example of Arya Stark, whose actress Maisie Williams finally gets to showcase some mass melee fighting skills. When the Night King seeks out Bran Stark (Isaac Hempstead Wright) on his decoy position in Winterfell’s Godswood, killing his protector Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen), Arya does the incredible. When Jon and Daenerys are stick in the thick of the fighting with most of the major warriors, she wins the battle.
This is the biggest subversion of the series yet. Arya defeating the Night King (and destroying his fellow White Walkers and wights with his death) pretty much ends the existential threat to the setting of “Game of Thrones.” Once the fallout ends, it will now be back to the political warfare as attention shifts back to the Iron Throne, its ruler Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey), her new hatchet-man Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbæk) and her Golden Company mercenaries. Ultimately, rule of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros seemingly remains the series’ endgame.
Only three episodes are left in the final season of “Game of Thrones,” to air Sundays of May on HBO.
Images: NBC News, BBC, Daily Express

Saturday, April 27, 2019

“BOND 25” to be DANIEL CRAIG’S Last as 007; RAMI MALEK Cast as Main Baddie

No matter the decade, no matter the global political climate, Britain’s top secret agent never seems to run out of missions to run and global threats to take down. The “James Bond” film franchise has run several decades and cast a succession of lead actors. The latest, Daniel Craig, started in 2006 with “Casino Royale,” a storyline reboot of the Bond movie mythos. His latest outing was in 2015 with “Spectre.” But now the time has come for Craig to leave the role, with his last hurrah being the 25th Bond film in 2020. And it will be potentially awesome considering who was cast to be antagonist to Agent 007.
The Hollywood Reporter has it that new information on the still-untitled “Bond 25” was shared this Thursday, April 25. Franchise producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson as well as film director Cary Joji Fukunaga dropped tiny details on the plot of 007’s future espionage adventure, and further padded the cast list. In particular, they announced the actor who will play Bond’s enemy in the movie. Considering his latest fame and accolades from his last big blockbuster, one cannot deny this honor to Rami Malek.
From his Oscar-winning performance as Freddie Mercury in 2018’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Rami Malek seems tailor-fit to play the role of an exotic main bad guy in the vein of old-school terrorist and criminal masterminds from previous “James Bond” films. He will be joining a slate of returning actors and actresses with Craig. These include Ralph Fiennes as Bond’s boss M, Naomie Harris as Eve Moneypenny, Ben Whishaw as Q, Rory Kinnear as Bill Tanner, Jeffrey Wright as Felix Leiter, and Lea Seydoux as Dr. Madeline Swann, Bond’s love interest from “Spectre.” New cast additions along with Malik are Ana de Armas, Billy Magnussen, Dali Benssalah, Lashana Lynch and David Dencik.
Unusual for the launch of a new Bond film, the announcement was streamed from Jamaica rather than in a press event at the franchise’s home in the UK’s Pinewood Studios. This location ties into the plot for “Bond 25,” which sees the retired 007 at one point in Jamaica, where he is approached by CIA Agent Leiter for help in a covert operation. The mission only serves to uncover a new mastermind with high-tech gadgets ready to turn world order upside-down. Filming locations for “Bond 25” aside from Pinewood and Jamaica are London, Norway (where shooting has already finished) and Italy for the grand finale.
“Bond 25” is slated for a US release on April 8, 2020 from MGM/United Artists and longtime Bond producer Eon.
Images: Consequences of Sound, 007.com

Friday, April 26, 2019

MANILA WATER Assures Unsupplied Consumers of REBATES Starting this June

Water shortages are a familiar “old friend” to Filipinos that never seems to go away for all of its modern history. This vital supply problem even gets worse than usual when the dreaded weather condition El Niño strikes the Philippines. When high temperatures lead to the shrinking of water supply in dams and watersheds, suppliers are forced to interrupt services, much to the consternation of their consumers in urban areas like Metro Manila. This year, the severity of the water shortage coupled with increased bill rates have led to Manila Water being fined. That in turn will lead to later bill rebates for the consumers.
CNN Philippines reports that the Metropolitan Works and Sewerage System (MWSS) stated this Friday, April 26, that the fine of P534.05 million on Manila Water will be reflected as rebates on the water bills of their consumers affected by the chronic El Niño supply shortage. As MWSS Administrator Reynaldo Velasco says in a statement, the bill rebates will be reflected on as early as the month of June. Even better, the rebate will apply to all Manila Water consumers and not only the ones affected, which is around 62 of 631 Metro Manila barangays that are serviced by Manila Water.
The P534-million fine on Manila Water, an Ayala Group company, was imposed by MWSS on Wednesday, April 24, for “failure to supply water in violation of its concession agreement with the government.” A study is currently being conducted to determine how much will be reduced from water bills. One rebate possibility amounts to P2000 per Manila Water consumer. In addition, Manila Water is being pushed by MWSS to develop a new water source to increase their supply, with P600 million to be set aside by the company for that purpose.
Manila Water consumers were caught by surprise back in March 7 when their supplier interrupted water service without any announcement. Low to no water pressure was the story for the around 1.2 million customers of the company for no less than seven days. It was later explained by Manila Water that their primary source at the La Mesa reservoir in Quezon City had reached critical levels due to the onset of the El Niño dry condition. MWSS admin Velasco also assures consumers that Manila Water is prohibited from passing the burden of developing a new water supply source on the consumers to service the Metro Manila or Rizal province areas.
Image courtesy of ABS-CBN News


Yesterday, April 24, a date that has been awaited for by the Marvel superhero fandom, moviegoers flocked to cinemas that offered early-morning premieres of the newest Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) film, “Avengers: Endgame.” It was the culmination to the ongoing mythic arc of the entire MCU franchise, which began in 2008. Thus far, “Endgame” is enjoying both positive critic reviews and a strong box office in Asia, where it premiered earlier than the main US release this Friday. While early-bird viewers left cinemas beyond satisfied, those who have not yet seen the film are doing their best to avoid any spoilers, especially in social media.
Such has been the determination of many moviegoers to go into a screening of “Avengers: Endgame” without any advance plot information that CNN Philippines reports some extreme actions by said Marvel fans on social media regarding the sharing of spoilers. In both Facebook and Twitter, users have been observed to be going borderline overboard in their reactions whenever an online friend of their shares spoilers from the MCU movie. In essence, these disgruntled social media “netizens” have summarily “un-friended” people who posted spoilers on their feeds. The numbers of users they have dropped from their friend lists are often staggering.
The #unfriend hash-tag has suddenly returned to prominence when attached to Facebook and Twitter posts with upset users boasting of how many friends they removed for the crime of spoiling “Endgame” before they got to watch it. Top numbers among Filipino posters range between 15 to 20 un-friending actions about 24 hours since the fourth “Avengers” film premiered on Philippine shores. The vitriol of some netizens have approached near-manic levels, with some users equating the sharing of spoilers to an absolute lack of respect, indicative that the spoiler-sharers were unworthy online friends from the start.
And the social media community is only the beginning, with even more Facebook and Twitter users downright threatening to cut off acquaintances from real life as well. Harsh online words are fast approaching the level of death threats due to the absolute seriousness that is the plot of “Avengers: Endgame.”
The movie picks up from last year’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” which ended with the MCU’s mightiest heroes utterly defeated by the alien warlord Thanos (Josh Brolin), who then used the reality-controlling Infinity Stones to kill half of all life-forms in the universe. “Endgame” will detail how the survivors fight back and hopefully undo their losses.
“Avengers: Endgame” directors Joe and Anthony Russo have also gone on social media to ask early moviegoers to not post spoilers online for the benefit of all fans. They capped the request with the tag-line “Thanos still demands your silence.” This official directive by the production team has been used as justification for the recent rash of social media un-friending.
Image courtesy of Cinema Blend

“LUPIN III” Manga/Anime Creator “MONKEY PUNCH” DIES at Age 81

During the late nineties and into the early years of the 21st Century, GMA 7 had a then-uncommon approach to getting primetime viewership, by putting anime series at times when other networks had evening news or soap operas on air. One of the anime programs shown in those times, and for a certain period a household name with teens and adults, was a mature-skewing series about a master thief entitled “Lupin III.” Together with his hang and girlfriend/rival, Lupin pulled off impressive heists around the world while evading the determined but hapless Interpol inspector Zenigata.
“Lupin III” as a media is actually decades old, with the earliest anime from 1971 (hence the old-style look). It was also based on a manga that began publication in 1967, created by Kazuhiko Kato who used the pen name “Monkey Punch.” Sadly, The Japan Times reports that Monkey Punch had passed away two weeks ago, April 11, due to pneumonia. He was 81 years old. Kato’s manga career began in 1965 under an assumed name before adopting his Monkey Punch nom de guerre one year before he started work on “Lupin III” for the Shukan Manga Action comic anthology.
TMS Entertainment, the anime production company that has handled the anime adaptation of Monkey Punch’s most famous creation, tweeted their condolences on social media last April 17. In Japanese fashion regarding departing famous figures in the country, several days have already passed before official news of his death was announced.
Kazuhiko Kato took Arsene Lupin III, based off the original Lupin character by French author Maurice LeBlanc (Lupin III was supposedly the French Lupin’s half-Japanese grandson) on wacky and action-packed adventures around the globe looking for the next big heist. In “Lupin III” he is accompanied by an American sharpshooter who goes by the name Daisuke Jigen, a swordsman thief named Goemon Ishikawa XIII, and the unpredictably untrustworthy but sexy Fujiko Mine.
The anime spans five TV series (the latest in 2018), on spinoff, three anime specials, nine anime films, three anime miniseries on video, two live-action films (the latest in 2014), and several videogames. Aside from the anime aired by GMA 7, the network also ran a 2007 soap opera adaptation starring Richard Gutierrez.
Monkey Punch was also a pioneer in drawing manga by computer, a practice that has since become the norm in the manga industry. He also taught the art in several Japanese universities during the 2000’s.
Image courtesy of Asahi Shimbun

Thursday, April 25, 2019


Marvel Studios hit upon something big when they released “Iron Man” in 2008. It became the foundation of an idea that would see various Marvel heroes appearing in their own films but sharing a single setting. Eventually that would mean they would work together at times, either as partners or even a team. That plan came into fruition four years later when “Avengers” premiered in 2012. By then, Marvel had become a Disney subsidiary. That gave them the movie-making muscle needed to push their Marvel Cinematic Universe as far as it can go. All that welding of plot and story is crystallized in the fourth “Avengers” film, the ultimate “Endgame.”
Well actually, that conclusion really ought to have been last year’s “Avengers: Infinity War.” But the sheer volume of plot threads and character arcs to address really left Marvel Studios no choice but to split the narrative into a first and second part. It also enabled directors Joe and Anthony Russo to fully immerse the audience into near-complete investment in the loads and loads of characters throughout the MCU that play some role in the movie’s plot. It also allowed them to end “Infinity War” last year in a bold, subversive ending that showed the titular heroes failing and losing.
So it was that we found Earth’s mightiest heroes reeling after the mad alien Thanos (Josh Brolin) succeeded in claiming the six Infinity Stones, physical manifestations of power and authority over six concepts of existence. Thanos’ twisted notions of balance had him use the stones to kill fifty percent of all living creatures across the universe. We see the nightmarish effects of this action back in the ending of “Avengers: Infinity War,” the mid-credits scene of “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” and in the prologue of “Endgame,” this very film itself.
“Avengers: Endgame” thus starts with most of the surviving Avengers teaming up with the surviving Guardians of the Galaxy and the recently-returned Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) setting out to find the escaped Thanos and hopefully seize his Infinity Stones to undo what he did. The mission does not turn out as expected, so the movie takes of properly years after the events of “Infinity War,” as the survivors try to move one from their big defeat to help the much-reduced population of Earth. When Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) is accidentally freed from being left behind in the Quantum Realm, he approaches the Avengers with a chance to set things right, based on his experience while in sub-atomic space.
But this part also has the greatest personal spotlight on the characters, showcasing who they are, who they used to be and what they have become since first being introduced to the grander MCU narrative. Some of these are good such as the arcs of Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). Some are out of the blue like the current condition of Hulk (Mark Ruffallo). But it does serve the purpose of reminding viewers how human these heroes are, as originally conceived by creator Stan Lee (who makes arguably his last posthumous cameo).
Still, when Ant-Man presents his theories of using the Quantum Realm to recover the Infinity Stones, we get to one of the highlights of “Endgame.” We said the film was a celebration of 10 years of MCU storytelling. We are not kidding. The movie actually takes the audience back to some key films in the past and shows them from a different viewpoint. This is to set up the undoing of the decimating finger-snap while also offering closure for the character arcs of top Avengers Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.).
We have talked about all the elements of “Avengers: Endgame” that we could without spilling into spoiler territory. I will offer this last tidbit; the film is just over three hours long. But the sheer superhero storytelling and epic effects-laden action set pieces in the narrative will definitely ensure that almost no viewer will feel bored every step of the way. About the only complaining being done regarding the running time might be your bladder, especially if you brought snacks to the viewing. But who cares really. This is the Endgame of a whole decade of Marvel Cinematic storytelling, and while the franchise will not end anytime soon, there are enough conclusions here to make one melancholy at ending credits.
Image courtesy of Forbes

Tuesday, April 23, 2019


Ever since Microsoft rolled out the very first edition of their Windows operating system for personal computers in 1985, they have made provisions for having even the most rudimentary graphics editor as part of its package of applications. First they licensed the PC Paintbrush program from ZSoft Corporation. When Windows 3.0 came out in 1990, Microsoft took things in their own hands with Paintbrush which supported PCX and BMP image file formats. Come Windows 95 the application became MS Paint, remaining part of the Windows suite over succeeding versions until Windows 10 announced that future updates might relegate it to a Microsoft Store downloadable only.
At the latest however, The Verge has it that Microsoft may have abandoned plans to remove the venerable MS Paint graphic editor from the default app load-out for Windows 10. This action was hinted at since 2017, when the Creators’ Update for that year introduced Paint 3D. The new application carried over certain 2D graphic editing features from MS Paint but placed more emphasis on the 3D designing function. Microsoft then announced that no further development will be done on MS Paint, and will move it to the Microsoft Store as an optional free download.
But when Microsoft began promoting the upcoming Windows 10 Update 1903 scheduled this coming May, they revealed that again, the patch that would make MS Paint a Store downloadable was not part of the update package. Microsoft Windows senior program manager Brandon LeBlanc candidly remarked when asked, “Yes, MSPaint will be included in 1903. It’ll remain included in Windows 10 for now.” The previous Win-10 updates had flagged Paint with a “Product alert” button on the user interface denoting its impending move to the Store. From what has been revealed about Update 1903, the Product alert warning has been removed.
No reason has been given for Microsoft keeping MS Paint as part of its default app lineup alongside Paint 3D, its intended replacement. Thus far, the 2D Paint app has been considered “deprecated”: by Microsoft; that is, nobody is developing further versions of the program. Its last major overhaul had been in the Microsoft 8 OS, and even then it was a mere bug fix compared to the introduction of “artistic” brush tools in the Windows 7 edition. Microsoft had already done its marketing push to encourage graphic creators to use Paint 3D and Windows 10 more, but have made no reports on its effectiveness.
If MS Paint will remain on Windows 10, the path forward could alternatively be the deprecation of Paint 3D instead. Or Microsoft will deign to keep both graphic design apps on their operating system, specializing each for 2D and 3D. The story is not over.
Image courtesy of PureInfoTech


Mother Nature can turn from benevolent to destructive so quickly. On the afternoon of Monday, Luzon was rocked by an earthquake that measured 6.1 in magnitude. The brunt of the tremors was felt in the Central Luzon region, with an epicenter in Zambales and a greater portion of damage in Pampanga. No less than fifty aftershocks arrived following the main quake. But the country’s seismic troubles did not end there. The following Tuesday, another earthquake struck to the south. This time it was recorded in Eastern Visayas, and the magnitude of 6.5 was even stronger than the one in Luzon.
CNN Philippines reports that the Philippines received a double whammy of earthquakes in two of its major geographical divisions on April 22 and 23. The Monday quake in Luzon had its epicenter located at Castillejos, Zambales by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS). Initially registered at magnitude 5.7, it was upgraded to 6.1 as the extent of damage was calculated. And indeed, the province of Pampanga saw significant devastation following the tremors despite not being the epicenter. PHIVOLCS on Tuesday attributes this to most of the area sitting on soft sediment that is easily disturbed by seismic activities.
“The actual location of the epicenter is in the mountains in between the provinces of Pampanga and Zambales,” explains PHIVOLCS head Renato Solidum Jr. “Unfortunately, there are several towns in both provinces that are underlain by soft sediment.” Case in point, a four-story shopping center in Porac, Pampanga was collapsed by the quake last Monday. The soft sediments are mostly the result of the 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruption, which blanketed the area with lahar that was later rebuilt over by the various communities it covered. In Zambales, Subic and Olongapo were similarly affected, this time because of either closeness to the sea or being floodplain.
Sixteen people have been reported killed in the Monday quake. In addition, Clark International Airport was temporarily closed to all flights until Wednesday, to allow investigation of possible dangerous damage to its runways and facilities.
Complicating matters on taking stock after the Luzon quake is a follow-up tremor on April 23, this time in the Visayas. The epicenter this time was San Julian in Eastern Samar, with the 6.5 earthquake happening 1:37 PM. In the intricacies of seismology mechanics, Director Solidum notes that despite the higher magnitude the Visayas quake yesterday was not classified as “major.” Roadways and bridges showed damage following the shaking, and parts of Eastern Samar had lost power. PHIVOLCS also assured the public that this quake and the Luzon tremor were not related to one another.
As part of emergency procedures, institutes such as schools and public places like malls in Samar were evacuated during the tremors. Social media was also flooded with images of earthquake damages to landmarks like the Catbalogan City Hall and a San Julian Church, the crucifix of which had fallen down.
Images from ABS-CBN News, Inquirer

“GoT” LAST SEASON, EPISODE 2 Shows Calm Before Undead STORM

Seeing as it only has one more than a handful of episodes for its final, conclusive season, we can afford to reserve the start of the week for musing on the new Sunday’s chapter of “Game of Thrones” on HBO. Battle lines are soon to be drawn as the world-ending army of White Walkers and undead wights, led by the Night King, are soon to meet their first determined resistance south of the broken Wall. That battle does not actually happen in season 8 episode 2, titled “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms.” But what does transpire solidifies fan reception to the characters at Winterfell before they risk dying soon.
Indeed, the climax of the previous episode and final season premiere for “Game of Thrones” saw some of the last of those who chose to fight for Westeros arriving in Winterfell on the North. Among them is Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) who arrives in time to meet the boy he tried to kill in the series premiere (Bran Stark – Isaac Hempstead Wright). He is then seized an put on trial by Queen Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) for having killed her grandfather in Robert’s Rebellion years ago, only for his companion Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) to speak on his behalf, thus sparing him.
From there, the narrative moves to the resigned defense of Winterfell by its occupants. Jaime had revealed that no help was coming since his sister wants them to be slaughtered by the White Walkers first. Daenerys blames this lack of oversight on her Hand, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) who tried to forge an alliance of convenience between her and Cersei (Lena Headey) on the Iron Throne, only to be taken in by another falsehood. The consequence of the treachery is magnified when Tormund (Kristofer Hivju) arrives with his party to announce the fall of House Umber, meaning the Walkers might arrive in the middle of evening.
In signature “Game of Thrones” style, this fragile alliance seems on the verge of collapsing even in the face of common annihilation. A major factor is Dany’s now-pathological obsession over the Iron Throne and her rule over the Seven Kingdoms. Because of this she fails to instill further trust in Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) by remaining mum on the fate of the North, should they win. And when she finally learns the truth about Jon Snow (Kit Harington) in one of the episode’s climaxes, she looks about ready to kin-slay.
Another climax of “A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms” happens when many of the principal warriors gather to muse on their chances of survival. It is brought up that Brienne, for all her prowess and armored look, is not actually a knight. Jaime lays the matter to rest by knighting her, fulfilling Brienne’s impossible dream. (And cementing their relationship perhaps?) One more point of interest has Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) badgering Gendry (Joe Dempsie) to make her a new weapon, and then sleeping with him later so as not to die in battle a virgin.
This part can be off-putting especially for those who have followed “Game of Thrones” since the beginning in 2011. Maisie was a kid then; so was Arya. But in the eight years the show aired (and the 1-2 years of hardship and assassin training her character endured in-universe) both have grown up. If any longtime viewers felt icky, that is understandable. Williams is 22 now.
Meanwhile, Bran has proposed a strategy in the coming battle. As he was cursed by the Night King in past seasons so as to always know where he is, he plans to bait his location in the forest outside Winterfell. Presenting himself to help guard Bran is the returning Theon Grejoy (Alfie Allen) who pledges to fight for his second home. The arrival of the White Walkers outside finally spurs the defenders into action, and delays what drastic reaction Danerys might have had over Jon Snow, that is, Aegon Targaryen.
With the personal-focus story threads out of the way, Episode 3 next Sunday will provide the epic battle as well as the heartstring torture as some of these characters run the chance of being killed off. The character interactions done here have done their job in making audiences care for them anew, and hurt when they start dropping like flies. “Game of Thrones” season 8 airs Sundays only on HBO.
Image courtesy of YouTube (screenshot)

Philippine Moviegoers React to “AVENGERS: ENDGAME” Premiering with CHINESE SUBTITLES in SELECTED CINEMAS this Week

Throughout the administration of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, he has tried to steer the country away from traditional allies and trading partners such as the United States and instead gravitate to closer, powerful neighbors like China. While the practice might have led to eyebrow-raising downplays by the government of Chinese encroachment within Philippine territorial waters and the employment sector, it had also led to a larger tourism of Chinese nationals in the country. And it is to these visitors’ benefit that certain malls in Metro Manila and surrounding areas are making extra accommodations should they want to watch “Avengers: Endgame.”
CNN Philippines reports that some Metro Manila malls are planning to screen the upcoming superhero blockbuster from Disney and Marvel Studios with Chinese subtitles. This is of course for the benefit of the record numbers of tourists from the People’s Republic of China. One of the mall cinema chains to announce their Chinese-subtitle screening for the premiere of “Avengers: Endgame” is Megaworld Lifestyle Malls. They have announced that Chinese-subtitling will be on their cinemas for Newport, Lucky Chinatown, Southwood and Eastwood Malls as well as the McKinley Hill Venice Cineplex. The screening period will be from April 24 to 28.
Unfortunately this news was not greeted positively anywhere. On the official Facebook page of Southwood Mall, their post on the “Avengers: Endgame” Chinese-subtitle screenings was met with comments from moviegoers who have already bought their tickets but have decided to get a refund. Their prevailing mood is that watching subtitles ruins the experience. This is doubly so for Chinese, seeing as they are prevalent on many pirated DVD and home media for movies. Southwood replied that the subtitling was only for selected screenings of “Endgame,” with the rest untouched. Furthermore, they have already announced it well before tickets were even ready for preorder by customers.
Ever since the year 2016, the Bureau of Immigration has recorded more than three million Chinese visiting the Philippines as tourists. This rising trend was especially high in the period between 2017 and 2019. As Chinese President Xi Jinping is noted to be personally friendly to President Duterte, this has been translated by their citizens as tacit approval to visit the Philippines. Xi had much the same effect when visiting the Maldives years ago. Some government agencies are concerned however, especially the Department of Labor, which is seeing even more Chinese workers in the country.
“Avengers: Endgame” premieres on April 24.
Image courtesy of BGR


Changi Airport was recently ranked the best airport in the world by the SkytraxWorld Airport Awards from the UK. This is the seventh time in the world that Singapore’s main international air travel hub has been accorded this distinction by that award-giving body. And as a good example to all that would be called the best of all the rest in many different fields, Changi Airport keeps its top rank by always bettering itself. This can be encapsulated in its newest Terminal 4, as well as the special connecting hub for Terminals 1 to 3 that had been under construction these past four years.
As CNN tells it, the Jewel Changi Airport complex finally opened its doors this Wednesday, April 17. Starting that day, travellers passing through the world’s 7-time best airport according to Skytrax can finally see with their own eyes what was originally only concept imagery. With a budget of SG$1.7 billion (or US$1.27 billion), Changi Airport created a spectacular commercial complex with five stories above ground and another five subterranean. The surface structure is notable for being shaped like a glass and steel donut. The center of this is a multi-tiered garden venue with the Jewel’s crowning feature: an artificial waterfall.
This is the HSBC Rain Vortex, a circular cascade that exits through the Jewel’s central oculus, falling down an impressive 40 meters to the pool below, while generating air moisture that is good for the plants around it. Such is the sound of the falling water that it can be heard even beyond the garden zone, well into the various commercial shopping and dining areas that is the other main draw of the Jewel complex. Already the Rain Vortex is being touted to be the world’s tallest artificial indoor waterfall.
Probably the best thing about the Changi Jewel is that it is openly accessible to everyone dropping in at the airport. As it is not a terminal visitors are allowed everywhere in there that guests are permitted to go. There are accommodation options too in the form of the YOTELAIR Singapore Changi Airport hotel, offering early check-ins, baggage storage and 130 rooms for travellers waiting for flights. Most of the complex is covered by free sign-up Wi-Fi and power bank loans. It is also testing the Changi Lounge passenger transfer service between the airport and cruise ships, a great convenience. The Jewel cinema has 11 movie theaters too, all IMAX.
Being an inter-terminal hub, guests inside the Jewel can see the Skytrain connecting the first three terminals passing overhead, inside the complex. The newer Terminal 4 must contend with a bus shuttle service for now.
With the Changi Jewel up and running, the airport’s future plans can now shift to a proposed Terminal 5 (with a floor area combining Terminals 1-4), as well as a five-year expansion for Terminal 2. Terminal 5 will not be finished until the year 2030.
Image from The Straits Times