Friday, January 31, 2020


To be frank, open tennis is not exactly a sport that sees Filipino players consistently excelling in. The few times a tennis ace from the Philippines actually makes good showing against foreign opponents are more like flashes in the pan and not likely to be sustainable. But when a Filipino makes a mark on a worldwide-level tennis court, that one is sure to catch a lot of attention. The 2020 Australian Open is now headed towards its final matches for singles and doubles titles for both genders and across age groups. But this Friday a powerful teen girl has proven Pinoys can win Tennis Majors.

“THE MASKED SINGER” S-3 Introduces Latest COSTUMES, New Contest FORMAT

After December 18 the year before, it looks like FOX is now two for two in terms of quality output from their reality singing competition with a twist, “The Masked Singer.” The show premiered in January last year and ended the following month. It was green-lighted for season renewal, with a second season featuring more contestants aired September 2019 to December. Again the program was renewed. Even better, it will be starting even earlier this year due to a very short season break. And very soon it will be time to guess who is packing the vocal chords underneath the elaborate costumes and giant masks.

Thursday, January 30, 2020


It is not often that one finds himself in the arms of greatness, particularly when still at a young age. While one’s parent’s might count in that pronouncement, there are also times when a person is held by major celebrities like a political candidate who later wins office, or a movie star, or a star athlete from a professional basketball league. If that latter sounds specific, that is because such has been the great fortune of Kiefer Ravena, who as a boy got to be held in the arms of a then-young NBA player named Kobe Bryant, who died last Sunday as a league legend.
It is in the spirit of the late great LA Laker Kobe Bryant that a now 26-year-old Kiefer Ravena, now a player in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) has decided to take up a sacred number relating to the Black Mamba. As CNN Philippines tells it, Kiefer announced on social media that he will change his jersey number 15 with the NLEX Road Warriors to 24, which as many already know is one of two jersey numbers assigned to Kobe from his Lakers days. This was stated on Ravena’s Instagram entry dated Thursday, January 30.

“I’ll be wearing number 24 this year, Mamba,” wrote Kiefer on the caption of his IG post with a photo of his own pair of Bryant-autographed Nike sneakers. “A salute to a legacy that I will forever treasure.” The young star of UAAP’s Ateneo Blue Eagles before being picked by the Road Warriors in the 2017 PBA Draft described Black Mamba as “epic” and “the ultimate competitor,” someone who was able to pull up his teammates in every game, which earned him the respect of basketball fans the world over.

Kiefer Ravena’s online announcement of changing his jersey number in honor of Kobe Bryant was a follow-up to an earlier Instagram entry dated Monday, January 27 or the day after the NBA legend, who retired from the LA Lakers in 2016, died in a helicopter crash with his daughter and seven others. This post showed a photo of a Kiefer and Kobe, both still young with the latter a mere kid in the former’s arms for a very heartwarming picture. Ravena’s caption here talked about Bryant as an inspirational figure who taught to never stop and always find an edge in both game and life.

The photo was taken from an Adidas-sponsored 3x3 street-ball competition event in 1998, when Bryant was an NBA sophomore and an ambassador for the brand before switching to Nike. Young Kiefer was accompanying his father Bong Ravena, then a player for the short-lived MBA, who teamed up with Kobe for an exhibition match back then.

Image from ABS-CBN News

GENERAL MOTORS Confirm Revival of HUMMER as E-VEHICLE for 2021

The 1991 Persian Gulf War was the rather stellar debut of a US military truck/utility vehicle manufactured by AM General: the High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle or “Humvee” for short. The ubiquitous presence of the vehicle inspired AM General to create a civilian variant, the HUMMER series of truck/SUVs. Despite the popularity of the vehicles, they were affected by the bankruptcy of General Motors which bought the brand from AM, and the HUMMERs were discontinued in 2010. Since last year however there has been a buzz that a new HUMMER model will be introduced by GM, as an electric-powered truck.

KATHRYN, DANIEL Apparently Shooting ACTION FILM Comeback in Leaked Photos

While the KathNiel love team of Kathryn Bernardo and Daniel Padilla remains one of the most recognizable romantic tandems in Philippine showbiz, nowadays the two have not been seen together much in any film or TV production. Their last movie together was “The Hows of Us” from Star Cinema back in 2018, and last year was all but dominated by “Hello, Love, Goodbye” where Kathryn was paired cross-network with Alden Richards. When are the KathNiel fans going to get their fix once more? A series of photos recently taken suggests that the two are already filming their movie comeback, and for an unexpected genre too.

THE CW Orders Pilot for “KUNG FU” REBOOT in 2020-21

In 1972, Warner Bros. Television premiered on ABC a rather unique take on the American Western story. Its protagonist was a Chinese-American exile from the Shaolin Temple, who fled China with a price on his head to Old West-era America to find his American half-brother, using his martial arts skills to help the defenseless against outlaws and oppressors. “Kung Fu” starred the late David Carradine, who once revealed that his role was originally proposed for Bruce Lee, who in turn remarked that he conceptualized the show and that Warner Bros. stole his idea. Whatever the case, “Kung Fu” became a classic that spawned several spinoffs, and now The CW is picking up its reboot pilot.

PPP 2017 Entry “100 TULA PARA KAY STELLA” Getting SEQUEL

In 2017, Viva Films released a romantic film directed by Jason Paul Laxamana and starring JC Santos and Bela Padilla. “100 Tula Para Kay Stella” takes the tired and tested plot of a boy and a girl with contrasting personalities meeting and falling in love despite how their differences should have sunk any chance of them becoming an item. Fresh concepts such as making the honor-student guy suffer a speech impediment, forcing him to express his feelings through poetry he is too shy to read to the girl, helped elevate the movie to a good box office performance during the 2017 Pista ng Pelikulang Pilipino.


There is the rather cliché reaction wherein following the death of a major universally-loved celebrity, any works by his hand will appreciate, or increase, in value. If he was not a creative artist like a painter or author, then any item related to him, such as official merchandise, will get snapped up instead. With the tragic passing of relatively young retired NBA legend Kobe Bryant at the start of this week, anything that bears his name or likeness have become highly valuable to mourning collectors. Just ask major athletic shoe brand Nike and the NBA about their various Kobe-branded gear.


It is not difficult at all to find a Filipino or at least a Filipino-American making a mark on the general American entertainment scene. From the big screen that is the domain of Hollywood, to the small screen of various TV networks, to even the stage of Broadway, Filipinos and Fil-Ams are there. One such Fil-American active in American theatre is Isa Briones, daughter of longtime Filipino thespian in the US Jon Jon Briones. In 2018 she played Peggy Schuyler and Maria Reynolds in the touring production of “Hamilton.” That is merely the beginning for Briones, who now finds herself in an even bigger galaxy as the female lead of a “Star Trek” TV show.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020


A decade or two ago, users of mobile technology may have thought that the mechanics of a flip-top cellular phone, with its LCD number display and physical numeric keypad, was the pinnacle of high-technology design. We laugh now, but apparently the notion of a communications gadget being able to fold (or unfold) is making a comeback. It could be done via dual screens on a hinge, or having a touchscreen made of a new foldable (but delicate) material. The latter was utilized by Samsung in their prototypical effort, the Galaxy Fold last year. Now, they have a new design planned.


For music fans growing up in the 1990s, they most likely have heard the songs “Ironic,” “Head Over Feet,” “You Oughta Know” and more, all of the alternative rock genre and sung by Canadian-American recording artists Alanis Morissette. She was in her heyday during that decade the quintessential “anti-diva,” whose singing style and material contrasted with the conventional divas of the time such as Mariah Carey and the late Whitney Houston. Even Filipinos loved and appreciated Morissette enough that she had a concert in the country way back in 1996. Nearly a quarter-century later, she is coming back once more.


In the previous decade, fans who tuned in to the unique superhero series “Smallville” on The WB (2001-06) and its successor The CW (2006-11) felt that the show, about a young Clark Kent coming into his power and growing up to be Superman, helped define the place of superheroes in live-action TV. Come the following year, another TV adaptation of a DC superhero premiered on The CW. “Arrow” starring Stephen Amell elevated the concept of a non-super-powered crime-fighter on the small screen, that it became the foundation of The CW’s “Arrow-verse” franchise. Eight seasons later, the show came to an end just this past Tuesday.


Fans of the National Basketball Association with an in-depth knowledge of the American pro-ball league’s history would know that the silhouette of a dribbling basketball player on the NBA logo is based on a real person. League officials would prefer the official story that it is a generalization of an NBA player, but the silhouette is actually that of 1960-74 LA Laker (and eventual coach) Jerry West. With the recent tragic passing of another Laker for a more contemporary generation, the call has suddenly intensified for the changing of the NBA logo silhouette to honor none other than Kobe Bryant.

G-IDLE Announces “I-WORLD” Concert Tour with MANILA Stop on JUNE 13

Here is some news that would perk up the Philippines’ K-Pop fans as well as regular gamer-fans of Riot Games’ “DOTA” title “League of Legends.” Internet denizens would probably already make a connected between K-Pop and the popular battle arena online game, and they would actually be half right. Right in the middle of this year the K-Pop girl group (with a multinational membership) G-Idle is coming to the country for one concert as part of their 2020 world tour. Two members of that group will be familiar to “League” fans as the vocals for two members of the game’s very own virtual K-Pop band.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020


Back in March of the previous year, Justin Bieber announced that he was going to take care of some issues with his personal life and thus would be taking an unspecified time off from his life-long passion of making music. Barring one May 2019 collaboration with Ed Sheeran, Bieber was pretty much quiet until last December, when he said his album will release this year followed by a concert tour. A single from then-unnamed album was released last January 3. But on Tuesday this week, Justin’s album got its title revealed, followed by a second single at the same time.


The general impression on British music executive and veteran singing reality competition judge Simon Cowell was that he was a tough judge of talent with some of the meanest put-downs of aspiring contestants that fail to match his standards. But it is also known that when he sees somebody talented from his reckoning, he would support them vigorously. That was how Simon formed a boy band out of failed solo “X-Factor” UK contestants, turning them into One Direction. During the show’s 15th series on ITV in 2018, Cowell extended that same support for talent to Filipina singer Maria Laroco. Though she did not advance in competition, she was not forgotten.


It can be said that the rise of massively multiplayer online role-playing games, as the general public knows them today, to the mainstream of the gaming industry can be tied to specific MMORPG titles released at certain regional markets around the world. For example, Asia got into the MMORPG thing with South Korea’s “Ragnarok Online.” In the US, one title that had the same effect was Blizzard Entertainment’s “World of Warcraft,” which got so popular since its 2004 release that some fans forget that it spun off from Blizzard’s signature real-time strategy game franchise, particularly the third installment from 2002.

IÑIGO PASCUAL to Perform with UK Band NEW RULES February Ahead of Joining them on TOUR

Not content to be known only as the son of multi-talented acting superstar Piolo Pascual, his son Iñigo is building up his own celebrity cred as a singer and recording artists. While he has only had a single self-titled 2016 album thus far with a hit song in “Dahil Sa’yo”, the younger Pascual is already a hot commodity as a live performer, with a regular spot on ABS-CBN’s “ASAP” and a momentous stint as a featured singer during the Philippine-hosted 30th Southeast Asian Games’ opening ceremony. At the latest, Iñigo is hitting the touring road with a new rising band from the UK, New Rules.


In terms of film adaptations, the history of live-action “Transformers” movies is looking to be similar to a bowl. It had a strong start in the first, iffy reception in the second and third, a noticeable dip in the fourth and fifth, and what appears to be a recovery in quality from the last one in 2018. Said last one (“Bumblebee”) may have been an improvement due to it being ret-conned as a reboot after being originally presented as a prequel to the Michael Bay-directed films. But where does it go from there? Wherever it might be, at least there are scripts now being written.


The NBA may be an American basketball league, but where fans of its teams, coaches and players are concerned, it is a global phenomenon shared by the entire world. This fact became all the more evident in the wake of a tragedy of Sunday this week. When retired LA Laker and NBA legend Kobe Bryant perished in a helicopter crash in California, the international community mourned with the league and the US. Local celebrities here in the Philippines also expressed their sorrow at Kobe’s passing, especially as the basketball star has visited the country several times before. Here are some of the notable Filipino tributes.

Monday, January 27, 2020


While global streaming platform Netflix is doing a fine job establishing itself as a new home for anime binge-watching, it is also taking some flak from “purist” fans regarding some of the exclusive original anime productions on its library. Its 3D-animated remake of classic 1980s anime “Saint Seiya” had at best a lukewarm reception last year. Also in 2019, their announcement of a 3D-animated follow-up for 2002 anime series “Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex” was similarly bashed by fans of said series and the classic 1995 anime film. The release of a first full trailer may have alleviated some concerns, but the voices of dissent are still there.


The competition between media networks and their stable of talents in the country has not only intensified these days but also evolved to include contests of prestige outside the industry itself. It has become prominent for instance, to have either a Kapamilya or a Kapuso star who is serving in the reserves of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) seemingly tying their reservist duties to the image of their networks. One example that has popped up recently is the case of GMA7 actor Dingdong Dantes. He joined the Navy reserve three years ago, and much like Manny Pacquiao in the Army reserve, Dingdong has warranted a great rank up.


Sometimes you think something has ended at last, only for that thing to have even the briefest last-minute development that keeps it going for just a bit longer. Microsoft’s Windows 7 operating system has had a long and good product life, still being used around the world even with the debut of its rather distant successor Windows 10 in 2015. The official support given to the OS by Microsoft has been gradually phased out in recent years. Just this January 13, mainstream support for Windows 7 definitively ended. Or it should have, if not for a certain bug that Microsoft fixed after the support deadline.

BILLIE EILISH Nearly SWEEPS Her 2019 GRAMMY Nominations While Awards Ceremony Remembers KOBE BRYANT at Staples

The month of January 2020 is coming to an end, but the season for giving awards in entertainment media is only just getting warmed up. While films and television programming have already gotten their time in the spotlight (and will return to that spotlight later on), this past Sunday was music and the recording industry’s turn to have their best and brightest be recognized and honored. And as expected, it was the time of the biggest names in music especially during 2019 that got the awards. The award ceremony also turned impromptu into a tribute to a fallen sports legend.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

“MALVAR” Biopic Filming Momentarily Halted by Ongoing TAAL VOLCANO ERUPTION

It can be amazing how history can come full circle. In the early 20th Century, Taal Volcano underwent one of its stronger eruptions on record, beginning January of 1911. By the time it was over, some 1,100 people have been killed in the destruction of the barangays on Volcano Island, while 199 were injured. Historical notes from the period would have it that Miguel Malvar, the last Philippine Revolutionary general to surrender to American forces in their colonization period, had helped organize relief efforts during that historical calamity. Now, a biopic about the life of Malvar has its filming stymied by the latest Taal eruption.


The British Royal Family received quite the shock earlier this month when their Royal Highnesses Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, announced their intention to “step back” as senior members of the family. This meant several things from no longer performing official Royal functions to even discontinuing their public-funded stipends for financial independence. Following a summit between Royal Family members, Queen Elizabeth gave an address two Saturdays ago explaining the specifics of Harry and Meghan’s decision, which entailed no longer using their “Royal Highness” titles. Only last Saturday, as if in reaction to these events, Her Majesty gave her eldest grandson Prince William a new title.


In the year 2011, Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales was succeeded in the Archbishopric by Imus Bishop Antonio “Chito” Tagle, who was appointed as such by then-Pope Benedict XVI. Archbishop Tagle became a visible religious presence on television, particularly as co-presenter of ABS-CBN’s early-morning inspirational program “Kape’t Pandasal.” In 2012 Archbishop Tagle was made a Cardinal by the Pope. Then on December of last year Benedict’s own successor Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Tagle as Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. As a result Tagle, must step down as Archbishop of Manila, and speculation has since percolated on who would take his place.


A simplified reading of the player history for the National Basketball Association (NBA) would have it that after the age of Michael Jordan and his generation, it was the age of Kobe Bryant and his peers. As a second-generation NBA player, Kobe would go on to be a career-long legend for the Los Angeles Lakers, to which he gave five championships, and with which he became an 18-time All-Star and 2008 MVP. When “Black Mamba” retired after the 2015-16 season, he was sorely missed by the league and fans. Now he will be sorely missed even more, as unfortunately Kobe Bryant is now gone, forever.

Friday, January 24, 2020


Despite being designated as a permanent danger zone, the Volcano Island of Taal Lake actually is home to busy communities that are politically part of two lakeshore municipalities of Batangas. These neighborhoods brave the risk of volcanic eruption to farm on the fertile soil and fish at the center of the lake. They also keep livestock and other animals as is natural. But when Taal Volcano began its lengthy eruption last January 12, the evacuating residents were forced to leave their animals behind. Such a state was unacceptable to local members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and they have since taken action.


DC Comics has its Superman, the face of its label and the definitive evil-beating superhero who also rescues from disaster. Their longtime rival Marvel does not traditionally go for such paragon characters, preferring heroes that are also so human that they risk failing and ruining their lives in doing the right thing. Still Marvel, or rather Marvel Studios, sees the need for a super among its hero stable to be the face of the MCU, and they chose Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel, as portrayed by Brie Larson on her first solo film last 2019. Almost a year later, her sequel has been officially announced.

MARCELITO POMOY Gets Ready to Return to “AGT: THE CHAMPIONS” Season 2 Semifinals Next Month

The Philippines already know who Marcelito Pomoy is and what exactly he can do. What he can do is already an established gimmick in some Filipino singing contests, but Marcelito took it to a higher level when he won the second season of “Pilipinas Got Talent” on ABS-CBN in 2011. In addition to his vocal gifts, Filipinos were also taken in by his life story and the heartwarming reunion with his separated family during the finals. Then Pomoy took “America’s Got Talent: The Champions” by storm last week, earning a spot on the semifinals even without a Golden Buzzer. Said semis happen next month, and Marcelito is preparing for it.

Thursday, January 23, 2020


One of the best movies of the 1980s that tick off the boxes for “coming of age,” “underdog,” “sports competition” and “all-ages action” would most definitely be 1984’s “The Karate Kid” from Columbia Pictures (now under Sony). Its story of a bully magnet being taught karate by a wise if unconventional sensei became a definitive plotline in other stories across various media. “Karate Kid” itself became a modest franchise with two follow-ups, an animated series, two spinoffs, and distant sequel web-series “Cobra Kai” on YouTube Premium. But that franchise will be expanding anew, as the original “Karate Kid” film gets adapted…into an upcoming Broadway musical.

JULIA MONTES Comeback is Starring in Action-Drama TELE-SERYE "24/7" on "ABS-CBN"

Around the middle of last week, Kapamilya actress Julia Montes announced that she was heading back to showbiz work after taking a break for all of last year. Fans of the actress ever since her breakout role in the remake of “Mara Clara” in 2010-11 have been excited to find out what kind of role she will have next, as Julia has proven versatile in the transition from conventional drama, to the action-drama of “Asintado” in 2018. Montes followers who liked her there will love the news of what her first comeback project will be, something that might cement her as successor to Angel Locsin.

DISNEY+ “STAR WARS” Spinoff Series “OBI-WAN” on INDEFINITE Development HOLD

While fans of the space opera epic “Star Wars” were originally skeptic of the “Star Wars Story” non-episode anthology films beginning with 2016’s “Rogue One,” they were intrigued at the possibility of using that movie sub-series to tell side-stories about established franchise characters outside the “Skywalker Saga” episodic films. This sentiment was reinforced with the initial announcement of “Solo” for 2018, but its failure and the scrapping of the anthology meant fan dreams of an “Obi-Wan: A Star Wars Story” movie were dashed. Hope was revived when Lucasfilm announced retooling the concept into a streaming series for Disney+, but recent news is not being hopeful.


In case a reminder is needed, this year is Summer Olympics year, and the Games of the XXXII Olympiad are happening in Tokyo starting this July. To that end, international qualifying competitions for aspiring Olympic competitors have been going on around the world since last year and earlier still. In fact, a qualifying event for Olympic boxing covering Asia and Oceania was supposed to be held this month. The problem is, the venue is in Wuhan, China, ground zero of the pneumonia and novel coronavirus outbreak. It was understandable that the boxing qualifiers were cancelled, but it is rather necessary to get boxers for Tokyo 2020, so what is next?

JODIE WHITAKER Assures She Remains THE DOCTOR for One More “DOCTOR WHO” Series on BBC

In October of 2018, BBC did something momentous in their long-running sci-fi adventure franchise “Doctor Who.” After three series of the show from 2014 to 2017, Peter Capaldi would retire from his role as the Twelfth Doctor, the twelfth known distinct iteration of the time-traveling alien Time Lord known as “the Doctor,” who can “regenerate” from mortal wounds with a change in appearance and personality. This was the iconic plot mechanism used by the BBC to recast the character with different actors since the original 1960s seasons. But Capaldi’s replacement as the Thirteenth doctor was an actress, Jodie Whittaker, making the Doctor a female character for the very first time.

Since her technical debut in the 2017 Christmas special, Jodie Whittaker has carried the role of the Thirteenth Doctor of “Doctor Who” for the eleventh series and (ongoing) twelfth series of the show on BBC One from 2018 to this 2020. Fans have been very receptive to the character and thus it has been no surprise, as Entertainment Weekly tells us, that Whittaker has been confirmed to reprise her Lady Doctor role for at least one more series, the thirteenth.

“Yes, I’m doing another season,” Whittaker says in interview with EW. “That might be a massive exclusive that I’m not supposed to say, but it’s unhelpful for me to say [I don’t know] because it would be a massive lie!” The British actress of film, television and stage remarked on how she adored playing the playful but wise and fearlessly-exploring Time Lord, and is looking forward to keep on doing it for as long as she could, considering she at age 37 is one of the youngest Doctors cast. At some point, these shoes are going to be handed on, but it’s not yet,” she adds. “I’m clinging on tight!”

The Jodie Whittaker-starring “Doctor Who” series also features Bradley Walsh, Tosin Cole and Mandip Gill as the main character’s current roster of Companions, different iterations have accompanied the many Doctors on their successive journeys across time, space and other dimensions on the TARDIS time machine, disguised as a retro UK police box. The current series premiered on BBC One on New Year’s Day 2020, and is already four of its ten episodes (plus Christmas special) in. It also airs on BBC America, and will join the other 11 series of the “Doctor Who” revival begun by BBC in 2005, on HBO Max later this year.

Image courtesy of Digital Spy