Friday, October 29, 2021

FULLY-VAX Travelers No Longer Required to Do SWAB TEST at 14 LGUs with TOURIST Destinations


Filipinos who have received vaccination shots against COVID-19 would be very familiar with the standard-issue vaccination cards. They list the date/s when one got his shot/s, the venue/s, the vaccine brand and other pertinent information. As the only vaccines cleared for emergency use in the Philippines require two doses, a vaccine card with two records marks its owner as fully vaccinated against COVID. The cards also have a QR code similar to those on contact tracing IDs. Establishments and businesses have offered special benefits for fully-vaccinated customers, but this latest update from the tourism sector is the biggest boon yet.

According to The Manila Bulletin, a number of local government units across the country with prominent tourist destinations have announced their plans to drop mandatory swab testing for fully vaccinated tourists. This was revealed by the Department of Tourism (DOT), specifying that 14 Philippine LGUs with tourism-spot jurisdictions have agreed to drop this once-bothersome requirement. The generous gesture was praised by Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, as it falls in line with the DOT’s continuing drive to get more people to travel and do local tourism to help bolster the industry and national economy, given that the Philippines is at latest now classified low-risk for COVID.

The following 14 city/provincial LGUs have dropped mandatory RT-PCR antigen testing for COVID with incoming travelers to their respective tourist spots provided they can prove fully-vaccinated status, since October 24:

  • Bohol
  • Catbalogan City
  • Cebu Province
  • Clark Freeport Zone (barring travellers originating from ECQ areas)
  • Iloilo City
  • Lapu-Lapu City
  • Maasin City
  • Masbate
  • Misamis Oriental
  • Negros Occidental
  • Southern Leyte
  • Subic Bay Freeport Zone
  • Tacloban City
  • Tarlac (including travelers from ECQ/MECQ areas

In a general sense, most of the above LGUs would only need a completed vaccination card as proof of complete vaccination for incoming tourists, though travelers are still advised to contact their destination LGU to be informed on any required document updates. For Bohol, Iloilo City and Negros Occidental however, their LGUs require proof in the form of vaccination certificates, available through the VaxCertPH page of the Department of Health website.

Some top destinations like Boracay however, will continue to require RT-PCR for incoming tourists regardless of vaccination status, unless they come only from the provinces of Panay Island and Guimaras. The Aklan provincial LGU however is considering lifting the requirement as well by the end of October, if all adult residents and tourism workers on Boracay are finally, fully vaccinated. The DOT is targeting all Philippine tourism workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID by the end of the year.

Image courtesy of ZEN Rooms

Thursday, October 28, 2021



Last week there was surprising news from the tech company running the foremost social media network of the world. Facebook Inc., which runs Facebook along with Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus and more, was changing its name. The idea of doing so, according to FB CEO Mark Zuckerberg, was to shift the public focus of the company from social media to its new direction, to pioneer in the development of a new online internet environment. While the same social media community FB reigns over made some hilariously pointed suggestions, the fact that Facebook Inc. is promoting its work on the “meta-verse” meant only one possible name-change.

The Verge tells us that as of this past Thursday, October 28, Facebook Inc. is now going by the name of Meta Platforms Inc., or just Meta for short. Meta is now the umbrella under which the social media website/app services of Facebook, Instagram et cetera are now grouped under, along with other divisions busy embodying the multinational tech giant’s new development focus. As Mark Zuckerberg puts it in his announcement, the now-Meta is pushing forward with new connective online technology, part of the groundwork needed to get the proposed meta-verse experience off the ground.

“We are a company that builds technology to connect,” says Zuckerberg. “Together, we can finally put people at the center of our technology. And together, we can unlock a massively bigger creator economy.” The discarding of Facebook as the entire company’s name (relegating it solely to the social network) indicates that Meta has grown more and beyond mere social media, and that hopefully people will see them more as a “meta-verse” company, one of many moving to evolve the internet from mere computer displays to augmented reality and virtual spacing. No massive reorganization of the company follows the name-change, beyond Oculus rebranding as Meta Quest.

The adoption of a new name for Facebook Inc. might cynically also be seen as an attempt to navigate a series of controversies leveled against the company. Scrutiny will continue to fall on Facebook, but only as the network of the same name and not of Meta Inc., its parent company. Comparisons have also been made to Google, which in 2015 rebranded and made the search engine division just one arm of a larger parent company called Alphabet. The Meta refresh might also alleviate demographic changes in the FB user base, considering there are even fewer teens and young adults still using the networking platform.

Image courtesy of AP News



One surefire indicator that a Philippine music artist or group somehow managed to build a visible overseas presence, is getting nominated for any edition of the MTV Music Awards. Often that category nomination would be for something like Best Act from Southeast Asia, especially if the MTV Music Awards is not the regional Asian version. Then again, the MTV Asian Music Awards (and Philippine Awards) were last held back in the 2000s, so recognition can now only come from the US or Europe. But we digress. The thing is, a Philippine Pop act did get an MTV nomination, for Europe.

The Philippine Star reports that P-Pop boy band SB19 is a nominee at the next MTV Europe Music Awards for the Best Southeast Asian Act category. This honor is the second time a Philippine music artist got some representation at the European-based awards show. SB19 is vying for the Best Southeast Asian Act award alongside a formidable ensemble of SEA talent: Indonesia’s Lyodra, Malaysia’s Naim Daniel, Singapore’s JJ Lin, Thailand’s Ink Warunton, and Vietnam’s K-ICM. Perhaps the quintet act of Josh, Justin, Ken, Sejun and Stell will win this accolade from MTV Europe that eluded their predecessors in 2020, Ben&Ben.

SB19 has been making greater strides in international presence even before getting their MTV Europe nomination. Back in April the group became the first Philippine and Southeast Asian artist/group to be nominated in the Top Social Artist category of the Billboard Music Awards. The only reason they did not win was because they were beaten by South Korea’s BTS. But for SB19, a group trained similarly to K-Pop idols, to share a category on the Billboard Awards with THE K-Pop act here and now, is already an achievement worth remembering.

The 2021 MTV Europe Music Awards will be hosted in Hungary next month, November 15. The ceremony will be broadcast live on MTV channels in 180 countries around the world. Fans can vote for various categories, including Best SEA Act for SB19, on the official awards website. Voting only lasts until the 10th of November.

Image: CNN Philippines

NETFLIX Releases First “COWBOY BEBOP” Trailer


When it comes to anime, streaming giant Netflix has a hit or miss track record, whether from hosting major series and films, or with their “original” anime productions. But when it comes to adapting anime into live-action, their binge-watchers agree that Netflix sucks. Their 2017 film take on iconic series “Death Note” got panned by fans of the original, and their live-action series adaptation of another legendary anime, “Cowboy Bebop,” looks to follow the pattern. Not even the early release of the intro (a near-recreation of the anime’s) and a short teaser, have mollified naysaying old fans, until the trailer.

CNET tells us that Netflix has just put up their first actual trailer for their live-action “Cowboy Bebop” series, featuring actual scenes from the episodes. This was in contrast to the “Lost Session” teaser, shown last week, which featured an original fight scene skit that received mixed reception from viewers who have watched the original 1990s anime. Earlier criticism of the series’ promotional material focused on the bizarre blend of psychedelic and grindhouse motifs, as opposed to the anime’s neo-noir and space-western aesthetics. The trailer seems to keep the grindhouse feel, but now adds the neo-noir and anime-like atmospheric visuals.

The trailer begins with bounty hunter Spike Spiegel (John Cho) catching up on old times with a bar owner acquaintance, Ana (Tamara Tunie). In the future Solar System, with planets and moons colonized b mankind, Spike relates that death can befall anyone at the hands of the police, bounty hunters like him, and a Syndicate that had been part of his past. So Spike works together with fellow hunter Jet Black (Mustafa Shakir), captain of the converted spaceship Bebop, and (rather reluctantly) with sultry con artist Faye Valentine (Daniella Pineda), who is also an amnesiac.

Other visuals range from martial-arts street brawls (and Spike training with a Kung Fu wooden dummy), gunfights, and space battles between armed aerospace craft like Spike’s Swordfish II. His disdain towards Faye is also highlighted with his itchy trigger-finger around her. And of course, there is Spike’s unfinished business with old syndicate partner-turned-nemesis Vicious (Alex Hassel). The visual direction for this trailer seems to have won over some former critics, with them looking forward now to when “Cowboy Bebop” premieres on Netflix streaming November 19.

Image courtesy of NME

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

PBA BARS Referee from Officiating CHAMPIONSHIPS After Foul Call ERROR in TNT vs. MAGNOLIA Game 3


Last week the Philippine Basketball Association initiated the 2021 Season Philippine Cup’s Best of 7 Finals series between TNT Tropang Giga and the Magnolia Pambansang Manok. The former got to this point by beating the Barangay Ginebra and San Miguel Beermen, while the latter squad overcame Rain or Shine and MERALCO. Game 1 on October 20 and Game 2 on the 22nd saw victory go to TNT, both times with comfortable leads. Game 3 last Sunday, October 24, saw Magnolia salvage its prospects with their first Finals win, but the match also featured a controversial foul call that the league has since taken action at.

According to The Manila Bulletin, the PBA has just confirmed the removal of Kenny Hallig, a referee officiating during the 2021 Philippine Cup Finals Game 3, from working at other league championship games yesterday. In a statement delivered this Tuesday, October 26 the PBA technical committee acknowledged that Hallig called a foul wrong on the third clash between TNT and Magnolia at the DHVSU Gymnasium in Bacolor, Pampanga. The mistake was highlighted by the league’s deputy commissioner Eric Castro and Bong Pascual, head of officials.

The error went as follows, on the 2021 Philippine Cup Finals Game 3 of the 24th, Second Quarter, Magnolia’s Paul Lee attempted a three-pointer that was challenged at close quarters by TNT’s Brian Heruella. Hallig fouled Heruella, only for a video review to clarify that at no point did Heruella make contact with Lee when the erring official blew his whistle. This incident was met with negative reactions from viewers and even TNT team owner Manny V. Pangilinan, souring what should have been a nicely-fought 106-98 win by Magnolia to halt the Tropang Giga’s race to four. Pascual noted that mistakes will happen, but that the PBA will still act.

The PBA head of officials clarified that no foul-incurring contact happened between the two players observed by Kenny Hallig. “Things like this happen. Referees are humans, says Pascual. “But their mistakes don’t go unpunished.” As a result, it appears Hallig has been removed from referees officiating in the Finals, perhaps in all PBA championship games.

After an abortive start of the 2021 Season in Metro Manila that was halted after the mid-year rise of COVID-19 cases, the PBA transferred to Pampanga and resumed its season games August 31 at the gym of the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor. Game 4 between TNT and Magnolia plays Wednesday, October 27.

Image: Official PBA website



Decades ago, when George Lucas kicked off his development of the Prequel Trilogy to “Star Wars,” there was one key casting decision. The prequels were supposed to depict how original-trilogy hero Luke’s Jedi father Anakin Skywalker became the evil Darth Vader. Following Jake Lloyd’s solo outing as kid-Anakin in “The Phantom Menace,” Canadian actor Hayden Christensen carried the role for the rest of the prequels, showing his awkward romance with Natalie Portman’s Padme up to his Dark-Side fall. It was assumed Christensen has done his part there. Now it turns out he will be reprising the role, not just opposite Ewan McGregor in “Obi-Wan Kenobi” but on “Ahsoka” as well.

Entertainment Weekly has it that Hayden Christensen’s return to the mantle of Anakin Skywalker for the “Star Wars” series on Disney+ will be for more than one miniseries. It was first confirmed that he will be joining prequel-trilogy costar Ewan McGregor on “Obi-Wan Kenobi,” focusing on the latter’s “Star Wars” character. Over the weekend however, actress Rosario Dawson teased on a now-deleted Instagram post that Christensen would be joining her in “Ahsoka,” the series being produced after “Obi-Wan.” Dawson plays Ahsoka Tano, Anakin’s once-Jedi Padawan introduced in the “Clone Wars” animated series back in 2008.

Given the timeline setting of the “Obi-Wan” spinoff series, there is already no doubt that Christensen will play his Anakin in his Sith persona of Darth Vader, the helmeted, masked, part-cyborg Sith Lord enforcer of Emperor Palpatine. Vader became iconic in George Lucas’ original trilogy thanks to his wheezing breathing and deep voice provided by veteran actor James Earl Jones. But “Ahsoka” apparently takes place contemporarily to “The Mandalorian,” where the character made her live-action debut as portrayed by Dawson. For Christensen to appear here, years after Anakin/Vader’s OT death, brings up some interesting speculation.

Nobody from Hayden Christensen, Lucasfilm and Disney have given any response to the now-expunged social media post from Rosario Dawson, who herself is keeping mum. All that is left are the facts, namely “Ahsoka” starting production sometime in early 2022. “Obi-Wan Kenobi” on the other hand has started filming this past May, with an expected streaming release on Disney+ also sometime next year. The latest upcoming “Star Wars” spinoff, “The Book of Boba Fett” starring Temuera Morrison, premieres late December.

Image from Screen Rant

Monday, October 25, 2021



Last year, when COVID-19 became a full-blown pandemic sweeping across the globe, it managed to secure a prominent place at the forefront of local news. From the initial strict lockdown days, to the mid-2020 relaxation and case spike, to the rollout of vaccines in early 2021, key events in the pandemic and the country’s response have been covered. In recent months however, COVID-related news has been secondary info despite continuing reports of high new cases, perhaps because of that. But as vaccination efforts continue and some areas report lowered spread, it has been deemed that the pandemic risk has decreased.

CNN Philippines reports that the Department of Health has considered the Philippines, as a whole, to be “low-risk” of COVID-19. An official statement of the DOH this Monday, October 25, declared the downgrading of the national pandemic situation from its previous “moderate” status. This was due to the fact that no region of the country now has the concerning “high-risk” designation, with only specific regions like Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Zamboanga Peninsula, the Cordillera Region and Metro Manila still having “moderate” risk within their areas. Everywhere else now has “low risk.”

Despite this bit of optimistic news, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire is still shining the spotlight on a still-high utilization rate of intensive-care units (ICU) in hospitals nationwide, particularly in some of the high-risk areas named above. The Cagayan Valley for instance has 88% of its ICUs in active use. Zamboanga and Bicol Regions follow suit at 71% utilization for both. Similar moderate to critical-risk utilization percentages were reported in the CAR, Ilocos and MIMAROPA. Add to that the latest count of 4,405 new COVID cases and 149 related deaths as of this Monday, and one realizes that the good news of low-risk comes with a stern warning for caution.

Not everything is bad however. While many Filipinos remain unvaccinated against COVID, including an estimated 3 million seniors, some areas and communities have made good progress. For instance, Las Piñas in Metro Manila has 99.6% of its resident population with their first vaccine dose, and 90.6% with a second, completed dose. In other words, they now have herd immunity. In fact, Health Secretary Francisco Duque is confident with the country’s vaccine quantity to approve a recommendation for applying additional booster shots against the pandemic. While guidelines have been laid out, no provision has been made on booster vaccine dose rollout.

Image courtesy of SUNSTAR



Venerable toy brands like Hasbro and LEGO have long cottoned to the fact that they could give their product lines new leases on life by adapting them to various media. They could range from videogames to big-budget, possibly live-action, films (in case of Hasbro’s “Transformers” and G.I. Joe”) or animated (in case of “The LEGO Movie”). Their fellow big-name brand Mattel has made its own entertainment inroads, recently with several “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” animated productions, and longer still, with home-released animated “Barbie” films. They have been developing a live-action movie for that starring Margot Robbie. And now they have cast Ken.

Deadline Hollywood tells us that Mattel and Warner Bros. Pictures have gotten a top actor to portray the role of Barbie’s significant other in their planned live-action film. Interestingly, the star they got was their previous choice, one who had originally turned down the role due to scheduling conflicts. Long story short, actor Ryan Gosling is now set to play Ken opposite Margot Robbie’s Barbie in a story co-written by Noah Baumbach (Netflix’s “Marriage Story”) and Greta Gerwig (“Little Women” 2020), who is also directing.

Fans of movies based on long-running toy lines were shocked back in July to learn that Mattel not only was planning a live-action “Barbie” movie with Warner Bros., but have also tapped Australian movie star Robbie (Harley Quinn herself) to portray the lead role. Gosling had also been approached at the time to costar as Ken. When he said no, the studio actually decided to wait until he might change his mind. Inside sources reveal that the actor finally decided to give the script a go once an opening in his schedule showed up. The production hopes to begin filming in early 2022 in hopes of premiering sometime in 2023.

Margot Robbie had long spoken of the “baggage” that comes with taking on the role of one of the world’s most famous doll characters. She also hopes that the expectations of brand fans regarding a “Barbie” movie might change considering the creative forces writing and directing it. Robbie is also a co-producer of the project via her LuckyChap Production banner.

Image courtesy of The Wrap

Friday, October 22, 2021

PLAYSTATION Videogame Movie “UNCHARTED” Drops FIRST TRAILER; Premieres in 2022


It can be argued that the staying power and popularity of Sony’s PlayStation game consoles can partly be attributed to some of their action-adventure franchises starring treasure hunters. In the early PS consoles, that would be the “Tomb Raider” series featuring Lara Croft. In later-generation devices, it could well be the “Uncharted” series featuring Nathan Drake. “Tomb Raider” got adapted into film first, with “Uncharted” following suit under Columbia and Sony Pictures, as well as PlayStation Productions, the studio geared towards making movies out of PS games. Actual production of the first “Uncharted” film only began last year, with an initial trailer releasing ahead of its premiere early next year.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the first long trailer for Sony-Columbia and PlayStation Productions’ “Uncharted” was showcased this past Thursday, October 21. The film stars Tom Holland (the MCU Spider-Man) as adventurer and treasure hunter Nathan Drake, in a story that takes beats from the “Uncharted” videogames (starting on PS3) but framing it as an origin story of sorts for Drake, who claims to be a descendant of 16th-Century English sailor-privateer Sir Francis Drake, as well as his longtime associate-rival, Victor “Sully” Sullivan (Mark Wahlberg).

The trailer shows a young Nathan Drake working as a bartender until he meets Sully, who shows him some of his treasure-hunting plans. Drake’s interest is drawn to an alleged treasure found by the Magellan expedition, the first to sail around the world. He and Sully decide to work together, as the treasure hunt may also shed clues to what happened to Drake’s long-lost brother. The journey is expectedly risky, particularly with other treasure hunters (Sophia Ali) looking for the loot. One particular threat is a Spanish collector (Antonio Banderas), who will not hesitate to remove obstacles and competition, permanently.

“Uncharted” finally getting a movie trailer is another step in the long production process that began way back in 2008. The first game only released in 2007. Such was the length of the development that Mark Wahlberg, the original casting choice for Nathan Drake, had aged enough to be recast into the mentor role of Sully. The project also went through several directorial changes, before settling on Ruben Fleischer. Seeing as the plot of this film is somewhat original, only time will tell if the storylines from the original games will be adapted. “Uncharted” arrives in cinemas on February 2022.

Image courtesy of Empire Online



There is nothing quite like a celebrity wedding to catch the attention of followers of the Philippine entertainment industry. Nowadays the focus on such events might be intensified due to the still-ongoing pandemic which can affect at least the wedding-guest capacity or at most, whether it would happen at all. One of the more recent Pinoy showbiz couples making plans to tie the knot soon are GMA7 talents Tom Rodriguez and Carla Abellana. One new trend in these things is the release of a prenuptial photo-shoot and video. Tom and Carla did both, with the latter being quite the production.

The Philippine Star has it that Kapuso romantic tandem Tom Rodriguez and Carla Abellana have put up their prenup pictures and video on social media this week, just ahead of their big wedding day this coming Saturday, October 23. The video clip makes for great silent storytelling and generating warm and fuzzy feelings with fans of the two. Directed by Bob Nicolas, the video is available for viewing on Abellana’s Instagram page. The photo-shoot on the other hand was done by wedding photographer Pat Dy, with some choice images shared by Rodriguez on his Instagram.

Nicolas’ three-minute video sees Tom and Carla inside a traditional Filipino home’s second floor, with the former doing a sketch on the latter. Humor and heartwarming blend together as Abellana proves to be a restless model, but Rodriguez perseveres until he finishes his drawing of her. When Tom shows it to Carla, it becomes an animated sequence of the two of them having a dance. The production credits then play over a scene of the soon-to-be wedded couple strolling through an orchard, and ends with their names together, of course.

As for the photo-shoot, it features Abellana and Rodriguez in a variety of outfits, posing in what is presumably the same orchard/farm where the video’s end credits were shot. Tom’s selection of photos on his social media account does show the two of them in suit and gown, posing on a church pew. He described the experience as being on a Dream Team, which he is with his soon-to-be wife. Photographer Pat Dy concurs, describing his work in finding the right location to take the couple’s prenup pictures. He also thanked Carla and Tom for putting their trust in him.

To Tom Rodriguez and Carla Abellana on their wedding day tomorrow, have our heartfelt congratulations.

Image from When in Manila

Thursday, October 21, 2021



When DreamWorks, Hasbro and Paramount Pictures released the first live-action “Transformers” movie way back in 2007, it marked a milestone renaissance in the transforming toy-robot franchise. After passing its heyday back in the 1980s,”Transformers” as a whole became mainstream and popular again, with a new series of toys…and film sequels. While the first three movies with Shia LaBoeuf made a cohesive enough trilogy, the fourth and fifth installments seemed to wear out the film series’ welcome, with Michael Bay’s directing style not enough to keep interest. The 2018 “Bumblebee” prequel/reboot felt like a step back in the right direction, one that “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” will follow up on.

And as Comic Book Resources would have it, production on the seventh live-action “Transformers” movie has finally been completed. This was heralded by “Rise of the Beasts” director Steven Caple Jr. on his official Instagram page earlier this week. The photo he used is that of a red Kenworth k100 semi-trailer truck, manufactured back in the 1970s. This truck model, with its “cab over” body style, is the closest to the vehicle form of Autobot leader Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen). The 2007 film introduced him as a larger Peterbilt 379.

“Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” is notable for being the first live-action adaptation of a prominent side theme to “Transformers,” that of the “Beast Wars” sub-franchise. In addition to the regular heroic Autobots, this film will introduce the Maximals and Predacons, autonomous robotic life-forms from planet Cybertron that transform into animals instead of vehicles. Ron Perlman will voice the good-guy Maximal leader Optimus Primal, who has a gorilla “beast mode.” Instead of the Decepticons, a new evil vehicle faction called the Terrorcons is in play. Can Optimus prevent the secret Beast Wars from engulfing Earth?

The human cast of “Rise of the Beasts” includes Anthony Ramos, Dominique Fishback, Luna Lauren Velez and Tobe Nwigwe. The film premieres on June 2022.

Image: Transformers World



In decades past, Filipino overseas travelers who have made it at least as far as Hong Kong would have likely gotten a chance to catch some spectacular marine mammal shows and go on numerous amusement rides in Ocean Park Hong Kong. A desire to have a similar oceanarium/amusement park complex in the Philippines came true in the 21st Century when Manila Ocean Park opened its doors in 2008. A popular local tourist destination near Rizal Park, Manila Ocean Park was significantly affected by the COVID pandemic, outright closing its doors. But that health issue-mandated shutdown has come to an end.

CNN Philippines reports that Manila Ocean Park reopened this Thursday, October 21, after a lengthy closure due to the global pandemic. The reopening ceremony was attended by Manila Vice-Mayor Honey Lacuna, making Manila Ocean Park one of the most significant businesses to resume operation following the easing of Alert Levels in the city since Wednesday, October 20. The oceanarium had been shuttered for more than a year, and its reopening could help to reverse its losses in that lean period.

In a statement during Manila Ocean Park’s reopening, Vice-Mayor Lacuna expressed hope that like this tourist attraction, other establishments in Manila can “get back on track” with business. That way, more jobs can be revived for the unemployed affected by the pandemic, and thus contribute to the revival of the national economy. "You are conveying a clear message that we are almost getting out of the tunnel and beginning to see the light," says Lacuna.

Even with Manila now at a more lenient pandemic Alert Level 3, there are still restrictions in place for the many businesses now resuming their operations. For Manila Ocean Park, they will only allow guests who have been fully vaccinated (usually two shots, most vaccines). These fully-vaccinated guests to Ocean Park must also be between 18 and 65 years of age. The oceanarium is only open to visitors for four days in a week, Thursday to Sunday, 10AM to 6PM.

Image courtesy of ABS-CBN News

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

FACEBOOK Company Announces Planned NAME CHANGE


In 2004, a social media and networking website was launched by a group of Harvard College students, among them Mark Zuckerberg. Originally geared for the use of Harvard students and later of several major universities, by 2006 it was available to users over 13 years old by the name “Facebook.” On that day, social media changed forever. Many competing and contemporary social networking platforms would fold even as Facebook expanded and acquired other social media services under its umbrella. Despite sometimes-grave controversy, Facebook has endured and expanded even further. To reflect this, the company running the service is contemplating a major shift: a name change.

The Verge tells us that Facebook Inc. will be changing its name as an indicator of its planned direction towards the future. As CEO Mark Zuckerberg sees it, the company plans to officially reveal its new name next, around the time of the Facebook Connect conference this coming October 28. Considering the possibility of leaks however, the name change could be publicized earlier than that. The new name would encompass the fact that the Facebook platform is just one of the company’s many services, which now include other social media networks like WhatsApp and Instagram, and the VR platform Oculus.

But there is also a pragmatic angle in the proposed name change of Facebook Inc. Over the past few years the concept of social media has become more predominantly known for their negative effects rather than their positive benefits. Facebook and its associated platforms might only blame themselves, if a former company employee-turned-whistleblower has the right of it. Earlier this month the whistleblower alleged that Facebook has been letting hate-speech content by, as they apparently drew more users which equaled to more profit. Instagram was also slammed for exacerbating body issues with young female users.

Facebook Inc. for its part puts a positive spin on its impending name change. In fact, one reason might hint as to what the new name might be like. The company positions itself as one of the pioneers in the conceptualization and development of the “metaverse,” a proposed future version of the internet that could be explored as a collection of linked 3D virtual spaces. Facebook even recently announced plans for a metaverse development team with no less than 10,000 employees to be hired. This only serves to build hype for just what Facebook Inc. will call itself in future.

Image courtesy of TechCrunch

Monday, October 18, 2021

GMA7 Comedian SUPER TEKLA Relates Being Wrongfully Accused of SHOPLIFTING


Sometimes, people get mistaken for having committed a crime, most likely for small misdemeanors. This can happen whether one is an ordinary citizen passing by or a well-known celebrity. In the latter case, having what can be described figuratively as the “face of a thug” means they are quickly accosted and accused. And while such situations can be resolved before they escalate, the wrongfully accused will still end up with hurt feelings over it. Kapuso comedian Romeo Librada aka Super Tekla recently underwent such an ordeal: mistaken for an offender, quickly disproven, but still emotionally hurt by what just transpired.

GMA News tells us that Super Tekla shared his experience of being wrongfully accused of shop-lifting at a convenience store. According to the story he shared last Sunday, October 17 at “24 Oras Weekend,” Tekla bought something at a convenience store, where after paying at the counter he was barred at the exit by the security guard who observed him allegedly pocketing a deodorant bottle over the security camera CCTV. The guard requested that Tekla subject himself to a search, which the “Wowowin!” co-host allowed. The lack of any stolen item, plus the cashier vouching to the guard on Tekla’s identity, finally let him off.

Tekla explained that while he did look at some items in the deodorant section, he did not take anything. He does recall putting his hands in his pockets at the time, which he surmises as what the guard saw on CCTV. While Tekla did alleviate the situation by making a joke after the guard apologized, he did feel put off at being singled out. “Deep inside I was hurt,” says Tekla. “That’s when I felt ‘Ouch, sad reality.’ [It was] hurtful but funny.” The comedian could not help but think back to his past jokes about his looks being “suspicious.”

Aside from “Wowowin!” alongside host Willie Revillame, Super Tekla co-hosts, with fellow comedian Norman “Boobay” Balbuena, “The Boobay and Tekla Show,” a primetime comedy talk show airing Sundays on GMA7.

Image from The Filipino Times



When it comes to cinematic portrayals of DC’s Dark Knight superhero Batman, there have been arguably nine feature-length movies focusing on the character (if one counts only live-action). There was the campy movie starring Adam West (connected to the equally-campy TV series), followed by the 80s-90s Batman tetralogy, then the dramatically epic Dark Knight Trilogy, and finally the DCEU franchise movie “Batman v Superman.” Ben Affleck reprised that role in 2017’s “Justice League” with plans for a standalone, only to quit and hand over the cowl to Robert Pattinson. “The Batman” became yet another new timeline, with a first long trailer released this past weekend.

Entertainment Weekly has it that a trailer for Warner Bros. and DC Films’ “The Batman” was among the many goodies featured on Saturday’s DC Fandome event. The movie, under director Matt Reeves and starring Robert Pattinson, gives the first good look at this latest iteration of the Dark Knight beyond an initial teaser last year. While that preview did a good job of setting the atmosphere around the main character, with his black makeup under the cowl, this trailer gives the full treatment of how Pattinson interprets the Dark Knight.

It starts mundanely enough with cops arresting a diner patron, but a look into his coffee cup, with the foam art of a question mark, means the arrested is anything but mundane (hint: Riddler). Pattinson as Bruce Wayne/Batman says in voiceover that fear is a tool, and that the Bat-Signal is a not a call for his help, but a warning to Gotham’s criminal elements about him. Fight scenes show Pattison’s Batman as a brutal street fighter in an armored bat-suit that shrugs off small-arms fire. He also appears to have been contacted by the incarcerated Riddler, who apparently did something to piss Batman off.

More scenes delve into the new Batman’s more tortured mindset. He shrugs off the concern of his butler Alfred and is stone-faced when cat burglar Selina Kyle/Catwoman makes small talk. When Selina asks him what he is under the mask, the answer is “vengeance.” There is an intense car chase where Batman pursues crime lord the Penguin, who initially loses the Batmobile in an explosion only to be rear-ended and flipped by the resilient Bat-vehicle. And all this plays to a new Dark Knight leitmotif by Michael Giacchino (MCU “Spider-Man”).

“The Batman” also stars Paul Dano (Riddler), Jeffrey Wright (Commissioner Gordon), Zoe Kravitz (Catwoman), Andy Serkis (Alfred), and Colin Farrell (Penguin). Robert Pattinson looks determined to move past his association with Edward Cullen and “Twilight” by taking on the role of Batman. The film premieres next year on March 2022.

Image courtesy of Screen Rant

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Original “STAR TREK” Star WILLIAM SHATNER Goes to Space at 90


For three years of the 1960s, viewers on NBC were treated to a sci-fi TV show that painted an optimistic 23rd Century for mankind and friendly aliens out there. The original “Star Trek” series starred, among others, actor William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk of the Federation starship Enterprises as it boldly went where no man has gone before. While the show inspired many to delve into space exploration, whether at NASA or private companies, Shatner continued with his acting career while occasionally returning to the Kirk experience at “Star Trek” events. Then, this past Wednesday, the now-aged actor got to do what his character regularly did, for real.

Associated Press tells us that William Shatner had just been a high-profile celebrity passenger on the October 13 launch of a sub-orbital space capsule manufactured by Blue Origin, the aerospace firm founded by Amazon chairman Jeff Bezos. The New Shepard spacecraft, named RSS First Step, took Shatner and three crewmates to the upper edge of the atmosphere (over 66 miles up from ground level), where they experienced three minutes of weightlessness in outer space before the capsule descended back to Earth by parachute. The entire trip lasted just about 10 minutes from takeoff to landing.

At 90 years old, Shatner just became the oldest person to fly to outer space. He broke the three-month-old record of Wally Funk, aged 82, who flew with Bezos on the same New Shepard craft back in July. Funk however retains the record for oldest woman. Upon landing, the “Star Trek” actor told Bezos, who was at the Blue Origin launch site in Texas, that the short voyage gave him the most profound experience. “I hope I never recover from this,” Shatner tells Bezos. “I hope that I can maintain what I feel now. I don’t want to lose it.”

William Shatner’s brief imitation of his iconic sci-fi role lit a fire in the imagination of “Star Trek” fans, some of whom work at Blue Origin. They flooded social media with messages of congratulations to the nonagenarian movie star, along with Captain Kirk quotes like “Risk is our business.” The buzz created by the flight, where Shatner rode for free as an invited guest of Jeff Bezos, could also be construed as putting a positive veneer over Blue Origin, which recently has been under scrutiny for workplace conditions, compared to close rival, Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

Accompanying Shatner on “Blue Origin NS-18” were the company’s VP of mission and flight operations Audrey Powers, satellite company Planet Labs co-founder Chris Boshuizen, and software executive Glen de Vries. Shatner also carried aboard the space capsule some homemade “Star Trek” props created by Bezos.

Image from NBC News

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

“BETCIN,” Starring KYLIE PADILLA ANDREA TORRES as LESBIAN Online Couple, Premiering on WETV this FRIDAY


Back in July, the corner of Philippine social media that follows the local showbiz industry got some very steamy teasers from two top actresses. Kylie Padilla and Andrea Torres featured in photos of themselves being close, very close; close to kissing even. The only hints they gave of what they were up to on their social media pages are “Rein Entertainment” and #BetCin. It was surmised that these refer to either a film or a series, and the promotional images indicate that they portray a lesbian couple. Several months later, new details finally confirm just what production Kylie and Andrea will be starring in next.

The Manila Bulletin reports that “BetCin” will be a new streaming series to be hosted on streaming website WeTV (known in China as Tencent Video). The title is derived from the names of the two main characters, online celebrities Beth (Kylie Padilla) and Cindy (Andrea Torres). The premise has the two establish a solid online following, with their fans fawning over how they became a social media power couple. Their portmanteau couple name of “BetCin” got their followers dubbing themselves the “Umami.” But underneath the happy façade, the duo’s romantic dynamic is showing cracks. Will they fall apart with the internet watching, or somehow endure?

During the virtual press conference for “BetCin”, Padilla spoke of how the opportunity to star in Rein Entertainment’s streaming series was perfect for her and Torres. “It came at the right time,” says Kylie. “I got so engrossed with my character Beth. The script is so rich. I enjoyed it and had fun. It’s worth doing this project especially in the time of the pandemic and being away from my kids.” Torres concurs, adding, “For my character Cindy, I like how she enjoys her freedom. The appeal of BetCin is for them to be accepted.”

Andrea went on to say that working with Kylie on “BetCin” was the most unforgettable project she has been involved in yet. She also demonstrated the dynamics of the pairing between herself and Kylie when she remarked, before the press-con audience, “It was an absolute pleasure and honor to be your Cindy.” The two actresses will have their work cut out for them to sell just how well they portray a lesbian celebrity pair. “BetCin” will premiere on WeTV this coming Friday, October 15, with new episodes expected to go up on streaming every week.

Image from Click the City

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

SAMSUNG Showcases STRESS TEST Video for Proving GALAXY Z FOLD 3 and Z FLIP 3’s Durability


Materials for touchscreen displays that could fold like paper is a tech breakthrough shared by many different manufacturing sources. However it was Samsung from South Korea that managed to apply that tech onto mobile devices that work as advertised. True, the original iteration of the Samsung Galaxy Fold phone-tablet was not exactly sturdy in its 2019 release, causing it to be delayed while overhauls were done. The folding smartphone Galaxy Z Flip fared a bit better, and eventually their successor models ensured that the Fold/Flip Samsung devices were here to stay. They are even proving that the latest editions are built tough with stress demonstrations.

The Verge has it that Samsung has shared a video showcasing their intense durability tests for their current-gen Galaxy Z Fold 3 phone-tablet and Z Flip 3 folding smartphone. The video, which was uploaded to YouTube and posted on their official website, demonstrated four significant stress trials for the two folding-touchscreen devices as seeming proof of their sturdiness. First, the gadgets were subjected to climate changes in an environment chamber. Next, they were dunked in water. Third, their screens were tested by having a stylus operated by a robot arm write on them. Finally, the obvious test of repeated screen folding and unfolding was performed.

All in all the test footage is impressive; the question however lies in the timing. Both the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and the Galaxy Z Flip 3 have already been released this past late August. So why is Samsung showing a durability test for the devices now? One likely reason is the upsurge of reports from new Z Flip 3 owners saying that their folding touchscreen has started cracking along the middle where the phone hinge is. Some complaints claim that the cracks simply appeared after an extended period of time that the Z Flip 3 was folded and stored.

Samsung’s stress tests for their new gadgets as seen in the video did not actually address the question of why the Galaxy Z Flip 3 touchscreen was cracking up. And so far, the Korean electronics giant has not mentioned this issue directly. While the video might reassure Z Fold/Flip 3 buyers of the sturdiness of their new devices, the question still remains in the air whether the guarantees are enough.

Image courtesy of SamMobile

Monday, October 11, 2021



For most of the past year, the Philippines along with the rest of the world could only hunker down and endure as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe. Hope lay in various pharmaceutical companies and laboratories in various countries that were developing vaccines for the virus. These vaccines were introduced between late 2020 and early 2021, with vaccination programs in this country officially started by March. Due to limited vaccines however, government agencies were forced to classify recipients by priority, from front-line workers to the elderly and so forth. Over six months later however, strict prioritizing has loosened up.

The Philippine Star reports that as of this past Monday, October 11, vaccination against COVID-19 in the Philippines is now open to the general adult population, with walk-in visits to vaccine sites no longer requiring appointments. This was announced by the Department of Health (DOH) in a virtual government briefing by Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergere. She cites the now-sufficient supplies of COVID shots now available in the country, according to vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. “We are announcing the start of COVID-19 vaccination on general adult population,” Vergere said. Seven COVID vaccine brands are already deployed for local vaccination use.

As of the latest tally, just about more than 50 million doses of COVID vaccine have been administered across the Philippines, with 26.7 million given as a recipient’s first dose and 23.3 million as the second and completing dose. General adult vaccination was given the go-ahead back in September 30 by the COVID Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF). Nevertheless, even with the wider availability the DOH is still reminding local government units overseeing vaccine sites to maintain priority for senior citizens and recipients with medical comorbidities, as they remain highly vulnerable to severe cases of COVID that might also require hospitalization.

In addition to throwing open the door for all adults to get their shots against COVID, the DOH is also making preparations for a pilot program to test vaccination in minors aged 12 to 17. Should this pull through, then minors in that age bracket with co-morbidities will be grouped with their older fellow sufferers in the A3 priority classification. Other minors without those complications will be with the priority C classification. The A categories (1-5) covered front-liners, government leaders, seniors, co-morbid, and indigenous peoples while priority B (1-5) applied to teachers, government rank-and-file employees, essential business workers and OFWs.

Monday saw 8,292 new confirmed cases of COVID in the Philippines, adding to the total of 2,674,814 Filipinos who have been touched by the pandemic.

Image courtesy of Manila Bulletin

“ANIMANIACS” Season 2 NYCC TEASER Sends Up ANIME, 1980s Cartoons


In 1993, Steven Spielberg’s Amblin teamed up with Warner Animation to produce “Animaniacs,” a comedy musical animated series mainly about three “forgotten” Warner cartoon characters (Yakko, Wakko and Dot) who routinely wreak havoc in the Warner Bros. Burbank studios. Also featured were the misadventures of would-be world conquering lab rats Pinky and the Brain, and parodies just about any pop media imaginable. While the original series ended in 1998, streaming service Hulu brought it back in late 2020, with a season 2 due next month and a third already green-lighted. Anticipation for Hulu’s “Animaniacs” was already high with an initial teaser last August. A second one just blew fans’ minds.

Polygon tells us that Hulu and Warner Animation just released a new teaser for revived “Animaniacs” season 2 on their platform, due to premiere on streaming in November. This was one of the trailers showcased during this year’s New York Comic Con (NYCC 2021), which ran though this past weekend. Where the preview from over a month ago was straightforward comedy, the second teaser delves into the parodying the franchise is well-known for. It was also a nice follow-up to the anime-inspired segment from the inaugural season of the Hulu revival, dubbed “Anime-niacs” by viewers.

Said teaser riffs on the opening sequence of “Thundercats,” a 1985 animated series produced by Rankin/Bass (now part of Warner). This show was notable for having animation outsourced to a Japanese studio. It essentially gave some western TV viewers of that decade their first taste of anime visuals. Here, the Warner Brothers (and Sister) get zapped by a magical energy that turns them into the “80’s Cats,” fighting a giant robot too. Another shout-out comes from the fact that the voices for Yakko and Dot (Rob Paulsen and Tress MacNeille) are both industry veterans who have notable 1980s animation voice-work.

The “Animaniacs” voice cast were also present on a virtual panel for the show in NYCC, discussing the return of the series via streaming on Hulu. They also shared their experiences with the “Animaniacs” fandom from the classic show, including the more off-the-wall portion such as tattoo freaks putting the series characters on their necks and such. Catch the second season of Animaniacs on Hulu this coming November 5, for more of that stuff above.

Image from Comic Book Resources

Friday, October 8, 2021



It can be said that renewed confidence of Filipinos in their national sporting teams against international competition can be traced to the men’s national football team. When the 2010 roster (including the Younghusband brothers) beat Vietnam in the AFFC group stage, they began their surprising comeback of the Philippine squad as a plucky underdog, fitting for their informal nickname the “Azkals.” In their wake, other national teams like Gilas (men’s basketball) started shaping up. Among these squads is the Azkals’ female counterpart, nicknamed the “Malditas.” But following the women’s football team recently securing a place in the AFC Asian Cup, their current head coach is proposing a change in names.

CNN Philippines reports that Marlon Maro, head coach of the Philippine Women’s National Football Team, is pushing for a change in the squad’s moniker of “Malditas.” In a virtual forum by the Philippine Sportswriters Association this past Tuesday, October 5, Maro spoke of the negative connotation to the nickname. While the original Spanish context for “maldita” is “feisty lady,” in Filipino the meaning is somewhat closer to “bratty,” Maro notes, I don’t like this word ‘malditas’ because that doesn’t represent the beauty of being Filipina."

“I’m using this platform now that as coach of the team to stop using the word ‘maldita’ because these are not ‘maldita’ players,” adds the Philippine women’s football coach. “They are beautiful, they are good, they are intelligent, and are very disciplined.” Ironically it was one of Maro’s predecessors as head coach, Ernest Nierras that popularized the nickname “Malditas” when he was in charge of the women’s football team during the 2005 Southeast Asian Games. But that was then and this is now, in Maro’s opinion. He plans to finalize a new team name while they are preparing for the FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifier, set to start early 2022.

At present, the Philippine Women’s National Football Team is on the top spot of Group A for the next AFC Asian Cup. This is the second time in a row that the squad has pulled it off. It is their hope to finally debut in the FIFA Women’s World Cup in the qualifiers next year.

Image courtesy of GMA News

THE CW’s “RIVERDALE” SEASON 6 to Feature “SABRINA” in Crossover, After End of NETFLIX Series


In 2017 The CW premiered “Riverdale,” a mystery drama series that takes the iconic (and comedic) characters from Archie Comics in a more mature, edgier direction. The following year a companion series was conceptualized featuring another Archie Comics character, Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Production issues however led to “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” being streamed instead on Netflix on 2018, where it ran four seasons until concluding in 2020. That was too bad in the eyes of some “Riverdale” fans and producers, seeing as the original plan was to have the two series cross over. And with the death of Sabrina Spellman (Kiernan Shipka) in her series finale, it seems impossible.

But somehow, The CW managed to find a way according to IGN. In the wake of “Riverdale” concluding its fifth season this past October 6, came news that Warner Bros. Television will have Kiernan Shipka reprise her role as Sabrina Spellman for the next season. This was announced on WB TV’s official Twitter page, even featuring Shipka in character as Sabrina while sitting on a “Riverdale” chair with her character’s name on it. Series show-runner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa had already crossed over the two shows in their Archie Comics print adaptations.

But apparently The CW decided that the time has come to do what had not been realized, now that the Netflix show has been completed. It also helps that the more recent seasons of “Riverdale” have been delving more into the supernatural. In season 5 it was revealed that the ancestor of Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petcsh) was burned as a witch by the ancestors of Archie Andrews (KJ Apa), Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) and Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse). It seems appropriate to introduce the openly supernatural character of Sabrina when “Riverdale” begins its sixth season.

The CW gave the series a bolder shift only four episodes into season 5, with a time-skip of seven years following the main characters graduating from high school, thus re-establishing them as adults with careers. That would present a challenge given the large age discrepancy between the “Rivedale’ cast with Sabrina, given that she was only 17 years old when the series ended (with her death). It would be interesting to see how WB TV incorporates the character into ”Riverdale” season 6, and whether or not it would be permanent with Kiernan Shipka joining the series. “Riverdale” will return to The CW this November 16.

Image from Comic Book Resources



Ever since ABS-CBN gained the franchise for producing a local edition of Endemol reality series “Big Brother,” the first season of which aired back in 2005, “Pinoy Big Brother” or “PBB” has been a solid Kapamilya cash cow for viewers and ratings. Not even the onset of the global pandemic and the subsequent shutdown of the network would keep the show from going on, with the most recent edition (“PBB Connect,” ninth main season and 15th overall) running from December 2020 to this past March. Its successor, “PBB Kumunity,” is slated to premiere on Kapamilya Channel and A2Z two Saturdays from now, and its featured “Housemates” are gradually being revealed.

As told by, among the contestants being introduced for the latest season of “Pinoy Big Brother” is Binibining Pilipinas – Grand International 2020 Samantha Bernardo. She is one of several celebrity housemates to feature in this “PBB” edition, which will mix civilian adults (regular-season) with spinoff-season celebrities and teens in a massive free-for-all to become Big Winner in the eyes of “Kuya” Big Brother and TV audiences. This is the second time this has happened, the last time the three housemate categories having mingled was in “PBB Lucky 7” (2016-17).

Bernardo was showcased on a social media post by the official “PBB” Twitter page this past Thursday, October 7, in a photo of her dressed in evening gown and her 1st Runner-Up sash from Miss Grand International 2020. It should be noted that her Bb. Pilipinas pageant (56th edition, 2020) was actually postponed due to the pandemic last year. Samantha was instead selected by the BP Organization and appointed Bb. Pilipinas Grand International to participate at the event in Bangkok this March, coming up short of winner Abena Appiah (US). In traditional “Pinoy Big Brother” form, she was given a nickname: The Bread-Queen-er of Palawan.

The announcement of Samantha Bernardo as a “PBB” Housemate fell on the second batch for celebrity contestants. Grouped with her are Anji Salvacion (singer-actress) and TJ Valderrama (comedian). The first batch of celebrity housemates included Alyssa Valdez (volleyball player), Madam Inutz (internet celeb), and KD Estrada (singer). The subtitle for the upcoming season, “Kumunity,” came from the audition process over local video-sharing/e-commerce service Kumu, much like with previous season “PBB Connect.” ABS-CBN plans to premiere “PBB Kumunity” this coming October 16, on Kapamilya Channel and A2Z with possible block-time simulcast on TV5 and other platforms.

Image courtesy of ABS-CBN News