No, Sun and Moon lake is in no way connected to Miss Saigon, although you can stage your own musical here with nature as your only audience. I sure did, and it was liberating. There is nothing more fun than having a go at Eric Carmen’s hits about how love is all that matters and being by yourself, in full volume, while on a mountain bike descending a slope at full speed. Come to think of it, I should have included Highway to Hell on that set list, except that this lake is really far from hell. Nor is it paradise but hey, the place is just perfect for nature lovers and health buffs alike, two categories under which I really do not fall but let us just pretend that I did. At first, I thought that nature might pelt me with stones or dead lake creatures because of our differences in musical taste, but she turned out to be just as tolerant and patiently listened to my impromptu concert, without caring that much whether I do not hit a note or be unable to sustain a vibrato for whatever chilling effect it might result in.
Once again, change of plans. Taichung was just supposed to be a stopover where I would establish my base to go to Nantou. What I wanted to happen was take the high speed rail to Taichung, check in at the guest house, and then go directly to Nantou for one day at the Sun and Moon Lake. For the next day, I would be checking out and bringing my stuff to Formosan Aboriginal Park, which is also within the Sun and Moon Lake area, and head back to Taipei from there for my red eye flight from Taoyuan. And then I woke up at around 8 AM.
To tell you the truth, my first impression of this guest house was a bit negative despite the cool pictures on its Hostelworld page. First, there was a negative post in there. Second, it was a bit difficult to find, as per the instructions given, which included taking a cab that I eventually did. Fortunately, everything changed when I met the owner and his sister, who are both very helpful and kind. Okay, so here is the drill. When you finally find the guest house, you are redirected to the breakfast café facing it via a note at the door. The owner is the café owner’s brother. The said sister would then contact his brother to check you in because he does not live in the guest house.
Ximending was not really on the itinerary. Neither was Taipei, but from what I have realized, and you have to excuse me for resorting to using this abused phrase: "You can take the boy out of the city, but you cannot take the city out of the boy". Hualien was a city alright, but I just needed to see some skyscrapers to relieve me of my homesickness. And so instead of going to Taitung and risk doing nothing because of the not so pleasant weather threatening my island hopping plans, I just bought a train ticket back to Taipei.
do I describe Taroko Gorge? Well, it is one of those places that make you stop
and stare, after which you begin to be grateful that you were born in this
awesome planet. After the exhausting trip characterized by what seemed like
endless walking and non-stop snapping of photos, I realized that the said place
is just full of rocks, huge rocks, which has sort of become the defining attribute
of the place. What seems to be a river has become a narrow stream of water,
that is apparently the result of the dam controlling the water’s flow.
have been to one glorified aquarium too many in this lifetime, why go see
another one? I have nothing to do today, okay. I was supposed to go to Taroko
National Park and maybe collapse in the middle of a hiking trail and die
unnoticed, except that I woke up at around noon, and a good head start is
recommended unless you want to be stranded there and have a slumber party with
the snakes, which are said to be plenty this season. Paragliding was the second
option, except that the feng is hen da. More or less they would not like
their clients getting flown away too far and ending up in Fiji or some
far-flung Polynesian island nation because of that strong wind. Paragliding
would have been fun, and a first. If only that stupid typhoon would leave
was the first one recommended on Wikitravel, and its name is not that hard to
forget, so it was the hostel I inquired about at the Tourism Office. Luckily,
the location of this guesthouse is accessible enough from the train station.
Just walk straight down the road, turn right to 7 Eleven at the second block,
and you reach the hostel after a block or two. Give it around 5 minutes, if you
are a brisk-walker. Downtown is just down the road, although most people would
say that it takes 30 minutes on foot, which is true if you are looking for
something in particular such as KFC, which I only reached after half an hour of
Sparks fly when JD (John Lloyd
Cruz) meets Sari (Bea Alonzo) in a bookstore. He is persistent. She is
reluctant. He is an architect who gets what he wants; a reluctant heir to the
family’s business empire. She is the wardrobe mistress of a reputable tailoring
shop; a persistent breadwinner who would do everything to support the big
household relying on her. Theirs is a perfect love affair waiting to blossom,
if everything were just made believe. Unfortunately, there is this thing called
reality. He is his mother’s biggest secret. She is the kept woman of a business
tycoon. Happy ending, anyone?
Mistresses here, mistresses
there, they are everywhere! Even before No Other Woman last year, Pinoys have
always been fascinated with this social phenomenon. Everyone just needs an
annual dose of his querida movie, and
this year's bet is no lightweight, but then again, the question: You have seen
one too many kabit movies in this
lifetime, do you really need to see another one? And if so, why this one?
Call center agent and Nazarene devotee Bona
(Eugene Domingo) places her family aside and her career on hold to support the
dreams of struggling wannabe actor Gino Sanchez (Edgar Allan Guzman), who gets
eliminated first from a TV talent show called Star of Tomorrow. Despite the
warnings of her friends and the arrival of a potential life partner in the
person of the condominium’s landlord, Bona opts to prioritize Gino’s career up
to the point of shelling out her hard-earned money that her sister and nephew
need, distancing herself from her friends, and heating the water for his daily
morning bath. In short, she is no longer just a fan, but a worshipper of
someone who is obviously just using her.
I have not seen the Lino Brocka movie, and so I
would not have the right to compare, although that one seems to have been a pure
drama and very well-received by critics. As for the theater adaptation, it is
more of a comedy, which is perhaps just apt since Domingo is already known for
her acting prowess when it comes to this genre. The first half is pure comedy,
while it is in the second half where the serious underlying issues start to
surface. About two or three of the supporting actors are not alien to the
theater scene, while the rest of the cast seem to be rather unknown, but still
effective in portraying their roles.
Rene (Eddie Garcia) is retired, cynical, and gay. He continues to work for the
post office anyway for lack of better things to do. His acerbic tongue brings
nothing but squabbles with other residents of the sleepy town where he resides.
Coming out of the closet quite late in his 60’s, he has no family to support
him. His only companion in his old house is his dog Bwakaw (Princess), a stray Labrador
retriever that he decides to adopt. When
not playing verbal judo with his beautician best friend (Soxie Topacio) and his
loud cross-dressing assistant (Joey Paras), Rene takes time to visit an old
friend (Armida Siguion-Reyna), his ex-girlfriend of fifteen years, in a
retirement home. He also frequents the parish church to hand over his repeatedly
revised last will and testament to the town pastor (Gardo Versoza). When the
dog is eventually diagnosed with terminal-stage cancer, Rene’s life starts to
fall apart, but begins to pick up again through his secret admiration for tricycle
driver Sol (Rez Cortez).
Thérèse Bourgoigne (Isabelle Huppert) is a French
social worker based in the Philippines. Coming back late one night with a box
of supplies along with her good old friend Soledad (Rustica Carpio) to a resort
in Palawan, they suddenly find themselves getting ushered into a speed boat
along with several other hostages by an armed group called the Abu Sayyaf, who plan
to hold them captive for ransom. They transfer to another boat, craftily
dodge patrolling marines, and go on what seems to be an endless hike in the
jungles of Mindanao. This scenario takes more than a year, with a lot of
casualties and harrowing experiences along the way.
Captive is dragging and long, but it comes as
an advantage for the audience to emulate the tortured psyche of a person in
captivity. You paid to see this movie, and you are held captive on your seat
inside the theater not because someone is pointing an M-16 or a knife to
your neck, but because you are curious as to what is going to happen next to
the actors you are watching portraying the roles of hostages with an M-16 or a knife to their neck. It serves as some sort of psychological experiment,
and in a way it is effective in that the feeling of being stranded is felt
right there and then.
Barely out of college, Rock (Sam Concepcion) and Tracy (Tippy dos
Santos) are getting married as a result of teenage pregnancy. Her mother (Zsa
Zsa Padilla) does not agree because she thinks it will just be a repeat of what
happened to her and her husband (Gary Valenciano), who actually wants the
marriage to take place in order to save face. Rock's father (Ogie Alcasid), a
one-hit wonder composer, is also cool with the idea, too bad his wife (Eugene
Domingo) does not share the same sentiment. Telling their stories through various
songs from the APO Hiking Society, I Doo Bidoo Bidoo is one enjoyable movie
that serves as a genuine musical treat while also tackling an issue that is as
relevant as it is timely.
Every time one hears the cue for yet another musical number, it is
met with momentary awkwardness that is quickly replaced by a smile and an
inexplicable shiver down the spine, maybe because you grew up listening to
these songs that remind you of an era when Original Pilipino Music did exist,
and was not yet characterized by the brain drain the industry is experiencing
now. This movie might seem to be an excruciatingly dragging music video about
marrying young, but because of these songs that effectively reflect the
emotions of the characters, you have no other choice but enjoy, and perhaps sing
along if you are not that shy.
A young woman (Empress) falls victim to rape and murder in an old house
somewhere in Tagaytay. Fast forward to the present, Amorosa (Angel Aquino) is
left without a husband after a road accident. Hounded by financial woes, she takes
her sons Rommel (Enrique Gil) and Amiel (Martin del Rosario) to live in her
aunt’s pension house in Tagaytay, where she would serve as manager and earn
some much needed cash to support the family. Soon after they move in, the ghost
starts to haunt her, drawing similarities from their situation regarding some difficult
choices made in the past that have led to life-changing results.
good acting from Angel Aquino, particularly in that scene where she had to
choose which son to save. She is one of the reasons why I almost wanted to give this movie four clovers out of five. It is a good thing that Enrique Gil does not get left
behind. This kid can act, and it is nice to see two able actors sharing one
screen. At least, not one gets to outshine the other. Lilia Cuntapay is also
here, and uses her hair once again to provide some good old fashioned scare. It
works every time!
An old man bids for items from the past, including a chandelier with
a rather interesting history. As it comes to life and hovers back to the
ceiling where it belongs, everyone is transported to an old opera, where one
witnesses the rise of Christine Daaé (Claire Lyon) from chorus girl to prima
donna, taking the place of the opera's aging soprano, Carlotta. This she
achieves through the aid of a mysterious tutor which she refers to as the Angel
of Music. Everyone else calls him the ‘Phantom of the Opera’ (Jonathan
Roxmouth). With the arrival of her childhood sweetheart Raoul (Anthony Downing),
she then faces a tough dilemma: how to escape the man to whom she owes her
career so she could be with the man that she truly loves.
Jetstar Pacific (Ho Chi Minh - Hanoi) - 1,139,000 May de Ville Backpackers Hostel (3 Nights/8 Bed Dorm) - 340,000 Airport Transfer (May de Ville Backpackers Hostel) - 378,000 Refreshments/Lock (May de Ville Backpackers Hostel) - 50,000
I knew Ha Long bay would
underwhelm me. Not to be unfair or anything, but even before I got there I
already had preconceived notions of the place courtesy of hearsay and my
undying admiration for Coron. Ha Long Bay had an automatic disadvantage because
of this, but let us call a spade a spade and
get to the details. Besides, I do not lambast something without reason. And so,
what made me dislike Ha Long Bay? The brown water.