We're entering a new year tomorrow and, for most people, it's a great time to think about all those goals we'd like to achieve for the next 12 months. If you have kids, you may also want to encourage them to set achievable targets so they'd also learn more about self-discipline and the joys of earning well-deserved rewards.

You can read my latest Manila Bulletin article Going for the Goal to get started :)

Read this one from a friend's Facebook post. It's too nice not to share. Here's wishing all of us a wonderful 2011 ahead! :)

May you get a clean bill of health from your dentist, your cardiologist, your gastro-endocrinologist, your urologist, your proctologist, your podiatrist, your psychiatrist, your gynecologist, your plumber etc ...

May your hair, your teeth, your face-lift, your abs and your stocks not fall; and may your blood pressure, your triglycerides, your cholesterol, your white blood count and your mortgage interest not rise.

May you find a way to travel from anywhere to anywhere in the rush hour in less than an hour, and when you get there may you find a parking space.

May New Year's Eve find you seated around the dinner table, together with your beloved family and cherished friends, ushering in the year ahead. You will find the food better, the environment quieter, the cost much cheaper, and the pleasure much more fulfilling than anything else you might ordinarily do that night.

May you wake up on January first, finding that the world has not come to an end, the lights work, the water faucets flow, and the sky has not fallen.

May what you see in the mirror delight you, and what others see in you delight them.

May someone love you enough to forgive your faults, be blind to your blemishes, and tell the world about your virtues.

May you remember to say "I love you" at least once a day to your spouse, your child, your parents, your friends; but not to your secretary, your nurse, your masseuse, your hairdresser or your tennis instructor.

May we live as God intended, in a world at peace and the awareness of His love in every sunset, every flower's unfolding petals, every baby's smile, every lover's kiss, and every wonderful, astonishing, miraculous beat of our hearts.

A Very Happy New Year to All!

Especially for all you movie buffs :)

Press Release:

2011 turns extraordinary as 20th Century Fox rolls out a beaucoup of films contending for the biggest laughs, unmatched thrills and Oscar nods collaborated by today’s most trailblazing yet poignant filmmakers and actors.

Jack Black is one gigantic 3D comic hero in Gulliver’s Travels, based on Jonathan Swift’s book series for children. In the movie, Black’s Gulliver is an aspiring writer who has a lowly position in the mailroom at a newspaper. Hoping to impress his editor (Amanda Peet), he accepts a challenging assignment about The Bermuda Triangle that takes him on a dangerous seafaring adventure and lands on the shores of Lilliput.

Most relationships proceed from love to sex, but in the emotional comedy Love & Other Drugs, starring Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal, this one goes the opposite direction. Hathaway is Maggie, an alluring free spirit who won’t let anything tie her down. But she meets her match in Jamie Randall (Gyllenhaal), whose nearly infallible charm serve him well with women and in the cutthroat world of pharmaceutical sales. Maggie and Jamie’s evolving relationship takes them both by surprise as they find themselves under the influence of the ultimate drug: love.

From Slumdog Millionaire filmmaker Danny Boyle comes another hard-hitting reality in 127 Hours starring James Franco. The movie ticks a day based on the true story of adventurer Aron Ralston during the hiker's harrowing quest for survival after losing an arm to a fallen rock and the grueling five-day ordeal that finally ended with his rescue.

Returning to hardcore psychological horror, director Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan starring Natalie Portman follows the story of Nina (Portman), a ballerina in a New York City ballet company whose life is completely consumed with dance. But Nina has competition: a new dancer, Lily (Mila Kunis), who impresses as well. As the two young dancers expand their rivalry into a twisted friendship, Nina begins to get more in touch with her dark side with a recklessness that threatens to destroy her.

Never Let Me Go is based on the 2005 acclaimed novel of the same name by Kazuo Ishiguro. Starring Andrew Garfield (The Social Network), Carey Mulligan (Wall Street) and Kiera Knightley, their characters live in a world and a time familiar yet unlike anything we know. The movie centers on Kathy, Ruth and Tommy, entangled in a love triangle and are scientific specimens, created in a laboratory and raised in order to provide their organs to severely ill patients. Confronted with the terrible truth of their fate, they must also confront the deep feelings of love, jealousy and betrayal that threaten to pull them apart.

Today’s Disney princess Selena Gomez goes on a trip with the stunning Leighton Meester in Monte Carlo. The movie follows a girl and her best friend who travel to Paris, accompanied by her future, uptight stepsister. When one of the girls is mistaken for a spoiled British heiress, they are caught up in a whirlwind of attention and find themselves going on a dream vacation to Monte Carlo.

The humorous saga of middle school student Greg Heffley continues in Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules. This time, Greg deals with summer activities and the fact that his older brother Rodrick knows something embarrassing about him that Greg wants him to keep quiet about.

Anna Faris brings the house down with Chris Evans in the romantic comedy What’s Your Number? as a woman who looks back at the past twenty men she's had relationships with in her life and wonders if one of them might be her one true love.

Bad boy Martin Lawrence and Brandon Jackson (Percy Jackson) team up as mom and daughter in Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son as undercover agents FBI Agent Malcolm Turner and Trent at an all-girls' school for the arts.

From the pages of classic Marvel mythology, X-Men: First Class takes us when Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr were two young men discovering their powers for the first time before they respectively took the names Professor X and Magneto. They were closest of friends, working together, with other Mutants (some familiar, some new), to stop the greatest threat the world has ever known. In the process, a rift between them opened, which began the eternal war between Magneto's Brotherhood and Professor X's X-MEN.

The flight of a rare bird specie named Blu in the kid-friendly family pic Rio featuring the voices of Anne Hathaway and Jesse Eisenberg takes off on a colorful journey from Minnesota where Blu is a family pet. Blu takes a brave step when he decides to leave the perfect life and go for an unsure trip to the city of Rio de Janeiro where he meets Jewel, a female of his own kind. Unexpectedly thrown together, they embark on a journey that opened up to life’s many wonders.

The Sitter stars Jonah Hill and Sam Rockwell in an all-out trip comedy about a college student on suspension who is tricked into babysitting the kids next door who is fully unprepared for the eccentric night ahead of him with two boys and a wild 8 year-old girl.

Fox once again employs in Caesar: Rise of the Apes groundbreaking technologies developed for Avatar and will render for the first time ever photo-realistic apes rather than costumed actors. “Rise of the Apes” is an origin story set in present day San Francisco, where man's own experiments with genetic engineering lead to the development of intelligence in apes and the onset of a war for supremacy starring James Franco, Freida Pinto, John Felton, Brian Cox and Tom Felton.

Jim Carrey inherits an unfathomable loot of six penguins in Mr. Popper’s Penguins. Co-starring Carla Gugino, Carrey’s life of a businessman begins to change after the inheritance as he transforms his apartment into a winter wonderland eventually unraveling his real professional talent.

Take advantage of business opportunities before 2010 ends! If you are planning to open or expand your business this coming 2011, why not start grabbing hold of exciting opportunities as early as this month? Here's why:

BPI Family Savings Bank is offering a year-ender blast with its Family Ka-Negosyo Real Thrills promo. Avail of free premium items when you take out a minimum loan amount of P1 million and a three year term. Booked Ka-Negosyo Term Loan applications will receive complimentary gift items such as a 7 cu. feet refrigerator, a netbook, and a 32” LCD TV with a DVD player.

Jose Teodoro Limcaoco, President of BPI Family Savings Bank, says, “With the real thrills promo, BPI Family encourages more negosyantes to expand their business as we offer free items that are useful and relevant to businesses.”

The Ka-Negosyo Real Thrills promo period runs until December 31, 2010. To know more, visit www.kanegosyo.com.ph or a BPI or BPI Family Savings Bank branch near you, call 754-NEGO, text 0917-852NEGO or 0922-869-NEGO or email kanegosyo@bpi.com.ph.

For most people, the holiday season is enough reason to make delicious excuses to indulge in lots of mouthwatering dishes. If you're on the lookout for great-tasting Yuletide meals, try out these special recipes using Hunt's Tomato Sauce with Lycofiber.

Feel like a chef as you prepare them for sharing with family and friends. Lycofiber has the combined benefits of lycopene and fiber which makes it easier to come up with convenient, cost-friendly, healthy, and tasty dishes that are just right for the upcoming Christmas celebrations.

Here's sharing two recipes I plan to cook for Noche Buena :)

Christmas Cottage Beef Stew

Make the mashed potato topping by boiling 3 pieces of potatoes. Once these are cooked and tender, add in 2 1/4 cups milk, 1 cup butter, 1/4 tsp. each of salt, pepper, and nutmeg plus 2 tbsps. chopped nutmeg. Mash and mix well.

To make the stew, sauté 500 grams beef, pre-softened and sliced into cubes, in 1/4 cup diced onions until the beef turns brown. Add 1/4 tsp. cloves, 1/4 tsp. allspice, 1 tsp. oregano, 1/8 tsp. thyme, 1/2 cup diced carrots, 2 tbsps. white wine (optional), 1 pc. leek, 1 cup beef stock, 1/2 tsp liquid seasoning and 1 1-kilogram pack Hunts Tomato Sauce with LycoFiber.

Transfer the stew in a casserole then cover with the mashed potato mixture. Brush the top with a 1 pc. egg yolk mixed with 2 tbsps. milk for glazing. Bake in a toaster oven over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until the mash potato turns brown.

This recipe makes 10 to 12 servings and approximately costs P375.00

Merry Sweet Chili Garlic Mussels

Boil 1 kilo mussels in salted water until they open. When cooked, strain and set aside. In a wok, heat 1/4 cup butter and sauté 3 cloves finely chopped garlic until brown. Add 1 pc. chopped onion, 1 tsp. finely chopped ginger, and 1 tbsp. chopped cilantro.

Pour in 2 tbsps. oyster sauce, 2 tbsps. chili garlic sauce, 1 tbsp. sugar, 2 tbsps. rice wine or brandy (optional), and 1 200g. pack Hunts Tomato Sauce with LycoFiber. Let it simmer until sauce becomes slightly thick. Toss in mussels and another tablespoon of chopped cilantro.

This recipe is good for 7 to 9 servings and approximately costs P130.00.

Surprise the whole family with heartwarming dishes to make the Christmas season extraordinarily and excitingly delicious. For more Christmas recipes, simply visit www.yummyhunts.com.

The Meralco Appliance Calculator (M.A.C.) was introduced way back in 2003 and was designed to be an electricity bill management tool for Meralco residential customers. New features and enhancements are continuously being added to the M.A.C. so it can cater to the growing demands of electricity users. With it, you can:

a) better manage your electric consumption and your electric bill
b) make wiser decisions in buying home appliances, and
c) get home energy efficiency tips that are customized to your home electricity consumption

Any consumer can access the M.A.C. from Meralco’s website. Get the option to use either or both of the following:

“My Appliance Calculator” allows users to calculate the estimated consumption cost of appliances - one at a time.

“My Bill Manager”, on the other hand, allows users to calculate the estimated consumption cost of appliances in a table format. With this, you can get an estimate of your household’s total electric consumption cost and see which appliances consume more electricity. Other features of the My Bill Manager menu include: a consumption manager, energy efficiency adviser, and target bill amount estimator.

a) The consumption manager allows users to see the corresponding electric consumption pie chart and
some text description of the chart based on the information you provide
b) The energy efficiency adviser, meanwhile, allows users to see some energy efficiency tips
based on the information provided you give.
c) The target bill amount estimator, on the other hand, allows users to see an estimate of his “monthly target kWh consumption” and “estimated price per kWh” by just inputting the “target electric bill amount”.

Other new features of the M.A.C.:
a) e-mailing of the M.A.C web link to friends through the “email” button
b) sharing the M.A.C web link to Facebook and Twitter accounts through the “share” button
c) sending feedback to Meralco regarding the new M.A.C through the “feedback” button
d) printing the computation results of “My Bill Manager” through the “print” button (for easy access and future
reference of the computations), and
e) viewing the basis for computing the estimated electricity consumption of home appliances for the M.A.C application through the “formula” button (so that users can validate the results of the computations)

The M.A.C. is a user-friendly, interactive and valuable tool for cost-conscious electricity consumers. And with the high electric consumption brought about by the Christmas season, you might want to give it a try today.

I saw Tron: Legacy two nights ago in IMAX 3D and was figuratively blown-away by its state-of-the-art technology and cutting-edge visual effects. I salute the creators of this film because they must have been showered with excessive imagination and creativity when those were handed out. They did such a great job with the set design and characters' costumes. It was surreal watching people living in a virtual world that is vastly different from ours.

I haven't watched the original Tron movie and can admit to not fully understanding some of the how's and why's of this sequel's story but I enjoyed watching it nevertheless. Judging from my 15-year-old son's reaction after the premier ended, I think the two Tron movies would garner a lot of new fans, especially young ones, in the next coming weeks. I, for one, would be hunting down a DVD copy of the first movie so I could at least understand more the history and evolution of Kevin Flynn's alternative universe.

I just got wind of this earlier and just had to share. I am really partial to anything blue and like best the design at the back of the P1000 bill. I'm also glad that whoever finalized the designs placed President Cory Aquino beside her husband, Senator Ninoy Aquino, in the P500 bill. It is a fitting tribute to two great Filipinos.

If you want to know more about the individual designs, mosey on over to Bangko Sentral's website and click on each photo there.

Life is one big classroom. I have always believed that learning is not, and should never be, confined inside the school setting alone. The same goes for the pursuit of excellence. Not making it to the honor roll doesn’t mean a child can’t excel in other areas.

Personally, I am not too keen on putting too much pressure on my kids to earn medals and get high grades in their report cards. Yes, I encourage them to do their best but I don’t feel overly disappointed when they score lower than expected in exams or don’t come home with accolades after a scholastic competition.

What I better want to see in my children is the genuine enthusiasm to pursue their passions and hone their skills, academic or otherwise. My eldest son has already shown so much potential in the field of visual arts when he was just a mere toddler. He continued to focus on that as he was growing up. When he decided to take up Digital Media Arts as his course in college, my husband and I gladly gave our full support. In the span of a few weeks since school started this year, our firstborn’s transformation from being a high school student getting average grades to becoming an excelling freshman in college was amazing! Now free from the high school subjects he thought were utterly boring, I observe how eager my son would now tackle his assignments and projects because they are in line with the things he truly wants to do.

My other two sons, on the other hand, showed a lot of promise when it comes to writing around three years ago. They were invited to write for Manila Bulletin’s Funpage section and have been contributing articles there ever since. I feel very blessed that these kids were given that chance to already show what they can do at an early age. To help them hone the writing craft, I make sure I provide them with books and magazines they’d like to read and offer guidance when they are writing their drafts. I also remind them every now and then that becoming a good writer always starts with being an avid reader.

Aside from providing children the basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter, as well as giving them other tools they need to boost their energy and creativity like multivitamins, books, and art materials, I trust that when parents nurture a child’s God-given gifts at home through constant encouragement and ample attention, the knowledge and skills learned, as well as the discipline and determination gained as they go along, become a way of life that eventually radiates towards everything else that a child does anywhere.

And in my opinion, those are the right steps towards empowering kids to reach the top of the class called life.

I first learned about RPG Metanoia about a year ago when I saw a vague poster at the back of the souvenir program (from Lea Salonga's concert, if I remember correctly). I finally saw what the movie is all about last July when we watched Ambient Media's Show Tickler in Onstage Greenbelt 1.

I really was amazed at how fluid the graphics of this first Philippine 3D animated movie are and was doubly impressed when FILharmoniKA played the accompanying music live while the trailer was being shown.

Here's sharing the video I took that night. Let's support Filipino movies especially RPG Metanoia which, I heard, is now being dubbed The Toy Story of Asia. My kids are already excited to watch this movie which will start showing on Christmas Day :)

As the holiday rush kicks in, prepare to whip up these delicious but easy-to-prepare menus for gatherings with family and friends shared by the makers of EL REAL Pasta.

Crazy over Classic Carbonara

Saute 1/4 cup minced onions in one teaspoon oil over low fire for five minutes. Add 1/4 cup chopped sweet ham, 1/4 cup chopped bacon, 1/4 cup chopped carrots, 1/4 cup green peas and 1/4 cup corn kernels. Cook for five minutes and toss in 3 cups EL REAL Flat Noodles, cooked according to package instructions. In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup all-purpose cream and 4 egg yolks. While the pasta is still hot, toss in the cream and egg mixture. Season with salt and pepper as desired, and serve.

Delightful Tuna Pasta Salad

In a bowl, combine 1 cup drained canned tuna in brine, 1/4 cup mayonnaise, 2 teaspoons oyster sauce, 1/4 cup minced onions, 1/4 cup minced carrots and 1/4 cup bell pepper to make a dressing. Toss in 3 cups of EL REAL Curly Macaroni, cooked according to package instructions, coating the pasta evenly with the dressing. Season with salt and pepper, then chill in the ref before serving.

The affordable EL REAL Flat Spaghetti and the EL REAL Curly Macaroni put a twist to the usual pasta recipes. Both flat and the curly noodles will be able to retain the delicious flavor of your favorite pasta sauce. The FLAT Spaghetti takes only six minutes to cook while the CURLY Macaroni cooks for five minutes only. EL REAL is first in the market to offer these quick-cook pastas in FLAT Spaghetti and Curly Macaroni variants.

These two new variants are perfect for a dynamic range of dishes, making it easier to satisfy cravings. Use them for making appetizers, main courses and desserts.

There are only two weeks to go before Christmas and I still have to buy gifts for some of my loved ones! I already know what I'm getting for them though and I am glad that the store I'm planning to buy those items from will have another sale in two days' time! Gotta troop down to an OMF Literature branch soon ...


Get 20% off all OMF Lit local and international titles from December 15-21

Kaibigan and Pastors' Exclusive Card holders get 30% off on December 17-19

Get 30% Introductory Offer on selected new titles up to December 31

Plus, get exclusive OMF Lit premium items (I love using the magnetic bookmark I have and would love an "I Read" shirt next! :p) with every single receipt purchase of P1,500.

If you still haven't thought about what to give the special people in your life, browse OMF Lit's online catalog. There are lots of good book choices there for everyone.

Edit - 2012: Dear readers, kindly take note of the date this blog post was originally published which is December 2010. Thank you very much for reading this blog but I would really, really like to apologize if I can't help you buy one or all of these dolls. As I've mentioned in the comments section below, the dolls were already sold out back in 2010 and there's no news yet if Jollibee would be coming out with a new batch of dolls any time soon. Please know that I am not an employee of Jollibee. I just blog about their new promos to help spread the word. Hope you understand.

Press Release:

Jollibee helps you spread cheer to your family and friends this Christmas while enabling you to make a lasting gift that will touch others’ lives. With the limited-edition Jollibee and Friends Dolls, not only do you get to own these five cute collectibles that are perfect as gift items, you will also help build classrooms for students of public schools.

Available in all Jollibee stores nationwide, the Jollibee and Friends Dolls collection includes a talking Jollibee plush doll and his four pals - Hetty, Popo, Yum and Twirlie - in loveable and huggable stuffed toy versions.

A portion of the proceeds from the sales of these dolls will go to the Jollibee Foundation’s Build-a-Classroom project. In cooperation with the Jollibee Maaga ang Pasko and the Department of Education, the project aims to raise funds that will help bridge the country’s classroom gap and provide children with a more comfortable and conducive learning environment.

“With this special novelty promotion, we are enabling everyone to experience the joy of giving this season. Kids and grown-ups who love Jollibee and the rest of the gang can have the chance to own the limited-edition dolls, give them as special gifts to their loved ones, and at the same time, contribute something for the benefit of our students in selected - public schools. This is also one way of becoming a Jolly Toy Scout apart from donating your old toys and books,” says Jollibee marketing vice president Albert Cuadrante.

Customers can purchase any number of dolls with any Jollibee food or drink purchase. The Jollibee plush doll is available for only P290, while the Hetty, Yum, Popo and Twirlie plush dolls are sold at P270 each.

Oh the possibilities!

I just browsed the exciting features of the Nokia C7 and I am absolutely impressed. This is definitely one cool phone! I love the sleek design and the fact that it’s made by one of the most trusted and innovative brands in the mobile phone industry.

I’ve been wanting to buy a touch screen phone for months now but due to one reason or another, several planned purchases didn’t push through. It’s either I’d find the phone overrated and not good value for money or it would lack all the features I wanted or I’d get turned off when the salesperson demoed it and the phone wouldn’t deliver (imagine a phone touted to have WiFi capabilities but wouldn’t even connect to the free public WiFi access in the mall!)

At the moment, I still haven’t bought a touch screen phone but I am now hoping that I get to win one for Christmas! :D

If I could have a Nokia C7, I will definitely enjoy all its great features like:

… the 8-megapixel camera which I’ll use for taking videos and photos while I’m on the go. I could finally be free of lugging around an extra digital camera whenever I attend media events, have reunions with loved ones or watch my kids during their school performances. I’m sure the high pixels would definitely take better pictures and footages than the 3.2MP that my digicam has and I’ll get to post better photos in this blog too!

… the WiFi capability would enable me to check emails out of the house, do some research for my ongoing writing projects, and chat with close friends who live abroad. I’ll also appreciate getting live updates from my Facebook and Twitter accounts and be able to respond to interesting posts real time. That feature would be great for those of us who enjoy connecting with friends, family, and colleagues via these useful social networking sites. I’d love to finally be able to access these sites on a bigger screen without straining my eyes or getting frustrated for having to click so many buttons just to accomplish what I want to do.

… the maps with free GPS navigation which would be very helpful because I sometimes tend to get lost when I need to go to new places. I always end up looking for a traffic enforcer just to ask for directions :p Too, the OVI maps would serve us well when my hubby’s driving, we’re going around in circles, and he wouldn’t agree to stop and ask for directions. (Yeah. You know? Men!) At least if I have a Nokia C7 with me, I could find out where exactly we need to go and not waste time hoping the next turn would be the right one.

… the music player which would replace another gadget, my mp3 player, that also adds bulk to my already usually heavy bag. I’d load all my favorite songs in the phone and enjoy the music while I’m stuck in traffic or traveling long distances.

… the customizable home screen and lots of other features which, I’m sure, would tickle my techie side.

There are so many other fun elements of the Nokia C7 that I’d love to tinker with. Here’s wishing I’d get to have one because it would be an awesome Christmas gift. After all, this is a season of surprises and joy so who knows, I just might get something I genuinely would love to have! After all, we are always given so many reasons to hope every time Christmas comes around :)

Whether you choose to watch Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader in 2D or 3D, I think you and the rest of the family would love the story as well as the cool special effects and charming cast of characters.

Please read my full-length review of this movie at HerWord.com. Here are also some magical photos courtesy of 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros.

I have the greatest respect and admiration for stage/theater actors. It must be very difficult to memorize long lines as well as sing and dance without missing a beat. Thus, it is always with excitement that I look forward to any musical or play that is being staged in Manila because I know I’ll get to once again watch very talented people in action.

It was my first time to watch RENT, which was staged by 9 Works Theatrical, last February. I came home that night LSS’ing on the lyrics and melodies of the songs Seasons of Love and La Vie Boheme. You can read my old blog post about that one here and the full-length review here.

When I got the email and text invites to watch RENT’s press preview for its limited December run, I didn’t think twice about it. I immediately confirmed my attendance because I knew it would be one of those artistically wonderful nights of story and music. However, due to my crazy work schedule and simultaneous deadlines, I wasn’t able to catch up with the latest news about this new run of shows.

When I got to Power Plant mall’s Cinema 2 the other night, it was easy to feel and remember how impressed I’ve been of the story line and the cast the first time I saw them months ago. I guess members of the audience who also saw the February run noted the smaller stage, slightly different set-up, and the new cast members.

The funny thing is, while I enjoyed watched Gian Magdangal perform as Roger once again, I thought all the while that the girl playing Mimi was still Nicole Asensio! (I know, major fail on my part.). It was only much, much later, during the post-show media call, actually, when I realized that “Mimi” is actually Sheree, Gian’s real-life lady love. So that was why I didn’t see her this time in the audience! She’s on stage performing! (Sorry, Sheree!) That’s one senior moment point for me :D

To better explain that confusion, see, during the February run, I was surprised to note that Nicole uncannily resembles Sheree (I guess it was the hair and the slim figure) as I looked at one woman on stage and the other among the audience. So there. Darn these nearsighted eyes of mine! :p

Anyway, I must say I doubly enjoyed this second show because I got to appreciate more of the songs and the dialogues this time around. Because I'm already familiar with how the story goes, I was able to concentrate more on the music. During Seasons of Love, I wondered who’d get to sing the part with the highest note this time and was delighted to hear Jenny Villegas do it wonderfully.

Again, I went home LSS’ing on some of the songs because they were really great! Anyone who loves a good story, foot-tapping music, and universal themes should watch this musical.

Catch RENT until Dec. 12 at Power Plant Mall in Rockwell, Makati. There are only eight performances so get tickets now at the Power Plant Cinema ticket booth or call the following numbers: 898-1440 or 898 1441 or 0908-8692988. Shows are held this December 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 (8PM), December 10 (330PM), 11 (4PM) & 12 (430PM).

Know more about the cast and crew by reading the complete press release about the show in my other blog. Individual photos of the cast can be found in 9 Works Theatrical's Facebook photo album.

This month, Jollibee Kids Meal brings Tom & Jerry and Lizzie McGuire to boys and girls ...

The jolliest bunch of new playmates is coming to town this merry month of December with the latest toys from Jollibee Kids Meal! From December 1 to 31, grab these cool collectibles inspired by TV favorites Tom & Jerry and Lizzie McGuire.

Young boys can have a blast with the classic cat and mouse duo, with the Tom and Jerry Toon Tricks.

Reenact Jerry’s awesome schemes on the TV show with the Jerry Strike N’ Go. Simply twist the striker clockwise to lock Jerry in place, push the button and watch Tom zoom away!

Tom also makes playtime enjoyable with his crazy antics. With the Tom the Spinning Top toy, Tom is once again trapped by Jerry. Just insert the ripcord and pull to see Tom spin out of control.

Little girls will surely love the unique and pretty toys of Lizzie McGuire’s Bedtime Charms.

Place Lizzie’s Nightlight near a wall and watch it project special images. Rotating the lamp shade also changes the images. The toy also comes with awesome stencils – just trace around the edges to decorate your papers.

A fan of trinkets and accessories? Get Lizzie’s Treasure Keeper and find out what’s inside. There’s a bracelet, ring, and earrings that girls can wear to look as cool and fabulous as Lizzie. It also comes with stickers to decorate the treasure keeper.

All these awesome toys come with every Jollibee Kids Meal, with favorite treats like the Yumburger, Spaghetti, 1-pc Burger Steak and the 1-pc. Chickenjoy meals, available for P72 to P98. Visit the nearest Jollibee store now and be among the first to own the coolest toys in town!

I believe we can help change the world little by little through a simple act of kindness one at a time ...

This boy's family barely survives on P42 every day. What do you think he’s having for Christmas Eve?

Recent SWS Survey records over 4 million households or 20 million people experiencing hunger regularly. According to the World Bank, 70% of Filipino families live on a P42.00 daily budget-- barely enough to provide for the basic minimum of food to survive, let alone prepare for a Christmas Eve meal.

Millions like this boy go to bed hungry every night… If you help, we can make this Christmas Eve different for them.

Noche Buena is one of the most important Filipino traditions where families gather around a bountiful dinner table to celebrate the gift of Jesus’ birth and the joy of being with loved ones during the season. Often, Filipino favorites like lechon, pancit, hamon, quezo de bola, and lumpia are main attractions of the festivity.

Sadly, this ideal Noche Buena scenario isn’t possible for millions of poor Filipino families. The “bountiful” Noche Buena table can range from the abundance of lechon and hamon for the moneyed ones, to rice and a can of sardines for the less fortunate.

From Luzon, Visayas to Mindanao World Vision will once again bring the spirit of Christmas this year to less fortunate families through its “Noche Buena Caravan”.

In the midst of the urgent hunger problem in the country with some 20 million people almost starving, World Vision desires to spread the blessings and joys of Christmas to families in very poor areas by providing them with Noche Buena gift packs containing a special Christmas Eve meal their family can share.

Set to visit 11 provinces and over 50 barangays, the Caravan targets to reach 34,000 families in the coming weeks. Target provinces/areas include: Baseco, Malabon, Cavite, Isabela, Zambales, Cebu, Aklan, Antique, Leyte, Missamis Occidental, and Palawan.

On such a special time of the year, World Vision desires for every child and their family, despite their plight in life, to have the chance to celebrate Christmas Eve over a special meal.

Send a Noche Buena Gift Pack on its way to a family in need!

Here’s how:

• For a donation of P1,000 you will be able to send two (2) Noche Buena gift packs to two (2) families in the province of your choice.

• Each Noche Buena gift pack contains the following: spaghetti noodles, spaghetti sauce, a can of fruit salad, a carton of cream, a bottle of sandwich spread, cheese, a pack of milk, coffee, and powdered juice.

• Plus, a portion of the donation will be pooled with the rest to allow communities to hold a big Christmas party!

• For existing World Vision Child Sponsors, you have the option of providing one (1) Noche Buena gift pack, and a special gift for your “child”.

• Donations may be made through World Vision mall booths at SM Megamall and Trinoma Mall, or by filling out the online form.

To ensure that your gifts have been received by the family, donors will be sent a thank you card. All Noche Buena gift pack items are purchased at discounted rates courtesy of Robinsons Supermarket

Grab a copy of the Nov-Dec 2010 issue of MoneySense magazine with Miriam Quiambao on the cover. Be inspired by her story and those of other people featured in this issue.

Aside from writing the cover story on Miriam (The Art of the Comeback, pp. 42-46), I also featured a very talented band called Kaze (A Journey of Friendship and Music, pp. 38-39) and wrote about how to choose one's charity (Giving Back, pp. 62-64). Check out other useful articles that will help you spend more wisely this Christmas season :)

If you haven't heard them yet, listen to this wonderful original Kaze song from their album No Reason

One of the Philippines' most in-demand orchestras today held another successful concert called FILMharmoniKA last Nov. 13.

FILharmoniKA, under the baton of Gerald Salonga, played several themes from some of the best-loved movies of all time. Talented Bituin Escalante joined them on stage to sing several beautiful songs. You can read all about it here. Just scroll down to the second writeup at the bottom of the page.

Here's also sharing a video of FILharmoniKA playing the theme from Star Wars. I took this footage last July 31 during Ambient Media's Show Tickler concert where they presented the audience with the lineup of shows they have for the second half of this year. 

Enjoy! :)

Some of my fellow Corrs fans have been posting old photos of the band on Facebook lately. I guess we simply all miss seeing and hearing Andrea, Caroline, Sharon, and Jim perform together. I was delighted though to see for the first time the following photos of the siblings holding distinctly Filipino delicacies. I read that these were taken during their visit to the Philippines years ago. Unfortunately, I discovered them too late to watch their concert that was held here.

Still, I think other Filipino Corrs fans would also enjoy seeing these as I did :)

Jim with a balut and Sharon holding sapin-sapin

Andrea with halo-halo and Caroline with banana cues
And with news that the group could be set to make a comeback in 2011 with a new album, I'm sure Corrs fans all over the world are as excited as my friends and I are. Here's hoping that when they go on a tour again, the Philippines would be one of the places they will visit. I will most likely save up for a front seat ticket just to watch them live :)

Glee fans celebrating their birthdays anytime soon would love Goldilocks' new celebration cake design. Have fun sharing your special day with the cast of the hit show Glee.

Don't stop believing in the magic of birthdays! :)

I am thankful to have made it to the press screening of Secretariat last week. No thanks to the horrendous traffic coming from The Fort (where I attended another media event), I arrived in Greenbelt 3 out of breath with a couple of minutes to spare before the film started rolling. But, oh boy, am I so glad I watched!

I so love many of the clothes that Diane Lane wore in the movie -- very classy! I've read that costume designer Julie Weiss chose a palette and silhouette for Diane's wardrobe that were more reminiscent of Brooks Brothers and Jackie Onassis. That explains the wonderful colors and very feminine, but very tasteful, dress styles.

In the film’s production notes, director Randall Wallace, of the Braveheart fame, was quoted, “The story is about heart – Secretariat’s and the heart of the woman who owned him. Both were greater than anyone imagined. I believe that when Secretariat was running the last of his races, he was no longer running against other horses; he was running for the joy in becoming who he was meant to be.” And indeed, Secretariat had!

Please find my full-length review of the movie here. Secretariat opens today, exclusively at Ayala Malls Cinemas in Glorietta 4 and Greenbelt 3.

*Photos courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures
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