Memories of The Big C #MondayMemoirs

There was a time that I worked for an actual print publication. It was a health-and-lifestyle magazine though it was far from the ordinary. Ours was centered on cancer, its survivors, and how to overcome, fight and win against it. They were, for me, very interesting times.

Almost two weeks ago, I shared on my folio blog my experiences working for the mag and some of the insights that I gathered along the way.

So for today, since I am guessing you missed them, I am sharing my stories to you guys as well. Just click on the image and you’ll be good to go 🙂

Advertisements

Red Dead Redemption 2 and AI #FeatureFriday

I am not a gamer. Just look around my blog. I have mentioned Plants vs. Zombies, where I shared photos and our fake-movie video, and Final Fantasy because I came as Rinoa Heartilly (I tried) in our office Christmas cosplay. Apart from those, I don’t think I ever mentioned any online/video game except in my fiction. I’ve played some, of course, but basically, I’m very much less than an amateur gamer. The longest I’ve played so far is Soda Crush…Yeah, I know.

red-dead-redemption-2

Brian Thomas, contributing author for Enlightened-Digital.com, reached out to me and introduced RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2. I had no idea about it, but finding out more made me interested. I actually asked a gamer-friend last night if she knows of Red Dead Redemption. She does know and did play RDR 1. I asked how it was playing the game and she said she liked it, wondering if the second’s going to be any good. Well, reading about Version 2, I think that she probably won’t be disappointed.

How about YOU decide? Brian writes…

“This Friday, Rockstar will launch its newest open world game: Red Dead Redemption 2. The game comes after eight years of development and much anticipation.

Red Dead Redemption 2 utilizes the hardware capabilities of the current generation to create a more visually stunning and technically impressive experience. The game’s incorporation of more advanced artificial intelligence powers the characters, animals, and dynamic physics system as they combine to generate organic events in an open world that aims to immerse players. As such, the title could ignite further discussion on the role of AI in video games and how games border on simulations.

Red Dead Redemption 2 follows the outlaw life of a character set twelve years in time before the original as he travels around a massive open world created by Rockstar. The game’s map is the biggest yet to be built by the company. Players will encounter interactable characters as they explore the various parts of the wild, villages, and even a city.

NPCs (non-playable characters) behave differently based on who they are as well as what the user’s character looks like, how he behaves, and his level of hygiene. The ability to engage with these characters through the game’s interaction system creates contextual back and forths that can result in many different ways, generating organic outcomes. The experiences generated by these NPCs are believed to be a step up from existing open world games and a force pushing the industry forward.

The relationship between video games, artificial intelligence, and simulations might still be young, but Red Dead Redemption 2 could represent a step towards progress as well as another spark (along with Westworld) to ignite interest in such subjects.”

Check out this infographic from Brian that emphasizes RDR 2’s major and newly improved game details! Click on the image to find out much more. Following it is the introduction to RDR 2’s gameplay. (WARNING: May contain content inappropriate for children.)

red-dead-redemption-2-game-details

Once you’ve actually tried this game out, let us know your feedback. Comment below, if you want to 🙂

How to Rank Better with Search Algorithms #ThursdayTips

Why is your business not searchable on search engines? Focus on Search Algorithms!

But what are search algorithms? How do they work? What should you do? Let this short video introduce you to some Google search algorithms. Find out what they do and what you can do with them to rank better and get noticed.

Again, side note: I wrote and created this video for ConnieKnows.com. So they own the video.

Any thoughts? Share them in the comments!

Just no spam, please. No comments pretending not to be spam. Guys, I see through you.

The X-word #atozchallenge2017

Here’s a prompt: Write something using an English word that starts with an X. If you were given this prompt, what would you write about?

Oh, wait, this is already a prompt…

“Xylophone”. I think that’s really the first, easiest and, sometimes, the only word that immediately comes to mind when thinking about an English term that starts with the letter X. Which usually does not help when playing Scrabble (considering the number of letters, unless you are to add “xylo” to “phone”…genius!). Well, include “xerox”, too. It was technically not really a word but a brand for a popular photocopying machine employing xerography (hey, another X-word!). It is now a noun that is accepted in the English dictionary.

So now, I’m mad. I’m not in the mood to write about xylophones or xerox. What to do?

X Problems

Obviously, it need not be said that there’s a reason there’s only one letter X tile in Scrabble. It is hard to find a word that starts with it, even if you cheat! Usually, you just use it as a filler to complete longer-letter words. Or you squeeze it in-between gaps when you have nothing else to score with, for words like:

  • “ax”/“axe”
  • “max”/”pax”
  • “taxi”
  • “hex”
  • “sexy”
  • “text”
  • “jinx”
  • “nix”
  • “ox”,
  • “foxy”

…Can you think of more?

You can’t even use it as a one-letter word like “a” and “I”.  Unless you use it:

  • to represent an unknown quantity or variable
  • as the multiply sign when counting on paper or board
  • as the Roman numeral for 10
  • to refer to the female chromosome
  • when signing a love letter with a kiss
  • to mark a spot
  • to make a “NO” gesture
  • to cross out something or remove
  • to indicate that something is incorrect
  • to make the sign of the cross when you’re scared
  • as code for that infamous party drug (…Just don’t, okay?)

Yes, the letter X is pretty versatile, but it is still not a word. It even needs a default spelling, the “ex-” prefix, just to function as a way to cross out something (or someone!) or emphasize the past: “Ex-boyfriend” or “ex-partner” (although one can simply say “My ex”), “ex-senator”, “ex-athlete”. You get the idea.

But whether to cross out something, imply an interaction, or mean the opposite of “in”– It. Doesn’t. Work. You shouldn’t really write “x-girlfriend”, “x-husband”, “xchange”, “xhale” or “xhume”, right? Maybe not unless you’re texting.

Some X-samples

So, can the letter X be more essential in our lives? I guess so, yeah.

Basically, X is used around the world:

  • for People’s Names
    • Xavier, Xander, Xeno
    • Xia, Xiomara
    • Xena (probably first coined for the popular show and now kids are named after her)
    • Malcolm X (the name Malcolm Little decided to use)
  • to Name Places (Did you know that NO country starts with the letter X?)
    • Xiamen City (and many more cities in China)
    • Xi (a river in China)
    • Xochimilco (in Mexico)
    • Xanadu, which is not just a romance/musical

Quick Trivia: In the Philippines, road authorities put up signs that said “Ped Xing”. Like most people confused by it, I first thought that Ped Xing was a Chinese-Filipino the street we were on was named after. But why were the same signs put up at various places…? It turned out it meant “Pedestrian Crossing”!!! Pffft…Communication gap. At least, they’ve done measures now to let the public know.

  • as Popular Terms
    • Generation X a.k.a. Gen X
    • X-rated
  • for Popular Media
    • X-Men
    • The X Factor
    • The X-Files
    • Triple X or xXx

 

Oh, my. I still don’t know what to write about. I am so clueless! What should my topic be, what should I write about, what–Oh, wait. I think I just wrote it. What the X!..,Well, what d’ya know?!!

 

***********************************************************

Earlier this year, I think I mentioned several times that I would finish my A to Z Challenge 2017. Honestly, things would always get in the way that I couldn’t do it. Then last time, I said it again and meant it. But guess why I couldn’t immediately continue…The letter X was the problem! I wanted to list down topics so that when I began, I wouldn’t have to stop again and I’d just go on till I reached letter Z.

For the life of me, I couldn’t think of an X-word connected to writing that I could write about! I really had to put things off until I posted my teacher-parents post. I still did not know what to write about back then. Fortunately, inspiration struck me and now, here it is. I dare say it was worth my long wait!

X is for “X”

This piece serves as my Letter X post for the A to Z Challenge 2017.

For my previous posts, kindly visit my A to Z Challenge 2017 page.

Let Contents Do the Talking #atozchallenge2017

You are a wise person with a business to run. Naturally, you have done your research like a good businessman does. Based on findings, you realize that in order to expand the business, you’ll have to up the ante some more and level-up. Information technology is here to stay and you’ll do wisely not to be left behind, right? So you get a web developer and a web designer who create an attractive, fully functional and easily navigable website for you.

Website, check.

And then what to write? Since information is available right there at the office, content development is done in-house. Your people know the business, they have a clear understanding of what it is about. Who better to write about your business? Therefore, you delegate a content writer for the site right from your own team.

Contents, check. How hard can writing be?

Letting Your Home Grow

All those done, finally, you are ready to launch into cyberspace…Oops! Not so fast, hold your horses! While it seems you may have done things correctly, you just might want to backtrack a little bit and check if indeed, you’ve decided on everything wisely.

The most important parts of a website are not really the “physical” aspects, though they, too, are of great importance. After all, without them, how can searchers find you? Web developers and designers provide all the foundations and structures for your site.

As they say, however, a house is not a home. It’s what’s in it that makes it a home. An empty house is not a home; a cluttered house is, well, simply embarrassing, to say the least. For a website, it’s the contents that really breathe life into it. Just how much life depends largely on the quality of the contents. That is where you might want to focus your attention on.

Let your home grow. Feed it with the right nutrition, not junk. Knowing the details of your company and what it offers is just half of the requirements to ensure quality content. It takes more than knowing what to write, but how to write it.

A good, professional Web Content Writer knows that. She has been trained for it. It’s not just words and constructing sentences for her, but a lot of experience and know-how. Content writing takes more than typing. It involves research beyond existing resources, knowing more about how web development works. Also, a big factor in any business’ success today is good, clean SEO—this, she has learned and practices.

Getting Visitors to Stay

Competition in cyberspace is fierce. You want to be the business that captures searchers’ attention immediately and keep them glued to your site until they decide to avail of your offer. People’s attention span can only last a few seconds, that is the whole truth of it.

An attractive, fully functional and easily navigable website is practically useless if it sends searchers away with missing, low-quality or useless information. If they don’t find what they’re looking for or anything interesting, they either click the Back button or exit. Either way, they leave. You don’t want that. Don’t sweep the welcome rug off their feet.

How confident are you that you or your employees can write well enough to keep searchers glued to your site? Can your people get your business to the top of search engines’ first-page results? Do they have the proper skills that an actual content writer does? No?

You’ve already taken a risk, so risk more away! A web content writer is who you need, just like most businesses today. If you haven’t yet, this is the time to add one to your team. Remember, house walls can’t talk; it’s those inside the house who do.

 

************************************************************

This is still the continuation of my A to Z Challenge. Last post, I was on the letter “M”. Why the jump to “W”? That’s because the pieces for the letters “N” to “V” have long been posted. The explanation is simple: When I was doing the challenge last year, I skipped letters. I did not finish the whole thing so I have decided to do it and not quit.

As for the writeup itself, just like some other stuff that I did for work, this was also a guest blogging venture. The deal was the article provider would get exposure but the publisher got exclusive rights to the unique article. No money involved. This one, the guest blogging services site owner reserved for her own site (I was actually thrilled!). There’s a story about this, but to make the story short, her site was down for years already and is now removed. I found her new site and could not find the article ANYWHERE. Now, Google found it on another site that isn’t supposed to have it and is not even mentioning me as the writer. Some guy is supposed to be the writer of this bogus page. The article is truncated, leaving a “Click here to read more” message, but the link just actually redirects to various suspicious sites that change every time you click on the same link!

Needless to say, it’s high-time we take back what is ours.

W is for “Web Content Writer”

This piece serves as my Letter W post for the A to Z Challenge 2017.

For my previous posts, kindly visit my A to Z Challenge 2017 page.

Remembering My First Teachers (A Daughter’s Memoirs) #MondayMemoirs #atozchallenge2017

Note: It was supposed to be a simple Facebook post about Teachers’ Day/Month, but their memories inspired me. The first is the English translation, followed by the original, which I admit is better. I realized it would be great to use it as my “M” word for the A to Z Challenge I was finishing since I’ve had “memoirs” in my head for a long while now.
************************************************************

“Respect the teachers that awaken minds, for while we owe our lives to our parents, we owe our humanity to our teachers.” (Gregoria de Jesus) — Just my translation. Credits go to Project Saysay

I had teachers for parents. I never knew of anything else they did for work except be educators. Teaching had always been their profession long before I was born. My father only had to stop teaching when he suffered a mild stroke. It affected his brain, causing the short-term memory loss. He became more temperamental, yet he could be jolly and quite the joker as well. He became more expressive. He could be difficult, too, his maturity having somewhat returned to the level of a younger man’s. There came a point when it seemed I gained a teenage brother that I had to often reprimand for being annoying and difficult.

Despite that, my father still knew who was the parent and who was the child, especially when I had to be reminded that I was still the child. His brows would meet and he’d sternly say my name as a warning. That was the father I knew: just one look and my sister and I would sit and shut up.

My mother had to stop teaching much later due to her ailments — she decided to file for an early retirement. She had always been sickly even when I was little. I remember a time that I, being a child, unintentionally hurt her feelings. Having learned a big word, I said that she was just being a hypochondriac. This really hurt her feelings and I immediately felt bad and regretted it. I could not say sorry at all.

From then on, however, I did not look at her ailments as simply nothing. And it made me admire her more for despite everything that she was going through, my mother was still able to work hard and guide her students, including other people around her.

They taught and helped so many.

A lot of my father’s students got along well with him, some became his friends, and many learned how to plant/garden, build stuff (I only remember that the subject was called “Shop”), and be good at sports, particularly in volleyball.

I will never forget the almost-weekly volleyball games at our barangay school every Saturday or Sunday. He would simply dribble the ball on the still-newly cemented road and its sounds would echo. Soon, those who wanted to join would arrive one by one, be they current students or past students, whatever the age.

Meanwhile, my mother had so many children, those she helped not just in learning math (geometry, trigonometry) but in their personal lives. There were those who found the right path again through her after getting lost. We heard of these stories from the various former students who went to pay their last respects during her wake. She would sometimes give money to kids who had no allowance. Other times, she would visit the parents of kids with school problems or who were usually absent. On many Saturdays, too, she chose to be at the school to prepare various things for the days ahead.

They said she was strict, but she was also a joy and a dear friend. I knew that, I saw that, I felt that. And while I felt somewhat jealous of them, I didn’t harbor ill feelings because even then, I knew of how good a person she was.

…My apologies. I felt like sharing these memories with you since this is the time to pay tribute to our teachers. I would like to salute the two people who were my first teachers. They were not perfect, but they were the first to teach me what it means to be human. I have not yet surpassed or achieved what they did, but they will serve as my inspiration. Most of all, they are the reason that I’m alive and why I am here.

This also pays tribute to them whose leaving has been a real loss to those of us that they loved and that love them still.

A SALUTE TO ALL OUR BELOVED TEACHERS!!!

Now, the Facebook post:

Naging guro ang mga magulang ko. Lumaki akong walang ibang alam kundi guro sila. Ipinanganak ako na iyon na ang kanilang hanap-buhay.

Natigil lamang ang aking ama sa pagtuturo noong siya’y magka-mild stroke. Naapektuhan nito ang utak niya, na naging sanhi ng kanyang short-term memory loss. Naging mas madaling uminit ang ulo, pero mas masayahin at maloko rin. Mas ‘expressive’. Mas matigas din ang ulo, sapagka’t mistula siyang bumalik sa panahong siya’y binata o binatilyo. Dumating ang panahon na tila nagkaroon ako ng lalaking kapatid na madalas pagsabihan sa kakulitan at katigasan ng ulo.

Gayunpaman, alam pa rin niya kung sino ang magulang at sino ang anak, lalo na kapag nakakalimutan kong anak pa rin nga pala ako. Titingin siya ng nakakunot-noo at mariing sasabihin ang pangalan ko bilang babala. Ganoon ang dating ama na kilala ko: isang tingin pa lamang ay tumatahimik na ako at ang ate ko.

Ang aking ina naman ay tumigil dahilan sa kanyang mga sakit — nagpasya siyang mag-retiro nang mas maaga. Bata pa ako ay sakitin na siya. Naroong bilang bata, nasaktan ko ang damdamin niya. Minsan, palibhasa ay natuto ng isang salitang malalim, nasambit ko na ‘hypochondriac’ lang siya. Dinamdam niya ito nang labis at pagkatapos na pagkatapos ay pinagsisihan ko ito. Hindi ko nagawang humingi ng tawad.

Nguni’t mula noon, hindi ko na ipinagwalang-bahala ang kanyang mga karamdaman. Kaya’t ako’y napahanga rin niya sapagka’t bagama’t may mga karamdamang dinadala, nagawa pa rin niyang maging masipag at umalalay sa kanyang mga mag-aaral, pati na rin sa ibang tao sa paligid.

Marami silang naturuan at natulungan.

Marami sa mga mag-aaral ng aking ama ang kanyang naging kabiruan, mayroong ibang naging kaibigan, at marami ang natutong magtanim, bumuo ng mga bagay (“Shop” lang ang alam kong tawag sa asignaturang ‘yon noon), at maging magaling sa larangan ng palakasan, partikular na sa volleyball.

Di ko malilimutan ang halos linggo-linggong paglalaro nila ng volleyball sa paaralan ng barangay tuwing Sabado o Linggo. Patatalbugin lamang ang bola sa noo’y bago pa ring sementadong daan at aalingawngaw ang tunog nito. Maya-maya ay magsisidating ang nais makisali, mga kasalukuyang mag-aaral man o dating mag-aaral, anuman ang edad.

Ang aking ina naman ay maraming naging anak, mga natulungan di lang sa pag-aaral ng matematika (geometry, trigonometry) kundi sa personal na buhay. May ilan na natutong bumalik mula sa lumihis na daan. Nalaman namin ito mula sa maraming dumalaw upang makiramay sa kanyang paglisan. Naroong bigyan niya ng perang baon ang mag-aaral niya. Naroong puntahan ang mga magulang ng ibang nagka-suliranin sa pag-aaral o kaya’y madalas lumiban sa klase. Naroong kahit Sabado ay pinili niyang pumasok upang gumawa ng mga dapat ihanda para sa mga susunod na araw.

Sabi nila, kahit siya ay naging istrikto, naging masayahin at kaibigan nila siya. Alam ko iyon, nakita ko, nadama ko. At kahit na may lihim akong tampo dala ng selos, di ko ito itinanim sa sarili ko sapagka’t noon pa man, batid ko ang kanyang kabutihan ng loob.

…Pasensya na. Naisip ko lang ibahagi ang mga ito sapagka’t ngayon ay panahon ng pagpupugay para sa mga guro. Nagpupugay din ako sa dalawang una kong naging mga guro. Bagama’t di perpekto, sila and unang nagturo sa akin ng pagpapakatao. Hindi ko pa nahihigitan o naaabot man lamang ang nagawa nila, pero sila ang magsisilbing inspirasyon ko. Higit sa lahat, sila ang dahilan ng aking pagiging tao at kung bakit ako naririto.

Ibinahagi ko na rin ito bilang pagpupugay sa kanila na ang paglisan ay tunay na kawalan sa aming kanilang minahal at sa kanila’y nagmamahal.

PAGPUPUGAY PARA SA LAHAT NG MAHAL NATING MGA GURO!!!

************************************************************

Have you thanked your teachers yet?

M is for “Memoirs”

This piece serves as my Letter M post for the A to Z Challenge 2017.

For my previous posts, kindly visit my A to Z Challenge 2017 page.

Growing Up Asian in Another Land

I grew up Asian and will die Asian (there’s no “probably” there, duh.) Heck, I’ve never been outside of this part of the planet. So it’s interesting to find out how much Filipinos who grew up or were born in other countries have learned and experienced the Filipino ways.  Not just Filipinos, but ASIANS.

I’m a full-Filipino by blood and nationality, so I am not exactly an authority in this area. But I think DOMICS and JO KOY are. Both are funny and they paint a picture of what it’s really like growing up Asian abroad.

(WARNING, though: There are some strong language involved in some of these videos)

Domics, whose real name is Dominic Panganiban, is a YouTuber-animator whose family immigrated to Canada years ago. In some of his drawings, he illustrated his experiences as an immigrant kid adjusting to other places.

This is a nice podcast he did with his fellow Asian friends (they aren’t necessarily all Pinoys…The girl is Chinese and at least one of the other guys is Korean). They shared what their elders are like, which sometimes confuse them. Dominic made it more entertaining by drawing stuff.

We Pinoys can definitely relate especially with Domics. For one thing, our father used to have my sister and I pull out white hair from his head and we were promised to be paid. And I certainly have a Pinoy nose, although no one pinched it (except myself when I tried to make it more “matangos” or pointy).  I do actually appreciate my little nose now.

Here’s another from Domics that is about the Filipino last names. His in particular.

The Pinoy height…The struggle can be very real.

Now, Joseph Glenn Herbert, much more popularly known as Jo Koy, is a half-American Pinoy who grew up in the States. He is now a popular stand-up comedian known for his stories about growing up with a Filipino mom (truthful but hilarious!) and raising his kid. He grew up abroad, but Pinoys can very much relate to his kind of self-deprecating brand of stories.

He was referring to the famous mostly-Filipino Jabbawockeez.

Now, as a song from musical AVENUE Q says, “Everybody’s a little bit racist”. This reminds me of that.

The “Bicks Baporub” killed me, HA HA HAAA!!! We really do use Vicks!

 

Hope you watched them all and enjoyed. Most importantly, I hope you learned new things about us 😉

In “Your Face”! #TVTuesday #TuesdayTunes

Oh, I missed these hash potatoes! So today, it’s #TVTuesday and #TuesdayTunes post.  Double fun, woohoo!!! Today, I am sharing one of my current favorite shows, Your Face Sounds Familiar (YFSF) Kids Edition.

yfsf-kids-s1

The YFSF Kids of Season 1: (From Left) AC Bonifacio (2nd Runner-up), Lyca Gairanod, Justin Alva (3rd Runner-up), Elha Nympha (1st Runner-up), McNeal “Awra” Briguela (WINNER), Alonzo Muhlach, Xia Vigor, and Sam Shoaf

Saying “Your face sounds familiar” sounds really weird and like utter nonsense. The premise of YFSF, however, explains it.  Okay, background with a little bit of disclaimer:

YFSF is a singing and impersonation competition owned by the Endemol Shine Group, known abroad for producing many reality TV shows (Big Brother and others). YFSF was franchised by Philippine TV network giant ABS-CBN and the first regular season started in March 2015. There came another regular season and then, the first-ever season of the Kids edition was aired in January 2017. It gained international attention when then-7-year-old Xia Vigor performed as Taylor Swift and the video of that performance went viral.

The second season of the Kids edition is currently running and the kids’ performances are making much more waves. That’s thanks to the already-big attention the YouTube reactors’ community has been giving Filipino artists.

YFSF has a set of screen and theater artists–singers, dancers, actors–competing against one another onstage every week. Weekly shows are divided into two parts with the first half of the performers shown on Saturday and the remaining ones on Sundays. That gives ample time on the second day (well, eve) to announce the week’s winner and show the participants pressing the “iconator” (just a coined term as abroad, it’s called “randomizer”, even simply a “buzzer”). That’s the button that every contestant presses to reveal his/her next icon.

xia-vigor-taylor-swift

Xia Vigor impersonating Taylor Swift. Image courtesy of Elle.com

Competitors are each assigned celebrities that have become music icons or made waves in the industry one way or another. That’s regardless of the age of the icon, race, sex and gender (so expect cross-dressing in some performances).

But this is a step up from the usual impersonation stuff. A major part of this involves the makeup artists and prosthetic. Every week, performers are madeup and often–not always–made to wear prosthetic. The idea is to not only sound and act like the icons but to LOOK like them. This is where my disclaimer enters.

In the past, I saw some foreign YouTubers express concern prior to seeing an actual performance that the performer might be doing “blackface”, which people could find offensive. Then they got to watch and realize it’s not the case (especially when they saw it was a great performance!). It really isn’t meant to be offensive, not at all. It always depends on the look of the icon. It has nothing to do with being racist. So if s/he’s white, then the performer’s Pinoy brown color is turned lighter (sometimes, the prosthetic can be a tad weird and creepy-looking, though). So if we’re playing the race card, might as well call it “whiteface”. Or “yellowface” even, depending on who’s being impersonated.

yfsf-kids-season2-kids

The YFSF Kids of Season 2: (Clockwise from Top Left) TNT Boys, Chunsa Jung, Marco Masa, Krystal Brimner, Telesa “Esang” De Torres, Noel Comia Jr., Xymon “Onyok” Pineda, and Sheena Belarmino. Image courtesy of Rappler

Just to be clear, not every performer is a good singer, or even dancer. He or she is judged on how well s/he has projected him/herself as the icon being impersonated.

Anyway, to show how talented our kids can be, I am sharing a few videos from this season’s (season 2) kid performers. They seem long, but that’s because the videos continue until all the jury members have made their comments. There are lots of funny stuff that follow a performance, but feel free to stop playing. (BTW, copyrights to all the images and videos here belong to ABS-CBN, unless otherwise specified. I got some from other sites, but of course, they’re still mostly from ABS.)

I’m starting with my biggest bet, Sheena Belarmino. People know her more as a singer as she was a grand finalist of the popular singing competition Tawag ng Tanghalan (TNT)  that was part of the noon-time variety show It’s Showtime. That ended late last year. Prior to that, however, she was a finalist of Dance Kids from 2015 to 2016. You can say she is a powerhouse of a talent. As of last count, she’s won thrice already, currently the most number of times this season. However, she’s also currently ranked 3rd-4th . That has something to do with how the jury individually assigns scores.

Watch her perform as local artists Sarah Geronimo and KZ Tandingan and judge for yourselves. Sheena showed Sarah’s swag as the latter performed the song onstage (the hair and expressions were based more on the “Tala” video). That was Sheena’s first win. Everyone was definitely impressed. BUT she even topped that recently by showing more swag impersonating KZ’s viral performance of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” on the recently concluded Singer 2018 singing competition (Jesse J. won) in China. Sheena even wore the same outfit. She blew everyone away! I think you will agree. And she also got a wonderful surprise after she sang… 😉

Meanwhile, also check out her performances as Ariana Grande, (so good!), Chris Brown, and local artist Jessa Zaragoza (for which she also won, though I’m not crazy about it…The link I shared is just of Jessa singing at an event — she’s not wearing a gown and not doing much of the movements she’s been known for).

Next, the TNT Boys! They are composed of Kiefer Sanchez, Mackie Empuerto and Francis Concepcion–all grand finalists of the TNT Kids singing competition, like Sheena. Among all the contestants, they are undoubtedly the most popular due to their emotional rendition of Beyonce’s “Listen” in the GGV show. Actually, for fun, they were asked to sing it while pretending to be fighting (Francis bullies Kiefer, then Mackie defends Keifer who tries to pacify both of them). It was a hoot! And it became viral. Suddenly, the group TNT Boys was born and they have now performed in Little Big Shots US and UK. Since then, a lot of their performances onstage and offline have been going viral, particularly their YFSF numbers. They’ve won twice and are currently ranked 1st.

Below are two of their performances. The first is of The BeeGees. They didn’t win but this was the first video of the season that went and is still going viral around the world. The BeeGees loved their performance and actually tweeted about it. The next is–get this–their impersonation of Destiny’s Child! It was their first win and very well-deserved. These boys are so talented! I loved their performance of The Supremes as well, it’s my personal favorite–classy with less flair. Their second win, though, was their Mariah Carey and BoyzIIMen one and,  you guessed it, it’s gone viral as well.

Now we have Krystal Brimner. She was a relatively unknown in the mainstream showbiz world until YFSF. Some people may recognize her from the movie Honor Thy Father where she played a vital part. Theater aficionados may remember her playing the title role of Annie, for which she won Best Child Actress and Best Female Lead Performer from the 2016 Platinum Stallion Media Awards and 2016 Philstage Gawad Bahay Awards. Based on her performances in YFSF, it’s obvious she’s been using her training to good use.

Krsytal is currently ranked 2nd. I am not sure if she’s an audience favorite, but I like her. For me she’s done a LOT  of great impersonations. Below are the two performances that made her win: as Jesse J. first, then as Alicia Keys. I would also recommend her impersonations of Miley Cyrus (on her first week, when she made her mark as a talent to reckon with), Stevie Wonder, and Dionne Warwick.

Last on my list is Esang De Torres. Among the top four, I think she’s the one who first made her mark on national TV. She was such a cutie joining the MiniMe contest of It’s Showtime, where she “impersonated” her idol Lea Salonga. But it was in joining The Voice Kids that made her. Coached by none other than her idol, Lea, she was the team’s grand finals bet. It was apparent that she had a singing talent that was perfect for the stage that, with a lot of encouragement from Lea, Esang joined the theater world. In fact, she was one of those who played the title role of Matilda. Like Krystal, it’s obvious she’s putting her theatrical training at work. She gets better everytime.

She’s won once so far, but her often-high weekly scores have tied her at 3rd to 4th rank with Sheena. I liked a lot of her performances as well. I am first sharing one of my faves, her impersonation of John Legend. The next is her doing a Christina Aguilera, her first actual win Feel free to also check out her Cher, Lea Salonga, Cyndi Lauper, and Bonnie Tyler. As fo this writing, she just did a Freddie Mercury, which was also good, by my standards.

 

And my list is done! Basically, I think the TNT Boys getting into the finals is already in the bag. Sheena, my most fave, doesn’t always get the highest scores, so I’m crossing my fingers. Krystal, if she keeps doing what she does, would most probably be in the finals, too. I am crossing my fingers for Esang as well, but she does consistently get high scores…

I am actually surprised and very glad to know that my top ones are those who are leading the ranks. The girls are my faves, but biases aside, I thought that they should be in the top three.

Anyway, guys, I hope you enjoyed reading my post and watching the vids. I enjoyed putting this together. I could do another set next week, if I have the time 🙂

It’s sooo Lit!!! #atozchallenge2017

***NOTE: As explained in my last post, I was going to finish last year’s A to Z Challenge. Here is my letter “L”.

********************************************************************

Literature. I cannot write about the topic of Writing without writing about literature. That would probably be some form of blasphemy…

What is Literature to you?

When I was young, I used to think that “literature” was exclusively used to refer to stories or novels. I don’t know now how I learned more, but it was probably when I encountered the term “related literature”. I was a bit surprised that anything written (well, at least those with some value) can be considered literature.

According to the Ancient History of Encyclopedia,…

Literature (from the Latin Littera meaning ‘letters’ and referring to an acquaintance with the written word) is the written work of a specific culture, sub-culture, religion, philosophy or the study of such written work which may appear in poetry or in prose.”

Based on this, it is either poetry and prose.

Dictionary.com explains it much clearer in the definitions it has provided. Literature is defined as:

  • written works, especially those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit
  • books and writings published on a particular subject
  • leaflets and other printed matter used to advertise products or give advice

That last part was the kind of information that most surprised me when I learned about it. Leaflets and advertisements were far from my mind. That was mainly because whenever I thought of the word before, I thought of value and merit, especially artistic merit.

“Certain forms of writing, however, are universally regarded as belonging to literature as an art. Individual attempts within these forms are said to succeed if they possess something called artistic merit and to fail if they do not.” (Britannica.com)

That was how most of us were brought up. It was so old-school that even anything that’s not artsy was generally disregarded as literature, no matter how valuable the information it contained.

“Literature is a form of human expression. But not everything expressed in words—even when organized and written down—is counted as literature. Those writings that are primarily informative—technical, scholarly, journalistic—would be excluded from the rank of literature by most, though not all, critics.” (Britannica.com)

Anybody can be a critic, but it does not necessarily make him right. If anything, this kind of thinking was developed during the times when people were concerned more about social strata and social snobbery. We put the word “literature” in a box — No, this is just you, Lit. You can’t be some leaflet or thing that anyone just thought he’d write and call Lit. The nerve!

Today, we have become open to accepting the more modern definition of the word. Still, there are critics that cannot be persuaded. Me? I have broaden my own definition:

Literature is a valuable written work that is artistic and/or informative and has merit to, at least, one individual.”

You say toh-mah-toh, I say toe-may-toe. Basically, it all boils down to the person appreciating it.

How do YOU define literature?

 

********************************************************************

I could have written more about it, but I fought off my tendency to write long posts to keep you interested. I hope you liked it and share your own thoughts in the comments below.

L is for “Literature”

This piece serves as my Letter L post for the A to Z Challenge 2017.