70+ movies that messed with my head (or at least made me think)

/ 03 January 2017 /
I absolutely love films that offer some mental exercise. I also love lists. So here, a list of films that offer some mental exercise -- whether they're mystery, sci-fi, romance, or even comedy; whether they're good or bad or ugly. I've added my own amateur comments for fellow amateur viewers. :) Also, despite its length, this list is far from definitive -- Shutter Island isn't even on it. With your recommendations, who knows, I might make a Part 2.

Here goes. My top three:
  1. Coherence
    • Quick synopsis: A dinner party takes a turn for the bizarre when a comet passes close to Earth.
    • Keywords: Schrodinger's Theory, doppelgangers
    • Quick review: This neat little low-budget gem is easily one of my favorites in the mind-fuck category. In turns cool and claustrophobic, chilling and exciting, it poses both mind-boggling questions and moral dilemmas that last long after viewing. Supreme goosebumps delivered.
  2. Primer
    • Quick synopsis: A group of friends invent a time machine but soon face consequences that change their friendship and their lives.
    • Keywords: time travel, friendship, secrets
    • Quick review: Another low-budget film that has become a personal favorite, mostly for the sweet, sweet complexity of it. I really have a thing for movies that make me want to view it a second or third time (with pen and paper in handy just to make a chart of the plot) – and with this one, a second viewing is definitely required.
  3. The Prestige
    • Quick synopsis: Two competing magicians try to beat each other with escalating tricks that affect their personal lives.
    • Keywords: magic, rivals, love
    • Quick review: This is my favorite plot-twist movie so far. Sleek, simple, yet effective story-telling, great acting from a great cast, and refreshing plot devices that are far from overused.
      The rest of these titles are in no particular order.

quick getaway: Sagpulon Falls

/ 12 June 2016 /
One of the best things about living in the Philippines is that you're never far from places that take your breath away. You get spectacular sunsets right outside your window, inviting beaches by the side of the road, and rivers and lakes and waterfalls just waiting after a little hike.

Knowing that, we often skip the more tourist-ready destinations and explore a place we've never even heard of before. We like to get a little lost.

Thankfully, we don't have to be so far away from home (nor break our budgets) to wander. From our city hideouts in Cagayan de Oro, we can just hop on a bus to somewhere like Sagpulon Falls in Jasaan, Misamis Oriental.

the quiet side of Cebu

/ 01 March 2016 /
Like thousands of other travelers, we went one summer to the province of Cebu expecting to bask on white beaches and sip chic little cocktails. Okay, we didn't exactly plan that, but at least one beach trip to the island of Mactan -- which is crawling with hotels, resorts, and foreign tourists -- was on the itinerary.

Let's just say that "beach trip" didn't go so well. In summary: We got kinda lost and spent the whole afternoon commuting through half the island. Getting lost like that was actually nice, but we wanted to be somewhere more... chilled.

And we found the perfect chill. Not at the beach, not at a resort, and definitely not in an urbanized area like Mactan.

South was the way to go.

city on the verge

/ 17 July 2015 /
There is something fascinating about living in a city that is just on the verge of growing up. You get to watch the buildings grow taller than the trees, the night lights grow brighter than those from the fireflies you used to watch as a kid.

The river that runs through Cagayan de Oro has always throbbed with the promise of the city's booming, but now, it glows, too, with the lights of the young bridges and the new parks. The soil that flanks it has turned to concrete -- an urban jungle where old meets new: motorelas sharing the road with SUVs, typewriter services at the street corner just across the computer store.

if you must do one thing in Camiguin...

/ 22 March 2015 /

To put it bluntly: get off your butt. J

Sure, you may be looking forward to unwinding in this little piece of paradise. Or, as most tourists do, to hop in a van and go on a road trip around the island, stopping by the usual attractions like the Old Church ruins and the hot and cold and soda springs. Or, as most tourists also do, to beach-bum on White Island or its more ecological sister, Mantigue Island.

But would you really rather be just another tourist when you could see and do and experience so much more? As a born-and-raised Camiguingnon, I commonly get people asking for advice for their planned trip to the island. There are plenty of tips any islander could give you, but here’s my biggest one:

The known tourist spots are a must, of course, especially if it’s your first time visiting. But don’t fall asleep in the van! Open those dull tinted windows and don’t hesitate to get out LOTS of times. Camiguin has plenty of underrated sites and snippets of local culture just a bit off the road, and discovering these makes your trip a hundred times richer.

Take your time to walk around, commute a bit, talk to locals, and match the laidback-but-eager pace of the island. Just. Be. There.

Ready to soak it up? Here are my favorite non-conventional Camiguin spots to visit… and then some.

notes to strangers

/ 12 February 2015 /
For Valentine’s Day, I'm going to give out a special note. Or 12 of them. And I'm not going to give them to my boyfriend, or to my crush(es), or even to my closest girl friends whom I love from the bottom of my heart.

I'm going to give these notes to you.

if these stone walls could talk... (pt. 2)

/ 06 December 2014 /
Part 2 of a photographic collection of quiet, time-tested structures. See the first part here.

The interior of Our Lady of Assumption Church in Dauis, Bohol, with frescoes dating as far back as 1916. This is one of the churches currently undergoing restoration after suffering from the 2013 Bohol earthquake.

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