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October 27 Bikini Car Wash for a Cause with the Axe Girls

16 October 2012

October 27 Bikini Car Wash for a Cause with the Axe Girls

Anarchy, the latest and first ever fragrance from Axe to have separate variants for men and women, comes up with a campaign I never in this lifetime expected to happen: combine “sexy” and “for a cause” with a series of events called “Axe Anarchy Island: Sexy Saves Boracay.” Buckle up and drive to ASEANA City (see map here) near the SM Mall of Asia next Saturday, October 27, 2012 for a very exciting, cause-oriented, and first of its kind Bikini Car Wash with your the gorgeous Axe Girls.

In bikini.

Washing cars.

Did I already mention Axe Girls and bikin… OK, moving on…

The premise is simple: car wash, Axe Girls, bikini, no product purchase necessary to participate, and open to the public for a P250 fee per car you wish to get washed. All the proceeds from the bikini car wash event will be matched by Axe Philippines, the sum of which will fund and support a Boracay clean-up mission happening by the first quarter of next year, just in time for summer.

During the press launch for “Sexy Saves Boracay” in September, we were told that the campaign is actually three-fold, spanning several months until the Summer of 2013. Axe is currently in talks with NGOs who have the data and knowledge on how to make best use of the funding (like how many and what quality man-power, what facilities are needed, what problem areas to target, how long the project will last, will the funds be enough, or if any help from LGUs are needed, etc). News about the tie up will be released soon.

That said, will the Axe Girls be able to clean our cars, wax, buff, and tire black up to an acceptable standard? Now, there’s the challenge, ladies. Raise the bar! Nevertheless, helping make the world’s best beach get even better is a good and fun way of spending P250 and your Saturday afternoon, IMO.

See you at Aseana City on October 27 (that’s next Saturday, gentlemen)! Head on over to and AXE’s facebook page for more details.

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Glamour and Nude Photography Workshop (Philippine Leg) with Dan Hostettler on March 10-11, 2012

24 February 2012

Glamour and Nude Photography Workshop (Philippine Leg) with Dan Hostettler on March 10-11, 2012

UPDATE: Workshop price is now P15,000 instead of USD750. Contact Mike for details via the mobile number on the image below.

Dan Hostettler, Swiss “visualist,” Europe’s top notch Beauty and Glamour photographer, entrepreneur, and founder of (NSFW link) StudioPrague will be holding a 2-day, all-in, “Glamour & Nude Photography Workshop” in Manila on March 10-11, 2012. Limited to only 4 EDIT: 5 participants max at US$750 per person EDIT: PHP15,000, the workshop will showcase, foremost, Dan’s flawless technique and years of experience in teaching and practicing glamour and nude photography, 2 models (who have graced Playboy Philippines, no less, I heard), 1 hair and make-up artist, studio equipment, venue, and food and snacks.

Hover on the image below for an NSFW version of the poster (may take a few seconds to load):

I had my slot reserved, despite my knee-jerk remorse with the course fee. Did so after visiting the StudioPrague website, looking at their (NSFW link) regular workshop courses and course outline, reading about Dan’s credentials, seeing how carefully calculated and professional the nude shots looked, and after reading most of the (NSFW link) testimonials of past StudioPrague workshop participants the world over.

Think about it. In order for us to enroll into a semi-private masterclass of this caliber, we’d need to haul our collective arses to Europe or the US, spend for visa, airfare, lodging, living, and course fees (aaaaaaaaaaand tour packages and shopping expenditures, of course LOL). In Prague at the Czech Republic, a similar workshop at Dan Hostettler’s StudioPrague costs €1,950 per participant. The discount on workshop fees alone makes attending the Manila Workshop a keeper (with already around US$1,900 savings, mind you). How much would attending an “open shoot” cost in Manila? 1,500 to 2,000 inclusive of lighting, model fees, and just some time to shoot the model shared with at least 10 other photographers (most of whom would get every opportunity to get as much time shooting than the rest). There can only be very little to no structured learning in such avenues (I’ve attended a couple, so I’d know). Now, compare that setup with a semi-private, four participants-max class with Dan Hostettler.

I just recently attended a Product Lighting workshop with Jo Avila and Cesar Caina last Sunday. For a maximum of 15 participants, workshop fee is P6,000 (was lucky enough that there were only three of us who registered for the workshop, at the same cost. Had a fun time learning that day). With PCCI (Philippine Center for Creative Imaging), Nudes and Glamour are taught in two 2-day courses that costs roughly P7,000 per course. Point is, photography classes will cost you and attending good quality, read tried and tested, classes will cost you more. The fewer the participants, the higher the cost.

Reading this from StudioPrague sealed my decision to sign up for the “Glamour & Nude Photography Workshop:”

An EduShoot is a learning workshop.
EduShoots are where the REAL learning begins!
EduShoots (known as “workshop”) was created for the simple reason:

We have noticed over the past years, everyone offers so called “workshops”. At these “workshops” there is little or no instruction going on, just people shooting models. We wanted to get away from that and establish the fact that at our workshops, there’s actual education happening!

I’d pitch this 2-day course to hobbyists, advanced, and pro-photographers alike, if only to pick on Dan’s mind, his European (photography) industry insider pro-tips, and know what it is that makes him take consistently good glamour (and of course nude) photographs. Heck, I’d even egg on fine arts students to go, if they have the means and the earnest interest to pursue glamour photography as a career after graduation. It’d also be quite snooty to claim “I’ve attended a StudioPrague Workshop” (better if it shows on your output, too, hehe, which is why we’re taking the class)!

On a lookout for short courses to help enhance my skills at photography, I turned to a good friend Michael Sy Yu of iSnap Creatives for ideas and guidance. And guide me did! Thanks, Mike, for pitching the workshop idea to Dan and thanks, Dan, for giving us the rare chance to learn from of your genius.

To reserve for a slot and for sure participants, please contact Mike at 0917.8906053. Feel free to share this like to anyone who you think would be interested.

DISCLOSURE: This is not an advertorial. The author and site owner did not receive any form of compensation and neither free nor discounted training course fees for publishing this article. Header image and workshop poster taken from Dan’s and StudioPrague’s website

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A Memo from the Conspirators Who Grant Random Individual’s Wishes

5 July 2011

A Memo from the Conspirators Who Grant Random Individual’s Wishes

While out for a smoke just a few minutes ago, I pondered over my own life: how I envision it to be, where it currently is, and what would probably fill the gap to take me from its current to my envisioned state. Mind you, this is not something I normally do nor is it something I’ve ever thought of before. Never. I have this fondness of not thinking too far ahead most probably because of the “endless possibilities” premise. Endless possibilities either make me try to map all possible end points out in my mind or they blank me out. The former drains the life force out of me and the latter is just plain scary for someone with a hyper brain.

Going back to me thinking of addressing the gap between my current state and what I envision my life to be… I caught myself, uhm, wishing. That if only I get this one thing, I’d give up other things I’d rather still be doing but which could be to some, at the back of my mind, and probably versus the general sense of morality, something that’s just wrong or excessive or even immoral. Call it guilty pleasure, addiction, or vice, if that suits you better. Got my drift? I said to myself, I’ll let go of things I enjoy doing if only I can bridge the gap and have my way and start a clean slate.

Universe, give me what I want and I’ll make the sacrifice.

Seconds later, another thought hit me: what if it doesn’t work that way anymore? With all the unanswered wishes, what if the conspirators-who-grant-random-individual’s-wishes have long changed the rules of the game, made a memo, signed it with an elixir of Virgin’s blood, fang of a Mnemovore, and sweat of a Succubus and had it shredded to pieces but enforceable to their Memories so no one would ever find out that things work the other way around now…

Make the sacrifices first and only then will we give you what you want. Bitch.

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Experiencing Blazing Fast 4G Internet with Smart LTE

13 June 2011

Experiencing Blazing Fast 4G Internet with Smart LTE

4G Internet services promise noticeably faster mobile Internet speeds as compared to its 3G forerunner and, as would you and the thousands of net critters like us, I said “I NEED THIS IN MY LIFE” when I experienced firsthand how FAST Smart’s Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G service could really go. Imagine watching full-HD Youtube videos without the pain of letting them stream for hours on pause before watching them sans buffering. To understand the technology better, I tried reading through net materials on 4G and, not surprisingly, my brain would numb off when I force it to get as much supposedly life nurturing nerdy juice from them as I can. Right after my third failed attempt, I concluded with firm resolve that if I become Emperor of the known world, I’d ban techno-jargon from reaching the consciousness of ordinary mortals, this Mensa genius included, because of their arbitrary harmful effects, quite similar to getting too much UV, glucose from non-diet non-zero sodas, and fat from those delicious yet ordinary glazed donuts.

However, if there’s one thing I learned from my net-readings, it’s this: 3.5G and HSPA+ will be far FAR inferior compared to a 4G’s premise like, in my mind, somewhere along a 1Gb download in under 10 minutes while you play your favourite resource-hogging online flash or client-based MMORPG . Sounds ridiculous, yes? Actually, not with LTE.

Experiencing Blazing Fast 4G Internet with Smart LTE in Boracay

Smart will soon release its 4G LTE service late in the year and they have been fearlessly inviting several discerning users, yours truly included *chest thumps*, to try it out. The techno-masochist in me had a field day thinking of possible stress test scenarios for this special purpose.

When Bim from Smart said “download anything you can think of. Anything that’s legal, of course, LOL,” only one thing came to my mind: the massive 5.06Gb Adobe Creative Suite 5. To add to the challenge, I used the same browser to watch a full HD 1080p trailer of Summer Wars while the download is ongoing followed by me playing GodsWar Online, a flash-based MMORPG from IGG (that would on normal occasions freeze intermittently after around 30 minutes of continuous game play). Below’s a screenshot of the activity:

That's Nina Fuentes and Mica Rodriguez with Winston Almendras at the back. Amazed testers.

The MMORPG Test concurrent with Adobe CS5 download

Demo area setup where monitor is connected to a laptop with Smart LTE connection

The shot of the screen above was set up with a direct-to-PC connection at the briefing hub in Astoria, Boracay. My download speed averaged 1MB/s or 8Mb/s. The real test, for me, however, should be when I take the Smart LTE dongle up to my room, a considerable distance away from Astoria, and see for myself how this would fare wirelessly from there. Proceeding to download Adobe Photoshop CS5.1 trial version that’s around 1Gb in size, thinking the LTE technology would fail to deliver anything better than the 1MB/s speed from hours before, it finished in 8-9 minutes tops at speeds between 2.19 to 2.3MB/s ( or 17.52Mb to 18.4Mb/s!). More than twice as fast from my previous experience! My laptop must have felt euphoria that time because the 1Gb download finished in 8-9 minutes LOL.

That's my laptop connected to a 4G dongle set up in my room in Boracay

“LTE is a mobile standard which promises, at present, actual download speeds of up to 70Mb/s (as proven during the launch in Boracay) or roughly 35 times faster than that of the current 3G standard. It is 100% future-proof as it is designed from the ground up to handle massive amounts of data.

“With this, end users can fully enjoy multimedia streaming and downloads on their mobile devices faster than they could even on fixed-line DSL and cable internet connections” – Smart Communications.

I raised several questions during the test and briefing: when do consumers get it, who gets it first, and how much can we have it for? Smart LTE is currently slated for public release in December 2011 but the infrastructure is now established in Metro Manila and Boracay. Cebu, Davao, and other major Philippine cities and municipalities will follow shortly, Anne Binuya of Smart shared. There may be times when the 4G signal would go down to lower speeds depending on the location, similar probably to what I experience on my mobile phone with Smart’s HSPA when mobile. They mentioned that pricing would definitely be higher than the current rates for mobile broadband but there’s no final plan amount yet. Hopefully it’s friendly on my budget because I’m missing the speed already and I’ve been itching to change ISPs for a while now.

Smart Paraw in Boracay

Traveling to Boracay on a Saturday and back in Manila again on Sunday was worth getting a taste of something exciting from the near future, all thanks to Smart. Since we’re in one of the best beaches in the world and since we were afforded some free time, we got to beeline towards a small store called Jonah’s Fruit Shake (not an advertorial, mind you), the undisputed must go to place in Boracay for fruit shakes LOL, thrice in 24 hours! Thanks for suggesting the Avocado-Banana variant, Bim. IT WAS THE BOMB LIKE YOU SAIT IT WOULD BE!!!

Jonah's Fruit Shake Avocado-Banana FTW and Mango-Banana

Disclosure: airfare, living, and accommodation expenses for the one-day LTE testing event in Boracay was entirely paid for by Smart Communications.

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Noon, Ngayon, and the Diskette’s Ancestor from 20 Years Ago

10 April 2011

Noon, Ngayon, and the Diskette’s Ancestor from 20 Years Ago

I’m sharing with you something that made the geek in me drop every and go “ZOMGYAYNOSTALGIA!” while doing office spring cleaning. Look! A SyQuest 5.25″ Removable Cartrige! I was holding this… this THING and I probably looked like what the great Alexander Bell would should he get ahold of a smart phone from the future (a Nokia N8, not an iPhone, excuse me LOL). Did a little search and I found out that SyQuest was one of the earlier players in the removable mass storage market in late 80s and that some aspects of its business were acquired by iOmega years before SyQuest filed for bankruptcy in 1998. BUT WHO CARES, RIGHT? This right here is like the level of a 64Gb SDHC flash memory card of 2010, only two entire decades ago where 88Mb was like WHOA WHO WOULD EVER NEED THAT MUCH MEMORY PRAY TELL (the cartridge back label says (c) 1988-1991 SyQuest Technology)?!

SyQuest 5.25 Removable Cartridge circa 1991 #NoonNgayon

My Memories of Memory

For what seems like eons ago during my first job, we’d annually get a shipment box with 20 or so micro floppy diskettes containing a software (A Plus Tax) for the year’s US Tax Return preparation jobs. For a paltry 28.8Mb of data, we would have to wait from several weeks to several months before the order arrives. One bad sector in one diskette from package mishandling and you’re back to square one. Thinking about expensive shipping cost, too long a lead time before product receipt, pounds of costly and relatively heavy plastic diskette material, and a very time-consuming, spanned-disk install procedure, I’m glad we’re so over what for me is the stone age of storage, saving the environment and money along the way.

1.44Mb formatted? Pft. I’m so compelled to compare the micro floppy to the micro SD card right now but that wouldn’t be fair challenge. Instead, I dissected the micro floppy and compared its tape with a similar sized mini DVD-RW with 1.46Gb capacity. 1000x the storage, exponentially better looking with rainbow refract powers!

1.44Mb Micro Floppy Disk vs DVD-RW mini #NoonNgayon

Still on the subject of memory, here’s another blast from the past. Back when Canon used to only have 1-megapixel cameras as their top of the line offering, the SD card on the left of the image below may have been very useful, something I won’t even think of using with my 18-megapixel Canon 550D. LOL.

16Mb SD vs 16GB SDHC #NoonNgayon

A Briefcase Full of Old Cloud Nostalgia

On a more personal note, I used to zip and span 5-10Mb sized short film clips in micro floppies. I’d usually carry a box at a time for file transfer purposes. Remember Yahoo! Briefcase? It was easily a go-to portal for free mass storage offered to anyone with a Yahoo! email address/registration. With a limited storage space of 5Mb that later on grew to 50Mb, users (like me!) ended up making multiple email accounts just to avail of additional free storage space (because I’m “cost effective” like that LOL). Versus my diskettes, Yahoo! Briefcase is like free, exquisite, 3-Star Michelin rank restaurant prepared cuisine and the former a bland, over-priced hospital cafeteria food.

It pained me some when Yahoo! decided to discontinue the service in 2009 but only on the basis of nostalgia. As soon as I heard, I immediately checked my never-for-around-5-or-6-years-used-nor-visited Briefcase to view the contents and found several Sony Ericsson ringtones I painstakingly composed by ouido because, yes, apparently, I was a bored “secret mobile phone instrument musician” in the past. Saw some midi files there, mp3s, and some, um, “very informative” video clips that I’d rather keep to myself (evilsmirk). I’ve long forgotten the art and technique of ringtone composing (moreso that I once dug ringtone composing) but remembering what I did at one point in the not-so-far-away time made my heart flash a warm, toothy grin.

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10 Tips and Facts for the Hot Air Balloon Festival in Clark, Pampanga Traveler

9 February 2011

10 Tips and Facts for the Hot Air Balloon Festival in Clark, Pampanga Traveler

Here are some 10 things that will come in handy for those who are going to this year’s hot air balloon festivity at Clark in Pampanga. Those who went in their own private vehicles or as a group whose transport had been pre-arranged sure had it great. Going to Clark, Pampanga via public transport, however, is an entirely different level of adventure, more so when none of the people with you know how to get to the event venue, hahaha. Talk about hard core! Enough of the blah and on with my definitive guide, owing to our personal experience during the 15th Hot Air Balloon Festival. Bookmark this page for future reference, dear backpacker/day-traveller.

Annual Hot Air Balloon Festival in Clark Pampanga photos (teams)

1. The Commute: there were five of us who decided on taking a bus for the Hot Air Balloon Festival. Take the Victory Liner or Dagupan Bus Lines from Cubao. Bus fare is P102.00 (2010 rate) for Dau, Pampanga via Dagupan Bus Lines. It’s a good thing that we left our homes at 2:00 a.m. because there were no Victory Liner buses scheduled to leave before 4:30. Get off at the Dau stop over and take a jeepney along the highway (will take a short walk from the stop over spot) for the “Main Gate.” At the Main Gate, take another jeepney that will take you to the festival grounds. People in Angeles are very helpful. Ask if you feel lost or if you are not sure where you are.

2. Event Ticket: if you can, buy tickets before going to Clark via ticket outlets scattered around the Metro. Now be sure to bring those tickets because I know some people who forgot to bring theirs LOL. You can always buy them from the gate but prepared to fall in line because the Hot Air Balloon Festival is a BIG event and it will never fail to draw more and more tourists every year.

Annual Hot Air Balloon Festival in Clark Pampanga photos (dawn)

3. Start Time and Program Schedule: check the schedule from the event’s official website prior to going to Clark. During the Saturday event last year, the balloon flight was slated at 5:20 a.m. but the first balloons only started inflating at around 6:00 a.m. While the balloons were being set up, at around 6:19 a.m. a person in parachute came descending from the skies carrying with him the Philippine Flag as the speakers played the National Anthem. Everything has already flown at around 7:00 a.m. and right on schedule, too. There are things happening all day long but, next time, I’ll make sure I leave after the balloons. The scheduled re-flight at around dusk did not happen because the winds were too strong that they can’t even be inflated! I’ll explain more about this in a bit.

4. Vantage Point: only those with media badges are allowed in the field area where the balloons are being inflated. The rest of the spectators get to stay behind a gated area around 30 meters (or so) from the nearest hot air balloon. Those who came in early had the chance to stay right in front of the fence surrounding the main activity area.

Annual Hot Air Balloon Festival in Clark Pampanga photos (shell)

5. Photographers Galore: as mentioned, people who get inside the venue earlier usually choose to stay very close to the fenced area. As there are also LOTS of photographers wielding huge-ass lenses on standby in that perimeter, it’s gonna be a feat get to have a better position than most others. Usually, the really very early guests reign supreme: a usual perk enjoyed by the sleepless but deserving. Remember, you are shooting opposite the sunrise. It’s challenging enough to get a good shot of the balloons, and then this lighting problem! Caltex held a contest for each of the days during the festival last year, selecting 5 best shots from submissions. Winners could get to win gas cards and a year’s subscription to a locally published photography mag. Winson, who was with us that time, submitted a photograph and won the grand prize! Woot! Lastly, bring extra batteries for your camera. I can’t stress this important little reminder enough. For what use are 32Gb memory cards when your camera’s in a temporary coma.

6. Weather: I suggest that you bring a jacket for the bus trip. I never thought the early pre-Valentine’s Day morning in Pampanga can still be chilly. The event venue is an open field with several hangars that organizers managed to convert to covered activity areas. At noon, and thankfully, it got a bit cloudy so everyone had heavenly protection from harsh UV rays, so to speak. The wind picked up late in the afternoon, much to the kite flyers’ enjoyment. As a drawback, the commentator explained, the balloons that were supposed to fly that night had a hard time inflating because the wind speed rose to around 7-8 knots (8 to 9.2 miles per hour) at the open field. In the event that the balloons did get to inflate, there’s also the risk of endangering the onlookers. They still tried inflating the balloons and it was evident from where we were looking that they were all having a hard time.

Annual Hot Air Balloon Festival in Clark Pampanga photos (sun)

7. Food: there were trailers where Burger King, Jollibee, and McDonalds sold freshly prepared food (megots Burger King Chicken Sandwich! WIN!). There were also hotdog stands, carinderia-style meals, dimsum, ice cream, water, Halo-Halo courtesy of Kabigting Halo-Halo at the Marquee Mall booth (with pastillas as a main ingredient), and Yellow Cab Pizza, among others. Some brought food but, IMO, that’s too much of a hassle since arrangements for food stalls were well taken cared of by the organizers. Just bring cash since there are no ATMs inside the event area.

8. Mall-Access: Speaking of Marquee Mall, they offered free shuttle service to spectators that left every thirty minutes for the Mall. We left for Marquee Mall at around 8:30 only to find out that the mall opens at 10. Major bummer! Good thing Starbucks opened earlier than everybody else. We went around, having nothing else to do, and found ourselves inside Saizen (a Japanese store that sells anything for P85) where we spent a good hour getting awed at the littlest things. It is only here that I saw the most expansive CDR King branch ever! There we also traces of concepts stores, one for each of Microsoft, Lenovo, Toshiba, Logitech, and Dell, the likes of which we’ve never seen anywhere in the Metro. We had lunch in the mall before heading back for more Hot Air Balloon festivities via the way we came: free shuttle!

Annual Hot Air Balloon Festival in Clark Pampanga photos ( hot balloon)

9. Stay all day: Next year, I’d rather leave for home after the early morning balloon flight. Don’t get me wrong, staying there the entire day will get you your money’s worth for all P150 of it (still the same price as in 2010). There are portalets in strategic areas that would have been easy to use in the mornings but got filthy-gross at dusk. The emcee was outstanding. I was not able to get his name but kudos to you, whoever you are. That guy was talking all day, talking sense of what the “plane acrobatic pilots” (the actual name they’re called escapes me) were doing or are about to do as the flying exhibition happened, helping children find their lost parents (LOL), explaining about the balloons and the science behind the flights, and taking good care that the program remains interesting even for those who are not facing the stage or field area. It must be exhausting doing all that for four straight days in a row! *hat tip* I would not dare stay later than 3PM again because of my next and last learning…

10. Going home on commute: We had a hell of a hard time going back home at around 7:30 p.m. There was traffic everywhere and it seemed that every commuter from the festival decided to go home at exactly the same time. Jeepneys heading back to the “Main Gate” were scarce and the traffic congested. Terrific! Outstanding! When we finally reached the Dau bus terminal, getting a Manila-bound bus proved to be the hardest task for the day. Oh boy, never again. It’s either I’ll take my own ride going to Pampanga for next year’s festival or I’m leaving the venue earlier and forego the afternoon program.

Annual Hot Air Balloon Festival in Clark Pampanga photos (glider)

There you have it folks, 10 thinks you should know and prepare for when going to your next Hot Air Balloon Festival. Thanks to Marquee Mall for the Event Pass!

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