wanderlust: karlovy vary


karlovy vary is about 1.5 hours from prague in the czech republic. i had but recently only realized that czechoslovakia had divided itself in 1993 (i blame sleepy afternoons and not concentrating in history). so there is the czech republic and there is slovakia on the map. awesome to learn something every day, right?



karlovy vary is known for their spas and medicinal spring waters and a lot of their tourism is towards people seeking wellness and therapy. however, every july their sleepy little town gets to throw a big party for the summer crowd and because it hosts the karlovy vary international film festival.


this is Hotel Thermal, home of the karlovy vary international film festival. the hotel is kinda like CCP, except with a hotel and is near everybody else.

our film, KAPATIRAN (Brotherhood), was screened this year, ive blogged about it already. this post would show a little bit of karlovy vary instead.


one of the ballrooms in the grandhotel pupp with a big ass morgan freeman portrait. one of the biggest spa hotels in karlovy vary and where a lot of the parties during the festival were hosted. it’s awesome for 1 festival to have most of the whole city so involved. you can see a lot of their poster billboards all over. the theaters are spread out and not just in one venue.




another one of the venues where we had our 2nd screening of karlovy vary. goofing outside the cafe, we were joined by hubert poul (6th from left), programmer in karlovy vary and the one who was responsible for bringing us to the czech republic. also in the photo in lucille (rightmost) who was in-charge of our schedules and car transfers. very organized and with a bmw sponsorship for transfers, we were major alta in karlovy vary haha


early morning and the crowd had just partied the night before. still some few souls traversing through the venue and gardens, others sunbathing for their life. im pinoy, no thanks, i have my umbrella to shield me from the sun.


the view outside hotel ruze, where we enjoy our breakfast buffet of cheeses, hard bread, and yohgurt. plus goulash and different kinds of sausages as well.


another of the collonades that feature a spring of water, supposedly medicinal and which you can drink (if you buy them touristy ceramic mugs).


we stayed for 4-5 days but wish we could stay the whole week. got to watch brillante mendoza’s ma’rosa (heartbreaking) and swiss army man, directed by dan kwan and daniel scheinert (amazing). then of course, the new edit to kapatiran, which we saw for the first time in karlovy vary. during the q&a, pepe likened the philippines to shattered glass, an archipelago of broken people, separated by seas and subcultures yet connected by affiliations. and then there was a proposal that occurred. but that will be another story.


for the rest of the photos i took in karlovy vary, head on to my fb photodump album.

art & design, filmmaking, laundry therapy, movies, musings, travel

wanderlust: karlovy vary

food trip, musings

vahay kuvo part 2

ever since we did our marketing at marikina the other week, carlo and i have carefully documented the meals we produced and ate. apparently we still had to hit the neighborhood grocery for more items like cans of milk or some other ingredients not found at the public market. out of the stash of food we got here were the dishes carlo cooked and we both plated for instagraming (@luningninggerzi) :


that evening coming back from the market, this was the first we prepared. mussells with carrots and napa/chinese cabbage. instead of rice, we have sweet potatoes.



lunch was fried big-bellied round scad (galunggong) with a bed of veggies consisting of baked sweet potatoes in basil, muscovado, honey, and blackbean sauce. dipping sauce is iloko vinegar.


dinner was shared with tita tems (who doesnt go home for lunch). we had red snapper (maya-maya) steamed in lemongrass and other aromatics and seasoned with tamarind (sinigang) powder). since we used the small oven toaster, the fish was split in two and curiously, the head part’s drippings tasted differently than the tail part (the former was tasted like the ocean and the latter’s taste was more subdued). on the side we had a salad of boiled leaves of the sweet potato (camote tops) and fresh tomatoes, onions, in a sweet-sour vinegar sauce. there were also eggplants (boiled) paired with bagoong balayan (a kind of fish sauce) with calamondi. no rice tonight.


carlo also proceeded to make his own chili sauce by chopping up sili labuyo, green chilis, and peppercorns. toasted the garlic in oil then cooked the chilis into it. sesame oil was added later on.



lunch was just omelette and whole wheat bread. no photo. forgot. lol.

dinner was mantis shrimp (alupihang dagat) cooked in garlic and butter. on the side were sauteed veggies in peanut sauce (using local peanut butter. yum). i prefer to call these shrimps aliens because i think shrimps are of alien descent.


here is the photo of how i plated the alupihang dagat. so crazy.



lunch was blanched cabbage heads and tomatoes dipped in bagoong, calamansi, and sili, and eaten with hands. we also had fried galunggong and fried brown rice. galunggong had a sukang iloko dipping sauce.


dinner was adobong manok, cooked for hours. adobong mother and child, as per carlo, this adobo was served with hard-boiled egg plus boiled squash and sweet potatoes. ripe cantaloupe for dessert.



last lunch was stir-fried vegetables with an awesome plate of fried squid. dipping sauce is iligan’s pinakurat, the best vinegar in the world!


we had to add a few more items purchased in the neighborhood grocery to supplement what we got from the market. this would amount to maybe another thousand pesos. our initial Php 940 plus about a thousand pesos, divided into more or less 8 dishes would amount to Php 242.50 per meal with 2 or 3 people sharing the whole meal. still awesome!

im sharing this because we do have fun preparing these dishes and eating them! im hoping to inspire others also who cannot escape the clutches of fast food. maybe for others as well, you should realize you dont have to spend so much to eat better. give a little bit of time to cooking and it will reward you. the greatest chef in the world, gusteau, does believe, “anyone can cook.” and while i dont do the cooking, i do the dishes and that’s still a noble chore. lol. cheers and have fun!


mmff 2014

looked forward to watching some movies in last year’s mmff mainly because i was involved in one of them. then because some of my friends were involved in other films too. our views can get biased but i could also be rather honest. here’s my two cents’ worth. dont worry, di ako mataas magscore talaga. lol.



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casting wise, erich gonzales made a pretty ahas. in parts i liked her acting but i didnt like her swaying motions. the ahas design was good and i especially liked when dad ariel was holding the baby ahas in his arms. i didnt catch if alice dixon died or left the family, generally i just thought she was underused. i wished they could have shot in a better looking mall. i liked the cg statue. the set design of the ahas lair was pretty well made. this was one movie this year that referenced gollum’s schizofreakazoid conversations with himself. the other was kubot. writing for this could have been better actually. least favorite of the three. score 2/5


this was the episode we were involved in. jerrold tarog directed his script written with zig marasigan. mackie galvez shot the movie with me as production designer, carlo working on costumes, and carmen on makeup and prosthetics. technically very well made and well-fleshed out script. editing was well paced and color grading was pretty and spot on. im impressed how tight dennis and carla’s performances were in the film. chanda was lovely to work with and extraordinary onscreen. i asked her to not put makeup on, i felt it would help her character. carlo built the aling lina look out of her dusters and aprons. i always hated lengthy climactic expositions. for someone who have read the script before, despite how well made it came out, i take off 1 brownie point. i love you, guys 😉 an epilogue was shot but was taken out of the final cut. also, if this was lined up as the 3rd episode, SRRXV would have been a better movie. score 3.5/5


i loved this episode, especially because they were able to shoot in a plane. there wouldnt really be a point shooting this material if they werent able to get that location! from the get-go, from the minute joy viado stepped into frame i got it this was a cray cray episode and i enjoyed it. silly and no logic whatsoever. you just had to enjoy it. the epilogue was totally unnecessary (SPOILER: -may isospoil pa ba ang formula films?- when rocky salumbides as a halimaw appears at the end) hence the score 3.5/5

overall, SRRXV was a surprise because i enjoyed it. and writing this “review” article is already getting me bored. moving on.



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this was a real crowd pleaser. there were also a lot of people behind this film that are friends. i know tonette jadaone from college because she submitted a short film to our film festival competition thing at UP. i used to call her, “jada-one,” (referenced to padawans from star wars, whatever). this is a romcom but it broke all sorts of romcom formulas and although you know how it would probably end, you just smile through the movie and marvel at derek’s broad shoulders. ok, also jennylyn’s porselana skin. the writing is particularly smart and maybe it can still do a little more tweaking but it’s almost perfect. im not sure if derek should have won best actor but he was better than robin in bonifacio. sorry, robin. on hindsight, i applaud derek ramsay’s subtle acting as a fil-am business guy taking a 30 day off vacay to forget his girlfriend by flying to the philippines and hoped to blow her off with tagalog. and not sweating at all in humid weather. tonette, ano to? lol. but his accent was just right and his abs rounded it off for a rather convincing performance. whut? jennylyn was awesome in this movie. she was disarmingly cute and still smart despite being tanga in love. the design was very colorful but on another note, it looked too much like a star cinema movie and im not sure if they were aiming to be that or not. nevertheless, the design could have helped define characters more than just putting pretty colors everywhere. i am in awe that this production got to shoot in an actual SM mall. im so jealous haha generally, all the awards this film got was well deserved. score: 4/5



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this i looked forward to. worked on the first movie (tiktik aswang chronicles) as designer alongside peter colias (scenic designer for moulin rouge, the matrix and whatnot). this sequel went much more crazy than the first one and it was awesome. maybe the movie could have been edited a tad bit shorter and that factory sequence a bit tighter but overall it was all fun. the concept on the design was awesome. it doesnt make sense that the roof of a hut on a building’s rooftop would be made with window blinds but it worked. that gorgeous opening scene was something out of ridley scott’s prometheus! but as wonderful as the design on the kubot clan were, i was kinda perplexed on the too subtle differences the character design were for the remaining aswang clans. nevertheless, isabel looked awesome and id love to have her home’s curtains! lotlot was outstanding in this movie. congrats direk erik! kudos to ericson navarro and his art department for wining best pd and makeup, and the naked dave yu (naked in that factory scene; some things you can never unsee hahaha) for best visual effects. deserving win as well. score: 3.5/5



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technically this was the movie i saw first but posting last because of the picture above. lol. this movie had a lot of potential to be truly awesome. gorgeous sweeping shots, soaring orchestrations, the works. yet, sometimes, nothing can mask a rather weak script. one thing i thought of after the movie ended was that, that was it? yun lang ba dinaanan ni bonifacio sa buhay niya? it felt rather thin. and those present day sequences were unnecessary. early on in the movie, i loved the musical score. however, towards the end i started sensing a familiar motiff and then it hit me. the da vinci code! even the katipunan museum “steadicam” shot was reminiscent of that camera swoop through the louvre. nevertheless, i know von de guzman along with wildsound deserved their best music and sound design wins. special mention to carlo mendoza winning for cinematography, enhancing roy lachica’s wonderful sets. vina morales could have easily won best actress for this, i have to admit. her scenes were heartbreaking. robin, however well-intentioned, remained robin padilla, not andres bonifacio. i have to say, the controversy raised by this production was rather awkward and embarrassing. huwag na pagpilitan ang mga bagay na di naman para sa inyo. i feel tama ang pagbigay ng lahat ng mga awards this year. besides, bonifacio already reaped most of the awards. be content. honestly, because of this sourgraping, i was turned off a lot by this movie. hayy. back to regular programming. ay tapos na pala. score 2.5/5

so durr. carlo has a lot more to add but he might as well write another blog about it. i might just catch the amazing praybeyt benjamin on tv soon enough. feng shui 2 as well. i enjoyed the first one. just a sad reality (though nothing serious) for the mmff to be more of a sequel festival than showcasing original material. if the new template would be ENGLISH ONLY PLEASE, then im hoping next year wala nang sequels/prequels or rehashed formula films. dapat original material lahat. but dont hold your breath. asa ka pa. 😉 ok, quiet na ako. cheers and have a happy new year.

ps. at centrio mall in cagayan de oro, movie tickets cost only P151. that’s watching in an ayala mall cinema with awesome sound and seats! gateway cubao tickets cost us P231 per head. cinemas 6 and 7 (where srr and kubot were shown) was a much more smaller theater but had a great projector (a bit cropped though), crystal clear and bright image projection, and awesome sound system. cinema 1 (where EOP) was rather bad: dull colors, sound not as good as the other cinemas.

art & design, filmmaking, movies, set design

ABOVE THE CLOUDS Production Diary #2

the next installment to the behind the scenes videos for ABOVE THE CLOUDS was released a few days ago. here it is:


the 1st video is posted here.

art & design, costume design, filmmaking, set design

movies coming up

excited that i have two movies to be screened in local theaters in the coming months. first is CAPTIVE by cannes winning director brillante mendoza. we shot this movie in january of last year but it took a long time for post work to finish in europe. after that, we had to wait until after the berlin film festival’s premiere before it could come home 😉

isabelle huppert, legendary french actress, stars as a missionary abducted along with a group of bakasyonistas by extremist group abu sayyaf in palawan in 2001. the story is based on the kidnappings that year, which included gracia burnham and her late husband, martin. the rest of the cast include raymond bagatsing, ronnie lazaro, angel aquino and sid lucero. here’s our facebook page.


the movie will be showing in local theaters on september 5, 2012 under star cinema.

next is erik matti’s TIKTIK: THE ASWANG CHRONICLES, which was shot june last year and is going through more than a year of post-work because of the heavy cg requirements. the movie is slated to open in october this year, under GMA films in cooperation with reality entertainment.

i worked on the production design with australian pd peter colias (scenic designer for moulin rouge, dark city). first time for me to build a whole house in a studio. during the shoot, strawdog’s adrian espanol and dunn ledesma art directed for the film and cherry fortes and kitch napigkit were in-charge of wardrobe. setmen were buboy crauz’s boys and the guys from strawdogs. follow us on facebook here. here’s the teaser trailer:


major awesome! long live pinoy movies! 😉

filmmaking, movies

why they’re such great actresses

this tells us why these two are still the greatest actresses we have in the philippines. this is a scene from the film, ikaw ay akin, which ive never seen actually. hoping i could find a copy somewhere. shot in 1978, this is written and directed by philippine national artist for film ishmael bernal, with additional writing credits for jose carreon (story and screenplay), starring vilma santos, nora aunor and christopher de leon (source just awesome.

laundry therapy, musings, save the earth

what’s the dream

my architecture barkada and facebook friend, amillah, posted a question on her page, “what’s your dream for manila?” a few days ago. there were a few comments and i decided to join in the fun. a few short suggestions grew to a longer list. i apparently had my bone to pick and had more things to say than i would like to admit. if you were president, or at least mayor, how would you improve things here in manila? or in the philippines, as a larger whole? here’s my random, clearly unorganized list of wishful thinking:

photo credit dale iranon

1. strict implementation on jeepney stops, an organized and logical pila system. what we can do in UP, we can do in the world.  add to that an improved traffic decongesting scheme on top of the color-coding and a stricter anti-smoke belching campaign implementation.  also we should have a centralized/unified smoke belching certificate.  right now, you have to get a different one from every city –pasig, mandaluyong, makati etc and they’re not offering official receipts! read: raket!  we must have more MRT train cars. and more blowers in the MRT stations! ang init kaya! and an EDSA skyway that skips cubao and mandaluyong haha  🙂

2. Save the earth, Manila! stronger better programs on recycling and campaigns on environmental awareness, privatized garbage collection, garbage cans every 100 meters, urinals every half kilometer.  we should promote a greener Manila, a greener Philippines. i applaud how Bayani cleaned up Marikina (though he garnered more critics when he became MMDA chief) and how Hagedorn practiced green living in Palawan . it can be done! Cuerpo’s garbage disposal solutions in Montalban were for the books and his methane plant would have really helped. unfortunately, his detractors pushed him out of office, dont quote me  🙂  a lot more cities should adopt the no plastics/styro ordinance. please! yes to recyclable bags for groceries and to wheeled carts.  we also need more trees. our urban development should include a tree plan or better yet, a park plan. more parks built = more trees planted. building codes should be revised imposing a 30% tree/park plan for every site being developed.  and a 10% provision for pedestrian passageways! walang daan ang mga tao juskoday. our streets are almost not people friendly. i do commend makati with trees, the parks, the wide walkways and an elevated catwalk along dela rosa. it’s practically fun to walk in makati because you wont get run over!

3. appreciation (and preservation) of heritage structures. yun yon

4.  no more billboards EVER (esp since di na pwede underwear ads hahaha). we’ll miss views like this but let’s look up to the night sky instead. no more free-standing billboards on EDSA and the major highways.

5.  clean, potable water from our faucets.  in my childhood, we could drink water from a hose. let’s bring that back.

6. clean fuel for vehicles.  if our gasoline and diesel were processed better, there would be less carbon emissions (please correct me if i got this wrong). less soot on roadside structures, less pollutants in the air. better yet, let’s go electric! or have a hydro car or a solar-powered one. 

7. building more construction of farm-to-market roads, more rewards for farmers and removal of middle men.  let’s help the farmers, not the men who do less sweat and still take home the larger bulk of income. also, if we invest more in our lands, we may need not import goods we can grow ourselves.

8. subsidies and more education grants for IP youths, more lumad schools so they get educated but still maintain their cultures. land certificates for the indigenous people, more programs for training IPs to be better farmers and managers of their lands. empowerment to the people, let’s not keep them in the dark.

9. streamlined tax collection system. perhaps we can pay our taxes through online banking. or have we already started that?

10. promotion and patronizing locally produced goods.  the US market is receiving flak because of high fructose corn syrup and many other unhealthy extenders in US processed foods, indirectly causing a high rise in obesity and diabetes cases in the states.  we should be grateful, for example, our locally made peanut butter is unstable and has oil (check lily’s); that means it’s natural and there is less preservatives. our veggies have lesser carbon footprint since the Philippines is a much smaller country than the US.  our food may not be exempted from the use of preservatives and extenders, but i think it’s way better than their US counterparts. please read food labels and their ingredients!

11. improved health classes in schools, encouraging better dental and skin health for all and providing more services for them; the passing of the RH bill. health is wealth, so they say. PEHM classes should now be more comprehensive, discussing food and diet in detail, making gym fun and accessible to even the dweebest of the dweebs.  schools should teach how to read and understand labels, effects of too much sugar and salt, calorie content and how to measure their intake.  kids should know which food item is healthier just by reading labels.  the first three ingredients listed in any product indicate the largest components of that item. bottled iced tea lists water, sugar and tea, in that order. that means, there’s more sugar than anything (which is why i stopped drinking bottled iced teas).  school programs should encourage our youth to be fit, toned and be body gorgeous! we should instill dental hygiene practices like flossing, gargling with hydrogen peroxide, the pinas is not exactly dental health conscious.  the RH bill should already be put in effect 20 years ago so we can start reaping its benefits. sex education, information on reproductive health for our kids and in barrios where it is most needed. aborti-what? even the pope encourages condom use.

12. promotion of tropical design versus american/euro style homes.  the greater population should understand why we cant keep having all this american style homes in a tropical country! it’s too damn hot! also, tropical design is also green architecture; design considers orientation of the house to maximize airflow and minimizing solar heat. more windows, better ventilation and lighting, lesser use of air-conditioning and lights.  redirect rainwater and laundry water for washing the garage or for flushing toilets. form should follow function. bathrooms are living areas too, dont make it the size of a broom closet!  we need to promote our cultural sensibilities in design! we need more kenneth cobonpues, more budji layugs and ann pamintuans, more locsins and lichaucos!  more important than promoting them abroad is promoting them here in the philippines, maximizing their talents and creating awareness and more appreciation in the motherland. we tend to look up to international designers when we can do better by buying local.

13. centralized ID system, centralized banking system if possible. forget what nostradamus feared, 1 ID may be all we need.

14. cheaper unlimited data plans for mobile phones or tablets hehe or a wi-fi ready manila! how about being out in the park and bam! we got wi-fi with up to 16mbps speeds! haha

15. instill nationalism and pride in local efforts and practices (like, support pinoy movies!).  no more colonial and crab mentality! please no more negativity. there should be no factor in the bakya.  ok, there’s jejemon and pre-2k jologs type pero kanya-kanya lang yang trip. no need to separate yourself from the other. we’re all in the same boat, we breathe the same dirty air and hide from the same sun.  japan was able to help its economy after the world war by keeping out of the world market. the japanese bought japanese. by this they were able to instill local pride.  when the japanese go abroad, they still bought japanese-made products and that helped their economy a lot. since products continued to improve, the world wanted their products and so a happy cycle was established.  in the same vein, if pinoys bought pinoy, quality of products would improve because tayo na nga gagamit then more would buy it.  if pinoys watched more pinoy movies, im sure we’d have better fare since we’re helping the industry. if pinoys stopped heckling lower class sentiments and see the beauty in the positive, our culture would be richer and more exciting. i love what team manila is doing, maybe they should instead be called the Department of Tourism. oops.

it was only after writing my first draft that i read this other article on dreaming for a better manila. there are a lot of similar wants for manila here. goes to show a lot of people want the same basic things and changes. im sure the government would have picked up on these ideas as well. i just hope it translates to some constructive reality.