Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Song Week #01: Shawn Mendes' Cover of "Counting Stars"

Hi everyone! I apologize it's been quite a while since I last posted (and this just might be the third time I've said this...). I've just been so occupied with everything else lately; revision, school tutorials, exams, tests...especially since the HKDSEs are coming in less than two months which will be extremely important for an entry to university so I can't really find much time to blog now.

Other than that, I want to share with you guys a cover that I've recently been VERY obsessed with. A song called "Counting Stars" by Shawn Mendes, originally sung by the band One Republic that literally gives me the "feels" and just because this talented young man sings it so well. Multi-talented. My favorite cover so far!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Macau Study Trip

Our school organized a Macau study trip yesterday where we stayed and toured there for up to 10 hours from morning until night, and within those 10 hours we also visited three universities which are the Institute for Tourism Studies, the University of Macau and Macau University of Science and Technology. We saw the Ruins of St. Paul's as well which was pretty incredible considering the background history behind it and now it's still there. The Galaxy was one of the places we went to during night and can I just say it has the most beautiful, amazing interior architecture and design that I've seen so far?

We only had a day to tour around Macau and check out universities since that was the main purpose of the trip, so our schedule was extremely tight and we had to make sure we followed the plan and do things quickly. Overall it was an awesome experience and I'm glad to have visited the region. I've always wondered how Macau was like.

Behind The Ruins of St. Paul's.

Taken from one of the floors in the University of Macau.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Movie Review: Spud (2010)

Spud, a South African coming-of-age comedy film based on a novel by author John van de Ruit, is about young 14-year old John Milton (Troye Sivan)’s very first year at an elite boys boarding school in Durban who is about to enter a whole unexpected world of growing up, puberty and of course, girls. When he first arrives in school, “Spud” was already given to him as a nickname by other mischievous boys as a result of his delayed puberty and that what’s underneath is “like a spud”. From there, his journey at Michaelhouse begins, with him fully knowing that he’s somewhat different from the other boys especially in terms of his appearance and the fact that he has yet to experience puberty. Thus, challenges are in store for him for the beginning school year.
It may sound like your very own typical cliché plot: growing up, school, bullying. Anyone may have already witnessed the same story and problem in any teen movies even when it comes to teenage boys and their desire for girls. It’s nothing new. But Spud opens up with its mixture of non-stop humor and quirkiness, making the whole film have a creative take on the distress of adolescence, let alone John’s challenges with being different, school, girls and discovering more in life which director Donovan Marsh successfully manages to convey.
John’s arrival at school throughout the beginning of the film already brought me to laughter. While he and his mother (Julie Summers) are being escorted by a senior student, he looks around his surroundings in confusion and complete unfamiliarity. His mother compliments his son as a singing angel. Unexpectedly, the senior student then turns around, looking down and winking at little John with a sense of flirtation, “I like choir boys”. The camera focuses on John’s reaction, an amusing look of little disgust could be seen and the what-did-you-just-say kind of vibe could be felt. Right then, I knew I was in for a very great, real comedic film.
Take note that Ruit’s novel is in a diary format of John Milton and this film adaption well captures the journal-diary concept where the film evidently conveys his experience in the chronological order of the school semester, which is effective in making the audience feel that they are part of John’s school journey from beginning to the end. John’s narration can also be heard in the background. Sivan’s tone, however, I feel is not engaging enough at times, lessening the film’s level of excitement and humor.
Nevertheless, Sivan’s acting skills and singing talent still make up for it. In the film, we see John auditioning for a school play in order to fit in and later then ends up with the role of a main character. A good singing voice is certainly a requirement in order for John to be landed the role. And I am glad that Mr. Sivan was chosen for the role of young John Milton because his smooth-sounding voice and cover of “Amazing Grace” in the film was enough to make me moved, as well as his innocent-seeming performance that captures John’s character as somewhat, to a small extend, an outsider and a character of quiet nature compared to the other boys who are extremely loud and would do anything to get their hands on someone.
The film takes place around the time period of Nelson Mandela’s release from jail so expect a few references to Mandela and the issue between inequality between whites and blacks. Though this does not mean the film will convert to a political, serious story at any point of the film nor will lose its humor aspect, because again, we see John standing up all of a sudden in a debate between a teacher and a student, giving a loud remark regarding being white, “I’m embarrassed to be white and when I leave school, I’m going to be a freedom fighter!”, followed with a wide shot of the whole room in utter awkward silence.
Similarly to The Perks of Being a Wallflower (which is also based on a novel), Spud includes mentions of literature and books. John Milton is being assigned classic novels written by famous writers like Charles Dickens by Mr. Edly (John Cleese), just like how Charlie in Perks is being assigned to read To Kill a Mockingjay and other remarkable novels by his English teacher. These two both learn things about life through such novels. It definitely would be interesting to see how these two compare with each other.
Another thing great about this film is that we really get to see John’s growth development as he turns from someone who seems clueless and can easily be a target to teasing and physical bullying especially from the perspective of the other boys, to a strong-willed growing man who discovers much more about “bromance”, family, love and life. We also get to gain several thoughtful and meaningful quotes from John’s “diary” through his narration, all influenced by what he experiences. One quote that truly touched me at the end was, “God’s greatest gift is choice…but sometimes, God gives us no choice. He deals us the cards, we play them”.
Spud is not your ordinary, average coming-of-age film. It brims with humor, heart and lessons.
This film is rated M. Mature content and some sexual content.
Click here to see more of my movie reviews!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye 2013...

31/12/2013, Tuesday, 10: 15 p.m.

2013 has been such an amazing, life-changing year, filled with many ups and downs, obstacles and struggles, winning and new experiences that I had witnessed. I feel that I have grown and learnt so much throughout the year. Sure I've said the same thing to myself for the past few years in 2010, 2011, 2012 that I have "grown" but this year, I feel that I really have. And it's because of all the new things that I have experienced and deeply gone through. There have been a lot.

This year, I tried new things. I met many new people and saw celebrities (now off my bucket list!). I traveled. I feel that I have gotten a bit of confidence this year especially with my anxiety issues (still working on it!) and I'm proud of myself for taking risks. There were so many things that I personally had been struggling with but there were also things that I successfully had overcome. I'm proud of myself for making it this far.

And everyone should too. No one has it easy, everyone's busy trying to save themselves and beat those obstacles. Especially you who's reading this right now. Whether you had an awesome year or a year of disaster, congratulations for making it this far.

Here are some of my favorite highlights and accomplishments of 2013..
  • Going to the SCMP Young Post newspaper workshop learning more about journalism, the newspaper industry and how newspapers are written and produced
  • Winning an inter-school English competition 
  • Seeing old friends and former teachers during the LCU Homecoming
  • Going to Ocean Park for the first time ever and riding on roller-coasters (what I had always ridiculously feared)
  • Travelling to the Philippines again and visiting my relatives whom I've missed very much
  • Personally meeting Jamie Campbell Bower and Godfrey Gao during the The Mortal Instruments book signing event and the special private screening (and being given flowers *dies*)
  • Seeing Rihanna during her promotion of her new make-up product in Sasa
  • Winning the iCity NetY Ambassadors Program 2013 with my team 
  • Travelling to Bali, Indonesia and attending the Internet Governance Forum 2013 (my article on my experience for Scarlett London's travel series)
  • My successful individual class presentation on Othello and Everyday Use
  • Being featured in The Sun (leading Filipino newspaper in Hong Kong)
  • Being interviewed for The Road Show on me and my team's experience of winning the iCity NetY Ambassadors Program 2013
  • Making a speech in the iCity NetY Ambassadors Program 2013 Closing Ceremony
  • Presenting our Bali experience during the Chinese YMCA of Hong Kong annual meeting 
  • Visiting the RTHK Headquarters
  • Trying to attempt skateboarding in public with Nicole (embarrassed myself though but that's the point)
  • Watching Rigoletto, an opera with my classmates
Some of these may seem like minor, simple experiences but they are something that I'm proud of doing.

This year has gone by so quickly and I still cannot believe that as I writing this, 2013 will come to an end in less than 2 hours. It's really depressing to see it go because 2013 has really been the best year for me yet...but I'm still definitely looking forward to 2014. Another year, another door for new opportunities. And because in less than 3 months, I'll be graduating and battling the HKDSEs (university exam). I honestly am somewhat nervous about this. High school may have been a pain but  I don't want it to end just yet...

My new year resolutions? To just be confident in myself. To be kind. To just be happy. To accept what I cannot change and try to get something useful out of it. To beat obstacles with optimism. To read more. To eat healthily. To save up (because I'm bad at this). To work harder. To learn more.

While school, HKDSE tutorials and mock exams are the reasons for my tight and busy schedule, I'll try to blog once every week, most probably on Sundays and they could be anything such as reviews, random thoughts, current events.etc.

Here's to another great year ahead! Goodbye 2013 and hello 2014!

I literally feel so emotional right now.