Archive for August, 2010

The Quirino Granstand Hostage Taking

Posted in Introspection, Politics, Random, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on August 30, 2010 by otakujade

I really didn’t want to make any blogs or cite my opinion on the issue until I am confident of my facts and that I am not going to make any false allegations. The issue is already sensitive enough as it is and really there’s just been so many people making comments and citing their opinions on the subject without really knowing what actually transpired. Let us not forget that during these incidences none of us were present at the scene and that things may seem a lot different when viewed from the safety of our living room.

I was watching the events too as it unfolds, we were monitoring everything on the television from 10:30 AM until its completion at around 8:30 PM on August 23, 2010.

One of our officemate told us to open the TV because there was a hostage taking going on. And so we did, honestly, none of us expected the ordeal to last that long and we really thought it would be resolved peacefully like with the previous ones or at the very least it would be resolved with the perpetrator dead or taken into custody and there would be no lost of lives among the victims. Let us admit that this has happened before and so far we came out of it decidedly on top. Besides, things look quite bright as the hostage-taker, Police Senior Inspector Mendoza started freeing hostages. By 12 noon of that day he had already freed 9 hostages, so things really looked on the up and up. We were actually saying that he really didn’t intend to kill anyone and that he just wanted to be heard. The sympathy was really all on him, and the blame was placed on the OMBUDSMAN.

By mid afternoon his brother Senior Police Officer 4 Gregorio Mendoza arrived on the scene and tried to approach the bus with his gun tucked on his belt. The police took him aside, confiscated his gun and then he proceeded to cooperate with the police on the scene. By 5:00 PM food was again brought to the bus for the remaining hostages. At that time we all went home and monitored what was going from home. I was watching the scenes with my sister, who was a psychologists and I remember her saying things are starting to look bleat. I told her that Captain Mendoza really didn’t intend to kill anyone, and she told me the negotiations had been going on for far too long. She also said that at this point the hostage taker would be getting weary and irritable. I didn’t believe her.

Then we saw the negotiators approach the bus once more together with the brother of the hostage-taker, they talked for sometime and then we saw the negotiators started to walk away from the bus with the brother of Capt. Mendoza. Then we saw a single shot erupted from one of the windows of the bus, the negotiators looked back once and seemingly calm continued to walk away. After that the next scene we saw was Capt. Mendoza’s brother being arrested, his relatives were surrounding him, shouting and crying, refusing to let him go. At this point, the situation became tense. Watching from the safety of our home was no comfort as the gravity of what was happening hit you right in the face. The police knew that the bus in which the hostage taker was in had a TV and that he can see everything as it was being broadcast live on national TV. SPO4 Gregorio Mendoza was forcibly taken in custody by the police and the thing we heard were shots being fired from inside the bus. Then the bus started to move and shots were fired to disable the tires so it can’t go anywhere.  The camera fanned out and we saw the driver of the bus jumped from one of the windows and ran towards the police line.  The commentator on the TV said that the driver was saying that everyone was already dead inside the bus.

Then the SWAT team came towards the bus, obviously ill-equipped and yet not at all lacking in courage. They tried to enter the bus through the windows and the door but hostage taker kept firing. At this point the tension was so high even within the safety of our living room, probably due to the distance of the media from the bus we cannot hear anything but the exchange of gun shots. It seemed that the bus was eerily quiet; it truly seemed that what the driver said was true. But still the SWAT team moved cautiously, they didn’t storm the bus. To us at the time it seemed incompetent that they should move so slow, but upon further thinking, I realized they were trying to protect themselves and they didn’t rain bullets on the bus hoping that somehow some of the victims were still alive.

It almost feels like it took forever for the whole scene to end. There were intermittent gun shots being fired, tear gases were thrown inside the bus and the final, like a coup d’ gras’ one of the snipers got a shot and took it. Police Senior Inspector Mendoza was shot in the head, blowing his brains out and ended the ordeal. For the longest time, nothing happened the SWAT had difficulty entering the bus – they didn’t have gas masks – and then finally one by one the hostages were taken out from the bus. Some remarkably were still alive! I remember breaking down with my sister as we found out that some of the hostages were alive.

All this time we were wondering where were the high ranking officials? Who was in charge? And why was the MPD left on their own? I mean, if a high ranking Philippine National Police official or a high ranking government official was on the scene why aren’t they coming out. Honestly, it would have given both the hostage taker and the public a sense of reassurance that things are being done and that they’re really taking the matter seriously. There was an earlier announcement that the President was monitoring the events so why didn’t he come out to reassure the nation that he was on top of the situation? Where was he when HK Chief Executive Tsang wanted to talk to him? If it were true that he was not informed about the call from Chief Executive Tsang, then they should sack the personnel who failed to inform him about a very important call which could have somehow eased the anguish of the Chinese officials. Pnoy needs a lesson on diplomacy and international relations.

As for the police, of the SWAT unit that assaulted the bus I really cannot say much except that I admire their courage. Really I cannot blame those who approached the bus because they were little more than pawns in a chess game. They were simply following orders by someone higher. This is something that the public must understand – that as much as the police are thinking individuals they are also soldiers. The PNP is a paramilitary organization; it is civilian in nature and military in practice. They are less than soldiers and yet not complete civilian; they are still bound to their commander’s orders and to refuse would be deemed as insubordination. Maybe the public will not, and maybe even the courts will not but their commanding officers and the rest of the organization will see it that way.

The police had already admitted they made several lapses in judgment during the incident, lapses that may have caused 8 people their lives, but at least they have owned up to their fault. As for the government officials, when are they going to admit to their faults. This is not solely the police’s faults, the government officials have some very big mistakes to own up too as well. Even if the people in power try to deny it the Philippines is still a presidential form of government, where the people including all agencies within its scope look up for guidance and direction from the president of the country. Let us admit that in terms of government we are still not as mature as the US, the people still expect the president to oversee all things – like a father or a mother for that matter. They need to see someone running the show and that’s how they feel reassured. We have a very different culture from the US and our officials should not use that excuse of how the government should run in order to save face for their lack of control and supervision on the incident.

I admit as some point we need to move forward and move towards where the different units of the government work independently but towards a common goal. But that is not yet in place and at times like these someone needs to take control especially as it was quite obvious during the incident that no one except for the hostage taker was in control. In my personal opinion and I am not imposing this on anyone, but for me, I believe that Pnoy should really reconsider the people he had appointed into the different areas of the government, because honestly they’re not being effective. Imagine Secretary of the Interior and Local Government saying during the Senate inquiry that this was the problem that they inherited from the previous administration, this was the sort of police force they inherited? Wow! Well, this problem came up during their time therefore it is their problem – not the previous administration! They should have been able to solve this, they have all the sources to do so but instead they decided to focus on finger pointing and narrowing down their view on the lack of training and equipment of the police. But there were so many other things they could have done, and should have done.

In conclusion, I would like to appeal first to our Chinese neighbors, please forgive us for the lapses made by our government officials. But also please keep in mind that not all Filipinos are bad, that we have worked together for many years and no one wanted this thing to happen. We are sorry that your people got dragged into our problems but please also know that we are as outraged about what happened as you are. Please do not take your anger on the Filipinos working for and with you, they have nothing to do with this incident except that we were born Filipinos and that was something they cannot help.

And to my fellow Filipinos, please stop the finger pointing and demoralizing our race further. Isn’t enough that the world also thinks so low of us that we have to join them in lashing out at our own? Instead, of pointing a finger think what you can do as an individual to improve our lot, think what you can do for your people instead of saving face and pointing at others.

Movie: Tekken – Review

Posted in Movies with tags , , , , , on August 11, 2010 by otakujade

Casts:

Jin Kazama – Jon Foo (John/Jonathan Foo)

Heihachi Mishima – Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa

Kazuya – Ian Anthony Dale

Steve Fox – Luke Goss

Christie Monteiro – Kelly Overton

Bryan Fury – Gary Daniels

Nina Williams – Candice Hillebrand

Anna Williams – Marian Zapico

Raven – Darrin Dewitt Henson

Marchall Law – Cung Le

Jun Kazama – Tamlyn Tomita

Hwoarang – Hyun Kyoon Lee

Eddy Gordo – Lateef Crowder

Miguel Rojo – Roger Huerta

Director : Dwight H. Little

Tekken was probably one of the most popular if not THE most popular console and arcade game of the 1990s and even today. It currently has 6 game series with each series focusing on one story related but completely different from the previous one.  Another great point for this game series is the presence of a very elaborate but well-defined player history and background. Tekken was one of the first 3D fighting games to come out and it had created a great fan base….myself included. And now it has reached the peak of its popularity…it has been turned into a Hollywood movie! Hahaha!

The film was actually quite good compared with all the other game turned film out there. I mean as far game-turned-movie goes this one was actually pretty decent.

Probably one of the major reasons for that is because unlike its predecessors the film though modified has followed many of the major plots and sub-plots from the game itself. In this way the viewers, who I am sure are Tekken players like myself feels satisfied with the history and yet were entertained by the action and glamour of the film. Some hardcore people would probably shun the idea of putting a bit of emotional attachment in the film but I personally think it’s actually a nice touch and gave the movie a little extra something to offer. Honestly I would have welcome seeing the main characters continue their intimacy but then again that’s way out of context already and would probably cause Tekken fanatics to rally on the streets. So, I guess the film makers foresaw that and saved themselves the problem.  I loved that in the end Jin remained unattached and not committed.

Oh and one negative comment about the movie the use of the word “TEKKEN” here Tekken was made out to be a place or an civilized area – one of the only 8 remaining strong group/corporations that survived during the war. It was like a country unto itself. It is a US-based group, the strongest among the 8 corporations and the host of the Iron Fist Tournament. WRONG! I mean any Tekken fan would immediately see the fault in that! Tekken literary translated means “Iron Fist” and the tournament was actually the prize that the winner would get as he emerged the champion. The control and management of the next Tekken tournament was the prize of whoever wins the present contest. That was one big deviation a fan would automatically see in the film. And finding that glaring mistake at the beginning of the film kindda gives you the impression that the movie would suck but be patient because it doesn’t really.

A plus point in the movie was that they are able to put in all the most recognizable characters. I mean Tekken has so many fighters in there but they were able to choose the ones that the fans would automatically recognize and would almost instantaneously up the bio of the characters in their heads. I mean, the first time I saw Jin in the movie my first thoughts were who his father, grandfather and great grandfather were; same goes with Nina Williams when I saw her I immediately upped who her sister and son from that chamber in my head which houses Tekken facts. That’s a wonderful touch really.

Another great point for the film is that they were able to maintain the elaborate backgrounds of the characters such as who Jin was. Who his mother was, and his father and grandfather; also why his father wanted to kill him and they were even able to show the same underlying partnership (though not compounded) between Jin and Hiehachi. I don’t know why but even in the game I get this feeling that Hiehachi liked Jin better than Kazuya; and with good reason too! Too bad they didn’t show the background about Nina and Anna or who Nina’s son was but I guess that would do for another movie.

The action scenes in the movie were superb! Kudos to the directors, casting crew and producers on that score. I read one article where the director was saying that one of the major considerations they had when choosing the actors was that they should know how to fight in real life, this is in order to make the fight scenes more realistic and natural. It wouldn’t look too contrived and there will be a more believable aspect to the fight scenes. Great thinking on that one! Actor Jon Foo was perfect for the role of Jin Kazama; I checked on his profile and both his parents were involved in martial arts – one was into karate and the other into judo. Please don’t ask me which one, I forgot. But anyways, Jon himself was a trained Wu Shu fighter and he was also well adept in Muay Thai, Aikido and some other form of martial and it showed in his action scenes. This guy was the real deal! And might I add that he looks better as Jin Kazama than Ryu of Streetfighter.

IMHO, all the casts were chosen perfectly and what the movie lacked in emotional aspects it sure made up for in angst and high-charged fights. Goodness I miss playing this game!

Oh and let us not forgot all the wonderful quotes his mother, Jun Kazama, kept giving him all throughout the film…honestly, I found myself jotting them down for future reference.

If you find a light hearted tone to this review, it’s because the movie required and delivered this sort of emotion. I do not believe that I would do the film any justice if I try to go down into deeper aspects of emotional stress and trauma where there is none. Like the game, the movie was made for entertainment and not to give the viewers a meaningful and deeper perspective of life. This film was for viewing pleasure and that it delivered completely.  And one last comment – this movie was wayyyyy better than the previous one!

Gorgeous Jon Foo as Jin Kazama

Christie Monteiro..oh she’s really hot!

Actions cuts:

My Screencaps…

He reminds me of Daniel Radcliffe,  I don’t know why. Yummy!

He’s no Tackey but he’s a near second place…sheesh!

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan: A Book Review…

Posted in Books on August 5, 2010 by otakujade

The book is the first installment of the trilogy set to be released a year after the other. According to Rick Riordan the next books will be released on May 2011 and May 2012 respectively.

The story revolved around the Kane siblings, Carter (14) and Sadie (12). Carter and Sadie alternately recount their adventure for the readers; the book started with Carter and ended with him as well.

After their mother died six years earlier, Sadie was sent to live with her maternal (the Fausts) grandparents in London, and Carter travelled with their father, Julius Kane, a world re-known archeologist whose specialty was Egyptian artifacts. On Christmas eve, Carter and their Dad arrived in London to spend one of only two days a year he was allowed to see his daughter. After his wife died, Julius Kane fought to gain full custody of his two children but his wife’s parents took him to court for custody of his young daughter Sadie. So, the siblings grew up barely knowing each other. Carter longed to have the normal life that Sadie seemed to have and Sadie resented the fact that Carter gets to travel around the world with their father.

On this visit Carter noticed that their father was unusually agitated, like they were in constant danger or somebody was following them. Julius Kane took his children to the British Museum where he was able to gain privileged entry to the premises due to his refutation as an expert in Egyptian artifacts. He told his children that he was “going to set things right”. There, using the Rosetta Stone Julius Kane released the god Osiris however, he also unleashed four other Egyptian gods with him – Isis (goddess of Egyptian magic); Horus (Egyptian god of the Sky and Warfare); Nephthys (Egyptian goddess of night and lamentation); and worst of all Set (Egyptian god of Chaos and Terror).  Set immediately vanished Julius to the Duat (the underworld) and caused his children to run for their lives.

Later in the story the siblings discovered that they were descendents from two very ancient and powerful magical pharaoh – Narmer and Rameses the Great. Though the Fausts have not practiced magic for centuries, the Kanes were members of the House of Life (a group of magicians descended from ancient times set to keep the gods at bay). Because of the union of the two ancient families – the Kane siblings were set to be the most powerful magicians ever to be born in the blood of pharaohs for hundreds of years. The members of the House of Life were forbidden to commune with the gods and goddesses of Egypt, so with Julius’ disobedience the siblings not only have to run away from the forces of chaos chasing after them but they are now also hunted by the House of Life.  The siblings must now learn to use their magical powers and the power that comes from hosting the Egyptian deities Horus and Isis, in order to defeat Set and save their father.

Undeniably, the reader will find many similarities about Red Pyramid and Rick Riordan’s earlier series Percy Jackson. There were even several references to the earlier series in the book like when Amos (Julius Kane’s brother and uncle to the siblings) told them that Manhattan has its own gods while looking at the Empire State Building where in the previous series lies the entrance to the Olympus; and again in later in the story when the god Thoth (Egyptian god of Wisdom, Scribes, Baboons, and Magicians. Founder of the “Per Ankh” – The House of Life) said that people often confuse him with Hermes.

From my personal point of view (and I don’t impose this on anyone), I would probably rate the book as moderately entertaining. It’s not as fast phased and exciting as Percy Jackson and Harry Potter it definitely is not. Though, I must admit that I know very little about Egyptian mythology, as does many other people, but the book helped to educate me on the subject in the most interesting way. I personally prefer Percy Jackson to this new series but then maybe because its based on the mythology I already adore plus that series was made for older audiences.

The Egyptians were an ancient civilization maybe older than the Greeks but their mythology, their nature and beliefs have remained hidden from normal people even until now. It may be due to the fact that most of their artifacts are still hidden away beneath miles and miles of desert sand; or it may also be because their concept was not a popularly accepted one.

I remember thinking while reading the book that the men (even the gods) seem to take a step behind the female deities. Even Riordan’s character does this – Sadie the younger of the sibling and a female seemed to be more adventurous, more passionately and aggressive than her older brother Carter. Isis was the architect that pushed Osiris into power and she was the one who protected and assisted her son Horus to take the throne from Set.

Ra was tricked by Isis into giving her his secret name through which she was able to control him and set her husband Osiris as king. When Osiris was usurped by Set as king, Isis hid their son Horus and assisted him until he was strong enough to grab the throne from his uncle Set. In an earlier story, Nut (goddess of the sky) found a way for their children to be born after Ra decreed that she and her husband Geb cannot have children in any day of the Egyptian calendar.

I also noticed, and loved, that Riordan made a point to clarify in the book that the Egyptian gods and goddesses were not divine but were just a more powerful entity. I find that I often see that concept whenever I read a story abut ancient Egypt. “The ancient Egyptians were wise people to have been able to recognize this fact”, that’s mildly quoting Amos Kane as he explained the concept of Egyptian deities to his nephew and niece. Even with an Anne Rice’s story on the Queen of the Damned were the witches were taken by force by the Egyptian queen and king, she made a point to say that the forces surrounding them were attracted to their ability as witches and that they were not gods but merely very powerful spirits.

The book was a bit long, and sadly there were moments when I think it was way too dragging, yet if we really consider it Riordan had so many things to consider in writing the book. First and foremost was the virtual ignorant of most readers about Egyptian mythology; such that he had to explain almost everything and give a background about each god before a big scene. He cannot simply made the god/goddess appear without introduction because then the readers would not be able to make the right connections. That was a monumental task for the author, and he was able to pass that hurdle with flying colors. I know more about Egyptian lore now than I would ever have found left alone to discover them. He had also created an interest in ancient Egyptian beliefs which is always a good thing.

On characterization, at the beginning it was really very well done. Sadie being raised in London had that British voice (accent and personality) and Carter being raised by their father was more conservative. Though, later on in the story it seemed like the characterization was lost in all the adventure the siblings went through. Sadie lost her British speech and Carter was less conservative.

Despite all of these issues the book was interesting enough to grab the readers attention with its numerous adventurous and fight scenes.  Also present were the signature wit and humor of Riordan books this time coming from the siblings. I love that they abuse each other (mostly Sadie on Carter) but underneath all that they love and protect each other with a passion. And that’s exactly how it should be.