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text 2014-06-14 12:03
Reading progress update: I've read 233 out of 505 pages.
Death Watch - Ari Berk

"Several pages contained only newspaper cuttings. These, at least, were easy to read. Most were clippings that had been pasted into the ledger, stories about accidents, murders and terrible deaths that someone thought might be related to or result in ghostly activity. The headlines were terrible:











The book speaks for itself: The headlines were terrible


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url 2014-03-13 18:32
An Angry Letter to the Manila Train Authorities


Note: An English version of the letter is available somewhere farther down the article. 


But I would like to point something out: MRT fares are ridiculously cheap, charging half or sometimes even a third, of the fare you would have to spend if you took the jeep or the FX.


Every time the MRT and LRT companies express an interest in raising the fare, people take to the streets. They rally, they go on strikes, they rant on social media.

How then, do you expect to have a good service if you refuse to pay for it? 


Raising the fare by even one peso will generate millions of revenue, which can be used to make the rails a safer and faster transportation for commuters.


I'm not saying that it won't fall into the pockets of some corrupt asshole (because it probably will) but with a rise in transportation fees, people will expect a greater service from the MRT company. When that expectation is not met, strikes and rallies will invariably follow, which will result in either a rollback of fees or better service.  


Now for my red side to take over, 

I don't believe in censorship, especially not when it comes to someone's speech. The point of having a fucking Facebook page is so you can communicate with your customers, not so you can block their comments.

Your system sucks and you can't handle it when people tell you so?

What's the point of having a page then? 


Also, a "red" point of view on the MRT service.

These bastards make millions of pesos everyday and yet they don't improve the quality of service they have. I'm appalled at the sort of service described by the letter. 


I'm really just sitting the fence on what to believe of the MRT service. It's partly owned by a government organ (Department of Transportation and Communication) and partly owned by a private company (Manila Rail Transit Corporation). 

Is it the government's responsibility then, that the Filipino people be provided with a safe, efficient and convenient method of transport?

Or are we really just getting what we pay for?


Really, all I'm really sure of is how much I admire my friend, who has to take the MRT everyday and never even says a word of complaint about it. 

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text 2014-02-26 12:46
Reading progress update: I've read 20%.
Ink - Amanda Sun


I'd like to take this moment to thank my mother, for raising me to be sort of person who'll take Kendo because I want to. Not because I'm obsessing over one of its students

Thanks, Mom. 


Seriously though, Katie's stalkerish behavior towards Tomohiro is creepy. 


Tomohiro isn't exactly Prince Charming either, off the top of my head I can name five people from my Kendo class who are way more awesome than the story's Sexy Mysterious Badass #1.


But maybe that's because I've never found assholish behavior appealing. 

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2014-01-27 03:51
I is for Ice
The Final Descent - Rick Yancey


Done for Sockpoppet’s 2014 Reading Challenge I is for Ice—this  book left me cold.


Everyone who’s read the the first three books of The Monstromolugist series knows how the series is going to end.


At the very beginning of the the first book, we already see the person Will Henry has become—he was first introduced to the reader as a deceased patient in a mental ward. He died alone and friendless, raving about imaginary monsters.


Any story that ends up with a protagonist like that has got to have a very depressing final book.


Except that this book depressed me in all the wrong ways.


Everything that I loved about the first three books were either gone or twisted to such a degree that I found them either horrifying to look at or unrecognizable.


It’s sort of like watching someone you love turn into a zombie.




Gone was the naive, likable orphan that had me cheering for him, that made me cry when I thought of him as a demented old man.


Gone was his unbending desire to do and be good.


In his place was this unrecognizable douche with slicked back hair trying so hard to sound so cool and going all “I know so much better than you because I’ve seen monsters”.


The same boy who was horrified at the idea of killing a man in the first three books, murdered several in cold blood in the fourth.


I realize that, realistically speaking, his horrific experiences would have changed Will Henry for the worse but if we’re talking realism, both he and Pellinore should have frozen to death back in Curse of the Wendigo.


Let’s face it, we’re not reading this book for the realism.


The thing about Will Henry’s transformation was that the author did it in such a way that I could not relate to him or even recognize him.


Pellinore on the other hand, became even more pathetic.  He lost all of his good qualities and devolved into this spoiled man-child that could not even be bothered to look after himself. He wasn’t a very likable character to begin with, but now he just seemed like a crybaby.


The relationship between Will Henry and Pellinore also took a turn for the worse. I always loved this aspect of the books: the young orphan being an assistant to a cold, callous scientist. The Watson to Pellinore’s Holmes.


Will Henry, as an orphan desperate for love and affection, had no one else.


Pellinore, as a too-brilliant-for-his-own-good scientist needed someone like Will Henry to thaw him out.


In this book, they can’t even stand one another. The whole I-hate-you-but-I-really-love-you relationship was gone.


Which was a shame, I always felt as if there was one thing that could redeem Pellinore, it was his love for Will Henry.


I don’t even want to get started on the plot. What started out as a brilliant, refreshing series about a Holmesian society that eyed monsters through the lens of a scientist ended up as a pop-psychological rant about how the monsters were inside us all along.

Spare me.


Dean Closes Laptop photo SPN.gif


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review 2014-01-16 10:44
P is for Pilgrims
Trash - Andy Mulligan

Done for Sockpoppet's 2014 Reading Challenge, P is for Pilgrims.


When I was really young, I once read this poem called "Smokey Mountain", I've forgotten the actual contents of the poem but the image haunted me: a mountain of trash so high up that you can't even see the top, how the temperature of its decomposing contents would get so high that the mountain would appear to smoke. Worse still, was the idea of people sifting through the tonnes of accumulated trash, trying to find something worth selling to the junkyard so they can feed their families.

Smokey Mountain was real thing--or was a real thing and it was a dumpsite used in the 90s.

I only know about Smokey Mountain through the books I've read back when I was in elementary school because by the time I was born, Smokey Mountain has long since been discontinued.
It was the images conjured up by the poems and stories I read as a child, however, that prompted me to pick-up Trash.

Because of the cover, I at first thought that they were going to say that it was set in the Philippines. But the flap said that it was set in an "unnamed Third World Country".


Within twenty pages, I was reasonably sure it was set in the Philippines. 


The author uses places familiar to Filipinos, like Green Hills and McKinley Hills.

Names like Rafael, Jose and Jun-jun are used, Jun-jun being the most telling, since it's not uncommon for a Filipino to have a name consisting of two repeated syllables.


The currency is in pesos.

More evidence is scattered throughout the book, but the above made me think that it's safe enough to assume that the story is set in the Philippines.

Though I can see why the author did not want to name the country, because while he knew enough about the Philippines to create a story set in it, I think that he missed the finer points in Philippine politics and culture.


Story-wise, the book wasn't very engaging. Set in a place called Behala, which is just a thinly veiled Smokey Mountain, three dumpsite kids find a bag containing P 1,100 and a picture of a man named Jose Angelico, who is the houseboy of a politician.


While it seemed exciting at first, the story eventually just dwindled down to three boys talking, to finding a new clue to talking again to finding a new clue again...you get the idea.

There was no heart-pumping, spine-tingling, "Oh my God, will they find out the killer?"


It was just, "Meh. Of course they'll find him."


This is just one of those times where the writing and the story failed to excite or stir any emotions. It was less mystery and more of a string of clues that don't really make sense and don't really go anywhere. 


The characters seemed very interchangeable, too. The story is told through different perspectives but half the time I had to flip over to the beginning of the chapter to see who was who, which was not a good sign.


The "voices" of the three protagonists,Rafael, Gardo and Jun-jun did not differ much.


There was nothing in the chapters that hinted at the narrator's personality.


Whether it was Rafael or the priest or the social worker...it was always Johnny McNoFace to me.


There were also some inconsistencies, most predominantly, everyone's knowledge in the English language. 


It was noted that Rafael, Jun-jun and Gardo often played truant in school. But all three of them were portrayed as fluent speakers of English, able to switch between Filipino and English without so much as a hitch, as shown when they were speaking to a priest and a social worker, both of whom cannot speak Filipino.

This is extremely unlikely. While learning English is part of the Philippine educational curriculum, it's unlikely that the boys could speak it well.

English is not our first language and like any other language, it has to be spoken often for you to actually become fluent in it. From the sound of it, the boys usually spoke in Tagalog or Filipino (standardized Tagalog) with only a smattering of classes to help them with their English, so it's hard to believe that they can speak English as good as the book implied.


There was also the fact that Trash not only attempts to be a mystery story, it also tries to be a commentary on both the social and political climate in the Philippines. It fails miserably on both ends. The book wasn't commenting or criticizing, what it did was draw a line in the sand.
On one side, good. On the other, evil.

Then it just chucked out whatever things could complicate or blur that line.

God, the oversimplification in this book, I just cannot deal.

The messages in this book can be summed up as:


politicians = corrupt
white people = good
poverty = bad
but poor people = good

Of course the police was in cahoots with those evil politicians! Because they're evil! Of course they beat children while interrogating them, they're corrupt!

Of course everything in the freaking country was evil! Only the freaking white people were nice!

Everything was just so black and white. The author just kept slapping me upside the head with the umbrella term "corruption", as if it was a magic wand that would make me forget about my questions if he just kept hitting me with it hard enough.

Oh the police kidnapped Rafael, a child, without an arrest warrant? Well, that's OK! It's not like we can do anything about it!



In 2012, San Juan, squatters fought against policemen (and women) who were trying to evacuate them from their homes.

They were fighting for something that did not even (legally) belong to them in the first place, is it really possible that they will let the police carry away one of theirs without a fight?


What about the fact that this could not have gone on without the attention of the media or social media?


Philippine politics, while corrupt (as Mulligan is quick to remind us), is extremely dependent on how people see a candidate. Personality politics would be the term for it. As such, politicians and economic elites (who eventually end up as politicians) are careful not to do anything that will make them seem "evil" in the eyes of masses. Even if they bribed the police, it will be easy to connect it to them, as the police were looking for a bag that belonged to one of the politicians.


Kidnapping a child is definitely not something you'd do if you're aiming to be beloved by the masses. It's simply not a logical thing for a Philippine politician to do.


Another thing is that the social worker, whose name I can't remember, mentioned seeing children in a jail.


Children in jail? Please.


We don't bother with jails here, we just chuck 'em to the see in hopes of appeasing the great god Cthulhu. 


Yeah, the whole we-can't-jail-you-unless-you're-18 thing also applies here.

It seemed that everything about the Philippines just seemed evil for the sake of being evil, without reason or rhyme. The police officers, politicians and authority figures were simply there to be villains, as cartoonish and one-dimensional as the ones on my Saturday morning cartoons.

Trash was just plain trashy, if you'll excuse the pun. Poverty porn and exoticism to the worst degree. With just a dash of white savior complex to complete the deal.


The single panda I give this book does not look very happy.



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