Pope Francis arrives to a painless, smooth reception in Manila

Even though foreigners think we’re crazy (so I’ve heard), I think it’s great that President Aquino gave us non-working holidays to enjoy Pope Francis’ five-day visit to the Philippines.
I woke up to a household of boys destroying my bedroom until (thank God) Markus decided they would swim at the condo and eat at Pepper Lunch. Peace & quiet.
When they came back, that was my cue to go to Megamall to pick up some “odds and ends” (as Tito Rocky used to say).
Made sure I was home by 5 PM to watch the Pope’s arrival on TV.

I have vague memories of being at the airport when Pope John Paul II visited 20 years ago.
Life was easier then. There were less Filipinos and somehow we had connections. I think I went with my Tita.
The reason I am sure I was there instead of watching his arrival on TV, is because I distinctly remember picking a fight with the security guard who told me I was not allowed to bring my water inside the premises.
The guard told me to dump my water. It made me so mad because back then, I didn’t know the connection between liquids and bomb making.
I remember being among the school children doing their mechanical dance moves as the Pope arrived.
I wrote about it in my newspaper column in 1995 but I don’t have a copy.

This is how the Pope looked when he arrived in Sri Lanka a few days ago.

Pope Francis

No offence, but he looked kind of miserable. The event was painful to watch. It was so long, sober, and boring with the military fanfare and 21-gun salute.
I’m so thankful the Filipino welcome was much, much easier and warmer than that.
Minutes before the Pope arrived, there was a countdown on the ANC screen. For us, it was a family affair, with all the boys and I watching TV from the bed.

Pope Francis arrives in Manila

I started to cry. Seriously. Painful tears. I think it has something to do with my eye makeup or foundation, cause my crying stings. I was just overflowing with emotions. At that moment I envied everybody at Villamor Airbase.
Soon I could hear Herve Villechaize saying, “De plane! De plane!”

Pope Francis arrives in Manila

The Pope landed safely in a Sri Lankan Airbus. As they taxied, two flags were waved from the cockpit.

Pope Francis arrives in Manila
Pope Francis arrives in Manila

At last we could see the Pope from the window and wondered what was taking so long. Somebody tweeted he was probably just following captain’s orders: “Your Holiness, the seatbelt sign is still on.”

Pope Francis arrives in Manila

A few officials entered the plane before the Pope came out and cuteness happened.

Eek, somebody forgot to brief the President about the ring kissing.

Pope Francis arrives in Manila

One thing I can say, the Pope looked really, really happy. Much happier than his arrival at Sri Lanka (no offence).
I think it’s great that God granted us great weather, not just for the Pope but for everybody waiting and in the days to come. (I’ve been asking God to make this weather permanent for the entire year, possibly forever. Think of its positive effects on tourism and local fashion.)

Overall I think everyone did a great job. What they expected to be a three-hour trip from arrival to nunciature (where Pope is staying) turned out to be a painless 37 minutes.

Pope Francis arrives in Manila

Thank God for the painless welcome ceremony

Pope Francis arrives in Manila

A brief stopover somewhere at Villamor

Pope Francis arrives in Manila

So festive, well-planned, and safely arriving at the nunciature

PS. Thank God no epals at the airport.
Good job to everyone involved. We’re proud of you.

A stalker’s guide to Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines

In 1995, I was one of one million people that went to Luneta to see Pope John Paul II in person.
I was 20 years younger and had the energy to get up early in the morning, trek there, and have a view of the Pope the size a rice grain. That small.
It was also around this time of month and the weather was cool—that was a great comfort to the masses.

Twenty years later, I really do love Pope Francis, but hearing the word “portalet” on TV is enough to convince me to watch the events on TV, at home.
Besides, as my friend Miguel says, “If you really wanna see the Pope, just go to Rome.”
Oo nga naman.
But for those who are planning to stalk or catch a glimpse of the Pope either on TV or on the road, here’s an infographic on what his schedule will be like in the next few days.

Pope intinerary

Helpful hints:
1) Backpacks will not be allowed (think Boston marathon), so I suggest you bring out the fanny pack you’ve been hiding in the closet.
2) Minimize your eating or drinking to avoid the portalet scenario.
3) I would not recommend the adult diaper because those things are damn hot. Trust me, I have tried them in the hospital.
4) Though the Pope is a holy man, he is not Jesus. If you are sick, don’t think you will be cured if you get a glimpse of him. Just stay home.
5) Best to leave the elderly, little kids and babies at home too, for their safety and your sanity.
6) I’ve read that the Pope doesn’t like his ring to be kissed, so if you have the chance to get close to him, just keep that in mind.
Any other friendly tips are welcome in the comments section.

May budget! City of Dreams ad campaign features De Niro, DiCaprio and Scorsese

Three of the biggest names in Hollywood—Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, and Martin Scorsese—come together in this trailer for City of Dreams Manila, a new casino in Manila Bay, which had a soft opening in December and is scheduled to have a grand launch before Chinese New Year (which falls on February 19, 2015).

The rumored total budget for the project is $70 million (not pesos) with DiCaprio and De Niro reportedly snagging $13 million each for the series of ads directed by not Jerry Lopez Sineneng (may budget!). Based on this trailer, it looks like Brad Pitt may also make an appearance.

City of Dreams Manila is being developed by Melco Crown (Philippines) Resorts Corporation, a joint venture of Macau casino giant Melco and SM-led Belle Corp.
It will have three hotels—Crown Towers hotel, the first-ever Nobu Hotel (Robert de Niro is co-founder of Nobu), and a Hyatt hotel—as well as ultra-luxe nightclubs Pangaea and Chaos.
It will also house DreamWorks Animation’s first education-inspired play center called DreamPlay by DreamWorks.
The new casino is expected to boost Entertainment City, which is envisioned as Manila’s version of the Las Vegas Strip.

Source: Vanity Fair and ABS-CBN.

Free Twitter for Smart subscribers during Papal visit

To celebrate Pope Francis’s visit to the Philippines, Smart Communications Inc. is offering free, unlimited access to Twitter to mobile phone users this January 15 to 19, 2015.
To get the free service, Smart, Sun Cellular and Talk ‘N Text subscribers nationwide may start their one-time registration for the free Twitter service by texting DEARPOPE to 9999.
Upon successful registration, they may use the Twitter mobile app or access m.twitter.com on their mobile browser for the duration of the Papal visit.

pope francis

Subscribers need to have a balance of at least Php 1 every day or be subscribed to any plan, promo or bundle to enjoy the free service.
Mobile users who are registered to the ongoing Smart Free Internet promo may also enjoy the free Twitter service on top of their 30 MB allocation.
Follow Pope Francis @Pontifex and join the conversation using the #DearPopeFrancis hashtag.
Details on the Papal visit, including #DearPopeFrancis tweets, videos, and the Pope’s itinerary, can be found at dearpopefrancis.ph.

Goodbye Dropbox! Hello My Cloud

A few years ago, my friend Jude thought about an online “locker” where he could store all kinds of files, music, photos, and videos, instead of using up the storage in his computer and causing it to slow down.
I never thought it was possible until Dropbox was created. I signed up in 2011 and it changed my life. To get additional space, I simply invited others to join. I didn’t have to pay. I also received additional space when I downloaded the app on my Samsung phones.

In 2012, Google Drive became available. I signed up and eventually paid an annual storage fee of $1.99 a month.
Between the two, I preferred Dropbox because of its easy access and its ability to save my photos automatically as I take them using my Samsung phones.
But good things come to an end. Lately I’ve been getting all kinds messages telling me they have shrunk my Dropbox storage and I now have to pay to keep my stuff on the cloud.

dropbox woes

So annoying. Lucky for me, I recently got a My Cloud EX2 private cloud storage with 4 TB of space—that’s much, much more than the 48 GB I had with Dropbox and the 131 GB I was paying for Google Drive!

My Cloud

Compare the pricing plans of Dropbox

dropbox plans

versus Google Drive
Google drive plans

Comparatively the My Cloud EX2 costs a one-time fee of Php 17,900 for 4TB of space, but in the long run, I would rather have the My Cloud than pay a monthly fee for space that will eventually run out.
So today I started deleting and transferring files from Dropbox and Google Drive to My Cloud.
Here’s the My Cloud in my office

My Cloud

and at home

My Cloud

What’s great about it is I can access my files, even while traveling.
There was a time I would take press releases abroad so I could squeeze in some work. Now all of it can go to My Cloud—so work or not, it doesn’t take up any of my luggage space.

press releases

Other benefits of My Cloud:
1) A place to keep movies I’ve downloaded and want to see again.
2) A place to keep tons of photos to clean up my iPhoto.
3) Back up all my files instead of using Apple’s Time Capsule which has failed me time and again.
4) Accessible on Mac, PC, tablet or smartphone using the free app.

So awesome. It’s one of the best gifts of 2014 and I highly recommend it.
Thanks to these guys for setting it up. (You have to be slightly techie to set it up. Once it’s up, it’s so easy to use.)

My Cloud

My Cloud is just one of the products offered by Western Digital.

MY CLOUD 2TB — Php 7,490
MY CLOUD 3TB — Php 8,400
MY CLOUD 4TB — Php 11,500
MY CLOUD EX2 4TB — Php 17,900
MY CLOUD EX2 8TB — Php 27,500
MY CLOUD EX4 0TB — Php 17,100
MY CLOUD EX4 8TB — Php 38,490
MY CLOUD MIRROR 12TB — Php 37,000
MY CLOUD MIRROR 4TB — Php 17,990

To know more, go to Facebook.

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