E-Mart’s NO BRAND: No brand but expensive?

E-Mart, one of Korea’s biggest supermarket chains teamed up with Robinson’s Retail to open their first overseas store here in the Philippines. NO BRAND is E-Mart’s private brand. They’re set to open 25 NO BRAND stores in the country, along with 25 Scentence beauty stores at major shopping malls according to The Korea Herald last Tuesday.

As soon as I read about it on twitter, I thought about scheduling a visit to its pilot store in Robinson’s Galleria. I know you are curious about NO BRAND and it’s the reason why you’re reading my blog right now. Let us begin, shall we?

Here are some of my expectations:

  • huge area
  • purely Korean retail store
  • an aisle or two dedicated for K-beauty products

None of these expectations were met, but the store is brimming with interesting snacks and food ingredients I have never seen before. And later on you will be seeing some of the stuff that caught my attention and those that made it to my haul. My first stop was the snacks section. Snacks range from 60 to 300 pesos, while the nuts can go as high as 800 pesos. I appreciate the minimalist packaging, contents can be easily identified through English text and clear plastic jars.

Seaweed and Wasabi Potato Chips, an all-time favorite.

One of their best sellers, Purple Sweet Potato Chips is at P62.75 per can.

I bought two of these Original Potato Chips. P57.25 per can.

Sesame Sticks are sold at P134.50 per bag. The bag is about the size of our local choco chip cookie bags.

Although NO BRAND stores should be about Korean goodies, I assume that it’s only about 80 percent Korean. They have Jasponica rice, HOP (House of Polvoron), Japanese Mochi, Japanese Egg Soy Sauce and Taiwanese brand milk tea on top of their Korean offerings.

The Wasabi Square Cookies are made in Chiayi County, Taiwan. When you bite into the cookie, the wasabi taste is really strong but as you chew them the cookie turns sweet. This is addicting if you are into wasabi like me.

Wasabi cookie squares, P125 per pack.

I got a small box of Sesame mochi because black sesame is so good!

Sesame Mochi 210 gms, P129.50

Here’s a photo of 3:15 PM milk tea. They have 5 sachet boxes and the 15 sachet packets. 5-sachet boxes are at P134 per box.

NO BRAND has their own instant noodles, I got one bag just in case. I saw instant jjangmyeon and placed it in my basket right away. Other noodles available are Jin and Nongshim noodles. Not sure if you can get them cheaper here at NO BRAND though.

4+1 Shin Ramyun noodle soup by Nongshim

NO BRAND Jjang Ramen, P180.75 per pack.

They have an aisle dedicated for candies/chocolates too. There were no milk chocolate bars, only dark chocolate ones so I picked the one with yellow and white NO BRAND wrapping for P76.50 each. Already sampled them at home and its your typical dark chocolate. Also on display is the 70 percent dark choco. I believe they’re both made in France.

Some snacks I found interesting but didn’t buy are the following:

Coffee Peanuts, P314.50 per 530 grams

Mixed Nuts, P728.25 per 800 grams.

Seaweed Strips with Almonds, P126.25 per bag.

Seaweed and Fish Chips, P126.25 per bag.

Pop Brown Rice

Mixed Grains, P655 per canister.

They also sell instant rice (microwaveable ones) and meal sauces. I only bought the one for Mapo Tofu though. I might come back for the Jjang Sauce next time.

Germinated Black Rice, P63.25 per bowl.

Chinese Tofu Sauce, P72.50 per pouch.

Homestyle Jjang Sauce, P96.50 per pouch.

If you like cooking and baking, Korean food or not, NO BRAND has an aisle or two of ingredients for you. Their line up of flavored seaweed/laver is nice I want to try them all.

Gimbap Sheets, P124.50 per pack.

P149.50 for a pack of 6

Soy Sauce for Eggs 200ml, P30

Homestyle Galbi Marinade, P110.25 per pouch.

Flavored Salt, P96.50 per 500 grams

Fried Chicken Batter Mix, P139.25

Korean Pancake Mix, P156 per 1.2 kgs.

Homestyle Cream Soup, P69.25 per 100 grams

Herb Seasoning Salt, P128.50 at 50 grams

This seasoned seaweed reminded me of Jo Ji Ah! She made rice balls like these for Kim Min Kyu in I Am Not A Robot (로봇이 아니야).

Seasoned Seaweed, P190.50 per pouch

Perilla Seed Powder 300 grams per pack at P251.25

Soybean Powder for Soup 400 grams, P239.50

Their pasta sauces look pretty decent. I took pictures of them just in case. First photo is for seafood pasta, I think. Slightly priced higher than the other variants at P143.25. Tomato, Cream and Rose Spaghetti sauces are P132.50, 400 grams per pouch.

Came across jams and spreads as well. My basket has no room for them at the moment. For baking enthusiasts, they might be good deals.

Crunchy Peanut Butter 400 grams, P219.50

Hazelnut Choco Cream 400 grams, P247.50

Strawberry Jam 800 grams, P344.25

Apple Jam 800 grams, P359.25

NO BRAND also have their kind of coffee, tea, juices and other drinks. Forgot to take pictures of the cereals, sorry about that. Some of their drinks are a bit pricey, but they have coffee in big cans and packs. It was a crowded aisle so I was only able to take a few pictures of them.

NO BRAND also offer frozen deli, meats, pizza, dumplings and even cake! I read somewhere that their cheesecake is good. Might try it out on Christmas.

P323.50, 660 ml ice cream/sorbet tubs

Green Tea Ice Cream, P302.50

I’m done with all the food, now we’ll move on to NO BRAND’s non-food offerings. I checked on their bath essentials and saw that they have a lot of bubble bath and liquid soap variants, but only one kind of bath soap. Their shampoo bottles are huge too, comes in 1500 ml bottles which in my opinion is “sulit” compared to just 500 ml bottles of branded shampoos. Not sure about their conditioners though, I didn’t see labeled ones. But I saw bottles of hair essence, enlighten me if they’re the same.

1L shampoos, P358.25

1.5L shampoos, P456.50

Hair Treatment 200 ml, P294.50

Hand creams, facial cleansers, face masks, and other skin care products, they have it! But I noticed there are no make up lines here just yet. But they do have something for your kids and babies on their shelves. Limited at the moment, but who knows, NO BRAND Philippines just might add more in the future.

Baby Comfort Cream 200 ml, P317.50

Baby Comfort Wash 500 ml, P475.25

Deep Cleansing Foam 200 ml, P251.25

Their kitchen towels, sanitary napkins, panty liners, tissue and wipes also come in bulk. I bought a pack of 34 Overnight Sanitary Napkins at P341.50. Pretty competitive price, I think. They also have a number of laundry soaps available in powder and bar form. They even have this dedicated laundry soap for underwear that I added to the haul, a gift idea for neat freak people in any occasion.

Laundry Soap for Underwear, P56.50

Ordinary Laundry Soap 450 grams, P79.50

Laundry Bar Soap 450 grams, P81.25

Oxygen Bleach 3 kgs, P610.50

Overnight Pads (33 cm), P341.50 for a pack of 34

Looks like NO BRAND also aims to be on the eco-friendly side as well. These two paper products are quite interesting too, if you’ll ask me. I cannot imagine how to reuse these stuff but sounds good. Subject for further research, these two.

Reusable Kitchen Wipes, P466.25 per roll

Washable Paper Towel, P436.50 per roll

There you have it. Might visit again next week when it’s less crowded but I doubt. I’ll try to update this post if I can. I’ll also mention a few things I over heard while inside NO BRAND Philippines:

No Brand but still expensive? Why?

IMHO, it depends on the stuff you want to buy. I don’t want to over analyze on this either, so be the judge based on prices posted above.

How much is this?

Store just opened a few days ago. Some items are tagged, while others are not. I guess it’s an opportunity to be discovered by their staff.

They honor credit cards, yes?

Just like all major supermarkets, yes they do.

Plastic bag or paper bag?

They charge for plastic bags. Paper bags are free but it’ll be nice of you to bring eco bags for your haul.

Is this spicy or not?

Although majority of the items have English text, be mindful that this is still a Korean grocery store. Some of the staff are yet to be trained on this one. This is where your Google Translate comes in.

Disclaimer: Not a paid post.

My haul, a summary.

A Meteor Garden (2018) pilgrimage: Finding Dao Ming Si in Shanghai, China

It took a big leap of faith for me to set foot in the “Land of the Sleeping Giant” and chase a dream of mine I know some of you might find absurd. In November 2017, it was confirmed that a Meteor Garden reboot is to be released in Mainland China by 2018. Angie Cai, the executive producer of the series and Barbie Xu, who played Shan Cai in 2001 Meteor Garden, announced on their weibo accounts that a reboot of the old series has been finalized, with a few tweaks and a new set of actors as well. Meteor Garden was huge in Taiwan and the rest of Asia back in the day, and in the Philippines it was a breath of fresh air in our soap opera and Mexican Telenovela dominated primetime. Hence, my enthusiasm for Asian entertainment solidified. Though I may have turned into a K-drama consuming ahjumma, 流星花园 will always have a special place in my heart.

Fast forward to July 2018, the reboot finally aired on China Hunan TV (Mainland) and through Netflix worldwide excluding the Philippines. Many were forced to enter the back door, thanks to the existence of multilingual stans who put in their love and effort to sub the series making us on a par with Meteor Garden 2018 enabled Netflix subscribers.

After two months of nostalgia and watching like Wang He Di crazed humans, two of my good friends ignited the idea of going on a pilgrimage to Shanghai. It remained a joke until our flight was booked and our itinerary drafted. Six months later, we all flew to Shanghai to “find” Dao Ming Si.

Now here is the lowdown on our Meteor Garden 2018 only itinerary in Shanghai from Day 1 to 3.

-Day One-

Location: Jiangwan Stadium
What happened here: Dao Ming Si and Shan Cai meet up for an epic first date (E06)

The Jiangwan Stadium

Location: Now Factory Creative Office Park
What happened here: This place became a widely used setting throughout the series and is known to be one of Ming De’s facades. Shan Cai and the F4 usually hang out and meet here. And for all you Hua Ze Lei stans, this is where all the rooftop scenes were shot.

Notes:

  • Getting here is quite tricky, just make sure you ride the correct bus to save time.
  • The Wild Cafe is closed so we only took pictures outside. You can easily find this in the area once you explore Now Factory further.
  • The Now Factory kind of looked deserted, but no one is prohibited from going up the rooftop and can stay all you want to take pictures and gush over the fact that iconic scenes from the drama were shot there. Yet, it isn’t polite to imitate Shan Cai’s shouting and swearing so leave that to your imagination.

Location: 上海保利大劇院
(Shanghai Polygrand Theater, Jiading Qu)
What happened here: Dao Ming Si and Shan Cai’s formal break up after the latter returns from hiding (E30) and also one of those places where Ah Si and Lei had their one on one talks about Shan Cai (E33)

Notes:

  • Now this place isn’t exactly free for all. You can take pictures outside the theater, but not allowed beyond that arc. Explore at your own risk. The experience has turned funny now that I think about it, my face was stiff in that picture cos everything was rushed and that this was the first time I tresspassed…in China.
  • Shanghai Polygrand Theater is one bus ride away from The Now Factory. If you know how to speak Mandarin, good for you. But if you don’t, be very patient. Or better yet, secure an address in Kanji.

-Day Two-

Location: 上海建桥学院 (Shanghai Jianqiao University)

What happened here: Again, one of the many Ming De University facades in the series. To be specific, it is the first thing you see in the opening credits.

Notes:

  • The weather was to our advantage the day we visited this uni, their garden still has Sakura blossoms… the first ones I’ve seen and touched in my entire life.
  • One bus ride from the station to get here, again you have to ride the correct bus to enter SJQU through the front gate.

Location: 上海市长宁区协和路 (Xie He Lu, Changning Qu)

What happened here: The iconic “bus” scene. (E32)

Zhu Jia Bang River

Notes:

  • We almost gave up finding this road because of confusing bus stops and bus routes but I’m glad we didn’t. I felt my heart race the moment I got off the bus and to very same bus stop where they filmed the scene.
  • We took pictures at around 2:30-3:00 PM and Xie He Lu didn’t look busy at all.
  • You may notice this isn’t a famous route in any Meteor Garden 2018 tours available online. If I’m not the first, maybe I didn’t search hard enough but this is a F.I.Y (find-it-yourself) location I am very proud of.
  • I took a picture of Zhu Jia Bang River too, backdrop to Shan Cai and Hua Ze Lei as the latter was walking the former on the way to her part time job at the tea shop.

Location: The Vue Bar, Hyatt on the Bund
What happened here: Dao Ming Feng humiliates Shan Cai in Ah Si’s party so they escaped and ended up here. (E19)

Notes:

  • We were almost discouraged from exploring Hyatt on The Bund since it looked like an exclusive place, but if you have 110 CNY to spare you are certainly welcome at The Vue.
  • Just across the street is the hostel were staying at and the night we arrived we didn’t expect for Hyatt on The Bund to be this close.
  • It was not possible to achieve the exact view captured during filming because the place has changed a lot, but Huangpu River and the Oriental Pearl TV Tower were both mesmerizing, nevertheless.

-Day Three-

Location: Three on the Bund
What happened here: Nothing much. Here, Dao Ming Si and Shan Cai came across Harlem Yu in the last episode.

Location: The Press Cafe
What happened here: Shan Cai pays after Ah Si found out Dao Ming Feng has cut off his bank account (E39)

Location: BMW Shanghai Experience Center/China Art Museum
What happened here: Dao Ming Si and Shan Cai were strolling down the street and accidentally tripped because the latter’s shoe is broken. (E46)

Location: Shanghai Science & Technology Museum (entrance)
What happened here: Another Ming De University facade. Dao Ming Si likes parking his car in this side of the university.

Notes:

  • I do not even want to remember this place because we got lost a couple of times! Please be careful in choosing the right station and exit point because this place is huge!
  • This is the ultimate souvenir shopping place for tourists. Haggling skills can be very useful here!

Location: Grosfairy
What happened here: Shan Cai brings Dao Ming Si to her favorite snack shop, Rabbit Hole. (E26)

Notes:

  • Grosfairy has the yummiest cupcake ever. Their price is high, but it met with the quality. It has a very unique texture I cannot describe. It refreshed me after the tiring walk through Nan Binjiang.
  • Their cupcakes are seasonal therefore we failed to order the ones Shan Cai did. I also forgot to ask if they still have the same pink cup Dao Ming Si used.
  • Did you notice that the shirt I’m wearing matches Grosfairy’s table cloth?!
  • Perhaps this is their answer to OG Meteor Garden’s P.S. Bubu scene. I love the face Dao Ming Si made when he tasted the cupcake. 😍

Location: 三两春 (San Liang Chun)
What happened here: “Wonton shop” where Ah Si coerced Shan Cai to marry him (E45)

Notes:

  • The restaurant only serve traditional Shanghai dishes and their menu contains no pictures at all. We were fortunate that a bilingual local happened to dine that night and explained to us the differences of their “noodles with soup” items. I was a bit embarrassed to have asked for some ramen while in China.
  • On our way to San Liang Chun, we saw lots of street food and eateries. Laoshan Lu has the same feels as the streets in Manila (where I studied for 6 years).

四月は君の嘘 [2016]

Your Lie in AprilRomaji: Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso
English: Your Lie In April
Director: Takehiko Shinjo
Writer: Naoshi Arakawa (manga), Yukari Tatsui
Release Date (original): September 10, 2016
Runtime: 122 min.
Distributor: Toho

Plot (asianwiki):
Kosei Arima (Kento Yamazaki) won numerous piano competitions while under the strict watch of his mother. He was known as the human metronome during that time. Since the death of his mother, Kosei Arima has been unable to hear the sound of his piano. Kosei Arima then meets Kaori Miyazono (Suzu Hirose) through childhood friend Tsubaki Sawabe (Anna Ishii). Kaori Miyazono plays the violin and has a free sprit. Since meeting her, Kosei Arima is able to face the piano again. Meanwhile, Kaori holds a secret.

Cast:

Suzu Hirose as Kaori Miyazono   
Kento Yamazaki as Kosei Arima
Anna Ishii as Tsubaki Sawabe
Taishi Nakagawa as Ryota Watari
Yuka Itaya as Hiroko Seto    
Rei Dan as Saki Arima
       

I Say…

Yesterday marked the Philippine premiere for the live action movie Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso, lit. Your Lie In April. It was adapted from the 11-volume long manga by Naoshi Arakawa and also had an anime version previously aired last quarter of 2014 until the first quarter of 2015. The movie was released in Japan last September. We were very lucky to be given the chance to see it locally in its original form, with subs, spreading enough feels as it is. I’ve read the manga beforehand and fell in love with it. It’s not just a typical love story after all. Not much skin ship, no third parties or cheating boyfriends… stuff that most love stories require nowadays. Kimiuso played a different ball game.

For those who read the manga (like me), do not expect the movie to be a hundred percent like the one close to your heart. The slight difference didn’t make the movie horrible. It still matched the same feels the manga is quite known for. A job well done for Hirose Suzu’s performance as Miyazono Kaori, I guess. She still had the person behind me snotting in no time. No doubt about Yamazaki Kento’s performance on this one for in this genre, he is starting to be king. Maybe the only challenge they both had to take was being efficient music prodigies in front of the camera. The moves are hard to fake if you haven’t trained or observed enough.

Due to the overwhelming response of Filipino fans who are just longing for Japanese movies to make it here, now is the chance to prove that these movies can be sold here too. The popularity of Japanese films has already spread all over the country and what a good way to show support to our favorite artist is to head on to the movies and watch them. Kimiuso is currently under “limited time only” status and showing dates highly depend on the number of movie goers. If everything goes well, there might be a chance to view more quality Japanese films here in the coming months.

好きな人がいること [2016]

01e8nBo4_f1f9da_c2xRomaji: Suki na Hito ga Iru Koto
English title: A Girl & Three Sweethearts
Director: Hiro Kanai, Ryo Tanaka, Tomonobu Moriwaki
Writer: Sayaka Kuwamura
Runtime: Mondays 21:00 starting July 11, 2016

Cast:
Mirei Kiritani as Sakurai Misaki
Miura Shohei as Shibasaki Chiaki
Yamazaki Kento as Sibasaki Kanata
Shuhei Nomura as Shibasaki Touma
Sakurako Ohara as Nishijima Manami

 

 

Plot (asianwiki):
Misaki Sakurai (Mirei Kiritani) has not dated in a long time. She has focused on her work as a pâtissier to eventually run her own business. One day, she gets fired from work. She then meets her first love from high school Chiaki Shibasaki (Shohei Miura). Misaki Sakurai works part-time at Chiaki’s restaurant and also stays there. While she lives with Chiaki at his restaurant, she realizes that Chiaki’s two younger brothers Toma (Shuhei Nomura) and Kanata (Kento Yamazaki) also live there.

I Say…

I don’t care what Yamazaki Kento bashers say about him. Die green with envy. He’s going to be everywhere inthe coming years cos he just keeps on getting better and better with his craft. He’s gone so far since I first saw him in Love for Beginners and LDK. I just saw a more mature Yamaken in Suki na Hito ga Iru Koto, and his character Shibasaki Kanata will be one for the books. A handsome tsundere sous chef slash surfer boy. Stop the swooning. He even looks good clad in tees and folded jeans.

Miura Shohei is Miura Shohei… expect those hearts to beat for the guy. He nailed the aniki role too well. Don’t get too distracted by the guy.
 
I can’t help but notice the chemistry among the cast; they’re too comfortable working together which is quite hard to fake. You can see it in their BTS and IG posts. FYI, Sakurai Misaki’s account exists so go check it out for proof.

Setting is always important in every drama. It makes you feel at home the entire series. In the case of this dorama, it’s Enoshima. Enoshima is love.

Though it may be more of a love story, the drama is also about family. The conflict isn’t limited to the blossoming love triangle which the title strongly suggests, but also among the owners of Sea Sons. The strong bond shared by Shibasaki kyoudai will be threathened by a family secret that will change their lives in ways they never imagined. To sum up my feelings, it is one unforgettable summer drama. Summer is indeed a good time to fall in love.

Suki_na_Hito_ga_Iru_Koto-chart

Full House [2015]

Author: Won Soo-Yeon, Seo Yu-Mi
Translator: Martin S.W. Yang
Publisher: Summit (through Shinwon Agency Co.)
Copyright: 2015

11887844_843926182349588_6655045187174055210_n

 

Aspiring writer Che Eunsu has been living in Full House, the home that her late parents built and designed – that is, until she was unceremoniously forced out to make way for its new owner: popular actor Lee Jinhu.Jinhu is hounded by a major scandal, one that unwittingly involves Eunsu, and needs to lie low for a while to let the rumors die down. But life refuses to be quiet for the pampered celebrity, as Eunsu is determined to do everything it takes to get Full House back – even if it means she has to live in the only home she’s ever known and work for Jinhu as his housemaid.

Things get complicated as the two clash and bicker… and get to know each other a little better.

I say…

Don’t get your hopes up, because the book is diferent from the TV series we all loved in  2004. I don’t know about the manhwq though, I’m not usre if I’ll ever get my hands on that precious thing. But it just might be closer to the TV version.

There are a lot of differences in the book and TV series and it’s unavoidable to search for them. You can spot them as early as the first page. Evident ones are as follows:

1.Character names (Che Eunsu & Lee Jinhu vs Han Ji Eun & Lee Yeong Jae)
2. Family Backgrounds (Lee Yeong Jae is an only child, while Lee Jinhu has an older half brother)
3. Support group (Han Ji Eun has a married couple for besties while Che Eunsu has quite a number of girlfriends; Lee Jinhu has a trusted PA and manager while Lee Yeong Jae only has a stylist who was his love interest from the beginning)
4. Antagonist (Eunsu has Serin and Kyuha, Han Ji Eun only has the stylist who’s Lee Yeong Jae’s childhood friend)
5. In the book, they’re not married. They’re not even engaged.

But let me tell you, it isn’t so bad. This stand alone can give the same feels we all had for the series. This one has so many first love feels… and you can’t help but love Che Eunsu all the way to the end.

A Not-so-Total Recall: ONE OK ROCK Live in Manila

First glimpse of my ticketJanuary 17, 2016

Tension headache now puts me in nocturnal mode. The first time since 2016 started 17 days ago. You should know by now. I’ve been counting it down since Amuse Asia announced ONE OK ROCK’S 35xxxv Asia Tour last August 31. I went through a lot since that announcement. PULP Royalty heartache was the worst part… I had unstable BP and appetite loss for a couple of days. After shedding a few tears, I was ready to move on and prepared for ticket selling day. Practicing the Art of War, I got my desired ticket. Much to the wonder of sales ladies that day, we looked like we were running after dear life just for VIP tickets. It marked another countdown… that’s about to end in two days as Taipei Arena experience their DAY 2.Come Monday… it’s going to be surreal.

 

Before I begin, credits/thanks to jpopasia & Mei for helping me remember the details for this entry. I am just a daydream believer, not a memory keeper.  

Present, February 19, 2016

My concert OOTDHonestly, I don’t know how to properly start this. My thoughts are really disorganized, and I don’t even know if words are enough to describe how I felt a month ago. What I’m certain about is that it still appears to be dream like, and there are moments when I close my eyes and still see myself being in MoA Arena, my ears ringing due to the noise we have created…all for the love of ONE OK ROCK.

For the longest time I only saw them either on YouTube or DVD; followed them everywhere via Instagram and Tumblr (through fan updates) and seeing the guys perform live is just surreal.

The night before the concert, as I packed my things I thought about the whole thing as an adventure since I don’t know what waits for me…who am I going to meet or what am I to gain from all this. Looking back on that day (or that night), the last question was answered. T’was the ultimate fan girl experience I know I will remember for the rest of my life. Even without the PR I have longed and almost died for.

Time of Arrival, MoA Arena: 5:02 am. I always tell myself , Remember the Art Of War.

Yours truly and Kumi-san from Japan :)Not the first one but proud to be one of the early birds. The first thing I looked for? Not the comfort room… but medics. I was really worried about my BP since it can potentially hinder one of the happiest days of my life. The day before the concert, my BP reading went 140/100 the moment I found out that ONE OK ROCK has arrived. (I found out after my check up the morning after the con that it is something hormonal. I concluded that excitement can be very deadly for me. XD) During the first few hours of waiting I saw and met the “coolest kids” who later became IG, Twitter and even Tumblr friends. Some I am yet to find though, like Kumi-san from Japan (with me on the photo). I was told she doesn’t know any of her SNS accounts because it was her daughter who made it for her. I also got to see P.O.O.R Admins, and wrote a message on the banner the boys were holding during “selfie time”. IMG_20160119_095415Every time I see my name I’m still… OMG. For the first time in my life I loved the name I hated for all these years of existence. You can’t imagine the feels whenever I look at one of those IG clips Tomo held on to one side of the banner and recognize my own handwriting. OMG. Oh, I also got to finally meet Mei… YES.. who doesn’t know Mei? You can see me here (click to open her post) since I was the first victim, literally. I’m proud to be part of the first batch of her Fans on ONE OK ROCK series which some of you might’ve read at one point. If you haven’t but you own a copy PULP Magazine December ish, you’ll see the excerpt.

First view of centerstage :)Now, fast forward to 8:30 PM! Waiting in line for 13.5 hours outside and additional 2 hours inside the arena  was all worth it. The moment lights went out and the boys appeared on stage one by one… I forgot my fluctuating BP, my calm, and all the waiting time didn’t seem that long. My fan girl dreams are finally coming true. The first sight of Taka got me totally mesmerized that I don’t remember screaming his name. I was just there standing in awe and staring at the person I refer to as my “wonder wall”. This isn’t YouTube. This isn’t DVD. He is right in front of me now, holding a red microphone, jumping, running about, screaming and singing his heart out.Then there’s Toru on the VIP 2 side whom I never imagined to be Prince Charming material irl. No, I’m not a convert.. Taka still holds my heart. I just can’t help but look at Toru that way. Ryota, on the left side of the stage, who was the reason I decided on VIP 1. And right in the middle, unable to move around like the other three, is Tomoya, who just looked so adorable in his bouncing curly hair.

P1130812After the 35xxxv intro, Take Me To The Top got us all bouncing energetically. Their next song, Memories, came in next and you can see several middle fingers in the air, my own included, as soon as Taka exclaimed, “Go on and f*ck yourself!” I was kind of looking forward to doing that after I’ve seen their Paris live last year. It felt good. Lol.

Taka-san asked if we are ready, before proceeding with Deeper Deeper. The arena was shaking already, moments before you even thought about asking, Taka-san! Another surreal moment for me, this one, because I finally got to experience that clap sequence for the song’s intro. In the MLF live, this song got the crowd hyped the moment Taka-san began to clap, then cleared his voice in preparation for the opening screamo. And yes. We never we never we will not stop!

In his almost perfect English Taka introduced themselves as ONE OK ROCK and said that it’s their first time in the Philippines.(He slightly stammered at “Finally, we made it… here.” but that’s OK.) Thus, the first memorable quote for the night was delivered:  “Alright, who wants to have fun tonight, Philippines?” That was before he asked us all to wave our hands, while saying, “Let me see your f*cking hands!”Seriously love, do you really have to reiterate? Because all hands are up to begin with! Stuck In The Middle began and upon checking, the lively crowd was singing along to all the lyrics we know by heart.

Taka-sanWhen you see Taka-san’s hands “tick” you know that Clock Strikes is up! It seems to be very popular among Filipino fans because we were singing along with him, in unison, even though the lyrics is not in second language. Another OMG-worthy moment for Taka-san’s perfect singing voice. You can just imagine the goose bumps, #TeamBahay. I was staring at his neck the whole time, a weird habit of mine. You know the expression about neck veins when singing? His neck vein’s perfect, even with effort. His vocals are soo powerful. *insert swooning expression right here tee-hee*.

Another ballad, which is a new one, got included in this set list. It isn’t exactly OOR style but it just kind of grew into me. This song, Last Dance signaled us to embrace the slight change of ONE OK ROCK. There’s no escaping change. I learned (after reading Mei’s recall) that this song was being perfected by Taka during sound check. Lucky PR holders. sigh.

I was clearly rooting for the very handsome Toru during his showdown with Tomoya and Ryota. But no, my heart only belongs to you ,Taka-san! After his short break he prepared the crowd to Cry Out. Another set of goose bumps for me. Cry Out is one of my favorites out of 35xxxv albums. I am now perfectly in the zone, head banging…I never stopped singing along.

Second memorable quote for the night came in before he introduced their next song, Heartache. “Oh my God I told you this is our first time in the Philippines. We feel really good and are really, really happy to be here.” He was saying thank you endlessly…just goes to show how overwhelmed he is for the response of the Filipino fans to ONE OK ROCK. To be honest, I got a tiny bit disappointed that he didn’t play guitar while singing this one for us, but to compensate for that they did the original version, in their mother tongue. An ‘ocean of lights’ from our smartphone flashlights spontaneously lit up the Arena, adding more feels to the already piercing ballad. It was very beautifully captured by @julenphoto and even became the highlight of Toru’s night, as depicted in his IG post after the show in Manila.

Next up, Decision. It was sang in English, and Taka pulled it off without the help of his friend Tyler. Taka is getting really comfortable with the English lyrics of songs from the 35xxxv deluxe. At this point we’re halfway through the show. I can’t remember well from this part, (after Decision, came Suddenly) until it was time for The Beginning. About time for my third and most memorable quote for the night. I know it not only applies to me but for the rest of #TeamBahay, #TeamArena, #TeamAbroad among others… their promise to return. And I quote, “We are definitely coming back here! That’s a promise Manila!” I think this part of the show was the most intense for me.  In my summary (that can be found on Mei’s Love for 10969 series), I mentioned that being able to hear it live and to sing along to it was nothing but surreal. The Beginning will always be my favorite song by them. Now I want to cry just remembering how it felt back then! *I miss you, Taka-san!*

VIP 1 view!As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Their final song on the set list was Mighty Long Fall. My energy was still high even at this point because I can’t wait for the encore! And now for memorable quote number four: “Do you still want a bit more? Me too” Taka-san said, teasing us more. Since I already researched on this I knew it’s going to include Wherever You Are. Replaying my live cam, I was surprised at how well I sang along, my Japanese lyrics were even perfect! I think this was the song where Taka held out his mic and let us all take the lead since we like to sing very much haha. He looked so happy. Even Toru’s smile was permanently plastered on that handsome face. My heart is right about to burst recalling all these. ONE OK ROCK made all the years of waiting so worthwhile. The satisfaction was two way though. Enter memorable quote number five (part of it): “You guys are so beautiful. Thank you so much!” They definitely loved Manila even more after that surreal number. To end the encore as well as the show, they played No Scared and 完全感覚 Dreamer. (The white balls are bouncing everywhere now)

I’m still desperately searching for a trace of me on the band’s “selfie” at the Arena, but the spotlight will forever be more dominant. If only it wasn’t there. Erasing those regrets now…at least I’m still there and it’s all that matters.  HAPPY MONTHSARY #ONEOKROCKLiveinManila. See you in part two, my dear reader! 

ONE OK ROCK's signature bow

 

                       Arigatou Gozaimasu, ONE OK ROCK!     See you soon, Taka-san...  

                       Arigatou Gozaimasu, ONE OK ROCK!     Arigatou Gozaimasu, ONE OK ROCK!

I Remember You [2015]

I_Remember_You_promotional_posterAlternative Title: Hello Monster
Hangul: 너를 기억해
No. of episodes: 16
Running time: 70 minutes
Release: June 22, 2015 – August 11, 2015

Cast:
Seo In-guk as Lee Hyeon / David Lee
Jang Na-ra as Cha Ji-ahn
Choi Won-young as Lee Joon-ho / Lee Joon-young
Park Bo-gum as Jung Sun-ho / Lee Min
Lee Chun-hee as Kang Eun-hyuk
Jun Kwang-ryul as Lee Joong-min

Plot (wikipedia):
Genius profiler Lee Hyun returns home to Korea after something from a case he’s been sent triggers a memory he thought he’d lost forever. Unbeknownst to him, one of his team members, Detective Cha Ji-an, has been investigating him for some time. She is aware that his father was murdered and his brother disappeared under mysterious circumstances involving a criminal named Lee Joon Young — whom they both want found and incarcerated. Each seeks to unravel the other, unaware that they’ve been drawn into a dangerous game of cat and mouse by a master player and that both truth and evil are closer and far more twisted than they think.

I Say…

Hurray for 2016! I’m back & I promise or at least do my best to blog again. My first drama for 2015 is I Remember You.

You can tell it got me hooked right? I Remember You is one of the Korean dramas I have been trying to find time to see last year but can’t due to various reasons. Thanks to the long holiday vacation I’ve had time to catch up with my dramas and books. Now on to what I think about the series.

In writing I still haven’t checked its viewership status but maybe it went well. Psychopath dramas are all over Korea. They could be used to it. Romance is just a subplot and the drama focused on the growth and characteristics of a psychopath. It’s kind of messed up how they think but they’re brilliant people. How can they imagine so many ways to kill people? Freaky but yeah, wow. Sorry about that. Cha Ji Ahn & Lee Hyeon didn’t get too mushy but you’ll know that there’s this spark that ignited the kind of relationship they have. They’re living their lives & taking care of each other while playing mind games with murderers.

Next, the way their policemen think. They’re not perfect ones since they commit mistakes and get involved in crimes themselves. But their coordination is good… at least TL Kang’s unit.

Lastly, how come all victims get stabbed? I came up with a theory, that maybe guns are limited in Korea & that it is a sure ball if you stab the victim instead of shooting them. It is safe to say that I Remember You is quite good, not just because of Seo In Guk. It successfully unlocked my psychopathic tendencies.