Jonalyn Viray and her music... a precious gem!

Jonalyn Viray is one of the Philippines' finest singer and the best among her generation, a vocal prodigy. She effortlessly bagged the 2006 Overall female grand-champion of the World held in Hollywood, USA and bested other champions around the globe. Her vocal range is immensely outstanding and powerful, belting towering notes with ease and class.

In her almost 10 years of career in show business, she has the most powerful voice, stunning and very humble person and she could be the next to Asia's Songbird Regine Velasquez for sure because of her unbelievable talent in singing, it was so amazing. Just like her idol Regine, she has a very wide vocal range and can do whistle register that is very rare, but not just a whistle she can whistle with vocal acrobats. As an avid fan of this girl, aside from pop music, though untrained, I also witnessed her singing classical music and taking the roles of soprano and coloratura soprano, seen on her performance of Il dolce suono, Phantom of the Opera, Bring Me to Life and a classical version of My Humps. She has been vocal that her most admired singers and vocal influences are Mariah Carey and Regine Velasquez, while Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Kelly Clarkson, and Beyonce.

Unfortunately she's one of the underrated singers, a lack of support and weak marketing strategy from her mother network might be a contributing factor, but nevertheless this precious gem should not be wasted. Jonalyn has been the country's pride and will always be!

Check out this video performace of Jonalyn in "Party Pilipinas" with La Diva. This one's one of my favorite songs of her with La Diva.

Click 'play' button to play



MOVIE REVIEW: “Les Miserables” - Redemption is possible

There is always hope. That dreams are worth dreaming. That mercy triumphs over judgment. That an eternity worth waiting for does indeed await us. That forgiveness has power. That unexpected generosity can change the course of one life – many lives.

I have been singing the songs from “Les Miserables” since I was in highschool, when a classmate of mine handed out the medley to our class. Around 10 years ago we listened to the full soundtrack and I never had the chance to actually see a performance but I did loved the songs from then on.

Check this video performance from "Les Miserables" 10th Anniversary dream cast

The movie version of “Les Miserables” is visually stunning, with such a memorable soundtrack and incredible performances, especially by Anne Hathaway who, goodness me, may well have sewn up an Oscar with her singing of “I Dreamed a Dream”, something that put even the Susan Boyle version to shame.

Hugh Jackman plays Jean Valjean, a man convicted and sentenced to five years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread. During that time, he tried to escape, but was caught, and ends up having fourteen years added to his sentence. Now after 19 years, he’s released on a parole, but, as many released from prison discover even now, he can’t find a job and can’t find a place to live. He’s taken in by a kindly bishop (Colm Wilkinson, who originated the Valjean role on stage), and then repays the bishop’s kindness by stealing silver plates and the like. When he’s caught, he claims the silver was a gift, and is astounded when the bishop not only backs him up, but offers him more. Valjean, who had been on the verge of turning into a villain, instead becomes a hero and sets out to return to being an honest man. Meantime, police inspector Javert (Russell Crowe, who really has an incredible singing voice), sets off in pursuit of Valjean, while around them France seethes with revolutionary fervor.

 Jackman, Crowe, Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bohnam Carter are all exceptionally good in their roles, but it is Hathaway who walks off with the best performance on film.

This is really Anne Hataway’s most certainly her moment. The single-camera single-take performance of ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ is one for the record books, the archives. Whenever I sing the ‘pretty version’ of it now, it feels inappropriate and incomplete. That’s just a song. She sang a story – a snapshot – a heartbeat – rock bottom. Most affecting thing I’ve ever seen on screen. This was absolutely everything that I’d hoped for in a movie version of the famed musical.

Hugh Jackman was born to play Jean Valjean on screen. He was perfect. His eyes… oh my. The moment when he meets Cosette in the woods… and of course, the ending – the range that he covers in the 17-year spread of the story is mind-boggling. So, so good. Just so good.

Russel Crowe sang like a man wrestling with his soul. I loved everything he did. His pharisaical struggle was a marvel to watch – to see a man so unable to grasp the truth that ‘mercy triumphs over judgment’ was powerful… and the one transparent moment when he displayed a heart full of love was more than I could take.

Amanda Seyfried, who thankfully got some vocal help [like a substitute] on the two high Bs, rose to the occasion marvelously. The bar was set very high for the two of them, and they performed both admirably and appropriately.

Eddie Redmayne,  freckles and all, brought love-sick Marius to life in the most beautiful, pleasing way. His physical youthfulness only added to the poignancy of the unwinnable war he and his ‘brothers’ waged. Redmayne was a revelation. Where have they been hiding this guy?

Samantha Barks as Eponine was pretty much perfect, but we expected that, because we all heard her on the 25th anniversary concert and agreed that she was a rockstar. Her translations to screen were perfect. She’ll be one to watch in the years ahead – she’s only 22!

I have never been so moved by a film. There might not be higher praise that I can give the film than this.

RATING: 9/10



MOVIE REVIEW: "Jack Reacher"

Jack Reacher would set your world on fire, but it won't bore you too tears.

Jack Reacher is one of those iconic characters who exists only in popular fiction.

According to the movie,  Jack Reacher is an ex-Military Police investigator, raised entirely in military institutions, who has now become a loner and a ghost. He has no fixed residence, no credit cards, no driving license, and no steady paycheck. He is in prime physical condition, has an impeccable memory for details, and a keen investigative eye for details that other people miss.

After a sniper brutally murders five innocents in cold blood, the police consider it an open and shut case after an ex-military sniper is hauled in for committing the multiple shootings. It's only when he requests one thing 'Get Jack Reacher' that the plot thickens and the conspiracy deepens.

As murder mysteries/crime thrillers go, Jack Reacher sticks to the hymn sheet, the various twists and turns in the narrative not coming as too much of a surprise for those in the audience who are familiar with the genre conventions. Given the degree to which he makes the role his own, it could be argued that Jack Reacher would suffer greatly without the involvement of Tom Cruise as the titular hero.

A gun range owner and ex-Marine, played by Robert Duvall, for an assist in the final showdown, adds some chuckles in this movie. More than the failed attacks on Reacher by goons which I find funny, the addition of Robert Duvall made it more exciting at the end. Romance between Reacher and Helen Rodin (Rosamund Pike)  – a basic movie necessity in virtually every action film involving a male hero and a female in distress. I expected more from the two of them, but it's okey. Unlike any other action movies out there, there's no love angle here.

This is a well-made modern film noir that instills constant feelings of dread and trepidation . I love that the central mystery is not about who committed the crime at the beginning, but rather why it was committed and how it will be covered up.

RATING: 7/10



MOVIE REVIEW: "Life of Pi"

“All of life is an act of letting go, but what hurts is not taking a moment to say goodbye.”

"Life Of Pi" must be the most beautiful film of the year, a technical marvel, and magic realism at its most magical. This is a story about life, in every one of its forms, real and imaginary, and life can hardly ever exist, without the presence of other life. In Pi’s journey, the ocean sparkles.

After losing his family in a tragic shipwreck, during the deadly storm, Pi spent 227 days in the lifeboat, in an uneasy company of the Bengal tiger, Richard Parker (another interesting story of how the tiger ended up with his regal name). This is a story of transformation where a child becomes a man, first dealing with fear, then thirst, then hunger, threats from a hyena, then a fierce will to survive, loosing his rations in yet another deadly storm, unpredictability of the ocean, his face-off with the tiger and then his acceptance of the companion on board. In the end, he sums it up, “my fear of him kept me alert and tending to his needs gave me purpose”.

The most stunning period in the journey was when Pi found himself on the algae covered island, fully inhabited by millions and millions of meerkats. Island’s fresh ponds were full of fish that swam at night but were dead in the day, and meerkats climbed up the trees to spend the nights in the trees. Pi finds a tooth of a human, inside a fruit and comes to the conclusion that the island is carnivorous. He stocks the lifeboat with dead fish and meerkats for Richard Parker and with sea weed for himself and calls Richard Parker and pushes off again into the sea.

Parker’s eyes are so powerful they actually manage to flood your brain with the questions layering the theme of the book – whether it is possible to tame a wild animal and become friends with it, and whether a wild animal whose life you save will ever return your favor.

I fell in love with the character of Pi, in the first few minutes of the movie, when he questions his father who was chastising him for his belief in all religions. While the visual effects are stunning, I was equally impressed with the cast, the performance of the players, the dialog, and the amazing journey.

Life of Pi is two different movies put in one – the first is a gorgeous, stunning collection of frames that tosses you on an emotional journey just like its protagonist, and the second, a heavy handed sermon on the necessity of God and the meaning of life.

Life of Pi is full of questions that the movie does not seek to answer. Ravishingly gorgeous visuals are embedded in an electrifying saga that tests human endurance and is anchored in bonding with other forms of life.

RATING: 9.5/10



A smarter start for 2013

Everyone knows that I’ve been a loyal subscriber of Globe eversince I used my first cellular phone when I was in first year highschool to college and until last year, I jumped in to the better network - Smart.

I thought, I’ll be a loyal subscriber forever. For many times, I changed numbers, I lost phones, but not the network. Just last year, without a second thought, I jumped-in to the better network, not just said by me or just anyone but also the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) (See this article: Smart scores 4 out of 5 over Globe).

Globe never fails to disappoint me wherever I go – either in the province (Mindoro) and even here in Metro Manila (Mandaluyong). I have numerous report numbers from them regarding my load, dropped calls, texts arriving the following day, phone cannot be reached (even if you have signal), etc. Their service has been unsatisfactory. I also do not buy their network upgrade excuse because it has been that way even before their supposed ‘network upgrade.’

My personal twitter account (@MangyanBlogger) have lots of complaints against Globe last year. Almost everyday, my timeline was flooded with complaints especially with my internet connection especially when I was in Mindoro or out of the metro. What makes me feel annoyed, most of the times, they are ignoring my tweets, answering some but not mine. It feels like they can’t do anything on my case that’s why they ignore my tweets. That sucks!

I experienced the worst last year when I went to Dubai. Two hours before my flight, I loaded-up Php300 to my number and tried to send out an SMS for almost two hours but it kept resulting in ‘sending failed.’ I did everything, tried rebooting the iPhone, turned 3G off, and called their not-so-better-customer-service which hanged me up when I said “I only have 30 minutes left before my departure.” Imagine that? I needed it so much since it’s my very first time to travel abroad and I’ll be spending at least two days for my connecting flights since I requested to my sister that I want to roam around Brunei. Supposed to be, I’ll be meeting someone in Brunei but it doesn’t happen. Unlucky me!

If it weren't for my number, I would have switched to Smart already. This is way better surfing speeds and more consistent signal. I cannot even get a decent consistent signal on Globe. Not even in Mandaluyong.

I tried Smart on September last year. Thinking that they’re just the same, they’re not. Globe is now simply a joke on my circle of friends especially when we have meet-ups or events. Globe is now a verb about anything that concerns network problems especially when late. Funny!

For almost five months now, I’ve been using Smart Freedom plan, you will never see me ranting about my connection especially on texting and calling and also internet. I'm sticking with Smart now because I was assured that this is the real better network (Smart Communications Inc.'s network is officially better than that of rival Globe Telecom Inc., data from the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) showed). Besides, Smart treats me really well as a customer.