Sunday, September 22, 2013

Cinemalaya Film Festival 2013

Every July, I always wish that I was in the Philippines. Every year, I always wish I was in the Philippines for the Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival.

I love watching Filipino independent films because the filmmakers show issues that Filipinos face in the Philippines and in other parts of the world. 

It's always been my dream to make documentaries about the Philippines. Unfortunately, I live in Canada. But I'll find a way. I'll find a way to make a documentary or film that shows a different side of the Philippines. For now, I'm happy watching Filipino indie films who continue to inspire me to make my own films.

The videos below are some of the films at this year's film festival.

Transit - Directed by Hannah Espia

  Sana Dati - Directed by Jerrold Tarog

In the meantime, I can always watch Filipino indie films on the Internet. The next time I visit the Philippines, I'll make sure that it's during the Cinemalaya film festival. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Sir Paul McCartney in Winnipeg - A Dream Come True

Five days have passed, and I still couldn't believe that I watched Paul McCartney's concert at the Investors Group Field on Monday, August 12. It was the most surreal and best experience I had.

I still couldn't believe that I saw him. Okay, maybe I only saw him on the big screen because I was too far, but I still saw him. I was there. I already accepted that I could never watch The Beatles live because Lennon was already dead before I was even born. It was already embedded in my mind that I could never watch a Beatle live. And then Sir Paul decided to play in Winnipeg after 20 years.

That's not even the best part. I was able to share the experience with my family. I'm glad my parents were able to watch Sir Paul's concert. 
I'm glad that my sister and brother were there to watch the show with me. Watching Paul McCartney sing our favourite Beatles songs while sitting next to my family was amazing. It was indescribable.

Will the experience ever sink in? I don't know. Maybe, maybe not. I may forget the experience but I will always remember the feeling.

I know I'm asking too much, but I hope Paul never dies. Or he could live up to a hundred and do tours and can still sing. Or maybe he and Ringo can tour together. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Andrew Garcia and Joseph Vincent in Winnipeg

The two YouTube artists visited Winnipeg to perform at Driven, an after-market car performance show on July 13, Saturday. As an intern for the Filipino Journal, I had a chance to speak to them.

Andrew Garcia, Ron Cantiveros, Lora Quitane, and Joseph Vincent
(I asked Sally Tran to take our picture)

Andrew Garcia is a YouTube artist and an American Idol Season 9 finalist. After Idol, he continued making collaborations with other YouTube artists. He is a member of YTF Legacy (Yesterday, Today, Forever) with Ryan Higa, Chester See, Victor Kim, D-Trix, and JR Aquino.

What made you join American Idol?

Before Idol, I did YouTube videos and the response was really good. My cousin told me to try a bigger scale. I wasn’t sure because I just wanted to do this for fun. He hit me up the night before the trials and told me to audition for American Idol. My friend was like, ‘Yeah, I’m going there tomorrow, do you wanna come with me?’ and everything just worked out. I was like, ‘I had to do it.’ It’s like there was a path provided for me. So I did and it worked out great. I got a great deal of exposure and beautiful fans that keep supporting so I’m glad I did it.

Any advice to those who want to pursue their dreams?

If you love it, just do it. You’ll always go through something no matter what. As long as you have a little push and support, you could go a long way.

Any tours or new projects you’re working on?

I’m doing a west coast tour with Travis Garland. YouTuber Josh Golden and I are making the song that I sang [at the event]. Dumbfoundead and I are talking about doing another collab. I also want to do another collab with Joseph Vincent because I love him.

When is your Turbulence album coming out?

I reached a speed bump with that. The producer that I was working with was just swamped with his regular job. I’m not gonna take him away from making money and make it out of his living so I told him to do what he gotta do and I’ll figure out a way and now I’m working hard to get my album out.

What can you say about Winnipeg fans?

Fans are cool. I love them. And there are so many women out here. You guys 
are so beautiful here, I mean, what is going on? Winnipeg, I love you.

Visit Andrew Garcia's channel at to listen to his music and follow him on Twitter @andrewagarcia. 

Joseph Vincent Encarnacion became popular from his YouTube videos. He has gone a long way from posting videos in 2008. He still makes videos in his bedroom; the difference is that his channel now has 350,000 plus subscribers with over 50 million views on YouTube. His first album, Blue Skies, was released in October 2012.

Who inspired you to start singing?

My dad got me my guitar when I was 15. He was the one who directed me to YouTube. He showed it to me and said, ‘If you wanna do this for a living, it’s a start.’ So I said, ‘Yeah, maybe.’ I wasn’t sure because I just got to college and I was trying to transition from high school to college at that time. So I posted a couple of videos, got a good response, and I just kept doing it for fun. And now, I’m in Winnipeg, playing a show.  

How do you find the audience response?

It was awesome. I always get nervous before a show regardless of how long I’ve been doing it. It’s my first time here in Winnipeg and the fact that everyone was attentive, listening, and cheering was awesome.

You visited the Philippines in February for the Bayani Tour. How was it?

Gawad Kalinga and Seafood City put the whole tour together to bring Asian Americans back to the homeland. We grew up in America and we kind of lose sight of where we come from and it was eye-opening for me. If my parents didn’t move to America, my life would be insane. It would be so different. It made me thankful for what I have and thankful for what they’re doing.

Did you try balut?

No. AJ (Rafael) did though. He’s like, ‘Come on, do it!’, and I was like, ‘I can’t.’ I probably could eat the egg part, but the bird part, I don’t know. Maybe. I was just nauseous that day. Next time. But I had Jollibee—burger steak for days. It was delicious. And a lot of chicken tocino.

When is your next album coming out?

I’m working on a 5-song EP right now. I’m trying to think about what to call the EP and just waiting for the right time to start going into recording it—mostly pre-production stuff.

When are you coming back to Winnipeg?

I don’t know. When are you guys gonna have me back?

Visit Joseph Vincent's channel at or visit his website at 

Would you like Andrew Garcia and Joseph Vincent to visit Winnipeg again? Let us know! Tweet us @FilipinoJournal or @loraquitane and comment on our Facebook page at 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Asians Eat Weird Things

This made me want to go to an Asian supermarket and buy all the foods that I want. 

Do you really eat all the foods featured in the video? 

Of course not. I'm Filipino so I grew up eating foods like dinuguan, jackfruit, pig intestine, and balut. I even wrote a blog post about these foods if you want to see some pictures. But I would love to try the foods in the video. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Japan 2011 Earthquake aftermath

"It felt like it would never end and my friends and I ran outside crying as we waited for the shaking to stop," says Wakana Sato, an earthquake survivor.

On June 1, 2013, the Mirai 3.11 Committee hosted the Mirai 3.11 Benefit Fundraising event at the Manitoba Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre (MJCCC).

The committee organized this event for the orphaned children of the Japan 2011 earthquake and to raise awareness of the current state of Fukushima City that the Canadian media does not cover.

There was also an exhibition to show the "Cloth Letters" made by the children from Minamisoma, Fukushima. 

"Two years after the nuclear accident, there are many problems in Fukushima. Honestly, the people of Fukushima are fed up with the slow progress of the repair work. Friends who lived near Sendai Airport and Ishininomaki City are still missing." - Wakana Sato, translated by Azusa Osawa
The event raised a total of $9,000 to be donated to Kodomo Mirai Kikin. If you would like to send your donations please email Atsushi Kawazu at 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Philippine elections :: baffling

Former President Joseph Estrada won as Manila City's new mayor. (cue silence) Did I miss anything here?

I don't know how I feel about this news. He was the 13th Philippine president from 1998 until 2001. He was charged with graft and corruption so he was impeached in 2001. Filipinos protested for four days that led him to resign from his position.

I don't understand it.

Should I complain that the people voted for him when I don't live there anymore? Or should I understand their reasons for voting him? The former mayor was Alfredo Lim, and people didn't like him because he allegedly "decayed Manila".

Is that why Estrada won? Because Lim was his other opponent?

Everyone knows that Estrada is corrupt. Filipinos who saw his impeachment trial in 2001 knew that he was corrupt. That's why Filipinos who lived in Metro Manila protested in EDSA and forced him to resign. He's now the mayor of Manila, the capital of the Philippines. I don't know what's going on here.

Nancy Binay won a seat in the Senate on the May 13th election. She gained recognition because she is from a political family. Her father was the former Makati City mayor and the current vice-president of the country. Her mother was former Makati City mayor. Her brother is the current Makati City mayor. And her sister is a House of Representative in Makati (you get a sense of what Philippine politics is like. And you can read this Philippine Star article about Nancy Binay).

The Internet community (or Filipinos who have access to the Internet and use it wisely) knows that she is incompetent and inexperienced. She was her mother's personal assistant when her mother was the mayor. She became her father's personal assistant after he won vice-president. Now she's a senator.

She says she had a 20-year on-the-job training (or work placement) experience through her parents. And her dad is the vice president.

She's a senator. A senator. Granted, the official results are not yet released, but she's in the 5th place out of 12. So obviously she won. She won by going to rallies and traveling around the country. But she never showed up in any debates. Not one.

This is the political culture I grew up in.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Philippine elections :: Dirty politics

The Philippines will have a midterm election on May 13, Monday.

This is a general election where Filipinos will vote for senators, House of Representatives members, provincial governors, provincial legislature members, city mayors, city vice mayors, City Council members, municipal mayors, municipal vice mayors, members of the municipal council, and party-list representatives. In the southern region of the country, voters will elect their regional governor, regional vice governor, and regional assemblymen. (1)

This is why I don't like Philippine politics.

Philippine election epitomizes "dirty politics" literally and figuratively.

Every time there's an election, there are flyers, stickers, posters, and handouts everywhere. When you're waiting for a bus, someone would give you a handout or flyer. When you're walking on the street, you'll see posters and stickers on the walls of business establishments, local stores, and sometimes even on the cement.

And there are people who die during the election period.

In Batangas, south of Manila (the capital), a campaign coordinator was on his way home when he was shot by men riding on a motorcycle at noon Sunday. According to the news source, local police have not yet determined if the crime was "politically motivated". (2)

I wouldn't be surprised if the incident was politically motivated because I hear news of people dying in every election. People who lost their lives for a mere vote. They would never be given justice because the rich and the powerful always wins.

It's been a while since I've read news about the Philippine elections. When I read the news about the person who died, it made me think that nothing has changed. Philippine politics is still dirty.


(1) Wikipedia: Philippine general election 2013
For more information about the Philippine elections, visit Commission on Elections
(2) Philippine Star: Campaign coordinator shot dead in Batangas

Friday, April 19, 2013

Can't idle at all

The semester is *almost* over. One more week left. Time to move on. Time to enjoy summer. Time to enjoy the school break. But not me.

I registered for a spring course at the university so we'll see how that goes. I hope I can still write a blog post every week--especially now that I have more free time. College has made me a workaholic, so I don't think I'll be idle the entire break. I can't do it. I don't think I can do it. But let's see what happens. I hope I won't be lazy and do nothing this summer. I'm just glad that the semester is over and I can focus on myself and other personal projects this summer.

Right now, I'm savouring the moment that school's over. I know I'll worry about school some time next week (or even tonight), but it's alright.

Some people would celebrate or party now that the semester is over, but not me. I'd rather hibernate and stay in bed for an entire week. After the long and exhausting hours, the cups of coffee I drank, the number of sleep I get every night, I just want to rest. I need a break. Which will never happen of course. I can't just stay in bed for an entire week. I'll die. I have to eat, I have to be on the Internet, and I have to do something to pass the time.

Here's a little something I can do: soul searching.

What do you do when you have nothing to do? (The Internet doesn't count.)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Eight Months

School is almost over. There's only one week left (or less than a week) and then I'm done my first year as a Creative Communications student.

I learned a lot in eight months. A lot.

Back in August last year, I didn't know what to expect from the program. I knew that it was going to be stressful and I had to dedicate long hours, but I didn't know what I was going to learn within the eight months I was in the program.

There were so many things I didn't know back in August. 

I didn't know how to write a news article.
I didn't know how to organize an event without a PR proposal. 
I didn't know how to operate an ENG camera or switch the controls in a TV control room. 
I didn't know how to use ProTools or the soundboard. 
I didn't know how to write a print, radio, or TV ad.
I didn't know how to use InDesign or Photoshop. 

These were the basics I had to learn. I'm not an expert in all these things, but the fact that I learned all of these in eight months show what an incredible experience the program is. And how much I love school and learning.

Now that school is (almost) over, I'm more determined to improve these skills and learn new things this summer. But mostly have fun. It's summer, after all. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Indak (Dance) by Up Dharma Down

This is my first time to translate a Filipino song into English. It's a very rough translation so the asterisks are translations that I'm not sure. When I say "rough" translation, some of these are the literal meaning of the song. This song is written like a poem too. Filipino language has only one Pronoun for 'he' or 'she' so it's hard to tell who the lines refer to in the song. I listened to the song a couple more times before I fully understood the song so it's okay not to understand it the first time--especially if you don't know Filipino. 

Up Dharma Down is one of my favourite Filipino bands. Their music is different from Filipino mainstream. Armi Millare's voice is so soothing and Paul Yap (bass), Ean Mayor (drums and synthesizers), and Carlos Tanada (guitar) complement her voice. This is talented band that stands out from other Filipino artists.

Indak (Dance*)

Tatakbo at gagalaw
Running and moving

Nag-iisip kung dapat bang bumitaw.
Thinking if I should let go.

Kulang na lang, atakihin
All that's left is a heart attack*

Ang paghinga'y nabibitin
Always out of breath

Ang dahilan alam mo na
You already know the reason

Kahit ano pang sabihin nila
No matter what they say

Tayong dalawa lamang ang makakaalam
We're the only two people who knows

Ngunit ako ngayo'y naguguluhan.
But right now I'm confused.

Makikinig ba ko sa aking isip
Do I listen to my mind

Na dati pa namang magulo?
That has always been confused?

O iindak na lamang sa tibok ng puso mo
Or do I dance to the beat of your heart

At aasahan ko na lamang bang
And expect that 

Hindi mo aapakan ang aking mga paa
You won't step on my feet*

Pipikit na lamang at magsasayaw
I'll just close my eyes and dance

Habang nanonood siya. 
While he's watching.

Paalis at pabalik
Leaving and coming back

May baong yakap at suklian ng halik
Giving a hug and exchanging kisses

Magpapaalam at magsisi
Saying goodbye and regretting

Habang papiglas ka ako sayo ay tatabi.
I'll stay close to you while you let go.

Tayong dalawa lamang ang nakakaalam
We're the only two people who knows

Ngunit hindi na matanto
But I can't decide

Kung sino nga ba ang pagbibigyan ko
Who I'll give a chance

Makikinig nga ba sa isipan na alam ang wasto
Do I listen to my mind that knows what's right

Ngunit pipigilan ang pag-ibig niya na totoo
And stop him from loving me

Iindak na lamang ba sa tibok ng puso mo
Or do I dance to the beat of your heart

At aasahan kong
And expect that

Hindi mo lamang aapakan ang aking mga paa.
You won't step on my feet*

Pipikit na lamang at magsasaya
I'll just close my eyes and be happy

Habang nalulungkot ka.
While you're sad.

Pipikit na lamang at magsasaya
I'll close my eyes and be happy

Habang nalulungkot ka.
While you're sad.

Ako'y litong-lito
I'm really confused

Tulungan niyo ako
Can someone help me

Di ko na alam kung sino pang aking pagbibigyan o.
I don't know who I should listen to

Ayoko na ng ganito
I don't like this feeling

Ako ay litong-lito
I'm confused.

Here's one of my favourite UDD videos (not the best because Ean Mayor's not here.). And because I can't get enough of this band, here are two more live videos: at One Esplanade and at the 2011 Stagg Awards. All credits go to the uploaders of the videos. 

credits to TOWERofDOOM

Questions? Leave a comment and I'll try to explain it further. 

And I hope I did justice in translating the song. >.<

Friday, March 29, 2013

Not Easter Sunday, but Holy Week

It's that time of the year again. It's Holy Week.

When I moved to Canada, I was surprised that Easter Sunday is more popular than Holy Week.

However, in the Philippines, Filipino Catholics commemorate Holy Week. It's a week long holiday from Holy Monday to Holy Saturday. Filipino Catholics observe it in their own ways. Some go to the beach, some do the Way of the Cross, some go back to their hometowns and visit their family, and some go to a spiritual retreat. My family commemorates it in our own way.

l grew up spending Holy Week at home or at my aunt's house in a small town South of Manila. It's at the foot of the mountain, so the air is fresh and its very quiet. My aunt goes to the market every morning to buy fresh foods. There's no tv or Internet. It's a very simple and quiet week. And that's how my Holy week has always been.

I can't "celebrate" or have fun on Holy Week-especially from Good Friday to Holy Saturday. So I had to turn down my friend's invitation today. I feel bad for turning my friend down, but there's nothing I can do. I want to go, but I know that I would feel guilty. My friend BG advised me not to go. She didn't even invite me to her birthday celebration on Saturday because she knows I can't go. She says I'm religious, I say... I'm not. :D

It's...tradition? I don't know. The point is, Holy Week is a significant time of the year. It's always been that way and I hope it will always stay that way. Then I can celebrate again after Holy Week--on Easter Sunday. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

At The End of the Day (aka Homecoming Part IV)

It's difficult to appreciate the little things when you're tired and stressed.

At the lowest point of our lives, we turn to someone or something that will make us feel better.

For my regular blog readers (if there is one), you probably already have an idea of my "addictions". For new and recent readers, this list is a summary of my "addictions".

My reliable go-tos:

a. Asian dramas. I watch an episode (or two) when I need a distraction.
b. Anime. When I would rather watch a 25-minute episode or when a one-hour drama is too long.
c. Books. Need I say more?
d. Friends. They're a very good and fun distraction.
e. Can't think of anything.

I rely on this go-to list when I feel like everything is falling apart and I want to forget reality. These past few weeks have been tough, and I unexpectedly turned to the last people I never thought I could turn to: my family and closest friends.

It's not because they're my family that I turned to them. They represent my other identity, the 19-year-old me who grew up in a small, poor, and corrupt country that moved to Canada. The other Lora who walked to school with garbage on the streets, breathed the dirty air in the city, got used to flies and cockroaches flying everywhere, and saw children on the streets asking for money.

And those were just normal things that happen everyday.

I have cousins who live in the country and can't afford tuition because they can only afford food. Their condition reminded me that I'm still lucky even though I'm exhausted everyday. There were times when I felt like giving up but when I thought of my old life and my relatives, I couldn't give up. I had to work hard.

And that was when I realized that my other self will always be a part of me. The self who grew up in the Philippines for the first 19 years of my life. The self who will always make me realize that there are a lot I should be thankful for. 

That was how I got through this semester. And why my blog is named Homecoming

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


I write poems whenever I feel like it. This is one of them.


Stare right into her eyes
And you'll see the dark corners of her world.

Stare right into her eyes
And you'll see the pain that resides in her heart.

Stare right into her eyes
And you'll see what she really feels.

Look beyond the face that shows you the glittering eyes and infectious smile.
Look beyond the words that tell you that everything is alright. 

Because sometimes, we just need to let it all out. 

© Lora Quitane

Another poem I wrote a few years ago. I wrote this at 3:03 a.m., and I'm sure that this needs editing. But I'm too lazy to edit it right now, so I'll just post it as it is. Inspired by someone close to me. 

And Then She Became Five Years Older

It's not her looks--
the face that can fool anyone
for them to think that she's a teenager,
nor her face free of make-up,
but the eyes that mirror her thoughts.

It's not the clothes--
for she wears what she wants
and eats when she wants.
Her body is the least of her worries.
What matters is that she breathes and lives. 

It's not her actions
that makes you think she's innocent
and child-like most of the time,
nor her fascination and imagination,
but the subtle things she does that rarely catch your eye.

It's what she sees and how she feels.
For a child must open her eyes
to realize and accept what's in front of her.
To understand that it's in her hands
how the future unfolds.
And when she finally opens up,
that is when she grows.

And that was how she became 5 years older.

© Lora Quitane

"Whatever you do, choose life.
The thoughts on your mind, choose life.
Wherever you go, choose life."

- Soul Searching, Urbandub, from Influence.

"There's no point to keep your head face down,
When all we see and know and feel is temporary."

- A Call to Arms, Urbandub, from Apparition.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

A Thousand Farewells

Our Journalism class was assigned to read Nahlah Ayed's A Thousand Farewells for an assignment. 

She's very knowledgeable of the Arab language and culture. Her parents decided to move back to Amman, Jordan because they wanted their children to understand the culture and language. At six years old, she had to learn a new culture.

These two paragraphs stood out for me the most:

If there's one thing that journalists could learn from this book, it was the second paragraph. People are always the story. They're not quotes. It's a good reminder for aspiring and professional journalists that people are human too. Humans who should be treated as humans. They are people who has a history and culture. 

In the first paragraph above Ayed mentioned understanding a country's history to understand the transpired events. In the second paragraph she talked of speaking the same language. And she's right. It's not just the language. It's understanding the cultures and backgrounds of different people that can transcend language. When you're familiar with a culture, you can understand that person's world views. Even better when you lived in that culture.

I eventually liked it as I continued reading. But the first two chapters didn't work for me. I didn't like how she introduced her relatives. It would've been better if she quoted her parents or grandparents so that readers can feel or sympathize with them. They seemed distant to me because Nahlah was telling the story of her family. It took me three chapters (almost two) to invest in the book. When she returned to the Middle East, that's when the book became exciting. 

I loved the quotes from the people she interviewed because these people seemed alive.

These quotes were exactly what Ayed meant. In order for one to understand the Arab Spring, one must understand the people behind the revolution. There was a reason why they did it, and this book showed the reasons, from the Arab people themselves. 

The book showed me a new perspective of the Arab Spring and its people. When I watched or read news about the Arab Spring, I didn't connect with the news because it was far away from my comfortable home here in Canada. But after reading the book, I understood them. 

I saw a new perspective of the Columbine High School Massacre after I watched Michael Moore's documentary film "Bowling for Columbine" in 2008. I didn't know too much about the massacre because I was in the Philippines in 1999. I was 11, I was young, and I was ignorant of the world. The film made me aware of the world and the things I could learn. Moore didn't just show Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold's stories; he connected the shooting into a larger, social context. A context that's still an ongoing issue in U.S.A. today. Of course, Moore was biased, but as a documentary film, it worked. I learned more from it after watching it.

Just like reading the book. I learned more from it after reading it. So for anyone who's interested in finding more about the Arab Spring, this book is for you. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

(Belated) Happy Lunar New Year!

While I was getting ready for school Wednesday morning, I asked my mom, 
"Did you buy tikoy at Young's?" (in Tagalog, of course)


It made my morning (and then it went down again when I was on my way to school.).
Every Chinese New Year, my mom buys tikoy. Our family doesn't exactly 'celebrate' it as to how we celebrate Jan. 1st. Instead, we just eat tikoy.

Tikoy, or Chinese New Year's cake, is glutinous rice. It has different cooking methods in other East and South East Asian countries but in the Philippines, this sweet sticky snack is normally dipped in beaten egg and then fried. 

It's crispy and brown on the outside, but soft and chewy on the inside. My mom cooked it today and this is what it looked like: 

She sliced it first. Not too thin and not too thick. I think my mom would buy another one tomorrow because it's a long weekend here and my family is "celebrating" Louis Riel Day. 

To everyone who celebrates and observes the Lunar New Year, Happy New Year~!

photos by Lora

Friday, February 15, 2013

I miss University

I can't believe I'm saying this now, but I miss University. I miss writing *gasp!* academic papers. I miss going to the University library and just be on my own. I miss writing exam papers (!). I miss going to class in the morning and working in the afternoon and not get too tired at night. I miss learning about theories and analyzing a political speech.

Despite all that, I still like College. I like Creative Communications. I'm majoring into Media Production next semester so expect blog posts about tv and radio and production values. I like the hands-on experience of operating a camera or interviewing a random person. I could never do that in University.

Because I miss University, I'll take spring/summer courses this year. Depending on my schedule next semester, I might take a University course in the fall. But I won't quit my job. And at the same time work on my Independent Professional Project the entire school year.

And some of my friends say I look tired all the time.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Documentary: The Waiting Room

I saw The Waiting Room documentary film Sunday night at the Cinematheque Theater for a Journalism assignment. It was my first time to go there, and what better way to watch it than with CreComm classmates (who were watching it anyway)? So off we went.

Set in the waiting room in Highland Hospital, Oakland, California, the film portrayed the U.S. health care system. Even if it wasn't part of the assignment, I couldn't help but compare the Canadian health care system to the U.S. system while watching the documentary.

Patients at the emergency room had to wait for hours. There was one patient who waited for seven hours for a Tylenol. They had no appointments, so they had to wait the whole day because "there's just no place for everybody," (said by the nurse in the waiting room). They all had to wait. The patient who had a bullet in his leg. The young girl with tonsillitis. The patient who had a stroke.

I felt bad for those who had to wait. But then, it's the same case here in Canada too. I had to wait an average of three to four hours with my GP (that's why I rarely visit my doctor unless I'm really, really sick.)When I went to the emergency room summer last year, I waited for two hours (or maybe two and a half? I forget.). I was surprised that I only waited for less than three hours because I thought I had to wait long. It was Thursday afternoon, and there weren't many people in the waiting room. There was even a screen on the wall that indicated the number of patients in the room and the least and most wait times that day.

According to a report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, 1 person in 10 waits for eight hours or more. While the "average length of stay is longer than four hours." The report was released November 29, 2012.(1) So I guess I was lucky that day...? (Even though I was unlucky because I was at the emergency room. Oh well.)

The Government of Canada have been improving this flaw in the system, when Health Canada established the "Patient Wait Times Guarantee" where there patients have access to a clinical or medical service with "a defined timeframe", and "access to alternate options of care (recourse) should that timeframe be exceeded."(2) However, this initiative doesn't apply to emergency rooms. 

But I guess it works? Bacchus Barua and Nadeem Esmail conducted a research study called "Waiting Your Turn: Wait Times for Health Care in Canada, 2012 Report", where medical or clinical treatment wait times have decreased between 2011-2012.(3) Their research reported "a total waiting time of 17.7 weeks between referral from a general practitioner and receipt of elective treatment." 

The biggest issue that stood out for me in the documentary was that most patients didn't have insurance to pay for their medical bills. Patients had to pay at the end of their treatment. The hospital staff mentioned that Highland Hospital has two options for patients who couldn't afford the bill: Charity Care Program and Patient Pay discount. If the patient qualifies for the Charity Care program, the hospital covers 60% of the payment and the patient pays the rest. The bill is split between hospital and patient for the Patient Pay Discount. Even though they have these programs, I don't think a person with very low (or no) income should pay for hospital fees.

I felt really bad that they had to pay for their hospital fees because when I went to the emergency room last year, I didn't pay at all (because the doctor just observed me and asked me questions. Hahaha). My dad didn't spend anything either when he had a foot surgery (except for medications and prescriptions, but they're covered by insurance at work anyway.).

I'm glad that people are treated equally and fairly in the Canadian health care system. It is the primary objective after all: It is hereby declared that the primary objective of Canadian health care policy is to protect, promote, and restore the physical and mental well-being of residents of Canada and to facilitate reasonable access to health services without financial or other barriers.(4)

I understand that there are long wait times in the emergency room, but sometimes I think that I'm grateful that I don't have to pay for anything when I visit my doctor or when my friend had two complicated surgeries in her spinal cord and stomach. Because coming from the Philippines, surgeries cost a lot. And public health care there is terrible. Very unsanitary. Anyway, I'm just grateful with the Canadian health care system despite the flaws.

Now, despite the controversial and relevant topic, does the film work as a documentary?

The first 20 minutes was nice. The story began showing the patients waiting in the waiting room. It showed nurses and doctors assisting and talking to the patients. They were the narrators of the film. However, after 30 minutes of showing patients waiting, getting angry, and narrating, I've had enough. There was no story. I didn't understand what director Peter Nicks wanted to tell the audience.

(If I looked deeper into it, I think it's a metaphor--the Americans were waiting for someone (or something) to change their health care system.)

Anyway, the documentary only showed one side of the argument (i.e., the state of the U.S. health care system). For the Americans, the film offered nothing new because they already know how it is. Maybe it offered something new but little information to the non-Americans, but it wasn't controversial.

The setting was excellent; the audience got a glimpse of what it was like to be in the waiting room in a U.S. public hospital. I liked that most of the shots were close-ups because it made the people seem closer to the audience. The shaky camera showed the reality, instability, and vulnerability of the people. The rack focus was executed nicely in shots where two patients were talking and the camera would focus on one person, blur the other, and vice versa. For the editing to work, there had to be a story. And there was no story.

The background music was played three times (beginning, middle, and end) to show more sounds produced by the people to make it realistic. But sometimes were was too much talking, too much telling, and less showing (which brings me back to the editing and lack of story again).

The documentary let the people talk (but not too much) and let them narrate the story. If there was a story. If there was a story, it would've been a lot better. The patients would tell their story and show their story through their emotions (because emotions are more powerful than words). Then it's up to the production team to create an overall story through proper editing and sound.

The documentary had so much potential. It featured an interesting, controversial, and relevant topic, but it would've been so much better.

Sources (linked in post and here): 

(1) CIHI News Release. Nov. 29, 2012.
(2) Health Canada. Patient Wait Times Guarantees. Feb. 24, 2012.
(3) Barua, B., and Esmail, N. Waiting Your Turn: Wait Times for Health Care in Canada, 2012 Report. Dec. 4, 2012. Fraser Institute.
(4) Canada Health Act. Justice Laws. Jan. 30, 2013. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Narrative Ads Part III: UNO Fog bar

This week's ad is a series of ads for UNO fog bar, a hair styling product. The ad has no story, but the series is connected to one big idea.

As I mentioned in my previous posts, it's very common for Asian actors to appear in advertisements or commercials. They don't just endorse big name brands unlike in North America where Hollywood celebrities rarely appear in ads. I would never understand why an actor would not want to appear in an ad especially when these companies pay a lot. And personally, I would buy something that my favourite actor would endorse (depends on the need of course) because that person is selling it. It's not right, I know, but... it's an ad. 

This ad from Japan is one of my favourite Japanese ads. This CM (aka advertisements or commercial in Japan) is for Shiseido UNO fog bar. It features Japanese actors Eita, Oguri Shun, Miura Haruma, and Tsumabuki Satoshi. 

uploaded by X0xKAONx0X

uploaded by pippi3lam

Similar to the two previous posts, this ad appeals to the target market because of the actors. The target market is not limited in Japan, but in other parts of Asia or the world. Another market this ad targets are the fans of the actors. These fans have seen the actors in Japanese dramas (or doramas in Japanese) so they are already familiar with them.

Also, the ads have "one big idea" and plays a catchy music that grabs the attention of the viewers. 

The second video where the four are standing in a set and change coats is my favourite because it's simple and creative. It probably took them hours to perfect each scene, and they probably saved a little with the use of the set and clothes. Or just put the budget in the actors' fees because these four are very popular in their country. 

That said, at the end of the day, it's all about whether these ads were effective or not. And seeing that the ad appeals to the audience with the use of the actors, it works. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Narrative Ads Part II: Toyota Camry

Lee Min ho is one of the most popular actors in South Korea. His popularity rose after he starred in Boys Over Flowers. Boys Over Flowers is the third Korean adaptation of the popular manga, Hana Yori Dango, by Kamio Yoko. 

Because Boys Over Flowers already had a steady following before the Korean adaptation, it was not difficult for this show to get a new following. Especially when the Korean F4 looked very similar to the manga characters. After the show, Lee Min ho became a household name in Korea.

Toyota released this four-part web series in 2011 for Toyota Camry 2012 The One & Only campaign. Word of warning: Turn off your brain because none of the episodes make sense that you'll only use your eyes and ears. Or you can skip the car sequences and shots because they're just everywhere (which is understandable, because this is a Toyota ad).

Now you understand why I hate it? Seems like the ad only focused on the visuals (cinematography and Lee Min ho) and main actor that the team didn't consider the plot and (horrible) script. I followed this web series two years ago and I remember that they released one episode per week. It kept the audience on their toes and they anticipated when the next episode will be released to know what happens to Lee Min ho's character (because at the end of the day, it's because of Lee Min ho why this web series has views).

Despite the confusing plot and nonsense, cheesy script, this ad appeals to the target market. Why? Because of Lee Min ho. It's very common in Asia for well-known actors to appear in ads. Actors in washer and dryer ads, hair styling products, fastfood restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, and instant noodles. It doesn't matter what the product is, as long as the actor is in the ad. 

And while I was doing my research for this blog post, I discovered that Toyota released a second season (!). I didn't expect that. Although, maybe I shouldn't be surprised because it was up to Lee Min ho's contract with Toyota. I know it's not Min ho's fault because it's his job, but ... I just can't. The script. The acting of the second leads and extras. 

So here's the first episode of The One & Only Toyota Camry Season 2 if you hatg ro :

And of course I'll watch the rest of the season. I'll still cringe because of the cheesiness and terrible script and acting, and then that's it. 

So what do you think about actors featured in ads that one would never see in Western ads? 

Next week, I'll write about my favourite hair styling product ad endorsed by the most popular actors in Japan.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Narrative Ads Part I: Nestle Philippines

Because I watch YouTube videos everyday, I come across related videos where some are interesting while some are boring. I rarely watch television these days so good thing there's YouTube. If it wasn't for YouTube, I wouldn't discover ads from Asia that run for five minutes or more on tv. 

This month, I will feature advertisements from Asian countries that has a narrative. They may also be a series of ads with a theme or story.

This week's ad is from the Philippines.

Two weeks ago I was looking at YouTube videos of my favourite Filipino artist (i.e., Up Dharma Down). One of the related links on the sidebar was a Nestle Philippines ad. I became curious so I watched the 12-minute video. It was worth it. Some were longer than 10 minutes, while some were shorter. Some where cliche, while some were funny. Some were heartwarming, while some were fluffy. 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Obligatory New Year Post (2013 edition)

If I wrote this post a week before the new year, it would be all sappy and emotional. It would be just like any typical blog post about the new year. So I'll keep it short and simple. No new year's resolutions (because I don't really have one) and no reminiscing of the past year (because I've done it already).  

Thank you.


This is going to be a great year.