Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from John Chicano by means of an interview and research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.
A Chat with 2019 SEA Games Gold Medalist and Southeast Asia’s Triathlon King – John Chicano
Since he first participated in the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in 2017, John Leerams Chicano raked in notable honors for the Philippines and took his career in the multisport of triathlon (swim-bike-run) even higher.
Today, Chicano is one of the highest-ranking members of the National Team of triathlon and this past December, he won the gold medal in the men’s triathlon event of the 2019 SEA Games that was held at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone (so close to his native Olongapo City). With that big victory, he established himself as Southeast Asia’s newest triathlon king replacing Nikko Huelgas (2015 and 2017 SEA Games gold medalist). It was also the big reward for the long road (about a decade) he literally took engaging in multisport events like triathlon and duathlon.
Recently I met Chicano and had a nice chat with him.
For you, my readers, here is a look at 3-time SEA Games medalist John Chicano.
A quick look at his background
John Chicano has been engaging in triathlon for many years now and has been a member of the Philippine team along the way. He represented the country in many events of the Triathlon Association of the Philippines (TRAP), most notably the annual Subic Bay International Triathlon (SUBIT). He also raced in other triathlon events organized by Bike King Philippines and other race organizers. On livelihood, he previously worked as a bike mechanic as well as a janitor. He now has his own family to support.
When it comes to triathlon at the SEA Games, he made his debut in the 2017 edition of the games held in Malaysia and won the silver medal in the individual men’s triathlon event next to teammate Nikko Huelgas who won the gold medal back then (note: Huelgas first won the SEA Games gold in 2015). His achievement was recognized by the media and the national government which in turn rewarded him (along with all other medalists) with cash incentives in accordance to Republic Act Number 10699.
Winning the SEA Games gold medal at Subic Bay
On the early morning of December 1, 2019, the SEA Games men’s triathlon event started with Chicano and Cebu-based teammate Andrew Kim Remolino representing the nation. After going through the pressure and enduring the pain of the 1.5 kilometer swim – 40 Km bike – 10 Km run event, Chicano won the gold medal in 1 hour, 53 minutes and 26 seconds. Remolino followed with 1:55:03 to win the silver medal, completing the 1-2 punch for the Philippines.
“We were confident in the sense that we prepared well for the SEA Games which includes three months of training at Clark,” Chicano said. “While I was confident to win, there were a few moments of uncertainty since the big competition (men’s triathlon) could turn out to be unpredictable.”
During the December 1 event, Chicano and Remolino raced together during the 40-kilometer bike leg and on the spot they came up with a new strategy to win gold and silver. At that particular stage, another foreign competitor biked near them. Earlier in the swim leg, Remolino was the first to emerge from the sea while Chicano was 4th (an Indonesian and a Singaporean were slightly ahead of him). During the 10-kilometer run leg, Chicano and Remolino built up their lead as a country and, ultimately, he gave it his all to win the gold, literally upgrading from silver (2017 SEA Games). The victory was witnessed by the top sports officials, the coaches, the Triathlon Association of the Philippines (TRAP), the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority officials, the spectators, corporate sponsors and, of course, Chicano’s family.
“It was a very happy moment for me to cross the finish line for the gold medal. I even felt like crying for happiness back then,” Chicano recalled the very moment he won the gold and became Southeast Asia’s best. “This was the big payback for almost ten years of effort racing in triathlon and growing to be stronger and more competitive. My triathlon effort and build-up started in 2010, preceded by biking in 2009. The feeling was so tremendous and happy.”
During the medal awarding ceremony, Chicano thought deeply about his SEA Games achievement and that he could bring further honors to the nation (plus his locality) in the years to come. The day after that, Chicano and teammates Remolino, Kim Mangrobang and Kim Kilgroe got tremendous spotlight together in the national newspapers which was expected considering their victorious achievements.
His SEA Games gold medal achievement not only raked in praise from many, financial rewards also came in from the national government (RA 10699), the City Government of Olongapo, corporate sponsors and other generous parties. Chicano even got to visit the Philippine Senate and met with Senator Richard Gordon.
As of this writing, Chicano is strongly focused on triathlon and he believes that what he achieved so far as a triathlete, and also as Southeast Asia’s best male triathlete, will be remembered for a long time and perhaps inspire the next generation of Filipinos to excel in sports.
When it comes to the near future, Chicano will go to Australia very soon to attend the Annual General Meeting and Awards Night of the FilOz Triathlon Club as their Guest Speaker. After that, he will undergo triathlon training for a few more weeks there in Australia.
From this point on, I recommend you all to take a close look at Chicano in triathlon events both local and overseas. He is, after all, Southeast Asia’s reigning triathlon king.
Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from Kim Mangrobang by means of an interview and research. Anyone who wants to use this article, in part or in whole, needs to secure first my permission and agree to cite me as the source and author. Let it be known that any unauthorized use of this article will constrain the author to pursue the remedies under R.A. No. 8293, the Revised Penal Code, and/or all applicable legal actions under the laws of the Philippines.
Meet Southeast Asia’s Reigning Triathlon Queen – Kim Mangrobang!
When triathlon (swim-bike-run) made its debut in the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) in late 2005 at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone here in the Philippines, Marion Kim Mangrobang was still a teenager who witnessed the event as a spectator. Already a junior-level member of the Philippine triathlon team, she naturally cheered for her older teammates Ani De Leon and Sandra Araullo who represented the nation in the first-ever SEA Games triathlon event for women.
Fast forward to December 1, 2019, Mangrobang represented the Philippines in the 2019 SEA Games individual women’s triathlon event (her 3rd SEA Games since 2015) which was also held at Subic Bay and, more notably, won the gold medal in front of a large cheering crowd (with coach Ani De Leon – Brown, the other Philippine team coaches, officials of the Philippine Sports Commission, PHISGOC and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority plus other important personalities watching near the finish line) followed by her teammate Kim Kilgroe who copped the silver.
As far as the SEA Games records go, Mangrobang won a total of four medals since her debut in 2015, specifically 3 gold medals (the first gold won in 2017) and 1 silver medal (won in 2015). In retrospect, her gold medal victory at Subic Bay was a successful defense of her gold medal achievement in the 2017 SEA Games which essentially established her as Southeast Asia’s reigning triathlon queen.
That being said, I am very happy to present to you my feature interview of Kim Mangrobang which starts right now.
Kim Mangrobang’s background
Mangrobang was born in Sta. Mesa, Manila, in 1991 to parents Richard (an engineer) and Dine (a manpower firm executive). Since the age of four, her family has been living in Santa Rosa, Laguna which is now a progressing city south of Metro Manila.
Mangrobang got into the sport of swimming as a result of her parents’ encouragement for her when she was little. She found sports to be an enjoyable pastime.
“As with most other parents, my mom and dad encouraged me to get into sports during the summer season when I was young. So I joined a swim team and along the way I felt I was playing given the aquatic aspect of swimming,” she recalled. “My teammates and I had fun with swimming and later I realized that swimming would be a serious form of competition.”
At the age of nine, she started swimming and eventually it became a daily part of her life similar with her teammates. As an elementary student, she continued swimming and eventually she became a varsity swimmer in her high school days (with the goal of making it in the Palarong Pambansa) and participated in many swimming competitions (between local sports clubs).
Being a member of her school’s swim team and of a separate swim club, Mangrobang learned a lot about competitive swimming related to national sports and inter-club competition. Along the way, she had to deal with a certain disadvantage of hers – her height.
“I really was a short girl back then. When I was twelve, my swimming coach noticed my height disadvantage and he figured out that it would be more helpful if I would try out with the Philippine team of triathlon,” she said.
That coach turned out to be none other than Abelardo “Abet” Alon-Alon who was a former national champion in triathlon as well as a former national team coach in the said sport. Historically, Alon-Alon was a standout in Philippine triathlon’s early years back in the 1990s His suggestion to Mangrobang to get into triathlon and into Philippine multisport turned out to be a blessing for her and the nation.
She immediately took part in a tryout (for the Philippine triathlon team) which was composed of a 1.5 kilometer swim and 3-kilometer run. Her swim time was 27 minutes and 36 seconds while she timed around 12 minutes in the run. She qualified and her membership with the Philippine triathlon team started on the junior (youth) level.
“That was the start of my new journey in sports and I realized that there were better opportunities in triathlon,” she recalled.
Triathlon career and rise in prominence
Gradually Kim Mangrobang redeveloped herself athletically under the guidance of triathlon coaches like Raul Cuevas (now heading race organizer Bike King Philippines), Peter Gonzales and Abet Alon-Alon to name a few. As she maintained her swimming, she learned to bike and run gaining valuable skills and experience. Before participating in triathlon, she engaged in aquathlon (swim-run) events.
At age thirteen, she took part in a Fit-and-Tri event for youth finishing 6th overall in a short distance aquathlon race held in Ayala Alabang Village. She finished 2nd to the last back then as she was still getting oriented. She went on to join a lot more aquathlon events later.
Her first-ever triathlon performance happened in another Fit-and-Tri event some time later. In that race, she finished 6th place. In further triathlon events, she gradually made her way up until reaching 1st place.
“To the best of my memory, I finished at around 4th place overall during the first year of competing in the Fit-and-Tri series. In the following year, I reached 1st place overall. Emerging 1st became normal for me in the years that followed, until I reached the age of fifteen or sixteen,” she recalled.
In 2006, Mangrobang joined the Junior Elite race of the Subic Bay International Triathlon (SUBIT) held at the Subic Bay Freeport Zone and finished 2nd. That event was her first time to compete with foreign triathletes her age and instead of feeling intimidated, she performed well and still enjoyed the experience. Her value as a member of the Philippine team grew more. That same year, she raced in the Asian Duathlon Championships held in Clark finishing 4th in the Junior Women contest.
At age seventeen, Mangrobang tested herself in a Standard Distance (1.5 Km swim – 40 Km bike – 10 Km run) event during the 2008 Subic Bay ASTC Long Distance Triathlon event and won the bronze. Ahead of her were LC Langit (gold) and Monica Torres (silver).
In May 2009, Mangrobang finished 10th in the Elite Women contest of that year’s SUBIT clocking 2 hours, 32 minutes and 45 seconds (2:32:45). In the years that followed, she kept on representing the Philippines in the Elite Women contests of not only SUBIT but also in other triathlon events of the International Triathlon Union (ITU) that were held around the world. No matter how tough the field of competition was, the Santa Rosa triathlete kept focusing and persevering on doing her best and improving herself.
In the 2016 edition of SUBIT (2016 Subic Bay NTT ASTC Triathlon Asian Cup) held at Subic Bay, Mangrobang emerged as the Elite Women champion followed by her teammate Kim Kilgroe and Hong Kong’s Kate Rutherford. She timed 2:10:40 and won several ITU qualifying points in return. For the Philippines, it was a rare gold medal victory in the history of SUBIT which has often been dominated by foreign triathletes. The said victory was also proof that Mangrobang’s overseas training (under the guidance of Portugal-based coach Sergio Santos) paid off nicely. To this day, her training in Portugal continues.
Mangrobang also achieved great honor for the nation in non-triathlon events. She emerged as the women’s champion in the Lisbon Meia-Maratona Dos Descombrimentos Half Marathon that was held on December 6, 2015 in Portugal. Her victorious performance saw her timing 1:22:40 outclassing 2nd placer Ceu Nunes (1:26:55) and 3rd placer Sofia Mateiro (1:27:34). That particular sports event was noted to be a programmed race to test the fitness of triathletes. It was also a rarity that Filipinos get to race in the said event, which made Mangrobang’s victory even more outstanding.
Triathlon at the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games)
“I was still in high school back then. Me and my family left Santa Rosa at dawn to go to Subic Bay to watch the SEA Games triathlon. I had to take a leave of absence from school since that was a school day and I had to go back to school the very next day,” Mangrobang recalled. “When we arrived, there was already a huge crowd of spectators around the venue. The excitement was really high even before the race started.”
Mangrobang recalled that as a spectator, she felt nervous for the nation and what was at stake just as the individual participants were formally introduced during the pre-race ceremony. Like many others, she could only stand and watch the race unfold from behind the barricades (used for crowd control) and experience bouts of anxiety and nervousness. She cheered for her older teammates Sandra Araullo and Ani de Leon. Araullo went on to win the silver medal while De Leon (now a coach) finished 4th.
“I was really nervous back then as a spectator. Then I said to myself, ‘how much more nervous I would be if I was the one racing for the Philippines in the SEA Games,’” she stated. She added that she noticed the added pressure of participating and literally carrying the nation and the local people’s hope that victory would be achieved. She imagined herself in the future being in such a high-stakes situation.
After almost ten years later, Kim Mangrobang made her debut in the SEA Games (2015) in Singapore as a triathlete. Her teammate back then was Claire Adorna.
“Coaches of TRAP selected who were the best to represent our country in the SEA Games with results required,” Mangrobang recalled. “Based on the results of the time, they saw that me and Claire were the best and we were selected for the games. There were no qualifying races back then, which is different compared to today.”
In the 2015 SEA Games individual women’s triathlon event, Claire Adorna and Mangrobang worked together with a strategy to help the former gain a lead early in the event. Adorna raced with a foot injury back then and the team’s focus was to help her (and the nation) build up a good lead in both the swim and bike legs of the race, and ensure victory even if her injury would slow her down in the 10-kilometer run leg. The strategy was a success for the Philippines as the injured Adorna won the gold medal and Mangrobang captured the silver medal. Their respective times were 2:13:08 and 2:14:26. The bronze medal went to Thailand’s Arunsiri Sanruthai who was more than seven minutes behind Mangrobang.
“During the build-up heading to the SEA Games of 2017, there was anxiety and pressure among us teammates mainly because expectations for us to repeat success were so high as a result of what we achieved in the previous SEA Games,” she stated.
To put things in perspective, the Philippines not only repeated its success in the 2015 SEA Games, they exceeded it by having twin gold-and-silver medal victories in both the individual men’s and individual women’s triathlon events in the 2017 edition of the games. On the men’s race, Nikko Huelgas won his 2nd consecutive gold medal while John Chicano added more punch to the victory by grabbing the silver medal. For Mangrobang, that particular event marked her first time to win the SEA Games gold medal.
“It was a very happy moment for me personally because all the efforts and training invested paid off in the best way possible,” Mangrobang recalled her feeling of winning her first gold medal. “A lot of relief followed as all the pressure and nervousness accumulated just vanished and got replaced with the thrill of victory. Naturally, I became very thankful.”
With regards to the 2019 SEA Games, Mangrobang spent a great deal of her time overseas. As she kept training in Portugal (plus a month of training in Mexico), she represented the country in many sports events that were held in other parts of the world for the first eleven months of 2019. As such, she did not spend much time in the Philippines.
Regardless, she won the gold medal of the individual women’s triathlon once more in the latest SEA Games marking her successful defense of her standing as Southeast Asia’s triathlon queen. Her time was 2:02:00. The December 1, 2019 victory at Subic Bay also marked the full turn of life for Mangrobang who went from spectator in the 2005 SEA Games triathlon into Southeast Asia’s best female triathlete fourteen years later at the same freeport.
After winning the two 2019 SEA Games gold medals (individual women and mixed team relay), Mangrobang and her medalist teammates were greeted by lots of local spectators who also expressed their gratitude to them.
“Getting praised and being thanked a lot in return for the victory is normal. It is also a very humbling feeling to see so many spectators rooting for us national athletes to win. Through that experience, I realized there is truth to the 2019 SEA Games tagline of ‘We Win As One,’” she stated.
Mangrobang and her winning teammates (John Chicano, Kim Kilgroe, Kim Remolino, Claire Adorna and Fer Casares) plus members of the coaching staff were nicely rewarded by the national government through Republic Act Number 10699. They formally received their cash incentives in a special ceremony held at Malacanang Palace in the presence of President Rodrigo Duterte.
“The President jokingly said I resembled a certain past classmate of his from his days as a Grade 5 student,” Mangrobang said recalling her short chat with Duterte as she had her photo session with him at Malacanang. It was her 2nd time to be with the President.
The post-SEA Games buzz did not stop with Duterte. Apart from meeting corporate sponsors and having sessions with some members of the press, Mangrobang was acknowledged by the respective local government units (LGUs) of Santa Rosa in Laguna and Bauan in Batangas through social media.
Bauan claimed Mangrobang as their own since her mother is a native there. After accepting their invitation, she attended the flag raising ceremony at Bauan and was presented by the LGU officials to the locals. They gave her a certificate of recognition. Mangrobang also attended another flag raising ceremony with the Provincial Government of Batangas (headed by Governor DoDo Mandanas) held in Batangas City.
Aiming High for 2020 Tokyo Olympics
As of now, Kim Mangrobang is aiming to get qualified to represent the Philippines in the individual women’s triathlon event of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. With the support of San Miguel Corporation, Nike, Specialized, Oakley, Garmin and the Triathlon Association of the Philippines (TRAP) and the guidance of coach Sergio Santos, she is now in full training in Portugal and eventually she will be joining several triathlon events (recognized by the ITU) that serve as qualifying races for the Olympics.
According to Mangrobang, there will only be 55 slots for the Tokyo Olympic Games individual women’s triathlon event. The qualifying period will end this coming May and subsequently the final lineup of triathletes racing in the Olympics will be announced.
“I’m very focused now on getting into the Olympics and I’m using whatever energy I have for it,” Mangrobang declared.
Message to the Readers
“When I race, I realize that it is a big responsibility because I become an inspiration to other people and I hope that what I achieved will inspire others to engage in the active lifestyle as that is important. I also hope that once they get into triathlon, they will learn to work hard and train smart.”
Note: My special thanks to Akrotiri restaurant located at Commercenter, Filinvest City, Muntinlupa City. Akrotiri really has a nice place (which was great for this feature interview) as well as a fine selection of food and beverages. Those of you who are reading this, I highly recommend Akrotiri.
For those of you who missed the hot news, Capcom formally announced that a remake of Resident Evil 3 is being produced and it will be released for Xbox One, PS4 and PC on April 3, 2020!
Watch the trailer here now.
For those who never played Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, that game was originally a spin-off but was titled like a sequel since there was an agreement back then for RE games released on PlayStation to have their titles numbered. Sure RE3 lacked the depth of the acclaimed Resident Evil 2 (released in 1998) in terms of storytelling, production values and fantasy concept but it proved to be a whole lot of fun and it went on to sell over 3 million copies worldwide.
The 2019 remake of Resident Evil 2 sold more than 5 million units worldwide. Considering its commercial and critical success, the announcement of Resident Evil 3’s remake hardly is surprising. What I do find surprising, however, is that the new game will be released much sooner than expected. Come to think of it, RE3 on PlayStation was released over a year after RE2.
Now we take a look at the remake of RE3.
No surprise, the developers used the same game engine from RE2 on RE3 remake. They also implemented the 3rd-person views (including the by-the-shoulder view when aiming to fire) and controls.
Like its 1999 version, RE3’s story took place a day before the events of Resident Evil 2. Before Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield arrived in Raccoon City, the outbreak (caused by the top secret virus of Umbrella) took place causing a lot of people to become zombies. Somewhere along the way, Jill Valentine (now wearing dark pants and a sleeveless top) avoided getting infected but finds herself in the middle of an entire city with many zombies and other monsters lurking on the streets, the alleys and inside varied establishments. Her goal is simply to escape and survive somehow.
As Jill struggles, something tall, strong and grotesque walks around the city…Nemesis. Unlike the zombies and monsters around, Nemesis exists to search and destroy members of S.T.A.R.S. (Special Tactics and Rescue Service). That happens to be the same team Jill was part of and she becomes a target. Complicating matters is the sudden presence of armed Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service personnel (which includes Carlos Oliveira).
While the official game trailer showed bits and pieces of what will come with regards to storytelling, too little was shown about the gameplay which, in my analysis, will be very similar in style and execution to RE2’s remake but this particular remake may have more gameplay features to make it distinct like the unpredictable dodging of the 1999 RE3, more sprinting sequences, an improved 180-degree turn and, eventually, decision-making in key moments of storytelling scenes (which is a major new feature of the 1999 RE3).
Like the RE2 remake, the characters of this game have been redesigned to look modern. Carlos Oliveira, who was a temporary playable character in the 1999 Resident Evil 3, now has shaggier hair and facial hair. Jill Valentine does not start the game with her 1999 look (the tube top and mini-skirt) but rather with dark pants and a sleeveless top. Gamers who want the 1999 styles of Carlos and Jill to be in the game can do that by pre-ordering the new game which will grant paying gamers the Resident Evil 3 Classic Costume Pack. Xbox One gamers who want to pre-order it now can do so at GameStop.
What surprised me about the remake announcement was the inclusion of Resident Evil: Resistance which is an an asymmetrical online game. My personal interest on it is low, however.
The Resident Evil 3 remake is a wish come true for me personally. I’m looking forward to its April 2020 release although I still would like to see Capcom release more previews to show more gameplay features so that gamers will have a clear idea as to how it will play. Going back to the late 1990s, Resident Evil 3 was more action-oriented than Resident Evil 2.
UPDATE – January 16, 2020
Recently Capcom released a new trailer and new screenshots of the fast approaching remake of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.
For your enjoyment, watch the trailer here now.
This time around, the newest trailer shows more of the modern redesign of the famous RE villain Nemesis with a touch of photo-realism. What surprised me was Nemesis using a flame thrower and from the looks of it, it seems that the game developers are trying to adjust the gameplay (specifically with the encounters between Jill and Nemesis) somewhat and make the experience for gamers different. Since the push for more in-game realism was implemented in Resident Evil 2’s remake, it would be outlandish to show Jill get hit by a rocket from Nemesis (who was armed with a rocket launcher in the original Resident Evil 3) and not get killed in the new game.
It’s a safe bet that the game developers have multiple encounters between Jill and Nemesis set up in the game. I can imagine playing as Jill firing her shotgun at Nemesis who would either be standing (and firing flame towards Jill) or be walking close to her for an intended neck grab or punch. That being said, having a rocket launcher does not make much sense.
I still remember the times when I controlled Jill in the original RE3, I got hit by one of Nemesis rockets only to suffer damage (not instant death).
There was also more of Carlos (the other playable character) and his armed companions of the Umbrella Biohazard Countermeasure Service (UBCS) as well short story clips of him with Jill. Anyone who played and finished RE3 of 1999 will be familiar with the interactions between them.
What struck me the most in the newest trailer was the modern redesign of the Hunter shown during the short clip of Carlos encountering one. That particular Hunter resembles the amphibian-type Hunter in the original RE3. There is another variant of the Hunter from the old game colored red and dark grey, and I can only wonder what that would look like in the new game.
While I did not expect Capcom to fully reveal everything through trailers and interviews, I still wonder the following:
If ever Nemesis will run around in this new game (like he did in the original RE3), how can such a feature work efficiently given the use of the 3rd person, over-the-shoulder view for the player’s control? Nemesis running in the old game made sense and even though the tank-like controls of the time were clunky, they were still good enough to move Jill around and dodge (by means of button-pressing). The static camera angles of the old days gave players a nice view where to move Jill around zombies or monsters.
Will weapon upgrades or special items be made available for players to pick-up once they temporarily defeat Nemesis in each encounter (like in the original RE3)?
If the game developers will allow Jill to enter and explore Raccoon City Police Station (like in the original game), how much of it will be open for temporary exploration?
That’s it for now. Come back here soon for new updates.
Sorry for this late feature but I wish to share to you geeks and hobbyists that during the 2019 edition of the Toycon held this past June at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City, I spotted the display of Macross.
I’m a Macross fan and I always make it a point to find stuff related to my favorite anime franchise whenever a convention happens. Here are some that I spotted during the Toycon.
At the 2nd level of the convention center was a function hall which has a large display of collected items of varied entertainment franchises. The one showcasing Macross had toys, action figures, plastic models, video games, music CDs and some printed materials.
What caught my attention was the display of the YF-19 from Macross Plus complete with its weapons in full view.
Also seeing an original copy of the 1990s Sega Saturn video game adaptation of Macross: Do You Remember Love? instantly made me remember playing and enjoying the PlayStation version of that game. The Sega Saturn game can be seen in the picture below.
As much as I enjoyed the display of Macross memorabilia, I regret to say that I was unable to find any more related collectibles or products for sale among the many vendors at the lower level during the Toycon. I searched for whatever Macross stuff I could find (t-shirts, comic books, action figures, models, cards and others) but ended up with nothing.
Then again, it should be surprising at all. Macross as an entertainment franchise is not exactly popular here in the Philippines and Macross Mania in the country has ended long ago. To say the least, the popularity of Macross here in the Philippines is limited to older fans and collectors. Anime is a lot more popular among Filipinos in this modern age but that does not mean Macross found a new nor large audience.
If ever the legendary Shoji Kawamori (whom I met at AsiaPOP Comicon Manila in 2017) or any notable Macross-related talent comes here in the Philippines, only then will the Macross brand gain attention.
If you love anime or Macross, then I invite you to read my retro movie review of Macross: Do You Remember Love? right here. I also wrote about the famous Lynn Minmay here.
I can declare it out loud that this new giant monsters movie, even though it has some notable flaws, is indeed a more enjoyable cinematic experience than the 2014 Godzilla movie (directed by Gareth Edwards). What I like about it is that the movie studio and the filmmakers responded to people’s complaints about the 2014 movie.
I will start with the strong points of the film with comparisons to the previous film. In the 2014 movie, people I talked with complained that there was not enough of Godzilla and the grand final battle was barely enough to make up for the monster’s lack of presence. This movie solves that with a lot more of Godzilla on screen and the final battle is grander! As sentimentalism was thrown out, the film also concludes a lot stronger as well!
Some people complained of the lack of giant monsters action in the 2014 film which had lots of slow scenes, a reliance on in-story news media coverage of disasters and an over-emphasis on building up suspense. Godzilla: King of the Monsters solves all of that by ramping up the giant monsters action (lots of monster battles with more than enough action to satisfy moviegoers), established a faster pace on storytelling (as a result, the movie never dragged and did not feel like a 131-minute movie at all), and noticeably reduced the news media focus as well as the suspense build-up.
In the 2014, Monarch’s purpose on monitoring the global presence of giant monsters was established and this sequel raised the stakes further pushing the organization on doing what it was established to do. Ken Watanabe’s Dr. Serizawa has noticeably less screen time due to “competition” for spotlight with the many other characters but the filmmakers managed to make the most out of him.
Speaking of giant monsters, this movie heavily outclassed its predecessor! Apart from Godzilla are other notable kaijus from the long-running Japanese Godzilla film franchise like the 3-headed dragon King Ghidorah, the deadly Rodan and the grand looking Mothra!
It is clear that director Michael Dougherty and the team made sure that each of those iconic monsters from Japanese cinema not only got sufficient screen time but also honored them with spectacular scenes! King Ghidorah really looks terrifying and even horrific. Rodan alone made the high-speed flying sequence in the film memorable while Mothra was a giant monster that very few people would wish to destroy.
Apart from the giant monsters action, the film’s action sequences are a big improvement over its predecessor even though there were some common action cinema elements recycled (note: tough guys with guns). There the definitely are a lot more thrills now that the suspense build-up has been reduced. Godzilla: King of the Monsters was clearly made to entertain and prevent moviegoers from getting bored.
The movie obviously is not perfect. I never expected it to be perfect at all and as I suspected, the film’s biggest weakness is, again, its human characters. Like the 2014 film, this one has a cast of many people who were created to make moviegoers care for them as the story moves on. Clearly the filmmakers and the actors failed to deliver the goods but in fairness, the cast is more interesting compared with that of the 2014 movie.
In the 2014 Godzilla, the cast was weak, the characters were mostly not worth caring for and there were so many scenes with them. There were times back then I wished the character “development” scenes were cut to speed up the pace. In this sequel, the cast was nowhere as boring as their 2014 counterparts but their dialogue was either weak or had too much exposition (I felt like the characters explaining this and that were talking to the moviegoers).
Speaking of the script, the film failed to justify its concept of the Russell family which first appeared in a short scene (that took place during the 2014 film’s story). The family focus started decently with Vera Farmiga as Mrs. Russell (with her daughter living with her) working with a device that could help humanity gain some control over the giant monsters. As the story went on, the spotlight had to be divided by the large cast of characters and the monsters which ultimately made the Russell family less relevant. Kyle Chandler’s entry into the film as Mr. Russell did not save the family aspect of the story even though he proved to be the “instant resourceful and knowledgeable” character of them all.
While the cast had mostly one-dimensional characters, at least Charles Dance’s performance as the human villain proved to be interesting. Apart from being the leader of a team of armed personnel and having a history of being disillusioned with humanity which led him to becoming an anarchist eco-terrorist, there is still this element of mystery about him. Although he leads a group, could he be working discreetly for some sort of secret society or a group of elite people with sinister intentions for reforming the world? We won’t find out until the next movie.
Charles Dance casting in this film seems inspired. I remember how good he was in playing the villain in 1993’s Last Action Hero. His role is not very loud but still his presence in this movie is the best thing of the weak cast.
Other problems? As great as the giant monsters spectacle were, there were these camera framing problems. There were many monster action strikes that were “filmed” too close to the camera. I felt that the filmmakers tried too hard to deliver moviegoers the “in your face” action with the monsters and ultimately those efforts ended up being an annoying experience. With regards to storytelling, the plot is serviceable at best but, then again, we cannot expect a very engaging story with Godzilla so this is not a surprise. At the very least, this sequel’s plot works better than that of its predecessor. The plot here does not drag mainly because the filmmakers put heavy emphasis on spectacle and speed.
If there is an advantage the 2014 movie has over the sequel, it’s the sense of scale. The giant monsters are indeed gigantic but they moved rather fast for their size and this breaks the sense of scale for moviegoers. They looked gigantic but they don’t feel gigantic when in motion.
As for Milly Bobby Brown’s character, the scenes in which she escaped from the secret facility going into Boston and then entering the baseball stadium’s operation room without even being detected or prevented by security measures were just unbelievable. And I thought the concept of poor security in Terminator Salvation was bad. Oh yes, Bradley Whitford’s attempts on providing humor ended in failure. He was more annoying and never funny.
Overall, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is indeed highly entertaining and anyone who loves on-screen battles between giant monsters will surely enjoy it a lot. Its cast is weak (although nowhere as weak as the 2014 film), its storytelling is flawed and there were some parts that made the 2014 look better but still the good stuff outweighed the bad stuff. As far as Hollywood-made giant monster movies go, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is indeed the best!
Oh yes! One last thing! The playing of threads from the theme music from the 1954 Godzilla movie was a very nice touch and will resonate with any moviegoer who enjoyed the Japanese Godzilla films. Clearly the MonsterVerse continues to deliver the fun and greatness!
A few months ago, I had lunch at Sigekiya Ramen inside Commercenter, Filinvest City, Alabang. Many times have I been consuming Tsukemen or ramen at that restaurant which has been operating since April 2016. The notable thing about Sigekiya Ramen is that they maintain a high level of quality on their food (which explains why they use many imported ingredients) which, in my opinion, justify the prices.
After some thinking during my visit, I decided to try, for the first time ever, one of their rice meals and I ordered their Chicken Teriyakidon Set.
It did not take too long for them to serve me the meal which came with a bowl of rice topped with chicken laced with teriyaki sauce and some sesame seeds, a cup of miso soup and a small serving of salad.
Slowly I took a sip first of the miso soup which tasted good. Then I examined the chicken on the rice bowl which turned out to be boneless. In terms of serving, the amount of chicken was generous.
Using chopsticks, I went for a portion of both chicken and rice. The result? A delightful taste! I can say that the chicken and rice were both well cooked and the teriyaki sauce prepared was pretty flavorful. Slowly, I kept consuming more of the rice and chicken, alternating with the soup and the salad.
To put things in perspective, teriyaki refers to a Japanese dish consisting of fish or meat marinated in soy sauce and grilled.
Overall, Sigekiya Ramen’s Chicken Teriyakidon Set was a nice hit and I can say that I got my money’s worth.