The 7th death anniversary of Antonio P. Antonio

It has been seven years since prominent BF Homes resident and business tycoon Antonio P. Antonio died as a result of a tragedy that happened at his family’s home. It all happened on September 11, 2013 when Antonio (referred to as Tonton by his friends and associates) was shot several times by his son Nelson after their private meeting at Villa Antonio and, after a desperate attempt to get him treated at Asian Hospital in Alabang, passed away at age 63. Antonio has been buried at Everest Hills Memorial Park in Tunasan, Muntinlupa City, where friends and family members pay their respect to him each whenever his death anniversary passes.

His son, the suspect Nelson, is still being tried in court in Parañaque City for the charge of parricide. The trial has yet to conclude.

His other children – Xialen, Vladimir and Lenin to name a few – have taken over the family business left behind.

Prominent in BF Homes and overseas

The late Antonio P. Antonio.

The late Antonio P. Antonio was well established with many community leaders and personalities in BF Homes subdivision (which itself is part of Parañaque, Muntinlupa and Las Piñas). Apart from being highly successful in the world of business, Antonio served as a director as well as president of the old federation United BF Homeowners Association, Inc. (UBFHAI).

Over in Japan, Antonio P. Antonio has his own OHAKA tombstone in a cemetery in Odawara. This is in relation to his being honored by his Japanese business associates who trusted and believe in him very much. He is the only GAIJIN or foreigner to have a tombstone in the mentioned cemetery and it is a high honor for the Japan to do to a friend.

Remembering the father

On behalf of the family, Xialen Antonio shared some insights about their father and how the family turned out over the past seven years.

“I can only say that life hasn’t been easy without our father, his demise simply put us in a chaotic life. Eventually, life paved the way on how we can deal with our loss. Our lifestyle has changed dramatically and it only made us humble before the LORD,” Xialen stated.

When asked what she missed the most from her father, she pointed to his presence, his sense of calm, and protection towards adversities. Xialen’s siblings simply adapted ways to build resilience especially in trying times. The tragedy, unsurprisingly, compelled them to adjust themselves and live on.

Justice pursued

As mentioned earlier, justice for the father is being pursued by Xialen and her family. The parricide trial of Nelson Antonio is continues to be held at Branch 257 of the Parañaque Regional Trial Court (RTC). The status of the trial is as follows…

“We are down to the cross examination of our last witness which will happen very soon. We can never be confident until we finish this trial and there are still obstacles in fighting for the Justice of APA. But then I have put our faith in our justice system, the local government, the police, the media and with the help of the community that put focus and attention to this case,” Xialen stated.

What led to the trial

When tragedy struck on September 11, 2013, Antonio P. Antonio was seen wounded and bleeding shortly after the shooting. His son Vladimir and their driver rushed him to the Asian Hospital in Alabang in an attempt to save his life. Before passing away, the former UBFHAI president told Vladimir that it was Nelson who shot him with a gun.

Back in BF Homes, suspect Nelson arrived at the Philippine National Police (PNP) sub-station along Elsie Gatches street, Parañaque City to surrender himself. Based on the written Investigation Report at the Las Piñas City PNP signed by three officers (SPO2 Edmund Alfonso, PO2 Christian C. Yanga and PO2 Mark Billy S. Carbonell), Nelson’s arrest from the Parañaque PNP sub-station was confirmed. This meant sending a Las Pinas police team to fetch the suspect at the Parañaque sub-station. What was noticeable, however, was that the report had no indication of the recovery of the firearm that was used in killing the father.

Because of the fact that the Antonio residence occupied the border of the cities of Paranaque and Las Pinas, there was confusion with regards to jurisdiction. In fact, police officers from both cities visited the site of incident. Suspect Nelson was turned over to the police of Las Piñas. A release order dated September 27, 2013 was issued by Las Pinas City Prosecutor Zelica Longcob due to the lack of jurisdiction.

After much struggle over the issue of jurisdiction, the case for parricide was tossed back to legal system in Parañaque, specifically at Branch Number 257 of the local Regional Trial Court. On February 27, 2014, Branch 257 Judge Roland G. How issued a Warrant of Arrest for Nelson who was charged with parricide (Criminal Case Number 14-0222). By the time the order was made, the suspect was already overseas. According to flight records, Nelson left December 28, 2013 for Singapore.

On February 16, 2018, Nelson Antonio was arrested in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This was the result of a particular overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who saw an investigative report on television (aired December 2017) which exposed the suspect. The OFW recognized Nelson and contacted the Philippine police attache to arrest him. Eventually an international arrest warrant (the Interpol Red Notice) was issued by the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol) which alerted the police force in the UAE.

Escorted by law enforcers, Nelson Antonio arrived here in the Philippines on April 30, 2018.

Xialen’s message to the readers

“Our family would like to seek the support from our community to help us fight for Justice for APA. We want to be the living example of how we can attain TRUE JUSTICE during these unprecedented times. May we request everyone to pray for this and let this be a community standard of a wonderful collaboration among all sectors that are involved.”

An official portrait of the late Antonio P. Antonio.

For more updates, follow Justice for APA at https://www.facebook.com/JusticeforAPA

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A Look Back at SOS (SNES)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from playing the video game and doing personal 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.

Back in the 1990s when cable TV was not yet popular in the local community I lived in here in the Philippines, I got to watch on free TV a late night showing of the old movie The Poseidon Adventure. That movie, which included Gene Hackman and other stars, was about a huge passenger ship that got capsized as a result of a huge wave that hit it so hard. The survivors in that film had no choice but to band together and find their way out through countless obstacles.

That creative concept was reused by game developer Human Entertainment for a video game I played on the Super NES (SNES) a few years later…SOS (titled in Japan as Septentrion).

Released for the SNES in 1994 by Vic Tokai, SOS was an adventure game that had players take on the role of one of four characters (each with a different story plus different endings) who must escape the ship within sixty minutes in real-time. Along the way, the player must avoid obstacles, get to the hard-to-reach places and escape the ship before time runs out.

How good or bad the game is, you can find out in this look back at SOS.

The misadventure begins on the Lady Crithania with the disaster.

Early story

The story begins in the luxury passenger ship called Lady Crithania. Depending on which character you choose, Capris is an architect who has a sick sister; Luke is a crew member of the ship whose superiors don’t take his warnings about harsh sea conditions seriously; Jeffrey is a doctor who is traveling with his wife and Redwin is a counselor who is traveling with a family.

A cut scene emphasizing the story of one of the characters.
This is what the ship looks like after the disaster. At this point, the struggle for survival truly begins.

Regardless of which character was selected, a massive wave hits the Lady Crithania so hard it got capsized. The interiors suddenly turned upside down causing lots of damage and deaths. The protagonist is challenged with the chaotic interiors, obstacles, interacting with some survivors and reach the boiler room to survive.

Gameplay and Quality

As it is a 2-dimensional (2D) game, SOS is a side-scrolling adventure with some platform gaming elements mixed in. You can have your character move and jump most of the time with the occasional action of helping passengers (by means of reaching) travel with you (with some commands to communicate with them). While the design made sense, playing SOS always turned out to be a tiring chore and a test of patience due to the lack of precision when it comes to control response.

Adding further to challenge is the occasional shift of the capsized shift which changes the angles of the interiors which instantly alters the difficulty on moving around and jumping to the essential platforms (to progress to the next place). The shifting was visually done using the SNES’ Mode 7 feature. For the newcomers reading this, Mode 7 is the graphics mode unique to the SNES which enables scaling and rotating of the background image. While the sprites and 2D art in this game lacked punch, it is the Mode 7 feature that really added some quality to SOS’ visuals temporarily.

The more survivors you help and take with you to the very end, the better the ending will be.
You can also swim through flood sections.

More on the difficulty, the artificial intelligence (AI) programmed for the survivors that you can choose to rescue is pretty low which leads to a lack of response whenever your character calls them to follow you to get to the next level and survive. Not only were there times the other characters did not respond, some got even stuck in tight places.

As this game has 1-hour countdown in real time, making a mistake is costly. For example, you jump but fail to reach a crucial platform and fall down into the abyss and die will lead to your character respawning but with a noticeable amount of time reduced. Considering the lack of precision on controls and other factors, this made SOS challenging and frustrating to play.

If only the other survivors were more responsive to your calls…

And then there is the challenge to get the best possible ending you could by means of rescuing as many other survivors as you could and reach the very end with them. To put it this way, if you decide to be completely self-centered, disregard all the other survivors and make your way to the end without them, will result a really bad ending. You rescue more and make it alive with them, then the ending will get better.

Conclusion

If you fall and die, your character will respawn but with an amount of time reduced.

SOS has a very nice concept of adventuring that focuses mainly on survival and involves no combat and certainly no clear enemies to encounter. It is just too bad that the flaws of this game made it more frustrating to play and very few people will actually get to enjoy it.

If you own a working SNES and you are thinking about buying an existing copy of SOS, I do not recommend buying it with your precious money. Better rent it instead.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Carlo Carrasco’s Game Review: Resident Evil 3 Remake (single player)

Disclaimer: This is my original work with details sourced from playing the video game Resident Evil 3 Remake and doing 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.

Even though 1999’s Resident Evil 3: Nemesis was a side-story and its concept was smaller in scale compared to the acclaimed Resident Evil 2 (1998), I still had a lot of fun with that game and its key features made it very worthy of replaying. Like last year’s Resident Evil 2 remake, RE3 was remade and shortly after it became available on April 3, I got to play it, finished it three times and I should say I also had fun with it.

You must be wondering…how much fun is the Resident Evil 3 Remake? Is it anywhere as deep as the remake of RE2? Does this new game honor the legacy of its original counterpart from 1999? Is it worth the full retail price? Let’s start with this game review focused mainly on the single-player story campaign.

Early Story

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Raccoon City ruined.

The story begins on September 28, 1998 with Raccoon City getting infested with zombies as a result of an outbreak of T-Virus (directly connected with the events that led to Resident Evil 2). People have no choice but to run for their lives as the police struggle to save civilians. Meanwhile, Jill Valentine is inside her apartment making moves to leave the city since the city police force don’t believe her story about what happened at the Spencer Mansion (Resident Evil).

After answering a phone call from a very concerned Brad Vickers, a huge human figure (Nemesis) covered in dark material suddenly breaks through the wall and attempts to kill her. Jill fortunately fights back and after enduring a few close calls, she manages to get away from the monster and out of the building.

She makes her way to the street where she meets Brad Vickers and together, they face an onslaught of many zombies. After barely getting inside a joint, Brad (who got bitten by a zombie) struggles to keep the door closed and urges Jill to run away to survive. Now on her own, Jill has to find ways to survive and get out of the zombie-filled Raccoon City

Gameplay

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An encounter with Nemesis is often intense.

Like last year’s big budget remake of RE2, RE3 Remake is a 3rd person shooter mixed with exploration, item management, problem solving and the like. As required to move the story forward, you will control Jill to collect items, manage them carefully with the limited space for carrying, fulfill objectives and meet characters at key points of the story. Along the way, you will encounter zombies, grotesque monsters and, of course, Nemesis.

There are some notable differences from RE2, however. The most obvious difference is that RE3 remake was designed to be somewhat faster-paced (note: it’s not like the characters you control really run fast) and more action-oriented in terms of shooting as well as evading. In obvious tribute to the 1999 RE3, this game allows you to dodge attacks from zombies/monsters/Nemesis. If you succeed with perfectly timing your dodge, you will be granted a few seconds (with some slow motion) to immediately fire back at the enemy that you evaded.

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If you damage Nemesis enough, he will drop a supply case which often contains a very useful item. 

Unlike RE2 remake, the personal knife does not degrade and therefore it could be used as many times as you want. However, when a zombie grabs you to bite you, there is no prompt to use the knife to fight back and avoid getting bitten (this particular function was normal in RE2 remake). Another new thing in this video game is the presence of item boxes which you can “open” by shooting or using a knife to break it.

Because the in-game environment of RE3 remake includes the ruined streets and alleys of Raccoon City, you get more spacious places move around. Of course, this means more zombies occupying certain spaces for you to kill or strategically pass by. With the street-and-alleys set-up, there are a few red barrels that are explosive (you can destroy many zombies with one blast) and a few generators that electrocutes and stops monsters (even Nemesis) to shoot at.

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The return of the Hunter Beta is a welcome challenge!

When it comes acts and action, Jill gets to fight using the knife, grenade, flash grenade, handgun (including the burst gun), shotgun, magnum and the grenade launcher while Carlos uses the assault rifle (apart from the knife, grenade, flash grenade and handgun). Jill can evade, enter tight spots and use the lock pick while Carlos can do the defensive strike. For the most part, the controls are responsive which is good.

In terms of gameplay, RE3 remake is faster and more action-oriented counterpart to RE2 remake.

Presentation

As far as production values are concerned, RE3 remake is more cinematic and has improved visuals technically and artistically. For the visuals, the photo-realism has been pushed forward more by the game developers on the characters, the monsters and their in-game environment. The protagonist Jill Valentine looks very lifelike and with model Sasha Zotova’s likeness used, she sure beats Gears 5’s heroine Kait when it comes to photo-realism and looking very human. The facial expressions are top-notch and I love the way how in-game lighting showed its effects on the environment on the characters.

The photo-realism and impressive facial animation are not limited to Jill, obviously, as other characters like Carlos, Mikhail (who was made to look older this time), Tyrell and the villainous Nicholai (who was made to look younger and slimmer than his previous version) really look great. On top of that, the voice acting is excellent across all the characters. That being said, Carlos now sounds more mature and believable as a person which is a tremendous improvement over the voice of his original version in 1999.

And there is Nemesis, the one over-sized bio weapon that targets members of S.T.A.R.S. Nemesis was redesigned with photo-realism in mind and he sure looks monstrous, especially in the later stages in the game. Compared to his original version in 1999, Nemesis is very strong, can use weapons of his own, uses a tendril to pull Jill to him, can actually leap ahead of Jill and even mutate zombies on the spot. Another noticeable difference that’s been dividing fans of the original RE3 and this game, is that Nemesis in this remake is limited to scripted events in key locations and as such, he is not the constant stalker that Mr. X was in the RE2 remake. In the RE3 game of 1999, Nemesis would randomly appear and run after Jill. That’s not the same experience in this remake which is disappointing.

Another disappointment I have state here in relation to encountering Nemesis (and other monsters) is the absence of live selection sequences which was a defining feature of the original RE3. Once you encounter Nemesis in this remake, it’s either you avoid and outrun him, or you can fight him and strike him hard enough to stop him temporarily (and make him suddenly drop a huge equipment case for you to pick up). You encounter the Hunter Beta or the Hunter Gamma or the Pale Head zombie, it’s either you kill them or they kill you. Without the live selection sequences, there is really no variety in the encounters.

When it comes to the in-game environments and the overall story structure, this game is noticeably shorter and locations are noticeable smaller and more linear. This is another disappointment because the ruined city environment failed to live up to expectations as it was designed to be limited in terms of places to visit and explore. Even the ruined city environment in 1999’s Resident Evil 3 has literally more locations to explore compared to this remake. Also don’t expect to see the city park, the city graveyard and city clock tower from the old game to appear as explorable levels here.

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One of many in-game zombies players will encounter.

The game designers apparently knew fans would notice what places from the old game are lacking, and so they heavily expanded exploration in the medical center and they even included a secret passageway into a certain underground facility which made the game still feel fresh.

On the story structure, RE3 remake followed the concept of the original game but made a major twist which really caught me off-guard the first time I finished this game. It’s a nice twist and I never imagined that I get to use a specific character (note: as with the old game, only Jill and Carlos are playable in select sections) visiting a notable location.

When it comes to the presentation of the characters compared to the 1999 game, I can say that Jill is pretty much like her past version but says some lines with sarcasm and makes clear to Carlos that she’s tougher than she looks. Having played the past Resident Evil games, I can tell that this remade Jill Valentine is struggling with the frustration over the mission at the mansion since her superiors refused to believe her (note: lack of evidence and the destruction of the place). Ultimately, this remake succeeds in telling a very defining story about Jill which added more to her status as an icon of the Resident Evil franchise as a whole.

Carlos meanwhile is a more believable character thanks to not only the above-mentioned improved voice acting but also because of better writing. As for Nicholai, he’s more motivated by greed and mentions working for an unnamed client. He’s the type of character who annoys you and makes you wish he would be killed. Mikhail does not change much apart from looking older but Tyrell’s role here is heavily expanded.

Horror? Unsurprisingly this game has some elements of horror but nowhere does it come close to what was presented in the RE2 remake. It’s an action-oriented game after all but that’s not to say it’s the mindless, blazing guns festival like Resident Evil 5.. Also I should mention that there are very few puzzles here.

Conclusion

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We gamers want more value for our money, Capcom!

Resident Evil 3 remake is action-packed, engaging and a fun video game to play even if you are not a fan of the long-running video game franchise. It has very high production values and the best cinematic cut-scenes in any RE game to date. What prevents this game from achieving excellence, apart from having a smaller concept compared to RE2 remake, is that the game is rather short and there is only ONE ending. This makes this game’s replay value much lower when compared to the original RE3 of 1999 which had more than one ending and references to other RE characters displayed (each time the 1999 game got finished). Sure the remake rewards players with points for fulfilling challenges and allows them to use the points to acquire post-game stuff in the in-game store, but this does not make up for the short length and single ending.

If there is anything Capcom should do to boost the replay value as well as the overall value of this remake, it’s for them to produce and release a story driven DLC (downloadable content) to expand the story campaign and add an additional ending. By now, the game makers should realize they missed several opportunities to deepen and make the remake great.

Overall, Resident Evil 3 is recommended only when its price is at least 50% off.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

A Chat with 2019 SEA Games Gold Medalist and Southeast Asia’s Triathlon King – John Chicano

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

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Southeast Asia’s best male triathlete John Leerams 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.

The glory continued the day after when Chicano, along with teammates Kim Mangrobang, Claire Adorna and Fer Casares collaborated to win another SEA Games gold for the Philippines in the Triathlon Team Mixed Relay event there at Subic Bay. That was another gold medal for Chicano making him a 3-time SEA Games medalist (two gold medals and one silver medal).

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.”

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Chicano and teammate Andrew Kim Remolino on the sports section of the December 2, 2019 edition of Business Mirror.

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.

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Chicano (3rd from right) with his teammates who won medals in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games – (from L to R) Claire Adorna, Kim Kilgroe, Kim Mangrobang, Andrew Kim Remolino and Fer Casares. (photo source – Kim Mangrobang Facebook page) 

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.

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Chicano and Kim Mangrobang on the front page of the December 2, 2019 edition of the Manila Times.

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Chicano with coach Melvin Fausto and Senator Richard Gordon. (photo source – Subic Bay Community Center Facebook page)

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.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Meet Southeast Asia’s Reigning Triathlon Queen – Kim Mangrobang!

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!

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4-time Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) medalist and reigning triathlon queen of Southeast Asia Kim Mangrobang. (photo taken at Akrotiri, Commercenter, Muntinlupa City)

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.

The winning streak concluded a day later when Mangrobang, 2015 SEA Games gold medalist Claire Adorna, 2019 SEA Games gold medalist John Chicano and Fer Casares combined their efforts to win the gold medal in the Triathlon Team Mixed Relay event which was held also there in Subic Bay. For the country, she won two 2019 SEA Games gold medals (note: the Philippines as a whole won 149 gold medals in the SEA Games it hosted) and got rewarded for it in return by the national government and by corporate sponsors.

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The entire Philippines got delighted on the morning of December 1, 2019 at Subic Bay when Kim Mangrobang successfully defended her title as Southeast Asia’s best female triathlete by winning the 2019 SEA Games individual women’s triathlon gold medal. In previous SEA Games, she won the silver medal in 2015 and her first gold medal in 2017. (photo source – Kim Mangrobang Facebook page)

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Mangrobang with her 2019 SEA Games individual women’s triathlon gold medal and the mascot. (photo source – Kim Mangrobang Facebook page)

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Mangrobang with teammate John Chicano and other Philippine team athletes on the cover of the December 2, 2019 edition of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. (photo source – Triathlon Association of the Philippines Facebook page)

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.

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Kim Mangrobang as a teenager way back in 2005. (photo contributed by Mangrobang)

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.

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Mangrobang (rightmost) with (from L to R) then Triathlon Association of the Philippines Secretary General Tom Carrasco, Chinese Taipei’s Chang Ting Ting and her teammate Kim Kilgroe during the awarding ceremony of the 2016 edition of the Subic Bay International Triathlon (SUBIT). Mangrobang emerged as the event’s Elite Women’s champion. (photo source – Triathlon Association of the Philippines Facebook page)

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)

As mentioned earlier, in the history of the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games), triathlon made its debut in the 2005 edition of the games specifically in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone (already well established as the nation’s triathlon hot spot and favorite destination of local triathletes). Back then, Kim Mangrobang was 14-years-old and a junior member of the Philippine team. How she witnessed triathlon’s SEA Games debut was indeed interesting.

“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.

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Mangrobang and Claire Adorna on the front page of the June 7, 2015 edition of the Philippine Star. She captured the silver medal while Adorna got the gold medal. (photo source – Triathlon Association of the Philippines Facebook page)

Two years later, the SEA Games triathlon events were held in Malaysia. In the individual women’s triathlon contest, Mangrobang won the SEA Games gold medal timing 2:11:14 while her teammate Adorna won the silver medal in 2:18:58. Literally speaking, the two ladies switched places and ultimately helped the Philippines which finished the games with 24 gold medals grand total. That was also the start of Mangrobang’s reign as Southeast Asia’s triathlon queen.

“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.

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Mangrobang and her teammate Nikko Huelgas on the front page of the August 22, 2017 edition of the Manila Bulletin. This marked her first time to win the SEA Games gold medal. (photo source – Triathlon Association of the Philippines Facebook page)

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.

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The Sta. Rosa, Laguna-based triathlete making a U-turn during the 40-kilometer bike leg of the 2019 SEA Games individual women’s triathlon event at Subic Bay. (photo source – Kim Mangrobang Facebook page)

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Mangrobang and Chicano on the front page of the December 2, 2019 edition of the Manila Bulletin. (photo source – Triathlon Association of the Philippines Facebook page)

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.

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Mangrobang with her teammates and fellow 2019 SEA Games medalists (from L to R) Claire Adorna, Kim Kilgroe, John Chicano, Andrew Kim Remolino and Fer Casares. (photo source – Kim Mangrobang Facebook page) 

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Southeast Asia’s triathlon queen with President Rodrigo Duterte. (photo source – Kim Mangrobang Facebook page, photo care of Presidential Communications)

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.

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Mangrobang right in the middle of the Santa Rosa-based 2019 SEA Games medalists. (photo source – City Government of Santa Rosa, Laguna Facebook page)

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A congratulatory message from the authorities in Bauan, Batangas. (photo source – Bauan MIO Facebook page)

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.”

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Mangrobang and myself at Akrotiri, Commercenter, Alabang.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

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.

 

 

Resident Evil 3 Remake Coming Out April 2020 (UPDATED January 16, 2020)

Early this year, I had a grand time playing the big budget remake of Resident Evil 2 on my Xbox One. Because I had a lot of fun and engagement with that particular game, I wish that a remake of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (which I enjoyed a lot back in 1999) would be made.

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.

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Like the Resident Evil 2 remake, a 3rd-person shooting view is implemented. (visual source – RE3 Developer Diary Video)

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Resident Evil 3’s story begins a day before the events of RE2 and it explores more of the streets and alleys of zombie-fested Raccoon City.

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.

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The ever familiar Brad Vickers.

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A rougher looking Carlos Oliveira.

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).

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The modernized look of Jill Valentine. Do you miss her tube top and mini-skirt from the 1999 Resident Evil 3? (visual source – RE3 Developer Diary Video)

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Nemesis looks a bit redesigned for this game.

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.

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A closer look at Nemesis.

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.

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Carlos O. and his shaggy look.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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)?
  3. 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?

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For Jill Valentine fans.

That’s it for now. Come back here soon for new updates.

Macross at Toycon 2019

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.

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The YF-19 from Macross Plus and its weapons on display. Behind it are varied video games and manuals.

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A close look at these mean machines. The one on the right reflects the model of used by Hikaru in the first few episodes of the 1980s Macross anime TV series complete with holding Lynn Minmay for safety.

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.

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Memories of the 1980s anime TV series as well as the 1984 classic movie Macross: Do You Remember Love? entered my mind.

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.

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Art, books, soundtracks and the Sega Saturn video game.

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.

 

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Another close look.

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.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

Carlo Carrasco’s Movie Review: Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

After five long years, we finally got ourselves another big budget Godzilla movie from Warner Bros. and Legendary – Godzilla: King of the Monsters.

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.

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Godzilla and King Ghidora!

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.

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I can’t help but think that the filmmakers tried to outdo what Steven Spielberg did in Jurassic Park.

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.

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The daughter and her mother played by Millie Bobby Brown and Vera Farmiga. Don’t let their smiles fool you because the cast in this film is the weakest element.

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.

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One of the three heads of King Ghidorah! Up-close, they look terrifying!

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!

Bring on Godzilla vs. Kong!!!


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

 

My Observations: Sigekiya Ramen’s Chicken Teriyakidon Set

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.

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The 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.

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A close look.

 

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.


Thank you for reading. If you find this lifestyle article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com