Saturday, December 20, 2014

CHRISTMAS 2014 - Best movies to watch for Christmas

Nothing beats having a Christmas break by watching a Christmas movie regardless of any genre you're choosing. Whether if it's action, comedy, drama, kids, or whatever, those Christmas-themed movies are sure to warm the movie buffs at home during their Christmas vacation. If you've been given a choice, it's time for me to suggest the best Christmas movies to watch during your Christmas break.

1) How The Grinch Stole Christmas - I'd recommend the one which stars comedian Jim Carrey in it. In this hilarious adaptation from a Dr. Seuss classic, Jim Carrey plays the titular role of everyone's favorite grump who tries to ruin Christmas in Whoville.

2) Home Alone - There's been numerous installments of this film but the first one is always the best one. This all-time classic is about a kid named Kevin who is left home-alone by his family when suddenly, a duo of burglars are trying to steal something from Kevin's house. It's up to Kevin to defend his house from the bad guys before his family returns home. The trap parts in the movie are usually an all-time favorite for those who've seen that classic movie several times.

3) The Santa Clause - The Santa Clause trilogy of films feature Tim Allen (the guy who voiced Buzz from the Toy Story movies) as the titular character who saves Christmas.  The first film is about a divorced dad who steps into the role as Santa Claus while the second film sees Santa find his new love interest or else he'll never be a Santa Claus ever and the third film sees Santa Claus come face to face with his arch-enemy, Jack Frost.

4) elf - This hilarious Christmas movie stars Will Ferrell as Buddy, who was raised by elves when he crawled through Santa's bag of toys when he was a baby. Now, he seeks his true self when he lands to New York City.

5) A Christmas Carol - I'd recommend the Disney version which stars Jim Carrey as Scrooge. Every year, Ebeneezer Scrooge is getting meaner and meaner until his day of reckoning is nigh. He encounters three ghosts who will witness his past, present, and his grim future, and he has to change his ways before his grim future came true. This is a life-changing film for those who are feeling a bit bah humbug on the holidays.

6) National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation - The Christmas installment of the National Lampoon franchise sees the Griswold family taking on a Christmas holiday with disastrous and hilarious results.

7) Jingle All The Way - Action star Arnold Schwarzenegger shows his fun side in this hilarious action comedy where he, as the businessman, is fighting against a horde of Santas just to get his son a Turbo Man toy.

8) Fred Claus - Vince Vaughn stars as the unexpected brother of Santa Claus who is the total opposite of him in this hilarious and heart-warming comedy film that is surely sprinkle you some laughs for the holidays.

9) Tokyo Godfathers - Japanese animated film about three estranged people encountered an abandoned baby in the trash during Christmas Eve and set off on an adventure of a lifetime where they have to correct their past wrongdoings.

10) A Nightmare Before Christmas - This all-time animated classic made by the eccentric Tim Burton is about Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, who is on a quest to save Christmas until he took an unexpected turn that caused the little kids suffering nightmares. Although the animation's a bit odd, the soundtrack and the musical sounds very good for an all-time Disney classic.

11) Miracle on 34th Street - This legendary holiday movie is all about believing in Santa, even if the main character is a mall santa under the name of Kris Kringle. I know this movie is all black-and-white because it came from 1940's but this legendary holiday movie still asks the age-old question: Do you believe in Santa Claus?

12) Die Hard 2: Die Harder - It's a little odd why we put this film on the list but this is sure fire enough to add some testosterone to your Christmas movie-viewing pleasure. It's the Christmas season when a ragtag group of terrorists attacked an international airport and it's up to John McClane (Bruce Willis) to stop this threat before putting innocent lives in jeopardy.

...there are so many Christmas-themed movies to list but the rest is all up to you so while you're still relaxing during the Christmas break, enjoy watching some Christmas-themed movies that suit your preference. Enjoy the holiday break!


On the December 19, 2014 episode of Bubble Gang...

- Xmas Decor Award gags

- Istambay, Istambay sa looban, Ang pasko ay sumapit na naman, Ang problema lang sa karolingan, Laging nauuwi sa...BATUHAN!

- Desiree the Binatilya and his pals are ready for their gift-giving until...

- IKAW AT ANG INA takes on..."works at"!

- Bubble Gang does Mcdonald's Chicken McDo by spoofing this commercial as CHICKEN WCDO!

- Mr. Matapobre says..."Walang mayamang kuripot."

- Bubble Gang's P.A.R.D are back with their new song HUG.

- More wise words from Tata Lino!

a) Masarap magpainit pag nilalamig ka at siyempre masarap din pag kumain ng bibingka.

b) Single ka ba? Single ka naman. Sa single ka na lumapit. Hindi ka namang parol, wag kang sabit ng sabit.

c) Hindi kailangan ng balabal ng taong garapal. Bale wala lang lamig sa balat niyang makapal.

d) Ang madaling makuha, madaling matapon. Di porke binigyan ka ng queso de bola ay bibigyan mo ng hamon.

- Brod Pete's back to answer everyone's questions in ANG BAGONG DATING DOON INTERNATIONAL!

a) A PM from someone asked for more wrong terms and there's more on it because TAG PRICE and CHANGE COSTUME are wrong terms. They're reversed and it's confusing. Also wrong are some reversed words like HUNTING LOCATION and SONG HITS.

b) Antonio Aquitania asks if there's a writing on certain events. From a lyric of a certain John Lennon song, "So this is Christmas, for weak and for strong, for rich and the poor once, the world is so wrong, and so happy Christmas, for black and for white, for yellow and the red ones, let's stop all the fights."

Friday, December 19, 2014

Toyota reveals GRMN-tuned Mark X saloon

2015 Toyota Mark X GRMN

After being previewed from the Tokyo Auto Salon several months ago, Toyota finally unleashed the Mark X GRMN, which is a premium midsize saloon tuned by the folks from Gazoo Racing and isn't that the maddest sports saloon ever made?

This Japan-exclusive hi-po version of the Mark X is strictly limited to 100 units and orders for the Mark X GRMN will commence this March 1st, 2015, starting at just 5.4 million Japanese Yen (or around $55,000).

This car uses the 350S model as its base but the GRMN version features a sportier bodykit, a carbon fiber roof, a driver-focused interior, and joy of joys, a 6-speed manual gearbox that was mated to its 3.5L V6 engine. It also features a sport-tuned suspension system, 19-inch BBS wheels, improved brakes, quad exhaust, and some braces to stiffen it up.

As mentioned before, orders are open this March 1st, 2015, and it's in Toyopet showrooms across Japan this June for 5,400,000 Japanese Yen. It's going to make its special appearance at the 2015 Tokyo Auto Salon with NAPAC on the 9th to the 11th of January, 2015.


Let's Do The News! (December 19, 2014)

Welcome back. Here is your current sitrep:

- Air strikes from a US-led coalition have killed 3 senior members of ISIS in Iraq. This was announced by a high-ranking US military officer and this latest killings deliver a massive damage to the Islamic aggressors' planning, command, and control.

- US President Barack Obama announced that the nation's government will not be imposing new sanctions against Russia for now while signing the Ukraine Freedom Support Act into law.

- Department of Health Secretary Enrique Ona is officially resigned from his position, according to the latest announcement from the Malacanang.

- In preparation for Christmas and New Year in the Philippines, all service firearms of all policemen from all over the country will be taped shut as the Philippine National Police aims for a gun-free revelry to prevent cases of indiscriminate firing, starting this Monday.

- During the Youth Summit 2014 held at Quezon City, President Benigno Aquino III warned against a popular app game "Clash of Clans" and the habit of taking a selfie, calling them a distraction that the Filipino youth should be wary of.

- Dutch supercar maker Spyker has officially been declared bankrupt after efforts of restructuring its finances and getting back on track were failed. According to the press release, the funding it was banking on "did unfortunately no reach the company in time" and the boss of Spyker, Victor R. Muller said that they will bring back Spyker as soon as practically possible.

- Part of celebrating the launch of Pocket Monsters Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire for the 3DS range, a cafe called Shibuya Parco is having a special Pokemon Cafe next month until the end of February. Customers can enjoy an original menu inspired by the world of Pokemon and its characters. There's a whole range of Pokemon goodies on sale during the event and yes, customers can get a special Pikachu for use in ORAS as well.

- Yes. Doctor Who returns for its 9th season this late 2015 and the title of the first episode of the ninth season will be titled The Magician's Apprentice.

- Also, the first teaser trailer for the upcoming 3rd season of BBC America's Orphan Black hits the web and it's coming this April 18th next year.

- WATCH OUT! Marika Tachibana from the Nisekoi anime gets her own Nendoroid from Good Smile Company! She's available this May starting at just ¥3,889 (Before Tax).

Nendoroid Marika Tachibana


Gran Turismo 6: Chaparral 2X vs. Infiniti Concept

City of Arts and Sciences - Night_1

Two new Vision GT cars have arrived in the latest GT6 update. One represents the future of Inspired Performance while the other revives a legendary marque that Gran Turismo fans truly remembered for its bizarre aerodynamics. The Infiniti Concept VGT and the Chevrolet-Chaparral 2X VGT are now here and here's your chance to try out these two new machines only on GT6.

High Speed Ring

Let's talk about the Chevrolet-Chaparral 2X first and this Vision GT could be our new favorite because for the first time, this concept racer features a unique powertrain that no racecar in the history has ever done before. Don't be surprised but this racecar's powered by laser pulse shock waves generated by an advanced propulsion system made by Chevrolet. That's right. This car's laser power...and it's diabolical indeed. The laser pulse shock wave generates an equivalent of 905HP of power and because it weighs 405kg, its power-to-weight ratio is on its explosive levels. Yes. Calculate that and that power-to-weight ratio is an exploding 2011 horsepower-per-tonne. WOW! No such car can get that kind of ratio! Not even the Bugatti Veyron!

Apart from its unique powertrain, it comes with a very unique cockpit where the driver has to lie down like a flying squirrel to operate it. That driving position looks awkward but when it's already in motion, this driving position for a future racing machine is worth thrilling. It's like you're on a free-fall from the sky, except you're going horizontally.

The bodywork is made up by its "layup schedule" which lets the whole structure to act alongside with its suspension and its super-ridged propulsion structure ensures optimal thrust parabola to the laser pulse cone. With the combination of the multi-vane adjustability and the lower Thrust Vectoring panel, the Chaparral 2X provides a greater downforce that fits on any track.

It's the hallmark of Jim Hall's legacy of motorsport innovation that was carried from his past creations such as the 2D and the 2J.

Willow Springs International Raceway - Big Willow

Now, let's talk about the Infiniti Concept VGT. You see, a group of a well-talented and creative men behind the project have been gathered at the Infiniti Design Beijing studio to design this one-of-a-kind Infiniti machine that carries out the luxury marque's Inspired Performance tagline. With its beautiful silhouette and its monstrous performance, this one-of-a-kind Infiniti dream machine liberates every driver to experience the full freedom of driving on the open world. The folks from Beijing worked really hard to bring this fantasy machine into virtual reality at their own hands and they did. Needless to say, this car is surprisingly Asian because this GT machine is packed with the "motorsport passion of Asia".

This car is rear-wheel drive and it's powered by a 4.5L V8 engine, which is the kind of engine Nissan no longer makes, and it's connected with an electric motor and a battery. Which means that the Infiniti Concept VGT is a hybrid sportscar with the combined power output of 535HP while mated with a 6-speed gearbox. Because it weighs 1680kg, the power-to-weight ratio is over 335 horsepower-per-tonne. That's more than what the TVR T350C gets. Not only that, its weight distribution is well-balanced enough to have this car do drifting on the corners just for fun.

With me being one of the many GT6 players who acquired both of these machines via Seasonal Events, I think it's time for me to compare these two and to do that, I went to Suzuka Circuit with the 2014 update in it, Yep. The revised one with the same layout as before.

Suzuka Circuit 2014_1

First up is the Infiniti Concept Vision Gran Turismo. Because of its balanced weight distribution, this car feels so well-balanced on its mobility and it's very stable as well, although a little too much might cause some oversteer, suffering its lap time record until you can counter it. Still, this is a lot fun to drive than any other European VGT concepts I tried over a few months. There's no need to fighting over to get it through the bends and it feels so...easy to drive even for a rookie.

Suzuka Circuit 2014

Now, for the Chevrolet-Chaparral 2X. The sound of the laser generating is like fireworks on New Year's Day or some popcorn popping when you get the hammer down but despite its popping-like sound from the laser, it's probably hard to handle when going too fast, giving it a tendency to understeer. Even this car is a concept machine, its mobility and stability are on the same level as a NASCAR, so if you're a rookie, this racing machine is not recommended but if you're a highly skilled driver, it's just fine. The trick is not to overdo it aggressively when cornering because this is highly difficult to corner when going too fast.

After driving these two, here are the results:

Infiniti Concept VGT - 2:09.378
Chevrolet-Chaparral 2X - 1:39.758

City of Arts and Sciences - Night

Yes. This Chevrolet-Chaparral 2X is almost half a minute quicker than the Infiniti Concept VGT but it doesn't matter. Those records didn't matter to these anyway but what matters most is that these machines truly demonstrate the future of driving in different but exciting ways. The Infiniti Concept VGT ventures to the future of the brand's Inspired Performance tagline while the Chevrolet-Chaparral 2X puts a new twist to the legendary motorsport marque with three unique features; its powertrain, its driving position, and its aerodynamics.

Hope you'll look forward to driving both of these new VGT machines only on GT6!

List of movies against North Korea?

Screencap from NHK

You might already heard the news about Sony Pictures cancelled the theatrical premiere of the action comedy The Interview because of North Korean hackers threatening to terrorize movie theaters showing that film. This movie is about two interviewers tasked by the CIA to hunt down the North Korean leader but oh come on, it's only a parody. Why would they cancel such a movie like this because of the nation that fuels the fruit of their deep-rooted hatred to humanity.

You know, this canned movie isn't the only one targeting against North Korea. There are other films taking a stab from the said nation and I can remember some films with North Korea in it.

  • 007: Die Another Day - This 2002 Bond movie is Pierce Brosnan's final film for his James Bond role before his role was passed to current actor Daniel Craig four years later. In the beginning of the movie, James Bond took down a North Korean base before he got captured by the troops.
  • Team America World Police - This underappreciated marionette comedy movie made by the mastermind behind the South Park TV series is about a group of heroes fighting against terrorism led by the Film Actors Guild...and also North Korea's Kim Jong-Il.
  • Red Dawn (2012 version) - The 2012 version of the classic war movie stars Chris Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Isabel Lucas, Josh Peck, Adrianne Palicki, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. It's about a group of resistance known as the Wolverines trying to take down North Korean troops that took over the USA. Yes. North Koreans because the original 1984 version featured Russian troops during the days of the Cold War.
  • Olympus Has Fallen - Last year's action flick is about a disgraced Secret Service operative, played by Gerard Butler, who's on the mission to save the White House hostages, including the US president, from a North Korean terrorist, played by Rick Yune (the same guy who played as the Bond villain, Zao, from 007: Die Another Day), before they'll initiate a nuclear attack on the US soil.
...there are a few action movies featured anything North Korea-related but the rest is up to you. Whatever the reason why the North Korean hacking caused Sony to cancel the theatrical release of The Interview is definitely worth a dent to the First Amendment or the freedom of free speech. For now, you movie buffs just rest up for now.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

CHRISTMAS 2014 - How to throw a Christmas Party

Christmas Parties. It's what every party animal in the world who has the holiday spirit to throw one before Christmas and in order to be prepared to make one by yourself, here are some of the best tips on how to throw a Christmas Party at your own home.

  • Invite friends and family - First, you must send them invitations to your relatives and your friends just so you can tell them you're going to have a party. Either doing the old-school approach (say invitation card or telling to them on contact) or using social media should do the trick but just be sure you'll have to put the date, the time, and the location so they'll know that they'll be coming to you at the appointed time.
  • Serve meals - Don't leave your guests hungry for long. You should be serving some delicious meals to enjoy. Either cooking it by yourself or call for deliveries should work and oh, better serve some drinks too and please, no alcohol. Don't ask why but we don't want everyone to leave home with a hangover on the next day.
  • Fun and games - Entertain your guests with some fun and games. Be creative! Think of any games you'll want to play with them! Either parlor games, video games, or any game you know should turn the party to your favor.
  • Gifts - Tell everyone to bring them gifts for the party. You might be pulling off the gift-giving part of the Christmas party where you or your guests will give gifts with someone's name on it.
  • Chat - The party's over but when some of your guests are still in your home, do a little post-party chat with them. That will spice up the conversation. At that moment, you're free to do whatever you want with the remaining guests before it's time for them to go back home.
So, there you go. These are the tips on how to pull off a good Christmas party to your heart's content. Have fun throwing your own Christmas Party to your own liking!

Let's Do The News! (December 18, 2014)

Welcome back. Here is your current sitrep:

- The world's top leaders appreciated the US-Cuban agreement to end over 50 years of hostility and collaborate the two nations to restore diplomatic relations. US President Barack Obama said that their policy against Cuba has failed and it's time to move on to work alongside with the Cuban government. Even Pope Francis is very happy to see the two nations working together for the first time.

- Russian president Vladimir Putin is ready to hold his end-of-year news conference despite the nation's economic strife. It's set to be broadcasted on Russian televisions and it's focused solely on the rouble currency as well as the ongoing standoff between Russia and Ukraine.

- Sony Pictures Entertainment cancelled the release of their latest action comedy movie, The Interview, in theaters after their company website's been hacked and threatened to terrorize movie theaters showing that film. The Interview is an action comedy movie about two journalists assigned by the CIA to bring down the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. In response from the recent hacking, which authorities believed to be the work of North Korean hackers, Sony decided to cancel the release.

- The Court of Appeals ordered Manila Electric Company or MERALCO to refund consumers over 5 billion pesos in overpayments that it will recover from the National Power Corporation and the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation.

- Former Philippine President now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is undergoing her breast exam at the Makati Medical Center.

- The new Acura NSX is set to premiere at the 2015 NAIAS next month in its production-form glory. GET READY!

- The iDOLM@STER ONE FOR ALL DLC Catalog 8 has been revealed. Set for its Christmas Day on-sale date, the latest DLC Catalog features a brand new EX Episode where you'll going to need a lot of talent for your idols to take on a formidable idol named Leon. This EX Episode is by no means the most difficult because Leon's throwing everything she got to throw your idol off the stage so...have your idols fully prepared for the assault.

Also on this catalog, Tsubasa Ibuki from The IDOLM@STER MILLION LIVE mobile game will be making a very special appearance. As for outfits, they've added new ones like Dancing Belly Reverie, Nordic Highness, Dressy Alice, Precious M45, Jade Stardust, Interstellar Flyer, Visitor from Space, Next Orbiter, and Pastel Milky Way. On the songs list, ビジョナリー and Little Match Girl are added.



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

CHRISTMAS 2014 - Best foods to serve on a noche buena

The noche buena, another Christmas tradition when the whole family celebrate Christmas with their meals served in their platter and then eat it when the clock strikes twelve o'clock midnight on Christmas. Originally done by Spanish-speaking nations for centuries, Filipinos done this Christmas tradition not only in the Philippines but at the rest of the world.

Of course, when we think of Noche Buena, we think about some delicious meals served in the dinner table but there are some meals work really well in the Noche Buena feast so let's list down the best meals to serve on the Noche Buena.

  • Festive Hams - Most Noche Buenas for the Filipino families will never be complete without a Festive Ham. Yes. Festive Hams take a very long time to cook and usually takes about four hours to cook such a delicious meal but cooking times can vary depending on the festive ham of your choosing. With patience, you'll be able to serve this meal that a certain commercial calls it "the star of the noche buena".
  • Sio-mai - A siomai (Chinese pork dumplings) is probably one of my favorites. My parents ordered a pack of those for occasional means and recommending this meal for noche buena is a good thing. If you need a simple siomai recipe, CLICK HERE.
  • Pancit Malabon - This native food from the city of Malabon looks similar to the Palabok but what differs it is the addition of seafood toppings and its usage of very thick rice noodles. Most ingredients in this meal are shrimp, tinapa flakes, and squid, You can cook one by yourself or buy one at your nearest restaurant that makes one of these. Either way, this Pancit Malabon works great to your Noche Buena.
  • Spaghetti - Little kids love spaghetti and this all-time favorite is a must-have to your Noche Buena list. Of course, you might be tempting to order one from a fast food, say McDo or Jollibee, but it would be best to cook one by yourself if you got the right ingredients to cook one.
  • Fried Chicken - Oh yes. Fried chicken is what every Filipino family craves on and rather than just ordering one from their nearest fast-food joint, how about cooking them at home? As long as you bought that Ajinomoto Crispy Fry Ready Mix, anything is possible to cook some delicious fastfood-style fried chicken best served for the noche buena!
  • Chinese Soup - The perfect appetizer for the noche buena but I'd recommend buying Knorr Real Chinese Soup from your nearest grocery. There's a commercial that goes "There's nothing like Knorr Real Chinese Soup" and trust me, I sorta know this jingle from years ago. Anyway, you get the idea but trust me. It's delicious and I'd recommend every household to serve some delicious Knorr Real Chinese Soup for the Noche Buena. Goodah!
  • Ice Cream - Yes. I know. Why did I add Ice Cream to the list? It's the sweetest dessert after all those Noche Buena meals you've ate. There's a whole bunch of ice cream flavors to choose from and the flavor of your choosing is up to you.
  • Cakes - Cake? Do we need cakes for noche buena? Why not? Famous bakeshops in the Philippines such as Goldilocks and Red Ribbon do serve cakes more than just for birthdays but I'd prefer Red Ribbon better because of their Mango Cake and Ube Cake. Well, the Ube Cake takes the cake, literally, because this is unlike any other ube cake I've ever eaten. This IS the best Ube Cake I've ever eaten and I'd recommend buying one from your nearest Red Ribbon bakeshop.
  • Bananacue - Sweetened fried bananas on a stick are one of the most ideal meals to have on your Noche Buena. Of course, you'll going to find a street vendor that cooks one which, in today's climate, is very hard due to cops patrolling the streets against street vendors. If you're lucky, tell him or her to buy aplenty!
There are so many meals to serve on your upcoming Noche Buena but the rest is up to you. Be creative! Think about the best meals you can serve for your Noche Buena so you and your family can enjoy having some delicious meals served at the dinner table!

Let's Do The News! (December 17, 2014)

Welcome back. Here is your current sitrep:

- Returning on the Jennifer Laude murder case, it looks like the Philippine and the US government are trying to decide which of these two nations should take custody on Lance Corporal Joseph Scott Pemberton, the US soldier responsible for the murder of the said transgender in Olongapo. Justice Sec. Leila De Lima said that he should be under PH government's custody.

- Dirty restrooms, broken elevators and escalators, and long queues of passengers are the main reason why the Metro Rail Transit failed in the random survey conducted by the office of Senator Grace Poe.

- Pakistanis mourned the death of 142 victims who were killed from the Taliban attack at a military-run school in the nation's embattled northwest area.

- North Korea celebrated the 3rd death anniversary of the late Kim Jong-il.

- American electronic giant Apple announced that they will cease online sales in Russia due to the falling Rouble currency rates. They stopped selling latest versions of iPhone, iPad, and other devices in this nation moments after the Russian currency went into free-fall.

- Subarists, rejoice! The animated collaboration from Subaru and GAINAX, titled Hokago no Pleiades gets a TV anime series this spring. Here's the first PV which sums everything up.

- Two Nissan Fairlady Z drift cars set a new Guinness World Record for the longest twin-vehicle drift in Dubai. Coinciding with the launch of the Japanese carmaker's "370Z Drift Experience" in Dubai, those Fairlady duo cars pulled a total of 28.52km of drifting distance. Amazing!

- BBC's action drama series, The Musketeers, returns for their second season this 2nd of January on BBC One and BBC One HD. For the latest season, a new threat emerges. How will The Musketeers face off against this new kind of threat? Find out as the second season of The Musketeers airs on the 2nd of January, 2015, on BBC One and BBC One HD. This series stars Luke Pasqualino, Tom Burke, Santiago Cabrera, and Howard Charles.

- Exclusively for XBOX One, Forza Horizon 2 unleashed their Storm Island Expansion. In this expansion, the Horizon adventure continues on this mysterious island called Storm Island. In this new place, you'll be witnessing punishing roads as well as typhoons ravaging through this island. Be prepared with your best off-roader and take on punishing challenges if you got what it takes to survive Storm Island. To be prepared, there are new cars waiting for you on this expansion such as the Robby Gordon #7 Speed Energy Drink Stadium Super Truck, MINI Monster Energy All4 Racing X-Raid, Ford Ranger T6 Rally Raid, Ford Fiesta XR2, and the Mitsubishi Galant VR-4.

This expansion is available for $20 but VIPs receive a half-price discount for this expansion.

Forza Horizon 2 Storm Island Expansion

Hyundai Sonata (LF) Hybrid

A few months ago, the Hyundai Sonata has been given its full model change under the LF codename and for this new generation, it focuses on four terms; RUN. TURN, STOP, and PROTECT. RUN refers to the engine choices, TURN refers to the handling characteristics although this new model now comes with some multilink cleverness, STOP and PROTECT refers to the safety features. It was launched prior to the upcoming 30th anniversary of the Sonata next year since its debut late 1985 and while the rapidly-growing carmaker has big plans for the Sonata's 30th birthday next year, they've added a new Hybrid model to the mix.

2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

The new and improved Sonata Hybrid still emphasizes on four terms; RUN. TURN, STOP, and PROTECT, while delivering its own blend of fuel-efficiency for the roads of today. On the exterior view, the Sonata Hybrid features a different look than the standard model judging from its different front grille, new alloy wheels, and a new rear lamp design that is very different from the standard model.

2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid interior

On the inside, it looks pretty much the same as the normal Sonata and it's lavishly equipped with cutting-edge technology that will seduce you to its connectivity whim. Plus, it's surprisingly comfortable as well even in the back seats just like the original. The only difference in the Hybrid model is this 4.2 Color TFT LCD on the dashboard that monitors how I'm driving. It monitors how fuel-efficient am I driving, the range, the mileage, and so on. There's so much to explore about the new interior from the driver's point of view.

2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid speedometer
Now, let's talk more about the biggest improvement on the hybrid drivetrain. For the brand new Sonata Hybrid, the 2.0L Nu engine as seen from the previous YF Sonata Hybrid model has been given the GDi treatment. Yes. It now comes with Gasoline Direct Injection so it's now more powerful than ever with 156PS of power output. This new engine is mated with an electric motor generating 38kW of power and an improved Li-ion battery with 13.3% higher capacity and relocated under the boot floor for added space at the back. Sounds good enough for us and with the 6-speed automatic gearbox, the new model delivers a combined fuel economy of 18.2km/L. That's two times less than its rivals from Japan but don't be fooled because it's much more engageable to drive rather than those CVT-powered hybrid saloons from this class.

2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Just like the normal model, the new Sonata Hybrid comes with some optional safety features including the Forward Collision Warning System, Advanced Smart Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning System, Blind Spot Detection, and not to mention the Advanced Smart Parking Assist System where you can let the parking all by itself when it spots a vacant parking space. Looks like this hybrid saloon really sticks true to its promise that its petrol-powered version delivers.

The new Sonata Hybrid starts at 28,700,000 up to 32,000,000 Korean Won plus additional costs for optional extras depending on the variant.

Available colors: Ice Mint, Ice White, Platinum Silver, Polished Metal, Night Sky, Remington Red, and Phantom Black.

Photo: Toyota Motor Corporation

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

CHRISTMAS 2014 - What is a Simbang Gabi?

We begin our special CHRISTMAS 2014 post with a little question that foreigners travelled to the Philippines got their heads scratching for the answer. Just what is a Simbang Gabi?

My first day at this year's SIMBANG GABI

Simbang Gabi (mass at night) is a novena of Masses in honor of the Mother of God to prepare for the celebration of the birth of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. This celebration dates back in the 1500's and it's part of the Spanish friars' plan to catechize the Filipinos on the birth of Our Lord and on Mary's role in the Incarnation. For the year 2014, it started since the 16th of December 2014 and it runs until the 24rd of December, 2014 and like all Simbang Gabis in the past, the masses started at early dawn (think 5:00 AM in the Philippine Standard Time or so).

Well, since I don't want to turn this into a history lesson, let me tell you about my first simbang gabi experience since last year. You see, when me and my grandparents went to the church on the first day of Simbang Gabi, I was skeptical at first but when others starting to think that if whoever completes all nine days of Simbang Gabi gets to grant a wish, it was like I'm accepting this challenge and I'm on it.

Nine days of Simbang Gabi is like nine episodes of Brainiac Science Abuse Season 4 for me because like that discontinued show I mentioned, masses take about an hour or so to finish and surviving the night (or day because they all starts at early morning) is an easy task but behaving in the church during the duration of the mass is a challenge. I was trying to act normal but all the urges are trying to distract my behavior so I try to fight it until this mass is over. No one says it's that easy.

Having managed to survive nine days of simbang gabi, I try to grant my wish and what's that wish I'm granting is everyone's guess but it involves "freeing the world from possible threats" or something because our world's facing a massive resistance from a massive stretch of land and someone's watching from up high, too. That's why I'm wishing to free this world from both of these threats and we're going to witness it.

Anyway, that's my simbang gabi experience and for this year, things are going to be very different because I already done my first day and tomorrow, I'll be going for my day two of the nine-day Simbang Gabi at our nearby church. Until then, happy Simbang Gabi, everyone!

Let's Do The News! (December 16, 2014)

Welcome back. Here is your current sitrep:

- At least three people are reported dead, including the gunman, after armed policemen put this Sydney cafe siege to the end. According to some reports, the hostage taker behind the siege, named Man Haron Monis, had list of grievances against people oppressing Muslims.

- A US law firm is preparing a nationwide class-action lawsuit against Takata, and other carmakers over the defective airbag system. Over 50 damages suits have already been filed against the said Japanese car parts maker and some of the Japanese carmakers, including Honda and Toyota.

- Health authorities in Japan's Miyazaki Prefecture confirmed the H5 strain of bird flu in chickens from a local poultry farm. They've conducted genetic tests after 29 chickens that died on Sunday and Monday and they found the toxic strain of avian flu in 3 of 5 samples. Japanese officials are on their effort to prevent the widespread of this latest avian outbreak.

- According to the United Nations, over tens of thousands of civilians are killed in South Sudan during a year of warfare and the nation's top leaders are putting their "personal ambitions" ahead of the future of their nation.

- A few days ago, there was a viral video about an airport police who berated a taxi driver after he refused to surrender his license at the NAIA Terminal 3 and netizens wondering if that cop did smashed the taxi's windows or so they thought. Now, the Philippine National Police's Aviation Security Group disowned the said airport cop from the viral video.

- The Reporters Without Borders reported that a total of 66 reporters were killed from barbaric attacks this year and 119 were abducted due to conflicts in Ukraine, Libya, and the Middle East.

- Jaguar Land Rover tries to prove that the future is now thanks to science because they'll be developing their brand-new 360 Virtual Urban Windscreen system, which features a Transparent Pillar System and the Follow-Me Ghost Car Navigation System which took inspiration from video games.

360 Virtual Urban Windscreen system

- Bandai Namco Games streamed a promotional video of their upcoming Ace Combat 3D Cross Rumble + game for the 3DS, which is set to go on sale next month. This updated version of the 2012 3DS game features compatibility with Nintendo's amiibo figures which gives them special aircraft depending on their amiibo figure of their choosing.

- Seishiro Tsugumi from the Nisekoi anime series gets her very own Beach Queens figure from Wave, joining the ranks between Kosaki Onodera and Chitoge Kirisaki. She'll be available this June 2015 for 6,200 Yen.

Beach Queens Seishiro Tsugumi

- Click here to check out the latest trailer for the upcoming Shake, Rattle, and Roll XV, which is the official entry to the 2014 Metro Manila Film Festival opening in Philippine cinemas Christmas day. In this latest installment of the hit horror anthology franchise, we can expect a snake creature lurking through the mall, a family turned into monsters, and a tiyanak hijacked a plane. Expect thrills, spills, and a few laughs this film delivers.


FIA Formula E Championship - Punta del Este

On the third round of the inaugural FIA Formula E championship, held at Punta del Este, Uruguay,we saw former F1 racer who represents the e.dams racing team, Sebastien Buemi snagged his first win of the season after managing to fend off against two Brazilian racers, one is China Racing's Nelson Piquet Jr. and the other is Lucas di Grassi from Audi Sport ABT.

Here are the highlights from last weekend's ePrix:

The next race will be at Buenos Aires this 10th of January, 2015.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Toyota MIRAI (JPD10)

The year 2014 brought us one of the most important cars in history since when it first made and here it is. Meet the MIRAI. The Toyota MIRAI to be more exact and it's probably just another four-door Toyota but don't be alarmed.

2015 Toyota MIRAI

Judging by the way it looks, the MIRAI kinda really looks like an ordinary car and it's like driving a Toyota for normality reasons. Although this is a normal car, the MIRAI, true to its name, proves that the future is now thanks to science and thanks to science, the MIRAI is the brand's first hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

In the past, carmakers like Honda and BMW first introduced fuel-cell vehicles but their FCVs were only available for lease. For the MIRAI, this is the first ever FCV to be available for sale to the motoring public. They can purchase one now at their nearest Toyota or Toyopet showrooms all over Japan but the pricing starts at 7,236,000 Japanese Yen. However, first-time buyers won't need to worry because the Japanese government will subsidize 2,252,900 Yen so it's now priced at 4,983,100 Yen or under $50,000.

2015 Toyota MIRAI interior

2015 Toyota MIRAI interior

Get ready because it's going to be one heck of a science lesson right about how the MIRAI works as an FCV for the selected masses.

Because hydrogen is highly flammable, the MIRAI stores its hydrogen in two hydrogen tanks made of CFRP and fiberglass-reinforced plastic layer for the outer shell. These two hydrogen tanks can store a combined 122.4L of fuel or 5kg of hydrogen. It's capable of doing 650km of driving range. That sounds plenty although actual driving mileage can vary.

The hydrogen fuel that powers the MIRAI is measured in kilograms and one kilogram of hydrogen costs 1,100 Yen and filling up takes three minutes or so. Although hydrogen has the same price as petrol, it will never run out because hydrogen is one of the most abundant chemical substance in the universe.

Mind you, if you're going to refuel it with hydrogen at your nearest hydrogen-filling station, it's just like filling your car with petrol and the only difference is because this is under pressure and you'll have to lock it with the lever. This is important stuff because if you don't, you'll be spilling hydrogen on the floor. Yes, we heard that lecture from someone but take serious precaution because you might think that hydrogen really is water but not all hydrogens are created equal.

Unlike petrol-powered cars that emits smoke for some reasons, the only emission from the Toyota MIRAI is water but some say, it's safer than drinking milk so...who wouldn't dare to drink water out of it but for the love of all things holy, don't. I wouldn't mind drinking water out from that car's like tap water to us so I'm not very sure if it's safe to drink one out from the MIRAI's emission.

2015 Toyota MIRAI

Performance-wise, the MIRAI is not bad for a family car with four-doors and four seats. I mean, this saloon develops 155PS of power, which is more than what you get from the lease-only Honda FCX Clarity, and its top speed is about 175kph so it's not half bad. Although I'm not going to pretend that it's a lot fun to drive than any other petrol-powered saloon but it feels like a sport saloon as I corner one through the bends.

The MIRAI may be an awful car to look at but as one suggests, it's a clever car that will save your weekend cars, much like when the car is invented to save the horses. That's logic stuff because when horses got rode by humans, they're starting to feel the exhaustion and the pain but when the car came in, they're free to do whatever they want. The same thing happen with petrol-powered cars and with this fuel-cell car, looks like those amazing gas-guzzlers will have their lives prolonged for a while.

I believe that the new Toyota MIRAI is now one of the most important cars for a centennial and it really fits to the lifestyle we're facing now. Think about it, we have lots of memories going around with our own cars. We get in, drove it as far as we like, we fill it with petrol, and we kept going and going. That is the cycle of what a petrol-powered car does but when others are looking for a replacement, say electricity, it feels like we're reverting back to the stone age once again.

With this car, today's going to be a great day thanks to science.

Available colors: Two-Tone Pure Blue Metallic, Two-Tone White Pearl Crystal Shine, Two-Tone Precious Silver, Two-Tone Precious Black Pearl, Two-Tone Dark Red Mica Metallic, Two-Tone Dark Blue Mica.

Photo: Toyota Motor Corporation

Let's Do The News! (December 15, 2014)

Welcome back. Here is your current sitrep:

- The Olongapo City Prosecutor's Office charged US Marine Private First Class Scott Joseph Pemberton for murder of a Filipino transgender Jeffrey "Jennifer" Laude. A 23-page resolution of the preliminary investigation, as confirmed by City Prosecutor Emile delos Santos, recommended murder raps against this US soldier. Although premature, the city prosecutor said there were "aggravating qualifying circumstances" to charge Pemberton.

- On the Japanese general elections, the Liberal Democratic Party led by PM Shinzo Abe and its coalition partner, Komeito, scored 326 seats out of 475 in the Lower House. That's one more than they won in the last election two years ago. This win will allow the re-enactment of bills rejected by the Upper House.

- There was a hostage drama occurred at the Lindt cafe in the Australian capital city Sydney. Five people have escaped the building although no one knows how many are in that cafe but reports told, there was a black Islamic flag displayed at the window. The flag in question is similar to the one used by jihadist groups but it's different from the one used by the ISIS in the Middle East.

- The last protest site located at Hong Kong's Causeway Bay has been cleared by the police. They managed to arrested some of the demonstrators upon clearing the last remaining pro-democracy protest site. With all of the protest sites removed, Hong Kong leader CY Leung declared an end to the "illegal occupation activities".

- The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine National Police conducted a surprise inspection in the New Bilibid Prisons as part of their crackdown against illegal activities inside the prison cells and other parts of this maximum security area.

- A few days ago, there was a scandal occurred from Korean Air about the daughter of the company's chairman who stopped a flight to sack one of the airline staff after serving her a bag of macadamia nuts. That name of that particular person is Cho Hyun-ah, the head of cabin service and the oldest child of Korean Air chairman Cho Yang-ho. That "nut rage" made a disgrace not just for her family nor the company but the entire nation of South Korea so she resigned from her executive roles amid violent reactions about her tantrum.

Despite the "macadamia" scandal in Korean Air, sales of macadamia nuts in South Korea have been skyrocketing. It's like this whole scandal occurred was a blessing for these macadamias sold in South Korean stores.

- This week's Jay Leno's Garage highlights the Ronin RS 211, a tuned Lotus with 680HP of power output coming from its 1.8L engine and heavily inspired from the track-focused 2-Eleven.

- The latest update from the Real Racing 3 app game features Scuderia Ferrari's racing machine from the past and the present such as the 1950 375 F1, the 1995 412 T2, and the 2014 F14-T. Three generations, three challenges. Also, the Monza racetrack has been added for this update. So go ahead, check out the latest RR3 update by yourself and experience the speed these three machines has to offer.

- Long John Silver's, one of America's biggest seafood restaurant, lands in the Philippines for the first time at the SM City Manila Ground Floor.

- Here's your first look at the upcoming Terminator: Genisys trailer, which will hit theaters this Summer 2015. Continuing where Salvation left off, John Connor, leader of the human resistance, continues the war against machines but there's a bigger threat coming on him as SkyNet will attack him on both fronts; past and future. This film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke, Emilia Clarke, Jai Courtney, J.K. Simmons, Dayo Okeniyi, Lee Byung-Hun, and Matt Smith.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Let's Do The News! (December 14, 2014)

Welcome back. Here is your current sitrep:

- Over 20 people died and 88 people missing in the Indonesian landslide.

- The Malacanang mulls declaring non-working holidays next month in an event Pope Francis arrives in the Philippines from Jan. 15 to 19. Philippine Airlines, meanwhile, will close flights to Tacloban on Jan. 17 for the Pope's visit.

- Haitian PM Laurent Lamothe announced his resignation along with several ministers in the midst of violent protests against the Haitian government.

- Meanwhile in the USA, tens of thousands of people are protesting against the killings of black people by white police officers. About 25,000 demonstrators gathered at the nation's capital and marched through Capitol Hill.

- The Japanese general elections are underway and citizens are casting their votes. So far, voter turnout is lower than the previous election held two years ago.

- Four separate Taliban attacks in 2 days killed 21 people in Afghanistan, sparking concerns about the nation's lack of security before most foreign troops withdraw.

- The second-generation Audi Q7 has been revealed and the new model lost 325kg of weight. It's set for its 2015 NAIAS debut next month.

2016 Audi Q7

- The new Audi RS3 Sportback is here and it's now the most powerful hot hatch in the market thanks to its 2.5 TFSi engine developing 362HP of power, more than the Mercedes-AMG A45!

2016 Audi RS3 Sportback
- All 918 units of the Porsche 918 Spyder hybrid supercar have already been sold.


Gran Turismo 6: The BMW M4 M Performance Edition

Daytona Road CourseDaytona Road Course_1Daytona Road Course_2

This is the BMW M4 except for one thing, it isn't. Of course, it kinda looks like an M4 but by the looks of it, it's becoming more of a safety car of some sorts. What this is is called the BMW M4 Performance Edition, and this special kind of M4 is playable in the world of Gran Turismo 6 via the current update.

City of Arts and Sciences - Night_3

Appeared at the 2014 SEMA Show and made for Gran Turismo fans, this Gran Turismo-original M4 is designed to recreate the image of safety cars used in certain motorsports. Underneath, it's still the BMW M4 we know. It still comes with the 3.0L BMW TwinPower Turbo 6-cylinder engine developing 425HP of power and 405.9ft-lb of torque and it's mated with the 7-speed DCT gearbox.

City of Arts and Sciences - Night_4

I know it behaves like a normal M4 judging by its disappointed noise and its power steering issues but what's so cool about this special M4 is the optional lighting to the roof and you can buy this accessory for the M4 Performance Edition at the Custom Parts section on the My Home screen.

When they see one from behind, it feels like they're being pursued by a pace car for no reason and this special M4 with the lighting accessory on the roof really turns the hunters into the hunted and the hunted becomes the hunter on the road and on the track. Try not to mess with this one cause this one's coming at your six.

Suzuka Circuit 2014Suzuka Circuit 2014_1Suzuka Circuit 2014_2Suzuka Circuit 2014_3

I decided to try the M4 M Performance Edition on the Suzuka Circuit, now with the 2014 update to replicate what's Suzuka Circuit looks like today. This 2014 update Suzuka Circuit features new replay angles, newly resurfaced west course, relocation of crashpads and guardrails, addition of circuit objects, and the revision of the final chicane. It supports time-of-day changes and with the guardrail at the Spoon Curve gone, getting through is now accessible to drivers.

Even with the new update, it still feels like the same Suzuka Circuit as we know it and this special kind of M4 enjoys warming up for the challenge I'm setting up for it. It looks like it's having a little free time in the real-world track over there.

Suzuka Circuit 2014_4

Since this M4 M Performance Edition is a pace car made for the world of Gran Turismo, I decided to compare this one to another pace car made for the world of Gran Turismo and I think I got the answer.

Suzuka Circuit 2014_5Suzuka Circuit 2014_6

This is the GRAN TURISMO SKYLINE GT-R Pace Car. It's based on the R34 Skyline GT-R, this Gran Turismo-original machine features a unique livery that you won't find anywhere else a long time ago and a bright rotating emergency lights on the roof that makes opponents think they're being pursued by this car. It still features the same RB26DETT engine as the R34 model producing 276HP of power and 289.3ft-lb of torque and it features Nissan's legendary 4WD drivetrain.

Even if it's a pace car, it feels like an R34 GT-R, which is still a favorite among speedo boys everywhere. The 4WD system really feels like it's sticking to the road and as a track-proven machine that lapped round the Nurburgring quicker than the R33, it's pretty impressive as well.

After one lap, the GRAN TURISMO SKYLINE GT-R Pace Car set a lap time of 2:29.148.

Suzuka Circuit 2014_7Suzuka Circuit 2014_8

The M4 M Performance Edition maybe rear-wheel drive but it's lighter and more powerful than the GT-R Pace Car but is it any better? Although it has a big advantage against the GT-R Pace Car, its tendency to oversteer is one too many, spoiling your progress, but doing it well makes everything better and approaching to the finish line is as smooth as a baby's buttock.

And the time...2:22.214! In the end, it's official. This BMW M4 M Performance Edition makes it a perfect pace car even without the emergency lights on the top.


Uh oh...Looks like someone's busted. Well, I'd better get going now before I'll get noticed by these two. He he he...
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