Review: ‘Two Lights: Relúmĭno’

Not a second bit was wasted on mere motion. As a short film, it made sure every bitrate carried a certain emotion, or sometimes a combination of two. For a story about people with impaired vision, the characters’ eyes spoke so much of words only the soul could read and understand.

Watching the story unfold made me feel In Soo’s adjustment to his gradual loss of sight. I felt his quiet strength in keeping on, not letting his ordeal get in the way of life. It wasn’t in 3D but I felt how he almost slipped into despair, letting the physical darkness envelope his heart. I felt how Sooyoung’s bright heart became the hand that lead Insoo back to a brighter path.

It’s heart-warming that the movie gently reminded physically-abled people how to truly help those with disabilities. Without saying it outright, the director made the viewers see the importance of giving a sense of independence to those whose lives suddenly took a turn because of an illness or impairment. True, they got sick but the person can still do a whole lot on his/her own. It’s important we don’t take that away from them, too.

As expected, Han Ji Min and Park Hyung Sik had chemistry that made my heart flutter. I am glad that the story ended on a happy note, albeit openly. It feels as though a part two could hurt my heart, not that I’m not eager to see a follow-up story.

But for this short little and inspiring ad, I’d say the story was perfect for feeeling all warm and fuzzy, falling in love with Insoo and Sooyoung as they will their hearts to see beyond the blurry, gloomy, dark parts of life. It’s a refreshing spray of hope that even when you’re not looking, or even when you cannot look to see, love will find those it’s meant to find. When it does, I hope we all be as confident and trusting as the two.

Note: Images and stills are from the movie produced by Samsung. You may watch it on Youtube or VLive.

**This post first appeared on my now archived site, Kaleidoscope Wonders, in December 2017.

buy-bust-blog | movie review |

A note on the action scenes in ‘BuyBust’

There are movies made to entertain, made to make the viewers swoon, made to inspire, made to talk about the past, made to display a few people’s fantasies about the future. Then there’s BuyBust, a movie made like a mirror to show us how much mess we are in these days. 

BuyBust is now on Netflix and you should see it more than once. Schools and communities should encourage the youth to think the movie through. It’s an action film which centered on Nina Manigan (Anne Curtis), a police officer who survives a night of BuyBust that was rigged before it even began. 

Screen-grabbed from Netflix PH

I give five stars to film director Erik Matti and his team for an excellent commentary on the Duterte administration’s fake war on drugs. The film showed how complicated the drug mess is in this country and that waging war on it isn’t the one size, fits all solution.

It didn’t demonize one side of the coin and hailed the other. But it showed that in all these, the poor and the powerless and the ordinary citizens (like Nina Manigan and even that Hudas of a police officer waiting outside the slum area) get caught in between. And the rich? The powerful? Oh, they went on with their extravagant lives. Biggie Chen explained it best.

I’ve seen reviews about the action scenes in BuyBust and how it lacks a lot compared to its counterparts. I think it is brilliant that most of the action sequences looked a bit animated. Anne Curtis, Brandon Vera and the rest of the cast mostly looked like video game characters during fight scenes. The film is 2h7m total and Erik Matti gave very few scenes a slow down. In those scenes, a character’s gruesome death or remark would hit us, shock us. 

Isn’t that a portrayal of our country and how facts are presented to us? Equally important, isn’t that a portrayal of how Filipinos see, feel, react to, and (sadly, rarely) think about what is presented to us–our history, current events, and our nation’s future? Most of the time, the news is animated for us. Be it the current administration’s “war” on drugs, corruption in the government, our islands getting taken over by China, our flailing economy, and more. Then, once in a while, some news hit close to home and we pause to take the shock.

If you’re looking to watch a suspenseful, action-packed movie, there are a plenty on Netflix and BuyBust is just one of them. But if you’re looking for a work of fiction that challenges our reality as a nation, BuyBust is a must-see, a masterpiece, a necessary film for this generation and the future ones.

Switched | Part 2 from the series on why I'm pursuing a home-based career | a blog by Joan Narciso

[Series] My Work-from-Home Story: Personal Reasons

Hello again. Last time (read it here), I shared how I made sense of the growing number of people choosing to explore and thrive in the growing online community of business and professional services. 

Offline, friends would ask me what made me switch to this career path. I’m putting this out here as a compiled list because I’ve seen how some could relate to my reasons and tried looking for home-based jobs, too; while some, despite having shared some of my reasons, decided that they are not fit for work that doesn’t require them to change into office clothes and leave the house daily.

My hope is that, somehow, this would help you weigh your options and next steps as a young professional. 


In Tarlac City, my place was just in walking distance from our office. SM and nearby restaurants were just a tricycle away. But on Friday nights that I commute to Dasma, the bus was where I would have dinner, half of my night’s sleep, and a kdrama episode or two.

Three years of travelling between Dasma and Tarlac and the occasional work trips to other parts of the Philippines got me physically exhausted. My posture worsened with years of slouching in buses. Every time I pass along EDSA, I always muttered that I can’t imagine commuting everyday from Dasma to Makati/BGC/Manila and back. 

Needless to say, my top-of-mind reason for choosing to work from home is to avoid Cavite and Metro Manila’s heavily congested roads.

F I N A N C I A L  F R E E D O M

Our family isn’t rich (as most of the Filipino families I know). See, you have to be rich to know a lot of rich families.

I was privileged enough to have education but even that privilege had cost my mother loans after loans. I was privileged enough to be a youth leader in our church which helped me discover my skills and put them to work. I was privileged enough to have my eyes open to the needs of our society, our country. 

What I did not have back then is the privilege of choosing a career that doesn’t pay well just because it’s fulfilling. I went against that though. I have responsibilities that I put aside because I was taught and convinced that my great potential should be used for a greater cause. I didn’t mind not being rich, I’m fulfilled and blessed. But overtime, not being rich meant getting more loans when my old parents are sick, or when I have to pursue further studies that no one else would support because I’m an adult now, or not taking time off work even when my body needs it because every peso counts, or not having enough power and influence to help those in need. 

Now, I recognize that I could have spent 2, 3, even 5 years pursuing a career that really pays well (locally or overseas) even if it’s not for a great cause so long as it is decent. I realize now that there is nothing wrong with jobs that pay bills and settle loans and help raise a family’s living standards. 

I recognize now that had I recognized that earlier in life, I would now have the means to pursue further studies, master my skills, and help more people. 

But let’s go back to the point of this post… I chose a home-based career because with the right client/s, I would get paid well.

Getting paid well means financial freedom. This freedom would mean I’d have time to use my skills and resources for  the greater causes I believe and support. This freedom would mean I could help my community. And maybe, just maybe, this freedom would lead me to a life that is privileged enough to choose a career that doesn’t pay well enough. 

M E N T A L  H E A L T H

I loved my last job but its environment was a bit too far from being stress-free. After some time, it took a toll. I was depressed, and I would forever be grateful for the support I got from family and close friends who loved me despite all the bad decisions I made on impulse during those tough times. 

I was mid-management in my last job. My mistake was taking it personally and growing frustrated when the top management and the staff could not see eye to eye. When it was clear that it’s time for me to leave, I didn’t know what to do next. All I knew was I didn’t want a repeat of the issues I experienced from a mid-management post.

Should I establish my own business? Ha, not enough capital (see previous point). If I join the government, I might get exposed to more frustrating scenarios that could trigger depression once again. If I go back to corporate, will there be an individual contributor post that will not force me to socialize when I literally don’t have the energy for it? 

Needless to say, the setting of a home-based job offered me the room to recuperate. Without the usual pressures put on by corporate culture, I was able to focus on my deliverables and still have moments of the day for healing and rest. 

It took me some time to go out again after coming home. I prayed, read a lot, spent a lot of time consuming content online and just being home. I got my confidence back as I proved myself still able to deliver excellent work. I quietly sought healing and grace. One morning, I found myself reconnecting to old friends and to people in general. I found my niche. I began writing dreams and goals again. And I’m keeping the hard lessons from previous experiences as I’m opening myself up again to new things. 


I admit that part of the attraction of working from home is the flexibility it offers. From being the person who has to check her schedule before meeting with friends, I can now adjust to the availability of my friends. I also don’t have to rise up early, doll up for work and get home late just to have dinner and sleep. 

When I’ve cleared my financial obligations and have achieved my personal goals next year, I’m sure I’d want to travel again. And with a remote job, I can take my laptop wherever I go and work there. 

I also have time to work on personal projects like this blog, and pursuing creative hobbies with my multi-potentialite sisters.

With the flexibility of my work schedule, I have time to study, too. There are tons of continuing and further studies available online and I’m thankful that my client supports my drive to learn new crafts and improve my current skill set.

And those are my reasons. I say it’s personal because I don’t want to be that person who had a personal aha! moment and then went on to convince everyone else that this should be their path, too. While I’m very glad to discuss this with people, I only ever recommend this to friends whose stories I personally know. Even though I said in my previous post that our generation is generally multi-potentialite, I’d say there will always be people who are specialists and are fit & very much needed in big corporations and government offices. Also, there are companies who encourage multi-potentiality and they pay well, too. 

But if you’re in a state in your life where you also don’t know what to do next in your career path and you find these reasons sort of relatable, come back next week and I’ll write about how I determined the kind of jobs I’d be looking for, which online sites I explored, and how I got hired in two weeks.

Review and tips on getting more than what you paid for Scribd + Audible + Kindle | by Joan Narciso

Scribd is definitely BETTER than Audible & Kindle combined!

Attention my reader friends! And my not-so reader friends (yes! you might find this worth trying by the end of this post).

I just discovered Scribd’s bigger, better and hotter version of itself. See, Scribd used to be just that one better than Wikipedia Google page result for presentations, transcripts and research papers that can add substance to my college papers. Not anymore. Scribd now offers a monthly membership plan that includes unlimited access to audiobooks, ebooks, magazines, documents (yes, the kinds I looked for in college and more), and even music sheets!

I may have been quite late into the news but I’m happy to have discovered this now. But first, a little backstory, if you may indulge me.

About two months ago, I discovered Trevor Noah‘s Netflix comedy special.  I was an instant fangirl of his wit & humor. And true to my fangirl instincts, I looked him up online and watched all his other comedy specials, binged-watched The Daily Show, and found out he wrote a book about his life growing up in South Africa. The book isn’t available in local bookstores at that time so I signed up for Audible’s free trial which gives new members 1 free book + 2 Audible originals. Using my free credit, I got Trevor’s Born a Crime and I FELL IN LOVE. Not only was his story amazing and worth-sharing, his narration was ever engaging too.

And that’s how I started thinking of continuing my Audible membership. It was a pleasant surprise that I liked audiobooks. I found it to be a more valuable use of my time rather than just listening to my Spotify playlists while on the road or when I’ve finished my to-do lists at work, just waiting for emails.

Still, Audible’s $14.95 per month was too pricey for my budget. But before I cancelled, I took advantage of Audible’s refund policy where they allow members to return a book in exchange of another using the monthly credit they give. So, for the free trial (not spending anything yet), I got to listen to 2 books using 1 credit. Yay! Plus, there were a few free Freakonomics and other interesting podcasts I downloaded, too. Only then did I cancel. I got to keep the free podcasts and the 2nd audiobook I exchanged for Born a Crime which was Andy Stanley’s Irresistible.

I can still purchase audiobooks from Audible but the 30% discount exclusive to members won’t be available to me anymore.

Audible Membership Exclusives

Audible membership packages |
If $14.95/month or approximately P800 isn’t too much for you,  you’ll get the following:

  • 1 credit/month which can be used to avail any book from Audible’s 2,000,000-strong catalog;
  • 2 Audible originals (which I wasn’t personally crazy about);
  • 30% discount on all other audiobooks (which was kind of pointless for me because I already paid a membership fee and I still have to pay extra if I want more books in a month? No, thanks.
  • Access to daily book sales (Again, I still have to pay extra??);
  • Some free podcasts that you have to really look for and decide which ones match your interests; and
  • Keep the offline versions of your previously downloaded books even after you cancel.
  • If you have an Amazon Kindle account, you get extra discounts when you purchase both the audiobook and ebook.

I admit that I have been consuming less books than I used to since the age of Netflix and Viu but those two audiobooks got me on a high thirst for more. So I started looking for alternatives.

I was even ready to risk my not-so bothering astigmatism and asked if Kindle Unlimited is available in the Philippines. It’s not.

Fortunately, Scribd stepped up their game. For just $8.99/month or about P470, members get unlimited access to audiobooks, ebooks, magazines, documents, and music sheets! That’s a lot of resources you can consume in a month! I can finish a really good book in a day or a week so I’m happy dancing at this discovery.

Scribd Membership Exclusives: Worth every penny!

Scribd Membership Package

Scribd Member Exclusives

I’m on the free trial and have already downloaded and saved/bookmarked about 30 audiobooks and ebooks from my favorite authors. They also have Time Magazine, Foreign Policy, and a whole lot more in their library. Sure, Trevor’s memoir isn’t on Scribd but the rest of what was in my Audible wishlist is there. Best part, I don’t have to wait another month to get 1 free book. Nor do I have to pay extra for more books if I want them now.

Also, see those member exclusives? Scribd says you don’t have to pay extra–as in, those partner sites won’t ask for your billing information–to avail of their free services. It’s so unlike Amazon which makes you pay separately for Kindle, Audible, Amazon Prime Video, Whispersync (although this one’s not available locally, I think). Sribd just keeps outdoing its competitor.

Scribd vs Audible | A review by Joan Narciso published on
I don’t know about you, but I’d say Scribd could soon overtake Audible membership count if the latter doesn’t keep up with the direction of subscription services.

If I still haven’t enticed you enough so you’d try Scribd yourself, here’s my referral link for you. Sign up and you’ll get two months free instead of just one.

If you’re a daily commuter beating the congested roads of the Philippines, or you have a car you drive to and from the house, or you run on the treadmill, I highly suggest you give audiobooks a try. Who knows, it could be a welcome break from streaming too much Netflix, eh?

Not sure which audiobook to try first? Sound in on the comments or message me and I’ll give you some recommendations based on your interests. ♥

Switched | Part 1 from the series on why I'm pursuing a home-based career | a blog by Joan Narciso

[Series] The beginnings of my work-from-home story, part 1

Fresh out of college, one of my then-youth leaders asked me,  “why do you want to be a diplomat? What is it that you want to do? What is it that you believe and think you are called to do?” The clueless but full of conviction younger version of myself only knew to answer that with specific job/calling titles: I want to be an ambassador and a missionary. I want to represent this country to the international community with dignity and honor, and help every Filipino blood overseas.  

We were raised in a culture that mostly defines people by job titles. People good at communications should be journalists or screenwriters or politicians. Those who crunch numbers like snacks should be accountants or engineers. If you grew up with a good sense of defending your thoughts using logic, be a lawyer or a judge. If you like the sciences, well, it’s just right you become a nurse or a doctor. You draw well? Honey, go be an architect.

As the world population grew by generations and new technologies were invented, society had to add a few more titles to the usual ones–pilots, flight attendants, interior designer, you get the gist.

There is a lot of talk-analysis about my generation. We’ve labeled the millennial a lot of things. But one thing I’m proud of is that if there’s a generation who can adapt fast and well to new things, it’s us. And we do it without forgetting the good old stuff. In fact, we integrate. In a sense, and I’d borrow Emilie‘s theory, we’re a generation of multipotentialites. According to her, multipotentialites’ or as I kind of generalize, our generation’s superpowers include: idea synthesis, rapid learning, and adaptability.

We adapt to change quite well and learn real fast, too. Think: cassette players to CDs to torrents to iTunes to Spotify; or Myspace, Friendster, Multiply and now Facebook and Twitter and IG and Snapchat and Youtube filled with self-made vloggers; or landlines to analog cellphones of our titos and titas to Nokia 5110 to smartphones. In all those and many other scenarios, no one sat down with us to teach us how to use the new technology. We don’t need to read manuals because navigating through new stuff is how we learn things.

But my favorite is how we bring the old to the new, innovating & creating new “job titles” for ourselves. The world keeps growing in billions and opportunities might have shrunk a good deal compared to the 60s, but our generation has learned to create new opportunities to explore. There was a time when a very few elites could only be the ones establishing businesses and organizations. Now, together with the younger generation (yes, we’re young but we’re also old), you don’t have to be a super elite to be an entrepreneur. At least in my country, there was a time when there’s just one type of privilege: the rich. I don’t have the statistics but I’d say there’s now a variation of privilege for the not so rich.

We don’t have to be stuck at one title in life–a manager, a stay-at-home mom, an editor, a social worker. We can be all of it or more as much as we give room for learning and growth in our lives. Of course, it’s not a breeze. We have to work hard but as we do, we don’t have to get stuck at doing just one thing while thinking of the many other things we know we can also do.

If I could go back to that one conversation after graduation, I’d tell my ate that I’m pretty organized, detail- and process-oriented; I like matching ideas that generate income and forward a cause for the less-privileged or for my community. I like travelling to new places and discovering cultures and histories. I’d tell her that with those things I know I can do, and like to do, I believe I can help people discover their gifts and skills and untapped resources. I think with the right exposure, I can be an expert in mapping out and implementing processes for individuals and organizations. I’d tell her, I believe, just like a diplomat is not exactly the center of the story (the president is), I appreciate being in the backstory of a person or a team’s success. And I’d add that I dream of being rich myself so I can go from just coaching friends to giving them something to start with no matter how small.

Looking back, I wanted to be an ambassador because it’s prestigious and that’s one position I saw where I can contribute positive change to my country. I realize now I had it backwards. I was looking at shelves of job titles and thinking of what those titles do. I know now to look at what I can do and want to learn to do, and from there decide where to go, what to do. For some people, it’s pretty straightforward and they become specialists in their chosen fields. For people like me, I’m learning to create the jobs and opportunities myself.

I’m not saying I have turned my back on the possibility of a foreign service career. Who knows I might just be unwittingly collecting skill sets that a diplomat of this century needs. Or maybe I unwittingly collected knowledge from that college degree that I could use for my future endeavors. I’ll let you know when I know? 🙂

This is part 1 of the backstory why I’m now an online consultant, process analyst and executive assistant. This is some sort of a rationale.

But of course, there’s a list of personal reasons that led me to this path, too. I will share it here next week, and then write about the things I did when I looked for online, home-based opportunities.

I’m writing this, mostly, for my friends who are curious whether they can also do this themselves. Sure, we could meet up and discuss this over coffee but I figured we (including myself) could use some references for when we wonder why we’re doing what we’re doing, or simply for when someone wants tips on how to thrive on this field.