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.

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. ♥

data, productivity, team collaboration applications | by Joan Narciso

Tools of the Trade: My favorite data, productivity, and team collaboration apps

I’m not sure how many of my friends still don’t know that I’ve left my job that was based in Tarlac and I’m back in Dasma (for good). For over six months now, I’ve discovered the joys of working from home and I’m not sure you can bribe me to find a job that would require me to commute daily ever again.

As my job breathes and lives online, I communicate with colleagues using various online tools for communication, collaboration, file sharing, data recording & analysis, process documentation and implementation, and monitoring productivity.

Of course, email, Skype, and Google Drive or Drop Box are given. But, there are desktop and mobile apps I personally love. Sometimes, I get really amazed at what a certain app can do that I share it with some friends and former officemates. So not to annoy them individually anymore, I compiled my favorites and hope these could help some of you at your own workplaces or even with personal goal setting.



This is my absolute, absolute favorite sticky notes upgrade. If you’re a to-do list person, I guarantee you would love Trello!

Here, you can categorize your tasks how you want it: per urgency, importance, or type of work to be done. It also eliminates back and forth emails as you can invite teammates to join the board where you can tag them and share updates on specific topics. You can attach files, images, and even connect this to your work calendar.

data, productivity, team collaboration applications | by Joan Narciso

Trello’s interactive lists and cards are so easy to create and monitor that I even use it for my personal dream/goals board. I even have a board for what our family aims to buy by order of what’s important & urgent, important but not urgent, urgent but not important, and not urgent & not important.

If you need more inspiration on how to make full use of Trello’s features, you can visit their inspiration gallery here.



Airtable has Trello’s features but it has way more than what Trello can offer. It is like a mutation of spreadsheets, almost fully automating different types of reports on a given data set with just a few clicks.

For starters, it could just be a basic spreadsheet like Google Sheets. But once you’ve filled the grids with data, the spreadsheet can transform to mini presentation cards, automated calendars, and individual cards that are loaded with information.

It’s also a team collaboration app so you can easily tag people, assign tasks to team members, and track deadlines. You can also make forms from Airtable and the answers sync automatically with your tables.

Whether you’re in sales, software development, editorial, or events and marketing, I’m confident you’d find this a better way to keep track of things at work. They have handy video tutorials, too if you’re a audio-visual learner.



I work with multiple tabs open at a time. Sometimes, that could take a toll on my laptop’s performance; s I try to minimize using extra applications when I could. When I need to take screenshots, and this is especially needed for creating process documentation files, I no longer use the snipping tool, or some similar application. Instead, I use FireShot. It’s a Google Chrome extension that allows you to take a screenshot, edit, annotate, copy and paste it wherever you need it even without saving the picture. And it doesn’t eat a lot of your laptop’s memory and disk performance.



Am I alone in thinking all this time that Bitly is just a URL shortener? Haha! Well, I learned it isn’t. You can use it to customize every single link you use which could help increase website engagement, as well as monitor the clicks and visits that those links get.


Canva for Work

I’m not a big Adobe Photoshop fan. Partly because my innate creativity gets sapped when mixed with too much technicalities to work around. Excuses. Gladly, there’s Canva for my 2-minute blog banners and quick and easy cards.

But it’s 2018 and no good application out there simply remain good. They just have to keep improving. Hence, Canva for Work. It’s a click and save tool for making sure you are following your company, team, or blog’s branding. Pick your colors, fonts, and logos and it will be easier for you to stick to those things when creating new content.


Bonus Tip for Windows 10 users:If you ever need to create documentation or instruction videos, you don’t have to download a special screen recording software. XBox, a built-in software I almost disabled, does the job.Just open the app you need to record, press Windows + G,  and select “Yes, this is a game” checkbox to load the Game Bar. Click on the recording button and start recording your screen.