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. ♥