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Rudy Gobert

Are you ready for the NBA playoffs? I am! | I got my wish NBA-wise: That the San Antonio Spurs and the Utah Jazz do NOT meet in the first round of the playoffs that will begin tomorrow. It’s going to be tough as a fan to see these two teams get eliminated after the first round battles’ smoke clears up but I am hoping both franchise march to the Conference Semifinals. I wish at least one of them goes deep. Of course, best scenario would be for the two teams to face each other in the Western Conference Finals (that can happen as they’re in the right bracket positions) but I think the odds of that taking place is very slim considering the depth of their opponents in their respective groupings this season.

Manu Ginobili

Let’s look at the Spurs first: Tall order to beat the Golden State Warriors. Stephen Curry is out with an injury but it’s not going to diminish the defending champions chances at all in gunning for a back-to-back Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy. (Curry could return by the second round.) A lot of things need to fall in place before the Spurs can pull off an upset. This article from MySA pretty much sums up what those are (and I agree with it so I’ll just link it here): 5 things the Spurs need to do to upset the Warriors. As for the Jazz, they’re matched up with the Oklahoma City Thunder. I think Utah has a better chance of advancing to the next round but they need to take Game 1 away from OKC to be the first to establish the tone. I’m not underestimating the Thunder, not a bit, what with them having Russell Westbrook, Paul George, and Carmelo Anthony. All can light up the scoreboard at any given night. Although this series can definitely go either way, I’m banking my confidence on Utah’s resurgence from being a goner at 19-28 before putting up an impressive run to end the regular season at 48-34. That’s a 29-6 finishing run! (Rudy Gobert was right — they will return to the playoffs even after losing Gordon Hayward to free agency. And they have a great opportunity to go deeper this time than last season, in my opinion.)

I’m ready for the playoffs tip-off! Good luck to your favorites as well. #sanantoniospurs #utahjazz #nba #nbaplayoffs #nbaplayoffs2018

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Yellow!

“Disente” | It’s been acknowledged that the level of discourse in Philippine politics is often at the gutter and I couldn’t agree more. Filipinos can’t seem to take opposing political viewpoints without resorting to some sort of personal vilification as a response. But then there are these people who claim they are “disente” (decent) yet show that they’re worse than the personalities on the other side of the political fence that they love to mock (with matching obscenities to boot) as ignorant and uneducated. The problem with putting yourself too high on a pedestal (like this group known for their holier-than-thou self-righteous veneers) is that you expect them to, at the very least, pretend to be the educated ones in a conversation. So, apparently, since I don’t support this political group known for their boasts of being their god’s chosen people, the heroes and saints of the world, the decent ones, the intelligent ones, I’ve been dismissed as just another idiot who loves dictators (I don’t) and tyrants (I don’t). But that’s how their mind works so I can’t really fault them for their collective line of reasoning.

In a recent tweet of mine (and in a lot of my other tweets, actually), I suggested that the Philippine opposition is out to take the government down — something that is not farfetched since history (and good old sense of hindsight!) show us that this particular group have a penchant for putsches when the one sitting at the Palace is not one of their amigos or amigas. Coup d-état? A dime a dozen in this country (hiding behind an acceptable euphemism like “People Power”) and the last successful one in 2001 was carried out by this same gang which put their then ally on top of the political totem pole. (This same bunch even tried to take out this old friend of theirs a few times after she supposedly refused to intercede on a Supreme Court decision to reverse a ruling asking a humongous hacienda to be distributed to its destitute workers. They didn’t see this coming — their once staunch ally turning her back on them. So rumor has it that the next time they’ll do a power grab, they’ll just do that “revolutionary government” thing all over again a la 1986 so they can sit a member of the family that drives this influential political force. And perhaps rule for as long as they want under the pretext of “saving the country”? But why? These people already control everything from oil, power, water, utilities to mainstream news media and entertainment industry. They’re already draining the blood of the poor masa for the past 30 years or so for the widening income gap they are so largely responsible for yet they can’t stay still when someone not moving their political agenda is sitting at Malacañang.) Apologies for the digression.

And their response to my tweet was, I have “big nostrils”. (These guys must be gods and goddesses of beauty.) And they’re badgering me for “proof” for my coup conjecture. LOL! I mean, what? That’s how “disente” people properly respond? They mock me with their superior condescension. (And these are even anonymous accounts! While I’m all out there for the world to see. This decent person even cussed at me — (I’m sure his mother loves him so much for that) and if he is really smart, he would know that there is this thing called agnostic atheism. But he had to bully me with his awesome intelligence). They badly need to change their approach towards improving the level of conversation especially since they are claiming to be the brainy ones in this country. (To think that their social media machinery is a well-oiled one.) Yet look at the manner by which they engage people they deem to be below them. I mean, yes, these people are filthy rich, I give that to them. They are protecting their way of life, so unnecessarily scared to lose their power somehow. But all their material wealth can’t make them educated and refined. Unquestionably, they are so moneyed, mighty, almost invincible, even above the law! They don’t even need to place one of their puppets at the Palace. Unfortunately, their greed can’t be tempered.

That’s enough negativity for today. LOL! I’m just a small fry anyway, no need to waste their valuable time on me. #philippines #pilipinas #politicaldiscourse #gutter #yellowarmy #dilawan

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David Stockton (c) Salt Lake Tribune

David Stockton | Utah Jazz | I think the Jazz Basketball top brass made a great Public Relations master stroke when they signed David Stockton for the remainder of the season after the expiration of a couple of 10-day contracts. As the Utah Jazz battles for playoff positioning with three games left in the regular season calendar, the addition of Stockton (even though we know he’s not going to play that much — although we also know that he can) is certain to lure the old-time fans of John Stockton to root harder for the current team. (Witness how delighted the Salt Lake City franchise fans were after David nailed his first field goal, a three-pointer at that.) Spiritual boost for the playoff push! (Daddy John can’t be too far away!) And who knows how far the Jazz will go this season. I refuse to believe they’ll simply be just first-round fodder. (What I hate to see is a Spurs-Jazz first-round matchup though for obvious reasons — I root for both franchises — but the possibility of the two teams getting the matchup is very likely.) #davidstockton #utahjazz #jazzbasketball #nba

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Jason Leigh, Portman, Novotny, Thompson, and Rodriguez

“Annihilation” (2018) | A meteor “crashes” on a lighthouse in a mysterious manner and engulfs the structure with a soft light. The glistening expanse surrounding ground zero — which was later sealed off by the US government and simply referred to later as the “shimmer” — starts to grow, immersing areas with its radiance. Three years later, Lena (Natalie Portman), a Johns Hopkins biology professor, eschews a weekend date to paint her bedroom when her husband Kane (Oscar Isaac) — who has been unheard from for over a year since taking part in a covert military operation — returns home announced before quickly succumbing to a seizure. The just-reunited couple was abducted by heavily armed government men while on an ambulance, only to find themselves later in a secret facility called Area X, run and managed by the same authorities monitoring the developments just outside the growing “shimmer”. Apparently, of all the people from official, mostly military missions sent in to investigate the out-of-this-world phenomenon, only a dying sergeant Kane has returned. Of course, Lena had to be part of the next crew. She joins psychologist Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh), paramedic Anya (Gina Rodriguez), geomorphologist Cass (Tuva Novotny), and physicist Josie (Tessa Thompson). Will this new team be able to find out the facts behind the mystery of the Shimmer? Or will they all end up like the previous missions sent in before them?

Annihilation” is available on Netflix Philippines. (I really liked this one. I wonder if director Alex Garland has alternative endings for this.) #annihilation #annihilationmovie #NataliePortman #OscarIsaac #AlexGarland

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Grab Philippines

Wonky Waze GPS or Shady Grab Driver? | Although I get branded (good-natured ribbing, I hope) that I’m a reklamador (complainer) by a couple of people in my circles, I see myself as a person with great patience — a patience level so tremendous I’ve been also scolded for being too nice even when situations warrant for a display of anger (or so they say). I admit I can have a short fuse at times but those are very rare. I learned this slow-to-anger vibe from my father, emulating his cool demeanor even on tough times. All this means I’m not quick at the draw in using Social Media to express my disgust over a service that is not worthy of the standards set by providers.

Until now.

Ang layo ng pin mo sir hind ko napansin

The Wifey and I usually take Uber or Grab going to work. It was Friday high noon, heading to Palm Sunday weekend (I had to put that in so you could somewhat picture traffic situation in Metro Manila on a day so many Filipinos are heading off to their respective provinces or vacation destinations for the coming Holy Week break.) I first sought a ride from Uber but the app’s booking process is taking forever and nothing is coming up. Time wasted: 15 minutes. I switched to the Grab app. I got a booking from a driver whose car is situated along Commonwealth Avenue near Tandang Sora. Based on experience, I almost never get cancellations from drivers along this area as it’s just less than a kilometer from my usual designated pick-up point. After a minute or so, I noticed that something’s amiss — the car is not moving, according to my GPS reading.

Then I got a message from the Grab driver:

“Ang layo ng pin mo sir hindi ko po napansin. Nasa Pasig ako.” | [“Your (pick-up point) pin is too far away, sir. I didn’t notice. I’m at Pasig City.”]

So whose fault it is if he “didn’t notice” where I’m booking my ride from? First off, how careless (or stupid, perhaps?) a driver you are, booking a passenger without paying attention to their pick-up point. Second, he’s not really in Pasig. He’s just nearby. This silly alibi of Grab and Uber drivers are just their way of extricating themselves out of a booked ride they’d suddenly refuse to take. Filipino TNVS (Transport Network Vehicle System) drivers are notorious for this pattern of duplicity.

“Wala ka sa Pasig. Nandiyan ka lang sa Commonwealth. Please naman. Hindi naman bobo mga pasahero n’yo, sir.” | [’You’re not in Pasig. You’re just there along Commonwealth. Oh, please. Passengers are not stupid, sir.’]

I basically exposed him and letting him know that I am aware of this MO of rogue TNVS drivers’ pretending to be so far away from their supposed location so passengers can be tricked into canceling rides. But this one is adamant. And it gets better (or worse, I mean):

“Pipicturan ko si wase ngayon sir tapos pagdating ko diyan ss pin mo papakita ko sayo ah. Pag pasig ako nangaling mag aadd ka sa aakin ng fare. Loko loko yang grab app mo. Ang layo naman ng pasig sa commonwealth” | [“I’ll take a screenshot of my Waze now sir, then when I get to your location, I will show you. If I can prove to you that I came from Pasig, you will pay me more than the designated fare. Your Grab app is crazy! Pasig is too far away from Commonwealth!”]

[Emphasis mine]

Tarantado!

THERE YOU GO! He just wants to be paid more on top of the fare! A scammer! Part of these drivers MO is using previously taken screenshots (captured from various points of Metro Manila) neatly saved in their phones so they can conveniently show their passengers their alleged location in their fraudulent activities. Show you they came from Muntinlupa? Bam! Here’s a screenshot! Prove to you they came from Caloocan when you’re just booking from Makati? Bam! There’s also a screenshot for that, as well! (No, they won’t let you touch their phones so you can inspect the dates of the captures.)

So I’m dealing with a fraudster — a somewhat dumb fraudster. (But dumb fraudsters can be really dangerous as they’re the ones prone to hurting and can be really quick to murder). So I decided to end this transaction:

“I-cancel mo na lang. Huwag kang tatanggap ng booking kung ayaw mo para hindi napeperhuwisyo mga tao sa mga kagaya mo.” | [“Just cancel it. Don’t take passenger bookings you’re not going to honor so passengers like me don’t get inconvenienced by people like you.”)

Slightly miffed. But I’m still cool. I already exposed the thieving driver for his scheme. Yet he still insists he’s in Pasig. But so eager-beaver for an added fee if he can show up at my pick-up point. And as you can see in his reply, I’m starting to get his goat now that I found out his trick. The natural character of the person is starting to show up:

“hindi ko ayaw tarantado yang grab app mo commonwealth nakalagay dyan sayo eh nasa pasig ako.” | [“It’s not that I don’t want to honor your ride, you fool! But your Grab app is showing I’m in Commonwealth when I’m really in Pasig.”]

Okay, so now he's resorting to bad language. So typical of crooks being outed. At this point, my wife and I decided to take another mode of transportation going to work as this is getting ugly and we are running late. I made another plea for the driver to cancel the ride from his end (since he’s the one who doesn’t want to ferry us anyway). But now he’s insisting that I’m the one to initiate the Cancel procedure. Now, I'm upset, so I got a bit carried away and jabbed at him and unscrupulous taxi drivers notorious for swindling their passengers:

“Yung ayaw bumiyahe ang mag-cancel. Taxi driver ka siguro dati sir ano? Haha!” | [“The one who doesn’t want to honor the trip should be the one to cancel. By the way, perhaps you were a taxi driver before, right, sir? Haha!”]

Veiled threat

To round this up, yes, I was late for work. So was the wife. I put my phone in my bag, left the Grab app running. It could truly be a case of GPS going wonky, placing the driver in Commonwealth near Tandang Sora instead of Pasig City, as the driver above keep on insisting. Or it could be what I suspected it to be all along — a scam by drivers so they can swindle their passengers into paying much more than what the riding app mandates. So many similar stories like this going around, even honest TNVS drivers I had chats with while on the road confirmed this MO of some of their corrupt colleagues.

As for the driver? He eventually canceled the booking several minutes after I left my phone unattended. But the scoundrel had the gall to leave this note:

“hindi lahat ng nkkita ng mata tama uy. Tandaan mo yan kaya kaya tigilan mo panghuhusga ng tao, baka diyan ka mapahamak.” | [“Not everything that the eyes see is right. Remember that. So stop judging people, for it could get you into trouble.”)

The Grab driver self-righteously lectured me on judging people after starting to swear and all? And then ended it with a veiled threat? Damn these people! Who are their role models, anyway? So rude and quick to cursing yet pretends to preach in the end? If he is so nice in the first place, then he should have taken the hit and canceled the ride right then and there! That’s part of their rules and regulations. I can’t waste my time on holier-than-thou men who refuse to abide by the law, their company policies, and basic human decency. (Wait. I wrote about him here. So does it mean I wasted my time? Ugh!) #Grab #GrabPhilippines #GrabCar #Scam #Fraud #GPS #Threat #VeiledThreat

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Jae Crowder battle Joe Ingles for the loose ball (Copyright: Spencer Heaps)

Jazz and Spurs @ trade deadline | I’m still trying to wrap my head around the trades (and the non-trades) that my favorite NBA teams — the Utah Jazz and the San Antonio Spurs — just triggered (or not) just before the trade deadline. The Salt Lake City franchise, in a 3-team trade involving the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Sacramento Kings, gave away Rodney Hood and veteran Joe Johnson in exchange for Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose (who is expected to be waived anyway). Of course, there are Jazz faithfuls who have come to love Hood and the trusty vet Joe and openly expressed their honest opinion on the matter through their social media accounts. Regardless, I am sure it won’t take very long before Crowder can endear himself to his new team’s followers. Noted for his defense, toughness, and his ability to comfortably play power forward, shooting forward, and even shooting guard, the Jazz can be more versatile at small ball when needs arise. As for San Antonio, sometimes the best move that you can make is, well, not to make any moves at all. The Spurs is somehow known for keeping their roster intact for the entire season, a thought that long-time veterans Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili echo. Question is, with injuries affecting San Antonio’s rotation throughout the season, can the team remain competitive enough to challenge the Golden State Warriors, the Houston Rockets, and other Western wannabe contenders? Let’s see. #NBA #Basketball #UtahJazz #SanAntonioSpurs #Trades #TradeDeadline

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#6 Michelle Monique Cobb | Screengrab from Sports and Action TV

De La Salle Women’s Volleyball | Lazy Saturday for me and The Wifey, we just stayed at home to catch some much needed sleep. The past week has been somewhat hectic for us work-wise (more for her though) and decided to just relax for the rest of the day. That means just lolling in bed, mostly glued to the TV. Good timing too as UAAP Women’s Volleyball kicked off today and we just watched the action in the comforts of home. The Wifey roots for De La Salle (her alma mater) and the school’s women’s volleyball team is gunning for a three-peat this season and she’s hoping for a good start against a tough University of Santo Tomas squad — which paraded new recruit Italian 6’1" Milena Alessandrini. We were not disappointed as the DLSU Lady Spikers held their ground in a five-setter. Interesting to see Michelle Cobb move to a full-time setter role after serving as backup to Kim Fajardo last season. We’ll see if this works out for the defending champions. #UAAP #Volleyball #Women #DeLaSalleUniversity #MichelleCobb #MichelleMoniqueCobb

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Mulder and Scully (c) Fox

The X-Files — Season 11 | I don’t remember much of the small details concerning the alien invasion arc but so much has happened over the 10 seasons with a couple of official movies to boot all in the last 24 years! Seeing Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) — and their long-time nemesis Cigarette Smoking Man (William B. Davis) — somehow still in the middle of all this plotting and scheming involving extra-terrestrial life can make casual watchers ask when all of this is going to end anyway. But there’s still a certain fascination in me with these characters and the universe they move in I’d just take whatever the creators are scheduled to dish out for Season 11. (LOL!) The huge spoiler near the end of the new season opener is somehow, uhm, how should I put it, shocking but still somehow expected perhaps? Let’s see. #TheXFiles #FoxMulder #DanaScully

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Losses

Goodbye, 2017! | It’s been a bad year. Personal tragedies and losses which led to the unmasking of true natures of certain people within my immediate circle(s). All these developments simply reinforced my lifelong held views not to be fooled by (1) pious facades, (2) intelligent demeanors, and (3) supposedly elite educational backgrounds. In the end, your fellow human beings will judge you for your earning power, how much stash you have in your bank account, how big your house/condo is, how fancy the car you’re driving or even if you have one to begin with, and most importantly, how much you worship money. (And these are the catolico cerrado ones!) If you don’t bend over to the moolah lords, you’re simply branded as someone with no ambition, someone unworthy of any love and attention. (Goodness, universe! How did I end up being with a moneyed yet elitist, judgmental bunch?) Hey, don’t get me wrong. Money is good. It’s a great tool! Contrary to what people say, it can buy happiness, although temporarily. But I’m not a slave to it. Sorry. Never been. (Never will? I don’t know.) But for some reason, people are irked with me for holding that viewpoint.

But it’s also a good year, in a sense. True friends with broad minds and deep understanding came forward and listened. Shared their thoughts and counseled me to stay strong. Also, I fortunately got accepted for a new formal sector employment as well, an important glue that is currently managing my rationality intact, keeping my mind focused on what needs to be done to aspects of my life still worth holding on to. This coming new year is certain to bring tougher challenges on how to stay afloat on a volatile raft down this violent waters we call life. #Goodbye2017 #GoodYear #BadYear #EverythingElseInBetween

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Nuel Raynes (c) Nuel Raynes

You Deserve Someone Better, Girl | I don’t know this young woman personally. Just saw this on my social media timeline because it was shared by a friend. I normally wouldn’t comment on issues like this unless someone close to me is involved. But I’m going to give my ten cents anyway. Couples fight out of minor disagreements to major squabbles. But I draw the line at physical violence. Unfortunately, I know a few who assault their partners. There’s this someone who often beats his wife but gets away with bloody murder every single time because nobody around him have the guts to confront him about his brutality. (Scared about the heat he packs, I was told.) It wasn’t pleasant to be around this vicious alpha male. Being the macho Neanderthal that he is, he constantly criticizes people for the smallest of things — mocking his fellow males (especially stay-at-home husbands) for doing housework (which according to him is reserved for women); insulting poor individuals who do not make as much money as he does; beats his family’s dogs at his slightest annoyance — among other despicable things. Yet he professes to be a godly Catholic (Wow!) who goes to mass every Sunday (Awesome!) and brags about his Christian deeds (Amen!) every single chance he gets. Oh, so holy! So ladies, know your partners well. Avoid those who’ll inflict violence on you at the slightest provocation. You all deserve someone better. #DomesticAbuse #DomesticViolence #MaritalViolence #WifeBeater #Hypocrisy #Criminal

Emma Stone as Billie Jean King (c) Fox Searchlight Pictures

“Battle of the Sexes” | You just have to admire the physical and artistic work that Emma Stone had to put in in “Battle of the Sexes” (2017) [Official Site] to play an in-her-prime Billie Jean King. (Caught the movie last night, after The Wifey put it on a spin.) Granting that doubles were used in shooting the highlight tennis match that the movie is all about, one can’t just wing it when it comes to showing those realistic tennis moves — you really have to train exhaustively to be a competitive tennis player (or at least, move like one) in order to play a competitive tennis player on-screen, a multiple champion and a Hall of Famer at that. Respect! You have it from me, Emma. #BattleOfTheSexes #EmmaStone #BillieJeanKing