Tuesday, January 20, 2015


11 ways Pope Francis is a rock star
Mark Sablan
Philippine Daily Inquirer – Super
January 16, 2015

We love Pope Francis because he’s kind, generous and also undeniably cool. You can even say he’s a rock star. How? Check out the following reasons.

He’s a rebel

Rock stars trash hotel rooms or sneak out of their road managers’ watch so they could, say, spend some time with groupies. The Pope reportedly sneaks out of the Vatican at night—dressed as a regular priest—so he could hang with and feed the homeless.

He’s got a past

Some rock stars used to be drug dealers or sex addicts; the Pope used to be a bouncer at a bar in Buenos Aires.

He couldn’t care less about expensive fashion

Kurt Cobain opted for jeans, cardigans and flannel shirts instead of suits. The Pope bade goodbye to the velvet capes and the huge gold rings and all the elaborate details, and instead went for simplicity, tradition and symbolism.

He’s got a Twitter account

Paul McCartney has one; Mick Jagger and Ozzy Osbourne, too. You know what, Pope Francis started his account in February 2012 and has almost 500 tweets and almost five million followers.

He is a cover star

Apart from gracing the cover of magazines like Life, and Time (back in 2013 as Person of the Year), he has also been featured on the cover of the online edition of The Advocate magazine (which is a gay title), Vanity Fair Italy, and, dig this, Rolling Stone. Oh, Esquire magazine also named him the Best Dressed Man of 2013.

He connects with the ‘fans’

Just like a true star who knows the importance of ever-supportive fans, the pope maintains an open communication line with the people. He uses a landline and calls those who’d sent him letters.

He does selfies

Just like celebrities, he’s accommodated selfie requests of fans. And basing on the photos, it looks like he sure knows what he’s doing—how to pose, and which angle is better (or maybe that’s just us).

He reaches out to ‘others’

A real rock star experiments and does not limit himself to just one genre. Pope Francis reaches out to other faiths. He’s reached out to Muslims, for example, expressing his hope “that Christians and Muslims engage in mutual respect, especially through the education of new generations.”

He’s got the moves

Not like Jagger, but moves, nevertheless. He used to dance the tango and even shared that, before being a priest, he had a girlfriend with whom he danced it.

He’ll get a biopic

Make that two biopics. Tina Turner, Elvis and Jim Morrison all had movies based on their life story. And now there are two being made on the Pope’s life. One stars Rodrigo de la Serna while the other has Dario Grandinetti.

He’s got a Harley

Well, he used to have one. He was given a motorcycle by Harley-Davidson to mark the company’s 110th anniversary, and he auctioned it, fetching $327,000.

The money was used to benefit a hostel and a soup kitchen in Rome. Sure, he didn’t ride it, but have you ever heard of a Pope who had a Harley?

Friday, December 26, 2014


Mark Sablan
Philippine Daily Inquirer – Super
December 26, 2014


This trend got everyone uploading a collage of themselves and their lookalikes (or people they wish they looked like). Some, like those with real makeup skills, flaunted the amazing results, while those who just wanted to have fun transformed themselves into things like, well, a cupcake or a chocolate cake roll.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

The reason behind it was noble and socially relevant, but the actual execution of the challenge (and even the nomination) was so much fun that celebs like John Mayer, Tom Cruise, Leonardo DiCaprio, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Aniston, and Kate Moss didn’t think twice accepting the video challenge.


Everyone wanted these HD personal cameras that caught amazing footages of all sorts of adventures—from a diver getting lost in a jellyfish-infested lake to a man getting real close to the mouth of a volcano, to a pig surfing.

Power banks

With all the Instagramming, Tindering and online browsing we did this year, phone batteries running low was an inevitable, frequent occurrence. As a result, everyone had to get a power bank—an external battery pack, whether it’s a handy, slim one or a huge, power-packed, Hello Kitty-designed kind.


We’re a selfie-loving country so these selfie sticks, which made sure we no longer needed strangers to take our photos, were a huge hit.

iPhone 6 and 6+

Apple fans worldwide rejoiced upon the announcement and eventual release of bigger iPhones. People naturally preordered, lined up for, and flaunted on social media 2014’s most coveted handsets.


A time-saver, this traffic and navigation app continues to be a staple on the smartphones of drivers and commuters alike.

Taxi apps

Uber, Grab Taxi, Easy Taxi—commuters thanked the heavens for apps that made it easier for them to get taxis no matter where they are or what time.


Thanks to the local edition of this be-your-own-publisher app, wannabe-authors have scored fans, money and even deals with big groups that adapted their digital books into printed form, TV shows and even movies, inspiring a lot of young ones to write and upload their own masterpieces.

Viber public chats

Sure, we couldn’t participate in the public (but kinda private) chatrooms that the messaging app rolled out late this year, but we were more than okay with just being a reader, considering some of them were extremely amusing, such as the Becky Nights chatroom.


A lot of people got hooked on this dating app that had hopefuls swiping either to the left or the right in hopes of meeting The One.

Spotify, Deezer

The music-streaming sites didn’t just let anyone play any song any time for free, it also made playlists. It has one in every genre or for any mood, such as Songs to Sing in the Shower, Unrequited Love, Bollywood Workout, Morning Commute and #ThrowbackThursday.

Flappy Bird

The game’s instructions may have been extremely simple—fly forward and avoid the pipes you encounter—but staying long in the game was so challenging and frustrating that it proved to be quite an addiction worldwide. It was such a hit that people reacted violently when it was pulled out by its developer; thankfully, it didn’t take long before copycats like Flappy Wings, Splashy Fish, Hoppy Frog and even Flappy Miley (yes, as in Miley Cyrus) were created.

The great Instagram purge

IGers noticed a decline in their followers this month when the photo-sharing app deleted inactive and fake accounts, resulting in a lot of celebs showing less impressive numbers. Diddy lost 22 percent of his followers while Justin Bieber lost 15 percent. Affected by the purge? It’s not as bad as what happened to user ChiragChirag78, who lost 99.9 percent of his followers! He has since deleted his account.


Her tweets were so hilarious and spot-on that we wanted her to be our Tita.

Sony Hack

James Franco and Seth Rogen’s “The Interview,” a comedy that parodies North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, resulted in a massive hack into Sony’s servers, leaking private conversations between executives, celebrities and unreleased films. It’s a big mess but we’re really concerned about one thing: When can we watch “The Interview”?


Mark Sablan
Philippine Daily Inquirer – Super
December 26, 2014

From musicians whose success in 2013 spilled over to 2014, to newcomers who broke into the scene and made this year their year, here’s a list of acts whose songs we sang along to and gave us a serious case of LSS.

Ariana Grande

Her team did good in making her stop trying to be this generation’s Mariah Carey. Her semi-slutty moves, cat ears, signature high ponytail, soaring vocals, and catchy songs worked for her, though.

Nicki Minaj

The rapper’s more laidback look was refreshing, but thankfully she still had a thing for shocking videos, such as the one for “Anaconda,” which had her flaunting her huge behind (as usual).

Jessie J

She said she felt more appreciated outside the United Kingdom, and that was proven when her collaboration with Grande and Minaj, “Bang Bang,” proved to a worldwide hit.

Iggy Azalea

The Australian rapper showed that white girls can rap, and make money, after her hit collaborations with Jennifer Lopez (“Booty), Charli XCX (“Fancy”), and Rita Ora (“Black Widow”).

Taylor Swift

Her song “Shake It Off” was pretty unexpected, but in a good way. The country world’s loss is the pop world’s gain, and we couldn’t be more thankful. Her latest album “1989” was, as expected, a treasure chest of catchy and relatable hits that will continue to be heard next year.

Sam Smith

The breakthrough artist was a big hit, thanks to his soulful voice, soaring vocals/impressive falsettos, sad songs, and relatable lyrics.

Meghan Trainor

She broke into the scene singing about being plus-size (“All About That Bass”) but demonstrated that she’s no one-hit wonder with the equally catchy follow-up “Lips Are Moving.”

Ed Sheeran

He’s an example of a great male singer-songwriter with several hits from his latest album “X,” such as “Sing,” “Don’t,” and the LSS-y “Thinking Out Loud.”


Known for penning hits for big stars, Sia became famous herself this year, thanks to her single, “Chandelier.” She also showed that you don’t have to do sexy dance moves or sing about sex to be popular.

John Legend

We were thankful to discover that Legend is still around. His song “All of Me” was a videoke favorite, a wedding staple, and everyone’s anthem.


Her family life wasn’t a hindrance to a successful career. Her 2013 “Beyonce” album spilled over some hits this year such as “Partition,” “Pretty Hurts,” “Flawless,” and “7/11.”

One Direction

Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan, and Liam Payne comprise this year’s hottest boyband with hits “Midnight Memories,” “You & I,” “Steal My Girl,” and “Night Changes.” The group’s “On the Road Again” tour is scheduled next year.

Katy Perry

Katy’s 2013 “Prism” album continued to produce hits in 2014 like “Dark Horse,” “Birthday,” and “This Is How We Do,” while the singer delivered amazing live performances and visually arresting music videos.


He finally achieved mainstream success this year when “Happy” became an earworm. It had everyone singing along. People used it as a ringtone. Others even made their own “Happy” videos.


Mark Sablan
Philippine Daily Inquirer – Super
December 26, 2014

Deaths, weddings and scandals—2014 had it all. Here are the stuff we Googled, read about online, tweeted about, and maybe even made memes of.

‘Frozen’ domination

The animated film had everyone singing along to the extremely catchy “Let It Go.” Parents ended up buying merchandise from the movie for their children. And the kids ended up donning blond wigs and Elsa gowns.

Breaking the Internet

Kim Kardashian “broke the Internet” by posing on the cover of Paper magazine, flaunting her shiny, well-oiled behind. Her iconic pose spawned several memes. Kim also earned a lot, thanks to her mobile app Kim Kardashian: Hollywood.

Celebrity weddings

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West finally exchanged I do’s. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie also finally walked down the aisle. George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin got hitched (we don’t know who among the two is luckier). Solange Knowles married Alan Ferguson (and released amazing photos of her entourage, all in white).

Celebrity deaths

Talented and unforgettable celebrities passed away in 2014, from actors Robin Williams and Philip Seymour Hoffman to TV host Joan Rivers, and legendary author Maya Angelou.

Comedian in trouble

Popular standup comedian and actor Bill Cosby was slapped with rape allegations one after another, even from celebs like Janice Dickinson.

Fashion icon

Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o attended a lot of events, wore a variety of gowns and dresses in every possible shade found in the color wheel.

Legit model

Kim Kardashian’s little sister Kendall Jenner stepped out of the reality TV world and successfully crossed over to modeling, appearing in several fashion magazines, doing legit catwalk gigs, and even bagging endorsements such as being the global face of Estee Lauder.

Hot mess

June Shannon, the mother of “Toddlers & Tiaras” discovery Alana Thompson a.k.a. Honey Boo Boo, got into trouble when news surfaced about her dating a pedophile ex-boyfriend who reportedly molested her own daughter.

Sappy hit

The sappy book “The Fault in Our Stars” and its film adaptation had teens and teens-at-heart bawling and posting quotes online, plus buying merchandise like shirts, rubber bracelets, phone cases, and accessories.

Drastic change

After a long absence from the limelight, the new Renee Zellweger obviously had plastic surgery. The change was so drastic we didn’t recognize her anymore. As expected, the online world had a lot to say about the new Renee.

Friday, December 19, 2014


Mark Sablan
Philippine Daily Inquirer – Super
December 19, 2014

These DIY edible gift items are easy to assemble and can be personalized. The recipient will appreciate not just your gesture but the actual gift itself.

Besides, you can never go wrong with food.

Mason jar cake

Mason jars have been very popular, so why not make your own jar cake? Alternate layers of sweetened cream and either cake or Graham crackers, and then top them with just about anything: fruits, chocolates, candies.

You can also encourage the recipient to participate; put just the cake or brownie mix inside but leave the baking to them. Have fun personalizing the labels and tags, and don’t forget to attach a spoon.

Trail mix

Everyone’s turning into a health nut these days, so encourage healthy eating by giving nutritious stuff. Buy some pretty Ziploc bags and fill them up with all sorts of nuts, dried fruit, seeds and even blocks of dark chocolate. Don’t forget to write a note.

Throwback tin can

For a trip down memory lane, fill a tin can with candies, biscuits, chocolates and chips from the recipient’s childhood days. Good luck looking for Tarzan, Big Boy or Serg’s, but we know there’s still Choc Nut, White Rabbit, Tootsie Roll, Haw Flakes, Peter’s Butter Ball, Cloud 9, Big Bang, Choco Mallows, Ricoa Curly Tops, Ricoa Flat Tops, Iced Gems and Orange Swits. Photocopy your childhood photos and use as tag.

Color-coordinated candy

Have fun filling up all sorts of containers with color-coordinated candy, whether it’s M&Ms, Skittles, sunflower seeds or gummy bears. You can go for the standard green and red but don’t forget other Christmas-color combinations. And feel free to mix different types of sweet treats.

12 drinks of Christmas

Fill a canvas bag with 12 types of drinks—juice in a bottle, milk tea in a can, a mint tea bag, a coffee sachet, a hot choco pack, etc. And if you’re feeling extra generous, add a cute mug (or glass or tumbler), a pack of stirrers, and some sweetener, whether it’s a container of sugar cubes, a box of artificial sweetener or a bottle of honey.

Personalized theme gift baskets

You know how gift baskets all have ingredients for spaghetti or fruit salad? Well, not everyone wants those for Christmas. Why not assemble a really special basket with unexpected items and ingredients, with the recipient particularly in mind? For example, someone who likes spicy food would love to receive Delimondo Chili and Garlic corned beef, Cheetos Crunchy Cheddar Jalapeño, and a bottle of Tabasco Chipotle Sauce. A vegetarian gift basket? Not a problem. A lactose-intolerant gift basket? Challenging, but still possible.