Features

Bohemian Rhapsody, Ragnarok Mobile: Now Playing

We’re reliving the past!

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Curious to know what GadgetMatch has been up to besides covering everything lifestyle and tech? Here’s what we’ve been seeing, visiting, and playing this month:

Movies to see

Bohemian Rhapsody
Chay: Bohemian Rhapsody is an epic biopic-musical whose title is derived from the equally epic song. Even if there are a lot of inaccuracies and clichés as pointed out by several critics, it’s a film moviegoers will still enjoy, Queen fan or not. If you’re a true-blue Queen fan, this will either make you miss Freddie Mercury or wish you can see all four members perform again together. Good news is watching Bohemian Rhapsody is the closest thing you’ll get to watching a Queen concert in 2018; it’s like seeing Queen’s greatest hits come alive before your own eyes (and ears).


Batman Ninja
Rodneil: What’s cooler than Batman being transported to the samurai era in Japan? Nothing. This film is all kinds of bonkers and that’s why I love it. Batman Ninja captures the essence of the entire bat family as well as their villains while also throwing in every possible animé trope and/or quirk you can think of. Batman Ninja is a lot of fun. Watch with an open mind and try to not take it too seriously.

Hintayan ng Langit
Dan: Hintayan ng Langit first hit theaters during the 2018 QCinema International Film Festival last month. It’s about Lisang (Gina Pareño) who is stuck in purgatory. She then meets her ex-boyfriend Manolo (Eddie Garcia) who is apparently her new roommate. Lisang is already scheduled for passing to heaven, so Manolo’s presence kind of distracted her. It’s a fun and touching interpretation of death and kindling love. The film is an adaptation of Juan Miguel Severo’s one-act play at The Virgin Labfest in 2015 and 2016, and it’ll be shown in Philippine cinemas starting November 21.

TV shows to binge watch

Car Masters: Rust to Riches
Kevin: For all the car lovers out there, Car Masters: Rust to Riches will make you drool over its custom vehicle creations. It’s about Gotham Garage’s crew and how they buy old cars or car parts and turn them into a masterpiece in order to sell them for a higher value. They repeat this process until they reach a six-figure price in which they call it a day. It’s a good show to sit back to with a bottle of beer, while enjoying the intricate but fun process of turning rust to riches.

Magic for Humans
Kevin: Magic has always been a fascinating form of entertainment but Justin Willman, the host and performer of the show, injects it with life lessons or relates it to everyday life. It’s a reality and magic show with a fresh formula and will have you laughing while scratching your head at the same time trying to figure out how he does his performances. Oh, and its segment Magic for Susans is just one of the things I wait for every episode.

Terrace House: Aloha State
Rodneil: This season ran from 2016 to 2017, but it was only recently when I got around to watching it. Haven’t really had much recreation time so this was one of the two things that kept me sane over the last two weeks or so. It’s a relatively easy watch and there’s just something about Terrace House that gets you hooked. My favorite members are Lauren Tsai and Taishi Tamaki. Lauren is super talented and also easy on the eyes. Taishi’s arc is somewhat like a mini Ted Mosby from the TV series How I Met Your Mother. His goal in the show was to find “Shinuhodo No Koi” or a love worth dying for and his journey could actually become a movie all on its own.

Bodyguard
Dan: If you love action-thrillers, you should check out Bodyguard. It’s a six-part British drama series, so it’s not something you’ll have to binge watch for weeks. I actually finished it in just a few days because I just couldn’t get enough of the action. The series is set around Police Sergeant David Budd, a war veteran who is suffering from PTSD and is now working as a special protection officer. He’s assigned to protect the Home Secretary and the politics involved in the work drives the series wild. It’s currently streaming on Netflix outside the UK and Ireland.

Games to play

Ragnarok M: Eternal Love
Marvin: Ragnarok Online has finally made its way to mobile, and it’s been a major success so far. The Southeast Asian server for Ragnarok M: Eternal opened recently and it’s been loaded to the brim with both new and old players. A lot of the original mechanics are still around, such as the job classes and guild system, along with new tricks to make the game more smartphone-friendly, including auto-attacking and a straightforward user interface. As a returning player, I must say it’s been a smooth ride so far; let’s just hope it stays that way.

Albums/Songs/Podcasts to listen to

Shallow by Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper
MJ: I first heard “Shallow” on A Star Is Born’s trailer, and I fell in love with it. It’s a country rock ballad that tackles things like wondering if you’re contented with who you are, finding confidence through a person, and diving headfirst in love without looking back.

La Vie en Rose by IZ*ONE
Vincenz: This song’s concept is a mix of cutesy and mature concepts with the inclusion of strong vocals plus a vibrant and groovy electro pop beat. Together with its catchy tune and lyrics which present one’s revelation and passion towards a person, the music video’s cinematography, visuals, and choreography are all astounding. The various colors represented by each member and other elements go well with the title of the album itself, COLOR*IZ (read as color-ize).

Yes or Yes by TWICE
Vincenz: If you still don’t know TWICE, better hurry and listen to their 10th title track that shows the diversity of the nine members. The visuals will catch both your eyes and heart but the catchy lyrics, asking one’s love interest to choose between Yes or Yes, make it more addictive. With its popularity, the song went off the charts with the music video itself gaining 31.4 million views in just 24 hours and is currently the seventh-fastest YouTube music video to do so.

Cities/places to visit

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Milan, Italy
Isa: I was in Milan for the OPPO RX17 Pro launch and was able to spend some time in the beautiful city. Despite being cold and relatively wet, Milan in autumn is still a great destination. Architecture is breathtaking and simply walking along the cobblestone streets is an experience in itself. The Milan Cathedral in Piazza Del Duomo, which took almost six centuries to complete, is a must-see.


Now Playing is the GadgetMatch team’s favorite games, movies, TV shows, and more each month. If you’re curious to know what we’re into at the moment, this is what you should check out. So grab your popcorn, get some drinks, and enjoy what’s now playing!

Automotive

A Father’s Day drive up north

Story time!

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We recently got the Ranger Raptor for the second time to use at this year’s STV ARCC and represent Ford Philippines. And since we had a free day before the event itself happened, I decided to use it and take out my dad along with my brother for a road trip. Good thing Mom had an errand to do that day!

Dad wanted to visit a certain theme park restaurant north of Metro Manila so I agreed and went for it. We already brought the Raptor to a 4×4 route for some off-road action, so now we go for long, paved roads with hungry stomachs.


That’s Dad, my brother Kiefer, and me on the road

After four hours of driving from the south, past the traffic metro, and all the way up north, we reached our destination. The place is called Isdaan Floating Restaurant and it’s at the municipality of Talavera in Nueva Ecija in the Philippines. “Isdaan,” when translated, means “fishery” so it already paints you a picture of what to expect. The restaurant is hard to miss as it has a wide, inviting facade fronted with sculptures.

The staff greeted us with a warm welcome and led us to our private floating nipa hut with koi fish swimming around and under us. Looking at the menu, there were lots of choices from appetizers, meat, seafood obviously, and even specialties that you don’t usually see in city restaurants.

“Guarding” the floating nipa huts

We got Bicol Express (spicy stew), Sinigang na Liempo (pork belly soup), and Binukadkad na Plapla (butterflied fish) from the menu. One of their signatures is a Boat Special. Basically, they offer select dishes in a long sizzling plate mounted on a wooden counter-top that resembles a boat. This was how Bicol Express was served which greatly added to the presentation value.

Food was really great especially the soup. While the service wasn’t too snappy and could definitely be improved, the food compensated for it. It has that home-cooked taste that hits the spot after a long drive.

After eating, we decided to walk around the area and check out the theme park side of the place. There were giant statues everywhere — from the Charging Bull similar to New York’s, Big Buddha of Phuket, and even prehistoric dinosaurs. It does make for great photo opportunities as you’ll see in the following photos.

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Apart from the gigantic and humorous characters, another attraction to find here is a corner to vent out all your pent-up emotions. For a reasonable price, you can choose objects like those plates or coffee mugs that you can smash onto the wall. If you ask me, I feel it’s a bit out of place in this family-friendly restaurant but it still does make the place unique.

Those are all fun but what usually entices people to visit this place is the fact that you can dip your feet in this shallow pond and have large koi fish swimming in between your legs. It might sound weird and it’s probably not for everyone, but the novelty of being able to do it was actually fun.

These koi quickly gather around you as you go near the water

Caught this little guy trying to nibble on his watch

Can’t leave the place without this obligatory shot!

After all the photos were taken and a few minor mishaps (one of us slipping trying to get in with the fish, not telling who), we were ready to go back home. It was another four hours inside the Raptor and we ended up exchanging stories and laughing our way through the expressways while the truck was mostly on cruise control. It was definitely a trip to remember.

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Features

6 best smartphones of 2019 (so far)

H1 2019 Edition

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We’re about to hit the half-way mark of 2019, and with most major smartphone launches out of the way, it’s time to pick the best models so far.

After numerous new products around the globe, it’s impossible to cover everything and provide a top-to-bottom ranking. With this in mind, these are the top smartphones we actually tested and believe are front-runners till the end of the year.


In no particular order, here they are:

Xiaomi Mi 9

Whenever a new Mi flagship comes out, people’s heads turn. The Mi 9 is this year’s first “flagship killer,” owning the specs and attractive price tag that made the more premium brands rethink their marketing strategies. Despite being one of the earliest to release this year, its price-to-performance ratio is still one to beat.

Samsung Galaxy S10+

Even though the Galaxy S10+ borrows several key features from the past generation, it does so with grace. By combining the best of the best, we have a flagship smartphone that’s more refined inside and out compared to the other entries on this list. It may not be groundbreaking, but Samsung nailed what we want in a high-end device.

Huawei P30 Pro

Controversies and trade ban aside, the P30 Pro set the highest bar for smartphone photography this year. Its zooming capabilities are unreal, and when combined with the advanced image processing and incredible battery life, this is practically a standalone camera replacement. Let’s just hope the second half of the year is nicer to Huawei.

OPPO Reno 10x Zoom

OPPO made it clear that they’re serious about the premium segment when it unveiled the Find X last year. The Reno follows up on that ambition with an impressive set of rear cameras and one of the most unusual selfie shooters we’ve ever seen. It owns some of the best internal hardware, as well, making this a lot more well-rounded than you’d expect.

Google Pixel 3a

Months of leaks and rumors eventually blossomed into the lower-end sibling of the much-loved Pixel 3. Google’s Pixel 3a makes a few compromises here and there, yet retains the features we truly want, such as the unmatched single rear camera and always up-to-date software — all in a package that costs only US$ 399.

OnePlus 7 Pro

OnePlus may have veered away from its affordable pricing strategy, but the OnePlus 7 Pro justifies the price hike with possibly the best smartphone screen in the market, along with a gorgeous design and unrivaled specifications. This gadget most definitely does not settle.

Honorable Mention: Redmi K20 Pro

We’re currently in the process of reviewing this device, but from what we can tell so far, this is indeed a winner. As the spiritual successor to last year’s smash hit, the Pocophone F1, the Redmi K20 Pro looks to become 2019’s one true flagship killer. It’s got everything, from the sharp looks and top-shelf specs, to the high-tech cameras and lovely price.

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Features

Now Playing: X-Men, Yuri!!! On Ice

Shows we’re enjoying during Pride month!

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Happy Pride month, everyone! This month’s Now Playing is a mix of the hottest in pop culture and mainstream media, as well as shows and music that celebrate love. Come and watch with us!

Movies to see

Someone Great
Chay: This Netflix Original came out a few months ago but I have been rewatching and replaying it in the background like it’s a new album release on Spotify. The story centers around how the main character Gina copes with her breakup with the help of her two best friends. The film has very relatable characters and stories, and a great soundtrack. But one of the most important parts of the movie for me was the scene wherein Erin talks to her lover Leah about how someone she used to date left her out of nowhere and went back to dating men, and made her feel like an experiment. Her admission that she’s never been able to open up about her past and sexuality to anyone else, not even to her two straight best friends, was crushing. 🌈


X-Men: Dark Phoenix
Rodneil: This film’s biggest flaw is adapting an iconic story too soon. We haven’t spent enough time with the new Jean Grey (Sophie Turner) to feel invested in this story. It’s not the worst X-Men movie though, and it’s definitely better than X-Men: The Last Stand which was the first attempt at adapting the Dark Phoenix saga.

John Wick: Chapter 3
Marvin: If you’ve watched either of the first two movies, you’d know what you’re in for here. And if this is your first entry into the world of John Wick, that’s fine too. The plot is as simple as it gets: Mr. Wick is mad and he goes after the people he dislikes. The raw action is spectacular and the pacing is spot on, making this the most refined spectacle in the series.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters
Dan: Godzilla is back to protect humans once again. While the critic reviews of Godzilla: King of the Monsters aren’t exactly favorable, it’s a great monster movie. Put the human element aside to fully enjoy the new Godzilla movie. It’s true that the film isn’t as good as the previous one, but you should see it for the monster action.

TV shows to binge watch

Chernobyl
Dan: If you’re a Game of Thrones fan who’s disappointed about its finale, HBO will win you back to keep your subscription with Chernobyl. The miniseries is currently the highest-rated show on IMDB and it surely deserves its title. It’s no easy task to dramatize a national tragedy, but the creators of Chernobyl were able to produce an intelligent show.

Pose
Chay: In pop culture, New York is almost always depicted as the city where anything is possible — if you can dream it, you can do it. Pose shows a glimpse of 1980s Harlem — balls, drag competitions, and voguing. More than the glamor and fashion, the stories revolve around the struggles of LGBTQ+ people of color at the time, some of which still resonate today over 30 years later — from being disowned by their biological families, to shattered dreams and lack of employment opportunities for being queer, trans identity, and the HIV and AIDS epidemic — and little victories that stemmed from the support they get from the families they formed through house culture. 🌈

Black Mirror Season 5
Dan: Finally, the new season of Black Mirror is streaming on Netflix. It took them a while to deliver three new episodes. Thankfully, the Bandersnatch interactive film did a good job of keeping viewers entertained while they cooked up the new season. I must admit, the latest season doesn’t have the same level of horror that I enjoyed with previous Black Mirror seasons. Season 5 touches on sexuality, fanaticism, and anger issues that stem from the use of technology.

Yuri!!! On Ice
Rodneil: This was the breakout animé back in 2017. It’s a story of resilience, believing in yourself, and coming to grips with who you love along the way. It’s a story well told and the beautiful animation is just icing on the cake.

Amazing Race Season 31
Chay: Before I was even able to afford travel with my own money, I lived vicariously and explored the world by watching teams on The Amazing Race since the first season nearly 20 years ago. One of the episodes this season took an emotional turn when the show went to Uganda for the first time, and one team, composed of two gay people, acknowledged the extreme privilege of being able to travel safely, because of the protection afforded them by a TV show, in a country where LGBT persons are penalized, arrested, and harassed for being who they are. 🌈

Albums/Songs/Podcasts to listen to

Heart Attack by Chuu of LOONA
Vincenz: This isn’t a new song but this is always one of my favorite LOONA songs. It’s catchy yet whimsical; all those Christmas carols feel festive. The music video depicts that a lady can still admire and show love to someone from the same sex. 🌈

new by Yves of LOONA
Vincenz: Not a new song either but the bold beats plus the refreshing vocals make this a quality song to listen to. Yves is the other lady found on Chuu’s “Heart Attack,” but in this music video, Yves symbolizes the “Opposite Eve” as she goes against the norm by eating apples, correlated with music video cuts that show a forbidden same-sex love (2:19/2:38). #StanLOONA

Lover by Kevin Oh
Vincenz: I love listening to this when I’m sad and the rain is pouring outside. The melodramatic beat with the calm vocals give me the opposite vibe — which is warming and comforting. Also, the music video is about love between two men, something you can listen to and watch during Pride Month.

Born This Way cover by TWICE
Rodneil: TWICE gave a big shout out to the LGBT+ community when they covered Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way” on the first leg of their TWICELIGHTS world tour. ONCEs who attended the Seoul leg of the world tour shared clips on social media, and fans who belong to the LGBT+ community couldn’t help but feel proud that the K-Pop girl group chose to cover the song.

Dedicated by Carly Rae Jepsen
Chay: A known queen of the LGBTQ+ community, Carly Rae Jepsen’s newest release is another pop album worthy of anyone’s attention. Variety magazine calls CRJ pop’s unlikely cult hero, for carving out her own lane instead of leaning into meme fame after the success of Call Me Maybe. One of my favorites from the album is Happy Not Knowing, which is the anthem of my life at the moment. One of the singles, Now That I Found You, was also used to promote the latest season of Queer Eye. 🌈

Places to visit

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Salzburg, Austria
Marvin: Most people are familiar with Salzburg as the main location for The Sound of Music, but there’s a lot more to it than just the film. Surrounded by classic architecture, famous bridges over the Salzach River, and loads of flowers, there is no shortage of IG-worthy spots around the city. Make sure to get a good look at the Eastern Alps while you’re there!

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Taipei, Taiwan
Vincenz: I know Taipei has been mentioned a lot on this website but I’ll be specific with how beautiful and majestic Taipei 101 is inside and out. It wasn’t a good day so I only reached the 89th floor (instead of the outdoor observatory found at the 91st floor). I would also recommend walking along Rainbow Riverside Park in Neihu to witness the colorful Second MacArthur bridge and see Taipei’s night lights (including Taipei 101) from afar.


Now Playing is the GadgetMatch team’s favorite games, movies, TV shows, and more each month. If you’re curious to know what we’re into at the moment, this is what you should check out. So grab your popcorn, get some drinks, and enjoy what’s now playing!

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