Features

Now Playing: Our Planet, Kill This Love, Shazam!

Watch, laugh, and dance!

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Spring officially began and cherry blossoms are starting to bloom in Japan. April proves to be a busy month for travelers and tech enthusiasts alike, as OPPO unveiled their latest flagship, and Samsung concluded the Galaxy A launch with BLACKPINK. Marvel fans are ready for a treat with Avengers: Endgame coming to theaters two weeks from now. (Who’s excited?)

We need to take a break so we can serve the latest updates in the tech realm. For now, sit back and enjoy what’s Now Playing:


Movies to see

Shazam!
Rodneil: Shazam! is an indication that the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) is ready to leave its dark and brooding past *coughs* Batman V Superman *coughs* behind. It’s a nice coming of age film that families can enjoy together. My main man Zachary Levi killed it as the titular character. It seems as if he was born to play Shazam much like Ryan Reynolds is to Deadpool.

Pet Sematary
Dan: Here’s another remake of a classic horror film adapted from Stephen King’s creations. Pet Sematary was also one of the popular Stephen King movie adaptations in the 80s, but it’s not as good as fans like it to be. Fast forward to 2019, and it’s still not a great film. It can pass as your next horror movie to watch in the cinema with good scares and horrific images, although it’s just not memorable enough.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Kevin: It’s not the latest movie to come out, having been released towards the end of last year. But The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, to me, is an underrated but genius piece of cinema. In case you still haven’t seen it, the movie is about six different stories of life back in the Old West. It shows how people lived and how they settled their problems — presented with a good dose of drama and dark humor from the Coen brothers. It’s an enjoyable movie that might take you on a roller coaster of emotions.

TV shows to binge watch

Ultraman
Rodneil: This isn’t the Ultraman I expected but for the most part, it didn’t disappoint. The story picks up 40 years after the events of the Ultraman most people are familiar with. This version puts the spotlight on the original Ultraman’s son as he finds his way through a role he inherited but didn’t exactly ask for.

Our Planet
MJ: In early celebration of Earth Day, Our Planet is a must-watch documentary on Netflix about nature, addressing issues about conservation and the future of life on Earth. More importantly, you’ll appreciate the show better if you’re watching on a 4K TV, as this show is filmed in Ultra HD.

Your Lie in April
MJ: It’s been years since Your Lie in April (also known as Shigatsu Wa Kimi No Uso) was released but animé lovers never forget how this show struck a chord in their heart. It’s the most emotional anime I’ve ever seen, and fans re-watch this show every April to commemorate this masterpiece. Your Lie in April is full of valuable lessons in life that will definitely inspire you to let go of the past, take chances, live in the moment, and have faith in what the future will bring.

Santa Clarita Diet (Season 3)
Dan: The small suburb of Santa Clarita has more undead people! Zombie and comedy go well together in this latest season of Santa Clarita Diet. If you haven’t seen the first two seasons, I strongly suggest them for your next binge-watching sesh. The latest season continues where the previous season left off, and it finally brings a bit of action plus more dark humor. Don’t think of Santa Clarita Diet as just another zombie flick. I also think season three is the best so far.

Games to play

Honkai Impact 3
Marvin: Honkai Impact 3 has been available on the App Store and Google Play for over a year already, but it’s only now that I’ve gotten around to playing it. (Thanks, Rodneil!) It shares a lot of traits with action games Devil May Cry and Bayonetta, but with anime girls and JRPG-style dialogue. It’s free to play and gets updated with new events constantly!

Far Cry New Dawn
Kevin: If you’re into first-person shooter games, trusty animals fighting by your side, and making things explode, the latest installment of Far Cry will be an enjoyable addition to your library. It was released early this year and is a narrative sequel to last year’s Far Cry 5. This is the first time Ubisoft did this continuation for the series and Far Cry New Dawn takes place years after Far Cry 5 happened. Although receiving mixed reviews, it basically has the same exhilarating gameplay that made players love the previous installations.

So get your armor on, pick up that sawed-off shotgun, and take on the new bad guys of Hope County!

Albums/Songs/Podcasts to listen to

Kill This Love by BLACKPINK
Vincenz: I had mixed emotions when I first listened to this song but the odd music arrangement got addictive when I listened to it on repeat. The rapping and vocals are lit, plus most of the lyrics are in English which makes the song singable enough. They even low-key promoted the Samsung Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Buds in the music video!

Apps to download

Facebook for Android
Marvin: April Fools’! This app sucks. Facebook changes its Android app as often as my Viber groups send corny memes. Each update makes it worse, to the point that I can’t even comment or react to posts on my feed at times. Trust me, I’ve tried on different phones already and I only get consistent results on desktop. Use this dumb social network on the Chrome app instead.

Money Pro for iOS
Vincenz: This app is helpful for those who keep listing expenses in a day. Once you input how much you’ve spent for transportation, food, and whatnot, it sums up everything. Getting the free version is handy but the paid version conveniently syncs data on your other Apple devices (Macs and iPads). There’s also a Plus version that syncs data even on Android and Windows devices. The Gold version can do online banking.

Trends to try

KFC Double Down
Vincenz: As someone who loves eating chicken, Double Down makes it better with two fried chickens squishing the bacon, cheese, and right amount of mayonnaise in the middle. Unlike burgers, it cannot totally fill the void in your stomach — but it’s still worth trying out.

Jollibee Amazing Aloha Burger
Dan: It’s a beef burger with a slice of pineapple and bacon inside. That might sound weird, but the Amazing Aloha from Jollibee is one of the best summer-themed fast food burgers. If you love bacon and pineapple, this is for you. It used to be a staple item on the menu, but it’s now available for a limited time only. I love pairing this with a peach-mango pie to truly feel the tropical vibe of the Philippines — in fast food form.

Books to read

Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
Isa: I watched the Phantom of the Opera’s second run in Manila and yet again, I’m captivated by the haunted story of the Opera Ghost and Christine Daaé. Left wanting more, I ended up rereading the original French thriller novel — the same book Andrew Lloyd Webber based the award winning musical on.

The story follows a more detailed narration of the Phantom’s obsession for his young student and budding opera star Christine to almost catastrophic results. If you thought the play was thrilling, this morbid story of love and lust may just be a must read. So many details from the book escaped the play and it’s a definite eye opener to what supposedly went on in the Palais Garnier.


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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