Are Filipino Domestic Workers Slaves?

You may have heard of a recent controversy in the UK involving  British televison chef Nigella Lawson, her art dealer ex-husband Charles Saatchi and their two personal assistants Franchesca and Elisabeth Grillo. Despite fraudulently spending over $1.1 million using the couple's credit cards, the two Grillo sisters told the Isleworth Crown Court that they were treated "worse than Filipino slaves".

It makes me wonder why the two staff would compare their employer's treatment to our highly sought Filipino domestic helpers. Is it a remarks made out of  ignorance and bigotry or a valid observation about the harsh reality that our overseas domestic workers experience?

Intrigued by this news, I browse through the net and found this CNN article by Susan Ople. She described the existence of modern day slavery among some Filipino domestic workers. One case in Saudi Arabia where the lady was sold to 11 different employers. She ended up in hospital after being beaten. There are other horrible cases of abuse and we hope the government with the help of other organizations will continue to help and reach out.

On the other side of the story, there are also some inspiring accounts. For instance, a devoted servant for over 20 years to her Singaporean employer inherited over $4 million cash and a luxury apartment.  Very lucky or just deserving? I know of some friends who speak highly of their employers. They are treated as part of the family and are even involved in the family decision. They are given at least 1 day off each week and 1 month paid holiday during Christmas.

What do you think of the remarks of the Grillo sisters about "Filipino slaves" ? Share with us.

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X Factor USA 2013 Thanksgiving Night ( Video )

This is a horrendous elimination of two of the most talented acts in X Factor USA 2013, Lillie McCloud and Josh Levi. Despite the captivating performance of Lillie, she didn't get enough support. As for Josh, America didn't like his cool interpretation of Bruno Mars's Treasure.  In the final face off for the bottom two, the judges had a split decision between Josh and Rion as the bottom two. In a deadlock, they based the decision on the votes. And the America has spoken to send home Josh.

On a brighter side of the thanksgiving night, the top 8 and their respective families had a turkey feast. Demi Lovato performed her latest single Neon Lights. And Michael Buble sang It's A Beautiful Day.

Now we are down to  Top 6 : Rion Paige, Carlito Olivero, Jeff Gutt, Restless Road, Ellona Santiago and Alex & Sierra. I would certainly hope to see Ellona and Alex & Sierra in the grand finale.

Stay tuned for more updates.

In the meantime, how do you find Demi's performance ? If you were to critique her, what would your comments be? Share with us in the comment section.

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Obama Confronted by Heckler in his Immigration Speech

The president of the United States of America was targeted by a heckler in his immigration speech at San Francisco on November 25, 2013. During President Obama's speech, he was interrupted by a man who can be heard shouting from the stand behind him.

The man is yelling out repeatedly "Stop Deportation", President Obama responded by telling the heckler, "I respect the passion of these young people... if in fact I could solve all these problems without passing laws in Congress, then I would do so.. but we are a nation of laws.."

Despite of being disrespectful to the President, Obama ordered the securities not to apprehend the heckler. The President maintained his composure by responding directly to the protester's issue and promise that he will work with them on passing immigration laws that would directly benefit them.

Here's the video of the heckler's confrontation:

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Top 8 Face Off in Big Band Theme at X Factor USA 2013, Michael Buble Performs

I am barely over with the great performances last week. But hey, we are down to Top 8 for a Big Band theme. For the first time, the contestants will sing live with a 25 piece band. They could really shine or be swallowed up by the music. To keep the tradition in X Factor, contestants expressed thanks and dedicated their song for someone special in their lives. I'm touched by some of the stories. There were plenty of  heart warming moments.

For me, this is by far the best performance night of the season. All of them did great. This episode had the most standing ovations. But the act that stole the show was Ellona Santiago. She's just incredible. I also enjoyed Michael Buble performing  Frank Sinatra's You Make Me Feel So Young.

Let's get down to business.

Rion Paige sang Swingin' for her mother. Simon described her cute as a cupcake. For the first time she had choreography. And she did well, especially in vocals, even when she moves around. It doesn't look awkward at all.

Restless Road dedicated Life is a Highway to Andrew's Uncle Bill. This is so much better than last week. Kelly praised that they are more cohesive now.

Jeff Gutt sang Feeling Good for his Dad. I was moved by the Father-Son moment. I agree with Simon when he said now I got to know better Jeff and he's a decent man. The performance was really excellent. Truly, it was his best yet.

Josh Levi wished his grandmother would hear him sing Treasure. And she came to show support. His Bruno Mars version is refreshing.  All the judges enjoyed his energy. He's already a star. He is so ready.

Carlito Olivero dedicates his song for his parents. He sang medley La Copa de la Vida / Maria, Maria. He seemed more comfortable. All the judges agreed he's more suitable to Latin music.

Alex & Sierra dedicates the song to each other. Seeing them tonight, I am now convinced that they truly love each other. Their version of Taylor Swift I Knew You Were Trouble is perfect. Sierra truly shine.
Lillie McCloud  Summertime fiance Terry

Ellona Santiago has one of the most touching story tonight. He offers the song to her sister Julie Rose who  is suffering from stage four cancer. Her rendition is Jessie J's  Mama Knows Best was compelling. She showed her amazing vocal range at the last part. As Simon said, it was a game changer.

The best part and the highlight is the group performance of Cry Me a River.  And no one else can coach them better than Michael Buble. This is an interesting twist that let us see who in top 8 stand out. And all the all judges agree it was Ellona. Josh and Jeff did well too.

There will be another double elimination tomorrow. Looks like they are running out of time. They probably want to end before the year ends to give was to the American Idol which starts in January 2014.

Tomorrow it's going to be Thanksgiving night. I'm looking forward to the family gathering and feast of sumptuous food especially turkey. I wonder who will be coming to the party. Mario said his family will be coming.

I can't wait for Michael Buble and Demi Lovato who will be performing. Stay tuned  as we bring you the Top 6.

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A Broadway Performance for the Bride!

While browsing, I stumbled upon an article about a bride who was given a broadway-like performance led by her groom.

The video has more than 3 million views now and still going viral.  

The bride apparently loves broadway music so her groom and their entire family crafted a live musical performance for her. 

I have seen a lot of surprises in wedding receptions but this one is very delightful and awesome. The singing and dancing of the family members and the group of the wedding entourage is pleasantly surprising. 

Indeed what a talented family! Let’s enjoy the video below:

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Manny Pacquiao, Victim of BIR's Incompetence?

Philippine governement's Bureau of Internal Revenue ( BIR ) is again running after our hero Manny Pacquiao. It seeks to collect 2.2 billion pesos ( $50.3 million ) of reportedly unpaid taxes of the boxing idol's winning last 2008 and 2009.

According to government data, BIR is still short of its tax collection target and it appears they are turning to Pacquiao, an easy target, to boost its efforts. They must have been elated when Bob Arum disclosed that Pacquiao's earning in his latest victory over Rios could reach $30 million.

In an interview with the Times, Arum confirmed that they have paid all the required taxes and said "It’s completely not Manny’s fault and completely a government screw-up."

Now since his bank accounts are being frozen, Pacquiao  had to borrow over 1 million pesos to purchase supplies for the typhoon victims. He promised to provide aid to more than 10,000 families.

“I appeal to them to remove the garnishment so that I can move and pay for my staff’s salaries,” Pacquiao told reporters “I am not a criminal or a thief. The money that was garnished by (the Bureau of Internal Revenue) is not stolen. This came from all of the punches, beatings, blood and sweat that I endured in the ring.”

Our government is messing up again. What do you think of this latest harassment by BIR?

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Ian Watkins of Lostprophets attempted to Rape a Baby

Lostprophet’s lead vocalist Ian Watkins is on trial for several child sex offenses and had pled guilty to at least 13 child sexual abuses that include  two counts of attempted rape to a baby. Watkins, denied that he  raped the 11 month old baby but admitted to two counts of attempted rape.

Ian Watkins of the Lostprophets.
The singer, 36, has also admitted to sexually assaulting a child under the age of 13. He, reportedly, recorded  himself abusing the child along with the child’s mother. The presumed mother along with unnamed woman both admitted to the sex abuse charges against children.
Watkins, also pleaded guilty of possessing indecent photograph of a child and he was accused of circulating indecent images of children.

Lostprophets, the British rock band formed in 1997 and sold more than 3.5 million records. had announced in October that they would be disbanding following the shocking allegations of their lead vocalist. 

The band said in a statement, "After nearly a year of coming to terms with our heartache, we finally feel ready to announce publicly what we have thought privately for some time", "We can no longer continue making or performing music as Lostprophets. Your love and support over the past 15 years has been tremendous, and we'll be forever grateful for all you've given us."

Ian Watkins is now under the care of a psychiatrist according to his lawyer.

The sudden fall of the Lostprophets is saddening for all their fans.
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The latest buzz is not true. The owner of the property confirmed with E! News that Angeline Jolie did not  buy  the $20 million heart-shaped island for Brad Pitt's 50th birthday on December 18.

As of this writing, the exclusive 4.5 hectares Petra Island, located just 80 km north of New York City is still open for sale. It boasts 1,200 sq foot cottage and 5,000 sq foot main residence-  perfect for romantic getaways or family retreat for the couple and their 6 children.

According to rumors, Jolie was excited after learning that the island's two homes were designed Pitt's favorite architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. This report may not be true but this not the first time that Angelina has bought expensive gifts for her man. In 2011 she bought a waterfall in California for Pitt's 48th birthday so he could build his dream house similar to that of Wright's famous house, Fallingwater. Then in 2012, she suprised him with a $1.5 million helicopter and flying lessons.

Giving away lavish presents is a common thing among celebrities. Given their huge earnings, certainly they can splurge. Here are some of the high-priced gifts:

Tom Cruise to Katie Homes - $20 million customised gulfstream jet

Beyonce to husband Jay Z - $ 2 million Bugatti Veyron Grand Sport

Mike Tyson to wife Robin Givens -$ 2 million 24 karat gold bathtub

David Beckham to Victoria - Vineyard in Napa Valley, California
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Imagine Dragons Win Big in AMA

The “demons” are everywhere in the annual American Music Awards after the Imagine Dragons snagged the “Alternative Artist” of the Year. 

Dan Reynolds, the band’s lead vocalist led the group during the live performance. Dressed in black, he sang "with the beast inside/there's nowhere we can hide," a line from the "Demons" song. The dragons then showed the alternatives in them by performing the "Radioactive" with Dan banging his big drums.

The crowd went crazy as the dragons banged their way during the show. 

The Imagine Dragons has beaten the Lumineers and Mumford & Sons, both  who shared equally on alternative passions.  

Fans, let’s enjoy the dragons!

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Typhoon Haiyan Victims Celebrate Pacquiao's Victory Amidst Devastation

Amidst devastation, the victims in the storm-hit city of Tacloban, Philippines forgot about their plight and enjoyed the victory of their hero Manny Pacquiao over Brandon Rios. "This not about my comeback. My victory is a symbol of my people's comeback from a natural disaster and a natural tragedy.'' Manny said in the ring immediately after the fight.

For about two hours, those who lost their loved ones and homes joined the nation as they watched a free broadcast of  Pacquiao defeating Rios in a unanimous decision with 120-108, 119-109 and 118-110 on the scorecards at the Venetian casino in Macau, China.

The WBO International welterweight title battle was shown live in four public areas in Tacloban to lift the spirits of Filipinos affected by super typhoon. Despite their troubled conditions, families, even with children, were seen cheering wildly all through the fight.

Herminio Coloma, President Aquino's spokesman said : As our people's hearts and minds were united in facing the challenges of the numerous tragedies that faced our country, just like Manny, we will triumph over our current problems by working together."

Meanwhile, Pacquiao and his team are preparing for a visit to Tacloban in the coming days. He said that 'as soon as possible we will finalize the detail''. As of this writing, there is no word yet as to the exact date of his visit.

This shows how resilient and cheerful, we Filipinos are. This is a good way to temporarily cope with the disaster. I just hope that the government will act fast to implement long term plans to help Filipinos cope with super-disasters in the future as pointed out by an article by Gerardo Sicat in the Philippine Star.

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Funny Note From Two Very Young Girls To The Boy They Like

What would you do if you receive a letter from two girls that they like you? In this age of rampant social media, you post it online. Here's the funny note.

The photo was shared through Imgur, an on online image hosting service similar to Instagram or Pinterest. The amusing letter has already garnered over 600,000 views.

I showed this photo to my wife and asked her what she will do if one of our children would receive such a note. She then replied she will present our son with options. Then I asked her what options, our son is only 7 years old. Then we just both laughed.

The post didn't mention how old these little girls are. Judging from the way they write, they are still too young  and should have been focusing on studying and improving their penmanship first.

I wonder what's so great about Zane. If you were Zane, what will your reply be? Share with us.

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More Thrills in Sequel, The Hunger Games : Catching Fire

I have never been this moved. The sequel Hunger Games : Catching Fire has more thrills. It has enough action and emotion that will appeal to both old and young. It is worth your 146 minutes.

Based on Suzanne Collin's best-selling trilogy, the cast is impeccable. Katniss Everdeen played by Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence delivered well. The supporting cast is made of brilliant veteran talent such as Donald Sutherland, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks and Stanley Tucci. The fresh blood like Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth played their part adequately.

Directed by Francis Lawrence ( I am Legend ), the movie started slow as it build the characters and discuss some socio-political issues relevant to our time. During the first fifteen minutes, my wife whispered " This is dark and gloomy." But it ended with satisfying intense action sequences. As expected, it will make you want for more. Too bad we'd have to wait for a year to see the third installment, Mockingjay Part 1.

Some aspects that made the movie great are excellent setting like the high tech arena and extravagant costumes worn.With interesting romance and excellent acting, my rating is 4 out of 5 stars.

I have not read the book yet. After watching this movie, it made me want to read it. I heard there were some interesting scenes omitted.  For those who have read it, share with us what you think.

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What is the Capital of Canada? Harvard University Students Gets Blank

If I were to ask you, what’s the capital of Canada? Are you having a hard time which one? Well, you don’t have to be ashamed about it if you really don’t know because not one in the smartest University knows the answer either.
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Less than surprising, Khaya Cohen and Tim Olstad were sent home today, despite their great performances last night. In the meantime, 1D performed their 2nd single "Story of My Life".
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British Invasion Theme, Top 10 perform in X Factor USA 2013 ( Video )

We are down to top 10 in the X Factor USA 2013. This week's theme is British Music Invasion. There will be a double elimination again tomorrow. It seems, with dipping ratings, they are moving faster to end the competiton.
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Captain America is Coming Back!

If you don’t have superpowers, you’d better wear a parachute! But not Captain America!

The second instalment of the Marvel Studios Captain America franchise is set to hit the big screen on April 4, 2014. This is going to be a more action-packed and full of exciting plot.

Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) will again try to save the world from the group of bandits that threaten to put the world at risk. S.H.I.E.L.D will engage Captain America and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) to track down and silence the conspirators but when they struggle to put off their enemies, Captain America and Black Window will recruit a new ally – the Falcon.

However, they soon find themselves estrange against unexpected and daunting enemy – the Winter Soldier. Who is he? Will Captain America and his allies have what it takes to overthrow the new enemy?

This is another exciting movie that we can’t wait to see! 

Below is the official teaser trailer of the Captain America The Winter Soldier!
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