The Peer Project: Youth Mentor diaries

Just last May I signed up to be youth mentor in our area. I went with an open mind to the orientation, which proved to be easy after all. Well, not all about it was piece of cake but since we’re dealing with kids here, we definitely have to be aware, firm and fully ready for the job. I waited a good two months to get started, it took a while but it was all worth it. I have been busy enough to not blog for a couple weeks because I really want to take time on my other endeavors. (That sounded as if I have tons of things to deal with, not really what’s happening in real life tbh)

As for the methodology of the said organization, the website states: “Young people experiencing behavioral  social, emotional and/or cultural difficulties can be referred. A home assessment will determine their needs. Young adults and police officers from all cultures and diverse backgrounds are recruited, screened and trained to become positive peer mentors sharing their life experiences”

I, myself have been wanting to be a mentor for so many years now. I think it’s because I grew fond of kids when I was in my late teenage years. I remember that day my friend Rachel had her 18th birthday at the orphanage, it was such a fulfilling experience that nothing could ever replace. I gave her props for that because instead of having a ball or like party at the club, she thought of other people who needed help and time. Also, I came from a country where there’s so many kids who can’t afford education and thus, resulting them to become wayward. I wish I could do something about it now that I am here overseas. I will do anything to be of help to those less fortunate youth when I get the chance. Also, after seeing the trailer for the SXSW film “Short Term 12” starring Brie Larson, I knew that was like one of the go-signals to get on board with this opportunity.

“Remember you’re not their parent, you’re not their therapist. You’re here to help them discover who they are and all other things they struggle with”

I wondered what my junior will be like (that’s how we call them apparently), and I actually asked my case coordinator if I could have a kid who’s only 6-10 years old. I seem to be having a little of trouble when I deal with older kids. I was initially paired up with a 13-year old kid who just recently moved here to Toronto. At first I didn’t have any problem with it but after some thinking, I grew hesitant because the worst case scenario will be me butting heads with this kid and I wouldn’t want that for the both of us. I already thought that as a disadvantage before even meeting the kid. My apologies if you think I’m a terrible person.

Then I was paired up with this kid who lives a block away from our place (I know, isn’t it perfect?). When I met up with him I found myself excited to finally be sharing my time with this kid even if it’s only for 3 hours a week. Our first activity happened just 2 days after the meeting and this kid’s brother apparently has a mentor already who also showed up for our water park getaway. It was a rather awesome yet surreal experience, especially it being my first with my junior. A child’s formative years is from infantry to age 5, and what happens after that is tricky. In my kid’s case, he wants someone to spend time with other than his brother and sister, he wants to look up to someone and he wants to play with that someone. The smile on this kid’s face when he sees me makes me feel giddy and fulfilled.

I know this is going to be tough and being a youth mentor is a thankless job but I believe that I can do this to the best of my abilities. I thank God for this experience. You can check out the org’s website and see if you can be of help. I cannot wait for more experiences with this kid honestly. It’s going to be an awesome year!

Movie Review: Fruitvale Station (2013)

fruitvaleNow I understand why this film captured the hearts of the Sundance crowd and won the jury prize. I was prepared to be indifferent about it despite the great reviews, but oh boy it hit me deeply and I was in tears.

Plot: Follows the true story of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who wakes up on the morning of December 31, 2008 and feels something in the air. Not sure what it is, he takes it as a sign to get a head start on his resolutions: being a better son to his mother (Octavia Spencer), whose birthday falls on New Year’s Eve, being a better partner to his girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz), who he hasn’t been completely honest with as of late, and being a better father to Tatiana (Ariana Neal), their beautiful four year-old daughter. Crossing paths with friends, family, and strangers, Oscar starts out well, but as the day goes on, he realizes that change is not going to come easily. His resolve takes a tragic turn, however, when BART officers shoot him in cold blood at the Fruitvale subway stop on New Year’s Day. Oscar’s life and tragic death would shake the Bay Area – and the entire nation – to its very core.

You know that feeling when you just walked out of the theatre but you wanted to collect yourself first but people keep walking past you? This was EXCELLENT in all levels. A very special film that was based on a youtube video about a young man that was arrested and eventually shot by a police officer on New Year’s eve. The movie follows Oscar Grant (played by the amazing Michael B. Jordan) as he goes about his final day and the people he met. The director surely made an unforgettable debut.

I can say that the performances are better than the movie itself. The cast was a-plus-mazing. Octavia Spencer gave me everything I ever wanted in life, while Melonie Diaz served! I wouldn’t be shocked if both of them won awards come the Oscars/SAG/Golden Globes season. Did I mention Michael B. Jordan’s terrific starmaking turn? He was absolutely amazing. Some of the scenes were superbly shot, and the script was just a dream. The ending provided us with the information we needed but that last scene with the girlfriend and the kid, was just, I can’t even.

Definitely one of the films you shouldn’t dare miss this year.

Beat the heat!

summerIt’s that time of the year again! Well, a season that many of us are excited about but some of us dread! Anyway, everyone should be ready to beat the heat especially this week, temperatures rise to all-time highs. The humidity is out of this world! We all better be prepared, or we’ll melt in this scorching summertime.

  • For stuff to wear, all of us know that a pair of sunglasses gets us a long way! The brightness of the sun as we either walk or commute could definitely affect our vision. While I don’t personally always use sunnies, I tend to squint my eyes whenever I wait for the bus or when I’m walking. I know that’s not healthy, but I should buy me a pair now!
  • Flip flops originate way way back to 4000 B.C (can you believe that), I bet they weren’t called flip flops then! But as time and civilizations went on, a lot of varieties have been created to suit people’s likings. The simpler the style the better, if you ask me.
  • Staples like umbrellas, straw hats and caps are also needed to shade ourselves from the heat. A small and foldable umbrella that could fit in our bags are very convenient while for hats and caps, we could always opt for something light on our heads.
  • Liquids! Oh boy, can you imagine the lineups at Starbucks and McDonalds whenever they have those cheap beverage promos? I bet you’ve been in one of those lines just waiting to quench your thirsts! I love me a good ol’ iced coffee, and a lot of people choose fountain drinks, I can’t say for certain that it’s necessarily healthy but it definitely gets us through! Most importantly, we should keep ourselves hydrated by taking in enough water! Nothing beats H20! Wait, I forget to put ice cream!!!
  • Let’s talk about sunscreens! In choosing the best ones, we always rummage around the shelves in the supermarket and pharmacies, trying to understand what these numbers mean but I’ll tell you this, for more than 75% of people, the best thing out there is SPF 15. While personal preference is also a factor we consider, it’s better to be aware than to just buy a brand we have grown to love.
  • Fans and air conditioners! I can’t stress enough how important these things are, because for about 3/4 of the year we don’t necessarily use them since the other seasons give us temperatures cold enough to not turn these appliances on but in the summertime, we tend to realize the importance of fans and air cons. For countries that don’t experience weather, these hardware are being used everyday and people are thankful for them.
  • When you find yourself bored and don’t feel like going out as you predict sweat is going to instantly come out of your body, you can always rely on a good book to get you through the day. I don’t always read books, but I consume my free time watching movies and writing, same should go for everybody, you need to waste your time creatively, doing what you love.

So there you have it! Anything else you feel that could be added to this list, let me know! Have a fun summer everybody!

“I’m so embarrassed I’m not a real person yet”

Frances HaThis is becoming quite the movie review blog that I have wanted it not to be. But wait, I absolutely love movies and even though I watch a lot, there are few that stick out and just stays with me. This is one of those films: FRANCES HA.

Directed by Noah Baumbach and co-written by its star Greta Gerwig. It definitely seemed like a tribute to the 1960’s French New Wave Cinema, and oh, was filmed in black and white. It explores obsessive friendships, coming out of the nest, random trips to Paris, diminishing fortunes, dancing and most of all, stuff twenty-somethings go through. I was able to see it for free when I won passes from The Toronto Film Scene (thanks guys!) and I tagged my friend Cynthia along. We had the best time, just laughing at the theatre, waiting a long time and getting some good insight about the movie at the Q & A that preceded (Greta and Noah were in attendance).

Anyway, I’m just going to say it: this EASILY became my favorite film so far this 2013. It was just splendid (and I actually decided to use that word). It was a great portrait of someone who just hit rock bottom, but still manages to be super endearing and full of life. I have thought about so many things that happened to Frances in the movie and put myself into the same situation: whether I’m going to go nuts or just be like her, who’s ever so positive despite knowing deep in her heart that she’s bound for more unfortunate mishaps but then STILL TRIES. I don’t want to be a person who just stops caring and trying. So many of reflections of humanity and just a raw depiction of what it’s like to be 27 and not have your life figured out. One more thing: NEW YORK CITY! Geez I want to end up there so badly.

The title of my post was a line from the film in which Frances goes on a date with her best friend’s acquaintance, she just got a tax rebate and she insisted she paid for dinner but her credit card was declined. She then says those words and the theater burst into laughter, she runs to the closest ATM (which almost took forever). It was one of the movie’s best moments. Alright, so there you go, my review and my insight on this wonderful gem. I am going to post yet another blog about my thoughts on growing up and growing old, and why I want to take some more chances this year.

 

Movie Review: THE END OF LOVE (2013)

end_of_love_ver2

I think that I’ve been doing quite well with my March Movie Project. I may not post a lot in here, but you can definitely check out my movie reviews on my Letterboxd account (FOLLOW ME TOO HONEY BOO BOOS), it’s an online film journal. Anyway, I felt compelled to post my review for Mark Webber’s THE END OF LOVE in here because I highly recommend it, and I think it’s one of the saddest movies ever in recent memory.

Synopsis:  It tells the story of struggling actor, Mark (played by writer/director Mark Webber), who is forced to grapple with his inability to grow up when the mother of his two-year-old son Isaac suddenly passes away. As he kindles a relationship with a young single mother, he begins to realize that he can no longer remain in denial about the real-life consequences his choices have on Isaac.

My take on it: When I first saw the trailer, I was like “I’m gonna need a box of tissues for this”. It already felt depressing at that point, and I waited for it to come out in theatres. When I finally caught it yesterday online I was really excited. The movie itself is crossing the lines of reality and fiction when it comes to characters, Amanda Seyfried, Michael Cera, Jocelin Donahue, Aubrey Plaza and Jason Ritter all played themselves, while Shannyn Sossamon didn’t (in fact, it would have been awesome if she played herself because she is also a mother of two). The first few minutes already built up the path it would lead, and I was so drawn to the movie because the little kid is too adorable to ignore, and Mark Webber plays the character with so much torment and agony. The things that happened in this movie are very realistic, even though we sometimes don’t feel for the people living in L.A (they are humans too). Especially when his car got towed and he had to pay a big amount of money which he just got, and when his roommates kicked him off. That was so sad. Bottomline, I can’t say I enjoyed it, because that would be a wrong word. I can say I loved it, and I felt for the father and son. You should see it guys.

Oscars 2013: My thoughts

oscars2013And just like that, the Awards season 2013 is over. This certainly has been a year of great films (well I mean last year is, and they were given recognition this year), and I will say, that I became an Oscar-GG-SAG-Grammys junkie after witnessing all of them this 2013. Anyway, let’s recap what happened last night. Bullet form. My opinions.

  • The news/idea that Seth Macfarlane hosting this year is better than Seth Macfarlane actually hosting. It was very strange for me. His jokes were not right, there were moments where he couldn’t speak because he was laughing at his own jokes (i.e the Django Unchained segue to Rihanna & Chris Brown’s relationship, where he got booed, that’s when I knew I was over it)
  • Opening sequence: quite alright. William Shatner was a delight. Charlize Theron & Channing Tatum dancing was amazing. Daniel Radcliffe & Joseph Gordon-Levitt singing with Seth was bearable. The song with the choir was quite good. It was a long intro.
  • Christoph Waltz won for BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR. Just found out it’s his 2nd win in three years. That’s amazing.
  • Paul Rudd & Melissa McCarthy: Love them both. Their presenting was awkward though! I still love them.
  • The 5 guys from Avengers hit the stage to present. BADASS.
  • The singing part was definitely enjoyable. Loved the Les Mis cast, loved J.Hud too! Adele also won! 3rd time hitting the stage for, she did it on the Golden Globes too, and the Grammys. I love her! This year the Oscars had a theme called MUSIC IN FILM, which was definitely highlighted throughout the show. I give them props for that.
  • I was kind of bored when some awards were presented, because I wish the Academy would get rid of some of these awards and just give them in private or something, or maybe another award for the technical department. That’s just me.
  • The fashion. My best dressed actresses were: JESSICA CHASTAIN, JANE FONDA, KERRY WASHINGTON, SALLY FIELD & NAOMI WATTS. Won’t discuss the worst ones.
  • ANNE HATHAWAY wins BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS. It was expected. In my head I wished SALLY FIELD was gonna bag it, because she’s awesome (may I mention she made out with Seth MacFarlane in the opening bit?). Anne was very graceful yet I knew she was gonna say all the things on her speech, loved that short bit about her husband though.
  • Barbra Streisand, Shirley Bassey & Norah Jones all hit the stage. One for the IN MEMORIAM segment to honor late greats, then one for the BOND tribute, then a TED theme song. Fabulous women.
  • Seth’s jokes got better as it also did get shorter because they were cramping everything up to finish on time.
  • CHARLIZE THERON & DUSTIN HOFFMAN. She’s like a goddess. So gorgeous.
  • JENNIFER ANISTON & CHANNING TATUM. Love love love.
  • DANIEL RADCLIFFE & KRISTEN STEWART. K-Stew hopping and trying to walk properly. I wish she recovers soon.
  • JENNIFER GARNER & JESSICA CHASTAIN. Gorgeous women.
  • LIFE OF PI bagging awards! I have to see it now. Ang Lee proves he’s an amazing director.
  • JEAN DUJARDIN presented the Best Actress Award to…JENNIFER LAWRENCE. She actually tumbled on the flight of steps. I felt bad for her! But then she kept her composure. I was actually shocked as I expected EMMANUELLE RIVA or CHASTAIN or even NAOMI. Sorry.
  • MERYL STREEP presented the Best Actor award to…DANIEL DAY LEWIS. Without even reading the envelope. It was expected because he is a great actor. His speech was incredible, the humor made sense. He then said the award is for his mom. Lovely.
  • JACK NICHOLSON presented the BEST FILM with MICHELLE OBAMA (how random). It went to ARGO! I love it, because I was expecting it. Ben definitely deserved it. He choked up when he said his speech. It was very endearing.

That’s the 411 about last night’s Oscars.