Saturday, December 28, 2013

Story of Love, Friendship, and Crime ~ "The Guardian" Book Review

by: Uel Ceballos

No one can ever question the unparalleled knack of Nicholas Sparks in pulling the heartstrings of his readers. Sparks is known for his inspiring romance novels wherein several of them have already been turned into a movie such as “A Walk To Remember”, “Message In A Bottle”, and “Dear John”. There’s really something in this guy’s words and way of telling stories that set the readers in various hues of emotions. His books always succeed in hitting the effects that the story would want to trigger from the readers – to bring out the hopeless romantic side in them. Sparks is such a virtuoso on such thing; he never fails to nail it. 

On this book, “The Guardian”, Nicholas Sparks has given us something new of which he hasn’t done in his other previous books. He has added another element here, the element of thrill and suspense and the result was as awesome as he did to his other novels. 

“The Guardian” focused on Julie Barenson who is living in simplicity in Swansboro, North Carolina. Her husband died and left her a Great Dane puppy named Singer. Julie mourned for her husband’s death and took her almost four years before she finally decided to get back into dating. Many guys are pursuing Julie but only two of them have really captured her eyes and maybe this time, her heart. One is Richard Franklin, a gorgeous, refined engineer, a real romantic and definitely every woman’s fantasy.  The other guy is Mike Harris, easy and uncomplicated guy, an industrious mechanic, and the best friend of Julie’s late husband.  You may think of it as another typical love triangle wherein the main rule is “may the best man wins.” Well, you couldn’t really help thinking that way because it really is. But as I said this novel has presented us a different kind of story of which the author has never risked doing before. Sparks has put together the elements of romance, suspense and friendship and the story was perfectly distributed in parts that accordingly justify each element.

The unique thing about this romance-suspense novel is that the story of love wasn’t set to be inferior to the tale of suspense. Actually if not for the gist at the back cover and the foreshadowing comments and appraisals in the first leaf of the book, you wouldn’t anticipate the psycho-thrilling constituent of the story while reading on the first few pages. Sparks had already build up the relationships and the psyche of the characters before he had gone to the main dangerous twist that laid on the story, thus the occurrence of peril was duly justified. 

Nicholas Sparks used a dog character and that added to the beautifully balanced story. Singer represents the element of tenderness and friendship that will surely melt your heart. If you have loved Marley in the autobiographical book “Marley and Me” and have admired Buck’s bravery in classic novel, “Call Of The Wild” then you will surely love Singer as well for his unique, light and easy but remarkable character here in “The Guardian.”

I was personally amused when the author mentioned here one of my favourite Broadway musicals, “The Phantom of The Opera” and how it was used for a metaphorical forewarning of what will about to happen next. I can already picture the scenes in a movie while I'm reading through the pages. The pursuit of the antagonist here has also make up for a good detective fiction that somehow reminds of John Grisham’s kind of novels.  

For this book that marked Nicholas Sparks’ attempt to reel away from his usual way of writings, I’ll cheer on it with 8 Cups of Latte! 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

10 of the Must-See Biographical Films

by: Uel Ceballos
Biographical films are really something that worth your time of watching. These sorts of movies tell the significant stories of persons, places, and events that carry weighty themes and priceless lessons that could only be found from true-to-life accounts. Oftentimes, these movies affect us more than any other films can do because we are pretty much aware that the story being presented did happen somewhere in the past. We feel connected to the story and to the subjects in one way or another, and oftentimes we get attached to it either objectively or subjectively speaking. Biographical films narrated the stories of the persons that possibly happened as well to the other people in other part of the globe, or could possibly happen in our own case somewhere in the future.

Below I got the list of my favorite biographical films that really got me off guarded to the verge of emotions. Check them now and hope you can see the full movie as well!

1. Schindler’s List – A heartbreaking demonstration of the Jews’ sufferings in times of the World War II, you would certainly cry your heart out here while seeing how the two-thirds of nine million Jews were being killed by creatures of their own species – Nazis who are biologically human but got a monster souls in them. The film was based in the life of Oskar Schindlers, a German businessman who unlikely managed to save thousands of Jews by employing them to his factory. This film had shown us the “good German” through the like of Oskar Schindler and the “evil ones” through the like of those people who have mercilessly perform the killings.

2. Jose Rizal – Jose Rizal movie tells the life story of Philippines’ National Hero Dr. Jose  Rizal who lived during the Spanish occupation in the country. The film had beautifully shown the important stages in Rizal’s life from his childhood up to his captured and detention until to his final execution, which was done through firing squad. Jose Rizal had done a great role in opening the eyes of Filipinos through his influential writings of which the two most popular are the books Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. His love for his country was in such incomparable fervor that it eventually urged the Filipinos to campaign a revolt against the Spanish administration.

3. The Pianist -- This is another great movie that tells the life back then in the years of World War II. It is based on the life story of Polish-Jewish pianist and composer Władysław Szpilman, who like other Jews had gone also to the ghetto and to the mercy of the Nazi German. This film, heartbreaking as any stories that have got something to do with the dark times in World’s History, showed how Szpilman’s attachment to music and dedication to his craft had played significant role for his hope and survival. 

4. The Elephant Man – Truly moving, The Elephant Man proved that there were unfortunate people in this world who were maybe ill-fated in many senses but still loved and cared for by the Lord. This film tells the story of John Merrick, a severely deformed man who was exhibited in carnival and given the name “The Elephant Man”. He met here a surgeon from London Hospital Frederick Treves who had helped improved his condition and found him a place that he could consider as home. Many people were feeling sorry, but much many were those who were frightened and saw Merrick as a monster. The saddest part is that despite the poor man’s devastating form, there were still numbers of heartless people who’d like to make profit out his condition but then angels never stop from coming into Merrick’s account and that quite showed that God has never ever gone missing in action in Merrick's life.

5. Gandhi – Starred by one of the greatest actors in Hollywood, Ben Kingsley had given us here a knockout acting performance as he played the role of Mohandhas Gandhi, the person who led the non-violent independence movement from the United Kingdom’s ruling. We knew Gandhi for all his remarkable words of wisdom and unbiased outlook on almost everything, including religion. Learn more of this person who had lived his life in the simplest way that you could ever imagine, and yet had influence greater sum of people. 

6. La Vie En Rose – Marion Cotillard had not only depicted the life of Edith Piaf here but she had enlivened the French singer’s soul to another body – into her own body. This is among the astounding biopic films that had shown the combination of both great performers from different time and of different genres of performing arts that this film earned Cotillard the Academy Awards for Best Actress. La Vie En Rose tells the extraordinary story of the celebrated French singer Edith Piaf who had lived between 1915 -1963 and had left us her wondrous music to listen into and life story to be our source of inspiration and life’s important lessons. (Click here to see review of the movie)

7. Lawrence of Arabia – This 3-hour running film is worth all your time as it will not only tell you a significant part of the world’s history during the World War but it will tour you to the vast and dangerous sea of sands in the Arabian deserts. Lawrence of Arabia is a biographical film that is based to the life’s story of T.E Lawrence, a British Army officer who had united the Arab tribes for one big Arab revolt independence campaign from the Ottoman Turks Empire. I was particularly awed by the vast depiction of the desert here that Lawrence had come to love despite of all the dangers the place had imposed to him and to others. But much more, I was emotionally moved by the demonstrated cause-and-effect of war to both ends of the warring parties – blood, death, and loss.  

8. Hilary and Jackie – This is one of the most troubling films I’ve seen but indeed one of the most sophisticated and classy movies ever produced. It tells the story of two sisters Hilary and Jackie who were born with great talent for music -- a flutist (Hilary) and a cellist (Jackie) – they were both seen with potential to follow international stardom but only Jackie had pursued it to that level. Hilary and Jackie had moved me with the touching stories and disturbing issues of the family Du Pre’s virtuosi. (Click here to see review of the movie)

9. The King’s Speech – Another great story that is quite moving and inspiring, The King’s Speech tells the story of King George VI of the United Kingdom on how he overcame his stuttering problem through the help of Lionel Logue, an Australian therapist whose qualifications for the job was confronted at some point in time. The film not only demonstrated the improvement on King George VI’s speaking problems, but it had also imparted significant moral lessons and inspirations.

10. El Presidente – A film that tells the years of Emilio Aguinaldo, one significant person in Philippine History whose life was not greatly highlighted as that of other country’s heroes but often bombarded with issues and speculations about the part he played in the history. El Presidente had shown the role played by Emilio Aguinaldo for leading the Katipunan movement in Cavite which eventually contributed greatly to the Philippine’s independence from the Spanish Empire. The film had also shown Aguinaldo’s side of story in regard to Andres Bonifacio and his brother Procopio’s controversial execution which was still debated today by the Philippine historians. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

THE STRUGGLE TO KEEP THE FLAME BURNING. The Hunger Games: Catching Fire review.

by Love Esios

"Sometimes, you just have to lower your expectations to avoid unnecessary disappointments." -- This quote was the first thing that came to my mind after watching the most anticipated movie of the year and the second installment of The Hunger Games trilogy --- The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

Oh don't get me wrong... I love the book. I adore The Hunger Games trilogy. Most of what you've heard about the movie, if you haven't watched it yet, were true. The movie did its best to show a faithful motion picture of the book. I just felt that the movie didn't set me ablaze until the end.

Clearly, the story was fast-tracked and I completely understand why. But sometimes, choosing a short cut will just make you miss the most important details in the story. I just felt that some of the most important scenes in the movie were not thoroughly established such as The Victors (Katniss and Peeta) adjusting to their new life in the Victors' Village, the reconciliation and eventually developing attraction of Katniss to Peeta (which she's not completely aware of), the consequent confusion that will follow because she thought she also had feelings for Gale (which should be felt like a cockfight in her head), the feistiness and the intensity of the clock-inspired arena in the Quarter Quell and the brewing revolution in the less-fortunate districts in Panem ignited by the courageous "berry act" of Katniss in the first movie. And how are they going to show the resurgence of District 13 in the next film if they haven't even given the audience an idea that there was a District 13 and they're very much alive? Unless they are planning to write the screenplay in a different light which I think is not a good idea. (For those who don't have any idea what I'm talking about, especially about District 13, you can ask my friend Google for a summary of the book so that you'll understand). And to top it all, I was not very happy about the beach scene of Katniss and Peeta which is one of my favorite scenes in the book. I was like, "Okay, that's it?" right after.

Despite the apparent discontent I felt for not seeing (and feeling) the scenes I'm expecting in the movie, there were some highlights that I loved about the film. I adored the characterization of Finnick Odair (portrayed by Sam Claflin) and Johanna Mason (portrayed by Jena Malone) in the movie. They provided the much needed wit and spunk in the story. I just felt that the "sugar cube" scene of Finnick and Katniss should've been more sexy than wholesome. Hahaha! :D If my interpretation is right, Finnick was trying to play Katniss in the book to the point of seducing her with a sugar cube. I also have to give it to the brilliant performance of Donald Sutherland as the cruel and manipulative President Snow. I can feel the antagonistic and evil atmosphere in Panem every time I see him on screen.

The fans might strangle me for speaking my mind but I just felt that the movie was not given enough justice. Catching Fire is supposed to establish the background and the beginning of the revolution and the situation of the events that are going to happen in the next movie but it wasn't like that in the film. I'm now wondering how they're going to stitch the story of the next movie and inject District 13 since it's a significant element in Mockingjay.

Nevertheless, if this is any consolation, I have to say that The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is better and more alive than its predecessor. Maybe there wasn't just enough fuel to keep the fire burning. I'd give 7/10 espresso shots for this film.

Rambo meets Khal Drogo -- "Bullet To The Head" Movie Review

Sylvester Stallone as Jimmy Bobo
by: Uel Ceballos

I’m not so much into action film but I do love several of them. I just can’t help but be picky of the action films that I’m going to watch. Maybe because I grew up with action films that my father were so fond of watching and that along the way I got tired of the same old plots, the sight of the bad guys in black, the sexy leading ladies, and the deafening gun duels. Nevertheless I do still love and admire it all, especially if the story is unique, quiet unpredictable and full of surprising elements. Bullet to the Head however, is what you can call an old-fashioned action film but you know what, I really enjoyed watching it for several reasons: first, I grew up watching Sylvester Stallone and my respect for him as action star never change, and then second, Jason Momoa is one of the promising Hollywood actors nowadays and putting them together in one film is something that I’m really excited to see, and lastly, their acting prowess is worthily satisfying as always whether it’s an old school type of movie or a modern styled one.

Sung Kang as Detective Kwon
Bullet to the Head tells the story of the New Orlean hitman Jimmy Bobo (Sylvester Stallone) whose partner Louis Blanchard got killed after they have accomplished their target. Jimmy and his partner were hired to shoot a corrupt police Hans Greely but then right after doing so, they were targeted by another hitman Keegan (Jason Momoa). Jimmy met detective Kwon (Sung Kang) who was sent down from D.C to investigate on Greely’s death and eventually the two decided to work together after Kwon had found out the possible connections of Blanchard death to Greely’s. The following events led to the unraveling of political schemes wherein Jimmy estranged daughter Lisa (Sarah Shahi) was made a hostage to provoke Jimmy’s appearance.

With the familiar turn and twist of events, watching Bullet to the Head might felt like as if I’m watching again with my father back on those old days but this modern day movie with classic appeal is worth of admiration and sincere appraisal. I did still buy all the jokes, laughed at it and watched attentively to the fighting scenes – and it all benefit to my recall of other Stallone movies from the past which had really entertained me. Amusing it was that Stallone still got the knack for that thrilling combat routine in spite of his actual age – well once an action star will forever be an action star.

The film got a nice story, with Lisa evoking the softer side on his father’s personality. And Jimmy’s partnership with Kwon who was an Asian had quite bridged the gap between two different races and that’s a pretty good sight in the movie. Though other critics still got some negative things to comment about how interactions between Jimmy and Kwon went in the film, I’d still say that the writer knew better enough to make the movie appeared more appropriate according to its theme and line of story. I was particularly amused on that scene wherein Jimmy expressed his scornful reactions to that cellphone of Kwon where he was getting all the information that he required as a detective. It quite told the generation gap between the two characters, demonstrating how things were far different back in Jimmy/Sylvester’s time.

Jason Momoa as the head villain Keegan
Stallone surely did a great performance here with his effortless relic way which all fans are always looking for. And his signature mumbling of course – very Stallone, his film would never be completed without that mumbling that only he can does. Sung Kang also did well, exuding his very best to level with his co-actors’ overflowing energy for action routines. And Jason Momoa – though playing the worst and most disdainful antagonist character in the film had still carried it out effectively with all his charismas unstoppable from flowing! Stallone and Momoa’s axe battle in the end might seem off and absurd for the others, but it did entertain me and I couldn’t help seeing Rambo and Khal Drogo on a fighting pit!

For this one, fine movie that relived that classic Hollywood action film, I’ll drink on it with 8 Espresso Shots!

Monday, December 9, 2013

A worthwhile journey with Huck -- "The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn" Book Review

by: Uel Ceballos

I first saw “The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn” in animation when I was 7 or 8 years old. That was back in 90’s when such animated TV program was being aired every morning. I followed Huck’s adventure on television together with other animations like “Little Women”, “Princess Sarah”, “Remy”, and a lot of other more. “The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn” was one of my favorites; I do really love Huck, his character and his passion for adventure. I would love to see that same animation again but I just didn’t know where to find it. Being young then, I only saw the story as simply the fun escapade of a young boy who traveled his way on a raft and met a lot of different persons along his journey. Until now that picture of Huck with his straw hat covering his face while he was lying in all comfort to the branch of a tree is still marked vividly on my memory. Huck’s adventure is something that I will never ever outgrow.

I never fully understand the deeper message of its story until I finally read its novel written by Mark Twain. This classic literature is something that is worth a million times of reading because of its significant themes, cool delivery, and amusing conversations. When I started reading on the first few pages I began to wonder that something might be wrong with my copy because the words and sentences seemed odd and wrong (English language is not my mother tongue thus I’m only familiar with the standard version) until I realized that the book is written all throughout in vernacular English and that never diminish my enjoyment of the novel. This new language experience had in fact amazed me that along my reading I was finally getting used to it as if I’d been there in that same place once and I’m all too familiar with their native way of speaking.

The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn was a sequel to Mark Twain’s The Adventure of Tom Sawyer. The Adventure of Huck told the story of Huck’s exciting journey as he escaped his alcoholic father by faking his own death (this part was really amazing, the way that Huck made it appeared like he was murdered by a trespasser on their cabin). While moving his way on the river through the canoe that he happened to find, he reunited with Jim who was a runaway slave. Another good thing that you would love about Huck is his good heart, though he was white and Jim was black and there were lots of instances that Huck thought bad of himself for keeping a runaway slave, still Huck never surrender Jim because he knew that all Jim wanted is just to be free. Jim was not a bad guy and Huck knew that very well as Jim also stood as his guardian along their voyage. Their friendship grew deeper and as you follow along their journey you would be entertained by their witty debates and arguments.

As a child, one will see this novel as a fun and exciting story of a quest that is equipped with moral lessons about friendship, adventure, and worthwhile childhood. Reading it as a grown up is another thing, because one will definitely see this book of Mark Twain as a parody of the American moral system back in the 19th century wherein Huck was caught up in his era’s social climate. One of the major themes that were being explored in the novel was the issue of slavery which was interconnected with racism. In here one would find out how things were for black people like Jim during that era in the America and probably in other parts of the world; how the blacks were treated inhumanely, being traded and seen as unintelligent and unimportant. This novel had garnered numbers of criticisms, accusing Mark Twain for being racist because he used in here the word “nigger”, had made fun of Jim’s superstitions and beliefs, and made Jim followed passively to whatever Huck and Tom (Tom Sawyer appeared in the latter part of the story to help Huck on his plans) wanted him to do even though the things were obviously ridiculous and nonsense. In my opinion, I didn’t see Mark Twain that way, I believed he was just reflecting the real scenarios through this novel of his – he used “nigger” because that was the way then that most white people addressed the black, and he made Jim followed to Huck and Tom because the black people then knows better than to go against any white folks even though those white people are their closest friends. Meaning, Mark Twain just wrote the book as exactly as what he thought the society was looked like. 

Another theme issue that was being explored here is the feud between families and clans that still exists nowadays in a modern way. This is one of the most sensitive issues that are quite unfit for a young to see or read about. There was a part in the story wherein Huck had lived with a very rich but generous family but this family was in feud with another family for already a long period of time. The rest of what happened is left for you to read and find out but that was really one piece of the story that made me feel so heavy and depressed for Huck’s part. Lots of things come along Huck and Jim’s journey including the “Duke” and “King” who had made Huck’s adventure more thrilling. I came to love not only Huck here but Jim as well for his good intentions and sincere care for Huckleberry Finn.

The novel with its heavy social issues is indeed unhealthy for young minds to read – colloquial words, violence, harsh social environment – but the story of Huck minus those heavy issues is quite perfect to encourage the youth to explore life and get themselves out in the box! 

Another thing that also amazed me about this book is the way that Mark Twain used a young character and exposed him to various social issues that are all beyond his young mind to fully comprehend. In spite of this, Mark Twain found his way to resolve Huck’s supposedly-for-adults conflicts by using the boy’s pure and innocent conscience and that’s really the most admirable part in the story. Such plot technique which was somehow similar to Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird set the awkward situation of using young characters in a story and have them directly experience and feel the impact of weighty social issues – some may see this as quite harsh for a literary publication but let’s not forget the fact that such events are what really happen in reality, there’s no use denying it even in literature.

For this novel that is full of controversy but still gaining more respect and fame as years go by, I’ll drink on it with perfect 10 Cups of Latte! Cheers to Huckleberry Finn!!!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Dekada 70 Movie Review

by: Uel Ceballos

“ Ang mga kamay daw na nag-uugoy ng duyan ay mga kamay na nagpapaikot ng mundo, sapagkat iyon ang mga kamay na umaakay sa sanggol. Hanggang sa matuto siyang lumakad at maglikot, tumuklas at magtanong at mangatwiran. Hanggang sa lumaki siya at maging ganap na mamayan ng kanyang bansa. Pero ang may-ari ng kamay na nag-uugoy ng duyan ay mamayan din ng kanyang bayan, hindi siya dapat manatili lang sa maliit na silid, sapagkat nananahan din siya sa daigdig, ang kanyang mga kamay ay di lang para sa pag-uugoy ng duyan kundi para din tumulong magtawid sa bangka ng pagbabago” (It was said that the hands that sway the crib are the hands that control the world, because those are the hands that guide the young until such a time that he will learn to walk and move around, explore and ask questions and reason out to justify his own actions. Until such a time that he grows up and becomes a full citizen of his own country. But the owner of the hands that sway the crib is also a citizen of her nation, she must not stay only in a small room, because she also lives in the same world, and her hands are not just for cradling but also for paddling the boat across the water that will help make the difference to her country.”)

-- Dekada ‘70

Opening in such lines with Amanda Bartolome (played by Vilma Santos) shown rallying among the crowd, one would think that the movie is all about the political issues during the 70’s era. Well it really was, but it was more than just tackling and demonstrating the 1970 decade wherein Ferdinand Marcos was in the peak of his political power.

Dekada ’70 is all about parenting and the challenges that are entailed with it, of which is considered to be the hardest job that you could ever imagine in the whole wide world. The film was based from the highly praised novel with the same title, written by Filipino author, Lualhati Bautista. The ensemble casts was led by premiere actor and actress, Christopher De Leon and Vilma Santos together with Piolo Pascual, Marvin Agustin, Carlos Agassi and Danilo Barrios. It garnered numbers of nominations and awards and regarded to be one of the best Filipino Films that were ever produced.

The story revolved in the middle class family of Julian and Amanda Bartolome, whose marriage was blessed with five broods. You would see here how the children had matured from being innocent and playful to being full grown-up men. The movie depicted here the way that Julian and Amanda raised their children and how they managed to do it in times of political chaos and social rebellion. The country’s president then, Ferdinand Marcos, had declared Martial Law and his dictatorship form of government had caused implications to Amanda’s family. Her first born son Jules (Piolo Pascual) became an activist and soon joined the underground movement where he earned one of the highest positions. The third son (Eman) grew to be a writer who at such times has produced numbers of banned articles. Ironically, while the two brothers (Jules and Eman) were on the same page of their social beliefs believing that Marcos was a puppet to the American government and implementing capitalism and fascism, their other brother Gani (Carlos Agassi) had entered the US Navy and served under the white people. Their parents supported them all the way to whatever they decided to do for their lives, even though they found it the hardest to do on Jules’ case, they still worked their way to accept their first son’s risky choices.

Lualhati Bautista clearly described here what it was like to live in the era that was tainted by the blood of military violence, suppression of the freedom to express, and the greediness of people for money and power.  Moreover, the author had nailed here the painstaking process that all parents experience as they watch their children reach adulthood, as they begin to lose the power to control their children’s decision and action, and let them go out on their own no matter how dangerous the road their offsprings are planning to traverse. As parents, all that they can do is watch over their grown up children, let them fly wherever they wanted to, pray for their safety, and receive them in open arms when they finally come back home even though they have left before without a single word. The film had quite shown us the unconditional love of parents to their children and it was indeed very touching, making us think of our own family in one way or another.

Dekada 70 is fully informative of what happened during the Marcos era, of which the accounts were focused on the effects it had to the civilians such as in Amanda’s family. The story had also exposed the kind of torturing that was suffered by the suspected members of the underground movement as shown to Jules and his friend Billie’s case. Dekada 70 had fiercely touched the viewers of its vivid depiction of the 1970’s condition wherein the society was forcefully and brutally ruled by the military power vested upon the executive branch. Lualhati had done something in the story that would surely twist your heart in writhing sympathy for the Bartolome Family. Chito Roño had executed Lualhati’s writings into a great film artwork that told an important part of the Philippine’s history – the 70’s era that marked another of the Filipinos’ struggle and bravery towards freedom. Aside from the political issues that were covered by the story, Dekada 70 had also touched the issues of women’s rights, highlighting the women’s slow but eventual rise to their status’ level.

This is a must-see movie for Filipino people of all ages and walks of life because Dekada 70 not only discussed political matters but greatly presented as well the important role that each family plays for the society. All homes consist of parents and children, parents are responsible for what kind of persons that their children will grow up into. The persons that their children will become in the future will soon become the parts of the society’s new generation… and in time they will have their own family too … the hands that rock the crib of the children are the same hands that cradle the nation, and the hands that cradle the nation are the same hands that hold the world…parents must know that their responsibilities are not only confined to the future of their children but to the future of the world as well.

For this movie that linked me to that one important era of my country’s history, I’ll drink to it with 10 Espresso Shots! Cheers to Top Filipino Film!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Heaven is for REAL: Book Review ~ by Benj Ramos

Would you believe a child if he tells you that he saw Jesus, God, John the Baptist and Gabriel from his 3-minute trip to heaven? Surely you think he got it from his Sunday school lessons, but guess what? He was 4 years old who couldn’t even read or write at the time. Would you still buy it?

Nope, Colton Burpo didn't dream about it, well at least according to his father Todd Burpo who wrote the book. Though some might be doubtful Colton experienced it. Two reasons why the book looks believable -- 1. Kids dont lie, 2. There is no better testimony coming from a near-death-experience.

Heaven Is For Real is a testimony that heaven is indeed for real. As a Christian, i believe that God can use whoever, whenever and wherever to become a living witness of His power. However, do not expect a crossing to the sea or God talking from a burning bush in this book.

Colton has no idea what heaven looks like. It was described in a child perspective primarily focused on colors and visuals. You know how sometimes we wake up from a dream and suddenly we can't remember a thing. But after sometime we remember when the situation calls for it, and it comes out details after details. Dejavu.

I have dreamt of heaven and hell but the setting is purely from the stereotypical everything-is-white and everybody-has-wings-and-halo. Influence of media. However, reading Heaven is For Real and imagining what Colton Burpo says makes you say, 'that i haven’t seen before'.

The first part of the story is quite dragging. A normal family day visiting a zoo while taking pictures with the animals. Suddenly little Burpo felt an unusual stomach ache. Then he vomited and was brought to the hospital. Then came his journey to heaven.

As the chapters unfold, it gets.exciting. Each chapter offers something new. Revelations after revelations. It's like discovering heaven little by little. 

Non-believers can treat the book as a good story to read. Some of us enjoy vampire and wizard stories but it doesn’t mean that we believe it. Look at it as if you are listening to a kid's experience in Disneyland. It won’t hurt you. Hoax or not, my fear is that this might lead people to believe in heaven and God instead of getting that motivation by reading the Bible. 

The motion picture for it is in 2014. Let’s see how it fairs.

I give 9 cups of latte. The book is a journey. Enjoy and listen.