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NOISEMAKERS AND SCENE-STEALERS [Dec. 26th, 2007|06:30 pm]
Niño Mark Sablan
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(complete with a “Most Read” sign in the Inquirer’s online edition!)

From newcomers who achieved great career success to teeners with attached scandals to their names, from overnight sensations to plain attention-deprived scene-stealers, here is a list of names that made deafening noise in 2007.


The Spice Girls. Everyone was delighted to hear that Posh, Ginger, Scary, Sporty and Baby were reuniting. So when they actually did and embarked on a world tour, tickets were sold out in no time at all. One of the biggest girl groups ever, the Spice Girls are currently touring the world, performing their greatest hits and their latest single called “Headlines.”

Sanjaya Malakar. While this “American Idol” contestant raked in a lot of fans and votes, he received a lot of criticism from the show’s judges and from viewers around the world as well. But whether he was loved or hated for his ever-changing hairstyles, sexual preference or his take on songs like “Bathwater” by No Doubt and “Waiting on the World to Change” by John Mayer, there is no denying that Sanjaya is one of AI’s most unforgettable contestants—all batches counted.

Teri Hatcher. It’s not the fact that her “Desperate Housewives” character, Susan Mayer, always gets the best-looking men in the show. What made her—or her character—controversial this year was the racial slur she said: “Okay, before we go any further, can I check those diplomas? Because I would just like to make sure that they’re not from some med school in the Philippines.”

Outraged Filipinos from all over the world demanded an apology. The TV network eventually backed down, issuing a statement of regret.

Isaiah Washington. Known as Dr. Preston Burke in the hit TV series “Grey’s Anatomy,” the actor used a homophobic insult aimed at co-star T.R. Knight on the show’s set. He was sent to attend counseling, and then was dropped from the show. Good riddance.

Anna Nicole Smith. The former Guess and Playboy model, who died from an acci dental overdose, opened a floodgate of questions and mysteries with her passing. Who is the real father of her daughter Dannielynn? Was she really legally married to her personal attorney, Howard K. Stern? Larry Birkhead was eventually proven to be the biological dad, but even he wasn’t spared from intrigues. Questions about his sexual preference surfaced and some people started doubting his parental capabilities. Smith’s psychiatrist is also being investigated for reportedly over-prescribing pills.

Chris Benoit. Not only did the wrestler, 40, commit suicide in June 24, he also murdered his wife and his 7-year-old son before taking his own life. There are speculations that he was over-prescribed testosterone, but authorities are still investigating the matter.

Invasion of the young ones

Shia LaBeouf. After starring in “Disturbia” and “Transformers,” this heartthrob is ready for his next blockbuster film, the new Indiana Jones movie together with Harrison Ford. With comparisons to superstar Tom Hanks already being made about this promising actor, you just know that he’ll be around for quite a while.

Vanessa Hudgens. This 18-year-old singer-actress made waves when she starred in the tween hit movie “High School Musical” and its sequel. When her nude pictures surfaced on the Internet, however, fans were shocked and the scandal proved to be a setback for the young actress. She eventually apologized and is reportedly still included in the Disney movie’s third installment.

Zac Efron. He’s got the complete package: wonderful personality, good looks, undeniable charm—and singing and acting capabilities as well! The “High School Musical” and “Hairspray” star is just 20, so expect him to make a lot of people swoon for a very long time.

Rihanna. This Barbadian beauty got popular in 2007 because of two things. First is her single, “Umbrella,” the extremely catchy song originally intended for Mary J. Blige, which got everyone singing “ella, ella, eh, eh, eh” and was also covered by artists such as Mandy Moore and My Chemical Romance. Second is her sharp and short haircut, which everyone seems to be sporting nowadays.

Hayden Panettiere. Not only did this sweet-looking blonde finally jumpstart a successful career through the hit show “Heroes,” she also became a real-life superhero when she helped save a school of dolphins from slaughter in dangerous Japanese waters. And if those weren’t enough, she is also rumored to be dating “Heroes” co-star Milo Ventimiglia, everyone’s current crush.

The big disappointments

Britney Spears. After shaving off all her hair in a salon in California in February, the pop star attracted the paparazzi by checking in and out of rehab, provisionally losing custody of her sons and then performing a very boring, disappointing and much-criticized number at the MTV Video Music Awards.

Jamie Lyn Spears. Britney’s younger sis is proving that she can also be as controversial, with her recent revelation that she is pregnant at 16. The father is 18-year-old boyfriend, Casey Aldridge. In a tell-all interview with OK! Magazine, she says, “It was a shock for both of us, so unexpected. I was in complete and total shock and so was he. I can’t say it was something I was planning to do right now, but now that it’s in my lap and that it’s something I have to deal with, definitely I’m looking forward to being the best mom I can be.”

Amy Winehouse. Despite finding great career success in America and true love with hubbie Blake Civil-Fielder, the “Rehab” singer’s reputation continued to slide with a slew of cancelled performances, alcohol and drug issues, and disturbing photos of herself all bloodied, splashed on the pages of the British press.

The achievers

Chris Daughtry. Once again proving that you don’t need to win the top spot in a contest just to be successful, the bald rocker with the powerful voice overshadowed his “American Idol” batchmates by making it big in 2007 with the single “Home.” So far, the band has won three awards in the American Music Awards and has recently nabbed four Grammy nominations.

Beyonce. The extremely talented singer-songwriter dominated the charts in 2007 with the re-release of her triple-platinum and Grammy-nominated album, “B’Day.” In fact, many people still can’t stop themselves from suddenly singing “to the left, to the left,” from the song “Irreplaceable.” Filipinos love her even more for including the Philippines in her world tour.

Katherine Heigl. With the box office hit “Knocked Up” and her Emmy-winning portrayal of Dr. Isobel “Izzie” Stevens on “Grey’s Anatomy,” this blonde stunner’s moment in the spotlight has clearly arrived.

Lauren “LC” Conrad. As the “star” of the reality-based TV show “The Hills” on MTV, this “Teen Vogue” intern won over fans with her charm, relatable social life, interesting love life and very enviable wardrobe. While the latest season has just ended, a new one is forthcoming, which will follow Lauren as she goes to Paris for work with officemate and friend Whitney.

Problematic beauties

Rachel Smith. The 2007 Miss Universe hopeful will forever be remembered by many as the contestant who fell flat on her ass during the long gown competition. She was also booed during the National Costume competition and the question-and-answer portion, in part over political issues between the US and Mexico, where the pageant was held.

Lauren Caitlin Upton. This 2007 Miss Teen USA hopeful’s claim to infamy was her nonsensical and circuitous answer when asked why a fifth of Americans couldn’t seem to locate the US on the world map. Apart from reaching some four million viewers who tuned during in the contest, the embarrassing Q&A is also on YouTube, continuously checked out by many more people.

Proud to be Pinoy

Marc Nelson and Rovilson Fernandez. The athletic duo representing the Philippines in “The Amazing Race Asia 2” is still leading in the race the last time we checked. That is a major accomplishment, considering how the Philippine representatives last year got booted out in the first few episodes. Who knows, they might even bring home the bacon—while showing the rest of the world our unique Pinoy grit, humor and charm.

Charice Pempengco. Look how far this “Little Big Star” third placer has come. Last June, she flew to Sweden to record for Ten Songs Productions, a record company that was impressed with Charice’s “Little Big Star” performances posted on YouTube. After belting out a remarkable song number in a Korean TV show, she also got the attention of Ellen DeGeneres, who recently had her appear and perform on her own talk show. That appearance garnered her two ovations from the obviously amazed crowd. Go, girl!

From nobodies to near-somebodies

Esmee Denters. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, maybe her YouTube videos of covers will. The Dutch singer uploaded her impressive versions of songs such as “Weak” by SWV and “If I Ain’t Got You” by Alicia Keys online and instantly got herself millions of fans (just check out her hits), including Oprah Winfrey, who had the teener guest on her talk show, and Justin Timberlake, who signed the wannabe under his record label.

Chris Crocker. After Britney Spears’s disappointing and disastrous MTV VMA performance, Britney fan Chris made a tear-filled video pleading to everyone to “leave Britney alone.” He posted the soggy rant on YouTube, and the result—laughable and entertaining—attracted millions of hits, lots of media exposure, remixes, and even spoofs from people like actor Seth Green. Chris has other videos where he’s acting, but he claims his “Leave Britney Alone” video is the only one where he’s not.

As published in the December 26, 2007 issue of 2bU!, the youth section of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

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TRAFFIC, RYAN AND SHIA [Dec. 22nd, 2007|01:16 am]
Niño Mark Sablan
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I swear that I am never going to leave the house ever again. At least after a month or so. The traffic is extremely annoying and horrendous and unbearable and traumatic and unbelievable – all at the same time.


After forever, I was able to actually get to where I was going and do what I was supposed to do. So I guess all is well that ends well. Then again, hindi rin!


Today, I met a really cool guy named Ryan Willard, who is affiliated with Nickelodeon. He’s such a great and entertaining guy and I’m pretty sure the Philippines will get to see more of him in 2008. I surely want to get to know him more.


I also got to meet Shia, Joyce’s Bichon Frise, and I am in love with him. Apart from the fact that he has his own bling bling collar, soccer ball bed and perfume, I adore him because he’s so gentle and meek and sleepy all the time. Not as attention-deprived and wild as other dogs. And I am not the only one who loves Shia. Everyone does.

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ON LOOP MODE: WHEN IT ALL FALLS APART [Dec. 21st, 2007|01:35 am]
Niño Mark Sablan
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I just discovered the awesome awesome and extremely catchy song called When It All Falls Apart from the Veronicas and it has been on loop mode, even when I'm not playing it.

I somehow miss Brandy's Afrodisiac but hey, I'm currently enjoying When It All Falls Apart.
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SLURP [Dec. 19th, 2007|08:16 pm]
Niño Mark Sablan
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In Macau, I didn’t just pig out on all the irresistible grub they have, I wolfed down all sorts of liquid as well.



Since I am a huge fan of tea, I tried all the tea I could find – from the jasmine and red teas served at restaurants to those I had to buy whenever I got tired from all the walking, such as a milk green tea from Seven Tea and a milk black tea from Tea Plus, both of which I enjoyed.



Whenever we dined out, I made sure I ordered freshly squeezed orange juice. I don’t know why but during the trip, I just had this fancy for some vitamin C overdose.


As always, I tried some new stuff. I hate soda but when I came across this Schweppes Cream Soda, I decided to give it a try and my throat loved it at first sip.


In a semi-cheapo restaurant, my companion and I ordered Coke with ginger simply because it sounded intriguing. I thought it was a new version of the cola available only in Macau. As it turned out, it’s microwaved Coke with slices of ginger. Not exactly what I expected, but I loved it so much I am heading to the kitchen and the microwave after this post.


And after around 10 years or so, I once again sipped some beer again. I passionately loathe the drink but I am always up for trying anything at least once. And so I got myself a bottle of Tsingtao Beer when a companion and I decided to check out Macau’s bar scene, and then a bottle of the local beer called Macau Beer (duh) during our last night.


What can I say, I still hate beer and I think I never ever want to drink it again.

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AY YA YA ASHLEE [Dec. 19th, 2007|04:09 pm]
Niño Mark Sablan
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Despite coming off as someone who's trying too hard, I still like Ashlee for at least trying to sound different. Sure, she might sound like M.I.A. or Gwen or Fergie or Madonna in her latest offering but at least she's not trying to sound like Beyonce or Mariah. This new single is so catchy I'm hearing it now even if it's not playing. Can't wait for the rest of her stuff. 
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THE DOWN DUO [Dec. 18th, 2007|11:59 pm]
Niño Mark Sablan
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Then came a time in a particular garden in Macau – after I finished taking photos of old people doing tai chi, poinsettias dancing to the strong wind, Chinese women practicing their opera pieces and of myself, of course – when I got bored and thought that there wasn’t anything else to take pictures of.



And then I saw two people with Down syndrome walking. 

One of them mischievously grabbed his companion’s butt, prompting the other to go slap-crazy. It was so cute that I followed them and tried taking pictures of them. I think they were actually aware I was following them, and they did the whole butt-grabbing/slapping around 10 more times for me to witness.

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NOT JUST GREEN [Dec. 18th, 2007|11:52 pm]
Niño Mark Sablan


Look at all these superbly fake trees from Dimensione. I am loving the fuchsia one (it is fuchsia in reality, it's just that something's wrong with my phone's camera), but I'd love to have the black one in my future house complete with silver ornaments.  
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ENVELOPMENTAL GIFT-GIVING [Dec. 18th, 2007|11:47 pm]
Niño Mark Sablan
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My lovely lola always had this tradition of letting me wrap her gifts as early as November. One yuletide season several years ago, she got tired of it and realized how it was so much easier to just hand out cash-filled envelopes.


And so by the first few weeks of December (she no longer needed to rush), she’d ask me to buy those red Chinese envelopes to use for her Christmas gifts.


In 2003, when I first started to bring my girlfriend to our family Christmas Day lunch, my grandmother handed me one of her red Chinese envelopes, addressed to me and my girlfriend, Bunny.


It had a lovely dedication handwritten by my grandmother, who suffered from a stroke when she was younger, got her right side paralyzed and since then had to do things using the left side of her body, including writing.


We instantly extracted the bills, added them to our wallets, and included the red envelope in our scrapbook.


In 2004, Bunny and I once again received another red envelope from my grandmother, but this time, someone else had clearly written the dedication. The amount of money inside was also less than last year’s. Nevertheless, the cash went straight to our wallets while the red envelope went directly to our scrapbook.


In 2005, my grandma asked me to write her dedications on the red envelopes. I was, of course, glad to help although it felt a little weird writing her dedication for Bunny and me.


It was even weirder when on Christmas Day itself, she handed me an envelope with a dedication I myself wrote. That year, due to hard times, the amount of the money inside was even less than the previous year’s. And so Bunny and I taped the red envelope—complete with the money inside—in our scrapbook. I appreciated how my grandmother was giving us so much even if she didn’t have a job and times were hard.


In the middle of 2006, I had my own hard times in the finance department. There were several times when I took out the bills from the red envelope and put it in my wallet for reserve.


One day, I had no choice but to spend the money. It broke my heart to finally use it, after stopping myself for so long. I was guilty about spending it, but I felt a little better knowing I used it on something I really needed and that I used it only when I was left with no other choice.


In Christmas 2006, my grandma totally scrapped the whole envelope idea and just handed us cash.


Christmas is just around the corner like a 7-Eleven. My grandmother hasn’t asked me to buy her red envelopes or write her dedications yet, but I’m not really waiting for that.


I’ve been busy hunting for the best-looking red envelope for my grandmother this Christmas. This year, I’m the one giving her a red envelope. A really thick one packed with bills and lots of unconditional love from her grandson.


As published in the December 19, 2007 issue of 2bU!, the youth section of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

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Niño Mark Sablan
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Because of all the foreigners present in Macau, cutie-watching became a hobby for me while I was there. I actually stepped it up a notch by trying to take their pics. As you can see in most of the photos I took using my phone's digital camera, I wasn't very successful in capturing their beauty. 


Some were just too fast or too far for my camera.


There were easier targets though.


Oh well, at least their images are forever in my mind's eye.

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HMMM [Dec. 17th, 2007|01:26 pm]
Niño Mark Sablan
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 Saw this in Macau and I didn't know what to think. Or do. 
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