Don’t miss “In My Father’s Arms” on CBN Asia!

Emmy Award-winning actress Jodi Sta. Maria is best known for playing Amor Powers in the 2015 remake of Pangako Sa’Yo; she also starred in the hit 2016 film, The Achy Breaky Hearts. Now, she takes on the lead role of Nikki Villegas in CBN Asia Presents, In My Father’s Arms, airing on April 14 (Good Friday), 5:00 p.m., on ABS-CBN 2.

Written by John Valdes Tan who also co-directed the film with Icko Gonzalez, In My Father’s Arms is a moving story of the kind of love that is available to us in the arms of our Savior. Let’s get some insight into the mindset of this talented ingenue:

What made you say yes to this project with CBN?
This is something I have never done before. I consider this as ministry work. I’ve been in the business as an actor for 17 years and I believe that it is really important to share the message of this story to the audience. I actually feel honored and privileged to be a part of this Holy Week Special.

What was it like working with CBN Asia?
It’s different (laughs). This is the very first time that I worked with CBN Asia. I like how we begin our day with a prayer and whenever there are important scenes or heavy scenes, we always pray. We also end our day with a prayer. We all know that we are doing something that brings glory to God so it is really different in that sense, and I like how calm the set was (laughs).

Tell me about your character. Who is Nikki?
Nikki believes that there are mistakes in life that are really unforgivable. Something tragic happened to their family and she blames herself for it. Because of guilt, she ran away from home.

What similarities do you have with Nikki and how did you use it to connect to her character?
I used to think that there are things we do in life that are really unforgivable. There are mistakes that cannot be erased and you end up blaming yourself for it. That’s how Nikki and the old Jodi are similar.

What’s the difference or edge of your character as Nikki from all the other roles that you have portrayed before?
All the roles that I portrayed before are really different from each other but among all of them, it was only Nikki’s character who received the most important gift of all, the grace and love of God.

What are the lessons that you learned from the story itself?
Doing this, I realized how our Father in heaven really loves us. I was reminded of a quote from Corrie ten Boom that says, “There is no pit so deep that God’s love isn’t deeper still.” No matter how great we think our sins and mistakes are, God’s love and forgiveness is still greater. All we need to do is to come to Him, ask for forgiveness, and then put our faith on Him.

What realizations do you hope the viewers would get from this Holy Week Special?
Most of the time people are reluctant to come to God because they have a wrong picture of Him. They see Him as a tyrant, punishing you for every mistake. But then what they don’t realize is that He is a loving, gracious, and compassionate God. So after watching this special, it is really my prayer that people will realize how much God loves them. Like Nikki, if they committed a grave mistake in the past, God is always able to forgive them; and that by receiving Jesus in their lives, they’ll get the opportunity to experience real freedom.

In your opinion, how important is it for the people to see this kind of inspirational story?
I think it is important because it is not every day that a show would really tackle or talk about the love of God. You can usually watch stories about human love – like a mother’s love, a father’s love, this or that kind of love. But it is unusual to watch something about the unconditional, agape kind of love. So I hope that people will realize this as they watch In My Father’s Arms, that the story itself will move their hearts and also speak to whatever situation they are currently in.

Guys, “The Flying House” is back!!

I’m so excited! The Flying House, one of my favorite childhood cartoons, will be re-aired on Philippine television airwaves!

I received a press release from CBN Asia, which told me that they’re re-airing The Flying House. This isn’t a reboot like what they did to Superbook; it’s the original one! In this day of 3D animation, I really hope it’ll speak to a new generation of kids, who will be encouraged to view it by their parents who grew up with it like I did.

“The gospel can be quite difficult for children to understand,” John Tan, Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer of CBN, says. “But through animation which is one of the easiest forms of media that children can watch, today’s generation can really be more attuned to God’s Word. May it be the light that guides them as they grow up,” he added.

The Flying House will air every Saturday at 9:30 a.m. on ABS-CBN, back-to-back with Superbook Reimagined every Sunday, 9:30 a.m.

The Flying House and the first year anniversary of Superbook Reimagined’s airing  on ABS-CBN will be celebrated at an event entitled, “Fly High Adventures for All Time,” at Market! Market! today, July 19, 2015. Meet Superbook’s Gizmo as well as your favorite artists like Gimme 5, Alexa Ilacad, Zaijan Jaranilla, Jason Fernandez, Timmy Pavino, and many more.

Registration starts at 11:00 a.m. See you there!

Flying House on Facebook  | SuperBook on Facebook

Walk the Moon, “Shut Up and Dance”

Rock band Walk the Moon has earned themselves the biggest hit of their career with Shut Up and Dance, now a Top 10 hit on the Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and five weeks atop its Rock Songs chart as well.

Personally, I LOVE Shut Up and Dance! Everything from it screams retro (even though the full album doesn’t necessarily lend itself to the 80s). From the awesome throwback video to the synths and 80s-esque guitars, it is one big love song to a decade that a lot of people want to deny ever existed. For someone like me, though, who grew up in the 80s, Shut Up and Dance is LOVE! An absolutely irresistible chorus, sing-along verses, and a brilliant pre-chorus make it easy to see why this song clearly was destined for greatness. Well-done, Walk the Moon.

SHUT UP AND DANCE Lyrics
Walk the Moon

“Oh don’t you dare look back.
Just keep your eyes on me.”
I said, “You’re holding back,”
She said, “Shut up and dance with me!”
This woman is my destiny
She said, “Oh, oh, oh,
Shut up and dance with me.”

We were victims of the night,
The chemical, physical, kryptonite
Helpless to the bass and the fading light
Oh, we were bound to get together,
Bound to get together.

She took my arm,
I don’t know how it happened.
We took the floor and she said,

“Oh, don’t you dare look back.
Just keep your eyes on me.”
I said, “You’re holding back,”
She said, “Shut up and dance with me!”
This woman is my destiny
She said, “Oh, oh, oh,
Shut up and dance with me.”

A backless dress and some beat up sneaks,
My discothèque, Juliet teenage dream.
I felt it in my chest as she looked at me.
I knew we were bound to be together,
Bound to be together

She took my arm,
I don’t know how it happened.
We took the floor and she said,

“Oh, don’t you dare look back.
Just keep your eyes on me.”
I said, “You’re holding back,”
She said, “Shut up and dance with me!”
This woman is my destiny
She said, “Oh, oh, oh,
Shut up and dance with me.”

Oh, come on girl!

Deep in her eyes,
I think I see the future.
I realize this is my last chance.

She took my arm,
I don’t know how it happened.
We took the floor and she said,

“Oh, don’t you dare look back.
Just keep your eyes on me.”
I said, “You’re holding back,”
She said, “Shut up and dance with me!”
This woman is my destiny
She said, “Oh, oh, oh,
Shut up and dance!”

“Oh, don’t you dare look back.
Just keep your eyes on me.”
I said, “You’re holding back,”
She said, “Shut up and dance with me!”
This woman is my destiny
She said, “Oh, oh, oh,
Shut up and dance with me.”

Oh, oh, oh, shut up and dance with me [2x]

Idina Menzel, “Let It Go (Male Version)”

Someone on Tumblr produced a version of Idina Menzel’s Let It Go and lowered the pitch to make Queen Elsa sound like a man. What a gorgeous man he sounds like! LOL

Since I couldn’t access or download their mp3, I just did it on my own, using Audacity. Here’s the “male version” of Let It Go from Disney’s Frozen.

[audio:http://www.gannsdeen.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Let-It-Go-Male1.mp3]

Download Let It Go

Idina Menzel, “Let It Go”

I recently brought my kids to watch Disney’s Frozen, and they were amazed by the quality of the movie. It really was amazing to begin with, but what stood out for me was the music! It returned me to the Disney Revivals of the 1990s, starting with The Little Mermaid, and reaching its pinnacle with the soundtracks of Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin.

The standout track from Frozen was clearly the diva song, Let It Go, delivered powerfully and effortlessly by Tony Award winner Idina Menzel. My kids instantly connected with this song about finding and staying true to yourself, and, when combined with the breathtaking animation, makes for a truly magical moment in animated film. Brilliant.

LET IT GO Lyrics
Idina Menzel

The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
Not a footprint to be seen
A kingdom of isolation, and it looks like I’m the Queen
The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
Couldn’t keep it in, heaven knows I’ve tried

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know
Well now they know

Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door
I don’t care
What they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on, the cold never bothered me anyway

It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all

It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me
I’m free

Let it go, let it go
I am one with the wind and sky
Let it go, let it go
You’ll never see me cry
Here I stand
And here I stay
Let the storm rage on

My power flurries through the air into the ground
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast
I’m never going back,
The past is in the past

Let it go, let it go
And I’ll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone
Here I stand in the light of day
Let the storm rage on,
The cold never bothered me anyway

On “Sweet Genius”

My wife and I just caught “Sweet Genius” on cable TV just a few minutes ago, and suffice it to say that it was quite the experience.

The premise of “Sweet Genius” is simple: four chefs skilled in the sweet arts (pastry & sweets, basically) compete for a US$10,000 prize, based on creativity and taste of the sweet treats they whip up (see what I did there?). Hosted by pastry chef Ron Ben-Israel, they participate in three rounds with mystery ingredients – including one introduced a short time before the conclusion of the match – and time limits.

The episode we watched was particularly entertaining: mystery ingredients included marrow bones, frozen waffles, and rambutan! It was quite a thrill watching how the chefs would incorporate the new ingredients into a recipe that had otherwise been cut and dried and ready to go. Host Ron was biting and sardonic; the challenges were indeed challenging and the results varied, which is great because I wouldn’t mind seeing an imperfect dessert. At least they’re human. lolz

Overall, you can bet Caths and I will continue to watch “Sweet Genius!” What entertainment!

The Voice PH Battles: Marissa vs. Radha

Last Sunday, Lea Salonga pitted former Kulay lead vocalist Radha Tinsay against brassy Marissa Saroca in a fierce, fierce vocal battle that I’m sure sent birit-loving Filipino fans into a frenzy. I found myself holding my breath the entire time, it was absolutely brilliant.

While I love Radha to pieces, and want her to be the female to win the whole thing – my money’s on Thor for the men – I thought Marissa was actually better. But Lea let the more seasoned vocalist through, I suppose, and that ought to make for better ratings, I assume. Great battle.

On “Scam City”

I recently started watching a Nat Geo show, “Scam City,” with my wife. In this show, economist and author Conor Woodman seeks out thieves and con artists in some of the world’s greatest cities, armed with an undercover team and hidden cameras.

So far, I haven’t seen any episodes of Scam City shot in Manila, but it is really insightful watching Conor get scammed, robbed and conned so we don’t. I watched this one episode where a person sold him a fake Persian rug or something, and it was wild. I was so concerned they would beat him up or something when he went back to confront them!

And the gall of these thieves! They tried to ask for more money!

But you know, I was scammed myself once. Paid Php800 for a pearl jewelry set that I saw later in Palawan was being sold for maybe about Php200. Ultimately, that’s why we need to be careful, and aware of people’s modus operandi, so we don’t fall victim next time. Great show!