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

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!

Glee’s “Defying Gravity” disappoints

In a nutshell: I heard the Glee Cast’s version of “Defying Gravity” (from “Wicked”) on YouTube and was let down.

As you know, the Fox TV show “Glee” is one of the hottest new properties on television. (At least online.) The cast of relative newcomers, including Lea Michele, Cory Monteith, Cris Colfer and my personal fave, BBBW Amber Riley, dish out new songs week after week in this show about a high school glee club. Some particular tracks, including Somebody to Love, Bust Ya Windows, and Can’t Fight This Feeling, were fresh and inspired. So when I heard they would be doing Defying Gravity from the Broadway musical Wicked, well, I just sat up and said this would be interesting.

Then I found a video on YouTube containing the audio of the song. And was disappointed.

I wasn’t expecting much, but I was hoping for some fireworks, knowing Lea Michele’s vocal capabilities. (I was also a bit puzzled as to why Cris Colfer was selected to do the duet with her, when I think a Diana Agron matchup would’ve been more appropriate, you know, the whole Elphaba-Glinda setup.) In the defense of the two, there’s no denying their vocals do mix together beautifully. I’m also tickled by how theatrical Kurt sounds (especially when he belts out “but ’til I try, I’ll never know). but I think the letdown here, at the end of the day, is a saccharine arrangement and too much auto-Tune. I’m curious as to what the full song sounds like – as you know, iTunes won’t let us download songs, and I’m really on the fence with the whole “download somewhere else” setup – but the lack of a bridge also makes it difficult to judge in its entirety.

Having said all that, I still think Lea’s voice is beautiful, and I say “nice try, but meh.” What do you think?

Update: I want to clarify that I am reacting to the duet version of Defying Gravity that is available for purchase on iTunes. I wrote this particular blog entry before seeing Wheels (the episode featuring Defying Gravity), and am making the comments based on this particular song. I am aware of the existence of individual versions by both Colfer and Michele, and while I still stand by my assertion that the song pales in comparison to the original, I admit that my love of the song and my enjoyment of Glee may have helped me warm up to the song. On November 14, Defying Gravity leaped from #4 to #1 on my personal top 10 chart.

“Put Down That Remote” by Neil Patrick Harris is the best Emmy opening I’ve ever seen

[zdvideo]http://gannsdeen.com/audio2/PutDownTheRemote.mp4[/zdvideo]

Put Down The Remote (lyrics after the jump) was the Broadway-inspired opening number delivered by Neil Patrick Harris, star of How I Met Your Mother, that kicked off the 2009 Emmy Awards. By far, one of my favorite opening salvos of any award show and probably the best Emmy Awards ceremony opener I’ve ever seen! It was quick, fun, inspired, catchy, and set the mood for a night of merriment (that unfortunately did not end with an Emmy in the hands of Barney Stinson).

All the same, Neil Patrick Harris’ Put Down The Remote was a lot of fun, and a great way to start the evening.

Put Down the Remote lyrics after the jump.

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