What’s going on with Martina Hingis?

Martina Hingis lost to Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, in the third round of the Sony Ericsson Open. She has only reached one semifinal of eight tourneys this year – and that tournament she won, thankfully, but in getting there, she defeated Nicole Pratt, Samantha Stosur, Elena Dementieva, and Ana Ivanovic, hardly roster names in the women’s field.

It’s frustrating watching Marti lose so early in competitions this year, all to lower-ranked players. Save for a loss to Kim Clijsters in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, Hingis has lost to lower-ranked players every time. Out in the first round of Medibank and the Dubai Duty Free, to the same player: lower-ranked Jelena Jankovic. Out in the second round of the Qatar Open and the fourth round of the Pan Pacific to the same player: lower-ranked Daniela Hantuchova (who, in certain angles, by the way, is HOT). A loss to lower-ranked Dinara Safina (Mondial), and now, the Sony Ericsson, to Radwanska, who is ranked 49th. Forty-ninth!

This was Hingis’ worst loss since tumbling out to 112th-ranked Virginie Razzano at last year’s US Open. If it’s any consolation, Marti reached US$20M in prize money, joining Steffi Graf, Lindsay Davenport, and Martina Navratilova.

My officemate and fellow Hingis fan Raymond and I always enjoy picking Marti’s game apart, and I can expect a feisty discussion later. In a game where physical strength and speed are essential, mental strength is the great equalizer, and Marti has been lax in this field. She herself said she needs to “recharge” her head.

Meanwhile, I blame Marti’s slump on her mekmek of a fiance, Radek Stepanek. Maybe if she were engaged to a hotter tennis player, she’d have more drive. Joke. ;)

Yamin delivers possibly best Idol debut album to date!

Cathy and I asked our cousin Joemel to buy us a copy of Elliot Yamin’s self-titled debut album, which we will enjoy upon his return to the Philippines in April.

Meanwhile, I downloaded tracks to give the album an advance listen, and I will stake my reputation as a musician, music reviewer, and Idol fanatic in what I am about to say.

Elliott Yamin delivers arguably the best debut pop album from any Idol contestant from any previous season to date.

Of course, such a sweeping generalization, especially in the light of the success of Kelly Clarkson’s, Carrie Underwood’s, and Chris Daughtry’s debuts, is going to be torpedoed by many. Hey, all these artists’ albums are also stellar in their respective genres, so don’t crucify the reviewer. Elliott’s album is more pop/soul/R&B, which I think works for his unique, unforgettable voice.

Don’t take my word for it. Listen to the songs. The best part about Elliott Yamin is that it highlights – sans studio gloss – the voice of the Virginia native. Yamin went into the studio without the powerful backing of the Simons and Clive Davis, and it shows in the raw power of Yamin’s vocal. The result is an album chockful of songs that spotlight the man’s incredible voice.

First radio single Wait For You is a radio-friendly slow jam intended for adult R&B stations that can cross over into adult contemporary and pop. Advanced single Movin’ On is a shining, shimmering, pumping, toe-tapper of a track that will get your head bobbing to its irresistible beat. Elliott also reworks signature song A Song For You into an even more vocally-driven torch song. How this man made this track sound fresher than he already did on American Idol is a testament to his talent and versatility.

Power ballad I’m The Man has an unforgettable melody, and the gospel chorus on Free absolutely soars. Trainwreck builds up to a crashing chorus in a good way, and, well, don’t get me started on Take My Breath Away.

Yamin deserves every ounce of success he gets. His voice is one of the finest to ever come from any season of American Idol, and, if this album is any indication, Yamin’s career will be a bright shining one for years to come.

Buy Elliott Yamin today! You won’t regret it.

Here’s a sample: Elliott’s stunning retake on A Song For You.

[audio:SongForYou.mp3]

‘Til next time, Tina

My dear friend Tina is leaving for greener pastures. I can’t blame her, because she’s perfect for the job.

When a friend leaves, one tends to go through a rush of conflicting emotions. Like Blanche Devaraux, I call it magenta. You’re not exactly blue knowing she’s leaving. You’re happy for her but a little green with envy because her career’s on the uprise. You’re a little scared for her new beginning but you’re not exactly yellow. You’re upset with her for leaving but you’re not quite red with anger. There’s no color to describe it, so we use ‘magenta’ because it’s an ugly color and it’s not quite anything.

Ugh! Thanks to Tina, I’m magenta! Oi vey!

Anyway, Tina, dearheart, I wish you happiness, contentment, fulfillment, and joy in your new undertaking. I pray you continue to turn to God for answers to the questions, and encourage you to remain faithful to Him and His direction for you.

[audio:Friends.mp3]

This is my parting gift for you, Tina. Lyrics after the jump. Continue reading “‘Til next time, Tina”

Two great reasons to listen to Jam 88.3

My favorite radio station, Jam 88.3, has two new shows that you have got to listen to!

The first show is titled Nightlife: The Rick and Patti Show! Hosted by DJs Rick Rude and Patti, it’s a regular morning show… but at night! The show airs 9PM – 12MN, and it’s a talk show that listeners can call in to share their opinions on the topics of the evening. Phone line is 6318803. All you call center people and the rest of us who listen to the radio at night, this is pretty much for us!

I don’t have complete information on the second show yet, but I’ve heard INCREDIBLE things about it. It’ll air on Sundays, no time slot yet, and it’ll air positive, uplifting songs (including some praise songs, or so I’ve heard). More info to come, so please stand by. And tune in to Nightlife!

Meanwhile, here’s a song I wish they would play on Jam 88.3: my Single of the Year for 2006, Grammy Award-nominated Ayiesha Woods’ debut single, Happy!

[audio:Happy.mp3]

We’re having a girl! Her name is…

gannsyes.gifCathy had an ultrasound today, and it’s official: we’re having a girl! It’s my birthday wish come true! (Although I’m still holding out for a bathroom scale, a 300-CD holder/booklet, and Cathy’s allowing me to get a fourth tattoo.)

We’re particularly psyched because girls are very, very rare in our family. Cathy’s the only girl in her family, we have no girls in ours, and all Nathan’s cousins are boys save one (the daughter of a half-brother of mine).

Earlier today, Cathy had a bit of a scare, with blood present in her latest phlegmy cough. We went to Olivarez Hospital, where her very capable ob-gyne Dr. Lea Loteyro practices, and got a clean bill of health from Dr. Loteyro. Turns out Cathy scratched her throat. The doctor prescribed some antacids to deal with her achy-breaky stomach, then we went to get an ultrasound.

Not soon after, the doctor found the ‘hamburger,’ which verified my second child is going to be a girl! I KNEW IT!

As a postscript, we also have a name for our soon-to-be-born daughter. As soon as the doctor told Cathy she was having a girl, a name popped into Cathy’s head. She told me afterward, explaining why that name was what flashed in her mind, and I, thoroughly touched, approved of it.

Pending further revision, our daughter’s name is Nicola Jean (pronounced NI-kuhluh, not ni-KOE-luh, then JEEN, not jhawn). It means “victorious and gracious.”

Why Nicola Jean? Nicola, in honor of my father, Nicholas; Jean, in honor of both our mothers (Jean and Jane).

My father managed to reach Nathan, but he passed away before he met his second granddaughter. I think he would’ve been proud.

And Baby Deen #2 is going to be a…

… girl or boy.

Sorry, bitin ba?

I’m not sure yet, but we’ll get the doctor’s request for an ultrasound today, and we may know Baby Deen #2’s gender by tomorrow! Keep posted on what gender Nathan’s sibling is going to have, and what name will finally be given to this future hero(ine) of God!

Update: Cathy and I opted to postpone the ultrasound so we’ll find out Baby Deen #2’s gender on my birthday. :D

Memory boxes and my awesome wife

Sometimes, I can’t believe there actually is a woman who loves me for me.

Last night, I went through Cathy’s and my ‘memory boxes.’ A memory box is a box that, well, houses your precious memories, and Cathy and I each have one. In these boxes we have stored cards, knick knacks, and keepsakes from all our years together.

I had such a rush of emotions going through the boxes. Reading the cards with the terrible poetry and the mushy sentiment. Reading through the lines during that four-month period of separation when I left DLS-CSB to work at MyPhilippines, when we almost broke up but didn’t. Reading and reminiscing, grateful to God for His Hand that kept us together.

I can’t believe it’s been almost nine years. I met Cathy June 1998. We became a couple September 12, 1998, and wed December 7, 2002. Next year, we’ll actually celebrate ten years of knowing each other.

Ten years. Only by God’s grace.

I remember there were people who felt it would never work. Like that guidance counselor whose reaction to Cathy’s telling her that she and I were a couple was nothing short of offensive shock. Like those family members who perhaps somehow hoped I’d end up with someone different, or that Cathy married a pure Chinese man. Like those people whose fairytale lives are marred somewhat by the thought that a person like me could actually attract someone like Cathy.

Then I remember the good times. And the not-so-good times. And it boils down to three values, all of which show themselves prominent in our memory boxes.

The first is we communicate. Our cards aren’t empty. They are full of stories, of emotions, of our life together, the direction where we headed and where we continued to go. We spoke of what we wanted, what we didn’t want, and the desire to communicate because we knew this would make our relationship open and strong.

The second is we grow. You can see the growth in our cards. My earlier communications had the occasional expletive and sexual innuendo; you could see the change I am so grateful to Cathy for bringing me to a relationship with Jesus, and grateful for her prayers everyday.

The third is we trust. I am human, and flawed, and Cathy knows that. Nevertheless, she continued to trust that I would remain faithful to her – and I continue to do so. Through the years, I may have stumbled on pornography, self-stimulation, and doing things behind Cathy’s back, including bingeing on chips and soda. Each time, I came back to admit these faults to her, and she’s forgiven me.

The biggest hurdle was when I entered a costly venture that, all summed up, virtually wiped out our nest eggs. Any lesser woman would have left her husband by then. Not Cathy. She trusted God to provide, and trusted I would bounce back. A godly woman who stands by their not-so-perfect husband sends a message of love and positivity out to the world, saying “I promised this man for richer and poorer, better or worse, and I’m standing by it.

Looking through my memory box, I am in awe of God’s goodness. Sure, there may not be millions in the bank, and day-to-day living can be stressful more often than not, but everyday, I wake up to the three biggest blessings of all: a godly woman for a wife, a beautiful family, and a brand-new day I can use to make good memories for myself and others. And that’s what counts.

Baby Name Finalists

Cathy and I discussed our baby name shortlist (which included some of your suggestions), and these are the finalists:

Girl

  • Catharine Jean (Pure + God is Gracious); potential nicknames include Cat, Catharine, and ang walang kamatayang CJ)
  • Chloe Jo (Young and Blossoming + God’s Gracious Gift); potential nicknames include Chloe, Jo, and ang walang kamatayang CJ)
  • Caitlin Faith (Pure Soul + Loyal); potential nicknames include Cate, Catie, Cat, Caitlin, and Faith)
  • Charlize (Beautiful Star); potential nicknames include Charlize, Charlie, Lizzie, and Liz)

Boy

  • Nicklaus/Nicholas/Nikolai John (Victorious + God is Good); potential nicknames include Nick, Nicky, Nicko, and ang walang kamatayang NJ)
  • Nicholas Jon (Victorious + God’s Gift, because Jon is a derivative of Jonathan, not John) potential nicknames include Nick, Nicky, Nicko, and ang walang kamatayang NJ)
  • Noah (Rest); only one potential nickname here: Noah

What do you think? Vote in the Comments box (or until I can install a poll box)!