18 for 2018 (Pop Culture Edition) Part 1

Here are 18 (well, technically more than 18 coz you know, I cheat ahaha) pop culture things that were pretty helpful for me in 2018, not just to keep me entertained and happy but also expand my kinda-limited world and helped me learn empathy, kindness, and love. But yes, also brought me just pure joy. Links to things that I can link to are included in each item.

In no particular order

  1. Rivers and Robots Live in Manila

I am pretty much an indie music kind of person and I have sort of struggled to find worship music that fits into that genre. Yes I can listen to all the usual music that churches sing these days, but I still gravitate towards those that are more experimental but still grounded in the Word. When I discovered Rivers and Robots, I felt like I found my people. And when I found out they were going to perform here, I was giddy at the thought of hearing them live and worshipping with them in person!


Thanks to Becca Music also that Kali and I got to meet them in person and I even got to ask them a question about the importance of artists in church and community. Jonathan Ogden also has this amazing YouTube channel called Set Sail that Christian creatives should subscribe to.

2. Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse and Black Panther

You get probably more than 10 superhero movies every year and while they’re mostly enjoyable, they rarely surprise me anymore. But this year brought Black Panther and Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse and I saw both three times each because that’s how much I enjoyed them and how much I appreciated the artistry and diversity that they brought to the genre. And yes, I also liked Infinity War but that’s mostly for emotional reasons and my attachment to the MCU. I briefly listed down the reasons why I love Spiderman here and Black Panther here.

Oh and seeing one of my Marvel heroine faves SpiderGwen on the big screen is just sheer joy.

Artwork by Mik Zarzuela aka  @balbonfury  on IG

Artwork by Mik Zarzuela aka @balbonfury on IG

3. Annie F. Downs’ That Sounds Fun podcast

I’ve loved Annie ever since she joined the Relevant Podcast team. I feel like she’s a friend that I can talk to about anything. But I’ve only started listening to her That Sounds Fun podcast this year and because of her, I’ve cried in public places and I’ve added even more books to my TBR and TBB (to be bought) list, and I’ve had a lot of realizations and questions about faith because of her chats with her guests. Oh and she also loves football, so yeah, we could be friends in real life! (I’ll talk about her 100 Days To Brave in my other, personal 18 for 2018 list)

4. Haunting of Hill House

I binge-watched it the first time late at night, while everyone was sleeping and I don’t know why I did that or how I managed not to wake everyone up (well I stifled my screams maybe that’s why). I re-watched most episodes twice or thrice to catch the “hidden ghosts”. But while some parts are scary, I was more captured by the family drama within. Think of it as This Is Us with ghosts. But I will forever be haunted by the Bent Neck Lady.


5. Watching concerts alone

While I’ve watched concerts alone before, this was probably the year when I did it A LOT. Wanderland, Chance the Rapper (well, my friends were near me but I was sitting alone), Paramore, Debbie Gibson and Tiffany, Karpos Live (Ben & Ben/Clara Benin, Urbandub/Royal Concept). I’ve gotten used to it and I actually really enjoy it except for a few awkward moments here and there. Looking forward to more alone concert time in 2019 (but I also love watching with other people, don’t worry)

6. Like Lines On A Map by Isa Garcia

It was a joy to see Isa publish her second book and to see how people were reacting to it. And it was also a surprise and a thrill to see that she wrote about me. No one has ever done that and I really am thankful that she’s one of the people who really “sees” me. I wrote about it here. You can visit her FB page to order the book! It’s a really beautiful read!

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7. Wanderlust Reader Subscription Box

I’m a sucker for subscription boxes and as you probably know by now, anything book-related, I’m there. So this was the perfect combination. What happens is they have a theme every month and everything that’s in the box is related to the theme of course and most of the stuff inside is made by local artists and crafters. I look forward to getting my box every month, which even comes with a hand-written note! Visit their FB page to find out more.

My September and October boxes

My September and October boxes

8. Asia Pop Comic Con and meeting Tye Sheridan and Finn Jones

This has already become an annual thing for me and my fellow geeky brother. This time around, we got a pic with two of their celebrity guests. Plus, this is also a great time to add to my growing collection of prints, stickers, posters, and comics!

9. Big Bad Wolf in Manila

Tsundoku is described as the condition of buying a lot of books and not reading them. Well, I do read them. Eventually. Maybe after a year or so. The Big Bad Wolf is not good for those with that condition and those who have money to spare. The prices were really low and the selection was massive. I went back there three times. And I wanted to go one more round, but no more money and no more space to put my books. Maybe I should sell some of my books to make room in case they come back next year.

Some of my haul from Round 1

Some of my haul from Round 1

Coming up in part 2!

  • #romanceclass books

  • Debbie Gibson and Tiffany

  • Mari Andrew and Risa Rodil

  • The joys of video on demand streaming

  • A Blur of Conquerors

  • Local indie films

  • Clone Wars and Star Wars Rebels

  • Century of Light in Singapore

  • My first steps towards publishing my own work

ICYMI Pop Culture Round-Up (July 17 edition)

So many things have happened in the past few days, pop-culture wise, so in case you missed any of it, here's one post to summarize things for you.



One of the most awaited movies of the year is of course the eighth movie in the Star Wars saga, this one ominously titled The Last Jedi. And at the recently concluded Disney D23 Expo, we didn't get a new trailer, but we did get a very special behind the scenes video.  We get new footage, cast members singing and dancing, and if you don't tear up whenever the late Carrie Fisher shows up, then your heart has already turned to stone.



Probably almost all private school kids were made to read Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle In Time in school. If you didn't appreciate it then, I dare you to read it again now, especially before the movie comes out in March of next year. The trailer looks amazing with a mix of magic and sci-fi and good-looking people. And yes, I plan to re-read the entire series as well. 



Unfortunately for us who were not in the room where it happened (heh), we can only rely on the descriptions of those who were actually able to see it (no secret cameras here, darn it). The teaser sounds pretty jam-packed with characters and details, so reading about it and actually seeing it may be worlds away. But for now, we have to rely on frame by frame details like this

Oh and we do get a first look at the big bad Thanos. Sort of.



After much clamoring from fans, the glass ceiling has sort of been broken on Doctor Who. When the Doctor regenerates into Thirteen in the December special, Jodie Whittaker will be playing her! Yes, we finally have a female Doctor. While most people are pretty excited about this, there has also been a backlash from some fans who can't accept the fact that there can be a doctor that is not a white male. But who cares, can't wait for December and then the next season! Don't screw this up guys!



The announcement of their deaths came just a few hours after each other, and film enthusiasts honored them by remembering their contributions to cinema and pop culture.

Walking Dead and zombie fans owe a lot to Romero because he brought the zombie genre to life (heh) in the Night of the Living Dead series of movies in the 60s and 70s. The ending of that first movie still haunts me to this day. I won't spoil it for you, just watch it if you can.


Landau had a lot of memorable roles, but I'll remember him most for his Bela Lugosi in Ed Wood (he won a Best Supporting Oscar for that), the guy chasing Cary Grant in the Mt. Rushmore scene in North by Northwest and as Jack Malone's (Anthony LaPaglia) dad in Without A Trace.


It feels like forever since we last watched Game of Thrones and so after this long hiatus, everyone was pretty psyched. Initial thoughts here since some have probably not watched it yet (so no spoilers)

  • That cold open was one of their best ever! I kinda knew what was going to happen from the first frame, but it was still oh so satisfying and goosebumps-inducing. The North remembers!
  • The much-talked about cameo by a famous pop singer was pretty cool, especially since we did hear him sing of course. Now will he appear in more episodes, that is the question. And will fans riot if he gets killed off?
  • The Hound gets the best lines in this episode, doesn't he? 
  • The arrival of a main character in a place that I will not name is oh so satisfying but oh so bitin. Can't wait to see that character interact with even more characters. Especially that other main character. HA!
  • I really thought it would be more than one hour since we only have seven episodes this season. Oh well. Can't wait for next week!