How we lost the webby awards

How we lost the webby 
By Walter Ang
November 29, 2000
Philippine Daily Inquirer

Nov. 21, Tuesday
The 3rd Philippine Web Awards night is in three days! The team behind Tsinoy.com is excited. We keep asking each other what outfit we plan to wear. I think to myself, "This must be what actors go through before the Oscars or the Famas." But those people get sponsored clothes. We have to dig through our closets that smell of mothballs.

Nov. 22, Wednesday
What to wear? What to wear? To complement our site, we consider wearing Chinese-inspired outfits. The girls could wear cheongsams and the guys could wear Mao-collared shirts. But everyone might think we're the program sellers from "Miss Saigon"!

We wonder what it must feel like to go up the stage, wear the crown, receive the scepter in your hands, have someone drape the sash ever so gently over your torso and drape the cape over your shoulders. No, wait. That would be a beauty pageant. Perhaps they'll give us damaged hard drives spray-painted a shiny golden color.

Nov. 23, Thursday Morning.
An idea hits us: Let's all wear black! Very chic! Afternoon. A new problem. No, our server did not crash. This problem is bigger. What to do with our hair! Someone suggests, "We could get haircuts from Frank." Those of us on tight budgets ask incredulously, "Provost?!" The response being, "No! Frank's Haus of Beauty. Beside Aling Nena's Carinderia! Over there by the corner!"

Nov. 24, Friday 9 a.m.
The day of all days is here! No one gets a new hairdo. Not everyone is wearing black. But so far, we've all got great hair. It feels that something is missing though.

1 p.m.
We figure out what's missing. After a late lunch, we rush over to the nearest supermarket to look for one of those instant hair color sprays.

1:15 p.m.
We find one! It comes in a little plastic bottle with a little black applicator comb. It's called Manic Blond. We buy it (of course!). We are having lots of fun and the awards haven't even started yet!

4 p.m.
We wonder if reporters will flank around us at the awards show to ask questions (read: delusions of fame). We scramble to practice our answers. I hear someone say, "I wonder if they'll ask what the essence of a woman is?" There goes another beauty pageant question!

4:09 p.m.
We wonder if we can bring in placards and streamers with "Tsinoy.com: Global Village of Chinese and Filipinos" emblazoned in big bold letters.

4:10 p.m.
We start putting on streaks of Manic Blond into our hair. All thoughts of preparing streamers instantly vanish. Hair is much too big a matter to set aside.

4:30 p.m.
We have some time to kill. We try to visit all the sites included in the finals. Some are so-so. Some are incredibly wonderful and creative. Tsinoy.com rules! (You've got to love your own!)

4:40 p.m.
Still adding Manic Blond to our hair.

5 p.m.
We squeeze into a car and drive off to Makati Shangri-La where the awards night will be held. We have to get there early because they're giving away free shirts to early birds!

6 p.m.
We get our tickets from the booth. We look for our free shirts. Where are they?

6:15 p.m.
We rush off to nearby Glorietta to have a little dinner. We'll be rushing back to the hotel so we can mingle and hobnob with other finalists. More importantly, to get those free shirts!

8 p.m.
Doors open. Success, we get our free shirts! Little black numbers with the Webby Awards logo at the back.

8:05 p.m.
Dear diary, I sat beside Carlo today. No wait, that's the hotdog commercial! What I mean is, I sit beside Cynthia Alexander the singer! Sitting beside her is Gerry Kaimo, the guy who created pldt.com!

The whole Tsinoy.com team is so giddy at getting the free shirts and finding good seats that I don't even realize I am sitting next to celebrities until about 10 minutes into it. Most of us are excited since it is our first Webby Awards night. Tsinoy.com won Best Culture Site last year. This year, we're nominated for Best Community Site.

8:15 p.m.
The show begins with a cheesy dance number. We think it's hilarious. We make fun of it and say it's an interpretative dance. (It's not.)

8:20 p.m.
JM Rodriguez and Joey Mead are hosting. Joey is beautiful! Even the women in our team are semi-drooling. Upon seeing Joey, our Web technologist tells me she wishes she were a man. The hosts say winners should limit their thank-you speeches to a maximum of 10 words. Interesting rule, but will anyone be able to follow it? We'll see.

8:40 p.m.
The Community Category is up next! We are blown away! (We thought the categories would be announced alphabetically!) We get an adrenaline rush and our stomachs hurt a whole lot in anticipation.

8:41 p.m.
They announce the winner for the Community Category. It's not us. Our faces are frozen in a mixture of shock, excitement, disappointment, resignation, anxiety and heaven knows what else.

8:43 p.m.
Minds still reeling. Trying to recover from the news. Some team members take a nicotine break. The tension is mind-numbing.

8:47 p.m.
The fact of not winning has been digested somewhat. We settle down to try and enjoy the rest of the awards night.

8:50 p.m.
Pldt.com wins People's Choice Awards for Weird/Humor Category. Gerry Kaimo goes to get the award. Where's Cynthia? She's not beside me anymore. There's another lady in her place taking a video.

9 p.m.
Barbie's Cradle play their set. Every time I see Barbie, I get an overwhelming urge to rush over to her and hold her up. She's so tiny and frail and pretty, like a little fragile fairy girl.

9:30 p.m.
My friend's friend wants to get Barbie's autograph. I give her a sheet of paper from my notebook. She thanks me profusely. Then she rushes off backstage to catch Barbie.

9:32 p.m.
I hear a thank-you speech that's less than 10 words. "Thank you for the P100,000 cash prize!" He didn't get any money, though.

9:35 p.m.
Joey announces the winner of the Best Personal site -- LuvKo SiInday ?- but pronounced "luv" like "louvre." Even the way she pronounces words is dreamy We louvre the way she hosts!

9:55 p.m.
Tsismis.com wins Yehey.com's most visited website of the year. I overhear a lady exclaim, "Tsismoso talaga ang Filipino!"

9:58 p.m.
Cynthia is back! She is clutching a plastic shopping bag. Now I know where she went.

10:15 p.m.
Most applauded acceptance speech is from namria.com.gov.ph: "Yes Virginia, we defeated Erap!"

10:40 p.m.
All the winners go onstage for their photo-ops. Brown Beat All Stars start their set. Lead singer Skarlet (Myra Ruaro) is wearing a plaid kilt/skirt and scarlet shoes. We mingle and try to network with their music in the background.

11:14 p.m.
Tsinoy.com doesn't go home empty-handed. Someone from our team wins a set of CDs in the raffle!

11:30 p.m.
A guys wins the grand prize, a new personal computer. We hate him.

11:32 p.m.
We ride into the night.

Carlo Muñoz: The boy next door just a phone call away

Carlo Muñoz: The boy next door just a phone call away 
By Walter Ang
November 8, 2000
Philippine Daily Inquirer

"Hello, Billy?" By now, it seems everyone has seen the TV ad of a telecom company for its long-distance service. The one with a persistent mother constantly calling up and checking on her son, who's in the US. If you haven't seen this ad, you might want to get out of the rock you've been living under. With two installments already out, the ad has become quite popular, and so has the actor who plays Billy.

Quite the reserved gentleman, Carlo Muñoz seems every bit the obedient son, boy-next-door character he plays in the ad. Projecting a mature aura far beyond his 21 years, Carlo was taking up marketing management for two years before the acting bug bit him.

He was supposed to be part of the defunct TV show "Ang TV," but he explains that he turned down his slot because "I was still in high school. I didn't want to interrupt my education." While in college, however, he sang a different tune and auditioned for, and consequently passed, ABS-CBN's Star Circle Batch 6.

That started the proverbial ball rolling. Pretty soon, he got offers to do commercials for Del Monte, Star Chips, Coke, Maggi Champorado, among others. His most popular, of course, is the Billy commercial. The exposure certainly has some advantages for him. "Since people know me already, it serves as an instant ice breaker when I meet strangers. I don't mind it. I'm a people person." But this dapper, yet mostly laconic young man says there are disadvantages. "I do the groceries for my family," he says. "Even now, I still do. When I go out, sometimes people call me Billy. Sometimes there's no privacy."

It can't be denied that part of the charm of the Billy ads is that they haven't actually shown the face of Billy's girlfriend yet. "They actually showed Grasya in the first commercial," Carlo says. "But she got edited out." There are already plans to make another ad, but as of this interview, Carlo still has no idea how they'll be tackling the third installment. "I don't know what it will be like. They're still planning it."

In the genes
Good looks and acting genes seem to run in the family. Older brother Leandro is part of Star Circle Batch 8 and youngest brother Angelo is now training for Batch 9. But there's no sibling rivalry here. Carlo treats them more like friends than brothers. "I'm pretty close to my older brother Leandro," Carlo says.

Asked if he and Leandro had gotten into trouble, Carlo exclaims, "Oh, yeah! All the time." He went on to narrate their latest (mis) adventure. Just recently, a tricycle driver who'd had a little too much to drink hit the car he and Leandro were in. Needless to say, they got into a fight with the driver.

When it comes to romance, Carlo is looking for a woman who is "Simple. Has a sense of humor. Knows how to have a good conversation. Hindi fake. Filipina beauty." But it may take some time before this man plunges into another romance. After having broken up with singer Carol Banawa barely six months ago, he claims, "It's too soon to have another relationship."

Moving on to show biz
A fan of international actors Kevin Spacey and Anthony Hopkins, Carlo wants to pursue acting. "Aside from doing commercials," he says, "I'm a full-time actor and part of the cast of a soon-to-be-released soap opera, 'Pangako Sa Iyo.'"

Carlo is seeking out all the breaks he can get. He's currently known for dramatic roles, but what he really wants is to play character roles. He knows what he wants and, fortunately, he has his parents' support. "It was my decision [to enter this kind of work]. They didn't interfere. Natuwa sila. They're proud of me." Future career plans for this city-born and bred young man include writing and directing.

With several projects underway and his career charging ahead, Carlo usually has a pretty full schedule. He describes a typical day: "I wake up around lunch time. I have a light lunch because I go to the gym afterward. I come home to rest for a bit. The rest of the day I tape for shows."

Through all of that, he maintains a work ethic drawn from his parents, "I learned to work hard. All their life they've worked hard for us [their children]. Namana ko sa kanila 'yung discipline. Even if you're sick the show must go on. I work hard just like them."

Crouching Passions, Hidden Emotions

Crouching Passions, Hidden Emotions 
By Walter Ang
November 7, 2000
Confuse Shoes Column, Tsinoy.com

Film director Ang Lee was introduced to international audiences with his movies The Wedding Banquet and Eat, Drink, Man,Woman. He was later tapped to direct Sense and Sensibility. The English countryside seems far removed from Taiwan, where the director hails, but he slipped into it effortlessly.

After helming The Ice Storm, this time America circa 1970s, he moves to Ching Dynasty China and gives us Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. First off, this is one instance where I've wanted to watch the Chinese version of a film rather than the English dubbed version. Provided, of course, there'd be English subtitles to help me along the way. I learned Chinese back in school, but most of it escapes me, much to the dismay of my parents and scores of uncles and aunts.

However, I am at least able to understand Mandarin and can carry a fairly civil conversation. This is why when a good Chinese movie comes along, especially if it's an Ang Lee one, I prefer to watch it in Chinese. The emotions and nuances of the characters are obviously better delineated and expressed. Unfortunately, the only versions showing in Manila so far are the English dubbed ones.

The language, however, does not take away from the other points of this film. The principal actors carry the film well and deliver textured performances, much the way you'd expect an Ang Lee film to be. It is interesting to note that Ang Lee has done films where women are the central focus. Just as in his previous films, such as the sisters in Eat, Drink and Sense, the women in Crouching Tiger have substantial roles equal to and, at times, surpassing their male counterparts. The two female protagonists' fight scenes number more and are also more complex than what you'd see with the male warriors in this film.

This film revolves around women warriors Jen Yu (Zhang Zi yi) and Yu Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh} and their intertwined relationships with Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun Fat) and Lo (Chang Chen). Apart from showcasing the characters' combating skills, their inner workings are explored, revealing lots of gray areas motivating their actions. When Yu Shu Lien looks at Li Mu Bai, the longing is evident, but expressing it seems a more difficult task than killing off an enemy. It's all in the eyes.

The characters try to find balance in a world of social obligations, repressed desires, and explosive passions. This kind of emotional interplay is where Ang is most adept. His effort to incorporate this into a martial arts movie, however, is something up for discussion. Fans of hardcore, fast-paced, action-packed kung fu movies may not enjoy Crouching Tiger as much since it decidedly takes a more roundabout path.

The gracefully choreographed fight scenes aren't an end to themselves but only serve to drive the drama along. While the plot that sets the movie off is nothing new, I personally found it refreshing that the martial arts isn't the main point. The fight scenes were elegant yet had a tongue in cheek quality to them (they had little injections of humor typical of kung fu films). The film is not just a kung fu movie with flying kicks and gliding warriors, it's a sweeping drama with restrained loves and hidden emotions.