Five destinations that show there is more to Taiwan

WITH Taiwan waiving visa requirements for Filipinos, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it ranked as the third top destination for travelers from the Philippines using the Agoda online booking platform.

My 15 favorite nonfiction books of 2018

HERE are my nominees for the best nonfiction books of 2018. I haven’t read everything published this year, but I read a great deal, and these are my 15 favorites. Each reflects serious thought, research and argument. Each made me look at things in a new way. The first 14 are listed in random order (no tyranny of the alphabet). At the end is my choice for best nonfiction book of the year.

A heck of a ride

PART brawlers, part Japanese dramas, and part open-world experiences, Sega’s Yakuza games have always been a ridiculous but compelling blend of action and adventure. While they initially seem like compilations of conflicted ideas from a fever dream, their interesting, over-the-top antics and enjoyable combat systems are truly anything. Their stories keep you invested, and their atmosphere, taken individually or collectively, is nothing short of engrossing. Yakuza Kiwami 2, a remake of 2006’s Yakuza 2, follows pretty much the same formula. Featuring better graphics and sounds, enhanced gameplay, and new story elements, it does its best to keep the spirit of its source material while tacking on some of its own unique flair.

Oasis in the desert

If you tell a fellow Filipino that you are flying to Abu Dhabi, the assumption is almost always that you are going to start working there. And you can’t fault them because as you wait to board the plane for your Abu Dhabi trip, you’d notice that you are surrounded by mothers on the phone, saying their last minute goodbyes to their children. “Mag-behave ka habang wala si mama, ha? I love you, anak [Behave while mom is away, okay? I love you],” implying that they will be gone to work abroad for a long time.

And the rest is…

THE FILM BEGINS with the sound of cicadas rhythmically whirring over a black background. The sound cuts out, the film title (simple white letters) flashes on-screen. Cut to a vision of hell: a guard shrouded in steam stands beside a wood shelf containing severed heads. We are at the volcanic springs of Unzen, near Nagasaki, where friars are strung up on crosses and longhandled ladles with holes sprinkle boiling hot water on them, delicately poaching their skin. (Today of course the springs are a popular vacation resort).

A treasure trove

IT’S NO COINCIDENCE that the birth and growth of Shin Nihon Kikaku (SNK) as a video-game developing, publishing, and manufacturing company coincided with the industry’s rise in popularity. The transition to the 1980s saw the proliferation of gaming arcades and the inevitable releases of home-console versions of popular titles, and it was determined not just to take advantage of the boom, but to ensure its sustainability through constant innovation. Soon enough, it became a major player in the coin-operated business, and it astutely leveraged its experience to penetrate the expanding home market.

Vaccination: Is it safe?

In April 2016, over a million public school students in the National Capital Region (NCR), Central Luzon, and Calabarzon lined up to take part in the immunization program of the first dengue vaccine. It was recommended that the three doses of the vaccine be administered at six-month intervals. It was more than a year into the program, in November 2017, when Sanofi Pasteur issued a warning that immunized people who had not previously been infected with one of the four known varieties of dengue may experience a more severe version of the disease.

Something fishy

HOME to rare underwater species, Mabini, Batangas was the location of the 6th Anilao Underwater Shootout, mounted by the Department of Tourism (DoT).

Domesticated helper

ALFONSO CUARON’s Roma is, yes, one of the most beautiful-looking films of the year, a blend of artfully lit footage digitally stitched together to appear a seamless whole.

Episode 2 cannot come soon enough

IT’s a testament to the critical and commercial success of Life is Strange that Dontnod Entertainment had already begun work on a sequel even as its final episode was just being released. When the French developer confirmed the piece of news in January 2016, sales had already reached the three-million mark and physical copies were already making their way to store shelves. Episodic adventure games weren’t new to the industry, and yet it managed to present a choice-driven, coming-of-age narrative that transcended the genre. And, understandably, it wanted to build on its singular achievement.

SPOTLIGHT