Korean B-Boys Dance Their Way To The Philippines

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Just when we thought that the Korean invasion has waned, comes a Korean phenomenon that has taken the world stage by storm.

C&S Entertainment brings the Korean sensation B-Boy & Ballerina to the Philippines in B-ALIVE 2009, the Philippine tour.  The tour will be at Camp John Hay Convention Center in Baguio from October 30-31; at the Araneta Coliseum on November 6; at the Olivarez College Coliseum from November 13-14; and at Clark Expo in Pampanga on November 21. Tickets are available online at www.auction.ph, and at all Ticketnet outlets. Tickets for the show at the Araneta are only available at Ticketnet.

The show is a version of the Broadway hit musical The Ballerina Who Fell in Love with a B-Boy, and is about a ballerina and a young B-Boy and how he dances his way to her heart. It is a tale of two characters brought together and separated by their greatest passion – dancing. Find out how their love story culminates in this mind-blowing, heart-pounding dance off, and see if it is indeed possible to fuse ballet and hip-hop.

Win free tickets by signing-in or registering an account and leaving a comment on the B-ALIVE 2009 event page on www.auction.ph. Free invites shall be given to the first 30 who will sign-up for each venue. The first 100 to reserve VIP seats will also get a dinner certificate and cash coupons from TGIFridays. For inquires, call 393-28-69 / 393-28-96.

The show is sponsored by T.G.I.FRIDAYS, JACK TV, ETC, and JAM 88.3.

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Brand: Website Pt. 2

In an earlier entry entitled Brand: Website, I hinted on the importance of ‘personality’ in marketing a website. If you notice, our site has been low-key as of late. At the risk of sounding defensive, the lack of visible activity is by no means a sign of resignation. While there is visibly not much activity ‘up front’, there definitely is a whirlwind of planning in the less visible ‘out back.’ Meticulous tinkering has me immersed in prodigious amounts of research, dissecting the web searching for answers and formulas.

And all that research have somewhat rationalized my theory on personality. I’ve been looking at the success of Facebook and Craigslist and I am now more convinced that marketing a website is not just pushing a product in people’s faces, it’s about them finding someone who has a genuine desire to make their online lives more convenient and more engaging.

To jumpstart a website, personality is a non-negotiable. It doesn’t matter if only a handful of people respond to that personality as long as they inherently contain the few that matter—your connectors, your mavens and your salesmen (or whatever label you are more familiar with).

Below is a concise description of the websites’ origins, the parallel they run and how they split off into separate directions.

Facebook starting as a site for Ivy League students is common knowledge. Craigslist starting as a mailing list for Newmark and his ‘nerdy’ bunch is probably common knowledge but only to an emerging demographic. A few years later, what started as online tools for closely-knit communities snowball into giant planets in cyberspace. Facebook goes global and shakes the SNS division of the web. Mark Zuckerberg is hailed as a visionary and becomes one of the youngest billionaires in history. Craigslist maintains its stripped down look but is now getting a lot of heat from conservative sectors of the community. Craig Newmark continues to work as the website’s tireless Customer Service Rep.

Unlike Facebook, Craigslist maintains its esoteric charm and Newmark sticks to his principles and his advocacies. Craigslist is like the indie band that you know will never sell out.

What started with personality attracting and interacting with small communities experience superfluous growth driven by the larger community and the natural multiplier effect. The larger community creates an unstoppable word-of-mouth engine, delivers more compelling content, and keeps Craig Newmark relentlessly working.

At this point, the personality becomes a PR spin. It’s good for exposure and it’s good for maintaining interest.

Another kind of personality exists in the web which is more egotistic rather than altruistic. While the first one is more of a service to others type of thing, the flipside is more self-serving. In the US, a certain Julia Allison is hyped to be a purebred Internet celebrity. She started with hobnobbing, followed it with blogging and until recently, she extended her arsenal to twittering. She gets a lot of followers and then some haters.

We also have local blogosphere celebs. I think the more successful bloggers in the country are skewed towards the Craigslist nerdy demographic. The rest are Julia Allison type followers, interested in lifestyle, entertainment and stalking.

There is still a lot more angles to the personality theory but if you’re marketing a website, you can think of yourself as a celebrity agent. You need to highlight your client’s most appealing characteristics. The fact that Mark Zuckerberg rides a bike to work. Or that Craig Newmark works 8 – 11 as a customer service rep. Or, on the flipside, you can rave about Julia Allison’s new shoes.

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When You Can Look But Cannot Touch

When I started work in Auction.ph, I had misgivings because I was well aware that “feeling the merchandise” was natural behavior for Filipino consumers.  I think it still holds true and no matter how you play the convenience card, being able to touch merchandise still trumps it.

What I wasn’t aware of was that this kind of pre-sale ritual is truth in every part of the world.  I find that despite cultural differences, consumerism is making all of us more alike than we realize.

Recently, I read an article in Time Magazine about haptics – the science of touch. The article says that consumers are likely to pay more for items experienced by touch.  Behavioral economists call it the endowment effect, which basically states that consumers get a ‘sense of ownership’ after a palpable experience with the merchandise.

The palpable experience is probably the biggest setback and one of the most difficult challenges for online retailers.  The most common recourse is to pepper item descriptions with adjectives pertaining to the sense of touch.  Words like soft, fluffy, smooth, can send signals and can trigger imaginations that are a bit more palpable than tangible.

In my opinion, however, while it does increase the likelihood of an online purchase, the increase is very marginal.  The main problem is the big divide between the virtual experience and the actual experience.  The power of suggestion is not nearly enough to bridge that divide.  The virtual experience should be more tactile.  It should be more sensory rather than imaginative.  It should be technology and not semantics.

But when I think of the technology, the images formed are grotesque and not as superfluous as I would like it to be.  I imagine wires and I imagine plugging in.  It’s not a very appealing picture.  We’re already getting so attached to our gadgets in a metaphysical sense that I’d much rather avoid contraptions that necessitate physical attachment.  Maybe we can do something with the touch pads.  Prodigious touch pads that can simulate texture.  I’m already imagining tickling Elmo online.

And speaking of ‘tickling’, I imagine another Internet industry that could benefit from this technology.  If you’re a guy and you’re reading this, I’m sure you know what I am talking about.  Bailout?

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Asking Is The New Knowing

One of the books I really struggled with was Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder. About eight years ago, when my reading diet insisted mainly on pulp fiction, a colleague blurted the title during what had to be a profound discussion. Eight years ago I asked, “isn’t that the movie with Meryl Streep?”

I can only remember bits and pieces from the book but I remember jotting down notes, especially when I chance upon gems from noted philosophers. And one other thing I remember, albeit vaguely, is the bunny metaphor that guy in the silly hat said. It was something about how as children we live on the ends of the bunny fur with the wonder of the entire universe spread out before our eyes but as we grow older, we slide to the bottom and all we get to see is fur. With nothing much to see, our inquisitive drive gets dampened.

In this day and age, when information is stored, shared and exchanged in elephantine volumes and in lightning fast speeds, innate inquisitiveness becomes more valuable than ever before. Now more than ever, we have to scurry back up the bunny hairs and look at the digital cosmos with child-like wonder. What I’m really trying to say without waxing poetic is, we have got to keep asking questions.

When I was in college, I hated doing research because it only works when resources are available. Most of the time, resources were scant. That Dewey Decimal System is rendered useless when there are only two book cases in the library. I still tend to do a lot of research nowadays but the main difference is that now, I am actually enjoying it.

There’s an infinite amount of information floating around cyberspace I get aroused just thinking about it and it’s out there, just waiting to be tapped. All you have to do is ask. Just plug in the right search query and boundless knowledge will unravel right in front of you in seconds.

But yes, you do have to ask the right questions and the only way to get better at it is to keep asking. You keep asking until you get the results that you are searching for. In the information age, the ability to ask the right questions is knowing.

Asking questions, however, is only one third of the framework. In the Internet age, where mass collaboration propagates new information and new ideas, a flipside is also inevitable—mass mediocrity. The worldwide web’s extreme liberalism has allowed bad information to flourish with the good. So the second third of knowing is knowing how to filter the good from the mediocre. And how do you sort them out? You sort them out by asking more questions. You have to verify the source and research for background and testaments of credibility.

This third part is merely an extension but an important one nonetheless. The last part to knowing is knowing how to make connections. In the “World Is Flat”, Thomas Friedman pointed out that in a flat world when jobs are being outsourced to the most obscure edges of the flattened globe, individuals become “untouchable” (or indispensable to an organization) when they can hone their abilities to make connections. In the book, Thomas Friedman calls these people Great Synthesizers. They have the ability to synthesize seemingly disparate concepts to solve unique problems.

This type of synthesis is happening all around us. For instance, leaders of multi-level organizations can now seek wisdom and strategy by studying the behavior of worker ants. It’s not as far-fetched as one might assume. When you think about it, we have been making these types of connections for the longest time but because of the Internet, we now have more access to more data and it should allow us to zero-in on the concepts that have striking parallels to our various lines of experience.

Bottom line, there is no better time than now to start asking questions. So shoot.

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Dare To Date An Auctionista Images

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An Outsider’s Tribute To Francis Magalona

I was asked to write a piece for Francis Magalona. It set off a series of reactions that started with absolute befuddlement. I had no idea what to write about. After a brief period, befuddlement became extreme resistance. Of course I could write something but given the circumstances, anything I write can be easily misconstrued as something opportunistic. I did some research hoping that some kind of angle will present itself in the process. After reading news reports and after visiting Francis Magalona’s blog, the resistance became softer, a bit more malleable. And after affording a voyeuristic peek into his life beyond the tube, I felt a strange connection, a sense of vicariousness maybe, with the celebrity because his life is exactly the charmed life I have always wished for. In that sense, he became a representation, an ideal of how I can still shape the days that lie ahead.

And then I remembered what he was like when I was growing up. And it was at this point that resistance faded and I became consumed with composing a skewed tribute from the point-of-view of an outsider.

The night after Francis Magalona died, my cousin sent me a message and he said that he wrote a sentimental song about the Master Rapper. My cousin lives in the province, operates a store but his real passion is music. His god is Kurt Cobain. Given this context, it was only logical to ask him why. He could not explain it also. He was just suddenly moved.

More than twenty years ago, I remember watching Francis Magalona in the camp classic, Ninja Kids. I think it was the second local movie I watched. The first one was Bagets. At that time, I had dreams of becoming an astronaut or becoming the leader of an elite unit of pilots whose vehicles merged into one kick-ass robot. Even before seeing Ninja Kids, I long fantasized about choosing “ninja assassin” for a full-time profession. After seeing Francis Magalona in Ninja Kids, I realized he was on to something. I was convinced that being a “ninja assassin” just won’t cut it anymore. I had to be a “break dancing ninja assassin” only because it was ‘modern’ and way cooler.

I also remember Francis Magalona in the Royal Tru-Orange commercials singing Mga Kababayan Ko. He wore garishly-colored, oversized baggy pants and a sharply, sculpted flat-top that can easily balance cans of beer (or orange soda). He was rapping with all his might calling on his countrymen to enjoy orange soda. I’m not sure if sales picked-up but the rap song sure did. It was imitated by kids in all corners and you can hear the chant in school corridors everywhere. The cool thing about it was, Francis Magalona wasn’t really selling orange soda, he was selling patriotism. And he continued to do so with unparalleled vigor until his final days.

More than a decade ago, I remember Francis Magalona in Greenhills buying stacks of Playstation CDs. At that time, my friends and I were huddled over consoles for rent and opening virtual cans of whoop-ass playing Tekken. We were students back then and for us dispensable income was a fairy-tale concept. Back then, Francis Magalona was buying stacks of video games and enjoying hours of playing time in domestic comfort. I remember thinking, ‘wow, this guy is really sucking the marrow out of life.’ I skipped a lot of classes when I was in college and spent hours at home playing Warcraft and Diablo. It’s not exemplary behavior but those were happy days. And in that sense, I’d like to think that Francis Magalona had endless chains of happy days.

Yesterday, I skimmed over Francis Magalona’s blog and I read blogs about how proud he was of his son. He showed off his son’s paintings, which were in fact, brilliant works of pop art. More than twenty years ago, I remember my elder sister cooing over Pancho Magalona’s gentleman suave in ‘deadtime’ television. (We referred to the weekday 2 – 5 pm slot as deadtime television because nothing worth watching was on except for old classics of…Yes, it’s a double entendre.) Pancho Magalona was Francis’s celebrity father. I vaguely remember Francis expressing his admiration for his father and I remember thinking his father would have offhandedly reciprocated the sentiment. He had every reason to be proud of Francis like Francis has every reason to be proud of his son. I’d like to remember this legacy of mutual admiration and enormous talent surviving Francis Magalona.

Francis Magalano was a fierce patriot, a truly talented artist and a loving father and husband. While our country endures this significant loss, this country can do a little bit better if everyone remembers Francis Magalona as a shining example.

I understand now why my cousin wrote a song for Francis Magalona. It is the same reason why I am writing this and it is the same reason why millions of other outsiders are in grief.

I am doing this for no other reason but to remember. And hopefully, to never forget.

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They Dared And They Dated: The Auctionista Date Post Event Report

A few days shy of V-day, Auction.ph launched a promo dubbed Dare To Date An Auctionista. The promo contest gave Auction.ph members a chance to date anyone from our stable of website ambassadors, the Auctionistas.

After a week of bidding frenzy, two Auctionistas emerged as the most wanted and two website members were rewarded for their tenacity. The Auctionista winners are Monique Lim of DLSU getting the highest bid with 130,000 and Kurt Fernandez of UP Diliman with 150,000. The members who won free dates are top-seller Benedict Qua aka Tycoon888 and Auction.ph newbie, Carina Traballo.

Benedict seems all set to meet Monique

Benedict seems all set to meet Monique

Carina waits calmly for Kurt to arrive

Carina waits calmly for Kurt to arrive

The date started with refreshments in Krispy Kreme in Greenhills. The daters were given some time to get acquainted with each other and to dispense with casual introductory tactics. In true dating fashion, the guys surprised the ladies with romantic staples that include one red rose and a box of chocolates.

Carina meets Kurt...

Carina meets Kurt...

...and Benedict meets Monique

...and Benedict meets Monique


After the rendezvous, the daters were transported to Okura Fusion Japanese Restaurant in Jupiter St., Makati City. Restaurant owner Mr. Jay Ha was on hand to personally greet everyone. Extra appreciation goes out to Mr. Ha for making sure that the daters had a memorable dining experience.

Off to Fusion

Off to Fusion

Okura Fusion in Jupiter St.

Okura Fusion in Jupiter St.


For lunch, the daters relished an exquisite buffet meticulously prepared by the restaurant staff. The daters selected from a colorful array of Japanese traditional cuisine and inventive dishes that fuses different tastes and textures. From Asian-style kebabs to sumptuous sushi, the restaurant’s lunch time buffet has everything to please everyone–from the most seasoned gastronome to anyone simply looking for a straight-up, satisfying meal.

Raiding the buffet

Raiding the buffet

Great food in good company

Great food in good company



Mr. Ha demonstrated his generosity by offering the daters a bottle of red wine. The daters accepted graciously. It was the perfect complement to an excellent meal.

The gracious host and his guests

The gracious host and his guests

Finding an angle

Finding an angle

After lunch, the entourage proceeded in taking photos of the daters together with the wait staff. They then exchanged farewells and the daters left Okura Fusion with bellies full and cheerful smiles that can only be inspired by unforgettable food.

The lovely guests and the genial staff

The lovely guests and the genial staff

Mr. Jay Ha and the daters

Mr. Jay Ha and the daters

The daters then headed to Market, Market for a bout of LazerXtreme–a fun and exciting way to burn calories. It was also a charming ruse for the guys to play the hero. Alas, the daters were squared-off with toddlers for 20 minutes of lazer tag action therefore eliminating the damsel in distress angle and replacing it with “don’t step on the kindergarten” heroics.

LazerXtreme, here we come!

LazerXtreme, here we come!

Ready to zap and get zapped

Ready to zap and get zapped

Twenty minutes later, the daters stepped out of the battle chamber happy and proud of their scorecards. Kurt performed particularly well landing number two on the kill count. Carina, on the other hand, just slightly missed hitting rock bottom. She went “hip-hop gangsta” for ten minutes and held the lazer with just one hand which, in effect, made her fire lazer blanks. The lazer gun has to be held with two hands to fire.

Benedict also managed to get a respectable score. He had a hard time shooting moving targets who were below his waistline. Monique on the other hand had a hard time avoiding them. She collided with one and was later on bullied from a higher platform by ten-year olds.

Date memorabilia: Scorecards!

Date memorabilia: Scorecards!

Refreshed but in need of refreshments

Refreshed but in need of refreshments


After intense lazer tag action, the daters had refreshments in a nearby coffee shop.  They recalled the highlights of the date and then proceeded in exchanging mobile numbers.  They found the food and the Okura Fusion atmosphere particularly delightful.  They said they had a blast in LazerXtreme and went on further by saying that a revisit is definitely in order.  Hopefully, with a gang of slightly taller competitors.

“We had fun and we thank Auction.ph for this experience,” said Benedict. “We really didn’t know what to expect but we all got along. It was such a relief!” added Monique. Kurt and Carina were also both thankful for the experience and confessed that it was one of the most comfortable dates they ever had.

Big smiles also served

Big smiles also served

Sequel?

Sequel?


So what lies ahead for our daters? It’s really none of our business. But the thing is, we’ve done our part and the rest is now up to them.

Carina

Carina

Kurt

Kurt


Monique

Monique

Benedict

Benedict

Auction.ph would like to thank the Auctionistas, Monique Lim and Kurt Fernandez, the winners, Benedict Qua and Carina Traballo, Ms. Christine Travina and the staff of Krispy Kreme, Greenhills, the official photographer Mr. Norman Gorecho and Mr. Jay Ha and the staff of Okura Fusion Japanese Restaurant for their support and cooperation.

Check out more amazing photos of the date by Norman Gorecho here.



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