ASUS Outs Zenfone 4 Series

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Had the chance to take a look at the newest phones of ASUS earlier of what seems to be some awesome products on the ASUS ZenFone 4 line. It's been a while since they came out with something new and if this is a game changer it'll be something that the other smartphone companies are taking a close look at. Will it perform much better than the ones that came out before this one? How would it fare compared to the OPPO F3 and Vivo V5 series? I had to ask those questions myself.

Darren Cheng of the ASUS Product Team says "We love photos and the possibility of taking photos like a professional photographer. Now cameras on smartphones are getting better, even the ones that take shots in low light environments. We also want to make the hard task of framing easy, and improve the selfies and group shots too. We have improved the SuperPixel camera, specifically the aperture with 1.8 on Zenfone 4 and 1.7 in the Zenfone 4 Pro. The large pixel size we have is great because we use the best Sony imx362 sensor, which gets 96% more light than usual and a better image processing system. We also have employed a second generation laser autofocus (improved to 0.03 seconds) and combine these technologies so you can take better photos with our phones. The Zenfone 4 also has a super wide angle camera so you can get 200% greater viewing area than before. You will see the difference easily as it also comes with twice the optical zoom and hybrid digital zooms, you can truly see more details in the photos."

The Zenfone 4 has an 8MP front camera, and is capable 5x clearer even in lowlight conditions. The Zenfone 4 Pro has got 3 Sony camera sensors in one device. It also had Portait mode for that bokeh effect. With these features alone, it may prove a challenge, but really are the photos good? How about the images for selfies?

Ivan Chen, Senior Product Manager for ASUS adds "The Zenfone 4 Selfie and Selfie Pro is gunning to be the best selfie solution and we made it to get clear selfies even in low light. The ASUS Superpixel Cameras can get you better shots with it's softlight features, the higher resolution and 24 MP DuoPixel technology can bring you larger photos. It's also got 120 degrees wide angle shots so you don't have to break your hand just in case you need to take those difficult shots and also 4K video recording, so you can have the clearest videos too. We also have an incomparable beautification mode to hide those imperfections, a software where you can do the edits in one place, employing noise cancellation, beautification even on live broadcast, even on real time tasks."

The ZenFone 4 Max Series has 5000mAh capacity, making your phone have long standby modes, charges fast, and premier battery safety. It was even tested 46 days  on standby, so if that doesn't make you buy one, then ask and carry around a car battery later lol. It can get you 3 hours of talk when you charge it for 15 minutes, which is already remarkable. They also employ 12 safety technologies protecting you from worries like heat, circuitry, inputs and outputs.

We also had our first encounter with the ZenFone 4 Selfie and Selfie Pro.

This is for the ZenFone Selfie Pro.

George Su says "You know we all love photos, and we are launching our campaign around on technologies that addresses the need to have phones that should be able to take great selfies and group shots, and I hope you experience that later on!"

During the event, they got us inside the ASUS City that they divided into districts. It was enormous fun for dealers and ASUS enthusiasts as they had to go through various activities and get snacks, raffle tickets and win prizes later on. They have built a very big community already, and they even included the Gong Yoo fans in the Philippines since he's the current APAC endorser.

It was also cute that the official mascot Zenny was able to interact with the kids and ASUS fans today. 

So in a nutshell they have released 6 phones today, the Zenfone 4 and Zenfone 4 Pro, the Zenfone 4 Selfie and Zenfone 4 Selfie Pro, plus the Zenfone 5 Max and Zenfone 4 Max Pro. Almost all of them have similar specs but with a bit of additional hardware upgrades on the pro versions.

I'll update this post when I get photos of Bea Alonzo, yes she's the new endorser for ASUS Philippines.

We got the prices of the handsets: The Zenfone 4 costs Php 28,995, the Zenfone 4 Pro is at Php 39,995, the Zenfone 4 Selfie is at P13,995, the Zenfone 4 Selfie Pro costs Php 18,995 and the Zenfone 4 Max is at Php 9,995.


BUENO Tapas and Wine Restaurant at The Grove by Rockwell

All smiles, Kapuso star and Chef Ken Alfonso welcomes you to this new restaurant BUENO Tapas and Wines Restaurant at The Grove by Rockwell
The last time I got to talk to Ken Alfonso was during the Valentines event of GMA Social Media a couple months back. First impressions was like looking at a guy who's spent most of his life as a model, dutifully bound by his ginormous physique, expensive demeanor and good looks. A few days ago I was surprised to see him in the kitchen dishing out a throng of his Spanish favorites in a new restaurant they call BUENO. 

I was a bit taken aback by the use of my surname for a Spanish restaurant (Oh hi I'm John Bueno!) but I know how it is to have a theme and food of this magnitude with a term very familiar to me, as my lineage came from Valencia according to my personal research. There's nothing more Spanish than BUENO so it's quite apt. It literally means GOOD, and if the name actually matches the food they serve, then we're in luck. So we took the trip to The Grove which is a property managed by the Rockwell group. It's a property right in front of Tiendesitas, sits along E. Rodriguez Jr. and is a couple hundred meters away from Eastwood City. If you are looking for a cozy, small place for intimate parties, then I'd suggest you do the same. Here's a peek of BUENO Tapas and Wines Restaurant. 

The Interiors

The facade was sized like a retail store with red lined door graphics on the glass, reminiscent of the well loved color they have on the flag and flamenco dancers. The place could accommodate around 25-30 people, perhaps more if they provide seating outside later on as most of the restaurants in this place also do that. It's a short walk from the drop off point in front of The Grove's rotunda. You won't have that much problems if the weather doesn't cooperate too as most of the property is shaded. It's like a room in a Spanish villa, quite inviting.

They use mosaic tiles, scribbles and a couple of framed art works laid on red brick walls with a couple of wall sconces, exposed bulbs, in very well air conditioned place. The clay plates, setup, was all Hispanic looking, but not too fancy or overkill ala fine dining restaurant. It's a good place to start if you're gearing for a night out, with friends, family or a special lady. The acoustics are pretty decent, talking over dinner and wine would really not make you listen to other tables conversations. I think they set it up much like those Tapas bars people find at night in Madrid. It's like an old brick house, cozy, I could imagine it would have been romantic in the evening.

The Food

Chef Ken Alfonso schooled at Global Culinary Academy and lived a couple months in Spain to get the experience of how it's like in the land of my forefathers. Food is simple, not too complicated and get it's roots on local produce that make ingredients shine on its own. The base of olives and oil from their orchards, the tomatoes, chili and smoked paprika was evidently present in most of the dishes. We tried them all out and will tell you about how it fared, I was surprised to say the least.

Grilled Bread with Catalan Butter - As the name suggests, this is lightly toasted in the oven or over fire then smothered with room temperature butter mashed with orange rind, salt and pepper. I've seen a version of this with sun dried tomatoes but this presents a more citrusy taste, perfect for summer. I think this is served with every meal so expect this on your table for starters.

Raspberry Iced Tea - Served with lots of ice, this would be great for non alcohol drinkers and kids. I'm afraid it was a little too sweet for me so I doused it with water. Adjust accordingly, but it's fine.

Callos a la Madrilena - My Abuela aka Grandma cooks a mean Callos. So this was one thing I knew would make or break what they offer. This was prepared beautifully. The braised tripe, pork knuckles and feet was almost not felt because their version is quite light and non greasy. I would suggest though that you consume this as soon as they put it on the table. It wouldn't be the same when it gets cold, just like what grandma warned me to do. It's a great conversation starter.

Croquettas De Gambas - As with any Tapas place, you would need bite sized bar food to go with your lovely wine. This croquette is just one of the many varieties they have of it.

Croquettas De Calamares - Which takes us to this hit that afternoon the Squid Croquettes. When you bite into these balls, it still has that seafood goodness from the squid ink, it surprised me how it retained all that moisture when they obviously have deep fried this already. The answer was shared by Chef Ken Alfonso, but I couldn't tell you because it's a secret.

Arros Negro - Reminiscent of Paella Negra less the hodge podge of ingredients in the usual one, this stays simple with squid. Using the black ink, these morsels of arborio rice tastes like the sea yet has those al dente texture which I love in any paella. Especially those bits that stick to the pan, albeit moderately pricey I think this would be a good deal because you can still have this shared. For big men like me though this is just one serving, don't tell my Mom.

Paella De Marisco Y Pollo - It's literal meaning is Seafood and Chicken Paella which tells you a lot about the ingredients on it. From mussels, squid, clams, shrimps, bell peppers, peas, the savory grilled chicken and the super smoky chorizo, you will love this among everything that the restaurant would serve. Please don't leave the place without ordering this because this classic is done quite well by BUENO. I would go back just for this if it's my cheat day, that's how good i is. The arborio rice is also well covered with water simmered with Spanish paprika and perhaps a little saffron. It was fragrant, so it must have had that.

Bueno Sangria - An afternoon wouldn't be happy without Sangria on the menu. It's refreshing, with lovely fruit slices, and get you a little woozy if you have enough of it. It was perfect for that hot sunny day we visited the place so go ask for it with the servers. They can get you this in a jiffy!

Tarta De Santiago - We were served two desserts and this one was more on the eggy side. Yes the almond cake was moist and reminded me of that classic torta bread that I've seen in some local bread shops, but that citrus compote on top made it a whole lot better. If asked to choose I'd have the next one.

Tarta San Marcos - You won't say no if you see this moist sponge cake with yema topping because it's so darn good. Served cold or semi frozen, you'll feel like having custard cake with creme brulee on top. It was like sweet clouds, like fluff but with reason to it's existence. I was just shy to have seconds but I would if I could. Again, don't go out of the restaurant without having this!

Chef Ken Alfonso must have been really good in his past life seeing how blessed he is today. The opportunity to do his passion, plus the very illustrious career in GMA, the treasures in his life must have started somewhere... his dreams are coming to life. He's not quitting show business at all and will still work with shows if the opportunity arise. His stint in Encantadia, My Love From The Star and various shows he's been in won't be the end of it. He would be glad to do more shows but he promised to be in the restaurant almost everyday as he really does the cooking. He's single (you're welcome ladies!), he has dreams like the rest of us, and now that some of the good things he's had in different restaurants in Spain is being served to us at BUENO, he hopes you visit him there soon. 

BUENO Tapas and Wine Restaurant presents good offerings for people from the east and residents of Pasig and Quezon City. Tucked away at the corners of The Grove, we hope those who would want to have a great time with family and friends could experience their Tapas in a wine and dine setting can visit them soon. They are on soft opening and are still evolving as far as their menu goes. I could see how passionate Chef Kennedy Alfonso is on further finding their identity, starting and doing the best of Spanish and tell you his favorites through a "culinary story" told with the "dishes in his restaurant". There are still a lot of them on their menu that we haven't even tasted yet but the gist of what Spanish food he wanted to serve is quite there. The Paellas, the Callos, the desserts are impressive. I hope you say the same when you get to taste the dishes at BUENO. It's good, and I really don't mind if it was named after me ha-ha!

BUENO Tapas and Wine Restaurant is located at The Grove by Rockwell at E. Rodriguez Jr. Avenue in Pasig City, right across Tiendesitas. You may follow their social media channels at or follow @BuenoManila on Instagram today. 


5 Working Selfie Tips for Selfie Addicts

Friday, August 18, 2017

I'm a photographer.  With the years of experience I've had taking shots for portraits, fashion or runway, I think I have mastered one skill every self confessed selfie addict would proudly want to have, taking selfies. I am not saying I'm the best, but I've had enough experience explaining the science behind it and what constitutes a perfect selfie. 

1. Setting the mood

Your face has tons of expressions, it can portray sadness, happiness, if you're angry or fierce. It's a canvass and all you have to do is fill that up with the mood you want to express. Start practicing with mirrors because it's one fool proof way of seeing yourself right before someone else sets you up for a shot. You can't be happy if you're in a graveyard, nor can you laugh loudly when inside a church. Take the initiative to check which goes where because the last thing you need is a place to take the attention away from your face, remember, this is your show so don't forget to set the mood before immortalizing yourself in photos.

2. Look at the Light

The face is not an artsy subject so don't make it age or become too noisy by not giving it the light that it needs. Looking the light source gets that extra glisten in the eyes that makes it that remarkable windows to your soul. I've seen a lot of people fall in love with people who have gorgeous eyes, so if this is your asset, go ahead and flaunt it!

3. Use Your Angles

I do this in every photo that has been taken of me. I know I'm a little fat than usual so I have practiced a lot of times in the mirror and made sure if other people catch me in photos that I show at least what's left of my jawline. You have to know how it will show on photos and that will make you look thinner. A few pounds off photos will do you wonders and if you do the same with poses, you'll get a lot of people to complement you and say you lost a few pounds, even look taller at times.

4. Take LOTS of Shots

A smirk, a smile, a pose, couldn't be catched by one shot. Thank the heavens above for digital cameras and smart phones because as long as you have space, you can try to capture that moment. Delete quite mercilessly so you still have photos to choose from and enough memory to take more photos. 

5. Choose the right Hardware

Now that you've covered the basics, you need the more powerful hardware to do the job. Take for example Cloudfone Excite Prime 2 Pro. It's got a 20 Megapixel front camera, a great Sony IMX376 sensor, a rear and front light, dual rear cams (13 and 8 Megapixels) that can also do optical zooms. I don't think you'll have any more problems after that. Affordable, but solved your selfie problems, that's a good thing.

I hope this helps!

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Justice League Phones Now Availabe with Smart

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Got the chance to be with some of Manila's best bloggers in an afternoon of coffee, food and first dibs on the new Justice League smartphones that's been released by Ekotek via their brand Ekonik (which is a company that outs lines of branded and licensed devices, accessories etc.). They are the same people behind previous released Justice League Headphones, Bluetooth Speakers, Powerbanks, and a long line of accessories under the Ekonik brand.

If you've been to SM Megamall Fashion Hall, they are the same people behind Satchmi, one of the coolest coffee shops in the district. For DC fans, it's probably one of the greatest news they've received so far because just like crazy collectors would feel, this is limited edition and it also goes with a certificate once you get it from Smart.

These are the Justice League Powerbanks, it wouldn't just power your gadgets, as it's quite lovely to look at!

I am Batman, and with these awesome sounding headphones, I'd be glad to listen to my Deezer playlist all day!

The Justice League Ekonik Wireless Bluetooth Speakers have really good construction, and I think those are complete suction cups so it'll be sturdy and stick to surfaces you would like this to be in. Imagine your shower sessions eh?

I know ladies would love Wonder Woman all over again with these Themyscira Headphones, I think Earth got these and wore it home.

Blogger Lucky Magno got these Central City headphones because he's a hige Flash Fan. It matches his costume and is more on the comic hero color side.

For Superman fans, it's the Metropolis headphones that you should get. Be in a suit, complete with glasses and walk around the city with this, and you're already Clark Kent.

The Justice League Phone comes in a box, the certificate of authenticity, some more paraphernalia like stickers which has got those comic book strips on them. 

Then they revealed the actual Ekonik Justice League Smart Phone. It's got a 5.5 inch IPS HD Display, Mediatek 6737 Quad Core CPU processor, 2GB RAM, 16GB Internal Storage, 5MP Front Camera and 8MP Rear one. It's dual sim, 4G LTE ready with a 2500mAh battery so you could last the whole day. It also has Android 7.0 Nougat installed so you don't need updates right from the get go.

The artwork on these back covers are unbelievable. It's features art by Jim Lee (my personal fave writer, editor, publisher and artist for DC), Jason Fabok, Francis Manapul and Ivan Reis. 

The box in itself is gorgeous and I don't think people would even think of throwing this away.

It comes with it's own power and daya cord, earphones and manual. 

The Ekonik Justice League Smartphones is available now on Smart Postpaid Plans by merely adding Php 400 on your existing plan for 30 months. So go visit your favorite Smart Business Center and ask for it becauseit will run out fast as the Flash!

Again, this is limited edition. You wouldn't want to miss the opportunity to own one and connect to the biggest network in the country, Smart Communications!