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This is Sparta!!


Eva Green playing Artemisia stole the show. Click image to listen to our podcast review.

Review of 300: Rise of An Empire. This is an visually awesome movie to begin with. Yes, we are given with a familiar theme and cinematography from its predecessor. The battle scenes were worth the watch but nothing that really stood out for me. It was just enough to satisfy that 6 year wait for a sequel. There are a few flaws that I would like to point out despite it being entertaining. So do bear with me on this one.

Flaw number one: the protagonist Themistokles played by Sullivan Stapleton, a Greek general, didn’t really stand out as a charismatic, dominant leader as compared to Gerald Butler’s portrayal of Leonadis in 300. He did an OK job or more like playing safe or perhaps it was the direction of Noam Murro that forced Themistokles to play a less convincing hero. I certainly didn’t buy him as a charismatic leader. Leonadis, why did you have to die too soon? :(

Flaw number two: The film editing might need some fine retuning. I was slightly lost in the first quarter or maybe I didn’t put my full concentration on the plot. My co-host of The Popcorn Panel, @delgoh, managed to grasp the storytelling though he thought it wasn’t a sharp delivery. It took me a while to understand the construction and the setting of the story line and for those who missed the first movie (300), you might be slightly confused. One suggestion could be short snippets of flashbacks to refresh the memories and also for the benefit of first viewers. The idea was there and clever but executed mediocrely.

Enough of the flaws. I still had fun out of the sequel. One of the biggest draw is Eva Green who played Artemisia, the commander of the Persian Navy. I haven’t seen such a dominant female lead especially as a villain in a long time. Every time when she was on screen, I was in awe. She, I thought, was a saviour for this sequel. She’s worth of a ticket admission.

There was a lot of carnage and violence so I doubt this is suitable for children. I did appreciate the stylish slo-mos which can be repetitive and familiar but there were some scenes that were nicely executed. Entertainment value is definitely there and for me, it was enough to keep me satisfied.

On average, my peers enjoyed 300: Rise of An Empire, but majority still preferred the first movie. It’s a notch down for me as compared to the first but still a crowd pleaser. I shall watch this again in Singapore in a few weeks’ time. Eva Green in IMAX 3D is worth a second visit *lol* Verdict: 7/10 @delgoh 7 @swee_ann 8 Rottentomatoes 65%

You can catch our in-depth review in The Popcorn Panel and stand a chance to win a PS4 console when you answer a quiz post on my instagram handle @ranoadidas (refer to image of 300: Rise on An Empire) to be posted today.

Friends enjoying the sequel of 300 at The Mall Cineplex

Sarina needed to watch South Park after *lol*

All smiles before the movie

Hui Chiet trying to eat off the supposedly drumstick from Xerxes :p

If only Brunei has IMAX 3D but it will be a huge investment to have one




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HSBC New Year Special Deals

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BICTA 2014 launch


In today’s headline in The Brunei Times. Get a copy now!!

The Brunei ICT Awards (BICTA) competition for 2014 was launched today at the Dewan Seri Kerna, AITI building in Anggerek Desa. The Guest of Honour was Pehin Orang Kaya Hamzah Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdullah bin Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Haji Bakar, Minister of Communications. Yang Mulia Abdul Mutalib bin Pehin Orang Kaya Sertia Dato Paduka Haji Mohamad Yusof, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Communications, Chairman of AITI and Chairman of BICTA Steering Committee accompanied the Minister to the launching ceremony.

The event began with a recital of the Surah Al- Fatihah and Doa Selamat which was read by ..... The ceremony then proceeded with a welcoming speech by Hj Yahkup bin Hj Menudin, Chief Executive of AITI and Chairman of BICTA Working Committee. In his speech, Hj Yahkup highlighted that Brunei can have a global marketplace and this year’s theme is “Empowering a Digital Nation”. He is right about one thing - opportunities are aplenty and we do have the expertise. Of course, the aim here is to have a global reach in our capabilities and make that a reality. InsyaAllah.

The Guest of Honor then proceeded to launch BICTA 2014 with the BICTA video which gave the audience a glimpse of the timeline and prizes for BICTA. There were three presentations that were conducted by successful companies who have received grant from AITI. The companies are MeSixty Sdn Bhd, PHMD Publishing Company and Socialbuzz Advertising. These companies presented on how the AITI grant has helped in their operational activities.

BICTA, was initiated by the Ministry of Communications in 2004 with the main objective to stimulate innovation and creativity in local ICT industry amongst individual and organizations including SME and education Institutions. It aims to be the benchmark for local software development through competitions amongst each other and winners will be nominated to represent Brunei Darussalam in the annual Asia Pacific ICT Alliance (APICTA) Award held in the regional. This year APICTA will be held in Pakistan..

Interested SMEs, Education Institutions and individuals who are motivated to create and develop the most innovative, intuitive, interactive and creative ICT products and services are welcomed and encouraged to showcase their talents in BICTA and to compete for a chance to win attractive cash prizes. The cash prizes for the top winner in each of the three categories are $10,000 for ICT Industry Project, $7,000 for Tertiary Student Project and $3,000 for School Student Project.

The Minister launching BICTA using Google glass

The Minister and other invited guests from the government and private sector

Chief Executive delivering his welcoming remarks

Aside from the awards for the 3 main categories, there is also the ‘Royal Patron Award’ which will be awarded to the “Best of the Best” product among all the categories, that is, the best amongst the first place winners in all categories. This biennial Royal Patron Award will be handed out by the Crown Prince at the BICTA 2014 Award Ceremony in September. In addition, there are 3 other special recognition awards this year namely ‘Islamic ICT Award’, ‘Community Services Award’ and ‘Young Developers Award’.

The Islamic Award is to encourage local talent to create solutions, applications or software that shares the Islamic knowledge, upgrading the Halal process, increase the Islamic law on business matters or Islamic social life style through ICT usage. Community Services Award is any application software, hardware or its combination to support the community in Brunei Darussalam with the aim to promote the rights and needs of particular groups; or to improve the wellbeing, quality of life and standard of living of the community with the ultimate intent to bridge the digital divide. Young Developers Award is meant for the most innovative ICT software, hardware or integrated solution developed by a participant under the age of 12. Through the Yong Developers Award, AITI hopes to generate the interest and support from the younger generation in ICT.

A series of workshops will be held from April onwards. This will be open to all interested participants of BICTA 2014. All schools and local ICT companies having their own ICT products and services are encouraged to participate. Application form can be obtained online from The deadline for submission online or to AITI’s office is on 11th August 2014.

Image courtesy of AITI

Khairi, one of the recipients from the AITI Grant

Liam of MeSixty, one of the recipients from the AITI Grant

Group photo with the Minister


Total showing the spirit


Yves Grosjean, the General Manager of Total (Brunei), is an avid sailor and he recently competed in a friendly race at the Regatta Brunei Darussalam 2014 with his associates from Total (Brunei). His team came fourth in the invitational race in the private sector category. It’s all about the experience, the team work and the spirit that the organisation had last Sunday. It was good to see them participating in this prestigious event. Hope to see you guys competing again next year. Images courtesy of Total (Brunei).

Team Total posing for the camera in last Sunday’s Regatta Brunei Darussalam 2014 at the Royal Wharf

Yves Grosjean, the General Manager of Total (Brunei) and Rasimoon Adinin of Total

Team Total in action

Team Total in action

That’s a cool t-shirt for the event

Total team high in spirit during the race


Charity booth for rent


Today’s the last day to register

Interested to rent a booth? Go to our website and you may get your downloadable forms there. Today is the last day of submission, the 5th of March at the 2nd floor, Bahagian keusahawanan & Pekerjaan, bangunan kementerian kebudayaan, belia dan sukan. #Brunei Full payment is needed upon submission and we will issue a receipt. Don’t hesitate to give this number 8659779 a ring.


Save a life


Blood donation today at The Airport Mall organised by Pizza Hut Brunei starting 2pm later




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HSBC New Year Special Deals

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Royal charm at CNY event


His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha, His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at Prime Minister's Office and Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pg Anak Isteri Pg Anak Sarah and members of the Royal Family with the Chinese Community (Tiong Hwa) at the ICC yesterday. Click image to enlarge. Image courtesy of Vincent Hong.

This is another get together event with His Majesty and the members of the Royal Family where members of the Chinese community hosted the annual Lunar New Year celebrations at the International Convention Centre.

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, Her Majesty Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hajah Saleha, His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at Prime Minister's Office and Her Royal Highness Paduka Seri Pg Anak Isteri Pg Anak Sarah attended the Chinese New Year event.

Their Majesties were feted with ancient and modern performances and there was also an exhibition to showcase the traditional Chinese wedding ceremonies. This annual event started back in 2006 and it’s under the flagship of the Tiong Hwa community that is funded by 51 associations.

I missed the earlier performances as I was catching up the first half of the Oscars and of course, I wanted to see my friend Hui Chiet in the traditional Chinese wedding gown :D


Food sampling by bruneihalal


bruneihalal held a sampling session at Supa save Seria last Saturday, 1st March 2014 from 1 to 6pm and the event was a success as the public had a sampling taste of bruneihalal products. They also had special promotion where customers will be given bruneihalal merchandise when they buy their products last Saturday.

For your info, bruneihalal’s locally-manufactured dipping sauces have already been out on shelves in the country. In the near future, bruneihalal will be introducing their frozen range to add to its array of products, which to date include sparkling juices, Dishes of India meal accompaniments, cooking sauces and microwavable rice.

Supa save is just one of many major grocer chains in Brunei which carry bruneihalal branded products. You can visit their website at or the brand’s official Facebook (Brunei Halal) for a list of supermarkets which retail bruneihalal products and also on their instagram handle @bruneihalal for updates.


bruneihalal team recently at Supa Save Seria for their food sampling



The 86th Oscars


Did you catch the Oscars?

My predictions were 70/30 correct for the Oscars. Though 12 Years A Slave won Best Picture, it was Alfonso Cuáron’s Gravity that grabbed most of the awards (7 out of 10 awards). 12 Years A Slave had three Oscars - Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Gravity picked Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score, Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing and Best Visual Effects. Yes, Gravity does deserved all these accolades and my prediction for the Best Picture were between both 12 Years A Slave and Gravity. I recently purchased Gravity on 3D Blu-Ray and even cinemas in Singapore have re-released the movies on IMAX 3D for Gravity. It was my 2nd top movie of 2014 and it has a high replay value. Well done, Alfonso, and I also love your work on Children of Men. Epic!!!

For your info, Brad Pitt is one of the producers for 12 Years A Slave. Awesome!! It’s another big win for Steve McQueen (director and producer) after winning the Golden Globe Awards for Best Motion Picture - Drama and BAFTA’s Best Film. So it’s no surprise that a movie about slavery will pick top honours. I have watch this movie as well and it was a pretty disturbing experience but a powerful one. It’s one of those movies that I will watch once and let it be a memory. It’s unfortunate that the movie won’t be making it Brunei screens but you can probably get hold of it on DVD or Blu-ray.

Perhaps the biggest losers are American Hustle as they were nominated in 10 categories but went home with none. David O. Russell, the director of American Hustle, has claimed zero awards in the five nominations he had in the past five years. He lost out in Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter and now American Hustle. The other nominations he had was for Adapted Screenplay for American Hustle and Silver Linings Playbook. Oh well, Russell, but a consolation perhaps is that both Gangs of New York (2002) and True Grit (2010) had 10 Oscars nomination and won none.

I was hoping for Leonardo to bag the Best Actor award but he missed out yet again. He was nominated for Best Actor in The Aviator (2005), Blood Diamond (2007) and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1994) as Best Supporting Actor. In the end, he lost out to first time Oscar nominee, Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club which I have yet to catch.

Overall, I enjoyed the Oscars hosted by Ellen DeGeneres and perhaps the biggest news of the Oscars for Ellen was the retweets that she had that had at least 2 million tweets alone and crashed Twitter for a moment. Mmmm it seems people are still used to the word “selfie” while “usie” hasn’t really picked up. For your info, “usie” is a group version for selfie.

Do check out The Popcorn Panel for our thoughts on the Oscars. Till then, enjoy the week :D

The Winners Lists.

Best Picture • 12 Years a Slave
Best Actor in a Leading Role • Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club)
Best Actress in a Leading Role • Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
Best Actor in a Supporting Role • Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
Best Actress in a Supporting Role • Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave)
Best Animated Feature • Frozen (Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee, Peter Del Vecho)
Best Cinematography • Gravity (Emmanuel Lubezki)
Best Costume Design • The Great Gatsby (Catherine Martin)
Best Directing • Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón)
Best Documentary Feature • 20 Feet from Stardom (Morgan Neville, Gil Friesen, Caitrin Rogers)
Best Documentary Short • The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life (Malcolm Clarke, Nicholas Reed)
Best Film Editing • Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón, Mark Sanger)
Best Foreign Language Film • The Great Beauty (Italy)
Best Makeup and Hairstyling • Dallas Buyers Club (Adruitha Lee, Robin Mathews)
Best Original Score • Gravity (Steven Price)
Best Original Song • Let It Go - Frozen
Best Production Design •The Great Gatsby (Catherine Martin, Beverley Dunn)
Best Animated Short Film • Mr. Hublot (Laurent Witz, Alexandre Espigares)
Best Live Action Short Film • Helium (Anders Walter, Kim Magnusson)
Best Sound Editing • Gravity (Glenn Freemantle)
Best Sound Mixing • Gravity (Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead, Chris Munro)
Best Visual Effects • Gravity (Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk, Neil Corbould)
Best Adapted Screenplay• 12 Years a Slave (John Ridley)
Best Original Screenplay • Her (Spike Jonze)

The producers of 12 Years A Slave with their Oscars for Best Picture

The guys behind Frozen for winning Best Animated Feature. Awesome!!

The Best Actor, The Best Actress, The Best Supporting Actress and The Best Supporting Actor :D

Alfonso Cuarón with his Oscar for Best Direction in Gravity :D

12 Years A Slave - one of the most engrossing movies yet disturbing at the same time. Verdict: 8.5

I enjoyed American Hustle and it’s sad that David O.Russell’s movie failed to pick an award despite the 10 nominations.

I was rooting for Leonardo DiCaprio to win the Best Actor for his portrayal in The Wolf of Wall Street

The most retweeted picture in history shot by Samsung Note 3 of Ellen’s phone but at back stage, she switched back to your iPhone. Sneaky!!!



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Regatta Brunei Darussalam 2014


His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan smiles as he leads the Regatta Brunei Darussalam 2014 committee team

The Regatta Brunei Darussalam 2014 was another spectacular event and give it another 2 to 3 more years before it will be one of the most sought events in the Brunei calendar. I only turned up in the afternoon and it was scorching hotttt…… I have lots of appreciation for those who take part in this event because it’s not easy to be under the hot weather for many hours.

One of the races that I missed was the private sector race which was won by BIBD “A”, followed by BIBD “B” and third place went to Royal Brunei Airlines. Total (Brunei) and TAIB finished 4th and 5th respectively. There were more races in the morning that I missed out. There was even a crash in the powerboat category when one of the powerboats struck a wood according to a source.

For your info, The Regatta Brunei Darussalam was initiated by Al-Marhum Sultan Hj Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien and now the event has been revived by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan. The prestigious event took part at the Royal Wharf.

Perhaps the highlight of Regatta Brunei Darussalam 2014 is the race which His Majesty and the Crown Prince participated in yesterday. His Majesty led the Regatta Brunei Darussalam Committee Team A and finished first place. His Royal Highness Prince Hj Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office led the Committee Team B and finished second place. Third place went to the “Titled Persons”, a team led by chief of Adat Istiadat Negara Pengiran Lela Cheteria Sahibun Najabah Pengiran Anak Abdul Aziz Pengiran Jaya Negara Pengiran Abu Bakar.

I don’t have the result of the race but will post some later this afternoon. For now, just enjoy the pictures I took. I shall be posting more pictures from other sources too as I wasn’t there for the whole event. Thank you Hui Chiet and Lois for the company and I hope you enjoyed the boat experience under the hot sun :D



Congrats - Hui Chiet & Ivan


This is the second Registry of Marriage (ROM) that I attended and I would like to wish my close friend Hui Chiet on her new milestone as she signed her vows to be legally married to Ivan. All the best guys and thank you so much for the invitation to witness your special event. Enjoy the new journey ahead.

Ivan and Hui Chiet Chu at the ROM at the Supreme Court last weekend


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DPMM FC setting pace


Two out of two. DPMM FC have definitely improved from their previous season in terms of results in having consecutive victories though it’s still early days. Steve Kean’s influence on DPMM FC is gradually showing dividends. Last night, DPMM FC scored a deserved victory against Warriors FC 2-0 after a much improvement display in the second half. Tosi Rodrigo and Rosmin Kamis (Bobby) scored the goals while new signing Roy O’Donovan was denying two scoring opportunities, one being ruled offside.

It was also DPMM FC’s first home game in the S•League but a forgettable first half performance. The home side lacked the final third in attack and played “too direct” football with long predicted passes which the visitors had less trouble to deal with. Ironically the best chance went to the Warriors as striker Nicholas Velez’s unmarked header went straight to Wardun Yussof in a point blank save. Both Miroslavic Pejic and Velez were a constant threat but both central defenders, Shahrul and Boris Raspudic, were excellent in defence, tackling with precision, blocking scoring opportunities and dominating in the air.

The second half was a much different affair. DPMM FC looked hungrier than the two and it was no surprise the home team scored the opening goal through Tosi in the 49th minute. He benefited from a deflection as his shot dipped in, catching the Warriors keeper off guard.

After the goal, DPMM FC piled in more pressure. Subhi Abdillah, Joe Gamble and Roberto Alviz were combining well at the right hand side and most of the attacks came from that area. DPMM FC’s marquee signing player Roy O’Donovan was preferred to their regular scorer Shahrazen Said and he had two scoring opportunities. One was ruled offside which the linesman didn’t give the benefit of the doubt as it looked onside by the spectator’s angle. The other was a penalty claim where O’Donovan was allegedly foul by Warriors Shi Jiayi in the box but the appeal fell on deaf ears.

“Bobby” and Boris could have extended the lead. In the 62nd minute, Captain “Bobby” volleyed a perfect cross from Subhi but his effort went wide. The Croatian defender headed a Bobby corner just above the bar in the 75th minute. Just before added time, “Bobby” scored a late cushion goal as he shot his own rebound effort off the post to the relief of the DPMM FC fans.

Boris Raspudic of DPMM FC was dominant at the back and Steve Kean chose him as his Man of the Match for last night’s 2-0 win over Warriors FC

The win put Brunei DPMM FC on the summit of the S•League table after two games. They are the only team with a 100% record and yet to concede a goal. The other team also in contention is Tampines Rovers FC who will play their second game tonight against Courts Young Lions.

DPMM FC’s Steve Kean spoke to the media after the match and he highlighted about the issue of “trust” within his team. “At half-time, I told them they had to trust each other a little more with the ball. Courage doesn't always mean headers or tackles, it is also passing the ball to your team mate and trusting him,” said Kean.

“In the heat of the game they were just hitting the ball up the pitch – and that's not something we do during training,” added Kean.

When asked about the rotation of the roster, Kean said that there will be times the players won’t be having a good game or they might get tired and the bench will get more opportunities. The players still need to get to know each other on the pitch and there is no other way to get to know each other other than playing minutes. “I’m still sticking to this team for now,” said Kean, “But doesn’t mean that I won’t change anyone at all and we have exceptional back up, a very strong bench.”

Prolific striker Shahrazen Said has yet to earn any minutes in playing time for DPMM FC. Fans are hoping to see him in action in future matches.

DPMM FC next match will be against Home United FC at Jalan Besar Stadium on 13th March 2014. I won’t be surprise to see a lot of Brunei supporters there since it’s the school holidays. The next home game for DPMM FC will be on the 23rd March against Tampines Rovers which will be another tough game as they are the defending champions of the S•League.

For now, DPMM FC’s confidence in the dressing room is high after grabbing two wins out of two and setting the pace in the new season of the S•League.



This is a great moment shot after Bobby scored the second goal in the dying minutes to make it 2-0. Image courtesy of S•League website.

DPMM FC vs Warriors FC last night

Subhi defending against the Warriors

Shahrul was dominant in defence

The ball boy had to rearrange the billboard

Fans of DPMM FC last night

Sairol being consoled by Pejic of Warriors after the challenge

The challenge

A foul wasn’t given but a corner kick instead

Before the match at the dressing room

Roy Donovan played better in this match and unlucky not to have scored on two occasions

Steve Kean shared that “trust” was missing from the first half and it was a turn around after the second half

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Established in 2003, RA started off from a blogspot in 2002 before owning the domaining. What started off as a hobby, turned into one of the most viewed blog in Brunei Darussalam. Hence, it is branded as a social news blog. More details on this soon.

Contact Me

Rano Iskandar
iCentre, Anggerek Desa
BSB, Brunei Darussalam

Telephone: 673-8677773