Surprises come in different packages. Over the last few days, we saw three unexpected triumphs in the form of an independent film, the world's richest man, and a very crucial vote. Some topics to animate your casual conversations for the week.
Kita Kita: The Unexpected Box Office Hit
Rarely does a low-budget independent film become a box office hit, but here we are, lining up at the ticket booth for a second viewing of the film. Kita Kita (I See You) is a romantic comedy starring Alessandra de Rossi (Lea) and Empoy Marquez (Tonyo). They both play odd lovers who meet in Japan after Lea goes blind.
With a budget of only P10 million, Kita Kita surprised its producers when it raked in P100 million after just four days in the theaters. The producers had been hoping for earnings of P50 million for the entire run.
Kita Kita is set to become one of the highest-earning independent Filipino films of all time. Back in 2009, Kimmy Dora was the first independent film that cracked the glass ceiling, with a budget of P20 million, and earnings of P77.6 million. Other independent films that succeeded at the box office include Ang Babae sa Septic Tank (2011), That Thing Called Tadhana (2014), and Heneral Luna (2015).
Jeff Bezos: World’s Richest Man for a Day
Last week, Jeff Bezos, the world’s second richest person, became the world’s richest person, albeit for only four hours. Jeffrey Preston Bezos is the founder and chief executive officer of Amazon, the world’s leading online retailer. This unexpected win was the result of a sudden surge in Amazon’s stock trading on Thursday, pushing Bezos’ estimated wealth to $92.3 billion, slightly ahead of the world’s preeminent rich person, Bill Gates, whose estimated wealth at the time was $90.3 billion. However, shares of Amazon tumbled slightly after that, returning the title of “richest” to the Microsoft founder.
Gates may be the longest-reigning richest person, but it is not the first time that he became second richest. In 2008, after being in the top spot on the Forbes list for 13 years, Bill Gates let Warren Buffett warm his seat for a bit. Gates regained his spot in 2009. He then lost this title again in 2010 to Carlos Slim Helu of Mexico, and regained it in 2014.
The estimated net worths of the world’s richest persons are as volatile as the value of stocks of their companies being traded. It is no longer a question of who is the world’s richest, but a matter of who has the staying power.
The Vote of John McCain: Defending Obama’s Health Care Law
Republican John McCain is one of the most respected statesmen in the United States. President Barack Obama has very high regard for him, and vice versa. It is ironic that Mc Cain finds himself at odds with the current U.S. president, who is a fellow Republican. Very recently, McCain was diagnosed with brain cancer.
Last week, Senate Republicans needed 50 votes to repeal Obamacare, a health care law that is one of the biggest achievements of the Obama administration. They had 49. In walked McCain, the last Republican to cast his vote. He had just flown in from Arizona, and was recovering from brain surgery that just happened days earlier. “Watch the show,” he said to reporters, foreshadowing the drama that would ensue in the chamber. Democrats and Republicans were seen talking with McCain in a last-ditch attempt to convince him to vote their way.
Republican McCain voted with the Democrats. It was a sweet victory. A majority of Americans, including some 25 million rely on Obamacare for medical assistance.
Just the other week, President Obama had gone on Twitter to say this about McCain, his rival in the 2008 presidential election: "John McCain is an American hero & one of the bravest fighters I've ever known. Cancer doesn't know what it's up against. Give it hell, John."
John McCain is an American hero & one of the bravest fighters I've ever known. Cancer doesn't know what it's up against. Give it hell, John.— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) July 20, 2017
BONUS TALKING POINT
Nationwide Smoking Ban: What's Allowed and Not Allowed?
On July 23, Executive Order No. 26, Series of 2017, also known as the Nationwide Smoking Ban took effect. Aside from hefty fines and penalties imposed on violators, it also limits the areas where smokers are allowed to puff. Depending on the number of offenses, individuals caught face fines from P500 to P10,000. Establishments owners who are caught violating may be imprisoned for 30 days, apart from paying fines of at least P5,000.
Under the new rule, the following are prohibited acts:
- Smoking within enclosed public areas outside of designated smoking areas;
- Selling or distributing tobacco products in a school, public parks, recreational facilities for minors including those frequented by minors or within 100 meters of such places;
- Ordering, instructing or compelling a minor to buy, sell, distribute, or deliver, or advertise tobacco products;
- Smoking inside a vehicle, both private utility vehicles and privately owned vehicles;
- Placing any form of tobacco advertisement outside of premises of retail establishments;
For designated smoking areas, the following standards shall apply:
- There shall be no opening that will allow air to escape to the smoke-free area of the building or conveyance, except for a single door equipped with an automatic door closer;
- The DSA shall not be located within 10 meters from entrances, exits, or any place where people pass or congregate;
- The DSA shall not be located in front of air intake ducts
- The DSA shall have highly visible signage prominently displayed, such as “smoking area” and graphic health warnings on the effects of tobacco use;
- There shall be no DSA in food preparation areas
- There shall be no DSA in the premises of public and private hospitals, or any institution associated with health care
- There shall be no DSA in locations in which fire hazards are present, such as in gasoline stations, and storage areas for flammable substances and materials.