Saturday, November 30, 2013

An awesome caffeinated discovery in Brownbag Coffee Solutions

A self-confessed coffee lover but one who shamelessly admits I want my coffee sweet and creamy, I fell in love with Brownbag Coffee Solutions. It was one of my standout personal discoveries from last Nov. 16's Blogapalooza 2013. Oh yes, and I'm just as shameless in admitting I had more than one cup that Saturday.

There I was standing in front of their booth, perusing their goods, and I was offered a cup of awesome. It was love at first sip, that rich coffee flavor still dominant over the sugar and cream that I messed it with. I'm no coffee geek but I believe I know good coffee when I taste one (most of the time at least), and this one was definitely good. This was validated when a friend sampled a cup after I blabbed about how good it was and he basically shared my opinion.

The Brownbag Coffee Solutions booth at Blogapalooza 2013.

Spilling the beans
Brownbag's main man Enrico Curioso, who curiously picked "Chief Caffeine Junkie" as his job title, gave me the lowdown on the company and everything coffee. Let's just say he "spilled the beans on me." Well, they basically have four variants that revolve on only two types of coffee beans: arabica and robusta, labeled, or rather, numbered, according to strength.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

[Throwback Thursday 11.28.2013] When Kwittie Boy first came into our lives

Kwittie Boy is my and My Bibe's first pet as a couple. We adopted him on Nov. 19, 2006 and this was the very first picture we took of this adorable furball as he peeked out of the old laundry basket that housed him as he made the trip from ParaƱaque to Makati:
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Peek-a-boo! Kwittie Boy's first glimpse into his new home.

While My Bibe had lots of different pets before, I've never had one for myself (although we once had two family dogs named Oliver and Monay). So when she brought the idea of Jecco, a friend of ours, who's adopting his cat out, I didn't know what to do. Not used to having pets, I was already thinking what if he turns the house upside down along with other ridiculous thoughts.

Well, it really didn't take much convincing on my part and I ended up meeting Jecco at our office one Sunday morning. Manny Pacquiao had a fight then against Oscar Larios. There he was in the car's front seat, inside a broken laundry basket with crisscrossing strings and a small blanket atop it to prevent him from getting out. He was so quiet and remained so as we drove to our apartment.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Discovering Cafe de Lipa

It's been more than two months already but I still haven't forgotten our overall pleasant experience at Cafe de Lipa. We were driving from Laiya, Batangas and thought of dropping by somewhere for coffee. After some Googling, My Bibe found out about Cafe de Lipa in, well, Lipa City, which was just along our way.

However, the thought of negotiating our way through the traffic-ridden streets of Lipa didn't sit so well with me. Good thing My Bibe read that there's a branch just right outside the city, at a Shell gasoline station along the Star Tollway. Perfect!

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Different coffee variants for sale at the coffee shop.

Interiors and ambiance
As with most coffee shops, Cafe de Lipa went for that familiar warm feel, this even if you see yellow and red paint inside. At least in this particular branch, shelves line up a portion of the glass windows where everything from coffee to bottled pickled goodies is on display and for sale. And then there's the familiar mishmash of couch-style and regular seating options.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Blogapalooza 2013: My first time attending any blogger event

Yes, I have never attended any blogger-related event up until Blogapalooza 2013. I never really thought about it that much when I signed up. I was going alone, which was quite the step for me since I hardly know any other bloggers. But I showed up last Nov. 16 at the SMX Aura and I must say I actually enjoyed the experience.

After registering, I went inside the hall and was greeted by rows of booths from partners and sponsors. At the rear was a stage and a few chairs where a program went on for the whole day. YouTube sensations Mikey Bustos and Bogart the Explorer were onstage when I first checked out what was happening. They were talking about vlogging (video blogging) in a talk show-type panel discussion hosted by Blogapalooza main man Vince Golangco. It was fun watching them and I really wanted to steal Mikey's wings!

All about vlogging: Bogart the Explorer and Mikey Bustos.

After a few more talks, bloggers were treated to a series of standup comedy routines courtesy of Comedy Cartel. My favorite of course was Tim Tayag, who was completely uncensored he even tackled Jesus' abs.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

[Lookbook 11.19.2013] (Late post) Olive and denim

An almost forgotten outfit post, this was taken before Halloween, during happier times before Yolanda struck and left a trail of devastation of biblical proportions across most of the Visayas and parts of Northern Mindanao and Southern Luzon. Not that I'm forgetting all that but I'm just forging ahead. I mean, how can I forget about our completely flattened house in Ormoc?


If my memory serves me right, I think I've never owned a denim shirt before up until this point. I don't know why but I'm liking it.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Bali's cultural and religious identity

The island of Bali in Indonesia is often regarded as a must-visit place as it is dismissed by some as a tourist trap. My personal experience, thankfully, is on the positive side. Yes, its beaches may not be of the pristine, powdery, white-sand type but Bali has its charms, most notable of which is the fact that despite the tourism boom it has enjoyed through the years, it has never lost its identity.

Prayer has always been a constant in Bali. Here an old man prepares his offerings at a restaurant along Jimbaran Beach.

Predominantly practicing Hinduism, the Balinese people are generally nice and warm. I don't know if religion has anything to do with it but they seem to be a peace-loving lot. Well, it's Eat, Pray, Love country after all.

Amid all the grandiose resorts and commercial establishments that have continually sprung up across the island, their traditions are never lost. In Bali it is not uncommon to see these cute little square baskets made of leaves containing food, flowers, and even candies and cigarettes. Just please be careful so as not to step on them as these are offerings to the gods called canang sari, which they make thrice a day. It is basically a ritual of giving back to the gods as gratitude for the bounty of life.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Goodbye, ancestral house (The aftermath of super typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda)

Yolanda was definitely one helluva bitch. And the world's strongest tropical cyclone at landfall made sure everyone knew it with the untoward havoc her 195mph winds wreaked across central Philippines last Friday.

I was in constant touch with my mom in Cebu City that day, who in turn was also in communication with our relatives in Ormoc City. Cebu City was on typhoon alert no. 3 while Ormoc was on no. 4, the highest possible warning by our local weather bureau. Ormoc is in the province of Leyte, one of the first hit by super typhoon Haiyan (locally named Yolanda).

I asked about my grandpa and the rest of our relatives in Ormoc and she said they had already evacuated to our aunt's house next door the night before. It sounded very familiar to me because when I was growing up in Ormoc, moving to a relative's more secure house during typhoons was not at all uncommon, just like we did during the 1991 Ormoc flash flood. My mom said she had been texting with a cousin till the wee hours and again early morning Friday just when Yolanda's fury was starting to be felt.

And then the replies stopped.

For the rest of the day we had no news whatsoever about what happened to them in Ormoc. My mom, sister and her family were thankfully okay in Cebu after the typhoon hit the province at around 10am. In the meantime devastating photos of some parts of Ormoc City were trickling on social media.

Finally at 9:46pm I got a text from my mom: "ang blay ormoc natumpag" (The house in Ormoc gave out.).

A picture of shocking devastation: our house in Ormoc now gone.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

[Throwback Thursday 11.07.2013] The 1991 Ormoc flash flood

Reading something like "The Biggest Storm in the World This Year Is Headed for the Philippines" doesn't sound very reassuring. It's also heartbreaking to know that the provinces of Bohol and Cebu, which have just recently been devastated by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake, are right in the path of super typhoon Haiyan (locally named Yolanda). My mom, sister, and her family, by the way, are living in Cebu.

Furthermore, the province of Leyte is also expected to take a beating. Leyte, particularly Ormoc City, is where most of my relatives from my mom's side are. It's also where I've spent the rest of my childhood since fourth grade and practically all of my adolescent years. Twenty-two years ago on this very day, I was most probably helping with some major house cleaning because just two days before that on the 5th of November 1991, Ormoc City was ravaged by an epic flash flood.

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Isla Verde, one of the worst-hit areas of the 1991 Ormoc flash floods. [Photo source]

We were in the middle of a school break and I was holed up in an uncle's house. My sister and I were better off there because our house was an expected mess whenever there's a typhoon. Close to noon we heard a loud booming sound, which we mistook for thunder. Everybody there breathed a sigh of relief since it meant the typhoon was over and it was now only a thunderstorm. (I can't vouch for any scientific basis here, though.)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Halloween hangover: Alice in Wonderland and beyond

And just like that, the long weekend's over. It's back to work and there's absolutely nothing to cheer us up but those fresh memories from that little fun day called Halloween.


After going Goldilocks and the Three Bears last year, My Bibe and I went for another fairy tale theme this year: Alice in Wonderland. Or Underland, whatever. (I was also The Joker in 2008, a devil-turned-angel in 2010, and Dr. Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory in 2011.)

My Bibe, of course, was Alice and I was The White Rabbit. No, I didn't put on a gargantuan bunny suit. I wore a suit but I had bunny ears and bunny paws. And a bunny tail.
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