Year: 2014

Pop, six, squish…and all that (CHICAGO) jazz!

So my blogging streak has been interrupted once again, this time by the holiday madness. I’ve got a lot to share with you guys, but for now, I’ll start with the end…the end of my 2014 theater exploits, that is. I hadn’t planned on watching Chicago live since I’d already seen the movie, but my sister asked for tickets to the show as my parents’ gift to her, so I ended up happily accompanying her. We caught one of the last shows in Manila. Surprisingly, the newly opened Theater at Solaire was far from full, at least in the balcony where we were seated. I’m guessing people were busy with Christmas parties and last-minute shopping. The upside for us was that we were able to switch seats and get a much better view. The stage was smaller than I’d expected, but the American performance company made excellent use of it, with the cast maximizing every inch of space that wasn’t taken up by the orchestra. I loved how the lights were utilized to give the illusion of …

Suitcase Souvenirs: A bazaar for travelers by travelers

I‘ve been fascinated with typography for a while now—thus, this short story that I wrote for my Creative Writing class years ago—but thanks to Instagram, I’ve been obsessed with following amateur and professional calligraphers lately. One of the Filipino letterers I happened across was Abbey Sy of Le Rêveur. What I especially liked about her was how she’s a fellow travel lover. So when I learned that she along with three other friends were organizing a travel bazaar called Suitcase Souvenirs, I immediately made up my mind to drop by, crazy traffic be damned. The event was held at Habitual Coffee, a new third-wave coffee shop in Metro Manila that highlights the Aeropress brewing method. I’d been there before for a food review and was lucky enough to have interviewed co-owner and barista Kaye Ong, who happened to be another organizer of Suitcase Souvenirs. I couldn’t indulge in a cuppa during my visit last Saturday because of my acid reflux, but I loved the black Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Chelba cold brew that I tried before. It paired perfectly with their …

On shelves today: INSPIRE by Cora Carmack

Being a huge bookworm who rarely goes a day without cracking a book—or my Kindle—it’s only logical that I have my own book blog. And come January, I will. I’ve collaborated with two likeminded friends to create a blog that I’m super excited about. That aside, I realized I still wanted to feature some books on my personal blog. The difference is that I’ll choose titles related to my main interests—travel; art, literature and culture; and coffee. Yes, can’t forget that last one. For my first feature, I decided on Cora Carmack’s latest novel, Inspire. I’ve been a fan of hers since her first new adult book, Losing It, and when I learned she was writing a book about muses, I immediately added it to my TBR list. I’m so happy to help spread the word about this much-awaited release. Unfortunately, it’s not yet up on Amazon, but you can bet I’m reading it as soon as it is—and so should you! [Update: As of December 16, the book’s live everywhere. Find the links below!] …

Coffee with a dash of story

I haven’t made a secret of how much I love Toby’s Estate (see here and here), but this only made me adore them more. Nothing makes my favorite cappuccino taste better than a surprise story excerpt. I just checked the link printed on the cup, and while this particular story is featured here, apparently the main site moved here. Check it out—it’s all about Toby Smith’s coffee-flavored journeys. Didn’t I say that coffee mixes perfectly with traveling? I’m an even bigger fan of Toby’s now that I know he (Toby Smith, I mean) has a way with storytelling. That’s all I need—a man who travels, appreciates good coffee, and writes, too. Here’s an excerpt from the continuation of my cup story, where Toby writes about studying up on coffee in Brazil: I learned a lot, and much of what I learned was what not to do. That’s what coffee is about. Trial and error. Roast, taste, try again. Toby Smith, “Woolloomooloo“ Sounds a lot like real life, doesn’t it? Many times, we don’t know what we’re doing, but we muddle through, …

Weihnachtsmarkt Rathausmarkt, Hamburg

Can you believe that it’s Christmastime once again? We don’t get snow on our side of the globe, but the weather’s notably cooler, especially at night, and the streets twinkle with beautiful fairy lights. Throw in some holiday tunes and a delicious cup of coffee, and it’s the perfect time for reminiscing. Four years ago, after my colleague Sheila and I had our training in the little town of Löhne, Germany, we made our way to the not-so-little city of Hamburg to experience ourselves some European Christmas spirit. Of course, our first stop had to be their Rathaus—German for city hall.   As we walked up the steps of the subway, our heads were drawn up to the impressive sandstone walls housing the seat of Hamburg’s government. To give you an idea of just how grand this neo-Renaissance building is, its number of rooms tops that of London’s Buckingham Palace. Awesome, right? We would’ve wanted to join one of the guided tours to its public areas, but since we had a free city tour to catch, we decided to simple explore the sights …

Life after 50K

Before I get caught up in the December festivities, let me take this moment to celebrate the month that was. November. To most, it’s that time of the year to play catch-up—with the work and personal goals they haven’t quite achieved yet, with the pre-Christmas-rush shopping, with their friends and family before everyone gets busy with the holidays. To aspiring authors, it means only one thing: NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month, aka the month of uninhibited word vomiting, of ignoring the backspace key, of backing up documents to the point of paranoia, and of shamelessly indulging in excessive amounts of coffee, chocolate, and junk food (that is, unless you’ve got GERD like I do). This was my third time to join NaNo, my third time to win it, and my third time to not finish my novel in thirty days. The first time, I came in without a plot, simply armed with an idea that I thought was totally brilliant. I wrote the required 1,667 words a day when I could and made up for what I …

“What if we don’t wake up on time?”

Hamburg, November 2010 I woke up in a startling burst of consciousness, as though someone had poked me in my side. I blinked. I didn’t usually wake up without an alarm. My eyes grew wide. My alarm. I groped for my phone underneath my pillow, my breath suspended in my chest. My hand hit gold, and I quickly pulled it out and checked the screen. Jolting upright, I turned to the lump beside me and shook it. “Wake up!” Your head shifted on the pillow as you mumbled something I couldn’t understand. I was already on my feet and hitting the lamp switch. Light flooded the small room, throwing shadows along the not-quite-white walls enclosing a space that looked nothing like it did in the photos. Not that it mattered now. “Wake up,” I half-yelled at you as I shoved my legs into my jeans, “It’s (time). Our train’s leaving in x minutes.” “What?” Launching into a sitting position, you checked your phone and jumped out of bed. I strode over to the tiny sink just beside the door and splashed …