#15 of 1001 Awesome Things: Indigenous Coffee Served in Coconut Shells

September 3, 2017
I love coffee. If you have read my previous awesome things, majority were related to coffee like empty coffee shops, free Starbucks drink and convenience stores serving cheap coffee
Today, we went to UP Diliman to attend Lakbayan 2017. This is an event where the indigenous people around the country gather to fight for their rights. (working on a separate post about it)
During dinner, one of the organizers of the Ifugao group invited us to come to their tent to talk about important issues over a cup of Cordillera coffee
I was expecting to see a coffee maker, or a brewer or a presser. I was surprised that the coffee was brewed in stainless cooking vats. We took some white plastic cups in the corner but the organizer insisted that we use the coconut shells. 
It was one of the best tasting coffee I have tasted. Maybe it was just psychological because of the authentic experience. Maybe it was because I was all revved up because it was brewed by the heroes of the north. I do not know. But daaaaaamn it was goooood! 

#11 of 1001 Awesome Things: Sneezing

This was my Nth allergy day and this was the longest one I have had. The weather was unpredictable so the shifting temperature made me and most of the people I know sick.
The only thing I love about the allergy season is the sneezing part, especially those three in a row “achiiing.” (Not achoos)
I love the pleasure of the moment, even though headaches will usually come after. 
Sneezes take us to the NOW, that millisecond present moment where everything around us stops
Sneezes are orgasmic. Really, they are. If sexual orgasm is 10 out of 10, sneezes are 6/10.
I tried to research why sneezes are pleasurable. According to Dr. Holly Boyer, an ENT specialist at the University of Minnesota, “the muscle tension that builds up in your chest causes pressure, and when you sneeze and the muscles relax, it releases pressure. Anytime you release pressure, it feels good.” (Source:http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2012/04/17/good-question-why-does-sneezing-feel-so-good/)
There was also an evidence that the body releases endorphins when we sneeze. These are the same hormones released when we exercise. 
Happy Allergy Season! 
P.S. My alternate awesome thing today was Babysitting! 

#8 of 1001 Awesome Things: Turo Turo and Tapsilogan

August 26, 2017
Travelling in the Philippines is cheap according to the budget travelers I met and hosted. When they ask me where they can eat a cheap meal, I always tell them to eat at small stores called Turo turo or Tapsilogan. And these stores are everywhere! 


Turo Turo, also known as Carinderias are practically everywhere. Turo means to point. You have to point out which viand you want to eat. You can find these stores in every street, every school and every parking area of jeepneys and tricycles. When I had the chance to talk to repatriated Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Syria a couple of years ago, most of them would tell me that they want a carinderia business


Tapsilogan is a coined term for Tapa (Cured Beef), Sinangag (Fried Rice) and Itlog (Egg). These stores are usually open at nighttime until early morning. A meal usually costs a dollar. 


These stores are not only popular to travelers but also for locals. As for me, a person who tries to become healthy in this Fast Food country, turo turo are my go-to stores to eat healthy meals. Not to mention the support you give to local entrepreneurs and a dirty finger to the Fat Bee and the Scary Clown. 


Earlier, my friends and I went to this turo turo near a University hospital. The place was tiny with only six tables and around 2 dozens of monoblock chairs. There were 4 vegetable viands and around 8 meat viands, both in stainless steel containers. I ordered the sauteed bitter gourd and this very tasty taro cooked in coconut milk. The 2 vegetable viands cost a dollar. It was cheap. It was healthy. It tasted like mom’s cooking. 


During dinner, we went to our favorite tapsilog place. I ordered TunaSilog and a bowl of tofu. They served it with soy sauce, a very sour green lime and my all time favorite chili paste. This costs around 2 dollars. 


I am not sure why we still eat at expensive unhealthy fast food chains when we have these local stores. If you happen to travel to the Philippines, make sure to try out turo turos, carinderias and tapsilogan.

Half Day Random Trip at Subic, Zambales

Last Thursday, I have decided to file an emergency leave and travel to Subic, Zambales for a half day breather from work. Since I had no plans or itinerary whatsoever, I just went there, walked around the 3-km radius of Harbor Point Mall and took some photos. The gloomy weather made the trip better.


More photos here.

#7 of 1001 Awesome Things: When a Friend Survives a Tragic Accident

August 25, 2017

“I was asleep for five days. People around me thought I was in a coma”, he said. John, a former trainee at our office, shared what happened to him after his motorcycle accident last January


“Wow. Five days! How does it feel?”, I asked. I remembered how it felt when I had an endoscopy. I was asleep for 3 hours but it only felt like I just closed my eyes for a minute. 


“It seemed like I only slept for a day”, he said. 


“Cool. Have you seen a dead loved one?”


“No I didn’t. But I saw my ex-girlfriend.” I laughed. It seemed like he already killed her in his mind. John was a joker without him realizing it. He was too innocent to notice or he was charmingly tactless. 


“Then what happened?”


“I am not sure if I was awake or if I was asleep. When I woke up, the pretty ICU nurse told me that I was courting her and according to her, I even asked for her number.” 


We were all laughing. He added that the nurse was still texting him and he thinks that she likes him. 


It’s nice to hear from him again despite his dislocated joints and a foot long scar on his stomach area. It was awesome that he survived death and that was undoubtedly something to be thankful for. 


Before he left the office, he said to us, “I told my doctor that God gave me a second life because I still have a mission. My mission in life now is to finally look for a wife. With that, I promised God that I will go to church every Sunday.”


Oh my God. He’s really back.

Featured Photo: DJ’s Motorcycle, Jogjakarta, Indonesia, October 2014. 

#6 of 1001 Awesome Things: Front Seat of a Public Utility Vehicle (PUV)

 August 24, 2017
If you are from the Philippines and if you are a commuter, you’ll know that the best seat in the vehicle is the one next to the driver. You have a nice view of the road, a clear reflection of yourself in the side mirror and you are exempted from passing the money of other passengers to the driver
Earlier this day, I got the front seat of the commuter van when I traveled to Subic so I took the opportunity to take some photos:
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#5 of 1001 Awesome Things: Convenience Stores

August 23, 2017


I had a very tiring but productive day today. Because I felt the need to reward myself, I invited my office mates to eat our stress away and to do some after work gossips over Mcdonald’s BFF Fries


After our dinner at Mcdonalds, we went to this convenience store at a nearby gas station. The place was cozy like other convenience stores at gas stations, except those you find in expressways. They serve cheap pizza and 20 peso coffee where you can drink at a very comfortable sofa. They even have a free wifi! People don’t stay at gas stations longer than  20 minutes so the human count will always be minimal. I started to think that this will be a better alternative to Starbucks.    


I have a thing with convenience stores. Maybe this was brought by accumulated fun convenience store stories in the past. 


I remembered that sole 711 franchise at North Luzon Expressway when I was a kid. My cousin Gino had an upset stomach so we went to this gas station nearby with a 711. That was my first convenience store experience. It actually felt “first world” during that era. 


I also had this phase of staying at a 711 branch near a University in Angeles City to observe people as they enter and exit the store. Like any other convenience stores, most of the people are in a hurry. I wonder where they will go after buying a bag of ice or a box of condoms or a pack of gummy bears? I usually do this fun activity while drinking a cup of cheap hazelnut coffee. 


I also had fun convenience store experiences outside the country. I remembered when I was in Japan that I waited for 10 pm to buy a bento box in 711 because it’s cheaper than the 9 pm box. In Indonesia, I bought a very cold energy drink at Indo Maret and told a person I just met that the drink was BTS (Better than Sex). We ended up talking about sex after that. During our last night in Korea, my ex-GF and I counted our last coins and almost begged for money just to buy a Samgak and an instant Ramyun for dinner at CU Mart


I have waited a lot of people in convenience stores, too. Waiting for friends, families, and lovers. Convenience stores became the most common rendezvous for Filipinos aside from a Jollibee branch. It’s cold, comfortable and clean.


We all have plenty of convenience store stories. What’s your favorite? Please share below. I want to hear from you! 

Featured Photo: Bonjour Convenience Store, Maimpis, City of San Fernando, Philippines, August 23, 2017