1. A hidden gem with a noble mission(An article I did for Focus Weekly, an avantgarde corporate newsmagazine in Northern Luzon)
The clandestine in Baguio’s food scene
If there are instants in life that remain vignette in my memory, it would be visits to Baguio dimly lit with the permeating sense of the holiday just because it’s cold and you get to enjoy a cup of chocolate de batirol every now and then. It goes without saying that I’m one of those people who enjoys the place a tad much; the sight of pine trees is enough to send me to a giddy anticipation of the ever present strawberry taho or the endless ukay-ukay disorder. 
Being the brilliant up, up north, Baguio has a very diverse population where the rich and poor, the highbrow and lowbrow, and the local and foreign coexist in a hectic and ultimately unique manner. It is this blend atmosphere that has kept the rise of numerous restaurants, and solidifies the city’s reputation as a destination for any serious foodie.
There are certain places that seem to get all the attention, from popular bistros to mountain side treats. Don’t get me wrong; I love those spots, too. But there are other places that seem to fly under the radar, frequented only by those who are in on the secret. While most people automatically think of the Session Road as the city’s food hub, there has been increase in the variety of choices for people looking for truly unique dining experiences. So, if you’re in search for that or would like a quick fix of quite time, you can add range to your routine by checking out some of the area’s hidden gems for a breather from the hustle and bustle. Baguio has small hole-in-the-wall type restaurants which offer great tasting food and interesting concepts at affordable prices.
Consider this story your key to that club. :)

Reflecting the city’s diverse nature, restaurants in the area feature cuisine from a wide scope of cultures. Others are reflected by the no-generic, back-to-basics approach that depends mostly on food presentation. But players have emerged to the table such as the ever-present cafés. However, with shops shilling everything from cold brews to a hundred-peso cup of coffee, it’s hard to separate the real-deal joints from the flash-in-the-pan trendsetters.
What I look for in this caffeinated nation is good coffee, good environment, and good company. Under the Tree Book Café is one of those that are beyond one’s coffee fad—my shot-after-shot-of-delicious-espresso kind of craving.

Opened in 2012 by Korean Born Again missionary Seo Young Jung (better known as “Sam” to the locals), Under the Tree Book Café has since transformed to a full service with a loyal following. It bills itself as the only book café and one of the few grown Korean ventures in the city, located at the Baden Powell Inn Building along Governor Pack Road. Being off the center of coffee shop action, the place is great for hours of undisturbed hanging out. 
Having been around for 2 years, Jung has seen the evolution of Baguio from a primarily commercial and industrial standpoint due to the greater awareness of public to culinary styles brought about by television and the Internet. But as staffer Ruth Grace Andong tells it, the business’ birth occurred with a simple idea, moving from Korea to Philippines, fulfilling a selfless vocation, and then opening the shop.

There’s nothing quite like being around people who’re passionate about their craft, great customer service, and positivity, and people who understand what it means being able to give back to the community. They care about their customers and what they want, and they take a lot of pride in providing a great atmosphere for everyone. A good example is that their baristas have a knack for offering simple and flavor descriptors for each on their menu.

The vibe here—”Youth, Groups, and Casual”—owes much to the shop’s proximity to the University of Cordillera (UC), but looks can be deceiving. The space is deceptively large, with a tastefully view of the outside world.
Deeply- rooted in the K-pop culture specialty, its interior is a sight to behold. It gives you a sense of that countryside feel, only morphed with scruffy dens of laptop-toting UC students, a classy bar with creative food pairings, a wall of thousands of post-its containing Bible verses and whatnot, Korean ornaments, and shelves upon shelves of English and Hangul books. You wouldn’t pass up the opportunity for a photo story; all corners are Instagram-worthy.
With all that being said, is Under the Tree Book Café the trendiest coffee shop in Baguio? No…but is Baguio’s coffee scene better by a dint of its existence? Absolutely 100% yes! And I’m not just saying it to quiet the reviewers. In fact, for the sheer aesthetic joy of it all, it may be one of the most ineffably charming cafés in the city. The glass tables, the chalkboard-painted door, the cartoon illustration at the refrigerator, the Simonelli espresso machine­—all the tiny details that give it the more personality.

As amazing as the interior is, it pretty much delivers in the food department as well. Their coffee taste great, and the moderate aroma and flavor is inviting. Their caramel macchiato permeates my mouth without being rude or bitter.  It was a delight to drink.

And their pastries are heavenly, although limited in selection. Their silky textured and slightly tart cheesecake surrounded by a buttery, crumbly graham cracker crust is perfect in simplicity; not too thick, not too light, but just right. But the cream puff is downright the winner for me. It has the best creamy and delicate content but not overly sweet. It may not be the most au courant dessert these days compared to cupcakes but they’re positively old school. And I like old school fares.
But beyond the beautiful interior and delectable food lies a meaningful mission. Jung, seeing that there were many Filipinos who live in poor condition, decided to extend the shop’s proceeds to help those in need, as boldly stated on their menu board, “All profits will be used for helping people who need a hand.” He has already facilitated fund raising projects for the residents of Barangay Happy Hollow and Irisan, both impoverished areas in the city, and plans to stand his own building to accommodate an aid foundation inclusive of a library and a sports area to spur improvement in self-concept among the youths.
This compassionate gesture after all is what makes Under the Tree Book Café a sanctuary. Not only do you feel comforted from a sip of coffee; you instinctively impart a good cause which is more nourishing to the soul. So, check this hidden gem out and stop by for a morning wake-up call or just an afternoon indulgence of a delicious piece of cream puff, a drink of your choice, and a book at hand.
So, what if you can be a charitable citizen and a satisfied epicurean at the same time? Turns out you can.

    A hidden gem with a noble mission
    (An article I did for Focus Weekly, an avantgarde corporate newsmagazine in Northern Luzon)

    The clandestine in Baguio’s food scene

    If there are instants in life that remain vignette in my memory, it would be visits to Baguio dimly lit with the permeating sense of the holiday just because it’s cold and you get to enjoy a cup of chocolate de batirol every now and then. It goes without saying that I’m one of those people who enjoys the place a tad much; the sight of pine trees is enough to send me to a giddy anticipation of the ever present strawberry taho or the endless ukay-ukay disorder.

    Being the brilliant up, up north, Baguio has a very diverse population where the rich and poor, the highbrow and lowbrow, and the local and foreign coexist in a hectic and ultimately unique manner. It is this blend atmosphere that has kept the rise of numerous restaurants, and solidifies the city’s reputation as a destination for any serious foodie.

    There are certain places that seem to get all the attention, from popular bistros to mountain side treats. Don’t get me wrong; I love those spots, too. But there are other places that seem to fly under the radar, frequented only by those who are in on the secret. While most people automatically think of the Session Road as the city’s food hub, there has been increase in the variety of choices for people looking for truly unique dining experiences. So, if you’re in search for that or would like a quick fix of quite time, you can add range to your routine by checking out some of the area’s hidden gems for a breather from the hustle and bustle. Baguio has small hole-in-the-wall type restaurants which offer great tasting food and interesting concepts at affordable prices.

    Consider this story your key to that club. :)

    image

    Reflecting the city’s diverse nature, restaurants in the area feature cuisine from a wide scope of cultures. Others are reflected by the no-generic, back-to-basics approach that depends mostly on food presentation. But players have emerged to the table such as the ever-present cafés. However, with shops shilling everything from cold brews to a hundred-peso cup of coffee, it’s hard to separate the real-deal joints from the flash-in-the-pan trendsetters.

    What I look for in this caffeinated nation is good coffee, good environment, and good company. Under the Tree Book Café is one of those that are beyond one’s coffee fad—my shot-after-shot-of-delicious-espresso kind of craving.

    imageimage

    Opened in 2012 by Korean Born Again missionary Seo Young Jung (better known as “Sam” to the locals), Under the Tree Book Café has since transformed to a full service with a loyal following. It bills itself as the only book café and one of the few grown Korean ventures in the city, located at the Baden Powell Inn Building along Governor Pack Road. Being off the center of coffee shop action, the place is great for hours of undisturbed hanging out. 

    Having been around for 2 years, Jung has seen the evolution of Baguio from a primarily commercial and industrial standpoint due to the greater awareness of public to culinary styles brought about by television and the Internet. But as staffer Ruth Grace Andong tells it, the business’ birth occurred with a simple idea, moving from Korea to Philippines, fulfilling a selfless vocation, and then opening the shop.

    image

    There’s nothing quite like being around people who’re passionate about their craft, great customer service, and positivity, and people who understand what it means being able to give back to the community. They care about their customers and what they want, and they take a lot of pride in providing a great atmosphere for everyone. A good example is that their baristas have a knack for offering simple and flavor descriptors for each on their menu.

    image

    The vibe here—”Youth, Groups, and Casual”—owes much to the shop’s proximity to the University of Cordillera (UC), but looks can be deceiving. The space is deceptively large, with a tastefully view of the outside world.

    Deeply- rooted in the K-pop culture specialty, its interior is a sight to behold. It gives you a sense of that countryside feel, only morphed with scruffy dens of laptop-toting UC students, a classy bar with creative food pairings, a wall of thousands of post-its containing Bible verses and whatnot, Korean ornaments, and shelves upon shelves of English and Hangul books. You wouldn’t pass up the opportunity for a photo story; all corners are Instagram-worthy.

    With all that being said, is Under the Tree Book Café the trendiest coffee shop in Baguio? No…but is Baguio’s coffee scene better by a dint of its existence? Absolutely 100% yes! And I’m not just saying it to quiet the reviewers. In fact, for the sheer aesthetic joy of it all, it may be one of the most ineffably charming cafés in the city. The glass tables, the chalkboard-painted door, the cartoon illustration at the refrigerator, the Simonelli espresso machine­—all the tiny details that give it the more personality.

    image

    As amazing as the interior is, it pretty much delivers in the food department as well. Their coffee taste great, and the moderate aroma and flavor is inviting. Their caramel macchiato permeates my mouth without being rude or bitter.  It was a delight to drink.

    imageimage

    And their pastries are heavenly, although limited in selection. Their silky textured and slightly tart cheesecake surrounded by a buttery, crumbly graham cracker crust is perfect in simplicity; not too thick, not too light, but just right. But the cream puff is downright the winner for me. It has the best creamy and delicate content but not overly sweet. It may not be the most au courant dessert these days compared to cupcakes but they’re positively old school. And I like old school fares.

    But beyond the beautiful interior and delectable food lies a meaningful mission. Jung, seeing that there were many Filipinos who live in poor condition, decided to extend the shop’s proceeds to help those in need, as boldly stated on their menu board, “All profits will be used for helping people who need a hand.” He has already facilitated fund raising projects for the residents of Barangay Happy Hollow and Irisan, both impoverished areas in the city, and plans to stand his own building to accommodate an aid foundation inclusive of a library and a sports area to spur improvement in self-concept among the youths.

    This compassionate gesture after all is what makes Under the Tree Book Café a sanctuary. Not only do you feel comforted from a sip of coffee; you instinctively impart a good cause which is more nourishing to the soul. So, check this hidden gem out and stop by for a morning wake-up call or just an afternoon indulgence of a delicious piece of cream puff, a drink of your choice, and a book at hand.

    So, what if you can be a charitable citizen and a satisfied epicurean at the same time? Turns out you can.

    photo

    7 notes
  2. Photography: reinvented or disgraced?(An article I did for Focus Weekly, an avantgarde corporate newsmagazine in Northern Luzon)
A woman stares from her black and white location as she rests on a motorcycle. She is garbed with a pair of dungarees and a collared blouse. Her hair, carefully fixed to highlight her soft curls, greyed from light exposure and time passed. An old lady gazes from the black and white portrait: sophisticated and classy.
This was a Kodak moment; a moment of meaning which meant to be captured and preserved. Photography, in the past, held prominence and significance. It mirrored conscientious creation. It is a cherished degree endured in a collective flicking of a camera through the family photo album. This old-fashioned family tradition expired with the service and commercialism of the effortlessly swiping through photos on a digital screen. Photography has evolved from the atypical and rare moment and instance of capturing a momentous event to a daily mania we create and produce in mass.
The Kodak moment, planned with a meticulous setting of the tripod, lost and defeated to the ‘Instagram moment’. Photography in the Instagram generation does not anymore require an occasion. In its place, day-to-day, minute-to-minute activities are considered and assessed based on their ‘Insta’ potential. 
Selfie [noun, un-gendered]: a photograph in which the photographer is likewise the subject of the frame; such photos often used mirrors, or introduce the extended, stretched arm of the subject in the corner of the frame; such photographs are taken with the main purpose of posting them on at least one form of social media. Selfies are generally taken with varying technology from true photography, utilizing digital smartphones, or computer webcams.
A veteran of the selfie, a friend sits across from me, slumped on the couch and holding her phone parallel to her face. She contorts her face–piercing her eyes, scrunching her nose, making a surprised and coy expression with her lips. When I ask about her actions, she scoffs at my naivety.
“Uhm, I’m Camera 360-ing.”
As she continues, a message made up only of a photo—usually one of self-involved subject matter, my evident stupidity hits me in the face. She is a ‘Selfie Connoisseur’. Her online identity is expressed by various multitudes of selfies, where in each photo, she would portray one of the following expressions: sassy, sexy, happy, posh, or “prosti”. This new subject matter of the self now comprises a message with no text necessary; “You only need to see my face”, reads as the underlying script that comes with exchanging ‘snaps’.
Our desire to record our appearance and exhibit it for others emanates from our yet dormant narcissism. This is not a novel advancement in the human personality. Look to Caravaggio’s Narcissus, from the Renaissance period. In Greek mythology, Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. Narcissism exemplifies the self-satisfaction of our own physical characteristics
Such narcissistic tendencies and manifestations envelop us, both on the screens of our addicting social interfaces, and the people next to us on the jeep. We take photos of ourselves out of appreciation with the notion that the photos fascinate our friends, or ‘followers’. Not different from Narcissus’ admiration of himself in the puddle, and trusting that if he loved himself to such level and magnitude, others would as well.
That portrait of the old lady I mentioned earlier could prove rare in today’s compeers of self-fanatical, self-declared photographers. Such a photo took skill, practice, lighting, and education. Why go to the efforts of hiring a photographer when we can crane our arm out, and ‘say cheese’ for our cell phone? The once revered ‘sacred Kodak moment’ now shattered, with it the sacristy of its photographers, replaced by the Industrial Revolution of the photograph and all-to-common, ‘Instagram moment’.
The art of photography engulfed with works of humdrum, unremarkable and nondescript events, assumed identical to the professional and classy works of Romy Vitug, Ansel Adams, Cecil Beaton or Annie Leibovitz. This propagated and popularized social media platform almost means it is already unnecessary to marvel at the works of such experienced photographers because we have become the photographers; filters need only be applied.
As I walk the grounds of Capitol, Lingayen, I must excuse a group of adolescent girls stationed in the middle of the sidewalk with their necks craned up towards the monumental Aguido. Above their heads, they each hold their smartphones, holding still while they capture the unchanging structure. Without budging from their positions, I see their fingers swiping, no doubt testing each Instagram filter; this group of girls represented ‘Filter Artists’. Possibly Valencia? Sierra? Sutro? Each photo they Instagram surely differs only slightly–capturing in manifold neither an occasion nor celebration, nor do they reflect the custom of the photographical.
We take photos with the goal to impress, in contrary to documenting our momentous, treasured moments. Photography or ‘selfie’ portraits no longer need the excuse of a memorable moment. Got your daily cup of milktea this morning? Instagram it. Walked down an empty street that resembles an utterly idyllic and utopian state? Slap a filter over it to give the photo a sepia hue, and call yourself a photographer. Those moments…you know.
The rare and cherished Kodak moment was practiced with class by our parents. Portraits like these were taken as our parents came of age and developed. What can we say about the photographs we take today? I am unwilling to call it photography in refinement, for fear of advocating the Instagram and Selfie movements.
Imagine if our grandchildren see our over-documented photographs of ‘selfies’, would they see elegance and dignity and composure? Upright men they call grandpa or grandma? More likely their Instagram oldies in our wealth, range, and assortment, that shows the evolution and latitude of our vainglory, our self-obsession, and our thirsting need for approval and validation.
This is photography reinvented…or disgraced?

    Photography: reinvented or disgraced?
    (An article I did for Focus Weekly, an avantgarde corporate newsmagazine in Northern Luzon)

    A woman stares from her black and white location as she rests on a motorcycle. She is garbed with a pair of dungarees and a collared blouse. Her hair, carefully fixed to highlight her soft curls, greyed from light exposure and time passed. An old lady gazes from the black and white portrait: sophisticated and classy.

    This was a Kodak moment; a moment of meaning which meant to be captured and preserved. Photography, in the past, held prominence and significance. It mirrored conscientious creation. It is a cherished degree endured in a collective flicking of a camera through the family photo album. This old-fashioned family tradition expired with the service and commercialism of the effortlessly swiping through photos on a digital screen. Photography has evolved from the atypical and rare moment and instance of capturing a momentous event to a daily mania we create and produce in mass.

    The Kodak moment, planned with a meticulous setting of the tripod, lost and defeated to the ‘Instagram moment’. Photography in the Instagram generation does not anymore require an occasion. In its place, day-to-day, minute-to-minute activities are considered and assessed based on their ‘Insta’ potential.

    Selfie [noun, un-gendered]: a photograph in which the photographer is likewise the subject of the frame; such photos often used mirrors, or introduce the extended, stretched arm of the subject in the corner of the frame; such photographs are taken with the main purpose of posting them on at least one form of social media. Selfies are generally taken with varying technology from true photography, utilizing digital smartphones, or computer webcams.

    A veteran of the selfie, a friend sits across from me, slumped on the couch and holding her phone parallel to her face. She contorts her face–piercing her eyes, scrunching her nose, making a surprised and coy expression with her lips. When I ask about her actions, she scoffs at my naivety.

    “Uhm, I’m Camera 360-ing.”

    As she continues, a message made up only of a photo—usually one of self-involved subject matter, my evident stupidity hits me in the face. She is a ‘Selfie Connoisseur’. Her online identity is expressed by various multitudes of selfies, where in each photo, she would portray one of the following expressions: sassy, sexy, happy, posh, or “prosti”. This new subject matter of the self now comprises a message with no text necessary; “You only need to see my face”, reads as the underlying script that comes with exchanging ‘snaps’.

    Our desire to record our appearance and exhibit it for others emanates from our yet dormant narcissism. This is not a novel advancement in the human personality. Look to Caravaggio’s Narcissus, from the Renaissance period. In Greek mythology, Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. Narcissism exemplifies the self-satisfaction of our own physical characteristics

    Such narcissistic tendencies and manifestations envelop us, both on the screens of our addicting social interfaces, and the people next to us on the jeep. We take photos of ourselves out of appreciation with the notion that the photos fascinate our friends, or ‘followers’. Not different from Narcissus’ admiration of himself in the puddle, and trusting that if he loved himself to such level and magnitude, others would as well.

    That portrait of the old lady I mentioned earlier could prove rare in today’s compeers of self-fanatical, self-declared photographers. Such a photo took skill, practice, lighting, and education. Why go to the efforts of hiring a photographer when we can crane our arm out, and ‘say cheese’ for our cell phone? The once revered ‘sacred Kodak moment’ now shattered, with it the sacristy of its photographers, replaced by the Industrial Revolution of the photograph and all-to-common, ‘Instagram moment’.

    The art of photography engulfed with works of humdrum, unremarkable and nondescript events, assumed identical to the professional and classy works of Romy Vitug, Ansel Adams, Cecil Beaton or Annie Leibovitz. This propagated and popularized social media platform almost means it is already unnecessary to marvel at the works of such experienced photographers because we have become the photographers; filters need only be applied.

    As I walk the grounds of Capitol, Lingayen, I must excuse a group of adolescent girls stationed in the middle of the sidewalk with their necks craned up towards the monumental Aguido. Above their heads, they each hold their smartphones, holding still while they capture the unchanging structure. Without budging from their positions, I see their fingers swiping, no doubt testing each Instagram filter; this group of girls represented ‘Filter Artists’. Possibly Valencia? Sierra? Sutro? Each photo they Instagram surely differs only slightly–capturing in manifold neither an occasion nor celebration, nor do they reflect the custom of the photographical.

    We take photos with the goal to impress, in contrary to documenting our momentous, treasured moments. Photography or ‘selfie’ portraits no longer need the excuse of a memorable moment. Got your daily cup of milktea this morning? Instagram it. Walked down an empty street that resembles an utterly idyllic and utopian state? Slap a filter over it to give the photo a sepia hue, and call yourself a photographer. Those moments…you know.

    The rare and cherished Kodak moment was practiced with class by our parents. Portraits like these were taken as our parents came of age and developed. What can we say about the photographs we take today? I am unwilling to call it photography in refinement, for fear of advocating the Instagram and Selfie movements.

    Imagine if our grandchildren see our over-documented photographs of ‘selfies’, would they see elegance and dignity and composure? Upright men they call grandpa or grandma? More likely their Instagram oldies in our wealth, range, and assortment, that shows the evolution and latitude of our vainglory, our self-obsession, and our thirsting need for approval and validation.

    This is photography reinvented…or disgraced?

    photo

    1 note
    Sep 14 11:59AM
  3. Breeze ActivBleach calls on moms to join 1Laba Day

    Breeze ActivBleach is treating mommies across the country to a day off from their laundry chores with the simultaneous nationwide event 1Laba Day happening on August 28. Moms in barangays throughout Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao are invited to head to 1Laba Day venues and let Breeze’s revolutionary ActivBleach take care of their stained clothes while they take part in exciting activities Breeze has in store for them to celebrate every mother’s hard work and love for her family.

    With 1 Laba Day, Breeze aims to wash 1 million stains using Breeze ActivBleach, which removes even the toughest of stains in just one wash. Participating moms can enjoy their ultimate laundry day-off as Breeze treats them to various entertainment activities, while the Breeze Laba Ladies and Laba Machines, sponsored by campaign partners Electrolux, White Westinghouse, Whirpool and LG, will take care of washing their clothes.

    Simultaneous 1Laba Day events will happen in Metro Manila (Pasig, Marikina, Quezon City, Pasay), North Luzon (Tarlac, Pangasinan), South Luzon (Laguna, Cavite), Visayas (Cebu), and Mindanao (Davao).

    Breeze with ActivBleach is the first and only detergent brand with 4-enzyme technology to remove more types of stains with less effort and time.

    It even has a unique active system for better foam profile and quicker lather, plus percarbonate TAED bleach that takes out bleachable stains without harming the environment. 

    Be a part of the Breeze 1 Laba Day event and see for yourself how Breeze with ActivBleach removes 1 million stains in just one wash. Like the official Breeze Facebook page (@BreezePhilippines) and join the online promos to get the chance to win washing machines from partner brands. Consumers can also get free Breeze gift packs for every purchase of an Electrolux, Whirlpool and LG washing machine.  (Press Release)

    photo

  4. Do you ever find in life little winks or feel little kisses or hope for a brief second until life’s worries whisk you away? Next time you see or feel one of these moments for yourself, try to hold it in your heart a little bit longer.

    Do you ever find in life little winks or feel little kisses or hope for a brief second until life’s worries whisk you away? Next time you see or feel one of these moments for yourself, try to hold it in your heart a little bit longer.

    photo

    5 notes
    Jul 31 11:43AM
  5. So, to not expense my blogger status, I thought of posting a song or a quote a day, and maybe inject my understanding from it.

    Here’s my first one from Akdong Musician (AKMU), a South Korean sibling duo who won the second installment of the K-Pop Star series, with their second title track, “Melted”. This song has helped me become more sensitive to suffering. 

    Watching the story progress to AKMU’s haunting vocals, I sense a universalism in the “unintelligible fates” of the characters–that all must struggle to overcome their solitude. The song did capture the simultaneous adversity and hope as shown in the video.

    I believe we’ve been in the boy’s position at one time. Like how we completely become desperate when we seek affection and when our boldness and obvious inquisitive nature have been criticized. Or when the world has shown us that we’re disposable and inconsequential, and that everything seems to be against us, and we react with instinctual violence.

    I hope that when we witness these tragedies in our lives as the boy does, we see the possibilities for change, and let that change challenge us to overcome sadness, so that we can offer others kindness, connection, and hope.

    video