Tabuk, Kalinga is known to be the portal to the ever so famous Buscalan. Many tourists roam around the town, all excited to their soon encounter with the legendary Whang Od or the country’s oldest mambabatok (traditional art of tattooing using bamboo stick and pomelo thorn. Ash is used as ink). Not known to the public, Tabuk has its own charm.
One of Tabuk’s hidden treasure is Ethnic Boutique, located at FF Cruz, Bulanao Centro. My partner and I were looking for places to hang out the afternoon before my cousin’s wedding day when we accidentally stumbled upon the place. We were expecting to have the famed Kalinga Coffee over our usual musings. What we didn’t expect was how beautiful the place is.
Everything was on point. It was Ethnic, alright! In every corner of Ethnic Boutique you will see the customary Igorot tapestry. The lush vegetation enveloping the cafe is a treat to the senses. It made the place an oasis to weary travelers. We arrived just right after lunch and there were no dishes left to prepare probably because of the influx of people dining. We waited for their merienda instead which is all good because the view is stunning.
We stationed at the farthest corner of Ethnic Boutique, closest to the open view of the farmlands. The mountain seemed so near and smelled so near. It was something you would want to hold on to after being in the city for the longest time. The air was the freshest I have ever been exposed to. It was the antithesis to my usual toxicity of Aurora Boulevard.
There were also different variations of native wines displayed. You can opt to buy from them and have it served with your meal. Their specialty wine is the Bugnay Wine or wine made from fermented wild berries. Pineapple wine and Guava wine were also available. We didn’t buy though. There’s a good place near the market that sells them cheaper.
Ethnic Boutique serves unlimited Kalinga Coffee! While waiting for their afternoon serving, we indulged ourselves to the unlikely combination of coffee and cucumber iced tea. I know, I know. We were very hydrated and happy. We also got to meet the dogs and cats in the area. There was even a mama dog with her puppies. All were friendly and tamed.
We ordered their buttered chicken and organic rice. It was so good, in fact, that after finishing our meal, we ordered a round of fries. Our palettes were not disappointed. If it was something about the cool weather that made us extra hungry, or the welcoming scenery, or their meals were just scrumptious to the core, we will never know. All we knew at that time is that Ethnic Boutique made us warm in delight.
Ethnic Boutique is one of the places that gave us the full Tabuk experience. We were fortunate that we’ll always have the comfort of returning since my relatives are from the area. I would suggest that should you visit the cafe when you happen to make Tabuk your stopover or destination, better come on time for lunch. You will be able to choose more from their menu!
Here’s a rough map to Ethnic Boutique. If all else fails, you can ask the townsfolk where Ethnic Boutique is!
If there’s one thing I regret as a writer, it’s not being able to create pieces on time. They say that for your compositions to be effective, it has to be timely. The notorious procrastinator that I am tend to challenge this principle nonsensically. I delay write-ups until they pile up or worse, until such time that it’s too late. This is the situation with Cafe Aquatica.
Cafe Aquatica was then located at Greenhills Promenade. It’s a themed cafe that sets the bar high for other themed cafes in the Metro. By its name you can tell that it has to do with water and probably fishes, but while this is true, Cafe Aquatica isn’t just a cafe that provides Instagrammers the perfect ocean backdrop. It does not even put glittery thingamajigs on your food to make it glow as if underwater. It’s a hobbyist’s sanctuary.
You can tell by look of the aquariums that were meticulously designed from the lights to the aquascaping that Cafe Aquatica was a masterpiece by a hobbyist. It’s not something that was just put up out of need to keep up with the market. The place was elegant in its own right and while others rant about the rather expensive prices of the food, the Cafe gives you the experience that has the tendency to be ignored by regular coffee goers who has probably tunnel-visioned in on the price.
The aquariums were all set up exquisitely, each one having a theme fit for its inhabitants. We were seated on a booth with an aquarium next to it and we can’t help but marvel at the beauty. Of course, something delicate needs to be protected. Each aquarium has a price on it just in case your clumsiness gets the best of you or you were enthralled that you wanted to purchase it out of a whim.
When it comes to credibility, several awards were displayed in one corner of the cafe. This is actually a good strategy and if you share the same interest, you knew that the owner means business when it comes to his avocation.
We tried several offers on the menu. From the pasta, to the sandwich, to pastries, and definitely, their coffee. We also tried their Blue Butterfly Pea Drink which changes color from purple to blue when infused with lemon. It’s a type of tea that is charged with antioxidants that promises to give you healthier hair, better eyesight, and strengthens your immune system. Interesting? Not as intriguing as it looks! It’s mesmerizing how the hue changes!
The staff were nice and attentive. They gave us sensible answers to our questions and satisfied our curiosity about the aquariums and the Blue Butterfly Pea Drink. My family and I had a good merienda and went home satisfied. Yes, we got our money’s worth. We had a great, quality time.
This is the reason why I regret not having to write about Cafe Aquatica sooner. You might think this write-up is already useless but I pray it’s not too late to give them this. I hate to call this an elegy because my memory of the cafe is still fresh and pleasant. Also, based on my Internet wanderings, they still have their Binondo branch open. I sincerely hope I can visit soon and I promise that I’ll update immediately this time around!
The country is now more appreciative of pets. Compared before, almost 8 out of 10 households has a furry friend in them! The other 2 homes probably have people living with a love for animals but have valid reasons why they can’t house one. Good thing, pet cafes such as Wolf and Bear and Bengal Brew (twin pet cafes!!!) in Cubao were established!
Living in Cubao, visiting Wolf & Bear is something I would not miss for the world! I may be a part of that 8 out of 10 household but that simply was never enough! Every dog is a friend you have to meet!
My first visit was during their first year of operation. I met their Alaskan Malamute family lead by their alpha, Sumo! I saw how Betty the St. Bernard outgrew her leg issue through therapy which the owner and staff had lovingly supported. I saw the then puppies Greywind, Ghost, and Nymeria plus the gentle giants magkumare, Summer and Winter which I lovingly hugged and clung onto the majority of my stay there.
Over the years, I visited 2 more times and saw many addition and changes to the family. Bella who was a constant buddy of Inigo had her hair trimmed but still showed a familiar love for my partner. We met Kaos, the shib who I had fun hugging and protecting because hey, it’s not easy being the new kid! Danielle the great dane, although new, was the exact opposite! She ensured she greeted everyone and shared a little bit of her busy schedule with them. Coby is also a sight to see and knowing he can devour tennis balls is amazing! Did you know that he can fit up to 4 balls in his mouth?!
It was also delightful meeting Sari’s new litter which is like a set of cotton balls! Sumo was on a break during my latest visit, though, I guess it’s tough being a father!
Everytime I visit, I have sunk deeper into fondness of them. I love their stories and seeing them grow! The food is great too! Their Cafe Bengal is something that you will take time consuming and enjoying despite the inevitably cute distraction. The snacks are good too!
The handlers are friendly! Unlike reviews over the social media platforms where they were called masungit, they weren’t any hint of that. They may come of as strong but that’s perfectly understandable. You have got to impose authority when you’re handling bears or big dogs for that matter! More than being handlers, their trainers as well. So for those of you who complained, please get over yourself and try to understand!
I will continue coming back to Wolf and Bear! It’s Bengal Brew Cat Cafe’s twin sister so I always get my money’s worth. They have a membership card that is packed with rebates and discounts and this is further pushing their good customer service to a higher tier! I’ll let you guys know if I’ve used every perk! See you there and I hope going here becomes your tradition too!
At this day and age, being a bibliophile is glorious! Who ever said that technology killed our one and only love? A true lover of books would see technology as a blessing: aside from the physical publication, you have the PDF files at your easy disposal!
This is my personal sentiment! I love reading ebooks but I still am in love with the smell of pages! This is why when I found out about the Big Bad Wolf Book Fair, I knew I couldn’t miss it for the world!
This is Big Bad Wolf’s first ever book sale in the country. Originally from Malaysia, the purpose of the company has always been to bring the joy of reading to those who can’t afford it…and my god, did they served their mission! All the books available are at 60% to 80% discount!
It was heavenly, right at the very first step inside the World Trade Center main hall. Since the event is open 24 hours from the day they launched last February 16, you can come in any time you desire. We arrived there at 1 in the morning hoping there would be less people but sleep is for the weak for people like us! It was swarming with happy nerds from all walks of life, all age and sizes! I couldn’t help but squeal!
The collection is indubitably VAST! Big Bad Wolf also catered to all genres: from Y.A.s (young adult) to cookbooks, they have it! I had a hard time choosing and meeting my budget espcially when my poindexter (I’m female but hey) heart realized that they also sell graphic novels!!!
Now this was when everything got serious for me! I saw special edition DC Comics for half the price! I usually gawk at the shelves of Fully Booked hoping that one day all the kind deeds I’ve done in my life would be rewarded by the DC fairy god mother with free, limited edition comics!
After I secured the titles I needed to purchase, we went around every corner of the place. We saw interesting book designs, premium editions, boxed sets, and even adult coloring books! If you are into religious and inspirational books, business, and even pets, you will not be disappointed!
Paying for it was a breeze too! There were more than 20 check out counters operating to cater excited shoppers! Everything was in order that it was beautiful!
Here are some tips for you to maximize the discounts being offered by Big Bad Wolf: (1) Go for the hardbounds! Paperback novels sell for the minimum prize of 180 php to 190 php which is not that big of a dicount. However, should you go for the big guns, you get to enjoy a hefty price cut! From the original price of 1,500 php to 2500 php, I bought the graphic novels for no more than 900 each! I am not even kidding!
(2) Another tip, you really have to check every stall. Stop being a royalty, asking for assistance–NO! I’ve seen celebrities getting down and dirty just to find that title they adore!
(3) Last but not the least, bring your eco bags and save the planet!
Tomorrow, February 25, 2018 at 11:59 P.M., Big Bad Wolf Book Sale will close their doors to the public and end the, hopefully, annual celebration. You still have more than 24-hours left so if I were you, HEAD THERE NOW!
*Big Bad Wolf Book Sale is being held at World Trade Center, Gil Puyat Avenue Extension corner Diosdado Macapagal Blvd., Pasay City, Metro Manila. The direction is below:
All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day are not really ideal days to go and search for an adventure. As Filipinos, we find ourselves paying our respects to our faithful departed. We, however, were in Baguio in a quest for good coffee!
My aunt and I discovered a humble treasure cove in the form of Kaffeeklatsch. It’s really by pleasant accident that we stumbled upon the place. Our initial plan was to go to Session Road and look for the more popular and easy to find places. Thank goodness the altitude got the best of us, having to ascend 800 meters on the streets of Middle Quarry. Had we taken the cab, chances were we might’ve overlooked this hole in the wall!
First thing I noticed was their live band! During the time we visited, they were celebrating Halloween! The staff were all in costume and the place was fully decorated with cobwebs, skeletons…you name it! The cafe emanates this relaxed, modern vibe as their dim yellow lights complement the acoustic set and the chill of November. There is also something with half-muted lights that makes you want to share your thoughts. Kaffeeklatsch invited guests to do so.
Their coffee selection was extensive too! I had a very hard time deciding between their Flavored Koffees and Drip Brew. Not to mention their Chilled Klassiks (ice blended) choices were impressive as well! I ended up ordering their Iced Kaffee Latte and I did not regret it!
I also love the fact that they have an al fresco area. Should you wish to indulge in that Baguio weather, you can choose to sit outside and enjoy your coffee amidst the crisp mountain air. YEP, THIS IS HEAVEN FOR THE SMOKERS! There. I said it. LOL.
Now if you are wondering what this peculiar word means: talking or gossip at an informal gathering where coffee is served. The place really lived up to its name! You can see from the crowd the place attracts a variation of personalities wanting to gab. In every corner of the place, people talk and probably share a fraction of their time with each other. That we did as well.
It’s such a shame though that we didn’t know the place was holding a Halloween Party or else, we would have participated! Baguio is a place that you really cannot get enough of. My relatives are from Baguio and no matter how often I visit, there is always something new to discover — for instance, Kaffeeklatsch!
**Here’s how you get to Kaffeeklatsch! You can also check their FB PAGE HERE!
Night life in Brunei is all about relaxation, lounging, and eating good food. Drinking in bars, loud music, and the like is almost non-existent here. I would have to say that the beauty of Brunei revolves around its culture and heritage sites, nothing much on the party scene. This is why we fell in love!
We, my partner and I, are owls. We love the night time. We love having coffee late at night and finish in the wee hours of the morning. When we arrived in Brunei, it was a shift from our practice. A pleasant shift. 7 in the evening the first night we were there, we headed to a local restaurant called Mamih Cafe or Kafe Mamih. It is located in Warisan Mata-Mata Complex in Jln. Mata Mata, just right next to where we stayed!
The place is comfortable. It uses dim lights to emphasize the comfort that you deserve to get while dining. The spacing between chairs and tables are perfect. You get to move around and it does not have a crowded feel. The color scheme flirts too well with the lights, with its dash of yellow and blue, and sometimes pink and brown. Each table also has a yellow light over it which all the more draws you to your food.
The first thing we noticed when we were handed the menu is that the restaurant serves a lot of Filipino food! They have Kare-Kare and Halo-Halo! They also have Filipino staff who are fluent in speaking Malay but can easily shift to speaking Tagalog and English!
We ordered Bah Kuh Teh and Nasi Ayam for our dinner. According to our host, these are house specialties, and of course, we couldn’t miss it! Bah Kuh Teh is like our very own Gotong Batangas. It is boiled pork rib soup seasoned in exquisite spices such as star anise, garlic, and cinnamon, to name some. They include different ingredients on the soup such as pork innards, enoki mushroom, etc. and it absolutely works! The first time I tasted it here at Mamih Cafe, I knew it’s going to be an addiction.
Nasi Ayam is most commonly known as Hainanese Chicken Rice. This dish is served with 3 different sauces, ranging from the savory, to the sweet, and chili. Although this dish is nothing new to our taste, Mamih Cafe’s Nasi Ayam has this certain tinge of authenticity which really adds to the food’s appeal.
We ordered drinks as well. We would not miss trying Kopi C Iced and Kopi O Iced. As huge coffee fans, we knew that this local coffee is worth tasting. Kopi C is coffee with evaporated milk, while Kopi O is black coffee. These versions of coffee is similarly available in Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
We wanted to order sate or grilled chicken but there were a lot of sate on queue to be cooked and we just couldn’t wait any longer. We understand, though. Since a lot of people are having dinner right after fasting, definitely the demand would be high. Plus, grilled food is no good when served cold. They serve it by batch, sadly.
After having our dinner, we were assisted by our homestay host to the counter. According to her, that is how people pay for food in Brunei. People do not hail for servers to give them the check. They walk to the counter and let the cashier know what they have ordered. Pretty honest, if you would ask me. So we paid for the dinner and it was a pleasant surprise knowing that our bill did not go over Php 500!
Our experience in Mamih Cafe is our initiation to Brunei food. It is the start of my love affair with Bah Kuh Teh! Overall, the restaurant serves delicious dishes. It has a calm atmosphere which goes hand-in-hand with the peaceful evenings of Brunei. After a very long day travelling, being in Mamih Cafe is a luxury.