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There are household items that we need to replenish all the time, like cooking oil, clean agents and so on. Every time we replenish, we have to buy new bottles containing the stuff that we really need, and dispose of the old containers, many of which are made of plastic.

We know we need to reduce the use of plastic for environmental reason, but we often do not have a lot of choices. Until now. 

A producer and distributor of sauces and condiments in the Philippines, NutriAsia, has taken an initiative to give us the option to refill containers for cooking oil, and vinegar. Their pop-up store is in front of The Mind Museum, and is called "BYOB", as in Bring Your Own Bottle.

I have been looking for a facility like this for a while, so I was determined to give it my support by becoming its customer. This morning, the second day of its opening, I visited the pop-up store, bringing two empty bottles with me. I read their requirements for bottles the day before (it must be clean and dry, and previously contained food only and so on), so I was well prepared.

When I got there, the door was closed, because there was a media interview going on. Since I am a sort-of blogger, I asked to be allowed in as well. So I got in after their interview with GMA was done.

Lucky for me, NutriAsia's Corporate Marketing and Communications Head, Mr. James Lim, was at hand to guide me through the process of refilling. Not that it was complicated.

First the employees checked my bottles to make sure they are clean and so on. Then I had to sign a waiver on a digital device which basically says that they would not be responsible for problems caused by the containers.

Next they weighed my empty bottles to record the weight of the bottles. We should not have to pay for the weight of the bottles.

Then I chose the products to be put into the bottles. The price list was simple enough. Price per gram of weight ranges from P0.014 for vinegar, to P0.162 for corn oil. Currently, they only have 7 products to refill (vinegar, soy sauce, banana ketchup, palm oil, canola oil, soy oil and corn oil).

They filled each bottle according to my order, and then weighed them. My small bottle of vinegar came to 6 pesos, my soy sauce of about 750cc came to about P25, and my one liter of canola oil was P120. They were about 20% cheaper than if I purchase the items from a supermarket. 

Photo above : store worker filling up my bottle with vinegar. Inset is a poster on their plastics repurposing project.

Saving the environment while saving money! Actually, since they were doing a media promotion, they did not accept my money. But my positive view of this facility has nothing to do with their freebies to me.

Apart from refilling bottles, the pop-up store has another pro-environment function. It also serves as a drop-off point for plastic materials for repurposing. The BYOB store is made from eco-bricks produced from Arca South Eco Hub using plastic discards.

According to James Lim, all proceeds from BYOB, along with the plastic materials donated, will be used to produce upcycled furnishings for their beneficiary, GAT Andres Bonifacio High School.

BYOB is set to run only until September 12. It opens 7 days a week, 12 noon to 8PM, in front of the Mind Museum, Rizal Drive, Fort Bonifacio. I asked James if NutriAsia will open a permanent refilling store, and he was hesitant to reply. Perhaps NutriAsia is assessing the response from this store before making a decision. If so, we need to show our support for this initiative by buying from it as often as possible.

Photo above: I clicked the bottle counter. Inset is James Lim, NutriAsia's Corporate Marketing and Communications Head

Each time a bottle is refilled, the customer gets to press a button, and this will activate the counter outside the store that shows how many bottles have been saved.  When I finished my refill, I pressed it three times, and the number went up by 3 to 73. Let us show them we want the store to be permanent, by maxing out the counter!

Photo above: the counter for the number of bottles refilled. Let us max it out! Only 99,927 bottles to go!

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What happens if you’re stuck in the Fort with hours to kill? I encountered this dilemma when my flight was delayed by 5 hours and had nothing to do. Luckily, however, I was stuck in one of the busiest cities in Manila with plenty of activities to do. 

For my first stop, I decided to spend my time catching up on the new movies in Central Square cinema. Always updated with the newest showings, this cinema is one of the best in the city, with affordable prices and delicious vendors and snacks for the movie. This was one of the most efficient ways of killing time without having to do much, as the movie took around 2 hours.


While watching a movie was efficient, it was a little too ordinary so I tried out Breakout in Serendra. Breakout is a unique experience where you and a group of friends work together to escape a room. The room and experience are themed depending on the one you choose. Luckily I was traveling with my friends and we took on the challenge to break out. This was a fun and thrilling experience but it wasn’t as efficient since the maximum time given was 45 minutes. Going with friends also has an advantage because, on Fridays to Sundays and Holidays, the price per person decreases as the number of people increases. However, the experience is more affordable on Mondays to Thursdays, when the price is fixed.

To finish, I visited one of the busiest areas in BGC with the best food, Mercato Centrale. Mercato Centrale is located on 25th St. and is a giant food market with tons of vendors serving delicious food. Open from 4pm to 2am on Thursdays and Fridays, it was the perfect place to grab some food before leaving. I was able to have a unique experience while tasting a variety of cuisines and food for an affordable price. 

Although it wasn’t available this week, another good option to kill time with is Gourmand Market in Central Square. Similar to Mercato Centrale, it’s a food market with numerous vendors and delicious food. However, the market isn't as regular as Mercato Centrale and only pops up occasionally.

While a long delay is normally terrible, I surprisingly had a pleasant experience. So maybe being stuck in a city for 5 hours isn’t as bad as it seems, especially if you’re lucky and stuck in the Fort where there’s plenty of activities to do and try.   

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Most people living in Metro Manila and especially the Fort have heard of or tried Wild Flour Cafe & Bakery. Famous for its fresh bread and pastries and delicious food and drinks, it’s a popular choice all over Manila. While the group has opened many branches and Little Flour, they recently added a new branch with a twist, Wild Flour Italian. The restaurant is located on the ground floor in The Finance Centre here in BGC. 

The interior is styled with the classic Wild Flour features, with their wooden furniture and tile flooring. Yet this restaurant has a more modern ambience with an Italian touch with its brick walls and black accents. Staying true to Italian cooking, the restaurant also has a built-in pizza oven straight from Italy, ensuring its authenticity.

While their old restaurants also served some pasta dishes, customers can have the same handmade pasta and more, along with Italian appetizers, pizza, mains, and desserts. With this menu, customers will surely get a taste of Italy. 

But what's good food without good drinks? The restaurant has that covered with a fully stocked bar and an extensive drink menu with drinks that are the perfect pairing for their delicious food.  

To start, servers offer customers a grissini, or breadstick, which like all other Wild Flour bread was delightful. This was the perfect bread to excite customers for the rest of their food because I surely was. I personally tried their crostini to start and their rigatoni as a main. The crostini was a nice twist on the traditional Wild Flour bread with rich and fresh toppings. The pasta was cooked to the perfect al dente with a sauce and toppings that complimented the pasta without overpowering it. With this balance, customers can truly appreciate the star of the dish, the handmade pasta. Unfortunately, I was unable to try their pizza this time, but I’m determined to return to see whether with their Italian oven they can compete with other pizzerias in BGC. 

If you're looking for a new restaurant to try or a new edition of Wild Flour, I definitely recommend this place. While they only have one menu served during lunch and dinner, they are releasing a new brunch menu soon so stay tuned!

Wild Flour Italian is open from Tuesdays to Sundays from 11am to 3pm for lunch and 4pm to 11pm for dinner. 

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A new place has opened at 5th Avenue on the ground floor of One Bonifacio High Street mall to serve you coffee. But it is not a coffee shop. It is a coffee pick up point that looks like a shop, and occupies possibly the most expensive retail space in Fort Bonifacio.

It is a pick up point because you are supposed to order the coffee online from its mobile app, and then go to the shop to just pick it up. 

There are simple tables and chairs, but no power outlet. You are not supposed to linger.

Your payment online is cashless, and so is the payment if you buy at the shop. Either credit card or mobile payment app like Paymaya or GCash. No old school here.

Since the parent company is an apparel shop, do not expect everything to make ordinary sense. It makes style. So please, do not ask why the door is placed at an angle. 

Nor question the need for an enclosed tall plant in the middle of the shop. It is not a canteen that needs to squeeze as many tables inside as possible.

What about its raison d'être, the reason to exist, coffee? You can customize it any way you want, more than you can do so with the McDo ordering machines. Except you can not make it more sweet. Or less hot.

Apart from the usual espresso drinks, you can order a brown sugar latte!! Any drink with brown sugar pre-mixed nowadays will instantly put you in the hip crowd. Ordinary people have to scoop brown sugar with a spoon, put it in the cup and stir it by themselves in the old, uncool way.

The brown sugar latte was good, and it was made by a barista with latte art. See, not everything there is automated! so you are not really buying coffee from inside a giant vending machine.

I guess this is the coffee version of iPhone. "We give you a quality product with minimalist design, served our way."

Because Coffee opens Mon to Fri 7am to 8pm, Sat to Sun 9am to 8pm at GF of One Bonifacio High Street mall.

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Fun and Learning

On the first Saturday of May, we visited the Pretty Huge Obstacles,an indoor obstacle course facility located at SM Aura. It was not officially opened. The main entrance was not ready, and some touching up were still ongoing, so they charged a pre-opening price of P600 per head, instead of the regular price of P1,000. We were happy to get this lower price, since all the obstacle stations were completed. 

While people could just walk in at any time during the opening hours, they actually have free (after paying entrance fee) introduction classes at prescribed times that last for 1.5 hours, so that visitors could get the basic techniques to tackle the various obstacle stations. Each class session had a group for kids, and another one for adults.

At the beginning of a class, coaches asked participants to do some warm up exercises, starting with jogging at the running track. Adults had to do more strenuous exercises than kids.

They then were moved to obstacle stations. There were obstacle stations that were more suited to kids than adults, and others the other way around, but even the kids ones were challenging for adults.

A lot of obstacle stations there are built primarily for adult size and require strong upper body strength, like hanging one's weight from pegs. The kids obstacles (which I think if you are a grown-up and are not embarrassed easily, can also use) are brightly colored and challenge mostly the balancing and muscle control skills of the users.

There are also a lot of weight-training equipment, like sandbags for carrying, and loaded cart for pulling or pushing. My 11-year old and her friend attended the class, and picked up a lot of tips on how to tackle each obstacle smartly. The coaches were nice, but they would also push the participants a little when the participants wanted to rest for too long.

Even though the place is not air-conditioned, it is well ventilated with huge ceiling fans. It is definitely a welcome facility for people into fitness activities, and those of us who live in the Fort Bonifacio area are very happy that it is located within our vicinity.

Pretty Huge Obtacles is currently open from Tuesday to Saturday, closed on Monday and Sunday. Their entrance is located on the right hand side of the parking lot entrance across SM Aura office tower.

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I went to Uptown Mall last Saturday (April 6) morning to try out Grabwheels, E-scooters offered by Grab. They give 2 hours of free ride to any one who dares to try it!

Easy Peasy

It was quite easy to get hold of a Grabwheel. I downloaded the mobile app at one of the four kiosks of Grabwheels located around Uptown Mall and Uptown Parade, left my driver's license with the Grab employee, scanned the QR code on the E-scooter that I intended to ride, and off I went! It was a breeze compared to the experience I had with the shared E-bike that I tried at Stopover Pavillion two years ago.

Riders have to wear a helmet, and they let me wear my own helmet, which was great. Only persons over 18 years old are allowed to borrow the E-scooters.

DOs and DON'Ts

I was told that I could ride anywhere within BGC, but only on sidewalks. There is a long list of do's and don'ts, but in my view, these are the top items.

Ride experience

I am an experienced kick scooter user, so it was very easy for me to ride the Grabwheels. But the control is so simple that I think anyone can ride it any way, once one get comfortable with the start and stop techniques.

The Grabwheels have a top speed of 17 km per hour, which is quite fast for sidewalk traffic, since pedestrians do not expect and cannot hear you coming.

However, it was not easy to confine my ride to the sidewalks, since many sidewalks do not have smooth ramps. There are "ramps" that have a 2-inch curb that a E-scooter cannot ride up. Many sidewalks do not have ramps at all. In addition, some sideways are narrowed by planter boxes or space reserved for planter boxes, and boarded up construction sites.

When there is no ramp, lifting the E-scooter up is not easy. It weighs much more than a regular kick scooter.

Boundary issue?

I was going to ride the Grabwheels in Bonifacio High Street, but after I crossed 32nd Street at the junction with 11th Avenue, I was stopped by a BGC marshall who told me that Grabwheels were not allowed outside Uptown area. I asked what about other E-scooters, and they said other E-scooters were allowed. 

If Grab wants to offer Grabwheel as a paid service, they will need to sort this out with BGC authorities.

[Update: on April 9, I saw two ladies riding Grabwheels in Burgos Circle. They said they crossed 32nd Street from S&R supermarket. Either BGC authorities have changed their policy, or they do not man all entrances to Central BGC.]


What can it be good for?

I enjoyed riding the E-scooter recreationally, and it encouraged me to explore parts of Bonifacio North that I did not bother to go before.

I can imagine people who live within 3 to 6 km of their work place using it to commute, and it could save them time and money (vs. taxi fare), and everyone the air pollution from the traffic otherwise generated. I have seen people riding it daily between McKinly Hill and BGC.

It can probably be used by people to connect between transport hubs, such as going from BGC to Ayala transport terminal during rush hours when buses and taxis are stuck in the peak hour traffic. It has to be allowed to ride on roads as sideways are too narrow and disjoined.

Some training for riders would probably be necessary, as I have seen some dangerous moments when E-scooters get too close to pedestrians, cars or motercycles.

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Potted Potter makes a triumphant return in BGC Fort! The have 9 shows from March 20-24 at the Maybank Performing Arts Theater, BGC Arts Center. The 2 man play hilariously summarizes all 7 books in 70 minutes. I was fortunate to watch the opening night and I was laughing from start to finish. The actors James Percy and Joseph Maudsley inject pop culture jokes that differ from previous Potted Potter that's why it's a must watch even if you've seen it before.

The jokes included "Game of Thrones,” “Fifty Shades of Grey,” other Broadway plays, no ones was sparred including President Donald Trump. The actors interacted with the audience including having a Quidditch and a lot of impromptu jokes. This is definitely a must watch even if you are not a Potterhead like me. Get your tickets now!


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Community Events

There are many benefits of having a neighborhood community. We can share information about what is happening, get recommendations about home maintenance services, organize hobby group activities, order goods in bulk and so on. For residents of Bonifacio Global City, we have an additional reason to join a neighborhood group like E.Q.U.I.P@BGC, because it is supported by the estate management entities of BGC.

Fort Bonifacio Development Corp, which markets BGC and manages BGC in conjunction with its affiliated company BESC, invites members of E.Q.U.I.P@BGC to attend marketing activities of its commercial partners from time to time, which often means freebies like lunch or dinner.

On March 14, 2019, we were invited to a lunch hosted by the recently opened Chateau 1771 restaurant, located on the second floor of One Bonifacio High Street mall.

Chateau 1771 is an established fine dining European restaurant first opened in Malate, Manila, in 1988. 

In the featured photo, Chef Vicky Pacheco, Chief Executive Officer 1771 Group of Restaurants, introduces her dishes that were served to the community group.

Photo above: Front entrance of Chateau 1771 at One Bonifacio High Street.

The food was delicious. There were scallops with cheese, chicken boncoccini with marsala sauce, fettucine with light lemon cream sauce, among the many dishes.

Smoked gindara carpaccio (like raw tangigue) and four seasons salad were the appetizers that the restaurant showcased. We also had a chance to taste desserts like meringue with lemon custard, and valrhona ganache tarte.

It was a great occasion to taste exquisite food courtesy of Chateau 1771 and arranged by FBDC, and for us neighbors to catch up with other neighbors we met before as well as network with new friends.