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Memorable Events
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Security guards who worked night shift there must be wondering why any one would choose to sleep on the street as a reward, especially if these people can afford to shop at Bonifacio High Street (BHS). But there we were, nearly 200 people happily sleeping in the middle of this high-end retail street under the stars, our shelters being made of thin fabrics that were strung together by metal rods.


My daughter and I were among this group of funny people who eagerly lined up to register to get into our tents on a hot Saturday afternoon. The tents were part of an event called "Glamping in the City" organized by the body that manages Bonifacio Global City, namely, Fort Bonifacio Development Corporation. One had to meet certain spending requirements in shops in BHS before being qualified to participate in the event, which started on a Saturday afternoon (April 29, 2017) and finished the next day.

"Glamping" is glamorous camping, which means one gets to enjoy all the benefits of camping like staying in a place that allows us to be close to nature (or our surrounding) and take part in outdoor recreational activities, without having to deal with chores such as pitching a tent and cooking, or forego the convenience of modern living such as the use of a toilet.

Security at the well-cordoned tent area was tight. Only those with the event wristband were allowed inside. This was important, as this was a busy shopping area and campers would not want to have strangers wandering into their tent.  We got our tent at around 4pm. It was pitched near the large book store at 11th Avenue. There was an air bed inside, and a table and chair outside. We were to be joined by another mother and daughter family, so the tent was intended to fit up to four persons. It looked like we would be set for the night, as soon as we brought back some pillows, blankets, and lights, and took a shower at home.

(Photo above: As part of the program, participants have to perform a chant for the group that they were assigned to)

To give us their version of the full flavor of camping, the organizers decided that we needed to be given a busy program of activities. At 6pm we were gathered under a covered area to play team games.  We were organized into teams, and played games such as passing quail eggs, charade, and so on. My daughter and I were joined by my husband and a friend. Our team did dismally in the games, but we were still rewarded with goodies, so everyone was happy.

At 8pm after a torrent but brief shower, the camp ground began to be occupied by campers returning from the boodle dinner. 


Food was aplenty and fresh. Nobody complained also because it was provided free by the restaurant Kabisera.

Apart from games organized by the event organizers, campers got entertained by the activities going on around the tent area. Where else could you stay in a tent, and when you walk outside of it, you are within a few yards from nice shops and restaurants? There was melodic singing from a regular busker on Bonifacio High Street who sang and strummed on his guitar, in place of the guitar player that usually sits next to a camp fire in a real camping night. 

(Photo above: a movie was shown at around 10pm.)

Kids really enjoyed this new experience of being allowed to play in the public area late at night. They visited other kids' tents, and played whatever game they could come up with, as long as they were in each other's company.

Simple breakfast was provided the next morning courtesy of another restaurant located on BHS, Italianni's. After breakfast, a gym instructor took participants through some morning exercises. More freebies were given away.

So why did we join? It is about our desire to experience things unfamiliar. For folks like us who do not enjoy roughing it any more, our kid rarely gets the chance to feel what is it like to sleep inside a tent in a place outside our home.

The "glam" part: we didn't have to pitch our tent. It was done for us. We had an airbed. The camp is in the middle of the city. We had easy access to flushed toilets. No need to cook or fish or hunt our own food.

The less glam: The tents were not air conditioned. Lacked privacy. We didn't open all covers of the tent because we didn't want anyone to see inside. It got a bit too hot inside at night, but my kid had no trouble sleeping, because she was exhausted.

Nature? There were birds chirping in the morning. And a street cat came into our tent at night. So that is glamping in the city.


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Food
newbie

Where else can you eat lobster from a street stall but in Fort Bonifacio? A new food stall opened in Fort Strip two weeks ago (mid April) and its name is "Lobster Station". Is it just a name, like 'rocket room', or it really sells lobster? That was the question that I wanted answered when I approached the stall this evening.


Lobster Station is located in the Fort Strip, facing a parking lot. It has three tables outside the box-shaped kitchen.

When I was there at around 6pm. I was the only customer. I checked out the simple menu, and found out that indeed, it had lobster on its menu! The top billed item was lobster roll, at P590 per order. Other lobster named dishes are: lobster fried/pried rice P150 per order, and lobster grilled panini P550.


I ordered the lobster roll, because it showed  a big lobster claw. I wanted to find out if indeed I would get a lobster claw, in case I could not tell how a lobster tastes like.


The kitchen is very simple. It was run by its owner and an assistant. He heated up a bread roll, put some butter on it, and then stuffed the bun with lobster meat. The order was served with coleslaw and potato chips.


The million peso question: how does it taste? It tasted lobstery, Very yummy. You may not want to spend nearly P600 on a sandwich, but it tastes so good that once you have tried it, you are hooked. According to the owner, the lobster was from Boston. I did not expect to get imported lobster, but then again, I did not think there would be really a street stall that sells lobster. 

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Community Events
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Last weekend, we were invited to BGC's kick off for Summer on the Street. It was a fun afternoon filled with great food and even greater company. We were treated with a refreshing tropical drink at the start of the event. 


New summer drinks from Jamba Juice


I met some bloggers and like-minded writers. We talked about the food trucks and all the other food available that weekend. We were given coupons to try out some of the food, and if we wanted to specifically try something that they didn't initially provide, we were told to just ask and they would get it for us! Now that's convenient! A new found friend, Elle, tagged along to gather all the food we could carry. We decided to try Schmidt's hotdog first since it was one of the first coupons we got and it looked pretty interesting. When we got there, a line was already building up, so we waited for our turn and got to try their creation. I got 'The Julius' because you can never go wrong with bacon, can you? It was divine! I loved it. It was really filling though so after Elle and I devoured our hotdogs, we decided to just collect all the remaining food and try it once we're not so full anymore. 


Schmidt's Gourmet Hotdog's The Julius


While waiting for most of the food we ordered, we decided to get some refreshing cocktails since it was happy hour. We went to Rocket Room's booth and I got a Sakura Smile which tasted so much like a lychee cocktail while Elle got the Rocket Fuel that had jalapeno in it. She made me try it and boy was it spicy! It was a good break from all the food though, a good breather and cleanser for our palette. 


Sakura Smile and Rocket Fuel from Rocket Room


After the savory food and happy hour drinks, we decided we'd like to try some desserts! And we happen to have a coupon for The Wholesome Table and thought it was just right to get some there. For the bloggers, they gave a dark chocolate cookie and a slice of banana walnut bread. I personally prefer the banana walnut bread as it was not too sweet and had just the right amount of flavor to satisfy my craving.


Wholesome Table's Stall at Summer on the Street


The event last weekend made me look forward to summer even more. I like the laid back, casual feel of everyone and everything there which also contributed to the chill ambiance in the middle of the city. "Summer on the Street" isn't just a food festival though, every weekend this summer, they have a different event for people to choose from. I'm sure it will be quite busy in the next coming weeks. I can't wait to visit the next one!


Summer on the Street Calendar of Activities  




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Music
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Jensen and the Flips, getting ready for their set


Felipe and Sons, Net Quad, 4th ave. cor 30th St., BGC, The Fort, Taguig City


Last night, I went to Jensen and the Flips' music video launch. It was fun, hip, and chill. Everything that I'd want in a night out. I used to always go to a lot of gigs but because of my new schedule, I couldn't really go as much as I'd want to. Anyway, let's talk about the more important things. The launch. I went to Felipe and Sons at around 8 in the evening to make sure I'd get a good spot when the performers start their gig. I walked in with a friend and saw how everything was set up. The stage was right across the door, which was perfect if you asked me. I'd say the venue did a good job at setting up the whole place for the launch. For every person that comes in, you get a stub for your local beer after paying the php 200 entrance fee. Fair enough, I thought. Good music, a comfortable place, and a beer. That's a steal! 

The stage


While waiting for the first performer to start, we looked around to check out the venue even more. There's just something about it that made me want to ask, how is this branch different from the other Felipe and Sons I've seen? And why is a band doing their music video launch at a barber shop? So when I had the chance to have a little chat with the band's vocalist, Jensen Gomez, I just had to ask. Jensen mentioned how the management of Felipe and Sons offered to let the band use their newest branch at Net Quad along 4th Avenue for their launch (the band is an endorser of the barbershop). Along with having a bar inside the shop and their products on display for anyone who would like to purchase, he also noted that this particular branch is the first one that would be offering food as well. So far, it's the only Felipe and Sons that has a kitchen. 

Jensen Gomez of Jensen and the Flips


When asked about their new album, Jensen said they're about 30 to 40 percent done with it and that they are planning to release it sometime in June or July of this year. Now that's something to look forward to after the first album, Honeymoon. I went on to ask about the direction the band wants to go with this album in the works. He mentioned how their sound would be more aggressive compared to the first one. "Tapos na yung honeymoon stage eh." he teased. I can't remember the time when I did not like a song they did. Needless to say, I am pretty excited about these new songs. BDYTLK is just the start. It's the first single of the second album and if anything, I'm sure it will just keep getting better. 

Revive Manila Swagger



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Fun and Learning
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When I was still a college student, I've always wanted to move out of the province and work in Manila. I didn't really know where or when but it has always been the dream.  My fascination and curiosity pushed me to strive harder to achieve that goal. I've always believed that I would be able to maximize my potential in that kind of environment. Where everything's new and different from what I'm used to and that just makes me feel like I finally have a clean slate to prove myself. And Just recently, I've had the opportunity to fulfill that dream. 

I was looking for a job that would fit perfectly with my plans of building a career in Marketing, and fortunately, I was offered one in the heart of BGC. Imagine the joy I felt when I read that email. I immediately made calls to arrange my accommodation and planned everything out. I thought maybe, this is my chance to finally be out of my comfort zone and embrace my independence. I moved from our house in a nearby province to a skyscraper in Taguig City. The difference is remarkable. I was excited, nervous and ecstatic all at the same time. I didn't know a person could feel that all at once. It was definitely a first!

I never thought I'd like waking up with the sun peeking through the curtains of the room. I guess living in the city is transforming me into a morning person. What I love most about living and working in BGC is the fact that I can wake up and won't have to rush to work. I can take my time in getting ready and prepare my mind for the day ahead. It's such a nice treat to also be able to walk to the office and not have to worry about traffic or parking. And after work, I can even walk home slower and appreciate my surroundings. I haven't actually explored everything there is to see in this city and I am looking forward to do that in the coming months. There is absolutely no reason to complain. I finally get to live the long time dream and to actually enjoy what I do for a living, it's truly a blessing. And I am extremely grateful.


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Fun and Learning
newbie

It was a Saturday afternoon, and my daughter and I had no plan of what to do.  After having lunch at TGIF at Bonifacio High Street, we wandered towards the direction of The Mind Museum and stopped to check out some tents set up at Central Square.  It turned out to be an event organized by a cable TV channel to promote their shows. Apart from games stalls, they also had put up a tent for an open air cinema to offer free viewing of movies. We saw some pillows inside the open air cinema and thought they looked mightily comfortable. We thought we did not often have a chance to lie on the floor in Central Square, so we decided to just chill there. Little did we know we would end up in a video that could be shown on TV.

We were there shortly after 1pm, and we were amongst the first people to take up camp in the covered area.  To kill time, we  moved the giant pillows in the covered area in Central Square around, and tried out the best lying positions on different pillows. It was fun at first, but became boring after a while. Then, at around 3pm., a guy started talking through a microphone to what was now an audience of about thirty people sitting or lying on giant pillows on the ground. I think he talked about the purpose of the event, before he introduced to us an speaking guest, a tall, dark, and middle-east looking young man called Nas. People refer to him as Nas Daily, but that is probably just a name for his social media handle. His family name is unknown to us. I found out later from one of his videos that he is a guy what wants to make videos about things that he cares about. He says he does not want to show just tourist places and he does not like to be called a travel blogger.

Nas Daily is a 25 years old guy who used to work for a startup in New York, USA. How did I know his age? Because someone asked about his T-shirt. He wore a T-shirt that he designed himself when he was just 25 years old that shows 32% of life, which means that if he expects to live to 78 years old, then at 25 yrs, he has lived 32% of his life. He felt that putting life in percentage terms is a good way to remind us that it will end at 100%, therefore we need to make every day count. I think he is right.


Nas is an engaging speaker. He speaks eloquently and with energy.  In that event, he used words that are popular with people in their twenties, referring to anything that is terrific as either 'sick' ("is that a hover board? That is so sick!"), or 'insane', but he came across as someone who looks for deeper meaning in the things that he does or sees, and not just someone who is satisfied with posting entertaining pictures or videos alone. That, in my view, sets him apart from many of those of his generation. To give a few examples, when asked what his favorite trip in the Philippines was, in his view it was not any beach or wild life adventure, but his trip to 'garbage mountain' (presumably Payatas' Smoky Mountain). He was sufficiently bothered by it to put it in his videos, which, unlike most travel shows, show not only the pretty side of the places that he has been.

The Miss Universe contest was recently held in the Philippines and it was a big deal here. Nas Daily was apparently invited to attend the event. At the contest, Miss Philippines was asked the question "What do you think was the most significant event that took place in the last decade or so", or something like that. The host of this talk show at Central Square asked Nas the same question. The audience  around me laughed upon hearing the question as they could relate to it. Some of them may have been disappointed that he did not give an entertaining answer. In fact, his answer was quite heavy, considering most people watch his videos to look for travel information. 

Nas poses with fans.

He said the most significant event was the prominent role that social media played in people's life. While this had many good effects, Nas said, he also saw a dark side of this development. He said that social media only showed you things or people that you like. It does not show you people or things that you do not like. People end up only reading about things that they like to read or hear about. Social media has polarized people's opinions. If only Miss Universe candidates could give answers like that. I might even let my daughter watch the contest. Well, not really.

The video below shows how he actually answered the question.


When it came to question time, a fan asked Nas, "I wanna be like you. Travel and take video for a living. Where should I start?' Nas first answered by saying that one should never listen to other people when it comes to how to live our lives, because we are all different. He then said, 'I don't think you should aim to be like me. Don't be like anyone. Be yourself.' Some might say this is so cliché, as in a Meghan Trainor song. But the way he said it made it sound original.  He answered a few more questions, and his replies were all candid and direct, but smart enough not to say anything that could be offensive. 

Before the talk show ended, he asked the audience to join him in making the final video in the Philippines. Since my daughter and I were sitting/lying in the front row (on the most comfortable giant pillows out there), it was easy for us to be included in the video shot. 


My hand is shown in this shot of his last 1-minute video in the Philippines.

He summarized his videos on the Philippines in a short presentation, most of which is captured in this video:


 He did not like the tagline "it is more fun in the Philippines". He prefers "there is more love in the Philippines."  I think many people can agree with that.

Watch Nas Daily videos at FB/nasdaily.

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Kids' Nook
newbie

Last Saturday, I needed to occupy my 9-year old daughter's time so that she would not be watching Youtube all day. After browsing the Fort Upcoming Events page in this website, I brought her to The Mind Museum to take part in the CSI 101 Saturdays activity. 

It was good that I registered online, because the activity charged only P190. Walk-ins have to buy a Museum ticket. The activity required an adult companion for children below 12 years of age, but they did not require a ticket for the adult companion.

Two ladies in their twenties wearing grey lab coats were instructors for the activity. They led the participants to a small table near the entrance of the museum. 

After giving participants a brief description of the case, and a case file containing some information about the case, participants were told that they had 15 minutes to look for four clues in the ground floor exhibition area of The Mind Museum. The case was able a young man who went missing after going to work one day.

Photo: Participants were required to take measurements as well as photos. 

When that was done, we were led to the laboratory on the second floor to study the evidence. Participants were asked whether they thought the suspect was guilty, and if so, what evidence was there to support that view. Through this process, participants got to do some simple laboratory work, such as studying bite marks and calculating body height from the length of a bone found at a possible crime scene.

The most interesting one, for me, was to find out how blood type was determined. Two chemicals in liquid form were mixed with blood sample, and by looking at the appearance of the blood sample afterwards, and comparing them to a guide chart, one could tell which blood type a sample is supposed to belong. Well, that's the theory. Some how, everyone thought the blood sample belonged to type AB when in fact it was a different type. The lesson here is that lab test is not 100% reliable, especially if only one test is done!

Overall, this one hour activity was very educational, although I think more suited for grown up than children, as the case used was a gruesome murder with details that were a little disturbing to children. It was partly my fault as I did not read the full title of the activity, which was "Creepy Clown : Blood, Bones and Bite marks". We will most likely attend another workshop, but next time, I will be more careful!


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Fun and Learning
newbie

Last Saturday, I gatecrashed into a workshop called "Failing Fast: Idea Validation for Startup and New Businesses". I said 'gatecrashed' because I did not pay. It was a whole day workshop but I could not stay for the whole day. But I was very curious about what the workshop can offer to startups. Afterall, I am running a startup of sorts. So I decided to go there and take a look.

The organizer of the workshop was Mr. Carlo Valencia, founder of Startup PH Mentorship, an organization that has the objective to "match new and aspiring founders with mentors and use our experiences to train founders on how to fail fast and build a truly lean startup. All of this we offer to increase their chances of startup success." 

The workshop started at 10am, and when I arrived at around 1:30pm, the workshop was in full swing. I peeked inside a classroom that had groups of four to five people sitting together, and a tall and slightly bald guy was talking and walking amongst the groups. Thinking that the worst that could happen to me was to be asked to get out, I opened the door and walked in. Hey, I am a startup founder. If I could not even do that, I might as well pack my bag, right?

So there I was, walking around a room full of strangers, acting like I was looking for someone to talk to. Then someone asked, "can I help you?" I think I said something like, "I am looking for the organizer of the event. Are you the organizer? Can I talk to you for a minute when you are free? I will wait in the other room." I stepped out and waited in a room that looked like a library or common room, because it had selves of books, as well as some food containers scattered on a few tables. A few minutes later, the tall guy came and introduced himself as the organizer of the event, Carlo Velencia. He was very nice, and did not seem offended by my intrusion to his workshop.

I told him about my purpose, and he generously invited me to sit in his workshop, and even to participate. He explained that his workshop provided a methodological framework for would-be entrepreneurs to test the viability of their business ideas.  The framework was graphically represented by something called a Javelin Board Template. He led me back into the workshop and showed me a blank Javelin Board Template, which, in essence, is a list of questions that an entrepreneur must answer through research and field study in order to assess the viability of his or her business idea.

For example, we need to define who our customers are, what is the problem that our product is planning to solve, what are the assumptions that have to be made for the product to be successful, and identify which of the assumptions is the most risky.  Then we are to conduct tests with potential customers to see if the expected outcome is supported by the test result. I can see how useful this methodology could be for would-be startups, because startup founders can often get ahead of reality when they have an idea that they think will change their life, if not the world.

Photo above: an example of a Javelin board for validating a startup idea

All participants of the workshop were deeply immersed in completing their javelin boards. They were assisted by three mentors including Carlo who went around the tables to help participants answer their concerns. It was a very intimate and dynamic environment. The vibe of hope, drive and thirst for knowledge and success that the participants released at the workshop was quite uplifting. 

After finishing the first part of the javelin boards, participants left the room to find potential customers to validate their ideas using the javelin board methodology. So I had a chance to chat with Carlo and the three other mentors (one of whom only joined near the end). 

Carlo was an energetic guy in his early thirties. When he talked, his voice was deep and confident, and he gestured a lot to give emphasis to what he was saying.

Carlo's idea of starting this workshop came originally from his belief that the startup industry in the Philippines is akin to what the BPO industry was like 10 years ago. It will soon grow exponentially. Carlo came up with the idea of creating a platform for startup entrepreneurs to meet mentors. It is a nice concept, but does not have a revenue model. Then he found out that startup entrepreneurs often do not realize the importance of validating their ideas first, before starting their business. Hence the idea of running workshops like this one.

The anguish of building a startup company was on display in a small way. Based on the number of people who had replied to the invitation, Carlo had purchased food for over twenty people, but only ten turned up. Behold, though, there was another lesson. Carlo said. Next time, I won't hold a workshop on Chinese New Year! a sense of humor is what is needed for all Startup entrepreneurs, as a very high failure rate is part of the nature of a startup company.

I left the workshop before the participants returned. I had something to attend to, but also because I enjoyed finding out about the thoughts behind the workshop rather than the workshop itself. And I think free-riding should be done with restraint, hahaha. From what I had experienced, even though his is the only StartUp Mentorship club that I know about, I think it is pretty awesome.

Learn more about Carlo Valencia and his mentorship program at his Facebook page or that of the mentorship club.

The venue of the workshop, MINT is a college (be it of 'boutique' size) that has an interior design of a co-working space. Very cool.

Photo above is the library in which I waited for the workshop's organizer. Apparently it is also where the participants had lunch.