Feb 7, 2017

Badass Gifts From Cebu You Should Give Your Loved One this Valentine's Month

Love is anarchy for the soul. Inescapable, unpredictable. There are no rules in love. Don't you think your Valentine's Day gift should capture that? If you agree, then this Valentine's Day gift guide is for you! Ditch the flowers and chocolates this month and give your lover something different. Love, after all, is anything but ordinary. 

Here's a list of weird and wonderful gifts guaranteed to leave a lasting impression on your special someone. This is NOT a sponsored post. I have tested these gifts with my own heart and taste buds and am personally recommending them. All of these are proudly made or sold by Cebu-based artists and shops, too, so go ahead and #SupportLocal. 

1. MoFu Cakes 

You've probably come across the question, "What's a MoFu?" on your social media feed. If you still don't know the answer to that, it's time you buy a box of these bad babies and go on a gastronomic journey with your loved one this Valentine's Day! 

So, what's a MoFu? MoFu Cakes are not quite cake and not quite chocolate. They're somewhere in between. They're irreverent, maybe offensive, but very irresistible. I like to think of them as the Samuel L. Jackson of desserts. You don't know what to expect but you have a feeling he is gonna blow you away! 

MoFu Cakes come in a box of ten pieces. They are available in these indulgent flavors and prices: 
MoFu Premium (herbal wine infused *best seller*): PhP 300
MoFu Dark (Philippines Cacao, as bitter as your heart): PhP 220
MoFu Lick (White chocolate sweetness): PhP 200
MoFu Nookies N' Cream (Cookies N' Cream): PhP 300 
MoFu Cakes offer FREE delivery within Cebu City for a minimum order of PhP 500. They also ship nationwide. 

To order, call or text: 0943 402 2499 or visit the Mofu Cakes Facebook page

2. Wines from D+B Wine Shop

Flaunt your refined taste this Valentine's Day by giving your sweetheart a bottle of wine. But don't just settle for anything less than the best, get your wine gift from Cebu's very own D+B Wine Shop! This cozy winery, nestled in The Crossroads in Banilad, has been cited in Sunstar's Best of Cebu list for two consecutive years.

I was invited to a wine tasting for D+B Wine Shop last weekend. Needless to say, I broke my personal resolution not to drink alcohol anymore (but that's another story for another blog post). It couldn't be helped. You don't conquer wine. Wine, like poetry, conquers you.

At the wine tasting, Mr. Gordon Alan Joseph, D+B Wine Shop owner and Netherlands consul, described wine as an adventure. What better way to celebrate Valentine's Day than to go on an adventure with your special someone. If you're feeling extra generous, buy a couple of bottles from D+B Wine Shop and try out various food pairings with your lover.

Don't be afraid to experiment! At the wine tasting, we paired Merlot, Rosé, Pinot Noir and Syrah with lechon, chocolate cake, pizza, barbecue and even ngohiong. There are no rules to wine. Actually there are rules but as in all good things, it's better if you break them ;)

Here are some wine and food pairing suggestions to get you started on your epicurean adventure:

Click image to enlarge

For orders and inquiries, visit the D+B Wine Shop website and Facebook.
They also have a wine hotline! Call or txt them at 0927 649 3170
Or drop by their shop at The Crossroads, Banilad, Cebu City.

3. Hand-Painted Sugar Skulls by Artist Thirdy Daligdig Suralta 

Skulls aren't just for Halloween especially if they are as cute as these sugar skulls by surrealist painter Thirdy Daligdig Suralta! If you don't know what a sugar skull is (I don't like you anymore), they are a common motif in the Mexican celebration Dia de los Muertos. They're traditionally sculpted from sugar cane  or clay and decorated with colorful patterns. Thirdy's sugar skulls are not edible but that should be great news if you want to give a Valentine's day gift that lasts! 

The Cebu-based artist drew inspiration for his skulls from the animated movie, "The Book of Life," (a sweet film to watch for Valentine's Day, by the way. You're welcome). A collaboration between Thirdy and his cousin, fellow artist Christian Jay Sotto, the sugar skulls are meticulously hand painted and crafted with love. 

These sugar skulls will look great on a bookshelf, bedside table or as a paperweight or table centerpiece. Give them as a gift to symbolize your undying love!

Each skull is priced at PhP 1,400. For orders and inquiries, contact Mr. Karl Roque via Facebook.
Check out Thirdy Daligdig Suralta's other work on his Facebook Page and Intagram

4. Tickets to a Spoken Word Event 

Don't just Netflix and chill this February, you're more creative than that! Take your lover out on a date and experience Cebu's bustling poetry and spoken word scene together! Almost Poets Society, the guys who brought you last year's Valentine's gig, "HUGOT," the PDEA-collaboration "Adik sa Gugma, Dili sa Droga" and the cheeky poetry and live art show, "HUBO," are back with their first spoken word event for 2017. 

In "EVOL: An Anti-Valentine's Day Event," Almost Poets Society will poke lighthearted fun at what it means to love and ache in 2017. Not just a poetry event, EVOL will also feature musical performances by rock bands The Mock and Foldstripe and the musical debut of Mi Amor. But, don't just sit there and watch the show! EVOL will have an open mic for guests, the perfect opportunity to read your poem and profess your love to the object of your desire. 

EVOL will be on February 11, 8 PM at Kukuk's Nest - Lahug. Tickets are PhP100 each and each ticket comes with a FREE custom-made bookmark. 

Txt  +63 918 226 7205 for reservations and visit the official EVOL event page for more information.
Follow Almost Poets Society on Facebook for updates on poetry and spoken word events.

Oct 4, 2016

Advocacy: Let's Talk About Our Thyroid

My mom was recently diagnosed with hyperthyroidism; she's currently taking medication for it and is managing well. I didn’t really know much about thyroid diseases before my mom brought it up so when I was invited to "Unmasking Your Thyroid," a bloggers' forum and awareness campaign, I took it as a good opportunity to learn more about the thyroid. 

Millions of Filipinos are affected by thyroid problems. Unfortunately, very few are well-informed about it. “Unmasking Your Thyroid” was initiated by Merck Inc. as a means to educate and disseminate information about the thyroid gland and the disorders that affect it. 

The Cebu leg of the awareness campaign was held at Radisson Blu on September 29, 2016. Dr. April Melody Abcede of the Philppine Society of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism conducted a very edifying discussion followed by an interactive question and answer segment. 

Here are some important things I learned from the boggers' forum. 

What is the thyroid gland and why should we take it seriously? 

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped organ found in the neck. It is responsible for secreting hormones that regulate growth, development and metabolism. According to a study conducted by the Philippine Society of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, one in every 12 Filipino adults suffers from some form of thyroid disorder. Having a dysfunctional thyroid can have many adverse effects on your health and well-being. 

Am I at risk?

You might be at risk for thyroid diseases if you:
  • Have a family history of thyroid problems
  • Have iodine deficiency
  • Have an autoimmune disease (like type 1 diabetes)
  • Are over the age of 50
  • Have had thyroid surgery
  • Have Down's or Turner's syndrome
  • Have prior history of exposure to radiation 
  • Are of Asian or Caucasian descent

What are the symptoms of thyroid disease? 

Thyroid dysfunctions happen when the gland produces too much (hyperthyroidism) or too little (hypothyroidism) thyroid hormones. 

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include: · 
  • hyperactive metabolism · 
  • heart palpitations ·
  • insomnia 
  • mood swings
  • heat intolerance
  • hand tremors 
Symptoms of hypothyroidism include: ·
  • slower metabolism · 
  • tiredness · 
  • irregular menstrual periods 
  • cold intolerance · 
  • muscle cramps 
  • fatigue 

Take this online symptoms checker for more information on the symptoms of this disease.

It is important to note that thyroid disease is complex and requires a variety of approaches for accurate diagnosis. If you suspect you might have it, visit a specialist to get the proper tests. 

Prevention is better than cure 

There are many treatment options available for thyroid diseases like medication, surgery and radioactive iodine therapy. However, it is still best if you are proactive about your health. It will save you a ton of time, money and effort if you take preventive measures. 

Various institutions have created initiatives to address thyroid disease such as the salt iodination by The World Health Organization. The Philippines also has an existing Salt Law that requires all manufacturers of food-grade salt to iodize their salt products. 

On a personal level, educating yourself will go a long way in the fight against thyroid disorders. Take time to research and understand the risks associated with this disease. Don’t wait until it’s late before you take care of your thyroid and your overall health. 

A good source of information on the thyroid gland and thyroid disorders is www.thyroid.ph. The website also includes a questionnaire that you can use for checking signs and symptoms.

Sep 29, 2016

Baguio, off the beaten path

Only six hours away from the urban maze of Manila yet Baguio feels like a different country with its own climate and geography. The so-called summer capital of the Philippines is sprawled atop a mountain, a city perpetually cloaked in fog and mist. Its pine-fringed streets and cold weather offer a much welcome respite from the sweltering heat permeating the rest of the Philippines. 

I went to Baguio for the first time this year with my mom who was visiting from Australia. We had just finished a guided tour in Ilocos. For Baguio we ditched a fixed itinerary and decided to wing it, go with the flow, #YOLO. 

I love Baguio, every bit and every bite of it. I loved it so much I impulsively considered moving there, much to my mom’s horror but that is another story for another day. We saw the usual touristy spots – the strawberry farm, Camp John Hay, Burnham Park, the Mansion, Mines View Park – but I won’t be writing about them here. Instead, I’ll write about the lesser known nooks and crannies that made the trip a little more offbeat, a little more magical.

Check out Mt. Cloud Bookshop 

Mt. Cloud Book Shop is a family-owned bookstore on Session Road that specializes in Philippine literature, books from independent authors and books from small publishers. This place, a serendipitous discovery, has a history as colorful as the stories on their shelves. I could really tell the owners love books and if you do, too, then you should definitely drop by. Who knows what you’ll find or who you’ll meet at Mt. Cloud Book Shop!

Mt. Cloud Bookshop
Casa Vallejo, Upper Session Road
Baguio City

Facebook: facebook.com/mtcloud
Official Website: mtcloudbookshop.com

Enjoy the food and view at Oh My Gulay 

Many of my friends recommended Oh My Gulay when I asked them for food spots in Baguio. This place was certainly a pleasant surprise. I didn’t expect it to be hidden at the top floor of an otherwise ordinary building. And I didn’t expect it to look like a small Hobbit town with little bridges and gardens and ponds. I fell in love with the place and I fell in love with the food and that you could eat while enjoying a breathtaking view of the cityscape and mountains.

Oh My Gulay
La Azotea Building
108 Session Road, Baguio City 

Facebook: facebook.com/ohmygulaybaguio

Explore Tam-Awan Village 

Tam-Awan Village is many things. It is part gallery that showcases local art, part café and part model settlement that recreates what life is like in a traditional Cordillera village. I had an awesome time exploring the different reconstructed huts and houses and immersing in the local art scene. The exhibits at Tam-Awan Village are testament to the ingenuity of Filipino craftsmanship and creativity. Visit this place if you love learning about history and culture.

Tam-Awan Village
366-C Pinsao Proper
Baguio City

Official website: www.tam-awanvillage.com
Facebook: facebook.com/Tamawaninternational

Drink a warm beverage at Tsokolateria 

Tsokolateria was another unexpected discovery and a very sweet one at that. This artisan shop specializes in chocolate products so, obviously, I, with my insatiable sweet tooth, was thoroughly delighted. Tsokolateria offers exciting variations to the tsokolate, a traditional Filipino beverage made from tablea. Drop by here when the Baguio weather becomes too cold and you feel like enjoying a warm drink.

Tsokolateria Artisanal Cafe
Igorot Stairs, Upper Session Road
Baguio City

Facebook: facebook.com/happyconceptgroup

Been to Baguio? What other places would you add to this list?

May 31, 2016

Music, moshpits and mayhem at Pulp Summer Slam 16

It wasn't until arriving at Amoranto Stadium in Quezon City that I realized they weren't exaggerating when they said "biggest metal music fest in Southeast Asia." The place was packed with people. People dressed in black. From the bleachers they looked like ants, swarming, slam-dancing in an organized sort of chaos, the way ants do around crumbs of food. The food, in this case, was music.

Pulp Summer Slam is an annual music festival organized by Philippine-based, music-centric publication, Pulp Magazine. It is the largest and longest-running metal fest in South East Asia. I first heard about Pulp Summer Slam some years ago from a friend and fellow writer, a Manileño and old-school rocker who shared my penchant for the kind of music  your mother wouldn't sing to you. I've been itching to go ever since.

Ecstatic doesn't even begin to describe my feeling when I found out last February that Lacuna Coil was one of the eight international acts headlining Pulp Summer Slam 16. I've been listening to the Italian gothic metal band since high school. I forged some of my closest friendships over Lacuna Coil and mix CDs of their songs. It was undeniably a sign from the metal gods that this year would be my initiation into The Slam.

On April 30, I braved boisterous crowds and the hellfire that is the Philippine summer. For what? I'm not entirely sure. I normally hate crowds and raucous public events. But my normal self also feels, most of the time, like an outsider looking in. So my normal self hungers perpetually for adventure and connection and sensory experience. These are the things that move me out of my mind. These are things that I sought and found at the moshpits of Pulp Summer Slam 16, in the heady swirl of music and mayhem.

My takeaway from the experience, because there's always a takeaway, is this: beneath the chaos and carousing, the slam dancing and smoke, our politics and predilections, we are all just ephemeral creatures in search of something - a voice, meaning, connections. And, sometimes, diving head first into the depths of human experience is what it takes to find that something.

Pulp Summer Slam 16 lineup:

Lacuna Coil / Belphegor / We Are Harlot / Veil of Maya / I Killed the Prom Queen / Protest the Hero / Act of Defiance / Volumes / Greyhoundz / Slapshock / Razorback / Kjwan / Wilabaliw / Insekto Pares

For updates on future Pulp Summer Slam events, follow the official Pulp Magazine Website and their Facebook Page

Apr 10, 2016

Fleshcrawl Bar Tour | A Photo Diary

I'm most alive
and most free
when I'm at the
center of it
chaos and poetry

Some photos I took at a metal gig headlined by Fleshcrawl last January.