Cebu: Vacation and #BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy

Hello, WordPress followers! If you also follow me on Twitter, Instagram and Litsy, then you would know that I was on vacation on Cebu for a few days. Cebu is one of the provinces in the Visayas region in the Philippines, and I went to Moalboal and Cebu City. It was my first time in Cebu and I had a great time! Also realized that the last time I traveled on a domestic flight was in 2011 when I went to Bohol. I’m hoping to be able to do more local travel in the near future. While I was in Cebu, I was able to do some #BuwanNgMgaAkdangPinoy posts so I’m including those in this update.

In Moalboal, we stayed at the gorgeous Hale Manna resort, which is owned by Liana’s family. Liana blogs at Will Read for Feels and I met her through the circle of romance readers in the Philippines. It never ceases to amaze me at how I keep meeting awesome bookish people, both online and in real life. I was able to meet with Liana while in Cebu, first at Moalboal and then we traveled together back to Cebu City. Here are some pictures of Hale Manna in Moalboal, swipe left to see all of them:

In Cebu City, first stop was Liana’s book cafe called Books and Brews. I love book cafes and if I lived in Cebu, I would definitely be a regular in this one. The cafe has an extensive selection of books written by Filipino and foreign authors which you can read while hanging out at the place. It’s also cozy and comfortable and a good place to study or work in, if you would prefer not to read.

When I was researching on what places I’d like to visit in Cebu, I knew I would want to check out ancestral houses if there were any in the area. We got to visit two of them: Casa Gorordo and Yap-Sandiego House. I’m a sucker for historic places and these two were a pleasure to view. They’re both typical “balay na tisa” or “bahay na bato”, built in the 1800’s with a mix of Spanish, Chinese and Filipino influences.

We also got to see Museo Sugbo, which is Cebu’s provincial museum. It was previously a provincial jail but has been converted to showcase the history of the province.

Last, but certainly not the least was getting to try the food options in Cebu that aren’t available in Manila! I loved both The Chocolate Chamber and AA Barbecue, and I’m sure you’ll be able to tell why based on these pictures:

I hope you guys enjoyed this update post. I had an amazing time in Cebu but it’s always good to be home in Manila. πŸ™‚ If you’ve been to Cebu, please feel free to share your own experience. Also, would be happy to hear suggestions on what ancestral houses in the country should be included in my bucket list. For those who haven’t been to Cebu, I hope I’ve made you more curious about the province, and that you’ll get to visit it eventually.

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Book Hungry vs. Book Full

As a book lover, I think I usually have two modes when it comes to book acquisition: book full vs. book hungry. Book full means that I feel like I have way too many books in my TBR pile and I would never be able to read all of them (and that’s okay, I wrote a blog post about that years ago). While book hungry means I feel like I do NOT have enough books or that I need more because I don’t feel like reading the ones that I already own. In another older blog post, I shared this quote which nicely sums up why we keep hoarding books:

β€œOf course anyone who truly loves books buys more of them than he or she can hope to read in one fleeting lifetime. A good book, resting unopened in its slot on a shelf, full of majestic potentiality, is the most comforting sort of intellectual wallpaper.” – David Quammen

Whenever I’m book hungry, I’d go buy one or two books that I REALLY, REALLY want. Enough to justify a purchase when I already have such a huge TBR pile. Nowadays, I try to control my book buying tendencies by only getting physical copies of either signed books or graphic novels. Those are the only titles I allow myself to get, because I can get the rest in ebook format. I’ve noticed that I don’t really go book hungry that often anymore because I always just one-click Kindle deals or freebies whenever I come across them. πŸ˜›

When I’m feeling extremely book full, that’s when I want to pass on physical copies of my books either to friends, a book drive or a book cafe. I did a somewhat ruthless culling of my bookshelves last year because I hated that my books were sitting unread in my bookshelves in Manila while I was in Singapore. And it’s not like they would stay in good condition forever, foxing and yellowing is a constant problem in a hot and humid country like the Philippines. Some of my friends in real life got a huge TBR pile because of it, and I also donated some books to a book cafe and a book drive.

I thought my pile of books has gone down to a more manageable size after last year’s cull but I was feeling book full again as I unpacked the books that I sent home from Singapore to Manila. If only I could convert these books into ebooks so I can save them in my Kindle! Then I wouldn’t have to worry about the space they occupy or that their pages have foxing and yellowing. So again with the culling, and I tried be ruthless again by telling myself that I need to give up even the books that I haven’t read because if I’ve had them for more than three years and I still haven’t read them, then it’s unlikely that I ever will. It’s not always easy to give up books especially when you don’t have access to good public libraries, but I think I’ve gotten to the point where I know that if I want to read something, I’ll find a way to get it (e.g. buy another edition so I can read it on my Kindle or borrow a copy from a friend). Also, I keep thinking that someone else might enjoy these books instead of them sitting ignored in my shelves. So here’s another pile that have gone to a friend’s book cafe in Cebu:

book donation August 2017

And here’s a section of my shelves after the cull, the books are randomly arranged wherever they could fit because I didn’t have the energy to arrange them properly:

Manila bookshelf August 2017

I think it looks pretty. πŸ™‚ I haven’t decided if I’m done with culling or if I should go through the books that I’ve already read and think about passing them on to other friends. For now, I’m glad I was able to pass on a significant number of them. What about you, do you cull your bookshelves on a regular basis or you keep your books forever? Let me know in the comments because it’s interesting to hear what other readers’ habits are.

The Reading Room Cafe

I first found out about The Reading Room book cafe in Singapore from an Instagram post. I’ve been visiting book cafes in Manila and was pleasantly surprised to discover that there are some cafes in Singapore that have a similar set-up. Of course, any cafe can become a reading cafe as long as I have a book or my Kindle with me. But it just feels comforting to hang out in a place that’s filled with books. So that was what I ended up doing on a Sunday afternoon.

The Reading Room SG - outside

The Reading Room SG - inside

The Reading Room SG - artwork

I try to stick to the same size of pictures when I upload them here on the blog and because of this, the resolution is a little better on my Instagram account. You can see the pictures here, here and here. Not posted on Instagram but I thought I’d share the meal that I had, which was a brunch set and Himalayan salt coffee:

The Reading Room - brunch

The Reading Room - coffee

It’s a cozy cafe that’s easy to get to, because it’s within walking distance of a train station. The chairs are comfy, the lighting is good and the music isn’t too distracting. So I was able to read a bit after finishing off the food that I ordered. Will definitely keep coming back to this cafe. πŸ™‚

How about you, how did you spend your weekend? As always, I’m in denial that the weekend is over and will try to squeeze in some reading time before going to bed.

Other book cafes I’ve visited:
Tweedle Book Cafe, posts here and here
Book and Borders Cafe
Cool Beans Cafe

Tweedle Book Cafe on a Friday Night

I’m back in Singapore soil but still behind on blog posts so I have a few more Manila-related posts that will (hopefully) go up in the coming days. I’ve been meaning to visit Tweedle Book Cafe again after my initial visit last December. So when friends asked me last Friday where I wanted to meet for dinner, I suggested this place. You know you’re a book nerd when you bring your friends to a book cafe on a Friday night. Woohoo, reading party! I’ve been encouraging them to read more so I wanted them to experience a book cafe. πŸ™‚

Tweedle Book Cafe - May 2016 - long table

Dinner (TWG first edition tea, salpicao with egg and kimchi) and signed copies of Agay Llanera’s books:

Tweedle Book Cafe - May 2016 - dinner

Only Vintage Love is mine, given by Chris Mariano as a gift back when it was launched and recently signed by the author when I met her in person. I’ve yet to read it! The rest are copies I got for my friends Ena, Chuchay and Mich to read and share. These three have inherited and borrowed books from me before, and were also super excited to get signed books as Christmas gifts last year. I love it when real life overlaps with my book blogging life.

Here are #romanceclass books available at the cafe:

Tweedle Book Cafe - May 2016 - romanceclass

Delicious hot chocolate infused with hibiscus, made in Cebu by The Chocolate Chamber. Served in a pretty tea cup:

Tweedle Book Cafe - May 2016 - hot chocolate

Last but certainly not the least, I brought books that I wanted to pass on with me. Unread books are sad books so I’ve been passing on physical copies of my books because they just get neglected in Manila while I’m in Singapore. Some of these I’ve read, some I’m not planning to read anytime soon. Most of them have pages that have started foxing (getting brown spots) and yellowing because of heat and humidity, even when they’ve been stored in a bookshelf with a glass cover:

Foxing - donated books

I didn’t want them to waste away so I thought it would be better to pass them on. The upright ones on the left went to my friend Ena, the right-most stack went to my friend Chuchay and the two stacks in the middle were donated to the cafe. You can visit the cafe and read those books if you wanted to.

Tweedle Book Cafe - May 2016 - donated books

I think it was a Friday well spent. I was back in Tweedle a week later, but only to drop off more books to be donated. I passed by the cafe right before heading to the airport for my flight back to Singapore. This was the stash I donated:

Tweedle Book Cafe - May 2016 - more donated books

I’m glad book cafes are becoming more of a thing in Manila. They aren’t as common in Singapore but I believe that’s because Singapore has a pretty good public library system, something that the Philippines doesn’t have. Obviously I want these book cafes to flourish, which is why I will try to keep donating books whenever I can. πŸ™‚

#romanceclass Meet Up at Books and Borders

According to the group’s website, #romanceclass are Filipinos who read and write romance and publish them independently. I know a few of the members through my blog and I’ve been jealous of all the meet-ups and activities that they’ve been having on a regular basis. Which was why I was thrilled to find out that there was going to be a meet up during the time I’m on vacation in Manila. We met last May 21 at the Books and Borders branch in Tomas Morato. A book cafe is the perfect location for a meet up with romance readers and authors. Here’s a picture of the cafe from my previous visit:

Book and Borders - tables

Book and Borders - couch

We talked about books, of course. From romance to everything else that we’ve read or we’re planning to read. We talked about the type of romances and type of heroes we like. And we also talked about the most random things, just anything that we could think of. We also passed around books and swag that we wanted to pass on to fellow readers. Being based in Singapore, I don’t get to attend bookish meet ups like this as often as I would want to, so I was somewhat starved for that kind of conversation. I think it goes without saying that I had a great time! Here’s a group picture from Kat of Book Thingo:

romanceclass meet up - May 2016

From left to right: Agay, Chris, Kim, Anna, Kat, Mina, Jothee, Tina, Ron and me. We all look like we’re having fun, right? My haul included signed books, a magazine, bookmarks, postcards, shortbread and Philippine MANGOES! Thank you for the goodies, friends. πŸ™‚

#romanceclass - May 2016 haul

I also just wanted to share the awesomeness that is the back cover of Choco Chip Hips by Agay Llanera, which includes a quote from my review of the book:

Choco Chip Hips - back copy

Too bad it’s a limited indie edition and there probably wouldn’t be more copies of it. I bought three to give to my friends! πŸ˜€

Book and Borders Cafe

Book and Borders was one of three book cafes that I visited during my trip back home in Manila for Christmas. The other two were Tweedle Book Cafe and Cool Beans Cafe. I’ve been back in Singapore for a week and I’m still trying to catch up on work and chores so I haven’t been able to post this sooner.

Like I said in my earlier book cafe posts, I think it’s awesome that more and more book cafes are popping up in Manila, and that I was able to visit three of them in a short span of time. Will keep my fingers crossed that I get to visit more of them the next time I come home.

Book and Borders was the biggest book cafe out of the three that I saw. And it felt more commercialized than the other two, like it had a similar feel to Starbucks or Coffee Bean instead of a cozy indie cafe. Still, it seemed like a good place for any reader to hang out in.

Book and Borders - entrance

Book and Borders - couch

Book and Borders - tables

Book and Borders - B&B

Here are the books in their YA section:
Book and Borders - YA section

They also had bookish items on sale at the cafe:
Book and Borders - necklaces

Book and Borders - mugs

The food that we ordered:

Book and Borders - chicken

Grilled chicken

Book and Borders - grilled cheese

Grilled cheese sandwich

Book and Borders - drink

Some kind of iced coffee that had frozen cream

While I didn’t really do any reading in these book cafes, I still had fun checking them out. If I was still based in Manila, I’m pretty sure I’d be visiting these book cafes often. I should also search for book cafes in Singapore, I’ve heard of at least one here.

Cool Beans Cafe

As mentioned in yesterday’s Tweedle Book Cafe post, I have been able to visit other book cafes in Metro Manila during this trip. I really like the trend of book cafes popping up all over the metro, and I’m sure I would hang out at these locations on a regular basis if I was still based in Manila. One of the cafes that I’ve been wanting to visit for a while now is Cool Beans Cafe, which I discovered when I watched the Filipino romantic comedy English Only, Please. Some scenes from the movie were shot in that location. I visited Cool Beans with my mom when we found ourselves in that area one evening.

Cool Beans - sign

Cool Beans - bookshelf

Bookshelves with comfy couches in front of them

Cool Beans - bookshelf 2

Cool Beans - bookshelf plus couch

Cool Beans - national geographic

Cool Beans - food

Dinner was Vigan longganisa penne and herb-crusted creamy dory

To be honest, I was surprised with how small the place was. We were lucky that we even got a table. I guess part of the charm of the cafe is its coziness. I definitely would have loved this cafe as a student! Given the size of the place, I’m not really sure if it’s a location where you can stay and read for hours. I’d say it’s worth a visit if you’re into book cafes (like I am).

Bookish Meet Up at Tweedle Book Cafe

Tweedle Book Cafe - counter

I briefly mentioned in my earlier post about shopping for books in Manila that I was able to attend a meet up with bookish friends at Tweedle Book Cafe. Last Sunday, December 20th, I met up with authors Mina V. Esguerra (with her husband and daughter), Tina Matanguihan, my friend Kim and newfound friend Jothee. Author Agay Llanera also stopped by just to drop off some presents, which was very thoughtful of her! πŸ™‚

Tweedle Book Cafe - shelf

First of all, I thought Tweedle Book Cafe was the perfect choice for book lovers like us so thank you, Mina, for suggesting it. As expected, most of the discussions were about books that we’ve read and wanted to recommend. We also talked about the book scene in the Philippines right now, like how there are more and more books being published and also how Filipino ReaderCon was a bigger event than it was when it first started. It was a very casual and laidback get together so I wasn’t able to note down all the topics that we discussed. What I’ll remember was that it was fun to be able to meet up with bookish friends in person and to talk about books. Makes me wish that I also have real life meet ups with bookish people in Singapore.

Tweedle Book Cafe - ceiling

Ceiling with a list of authors

Tweedle Book Cafe - other bookshelf

Bookshelf near the cafe’s entrance

We were too busy talking that we forgot to take a group pic with everyone in it! I think we have one in someone else’s phone camera. Here’s a fangirl pic of me sandwiched between Agay and Mina:

Tweedle Book Cafe - Agay Llanera and Mina V. Esguerra

With Agay Llanera and Mina V. Esguerra

And I got presents! Thanks to Kim, Mina and Agay. πŸ™‚

Tweedle Book Cafe - book haul
Signed copies of:
Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare
What You Wanted by Mina V. Esguerra (my review)
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith (my review)
This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

I also took pictures of the food that I had at the cafe:

Tweedle Book Cafe - omelette

Omelette with longganisa (Filipino sausage)

Tweedle Book Cafe - pancakes

Pancakes

Tweedle Book Cafe - hot chocolate

Locally made hot chocolate infused with jasmine

Because it was a bookish meet up at a bookish location, of course I had to wear my bookish skirt:
Tweedle Book Cafe - OOTD

I need more bookish outfits! I’ve visited a few more book cafes in Manila since this meet up happened, so watch this space for more updates.