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.

Advertisements

Book Drive: #AReaderEveryDay in Manila

bookbed and When In Manila currently have an ongoing book drive to benefit the Suit Elementary School in Dagupan City, Pangasinan through The Storytelling Project (TSP). TSP is a non-government organization that shares the same advocacy of spreading the habit of reading. They implement a three-phase program: 1) month-long storytelling sessions, 2) library project, and 3) reading club formation.

The school, which is now on Phase II, accepts children’s books, young adult books, reference books for kids and teens and activity books, provided they are in good condition. I believe they are accepting donations until the end of June.

Donations may be dropped off at the establishments listed below:

  • Z Hostel at 5660 Don Pedro Street, Makati City
  • The Learning Library at 2F, 41 Esteban Abada Street, Quezon City
  • Tweedle Book Cafe at 106B Sct. Gandia, Quezon City
  • Tambayan Capsule Hostel at 607 Bocobo Street, Malate, Manila
  • Diner on 16th at 16 United St. Brgy. Kapitolyo, Pasig (Behind Uncle Moe’s)

areadereveryday-in-manila

You can also visit posts from both bookbed and When In Manila. For more information and other inquiries about #AReaderEveryDay, please e-mail sky.wheninmanila@gmail.com or hello@bookbed.org with the campaign project β€œ#AReaderEveryDay” as the subject.

I’m happy to report that I was able to share some of my own books to this book drive before flying back to Singapore. I was worried I wouldn’t have time to do it but I was able to squeeze it in at the last minute. I dropped by Tweedle Book Cafe on my way to the airport and left these books with them (about half for the cafe and half for the book drive):

May 2016 - books donated

If you’re in Manila, I hope you can pass on some of your used books to #AReaderEveryDay.

Snapshot from a Book: Loveless. Childless. Clueless.

Another delayed post from me! I’ve been back in Singapore for a week now but was too busy starting at the new job so I wasn’t able to finish all the updates from my Manila trip. I had forgotten how lonely and awkward the first few days/weeks in a new job are, when you are still Clueless and Friendless (going by similar descriptors to the title of the book featured in this post). I’m sure it will get better though. πŸ™‚ I hope I’ll have more time to read and blog once I’m more settled into my new role.

Anyway, Snapshot From a Book is a sporadic feature that I have on my blog where I match snippets of books I’ve read with pictures I’ve taken. I rarely get to do this because I don’t always get to visit the settings of the books I read. I have been wanting to visit Pinto Art Museum for the longest time, just that I haven’t been able to do so because it’s in the outskirts of Manila and traffic is always bad whenever I go home for a long vacation (because it’s usually at Christmastime). Luckily, I was able to venture to Antipolo during my recent trip! Pinto Art Museum such a gorgeous museum, garden, park, ideal photo shoot venue all rolled into one. If it was nearer to our house, I would have definitely visited it more than once. There’s a scene in Filipino romance Loveless. Childless. Clueless. by Miren B. Flores that’s set in that place, and of course I remembered it when I got there. Some shots that I took and two snippets from the book:

Pinto Art Museum 1

Pinto Art Museum 2

The museum is inside a gated community (we find out later that it used to be the home of a doctor who was a patron of the arts), nestled on top of a hill far away from the city. The walls are white stucco, rough and unadorned, cool to the touch.

We enter one of the galleries. Against white walls, the colors and textures in the modern paintings are stark, vibrant. There are swirls of midnight blue and dark purple, an ocean angry, tempestuous. A small canvas looks like the scene of a violent crime, a human heart beaten to a pulp, the words “You broke me” splattered over torn arteries.

Nice. Several months ago, I could’ve painted this.

Long arcades give us views of courtyards with little fountains. Curved staircases with colorful tiles lead to roof decks with wrought iron chairs and the occasional daybed; terra cotta steps reveal gardens dotted with sculptures.

I am half-expecting a Mexican drug lord to emerge from behind a tree, a Cuban cigar in one hand, the reins of a polo pony in the other.

Pinto Art Museum 3

Pinto Art Museum 4

Pinto Art Museum 5

Pinto Art Museum 7

Pinto Art Museum 6

Her hair is long, tight curls billowing around her shoulders. Her head is bowed, her face empty save for a small, upturned nose. Vines are crawling up her legs and thighs, wrapping themselves around her swollen belly.

The wind in her hair, the grace with which her hands touch her belly – it all looks so real, so warm, I can’t believe she’s made of metal.

Pinto Art Museum 8

Just looking at these pictures makes me want to go back! I hope I can find something as lovely as Pinto Art Museum in Singapore. Oh and by the way, I don’t have a physical copy of Lovesless. Childless. Clueless. so I asked my friend to bring the copy I gave her for Christmas last year. I knew I had to take a shot of it with that sculpture in the background.

Previous Snapshot From a Book posts:
Anawangin Cove, Zambales, What You Wanted by Mina V. Esguerra
Prague, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Ateneo de Manila University, Interim Goddess of Love by Mina V. Esguerra
Paris, The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand
Paris, The Chocolate Thief

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™‚

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.

Snapshot From a Book: What You Wanted

Snapshot From a Book is a sporadic feature that I have on my blog where I match snippets of books I’ve read with pictures I’ve taken. I rarely get to do this because I don’t always get to visit the settings of the books I read. And interestingly, all of my posts so far have featured my lomography shots. Today’s feature is What You Wanted by Mina V. Esguerra. This Filipino romance is primarily set in Manila but the couple takes a trip to Anawangin in Zambales. I’ve been to Anawangin twice and it’s beautiful, which is why I’m choosing to share pictures of it.

I hope these snippets and pictures make you more curious about the book!

lomo Anawangin boat

“Have you ever been to Anawangin?” I’d asked, suddenly.

Hours later, we were there. It was a bright, beautiful day. The drive north felt effortless, even if we had little sleep. We checked into a resort along the beach in Zambales, left the car and our heavier things there, and then hired a small boat to take us to the island.

This was something I did, by the way. Take off, no plans, do something crazy. Not everyone was up for it; my sister had long since asked to be left out of the invite list, my parents only requested that wherever it was, it should have phones or a decent signal. Damon didn’t even blink when he said yes, and he packed like a pro. I had the advantage of having been there before, but with a group of friends.

ZambalesLomo3

We couldn’t spend the night on the island, although that was what other people did. No tent, no other supplies, so we asked our boat guy to pick us up later that afternoon. There were a few other groups of people there, mostly friends setting up camp, and we had to find a spot near the water where we could be as broody as we wanted. The view was spectacular – a wonderfully confused cove of pine trees, green hills, and white-gray sand. Perfect for reflecting on our sins.

ZambalesLomo5

ZambalesLomo6

Anawangin, Zambales, Philippines
October 2011
Camera: Vivitar Ultra Wide & Slim
Film: Fuji Velvia and Fuji Sensia

Previous Snapshot From a Book posts:
Prague, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
Ateneo de Manila University, Interim Goddess of Love by Mina V. Esguerra
Paris, The Chocolate Touch by Laura Florand
Paris, The Chocolate Thief

Cover Reveal: This Side of Sunny by Agay Llanera

I thoroughly enjoyed the first Agay Llanera book that I ever read, which was her YA novel Choco Chip Hips.Β It’s on my best of 2015 Filipino reads, and I even nominated it for the Cybils (because yay Filipino books). So when Agay mentioned that she’s working on another book that will be released in December, I was immediately curious. Here’s the cover (designed by Gerry Isaac) and book summary for her next title, This Side of Sunny:

This Side of Sunny

Like her boyfriend back in the States, 18-year-old Mela Connor is spending Spring Break by the beach. But the difference is she’s spending it on an exotic island in the Philippines, where she’ll spend the next six days finding her estranged mother, of whom she has no memory. In the process, Mela meets her self-appointed tour guide, Paolo, who helps Mela make amends with her past while struggling not to fall in love with her.

____________________________

What a bright and eye-catching cover! It’s definitely the type of cover design that would make you take a second look to check out the details. Based on the summary, it looks like the cover matches the story. It has a vacation/summer vibe going for it, with the suitcase, scooter and halo-halo (a type of Filipino snack). It makes me curious whether these things will play a part in Mela’s journey. Good thing the book will be released soon because I’m looking forward to reading this.

What do you guys think of this cover?

Reading by the Beach: Pico de Loro Cove

I haven’t been to the beach in YEARS and then suddenly got the chance to go two weekends in a row. Being a book blogger, I think it’s a given that one of my favorite things to do is read by the beach and I wanted to share some pictures from my trips. The week before last, I went home to Manila for a visit and was able to go on a road trip with girlfriends (ala Open Road Summer) to a beach a few hours away from the metro: Pico de Loro Cove at Hamilo Coast in Nasugbu, Batangas.

Pico de Loro - Beauty and the Beast

I was looking for comfy flip-flops for the beach when I came across these Beauty and the Beast-themed slippers by Ipanema. Of course, I had to get them! And they inspired me to reread one of my favorite fairy tale retellings, Beauty by Robin McKinley.

Pico de Loro - Beauty

I think it’s always fun to read at the beach. I can spend a whole day just lazing around – sunbathing, swimming and reading – by the beach. What about you, do you also enjoy reading at the beach? Are there any particular types of books that you consider good beach reads?

More pictures of Pico de Loro: endless blue, beach umbrellas, moscato, shuttle, greenery, jellyfish sign, pool.

Snapshot From a Book: Interim Goddess of Love

I’ve mentioned before that Mina V. Esguerra’s setting for her Interim Goddess of Love trilogy (my reviews of Interim Goddess of Love, Queen of the Clueless, Icon of the Indecisive) strongly reminds me of our alma mater – Mina and I went to the same school. I’ve also posted pictures of the Ateneo de Manila University but I wanted to do it again now while highlighting certain sections out of Interim Goddess of Love for this Snapshot From a Book post. I have such fond memories of studying in Ateneo – I met some of my closest friends there, had inspiring teachers and classes, enjoyed extra-curricular activities and just generally liked hanging out in school. Reading the Interim Goddess of Love books brought back some of those memories. Here are a few quotes and photos:

“Located just outside of Metro Manila, Ford River College was a relatively new school (compared to the over-a-century-old ones put up during the Spanish and American periods), but it already had a reputation for being the place to send your children if they were very smart, or if you were very rich. I was there on scholarship, but I didn’t think that automatically put me in the camp of very smart. Maybe lucky.”

LomoAteneo

“Did I want to go to Ford River? I visited the campus and it looked beautiful, its brick buildings scattered in a field of green that looked out onto an actual (clean) creek on one side, and a hill on the other. I went to high school in the middle of Manila, and maybe I’d had enough of that.”

LomoAteneo2

lomoateneo4

This last bit is not related to the setting but it’s a beautiful quote so I wanted to include it:

β€œBecause, though I’d seen and felt just a fraction of all the love in the world, I knew that when people thought of love they thought of moments. Whether or not a marriage worked out, or if they stayed together after graduation, or if they did go to the big dance together, the story’s end mattered less, and the highlights in between mattered more. Those are what lingered, and what people can go back to, even when they had nothing left.”

lomoateneo5

Happy Independence Day, Philippines

June 12 is the Independence Day of the Philippines and there are some things going around the interwebs related to this. On Twitter, Paolo Chikiamco is hosting the #RP612fic hashtag. Learn more about it from Paolo’s intro post. Alexa and Rachel have come up with Filipino-themed posts on their blogs under the blog event Mabuhay. I contributed to one of them, where they asked Filipino book bloggers what we want to see more in literature. Please drop by and take a look at what everyone had to say.

lomo intramuros

A shot of Intramuros, an old district in Manila

Since I have Filipino literature in mind, I was thinking of what books I would write if I ever felt the urge to do so. I haven’t really considered writing a novel or even a novella but I think it’s only natural that if I do write a book, it would be something similar to what I enjoy reading. That would include either YA or adult literature in genres like contemporary or realistic fiction, romance, epic fantasy which has been influenced by the Filipino culture or urban fantasy which is set in the Philippines. It would be interesting to talk about my own experiences like moving to a different country for a better work opportunity because that’s something that’s fairly common amongst Filipinos. My high school and college experiences would be outdated by now but it would be fun to talk about the Philippine school system and what are the norms in schools. Maybe highlight the fact that English is the medium of instruction in our schools. If I did write realistic fiction, I would definitely want to have a Filipino reader as a character – someone who loves books just as much as I do. It would also be a good idea to write a historical fantasy or alternate history novel set during the pre-colonization era with magic and political intrigue – I believe that this is something that would involve a ton of research.

In Anawangin, a cove in Zambales

In Anawangin, a cove in Zambales

Like I said, I don’t really plan on writing anything at the moment so I’m basically just thinking out loud here. To my fellow Filipino readers, what themes are you interested in writing about if you had the capacity to do so? Fo everyone else, would you be interested in reading books similar to what I described above?