Posts Tagged ‘coffee’

pop goes the world: random act of coffee

NO COLUMN FOR March 28, Maundy Thursday

 POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  4 April 2013, Thursday

Random Act of Coffee

Buying coffee for the needy can be as easy as paying for an extra one the next time you buy a cuppa for yourself.

Last Holy Wednesday, a meme about the “pending coffee” charity concept went viral after it was widely shared on Facebook.

Caffe sospeso (literally “suspended coffee”) is said to be a long-standing custom in Naples and an “old tradition in Italy,” later adopted by “150 cafes in Bulgaria,” according to Examiner.com. Customers pay not only for their own coffee and food, but also in advance for one or more extra orders to be given, at the restaurateur’s discretion, to a needy person.

It’s a variation on the “pay it forward” concept, doing a “random act of kindness” for a stranger that that I’ve read about it being done in many places, where someone pays the toll fee of the car behind her, or for coffee for the next guy in line at Starbucks.

The “pending coffee” idea is different in that the act of charity is institutionalized through the cooperation of the restaurant. You don’t need to be there when it happens, but people get the same warm fuzzy feeling of having been generous without the awkwardness that besets some in that situation.

Within days after the concept was heavily promoted on March 27, I heard of at least one restaurant in the Philippines that will do this.

Blacksoup Café + Artspace in Sikatuna Village, Quezon City, announced on their Facebook page last Saturday that they will implement this concept on a 30-day trial basis from March 31 to April 30 this year. They will accept advance payment for coffee, sandwiches, and meals, and issue stubs for the “suspended” food, which can be claimed by those who need them.

If there are unclaimed stubs after two days, “Blacksoup will go around on a bicycle to give out unclaimed [stubs] to street people/families” who will then sign “tracking papers” which will be posted on the restaurant’s FB page, along with photos if possible, to document that the exchange actually happened.

Blacksoup’s general manager Avic Ilagan says on their page that they anticipate certain cultural norms will not make it feasible for homeless people (the truly needy who deserve to benefit from this concept) to step inside their restaurant, so they “will bring the coffee, sandwiches, and meals to the street people na karaniwan walang kain o isang beses lang kumain.”

This system also will prevent fraud and abuse.

To children, she says, they “will give milk tetra packs instead of coffee.”

As of yesterday afternoon, the post has been liked by 373 people and shared 429 times. Customer support in the comments on Blacksoup’s page has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic.

Blacksoup reports that as of April 3, they have on their “suspended” tally 19 sandwiches and 19 bottles of C-2, “plus a bank deposit from Australia.” They add, “two volunteers will distribute the unclaimed suspended items on Saturday at 5pm, and and Excel file of suspended items bought and their recipients will be posted and updated every week for all to see and check.”

For this to work, there has to be follow-through by customers and a certain dedication on the part of the restaurateur. Duplication by other establishments would be something to look forward to. Giving and sharing are traits highly valued in Philippine culture, and there is no reason why something like this can’t be adopted on a large scale, meaning nationwide.

This is a positive initiative that brings charity straight to the recipient and addresses an immediate need – hunger.

Sometimes a small act that one doesn’t even remember afterward can be the huge difference between hope and despair or life and death for another person, because some say everything and everyone are connected somehow, the way a butterfly flapping its gauzy wings in the Brazilian rainforest might set off a chain of events that culminates in a tsunami in Indonesia.

A smile, a “good morning,” a free coffee: who knows what kind gesture will touch another soul and kindle a flame of inspiration and transformation?

Check out Blacksoup’s page on FB, as well as a new page – Suspended Coffee PH – and “be a blessing to someone.” *** 

taste more:

green lamy safari 2012 limited edition

The Lamy Safari is a favorite collectible of fountain pen users, especially because the company comes out with limited edition colors from time to time.

For months I resisted buying this year’s special color because I am not particularly fond of it. But after thinking about it, I decided the chance to build a Lamy Safari rainbow doesn’t come often. So I succumbed to the lure of color.

I bought this pen at Scribe Writing Essentials, Eastwood Mall, Quezon City. The pen came inside this massive hinged charcoal gray plastic box placed inside a silver-gray cardboard sleeve.

Inside was the 2012 limited edition Lamy Safari in apple green, a converter, and a cartridge.

This is the old or alternate style of box made of gray cardboard that I used to get Lamys in when I ordered online (from pengallery.com).

Here’s a Lamy Al-Star in Coffee that I got online. The cardboard packaging is simple and eco-friendly. Lamy should phase out that plastic box and the extra cardboard sleeve. This one is much better for the environment.

A comparison shot of the Al-Star (top) and the Safari (green). The specs are the same, the only difference is the material – the Al-Stars are aluminum and the Safaris are of sturdy ABS plastic.

I did not provide a writing sample as I have already done so in previous Lamy Safari and Al-Star reviews, and because Lamys are reliable right off the bat and lay down a consistent neat line.

The ink window gives you an idea how much ink you have left, so you won’t run out in the middle of a sentence. The stainless steel nibs come in fine, medium, broad, and italic (extra charge).

You can’t go wrong with a Lamy – you should have one as part of your daily arsenal. The question is, how many will you get? If you can afford it, think of them as Pokemon –  ”collect them all!”

taste more:

why i am boycotting starbucks

Anyone who’s followed this blog knows how much I love Starbucks. I’ve posted countless times about its coffee, drinks, merchandise (tumblers, mugs, planners, etc.), and locations in the different countries I visit. I have an entire blog category for “Starbucks” alone.

That is, I used to love Starbucks. Until one fateful day last December…

(flashback)

I’ve always saved up stickers for the annual Starbucks planner since they first came out in the Philippines. One year I manage to drink and treat others to enough coffee to amass five planners. I average three per year. The first always goes to my best friend, the second is for myself, and the third is for giving away. This year, I’d already redeeemed two and was working on the third.

Now this is my third planner redemption card. I bought two non-holiday drinks at Starbucks Glorietta One or Rockwell, I forget now which branch. By mistake the barista put it on the back, on “Option 2″ (all non-holiday drinks). I said I preferred the stickers on the front – “Option 1″ (less drinks to buy). He apologized and said the stickers would still be honored anyway, and would be applied by any other branch to my Option 1.

A couple of weeks later , I bought a non-holiday drink at the Starbucks at Harbour Square, Cultural Center of the Philippines complex. Again they put the sticker for my brewed coffee on the back. They cancelled it while we discussed what to do.

Exhibit A. Option 2 stickers, with the one issued by Harbour Square cancelled.

So far so good.

Then I noticed that I nearly had enough stickers on the front to redeem another planner! I asked if I could apply the two non-holiday drinks to the remaining drinks requirement.

I was told that one of the stickers would be applied to the one remaining core drink requirement on the front. The sticker that they (Harbour Square) issued and cancelled, they placed on a new card.

The third sticker would be wasted, unless I went back to the branch that issued it and ask for a new sticker to be reissued. Having forgotten which branch it was I got it from, I asked Harbour Square they could re-consider and place another sticker on the new card they had just given me, because I was assured by that other barista that all stickers would be honored. It was clear anyway from the sticker that I had purchased a drink. But no, the person from Harbour Square said “It’s a different branch.”

(back to the present)

Not a big deal? Heck, yeah, it is. Where is the customer delight in this? I bought those drinks fair and square with my hard-earned money. Still, because of a mix-up that was no fault of mine and that could have easily been fixed by that particular Starbucks manager, I lost one sticker. I feel robbed. I feel disappointed. I feel let down by a company that I have championed for years.

In fact, I am so upset that I am boycotting Starbucks from now on. I now make it my mission to find good, if not better, coffee elsewhere. I will advocate other kinds of coffee and coffeeshops, preferably Filipino, and that’s what I should have done more of long ago.

Because it’s now a giant chain, Starbucks has the most branches of any coffee shop, and that’s their advantage – they’re everywhere. It will be difficult to find other coffee shops in the places I frequent.

Difficult – but not impossible. Highland arabica, as I’ve had it in Baguio City, is particularly tasty and never bitter. The best cup I’ve ever had in my life was a cup of barako – Philippine liberica – at a thoroughbred ranch in Batangas, liberally splashed with fresh goat milk from imported goats that the ranch owner raised along with his race horses.

Coffee at the BenCab museum in Tuba, Benguet, a few minutes away from Baguio City proper. Not only is this sort of coffee (Benguet arabica) more delicious than the brewed coffee at Starbucks, its served in such a way as to delight the senses, with brown sugar and milk in a wee jug.  (December 2011)

Yeah, Starbucks Philippines. You lost me because of one. lousy. sticker. Happy New Year.

taste more:

the starbucks planner 2012

The Starbucks planner for 2012 is a 180-degree turn from last year’s elegant design that came in red velvet and metallic finishes. This time around, it’s all about trees, evoked with natural materials – wood and coarse-weave fabric. It’s acquired through the usual means of stickers for each drink purchased during the designated holiday period (November to January).

There are five iterations shading from light to dark, each named after a tree. This one’s Cherry, the middle shade (#3).

What’s more, the design took more than a few cues from the Moleskine notebook.

This unboxing happened at Starbucks Harbour Square at the Cultural Center of the Philippines complex.

“Let’s give big hugs – and little gifts of hope.” Actually, I’m fine with the big hugs. Really.

The coarse-weave pouch is an innovation – it’s the first time it’s been done by Starbucks Philippines. The pouch keeps the planner clean, and is also handy for receipts, a pen, and other little items.

No worries that the planner inside will be damaged by things you might keep in the pouch – the covers are made of thin pieces of wood, with the siren design and edge text in bas-relief.

There’s a Moleskine-style elastic on the back. As always, the planner comes with coupons – nine, this time around, less than there used to be, at one per month, but then it takes less drinks to get the planner this season.

Instead of a Moleskine-type ribbon marker, a kraft-cardboard bookmark is provided. I love the horizontal layout. 

Now we come to the best thing about this planner – the paper. It is smooth, creamy, and fountain-pen friendly. The stiff nib of my daily-warrior Parker Jotter simply glides across the paper, as if it were glass. Or ice.

Another good thing for FP  users – there’s minimal show-through! 

As with every Starbucks planner, this one has magnificent photography.

A pocket attached to the inside back cover holds the coupons and bookmark. Again, just like the Moleskine. It’s handy-dandy for keeping more stray bits of paper and other ephemera. 

The size is smaller too, compared to previous editions. It’s about the size of a Kindle and fits neatly in my handbag, where I hope it gets along with all the pink things in there.

Photos taken with a 2MP Nokia C3.

taste more:

CBTL single-serve coffee machines

Coffee is big business. This is clearly true in the Philippines, where, as the President declared in his State-of-the-Nation address yesterday, one government agency alone spent P1 billion for coffee during the previous administration.

And with food and its preparation being important in Filipino culture, the quest to find the perfect way to prepare a cup is never-ending.

Single-serve coffee machines have been popular abroad for some years, and have recently reached our shores. One of the most visibly marketed here is the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (CBTL) system.

CBTL had a demo some weeks back at the Powerplant Mall at Rockwell, where they showed off two models, the Kaldi and the Contata.

I saw a demo of the Kaldi, thanks to pretty and helpful sales associate Sy. She guided me using the system which is easy to use. Just pop a beverage capsule (CBTL offers coffee and tea) in a slot in the back and pull the lever down. Hot water from a chamber at the back of the machine shoots through the punched capsule, resulting in a no-hands-brewed cup of coffee.

I must say the crema on the espresso was rich, thick, sublime. Sy also showed me how to use the accessory CBTL milk frother, which steams milk for lattes and machiattos. The latte she made me was one of the best cups of coffee I’ve ever tasted.

The Kaldi (above) comes in red, white, blue, and yellow, the Contata only in black. 

The beverages can be enhanced with the addition of “flavored powder sachets” which come in French Deluxe Vanilla and Special Dutch Chocolate.

Their promotional flyer gives the price of the machines as P13,750; the frother (which comes in white and black), P4,250. Capsules per box of 10 cost P400. At the time of the demo, they were having a special sale. The Kaldi and the frother together would have cost around P14,000.

I fell under the spell of the luxurious cup of coffee the machine created, but the system was rather too pricey for me. Other brands of machines cost only half as much – the Nescafe Dolce Gusto at $135 (P6,000), the Bosch Tassimo at $125 (P5,500).

For coffee lovers like me, you can’t go wrong with a single-serve system, and somewhere out there is the right one for you.

taste more:

a writers’ coffee shop

If I won the lottery I would open a coffee shop for writers, where writers can caffeinate and dream and write in peaceful, aesthetically pleasing, and food-and-coffee laden surroundings.

It will open its doors at 1130am, perfect for late lunches of pasta, sandwiches, and hearty soup. After that, you can settle down to write, with a potful of coffee by your side and your choice of dessert beside it. Waiters will only murmur gently when they take your order, and then leave you alone, not to disturb you again except when you summon them for a refill or another slice of pie or to give you your bill when you ask.

Brewed Benguet arabica and apple pie at Hill Station Cafe, Casa Vallejo, Baguio City. 13 April 2011.

They will never ask you to leave, even if it’s late. The manager will merely dim the lights gradually as a signal for closing time, which is at 430am, just before sunrise. Then you can move to a breakfast place for eggs and bacon or arroz caldo and go home and sleep. Most writers are more productive at night and the wee hours, anyway, because then there are no more interruptions – phone calls, meetings, and excited people rushing up to you to gab about one thing or another, that may or may not be interesting. Usually it’s not.

There will be free wifi with the strongest possible signal obtainable, and plentiful sockets for Macs and netbooks and mobile phone chargers and tablets inset along the baseboards and on the floor. The password for the wifi will change everyday: “tolkien”, “nickjoaquin”, and “arabica” will be some of them. Because the owner is a writer, and knows a great many words, no password will ever be used twice.

A cozy corner at Hill Station Cafe, where I wrote my Manila Standard-Today column for that week. 13 April 2011

For those who prefer to write in longhand, bottles of Waterman ink in blue-black and South Sea blue (a lovely turquoise) will be offered on a tray to refill a fountain pen, on the house. Other inks of different brands and vintages – J. Herbin, Diamine, Pilot Iroshizuku, Private Reserve, Sailor, Noodler’s  - will be listed on a special menu, like fine wines. Notebooks with guaranteed fountain-pen friendly paper will be offered on the menu’s reverse side – Clarefontaine, Rhodia, Daycraft, Green Apple.

Regulars will have their own personal reserved spaces in quiet corners. My friends will have their own personal chairs with nameplates affixed to the backs, and no one else would be allowed to use those chairs.

Writers Yvette Tan (“Waking the Dead and Other Stories”, a short story collection) and Clarissa Militante (“Different Countries”, a novel) chat at the BenCab Museum cafe in Baguio, 10 April 2011.

There will be a few paintings and photographs on the wall, but most of the space will be taken up with books on shelves, wall-to-wall. Anyone may read them on the premises. There will be memorabilia from writers – one of Butch Dalisay’s baseball caps or old Macs, Jing Hidalgo’s lipstick, a book of poetry by Gemino Abad, with the poet’s annotations in the margins.

At night, around six o’clock, the place will turn into a bar, with beer and nuts and sizzling sisig, so that writers so inclined may get drunk and maudlin and reminisce about the good old days, or raucous and combative and rehash old grudges, as they are so moved. Maybe over the kibitzing a story or poem idea may be born, collaborations made, and money-making schemes hatched.

On weekend nights there will be poetry readings, or open-mic nights, where anyone who wishes can strum the guitar, sing the blues, or perform stand-up comedy.

A dream coffee-shop? A sanctuary of the mind? Who’s to say it cannot come true?

I will buy a lottery ticket tomorrow.

taste more:

cuisinart coffee

Galaw-galaw, Neni,” said Doc Nonoy. “Move it, move it.”

Walk fast and live long,” said Doc Amer.

Both physicians were my classmates from elementary to high school. Sometimes we see each other now that we’re older, and I’m struck by how they still look like teenagers. I, on the other hand, also still look like a teenager, but weigh twice as much as one.

Both of them have been into running since back then.

I have been into avoiding running since back then (like, what? where’s the fire?) but I can manage to put one foot in front of another to walk.

The new year having rolled around again, as it does every year, I trotted out that hoary old resolution of getting more exercise, and walking it is because it doesn’t require highly-developed motor coordination skills.

So today I went to the mall and bought a Cuisinart four-cup coffeemaker with steel carafe, endorsed on the box by chef Paul Bocuse. I’ve used a French press for eons and felt it was time for a change.

What does this coffeemaker have to do with exercise? We’ll get there, I promise.

This brand of coffeemaker advises the use of paper filters, and comes with two free ones. I do not like my coffee tasting of paper and I do not want trees chopped down just for me to get my caffeine on.

Well, what do you know, the Starbucks across the street from the appliance store had this lovely mesh permanent filter.

I went home and made coffee using ground arabica I bought in Baguio last July, since all my fresh coffee was at the office. The old Baguio arabica was stale and tasted horrible.

I refused to give up on brewing coffee en hora mismo in that smart Cuisinart. So I walked about a kilometer from my house to the nearest Starbucks, where I got this bag of Caffe Verona in the sweetest scarlet Valentine’s Day packaging. (I always was a sucker for cute packaging.)

I walked another kilometer back home and settled down to brew myself some strong, bold coffee for a night of writing.

And that’s how my love for coffee motivated me to get some exercise today and obey my physicians’ instructions.

taste more:

the center of the world

A couple of weeks ago our class on creative non-fiction writing discussed essays on New York City. Our professor, Dr Cristina Hidalgo, told us that many writers spoke of NYC as “the center of the world”. “I’d say UP Diliman is the center of the world!” she said with a laugh.

Which got me to thinking – she was right. Wherever you are is the center of the world for you.

When class was over, I decided to walk around campus a bit.

Beside the Faculty Center is the University of the Philippines Vargas Museum. Right next to its entrance is this fantastic nommery – The Museum Cafe by Cafe Iana (which is at the College of Music). Their butter-rich silvanas melt in the mouth, I promise you.

I acquired my pre-loved Kindle 2 only a couple days before. I explore how it works while enjoying pasta and a cup of brewed coffee. A huge yellow umbrella deflects the sun’s mild rays as I survey an oasis of emerald. It is cool, so cool on my eyes, that even the restless stirrings of my soul are stilled for the moment.

My cup of coffee is adorned with chocolate syrup feathers on steamed milk foam. The brown sugar glitters like crushed gems. I hesitate to drink and destroy the art. But I have seen it, it will always be in my mind’s eye, and the photograph I take lets me share the beauty I see with others.

After the meal, I walk a route familiar from undergraduate days, from the Vargas Museum past the Faculty Center and Palma Hall to the Main Library.

No one from UP calls Palma Hall that. It’s still ‘AS”, short for “College of Arts and Sciences”, which it housed before CAS was split up into the College of Science, College of Arts and Letters, and College of Social Science and Philosophy.

I look up and see a lacy tracery of leaves against the sky. There is always something new to see wherever you are – the trick is to change your angle of vision. Tilt your neck upwards, sideways, this way and that. Risk a stiff neck for a never-seen vista, a novel image. Be open to wonder. Squint. Use your imagination. Look at something upside-down. Experiment, marvel, accept.

Beside the Main Library is a new cafe – Bulwagan Cafe. I must visit it next time and see what caffeinated goodness they have to offer.

On the  front steps of the library are students. I hear there are some inside too, sometimes.

Across the library is a verdant bamboo grove. Beyond it is more grassy expanse, more earth and plants and wee creatures.

As dusk falls, the lamps across campus flick on one by one. I cast a glance back, and spy a lone orange globe glowing amber against the deep green of trees.

Past the library are more trees, lamps, and people for whom this campus is the center of the world, as it is mine this lazy hazy dreamy twilight time.

taste more:

back on air

After a hiatus of a year and four months, I’m back on air doing the live horseracing coverage for Viva-Prime Channel at the Philippine Racing Club’s Santa Ana Park in Naic, Cavite.

With sports writer Barry Pascua last 22 March 2009, on standby to do the opening of the day’s live coverage of the races half an hour before the parade for Race 1. This was my first weekend back. Barry and I are at the grandstand.

DSC_8338

The last two horses cross the finish line after Race 1.

DSC_8348

Racing fans pack the grandstand at Santa Ana Park on Sundays.

I started my broadcast career in racing in 2002, when I was tapped by PRC’s then-vice president of administration Fulton Su to be a panelist for PRC’s coverage, then handled by production outfit Creative Station for Pro-Ads Marketing, the actual contractor.

Boss Fulton took a leap of faith with me, as I had no experience at all doing live racing coverage. Despite being a jockey’s wife, I didn’t have much knowledge of betting or how to do race analysis.

I did have prior on-camera experience as a segment presenter and later co-host of “Karera 2000″, a horseracing show that aired over the government station, PTV (People’s Television) in 1997. For that show, I also wrote the script for my own segment, “Karera 101″, occasionally did the script for the entire show, and directed my own segment and others like the “Jockey’s Tips” presented by rider Dhunoy Raquel.

That’s where I learned to work under intense pressure – imagine showing up at on location at a ranch, only to be told by the scriptwriter/director that he had not written a script for that day’s shooting, and having to scribble the spiels for that episode right there and then while the hosts Jackie Castillejo andYeng Guiao (professional basketball coach and current vice governor of Pampanga province) waited.

But taped shows are easy because you can do over with takes. Live coverage is fast-paced with no room for errors.

Over time, and again under pressure, I learned to analyze races and and discuss the betting with the help of my fellow panelists during the early days at PRC – racecallers Ricardo “Carding” de Zuñiga, Ernie Enriquez (brother of GMA Network’s famed newscaster Mike Enriquez), Ira Herrera (racecaller and now a panelist for MJC’s new in-house production team, San Lazaro Broadcast Network), and former star jockey and current Philracom commissioner Eduardo “Boboc” Domingo Jr. (also now the anchor for SLBN).

I stayed with PRC from March 2002 to January 2005, then I hosted for Winner’s Circle Productions at the Manila Jockey Club’s San Lazaro Leisure Park from August 2005 until August 2007, when Makisig Network took over MJC’s production and I was dropped from the roster of talents as they had their own.

The break of almost a year and a half was a welcome development as I got to rest, return to graduate school, put up my website, become a fountain pen and ink collector, and do other things that interested me.

Now I’m back, refreshed, with new ideas, and ready to resume active broadcasting again.

DSC_8341

View from my seat at the studio: on the table are racecards, pens, favorite purple Fino pencase from Leigh, Nokia Xpress Music mobile phone, Denman hairbrush, and Starbucks “Philippines” tumbler filled with coffee. (“No coffee, no workee!”) The larger monitor displays the actual cable TV broadcast feed; the smaller one, the pool totals and odds.

DSC_8340

Coverage essentials: racecards (Winning Time for past performances, useful for race analysis, and Dividendazo for the schedule and for marking the horses on parade, winner, time, order of arrival, and other information that I relay to viewers) and pens (Preppy ED highlighter filled with Noodler’s Year of the Golden Pig, Waterman Hemisphere, Lamy Safari 1.1 italic, Taccia Ta-ke).

As a mass communication practitioner, I’m fortunate to have the opportunities I do, in that I am doing both broadcast and print (I write a Wednesday column on racing, “The Hoarse Whisperer” for Manila Standard-Today).

Broadcasting has always been a significant part of my life because of my father’s influence.

My father, Valentino Araneta Ortuoste, started his career as a disc jockey in the 1960s in Bacolod City, playing The Beatles and The Ventures. (He didn’t like pop music, though, preferring classical, Frank Sinatra, and Nat King Cole).

Later he became a newscaster for ABS-CBN network in Manila; I was a toddler then, and he would sometimes take me with him to the studio. I don’t remember that, of course, but I have pictures, in black-and-white, me looking up at him almost adoringly, he with a smile and looking dapper in high-necked Vonnel shirts.

Pops also did commercials (a series for Palmolive shampoo with the characters “Sonia” and “Ana”) and bit parts in movies (in the 1990 film Anak ni Baby Ama, he played the wealthy businessman who gets ambushed in his car at the beginning of the film). He also performed voice-overs for radio commercials and even cut a spoken record in the late ’70s, “Happy Birthday, Love”.

I was ten or eleven when he encouraged my sister Aileen and I to do radio commercials. I remember one of them was an English cough syrup plug where I had to cough on cue. I got paid extra for doing the Cebuano version when the kid who was hired couldn’t do what the director wanted and wouldn’t stop crying. I don’t understand Cebuano very well, but was able to mimic a native speaker who read my lines to me. After that I was given more work doing dialects.

When I was in college, in the mid- to late-’80s, Pops was the anchor of “The UN Hour”, a television show broadcast on the government channel, PTV (People’s Television), during the administration of Pres. Corazon Aquino. He asked me and one of my friends from school to act as student interviewers. We met with the ambassador of Namibia; my friend was so nervous, he stuttered over his lines (“Nami-Nami-Namibia?”) but it turned out quite charming and was not edited out from the final version.

I owe my father for giving me the knowledge for this kind of work; it prepared me for when fate gave me the chance to do this. I never thought I would follow in his footsteps. But I look back now and feel grateful for the coaching he gave on how to modulate our voices and act in front of a camera, things we didn’t really understand back then, but proved useful when we needed it.

However, I’d say the most valuable lesson he taught me about broadcasting was this: “Be confident. You can do it. It seems hard at first, but it’s really not – it’s just like talking to a friend.” That’s become my broadcasting philosophy and overall approach to media work.

Another lesson is: information of any kind is welcome, because you’ll never know what might be useful to you later on. So I’m passing on the lessons learned to my daughters, knowing that they don’t appreciate or fully understand these things now, but which perhaps may serve them later on in life.

It’s important, though, to be prepared with data. Oh, and coffee helps too.

taste more:

starbucks stores i have met

As a Starbucks fan, I “collect” stores wherever I go. This one’s at the corner of Nathan Road, in Hong Kong.

There was a branch inside The Venetian hotel in Macau.

At New Town Mall in the New Territories, Hong Kong, I took a picture of the Starbucks signage as I spotted it from afar. I went inside and had a Raspberry Mocha (skim, no whip) while waiting for friends to finish looking around the mall.

I didn’t take a shot of the interior because Starbucks stores look the same inside wherever you go – Hong Kong, Manila, Dubai, New York, Pasadena. They all have the brown tables and tan, chocolate, or olive sofas, the warm orange lights over the bar, the same smell of roasted coffee, the same subdued chatter.

The consistency is boring, but it is also comforting. I know that wherever in the world I go, hearing a cacophony of languages I don’t understand, brushing past tall men in robes or fashionable women in knee-high boots, once I enter a Starbucks it’s like coming home. It’s something familiar, something I understand. Being in a different city, you can go adrift, cast loose from the moorings of your own place and culture.

Starbucks, transcending culture, having created its own, is a pocket of home wherever it is.

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