4 More Books

I’m targeting 12 books this year.  Almost done!  It just doesn’t seem like it because I’m too lazy to write about the last four books I’ve read.  Anyway, before I completely forget what they’re all about, here they are:

Contagious (Jonah Berger)

Like Greg McKeown’s Essentialism, this is one of the most easily understandable and practical books I’ve ever read.  It teaches about how things become viral.  I got a lot of insights on marketing and on how to make something click and stick, especially since I’m dreaming of opening the first vegan restaurant here at San Jose City.

Sun Tzu for Women: the Art of War for Winning in Business (Becky Sheetz-Runkle)

I was reading this for days on the stationary bike and honestly, I didn’t relate to it.  I don’t know.  Maybe it’s because I’ve read the same things over and over again in different books and websites.  The advice wasn’t even limited to or specifically useful for women.

33 Strategies of War (Robert Greene)

No surprise here: Robert Greene is practically my favorite master manipulator.  (It pains me to say that he’s also apparently our president’s favorite.)  As usual, the ideas he presented were mean and cruel, but surprisingly very useful especially if you want to minimize the cost of waging or engaging in war or trying to avoid it at all.  Actually I’m planning to read it again.  I’ll make a book review someday.

iGen: Why Today’s Super-connected Kids are Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood (Jean M. Twenge)

Now, this is special.  I read this book because my man organized a youth seminar and he got me as a speaker.  The topic I was given was “Millenials” – and obviously I was supposed to talk about the characteristics, trends and interests of millenials.  But in my research, I found that these kids, born from 1995 to 2012, are not millenials anymore: they are iGen.

As a librarian catering to Kindergarten to Grade 12 learners, it’s important for me to know about them: who they are, what they are, how to relate to them.  If you are a parent to an iGen, or a teacher, you definitely have to read this book.

By the way, iGen is also the first ebook I’ve read.  And I’m telling you, it’s not as fun as having the print in your hands.


30 Things to Do Before I Turn 30

I just turned 29 last Tuesday.

I’m a bit sad because I just got older.  Haha.  But then I remembered that I should be thankful I’m still alive, still blessed, and still loved.

Some major things happened on my 28th year.  I finally decided to commit to veganism, I began with Neocatechumenal Way, I fell in love with Francis, the library finally opened, I lost my son Inoo, and then I was elected the new coordinator of our ministry.  For the most part my 28th year was great, except of course, Inoo dying.  And getting elected to look after a bunch of assertive and seasoned Church readers is scary.

Having said that, I’m really hoping to do a lot on my 29th.  That is, if God permits.  Every year, I make a list of things I plan to accomplish for the next 365 1/4 days but nothing really happens.  I can’t even finish filling my Belle de Jour Power Planner, you know.  But I’m thinking if I make them simpler, measurable, and attainable, I’d be able to do them.

Here they are, the things I want to have done before I turn 30:

  1. Cook and bake only vegan food.
  2. Eat vegan ice cream once.
  3. Eat at a vegan restaurant like Green Bar once.
  4. Own one vegan statement shirt/sweater.
  5. Perfect a vegan bread recipe.
  6. Have homemade vegan lunch at work at least three times a week.
  7. Drink 4 liters of water every day.
  8. Be more flexible.  Gotta do those Boho Beautiful workouts properly.
  9. Workout at least 5 times a week.
  10. Pay up my credit cards.
  11. Save P50,000.
  12. Go on a couple weekend getaway trip once.
  13. Redesign my bedroom.  Get the sunshine in!
  14. Speaking of, aim for at least 30 minutes of morning sun three times a week.
  15. Read 12 books.
  16. Do a Daniel Fast once.
  17. Go on a two-day screen fast once.
  18. Limit eating out to once a month.
  19. Compete for the research contest.
  20. Finish business plan for my vegan restaurant.  Even if the whole thing doesn’t materialize.
  21. Seriously let Francis teach me to ride a bicycle.
  22. Apply and get interviewed for a job once.  It doesn’t really matter if I get hired.  It’s just that I’d never competed for a job in my life.  Gotta start facing my greatest fear: rejection.
  23. Never do office work on a Sunday.
  24. Aim to attend at least 75% of my Mass schedules.
  25. Surprise a loved one.
  26. Do a Marie Kondo purge once.
  27. Pray every single day.
  28. Hike once.
  29. Love a new furbaby.  Kuya Inoo would be happy.  And raise him/her vegan.
  30. Grow sunflowers.


Wish me luck!

To Inoo, My Prince

You should’ve turned eight yesterday, my love. I should’ve made a cake for you. I was saving the carob for yesterday, because dogs can’t have chocolate, and Chloe Coscarelli has this recipe for pupcakes I was dying for you to try. But I didn’t bake. I didn’t even cook your favorites. I don’t know, my prince. Not a lot of things interest me anymore since you flew to heaven. Most of the time I dread going home because you wouldn’t be there to welcome me. Or waking up because I wouldn’t be seeing you anyway. Truth is, I also find it hard to pray because I’m still secretly angry at God for not letting you live for 200 years when that’s all I was asking for. I hate our resident priest, too, you know, because he said dogs can’t love so I shouldn’t love you. The only beautiful thing that’s happening now is Uncle Francis. He takes care of mawmaw as you asked. He still includes you in our prayers. Does God tell you? The rest I don’t really care about.

I’m wondering, my love, when do I move on? But more importantly, do I really want to move on? Do I want that, to not miss you anymore? To slowly forget? I remember someone saying how our pain is self-inflicted. This could be. But I wouldn’t want this any other way.

I want to remember you forever. If that means I’d mourn for you forever, I want that, too. I love you.

Do you remember these pictures? These were when you jumped on the bed and let me hug you until I fell asleep. For the last time. 

Mastery (Robert Greene)

If you ask what the one thing I’ve spent at least 10,000 hours doing with intense focus is, my answer would be nothing.

It’s not reading. Quantitatively, yes, but I can’t say the same as for quality. Truth is I am a sporadic, undisciplined reader. As humiliating as it is, I sometimes can’t follow the plot of a fiction novel without seeing the movie first. My brain is incapable of organizing information that I can’t understand a nonfiction material unless I read it at least twice. So it’s not reading.

It’s not cooking, too. Although I cook everyday and bake every week, I’ve only been doing so since I graduated from college and returned to my parents’ house. Let’s say I’ve been cooking for at least an hour (and most of the time it doesn’t take that long) for the last eight years. That’s just around 2,920 hours. So it’s not cooking.

It’s definitely not being a Catholic because I’ve just returned to the Church in 2015.

It’s not even living healthy because I wasn’t living healthy for most of my life.

I can’t even claim the existential “being myself” since I don’t even know myself and I’m just living in the sad state of conformity and distraction for all these years.

So the answer is nothing. I can live with that for now, knowing I’m not alone.

This sad realization (that I am a Jack of All Trades, Master of None) was brought about by the fascinating book by the infamous Robert Greene, Mastery (2012). It is basically a leadership book that aims to teach that everyone can rise to power through doing what you are meant to do.

At first, given that I am trying to be a Christian, doesn’t it seem so unlikely that I’m reading a book that teaches me how to attain power? Truth is, I’d be lying if I claim I don’t want power: I want to become the President of the Philippines. (Lying is against the ten words of life.) More importantly, I read this book because I want to discover that one thing I was brought forth into Earth to do. I’ve always known it’s in here. I just haven’t recognized it yet.

Here I quote my favorite:

“At your birth a seed is planted. That seed is your uniqueness. It wants to grow, transform itself, and flower to its full potential. It has a natural, assertive energy to it. Your Life’s Task is to bring that seed to flower, to express your uniqueness through your work. You have a destiny to fulfill. The stronger you feel and maintain it – as a force, a voice or in whatever form – the greater your chance of fulfilling this Life’s Task and achieving mastery.”

Like Greene’s first book that I read, The Art of Seduction, this book illustrates the lessons and strategies through a short yet in-depth (this seems contradictory but I can’t find a more suitable description) study of the lives of people considered to be masters of their fields: Leonardo, Mozart, Michael Faraday, Albert Einstein, Wilbur and Orville Wright, and Benjamin Franklin, as well as my newest personal heroes linguist Daniel Everett and fighter pilot Cesar Rodriguez, to name a few. First, we are given a snippet of the life of a master that corresponds to the theme of the chapter, and then this is followed by strategies that we can follow on our journey to mastery.

Here are the most important lessons I learned from this book:

  • Each of us has her own Life Task. That one Life Task – or purpose of living, as I prefer to call it – is unique for every person, as unique as our DNA. Therefore we must not pattern our quest for success from another person’s. We must not subscribe to anyone else’s idea of success, even if she be our parent, our teacher, or someone we look up to. We will find ours by examining our natural inclinations, as well as our strengths and perceived weaknesses.
  • What we perceive as our weaknesses may just be our strengths.
  • Mechanical knowledge is not a lesser form of intelligence. Having been immersed in a school system that places higher regard to abstract knowledge, I used to secretly look down at people who do things using their hands. But now I know I’m wrong. As Greene cited Thomas Jefferson, craftsmen make better citizens because they know how things work.
  • If we want to learn a skill, we cannot multitask. Francis and I had just been talking about this over lunch, over a very sexist conversation really. I told him I’m like a man: I’ve never been hardwired to do multiple things at once. From Mastery I learned that it is exactly what we must avoid: to believe that we can learn several skills at once. We need focus, and the word focus is singular.
  • Having said that, we want to expand our knowledge and skills. We do not want to be stuck doing one thing and one thing only. After achieving mastery on a skill, it is time to develop another skill, then another, then another – again, one at a time. This does not only expand the skills we have; we will soon find that the process of learning itself has become easier and faster. Do not be afraid if the skills do not seem related at a glance: our brain is hardwired to find connections.
  • It’s going to take a looooong time of intense focus to learn a skill. More or less 10,000 hours, actually.
  • It’s never too late to start the apprenticeship. Although most of the masters have started with their 10,000-hour apprenticeship at an early age, they did not have their first breakthrough until they were in their 40s or 50s. If the masters can wait, why can’t I? I’m 28 now. I’m not young anymore, but I can make time IF I WANT TO MAKE TIME.
  • Do not underestimate the importance of social skills. I’m not really a social person, but as in one of the illustrations in Mastery, disregarding social skills is going to be detrimental to making an impact, no matter how groundbreaking your idea is.
  • Gaining power is not the end goal. In fact, Greene says that looking at having power as our goal is detrimental to the achievement of mastery. Our goal is achieving mastery.

This book is one of the most fascinating reads I’ve had so far. Although it is pegged as a leadership book, Mastery is not limited to being successful in business, science, politics, or arts. This is useful no matter what your definition of success is. I, for one, discovered the reason behind my life’s course while reading this book. Robert Greene’s Mastery is one book you don’t want to miss.

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Robert Greene’s “Mastery” may be bought at Fully Booked.

7 Days of Salad

Vegan (n.) – a person who doesn’t eat animals and animal byproducts

Last December, after four years and eight months of being vegetarian, I decided to be vegan. That means completely giving up eggs and dairy. That means no more butter in my baking, no more eggs for my sandwich, and no more cheese on my pizza. (No more white sugar, too, since white sugar is generally refined using cows’ bones. Who knew that, right?) Six months later, I am thriving and I still think this is the single bravest decision I’ve made in my life.

Contrary to popular-right-now belief – because if you haven’t been reading the signs correctly the world is going vegan – eschewed by people whose agenda is to sell you their products, vegans and vegetarians do NOT eat only salads. In fact we have veganized everything – from French to Japanese to Filipino to any cuisine you can think of.  (Okay. Mongolia not included.) Most importantly, we eat cake. We’re not particularly healthier, too. We have LOTS of junkfood. Contrary to popular-right-now belief, vegan food isn’t bland and boring.

Having said that, I admit that I am not a huge fan of salads (except of course fruit salad with coconut cream and coconut nectar *drools*). My taste buds haven’t yet adapted to the taste of raw leaves (fruits are not leaves).

But because our office currently has a two-month wellness program and I and Francis have made it our mission to prove you can manage your fat and weight without powdered shakes, I’ve started my personal wellness plan with eating fresh, clean, and whole foods.

This 7-day salad list is the result of that.

Note: There’s not much variety. I make it a point to prefer fruits and vegetables that are readily available in our city. That means Lollo Rosa and Romaine for my greens, cucumber, corn (because my sister from Jeddah sent us lots), and whatever else is in the pantry.

1. Lettuce, cucumber, zucchini, pumpkin seeds and corn kernels with balsamic-olive oil-garlic dressing

2. Lettuce, raisins, goji berries, sunflower seeds and corncake croutons with dayap juice, balsamic and olive oil

3. Lettuce, cucumber, corn kernels, store-bought salted garlic peanuts

4. Lettuce, black beans, corn, sundried tomatoes, sunflower seeds

5. Taco salad with crumbled vegan longganisa with store-bought salsa (best ever!)

6. Boring restaurant salad (Magellan)

7. Lettuce, sunflower seeds, green olives, vegan sausages, olive oil-balsamuc-garlic dressing

The result of my experiment? I lost 1.2 pounds a total of 3 inches around the belly. Not bad for someone whose not counting calories, eh?

Anyway. Angel just got her Nutribullet from Lazada which I’m inheriting when she gets married. Next week I’m going to show you 7 Days of Smoothie. Savvy?


I’m addicted to the dressing I doused on most of my salads and it’s so easy to make. Just mix 1 part extra-virgin olive oil, 1 part balsamic vinegar, 1 part minced native garlic, salt and pepper in a jar, cover tightly, and shake until emulsified. You can use whatever herbs you have but Francis loves garlic and I love Francis.

Coffee Cake Muffins (Version-2)

In my previous post, I said I hate coffee for two reasons: 1) it makes me palpitate; and 2) it wakes me up. Two hours after finishing that coffee cupcake, I decided on a third reason: I’m acidic. I swore I’m not having coffee again (except of course in chocolate cakes).

But today I found myself baking coffee cupcakes again. Reviewing the recipe from Bosh, I discovered that I made a couple of stupid mistakes:

  • The original recipe calls for self-raising flour. In my excitement, I missed the self-raising part. Thus the absence of a raising agent.
  • I forgot to reduce the amount of flour. Because whole wheat flour absorbs more liquid, 3/4 cup of it should be substituted for a cup of its refined counterpart.

In addition, I discovered that each unfrosted muffin contains a whopping 280 calories! And I doused fudge on Every. Single. Muffin. To add insult to the injury I ate two. And it was breakfast.


And so, as if it could undo the damage, I decided to make another batch. This time, it will be fluffy (I thought if I made it fluffy I could halve the recipe and still have 12 muffins) and lower in the calorie department.

I also decided that this time, I will take my time preparing the ingredients. Here’s the step by step account:

First, I cleaned the entire work area and prepared only the necessary equipment and ingredients. I prepped my muffin tin, too. By necessary I meant the oven, one mixing bowl, 1/4-cup measuring cup and measuring spoons. Seriously that is everything you need. This is Tip 1. Clear the clutter, clear your mind.

Next, I preheated the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (356 degrees Fahrenheit). A pastry chef in the nutrition club I joined before decided to go vegan made me purchase an oven thermometer. It was the best decision I’ve made in my entire life. Tip 2: Buy an oven thermometer.

In connection with that, it’s really important to preheat your oven. That makes the difference between success and favor. That’s Tip 3.

Then, I made my self-raising whole wheat flour. I measured 140 grams of whole wheat flour and added in 1 1/4 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt. From this mixture I measured 3/4 cup. This is Tip 4, or how to make your own self-raising whole wheat flour. Hahaha. Courtesy of Food Network.

Tip 5 is scooping ingredients into the measuring cups using a spoon. Scooping directly with your measuring cups may result in you getting more that what you need.

The next I did was to measure everything before I start mixing the ingredients. This is a very easy cake recipe with just five ingredients and does not require mixing the dry and wet separately.

Because I don’t have a food processor, I mixed the ingredients by hand. Tip 6: do not overmix. Then, I spooned the batter into the lined muffin tin. Since I expected that the cake will rise during baking, I just filled them halfway. (Plus I intented them to be small to halve the calories so…) Gently tap the tin on the table to get rid of air bubbles.

Once the oven reached the desired temperature, I popped the tin into the oven and patiently waited. Yesterday’s recipe had a baking time of 20 minutes but since this recipe is just half of that, I estimated the baking time to be 12 to 15 minutes.

Since these are muffins, you can tell the cakes are done when cracks form on top but they still look moist. Tip 7 comes from baking goddess Anna Olson: it’s better to slightly underbake than slightly overbake. Using the toothpick test, I removed the cakes from the oven at 14 minutes.

Now here’s Tip 8: Cool the muffins in the tin for just a few minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack. Leaving it even a tad longer in the tin continues the baking through residual heat, risking overbaking.

The muffins turned out this way:


  1. The muffins did not rise as much as I wanted. I wanted them to double but that’s stretching it too far, right?
  2. The coffee flavor was really pronounced this time. Unlike the first version, which tasted more like sugar, this tasted like black coffee.
  3. They definitely are cupcakes, not muffins. Hahaha. Truth is the tops are ugly. (None of the beautiful cracks I was aiming for.) They definitely need frosting but I didn’t care for the extra calories.

All in all, I am pleased with how these muffins turned out.

Healthy Coffee Cake Muffins


  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour  (measure from mixture of 1 cup flour plus 1 1/4 tsp baking powder and 1/4-1/2 tsp salt)
  • 1/2 cup muscovado sugar, lightly packed
  • 2.5 tbsp fine coffee powder, decaffeinated (I used Nescafe instant) – you can use less coffee is you want a subtler flavor
  • 6 tbsp cup soymilk
  • 1/4 cup cup oil


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line muffin tin with 12 liners.
  2. Mix together all ingredients and divide batter into muffin liners.
  3. Bake at preheated oven for 12-14 minutes.
  4. Cool on a rack.
  5. Eat.

So there you go. Try it and tell me what you think! Happy vegan baking!

P.S. Francis’ verdict:

Q: Regardless of the calorie count, which muffin do you prefer?

A: I prefer this one.

Q: How many of these will you eat without feeling guilty?

A: 5

I so love this man.

Coffee Cake Muffins (Version 1)

In this age of coffee shops, I consider myself an anomaly: I hate coffee. First, because it gives me palpitations. Second, because it wakes me up. Being someone who prefers sleep over everything (yes, even chocolate), I naturally gravitate towards the calming, soothing, sensual route of tea.

Having said that, coffee is indispensible and irreplaceable in my baking arsenal. I love chocolate second only to sleep and coffee plays a huge role in that: in baking, coffee gives depth to chocolate and enhances its goodness. Therefore I always make sure to add coffee even if the recipe doesn’t state it. (Truth is I wouldn’t know if it affected the finished products since I never tried not mixing coffee.)

So to pay my respects to this ingredient (and do a little something for coffee-loving F), I made coffee cake. Which I turned into cupcakes. Because I’m a cupcake person.

I followed the coffee cake recipe from my favorite Facebook page, Bosh, although with some modifications: I used whole wheat flour (because I’ve recently decided to bake only with whole wheat and gluten-free flours for fitness reasons), used muscovado instead of light brown sugar (because I’m just finishing off the remaining muscovado – which I thought was unrefined but turns out isn’t – and then I’d switch to coconut sugar), and used 5 tablespoons of coffee instead of three.  (I know. Five, right?) Also, as I said, I turned it into cupcakes thus reducing the baking time from 25 to 20 minutes.

(I was scared because the recipe didn’t call for any rising agent but I stopped myself from adding in baking soda and vinegar and decided to trust Bosh. Needless to say, naturally, it didn’t rise. Not that it was meant to.)

The finished product are twelve dense yet yummy cupcakes. There’s a nutty flavor and texture from the whole wheat which I love. For the icing I just melted Malagos chocolate in soymilk and coconut butter and whisked it with a little powdered sugar with a hand mixer. It was runny but I’m yet to learn frostings. And a sprinkle of cocoa nibs on top. Because I have to have chocolate.

For a first try, not bad. Not bad at all.

And yes, I’m palpitating right now.

Coffee Cupcakes (makes 12)


  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup muscovado sugar
  • 5 tbsp fine coffee powder
  • 1 cup soymilk
  • 3/4 cup oil


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line cupcake tin with 12 liners.
  2. Mix all ingredients and whisk.
  3. Pop in preheated oven for 20 minutes.
  4. Once done, cool for a few minutes (maximum of 5) in the tin before letting cool on a rack.
  5. Eat as it is or frost as you wish. 😊

P.S. The cake is going to be heavy and dense. F said he won’t snack after eating one. One of these days I’m going to experiment and add a rising agent. Maybe I could double the yield to halve the calories too. For the meantime, I’m going to drink tea to ease the palpilations. Lol.

Because It’s Pentecost Sunday: The Girl Called “Makahiya”

I remember that Friday in March two years ago.  I was wearing blue and praying intently, thanking God for the gift I didn’t deserve.  Then, the girl who read at the Mass said the priest wanted to see me.  Without any idea why, I followed her to where the priest was and he said, “Would you like to read?”


Would I like to read?

If you’d known me just recently, you’d find it hard to believe that I used to have a bad case of stage fright.  (On the other hand, people who knew me from college would find it hard to believe that I talk a lot now.)  In school, I dreaded having to recite and report.  If only I can get away with just sitting there listening and taking exams and doing papers, school would’ve been a piece of cake.  I remember losing my voice in the midst of a Shakespeare report and once in college I literally wept.

Someone even had a simile for me: I was “makahiya” – or bashful mimosa, a sensitive plant that folds to the slightest touch.  Talk to me and I would be lost for words.  Literally.

Would I like to read?

Being a lifetime reader, of course I would like to read.  I became a librarian because I thought I could read everything I wanted.  Guess I’d leave everything for a job that paid me to do nothing but read.

But reading for the Mass is different.  Reading for the Mass means walking up in front and proclaiming the Word of God for the whole congregation.

I, the girl who would cry if asked to speak before more than five people, the girl whose social vocabulary consisted of “yes,” “no,” and “maybe.”  I can’t do it.  Knowing my limitations, I replied, “Yes, Father.”

Why did I say that?  I don’t know.  All I know, and I remember the feeling clearly, is something inside compelled me to answer nothing but “Yes, Father.”

On May 30, 2015, I was installed as a member of the Ministry of Lectors and Commentators.

Today, I read for ordinary day and Sunday Mass.  I am also an anchor of our radio show.  I sing (and dance) in public now.  I do emcee-ing for trainings and programs, even without preparations.  And I talk to people now.

Who would’ve thought this “makahiya” would be cured of her stage fright by nothing but that “Yes, Father”?

Date Like a Vegan: Pipino Restaurant

Francis and I have decided that our dates are going to be centered on food. Instead of visiting tourist spots or doing activities the place has to offer, we are going to scout its vegan food scene.

The first product of that mutual decision is this post.

We’ve planned this date since March – since we first learned of the free admission at the National Museum Planetarium – but things always came up on our chosen weekends. So we decided to take a leave from work BEFORE THE FREE ADMISSION ENDS. Anyway what’s one day compared to a serving of vegan karekare, right?

Pipino: Vegetarian Food by Pino, is found at Malingap St., Teacher’s Village, Diliman, Quezon City. It’s from the same group that owns Pino – a non-vegetarian restaurant – which is on the ground floor. Francis and I made the mistake of entering Pino instead and in horror saw animal bones being served. Pipino is on the second floor.

The place is small and cozy and is everything we imagine a vegan restaurant to be. The color scheme, the furniture, the decor – they’re all earthy. There’s no mistaking this is meant to be at least eco-friendly.

We had lemongrass pipino ginger cooler which was very refreshing after being under the hot Metro Manila sun. We loved the warming kick of the ginger, a welcome antidote to brainfreeze.

Next to be served is this pancit canton made of buckwheat noodles. Actually, I wasn’t impressed taste-wise. (Francis makes better pancit and I make better fried tofu. LOL.) The restaurant can use a little seasoning. But the lumpia was so delicious we ordered the trio plate.

Unfortunately, by the time they arrived we were full to our throats so we had them packed for take out instead. Of three variants, the one with the nori – sosy-fied lumpiang gulay – is the best.

The reason we chose Pipino to be the venue of our first food date is actually the karekare. It’s Francis’ favorite food so we were both excited when it arrived that we immediately dug in and forgot to take a picture. I, for one, missed the puso ng saging. The bagoong tasted like Lee Kum Kee garlic and black bean paste. The best thing is it inspired us to develop our own karekare recipe for the vegan restaurant I’m planning to open.

And of course, the highlight of our date: dessert! We had the halohalo. The ice cream was orgasmic (or at least we think because we haven’t had vegan ice cream before… and we haven’t had ice cream in a long time). We didn’t like the leche flan: it was depressing that it didn’t taste like the dairy version. My ultra high expectations for the leche flan were not met. Good thing Francis was impressed with the sweet potatoes and I loved the sweetened coconut and we agreed that overall, the owners should be proud of their summer offering. It was delicious.

Overall, Francis and I were much pleased with our first food date. Not only did we feel we were superheroic eating while saving the planet, we’re now inspired to finish the concept of the 100% vegan, 100% halal and 100% kosher restaurant that’s opening in San Jose City someday.

Thanks, Pipino! Now where’s our next delicious date going to be?

Vegetarian Food: Cagayan de Oro

Truth is I’d rather this trip didn’t happen. There are still moments I wish I didn’t push through with the summer conference. Then maybe Inoo wouldn’t be sick, then he wouldn’t die. Or if it really was his time, at least I would be by his side. But I know that no matter how hard I wish I could turn back time and change everything, Cagayan de Oro happened. I also know that Inoo wouldn’t want to see me unhappy forever because of him – he has always done everything to make me happy.

Also, Cagayan de Oro had been good to my vegetarian belly that forgetting about it entirely is a disservice to the city. So here it goes: my vegetarian (mis) adventures in Cagayan de Oro!

Day 1: April 26, 2017

Since deciding to become vegetarian five years ago, I had become a traveling Girl Scout: I make it a point to do my research prior to the trip on vegetarian restaurants, health stores and markets, and I pack lots of emergency food that would last for days just in case. Just to illustrate how unprepared I was for this trip, I only had a family pack of Grower’s garlic and onion almonds, since I was confident I’d actually have food at the venue because I indicated in the registration that I’m “vegan”.

Unfortunately, there was no vegan food at the buffet. (Apparently there was an instruction to send me to the kitchen to plan my food but I wasn’t told about it until Day 2.) So when the conference started at about half past one, I was so HANGRY I almost cried.

Good thing I brought a box of Yogi Green Tea Kombucha – the best variant I’ve had so far – and I lasted until snack time where they served suman and a slice of mango. It actually came with hot chocolate but I refused it, naturally, since it had milk. (At this point I’d like to thank the waiters at Pearlmont Hotel for being honest and knowledgeable about what’s in their food.)

Before dinner, I went to Healthy Options at Centrio Mall to buy noodles, granola and hot choco mix.

Dinner was great. From Centrio I walked for about twenty minutes to Pilian Cafe at Centerpoint. Pilian Cafe is a small vegetarian restaurant that I found on my research.

The place was actually packed when I arrived. I was pleasantly surprised to know that there’s a market for vegetarian food at CDO.  Because it’s just my second time at a vegetarian restaurant (the first was at Ima’s at Puerto Princesa in 2013), I ordered a lot for one: cucumber shake, fried vegemeat with mushroom gravy, and Veggie Glow rice bowl.

Needless to say, I finished everything. See 4th photo.

Day 2: April 27, 2017

Day 2 was a lot better. The organizers finally realized I hadn’t eaten so I was sent to the kitchen for the very specific instructions for cooking my food. I came up with this:

So by lunch I had a family size serving of chopsuey – which I have to say is really delicious – that I shared with another vegetarian at the conference. For dinner, I had a huge plate of tossed salad which I honestly didn’t enjoy because I’m not really a salad person. Anyway, apologies for forgetting to take pictures of the food because I was too excited to devour their veganized food. I’d just post this instead:
I inserted being vegan with the group activity (linked data or how to connect “Ariana Grande” and “rice”) and got applauded for my genius. Lol.

Day 3: April 28, 2017

I received the news of Inoo’s illness on Day 3 so it was such a particularly hard day. Since my fruit plate didn’t get delivered, I ate Annie Chun’s udon bowl from Healthy Options for breakfast – which was scrumptious, if you’re wondering – and this vegan fig bar I accidentally found at 7 Eleven. Why don’t they have in all their branches?

For lunch, I had another family-size platter of sotanghon guisado. Again, I failed to take a picture – because I was distracted about Inoo. But I swear the chef at Pearlmont Hotel did a great job.

For dinner, despite not feeling hungry at all, I returned to Pilian Cafe and had carrot juice, sisig (which I learned was not vegan too late and it made me guilty that I found it really delicious), brown rice and fried sweet potatoes.

Nevertheless, I tried to enjoy my dinner in between praying that God spared Inoo.

I also bought pasalubong from Pilian Cafe: their guilt-free chicharon and Mookie. Because of Inoo’s illness I didn’t have the chance to look around for vegetarian pasalubong as I usually do. But no regrets: my Inoo is more important.

Day 4: April 29, 2017

Pineapple juice, Fig Bar and Soon vegan ramyun from 7 Eleven was all I ate.  (And it was brunch.) I was not hungry. I was sad.  Inoo died. But…

In another circumstance, I guess being vegetarian in CDO would have been a better experience. Unfortunately I couldn’t be “in the moment” at the time.

So maybe next time.

After all the nice lady at Pilian said I should bring my Significant Other next time. Let’s see. If he wants. And if Cagayan de Oro isn’t traumatic anymore.