For Nomads

Hello, wanderluster!

While I mostly believe that people should organically discover foreign places on their own, I’ve got some gems that you might consider on your next trip.

Read on, and remember to always be open and flexible to charting your own adventure as you go along! 🙂

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Nomad Manager • Space Encounters and Subspace Coffee. Oh my…

Space Encounters and Subspace Coffee.

Oh my god.

*Moment of speechlessness*

followed by:

*GASP!*
“Wooooow!!”
“Ang gandaaaah!!”
“OH MY GHOOOOOD!!!”

DISCLAIMER: Bear with me, people. This entry will be long, and the number of pictures that I will probably be posting will require many-a-scrolling, but I promise, it will be worth it. Even if my photos may not be as artistically rendered as those by prime-lens-mounted-DSLR-wielding photographers, the most ordinary photos can look good with great subjects.

I first heard about Subspace Coffee from Nica, and I stumbled upon Space Encounters from some other blog. Seeing the pictures, I knew I wanted to go there. Soon. I had to. So finally, FINALLY, Nica and I made the trip today. And while I knew I would most probably love what I saw, I did not realize how much I would love it.

Subspace was the only intended destination for the afternoon, but I thought we ought to check out Space Encounters as well for some creative inspiration.

Space Encounters features original work by interior designer Wilmer Lopez. Most of the pieces you’ll find are inspired by mid-century modern design, with a focus hand-made, well-crafted wooden pieces as opposed to factory-spewed reproductions.

Needless to say, there was awed silence. Wide eyes. And repeated sudden, deep intakes of breath. It took me a while to absorb everything. And even after I went around and looked at everything I could possibly look at in the store, I still couldn’t get over it. LOVE. As in, I-could-live-here Love. Well, I probably wouldn’t find a K-pop corner in my own dream dwelling, but I’m sure Space Encounters has its market for that (i.e. Punchdrunk Panda design intern, Patman).

View even more of my Space Encounters pictures here.

After our extended gawking inside Space Encounters, we had to peel ourselves away and go back to work…this time, at Subspace.

The same pattern continued. Awed silence. Wide eyes. And repeated sudden, deep intakes of breath.

It took me a while to settle down and finally place my order. And when I finally did, I spotted this voice-activated Eve from Wall-E! (see Eve in action here)

When the excitement over Eve died down, I ordered their best-selling Purple Potato Latte (Hot: 8 oz.-P125, 12 oz.-P140; Cold: P140), complete with leveled up latté art, while Nica got a Cheese Muffin (P70).

View even more of my Subspace pictures here.

We stayed the afternoon and worked in this inspiring environment, yes, with K-pop playing in the background. If I were to create a dream office for Punchdrunk Panda, it would look like Subspace. With some added elements from Space Encounters. And whoooo, yes, complete with a barista! Haha.

After finishing my main task for PdP that day, I asked Thor, part owner of Subspace (whom I met as Nica and I were placing our orders), if he was free for a quick chat. I found out that this hypergalactic cafe was encouraged by several customers stepping into Space Encounters, the aforementioned home lifestyle shop, and asking for coffee, because they thought Space Encounters was a café. So, 3 months ago, partners Thor Balanon and Wilmer Lopez opened Subspace, a few paces and a sidewalk-engraved “I love you” away (walk from Space Encounters to Subspace and you’ll get what I mean).

I also found out that Thor worked in the ad world for a while before quitting and pursuing something of his own. This really confirms an observation by my partner Gail and I that ad agencies really do tend to spew entrepreneurs. 😛 I shan’t say more.

And haha…I loved Subspace so much that even after spending the entire afternoon with Nica there, I went back with Karlo after dinner! (Luckily, I managed to get the barista to take a quick shot of us before my camera died) And I requested that my scheduled meeting today be held there. HA-HA. (3 visits in 24 hours!)

So yeah, I have no vested interest in promoting Subspace and Space Encounters, but yeah, when I love something, I love something. I just wish I didn’t have to spend so much with each visit. 😛 Nonetheless, I see myself coaxing (or coercing) my PdP team to spend the occasional afternoon of work there. 😀 

Go visit Space Encounters and Subspace for some interplanetary inspiration!
Check out their beautiful business cards below!

 

Happy Tummy @ Ketchup Food Community, Baguio: Yummy, affordable, veg-friendly Thai

Been meaning to try my friend RJ’s (Karlo’s Love Never Dies bandmate) family resto upon going up to Baguio, and last April, I had the chance to do so. Hooray for me!

Karlo was talking about how the area where RJ’s family resto had been developed to include other new restos (making Happy Tummy the OG of the area), so now, it has turned into the Ketchup Food Community, a relatively new must-go place for foodies on a budget.

It also houses Canto, which shows a lot of potential (saw their menu and prices), and which we wanted to try on our second visit to Ketchup Food Community, but they were closed for a function, so we did a round 2 in Happy Tummy again, which was not a sad thing at all.

It also had a few other restaurants and hang out places that I didn’t really get to check out, but hopefully will on succeeding trips to Baguio. 🙂

In the meantime, Happy Tummy!

Happy Tummy proved to be an affordable, veg-friendly Thai resto, three adjectives that rest well with me. I didn’t get to try their curries (as they all had meat), so I don’t have their curry to judge as a baseline for Thai food yumminess. But I did get to try their Tofu with Toge (P120), which was a mound-ful, good for 2-3 people, and super fresh-tasting.

Karlo also ordered their Fried Tilapia (Small-P150; Large-P250), which I still tried, because I’m still pescetarian. It came with a sweet tamarind sauce and cilantro (which I love), which really elevated the humble, fried fish. Sorry for the photo (both for its quality and for vegetarian readers). 😛

And rice being a staple in the average Filipino diet, we also ordered their Thai Fried Rice (Small-P100; Large-P150). We got the small size, which was just right for 3 people. Though I was avoiding rice, this was just so good. Not exactly ideal for people prepping for a beach trip, but what the hell. It comes with chicken, so if you want this vegetarian, just request for them to omit the chicken.

We also ordered Phad Thai (P150), which at this point, we were too full to eat, so we just had it wrapped, but not before I poked my fork in for a try. This was just okay for me. I’m not it’s biggest fan, but I think Karlo likes it. It comes with meat.

On my second visit, I also got to try their [NM Vegetarian Food Find #5] Eggplant with Tofu (P120), also REALLY good and flavorful. I particularly loved the generous use of Thai basil here. It was on the spicy side though, activating my mucus glands, but I still kept going at it. 😛

My companions (Karlo and Maria on my first visit, and Karlo and Kitty on the second) washed down the (spicy) food with a pitcher of Thai Iced Tea (Glass-P40; Pitcher-P120), which I have never been a fan of because usually find Thai iced tea (in general) too sweet. And Happy Tummy’s tasted pretty much like the other Thai iced teas I tried, so it didn’t really change my opinion on the drink. But when my glass of yummy, sweet-sour Tamarind Juice (Glass-P40; Pitcher-P120) ran out, and I was still eating the eggplant and tofu, I had to resort to the Thai iced tea, effectively relieving me of the spiciness. (I have relatively low tolerance for spicy thing, I think.)

So there you have it. My opinion, served to you on a clay platter.
Check out details on how to get there + my veg rating at the end of this post. 🙂 

Drop by the Ketchup Food Community on your next trip to Baguio and pay Happy Tummy a visit! View their menu here. Then go back and try the others too. Or try all in one go if your stomach has the capacity of an elephant’s. 

Thai and again,
Jen 

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Happy Tummy
Ketchup Food Community
Romulo Drive, Barangay Lualhati (Near Wright Park)

2600 Baguio City, Philippines

NM Veg Rating
 Taste
 Price
 Ambiance
 Presentation
 Creativity
 Waiting Time
 Veg-ness
n/a Freelancer-friendly — didn’t check.
 Value for money

The Nomad Manager’s Veg Resto / Food Find Rating Scale

Okay, since it looks like I’ll be looking for more veg-friendly restos or food finds (probably for the rest of my life, since it’s looking to be a cause I will fully support), I figure I should have an appropriate rating scale for all my discoveries moving forward.

So here’s the criteria I’ve come up with, arranged in the order I deem them important:

    1. Taste
    2. Price
    3. Ambiance
    4. Presentation
    5. Creativity (resourcefulness in using veggies / recreating otherwise non-veg dishes)
    6. Waiting Time
    7.  Veg-ness
    8. Freelancer-friendly (depending on wi-fi and outlet cost / availability)
    9. Value for money (overall rating)

And here’s the 4-point rating scale I’ve come up with, with 1 icon (right now, ) being the lowest, most negative rating, and 4 being the highest, most positive rating. Please have as fun a time reading as I did writing:

1) Taste
·        Better than hunger.
·        Doesn’t taste “vegetarian” (read: bland and cardboard-like)
·        Seconds, please!
·        I CAN EAT THIS FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE!

2) Price
·        IS THIS FUCKING GOLD-LEAFED THEN DEEP-FRIED IN TRUFFLE OIL??
·        It hurts this cheapskate.
·        It’s reasonable.
·        Food here, beri beri chip!

3) Ambiance
·        Just get your food and leave.
·        I can hang out here for a bit.
·        Loved the look; I’ll definitely be getting some design ideas here.
·        CAN I LIVE HERE, PLEASE?

4) Presentation
·        My poop looks better than this.
·        Edible-looking.
·        Pretty!
·        Low EQ and food blogger ambitions aside, I HAVE TO TAKE A PHOTO.

5) Creativity (resourcefulness in using veggies / recreating otherwise non-veg dishes)
·        Boring.
·        Pretty clever.
·        I wish I’d thought of that!
·        THIS WILL CHANGE THE WORLD.

6) Waiting time
·        I couldn’t wait to find out. Really, I couldn’t.
·        Sana nag-padeliver nalang tayo. (30 minutes or more)
·        Enough time for some reading / chitchat (15-30 minutes)
·        Faster than speeding bullet! (0-15 minutes)

7) Veg-ness
·        Oh, that was the ONLY vegetable dish? (Has isolated vegetarian fare)
·        Omnivore family/barkada-friendly (Has a fair array of vegetarian options)
·        Yay! Plants! (Fully/mostly vegetarian)
·        VEGAN POWERS!! (Fully/mostly vegan)

8) Freelancer-friendly (depending on wi-fi and outlet cost / availability)
·        This is NOT a place to work.
·        I’d like to work here, but they make it REALLY hard for you.
·        I could work here for a bit.
·        I could work here all day!

9) Value for money  (overall rating)
·        Don’t waste your money here.
·        It’s worth a try.
·        I’d definitely come back.
·        IT IS FACE-MELTINGLY EPIC!

Looking forward to reviewing more restos and rating some more food finds! 🙂

Veg out,
Jen

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Nomad Manager • PdP-losophy: The Punchdrunk Panda Formula In May…

PdP-losophy: The Punchdrunk Panda Formula

In May last year, we finally came together as a team at Punchdrunk Panda to discuss our values as a company. I’ve long wanted to formulate some kind of company philosophy so that we too know what we stand for and why what we do does have some importance in this world.

I get all serious when I talk about Punchdrunk Panda sometimes, and while on the outside, it may seem like we’re just a company that happens to sell cute / pretty / awesome stuff, in my head, we’re trying to do more than that.

Through our efforts, we aim to wash brains and change perceptions in hopes that:

  • “Wild” and “crazy” ideas / creative pursuits will be given a bigger, broader avenue to be manifested, and that they be more appreciated as a result of that.
  • Everything created in the world will have a bigger purpose than just being cute / pretty / awesome. (Sounds like a fight against vapid, painfully beautiful models)
  • Filipinos and the rest of the world will recognize the inherent talent, skill, creativity and ingenuity of their fellow Filipinos.
  • Everyone will pursue the things they’re really passionate about, whether it be design, film, music, photography, painting or spearfishing.

I thank you. Bow.

Cheers,
Jen 

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punchdrunkpanda:

Take a look at our PdP-losophy at our beautiful new website!

PdP-losophy n. [pee-dee-pee-law-saw-fee]

Creativity, function, change, Filipino & passion.
Ideas we value and live by at PdP.

And if you value the same things, we hope you’ll take the time to learn more about our PdP-losophy here, and collaborate with us some day. 😀
Just shoot us an e-mail at info@punchdrunkpanda.com.
We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas! 

 In the meantime, you can also purchase our PdP-losophy button pins from our shop. 🙂

Punchdrunk Panda character design by OJ Desuasido
Fun new costumes by Joseph Velasquez

Passion forward,
The PdP Team 

Nomad Manager • Surprise Pinoy Travel Bloggers Meetup @ Subspace…

Surprise Pinoy Travel Bloggers Meetup @ Subspace Coffee 😀

Last week, after my Passion Test Workshop (PTW) with Lois Yasay (I will post about it this week! Haha. Unexpected happy life occurrences or “synchronicities” just compel me to write about them sooner, and the PTW entry warrants deeper thought and introspection. Disclaimering my procrastination, but anyway), we agreed to meet up this week, at Subspace Coffee (where we first met last March and talked about our passions for 3 hours), to basically just chat about our upcoming travels.

This July, I’m leaving for my 2.5-month solo trip to Cambodia-Thailand-Laos/Myanmar-Sri Lanka, while Lois is leaving for a month-long trip to Spain to run with the bulls!

I’m down to less than a month, and I don’t feel very ready at all, but then again, is anyone ever really ready for all the surprises travel brings? Granted, some a lot of people could be readier than me though.

What I wasn’t “prepared” for yesterday was meeting and hanging out with a whole bunch of shiny and new awesome people. Had I known, I’d have made a bit more of an effort and not come in yoga wear.

Lois and I had agreed to meet from 1-4pm because she had another 4pm meeting. One of the people she was meeting at 4pm came early though (an hour early at 3pm), and I was surprised to find it was Eileen Campos of Possibly Pinay, our most entertaining blogger from Punchdrunk Panda’s first-ever blogger hangout — also at Subspace!)

I would later find out that one of the other people they were meeting was Edcel Suyo of soloflighted.com, whom I had corresponded with recently for his familiarity with Siem Reap, which is my first stop for my 2.5-month trip. Incidentally, he’s supposed to be there when I arrive as well, and I didn’t think I’d be meeting him until July. Small world!

I also got to meet Lois’ previously Chiang Mai-based Filipino Couchsurfing friend, Raf. He shared tips with Lois on her trip to Spain, and I’ll probably be asking him more about Chiang Mai soon. Haha.

What was supposed to be a 1-4 meetup lasted until 6pm, with me learning about their travel scares, traveling on a budget, or for free, monetizing their blog and blogging tools (which I would later find weren’t Mac-friendly).

I had planned on doing yoga in the evening (to maximize the last few days of my deal grocer coupon), but when Lois invited me to join them for dinner, I knew I couldn’t pass up the chance to hang out with them some more.

We wound up at Shakey’s, and got this crazy monster meal for 10-12 people upon Raf’s insistence that any less would be inadequate 😛 (I didn’t want to be difficult with my going vegetarian diet, so I just removed the meat from my pizza and pasta, and steered clear of the chicken -> disclaimering my non-violation). Josiah Sicad of Lakas and Lauren Gaile of Epic Potato arrived later and we closed the place at 9:30pm.

It was a very good day/night. 🙂 And I certainly hope it’s only the beginning of more highly educational hangouts with these like-minded individuals who are always hungry for travel.

[Clockwise from bottom left: Lauren, Raf, Ed, Lois, Eileen, myself and Josiah]

Starving,
Jen 

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Panda-saving Packaging by PdP!

I love when my little company can do little things that can help the planet in a big way.

I previously posted the layout we used in our news blast about our new footwear packaging. But I just wanted to share a thing or two about the development of the packaging.

We wanted to create something that eliminated the use of plastic, protected the shoes, and served as the very vessel for you to tote your goodies home/around. And successfully ticking all of these elements made me feel a great sense of accomplishment already.

However, this previously neglected aspect of our branding, this valuable consumer touchpoint (as Martin Lindstrom would put it), can now serve as an avenue for us to tell consumers about ourselves, and the things we believe in at Punchdrunk Panda. 🙂

Check out our PDP-losophy below. 😀

So there. Yay! 😀 *sniff*
And while I may be elated about it now, I’m sure there are still ways we can make it better, along with many other aspects of PdP. 

Let us know what you think! 🙂

5 Tips For Improving Your Product Landing Pages

Read on for Mashable’s interview with Zach Morrison, vice president of strategy at Elite SEM, on best practices for creating landing pages that convert. 🙂

Need to fully digest these things and spew them out again for Punchdrunk Panda. 😀

Death & Despedidas: Pre-departure Week in Manila

The other morning, over my scrumptious vegan breakfast here at Hariharalaya, my “housemates” Joel & Nick briefly conversed about death, and how for some people, speaking about it is taboo, when in fact it is an idea we should embrace. Personally, I believe that the acknowledgment of death around the corner just helps us live our lives more fully.

Ready to Fly or Die

This may sound a bit melodramatic to more seasoned solo and/or long-term travelers, but in the last week prior to my departure for my 2.5-month solo trip around Asia, I really felt like I was preparing for my demise.

I got all my personal and business accounts in order, turned over bank, investment and insurance accounts to my mother. Made sure all of my travel and life insurance documents were in order. Spent time with family; spent time with friends. Repeatedly told the important people in my life that I care about them and I love them.

I had even intended to create handwritten letters for those I care for the most, and a last will and testament of sorts, but my frazzled brain and last-minute to-do’s really kept me from really setting the time and sitting down to do so.

My Family’s Despedida

My family and I spent my last full Sunday on a trip to Tagaytay. We went to Rowena’s for tarts and sylvanas and dilis, bought bee products from Ilog Maria, had a lunch feast with consumables at Tagaytay Highlands, then capped it off with coffee and cheese bread at Bag of Beans. I could have been with them anywhere and it wouldn’t have mattered. What ultimately mattered is we had that time to spend with each other.

My mother even made me give a speech, and I acceded and started my speech off with:

“I only have two sentences: Una, wag kayo magaalala masyado. Pangalawa, kung mamatay man ako, at least ginagawa ko yung gusto ko / masaya ako.” [In English, that means: First, don’t worry too much. Second, if I die, at least I was doing what I wanted to do / I was happy.”]

Then I laughed afterwards.

They then proceeded with their own speeches for me, saying “take care / ingat” mostly, and I was surprised to find myself tearing up when my mother spoke (though she didn’t get emotional at all). I decided I would spend a day with her within the week to go shopping in Greenhills. That was a good day too. 🙂

My Friends’ Despedida

Monday night on my last week, Karlo also set us to have a date. When he came by, however, he was driving his car with busted A/C so we took my car instead, into which he carried four massive and fragrant Brooklyn Pizza boxes, and he gave a bad excuse about his sister asking him to buy them for him. So I immediately knew something was up.

Since I was driving, I asked where we were headed and he said “Maginhawa”, a street I associate with only 2 things: hanging out with his friends at Pino, or Moonleaf. I figured that if we were going to Pino, our friends Kitty and Bert would surely be there. But if we past Pino, I figured Nica and possibly Jonver and Thysz would be waiting for us at Moonleaf.

I had good deduction skills, so I found Nica, Jonver, Thysz, Kitty, Bert, AND my barkada waiting for me at Moonleaf. 🙂 It’s good to know that Karlo is a bad liar. 🙂

Pictures c/o Jonver
[(Semi) SURPRISE!] 

[Three out of the four massive pizzas Karlo bought, with Thysz & Maria]

[Foooooood….]

[Red velvet cupcaaaaaaakes….]

[With Nica and Thysz]

[With some of my barkada]

[With my Punchdrunk Panda girls]

[Puyat-looking much?]

[With Karlo’s friends at Pino]

[Happy camper :)]

I may not be rich in money, but I’ve got plenty of love.

Now more than ever, I am on the way to Brokebank Mountain, and really, that’s okay, because now more than ever, I’ve realized how truly fortunate I am to be surrounded by some of the sweetest, most thoughtful and caring people and I honestly don’t know what I did to deserve them because I can be quite the bitch at times.

I don’t really think I’m going to die while on my trip, but one never knows what will happen (whether I’m in the Philippines or not, really), and it’s just better to be prepared either way. Besides, in the case of telling our loved ones how much they mean to us, I’d rather “err” in doing it more than less.

So yes, you know all your names. I love you, guys. 🙂

Hugs,
Jen

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Day 1 (Part 3 of 3): A Surprise Cambodian Arts & Crafts Reprise

After my walk to Siem Reap’s Old Market for beautiful textile products galore, I decided to continue walking on to Artisans d’Angkor, which I spotted on my map and was naturally intrigued by. Again, I don’t really remember how long I was walking, but it was probably around 15 minutes away from the Old Market.

I didn’t realize it was one of the very same places I visited some 5 years ago on a very touristy trip to Siem Reap with my parents and their badminton friends. I was still glad to be there to admire yet again and be able to share it with you, my lovely readers.

Artisans d’Angkor (see contact details at the end of this entry) has a variety of workshops at their Chantiers-Ecoles branch (main branch) including stone and woodcarving, lacquering, silver plating & silk painting workshops.

[Loom with silk threads and cocoons]

[Silk-painting artisans at work]

[Steps in creating lacquer products]
 

[Sandstone geekery]

I admire Artisans d’Angkor for what they created, and let me briefly explain that with some text from their materials:

“[Artisans d’Angkor was created in 1992]…to help young people find work in their home village and thus increase their families’ income and slow down rural depopulation. It provides them with 9 to 12 months high-skilled training and a vocation from which they can make a living…
…Artisans d’Angkor strives to promote fair trade in Cambodia…
…allows Cambodians to retrive their cultural heritage so as to build their pride in their roots.”

I LOVE efforts in cultural preservation, particularly for arts and crafts, and I wish someone would create a similar movement in the Philippines, since we also have a very rich cultural heritage in arts & crafts that may be dying due to rural depopulation thanks to the false notion that moving to Manila will automatically give them better opportunities. Hope I can do something about that too but I wouldn’t know where to start or who to get in touch with, but yeah that’s another blog post on its own, really.

So that was the last stop of my Nomad Manager Cambodian Arts & Crafts Walking Tour, the total cost of which was $9, inclusive of a $9 handmade silk scarf from the Old Market. 😀

Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of my first day in Cambodia, or click here to see how I began my walking tour. 🙂

I’ll be going away from the “city center” to visit the Hariharalaya Retreat Center for about a week’s worth of yoga, meditation and vegan meals. 🙂 I don’t know how much internet access I’ll have from there, but I’ve queued a couple of posts to keep you moderately entertained. So until then, leah sen hai!

Retreating,
Jen

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Artisans d’Angkor
Chantiers-Ecoles (main branch)
Stung Thmey Street
Siem Reap, Cambodia
infos@artisansdangkor.com
www.artisansdangkor.com