Thursday, March 26, 2020


amid the chaos that is the CoViD-19 pandemic, a new blog. a digital journal of sorts. full of photos taken with my PaperShoot / Paper Shoot camera.

i call it PaperShoot Snaps.

oh hey world. how are you doing? i know it sucks right now, but we'll get through this.

stay safe everyone.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

September 2018

Just thought I'd drop by for a quick update.

I've moved back to Manila!

But I still have to haul my stuff back from Baguio. They're currently still in the house I rented - fortunately it doesn't seem that the owner is interested in renting it out again anytime soon.

Family matters and health concerns will keep me in the capital, but I'm hoping I'll be able to visit the highlands often to see friends or to simply take in the cool breeze.

I'm thinking of retiring this decade-old blog and starting a new one.

Yesterday I was fixing some of my stuff and I found an old notebook I used for my 'morning pages' a while back. Reading it made me remember what I really want to write about, create, and do. A new blog will definitely be a good motivation to get things going.

To all of you who still check out the stuff I've written here, thank you for the love. Here's to new beginnings! :)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

just checking in

if you follow me on social media, you may have learned i've moved into a new place. same city, different hill.

it's a lot different from where i stayed previously--a condo unit in a tourist area--and presents its own set of challenges (neighbors whose domestic noise--shouting kids and angry mom included--reach my ears much too often) and joys (other neighbors' cats that now have the run of the house, nearby sources of "real" food, a 24/7 jeepney line).

i've also changed jobs--i'm writing, researching, and editing around 83 percent of the time for work, and the remaining work-related hours are spent learning more about...everything. it's all good.

in june i attended a series of trainings for waldorf school educators. i was--still am--intent on volunteering in balay sofia, the first and so far only waldorf-style school in baguio. i haven't stepped foot in the school in nearly two months now. i'm working on my schedule so i can volunteer in the mornings. the ideal plan is to go for a walk/run or practice yoga (activities i've been missing terribly!), go to balay sofia, rest a bit at home/do errands/work on a project, then do my regular work.

the current rainy weather has made it hard for me to fully explore my new surroundings, but i will surely get to doing that in the coming weeks. my "walkdays with laurie" project hasn't been updated in months!

free time is spent napping/sleeping (haha yes), sketching, tidying up the house/making small home improvements, going out with friends (haha yes), thinking of projects to do (i have a few long-term project ideas in mind), and cooking! thanks to the house being equipped with an induction cooktop, i'm enjoying spending time in the kitchen (and stir-frying everything). i think i like my cooking. :P

that's about the gist of things. i'm an awful blogger now but i do plan on writing here a bit more often (if not regularly), not only for myself but for those of you who think my stuff here is worth reading. i've had other blogs before this and other blogs after this, but i guess this one really sticks. i realize this blog is close to 11 years old now--thank you for keeping it on your reading list!

here's a look back at my first post on this blog: sunog sa araw, written after coming from a community immersion in nueva ecija. i'll be going with a friend's group to visit another community soon, this time somewhere here in benguet, and i'm really looking forward to that. i'm already planning which camera to use and which sketchbook to bring.

i'll be sure to tell you how it goes!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Coffee Harvest Tour

Friends and family know how much I love coffee, and now I have a deeper appreciation for it and for the farmers who grow the coffee plants and process the fruit. I learned that it's hard, time-consuming work and I will never look at a cup of brewed coffee the same way again.

Yesterday, I joined the Coffee Harvest Tour in the community of Sayatan in Tublay, Benguet. Sayatan is a project site of the Cordillera Green Network, a Baguio-based environmental NGO. Since 2001, the organization has been working to help transform communities in the Cordillera into models of sustainable resource management.

Let's back up a little bit--how did I get to join the tour? Well, I was helping a friend look for a place to stay in, and Tala came to mind. I go to Cafe Yagam every now and then when I have friends over and see people coming and going from Tala, the guest house just below. I got curious about it but never pursued looking into it, until now.

I checked Tala's Facebook page and learned of its connection with the Cordillera Green Network, and also learned that the org conducts educational tours as part of its advocacy. Coming up was a Coffee Harvest Tour, and I signed up.

Aside from showing us how a cup of coffee is produced, the tour also gave participants that much-needed break from city life, and for the foreign students, the chance to practice their English. :)

The group met up at 7:30 (everyone was so punctual!) at Tala, where organizer Kanami gave a short orientation and where we introduced ourselves. It's a very 'international' group comprising Filipino, Japanese, Taiwanese, Korean and Vietnamese coffee lovers. When we were all set, we climbed aboard CGN's jeepney and off we went.

When we arrived at Sayatan, we were introduced to the "coffee queens," the ladies who manage the community organization. They told us about the CGN's advocacy as well as coffee's journey from farm to table. They also showed the proper way to harvest coffee cherries to make sure the plant bears fruit again.
Orientation and introduction at Tala.

A quick stopover to buy snacks
Bread, bread and more bread
Toploading ftw
Ate Lily explaining the process of how a cup of coffee is made
Pick just the fruit--avoid taking the stem along with it!
Before harvesting: hot coffee!
Sweet sweet dog
Coffee plant
Looks like Christmas
Just pick the ripe cherries (the red/red-orange ones)
The cold climate makes Benguet conducive to growing arabica coffee
Trying out guava
Picking coffee cherries...until the ants came (the fruit is sweet)

Coffee seedlings at the nursery ready for planting! The community sells these for Php 7.50 each.
It takes around three years for the plants to bear fruit.
At the old nursery (they're preparing a net to cover the seedlings)
This view.
Why did the chicken (and her kids) cross the road?
To say hello to the grazing cow, of course!
Here's Johnny making sure our meal's cooking well

After lunch it was time to try pulping (where the fruit pulp is separated from the bean) and hulling, where the remaining mucilage is removed from the seed. After pulping, the beans undergo wet fermentation for 24 hours, washed and then dried before hulling.

Forgot to take a photo of the (manual) pulping machine, but here's the output: the pulp at left and the seed or bean at the right. 
The beans are first pounded to remove the mucilage or hull from the bean
Separating the hull from the bean
Separating the dried hull from the beans is challenging at first, but once you've mastered the movement, it's beautiful to watch.

More hulling
After sorting the beans, these are roasted for an hour. While there's a roasting machine that can get it done in 20 minutes,it's in another town and for the purpose of the tour, a kawali can do the job just fine. 

Almost done! Heavenly smells all around.
Ready to be ground up!
These beans will be grounded, ready for brewing

Hanging out with "Sweet Dog" (we don't know his real name)
And done! (Don't you just love these cups)

I had a great time learning about coffee and meeting new folks. Thanks to Tala - Kanami and Sevy - and the CGN as well as the community of Sayatan and the women farmers who showed us about how coffee makes its way into our cups.

Fact: To make 450 grams of roasted coffee beans, you'll need around 4,000 cherries. A cup is usually brewed from 10 grams of coffee, so you'll need around 90 cherries for just this one cup.

And that, my friends, is why you should savor each and every sip.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Speed Ball Training with Siri (Mongki as coach)

Who needs expensive kitty toys when you have a plastic cup, some string and puffy balls lying around?