Sunday, February 11, 2018

Minipresso GR - The Review

And today for the first time in history, in unadulterated photo session, we will answer the wonderful question of how can I afford espresso?

First up in our coffee series - we got ourselves a nifty Minipresso GR. Wacaco now has Nanopresso GR and Minipresso NS variants. The Minipresso GR is for your GRound coffee while the Minipresso NS is for your NeSpresso coffee pods (which is very wasteful and harmful to the environment). The Nanopresso is Wacaco's later product which is smaller and marketed so much better, so now they are putting Minipresso GR on sale.

This review post is for the Minipresso GR and how it fairs with a budget espresso machine powered by electricity. The Minipresso GR was dubbed with having the known perfect pressure of 8 bars for espresso. They're now dismissing it with the release of the Nanopresso which they claim can go up to 16 bars, because what do you know - marketing anything "higher is better" just seems so appealing, right?

First off, the box. It has quick view instructions at the back in case you forget how to use it or you just want to show off your Minipresso without having to explain how it works.

What's inside - there is an instruction manual with your warranty card and the pouch containing your spanking new Minipresso GR.
There's a regular 2oz shot glass for size comparison.

When you disassemble your Minipresso, you get 8 items. The water compartment, a drinking cup, a 1-shot 8g coffee scoop + tamper, the pumping mechanism, the portafilter, a cleaning brush, another filter/wall, and the pump output.

I already ground my coffee (remember to use freshly ground coffee for the best taste and experience) and the scoop/tamper has a really nice 8g sure measurement which fits perfectly in the filter. You can use the back of the scoop as the tamper and yes, it still fits perfectly.

Follow the next steps for your caffeine fix!
- Put coffee in the filter, tamp it. Put it on top of the pumping mechanism and put the cover. Seal it shut.
- Put water in the compartment.
- Put the entire cartridge on top of the water compartment. Seal it, too.
- Pull out the pump and start the process!
This is one part wherein everything just fits perfectly, like your hand in mine.

You can use one hand or both hands. Just grip it and find inner peace.
Now wait till your espresso comes out and see all the crema it has. It has legitimate crema and it tastes wonderful. This is a really nice gadget to bring whenever and wherever. The cleaning process is quite easy, to be honest. If you have a sink nearby, just remove the water compartment and the filter part, expect a few drops of coffee, you can easily dunk out the pressed coffee grounds and just run water through your Minipresso.
Here's the rest of the gang all cleaned up! (Ok, just washed with water.)
So, do you need a Minipresso in your life?
> Do you usually stay over a friend's house who only drinks instant coffee?
> Your office pantry does not have an espresso machine.
> Do you go camping or you love having a picnic outside your home?
> Do you love to travel and you love a good cup all the same?
> You don't have the luxury of getting your own machine?
> Do you just want to always be prepared to have coffee so you can be ready to whatever life throws at you?
> Do you love collecting portable stuff? Or okay, anything coffee-related?

Oh hello there, baby. You're magic incarnate.
Now this is from my budget espresso machine. Crema might be a little thinner but it tastes just as good. One factor you can control with your Minipresso is the temperature. Higher-end espresso machines can also give you control over your water temperature.

1, 2, 3. 1, 2, 3, drink!!!

The Minipresso GR retails at $50.00 and it costs around PHP 3,500 locally. Catch when it's on sale and just use ShippingBox or ShoppingCart for your other items.

We'll have an entry next time comparing a budget espresso machine vs a Breville dual boiler. I also have plans of posting about Aeropress, Bialetti stove top espressos, syphon, pour overs, and other coffee paraphernalia I got here because this is my way of putting off other important things I should do.

Friday, December 29, 2017

When You're About to Fly Up but the System is Way Down

What happens when the airline system is down and you have a scheduled flight during the down time? It's an adventure and spiritual journey rolled into one experience.

This happened earlier this December. It's my first time to go to Siargao, a domestic destination in the Philippines, that is making waves right now (pun intended) with the local and international tourists due to its white beaches, fantastic lagoons, and waves perfect for surfers. This post is NOT about Siargao and how beautiful and vulnerable the place is. Siargao and all the places I have visited deserve their own posts - which I pray I get to write about real soon.


Our flight was around 530AM SGT* and when we were trying to do web check-in (you know, just in case traffic was really bad at 3AM), surprise! The transaction was not pushing through and it's the same thing with my friends who tried to check-in earlier than we tried. We also tried to purchase prepaid luggage like I always do just the day before the flight and to no avail. I had a back-up plan to just stuff my toiletries in my friends' bags for check-in but luckily my other friend, Kathy, who was sharing the booking details with me was able to purchase a prepaid luggage just before the site went bonkers.

We arrived at NAIA Terminal 3 and the line was heck long. It was like a stationary parade of cars going up the terminal. You can't just go down and walk so you had to wait for your turn. It was a way to kill 15 minutes of your life. All lines were crazy long so we opted to alight at the farthest gate (we'll all meet at the check-in counter anyway). When we entered the airport - OH DAMN. 
THE AIRPORT WAS UN-BE-LIE-VA-BLE. It was just before 4AM, mind you. When we were walking crawling towards Cebu Pacific's counters, it was like a physical manifestation of CebPac's Piso Fare Seat Sale. You cannot get inside. There was no information if the counter is open or not. There were no self check-in counters outside the "gate" and the staff was obviously overwhelmed and ready to call in sick.
Is there a concert we didn't know about?
I'm pretty sure there is a protocol when servers are down, right? So when we finally saw our counter, ground crew asked us if we have luggage because our printed itinerary didn't show prepaid luggage. We said that we were able to purchase before the site went kaput but we didn't receive any updated itinerary. We only have our confidence, faith in humanity, and a screenshot of successful transaction to prove that we gave them our money.
Ground crew was also distressed, my bag was beyond the limit (but I can just remove some stuff and hand-carry it) and check-in lady couldn't care less. She has more problems than my 1kg excess luggage. Here's the catch: our flight has a connecting flight from Cebu. So instead of flying straight to Siargao, we need to fly to Cebu first, wait for a while, then CHECK-IN again for our Siargao flight. Of course, my concern then is my excess 1kg. I was so naive.

After getting our boarding pass, surprise no surprise. The gate number printed in our boarding pass got changed. We also learned our flight got delayed and that there are no ways we can know if our flight was there or if our gate is about to be moved again. We had to be really alert, set aside some of our stories, and listen for ALL kinds of announcements. I was thinking about the hearing impaired and the senior citizens who were flying solo. No visual announcements and no mercy for those who were not able to sleep before their flight. There was also a commotion wherein a lady was complaining that she missed her flight due to the airline's negligence. She was really loud and irate and the ground crew acted like a sounding board and a helpless fish.

What a day to be alive! The sun is just about to rise!


We were able to board our plane and the moment I sat down, I practiced again my newfound skill - to sleep immediately. I can't do this in water or land transportation even if I want to, but for some reason, I can snap and fall asleep inside an airplane. I have missed meals and immigration cards due to this. Haha. Still foolishly proud of this.

Since our Manila-Cebu flight was delayed, we only had a smaller window now to board our Cebu-Siargao flight. We went straight to connecting flights area and again, there were long lines. We sincerely thought all those folks are flying to Siargao as well, but nopes. When a friend used his authoritative voice, that's the only time we were entertained. So now we were manually checked-in again and surprise! Apparently, we're the only ones left! We got an unwelcome committee - a ground crew with a walkie talkie who was running the entire time. "Bilisan na po natin, kayo na lang po hinihintay." We had to go through the x-rays again and our names were called individually - my first time to get called. One tick off my bucket list! Tadah. And true enough, we were the only ones pending for the flight. I hate those folks - anyone who happens to be the cause of delay. And yeah, sometimes you become the people you hate the most. </3

It was an unwanted version of Amazing Race all because the system was completely down for more than half a day. What a perfect start for our Siargao escape!

*I just use SGT more than PST probably for work reasons since it's more recognizable. In any case, Singapore officially share the same timezone with us. 

Monday, October 02, 2017

Grey's Anatomy On Its Road To Forever

There might not be a forever but Grey's Anatomy has been there for 14 seasons of 20+ episodes per season, and in the tv series lifespan, that's pretty much close to 100 years.

Sure, the setting is majorly in a hospital but you probably won't expect anything more than that because you know it's a medical drama, right? It's not like Grey's Anatomy will be set in the Amazon where the surgeons are there to scavenge whatever they can and start building fire and eat each other (anatomy). It's probably for a different show.

Grey's Anatomy is not one of those series that when you watch seems like punishment for all the sins you have committed before. Some folks call it the series where everyone sleeps with everyone and although it has its faults at that part (not sure if people who regularly spend 3 straight work shifts with each other eventually sleep with each other), they put the ER in lovers when it's just about right.

It's a drama I prefer to watch with subtitles because I'm in it for the wise words of Meredith Grey that surpasses Grandma Willow from Pocahontas. It might not be as medical as people in the medical field want it to be, as they say House has more realistic details, but I guess for the ordinary people it's enough for us to be a little more comfortable and familiar with the hospital.

The end of the 13th season marked the 293rd episode of Grey's Anatomy. And making it at around 50 minutes per episode, that's 14,650 minutes of tears, explosions, scrubs, coats, crashes, times of death, defibrillators, MRIs, and blood for me. It's also showing on ABC's Thursday prime time so it looks like it's here to stay for a little more. Grey's Anatomy will always be my "person" and a reminder that sometimes, I just need to dance it out.

And in case you missed it, Season 14 is out with 2 episodes to boot.

*Note - The show-runner, Shonda Rhimes, has moved on exclusively (!!!) to Netflix and although she mentioned that Grey's Anatomy will continue to air in ABC. I wonder how this will affect the series moving forward.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Winter (Melon) in the Philippines

It's July 01, 2017 and half of the year has passed. This is not the time to reflect on all of our lost time - it's half of 2017 and you still haven't accomplished your weight goal. You still haven't laced up to run at least 10 kilometers in one go. You didn't avail of the promo Krav Maga lessons near your place because you think PHP 2,000+ a month (for 6 months) is too much wherein you'll actually learn and feel like Wonder Woman. You haven't started reading or studying for that dreaded exam and where are you now? You're xx pounds heavier, unfit, and you put the belly in belly dancing.

Well. It's not really you - it's me. I'm projecting my frustrations while it's raining peacefully and consistently here in Manila. And since I am enjoying this quiet at home right now (because my niece is taking her nap), it's like Switzerland during WW.

ANYWAY! The main point of this blog entry is to really just compare 2 kinds of winter melon tea. I have found the ready to drink variant from way back but it's just recently when we passed by the international (Asian) section in the supermarket that we found the powdered/instant one.


A.  Ready-to-drink Winter Melon Tea

The Tionghwa Winter Melon tea is made in the Philippines and has brown sugar mixed into it. It has 500ml (~PHP 55) and 1L (~PHP 65) variants. I get this thing whenever I see it and this is one of the reasons my mom doesn't want me to come whenever they go to the supermarket. I get it and slip it into the family cart. Leading milk tea stores offer a minimum of PHP 85 for your winter melon tea - whether it's just pure winter melon like in Gong Cha or it's mixed with black tea like in Serenitea. But you don't want to shell out a hundred bucks for something you'll down in less than 20 minutes right??

So what you can do is stock up on these winter melon babies and buy your fresh milk. Creamiest (not necessarily healthiest) brand out there for me is the Magnolia Full Cream Milk. In just 3 easy steps, you can make yourself happier than you were 3 easy steps ago!

1. Fill your glass with ice.
2. Pour yourself some winter melon. Be generous, it's only PHP 65 for 1L.
3. Pour full cream milk around 1/4 to 1/3 of your winter melon tea. Or whatever, suit to taste.

That's it!
Awww, Winter Melon and Fresh Milk on their first date.
I have shipped them ever since. Aren't they adorable??

B.  Powdered Winter Melon Tea

So I was content and really happy with my winter melon milk tea because it's so easy to prepare and all I need to think of after is to just wash my glass. However, I chanced upon this ray of sunshine and since I'm not a fan of powdered or instant anything, I saw one keyword that made me interested: STEVIA. It's a sweetener and acts as sugar substitute. And my mother is a diabetic. So this was an opportunity to introduce my winter melon tea to my mom. I got her one pack (I think this one is from Vietnam) and when I tried it out, it kind of tastes similar - it's winter melon after all! The only concern I have with this is that I can't pinpoint how much milk is needed to balance out the winter melon if I use just one sachet.

The ready-to-drink winter melon tea is still the reigning royal in this edition. The Cool Tea brand is good enough for diabetics or those who don't want all those sugar in their drinks. Winter melon is still the bomb for sweet fruit teas that doesn't taste weird when mixed with milk.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Singapore 2017

Oh hello, forever late post.

February is a pretty busy month for the family - both immediate and extended. There are lots of birthdays and get-togethers so scoring a weekend for yourself is a big feat. There was a seat sale last year for Singapore and so I decided to just book some tickets and fly out for my birthday. This would be the first time I'll be doing it because as I said, it's like a mortal sin not attending a relative's party. The most difficult part here is that my mom and I celebrate our birthdays just one day apart and I booked my departure flight on her birthday. This meant that after her birthday salubong, I have to go the airport already for my early morning flight.

It was 3AM. There was no traffic and we got there early. I was with my friend and we were thinking how we're going to spend 2 hours waiting for our boarding time. We walked and walked and rode the lift and saw the lounges. I remembered I have Citibank Premiere Miles as my credit card so I checked with the receptionist if they accept it and lo and behold, "Do you have a companion, ma'am? Just please present your boarding pass, sign here, and we're good."

Free food! Free access to a little more comfy chairs! Free coffee! Free alcohol! Free food! And they have cookies! It's my first time to get into the lounge probably because I'm also usually just about in time for boarding. Haha.

(Citibank's memo online says that their contract with the Mabuhay Lounge is only until Jan 2017, that's why I checked with the receptionist first who accepted my card anyway.)

I love you, Mabuhay Lounge.
I waited for take-off and then I was off to La La Land. I don't usually sleep on travel - land and sea - but for some reason, I always now fall asleep on plane rides. There was even a time I didn't even get to see the plane take-off. Once I am at peace in my seat, I buckle my seatbelt, and my mind flies away faster than a SpaceX rocket. In case you missed it, I went to Singapore.

How to get away from Changi Airport
If you have a lot of things with you, best bet is to hail a cab or Uber/Grab your way to your place. If not, you can still ride Bus 36 into the city. Take the lift or escalator down 1 floor and you can find the bus stops there. Look for the number and check your stop. Note that you have to stand at the open area if you have a luggage with you. Please be considerate and don't sit at the prioritized seating.

Kopi Teh? Teh Tarik? <3

We stayed at Strand Hotel along Bencoolen Street. The place is nice and convenient. They are currently building an underground station for downtown spots and there is a station smack in front of our hotel. This will probably bring up the accommodation price soon but for now, we're good with this. It's around ~ PHP 3,000 a night for 2 people and the room is huge. There's a lot of space for your guests and a lot of unofficial chairs to sit upon. You can have a party and you won't elbow each other's faces off. There is a 7-11 and a Food Republic (like a fancy foodcourt which houses a variety of food) just across the hotel. The only downside is that it has probably seen better days. The bath tub and the furniture are not new and there are lots of scratches on the television. Not the best but I won't trade it for bunk beds.

Say hello to the trees. 
Met with my cousin and another friend who live in Singapore and by default, they felt like they needed to help us go around the place. Well, I showed them my itinerary and they said it was too detailed. I'm risk-averse and I hate wasting time getting lost (or confused). I might still work on how I can wing things, but definitely not on a foreign land with borrowed time. So we went to the usual touristy spots because why not? Gardens by the Bay, Merlion, MBS, Singapore Flyer, Esplanade, and dinner at Makansutra. That was a wonderful day.

Holy shimutznaosfeasf! Always go crazy with chili crab!

Aforementioned sights can be found in one area - so you can take the very efficient metro and you'll also notice that their escalators are also on the rush compared to laid-back Manila.
It also gets better at night.

Hello, birthday! It was a Monday and Chinese New Year just concluded so we were not expecting lots of people who will squeeze with us. We were able to ride all the attractions we wanted, even those we didn't want to ride just because we have the place to ourselves. No long lines, no long lines, and there were no long lines! <3 I also bought our tickets online from the USS site and there was a promo then aside from our discount, we also have free photos as souvenirs. Haha. Ready for a family photo?? Since we were notorious in clocking extra steps in our Fitbit, we also went around Sentosa Island. Needless to say, that place is very interesting!
Who's your Mummy???
Thanks. I knew celebrating my birthday at Universal Studios was not a mistake.

Food in Singapore is one thing they're really proud of. You can grab snacks left and right and you'll only go hungry if you don't have money. 
Food is life in SG.
Definitely one for my birthday book. :)
I'm still hungry and foolish.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

How to Clear Your MMDA Alarm for License Renewal

Reviving my blog because blogging is life. 

This is how an experiment of almost 3 years has finally come to an end.

DAY XX: Start of the Experiment
It was last August 2014 that I was traversing Manila with a friend and we were stopped by an MMDA Officer. As per suggested approach, I asked what was my violation and he shared the information freely and adding how much my violation will cost me. MMDA Officers need not to confiscate your license if you are stopped for having minor violations. I think they will only confiscate if you are either involved in a car accident or probably a major violation. So my fine is worth PHP 150. He said I can pay in any Metrobank branches within 7 days.

Check your violation and its corresponding fine here: 

So then I thought what if I don't pay my violation? Will they be inputting the violations in the system and have some implication in the future? Previous feedback from some friends of friends mention that they just ignored the ticket and it didn't have significant impact in their lives. I need to find out.

DAY 01: Renewing My License
Well. Here were are! Enter February 2017. I was able to find an LTO Satellite Office so I can renew my driver's license. Went to Ever Gotesco Commonwealth at around 1PM and found less than 10 adults in the room (there were a few kids and I'm pretty sure they were not there to apply for student's license as their feet can barely reach the floor from where they're sitting on).

I had my eyes checked and then the doctor mentioned that I was there at the perfect time - only a few folks come in at 1PM and 3/4PM. So if you're going to LTO Ever Commonwealth, be there at those hours. The eye test is already similar to optical shops and with new machines come a heftier fee - the medical fee costs PHP 350. No problem. I'm still within my budget.

And then I hear my name even before my bum gathered heat. I approached the counter and wham. "Ma'am. You have an MMDA Alert and this is preventing you from continuing the renewal process. You need to go to MMDA Office in Orense, Makati and clear your alarm. Once done, you can restart your license renewal." I cry. My violation from 2014 which I blatantly ignored is now haunting me with a promise of stress and unnecessary expense (hello, Uber or Grab).

DAY 02: Trying To Clear My Alarm and Redeeming My Pride
So! There. How do you settle your Violation? If you don't pay your MMDA violation, they add it to your name now. This, I'm sure of. I challenged them last 2014 and it looks like they do use the system now.
This is where you should be. There are multiple buildings around the area but
this is where your mission leads you.

MMDA Office Hours for clearing your violation is only until 5PM. They are open Mondays to Saturdays but I bet your license people flock in on Saturdays. I don't recommend that you go there early because this is not a case of "the early bird catches the worm". There is no lunch break and you better grab that opportunity. I went in at around 1:45PM and first thing the guard tells me is I need to have my license photocopied. Obviously, I didn't bring any. It was not mentioned on the website. There is a nearby photocopying station so I walked over and handed in my license. I got 2 copies because why not? There was no line so it was a fast transaction.

Back at the station, I filled out my form - name, address, license number, birthday, and phone number. Then you give it back to the receptionist and then they'll call you. Proceed to the Assessment Window (this is annoyingly called Window 2, where the heck is Window 1?!). Assessment person will tell you how much your violation fee is and you will proceed to...Window 1. Yes, Window 2 is Step 1 and Window 1 is Step 2.

There are 2 Window 1's in there. First is for the Violation Fee payment and the next one is for Clearance Fee payment. Clearance Fee is at PHP 30. It doesn't matter whether you've done your violation from 2 years ago. It has the same fee. I read in their flowchart online that if you have more than 3 unpaid violations, you are required to attend a seminar and from what I heard from my MMDA seatmates, you have to pay PHP 450 for that. It is scheduled 2x a week, with 2 sessions per day (7-11am and 1-5pm if I'm not mistaken).

After paying the Violation and Clearance Fee, you give your form in the Clearance Window. Wait for your name to get called and they will hand you out your Clearance Form after. It's a sigh of relief similar to getting your approved visa.

So I looked at my Certificate of Clearance and it says that it has 10 days of validity from date of issuance. What does this mean? I have to return to LTO ASAP and have my licensed renewed within 10 days.

- Look for the MMDA Sports Gym / Sports Centre. Do not go to the other MMDA buildings, you are not intended to be there.
- Bring a photocopy of your license.
- Bring a pen as you need to fill out a form and sign the release book.
- Bring cash. Duh.
- Smile.
- Rejoice upon receipt of clearance form.

DAY 03: Renewing My License For Real
Armed with my Certificate of Clearance, my beautiful expired license, cash, a pen, and my medical form, I went to LTO San Juan (Aurora Blvd Branch) at around 11:55 AM and as it seems, my timing is perfect again. There were only a few people seated at the waiting area. There is no aircon here but it will not matter once I get my license. So I approached the "receptionist" and he stapled my driver's license to my medical form. I showed him my certificate of clearance which I had an adventure for and he just shrugged, "Okay na yan." I proceeded with Window 1 for assessment wherein  I just handed the lady my form. Please wait for your name to be called. Time check: 12 PM. Lady calls me at 12:11 PM and asks me to sign digitally and then have my photo taken. Well. That was quick. After 8 minutes, I get called to proceed to the Cashier and pay my renewal fee and late penalty. I was advised to call by June 2017 and that was it. In and out of LTO in 20 minutes.

They will return your license and will just issue you the receipt stating your new license has an expiration date 5 years from now. Ahhh, the power of a piece of paper. I am now guarding it with my life.

Total Expenses (PHP):
3 - Photocopying Fee
350 - Medical Fee (This is apparently the amount for mall-based LTO offices. At LTO San Juan, it costs PHP 200.)
150 - Violation Fee
30 - Clearance Fee
585 - License Fee
75 - Penalty Fee (because my license has expired already before I renewed it)
68 - Computer Fee

Total Time Spent:
Initial Renewal - 11 minutes (including medical check)
MMDA Clearance - 20 minutes
Legit Renewal - 20 minutes (no more medical check)

Wow. Life is an improvement when you go to the stations at 12PM onwards!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017


I can't believe I just had this post rotting here for February 2016. Seeing this, I finally had my grand reunion with this baby. The cap of my Nalgene was sliced through by an unknown force, rendering it sort of useless since it spills at the top. I can't find any other replacement here in Manila so my gracious friend gave me a replacement instead.

You can sip using the straw or you can twist the cap open and drink like a thirsty person.
But this is the surprise of the year. The Alunsina Handbound notebooks are the prettiest notebooks you can see in Manila. The paper might not be top-notch and you can score better notebook refills elsewhere, but they provide the best covers. Mine is a small soft leather Kislap with a Palamuti of a tree design. It has a pen holder which makes it the best notebook to bring on your trips or wherever you want. Need a notebook for your life goals? Check. As a bullet journal perhaps? Here it is. How about grocery shopping? This baby is a marvel. So how am I using mine? Well. I have a thing for notebooks and this is just sitting there bringing a smile on my face whenever I see it. In summary: I'm not using it. Shame. :|

These 2 items are the only ones I uploaded last year. I must have something more but oh well. This can do for reminiscing my birthday last year. :)

Friday, January 13, 2017


It's 2017 already! You're pretty sure time flies really fast whether you're enjoying it or not.

We know that "the days are long but the years are short" and it's applicable whichever way you want to see it.

2016 has been pretty stable for me and I just had a very realistic goal that time - to adjust and learn from what I am doing as well as of course, still travel. Maybe my 2016 is pretty good, not much has changed, just me getting older and wiser (by my own standards).

I am still in progress for my goal-setting this 2017 but so far, I'm liking the goals I have thought of. :)

Monday, September 19, 2016

nawalan na ng gana ang tadhana
nanlalamig yung dating nagbabaga

ang sabi mo walang hanggan
ba't nandito tayo sa dulo

pangako mo walang hanggan
bakit nandyan ka sa dulo?

pwede bang kalimutan mong may dulo
handa ako sa walang hanggan
pangako mong walang hanggan
akala ko walang hanggan

pero nandito tayo sa dulo

kung ika'y mawawala sa aking piling
dinggin mo ang aking bilin
lingon ka lang paminsan minsan
dito lang ako di ako lilisan

sa ating dulo

di ako lilisan