For those who can’t live without their caffeine fix, the search is always on for a good cup of joe. Next-level coffee junkies, however, take their caffeine obsession to a different level. They visit coffee plantations, pick cherries, learn how to roast, and join coffee cupping activities. In fact, the taste of coffee in the places they visit are some of the most defining moments of their experiences.
If you are a traveler seeking this kind of experience overseas, Thailand is one of the closest coffee-growing countries you can visit. Though Thailand is not often linked to world-famous coffee, it is home to many plantations where your coffee dreams can come true. Aside from giving you a taste of Thailand’s unique coffee origins, this country’s farm tours have fascinating stories to tell.
From bean to cup: a glimpse and taste of history
Thailand’s burgeoning coffee industry scene had a unique role to play in the Southeast Kingdom’s history and development. For many years, the highlands where Arabica coffee was grown used to be bleak and barren.
This is because the tribal communities who lived there survived from slash-and-burn agriculture, which resulted in massive deforestation and the depletion of food sources. Poverty drove them to opium cultivation, drug trafficking, and heroin production. It took interventions from Thailand’s royal family to turn the tribespeople from opium to coffee, which now provides a source of livelihood for these communities.
One such coffee plantation is Suan Lahu located north of Chiang Mai, where you can have a short four-hour visit, a day tour, or even an overnight stay with a host from the Lahu tribe, giving you the opportunity to immerse in the tribe’s way of life. Here you can go on a guided hike with the locals, pick coffee cherries, observe coffee processing, and even roast your own Arabica. From January to December, you can even enjoy traditional campfires.
Doi Tung in Chiang Rai Province is another of these opium farms turned coffee plantations. This community located at 1,389 meters above sea level is home to more than 3.5 million trees, a source of livelihood for almost 900 families. Doi Tung’s farm to cup experience immerses you in different aspects of coffee production, from cherry picking to roasting and tasting. Aside from its coffee farms and facilities, Doi Tung is also home to the Mae Fah Luang Arboretum where you can find thousands of unique temperate plants.
Another possible destination in Chiang Rai is the village of Doi Chang, which is situated in an altitude of up to 1,700 meters above sea level. At the village’s coffee shop, you can take a sip of the organic, single origin coffee while enjoying the fresh mountain breeze. The nearby museum called Academy of Coffee lets you learn more about the region’s produce. Outside the museum, you can look at the coffee trees filling hills and plots owned by local families. Finally, there’s the coffee processing plant, which you can see at work during the main coffee season.
Some of the world’s finest
Thailand’s coffee farms don’t only give you a glimpse of the coffee’s journey from bean to cup. They also produce some of the world’s best coffee.
Doi Chang, for example, is home to free-range, stress-free civets that eat only the ripest, sweetest cherries. These undigested beans are infused with the flavors of the civet’s diet and the enzymes in its stomach. When roasted, these beans have the flavor profile of citrus-toned acidity, cedary dark chocolate, and raisiny fruit.
The social enterprise Akha Ama Coffee in Chiang Mai, which also hosts a three-day Coffee Journey with the local Akha tribe, has also produced award-winning coffee. Known for its distinct citrus notes and acidity, Akha Ama’s coffee was selected for the World Cup Tasters Championship in 2010 and 2011.
While visiting these coffee farms let you enjoy delicious coffee, it also lets you support local communities who are making a living and preserving their heritage. This makes your #THAImazing story both memorable and meaningful.
This story is in partnership with the Tourism Authority of Thailand. For more information, visit the website or follow them on Facebook.
A stratospheric high took over everyone as Game of Drones: 3rd Flight, the country’s biggest and only drone competition, will take off on May 25, 2019.
High-flying teams will come together at Industria in Circulo Verde, the city’s active lifestyle destination that has become a haven for those who love one-of-a-kind adventures. Game of Drones: 3rd Flight is one such event, which will provide FPV (First-Person View) pilots and drone enthusiasts an opportunity to show off their flying skills without having to wander far from the city, thanks to Industria’s wide open spaces which is ideal for those who love to fly drones.
On ground, there will be as much excitement as that in the skies. The Industria Celebrity Trunk Bazaar, led by Tintin Babao, will also be happening where you can find unique goods and treats for the summer.
Drone Photographers who would like to join the drone photography contest, this is your time to shoot. For more details feel free to check out mechanics and register for free through this link: http://bit.do/GameofDrones.
This story is in partnership with Ortigas Malls. For more information, follow the Game of Drones’ Facebook page and Ortigas Malls’ website.
Hong Kong is one of my favorite cities because there’s always something different each time I visit. Of course, each trip means a new set of dishes and restaurants to experience. And yet, for some reason, I’ve never had the chance to try Honolulu HK Cafe, the original and oldest tea restaurant in the city. Since it opened in 1940, it has charmed locals and tourists with its egg tarts and other pastries. I got to try it for the first time here in Manila.
I went to the Robinsons Manila branch and the first order of business was to try the restaurant’s Honolulu Egg Tarts (P50). Their version is flakier and has a creamy texture that has just the right flavor. It doesn’t overpower so you can definitely have as many as you want!
A great alternative is the Honolulu Bo Lo Bun with Butter (P60), a pillowy-soft bun filled with a thick slab of butter. It’s decadent, it’s generous, and oh so glorious. Those who like their caffeine can try the newly-launched Coffee Bun, which adds a coffee crust on top.
For something savory, you can try the Bo Lo BBQ Pork Bun (P60), which takes their buttery-soft sweet bread and stuffs it with barbecue pork. There’s also the Luncheon Meat and Egg Bun (P60), an excellent choice for those who like their breakfast food.
All of these pastries can be enjoyed with Honolulu HK Cafe’s drinks, which includes coffee and Hong Kong-style milk tea. If you can’t choose between the two, you can try the Yuan Yang (P130), which conveniently combines tea, coffee, and condensed milk!
Like what I mentioned in my title, there’s more to Honolulu HK Cafe than its pastries. They also have a range of savory dishes that will transport you to the cosmopolitan city.
For light snacking, I highly recommend the Curry Fish Ball (P198). It tastes exactly like the ones being sold in stalls in Hong Kong and my first bite brought me back to the last time I ate it for breakfast at Nathan Road just before sunrise last year.
Those who would like something heavier can try the Deep Fried Prawn with Salted Egg Yolk (P488). I’m a fan of the trend so this was a hit for me. I also enjoyed the Beef Brisket Curry in Casserole (P328), which comes with a rich and flavorful sauce.
Honolulu HK Cafe in Robinsons Manila holds the distinction for being the only branch in the Philippines to have a roast menu. I loved the Crispy Roast Pork because the meat was juicy and the skin crunchy. It’s best paired with a piping hot bowl of steamed rice! The Chinese-Style BBQ Pork is also good, offering succulent and tender pieces of pork drizzled with sweet sauce.
There are plenty of dishes to try at Honolulu HK Cafe. You can come in the morning or during the afternoon for a light snack of an egg tart and a cup of Yuan Yang. You can drop by during lunch or dinner for some roast pork or some curry. Whatever time you go, there’s always something for you here.
This story is in partnership with Honolulu HK Cafe. The restaurant is located in Robinsons Manila and SM Aura Premier. For more information, follow them on Facebook and Instagram.
A lot of people my age count the Disney version of Aladdin as their favorite film. So when it was announced that a live-action adaptation would be produced, they had high expectations. As high expectations go, they are rarely met so people had things to say when the trailer came out, especially after seeing Will Smith as a blue genie. But after seeing the film a week before its Philippine premiere, I have to say: I love both the animated feature and the adaptation.
The Disney version of Aladdin follows the titular street rat as he makes ends meet while stealing in the fictional land of Agrabah. When he is tasked by Jafar, the city’s Royal Vizier, to procure a lamp within the Cave of Wonders, he unleashes a Genie that can grant him three wishes. The Disney animated feature is the highest-grossing film of 1992 and went on to win two Academy Awards for Best Original Score and Best Original Song for “A Whole New World.”
The live-action adaptation Aladdin had a big magic lamp to fill but Guy Ritchie’s direction was able to live up to the Disney magic. Admittedly, Smith carried the film with his swagger and bravado. He is natural as the Genie and many of the film’s best moments involve him. A surprise here is Nasim Pedrad as Princess Jasmine’s handmaiden. The role is a welcome addition because of Pedrad’s comedic timing.
Of course, the actors playing Aladdin and Jasmine did not disappoint. Mena Massoud as Aladdin was handsome and debonair, while Naomi Scott was vulnerable and headstrong as Jasmine. It was a great decision for Disney to set up a diverse cast, adding a touch of accuracy to the scenes. They are joined by Marwan Kenzari as Jafar, Navid Negahban as the Sultan, and Billy Magnussen and Numan Acar in new roles.
The spirit of authenticity also extends to the set. Emmy Award-winning set designer Gemma Jackson created a beautiful world with exquisite costumes inspired by the different elements and architectures of the Middle East and South Asia. The result is a vibrant film which comes off as a Bollywood production.
The biggest question for people about to enter the cinema to watch Aladdin will be the soundtrack. The live-action adaptation maintains the animated feature’s setlist, with eight-time Academy Award-winning composer Alan Menken returning to provide the musical tunes, including pop-friendly recordings of “A Whole New World,” “Friend Like Me,” and two new songs.
It’s important to come in to watch the live-action Aladdin with zero expectations. While it is based on the animated feature, this is a film that should be measured on its own, not in comparison to the source material. The 1992 version introduced us to the magic of Agrabah. This one brought it to real life.
This story is in partnership with The Walt Disney Company. Aladdin opens in Philippine cinemas on May 22, 2019. For more information, follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Follow the hashtag #AladdinPH to join the conversations online.
Musica FEUROPA, Far Eastern University’s annual choral competition and festival with the European Union in the Philippines as its principal partner, grows in size and stature every year. It’s set to return this year on May 25 and 26, 2019 in the recently retrofitted Auditorium of Far Eastern University, Manila.
The key criterion of Musica FEUROPA is that each choir has to perform two songs: one song of their choice written in an official European Union language, and one piece written in any Filipino language.
From just four choirs in 2009 mostly from the City of Manila, the number rose to an all-time high of 31 choirs hailing from all over the Philippines. What used to be a competition for college choirs expanded to two categories: High School and Open including but not limited to university, church, company, government, and other ensembles. Musica FEUROPA has become one of the definitive choral competitions in the Philippines.
As Musica FEUROPA begins its second decade, some notable changes will be implemented to intensify the competition. The High School category expands to a Teen category to include youths between 13 and 19 years of age. Like last year, the top three finalists of each category will compete for the title of Grand Champion.
Also, the tutti finale of the European Union Hymn will be sung in German.
Saunder Choi, an acclaimed Filipino composer, was commissioned for a competition piece to be performed in the Grand Finals. The piece, entitled “El Vasto Mar,” will convey how music can serve as a universal language to promote and sustain unity, peace, and harmony among different nations. The text of the piece is lifted from Sampaguitas Y Poesia Varias, written by Pedro Paterno.
This year, 10 choirs from the Open category and five from the Teen category will compete in Musica FEUROPA. The winner will be determined by esteemed Filipino choral conductors and clinicians.
The semifinalists from the Teen category will be adjudicated by Arwin Tan, Rodolfo Delarmente, and Maria Theresa Vizconde-Roldan, while Lester Delgado, Jude Roldan, and Emmanuel De Leon, Jr. will adjudicate the Open category.
The Grand Champion will be decided by Prof. Fidel Calalang, Jr., Dr. Beverly Shangkuan-Cheng, Dr. Ed Manguiat, Ma. Lourdes Hermo, and Ramon Lijauco, Jr.
The Grand Champion shall take home P100,000.00 and a trophy. The First Runner Up and Second Runner Up will receive P30,000.00 and P20,000 respectively, together with a trophy. A consolation prize of P10,000.00 will be given to the remaining grand finalists.
Free tickets may be downloaded from Ticket2Me, a ticketing app available for download in the App Store for iOS or Google Play for Android devices.
This story is in partnership with Musica FEUROPA. For more information, visit the website or follow them on Facebook, and Twitter. You may also call the PCC Center from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday to Friday at (632) 849-4145.
If you’re looking for something to cool you down this summer, it’s time to give yourself that much-deserved sweet treat. If you live in the north, The Lost Bread recently found its newest home in SM Fairview!
The Lost Bread dessert concept prides itself for being the first to revolutionize milkshakes in the Philippines. The brand offers a wide selection of delectable-bordering-over-the-top desserts, from the country’s first ever smoking soft-serve ice cream cups, milkshakes, down to French toast cubes which come with different “syrup syringes” for added flavor.
Read on to find out more about these must-try desserts that would definitely make you (and your Instagram feed) happy this summer!
Golden brioche toasts are chopped into cubes and covered in your choice of flavored sugar from the Classic Cinnamon, Sweet Cheese, Matcha Envy, Coffee Fix, and more. The cubes come with three kinds of syrup that are served in syringes: Dark Chocolate, White Chocolate, and Caramel.
If you’re one of the many people who are starting to realize the effects of single-use plastic, Starbucks has an option for you: the coffee brand launched reusable cups for hot and cold drinks, along with straws!
The reusable cup is nearly identical to Starbucks iconic white cup and is made from polypropylene, a plastic which is widely accepted in global recycling infrastructure. The new reusable cups are designed to make the cup sturdier than paper and are a more sustainable approach to single-use packaging.
Globally, an estimated 600 billion paper and plastic cups are distributed annually. Although Starbucks cups only account for around 1% of that total, it is committed to bringing more sustainable solutions to reduce waste. Since 2014, Starbucks has offered the reusable cup in the US, Canada, and the UK. So far, the company has sold more than 25 million globally.
Last year, Starbucks also announced its goal of removing all plastic straws in its stores globally by 2020. In the Philippines, the coffee brand has also begun taking steps towards this goal with the Skip the Straw initiative. At local stores, customers are offered to skip the straws, disposable utensils, and napkins for their orders and are provided more sustainable options including specially-designed sipping lids and compostable straws.
The reusable cups are available in all Starbucks stores for P100.
This story is in partnership with Starbucks Philippines. For more information, visit the website and follow its Facebook and Instagram pages.
One of the best nightlife spots in Asia is Singapore. The island nation is known for business but they also house five of the World’s 50 Best Bars and 15 of Asia’s Best Bars in 2018. I haven’t had the chance to try out their entertainment scene but I got to try out some of their drinks when the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) hosted an evening infused with the Singapore spirit.
At Run Rabbit Run (a sister bar of the popular Bitters & Love in Singapore) in Poblacion, we got to experience some of the country’s unique drinks.
I attended a gin appreciation class with Brass Lion Distillery, where we tried their line of gins. There’s the classic Singapore Dry with Asian flavors, the Butterfly Pea with its lavender top note, and the Pahit Pink’s bold flavor. The Singapore Dry is for those who like the standard spirit, while the Butterfly Pea is perfect for drinkers with an adventurous palate. I enjoyed the Pahit Pink the most, especially its citrus flavors.
I also got to try making a Singapore Sling, the iconic gin-based cocktail developed by Ngiam Tong Boon, a Hainanese bartender working at the Long Bar in the Raffles Hotel. I didn’t realize it was that complicated! I didn’t achieve the desired froth (I didn’t shake the concoction vigorously enough), but it tasted good because I personally made it.
Perhaps my favorite drink during the afternoon was the Kaya Toast, a cocktail inspired by one of Singapore’s staple snacks. Naz Arjuna, Bitters & Love’s head bartender (and one of the Top 25 Bartenders in Singapore) served up a drink topped with kaya toast, a sandwich with jam made from eggs, sugar, coconut milk, and pandan leaves. You get a drink and a treat!
Capping off a boozy afternoon and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Singapore-Philippine relations, I got to sample a special drink called the Nonya Confessions, a cocktail combining much-loved treats from both countries: Singapore’s dessert ondeh ondeh (rice cake filled with liquid palm sugar and coated in grated coconut) and the Philippines’ dalandan. Quite an interesting drink that I’ll remember in the years to come.
To make it even more exciting, STB even hosted a contest with Drink Manila, where the winners will get to fly to experience the Singapore Cocktail Festival (SGCF), the biggest cocktail showcase and celebration in Southeast Asia. The event, happening from May 10 to 18, will see drink makers and lovers from all over the world attending pop-ups, tastings, competitions, masterclasses, and more.
Treat your mother with a pampering stay in, then choose between a special gift from Rustan’s or a 30-minute massage at the Essenses Spa when you book a Deluxe Room for P5,000 nett or the Executive Room at P6,000 nett.
On May 12, impress her with our Mother’s Day Buffet Specials in Midas Café or Yanagi for only P1,500 nett per person. Bring home a special gift on her special day and get a photo booth pass for every P4,000 single receipt!
This story is in partnership with Midas Hotel. For reservations, call (+632) 902 0100 ext. 8198 for Midas Café and 8255 for Yanagi or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit the website or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
With only a few days to the much-awaited grand conclusion of the Avengers franchise, cinemas nationwide are gearing up to open their doors to Marvel fans with screenings starting as early as 6:01AM on its opening day on April 24.
Excited moviegoers who want to be the first ones to witness the epic finale of the Avengers’ battle against Thanos can be among the first to watch the film at 6:01AM available at 19 malls in Metro Manila. Select cinemas will also be playing Avengers: Infinity War for those who want to brush up on what happened!
Cinemas with 6:01 AM Screening on April 24
Evia Lifestyle Center
FisherMall Quezon City
Rockwell: Powerplant Mall Rockwell and Powerplant Santolan