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KittyMama meets Mama Cat: My Cat Cafe Adventure

29 Jul

tcc 10When my godson Terence came home for a holiday in Manila in late June, one of the places he wanted to visit was The Cat Cafe in Maginhawa Street. I have not been to this place before and deemed it unlikely for me to visit on my own or with my family for a variety of reasons. One, my boys are allergic to cat hair; it is a trigger for their asthma attacks. Two, even as I profess a liking for Hello Kitty and related feline merchandise, I have never had a cat as a pet. Three, the only cat I have ever had a relationship with was the cat I dissected for Zoology class in pre-Med. Not exactly confidence-inspiring, right?

Nonetheless, buoyed by my godson’s enthusiasm and enabled by R, his other godmother, I soon found myself in front of this small cafe in the second floor of an unnamed commercial building in Maginhawa Street, Sikatuna Village, Quezon City. I met up with Terence, R, our old friend L and her daughter Isabel at the venue shortly before the appointed time.

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Still closed when we got there

There was a short queue as we approached the narrow corridor leading to the cafe. While walk-ins are accepted based on availability of seats, the cafe prefers reservations which can be made at their website, CatCafeManila.com. The place is open from 12 noon to ten in the evening all week and can accommodate as many as 24 people at one time. A door charge of P200 per person allows the visitor an hour’s worth of Cat Cafe time, but half of the charge is consumable. For a small, unassuming cafe, they have remarkably good choices in their menu. Moreover, food and drinks are reasonably priced for the quality and value of their servings.

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Time spent with cats is never wasted.

After disinfecting hands, changing from shoes to slippers, and reading the house rules, we were shown in the place and our tickets stamped and dated. I lingered about the small display of cute cat merchandise by the counter and pastry display. Then, we sat on a thin, padded purple blanket around small wooden tables on the floor, although a couple of bar stools were available by the window.

The cats were amazingly friendly and wandered about the place freely. Cat Cafe Manila is a cat paradise for rescued PusPins (Pusang Pinoy), with swings, hammocks, and scratch posts for these cats to play with. If you wondered about any fishy(!) cat smell, I was just as surprised to find that there was none. The place was spic-and-span and smelled even cleaner.

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Swingers’ Paradise

We took the time to catch up on each other’s lives. While the younger folks played with the cats, the older ladies sipped our orders of coffees. I had not had lunch then, but in the nonstop chatter, I forgot to get something heavier on the stomach than a cold coffee. (I had an iced blended frappe called Nutty Meowcadamia, PhP140, and it was delicious!)

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“One must love a cat on its own terms.”

What was most surprising about my time at Cat Cafe was my unexpected one-on-one experience with an extraordinary cat. Soon after we came in, a large white cat sat with us. The other cats were frisky, hyperactive, and bounded from one corner to another, but this one stayed with us, me in particular, the entire time. And what do you know! It turned out the elegant feline who ambled languidly towards me was named Mama Cat!

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Close enough for a close-up!

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You are purr-y cute, Mama Cat!

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“Many things in life will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart.”

As I said in the early part of my post, I’ve never had much to do with cats before. I’d never have guessed I’d go gaga over a cat other than Hello Kitty. This one stole my heart, no doubt about it. I patted and petted her to my heart’s desire, the feel of her silky fur comforting to me. I scratched her forehead lightly as she dozed off to the sound of our voices.

Before we knew it, our hour was over. I did a thorough sweep of my clothes with a lint/hair remover the cafe had at the foyer.  (Mama Cat was a shedder, and I was covered with white cat hair.) I took one last look at Mama Cat and waved to her goodbye. I promised to visit her again, sooner rather than later.

If you are in the area, please drop by and spend an hour with these precious cats. Not only does your money help take care of the needs of these rescued cats, they also really enjoy human company. I got to admit that what they say is true: time spent with cats is never wasted. This Kittymama vouches for it! Meow!

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Hello, Kitty Cafe!

25 Jul

I heard the news first from my friend Stacy when she tagged me in an album of pictures she took two weeks ago. I hadn’t heard that the Hello Kitty Cafe* would come to the North, so I was pleasantly surprised that it was back at the SM North EDSA after a long hiatus.

I knew it was coming, though. In December of last year, two pop-up stores opened at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City and at the Fiesta Duty Free Mall in Parañaque. Both had limited running dates till January of this year and served as precursor to the Hello Kitty Cafe** at the Bonifacio Global City in Taguig. Now, we Northeners don’t need to feel so left out of the good stuff. The Hello Kitty Cafe is back in town!

The last time I was in a local HKC, it was in 2000, shortly before the SM North EDSA branch closed. I remember because I have a memento of my last visit, a picture taken with a struggling eight-year-old boy who would not set foot inside the Cafe. Despite entreaties and bribery (with hefty servings of food which he ate, but outside the Cafe), my son refused to step in and had to be dragged inside for one picture with his Mama. Ahhh…memories!

kittymama with struggling child low res

I know I said I have sworn off Hello Kitty, but still, some youthful part of me longs for a little bit of her now and then. A♥, ever the enabler, suggested squeezing a quick visit to the Cafe during the last SM North EDSA 3-day Sale. We went in early Saturday morning to the mall to purchase shoes and some shirts for the boys and decided to drop in for a quick bite.

The new HKC can be found on the 3rd floor of The Block, and overlooks the main Atrium or Activity Center.

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The cafe, in keeping with Hello Kitty’s feminine, feline character, is done in mostly white and pink. The design is tasteful and elegant, almost minimalist with a touch of whimsy. White picket fences delineate the mall real estate it occupies. Seating is limited.

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Below, you can see Hello Kitty she lords it over the place. There is no mistaking that she is the center of the Sanrio universe.

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Even the pitchers had her face on them! Cute! (I didn’t check the table napkins.)

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But as concession to her friends, they can be found in cute doughnuts filling the display chillers. Below are My Melody doughnut faces with ribbon- themed doughnuts,

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Hello Kitty and Baad Batz Maru face doughnuts (why does Bad Batz remind me of Angry Birds?),

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and cheery Keroppi face doughnuts, with more ribbon doughnuts. You can’t get away from Hello Kitty and her ubiquitous red ribbons.

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The cafe also serve cupcakes and small cakes,

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and healthy green salads.

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Unlike its predecessor, the new Hello Kitty Cafe does not serve full meals.  It has a streamlined selection of sandwiches, salads, pasta and pastries. They also serve coffee and shakes. Since the Cafe is still on soft opening, some of the items on the menu may not be available but there is usually a sufficient stock of pastries on hand. The prices are a bit on the high side so be prepared to shell out serious money for Hello Kitty food.

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A♥ is not big on sweets and pasta so we deferred our Kitty date for another day. He did, however, buy me a souvenir of my visit, which came in this plain white paper bag sealed with a Kitty sticker.

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Who can resist a Kitty doughnut? Certainly not me!

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I’ll be coming back soon to stay longer. I hope to taste their salad, pasta, and coffee next time. In the meantime, let’s spread the word that the Hello Kitty Cafe is back!

~0~

*Hello Kitty Cafe SM North EDSA

3rd Floor, The Block,

SM North EDSA, Quezon City

 

**Hello Kitty Cafe BGC

Third Floor, Uptown Place Mall,

36th Street Corner 9th Avenue,

Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City

The Cab

24 Sep

It was the second cab I hailed successfully that Tuesday afternoon, and the first to agree to accept me and my companion as passengers. There were many other empty ones passing the stretch of road we were in, but not one slowed down. By the time this cab came, I was relieved that the driver even stopped at all. My relief turned to gratitude when he opened the door right away. I thanked him profusely, gave him our destination, and we headed off.

The cab smelled strongly of Coronado Cherry, a popular scent of the air freshener brand California Scents, one that I know very well. Back wCalifornia_Scents_Spillproof_Organic_Coronado_Cherryhen our then eleven-year-old car needed a bit of sprucing up, scent-wise, to hide its age, this was our product of choice. True enough, I spotted the familiar dark pink tin can tucked between the driver and front passenger seats. The scent of cherries filled my nostrils and made my chest feel tight. “This is too sweet and cloying,” I thought, but I was more grateful than annoyed so I simply let it pass.

I tried to engage the driver in small talk but he would only respond in monosyllables. He did, however, tell me he would need additional details on my destination. I gave up on the chitchat, pulled my phone from inside my bag, and opened my mobile phone to access Waze. I was still busy fiddling with my phone when I inadvertently looked up. I caught the driver looking at me and my companion through the rear view mirror. Ordinarily, this would not have seemed suspicious except there was something in the way he looked at us that unsettled me. When our eyes met, he hurriedly looked away.

I sent my husband a Viber message giving him the license plate number of the cab I was in. Then I took a picture of the mobile number stenciled on the inside paneling of the door to my right. I made a big fuss about sending the message; I read the license plate aloud as I typed it so that the driver knew someone else had my whereabouts at that moment.

Now and then, I snuck quick glances at him, only to find him looking at us surreptitiously and repeatedly. That was when I pulled out my pepper spray, set it to spray, and held it, just in case. My chest was tight and painful. My heart and head were pounding. I debated silently with myself, wondering if staying inside the cab was a logical decision. It was mid-afternoon, almost rush hour, and if only one of all those cabs I tried to hail even bothered to stop, what were my chances of getting another cab in this traffic? After all, all I had were my instincts telling me something was wrong; he had not done anything untoward against us at all.

Save for the queasiness I felt, we reached our destination safely, thank God. The queasiness turned into a pounding headache soon after. I was nauseated badly and my stomach hurt. I initially attributed it to the overwhelming odor of the air freshener, made worse by paranoia and nerves. I drank some hot tea to calm my tummy but the pain and tightness persisted. A few minutes later, my companion reported that she was feeling dizzy and nauseated. Something had happened during the cab ride.

In hindsight, I can point to his strange behavior as extremely suspect. He drove unusually slow, seemingly taking his time, an oddity for cab drivers out to get as many flag downs and rides as possible. He took us through side streets with little or no human traffic, even when the main thoroughfares were clear, making the trip longer. And his shifty-eyed, furtive rear view glances, well, they were enough to heighten my senses to impending danger. Was he waiting for something to happen?

At home, I asked my companion if she noticed any other thing during our ride. I had not told her any of my suspicions, aware that I was treading on flimsy ground. “Uhm, Ate, he held a small, clear spray bottle in one of his hands and he squirted its contents by his legs,” she replied reluctantly. My companion sat on the back passenger seat diagonally across him while I was directly behind the driver. The only reason she didn’t say anything was that she wasn’t sure what the bottle was or what was in it. Now that we were both feeling sick, we had a strong feeling it was something intended to make us sleep or sick, something that can be camouflaged by the strong scent of cherries.

I only have my word against the cab driver and short of evidence- the kind that would stand up to scrutiny under the law- I choose not to post his license plate or any other identifying details. I can only attest to what happened to me during and after the ride. I write this, however, to remind everyone that crime is no longer stuff we just read in the papers. It is coming nearer and nearer our homes and our persons every day.

Please be safe, everyone, and take all necessary precautions when getting rides. If you can access Uber (my husband told me to use this service but again, I was foolhardy), this is ultimately a safer, albeit more expensive, choice.

Still, we can’t all be afraid all the time. We can’t let fear rule our lives but we can try to always be safe. Here are some of the lessons on cab riding that I’ve learned from this experience:

  1. Try not to commute alone. Bring a companion, if possible, or go with a friend. Ask your friend to alert you if he/she notices something suspicious.
  2. Call for a taxi instead of hailing one. Some taxi companies have hotlines you can dial. If they are not able to provide you with one, find a taxi lane and get your cab there. Security personnel in most malls and hospitals make a list of the cabs that take passengers and they are most likely to have CCTV footage.
  3. Take a picture of the exterior of the cab before you board it and take pictures of the driver’s ID, license plate, and their contact numbers. Check for meter, ID, and window and door handles. Don’t go in if the cab is missing any of these. Check if the door opens from the inside and if the windows can be rolled down.
  4. Call a friend and text him/her your cab details so he/she will have a record of where you are and who you are with.
  5. Sit in the back passenger seat. It’s the safest place for lone passengers. Again, make sure the doors and windows can be opened, but once you’re inside, lock them.
  6. Do not bring valuables and jewelry. If you must bring them, try to keep them discreet. Leave your credit cards if you don’t need them. Hide your valuables but keep your phone near you.
  7. Save an emergency number you can call withblog safety one key stroke.
  8. I always carry a whistle and pepper spray when I commute. The latter is not for everyone but the point is to be proactive and not be a victim. Know how to use them.
  9. Plan your destination and know the possible routes you can take to get there. Find out how long it will take you to reach your destination. Waze is a great application for this.
  10. Trust your guts and instincts. They’re usually more right than wrong. (Remind me to heed this next time.) And don’t forget to pray.
I am still reeling from this recent experience. I got lucky (again) but I am always mindful that it only takes one slip-up for bad things to happen. I continue to pray for safety and send you, dear friends, my wishes for peace and safety in our cities and country.

 

T’is the Season for Sales (The Coleman, Oster and Kitchen Aid Pre-Christmas Sale)

12 Sep

This morning, I forgot to set the alarm on so I woke up later than usual. Since I got back home from my last trip, wake up time has moved to six-ish, as opposed to the usual eight-ish in the past. This morning, however, still groggy from a late night from Alphonse’s unexpected awakening, I had to be gently roused to wakefulness by my husband.

“Uh-oh,” I groaned under my breath (which, at that time, was moreSale 01 like dog breath), feeling disoriented. I looked at the clock and realized I had overslept. My husband and I had planned to be out of the house by 7:30am and it was already 7:15am. By the time I had finished bathing and dressing, it was past eight. I was definitely late for today.

Late for what, you ask? Late for Focus Global’s one day sale of Coleman, Oster, and Kitchen-Aid items! Traffic was light on EDSA this morning so it took us less than an hour to get to Sale 04Mandaluyong, including the time spent looking for parking. We parked a bit of a way off the sale site, seeing how Reliance Street and that section of Pioneer Street were then already teeming with cars. At a little past nine in the morning, when we finally set foot inside the sale site, some items were already sold out and the lines were long, albeit orderly. This was one sale I was definitively not prepared for.

Still, I managed to snag a few really well-priced items and even got lucky on one. The Coleman gallon jugs were all sold out when I got to their stand but one man returned a PINK(!) one. I was standing next to him so I was able to snag it milliseconds before two other pairs of hands made a grab for it. Talk about timing! This was my prized catch of the day. 🙂

Sale 06There were a lot of good items on sale today, from Coleman jugs and coolers to tents and gazebos. Oster had a variety of small appliances on sale- blenders, rice cookers, steamers, and even personal shakers.

Kitchen Aid had the Classic (4.5qt, available in white and silver) and Artisan (5qt, available in black onyx) stand mixers on sale, and although still pricier than the average stand mixer, today’s price turned out to be a really good deal. I’m holding out for more accessories for my heavy duty 7-quart Kitchen Aid, and judging by feedback from the kind folks at Global, there will be another sale late November.

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You can see the Kitchen Aid prices on the picture to the right. The flex edge beaters ran out fast and there were just a few fruit and vegetable strainers left. The stand mixers were also selling briskly as I saw a queue of people happily trying out their mixers at the testing area.

My husband and I finished in no time at all so we stood in line for a good hour. There were many payment counters available and the flow of paying customers was efficient. Still, if we had gone earlier, perhaps we could have had a larger inventory of items to choose from. We could also have avoided the throng of people. It was hot this morning, despite the fans they set up around the selling and payment areas.

All in all, today was a good day to start the pre-Christmas hoarding, ehrm, sale. I am definitely looking forward to finding more in the near future! Have a good weekend, folks!

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