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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

Point to Point and Getting You There on Time

25 May

In the last few months, amid the heat and tension of the electoral contests, I learned a lot of things about myself, the people I call my “friends,” and my country. The lessons I learned from this most recent election will need a separate post, meant for another day when I am least likely to give in to tears. But from today, I will try to look at my country with more forgiving eyes and write about something that works, be it an an idea or a service, to remind us that contrary to what we are constantly being told, we are headed towards the right direction. Progress may be slow, and it may not affect or benefit all of us at once, but as long as we continue to work together as brothers and sisters under one sun, there is hope for us yet. 

These days, I find myself giving up on city travel most of the time. Not even the enticement of a new movie and buffet dinner can budge me from the comfort and safety of our home. Gone are the the days when I would readily hop on a tricycle, hang on a jeepney, flag down a cab, or even squeeze myself with the teeming crowds in the MRT. At my age, I don’t feel like I have the stamina or the patience to bear with traffic and high people volume anymore. And so I am rarely out of the house, if I can help it. With my agoraphobia and claustrophobia in full gear, you can bet that you will find me at home 99 times out of a hundred.

Sometimes, however, you need to step out of your comfort zone to rediscover the world. One such opportunity came up a couple of months ago and I readily said yes, never mind that my anxieties over vehicles and traffic were at an all-time high. I rode with my husband in the morning, slogging through an hour and a half of slow moving traffic to get from Quezon City to Makati. At least my fears were temporarily quelled, with A♥ beside me. At the back of my mind, however, I knew I had to make the ride back home by myself, and this was a cause for worry. I had two choices: use Uber, which would be expensive but safe, or wait for A♥ to finish work and go home with him then, which would mean being away from Alphonse for almost a whole day.

Fortunately, Facebook came to the rescue. It was serendipitous that at 5am that same Monday morning, I found a shared article on the Point to Point Premium Bus on my newsfeed. It seemed like an answered prayer.

I convinced A♥ to let me try the bus. I knew he had reservations because I really don’t go anywhere without him, but Alphonse also needed me at home. For someone with little experience riding a public bus, I was feeling pretty confident about the whole thing, a surprise in itself.  Thus, at 3:15pm, I found myself being dropped off at the P2P bus stop. I made it in time for the 3:30pm departure to Quezon City.

The P2P bus from Makati to QC is run by Froelich Tours on behalf of the Department of Transportation and Communivation (DOTC). Launched as an adjunct to transit services last December, it was meant to be a stop gap solution to the shortage of available  transportation experienced by the riding public every Christmas season. Operating on the framework of timed departures and arrivals at specific points, the P2P bus system is widely used in many countries all over the world. Within this same system, bus drivers are paid fixed wages instead of boundaries/quota and commission-based earnings.

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I got the bus all to myself!

It took the bus I rode exactly 45 minutes to traverse the section of EDSA from the pick-up point  at Glorietta 5 to the drop-off  at TriNoma. The bus ride, while a bit jerky and bouncy –it’s a bus, really, what do I expect?– was uneventful and quiet. The driver, unlike other bus drivers in EDSA jockeying for position, was careful and did not weave in and out lanes, one of my biggest bus pet peeves. Inside, the bus was clean, swept, and odor-free, the seats were comfortable, and the upholstery was intact and new. Air conditioning worked well, with cold air blowing generously out of the vents unimpeded.

In the last two months, I’ve taken the P2P bus from Quezon City to Makati and vice versa many times. Not all the buses are the same, and some are clearly nicer than others, but for P55, it is definitely a good deal. I hope more people would patronize this service, even as it begins spreading out to other parts of the city. Imagine if ALL buses were point to point and on time, then, the riding public would have a reliable service at our disposal. Perhaps then, the MRT would be able to receive the rehabilitation it sorely needs, without crippling the whole city in its wake.

The following are the routes currently in operation. For more information (maps, fare matrix), please visit the DOTC website (link here).

Trinoma to Glorietta 5 (North EDSA to Makati)
Alabang Town Center to Greenbelt 1 (Ortigas to Makati)
SM North EDSA to SM Megamall (North EDSA to Ortigas)
Robinson’s Galleria to Park Square (Ortigas to Makati)

 

Weekend Musts (September 18-20, 2015)

18 Sep

If you’re looking for worthwhile activities to do on these dates (September 18-20, 2015), here are three events that you must not miss this weekend.

The first is the 36th Manila International Book Fair, happening till the 20th. The Book Fair formally opened Wednesday, the 16th, at the SMX at the Mall of Asia and is on its third day. Catch it before it closes to get great discounts, special editions, and new releases. Try to come early, if you can, because the lines can be long and the venue fills up quickly.

MIBF 2015

The second is the 30th Negros Trade Fair at the Glorietta Activity Center. Like the Book Fair, this annual trade fair, the longest running of its kind, opened to the public last Wednesday and will wrap up this Sunday. Don’t miss this opportunity to try out Negros’ best food and drinks and check out their handicrafts and other products.

Negros Trade Fair 2015

Both events are happening south of the metro so if you happen to set a date for one, make your whole day worth it by dropping by the other. Save on gas and stay for the day! I’m going to catch up on these events this weekend so if you happen to bump into me hoarding books (I’ll try to complete my Oliver Sacks collection) or chowing down on lumpiang Negros (PhP60/piece at El Ideal Bakery stall), do say Hi!

Last but not the least, the third event: Heneral Luna is still showing this weekend so please don’t forget to watch it. The only way we will ever get local producers to risk their money on great quality, high value films is if we patronize these movies, so bring your family and friends and fill those cinemas!  The good news is that on its second week, Heneral Luna is still showing in 70 theaters so there is absolutely no excuse for missing it.

In parting, allow me to share this post I found on Instagram, with credit to Mr. Ping Medina who shared this first:

Heneral Luna repost

Reposted from IG (@pingmedina)

Happy weekend, folks!