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Glad you’re here, 2017.

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One of the acacia seedlings I planted last year, now five feet tall

In 2016, I wrote a list of things-to-do here. Thanks to family and friends, old and new, who helped me tick off the items one by one.

For 2017, I’ll finish off the leftover items from last year. Aside from family, work and school matters, I’m also looking at this list:

  1. Learn how to make the best baguette for Railroad Vine Brews.
  2. Finish three subjects in graduate school.
  3. Start selling Railroad Vine Brews products in the province.
  4. Help finish at least two street art panels in my hometown.
  5. Finish a painting.
  6. Visit Bicol.
  7. Register in a trail race outside the Philippines.

Wishing everyone a better year!

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Books, banh mi & brews

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At the Ateneo Bazaar in Rockwell, Makati

This month, I finally launched Railroad Vine Books, Banh mi & Brews. The online bookshop has been up since July and just in time for the holiday season, we also sold coffee, tea and bahn mi at bazaars.

For those asking, railroad vine is a plant that grows on sandy shores. I spent a lot of time at our beach lot in Morong, Bataan and this vine always looked so lovely for me. For most of my childhood friends, this brings back memories of days when we improvised jumping ropes using this vine. Like the railroad vine, I want to start something that blooms even in hard conditions and at unexpected settings.

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At the Pawikan Festival in Morong, Bataan

The bazaars can be tiring for a newbie like me, but these gave me better knowledge of the market and helped me figure out ways to develop both the products and processes. I had to step away from my comfort zones and it was all worth it. Thanks a lot to supportive friends and staff. Next year will be more exciting as we will offer more brews. Hopefully, you’ll get to sit and enjoy a meal at Railroad Vine’s first brick-and-mortar, too.

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Learning Vietnamese dishes at an organic farm in Ho Chi Minh (2014)

Close friends know this project has been brewing for some time. For the past two years I’ve been planting a few ingredients at an organic garden, traveling around Southeast Asia for quick cooking lessons, finishing a short agriculture course in UP and researching about things I need for business. This is a slow process, because my main focus right now is my lawyering career, but hopefully I’ll reach my target in the years to come.

For inquiries, please shoot an e-mail to railroadvinebooks@gmail.com. Please follow us at Instagram: @railroadvinebooks.

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Imprint: an art exhibit

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Two groups that I’m advising have successfully launched IMPRINT, an art exhibit at the Pawikan Festival in Bataan last weekend. ARMAS (Artists of Morong Association) and TaTAK Morong are composed mostly of young people who contribute their talent to advocate good causes and to make our hometown a better place.

The exhibit will be at the main hall of the Pawikan Conservation Center in Nagbalayong, Morong, Bataan until December 3, 2016.

Some of the paintings may be viewed here.

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August

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For my birthday, I requested friends to donate children’s storybooks for the students of F. Angeles Memorial School in Bataan. The books are all written or translated by Filipino authors and tackle Philippine culture.

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My Tatay delivered the storybooks to FAMES last week. I hope the kids there enjoy reading.

Thanks to the following for helping me gather more than 70 books: Marichu Angeles, Cat Drilon, Thea Jimenez, Sidon Family (Australia), Grace Tan and other friends who requested to remain anonymous. Some of the titles were also donated through Railroad Vine Books, a little bookshop I’m setting up.

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Running, dreaming

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Here we go. I’m about to start training for my first full marathon. Because as one of my favorite shoes ad says: “I am made of sweat, not swagger.”

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Wide Weekend: Pasig River

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For years, I’ve been thinking of going on a Pasig River ferry ride. Last May 21, I was able to gather enough courage to hop on one of the ferries. The Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission and Ateneo Graduate School of Business Student Council organized a guided tour and I went along with some friends from our MBA Program.

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There is still so much work to do. The air at the river is not (yet) inviting and I can only imagine how the commuters who ride the line regularly are able to stand the smell. But we’re thankful that there are people who dedicate their time and resources to rehabilitating the river.

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The ferry passes through several cities in Metro Manila. This route gives passengers a look at the new and old faces of the metropolis. From the new high-rise residential buildings at Makati to the decades old structures at the City of Manila. The organizers treated us to lunch by the river at the Intramuros Station. Not an ideal dining place for the picky but hey, we’re all still alive.

Ah, Pasig River. There’s such a lot of world to see.

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Wide Weekend: Mt. Pulag

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After less than two weeks of rest after my TNF trail run, I was already off to Mt. Pulag with new friends last weekend.

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The tour included side trips to Ambuklao Dam, Jangjang Hanging Bridge, the hot springs and, just before we went home, the Upper Session Road.

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We were up just a little past midnight for the preparations. The hours of climbing, braving the cold air and managing my aching knee (a hangover from the trail race) were all worth it. It was one of the best sunrises I’ve seen so far.

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