Episode 99: A Clean Slate for 2017

To everyone who has followed Unlimited Grub Grabs through the years, thank you.

Three weeks have passed since we welcomed the New Year, but while everyone’s done with their resolutions, checklists, and diet plans, I’m still waving around a clean, blank slate. That’s how I intend to start 2017: with a clean slate.

Currently I’m on exile, unemployed and striving to work freelance. At the same time, I‘m catching up on a lot of reading, watching drama series, errands, and self-studying, followed by cooking and sleeping.

I stopped going out on food trips and sightseeing walks. My budget only covers bills and groceries, and if I do so much as have a sip of beer, I’ll suffer gout flare-ups again. Meanwhile, my career as a crime author slowed down. I lost the time and energy to write and I never got to promote my books properly (I thought it no longer mattered since nobody’s reading them anyway).

On top of all that, my motivation and self-respect were in the dumps. I’ve been insomniac and frequently hungry and thirsty. When I fall asleep, I sleep for long hours. Most of the time, I’m lethargic. There are moments when I imagine jumping from my window at the fifth floor. And yeah, I wallow in moments of self-depreciation. I won’t be surprised if I get diagnosed as undergoing depression.

But I promised myself that’s about to change this 2017. This year is meant for new beginnings, going back to zero, starting over from scratch.

I still have my knowledge base. I still have my health. I still maintain a blog. I still have my social media accounts. I still have writing opportunities to explore. I still have ideas and stories. I still have restaurants to visit. Most of all, I have people who support me from afar, who have faith in me and my resolution to rise from my travails. I don’t see them, but I know they’re there.

I know Unlimited Grub Grabs isn’t popular, and my writing isn’t influential. I’m probably not the best role model for writers. But despite my flaws and insecurities, I know you’ve patiently watched over me, and cheered me in my endeavors. I know I’ve imparted as many lessons, thoughts, and experiences as I can through my stories. I know you’re watching me grow.

I’m thankful that I’ve been blessed with so much, and as gratitude, I will make use of my abilities to begin anew. For staying with me through my journeys all this time, I thank you.

With this post, I now leave behind the doubts and failures brought by 2016, along with the victories and successes I gained. At the same time, I look forward to the changes that will be brought by 2017.

As for this blog, who knows? There’s so much to do rather than dwell in the past. Like, for example, a new book or anthology that needs filling up, or maybe a food park somewhere. Maybe a new blog…


Episode 79: Coffice Work

At a corner table in the smoking area of Seattle’s Best Trinoma, I find myself at peace the most. I wrote my first love story here, and polished many of UGG’s blog posts. During instances when I do have to work on something from my day job, this is where I feel more focused, calm, and meditative. This is where I’m most comfortable as a writer. 
Jamiroquai is right. This corner table might as well be my corner of the Earth.

Just to digress from the topic, I’m not dead yet. While I don’t talk about my latest food adventures on this blog, I post more regularly through my Instagram account @unlimitedgrubgrabs. I know it’s inexcusable. It’s just that I don’t have enough free time to write for this blog lately.

The little leisure time I have is spent lately on writing my novels and relaxing in my coffice, Seattle’s Best Trinoma.
The crew here knows me by name. They let me hang out as I nurse my large breve or Javakula, and chomp on a bag or two of Lays. They know I like their Big Breakfast Plate with sausages and bacon. The WiFi connection’s hard to come by but stable. The music gets repetitive at times, but I see no reason to complain about listening to jazz for hours.
SBC Trinoma’s smoking area gets quiet at least three hours before closing time. This is when my writing soul burns the most, when I churn out paragraph after paragraph of my articles, or choreograph the scenes I need for my novel.
(If there’s one thing I like about SBC Trinoma’s smoking area, it’s not always crowded, even if the rest of the shop is. It IS a smoking area, after all.)
Visiting coffices is a trend among office workers nowadays, especially those who need to work on as much of their assignments as possible.
Working in a coffice has numerous benefits. A noisy, busy environment is, to a degree, conducive for accomplishing creative tasks. Visitors don’t feel isolated because one can meet like-minded people who want a more comfortable place to work in. The (rather incessant) need for a WiFi connection is also something useful for workers who are dependent on the internet.
Add to that the fact that the coffice has a good selection of beverages and you’re all set.
Sure, my work behavior can be frowned upon by coffee shop enthusiasts. A coffee shop is for everyone, I agree, not to mention there are workers who abuse their privileges. (The same could be said about some leisurely visitors, though.)
That’s why I make it a point to actually patronize the coffices I visit. I buy food and drinks whenever I work at SBC, or any coffee shop where I intend to work. I make use of their bandwidth as sparingly as possible. If I arrive at a shop during peak hours, I limit my working hours and don’t hog the power outlets. I clean up my table too, or at least keep it less messy.
In hindsight, working in a coffice is the same as working in a regular office space, with a set of guidelines and etiquette for its patrons. Perhaps it’s the feeling that one is working in a more relaxed environment while guzzling a favorite drink or chowing on a warm pastry that makes coffice work a viable option especially for people on the go.
When I finished “The Feast of the North Star” (my first novel on Wattpad), I made sure to include the staff at SBC Trinoma in my acknowledgements. Staying in their coffee shop was instrumental in my creative process, after all. Their breve, to be specific, was bitter – as bitter as my tears when I first wrote the story, but I digress.
By the way, I’m writing this post in my usual corner table, my corner of the Earth, at SBC Trinoma.

A Moment of Silence for my Food Writing Career

Looks like for a moment I reached the point when I lost the urge to write about food. Nah, I may say I just fell into an all-time low.

I’ve been thinking these past few weeks since I last posted in this blog.  To be honest, I skipped celebrating Christmas and New Year, and had stopped going out for food trips. I had some pending posts and material ready for writing, but I never got around into working on them.

Is it because of laziness? Maybe. Busy schedule? Perhaps. Lack of inspiration? Possibly. Lack of motivation? That too.
In any case, I offer no excuse for missing out on a lot of opportunities to have food adventures. The least I could do is catch up through my Instagram account, where I post tidbits of my visits to various places. All that lacks, though, is a blog post, which I owe to you, my dear readers.
I’m taking every chance I can have to write again and finish as many as I could. That means from here on out, I’m resuming my food adventures, and letting more people into my exploits as a writer. It’s not much, but I hope you could stay with me for the rest of the year.
See you around!

Unlimited Grub Grabs, now on its fifth year!

I am the soul of the gourmand.
Good food fuels my body, and good wine burns my blood.
I have tasted hundreds of dishes
Regardless of cuisine yet mindful of the price.
I seek great-tasting food and drinks.
My heart will only be satisfied by the best.
And so I invite you to my UNLIMITED GRUB GRABS.

Five quiet years have passed since I started my food blog. I won’t say this has been an eventful year for me, since I’ve been posting less about where I eat out and explore. It’s not because I’m slowing down on my blogging activities; rather, I found more things to do with my writing.

Recently, I started writing a novel – four, to be exact. They’re not like the love stories you read online, or so I hope. It’s a new playing field I want to explore and be good at. I already finished one titled The Feast of the North Star, which is based on an old, undated poem I wrote in college (not Hokuto no Ken, as the title states). I’m in the middle of writing a second one, and there are two more lined up, which I hope to finish by August next year.

(I might as well mention that I’m using pictures of anime characters and such as templates for my characters and book covers since I don’t know how to draw or do digital art.)

Then there’s “Foods Tayo,” our food segment at TV5’s Aksyon sa Tanghali, where I play the role of the anchor’s boyfriend and love interest (long story). I take every opportunity I can during our shootings to study food critiquing, broadcast-style of course, and explore good places to dine around Metro Manila.

Which leads to the main highlight of my year: my now-active Instagram account, where I post pictures of the food establishments and dishes I encounter. All you need to do is search on Instagram for the hashtag #onthenextunlimitedgrubgrabs and you can get a sneak peek of my solo raids and activities with the TV5 crew.

As always, I operate within my own budget, with no sponsors, invitations to events, or back-up (apart from TV5), but that doesn’t mean my resolve to write about food will waver at all. I still aspire to reach an Anthony Bourdain-level of food expertise, you know.

Without further ado, here’s to another year.

To have a behind-the-scenes look at what we’re up to (and for some hardcore food porn), visit:
My Instagram account @unlimitedgrubgrabs
My Facebook page: https://Unlimited Grub Grabs

Side Story – Foods Tayo

Last August I joined TV5’s newest noontime news program, “Aksyon sa Tanghali,” anchored by Raffy Tulfo and Cherie Mercado. It’s a program targeting housewives, workers, commuters, and other viewers having their lunch break, but that’s not what I’m supposed to talk about.

Instead, let me divert your attention to one of our program’s segments, “Foods Tayo.”

The idea of “Foods Tayo” is to introduce tasty dishes and unique food ideas that can be bought at affordable prices. Featured topics include specialty shops, food establishments, and twists to mainstream Filipino and foreign dishes.

The segment takes the form of a silent movie starring the host, feature reporter Roda Magnaye. The formula is actually simple: Roda visits a restaurant or shop, watches the featured dish being prepared, eats the stuff, and gives her critique.

We’ve visited over a dozen restaurants already, and so far the segment itself has had some sort of a following. It helps that the places we visit are those with sought-after dishes, such as affordable kebabs, unique versions of Filipino delicacies, heart-breaking (read: juicy, crispy, and fatty)crispy pata, and all-day breakfast meals.

Yeah, that includes the hilariously-named “Talong Mo Kay Tulfo,” overstuffed eggplant omelette, among other things, but that’s another story.

So what exactly am I doing in this segment, you may ask? “Aside from seeking out places to feature, I help in providing insight on the featured dishes, such as the taste, texture, and presentation.

Incidentally, they’re more knowledgeable about seeking out food than I do, since they have a bigger information network when it comes to this stuff.

I also help advertise the places we visit in my own little way, such as this blog, and my social media posts. That’s why at certain parts of the week, I bombard my Facebook page with pictures of our escapades.

One more thing: “Foods Tayo” has this little skit in between, where I play as Roda’s love interest. Part of the planning is thinking of ways for me to impress and woo and show the world how much I love Roda. My efforts, however, always end up with hilarious results.

On a personal note, playing the lovesick suitor is tough for a tsun-tsun like me, I may say, and I admit I’m doing poorly. “Umaarte na nga lang ako,” to put it bluntly. Maybe I should aspire to be like Michael V or Tado and take up comedy acting lessons.

Showbiz work aside, working on “Foods Tayo” is a wake-up call for me as a food writer. There’s a lot of new restaurants and dishes to be discovered, and I hope to take advantage of my piggybacking on the crew’s food-hunting to help the news program, and the places we feature.

To learn more about “Foods Tayo,” visit:
News5 Everywhere http://n5e.interaksyon.com/

To have a behind-the-scenes look at what we’re up to (and for some hardcore food porn), visit:
My Instagram account @unlimitedgrubgrabs
My Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Unlimited-Grub-Grabs/205718846136461

Four Years of Unlimited Grub Grabs, and counting

I am the soul of the gourmand.
Good food fuels my body, and good wine burns my blood.
I have tasted hundreds of dishes
Regardless of cuisine yet mindful of the price.
I seek great-tasting food and drinks.
My heart will only be satisfied by the best.
And so I invite you to my UNLIMITED GRUB GRABS.

I’m celebrating my fourth year as a food blogger very quietly. No food raids, no promos, no special events or contests… nothing. I just got off work, and didn’t feel any urge to eat out.

People ask me if I ever go to food events, store openings, tours, and other foodie-related activities. Nowadays, the answer is “no.” My job no longer allows that luxury. If I am going to a food event, I’d prefer those held at weekend afternoons, which is my only free time. Invite me anytime else and I’ll decline, eve if I wanted to come.

Some also ask me if I earn off my blog. My answer is “no.” Or to be blunt, I’ve never figured out how. Sure, I have Google Adsense in my Blogger account, but I never figured out how to maximize its use. That, or maybe I couldn’t find the time to study it. For some time I hoped I could ask someone to manage the business aspect of my blog, but I never got around it.

Call me lazy, because partly I am. But my circumstances don’t allow me to spend so much time on blogging.

I am still watching my health, despite all of the stuff I’ve feasted on this past year. I have a bigger reason to do so now. But that doesn’t stop me from eating out and writing about it.

If there’s one thing I figured out this past year, it’s working on my content. I’ve always had a high regard for the type of stories I want to make. You see, food blogging is basically “I ate (name of dish) at (name of restaurant). I was with (name/s of companions). We (name of personal event). The food was good. I’ll come back and dine again.” But that’s not how I wanted my stories to roll.

I remember saying that food always has a deeper meaning. Food is rooted to culture, society, insight, and other aspects of worldly (or in the case of my Lenten posts, otherworldly) wisdom. A story that answers such questions is what I want to write. Also, I want to emulate Anthony Bourdain’s storytelling style. I’m still working hard to achieve that.

I still don’t have a lot of readers, but I don’t mind. I continue writing what I can write about, and that’s enough for me. Those who need my stories will find them, and knowing that they do satisfies me. As for monetizing the blog, I’ll need a lot of help.

In the meantime, I’m hoping for more experiences, more food to eat, more places to see, and more stuff to do to perfect my food blogging skills. I hope you continue to join me in my upcoming adventures.

Until then.

Unlimited Grub Grabs, Year 2~

I am the soul of the gourmand.
Good food fuels my body, and good wine burns my blood.
I have tasted hundreds of dishes
Regardless of cuisine yet mindful of the price.
I seek great-tasting food and drinks.
My heart will only be satisfied by the best.
And so I invite you to my UNLIMITED GRUB GRABS.

Happy second anniversary, yay!
Seriously, much has happened since I started my adventures as a food writer. It’s good to be able to eat so much, travel much, and write about them. This year was quite different.
I’ve visited so many places throughout the year that I couldn’t write about all of them so quickly. At the same time, I’ve continued researching on more places to visit, including those that are already well known, and those interesting finds that more people should know about.
Recently, I’ve become more confident when it comes to food raids. A long time ago, I was afraid that I’d run out of money while dining, eat a bad dish or something I don’t understand. Not so much nowadays. Dining out has become more pleasurable and educational. Being prepared is a good thing.
On the other hand, certain food raids can get difficult. Many of the places I’ve been to are too expensive. Some were just too far away to come back to, and others I could not visit because of more pressing matters (such as work or family). I have to admit, there was also a point when I felt too lazy to work on my blog.  Maybe it’s because I got too busy and I couldn’t go anywhere. My health condition is another story.
The biggest milestone for me was that I’ve started working out again. Now having a regular exercise routine and eating out may be counterproductive to each other, but I’ve found a way to reconcile those two. All I had to do was eat just what I need, burn more calories, and choose what would nourish me. Bonus points for having a program to follow while working out. Also, less rice and/or potatoes, or more of one than the other. I’ll tackle this in a later post. (By the way, I also started attending yoga classes. You can really work up a sweat with yoga.)
Buddha Power

Just several weeks ago, I joined the Sooo Pinoy Ultimate Blogger contest. The winner will have the chance to go on a food tour around the country for 30 days. More pigging out, and all to promote the Philippines and Filipino cuisine. It’s rather farfetched, given by blogging situation, but I hope I win.

I’m looking forward to visiting more food places (and writing more), trying out new dishes, losing more weight, and becoming a healthier, happier food blogger. It’s rather farfetched but I’ll get there.
Here’s to another year of Unlimited Grub Grabs!

Ramen, anyone?”