About Coffee and the South

We all need a break once in a while. Sushi here has been itching for some time out of the hustle and bustle of busy-‘ol Manila. The road trip was a quick one as we drove steadily down to Alabang early in the morning. Here we are hanging out at Starbucks for breakfast with my baby girl. She loved the cold Greek Yogurt cup they serve!


If you want my honest opinion on their Americano though, I’d say McDonald’s is way better – by a lot. I’m not too fond of Starbucks when it comes to coffee, as it seems too diluted for my taste.

The best places for coffee for me (who’s budget isn’t a far stretch):

  1. Costa Coffee and Seattle’s Best. They make their coffee just right, with the blend of Espresso and milk right on fleek.
  2. McDonalds (perfect for those who are on a budget and fond of straight black coffee).
  3. Barkingham Pet Cafe (@barkinghampetcafe) – of course, where I can bring Sushi along with no fuss. No skimping on the espresso right here, I’ll tell you the beans are the secret. (Will blog about this soon!)
  4. Afters Espresso and Desserts. They take their coffee business seriously.
  5. Craft Coffee Revolution. Always the first in mind when it comes to the entire beans to brew process. They roast, brew and serve the best of the best.
  6. St. Marc. Well, not the best but the Vietnamese Coffee kept me up til sunrise.


On a hot day, thankfully Evia Lifestyle Center was (seemingly) open-air, yet air-conditioned. Lovely, lovely place to survive the Philippine heatwave, especially for the pets.


Evia was certainly a place perfect for lovers of all things fun and whimsical like myself. From the brightly colored buildings to the amazing display of flowers in Happy Magnolia and the fantastical ambiance of Another Story; Evia is certainly a must-visit. It is a bit far from Manila, with a one-and-a-half hour journey, but it’s definitely worth it for pet-owners seeking for an indoorsy-outdoorsy venue (Visit Evia and you’ll get what I mean).


Sushi loved the mini Carrot Cupcakes from The Cheesecake Fairy! They’re tiny little nuggetts of joy for this little one. (I checked the ingredients, they said it contains no nuts, no raisins, just carrot, egg and flour.)

Where else have you and your furry friend been to? Share your experience with us and sign up on our newsletter below to win PAW-some prizes from the BarkinghamPH!


Love lots,

Sushi x Pearl


16 Signs You’re Not Actually An Introvert, You’re A Highly Sensitive Extrovert

By : Brianna Wiest

As everyone is both introverted and extroverted (we identify with the one we prefer more) it can be hard to weed through the nuances of what each of them mean. This is never as true as with someone who is a HSP, or a Highly Sensitive Person. HSPs are identified as being more emotionally intelligent, intuitive, creative and sensitive to stimuli than the average person. When these traits are combined with extroversion, they can create the illusion of introversion. It’s a tricky but important distinction to make, because the better you know yourself, the more you can build your life to fit who you really are.

1. You don’t actually mind being around other people, you just prefer to be around some more than others. Being around the wrong people exhausts you; being around the right ones makes you laugh a lot and feel understood.

2. You have one or two close friends who you see or speak to regularly. If you have one best friend you see every day, or a significant other who you love to be around as much as possible, the sheer quantity of time you spend around others might make you more extroverted than you think.

3. You want to be liked by everyone. This sounds unflattering, but is a common human desire. A deep longing to be loved or admired by many people often correlates to social anxiety or a fear of being unloved or disliked, especially in people who prefer to feel connected to others.

4. You love being in love. HSPs are true romantics (and are usually pretty sexual). This is because they are so attuned to their emotions; being in love is a true high for them. Of course, introverts can also love being in love, but extroverts tend to be more outwardly expressive of it.

5. If you take an honest look at your emotional patterns when you’re alone vs. when you’re with a community of friends or loved ones, you see that you thrive more in the latter. You think you are happier on your own, but you’re not really.

6. Your daydreams revolve around other people: impressing them, being loved by them and so on, rather than the high you would get by seeing and experiencing the world on your own.

7. You were an extroverted kid. If you think back to an average day in your childhood, you were always calling friends to come over or playing outside with other kids on your street. Then, at some point, you had some traumatic event(s) that lead you to prefer to be on your own. Being isolated is a coping mechanism for you, not something you are naturally inclined toward.

8. Your intuitive ability to pick up on what people are actually thinking and feeling can be uncomfortable, because you have a hard time just letting things go. On the other hand, it’s the same quality that makes you such a “people person” when you are being social.

9. You get really stressed when you feel like someone is self-sabotaging and you can’t help or fix them. This is what makes you want to isolate yourself – the fact that you are hyper-sensitive to other people’s problems, and often take them on as your own.

10. You actually connect with people rather easily. When you go out, you’re the life of the party, or the person all the baristas know at the coffee shops you regularly visit. The sheer ability to relate to or at least get along with most people well is more commonly a trait of extroversion.

11. You are a very loyal person, but only with someone you love a lot, or friends you are super close with. When you love, you love completely, and that person becomes a part of you. However, getting to that point is a longer-than-average process of opening up and building trust.

12. You love to go out and have fun, but in limited doses. When you’re out, you’re the life of the party. However, being around so much energy (and exerting so much energy) exhausts you, and you need a stealthy recovery period afterwards.

13. You “ghost” on people a lot, even friends. It’s sometimes hard to articulate that you need more time to yourself than other people do, and when people don’t respect that need (even if their intentions are good and they just want to see you) it’s sometimes easier just to make yourself inaccessible.

14. You’re more at ease around a large group of strangers than a smaller group of acquaintances. This is because there is no social obligation for you to impress, connect with or bond with a stranger. This is an equal display of your extroversion (not caring about being around others) as well as your HSP qualities (being drained by having to connect with people too much).

15. You prefer to work alone, but do something that other people have to relate to. For example, you’re a writer who works on their own, but who then shares that work to many people who consume and respond to it.

16. If you were to draw a picture of your dream life, you’d ideally have some combination of a loving partnership, a few great friends, or a close family. Your objective in life is not to stay away from people, but to choose the right ones, and keep them close to you no matter what.


Explore, Motivational, My Life Story, travel

Albay Adventure


This month’s TRAVEL has been quite the experience for me. Unlike many others, this is the first time I’ve booked a ticket less than a week before our scheduled flight. Oh, little did I know this is just the beginning of all the spontaneity I’d be facing this week!

BICOL has long since been my second home, where I spent countless summers shopping at the local mall, cooking for my relatives and yes of course, eating. But I wanted this time around to be different.

Spending too much time in the metropolis just, kills. I wasn’t a shriveled prune yet from all the hustle and bustle of the city, but my soul just wanted to feel alive again. Free of routines, free of rules and free of all the rushing. I sought to find peace, to find – something.

All set and packed with a last minute plane ticket, a pair of rubber shoes, a hand-drawn map of our itinerary and a head full of hopes, we boarded the plane and on to Legazpi we go!


A sketch of our itinerary (not drawn to scale)


Quitinday Hills, Camalig Albay

Upon reaching the hills, there was quite a drizzle causing the soil to be quite a challenge to walk on, especially this being an uphill climb. The weather wasn’t ideal (of course, this was expected travelling during low-season), but the view was spectacular nonetheless. The view was most beautiful upon reaching the first hill.


For the brief moments spent atop Quitinday Hills, I breathed more than just fresh air. Within me came an overwhelming sense of awe for all the beauty I didn’t know I’ve been missing out on for so long. Looking at the 360 degree embrace of nature, there was no better feeling but to know that there’s so much more just waiting to be seen.

Sumlang Lake, Camalig, Albay

After a quick lunch at one of the best places for PINANGAT (A native dish made from Gabi Leaves and Coconut Milk), we headed on to Sumlang Lake. Pleased that the rain stopped and Mt. Mayon finally came out to say hello.

I believe it’s just beautiful how the land and the sky meet to form such a sight.


Sumlang Lake

Cagsawa Ruins, Albay

We headed on towards the ever-so famous tourist destination in Bicol, the Cagsawa Ruins. Just imagine how much history this site holds!



From where I stand : CAGSAWA GROUNDS

Okay I guess I have to explain why the photo below was one of my favorites (aside from Mayon photobombing quite nicely).


Mayon ATV Experience

I am an introvert, shy, reserved and I often keep my opinions to myself (whether or not I believe it will win the argument). I was brought up that way, and I guess it came to mold the person I am now. I believe time is gold, and would never spare a second to be idle. I work from 7:30am to 8pm these days. Thus, I can be quite the control freak when it comes to planning, wanting everything ironed out, neat, tidy and on-the-dot. Sometimes I can shift from happy to angry in a snap, yes, the little things can unsettle me in ways. I am uptight, never bending my own rules and being an INFJ – I’m a downright walking contradiction. (Read more about personality traits here: INFJ PERSONALITY)

I started out scared as hell as I’ve never been lucky when it comes to vehicles (I crashed a car once, and it’s traumatizing). But ten minutes later, I revved up the engine wanting to go faster! (P.S. I was trying so hard not to overtake our guide).

Kidding aside, this short trip made me find myself. By “finding oneself” I mean to say: to know oneself better, to find one’s strengths and weaknesses and to love oneself a little more. This was the first time in a long time when I actually let loose and go wild.

I knew this trip was definitely unlike any other. With no final schedules of our own, driving on unknown roads, battling the moody weather and facing full uncertainty, it added to the thrill of what the journey brings.

Vera Falls, Malinao, Albay

The journey to Vera Falls was quite an adventure! The road reached a dead end, where the bridges were destroyed by the recent floods in Malinao. The locals were so kind to volunteer to get us to Vera Falls. I felt a rush of excitement as we hitched a ride with them on their motorbike up the lofty hills and through the quiet town.


The rapids.


It took less than thirty minutes to reach the falls, and behold the roar of the water came to welcome us to one of the hidden gems in Bicol.


You know when you’re happy, when it’s not your lips that do the smiling, but your heart. Being happy is rare for me, but that’s what I felt as I sat there. Enjoying a dip in the cool water, smelling the freshness of nature, listening to the joyful chirping of the birds, and watching the violent cascade of the water.

Nature truly holds a cure for the city-living, it heals all the senses and revitalizes the mind. It shows us how simple life should be, and how difficult we all choose to make it.



In this Bicol adventure, I found a piece of myself. One where I learned to embrace the uncertain, let loose and live one day at a time.






I’ve been reading through “Steal Like an Artist” (Austin Kleon) this February, and came across an enlightening tip for creatives. Here’s an excerpt that inspired me to get up and go.




“At some point when you can do it, you have too leave home… Your brain gets too comfortable in your everyday surroundings.”

“You need to make it uncomfortable. You need to spend time in another land, among people that do things different than you.Travel makes the world look new, and when the world look new, our brains work harder.”

“It helps to live around interesting people, and not necessarily people who do what you do. You have to find a place that feeds you – creatively, socially, spiritually and literally.”

“Distance and difference are the secret tonic of creativity. When we get home, home is still the same. But something in our mind has been changed, and that changes everything.” -Jonah Lehrer


A Writer’s Growth


As writers, we express ourselves most freely through every word, paragraph and punctuation. Where we render ourselves raw, vulnerable and exposed.

“…language will reveal what is inside of you if you know how to read between the lines. The words you choose will expose you.”

I, personally, write and draw with the hope of becoming an inspiration. I wanted to change the world, to make it a little less daunting. Life shouldn’t be all bleak and depressing.  It has always been my desire to let my words flow to my readers as a source of warmth, to give solace and assurance that they aren’t the only ones going through the same situation. We are all just human beings after all. At one point we go through the same process, challenges and adversities; and in the end, we all have the strength to rise above it.

Looking back, I’ve witnessed how much I’ve grown through the years. My writings have become mirrors that reflect how much stronger I’ve become. My words have evolved, to reflect myself better, to hide nothing and to learn how to be genuinely – ME. The journey has been rough, it has left me battered and bruised. But after all, no warrior comes out of the war unscathed.

“…language is a tricky thing. You think you’re telling stories that will change people and the world but instead you are just rewriting your own history so that the past hurts are transformed into reference points to mark how much you’ve grown and how resilient you are in the face of disappointment.”

As writers, our words become our biographies and our memoirs, record of our strengths.

“You tell stories of how much you’ve lived and how much you’ve learned but all you do is reveal how you are the kind of person who mistakes a chance encounter during the Blue Moon as something more than what it was.”

We write to tell a story, little do we know that it’s about our own journey.

“I wanted to be a writer to change the world but it seems that as I write, I’m changing myself.”


Credits to PANORAMA contributing writer, Wanggo Gallaga. Your words have exposed a reality we, writers all encounter: As we write, we find ourselves along the way.




Motivational, Thoughts


I remember being called “a loser of our batch” back then in High School. I don’t know why that distant memory resurfaced again after ten long years.

All I knew was the pain I felt when I realized that other people saw me that way. To say that I laughed and brushed it off would be a lie.

In high school, I was the typical, short-haired, rosy-cheeked, chubby kid in glasses. Often the wallflower who finds companionship in books and the truest friendship in silence. I knew everyone, but not everyone knew me. If you asked me ten years ago, “to be invisible” would be my tip to get through high school.

I was the one who got stood up during Junior-Senior prom. I was the one who hung out with the younger kids in our school. I’ve never received a bouquet of flowers until college. I guess I’m a normal person just like everyone else, except I was considered “a loser” back then.

Here I am, staring out the car window ten years after, wondering if what had been said about me was true.

What defines a loser? Who defines you? No. Certainly not them.

Back then in high school, the campus was our world. But beyond that, is something much greater than ourselves. Beyond the school walls, and the cracked classroom windows, is the world just waiting to sift out the real “losers” from the real “winners”.

High school does so little to determine who you are, much less, who you will be. People have the power to tell you who you are today, but only we have control over who we become. We may choose to prove them right, or use it as a stepping stone to prove them wrong.

Until today, I have no inkling of who said such a thing about me (as it was posted anonymously on But if you wrote that, and you’re reading this, I want to thank you, sincerely.

Thank you for showing me that it is possible to rise beyond one’s labels. That by pulling me down, I realized that it was simply a catapult to lift me up to greater heights. I was once a loser, but am now a winner in the game called life.

Because a real loser is someone who fails, gives up and lives according to what the world dictates.

That’s not us, that’s not me, not today, never will be.

Winners are those who don’t allow stereotypes, labels and put-downs to define their existence. Life is not a game of winners and losers. Life is the time we have to BECOME who we are meant to be. Sure, maybe we’re all a bit different; but in our own way we shine, each in our own spectacular kind of beauty.

If they don’t see that beauty , then tell me who are the real “losers”.



“What am I in the eyes of most people – a nonentity, an eccentric or an unpleasant person – somebody who has no position in society and will never have. In short, the lowest of the low. All right then, if that were absolutely true, then I should like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart” – Vincent Van Gogh






In Escaping, I Found Myself

Over the past few months, my heart grew weary and my mind has been collecting cobwebs in the attic. In my journey, my hands stopped drawing and my feet stood still, with no inspiration nor optimism to keep going further. I felt lost without an identity.

My love, my best friend; grew more and more concerned for me as the days went by until all he knew would be best for me is to take a breath of fresh air and begin again.

Thus, our annual Tagaytay day trip came early this year, probably because I needed it sooner than I thought.

We headed out first thing in the morning, the long drive slowly easing me from all thoughts and worries hours I have left behind me in Manila. I smiled from ear to ear, my heart filled with happiness as the cold air of Tagaytay welcomed  us cheerfully through the car window.

At the stroke of lunchtime, we arrived at Bag of Beans, quite luckily to one of their branches that offered a spectacular view of the lake. The lush green garden was perfect to soothe a battered city-living soul such as ours. Nature does in fact, heal you in many ways.


Bag of Bean’s, Tagaytay

This hidden gem reminds me of the beauty of a simple life: surrounded by nature, delicious home-cooked meals and being in the company of people you love.


Beef Short Ribs

I’m personally not a foodie but these are well-deserved photos for a memorable outdoor date in Tagaytay. (We had Beef ShortRibs with Mashed Potato, Aligue Penne Pasta and not pictured is the Carmel Macchiato and Shepherd’s Pie)


Aligue Penne Pasta

Trips like these are often filled with more spontaneity than usual, this explains a lot how we got from land to lake right after a relaxing brunch. We’ve decided to visit the crater of Taal.


Upon reaching the shore, I sat under the little hut and watched the volcano from afar. I thought to myself, that’s where I’ll be in a few minutes, right up there. I watched the boatman’s skilful strokes as he readied the boat for our ride across the lake. Deep inside me, I was happy. Happy because of the simplicity, happy because of the adventure that lay ahead.

The weather wasn’t the prettiest, we had to brave the downpour of rain as we sped across the lake. Just one word to describe the 20-minute boat-ride ordeal – WET.

Despite getting off the boat soaking wet, it hadn’t dampened our spirits to see what waits for us atop the rocky volcano. We rode on horseback for thirty minutes (but we very much would’ve preferred hiking it all the way if it wasn’t raining), admiring the smell and feel of nature (while petting the horse I was riding, of course. I couldn’t resist!)

What was in store for us was much more than I had expected. I’ve been up the volcano once before, but I didn’t remember it being this beautiful. The clouds were low and heavy, the breeze was perfect, the view was nothing short of spectacular. Right that moment, I felt my heart bursting with happiness, leaping with the thrill of an adventure, and full of love for the person who did everything to bring me to where we were that moment.


I had half a day to explore, twelve hours to be exact. In those few hours, I haven’t felt more alive in my life. The little day trip has rekindled my passion, showed me that beauty lies in places where only few venture out to see.

In life, we often need to rest. Resting and sleeping are two different things. Sleeping is a way for your body to regenerate, to regain energy for your daily activities…

…while through resting, you allow your soul to breathe.

I don’t know what you are going through right now, I’m sure we each have our own giants to face. But I’ve learned that with a lot of love and support, we gain courage to become who we were meant to be. With someone to hold your hand through it all and someone who believes in you no matter what, you will grow wings to soar and to do so much more than you can imagine. All it takes is ONE PERSON who believes in you, unconditionally.

For whatever challenges you are facing, remember that sometimes  oftentimes…

The best view does come after the hardest climb.






“Meant to Be”

Some believe in what they call “serendipity”, “fate” and “destiny”; but maybe those are just names we use to describe the term: “the perfect timing”. What do you think?

One day our lives become the very epitome of: MESSY. And then all of a sudden all the planets seem to align for us, when everything beautifully, peacefully, seamlessly and perfectly fall into place. Call it whatever you like, for me, it’s “meant to be”.

For many of those who may be curious, no I have not stopped creating. I took a quick break when there came a point in my life when I felt lost, as if my artworks have lost their life and meaning. My eyes see began seeing the world in black and white. Every single activity, even drawing began to feel like an obligation rather than an outlet to BREATHE. It took me almost a year of DRIFTING.


Drifting isn’t one of the best ways to describe your life at a college reunion. It’s a state of being lost, unaware of which direction to go next and the inability to wake up in the morning to DO something. It will take a while, but in these moments of solitude and self reflection, you find yourself. So believe me when I say: Drift on.

In what would seem to be “destiny”, you will find what you love; or in my case, it found me.

At any point in your life, don’t ever think to yourself that you have failed completely. Just keep this in mind: To do your best in every task, both great or small. The rest shall follow.

Believe me, one day when you least expect it, everything shall fall into place. Don’t be in a hurry, let it find you.


To the person who has been there for me when I drifted:

I know it took quite a while before I had the strength to believe in the beauty of tomorrows. My eyes have long been closed to seeing possibilities, my hands tired of endless toiling and my heart closed to feelings. Those months were difficult for me, and I’m sure they were far more difficult for you to wake up each day with this lifeless, empty shell of a person.

I appreciate your every effort, to try to bring the life back into me. To show me all the reasons to keep trying, all the reasons to be happy. You have shown me that there is more to life than what is expected of us, that we can surpass even our own expectaions of ourselves.

Thank you for your unwavering love and pateince during those dark days. Of all the things that fell into place, you were one of them and I’m so blessed to have you by my side. I’m glad you were my “Meant to Be.”