Tag Archives: Poblacion

culture by NBHD

The Scene: Axe Project You

To launch a campaign, a new fragrance, and a set of ambassadors, the scents brand partied up and down Poblacion.


To kickoff their new campaign Project You, Axe took over Pura Vida Manila to present Art Wars featuring street artist Jappy Agoncillo. She’s Only Sixteen provided the tunes while Agoncillo demonstrated a bit how he creates his art. It was a Poblacion block party of sorts as celebrations popped up at different locations up and down Don Pedro Street. Agoncillo is part of a fresh slate of ambassadors—which also includes chef Nicco Santos, rapper Curtismith and filmmaker Gino Santos—which introduces the brand’s newest variant Axe You.

Project You is a series of four masterclasses, each hosted by an Axe guy, wherein he will share his knowledge in his field and invite participants to take part in a challenge. Each challenge winner will then get a rare opportunity to work with and for the Axe guys. Details on how to join can be found below.

Axe Art War 2 Axe Art War 9 Axe Art War 6 Axe Art War 11 Axe Art War 10 Axe Art War 8 Axe Art War 7 Axe Art War 5 Axe Art War 4 Axe Art War 3
Your friendly Neighborhood team.
food + drinks by Alyssa Castillo

The most colorful bar in Poblacion lets you eat your beer, too

An inventive menu and delicious drinks list make this a deserving city hot spot

Ian Paradies and his team opens the doors to their “house of Engkanto Brewery,” an eclectic space that mimics the lively Poblacion neighborhood it is found in. The name itself is a conversation starter; Polilya, unknown to many, is Tagalog for “moth,” a subtle connection to Engkanto’s logo.

“It’s not just a beer place, but it’s beer in everything,” Paradies asserts, claiming infusing beer into food and cocktails is “something no one really does here.” Great taste without the frills, The Enchanted Six is a selection of cocktails which have Engkanto’s beer in it. We don’t mean just having your sugary drinks doused in beer. Some of them are used as syrup like in their Cool Bird Spritz. The drink is the equivalent of an Aperol spritz, and uses the double IPA that makes up the aroma along with dried mango as garnish. The Polilya Fire resembles the Mexican Paloma drink; the smokey, Mexican-derived Tigrita uses Mezcal; the Goldfinger is a different take on the Moscow Mule; and Blame It On the Heat is a light slush shandy drink with a stout.

Polilya’s menu is a long list made up of global pub food with Pinoy touches. An example would be the Pinoy Caprese which has kesong puti in place of mozzarella and bagoong vinaigrette instead of balsamic and tapa. Meanwhile, the Bangla Mussels uses coconut milk broth. There’s also Gangnam Style Chicken Wings, Zen (Hainanese) Chicken Nuggets, and Portuguese-style Gambas Engkantadas. Their British Fish and Chips has curried beer batter while the B-B-B-Bolognese spaghetti, has double IPA in its sauce. Take note: anything that has a skull icon beside it tells you that their beer is incorporated in the dish.

You’ll liken its cozy and intimate interiors to your lola’s lanai. Here, you’ll feel at home lounging on garden stools, leather couches, and ottoman chairs. Every inch of the space is Filipino-made, from the ceiling murals and lighting fixtures down to the floor tiles, sourced from Pampanga, Dapitan, Binondo, and nearby malls.

One more design quirk: they have four banyos with Marcos and Aquino paintings to distinguish them as female, male, or unisex. It’s quite the play into local pop culture and history. But just to clarify, Paradies emphasizes that “it has no political reason.”

polilya-1 polilya-2 polilya-3 polilya-4 polilya-5 polilya-6 polilya-8


Produced by Alyssa Castillo
Photography by Renzo Navarro
Art direction by Mags Ocampo

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Alyssa Castillo
Alyssa Castillo is a freelance writer and is concurrently Rogue Media's Editorial Assistant for The NBHD. She reads for fun, writes for a living, and wastes too much time entertaining the possibility of a zombie apocalypse. Find her on Instagram as @alyssakcastillo.
food + drinks by Alyssa Castillo

Crosta Pizzeria just wants to make pizza great again

Poblacion’s brick-oven pizza found in The Social on Ebro is nothing like your regular slice

When we asked Ingga Cabangon Chua how she and her partner Tom Woudwyk describe their pizza, she says without skipping a beat, “Um, the greatest pizza in the world?”crosta-2The swagger isn’t unfounded. With dough fermented for over 48 hours–the formula of which took 4 years to refine–its large crust has a nice crunch on the outside and a chewy consistency on the inside. It’s airy, light, puffy, but rich in all the right ways.crosta-6Ingga says that their pizza does not belong to a particular type. “We’re not Neapolitan. We’re not New York, Chicago nor Roman. And we’re not like Pizza Hut either,” she asserts. And although there’s nothing wrong with indulgent fast food pizza, Ingga shares that there’s a lot more time involved in creating their dough, giving it a different sourdough taste.crosta-3A self-confessed connoisseur, Ingga recalls that she grew frustrated with the options offered here. “Four years ago, even if you go to an Italian-style restaurant here you’d get the same type of pizzas with the thin crust. That is the easiest type of dough to make.” And after travelling the world, grabbing bites she knew she wouldn’t get in the Philippines, she went back home and created the pizza she would enjoy eating every day to satisfy her cravings. With a lot of research, Ingga and Tom gathered ideas they could test and tweak.crosta-5They offer universal favorites such as pepperoni and five-cheese cooked in a brick oven. They’ve also introduced Shroomed Out (the crowd favorite) topped with Shiitake, Portobello, and white button mushrooms, along with Taleggio, Fontina, and Parmesan, and fresh thyme. The Basic Bitch (they call it “Marge”) is their go-to, doused with homemade Italian plum tomato sauce, Mozzarella, and topped with basil leaves. And the best thing about these is that you can opt to have them in vegan and non-dairy variants. But meat lovers are accounted for as well; they also have Pork You, which is filled with salami, bacon, pancetta, and homemade fennel sausage.crosta-4Produced by Alyssa Castillo
Photography by Renzo Navarro
Art direction by Mags Ocampo
Assisted by Kris Cuaresma and Darleen Sy

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Alyssa Castillo
Alyssa Castillo is a freelance writer and is concurrently Rogue Media's Editorial Assistant for The NBHD. She reads for fun, writes for a living, and wastes too much time entertaining the possibility of a zombie apocalypse. Find her on Instagram as @alyssakcastillo.
food + drinks by Alyssa Castillo

Chef Ariel Manuel makes a comeback

The culinary master behind Lolo Dad’s has quietly set up shop at Poblacion’s bustling scene

After Lolo Dad’s—the once well-loved fine dining restaurant along a discreet corner of Manila—closed in 2014, Chef Ariel Manuel took two years to fine tune the next phase of his life. “I just wanted to put up something simple,” he says with a shrug. “Poblacion is a booming area. When I was offered this space, I thought ‘how can I say no?’”bistro-manuel-4His idea percolated into triplets, a trio of establishments located at the Six Axis Building in Poblacion: Bistro Manuel, Taperia Poblacion, and The Sippery. The latter two, located right across each other, are home to Callos, Tapas, and Pintxos, which all go well with their house Sangria and curated wine selection. But Chef Manuel’s interpretation doesn’t make shortcuts; the Gambas, for example, are cooked in olive oil and garlic instead of being doused in liquid seasoning. Straightforward with no pretensions is what this culinary stalwart lives by. Take the Taperia’s specialty, the Lechon Pugon. “The flavor renders the fat because once you cook it in an oven, the belly part becomes so tender yet crispy,” he explains.bistro-manuel-5This convivial, uncomplicated mentality translates to how the three restaurants are laid out. They are all meant to be free-and-easy, where guests can easily transition from one place to another. You can also order off of the three menus, and they can be served to you in whichever of the three establishments you may be. Whether at the ground floor with Taperia and Sippery, or up on the second floor at the 80-seater Bistro Manuel.bistro-manuel-3Greeting you as you enter the third restaurant is its large open kitchen, which still has some physical elements from Lolo Dad’s. The space was designed with old Manila in mind, with Narra and old panels repurposed from the chef’s gastronomic kingdom. He wanted to preserve a part of his Pasay home here in Poblacion.bistro-manuel-2The menu at the Bistro recalls signature dishes from Lolo Dad’s and playing around with the chef’s specialties: everything from oysters and duck liver and foie gras to rock glam, seabass, and duck confit. “I can’t get away from that image, so I’ll just repaint them,” he says. “I’m trying to keep it simple where people can afford and enjoy fine food.”bistro-manuel-1Produced by Alyssa Castillo
Photography by Renzo Navarro
Special thanks to Nana Nadal

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Alyssa Castillo
Alyssa Castillo is a freelance writer and is concurrently Rogue Media's Editorial Assistant for The NBHD. She reads for fun, writes for a living, and wastes too much time entertaining the possibility of a zombie apocalypse. Find her on Instagram as @alyssakcastillo.
style by Sam Potenciano

Not Another Barbershop

This Poblacion barbershop wants you to take your grooming seriously—and to stop being embarrassed by that.

Tell us about the overall concept of Another Barbershop.
We’re a small neighborhood barbershop and retail space in Poblacion. The shop’s main goal is to helps guys upgrade their grooming routine beyond just buying pomade or getting a haircut. That means offering haircare, skincare, and lifestyle products and services that’ll help him look good and feel good. We know that men’s grooming has been getting more sophisticated and guys are more open to adopting a grooming regimen of their own—but there was an absence of a space or a brand that really catered to all of this. Housing this concept in a barbershop made sense, as the barbershop is the original grooming destination for men.

Your shop name is very tongue-in-cheek. Is there a story behind that?
There’s no big story behind the name. I think when we were thinking of what we wanted to call the shop, we knew that there were already a bunch of barbershops out there—really good ones, too. And so in some sense we wanted to keep reminding ourselves of what we were getting into, if only to keep us on our ass, making sure we were different, making sure we had something else to offer. We wanted to remind ourselves that we could end up being just Another Barbershop. Hopefully we don’t end up being that!

How did you settle on this location?
We’ve been captivated by Poblacion’s character and the creative energy coming from all the new establishments opening up in the area. We knew we wanted to open up the shop in this neighborhood. Going around one week, 5880 Enriquez really caught our eye—the architecture, design. We loved the neighborhood vibe and knew we wanted to be a part of it.another barber 1How would you describe your design influences when putting together the look of the shop?
Because we wanted to offer something more than the traditional barbershop, it was important that people felt that right away. So the best place for us to show this was in how the shop looked and felt. We have a lot of affinity for barbershop culture, but we want to offer a different perspective of that.

Being fixated on this story of grooming, the first thing that always came to our minds was the color white. We wanted the shop to be very clean, somewhat sterile and clinical, but at the same time allude to a barbershop in the details. That’s where the industrial touches came in. The shop is still very much a work in progress, we want to put a few plants in there and some artwork perhaps, but we’re letting it evolve on its own as we go. I think the most important thing for us is to make sure the products and the services are able to stand out in this space.

Can you tell us about the services that you guys offer? Are they more on the traditional side? What makes them stand out from other barbershops?
At the moment, we have all the services you find at other barbershops: cut, shave, hair/scalp treatments, nail grooming. What make these services stand apart are the products and brands involved with these services.

For our cuts, we offer two shampoos to finish off the service: both from Redken for Men. They cater to two different needs and we pick and choose based on the client’s profile. Clean Brew is a shampoo made primarily from malt (yes, beer) and is perfect for the guy that uses a lot of styling product on the regular. It cleanses the scalp but also effectively cleans the hair of product buildup better than any other shampoo out there. Mint Clean is peppermint infused and perfect for maintaining a healthy scalp; it feels great on application as well. 

For our shaving service, we use all Proraso products from the beginning to the end of the service. It’s a great Italian brand that has been family owned for more than a century. And for our treatments we only use Davines products. 

We’re also working hard to start rolling out more skin-related services in the near future. Again, we want to be a shop that answers all the grooming needs: skin, hair, body, etc. Once those are rolled out, definitely that will be another area for us to stand apart.another barber 2We overheard that you might be offering unisex services in the future. Can you tell us a little bit about what made you decide to do that?
We want guys to be able to come to our shop and not be intimidated or embarrassed about talking about grooming; that’s our main goal. We’re really into all these products that we’re finding and carrying, and we want to invite women to come and check them out too. They’re not necessarily just for guys. All our candles skew towards a muskier undertone but surely there are a lot of women who appreciate that. I think that’s what we had in mind when talking unisex: grooming nowadays is quite fluid, and while menthol, musky, woody profiles are generally marketed towards men, fuck it, we invite all the women who appreciate that to come by just the same. Maybe you won’t get a shave, but definitely try our treatments.

Your product selection stands out right away because it’s so distinct. Can you talk about some of your favorites that are available for retail?
We’re really proud of all the products we’re carrying. We want to make sure we carry products from brands that we stand behind: tested and vetted by our team, products we would use ourselves. So we try not to carry a dozen different pomades or a dozen different facial cleansers; we’re on the hunt for the perfect pomade, the perfect cleanser, the perfect scrub and so on. At the moment we have haircare products (shampoos, conditioners, treatments), hairstyling products (pomades, creams, pastes), shaving products (pre-shaving to aftershave balms), and lifestyle products (we carry two scents from an LA-based candle company called PF Candle Co.). We’re kind of suckers for things that smell great! It equates to cleanliness for a lot of us. So all of our products have very distinct fragrant characteristics and carrying scented candles was important for us. We believe that while looking good makes you feel good, this also goes the other way around: feeling good makes you look good. And who doesn’t appreciate a good smelling room, right?another barber 3The thing that initially actually caught our eye about the brand was the typography that you use for your logo. It gives off a bit of a retro feeling, which ties in with the old school barbershop pole outside. Was it a conscious decision to marry the old with the new?
Definitely. Again, we still identify ourselves as a barbershop—just one that is trying to offer something else. So design wise, with the logo and the shop’s aesthetic, we wanted this contrast to be evident. The old with the new is a good way to put it.

Lastly, what do you personally look for in a barbershop experience, and how did you make sure to address this when putting together your own space?
We wanted that neighborhood feel: a shop where there’s no feeling of intimidation, where people know your name, or at least are interested enough to know your name; to really listen to what you want and help you get that. This is something we’ll always be working on, making sure that with all the services and all the different products that we have in our arsenal, we can really speak to each of our customers and get to know them well enough to know how we can help them groom better. It doesn’t escape us that we’re new players in a field of great barbershops, but we’re looking forward to evolving into a great shop and want people to come experience the shop and grow with us.

Produced by Sam Potenciano
Photography by Ralph Mendoza

Sam Potenciano
Sam Potenciano
Sam is the digital editor of L’Officiel Manila. Formerly the founding editor of The Neighborhood and the editor-in-chief of Candy magazine, she is also a columnist for The Philippine Star's Young Star section. Follow her on Instagram at @sampotenciano.
food + drinks by Sam Potenciano

What to Do This Weekend: The Poblacion Edition

A definitive guide to the former red light district from sun up to sun down.

Get your stomach ready by watching this video. It’s gonna be a long day ahead.

Roll out of bed for a chorizo and egg breakfast sandwich (or two) at Bean & Yolk in Polaris. Grab a Latte Gianduja while you’re at it.bean-and-yolk-2Build up an appetite by taking a walk and exploring the rarely discussed backstreets of Poblacion. Just a few streets away from the sleazy, electric energy of P. Burgos and the burgeoning ‘Williamsburgos’ food scene is one of the oldest churches in the entire country. Founded in 1620, San Pedro Macati Church (also known as Saints Peter and Paul Parish) is a curious historical relic sandwiched in between local schools and busy street food vendors.

Within walking distance of the church is the Poblacion Public Market at the corner of Gabladon and Escuela Street, which has a reputation for being the personal, secret Alterations Plus of the titas of Forbes set. Aside from housing fresh produce and some of the best, low-key tailors in Makati, the public market also houses an adorable abundance of sleepy cats who won’t mind being Boomeranged for your Insta-satisfaction.

For lunch head to Ebro street and order up a couple plates of affordable, authentic Mediterranean food at the colorful, cozy Kite Kebab Bar. Their biryani and grilled meat combos are hard to beat both in terms of quality and price.kite-4Grab a post-lunch cup of Single Origin coffee at Commune and mingle with fellow caffeine-addicts at one of their communal tables. If you’re lucky you might even get to catch one of their weekend film screenings or workshops.commune-1Dessert-wise, you can’t go wrong with one of Bucky’s soft-serve parfaits or their well-loved, gooey brownie hybrids.buckys-5If you’re in the mood for a life-changing haircut or even just a dose of daily inspiration, drop by Kapwa Studio—a community-based creative space that serves as a gallery/salon/all around local goods shop. It’s a great way to get a feel of the emerging local arts scene.kapwa-8Walk on over to La Casita Mercedes, a restored pre-colonial home from the 1930s that has become the area’s most beloved and under the radar bed and breakfast. Just a few streets away, you’ll also find Tilde Hand Craft Café. Sit down for a slice of one of Ginny de Guzman’s homebaked cakes and don’t forget to take out a loaf of their freshly-baked sourdough bread. If you’re a fan of day drinking (who isn’t?), try one of their very own craft beers.la-casita-3Keep the ball rolling by arranging to meet up with your friends for an all-night pub crawl. Alamat, Alchemy Bistro Bar, Pura Vida, and Senor Pollo are just a few drinking hole favorites that truly come alive after hours.poblacion regular 3Fuel up in between drinks with sticks of Japanese yakitori meets Pinoy street food at Tambai to soak up the alcohol._mg_3768Even though the vibrant, raucous red light district was originally meant to be experienced at night, it’s hard to find a neighborhood that remains as constantly exciting and engaging as Poblacion is from sun up to sun down.

Photos by Renzo Navarro (Bean and Yolk, Bucky’s, Commune, Kite Kebab Bar, Kapwa Studio, La Casita Mercedes, Tambai) and Nikki Bonuel (Pura Vida)

Sam Potenciano
Sam Potenciano
Sam is the digital editor of L’Officiel Manila. Formerly the founding editor of The Neighborhood and the editor-in-chief of Candy magazine, she is also a columnist for The Philippine Star's Young Star section. Follow her on Instagram at @sampotenciano.
food + drinks by Sam Potenciano

On Lucky Peach and Love: Bong Sta. Maria and Jake Caruncho

The couple and co-owners behind Po share more than just a mutual love for David Chang.

In discussing the origins of Po, no two words seem to come up quite as often as ‘Lucky’ and ‘Peach’—and with good reason. Now almost three years together as a couple (and one full one as co-owners and chefs of this experimental Asian delivery service), Bong Sta. Maria and Jake Caruncho never even realized when they first started dating just how deep their mutual interest in the food quarterly ran.po 1“We discovered it over time,” Bong shares. “I mean, I knew that Jake was a chef, but I didn’t realize that we shared the same level of interest in all things Lucky Peach—all the chefs and restaurants that were involved with it.” David Chang’s independent publication and its intelligent, abrasive, out-of-the-box approach to food journalism spoke to the couples’ creative sensibilities, and it wasn’t long before they decided to take a trip to New York to hit up their culinary heroes’ respective establishments.

“Momofuku, Baohaus, Mission Chinese, Mission Cantina—we made sure to eat at them all.” Jake says. It was during this pilgrimage that the idea for Po began to truly manifest itself. “Even before the trip we had been thinking of setting up a restaurant,” Bong clarifies, “But after our trip to New York, that’s when we really started thinking about dishes and names.”po 4The couple started out by learning the recipes for all of their favorite meals in New York, and then recreated them from scratch. “The first dish was the Taiwanese pork bun that they serve at Baohaus. We followed Eddie Huang’s recipe. Then we moved on to the roasted pork by David Chang, and the Mapo tofu by Danny Bowien.” After learning how to replicate the flavor profiles of these dishes using more locally-available ingredients, Jake then began to tweak and transform each dish into his own. “Take Po’s scallion noodles,” Bong says, “We retained the general idea from Momofuku’s recipe, but added our own touches, like the addition of nori, egg, and bacon. The bacon may seem weird at first, but in the context of the dish it works.” Another unique adaptation includes Po’s Mapo tofu, which they served over French fries during one of their pop-ups at Red Light in Poblacion.po 2Deconstructing memorable meals from their trips together and using these experiences as the backbone for new dishes seem to be recurring themes with the couple. A recent trip to Japan sparked ideas for future, off-menu, Japanese pop-ups, while a trip to Kuala Lumpur had Jake toying around with his own take on the Chili Pan Mee—a flat noodle dish with dilis and crispy chilis that he hopes to introduce to the menu.

While the duo is keen to maintain their current operation as a delivery service, they also plan to hold more pop-ups, and to hopefully expand with a standalone space of their own in Poblacion. For now, the two balance their day jobs—Bong as a writer for GMA News Online and Jake as chef at Mexikombi—with the day-to-day of their passion project. Post-office hours are spent shopping for ingredients, prepping for orders, cooking, and sometimes even doing the deliveries themselves.

po 5When asked whether the hectic pace of their working relationship has put a strain on their personal one, Bong is quick with her reply: “Not really. It wasn’t such a hard transition for us to go from a couple to working together, because we both love what we do so much—namely eating and cooking together. I think the food aspect made our relationship so much stronger. It just brings us comfort whenever we do something where food is involved.” She goes on to share that even when issues and tensions arise, as they do with all business relationships, it’s their time spent in the kitchen that acts as a diffuser.

“Jake tends to keep to himself a lot, and I’m more uptight with setting things like schedules, so we can get into arguments because of our differences… but eventually, no matter what happens, we’re going to have to get into the kitchen together and cook. And when that happens everything is okay again. Okay na kami.”

Produced by Sam Potenciano
Photos by Ralph Mendoza (Portraits) and Renzo Navarro (Food)

Sam Potenciano
Sam Potenciano
Sam is the digital editor of L’Officiel Manila. Formerly the founding editor of The Neighborhood and the editor-in-chief of Candy magazine, she is also a columnist for The Philippine Star's Young Star section. Follow her on Instagram at @sampotenciano.
food + drinks by Cedric S. Reyes

Elbow to Elbow in Poblacion

Poblacion’s bartenders play a game of remembrance with the regulars they serve. These are their notes and how-to’s, fresh from the bar.

Elbow to Elbow is a series of across-the-bar conversations with bartenders from Manila’s drinking districts. Every month, The Neighborhood speaks with the guys and girls in back about the mix, the tipple, and our life in the city. It’s a collection of field notes and kind advice between bar regulars and the people that keep them inebriated.

The ability to drink as one pleases is a gift. It’s given to many, and like most gifts, it can sit unused for years at a time, only serving the occasional Friday night need, or coming alive during the holidays. Like most gifts, drinking is best enjoyed in good taste and limited quantities. I used to be of the opinion that it’s best left in able hands.

Here, a few bartenders from Poblacion remind us that understanding our drinks is second only to considering the stories that surround them. Becoming a regular at a bar is a story away, and drinkers will do themselves well to listen.poblacion regular 1Señor Pollo / Kath To
Take a simple drink and make it yours.

Kath To of Señor Pollo serves one of her regulars a glass of local beer filled to the brim, with a lemon slice perched on top of the lager. This guy, she says, can’t have it without the lemon. Kath’s most memorable regular disappears for months at a time to tend to a job that requires him to be in Mexico half the year. During the six months he is home, he waves hello to Kath, from the same bar stool, every night. He always asks for the lemon in his beer.

Kath recalls her regular warning her over his drink of choice one night of the dangers of going to sleep. It’s like burning precious hours of your life, he had said. Why sleep when you can live. It was a particularly breezy night in Señor Pollo’s al fresco setup, and Kath’s regular was keeping his stool warm.poblacion regular 2Alchemy Bistro Bar / Kevin Balbutin
To be remembered, drink in pairs.

Kevin never forgets an order. Names and faces will slip through the cracks of his bar at Alchemy, where he is head bartender, but never an order. Top of mind, he tells of a pair that populates his haunt. He refers to both of them by their drink of choice.

The first half of the pair orders the Cosmopolitan. “Cosmo,” as he calls her, is sharp and of the city. Like her drink, she is outspoken but never overbearing. She asks for what she wants if she doesn’t already have it. Kevin smiles as he tells me about the other half of the pair, a literary foil that’s too real to have been written.

Kevin works the bar at Alchemy most nights. Every night, Cosmo has her Cosmopolitan, and with her is another regular who always has hot tea, at the bar, day in and out. Tea and Cosmo are an unlikely pair, one that Kevin remembers fondly.poblacion regular 3Pura Vida Manila / Lucas Floyd
Ask for what you want, even if you don’t yet know what it’s called.

Lucas takes a lighter and singes the sprig of rosemary on top of Summer Melted, a passion fruit drink with hints of lemon grass, ginger, and an easy rum spike. Lucas has only been in the country for a few months, but already he has made fans of foreigners and locals alike with his signature cocktails. One such local, who leans more towards refreshment rather than intoxication when he drinks, is a big fan of the tropical Summer Melted.

Each sip brings Lucas’ regular to a new question, starting with why he chooses to burn the tips of his garnish (more fragrance) and ending with the origins of the drink (Summer Melted was created by Lucas exclusively for Pura Vida Manila). Even regulars don’t have all the answers, and those behind the bar are happy to illuminate.

Photos by Nikki Bonuel

Cedric S. Reyes
Cedric had the squid. For more of this nonsense follow him on Twitter at @cedritoreyes.
food + drinks by Andrea Ang

Of Old Records, Piña Coladas, and Yakitori

You’ll never guess what Tambai is up to now.

Once upon a time, in a Poblacion not too many years ago, there was only El Chupacabra. El Chupacabra, as everyone knows, is an institution—not only for their cheap tacos, but for introducing a new generation to the charms of the red light district. It was no longer just about Russian dancers or midget wrestling, white men in Hawaiian shirts or aging restaurants on street corners. Suddenly Poblacion became a place for a night in, while staying out.

tambai-3Does that make sense? It did to Franco Ocampo and his friends. They had been going out to Poblacion for a while, and somewhere along the way, the seed of doing their own thing in their favorite neighborhood was planted. That’s literally somewhere along the way—they were eyeing a small sari sari store’s space only a few steps down from El Chupacabra. The woman who owned it was getting older, but she kept the sari sari store anyway, as a source of income.

Ocampo and his friends talked to her everyday. Some days they were just there to hang, other days they talked to her about a possibility: what if she rented them the space instead? It went on for a year, maybe even more. Until one day she said she’d pray on it, and got back to them with an answer: yes, she’d rent them the space. 

_mg_3768Tambai started out small, cramped. It looked like a hybrid of many concepts—a food truck, a sari sari store, an isawan, a bar, a fastfood counter. Girls would sit on the counter, flirting with boys standing beside them. People would find themselves on each other’s laps. Some would crawl over the counter to reach for a napkin. It was so casual, so homey, and the staff wouldn’t stop them once, carrying on serving food and drinks as the night wore on.

It has a distinctly Japanese influence, not in aesthetic or visuals, but in vibe. Tambai technically served yakitori, but totally Filipino—isaw, quail egg, garlic. It became a perfect place to introduce someone to Filipino street food, though here with local craft beer (they serve Joe’s Brew’s Fish Riderr now, if anything because they get to scream “WHALE RIDERRRRR!” whenever someone orders it) than at Mang Larry’s in UP.

tambai-2And now, vintage records and a good amount of sake. It’s very much ingrained in the Poblacion neighborhood now, accepted by its “true locals” and befriended by other establishments like Bucky’s; so much so that Tambai has extended past its counter service to, at first include a small place to eat at the back, and now a second floor that feels more like a sound lounge. “We wanted to a do a more relaxed area for drinking. Nothing like a club,” Ocampo says firmly. “We have a bunch of ‘80s, ‘70s records. And anytime someone wants to play, they can.”

_mg_3748Much like the original Tambai space downstairs, it’s small and simple, but it feels like something Manila sorely needed, away from the opulence of The Bon Bon Club or Salon de Ning, the light shows of Valkyrie and Pool Club, the cell phone thieves of Finders Keepers and Black Market, the unseen-to-be-seen vibe of 20/20. And even as they consider a completely new concept for the rest of the compound’s space (all still within the property of the old woman with the sari sari store, who now happily asks as tita to the team), we can trust that Tambai understands Manila’s scene in the intimate, inimitable way that only a true local can.  We needed good music and good drinks, and, as Ocampo stands up to change the record to an old Michael Jackson and order piña coladas for the room, that has never been clearer than it is right now.

tambai-1Production by Andrea Ang and Mags Ocampo
Photography by Renzo Navarro

Andrea Ang
Andrea has an extensive list of interests—including food, urban planning, art, literature, data science–—some of which she uses as a source of income. Formerly the Digital Editor of L’Officiel Manila and Digital Director of Rogue Media, her work—whether visual, written, or in between—appears in various publications.
style by Emil Hofileña

Getting Some Peace of Mind

Through its communal atmosphere and personal approach, Kapwa Studio can turn even the most hesitant customer into a work of art.

When you’re a teenager on the edge of adulthood, few things feel as liberating as finally breaking free from your school’s strict haircut rule. For twelve years, I had been forbidden from letting my hair touch my eyebrows, my ears, and the collar of my school uniform. So when my high school batchmates and I finally got to college, we saw it as a time for long, flowing locks, buckets of wax and styling gel, and hairstyles that our parents explicitly told us not to get. In the four years that followed, we let our hair run wild and free.

kapwa-2But all good things must eventually be cut short. With admittedly more than a little hesitation, I traveled to Kapwa Studio in Poblacion, Makati to say goodbye to my old hair and hello to something totally different: an undercut with a peace sign detailed onto the back of my head. Don’t ask.

kapwa-3Kapwa is a coworking creative space that most often functions as a barbershop and salon, but is open to hosting all manner of events and workshops, from dance classes to acoustic gigs. This might come as a surprise to anybody who sees the compact interior of the studio; it’s essentially just one room with two hairdressing stations, a small lower level for rinsing and shampooing, and a few closet-sized spaces hidden in the corners.

kapwa-4But where Kapwa really comes to life is in the details. The studio’s Creative Director, Leslie Ferrer Espinosa, took us on a brief tour and displayed how almost everything in the space is mobile, or can serve multiple purposes. The reception desk turns into a bar during parties, the blinds can be lowered and the lighting adjusted to tailor to a photographer’s needs, and the floor space can be completely cleared. Perhaps most impressive are the tall mirrors used by the stylists, which double as cabinets for their tools, and can become whiteboards when flipped around, or even full-body dance mirrors when placed side-by-side.

kapwa-5Leslie emphasizes how they want Kapwa to be recognized as multipurpose, unisex, and a place where any and all artists and creatives can bond and connect. It very much looks like a space inhabited and shared by a community supporting each other’s art—as seen from a painting at the back of the room, a ukulele sitting on the reception counter, an assortment of artisanal products for sale near the entrance and, of course, a fully operational coffee machine.

As a result, Kapwa feels much bigger than it seems not because of its physical dimensions, but because of the different ways its inhabitants utilize the space. “It’s like the living room we never had,” Leslie says.

kapwa-6It was mostly this homely living room vibe and the warmth of the staff that calmed my nerves. Leslie spoke about how everybody who goes to Kapwa is treated like a personal work of art—something I felt from the minute I sat down. Getting a haircut here wasn’t just a matter of requesting a certain style and passively staring at your reflection as you wait for it to be finished.

I first had an in-depth consultation with my stylist, Anthony “Joe” Camacam, who suggested that the peace sign at the back of my head be accompanied by some cool fading so as not to look flat. There was careful consideration with the way he was deciding what would fit my hair best, and that’s what made me let go of whatever doubt I had left. I wasn’t in the hands of a barber; I was in the hands of an artist.

kapwa-7What surprised me the most about the process was how delicate and thorough it was. I must have spent about an hour in the chair as Joe shaved off every layer and carved out the peace sign one millimeter at a time with a heated razor. It’s a little weird to say, but getting this haircut made me more aware of my scalp than I had ever been before. After years of only having my bangs trimmed every so often, getting an undercut made me remember the shape of my head.

kapwa-8As Joe started applying finishing touches with hair clay, other customers and friends of the owners arrived. My first instinct was to cover my face in embarrassment, but as they saw what Joe had done with the back of my head, I only heard voices of approval and someone saying, “That’s dope, man!”

I’ve always been insecure about having short hair precisely because of the shape of my head, so it was admittedly reassuring to hear so much support from total strangers. It would be cliché if I said I stood up from that chair feeling like a ‘new me,’ but I will say that I left Kapwa feeling much more confident than I thought I would be.

kapwa-9Saying goodbye to my college hair has taken some getting used to. Now when I’m out in the open, I feel like a turban-less Professor Quirrell from the first Harry Potter movie, with the face of Voldemort growing from my scalp. My friends consoled me by saying that I did, in fact, look more like Ezra Miller’s character from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them—but it was up to me if I would let that be a bad thing.

It’s not a bad thing. When it comes down to it, I’m happy to have stopped by Kapwa for this haircut—not necessarily because of how it looks on me, but because of what it stands for. It’s a testament to the sheer talent of our local stylists and artists, and it serves as a small reminder that the most important thing we can do in our divided world is to always keep peace at the back of our minds.

Produced by Alyssa Castillo
Photography by Renzo Navarro
Special thanks to Deejae Pa’este

Emil Hofileña
Emil is a staff writer at Rogue Media. He spends way too much time and money watching movies, crying to Hamilton, and fawning over Carly Rae Jepsen. He believes all stories are worth telling. Follow him on Youtube at youtube.com/cinemil and on Twitter at @EmilHofilena.
food + drinks by Justine Limjoco

Drop Your Brunch Plans and Head Straight to Bean & Yolk

This tiny third wave coffee and breakfast sandwich joint is worth setting your weekend alarm for.

If I’m going to get out of my pajamas only to be served a run-of-the-mill breakfast, then I’d have to give it a hard pass. My daily Starbucks run and culinary masterpiece of the boiled egg are usually enough to get me going in the morning.

But for Bean & Yolk, a tiny café along busy Polaris Street, I might make the rare exception.

bean-and-yolkBean & Yolk resembles most other trendy third wave cafés—in other words, its interiors are heavily Pinterest-esque. Composed of familiar elements like cement walls and wooden tables, they even have hanging light bulbs with copper elements that mutely add to the café’s contemporary aesthetic. No surprises here. But I think this is what, at the same time, is so charming about it. The place does its job of setting a modern yet warm vibe, mostly due to its limited capacity. Anything more than fifteen people inside at a time would be a violation of personal space.

What is intriguing for breakfast afficionados is that coffee and eggs are the only things on their menu. But they don’t just serve coffee and eggs; they skillfully transform the two most universal culinary staples into delicious masterpieces. And it all started with a trip Down Under.

bean-and-yolk-2Papo Jorolan, Bean & Yolk’s owner, used to be a flight attendant. She shares that the coolest part of her job was that she was able to visit so many coffee shops all over the world, with her favorites being the ones from Sydney and Melbourne. Whether it were experimental coffee labs or classic coffee houses, all her favorite cafés had one thing in common—they all served up simple, no-fuss fare. No fancy, no schmancy.

She loved the idea so much that she decided to bring it to life back home in Manila. She, along with her husband Chukoy, wanted to put up a place that took a straightforward and direct approach. Drifting away from more typically complex menus, Bean & Yolk brings us back to the roots of what it means to simply eat good food. With the help of chef Ed Bugia, the couple crafted the perfect menu.

bean-and-yolk-3Bugia, of Backyard Kitchen + Brew and Breakfast and Pies, turned the humble egg into several dishes that will satisfy almost anyone. I personally loved the Lucy, which is made up of a comforting egg salad nestled between two of the softest homemade brioche buns.

For something more filling, there’s also the chorizo patty, topped with a perfectly cooked and lightly salted fried egg. Everything is specially made and delivers a burst of flavor with every bite. I totally get why this savory breakfast sandwich is a bestseller.

bean-and-yolk-4If a bun and egg combo isn’t your style, try the Molly, a unique pile of truffle oil, silky poached egg, and mashed potatoes that serve as the dip to slices of crunchy crostini. If you really want to take their simple food concept to the task, don’t miss Cara’s Fave—Bean & Yolk’s take on the classic grilled cheese.

_mg_2098Another of Bean & Yolk’s strengths is that each of these dishes were created with the idea that they would be served with coffee. For this, Jorolan enlisted the help of another industry favorite, Jonathon Choi of Magnum Opus and Restock, to supply the drinks. Choi’s concoction, the Latte Gianduja, is for those who enjoy their sugar-and-caffeine boost without the bitterness.

bean-and-yolk-5Bean & Yolk, with its full-flavored and ingredient-focused menu, is the quintessential brunch spot. As a fan of sleep, I can vouch that this place is definitely worth getting out of bed early for…. or not.

It’s past noon and I’m dying for a Lucy.

Photography by Renzo Navarro



Justine Limjoco
Justine Limjoco is a contributor to The Neighborhood.
food + drinks by Bea Lim

Your Childhood Favorites Recreated to Perfection

Bucky’s has mastered the craft of go-to comfort food with an elevated spin.

The quaint neighborhood of Poblacion possesses a promising, new secret. Despite launching just a few weeks ago, Bucky’s has already begun rearranging the molecules in the food universe one dish at a time.
buckys-2There’s more than meets the eye at this café, which features a full menu and a bustling kitchen dedicated to whipping up your favorite comfort food staples. Their concept was to establish an intimate space that could recreate childhood favorites—the deliciously distinctive but could-be-eaten-everyday kind. Bucky’s bestsellers include a fried chicken with mashed potato combo that definitely gives KFC a run for its money, while their ever-so-famous Baked Ziti could easily be considered one of the best baked pastas in Manila.

buckys-4For those who have trouble taming their sweet tooth, you can’t miss out on their customizable parfaits. Miguel, the brains behind Bucky’s, personally suggests trying the Cinnamon Toast with Brown Butter Polvoron and Salted Caramel. “The great thing about this concept is that there is no wrong answer for the guests. They can make their parfait however they want. We at Bucky’s just aim to please,” he insists.

buckys-5The café’s name itself certainly isn’t new to coffee enthusiasts, who have no doubt spotted the original pastries stacked in piles at Toby’s Estate counters all over Manila; or to dessert fans who have been ordering for years from Miguel directly. The original recipe for the infamous Bucky’s-not-a-brownie has been tweaked by Miguel’s family since he was a little kid.

_mg_2188During the day, Bucky’s is the perfect place to drop by and chill for a satisfying meal, while at night, the bustling Poblacion scene delivers a diverse crowd of both local and foreign clientele.

buckys-3Overall, Bucky’s aims its focus on quality—both in terms of food and customer experiences. “We want our customers to feel a sense of surprise, but we also want to hit all the nostalgic notes with food that they grew up with,” Miguel discloses. “You can tell that this business isn’t just about money and profit. For us, it’s about the satisfaction of our guests.”

Photography by Renzo Navarro

Bea Lim
Bea is an intern at Rogue Media. An Amal Clooney fanatic, yogalates aficionado, and fashion-beauty expert (in her own world), you can find her on Instagram at @beatrice.plim.