Curious and caffeinated at the Coffee Science Center

I love coffee. Let me say that louder for those in the back: I LOVE COFFEE. Coffee is so essential to my daily existence that I have trouble functioning without it (I blame grad school for starting this habit BTW). But despite me loving coffee so much, I actually don’t know that much about it. My greatest coffee-related achievements so far are having my very own French press (thanks again Danes and Mikey!) and blade grinder (yay I can buy whole beans instead of ground!), and knowing that I should let the coffee brew for only 4-5 minutes. So you can imagine my joy when I found out about the Coffee Science Center (coffee and science! My two favorite things!) offered the Coffee Sensory Workshop for beginners.

The Coffee Science Center (CSC)is the result of SGD Coffee’s Coffee Heritage Project – a private initiative they started in 2009 to get Philippine coffee on the map as one of the best coffees in the world. True to its name, the CSC is a place of learning. Students get an in-depth look at coffee from plant to cup, with stops in between to discuss the importance (or not?) of origin, how to tell if a bean is good, how to grind the beans, and other fun stuff nerdy java junkies will love. It’s the kind of information that you can normally only get through years of experience as a coffee buyer, barista, cafe owner, and/or coffee roaster.

Continue reading “Curious and caffeinated at the Coffee Science Center”

Surf, sand, and saving the sea with Reef and WWF

Last week, I had the great opportunity to attend the Free the Sea Movement sponsored by Reef Philippines in partnership with WWF Philippines. Reef and WWF put together a great event that featured some of my favorite things in one place: a coastal cleaup, surfing, and good music.

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To join the event, I needed to purchase anything from Reef (whether at a Reef of G-Force store) and text my name and receipt number to the Reef coordinator. In return, Reef would take care of everything else related to the event: transportation, accommodations at Little Surfmaid Resort, meals, and the surf clinic. Needless to say, it was a fantastic deal. Plus, coastal cleanup! There were only 50 slots so as soon as my friends confirmed that they were game to go, I went over to Trinoma to buy some Reef goodies. In fairness, their flip-flops are super comfy and soft. Much easier on the feet than Havaianas.

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Got married to the Doctor! Part 3: the church, food, cake, and flowers

Previously, in The Islander Girl…
Adrian and I got married! Our wedding was Doctor Who-themed! Our prenup video had us escaping from Darth Vader, a stormtrooper, and a Cyberman, and traveling through space and time! The groom dressed as the Tenth Doctor! I had a headpiece made of stars! And now, the venues, food, and flowers…
The church:
Wedding venue was Nuestra Senora de Gracia Parish in Guadalupe Viejo, Makati AKA the site of almost every telenovela wedding ever. Despite its stately facade, NSDG is actually smaller on the inside. Seating capacity is around 200-230 people (5 people/pew X 2 pews/row X 20 rows)ย with a relatively short aisle: save the long train for a different church.

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Our reception was in the garden of the Monasterio de Guadalupe next door.ย The garden is in the middle of the monastery and with some planning, was able to accommodate 2 long tables, 21 round tables, 2 buffet setups, the couple setup, the band stage, the projector screen, and the TARDIS.
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The monastery let us use their airconditioned library (where I got my makeup touched up and stored the wedding cake) and their non-airconditioned recreation room (became the storage area for our suppliers). The monastery has toilets on the first floor for visitors but since their staff don’t maintain those during events, my ninang (who operates a restaurant maintenance company) hired two staffers to keep the toilets clean and restock toilet paper throughout the reception.
Weekend weddings are scheduled for 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm, while the garden can host one event per day.

Continue reading “Got married to the Doctor! Part 3: the church, food, cake, and flowers”

Got married to the Doctor! Part 2: the wedding garb

Previously, on The Islander Girl…

Adrian and I got married! Our wedding was Doctor Who-themed! Our prenup video had us escaping from Darth Vader, a stormtrooper, and a Cyberman, and traveling through space and time! And now, for the wedding preparations…

Our wedding clothes were inspired by a few key Doctor Who looks.
Adrian’s suit was the easiest part: of course he wanted the Tenth Doctor’s suit ๐Ÿ˜› He already had the brown suit made but he wanted the blue pinstripe suit for a more formal look. We couldn’t find the exact navy blue with red pinstripes so we got navy blue with light blue pinstripes instead (thanks Divisoria!). Not exactly accurate but close enough. Shoutout to Mang Mando (Kamuning Market) for making the time to make Adrian’s suit! Apparently, Adrian had recommended Mang Mando to everyone who asked about his brown suit and Mang Mando got so many orders to the point that he almost didn’t have the time to make Adrian’s blue suit.

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My wedding dress was a custom dress by Ann Cuatico-Mansueto.ย The first design that Ann and I talked about was based on the Constance Reformation dressย but with an additional French lace overlay. I’d initially wanted just the Constance dress but my mom insisted that it was “too plain” and needed lace. Oh well. Unfortunately, no matter what Ann did with the cut, I still ended up looking bigger than I actually am. I guess the flowy dress look isn’t for everyone. The added lace also prevented the dress from being swishy so it just became bulky.

The second dress design was the result of a mishap with the lace. The French lace for my gown was a wedding gift from an uncle who works for a lace factory in New York (thank you Tito Junjun!). My uncle gifted me with three yards of gorgeous uncorded white lace in June 2015. However, because of the first dress’ flowy design, the narrow width of the lace, and the scalloping at the ends of the lace cut, three yards wasn’t enough. My uncle then brought an additional four yards when he visited the Philippines for Christmas 2015. However, the lace he got was one yard of uncorded white lace and three yards of corded ivory lace. Ann and I toyed with the idea of alternating the white and ivory lace to make them fit but decided on making an entirely new dress using just the three yards of ivory lace. Because of the limited lace, the second dress was cut closer to my body and had a semi-mermaid skirt instead of a full skirt. The lace mishap turned out to be a blessing in disguise as the second dress turned out so much better than the first one. It was gorgeous and it matched my body type. I’m so happy with it <3 Ann’s team saved one scalloped edge to use as an accent to cover the join at the waist and to use as tiny sleeves. They also added some minor beading to the dress and salvaged additional lace for the train.

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LOOK AT IT!!! IT’S SO PRETTY!!! <3

My headpiece was custom-made by Steph Lopez of Flow Jewelry and Crafts. I asked for a headpiece with stars and touches of blue for a traveling-through-space-and-time feel. Steph used silver, pink, and gold metal stars in two sizes, blue and clear glass beads, and wire to make it. Steph sent me photos first before delivering so that I could comment and make changes if necessary. She didn’t need to change a thing. It was perfect.

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My makeup was by Chichi Sotomilย and hair by Rommel Escobido . Truthfully, I know next to nothing about makeup (the only thing I’m sure of is that I need to use VMV Hypoallergenics because I’m allergic to a lot of stuff). This is why I ran all of the makeup artists’ portfolios past Anna ๐Ÿ˜› Anna initially recommended Mayone Bakunawa because she liked what Mayone did for her friend’s wedding about two years ago. Mayone wasn’t available but she did give me a list of makeup artists that she would vouch for. Chichi was included in the list. After much discussion with Anna and moving stuff around in the budget, I decided to book Chichi even though her fee was way more than what I had planned to spend for HMU because I wanted to be absolutely sure that I’d look drop-dead gorgeous on our wedding day. Looking at our wedding pictures, I think it was money well spent.

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I requested for the dark red lipstick (“Studded Kiss” by MAC is love) because I wanted to look classic.ย For the record, I didn’t wear a veil during the ceremony because I wanted my face to be seen clearly in all the photos ๐Ÿ˜› Chichi’s airbrush makeup withstood a non-airconditioned church and a garden reception in March. You can’t get any better than that.

I’d planned to have the test makeup done on the day of the prenup shoot but Chichi couldn’t do it because she’d just had her baby (the prenup shoot was in December) and couldn’t travel to Pasig from Las Pinas. In the end, I decided to trust Chichi’s skill and not have a test makeup session anymore. Plus money. Haha.

I bought my wedding shoes from Hush Puppies. Yes, Hush Puppies! I have flat feet so it was a pleasant surprise to find out that Hush Puppies has a formal wear line. Unfortunately, the local stores don’t carry it so I had to order the shoes from Amazon and a friend of my mom’s who lives in California brought them to Manila. The color is called “bone” and the shoes matched my ivory gown.

wedding shoes

More blog posts to follow! Food! Photo and video! Lots of Doctor Who goodness in everything!

Got married to the Doctor! Part 1: the prenup shoot

This blog hasn’t been updated lately for a whole slew of reasons, but I hope to change that in the coming weeks. First major post in the series: we got married!

Adrian and I are big fans of Doctor Who, so when it came time to decide on the wedding theme, it was a relatively easy decision. Well, it could have been a Star Wars wedding but since our friends Rej and Oneal already did it a few years ago, we wanted something different.

The prenup shoot was the middle step (the first step was designing the invitations). Adrian and I came up with the rough outline for it: a series of adventures through space and time. Guess who his favorite Doctor and my favorite Companion are? ๐Ÿ˜›

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Yes, I know that Martha wears black leather bootlets instead of sneakers but the sneakers were a personalย touch. Adrian’s had his brown Tenth Doctor suit since NexCon 1. This was an excuse to wear it again.

We shot it in a day in Summit Studios in Pasig. Almost everything was shot against a green screen for Adrian to replace with backgrounds later.

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Aunardย took the photos and videos, with direction from Adrian. Thanks Aunard!

Major thanks to all of our lovely friends who helped out:

Maid of Honor Anna, who did my makeup because I can’t be trusted to do my own makeup for something like this:
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Mika, who is probably the smiliest Cyberman ever, and Beejay, who shot multiple scenes of being a great stormtrooper (AKA not actually hitting anything) so that we’d have three troopers in the hallway:

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And Manny, who donned the uncomfortable Vader suit for several hours. Here he is standing in front of an electric fan to cool down between takes (just follow the glowy buttons):
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Adrian did the cinematography and edited the video.

There was a lot of running around:

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And things added in post-production:
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And of course, kickassย opening credits:

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Adrian and I had to re-record our lines the night before the wedding. So yes, Adrian was still editing and rendering the video up to 3am on the day of the wedding. Because of the limited time, the video we showed at the wedding was shorter than what we initially planned. But since Adrian has a George Lucas streak AKA keeps on going back to his previous work to improve it, I’m notย posting the video here because he’s still fixing the audio ๐Ÿ˜›

Up next: the wedding preparations!

2015 in review

Confession time: this article is actually back-dated. I wrote this post in February 2016 instead of December 2015. I wish I had another reason aside from “I was busy!” but I don’t. HUHU. Anyway, I still wrote it because 2015 was still a year worth remembering, regardless of how outdated this post is ๐Ÿ˜›

Environmental Work
See that map below? Those are all the municipalities I visited for work in 2015! The red markers are January to mid-July, while the blue markers are mid-July to December.

2015 pearrl map_edit

The numbers: 122 barangays in 18 municipalities in 14 provinces. I’ve traveled for fieldwork before but 2015 was my first time to do it regularly. The most tiring trip was the Cawayan, Masbate-Babatngon, Leyte-Kawayan, Biliran run in November. Although the Tawi-tawi trip was almost as long, our travels were pretty straightforward: fly Manila-Zamboanga-Tawi-tawi, stay on the ship, stay in the hostel, then fly Tawi-tawi-Zamboanga-Manila. Traveling Masbate-Leyte-Biliran was nuts:

* Fly Manila-Cebu
* Van from Cebu City to Bogo City (3 hours)
* Roro from Bogo City to Cawayan (12 mn trip, arrival at 6am)
* Cawayan fieldwork
* Roro from Cawayan to Bogo City (12nn trip, arrival at 6pm)
* Van from Bogo City to Cebu City (3 hours)
* Overnight in Cebu City
* Roro from Cebu City to Palompon, Leyte (10pm trip, arrival at 2am)
* Van from Palompon to Tacloban City (2 hours)
* Babatngon fieldwork with Tacloban as our base
* Travel from Tacloban City to Kawayan, Biliran (2.5 hours)
* Kawayan fieldwork with Almeria as our base
* Travel from Kawayan, Biliran to Tacloban City (2.5 hours)
* Fly Tacloban-Manila

Why all the land trips? Because we were lugging about 200 kilos worth of gear, including dive gear, compressor, dive tanks, focus group discussion materials, interviews, and the personal luggage of 12 people.

pearrl team pic

Each fieldwork stop truly deserves it’s own blog entry, which I will do as soon as I get the time. Which reminds me: I still have pending entries for Cambodia, Alaska, Orlando, and Japan ๐Ÿ™

Last sunset in Biliran. We go back to Tacloban tomorrow then back to Manila! #fieldworkdiaries #Biliran #sunset

A photo posted by Macy (@theislandergirl) on

Writing Work
I got to attend the Biodiversity Reporting 101 workshop!

biodiversity reporting 101 poster

I found it interesting because it was a workshop geared towards writers who don’t have a science background, as opposed to scientists who don’t have a writing background. I was the only science graduate in the room, with another guy taking up Forestry before shifting to communication. My main takeaway from the event was that we need better science education! It blew my mind that one of the teams (the participants were split into different teams for an activity on pitching a story based on a photograph) thought that Philippine eagles (Pithecophaga jefferyi), or birds in general, get pregnant. For the record, they don’t. The Asian Center for Biodiversity and US Embassy Manila (the sponsor for the event, under the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative) said that were thinking of sending two journalists to the Turtle Islands to wrote a story about the area. Considering that I haven’t written a biodiversity-related article in a while because of fieldwork and other things, I’m not holding my breath that they’ll choose me.

This is how I spend my days off. #biodiversity101 #sciencewriting

A photo posted by Macy (@theislandergirl) on

I attended my first celebrity press conference! I got to attend the press conferences for Paul Bettany and Nathalie Emmanuel (Missandei in Game of Thrones) last APCC. I was supposed to go to Colton Haynes’ press con too but I was late (ugh Manila traffic) and they wouldn’t let me into the room anymore. Huhu. But still! I got to ask Paul a question! I was so happy about that. My press badge (sponsored by GMA News Online) also got me a front-row seat to Paul, Nathalie, and Colton’s panels. I still find it funny that a teen heartthrob drew in more people versus a BAFTA-nominated actor.

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I wrote an article about a year in the life of a marine biologist! Truthfully, I was planning on releasing this as just a post on this blog but my SciTech editor (thanks TJ!) said that he was interested in publishing it and convinced me to give him the piece instead. I don’t have the exact statistics but TJ said that the article got good traction within the circle of scientists he moved in, so I’m happy about that. My friends and coworkers also shared it so that’s additional mileage ๐Ÿ˜›

Personal stuff
We got engaged this year ๐Ÿ™‚ Wedding is in March 2016!

We went to Hong Kong! This ties in to the getting engaged part. Went to the Hong Kong Heritage Museum, the Hong Kong Science Museum, Victoria Harbor (again), the Hong Kong Museum of Art, and on a pink dolphin (Sousa chinensis)-watching trip with Hong Kong Dolphinwatch Ltd. Downside: we visited in February and it was HELLA COLD. Like 16 degrees Celsius cold. The clothes I brought weren’t warm enough (though the lightweight Uniqlo thermal shirts from the Alaska trip helped immensely), I sniffled the whole time, and my skin cracked. Huhu.

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I joined the DC Comics All-Star Fun Run! Granted, I only ran 3km but that’s still an achievement over 0km ๐Ÿ˜›

I co-organized NexCon 2! More info and photos here and here. Bigger, better, and more work than NexCon 1. We’re getting ready for NexCon 3 (April 2-3, 2016 at Function Room 5, SMX MOA) and we promise EVEN MOAR FUN!
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I watched Kung Paano Ako Naging Leading Lady the Musical with my officemate Jem as part of the ensemble! Plus Markki Stroem as Leading Man. Because Markki is love.

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Book signing with Kevin Kwan! His China-Rich series is a pleasure to read. Also helps that I’ve been to Singapore and Hong Kong so I’m kinda familiar with the areas he mentions in the stories.

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Watched Rak of Aegis with my sister and friend Joyce. Super extra bonus: a photo with Markki! He was there because a lot of the KPANLL cast were in Rak of Aegis too. He was so nice!

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CARLY RAE JEPSEN!!! I love Carly Rae. I just love her. And her album E*MO*TION is fantastic and criminally underappreciated. It was so great to see her in concert. We bought Upper Box tickets but because of slower than expected ticket sales, we were moved down to Lower Box. Sad for Carly, good for us, I guess?ย Still sad that Adrian wasn’t able to go because of work. Shared the concert with Kubi and Rima instead. Kubi and I managed to convert Rima into a follower. Yes!

carlyraejepsen manila

Got to present my research at the 13th National Symposium on Marine Science ๐Ÿ˜€ Previous experience really does keep you from being nervous. Our lab spent most of our PAMS 13 time manning the Secretariat booth. Definitely an experience to remember. And yay bonding time with labmates and Haribon friends. But because we were manning the Secretariat, I only got to watch maybe 2-3 presentations. Ah well.

pams team

As our reward for manning the Secretariat booth, we got to go to Lake Sebu after the conference and before going to Glan for fieldwork. Got to try the highest zipline in South East Asia, plus see the T’nalak weaving center and T’boli museum.

tnalak weaving center

STAR WARS EPISODE VII: THE FORCE AWAKENS!!! Homaygad I’ve been waiting for this since 1997 <3 TFA was a fantastic way to close out the year ๐Ÿ˜€

03 TFA3 - RL and 501st by Lawrence Aliwalas and Milchy Pe

While 2015 was certainly a great year, I’m looking forward to 2016 being an even better one ๐Ÿ˜€

NexCon 2 and beyond!

NexCon 2 happened last May 16-17, 2015 at Function Room 2, SMX Aura but I’m only writing about it now because Real Life got in the way. Boo to Real Life! ๐Ÿ˜›

poster - Nexcon 2015 main poster

First off, I’d like to say THANK YOU to everyone who made NexCon 2 possible: the wonderful attendees (seriously: you guys are the best con attendees ever!), the amazing guests and panelists (we bow to your experience and insights!), the exhibitors (thank you for believing in our event!), and the convention staff (hard workers all around!).

How much fun did we have? A LOT. A WHOLE BUNCH. A WHOLE FREAKING TARDIS-LOAD.

Fitting NexCon 2 inside the TARDIS. Photo by Adam Fuqua.

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Continue reading “NexCon 2 and beyond!”