I once met two kids at a convenience store. It was a cold December night and our house was locked because my parents were out celebrating their wedding anniversary, and my sister was at her friend's house. I had no keys with me so I decided to just wait at a convenience store.  It's a good thing I brought my handy dandy doodle book with me to pass the time.

As I was doodling Jollibee in different art styles, two kids suddenly approached me and looked at what I was doing. These kids are way past their bedtime! It was kind of awkward since I'm not really comfortable with people looking at what I'm doing. I'm gonna try my best to remember this exactly because it happened a few months ago.

Since I'm not really comfortable with people staring at my work when I'm there, after a while I asked them this. Gusto niyo drawing ko kayo? (Do you want me to draw you two?) "Sige kuya!" (Kuya is a term for older brother and sometimes used to call unrelated older guys), they replied. Their faces lit up on the idea. After all, they probably don't always get the chance to be drawn by another person.

JC and Jolo were the names of the two kids in this story. After drawing them, they told me, "Kuya ang creative mo. Kahit simple yung drawing mo ang daming nagagandahan." (Kuya you're so creative. No matter how simple your drawing is, a lot of people appreciate it.) I'm surprised they're aware of the word creative and I laughed at their exaggeration on how many people like my work.

After drawing them, I asked them if they wanna draw on my doodle book too. They were really ecstatic after hearing that. Other people in the store were even drawn into what was happening.

Later on, they shared how their parents would get mad at them for drawing at the back of their notebooks that they use for school. They told me their parents think it's a waste of time and a waste of space. Hearing that made me sad.

After a while, my parents texted me that they're home so I had to leave and say goodbye. Their parents were calling them to go home too. During that moment, I wanted to give them their own doodle book and pen so that they continue to draw and be creative whether or not they'll pursue the creative arts.

What I learned from this is that I should never give up on the things that I love no matter how bad I think it is right now. I just need to remind myself to keep on going and to keep practicing until I get better. I'm so glad I am surrounded by friends who are much better illustrators and artists than me. But no matter how good they are, they're grounded and are always open to help me. They inspire me to be better at my craft. I'll be ending this piece with an excerpt from The Gap by Ira Glass.

"We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it's normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work."


A few weeks ago, my friend Angelica Regala celebrated her 20th birthday at Toby's Estate. That's the venue we agreed on early on. To be honest, that was the first time I've heard of the place. My knowledge on coffee shops is limited to Starbucks and our kitchen coffee maker.

When I got there, there's a different vibe than what I'm used to for coffee shops. I can't exactly put my finger on it but I guess it's more sophisticated and laid-back. Well, the professionals that frequent the place and the surrounding area certainly contributes to that. The design of the place is lovely and I love how cozy it feels.

Let me introduce you to my friend Angelica. I apologize in advance for this picture because it is the only decent one I have of you/her on that day. You see, Angelica is an amazing illustrator. Like, really. Much more, she is an amazing friend. *cheeeseballssss* Anyywaayyyy, back to the review!

I really love the aesthetic of the place and their design choices. Some might say it looks hipster. Although I thought it's a Filipino-designed coffee shop. Apparently, it originated from Australia. The word beautiful is an understatement. Everything looks carefully designed even in the tiniest of details.

I wanted to take my placemat home and turn it into a poster in my bedroom. Haha! Now that I've bombarded you with comments on how aesthetically beautiful the place is, it's time for me to review the food they have to offer.

I got myself this shredded beef sandwich. First of all, I chose this one because I'm on a limited budget since this is just a birthday treat. If I wasn't limited on the price of the food I'll eat, I would've chosen a different one because I was really hungry that time. But when the food arrived, I didn't mind ordering anything else.

The sandwich was huge and the amount of beef inside was alright. It was too huge to be consumed directly so I had to slice it up in pieces. I'm glad they used authentic beef in this one since it didn't taste like shredded beef from a can. I apologize in advance for the black and white photos. It's just a personal choice and I promise it looks really good in person. Haha!

For the price, it's too expensive for me but I guess it's just right for the regular patronizers. It costs Php450 ($10.22) alone and has no included drink. I could buy 4 different meals with that price but I guess it's okay for the way it was prepared. Also, I'm a fresh grad that's still unsure about life (Hashtag, existential crisis) so it makes it more expensive than what I'm used to pay for.

Since the sandwich didn't come with its own drink, I had to order it separately. I really wanted an iced tea with my sandwich but unfortunately, it wasn't available so I ordered a juice drink instead. Apparently, juice drinks varied each day or week and the one I got was a blend of two fruits. My apologies since I forgot what the flavor was.

Although I forgot its flavor, I still remember how it tasted. I'm not sure if it was because of the kinda sweet beef or my affinity for sweet drinks but it tasted really bland. At your first sip it would taste like water but the actual flavor is the aftertaste. I'm still really curious about their iced tea though. I have yet to try their coffee and I'm going back there with my cousin soon. The juice drink costs Php99. ($2.25)

Totes unrelated but there was this really fabulous-looking woman who entered the café and had everyone's eyes on her. She had this powerful aura (think Meryl Streep ala The Devil Wears Prada but more approachable) and I just couldn't resist taking a picture of her. She looks really classy with that minimalist dress and fabulous hair. (Yikes I sound like a fashion police.)

Here's my friend Rachel laughing at something. She's also an amazing illustrator, if I might add.

Now here are my friends Mariel and Thea going through my doodle book. (I feel judged, you guys! jk) They're also really amazing illustrators. I'm basically surrounded by much more skilled illustrators than me. It's more inspiring than downing, really. Naks!

So what's my final verdict on Toby's Estate? All in all, the food is really good and is made much better by good company. If you don't mind spending a little more on money and time with your friends, I highly recommend going to this place. It has a vibe that you can't find anywhere else. Plus, they have a really friendly staff who are always ready to assist you.

Oh and one more thing. I don't remember them having wifi so bring your portable one just in case. The place is totally Instagram worthy. But hey, interacting with your friends is better than staring at a screen! (I have to admit, that isn't always the case with me. Heehee) Also, I'm kinda disappointed by their lack of social media presence! You can only know about the place through different blogs and websites. Or in my case, through my friends. I also don't go around the city that much so I guess that explains it.

This branch of Toby's Estate is located at Salcedo Village in Makati City. It's a little hard to find if you're not used to the area but utilizing Google Maps or Waze goes a long way!

I also made a vlog of that day! Check it out below:

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