TJE 42 An Unexpected Coffee Connection

In this video, I talked about my visit to Lobo, Batangas last October 29, 2018.  It was actually a revisit, as I’d been there 7 months prior.  I’d like to tell you in more detail what brought me there in the first place, in the story below.


Lobo, Batangas wasn’t on my radar until March 21, 2018. On that date, I got to meet the tourism head of the said municipality, thru a connection of a connection, who knew that I’m in the coffee business.  This unexpected coffee connection was one of my favorite series of experiences in 2018.

So how did it start?  A high school batch mate messaged me on March 5, 2018. She wanted to refer me to her husband, who like her is an architect. He had a project with the municipality of Lobo, Batangas, which was to build the Pasalubong Center.  Lobo’s head of tourism, who’s in charge of the project, also wanted to put a cafe in it. Thus, she wanted someone to advise and teach about coffee.  That’s where I fit in the picture. I thought that was a pretty cool opportunity, so I said to my high school friend, sure!

After a few correspondences with the architect, we settled on a date to meet with the tourism head of Lobo. 

Came March 21, 2018 – at that time, Palakape already closed its food park stall – its first failed venture. So I made it clear to the people I’m meeting that business wise, I’m not the guy.  But I would share whatever I know to help. They discussed the project to me, talked about Lobo, what help they needed from me, etc.  It went well basically, and I felt a good rapport already.

The lady invited me to visit Lobo immediately the next day, since she would be there and the architect was set to have a site visit.  Palakape had an event two days after, so I was hesitant at first.  After a quick deliberation of the logistics and chain of events, I said sure! Let’s do this!

I love visiting provinces of the Philippines, and I really liked the idea of helping a rural municipality. Going there, I had no expectations really. I just felt excited to check that part of Batangas, and had the urge to help a community.  We didn’t talk about doing a paid consultation, and I was willing to do it for free. 

Map of route from Alabang Muntinlupa to Lobo Batangas
This is an illustration of the route to Lobo. Take SLEX up to its end, then continue to STAR toll road and exit to Ibaan. Then follow the Taysan-Ibaan Road up to Taysan-Lobo Road till you reach the municipality.

March 22, 2018, I dropped by a supplier first, to get a few ingredients for Palakape’s bazaar set up the next day.  And then I headed to Lobo.  The trip didn’t take long, because I was coming from Muntinlupa then.  I took the shorter route, the one with the roads cutting thru mountains.  I loved it – very scenic and peaceful.  There was this steep road going down Calumpang River before entering Catandala, Ibaan, and the view was quite scenic I just had to stop and appreciate.

My visit to Lobo Batangas last March 22, 2018 tells the story behind this IG post.
View this post on Instagram

Sweet view while driving on a steep road #curious

A post shared by Jerico (@jecoycoy) on

It’s sad to see some plastic in this river though 😦

I met the tourism head at the town plaza, where they were holding an event for women. When the event ended, we went to Lobo Municipal Hall for a meeting. After being introduced, I was mostly quiet and just feeling the vibe.  The meeting was adjourned, to be continued on the evening socials.  

We were headed to Flordeliz Beach Resort, the arranged accommodation for the architect and I. On our way, we stopped at Honey Beach Resort, was invited by the owners who just finished hosting an event, to have pancit (fried noodle dish) and an assortment of kakanin (rice cake) for merienda (afternoon snack). The group talked till nighttime. I got to know more about Lobo, and heard about their plans and aspirations for the municipality.

We could talk more, but we had to leave for the continuation of the meeting in Flordeliz. Upon arriving there, we waited for some of the municipal hall employees, and resumed talking about the project.  Our dinner was this delicious seafood shabu-shabu from Josephine’s place.  With alcohol, the conversation easily shifted to other topics as people started loosening up.  It was a chill and fun night at the beach – lovely.

On the way to the boat for the morning snorkel! March 23, 2018

The next day, I woke up early as I needed to be back to Muntinlupa and prepare for Palakape’s event set up.  But before leaving, I snorkeled a bit.  It was arranged for by the tourism head. Ha, that was fun and quite a great start to the day!  I got to see the beauty underwater.  

Lobo, Batangas is like the little brother of Mabini (Anilao), Batangas. It also boasts rich marine life. 

After snorkeling, I confirmed if I had to pay anything, and the boatmen said no.  Okay, thank you.  I quickly got ready. Before I left, I confirmed with the architect if I had to pay for the accommodation.  He wasn’t sure.  I asked the staff of the resort, and he said I was good to go.  Alright, great!  

I left Lobo with a grateful heart, and reflecting about people’s goodness. I swore to do my best to educate them about coffee.  And speaking of coffee, I stopped by Cafe Lipa in a Petron gasoline station along STAR, and ordered an espresso for a caffeine kick.  I had a long day ahead.

Teaching Day

I was scheduled to be away for 2 months, while the tourism head had a trip before that, leaving only a week window for the teaching session.  The date picked was April 13, 2019 – one day was short, but it’s better than nothing.  I met the staff hired, who were already undergoing training for that week.  In a very dense presentation entitled, “A Crash Course on Coffee + Basic Barista Training,” I shared as much as I could.

It was a great experience!  The students were tired by the end, as there were too much information to absorb. But they were quite appreciative of it. I was really hoping they learned! I promised to them that I’d go back to check on the Pasalubong Center.

A group photo with the architect, tourism head and the staff-to-be of the Pasalubong Center
April 13, 2018 – A group photo with the architect, tourism head and the staff-to-be of the Pasalubong Center, after the training

Once again I drove home with a grateful heart.  Also, I mentioned earlier that I didn’t expect any compensation for that gig. Actually, it was confirmed during my visit to Lobo that I’d do it pro bono.  But the tourism head decided to pay me in the end.  Well that’s even more reason to be grateful.

Revisiting

October 29, 2018, Malabrigo shore

I couldn’t immediately go back to Lobo due to the busy schedule and lack of money. But then finally on October 29, 2018, together with two travel friends, I revisited.  I picked Punta Malabrigo Beach Resort as accommodation, because of the pebble beach. The beach of Lobo isn’t made of fine sand anyway, so I chose the part with no sand at all – for a change.  And if you love swimming and snorkeling, you’ll definitely enjoy it – I know I did!  The water is really clean and you can see fishes immediately.

October 29, 2018, Pasalubong Center of Lobo, Batangas

We had lunch in the Pasalubong Center, where I got to see some of the staff I trained about coffee.  I saw the tourism head again, and even the architect was there due to the mayor’s birthday celebration the day before – cool! It was quite a short catch up, but I was really happy to have that reunion. And they did a good job in putting up the tourist center. It’s a modern building that stands out – like a symbol of the municipality’s dream for the future.    

After lunch, we headed to Malabrigo Lighthouse and chanced upon a couple doing a prenup photo shoot.  I took pictures of them too, hehe! Then we went back to the beach for an afternoon swim.

In the evening, we went to Josephine’s Place, as I really wanted to taste the seafood shabu-shabu again! Too bad I had a cold that day, and unable to fully enjoy the flavor.  But I was glad to see my friends satisfied.

We headed back to the accommodation, had wine along with rambutan and lanzones, and savored the beach before calling it a day.  It was just an overnight trip, and we left early the next day. But we thoroughly enjoyed our rare time together, out of town. 

Takeaway

This chain of events is a sweet reminder:

  • Of how life really opens up when you just say yes;
  • How good intentions can come a long way; and
  • How interesting stories form due to coffee!

That is why this unexpected coffee connection, is one of my favorite experiences in 2018.

P.S. Speaking of coffee, it’s October 1, 2019 – Happy International Coffee Day!

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