1. Only in the Philippines will you see people ditching the comfort of sipping a cup of Starbucks coffee inside the airconditioned store and preferring instead to sit outside and be soaked dry by the heat of the tropical sun.The reason? Kailangan makita ng friends/classmates/kakilala ko na nandito ako sa Starbucks! Magpapakasosyal na lang, e di i-todo ko na.The lesson? Sit where you would be seen easily the most.2. Only in the Philippines will you see people bringing their laptops inside the Starbucks store and staying there for hours and hours just to avail of the free Wi-Fi.The reason: Para mukha talagang sosyal, kailangan busy-busyhan gamit ang laptop habang sip ng coffee. Makikisaksak pa yan para maki-charge at naka cross legs pa sa upuan para feel at home. Feeling bahay ko na itong Starbucks. I own it, you know?The lesson: Make sure to bring your laptop no matter how heavy it is. The attention you will get is priceless, anyway!3. Only in the Philippines will you see people giving strange names when asked by the barista for their personal name to be written on the cup. The names oftentimes teeter at the brink of being lewd and/or profane (e.g. Lucky T T or Ba Hoko).The reason: Siyempre kapag sinigaw ng barista yung name, magtatawanan kami ng circle of friends ko. I got the attention I am so craving for again. They are all looking at me o! Bwahahaha!The lesson: Be prepared with the most attention-grabbing name (those with sexual innuendos are most recommended) to be written on your cup and later on to be shouted by the drop-dead gorgeous barista who would melt in front of everybody after shouting Lucky T.T. or Ba Hoko.4. Only in the Philippines will you see people taking pictures of themselves all the time and from all possible angles while sipping their favorite ice-cold frapp. You will be surprised to see how the Starbucks logo is almost always part of the frame!The reason: I need to upload this in my Multiply, Friendster, Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, Blogspot, Faceparty, hi5, Livejournal, Plurk accountssss-sssssss! I need to anonymously view and comment para maraming views at laging nasa top ako ng page sa updates! My friends need to see na nag Starbucks ako! Sayang P120 ko kapag hindi nila nakita picture ko! Huhuhuhuhuhu….5. Only in the Philippines will you see people getting a lot of extra sugar, cream and tissue. And when I say a lot, it means its damn too many!The reason: I paid P150 for my venti java chip mocha frapp, I should at least deserve to get a year’s supply of that fiber tissue with the Starbucks logo on them! Sagarin ko na yung binayad ko, and mahal kasi eh! Penge na rin extra, extra, extra sugar ska super extra, extra, extra na cream [Tapos biglang tago sa bag!]The lesson: Everybody knows that the coffee is overpriced. So get your money’s worth! Grab as much fiber tissue, sugar and cream sachets that can fit in your bag! And dont forget to bring a huge bag to begin with!6. Only in the Philippines will you see people gulping on twenty venti cups of frapp in one night just to get the oh-so-precious Starbucks planner!The reason: !@#$, lahat may naka display na Starbucks planner sa kamay nila! Dapat ako rin! [Sabay tungga ng dalawampung cups ng venti frap] Kahit mejo tinamaan doon sa coffee overdose, makikipila pa rin para ma claim ang Starbucks planner [khit gaano pa ito ka-cheap tingnan]The lesson: Secretly ask your friends for their stickers to complete your collection. In that way, you won’t be spending 2500 pesos for a stupid-looking planner which you do not intend to write on anyway. Your life is a mess dude! What on earth would you do with a planner/organizer you dumbass!7. Only in the Philippines will you see people holding on to their Starbucks tumblers while they are, well, practically everywhere - on the streets, inside the train, inside the comfort room, etc. What is ironic is that when nobody is watching, they put in their Nescafe 3-in-1 coffee mix inside their Starbucks tumblers and drink their heart away to cheap coffee. Aaahhhhh, sarap talaga ng 3-in-1!The reason: Basta may Starbucks logo, sosyal! Kaya kailangan dala-dala ko ito lagi! Keber b nila kung Nescafe 3-in-1 yung nasa tumbler ko! Starbucks ito o! Ayan yung logo, tingnan mo!The lesson: Never ever let anyone catch you put that Nescafe 3-in-1 coffee mix into your Starbucks tumbler. That will so ruin your reputation among all the Embassy-going folks and ecstasy-sniffing elites out there.Just as when hundreds of Starbucks stores have started to close shop in every major city around the world, at least three new stores open their doors in Manila [or at least in a lighted street corner somewhere around the city] every month. A bit anomalous isn’t it? The truth is that we are perhaps just in the middle of a brewing (pardon me for the intentional pun) coffee craze, or perhaps Starbucks obsession / Starbucks mania / Starbucks phenomenon - call it by any other monicker, but Filipinos are definitely in love with the Seattle-based coffee chain. Now, how on earth could an American export selling coffee for P120 per cup be such a hit in a third world country like the Philippines where half of the population lives on less than P100 a day?
It's been over two decades since I last saw Uncle Bong. He would usually drop by Diamond Village in Novaliches, Quezon City to visit Lola Magding and my mother's side of the family there. Back then, I was still in college, and I think he had also just started working, in the automotive industry. He has since worked in cruise ships and it was a good stroke of fortune when he told me that they would be dry-docking in Singapore. Mama's side has always been close-knit and could see the fondness in his eyes as he recalled his dealings with Lola Magding and her children, Mama included. He would then share stories of how many of our relatives emigrated off the "isla" to find better opportunities in Manila. Given the brief opportunity, I'm still blessed to have seen him again after all these years. I am also happy that he was able to meet Mae and his "apos". Until we next see each other, Uncle Bong!