Sunday, October 31, 2010

At the Back of Green Checkered Shorts

* "Sorry trapik" was our former cashier/barista, Mon's usual line entering the cafe's door and arriving for work with his trademark shades and his face smirking from the heat. You can really feel the hassle he's been through once he starts talking to you, his face paints it all in full color. It's definitely a portrait I'll miss seeing on Monday mornings. 

* Even before Mon became an employee, he has been the cafe's unofficial go-to guy in times of need...since 2008. He was our busboy and cashier whenever Retz was not around. We didn't have a lot of "bench players" back then so Mon was always a trustworthy option and was designated to be the main man on the counter taking orders and talking to the customers. It was also at the cafe where Mon met the love of his life, Jenni, our friend and high school batchmate. (Trivia: We met Mon in college, we didn't go to the same high school; he's also a Batangueno).

* In his last year in UPLB, Mon became our housemate. And because of that, he became used to our way of living: staying up all night and sleeping very late. Thankfully, he graduated in 2010 with a degree in Biology. And you all know the story after that, he trained to become a barista and worked at the cafe, just like the rest of us here. He started in June and spent his last day of official work last Friday, October 29. It was an amazing 4 months working with him.

* He wants to pursue a career related to his course, that's why he had to leave. Well a lot of great people started out as baristas early in their lives. It's a good work experience...and it also makes for a cool life story. 

* So Mon (or Ralph, as his name pin says), thank you very much for everything. We couldn't have done it without you, that's very true. I hope someday when you take your kids and your family to the cafe you'll proudly look up at the shop's signage and tell them, "You know guys, we built this city...we built this city on rock and roll!"

Our first halloween costume party, 10/30/10

Monday, October 25, 2010

Defeat Breathes Life To Those Who Are Probably Asleep

* Los Banos is a dead place during sem breaks. But interestingly enough, the cool sem break breeze assures you of a tranquil day ahead. It's kinda like expecting a state of boredom (which sucks) but at the back of your mind you know everything's gonna be just fine.

* For the CAnton crew, the sem break is a time of refreshing. We've been through a lot this year so every siesta opportunity stolen during our working hours is sanctioned and sponsored by the mythic Filipino spirit, "Maawakanaman Sasarilimo". 

* The staff meeting last week was a good one. Free donuts and music from Arnel Pineda and Journey. Certainly draws a crowd! Tomorrow we will have another one. We don't have a time limit for our staff meetings. We just go on and on until we run out of things to talks about. *talks about?! edit ko sana kaso wag na, parang Jason Mraz lang.

* One of the fruits of that meeting was the Hanged Bears Sick Halloween Decor Concept (!/album.php?aid=99613&id=1389378976). We didn't want a pumpkin-themed halloween so there you go. Kudos to Ate Marisse, she's the one responsible for the idea of hanging 'em toys. She is a sick person. hehe.

* Hey, on Saturday we have a costume party. Wear a specific Cafe Antonio food or drink and you'll get that item for free! The staff will be in costume too. I have a good one, hopefully it would be the scariest.

* We just repackaged our Tumblr page. We turned it into our Cafe Antonio Sessions Webzine ( You'll see write-ups and articles from different artists from Cafe Antonio Sessions. 

* If you want to chill this sem break just come to the cafe, we made a lot of free lattes last night. Too bad, only two customers stayed late. We're practicing for the Pinoy Barista Jam 3 on November 17. 

* Okay, go back to sleep or whatever.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Answers Come in the Form of a Magazine

* There are two things that give me creative inspiration: the living room television, and a secondhand bookstore filled with magazines. It's like a gasoline station. A convenience store. An ink refill station.

*  I tried the Internet to look for ideas. But the myriad sites that are readily available in a single click overwhelms me. It's too "free". There are so many places to visit. Somehow, I want boundaries and limitations so I can narrow down my options and concentrate on readily available ideas. The TV is limited because there are only a number of channels I watch. I wait for the commercials because that's where you can find the good stuff: background music, 30-second ads, neat trailers, the whole shebang. The local roadside bookstore, on the other hand, is like a personal portal. There's magic in there. It's like the Internet but you can actually touch the pages and roll it up and use it as a weapon, without regret. 

* I've been reading magazines since 1990. My favorite back then was Asia Week. Magazine-reading is a strong Flores family tradition. I go home to San Pablo and read Time Magazine first before watching TV. Sometimes I don't watch TV at all. 

* After a slew of cafe activities, it's time for us to take a break together with the students' sem break. Very fitting indeed. So I said to myself, "Two weeks with no students. It should give us time to think about the holiday season. I need ideas". And it came. The ideas came in the form of a magazine, a single magazine ad. I bought a magazine with Jenny Lewis on the cover. It's actually my second magazine with Jenny Lewis on the cover.

* I won't tell you what magazine that is. But it really helped all of us narrow down a concept and make it concrete.

* So if you're an impatient reader like me, pick up a magazine. It switches topics in every turn. I always start reading from the back page, I don't know why. Pick the most obscure magazine title out there and it may help you start or find a new hobby. Oh yes, magazines never go offline, just out of stock. It's for keeps.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Mayer Mayer On The Wall

* A couple of weeks ago, my friends and I were watching John Mayer perform a very intimate gig at a not-so-intimate venue, the SM Mall of Asia concert grounds. Being a decade late before having his first concert here, Mayer had a hard time packing all of his hits in one set. Even though we enjoyed the concert a lot, we wanted to follow it up with a gig of our own, a "make-up" concert for fans who didn't get to watch because of the harsh weather and the insane ticket prices. 

* Originally, the John Mayer Tribute Night was conceptualized a very long time ago, I think that was back in June, when LIME guitarist, Eric, and I were brainstorming for the whole Cafe Antonio Sessions concept. At that time, my friends and I weren't even decided yet if we were going to watch the John Mayer concert. The formation of the band, LIME, the hype of the Sessions, the hangover from the concert, the unpredictable poetic beauty of the rain, and the arrival of Eric's girlfriend, Ise, from Singapore, all fell into place to make last night's gig a very memorable one.

July and Joyce setting up the al fresco area

Gabes Torres and the talented Syndesmos Trio

LIME at their first major gig as a band

* I would like to give an A++ for effort to my CAnton family for making the gig a reality and a success. I told Lenard, the vocalist of LIME, that this is the most well-prepared gig that we have organized at Sessions. The poster was designed by Jeg and July, it was posted online on time, it was tagged like crazy. The poster inspired me to make a promo video. We asked for donations of used glass jars online for the al fresco area. Jeg, July, and Joyce conceptualized the whole thing and prepared it on the day of the gig. Retz and Joyceann took on barista duties to accommodate the legions of customers and fans who came at the day of the gig. Even Jeg helped at the bar. Ate Marisse and Mavericks lent us their tables and chairs so we can offer more seating and dining space. She even backed-up Retz in his cashier duties. Ralph and Neil of 9 In. Ni Neil were also there to help with the transportation of the equipment. Our photographers, Zadl and Dan, were both present (finally!) to cover the event extensively and provide us with kick-ass profile pics for Facebook. The rest is up to Gabes and LIME. And  as usual, they gave everyone an amazing show!

* It was tiring, that's for sure. The logistics were a nightmare. But there's a thrill to it that makes you want to do it again and again and again. The high it gives you is very addicting. Sessions is a unique music experience. It's not just any other gig both for the performers and the spectators. It's a driven, passionate, and focused series of gigs. No fees involved, no money included. It's a pure showcase of talent and artistic freedom. Let's come back to the reason why we listen to music, it's for the beauty and appreciation of it. No more, no less. 

* What else can I say? Great things happen when good friends work together.

The CAnton gang fattening up at Shakey's

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A Colored Photobook and A Long Playing Record

* Since waking up this morning (thank you Vince), I have been thinking of a way to effectively communicate our experiences these past two weeks, or, uh, one and a half weeks. Sorry we were so busy, I couldn't find or make time to blog. So this is the time! It's make a photo blog! Haha, pang tamad! I'll put captions, don't worry.

Thursday, September 23 - Latte Art Jam

* In this photo, you can see that we did not include Neil's eyes, you might get hypnotized. The guy on the right (faaar right) is our coach and good friend, Lanz. He's in Singapore now, starting a new barista career at a new shop. He'll be working there for two years! Thanks Lanz, I hope you enjoy your stay there with Mam Vanessa. On his left is Kent, he's a bartender who tried to use his skills at the barista jam. He did quite well for a first-timer! We jammed from 12 noon to 4 in the afternoon, practicing latte art and pulling shots like there's no tomorrow! Neil, developed a temporary latte phobia after the activity. Congrats to Kuya Jeg for making his first rosetta leaf design! 

Friday, September 24 - Slumbooks from Witty Will Save the World

* Wow, looks like everybody on campus will be holding one of these on the second sem! We didn't expect to get 30 plus orders of the uber cool-let slumbook/notebook in just a few days! Next batch will be available, hmm, maybe next week. We will start gathering pre-orders this week. Remember, pay as you receive!

Friday, September 24 - Barako Concoctions Competition at the 1st Batangas Food and Beverage Exposition

* Thanks to Joyce's friend, Melodz Melo of La Salle-Lipa, I had the chance to judge my first competition! Yey! I brought along Mon and Neil with me, semi-formal attire and all, pogi-barista-image. And what a competition it was! There was dancing and cartwheelin' and all, I didn't expect that from a coffee-related contest. It was a treat, I drank 8 different blends of Barako-based drinks. Didn't drink coffee for three days after that. I shared the judges' table with barista trainers from Dairymoor of Tanaun and Cafe de Lipa. I hope we'll be there again to judge next year!

Saturday, September 25 - Cafe Antonio Sessions VII: Female Artists Tribute Night

* This gig has been the highlight of Facebook feeds for a week. It was epic. It was our first time to showcase these many bands at the cafe and what a line up it was! There was multi-vocal band, 9 in. ni Neil; acoustic emo duo (the bitter brothers) Juniper Face the Corner; indie princess, Gabes Torres; crowd favorite OPM army, Satori; and main acts, kings and queen of acoustic anthems, LIME (formerly Soundhole from our KA days); and rising OPM anthem machines, Yield Avenue! All the artists did their homework and really made a huge effort to cover songs from any female artist. The energy was so high that night and it was definitely a sign for us all to continue these series of gigs and make it a special event every time. 

September 27, Monday - Interview at Bialetti Foods Corp. at Wack Wack Village

* As part of his legacy to us, Lanz referred us to a part-time job as barista trainers at Bialetti Foods Corp. Neil and I went there and met the owners and tried out their machine. We're really excited to teach and share what we have learned over the years to new, aspiring baristas.

September 27, Monday - Impromptu Latte Art Jam with Barista from Denmark

* Our new customer and fan, Chef Derrick (Derek? I really don't know how to spell his name) brought his friend, Sophie, at the cafe. She told us she used to work as a barista back home, but haven't pulled a shot or poured latte art for a long time. And because we are kind and very accommodating to fellow baristas, we gave her the stage and she did put on a show! Our baristas joined in and we had a little jam session right there at the bar. Mr. Chef was the receiver of the lattes, gulping down 5 of them. Hope you guys visit us again soon!

September 30, Thursday - Pop's 64th Birthday

* Our Pop, my father, celebrated his birthday at the cafe! Well almost. We we're waiting for my sisters and my mom to arrive at the cafe. We didn't know that we had to bring the cafe food to my sister's apartment. Too bad, the crew didn't get free drinks! Hehe!

October 1, Friday - 4th Philippine Grand Barista Cup Finals at SM Mega Mall

* It all came down to this final day! Ramhil, Neil, and I arrived early so we tagged along with Sir Joefel and tested the espresso machine they were going to use at the finals. Pinoy Barista members were also there to join in the fun and test the hi-tech grinder and the Expobar machine. It was like a reunion for us, the same faces were there. From the PBC elims last August to the GBC orientation, semis, barista jams, and finals, the Pinoy Barista people are starting to form a strong bond in just 2 months! We didn't finish the contest, we left after Chester's run. We didn't to get watch Pinoy Barista member and barista competition veteran, Zaldy, because we were going to be late for the John Mayer concert at MOA. But congrats to the champion, Zaldy! I hope you'll make it to the Asian Barista Cup! Congrats also to Chester, your ampalaya concoction was great! To UCC, congrats too, your performance never fails to amaze us! To the Visayas and Mindanao champs, great job too! Special shout out to Sir Gerry, Joefel, Paul, Joel, Arlene, Elena, Chester, Ian of Bo's, Andy Boy, Marlon of Chocolate Fire (!), James, Sir Ernie, and Sir Ian from Singapore. Til' we meet again guys! Yung t-shirts, sa sunod na activity nalang! 300 each!

October 1, Friday - John Mayer Concert at SM Mall of Asia

* This was the wettest concert ever! What an experience. John Mayer is a cultural icon of our generation, we didn't care if we were dancing in the rain or the people behind us kept telling us that we were too noisy. Duh, it's a concert, duh. Well, the rain really did enhance the concert experience, it made it more special. Plus, we got to stay at a hotel with free food after the concert, thanks to our friend Julius' mom. 

October 2, Saturday - Cafe Antonio Sessions VIII: Segatron

* It was a gig like no other. Segatron, a fun-loving, rock-electronica, dance-party time, "party-core", "fag-core" (according to them) band, graced Cafe Antonio Sessions with a sonic set that brought in a legion of fans at the cafe making it our most successful gig so far (based on attendance and sales). What's great about the gig is that Sega and his bandmates arrived early, at 6:30 pm! That was impressive. They performed our favorite song on one of our playlists at the cafe, Miss Eye Catcher. The gig was opened by Juniper Face the Corner. Catch more of Segatron on Cafe Antonio Sessions X on November 13. CDs will be available at the cafe soon. 


* It's October! It's time for the much anticipated Brownie Fudge Frothiccino or BFF! Woohoo! And on October 9, we are inviting you guys to attend Cafe Antonio Session IX: John Mayer Make Up Concert, for those who missed the real concert. Featuring LIME and Gabes Torres, 8 pm at the cafe. See you! Hope you enjoyed our photos.