A Sense Of Belonging Found In A Chocolate Cake
This story might seem silly but I really had the most tender moment last week because of a chocolate cake. My husband was out of the country for work the last few weeks and I had finals at school so life was busier than usual. On top of all that it was Well’s birthday, among a dozen Christmas parties and homework, that all fell on a weekend. I knew I needed to outsource whatever I could so I ordered S&R pizza through Honest Bee and picked up a chocolate cake at Mary Grace the day before. As I stood inline at the counter to pay for the chocolate cake a sense of nostalgia rolled through me, Mary Grace felt like a neighborhood cafe that is a constant theme in family milestones for many Pinoys and was now a part of ours!
When I teach my workshops focused on assimilating to life in the Philippines one of the tips I give is to create a regular hangout. This can be a neighborhood cafe, art store, gym, the possibilities are really endless. The point of this exercise is to help you feel attached to your new community. As I stood in line and paid for the classic chocolate cake at Mary Grace, I belonged. With thousands of other Filipinos who share memories over this chocolate cake so would my family. My heart soared at the thought of understanding this classic family experience, solidarity crept in and then gratitude, all because of a chocolate cake.
The birthday boy with his chocolate cake and explosive candle, another Filipino favorite find.
I can’t forget to mention the the interiors of Mary Grace make you feel like you are visiting your lovable Titas house. Walls filled with knick knacks and family memories tucked about. I have been to Mary Grace in Estancia, Greenbelt and now Robinsons Galleria and the new location at Robinson’s is by far my favorite. The tin fluttering butterflies on the ceiling are so charming and the rattan furniture in the overflow section has me lusting. (Hey Mary Grace if you’re reading this, who is your supplier? Ha!)
This photo doesn’t do it just but the lights on the ceilings are surrounded by a flutter of butterflies
Along those lines, I’ve been super impressed with the updates done to Robinsons Galleria. They have four renocated areas: Dining Veranda Eat Street, Digiworld and the Wellness Section.
Mary Grace and other fine dining establishments are located in the veranda. Since starting Interior Design school my eyes seem to constantly be noticing the design details. Each restaurant in the veranda dining area is so well designed and appealing to the eye. Manila really knows how to do malls. They even have two wall fountains throughout as well so keep your eyes and ears open!
We have a Ramen Nagi we usually frequent but the interiors aren’t up to par with the new location at Galleria. It has all the legit Japanese feels.
Eat Street also has impeccable modern industrial design and was just named #1 food court by Spot.Ph. When I think of the food courts I used to visit at malls in America I cry a little inside, those are sad sad places (except for Panda Express!) Malling really is a communal act in the Philippines, it’s what families and friends do. Malls carry a jovial and upbeat aura here. Plus, eating is the social currency of Pinoys and the malls have catered to this by creating beautiful spaces in food courts and higher end dining options.
Oh hello prettiest mall food court! EAT STREET comin’ at ya!
I happened upon this vendor while I was perusing one day and met the owner by coincidence so I asked all the questions. is this really only coconut milk? Yes! Is it sweetened? No! This Coco Blas coconut milk soft serve is to die for! Vegan talaga and only 70php.
Look what I found, PHOTOLINE! I have been using Photoline since 2009 starting all the way back in my Market Market days. Anyone remember that branch? They have printed all of our passport photos - I’ll see if I can dig some up, I’ve got some winners. They printed most of our canvases and some of our poster size prints as well. Needless to say, I am happy to see it got an upgrade along with the rest of Electronics Alley.
My old reliable, Photoline
The last wing that was recently updated is the Wellness section and it is so fresh and so clean clean. Again, the design of almost all the wellness spas and nail salons were to die for. You could pretty much show up and play eenie-meenie-miney-mo and find a winner.
And last, my new favorite secret (obviously not anymore) is the Filipiñana section in Robinson’s Department Store. One of my finals for school was a tables cape and I picked up the capiz plates, napkin rings and coasters from Robinson’s. The coasters and napkin rings were under 200 phps and I think the plate sets were around that as well.
A simple table-scape with capiz accents.
Whew, I got a little sidetracked here but all of this is to say, it feels good to be connected with the Philippines. It feels good to be a regular and have common traditions with my new country folk. I love the Philippines so much and am so grateful we get to live life here. I hope you find somewhere you can be regular also, it helps so much.