Limited Runs

Two months ago, I entered the Walled City.

I emphasize the last sentence because while I technically did enter Intramuros, the Walled City of Manila, just last December, I was in a car and never alighted. Plus, it was nighttime. So despite being inside the Walled City, it didn’t feel like I was there at all.

Last June, I walked from one end to the other. I even opted to walk atop the ramparts. And I was with best friend Jake.

Why were we there?

Besides having a good look at the old office and other spots where I caused chaos, I wanted to see the curious little Book Stop Project kiosk, which was in front of the Manila Cathedral. I first heard of it during Instituto Cervantes de Manila’s Dia de Libro at the Ayala Triangle Gardens last summer. I understood the concept to be this: to browse the books there, one must also bring a book and leave it there then take a different book home. It took this visit to correct the misinformation.

Book Stop Project kiosk at Intramuros, Manila
Book Stop Project kiosk at Intramuros, Manila

Not only does one not need a book to enter, one could browse and read all the books. To take one book from the kiosk, a person has to leave another book there. Basically, a book swap.

During the ten minutes we were there, I noticed that the silver stand of shelves was unmanned. Posters reminded people of the rules but no lone crew or professional guard to watch over the goings-on. There was an old man who, after finishing flipping through a novel, reminded a couple of the local kids who raided the collection not to bring any of the books home.

Although I loved the concept of the book swap, there wasn’t any book there that I wanted to read. I thought maybe I could just leave some of my books there without taking any books. But because there wasn’t anyone that I could ask about it, my question remains unanswered.

From the Book Stop Project kiosk, Jake and I walked to the nearby Jollibee. Predictably, my best friend protested to the idea of eating fast food but there were new items I wanted to try so that ended our argument.

I ordered the Adobo Flakes Yum Burger and the Halo-Halo Sundae. Adobo – despite the name – is an original Filipino cuisine, which has been around even before the Spaniards colonized the country and is considered as the unofficial national dish; halo-halo is a favorite Filipino dessert consisting of various ingredients like sweet beans, plantains, rice crispies, and others. Before I took a bite of the burger, I remembered my online friend Zero telling me that, when he had the same burger, it tasted salty. I wondered if I’d have the same experience. I unwrapped the burger and opened it to get a view of the flakes, patty, and sauce. I spread the flakes closer to the edge of the bun so I’d have more taste to every bite. I had my first mouthful. The adobo flakes and the sauce was a sweet meaty medley, which worked for me. The sundae—despite having no ube (purple yam) sauce because they were fresh out—was still great.

Jake told me that a couple of nights before, he and some of his other friends were talking about what would be the weirdest thing to pair adobo with; one of them said that it would have to be vanilla ice cream. Seeing as I had the basic ingredients for that combo, I took some of the flakes and spoonful of the ice cream sans any of the toppings then mixed both in that little cup meant for sauces. I used a fry to pick up the concoction without biting into the potato slice. The flavors crashed and exploded in my mouth. I liked it! Then again, my tastes have been known to be weird.

Adobo flakes in vanilla ice cream: looks bad, sounds terrible, all good--to me, at least.
Adobo flakes in vanilla ice cream: looks bad, sounds terrible, all good–to me, at least.

One more experiment I tried: I took the cheese from the Yum Cheeseburger I ordered (yes, I had two burgers) then slapped it on the Adobo Flakes Yum Burger, turning it into an Adobo Flakes Yum Cheeseburger. Cheesy, meaty, melted goodness! Jollibee, I hope you try this one out.

Adobo Flakes + Cheese = Adobo Flakes Yum Cheeseburger: Cheesy, meaty, melted goodness
Adobo Flakes + Cheese = Adobo Flakes Yum Cheeseburger: Cheesy, meaty, melted goodness

The Book Stop Project kiosk was only there from May to July while Jollibee’s Adobo Flakes Yum Burger and the Halo-Halo Sundae are both on a limited run.

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