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.
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.
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.
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.