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Johanna Michelle Lim Travels Across the Philippines in Her Upcoming Book

Johanna’s eight years of traveling across the Philippines birthed her desire to write her first book, What Distance Tells Us: Travel Essays About the Philippines. 

When you ask people about their goals and desires in life, chances are you’ll receive a lot of responses related to travel. Whether it be a trip to one of the thousands of islands in the Philippines, or an exodus abroad, travel is one of the things people have in common. And they travel for a variety of reasons–to explore, to learn, to experience, among many others.

If you’d asked Johanna Michelle Lim why she began to travel, you’d get an interesting answer. It’s an impulse that paid off though. Her eight years of traveling across the Philippines birthed her desire to write her first book What Distance Tells Us: Travel Essays About the Philippines.

What Distance Tells Us: Travel Essays About the Philippines is Johanna’s first book

“All of it, I think, stemmed from a suffocating need to escape,” Johanna shares in retrospect. “I had come from such a sheltered upbringing, and was already naturally introverted, and so there was always that emotional curiosity to find what’s uncomfortable and unrecognizable, what lay beyond my own milieu. I clamored for material and stories that were vastly different from mine.”

When she had the chance to travel after graduating from college in her 20s, she made sure to take whatever opportunity she could. Most of these travels were for social development organizations that Johanna was involved with, those that tackled issues like education in rural areas, poverty alleviation, and fisherfolk livelihood.

Johanna biked 60 kilometers from North Bataan to South Bataan in Batanes

“In that sense, this might be why most of my travels are less touristy, less sparkly. A lot of people might even call them mundane,” the 30-year-old adds. “But I’d like to think I tackle what Joan Didion called ‘the ordinary instant,’ stories from people that are misunderstood or underrepresented.”

On some days, Johanna says that she finds travel hedonistic and unnecessary. And on other days, she finds true purpose in it. She’s been to far-flung provinces of the country, but says she’s never been in the habit to count just how many she’s visited. “For me, it’s never been about the numbers as travel, more than its physical manifestation, is about the internal miles,” she divulges.

Johanna in South Bataan, Batanes

Johanna is a fan of slow travel, saying that she’d rather see less to see more. To her, traveling is like doing a personal ethnographic study where you more or less know how different everybody is, but essentially how everyone is the same.

Her most memorable trips are the quiet, nuances ones from Mindanao, including Tawi-Tawi, South Cotabato, Zamboanga, Siargao and Misamis, among others. She’s seen firsthand the suffering and discomfort in these areas, but she’s also seen extreme joy.

“I like places that are multi-layered and unapologetic,” she states. “Places like these have the capacity to be inclusive and generous with their joy. They share it with travelers like me who have far more comfortable situations than they, and yet it’s often these places that have a bigger threshold for diversity, a bigger heart for humanity.”

Waiting for the sunset at Magsapad, Biri

What Distance Tells Us was curated in a way that represents the North, South, East and West of the Philippines. Each compass point has three essays; the North tackles Batanes, Sagada and Benguet. The South tackles Tawi-Tawi, Lake S’bu, and Zamboanga.

“More than the physical distance though, the book tackles my tracing or retracing the route from where I started this very act of estrangement to my here and now,” she says.

What does distance tell us? Johanna says we’ll have to read the book to find out. 

What Distance Tells Us: Travel Essays About the Philippines is available in bookstores nationwide.


Enjoy a Funtastic Easter Sunday with the Kids at Rustans

Easter is just a skip away, and for kids it’s really a super fun holiday.

Egg-citing treats and surprises await them at the Rustan’s Easter Party on Sunday, April 21, 2 p.m. at the  Rustan’s Children’s Department, Ayala Center Cebu. For a minimum single receipt purchase of  P 3,000 from the Kids’ Department, come and enjoy the following:

Food Carts

Sure to delight kids are a selection of food carts filled with yummy sweet and savory snacks. 

Easter Egg Hunt

The Easter Bunny hid many colorful Easter eggs at the barnyard for our precious little hunters to find. Hop along and join the search for a chance to win special prizes from our different kids’ brands. Each participant also gets a Kinderjoy egg!

Easter Egg Decorating

Kids get to design and take home their one-of-a-kind egg creation at the Easter egg decorating station.

Crayola Art Activity

Let your kid’s inner artist shine. Make a splash with pastel shades, bright patterns or rainbow colors. 

Lego Building Contest

Fancy building an Easter bunny or a giant Easter egg? Let kids’ imaginations take flight with the Lego Building Contest at the Lego Corner. Exciting prizes are in store for those with the most creative and imaginative Lego creations.

It’s going to be a very hoppy Easter celebration at the Rustan’s Department Store.

For more information and updates, visit https://rustans.com.ph and @rustansph on Facebook and Instagram

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Here’s What Cebu’s Restaurateurs are Preparing for Easter Week

The arrival of Holy Week often means a mass exodus out of the city—whether it’s for a trip back to one’s hometown or an opportunity for a vacation. That being said, food choices during this time are often limited, with restaurants cutting down hours to prepare for the holidays, or creating menus that suit the season.
While it’s interesting to know what these food spots will offer, we’re curious about what the people behind them prepare at home. To satiate our curiosity, we asked some of Cebu’s notable chefs and restaurateurs what they’re cooking up this week.
“For Most Holy week days, we’re most likely out of town. But buona pascqua is huge in Italy. So when we’re in town, we’re spending Sundays around the kitchen. We do gnocchi in all sorts of forms. We’re rolling it, then pan frying, adding reduced liquid , adding meat. Using cauliflower to make it healthier. And how can Easter be without a sweet? A Burnt Caramelized mini “otap” Tart with pear is our choice.” —Kate Anzani, Anzani
“One day this Holy Week, it’s going to be ribeye, mashed potatoes, puttanesca pasta for dinner and homemade tacos & margarita for the afternoon. Other days, we dine out.” —Jan Rodriguez, Weekend 

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Here’s How Cebu’s Milk Tea Shops Are Changing How We Enjoy Milk Tea

Milk tea shops are always filled to the brim daily by tens and hundreds of milk tea lovers from all around the city to savor their favorite iced milk tea drinks. At this point, milk tea businesses are upping their game with the tough competition.

The milk tea frenzy continues to go viral in the city of Cebu and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Milk tea shops are always filled to the brim daily by tens and hundreds of milk tea lovers from all around the city to savor their favorite iced milk tea drinks. At this point, milk tea businesses are upping their game with the tough competition, may it be creating new and unique flavors to add to their menu, creating delivery systems for easier transactions in the comforts of their customers’ homes or innovating new products that are inspired from the flavorful milk tea drink.

That being said, we prepared a list of the different ways to enjoy milk tea in Cebu for all the milk tea lovers out there.


Milk Tea Shake

Zagu’s Pearl Milk Tea

Way before this nationwide obsession for milk tea had started, Zagu, the famous pearl shake brand in the Philippines, was one step ahead of bringing us a shake flavor that would unknowingly become a trend in the upcoming years. Zagu has been serving our favorite flavored drink for years now and people are still talking about it.

Zagu’s Pearl Milk Tea is fairly sweet just like any typical iced milk tea drink that you can buy but this one has a unique twist to its texture that you cannot find in any tea shop around the city. With the summer coming along, this milk tea will definitely cool you from the heat and satisfy your milk tea cravings as well. The best thing about it is that you don’t have to go through great lengths in finding a Zagu. You can basically find it in any mall in Cebu. Just go to a food court and you’ll surely find one.


Milk Tea Float

Cocoa Cookies and Cream Milk Tea Ice Cream

Photo owned by Serenitea

Coke floats and coffee floats from famous fast food chains were all the rage years ago. With today’s trends it’s no surprise that someone would definitely create something similar to a float. That being said, Serenitea brings us the joy of enjoying everyone’s favorite drink in a way we’re used to, a cold drink with sweet goodness on top.

Serenitea brings you a drink and a treat, all in one cup, with their milk tea float served in a variety of flavors that you can choose from. Beat the summer heat by enjoying Serenitea’s Milk Tea Ice Cream drinks that comes with various flavors that you can choose from and enjoy.

Serenitea is located at Calyx Centre, Cebu IT Park, Apas.


Milk Tea Soft Serve

Koala Tea’s Milk Tea Soft Serve With Pearls and Waffle

Photo owned by Koala Tea

The latest trend among everything in the list is the new milk tea soft serve that is available in a milk tea shop that is also new in Cebu. The famous milk tea soft serve from Koala Tea definitely broke the internet when they introduced the soft serve last month, making every milk tea lover shake with excitement as they try a new way to enjoy their milk teas.

Koala Tea serves their milk tea soft serve with pearls or oreo as a topping but if the two doesn’t float your boat, it’s okay! Koala Tea prepared a variety of toppings that you can add with your soft serve such as pudding, cream cheese and many more. They even have a waffle to go with your soft serve. How amazing is that? With the variety that they offer, surely, you’ll find one that suits your taste.

Koala Tea is located at SSY Business Center, Salinas Drive, Lahug.


Milk Tea Frappe

Serenitea’s Okinawa Arctic Slush

Photo owned by Serenitea

Serenitea has done it again with this new way of serving milk tea. Just recently, they introduced their Arctic Slush line that consists of cold beverages including their new milk tea frappe.

Their bestselling Okinawa flavored milk tea is now served in an ice blend topped with whipped cream and drizzled with caramel syrup and Okinawa powder. What better way to thank all the Serenitea lovers than bringing them a variety of choices to enjoy their favorite drink? Now, you don’t have to choose between ordering a frappe and a milk tea because Serenitea serves them both in one cup for you.

Grab your milk tea frappe at Calyx Centre, Cebu IT Park, Apas.

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