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Here's What You Missed at the Very First Lifesmith Learning Sessions

It was an afternoon of business, art and life lessons from people who know best



If there’s anything we learned at the very first Globe Lifesmith Learning Sessions, it’s this: we can never truly see life possibilities until we put ourselves out there. With three sessions scheduled that afternoon—one with Poblacion’s gastronomic game-changers, one with artist and mom-to-be Solenn Heussaff, and a food crawl around the neighborhood led by Dee Jae Paeste—we were reminded of this lesson over and over through the personal stories shared by the speakers.


The Curators of Poblacion: On Starting a Business, Creating a Community and Heralding Local Culture


Poblacion wasn’t always the hip community it is today. Before becoming a hotspot for nightlife and various cuisines, before it was even endearingly referred to as “Pobla” like it is today, this area was but an undiscovered area of Makati just waiting for its time in the limelight. That time eventually came when locally-owned businesses, owned by people as promising and ambitious as the businesses themselves, started taking a chance on Poblacion. Among the forward-thinking few were Cao Ocampo of Z Hostel, Cassie Veloso of Alamat and Agimat, and Inigo Alvero of Commune. These people, fondly recognized as the Poblacion OG’s, were the bringers of a new chapter in dining and city living—they just didn’t know it yet.


“There was this idea that travelers should skip Manila when they come to the Philippines. We wanted to change that,” shares Cao of Z Hostel, who admittedly didn’t even know what a hostel was when his friend offered him a seat in their team. Cao’s biggest tip for marketing a business: know your target market before all else. “Your market can be backpackers—but what kind? What age. You need to give time to talk to your staff, talk to your partners.”


“There was this idea that travelers should skip Manila 
when they come to the Philippines. 
We wanted to change that.”

–Cao Ocampo, Z Hostel


For Inigo Alvero of Commune, the move to Poblacion from the coffee shop’s original space in Salcedo wasn’t as smooth as he had hoped. “One of our customers from Salcedo actually asked, why move there?” he shares, knowing fully about the seedy (his words, not ours!) reputation Poblacion’s name used to carry. However, he and his team fell in love with the community, and sticking to their decision paid off. Commune remains one of the most popular coffee shops in the city to this day—a feat Inigo largely credits to the power of social media. 


Cassie Veloso, one of the minds behind Alamat Filipino Pub and Deli and more recently, Agimat Foraging Bar and Kitchen, shares that Poblacion turned out to be the perfect spot for the market they wanted to cater to. “Putting a bar [like ours] in, say, a mall, wouldn’t make sense,” she explains, spotlighting Poblacion’s affinity not only for nightlife and dining, but for concepts that flirt with the idea of culture and unique experiences. With eight years of experience under her belt, she also let us in on her foolproof formula for success: a one-of-a-kind concept, a good location and consistency to keep the customers coming back.


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RELATED: We Asked 5 Poblacion Regulars What Keeps Them Coming Back


Doing Art for Good: A Talk with Solenn Heussaff


There’s no doubt that Solenn Heussaff is talented. In fact, she’s talented across so many fields and crafts that it can be a little hard to keep track. Despite her drive to dabble in a variety of hobbies and pursuing numerous passions through the years, there has been one time-testing preoccupation that has stuck with the multihyphenate all throughout: art. 


This was the central theme during Solenn’s Lifesmith talk on September 21st. The actress unpacked the stories behind her past two exhibits: Our People and Kalsada. While Solenn’s first two exhibits orbited around people she meets and sees (in case you missed it, her search for inspiration was documented in this SceneZoned episode!), her third exhibit takes inspiration from the environment—the beauty of it, as well as what we, humans, are doing to mother nature. Arguably a heavier theme compared to her past exhibitions, Solenn opened up about how she hopes to inspire others through her art by not only giving us a wake up call—but by planting a seed of hope through the omnipresent image of a flower or butterfly in her paintings.


Solenn’s session wrapped up with a fun, collaborative activity. To highlight the importance of caring for our environment even through small, day-to-day acts like properly disposing of our trash, Solenn and fellow artist Dee Jae Paeste painted one of the waste bins which Globe Lifesmith would station around the Poblacion area. Attendees also had the chance to contribute to the project by painting the rest of the waste bin after the session came to a close!


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Starving Artist Tour: A Food Crawl with Dee Jae Paeste


After joining Solenn onstage, Dee Jae Paeste kicked off his session for the afternoon: The Starving Artist Tour, during which he talked attendees through Poblacion’s history while showing them his favorite spots to eat around the neighborhood.


Some of the stops on Dee Jae’s self-designed tour include: Tambai Alley, a favorite for its hole-in-the-wall vibe and affordable yakitori and Japanese food; A’Toda Madre, a must-visit tequila bar for lovers of Mexican food; Señor Pollo, a latin chicken restaurant with a mouthwatering sisig dish; and Boogie Manila, a prime spot to get your fix of drinks and grub.


Check out other bustling bars and culturally diverse kitchens in the Poblacion area here!


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RELATED: Art Doesn’t Have to Be So Hard: Get Crafty with These Quick Art Experiments



There’s always a new idea just waiting to hatch. There are ways we can help the community beyond the typical ways we imagine. A life-changing experience might just be waiting around the corner. The only way to come to realize these things is to put ourselves out there and take life by the reins.


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Words Cessi Treñas

Art Alex Lara

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