Philippines - Just a Pinch


Every time I see this photo, I laugh.   Some people might be offended when I tell the story, but when I think of my first trip to the Philippines in 2015, this is one of my funny memories.

I went to Philippines to go SCUBA diving but I first spent a couple of days sightseeing in Manila.   I booked a tour to the Taal Volcano.   There were just two of us on the tour so it was almost like getting a private tour.

As we headed towards the volcano, our driver told us we were going to stop to sample the "most expensive coffee in the world."   He explained that it was called "monkey poop" coffee or kopi luwak.

The coffee cherries are fed to monkeys (or Asian Palm Civits) who then poop them out.  The coffee beans are then collected from the poop, washed and roasted.   Fans of the coffee claim that the digestive process reduces the bitterness of the coffee and gives it a distinctive taste.  Of course, it's an expensive process which is why the coffee costs so much.

We stopped to see the monkeys, the monkey's poop (yes, really) and to taste the coffee.

Steve Hunsicker with the owner of a "monkey poop" coffee farm

I don't remember if I suggested taking the photo with the shop owner or if she did.   But as this picture was being taken, she reached over and pinched me on the butt.   Not a little pinch, but a big pinch.  

I didn't know how to react, so I just looked at her and she said "I like you!"   I later learned that I had experienced the Filipino custom of "Gigil" which translates as: 
"the urge to pinch or squeeze something that is irresistibly cute.”
I know some people might think it was inappropriate for her to pinch me, but I took it as a compliment. It still makes me laugh when I think about it.

 The coffee was good but I didn't buy any.   I had a memory that would last a lot longer than the coffee.


After Manila, I traveled to the town on El Nido on the island of Palawan.   I went diving and had one of the best dive guides I've ever had.   The video is linked below.

I returned to Manila four years later to shoot an episode of "Peruanos en el Mundo."   The episode is also linked below.    We drove by the coffee shop on that trip, but didn't stop.   

Dates of Travel

  • June, 2015
  • August, 2019

Places Visited

  • Manila
  • El Nido, Palawan
  • Cebu City, Cebu
  • Taal




This post is part of my series "One Photo - One Country."  I'm am selecting one photo and writing one story from every country I have visited.   Your comments and questions are welcome.  

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