Tag Archives: Paris

L’art du partage (The Art of Sharing)

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Anthony Bourdain once said in his Paris episode of The Layover, the biggest mistake anyone could make (and a surefire way to have a terrible Parisian holiday) is to over-schedule. I made that blunder several times before, which admittedly caused me to fall out of love with the city.

My first trip was in 2012 when I was wide-eyed and touristy, forcing myself to accomplish all the “must-do in Paris” items from a stereotypical guidebook (I climbed the Eiffel Tower and saw the Mona Lisa in the Louvre). It made for great photos, but it was a “meh” experience. I had a succeeding trip that I called “disastrous”, which happened when I over-scheduled my itinerary in a similar fashion. My third trip was equally catastrophic, because we decided to cram two days’ worth of activities in one day.

That’s when I gave up. I got tired of Paris. I enjoyed the vineyards (and the people) in the wine regions of France, bien sûr, and saw Paris as just a means to get there. In fact, when I got invited to join one of my culinary BFFs/occasional client/partner in crime for all things gastronomy in Paris to do “research”, I looked at is as simply that: Research. Work.

Oddly enough, that’s when I fell in love with Paris all over again.

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Restaurant de Philippe et Jean Pierre, 7 Rue de Boccador, Paris 8e (photo courtesy of Chef Jonas Ng)

It happened like this: Given that my friend would spend most of his time working in one of the best Parisian restaurants, Restaurant de Philippe et Jean Pierre, I had most of my days free.

That’s when I decided to truly embrace Bourdain’s advice and do as little as possible in Paris.

Oh, and eat and drink my way through the city.

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But first, a café (near the Butte Chaumont park) to spend a few hours like a flâneur

Paris offers endless possibilities to fully immerse oneself in their food and beverage culture: One can live like a flâneur in cafés that have been around for hundreds of years, explore markets for amazing food and wine paring options, or sample endless amounts of epicurean delights…

But what is the key to understanding Paris’ love affair with food and beverage? Is it through immersing oneself in their rich culinary history that somehow seamlessly blends with an eagerness to push the envelope? Is it through the appreciation of their amazing technical and artistic skills? Is it through accessing beautiful fresh ingredients and authentic, regional wines, found anywhere from a neighbourhood Carrefour to an artisanal cheesemonger?

Personally, I think the answer lies somewhere in the art of sharing. As with everything else, the French have a lovely translation for the act of sharing that just rolls off the tongue: “Partager”.

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A carefe of Cahors and a Magret de canard from Chez Papa (our favourite branches are in Madeleine and in Bastille)

I came up with this theory after re-evaluating all my favourite moments in my Parisian trip… There was a time when I took my friend to one of our family’s best-loved restaurants for French comfort food (and thus letting him in on our little Parisian secret): Chez Papa. We split escargot, tripe, and their signature magret de canard with a carafe of Cahors (an appellation in southwest France famous for strong, red wines).

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Truffles and Champagne and Rose, oh my! Maison de la Truffe, 14 Rue Marbeuf, Paris 8e

 

We also shared this discovery: A restaurant that served different interpretations of truffle, Maison de la Truffe. We had a risotto with truffles, and the richest, prettiest foie gras terrine. We paired them a rosé (as a nod to the warm weather), and their house champagne… Then left room for dessert in the form of truffle ice cream. Granted, in books, none of these are classic food and wine pairings, but it all turned out so good. Afterwards, as a welcome respite, we decided to treat ourselves to ice cold Martini cocktails along the Seine.

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Yup, it’s possible to drink along the Seine

On our way to a house party, we saw the tail end of an event along the street. It wasn’t like anything I’ve ever seen: We saw locals having a blast sitting along the road, doling out glasses of impeccable white wine and shells upon shells of oysters to their friends.

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…or along the road. 

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It’s better to drink with good food (photo courtesy of Chef Jonas Ng)…

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…and with good company (photo courtesy of Chef Jonas Ng)

The house party we went to was hosted by people my friend met in Manila. It was an awesome night where opinions on culinary philosophies, tastes in music (where I learned about Wintergatan, a Swedish folktronica band), food, and wine were exchanged. I knew I was in the ultimate spot in Paris because that’s where I had some of the best home cooked vegetarian food I’ve ever had in my life (I’m not too fond of vegetables, but the way they prepared and cooked the food was amazing). We had wine (as one should in France) paired very casually (with none of the frills of making sure they paired accurately with the food). Plates were cleared to make way for delicious cheese… Followed by artistic and delectable pastries from one of the evening’s guests, famous pastry chef Gaétan Husson.

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Versailles Market

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The feast we prepared from our Versailles Market finds

Speaking of people my friend met in Manila, we also spent one morning in the Versailles market, where we were shown how to shop in a real French marché. I know I’m not talking about Paris anymore, but amazingly, it only takes less than an hour away via train from Paris to get to Versailles… It’s totally worth the travel to purchase some of the freshest produce, the best cheese and charcuterie, and to choose from a large selection of regional wine. We decided to grab some roast, figs, cheese, cold cuts, and a Monbazillac (my cheap alternative to a Sauternes for really strong cheese).

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A feast of thick, juicy steak, paired with a bottle of Pavillon du Glana Saint-Julien, Le Flamboire, 54 Rue Blanche, Paris

Cheese is so ingrained in French culture that they even have an expression for the appropriate consumption: “Pas de bon repas sans fromage”, which roughly translates to, “It’s not a good meal without cheese”. This is something I learned over dinner in Le Flamboire with someone my teacher (and friend) told me to seek out in Paris. Over some of the best, well-cooked steak I’ve ever had (thick as the side of a dinner fork), a bottle of Saint-Julien (in celebration of my return from Bordeaux), and delectable desserts, we swapped stories about how one’s mother’s cooking (whether it’s mousse au chocolat or kare-kare) is universally the best. He also taught me the “correct” way of eating crème brûlée (one should daintily break the crust first before taking a small bite).

 

“They are friendly, the French. They surround you with a civilised atmosphere, and they leave you inside of you, completely to yourself.” – Gertrude Stein, Paris France (1940)

So, what is the secret to understanding French gastronomy? Ask the French, they are more than willing to share it with anyone keen to understand and appreciate. Find someone to share a meal with you and talk about it… Or even listen to a vendeuse as she explains her charcuterie to you (she will most likely let you taste some). The key is to slow down and indulge your senses… In doing so, I discovered, not only did I fall in love with Paris all over again, but with life as well.


Special Thanks:

  • My buddy, Chef Jonas, for sharing Paris, photos, and friends with me (see him on the Lifestyle Channel in his show Chef Next Door, or spot him around his restaurant, Le Jardin, in Fort BGC)
  • Babette Isidro of Jeron Travel
  • Renato S. Dollete, Food and Beverage Manager of Etihad Airways
  • Tim and Justine for opening their home to us
  • Claire for showing us around her hometown
  • Eméric for sharing a beautiful meal with me 
  • Chia for taking me on an epic Parisian adventure

Sundays in Paris

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Hi everyone!

I’m in beautiful Paris right now eating and drinking my way through the city doing research, so I won’t be writing as much.

That being said, I’m constantly updating the blog’s Instagram account, so follow my adventures there!

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Follow us on Instagram: @2shotsandapintofficial

I’ll be visiting legendary Bordeaux Châteaux next week, and I’m way too excited for that. Look forward to an article when I get back.

Off to redefine “Market Research” in a bit. Cheers and Santé!

*Special thanks to: Carla Perez Santos and Jo Ramos of Wine Story for making one of this lowly wine writer’s dreams come true

Heroes and a Bottle

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A melange of things that remind me of my heroes

I’ve been MIA for a week now (so much for that target of hammering out an article at least 2x a week, eheh), but as people close to me know, my calendar has just erupted like one of those Dr. Pimple Popper videos… Out of control and messy (I’m sorry for the graphic analogy!).

Think four wine events right before I fly off to Europe for work/research, followed by travel plans once a month until the end of the year.

Professional wino problems.

That being said, I’ve mostly used my laptop for research, RSVPs, email, homework, and admittedly, entertainment.

One of the entertaining things I came across involved people talking about what they’d like to eat and discuss with their heroes (living or dead)… Then, I thought to myself:

What would I drink with my heroes?

So, my imagination on overdrive, I decided to compile a list and share it here.

 

Ernest Hemingway

“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.”Ernest Hemingway

Why: He had one of the wildest lives I’ve ever read about, and I admire his writing style. His time in Paris was so epic; I did an “homage to Hemingway” walk and hung out in his Parisian haunts when I last visited the city. One of my all-time favourite books is “A Moveable Feast”, which chronicles some of his adventures.
What to Drink: Bourbon. The man loved his alcohol… The stronger, the better. While he was known to drown himself in some of the best French wines during his time, I feel like Bourbon is a little more like him: Masculine, rough, and earthy.

Edith Piaf

“Quand il me prend dans ses bras, il me parle tout bras, je voie la vie en rose (When he takes me in his arms, and speaks to me softly, I see the world in rose-coloured glasses)”Edith Piaf, La Vie En Rose

Why: Môme Piaf’s agitated, powerful, and heartbreaking voice was a reflection of her tragic life. Whenever I get melancholic and miss Paris, I listen to one of her songs and I’m transported to the beautiful but grimy streets of the city.
What to Drink: Champagne. Oh, the woman could down a bottle like it’s nobody’s business. I also loved that she lived during a time when drinking Champagne out of a coupé was considered très chic.

Anthony Bourdain

“When dealing with complex transportation issues, the best thing to do is pull up with a cold beer and let somebody else figure it out.” – Anthony Bourdain, Parts Unknown (Peru)

Why: The man is one of my culinary idols. While I decided not to pursue a career in the kitchen, his irreverent take on haute cuisine (and his colorful vocabulary) has consistently inspired me to be as unconventional and cheekily verbose as I could when dealing with wine. Also, it has to be said that he has fantastic taste in vino.
What to Drink: San Miguel Pale Pilsen (with Sisig!). The man loves the pig, which we Pinoys have perfected in the form of heart-attack inducing dishes, like Bourdain’s Filipino favourite, the sisig. Nothing on earth goes better with sisig than an ice-cold beer. To truly be Pinoy, San Miguel is the ultimate, decent brew to go with our greasy bar chow.

Audrey Hepburn

“The most important thing is to enjoy your life – to be happy – it’s all that matters.” – Audrey Hepburn

Why: The woman personified grace, fashion, elegance, and everything a true lady aspires to be. Her iconic films, such as “Roman Holiday” and “Sabrina”, showcase her poise, diction (to this day, I couldn’t believe a chauffer’s daughter or a high-class call girl could speak like that), and Givenchy’s 1960’s creations.
What to Drink: Cognac. A little known fact about Hepburn is that she drank a glass of cognac after dinner every night as a digestif. For me, there’s something incredibly stylish about swirling a shot of cognac in a snifter.

Natalie MacLean

“The question I’m asked most often: ‘What’s your favorite wine?’ My answer: ‘The one someone else pays for.'”Natalie MacLean, Unquenchable

Why: I’ve always loved her wine writing style, which is humorous, light, and approachable. Wine novices and hardcore winos always appreciate her work (I still use them as reference).
What to Drink: Romanée-Conti 1979. I’d love to share one of my favourite Burgundy vintages over stories of her meeting the Madame Lalou Bize-Leroy.

Jane Austen

“There is not the hundredth part of the wine consumed in this kingdom that there ought to be. Our foggy climate wants to help.”Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Why: I think girls who dream of getting swept off their feet (by a man with “10,000 a year”) read an Austen novel at one point in their lives. Her famous works are light, fast-paced, and a guide on marrying well in Regency-era England.
What to Drink: English Breakfast Tea. Honestly, it’s because all three words make me think of Austen… Having tea during a bright, sunny morning in a cottage overlooking fields of wild flowers, gossiping about suitors and marriages. Of course, proper frou-frou teacups are a must!

Adele

The focus on my appearance has really surprised me. I’ve always been a size 14 to 16, I don’t care about clothes, I’d rather spend my money on cigarettes and booze.” – Adele

Why: Plus-sized women need an enormous amount of confidence and talent to be successful… Both of which Adele has. Add to that her unique brand of sass, and we’ve got a heroine everybody could relate to (from heartaches, to moving on, to having her H&M card declined), all packaged with a set of pipes that could make the undead quiver.
What to Drink: Right Bank Bordeaux. I found out from some of her interviews that she likes a glass of wine… Red wines from the right bank of Bordeaux are both powerful and silky, just like Adele’s voice.

Iris Apfel

“You have to try it. You only have one trip. You’ve got to remember that.”Iris Apfel

Why: Talk about longevity. This woman is 94 years old and can accessorise outfits like it’s nobody’s business. I’m amazed at the fact that she’s still relevant in the world of fashion and lifestyle after so many decades. She had one of the longest marriages in the public eye, spending 67 years with her husband, Carl Apfel, until he died in 2015.
What to Drink: Manhattan. A proper Manhattan involves Canadian whisky, Angosturra bitters, sweet vermouth, and a maraschino, served in an incredibly chic cocktail glass. Added bonus, the name is a nice way to honour her New York roots.

Oz Clarke

“The ritual observed by professionals is not just showing off: there is a purpose to every stage, and it can help you to get maximum pleasure from a bottle of wine. Wine can be complex stuff, and if you just knock it back you could be missing out on a wonderful sensory experience. Instead, take a few moments to discover a little about a wine’s background, appreciate its colour, and savour its scents and range of flavours.”Oz Clarke

Why: He’s irreverent, entertaining, knowledgeable, and has an enviably no-nonsense palate when it comes to wine. I’ve always admired and respected him for his approach on wines and writing… He manages to inject his dry humour while beautifully utilising the English language, without losing essential information that allows winos to truly learn something. One of my favourite wine shows is “Oz and James’ Big Wine Adventure”, and I use his book “Grapes and Wines” often… Confession: One of my life goals is to meet him one day.
What to Drink: Anarchy from Cypher Winery, Paso Robles. I loved learning about how Anarchy truly captured the rebellious nature of these Paso Robles winemakers during an episode with James May… What can I say, I like people (and my wine) out of the box (no pun intended). I especially loved Clarke’s apprehension as he rode on the back of a hog to get to the winery.

General Antonio Luna

“Mas madali pang pagkasunduin ang langit at lupa kaysa dalawang Pilipino tungkol
sa kahit na anong bagay. (It’s easier to get heaven and earth to agree versus two Filipinos on anything.)” – Antonio Luna (the character), Heneral Luna

Why: Admittedly, my mind wandered off during history class when I was a kid (I honestly blame the deep Tagalog our teachers used to teach the subject), so I never really looked into General Luna’s life story until the film “Heneral Luna” came out. Through the movie, I learned about his passion for the country, disdain for dissension, and stubbornness to inculcate a national pride amongst the Filipinos of the time.
What to Drink: Ribera del Duero Tempranillo. Honestly, because p*ny*t@ it’s good s**t from Spain. 

I realise that my eclectic list of “heroes” includes famous people, but anyone can be a hero, including us everyday folk… As long as we’re courageous and noble in our own way.

What would you drink and talk about with your hero? Cheers!

The Year That Was (2shots of 2015)

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“To take wine into our mouths is to savor a droplet of the river of human history” – Clifton Fadiman

 

If that is the case, then 2015 was the year I became a true historian. 😉

Here are a few of some of my favourite moments in 2015:

 

Tons of Travel

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Amsterdam, Sancerre, London… Oh My!

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Singapore, Hanoi, and Napa

I thought 2014 was an amazing traveling year (I wound up halfway around the world on the opposite hemisphere!), but 2015 was just as fun. I enjoyed being part of a Vietnamese tea ceremony and partaking in my favorite Singaporean libations. I loved drinking through London, Paris, Sancerre, and Amsterdam. It was also a blast to end the year with a trip to Napa.

 

Healthy Living

Sharing my discoveries on health benefits of different beverages (juicing, chia, tea, etc.) was a rewarding experience. If you meet me in person, I’m far from being an Adriana Lima (I always use her as my ideal body peg because man, she’s healthy and sexy), but I’ve been consistently happy with my yearly checkups… I just have to be more mindful about the stuff I eat with wine (eheh).

 

Friends and Family

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Titas Drinking Spritzers for Lunch (How The Mighty Have Fallen)

Some of my favourite articles included chronicling a wino friend’s pregnancy and looking back on the drinking habits of our youth. Chad, the rest of our family (I’m still eternally grateful for the surprise trip to Napa), and our spectacular friends have been loving and supportive (even drinking with me and sharing their discoveries, all in the name of beverage research of course) throughout 2015.

 

The Great Chilean Adventure

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Gillmore Winery, Valdivieso, Via Wines, Montes, Lapostolle, Caliterra

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Morande, Sta. Rita, Tremonte, Uva Dulce, and Valparaiso

 

CHILE COLLAGE 3

Checked One Thing on my Bucket List: A Visit to Concha Y Toro!

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My First Foray Into Becoming a Legit Non-Writer Writer 😉

Narrating my Chilean wine adventures throughout 2015 was marvelous. To this day, I still can’t get over the beautiful sights, wonderful people, and phenomenal wines of Chile. The icing on this cake was the Lifestyle Asia article about the trip (OMG I’m a legit non-writer writer now!)… It was fabulous to share my experience with so many people.

 

Local Flavours

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The Beginning of a Fantastic Pinoy Adventure!

The epiphany I had in looking in my own backyard for beverage inspiration has led to many adventures (from coffee to craft beer and everything in between). I’m not done writing about them, and I’m excited to talk about even more truly Filipino drinks (and explorations) to the world.

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Ville de la Reine (available in Wine Story branches)

That being said let me do something quintessentially “new year” with you, my dear readers, by toasting with a glass of Champagne. This bottle of Ville de la Reine is a creamy blanc de blancs (translation: made from 100% Chardonnay grapes) perfect for toasting as the clock strikes 12, or with tasty hors d’oeuvres.

Cheers to 2016!

 

My Paris

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I first fell in love with the concept of Paris around the same time I started learning about and watching Audrey Hepburn films. As an adolescent, Audrey’s roles epitomized everything I wanted to be: beautiful, elegant, sophisticated, and stylish.

I looked at the common denominator of my favorite Audrey films and realised… It was Paris. I loved her transformation from a dowdy bookworm to a glamorous model in Funny Face. I adored her plucky character in Love in the Afternoon. Her amazing scenes around Montmartre while clad in Givenchy’s finest for Charade were fantastic. She was absolutely adorable paired with the dashing Peter O’Toole in How To Steal A Million. Paris When It Sizzles showcased her comic abilities (without losing an ounce of poise or the Givenchy dresses).

Bien sûr, my all time favorite Audrey Hepburn movie has always been Sabrina. It mixes several of my favorite things: Food, style, language, and the idea of Paris.

I use the terms “concept” and “idea” for this part of my story because I am talking about a point in my life when I didn’t have much money, and when any idea of traveling to Paris was out of the question. Paris, back then, was an aspiration.

Fast forward several years later… I began to develop a preference for wine, studied it, and taught it to people who listened (or otherwise). I fell in love with Chad. Changes, changes… Through it all, Audrey Hepburn’s Paris stayed in the back of my head. I bought books about her, including one that had her favourite Parisian places. I made it a point to own DVDs of her movies that were set in Paris, just to keep my hope alive.

Then, Chad and I got married in December 2011. As a surprise, he gave me the gift of a lifetime: a trip to Paris. We had to postpone for several reasons (one of which was my need to finish my WSET), but eventually, he gave me Paris.

When we got there in May 2012, I realized… Paris wasn’t anything like it was in the Audrey Hepburn movies. It was dirty, people didn’t smile as much as they did in the movies, there were so many petty thieves (also not present in the films), “bonjour” and “merci” only got me condescending looks from the locals, and people didn’t walk around decked in Givenchy.

It was BEAUTIFUL. It was REAL. It was ALIVE.

Paris was so enchanting that Chad and I vowed to come back (and take a side trip to a European vineyard) every year.

Over the years, we have basked in the sense of history around the Champs Elysées and the Louvre (my all time favorite painting will always be the Wedding at Cana). We went up the Eiffel Tower (like a tourist). We went through Les Catacombes, got books from Shakespeare and Co (which introduced me to one of my favourite authors, John Baxter), ogled at masterful Impressionist paintings in Musée d’Orsay, marveled at the majesty of the windows of Sainte-Chapelle, traced famous graves in Père Lachaise and Les Invalides, walked up and down the Seine, and most importantly, drank and ate.

Paris is the capital of the country renowned for mastering the art of food and wine. Chad and I have spent many glorious hours living the flâneur lifestyle, drinking a café or a carafe du vin in a restaurant, preferably with delectable fromages, patisseries, crêpes, and/or escargots (we always find something amazing along Boulevard Saint-Germain).

I guess the reason why I wrote about this is because I needed to both explain my disdain about the recent terror attacks and unload my grief. The need to explain stems from people thinking, “you’re a Filipina, you have no part in what happened” (the French have always made me feel at home and welcome in Paris and in the countryside), “what about (insert other country here)?” (as was stated above, there are more reasons for me to feel an affinity for/at home in France, and I feel the same about places like Hong Kong), and “but you didn’t study/live in/spend enough time in Paris” (I don’t think someone needs to spend every waking moment of his/her life with someone or something to love it, but, as Chad and I have discussed, given the opportunity, we wouldn’t mind relocating to France if his job calls for it).

I grieve because the Paris I know is such a multicultural haven for anyone… A Filipina foodie/wino like myself is accepted there as much as the likes of Lost Generation, or a person of Islamic faith. For extremists to use their warped notion of “god” (thanks to Singapore’s very welcoming mosque, I learned that real, authentic, true Islam is one of the most generous religions) to terrorize and murder people living the typical Parisian life on a Friday night (enjoying les vins, musique, and le sport) is just barbaric and sick.

The French (and France) I know of are strong, resilient, brave, and very proud. There is a high probability that, just to shove it in these demons’ faces, they’ll continue to find ways to make everything beautiful and joyful. They will go on, in a united front, enjoying life, freedom, and the art of a good drink with gastronomic delights.

When I had Chad look this over before I posted it, he told me that the ending seemed tapered off… I agreed. The thing is, I’d love to leave it that way, because I don’t think that this is the end for Paris (or the Parisian lifestyle, or their ideologies). 😉

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*We stand against hate, discrimination, senseless killings, terrorism, suppression of freedom, and harmful ideologies. We don’t ask anyone to pray for (insert country here) or otherwise, we ask for people to contribute whatever they can to make this a peaceful, united, loving, free, joyful, and safe world. 🙂