The Fun and Simple Life (a Let Life Amaze You feature)

One of the things I thought I'd have more of the moment we left Manila was free time, but I was wrong. And I am happy to be wrong! Days here zip right past me, and if my last count is correct, it's now nearly 4 months since we saw the capital city. This is a kind of 'busy' that I like, one where I spend my time doing things I enjoy. So I don't mind exhausting the hours and stretching headspace to do ten times more than usual. I might not get to sit down in front of my laptop as often, but hey, at least the people I strike up conversations with have managed to put into writing some of my thought trails. 

Here's an article that my friend, Raf, posted in his blog filled with positivity. What started as a 2-minute conversation as I was making his coffee turned out to be a great piece on finding the best way to live: the fun and simple way. Check out Let Life Amaze You and maybe you'll walk away with something amazing. :)

Welcome to El Union Coffee! :) With brahbai, Seth!

Welcome to El Union Coffee! :) With brahbai, Seth!

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This article was originally posted here.

People Living the Fun and Simple Life: Seth and Camille

By Raf Dionisio

In my last article, I wrote about living in the countryside. This article is about reverse migration, people living in the countryside and moving out of the city to live a happy life that is counter-intuitive to the definition of success that the city teaches.

Meet Seth Tan and Camille Pilar, currently coffee makers at San Juan, La Union’s hipster coffee joint, El Union Coffee.


Seth Tan

Originally from Davao, Seth followed the footsteps of many well born provincials, which was to study university in the metropolis.

It was while he was studying in Manila that he began to realize that he liked the countryside more. Not only that, he felt that he had to be around a lot of people to make it interesting.

“I grew up in a guest house in Palawan so we were always talking to people growing up. A lot of travelers.”

For all the great things that the city had to offer, Seth was lured by a life beyond money – one of adventure and living it to the fullest.

“When I die I want people to say, 'That guy lived. He went places and had a lot of interesting stories.' I don’t want them to say 'That guy has a lot of money.’ “

Seth’s clarity of purpose is refreshing in that he points out how many of us often miss the point of making money-– that it’s there to be used for happiness, and to serve us. Not the other way around.

La Union is just a stepping stone, and Seth will most probably head out to other locations around the world, to sate that thirst and curiously he has so much of.

Seth shows that travelling need not be expensive since he’s able to find jobs in the places he works in and lives a simple yet very good lifestyle. “I get to surf almost everyday and I’m around really great people,”  he said with a smile.

Camille Pilar


Camille was originally from Cebu and followed a similar path of studying in Metro Manila. After she graduated, she started teaching in Manila. During her free time, she learned to surf. That’s where it began.

Camille found herself spending more and more time in the countryside as the waves kept calling her back-– weekends first, then later on the occasional weekday. A typical weekend for her was like a glimpse of paradise. Food was fresh, the sun shone brighter; air smelled better and people were more easygoing. The pace was good.

As Camille’s love for the countryside grew, she began to see how Manila often wasted her time, starting with a generous dose of daily traffic (2-3 hours a day). The contrast of the weekend and weekday life was what prompted her to make that change–- and that’s what brought her, together with her boyfriend Harold, to San Juan, La Union (aka the surfing capital of Northern Philippines).

Life's Purpose

The Dalai Lama is often quoted saying that the purpose of life is happiness. Just to clarify, it’s not one of material pleasure but a serene and consistent sense of happiness that you can find even on the most mundane Tuesday afternoon.

Life is about happiness and that’s what Seth and Camille have been focusing on.  They are able to forgo the city glamour and bustle because they know what makes them happy. In retrospect, they are living examples of people who are able to pursue happiness and catch it.

The fact that they are so gutsy is amazing.

Thank you for the sweet write-up, Raf! Sea you in LU again soon! :)