My trendy Chinese friend Ryan recently dropped by the country for work and we just had to meet up, especially because he was supposed to visit earlier but that obviously didn’t push through.

He was staying for three days and we were supposed to hook up on his first night here, but because of my work, that didn’t happen, so we rescheduled it the next day. That still didn’t push through.

I made sure we got to see one another on his last day.

Together with his colleague named Fred, who was delightfully chatty, we went out for a meal and, of course, I introduced them to Filipino food: chicken barbecue (with Papa ketchup), kare-kare (with bagoong), halo-halo, and, well, beef salpicao). They licked their plates clean so I assume that they liked it. They were vocal about how much they liked the kare-kare. The bagoong didn’t even turn them off, probably because they also have their own version of it back home. They also liked the halo-halo. Ryan ordered the regular kind with ube ice cream and the 12 ingredients. Fred ordered the restaurant’s Razon’s version. Both liked their dessert so much that when we went to the grocery and they saw bottled halo-halo ingredients, they were ecstatic.

They were looking for pasalubong, specifically dried mangoes. I suggested the good brands but since those had Chinese words printed on them, they skipped them because they’re probably available back home, according to them. So we ended up with the SM dried mangoes!

Ryan was also looking for these little cakes with a girl’s face on them. “On the wrapper?” I asked. “No, on the cake itself,” he answered. He said his girlfriend’s mother sampled it before and wanted them again. Never heard about them. Have you?

Not wanting them to end up empty-handed, I threw stuff on their carts: Marty’s vegetarian chicharon, actual chicharon, Oishi Sponge (both cheese and chocolate), Chocnut, and even Lucky Me! pancit canton packs (sweet and spicy, and chilimansi flavors).

They’re back home now. And I’m impatiently waiting for a message in my Facebook mailbox—from them, of course, thanking me for the noodles. And the chicharon. And the Chocnut!