Why The Dominance of 3 in 1 Is Appropriate For Filipino Society

I ran across a recent FB post that even had the author surprised on the volume of likes and participation. It had nothing to do with politics. Politics is one of life’s powder kegs that can get people in a social event immediately enraged. What topic was it then ? The FB poster was suggesting, OK he was insisting that a 5 peso 3-1 is suitable replacement for 120 peso Starbucks coffee.


Introducing the death knell of Starbucks

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This logic flies into the teeth of several long standing GRP tenets about our beloved country:

  • pwede na yan mentality
  • you do not get what you pay for
  • quantity beats quality all the time
  • low standards in your daily life will manifest themselves over your whole life and your whole society.
  • the pinoy belief shortcuts will not hurt you therefore quality is always cheap
  • It is  possible to have pinoy pride even when the standards we set for ourselves  are so low?
  • basta pinoy da best


San Miguel Light, noontime shows, Kris Aquino, PBA, Richard Gomez, Anne Curtis singing, noontime shows, Aldub , Jollibee and 3-1. What do all these things have in common? They cater to the pinoys and nobody else. When these things are exported they find an audience that is almost exclusively OFWs. Unless you want to suggest that the rest of the world is too dumb to realize the neglected brilliance of these pinoy institutions.

Roughly one country in three (as opposed to 3 in 1) have the right conditions to grow coffee. Filipino mangoes, bananas and pineapples are in demand around the world but Filipino coffee is not.  Let me ask you a question. Do you live your life looking for quality or is your sense of nationalism rationalizing you to reward mediocrity? In other words:  Basta Pinoy Da Best.


The Wolf, Jules, Jimmy and Vincent I guarantee you are not singing the praises of 3 in 1

 Pulp Fiction Coffee


First of all, let us get one thing straight. The only way to drink coffee is as Special Agent Dale Cooper  put it in 1989 “Black as midnight on a moonless night”. You drink good coffee to enjoy every bit of the coffee. If you value great coffee then you will not tolerate sugar and milk getting in the way of great coffee taste. Oh I forgot we live in the Philippines where even if we can grow coffee nobody wants it. So it is destined to be sugared and milked down. The coffee impostors justify bombarding their coffee with sugar and cream because it is “pait”. Of course it is. Even you admit what you consider to be coffee lousy. Hence the need for all that sugar and whitener.  So get better coffee and taste it the way God intended you to enjoy arabica. In all its glory. If you want to drink great coffee it has to start with great coffee with a great process. No , cutting open a sachet is not a great process.

3 in 1 will never be up to snuff


You may find this hard to believe but coffee in the right amount is good for you. I find that one black coffee a day helps my regular glucose test.  All those benefits go out the window when excessive white sugar and cheap whitener are present. I am sure the cutting corners process removes what little benefit there was in substandard coffee.

Special Agent Dale Cooper will not go near 3 in 1

I truly agree that we should resent anybody doing anything just so they can be seen doing it. I just don’t understand hating a place that gives you a quality beverage and a quality place in which to consume it in. I go to Starbucks four times a week but I take that drink to work where nobody knows it is Starbucks because it is in a tumbler that keeps the black coffee hot for over an hour.

I don’t understand anybody hating anything because it is not Filipino. If there are some of you that over half of your pop culture is Filipino I bet you more than half of that is ripped off from some other nation. You think Darna , It Takes Gutz To Be A Gutierrez and Tito, Vic and Joey are original pinoy pinoy creations?? You deserve unoriginal people in elected office like Tito Sotto and Mar ( Noynoy said so) Roxas.




There was a time that it seemed like Tiger Woods was all anybody could talk about when it came to golf. His “rival ” golfers though were not the least bit jealous. Why? Because a rising tide lifts all boats. Tiger brought more eyeballs to golf which means more money. It increased the money the other players on tour were pocketing.


By that token it makes no sense to resent Starbucks presence in the Filipino market. I did a quick check on three of the indigenous gourmet coffee chains and they all opened their doors in the 1990s or later. Starbucks was already a worldwide name even if it was not here. I know for a fact that in a place like Bacolod, Jollibee did not put a store there until McDonald’s broke the ice. What the pinoy pride crowd will never accept that Starbucks with their high standards for coffee in places outside of Seattle helped jump start the higher end coffee market here that they eventually dominated. Just like Tiger Woods with the PGA, everybody made more money.


I do not understand the idea of “don’t go to Starbucks, support our own.” Starbucks has been here three decades and I have been a regular customer for two. Unless I am Mr. Magoo ( no relation to the pizza chain) I perceive the staff to be predominantly Filipino in more than one of their stores. My perception also tells me due to the number of Starbucks stores compared to their local rivals I would hazard to guess that Starbucks is a significant taxpayer that help keep our beloved politicians fat. Starbucks domestic  owners ( joint partnership) are Filipinos who have been in the local business scene for decades. So if some royalties go to Seattle you will resent that?? Do you resent the royalties going abroad for Coke, Apple, HBO, Nike and Uniqlo? Whenever you watch NBA, part of the revenue generated goes to Adam Silver. Do you resent that?


I wrote this so many times before but it is worth mentioning again. Nothing represents Filipino flaccidness on the world stage than basketball. We are the only country in the world where every member of our basketball team has no other viable option like shortstop, striker, tight end or an Olympic individual sport. No other country has that advantage. The only basketball tunnel vision country in the world and we have zero impact on the international game. We do not contend for medals nor do any of our players play among the best. I wish George Patton was alive to give you all a speech about this puso BS.


Speaking of the Olympics. The Olympic gods smile on the Philippines even once in a while. A silver medal!! As in singular. Japan has 7 more than us. Silver medals I mean. They came up with a total 41 medals in Brazil.  The Philippines got one. They have a slight advantage in terms of population. They are no different than we are genetically. Then how can we be so proud of one silver medal in 20 years and they have forty more in a single Olympics? We treat Hidilyn Diaz like she walked on the moon… barefoot.

I don’t understand loving only local things when they are open ripoffs from trash in other cultures.

You want proof about the low standards of the pinoy? It Takes Gutz To Be A Gutierrez is now in its third season. They are already ripping off a joke of a product. The difference is the same country that produces Kardashian trash, produces a tons of shows that portray people thinking like CSI and Homeland. We have no such locally produced programs here. As a country we are rarely competitive in many areas. With people justifying a product like 3-1, can you see why that is? We do not value perseverance, craftsmanship, brain power and excellence so it is no surprise we can not be competitive with those who do.

Pinoys are too  lazy to come up with their own original ideas hence they ripoff everything. 3 in 1 is the epitome of lazyness. Which fits quite conveniently into the pinoy mindset. Shortcut process, cheap ingredients , no need to even measure your own ingredients. One size fits all. Nothing custom about it. Generic taste. If you wonder why we are not competitive in many things around the world, wonder no more. Champions are never lazy.

“There is nothing in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and he who considers price only is that man’s lawful prey.” – sign found in Baskin Robbins in different places and different times.



I was 13 the first time I tried Baskin Robbins. Before that all I knew was Twin Popsie and Magnolia flavor of the month. The gap was so huge that there was no way I could put it to words. It was like trying to explain the color green to a blind man.


It is well established that I am a fanboy of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Pirsig. In the book he tries to define quality by saying more or less that it can not be defined even if it in everything. Quality is also different for anybody. You can argue with the definition but you can not argue that a lot of the advancements we enjoy today is because the ones before us were always looking for quality. I am glad they did or else we may be drinking 3 in 1 exclusively today.


Zig Ziglar was an achiever and maybe he inspired some of you with his seminars, books and speeches. I am glad that I saw him once. Sales is the foundation of capitalism. Often when one sells quality goods, they encounter protests from their clients ” but it costs too much!”. One of Zig’s replies to that was  “[Prospect’s name], I would rather apologize for the price today than for the lack of quality and your unhappiness forever. Now, let’s not let a few dollars keep us from doing business together. Quality costs. Always did and always will.

Free elections are the foundation of a quality society. The yellow intelligentsia often trivializes the questioning of the validity of our election process. Whether it is the 60-30-10 incidents or the current Andy Bautista scandal the outrage over the possibility that our elections are fixed is made insignificant by the outrage when it was perceived Sky Cable was blocking #Aldub.  I wonder if the Aldub couple endorse 3-1?


Cheap is small and not to steep
But best of all, cheap is cheap.
Circumstance has forced my hand
To be a cut-priced person
In a low-budget land.

The Kinks Low Budget

As long as you are not a homeless person then I am sure you afford yourself some luxuries every once in a while. Not because it is a status symbol or anything. You justify the purchase of something that is not bottom end because of taste or health or some other advantage the added cost provides. There are some people that live life with the underlying principle the cheapest is a one variable equation. I am not talking about the less fortunate. Somehow I doubt any of them were in that FB thread extolling the virtues of 5 peso 3 in 1 over social climbing Starbucks. I will never apologize to anyone for not being baduy. In two decades of living here I have avoided mainstream TV commercials. I believe it is that sense of discretion that made me cynical of Noynoy Aquino once it was announced he might run for president back in September of 2009. The emperor had no clothes even then.  A guy who was trumpeted as the best candidate for president because his mom died? Zero achievements in life but he is the best? Gee, I wonder what could go wrong. 3 in 1 sets the bar very low and that is exactly how Noynoy became president.


I think I established that the most watched shows and the best selling products locally are obscure elsewhere in the world. Not that there is not much wrong with liking what you like but please do not make the jump from habitually choosing the cheapest and lowest hanging fruit to considering yourself world class. There is a price to not being discriminating with what goes into your mind and what goes into your body. You may confuse refinement with social climbing if you wish but please don’t be surprised if your gutter habits only attract gutter friends.




Note: proper Twin Peaks gifs are here and here. 

16 Replies to “Why The Dominance of 3 in 1 Is Appropriate For Filipino Society”

  1. I drink my coffee in the morning with cream. I don’t go to Starbucks, or any coffee shop. Filipinos are gullible people…however incompetent, corrupt and idiotic their politicians are; they still elect them, either thru fraud, or other kinds of election…

    Oh…that Andres “The Latigo” Bautista scandal, maybe brewing hot, like your coffee. Imagine, a COMELEC head, involved in ghost employees, while heading the the Office of Good Government…what an irony ! There are money laundering companies, owned by Bautista; foreign and domestic bank accounts, …kinky sex involved…that is sadistic sex with “Latigo”! Name anything wrong and perverse, the Philippines has it !

    Oh…my coffee is getting cold !


      “while my  coffee goes cold”

      – Joe Jackson

      ” Name anything wrong and perverse, the Philippines has it !”

      My point here is that our standards for what offends us in terms of public trust must be so jaded. Elections compromised and no one cares. Almost like pick a number.


  2. I am not sure if I get the point but looking at (European) football (that is soccer for you), 99,99% of all football players come from a (very) poor background. The same applies for many other sports. I would think that by now the Philippines must be sport nation numero uno. But what do I see? I only see basketball courts. And exactly for that sport, you have to be tall.
    The Philippines is surrounded by water. One would expect that at least a few know how to surf, swim, kayak.

    Bottomline is, sports are not encouraged by the PH government and certainly not by parents. A missed opportunity to get out of poverty.

    1. Thank you for your input Robert. My point about sports is we have 100 million people or so. The “elite” male athlete always goes to basketball. No other country can say that. Yet we usually get our butts whipped to the point that one international win is cause for celebration. Plus they depend on NBA player who is not remotely Filipino. Also you bring up a good point. 7100 islands yet no love for water sports, unless you count Angry Birds ( rimshot). You brought up that athletes with very poor backgrounds ( like in South American countries) can really go from rags to riches because their talent can be developed despite their economic disadvantages. If society is not willing to develop our athletes despite the advantages you and I brought up then why do we expect pride? Our standards are low yet we act like we are destined to achieve greatness.

  3. Cogs,
    Not even to get out of poverty (as reason or cause to start doing a sport) but its also healthy. To get out of poverty one really has to be talented and starting from a young age. Christiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Leo Messi all came from poor backgrounds. They were lucky (or blessed) they had talent for football (soccer). They didnt fall back in the wrong hands (drugs, crime, betting, gambling, women) bec they were motivated to make it. And I guess they were encouraged by their parents. And what also is very important is to have good coaches and good trainers who see that talent and who see the potential. For those (earlier mentioned) 3, the rest is history.

    1. John McEnroe was asked why none of his kids were never as good as he was in Tennis. His response ” afluenza” . Many times poverty adds to one’s drive to get really skilled in whatever they get really good at. Here it is in the culture to play victim. There is also a lack of discipline as well as the aforementioned lack of proper mentors and guidance.

      1. Cogs,
        I would expect from poor people that they have a huge drive and motivation to get out of poverty. Not wanting the same future as the parents are having, should be the only motivation, focus and drive I need to excel and develop my talents

        Does the Philippines have a National Olympic Committee (NOC), do the Philippines have any association sports body/bodies? (Ex: Philippine national basketball association, Rowing association, soccer etc etc?)

  4. It struck me that 3-in-1 might be the perfect metaphor for the Philippines.

    From the premise that Filipinos drink coffee with sugar and milk, this requires the immediate availability of three separate items. With the prevalence of ‘sorry,sir.out of stock’ this may be beyond the capacity of many Filipinos. Alternatively, it may be that the profitability of selling ‘pre-mixed’ is such that the manufacturers have decided that this what the population will have, and the population then sucks it up (pun not intended). Or maybe the population is too bloody idle to mix ingredients.

    Incidentally, Robert, the country has a National Olympic Committee, along with a National Sports Council, along with governing bodies for most sports, often two per sport it seems. It also seems to have governing bodies for sports with hardly any active participants, such as the National Equestrian Council, whose President’s daughter is the only active competitor. He is also chairman of either the NOC or NSC.

    1. Niall,
      I dont know how easy (or how hard) it is to get rich (through legal channels) in the Philippines (coming from a poor background), but sports is probably the fastest way (or by marrying a rich – foreign – guy/woman).

      Am I surprised? No, not really.

      Of all Filipinos I met, not one was interested in doing sports (in an active way).

  5. >> From the premise that Filipinos drink coffee with sugar and milk, this requires the immediate availability of three separate items. With the prevalence of ‘sorry,sir.out of stock’ this may be beyond the capacity of many Filipinos.

    @Niall: LOL. There might indeed be no more to it than that. However it definitely is a perfect metaphor. The Filipino doesn’t just accept third-rate garbage: he embraces it. He chooses it in preference to the good stuff. Anyway, the good stuff is often made abroad, so Pinoy Pride kicks in: it’s rejected just on general principle. The Pinoy has been trained well by his masters.

    There is no way to have a better life if, fundamentally, you don’t WANT a better life. The same thing goes for exercise. Nobody WANTS to be healthy. Or, at, least, they don’t want it enough to stop stuffing their faces with junk food and sitting around doing nothing all day.

    Robert: it is VERY hard to get rich in the Philippines, simply because society is arranged to ensure that you can’t. Your customers, employees and neighbors will deploy all the standard ‘crab mentality’ tricks to ensure that you fail. They can then sneer and say, see, you shouldn’t get ideas above your station. Blessed are the poor!

  6. Who said dancing and singing is acceptable in the University level to elementary level as sports? The problem is with the people as well as the government. I see the people try to play as many sports as possible that do not require actually sweating or working out. This is a fact here, because there is no shower time after doing Gym class. Table tennis instead of regular tennis. Full team volleyball versus two man volleyball. Martial arts in school? Boxing in school? Tennis in school? Running in school? Even swimming in school? Soccer in school? American Football in school? Rugby in school? The answer is no to all these. I really do not understand how in a country where most people walk, there are no track and field competitions. I do not understand in a country that is surrounded by water, there are no swimming competitions from diving to even ater aerobics. I really do not understand in a country where the females are among the shortest in the world that there is no global domination in gymnastics.

  7. I have always preached that there are many Olympic sports in which small people can excel, gymnastics, diving, weightlifting and all the combat sports in which you compete against people your own size.

    Now when it comes to coffee…there is outstanding coffee grown here and when I give up on this country forever in October and move back to America I am taking coffee with me and will arrange for someone to send it to me on a regular basis. That 3 N 1 or other variations are not coffee and it has always baffled me why people don’t brew their own locally brewed coffee? Even as an American I refuse to pay for Starbucks because what I brew in my own kitchen from Philippine barako coffee is better than that stuff.

  8. Three simple rules in life: If you do not go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you do not ask, the answer will always be no. If you do not step forward, you will always be in the same place.

  9. d_forsaken: exactly. Filipinos don’t want, don’t ask, and don’t step forward. I suppose it’s hard to step forward when you’ve got a dozen whining relatives and neighbors clinging onto your ankles.

  10. Starbucks is one of the worst tasting coffees around. Overpriced, unethical, tastes burned and over processed. It is a US predator company, run by a multi-billionaire ($) who has no regard for the environment and his workers. His pickers make barely $4.00/day. I have no idea why anybody would line up for that joint….but then I think the same about all of these US franchises.

  11. I brew my coffee every morning, 7 days a week. est 96 cups for around roughly 200 php, since fine arabica is readily available here in the arabian peninsula. i may use a bit of sugar, but i can go at times without it. never mixed cream or milk in it because it ruins the flavor. I have also tried expensive brews with exquisite flavors. did you know some beans may have the aroma of vanilla, apples or even pecan? Did you know there are some brews that taste a lot better cold because the flavor really comes out despite it looking like a black void of unwelcoming liquid?
    of course the typical filipino – even a majority of those who work here and have access to it – dont give a shit. to them coffee is a drink, to be consumed, not enjoyed. predictably, most ME ofws opt just buy the more expensive 3-in-1’s (alicafe, anyone?) . Starbucks? status symbol for that fb/instagram post to get all those likes. they dont care if the beans were burnt as long as it has 10 pumps of caramel syrup in it. Like spaghetti and steak, they will never know the difference between properly prepared and really, really lousy – because all they use to determine the value using the price tag attached.

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