Back in 1992, when I was a long haired, tie-dyed Island Spice T-Shirt wearing pseudo leftist, I ran away to Baguio to escape my bourgeois Makati upbringing. Right in the middle of my sophomore year in the UP Diliman Fine Arts Department, I pocketed the tuition fee my father gave me (all Php2,800.00 of it), dropped out of school and moved to Baguio to work as an intern for the artists Santi Bose and BenCab.
It was such a liberating time of my life. I spent a full year just making rubbercut prints, chopping sticks, cleaning brushes, hanging out with artists, and walking through the empty, cool streets of a post-earthquake and pre-SM Baguio City. And through that year, it was the Cafe By the Ruins where I would run to when looking for a place to center myself. It's indigenous, eco-friendly architecture (totally ahead of it's time), homegrown greens, and dishes like Amapola Salad and Gado-gado capped with a shot of Tapuy (rice wine) became the icons and images that I associated with fine artsy Baguio Living. I would just hang there for hours, reading magazines, sketching in my book, or having fireside chats around their Dap-Ay.
It goes without saying that I learned a lot from hanging out at the Cafe and I am who I am today from what I learned from people that I met there.
And having said that, I'm so glad that the Cafe is still around and that people are sharing their memories about it. On August 23, join Laida Lim, Lia Llamado, and Feliz Perez for the launch of Cafe By The Ruins: Memories and Recipes. It will be held at the same location where they have been for the last thirty years, 23 Chuntug St. at 4:30 PM. And if you can't make it to the Baguio launch, go to the one in Rockwell on the 28th of August at the National Bookstore in the Archeology area.