Monday, July 27, 2015

Sites : Honesty Cafe @ Batanes, Philippines

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Honesty Cafe @ Batanes
Batanes, Philippines - March 2015
Honesty is always a good policy. It is at a small little hut coffee-shop at a quiet sea-side in the Batanes, where honesty is more profound. You see, nobody man the shop!
Patrons have drinks, buy souvenirs and through the goodness of their heart drop payment into a box. This place is called the Honesty Cofee-shop, but many refer to it as the Honesty Cafe.

View of Mahatao hills at the Batanes in the Philippines.
We were on a cycling tour of the Batanes in the Philippines and found the islands to be scenic. The locals were humble, friendly and more importantly very honest. In fact they claim to have a zero crime rate.

At Marfel's Lodge where we stayed, we curiously saw canned food, tit-bits, instant noodles, etc. stacked in open shelves in the kitchen (where guests could do their own cooking). These food stuff had price labels; guests can take any, register their purchase in a log-book and drop payment into a rattan basket. Yes, just a basket which was not locked or even chained to anywhere. We were very impressed!

It was when we cycled around South Batan and dropped into the Honesty Cafe that we found honesty to be even more evident. Nobody man this shop, every once in a while a lady comes in to top up hot water for the drinks.

The shop was founded by Elena Castano-Gabilo and her husband, Jose, in 1995. The above poster tells a bit about its history.

What they sell:
Three-in-one drinks and  local pre-packed delicacies. I like that sign which simply says : BE HONEST; Even if others are not, Even if others will not, Even if others cannot.

Packed local cakes, sweets and other delicacies.

All around this shop, on shelves, hanging on the walls and ceiling are other goods for sale. There are local handicrafts, paintings and even the renown Itbayat garlic. All items have a price tag and are reasonably priced.

They even sell Vakuls here. Vakuls are wig-looking headdress made from dried tatch palm fronds. The Ivatan tribal women -folk wear this for protection against the sun and rain.

When it comes to payment, customers diligently write what they purchased together with the price into a logbook next to the payment box.

The soul of the place permeates into the conscience of all who come here, everyone is honest and none cheats. Customers honestly drop payment into a wooden box; impressed by the place some even drop in more than what they are meant to pay.

In one corner of the shop, visitors can write their names onto rounded stone and leave behind a testament that they have come here and have been touched by the place and the values that it represents.
I wonder what will happen to these stones when the pile becomes too big, will they be used to build and arch, or even better a house?

Perhaps the many posters that hangs all over the shop help to remind patrons of the virtue of honesty. But I think it's more that that, I believe this place has been touched by God and all who comes feel his touch:

Radiwan, Ivana, Batanes, Philippines.
GPS: 20.36743, 121.91396

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