Saturday, April 11, 2009

Cafe Antonio ELBI - Season 1 Finale

April 7, 2009, 3:30 pm – Our barista, Neil, and I finished early preparing the café for the day’s operations. Summer has just begun and the Holy Week is fast approaching; we didn’t expect much people that day. But the Canton faithful is a different bunch—two groups of people have already lined up outside the closed café. This was funny because we thought only movie theaters and malls get lines minutes before they open.

April 9, 2009, 12:00 am – The café was quiet and dimly lit. It was emo day—the roll-up on one side couldn’t be opened leaving the café looking like a half open-half closed establishment. Things were slow at the final hour of the week. Neil, Bessy, and Retz were all asleep; I watched Little Miss Sunshine, the laptop mounted on the counter, from the lounge area; while Canton Knights of the Tiny Black Round Table led by Sir Sherwin talked about gadgets and gizmos in the couch area. Everybody had their own space in a small place. And then almost instantly, even though people have their own spaces, one utterance can be heard in the entire café leading to discussion and interaction.

These two moments last week really caught my attention. The first one is unusual because we didn’t text these kids to come minutes before the opening so they won’t be late. And its summer, shouldn’t you be home? That kind of support is what a friend gives to a friend. The second one is striking because the café flashed a moment of a family living room. We’ve been to cozy places before but that moment was way beyond cozy. It’s the feeling of safety and support only a family can give.

Café Antonio is a public place but it gives the feeling that the Los Banos community is a family. Lives interconnected and stories intertwined. I think that’s ELBI defined.

We opened the café a year ago believing that we’ll survive the year with a little help from our friends. And it’s true, it was very true. Our friends also had friends and they had friends, and so on. We’ve met a lot of new people during the course of the year. And a lot of them became our friends. To show support they even give us food for supper. We can always count on these people even in our “darkest” of hours.

In return for their kindness and support, we give them the best service and the best products that we can possibly offer. Right now our baristas are undergoing a rigorous two-month training program so they too will share the same passion that Café Antonio has for coffee. Unseen to the public eye, we have changed a lot of our methods of preparing coffee, and maintaining good quality espresso. The “Every Drink That’s From the Heart is a Work of Art” mantra has kept our baristas keen on every detail on the process of coffee-making. And Café Antonio merchandise will be available at the Café Antonio Store ( on May 2009 to the Luzon and Visayas markets. These are the two things that we’re focusing on right now. We know we have a limited budget and limited personnel but we need to make something happen to cater to the needs of those who believe in what we do.

Our first year anniversary is on Tuesday, April 14. And I am overwhelmed. A year has passed and so many things have happened. It’s like Season 1 of a TV series. People have come and gone, cast members changed, new characters introduced, the set rearranged, and the pace very fast, each day/episode independent but somehow threads the whole season, etc. It’s all amazing. Maybe this is what sets Café Antonio apart, everybody takes part in the story-telling and story-making, not just the staff.

Café Antonio – Los Banos, it’s definitely an ELBI success story, where people who love ELBI support the people who grew up in ELBI and made it their home.

THANKS TO THE FOLLOWING PEOPLE (in no particular order; stream of consciousness typing):

Flores Family * Tita Roucelle and the Bonita Household * UPLB DevCom Faculty * Sherwin, Aldo, and Candy * DevComSoc * UP Entrepreneurs’ Club * Kyle Noel * Eric & Ise * BLD-YM * UPRHS Batch ’97 * UPRHS Batch ’99 (our batchmates!) * UPRHS Batch ’05 * Friendster Friends * Multiply Contacts * Facebook People * Cindy Escobin and Entrepreneur Magazine * Nina Calleja and the Philippine Daily Inquirer * Myke Celis and Code Red Magazine * The Ruralite * Mark, Millie, and Melo * Ruralites * UPRHS Alumni * Gelo and his Merry Men * Caramel Cream Girl and her friends * Elbi Pie * El Laberinto * Overhaul * Espaleklek * Meloria * UP Jammers Club * Budik of Ethereal * Sta. Romana Family * Kuya Erol * Boy Requiron * Noel Carigma * Tita Cora, Ate Mila, and Ning’s Thai * Pats and Friends * Kuya Rodel, Drew, and Ely of * ChemSoc * Joyce, Jodi, and Humphrey * BS Nutrition Students * UPLB Navigators * UPLB SocioSoc * Dr. Eusebio and Family * Azzul Grapika * Starbucks – SLEX * Burger King – Halang * Jerico’s Bakery * Panaderia Pantoja * Agua Vida * Bert Tagalog and Papu’s Siomai * Jimmy Botengan and Friends * Baldo, Cel, Keisha, and Mishka * Chris Belison * Kimy and Friends * Nica and Pia * Choral Ensemble * Yummings * Bank of the Philippine Islands * Dana’s * Noria * Ferds’ Isaw * UP ADS * Gene and Glo Veruasa * Tonio and Ella * Marc and Cathee * University of Perpetual Help – Calamba * Sir Fercival and STI-Calamba * PhySci Faculty * BioSci Faculty * Humanities Faculty * SocSci Faculty * Mon Bayani * Jed Stubborn * Eusebio Family * MSMSI Class ’99 * Osio Family and Brent-IRRI Faculty * Fellizar Family * Choco-Macadamia Frothiccino-loving Korean Students * Mocha Froth Girl—Eve * Sir Eppie * Kuya Soc and Friends * CEM Faculty * UPJES * Eric and Kalegs * Al Labadan III * UP Thespian Circle * The Parliament * All the groups and individuals who interviewed us for their classes and requirements * UP Circle of Entrepreneurs (Diliman) * UBE * CEAT Faculty * Churchmates at COCD * Navs Alumni * Ate Hazel Gahum* Jomar Rabajante * Butch Bataller and Friends* Lian * Watts, Brandon, and Friends * Jeg delos Reyes and Friends * Padeys Cajano * Tracy Quila * Dan Sta. Romana * Ate Vivian * Nica Arganosa and Family * Loyalty Mug Holders * Donnah and Circle K International * Noel Sta. Maria * Mark, Oochie, and Astra Zeneca * Zadl and Can * GeneSoc * Majals and Ate Bay * Ate Jing * Kuya Al and Ate Ina * Ate Mila and Ate Melody * Eldon Mananghaya and Friends * Annogrove * Lugaw AV * Karl and Faye * Edu and Marisse * Jay and Manell * JD and Yane * Jek * Jeck Vargas * Mickey * Joy and Daphne * Kapatid ni Gunyar and her friend * Nicdao * Ronilo Flores * Ria Opulencia and Friends * Rev and Emcy * Cesar Paita and girlfriend * our investors * Pastor Chito and Friends * the Café Antonio – Dumaguete family * if I forgot to include your name I’m sorry, it’s either I don’t know your name or I completely forgot, so just put your name here _____________ * and of course, our Lord Jesus Christ—without Him none of this would be possible! The grace of God has kept us alive!


  1. games dahil may mystery pasta..

    ilang taon na ang canton elbi? ilang taon na si kuya retz?? (hahahahahaha.24? 23? 28? 22? 22!) anong apelyido ni neil? :D

    stickers! xD
    bowl of chips!

    happy anniversary po ulet! thanks.. xD hehe..

  2. hahaha! ayos ang games! your welcome and salamat din snyo!