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PH Angeles City 1639 Bldg., #101, Block 16, Lot 39 Fil-Am Friendship Hwy, Angeles, Pampanga, Philippines

In a time where we are all mandated to stay at home and practice social distancing whenever we're outside, one would probably run out of ideas to keep themselves motivated and refreshed. This is why over the past year, we've developed different ways of coping - it could be through online workshops to learn something new, driving around the neighborhood or away from the city for a while, making things for us and others to enjoy, among other things. One of the things that this strange period has also done to us is to become more entrepreneurial and explorative of the things we can create and sell at the same time. It's inspiring for me to see how a lot of people are getting into baking and even building their own home cafes to share with people and their loved ones.

Last year, in the middle of scrolling through my Instagram feed, I happened to come across a café that has opened in Angeles Pampanga. I admired the idea of opening up a business in the middle of a pandemic because I have seen how much this has crippled a lot of establishment over the past year in my city alone. It felt like a ray of hope has come and that in the middle of all this mess, people are rebuilding themselves with courage and faith in tow and eyes set on what's ahead. As I was still very cautious as to where I'll be going, it was hard to embrace the idea of travelling outside the city and sitting in a café completely far from my comfort zone. And so I just bookmarked the location for future reference and hope that someday, I'd get to see it for myself and experience the space.

When my husband randomly asked me on a Saturday night to accompany him for a drive up north, I felt that it was a good time to go. He needed the headspace in as much as I did, and so we woke up early on a Sunday and took off for a quick and cautious escape away from Metro Manila.
One of the things that really drove me to want to visit the place is because the building it sits at is actually also home to its designer, WA Architects. I've always been fascinated by mixed-used buildings especially when it involves the combination of a Design Studio and Cafes or Boutiques. I also have this penchant for visiting places that are designed and owned by an Architecture and Interior Design firm because I know that the spaces are well planned, executed, and it would be a good visual and design experience. It also reminded me so much of Seoul, a place that I truly hold dear to my heart.
A two-hour drive via Skyway from Las Pinas City and nestled in the middle of the long and busy stretch of the Friendship Highway in Angeles City, Pampanga is Urban Garden Cafe & Bistro. One would not miss the pristine white shell of  this building as it stands confidently without having to scream so much of texture, color, and even signage. Everything was seamlessly executed, where all the areas of the space are given its angles to shine. The architecture somehow reminded of Le Corbusier's modernist buildings but with a huge respect and influence of the tropics at the same time.
Contrary to its light façade, the most dominant color used in the interior and exterior of the café would be Brick and Teal. This in effect created a very warm, welcoming, and cozy space in both the tangible and intangible aspect of spatial design. As an Interior Designer myself, I find it really great that the designer of this space did not place a visual and experiential barrier between the al-fresco and interior dining areas. Usually, we would often see a huge difference in spaces like this but for Urban Cafe's case, the principle of bringing the outside-in and inside-out was executed in a very graceful and subtle approach.
To adapt to the new normal, the seating areas inside and outside the café were properly clustered to observe social distancing protocols. One of the things that I admired about the design of this space would be the generous amount of natural light coming in from all sides of the café. This not only gives a bright and warm lounging and dining experience to people but it also helps sustain the plants that are cohabitating with us in the space.
Visiting Urban Garden Café is more than just an aesthetic experience. And this is probably what's prompting me to write about it in this manner. I wish to celebrate the thought process of its designer and how seemingly arbitrary details like signage, music, lighting, aroma, and even space planning affects our overall spatial experience.
From the signboards, to the branding in the cups used, to the way artworks and accessories were placed around the space are all empathic and intentional acts to comfort, inspire, refresh, and ignite one's curiosity, creativity, and imagination. 
The use of furniture pieces and even the distribution of color is such a great example of the practice of restraint. The designers knew where to place the focus on; as the dominant color was already visually massive and was applied in majority of the floor and wall space, the furniture pieces used were lighter in visual and physical volume but still being able to manage to subtly shine and be noticed.
We were fortunate enough to go at a time and day where there were only a few people were inside the space. Most of them are there to catch up after a long time and just like us, looking for a momentary escape away from our homes. Since we do not have the privilege to travel, it's spaces like this that give us that feeling of small indulgence and comfort. Spaces like this are not made overnight, the designers take time to conceptualize and plan, to go through the tiniest details like electrical wires, location of switches and plugs, and maintenance of the space in order to give us a seamless space and experience.

I hope that the next time we visit a place, we don't just go for the images, but rather, appreciate and experience the space for what it is, what it wants us to see and how it wants us to feel. I hope that this experience we're all going through will make us more conscious of ourselves, the built environment, and the people that make it more comfortable and accessible for us.
And for us, the coffee and café loving couple, this temporary stop was indeed something we both needed. It was sort of a reward to ourselves after a week of going through a lot of things at work, in our personal life as a couple, and the effects of monotony in our wellbeing.

I wanted to share this with all of you, because I know how much we miss being out there and breathe in fresh air. I hope that by taking you to a virtual tour, you'd get that nudge of inspiration and retreat one way or another. I wish that wherever you may be, you're staying well and safe. Keep holding on, better days will come for all of us. 

I'm wishing you all hope, light, love, peace and a Happy Heyday!
Block 16 Lot 39, Fil-Am Friendship Highway, Angeles, Pampanga, Philippines
Open from 10am to 11pm (Monday to Sunday)



  1. wow that's such a pretty location, I love that!

    Ana C,

  2. wow, the place looks so serene! it's pretty and cozy. those little sign boards really stood out to me. i love how they look like inserted texts in photos. haha! also, i love how the greenery inside. it made the place looks more welcoming =)

    thank you for this calm virtual tour, ate Hanna!

    sincerely, riz


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