I have always stood by my love for coffee and long lazy afternoons that are cool enough for a hot brew or hot enough for a tall glass of iced coffee, and despite all the fancy cafes scattered throughout Metro Iloilo, I have discovered a gem within the busy, crowded alleys of the La Paz Public Market.
Madge Cafe has been around for ages, and its graying batch of loyal, early morning customers (I’m pretty sure they probably grew up with the whole place) are clear proof of that. Established in the 1950’s, the cafe is nestled inside the Lapaz Public Market, a venue also popularly known for the original La Paz Batchoy-Iloilo’s famous merienda. But we’re not talking about Batchoy just yet. The name “Madge”, actually comes from “Magdalena”, the wife of the cafe’s owner, Mr. Vicente De la Cruz.
The Cafe is adorned with bare, vibrantly happy colors of blue, yellow and brown and its trademark array of coffee mugs lining the wooden shelves throughout the counter. There are no expensive coffee-making machines, wi-fi zones or dainty cakes and cookies on the menu. Home-grown coffee beans are prepared in the traditional, manual way. You can even watch the whole coffee-making process from your corner in the room. A cup of their regular coffee costs 20 pesos, and you can choose to have it “strong”, “regular”, “mild” or even “milky”. Add-on’s like ice and extra milk are also available to suit your taste.
Perhaps there’s no better way to enjoy a cup of Madge coffee than with a plate of hot, toasted Teren-Teren, a local bread lathered with margarine and toasted to perfection or some Puto (the typical Filipino rice cake). And living without Wi-Fi for a while isn’t so bad. At least there’s one coffee shop in Iloilo where you can simply sit back, relax, and enjoy the warm flow of afternoon conversations without ever feeling the need t0 tweet or post about it, just yet. The servers don’t speak in heavily accented English, but they greet you with friendly smiles and when you frequent the place long enough, they even take the time to remember your name and how you usually want your coffee done.
In the mornings, the cafe is filled with aging men poring over the day’s newspaper or gathering in little circles, eager for some political chatter (yes, imagine the many problems that can definitely be solved over cups of hot delicious coffee!).
But I love afternoons at the cafe the most. The place is not just crowded with aging men and their papers, it also comes alive with young college students frolicking over school work, instant pancit canton and iced coffee and typical 8-5 workers eager to end the work day with their favorite cup of brew.
Flowing cups of wonderful Ilonggo coffee, afternoon conversations and a plate of warm Teren and puto…these truly stand for a MADGE made in heaven!
(a shout-out to my girltalkbuddy/instantmodelfriend Sheen for gamely posing for this feature and to Jethro Lud Padilla for bringing me to my first cup of Madge Coffee! 🙂 )