Iloilo City is a good place to get lost when you are going out on a foodtrip. There are numerous establishments within and outside the city where you can enjoy sumptuous meals. The best part is that they are quite affordable. So when I went on an overnight trip to Iloilo last year, I included Madge Café in my must-try dining experiences in Iloilo. Madge Café is one of those famous old food establishments in the city that serves traditional coffee.
What I didn’t expect was that I’d meet an instant coffee buddy courtesy of the ever gracious and friendly Ms. Soc Romano of DB’s Hometel.
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I still had not gotten over the trauma from the sorry state of the bathrooms at one of the inns that my friends and I rented during our visit the year before. So when I went looking for an affordable place to stay in Iloilo City, my main requirement was to find an affordable room where I can sleep soundly for a night.
After searching online for affordable inns in Iloilo City, I found DB’s Hometel. This simple yet chic guesthouse is situated near SM City. It’s a few meters off the main road of Ledesma St. at Jaro, Iloilo City. The inn is perfect. It’s homey and I found that it’s the best place to stay in Iloilo where you don’t have to worry about your safety.
You will find that their staff are one of their best assets. In fact, Ms. Soc Romano, the manager of the DB’s Hometel, is the most kind and friendliest person I have ever met. She was very helpful in providing me information on places to visit in Iloilo, where to go, what jeepney to ride and where to eat in Iloilo too.
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Before I left the city the next day, I planned to explore the San Joaquin Cemetery then visit Madge Café after. Ms. Soc has never heard of the coffee house, which you can find at the center of Iloilo’s Lapaz Public Market. So the moment she found out that I was going there to try that uniquely cheap coffee experience, she volunteered to join in on my little food expedition. We agreed to meet up at the dry market after I got back from the cemetery.
It was late in the afternoon when we arrived at the coffee shop. An old woman greeted us. We ordered two cups of coffee. We were asked to choose from strong or mild; and with or without milk. We ordered the milder version with milk in it. We also ordered pan de ciosa – toasted bread that’s spread with butter and sugar. For 2 cups of their homegrown brewed coffee and bread, I only spent P56, which is roughly less than $2. So cheap!
What’s special about Madge Café is that this unassuming coffee shop has been around for generations. This place is not like any regular coffee shops where you enjoy a classy ambience with posh interiors and air conditioning. In fact, the shop screams vintage all over.
The café brews homegrown beans the traditional way by using a cloth-like net, like those I’ve seen on one of my breakfasts in Chiang Mai. The shop’s one-of-a-kind coffee experience easily caught the Ilonggo’s attention. And soon enough, they’ve acquired regular patrons through the years. In fact, they stashed personalized mugs with names of their regular customers in their shelves, which they use to serve coffee to their patrons.
This kapihan in Ioilo City is a favourite among locals. One can simply while the time away reading the local news or if you are a traveller, finding information on cheap flights for your next travel destination as you sip coffee. The coffee’s dirt cheap price kinda sounds like a joke to new customers but it is in here were most Ilonggos spend their early morning or late afternoon kapihans to get the latest buzz or gossips in town.
While enjoying my coffee, I got the chance to know Ma’am Soc. I realized that she is also an avid traveller. She won’t hesitate to give you the best tips on getting where you want to go or what you needed to see in Iloilo. When I told her some of my foodtrip plans the day before, she gladly helped me check the venue of the places I wanted to go. She even called one of the famous restaurants in the city to find out if they still accept reservations on such short notice. She then volunteered to join me on my food trip and I was too happy to know that someone was willing to accompany me around. And true to her word, she joined me on my visit at Madge Café.
I’ve never met anyone who would go out of their way to make their clients feel at home in their city. What Ms. Soc Romano did was beyond her duty and I truly appreciated her gesture. Not only did she make me feel welcome in her city but I also got the chance to experience the genuine hospitality that Ilonggos are known for. And because of this, I found my second home in Iloilo City right at DB’s Hometel.
Ma’am Soc, I am but a mere stranger to you but during my stay in your guesthouse, I never felt that way due to your warmth and hospitality. I may have travelled solo to Iloilo City but I went home gaining a friend in return.
Thank you so much for your kindness, Ma’am Soc.
Stranger on the Road: Ma’am Soc Romano
Meeting Place: DB’s Hometel
Date: December 2011
Strangers on the Road is my mini project where I feature random strangers I met and will meet as my travelling feet trot my country, the Philippines, and the rest of the globe. This project aims to overcome my anxiety and shyness as I try to become
more outgoing and forget what anti-social means.