Photo Credits: Mark F. Villanueva/ clairelyhappy

The Outliers

Heading up the green highlands we toyed with the notion of moving. From our secret spot behind the brush, an island within one, close to the beach, to the ranges not too far from the late president Magsaysay’s C-47 plane crash site at 1,003 meters above sea level.

At around twenty kilometers from the city, going up, thatched houses along the circuitous road sold fruits and vegetables displayed on bamboo tables, where travelers occasionally stopped by to purchase the rich produce of the mountains. On these same tables, in the afternoon, on a good day where there is none left to display you’d likely find someone lying down on it, blanketed by the shadows of trees, enjoying his time for the rest of the day.

It was a grand sight, from the roof deck of the first café we stopped by for lunch.

Photo Credits: Mark F. Villanueva/ clairelyhappy

Zip line area at Adventure Cafe.

“I would really love to live here, and why not?” Mark asked. It’s a sparsely populated town and it gets real cold when the evening is nigh. We thought about living a simple life in a house like the El Camino, close to the cliff, that’s sheltered with Pine trees around it.

Mark dreams of working on his articles by the fireplace, and outside the window one sees the mountains looking down a steep valley thickly covered with foliage that runs toward the edge of the sea. And the sky looked so grand from our dining table, as I finished up my share of the Pochero, nibbling on soused corn.

We love our life in the island, and living close to the skies could be a great idea too, one foolish thought a couple like us would be attracted to. It’s a perfect place to paint, and we’d still be outliers, living in a house that’d appear floating on a cloud at dawn.

Photo Credits: Mark F. Villanueva/ clairelyhappy

Exploring the town of Balamban.

I walked by the side of the road lined with tall and slender Pines. Mark took pictures of me from the other side, while he kept saying how lovely the day was for poor people like us. We’re poor enough to learn to truly appreciate the food on our table, to spend evenings together watching movies at home instead of being out in a doggoned corporate meeting, to be walking on a beautiful day with our Chucks soiled instead of riding a fancy automobile, to be stopping by a quaint café in the middle of nowhere in the mountains to buy a soft drink, instead of having a waiter come to us for room service in a fancy hotel, or something like that.

It’s a humble and noble life, he likes to say.

As soon as we reached the entry to a colorful hanging bridge I read the sign board that said, “No running, no playing, no jumping.”

It was the perfect cue for Mark to go running, playing, and jumping. Of course, much to my distress.

Photo Credits: Mark F. Villanueva/ clairelyhappy

Colorful hanging bridge connecting the hills.

Photo Credits: Mark F. Villanueva/ clairelyhappy

Enjoying the view.

We rode a cable car that crossed above treetops, and mid-way to the next station we saw how the hillsides graded deeper to hundreds of feet below. It was a vast country all right, and far out to our left was Toledo, direct on our line of sight was a large shipyard, and the blue sea, and the city of San Carlos.

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

Cable ride.

In the afternoon when the sun was about to set, and us, now, going uphill we saw how the faraway land had been transformed into gold. It’s how El Dorado would’ve looked by the Amazon River, not just gilded but also fully converted into one magical city of gold, I supposed, and it was afloat, suspended in the cloudy sky where the largest ships glided out with the wind and the force of our imagination.

Photo Credits: Mark F. Villanueva/ clairelyhappy

Pathway to the cable car.


Photo Credits: MArk F. Villanueva/ clairelyhappy

Rainbow Connection

When I laid out my final design for the week on Saturday evening my right arm felt numb. I turned around and watched Mark who must have gone past forty thousand words by this stage of the month, staring outside his writing window and into the night.

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

Sneak peak of my next project.

He held his reward with one hand, chilled, and half full, sipping his German beer lusciously, as if every mouthfuls of it slowly contributed to the full appreciation of his moment; filling up his belly, bubbling up his soul.

I’m rather tired, but I wish to go to Tazza in the morrow, I said.

Why? We can set up a chair outside our porch in the afternoon, and have some barbeque and chat all we want. I’ll buy the cat some fish at Karen’s and we can all stay together in the luxury of our little home.

“But I miss their Rainbow cake. It’s our day off, and we’ve been working all week. Anyway you could have your coffee there too.” I replied. “It’s one of my favorite quiet places to go to recharge.”

Mark said it was expensive, and that he didn’t like to pay for anything overly expensive ‘cause it didn’t make him feel right; not even for a Php100 coffee or so.

Don’t enable the practice, he’d say, and he said it just when I expected him to do so with his back against me still.

“There’s no way I’m paying for something like that when I could get the same for so much less. I’ll have my instant coffee and sit here, or spend just the same for another German bottle.”

And so we ended up at Tazza Café around 3 in the afternoon.

I was excited the very moment I stepped in and saw the colors of my favorite dessert, and Mark didn’t seem too sassy at all ordering the cheapest coffee in the menu.

Photo Credits: Mark F. Villanueva/ clairelyhappy

Rainbow Cake at Tazza Cafe & Patisserie, Lahug Cebu City Philippines

Cheer up, I said, and he gladly obliged, more for the fear he’d ruin my day off than for wanting to look hip in a coffee shop with bold colors and pop art.

I was just glad to take some pictures in such a neat and dainty place. Above me hovered an upended huge cup and saucer that served as the chandelier.

Photo Credits: Mark F. Villanueva/ clairelyhappy

Tazza Cafe & Patisserie, Lahug Cebu City Philippines

It has nice colorful chairs, one with “sugar and spice” written on it, and a bloody red door next to the sofa looked like a telephone booth in some street in London.

At the end of the day we were awfully glad we pampered ourselves for having worked hard all week, practically non-stop.  We ended up spending only close to Php300, but had the best time watching people, and automobiles that seldom passed the street on a Sunday.

It was the old Cebu we remember in college, and I didn’t like finishing up my cake ‘cause it looked so nice and all. But it tasted even better than it looked, and it kinda broke my heart.

Thanks for buying me the cake anyway, I said.

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

Rainbow Cake, Tazza Cafe & Patisserie Lahug Cebu City Philippines

“Forget the things I told you last night. I take it all back. It’s such a lovely day today, and thank you for dragging me here. I’d buy you that Rainbow Cake slice anytime you want if I could. This place reminds me of the good old days.”

“Time flies.” I said reflectively.

“We’re at the end of the rainbow, Claire. Time flies so fast, yet we’re never forsaken.”

“We’re here now, and we just can’t believe it. Somehow we didn’t believe we’d still be here some twenty years into the future, but we are here all right. Two to three decades ago, today was that light at the end of the tunnel. And that’s what a rainbow means- we’re never forgotten.”

Photo Credits: clairelyhappy

Rainbow Cake, Tazza Cafe & Patissrie Lahug Cebu City Philippines