by Gayna Kumar, p hotos by Lindy Gamolo
Walk several steps towards the Garden Heights Condominium parking area along E. Rodriguez Sr. Avenue in Quezon City and be prepared to have your The Secret Garden moment.
Save for small signages seen through the glass window, you’ll never guess that a book-themed cafe exists across Trinity University of Asia.
Enter the 12 square-meter hideout and you are transported to your friendly neighborhood backyard—grasslike floor carpets, wooden crate-inspired tables, flowery window sills, a tree lined with books on its trunk and picket fences enclosing the entire space. It will make you go: “Ah, kaya pala The Bookyard Cafe.”
You will be greeted by college friends and business partners Ken Orallo and Danj Valderueda, and you wouldn’t guess that they’re both just 22, or that they’re both licensed teachers.
If Ken isn’t too busy taking orders or cooking, ask him about their story and he will tell you how Danj’s love for books inspired him to enter the cafe scene with books as the main theme. He will narrate how exchanging random ideas on Facebook led them to concretize their dream cafe—all while studying for their Licensure Examination for Teachers.
Danj will tell you how they personally lined up for hours to get the necessary permits to put up shop, or how his dad did most of the carpentry work and plumbing, or how they got family and friends to support them in their own little ways even before they found their nook.
The no-WiFi zone will push you to grab a novel or a board game, have your “me” time or talk to friends as you plop on one of the cozy colorful bean bags as if you’re just over at a friend’s house.
Browse their book selection and you will see well-known titles, mostly in the young adult genre, hand-picked by Danj and some donated by family and friends.
One look at the menu and the book lover in you will get kilig. Nichocolas Sparks? Lang Leavmonade, anyone? Talk about drinking your feelings away.
Ken and Danj will see to it that the food they serve is always fresh and they will personally prepare the food for you, sometimes with the help of Ken’s sister.
You wouldn’t think much of this unassuming three-month old cafe at first but like a juicy secret, you’d give a knowing smile every time you remember it. You’d be sure to return for when they expand and host your next open mic performance. ☁