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Café Kampanaryo: the Thrill of the Coffee Is in the Sunset

From the name of the place itself, anyone can guess that that this has something to do with the huge church bell or the kampanâ, as it is called in Tagalog; and yes it does, literally. Who would have thought that you would find a café and snack bar directly beside a church bell tower?

The church that I am referring to is the Holy Trinity Church that is right beside SM City – Batangas. Not being a native of Batangas City, I had heard about the mall and the church; but not the café. I honestly didn’t even know that there was one right underneath the bell tower.

Last Saturday, I finally discovered the café; and rather by accident, if I may add. The real purpose of my visit was to pass by the Holy Trinity Church after spending some time at SM City. Just to pay respect as any Catholic would do if he or she sees a church; especially one in that is not at all familiar.

As I entered the church grounds, I noticed a set of chairs and tables under an ageing acacia tree. At first, I thought that there was a park where churchgoers could lounge before or after hearing Mass. Then I saw what looked like a small food counter and a steel sign on a gray brick wall right beside it.

I somehow sensed that there was something there that I needed to see. Perhaps, it was the novelty of seeing tables and chairs right next to the bell tower that made me curious enough to actually go have a look-see. So thus, I was formally introduced to Café Kampanaryo, a small coffee shop jointly operated by the church itself and some private individuals.

It was already late in the afternoon; almost dusk, as a matter of fact. For me, it was perfect to have coffee and snacks after a long and tiring day.

The café’s fare was nothing more than hot- or ice-blended coffee; plus familiar foodstuffs that you’d find in many other snack bars: hotdogs, burgers, siomai and some chips. If you are the sort of person who wants more sophisticated coffee mixes, then this place is probably not for you.

However, if you do not mind ordinary coffee and snacks served with the add-on bonus of an extraordinary sunset, then this place is perfect. The sunset is free, by the way; if available only in good weather.

When the waitress saw how amazed I was by the view, she told me to take the flight of stairs right next to the coffee shop. The stairs, I soon discovered, led up to the bell tower itself.

Having reached the top landing of the bell tower, the view of the sunset that greeted me was simply… breathtaking!

Sipping with my ice-blended coffee, I watched as the sun slowly lowered itself deeper into the horizon until it finally lost its daily battle and gave way to the darkness of the night. I didn’t expect to see something like this in a city; and beside a mall? Just who would have imagined…

I slowly made my way back to the café which was now slowly embracing the darkness. The café took on a more relaxing and romantic ambience. It had transformed itself into a place for a lovers’ tryst.

It was no wonder that I saw many couples starting to arrive. When the lights were turned on, I even found myself mesmerized by the blue back light of the human sized inside the church.

Mall, church, coffee plus a great view of sunset at the cafe… The perfect weekend experience; and so totally unexpected… Of course, God always makes things perfect, does He not?

Click on each picture to enlarge: