Have you ever been to a place so enchanting it didn’t matter what your lunch actually tasted like? This place was like, whatever I put in my mouth would be as effing glorious as everything else I felt and saw in there. Well, I’ve always been possessed with an affinity for gardens. In my childhood, I would spend hours roaming around a fairly good-sized one, which my mother had tended to with some wild passion (this was not your average little- old -lady manicured courtyard), so I had taken it for granted that people lived in houses with jungles.
This garden cafe reminded me of the fairyland aspect of my girlhood, great memories, maybe even memories I don’t even actually have but wish so badly I had that it didn’t matter. It’s located in San Pablo City, Laguna, in what may seem to be your average humdrum rural countryside off the main highway, and is about an hour and a half from Alabang, Muntinlupa City. I had never heard of it at all until yesterday morning from Bear, who had been scouring the internet for places to have lunch at that would be somewhere along the way of our “The Seven Lakes Project.” The Seven Lakes, by the way, according to Wikipedia, are those lake craters scattered around San Pablo City. Since we live in Southern Manila, trekking along this area would not really be a mean feat, but still, it’s a journey that requires a little bit of planning and research.
We stayed for close to three hours. Three hours! Yes, time stops in this place. My jungle children, I suppose, are innately just like my 6-year-old self, and they easily got lost in the pure joy of running around this strange, haunting garden with unusual, colorful birds, old intriguing knicknacks, and friendly dogs. There was a sudden downpour which did not dampen anyone’s spirits (or maybe my secret self actually wished for it so we could stay longer).
The presence of Patis, with her sweet, ethereal face and farmer garb, that all came magically together with a gentle and soft yet blatantly happy-in-her-element demeanor, was a treat. My children of course had no idea who she was; they just knew she was this nice lady who lived in this really cool garden where she planted stuff like cotton seeds and rainbow pinwheels.
Oh. My. God. I wish I could be this nice lady who lived in this really cool garden planting cotton seeds and rainbow pinwheels (it wouldn’t hurt throwing in being a stupendously successful fashion designer, of course).
This al fresco restaurant includes a store where they sell some of Patis’ own awesome collections and organic goods. Of course I bought something. Two things, to be exact. Nothing, absolutely nothing, compares to owning something so delicately designed and created by a real designer who tends to a lovely garden and happily chats with your children. Plus of course, the floral bandanna I scored cost Php180 and the tea tree balm (can’t EVER resist an organic tea tree balm, much less one culled from someone’s real garden) cost Php160. Not even the generally penny-pinching Bear could complain about that. Patis’ old house is just a little beyond the courtyard, and she gaily invited the family to take a look.
After that three-hour long lunch, our next stop was one of the seven lakes, Lake Sampalok, where we rented a balsa (Php200 for nearly an hour’s use) my children again had a blast being able to actually catch fish every single time they threw in the line. So, if you’re either a very young child prone to paralyzing frustration, or an aspiring fisherman with just a sketchy amount of self-esteem and are desperately in need of instant gratification, this is the place for you. My children (my youngest is 4 years old, for crying out loud!) caught about 2 kilos of fresh water tilapia (which the fishermen said are the only kinds of fish available for catching in that fishpond).
There’s a restaurant right across the street from where you could order food and use a clean (yes, clean) toilet. Our fisherman said if we had time, we could actually catch fish from the lake and have it cooked on the balsa itself, but we were there past 4 p.m. so no time for that.
Thanks for dropping by! 😉
See you again,