Thursday, March 13, 2014

Batanes Diary 6 - In Batanes, It's All About Honesty.

Much has been written about Batanes' Honesty Cafe. The concept is simple, really...put up a small coffee shop, and count on people's honesty to keep it going. Honesty Cafe is located about a hundred meters from Ivana Wharf, the jump-off point to Sabtang Island. Trips to and from the island start very early in the morning, and the boat is not always on time, and the mornings are often cold, so what better way to while away the time than with a cup of coffee..and some honesty... 

The owners live nearby, and presumably come to the store every now and then to check on and re-stock the supplies. But most of the time, there is nobody at the store. The whole time we were there (about thirty minutes), people kept coming and going and buying stuff, but we never saw anyone connected to the store. 

What we saw was a greeting from the owners

The "REMINDERS" read:
"Self-service only
1.  Get what you need
2.  Please pay whatever (sic) you get. 
3.  If you have no change, knock at the next door. If no one answers, sorry, so you have to give more than the price. MAY YOUR TRIBE INCREASE...

                                                Joe and Elena"

And one more neatly-handwritten sign says it all

"Welcome to Honesty Coffee Shop

1.  Self-service po lamang dito.
2.  Get what you like and pay or drop your payment at the shelf.
3.  You give more if you have no exact money. The Lord will give you more later may your tribe increase!
4.  In your journet remember the Golden Rule and that Honesty is the best policy,
5.  Have a good time and Happy trip.
6.  Goodbye and may God bless us all!
Thank You! 
                                           The Owners,
                                          Jo-El Gabilo"

Makes perfect sense, don't you think so?

The are thermos jugs of hot water, sachets of instant coffee, sugar and creamer. Inside a covered dishrack are mugs and plastic spoons. There are bottles of soda, packs of crackers, gum, candy, juices in tetrapaks. There is a simple wooden dining table with six chairs, and lots of souvenir items all around - hats, fans, T-shirts, etc. 

The little shop is trim, neat and clean; it even has a vase of flowers on the table. You make your selection/s, list down each item on the blue notebook on the table, and check out the price list on the wall....

....and then drop your money on the slot provided. 

One can even "rent"  a vakul (Ivatan headgear made of grass) for pictorial purposes.  Just make sure you return the items on the hangers, and pay the rental fee. (Note how intricate the inside stitching and weaving on that headgear is.)

Look, Ma, I'm Tina Turner!

We paid P40.00 to rent the headgear and the grass "rain jacket"

Out in the back, there's space to park bicycles for those who have gone to the island for the day...or days.

Only in Batanes! Dios Mamahes (Thank You) indeed, Honesty Coffee Shop!

"Travel in the younger sort is part of education; in the elder, a part of experience." - Francis Bacon