Balay Cafe: Your Home Away from Home

“There’s no place like home.”

When Dorothy of¬†The Wizard of Oz wanted to go home, she only had to click the heels of her pretty sparkling red shoes and say those words, and voila!¬†She’s home sweet home.

¬†Sadly, it doesn’t happen in real life. Especially¬†to¬†students who had to leave their home towns to¬†venture in to big cities, like Cebu (based on Philippine standard :D), to get a university education.

But that sadness can end there.

Because Balay Cafe has just officially opened to serve students, teachers, employees, food lovers and even non-students right inside the University of San Carlos РTalamban Campus. And I was fortunate enough to be part of the event.

Balay Cafe Logo

April 8, 2016 marks the day the cafe opened its doors to serve the public with their student-budget-friendly delectable food, hot drinks, chilled frappes, desserts¬†— yes, there’s ice cream!

Balay Cafe Menu

Slices of leche flan

Balay Cafe's home-cooked buffet

Balay Cafe

Guests where given taste of the different kinds of food that the establishment will be serving along with several mouth-watering drinks, such as frappes, hot drinks and many more.

Apart from the delectable, home-cooked gastronomical line-up Balay Cafe has in store for its patrons, it’s also designed to offer a safe and fun refuge for students who, after a long tiring day at school, need a respite. Or a place where they can study and hang-out with their friends with comfort.

From the outside, those who are unacquainted with it¬†will think it’s just another one of those student dormitories. Once you walk in, though, you’ll be amazed at how the owners have¬†transformed an old canteen in to one with bistro-like ambiance. While ¬†it has retained its open-air design, ¬†the cafe now comes with modern amenities and sophisticated light fixtures to help create that fancy feel without losing its homely vibe.

Colorful glass chandeliers

circle table with floral centerpieces

Round dining table with floral and precious stone centerpieces

large centerpiece with embellished amethyst rocks

A chat with Ms. Charo Barro, the chief financial officer of Kintar Group of Companies, the company that brought to us Balay Cafe along with two other Cebuano-themed cafes (which I hope to visit someday soon and blog about them), revealed that they opened the cafe not with just the students in mind but also for women and micro food entrepreneurs.

She wants to provide an avenue¬†for food vendors who can’t afford to open their own restaurants,¬†karenderyas¬†(or eateries), or even food stalls to sell their products by way of¬†consignment with Balay Cafe. For Ms. Barro, this kind of arrangement is her way of giving back to her community. And to make sure that diners will have a wide variety of food options to choose from.

Some photos I took during the event:

Balay Cafe event host

The effervescent event host during the opening.

Balay Cafe owner with USC-TC president

The lovely Ms. Barro with the USC school president.

Owners of Balay Cafe

Taken during the blessing of the cafe.

wine glasses and wine bottle

Charro and I

Charo and I.

The cafe is open 24/7 to cater mainly to students living in the surrounding dormitories. But outsiders can also dine at cafe. All you need to do is inform the guard where ¬†you’re heading and leave an ID if requested.

Another reason this cafe is worth checking out is that¬†¬†it can also host your events if you prefer a place that’s more intimate and private. The cafe also has a small air-conditioned room for small private events,¬†meetings and business functions. It also has Wi-Fi connection so you can dine at chill while surfing the net.

Balay is a Cebuano term, which means house. And so with Balay Cafe, it offers not just good food and a safe environment, but it also offers an experience of home in every way possible.

For inquiries and event bookings, you can check out Balay Cafe’s facebook page. Just send them a message, and they’ll get back to you as soon as possible. If you have questions or if you want to share your experiences with Balay Cafe, let me know at the comment section below.

Dayun Kamo!
(Welcome, please come in.)

 

How to Shop on Amazon If You’re From the Philippines

Have you always wanted to shop on Amazon.com or on any other US-based online shops but would think otherwise because of shipping cost or your orders might get lost while in transit? Or do you find it frustrating that some of your favorite products are expensive here in the Philippines, or worse, not available in the country at all?

Well, worry no more because you can now shop on US-based online shops like Amazon, Ebay, Asos and a whole lot more with ease.

I’ll show you how to do it.

So normally, when I need to buy something that I can’t find anywhere else, I’d go ¬†to Galleon.ph. It’s an online store where you can buy stuff not being sold in the Philippine market. You can read my review about Galleon.ph here. The problem is their prices are a bit, well, pricey.

Thankfully, I’ve been doing some research and came across LBC Shipping Cart. It’s a web application that lets you¬†buy goods from US online shops conveniently by providing you with a US virtual address you can use for shipping. Once your purchase arrives in the address, LBC will then ship your goods to¬†your Philippine address. Simply put, you shop and they deliver.¬†

How to Shop Using LBC Shipping Cart

I thought the whole process is complicated, but, surprisingly, it wasn’t all the bad. Here are the steps to follow to get you started:

  1. Register¬†at http://www.lbcshippingcart.ph. You can either use your Facebook account to create one or take the long route, which is signing up with your full name and email address. Once done, you’ll be given a US virtual address found at the bottom right of your account page.

LBC shipping cart virtual address

2. If you don’t have an Amazon account, sign up for free here. If you already have one, skip this part.

3. In your Amazon shipping address, use the US virtual address given to you by LBC Shipping Cart as follows:

Amazon shipping address

4.¬†Save and add payment method once done. Just so you know, Amazon doesn’t accept Paypal as your payment method. Thankfully, they accept credit cards from the Philippines. If you don’t have one, you can use Globe’s GCash American Express Virtual Pay. Click the link and it’ll provide you with details on how to shop using GCash.

5. Once everything is set up, you’re now ready to start shopping on Amazon. After you place your order, they’ll then ship your purchase to your US virtual address. All you have to do is wait.

6. Upon arrival of your orders, LBC will notify you through email and an update on your LBC Shipping Cart account page. What I love about it is that they’ll include a picture of your orders so you can decide whether to return or exchange the item for something else. If it doesn’t show, you’ll have to wait a few more days, roughly two to four, for them to update their website. Here’s a screen shot of what they sent me:

LBC shipping cart store items

 

7. Once it’s all good, you can proceed to shipment and pay the shipping fee. The amount is already provided so all you need to do is pay via¬†credit card, Paypal, or cash through an LBC branch¬†near you.

8. As soon as payment is confirmed, LBC will then deliver your orders straight to your doorstep. It takes approximately five to 15 days by air and up to two months by sea. It all depends on the shipping method you selected.

It’s a long wait, but it’s worth it. I placed my order on March 4th, and I got it on March 22nd. It was 18 days long, which is not bad. In fact, it was earlier than expected so yay!

As for the cost, well, I was able to save. If I bought my items here, it’d probably cost me around PhP 5,000 because the shades alone cost around PhP 3,500. ¬†On Amazon, it cost around PhP 1,700+. I also compared the prices on Galleon, and it also costs more. So it’s good thing I found LBC Shipping Cart. ūüėÄ

Here some pictures of recent purchase from Amazon.com:

Top view of LBC delivery box

angled view of LBC delivery box

Contents of LBC and Amazon delivery box

Image of orders from Amazon
AO Eyewear, helping hand tool and wire rounder

So you see? Shopping on Amazon is no longer a hassle because you can feel rest assured that your purchases will reach you in time. You may have the option to ship directly to Philippines, but not all sellers on Amazon offers that option and it may cost too since you’ll have to deal with customs and all.

Will I shop again on Amazon? I definitely would! In fact, I already have a shopping list to fulfill. Hahaha! ūüėÄ

And that’s about it! Have fun shopping! If you have any questions, just let me now by commenting below. ūüėÄ