Saturday, March 29, 2008


Tired of corporate life as marketing director, a job which requires promotion of certain brandy to its dealers and consumers that demands eight hours of physical pressure and 24 hours of continuous mental fatigue, this young business professional instead found a routine much harder. Got stock to a new adventure that needs eight days a week-work yet its thrills filled the path with enthusiasms making it a lot more easier. He left the high paying job a yuppie would sign for, but not after transforming Torres Brandy a by-word and well-respected name in the market.

This man, Roy D. Empalmado knew something was missing but he wouldn’t know what it is and how he would come through it. He was in a hurry for self-discovery but quite in quandary until he became fascinated to a century old ancestral house in Quezon Province that was for sale through auction. From that moment on Roy was at the forefront of a challenge.

Bidders were surplus iron sheets dealers, businessmen with know how on vintage wood products hoping to smash windfall profits on every board foot of its flooring, house parts, stairs, door “hambas”, window panes and others. At their employ were careless individuals out to take apart the edifice without caution hoping that damage sections could be used as firewood anyway.

Roy won’t allow these men to destruct a heritage, can’t allow either to backslide from the past and desecrate the bridge to the future. He thought of reinforcing the bridge, an idea to restore the old world to its rightful place without affecting its original image. Naturally he won the bidding on the strength of his noble intention. He now owns the ancestral house on as is, where is basis.

Meanwhile, an associate of his, Arthur T. Reyes is engaged in an antique business. Roy presented an irresistible idea, that of creating a hallway to the past, backtracking the grandeur of its dream and conserving the importance of his new-found treasure. Lest they knew, they were in to an ambitious project, a venture with no promise of outright dividends. Days in, nights out they were at it and into the tedious task ahead.

Attaining perfection became the call of the hour. Each section of the old house carefully numbered and meticulously measured to the last fraction of an inch. Its lay out considered and foundations taken into account. The doors, windows, walls and the roof replicated into its tiniest details to achieve the exact image of said ancestral house. There were much trials, however, failure has no place to where determination reigns.

Roy succeeded to restore a portion of our glorious past as it proudly meets the present. Sulyap Café now stands majestically, occupying a space in our history at the former Cocoland Hotel Compound in Barangay Del Remedio, San Pablo City. It’s a showcase of our forefathers’ lifestyle as ambiance suggests simplicity over our rich customs and traditions. The food it serve will tell you why while the drinks will show you how.

If you want a deeper plunge for yesteryears, complimenting Sulyap Café is Sulyap Arts and Antiques Gallery just opposite at the old hotel’s basement. It’s a depository of vast collections and wonders of arts, some dating back to 18th century, but it has its own story to tell.

Sulyap Café is a feat itself, do drop by and have a glimpse. (SANDY BELARMINO)

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