“I prayed all the way up that hill yesterday,” he said softly. “Not for you to stay; I didna think that would be right. I prayed I’d be strong enough to send ye away.” He shook his head, still gazing up the hill, a faraway look in his eyes.
“I said ‘Lord, if I’ve never had courage in my life before, let me have it now. Let me be brave enough not to fall on my knees and beg her to stay.’” He pulled his eyes away from the cottage and smiled briefly at me.

“Hardest thing I ever did, Sassenach.”

I never knew just what it was about this old coffee shop I love so much (1/5)

To commemorate my first month as dakilanglumpia and getting 100 (pero 111 na ngayon) followers, I bring you a Mabinaldo modern!AU. This is dedicated to @theflyingbluepanda @durch-artist @crejapasta @anditoakoparamagkasala @earlgreymints​, all my followers, to all in the Heneral Moon fandom, and most especially, those who have been taken aback by the recent issue. Stay strong! Love kayo ni Ate/Tita/Mama/Nanay/Inay/Ninang Cielo/Lumpia <3

Listen to this song while reading (Diyan ko din nakuha yung title HAHAHA so medyo songfic???). Pampa-hype lang siguro ng feels? Kayo bahala.

“Emilio! Monday na Monday, back too soon?” Isabel called out from behind the counter as I entered the café.


“Bastos ka, alam mo yun?” She gave me the stink eye as I walked over to where she was.

“Mahal mo naman ako e.” I winked.

“Shh. Baka marinig ka ni Tonio.”

“Tigilan mo nga ako, Isabel!” A voice boomed from the kitchen.

“Pabayaan mo yun,” Isabel laughed. “So, anong meron ngayon? Paper? Exam?”

“Paper. Due next week, pero gusto ko na tapusin para di ako matambakan.”

“That’s good, ipagpatuloy mo yan.”

I glanced at the overhead menu boards, thinking of ordering something new. I looked up, only to see the usual writings, unchanged and plain as ever. The menu doesn’t really look convincing to me.

“Alam mo ba, natutunan ko sa isa sa mga prof ko, mas effective ang menu kapag maganda yung graphics or kaya yung typography, lalo na kung may gusto kayong ipa-try na bagong flavor o pastry.”

“I never thought of it that way. Akala ko kasi pag ganyan lang, okay na. Medyo bagay kasi sa theme ng cafè eh,” She looked at the boards. “I’ll tell my boss about it. Thank you. Upo ka na para makasimula ka na. I’ll have them prepare your usual order.” I said thank you before walking to my usual table and set my laptop up.

Two hours into my stay, the chimes by the door swung and made a sound. A chorus of, “Hi, sir!” resonated throughout the café. Curiosity washed over me and I looked at their boss. Sa tinagal-tagal kong pumupunta dito, ngayon lang kami nagpang-abot.

You could just imagine how surprised I was. Di naman sa bastos ako, pero di ko lang akalain na lumpo siya.

He nodded in acknowledgment as he wheeled himself around, looking around for a free table. Sadly, wala. Na-conscious ako dahil wala naman akong kasama sa table, pero pang-apat, kaya inayos ko yung gamit ko to let him know na okay lang kaming mag-share.

Antonio saw me clearing up space, so he volunteered to wheel him to my table. He took away one of the chairs and positioned his boss in front of the table. Inilapag niya yung leather satchel niya sa mesa. Nilapitan kaagad siya ni Isabel na may bitbit na isang mug ng kape.

“Sir, the usual.” Isabel smiled. Their boss smiled back as he took the mug from her hands.

Up close, dun ko nakita nang husto ang mukha niya. He looked relatively plain, save for the glorious cheekbones. He’s probably in his early 30s, judging by the faint laughter lines and crow’s feet on his face. He looks like he could be a charmer, but his eyes said so otherwise. Mukhang pagod siya at walang oras sa mga walang kwentang bagay.

“Sir, ito nga po pala yung kinukwento namin sa inyo na regular customer natin na halos magsara na ng café,” I smiled sheepishly. “Emilio, this is our boss, si Sir Apolinario Mabini.”

“It’s nice to finally meet our most loyal customer,” Hearing him talk makes a very big difference. His voice may have sounded a bit raspy, like he has been talking all day, but it was rich and husky. “Excuse my voice, kaninang umaga pa ako nagtuturo.”

“Ayos lang. Teacher ka pala.”

In a sense, oo. Part-time lang, para ma-practice speech skills ko.”

I didn’t know what to respond with so we stopped talking after that. He brought out small but thick books to read while I slaved on my paper. I glanced quickly at the spines of his books and inferred that he teaches Law at my university.

The sun eventually set and darkness soon took over the sky.

I was broken out of my trance when I heard pens clattering on the floor and a muffled string of curses. I crouched to pick all of the pens up and came face-to-face with Apolinario when I returned his pens. He muttered a ‘thank you’ as he took the pens from me. That’s when I saw his little black book opened to a page full of typography drills.

“Ang ganda,” His ears turned red as he muttered another ‘thank you.’ “Judging from what I’ve observed since we met, I’m assuming na lisensyadong abogado ka na and you teach at a Law school. Tapos magaling ka pa mag-calligraphy? What can’t you do?”

Walk, apparently.” Oh shit.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean it that way.” He chuckled.

“Ano ka ba, okay lang. Ako naman humirit eh. What’s life without a few jokes here and there at my expense?

“Buti ka nga marami kang talent e. Ako, eto, flat tops lang.” There it is again, that ticklish sound.

“PMA graduate turned Philosophy major?” Tinaasan niya ako ng kilay.

“Close enough. Tama ka na sa una, pero Political Science.”

“Eto na lang, para sa Social Science 2 yung papel mo, no?”

“Kasama ba ang manghuhula sa resumé mo?” He just laughed at me.

“Grabe ka naman. You’re the one who’s been whispering, ‘Punyeta, ano bang pake ko sa state of nature ni Rousseau eh may sibilisasyon na?’” I awkwardly scratched the back of my neck. Nadali ako dun ah.

“How do you like your coffee?” Napa-kunot yung noo niya.

“No, it’s okay. I can have them fix me another cup.”

“I insist. You’re good company, and makakadagdag ako sa sales ng coffee shop mo pag ibinilihan kita.”

“Black. No cream, one sugar.

I stood up and walked over the counter. Isabel took our order and Antonio served them to me.

“Never ko pang nakitang nagdala ng kaibigan yan dito, wala ring kinakausap yan bukod sa staff. Pero kahit samin, medyo malamig pakikitungo niya,” I looked over to Apolinario’s direction. He was quietly scribbling on his doodling book. “Baka ikaw na magpabago sa kanya.”

I nodded solemnly, took the tray of drinks and walked back to our table. Apolinario and I talked about a lot of things, mostly related to school. Nung medyo nawawalan na kami ng pag-uusapan, nag-volunteer siya na tulungan ako sa paper ko. Andami niyang binigay na magagandang insights, at dun niya na-reveal na bukod sa nagtuturo siya sa College of Law, nagtuturo din siya ng Social Science 2 every other sem. Binara-bara ko lang yung papel ko, pero pagkatapos naming pagtulungan, ramdam na ramdam kong mau-uno ko na yung requirement na yun. If only magaling din ako sa exam.

People came and go, and soon, it was just the two of us, save for the staff who were now cleaning up the place.

“Alam mo, ang ganda ng café mo. Hindi mukhang mainstream kaya ramdam na ramdam mo yung comfort. Maganda yung ambiance, bale.

“Yun ba yung dahilan kung bakit madalas ka dito?”

“Actually, oo. At tsaka, ang sarap talaga nung chicken pasta salad ni Isabel.”

“True. Yun ang madalas kong kinakain dito.”

Napatingin ako sa relo ko. Hala ka, 11:00 na. Nakipagdaldalan lang ako, pa-hatinggabi na.

“Apolinario, medyo late na kasi, kailangan ko na mauna. Maaga pa kasi ako bukas. It was nice chatting with you. Next time ulit, pag maganda schedule ko.” I said habang inaayos ang gamit ko.

“Likewise, Emilio,” He said as he put away his things, too. “Oh, and, Pole, my friends call me Pole.

Miong na lang din,” I waved goodbye before walking out the door. Not more than ten steps have I taken when an idea popped in my head and I came back to the café. Dumungaw lang ako pagkabukas ko ng pinto. “Mas maganda siguro kung gagamitin mo yung calligraphy skills mo sa menu boards niyo. Pangit sulat ni Antonio eh.” Pole just laughed.

“Gago ka talaga, Aguinaldo! May araw ka rin sakin, kita mo!” I let out a chuckle as I walked away.

It took me two weeks before I had the opportunity to visit the café. I went back on a Monday, the same time when I met Pole, and when I went inside, the boards were revamped. The plain and scratchy handwriting in white chalk was replaced with elegant loopy typography.

“Uy, Emilio! Tagal nating nawala ah?”

“Medyo naging busy kasi ako. Pasensya naman, Isabel.” We shared a good laugh.

I looked around for a familiar man in a wheelchair but found none. Instead, I noticed the amount of typography art framed on the walls.

“Si Sir Mabini? Nasa ibang bansa siya ngayon,” I probably looked like a deer caught in the headlights when she mentioned him. “Nasabi mo pala sa kanya yung tungkol sa menu, no? Tama ka, mas naging ma-benta yung café nung inayos yung menu. Naglagay din siya ng mga artwork niya sa dingding. Galing, no?”

“May kakaibang talent talaga siya.”

“Yep. At tsaka, uy, alam mo ba, na-feature kami sa iba’t ibang blogs tungkol sa mga must-visit na café dito sa Manila? Whimsically inventive and artsy daw kami.

“Congrats sa inyo, Isabel.” I ordered my usual, a hot caramel macchiato and a plate of Isabel’s to-die-for chicken pasta salad.

“May ipinapabigay pala si Sir Mabini sayo, Emilio.” She said as she handed me a note with my name in neat cursive. It read:

I heard you dropped your Social Science 2 class last week. If you’re still interested, 2435-6 - SocSci 2 TTh 1000-1130.

We didn’t see each other again for the whole semester, but I was sure as hell excited for the next.

Is their relationship platonic? Is it romantic? Who knows?

CoffeeShop!AU masterpost.