When I lost the love of my life, I found myself searching for the footprints he left behind. I visited his alma mater and talked to his former teachers and classmates who all had wonderful memories of him. I read his old books that I found in his mother’s attic. I spent hours having dinners and coffee dates with his loved ones.
Sometimes I feel like I’m still getting to know him through other people and places that made an impact in his life.
I recently visited Angeles City, Pampanga, where AO spent the happiest years of his flying career. He always told me that he loved the stress-free vibe of this city one to two hours away (depending on how fast you drive) from Manila. “I could actually live here for good,” he said sometime in 2010, when he was showing me around town.
During my one-week stay in Angeles, I frequented Tré Café, which was highly recommended by his cousin Monica and aunt Lisa, whom he lived with during his years as a flying student and pilot in Omni Aviation.
This corner coffee shop is the more hospitable version of your usual designer café. Omnipresent wall sockets welcome the geeky MacBook type to spend hours soaking up on their free WiFi with just one order of java and a slice of sans rival. Although the shelves of books seem to be just for display, the bibliotheca ambience invites caffeineaholics of all sorts to chill here.
According to frequent fliers such as Monica and her fellow 14-year-old Alex, Café Tré is famous for their cinnamon caramel bread, a heavenly slice of French toast smothered in caramel drippings and whipped cream. I paired mine with an extra strong order of iced café mocha. Here, you can choose the intensity of your caffeine shot without the added charge.
They also said it rarely gets congested here—a refreshing change from my coffee shop lifestyle in Manila, where I often play musical chairs with other customers and could barely hear myself think with multiple meetings and family affairs surrounding my table for one.
“This is also where we go whenever the power is out,” Tita Lisa shared. She told me about how AO would go to Café Tré with his MacBook, phone charger, books, and flying manuals whenever there’s a blackout in their village. This was his favorite coffee shop in Angeles City.
Ironically, I was there during one particular power failure (blackouts are normal occurrences in the Philippines). As I flipped through a bargain book I purchased from the nearby Duty Free outlet, I sipped my brewed coffee and imagined him hanging out in one the large wooden tables in the corner, spreading his pilot stuff like he was in the comfort of his own house, dressed down in his favorite rolled-up shorts and Goonies t-shirt, and filling up on tea-based drinks instead of coffee.
Café Tre (Tre Italiano Coffee Shop) is located at:
Unit 45 C&D Austine Building, Regency Park Townhouses
J. Abad Santos corner E. Aguinaldo St.
Clark Freeport Zone