"We're all dressed up with nowhere to go," Gilda Cordero Fernando said yesterday afternoon as I sipped hot chocolate and scooped warm fresh pinipig from the same cup in her bedroom slash work room. To me being with her, listening to her reminisce and opine made enough of a destination for the day. She'd have none of that--she was determined to leave the premises of her abode with her cane and wheelchair which she calls her kariton. The movie we had wanted to go out and watch, The Dressmaker, wasn't showing anymore.
She booked us for an early supper at Van Gogh Is Bipolar on Maginhawa Street, Sikatuna Village. She prodded me to think of persons we could go out with and have a relaxing dinner. "At short notice?" I asked, incredulous.
But young writer Nash Tysmans and her mother Carole were available. So that was how we found ourselves at a subdued Mad Hatters' Party at Van Gogh with a pastor serving as our waiter and owner-chef Jetro Rafael by our tableside, keeping up a running commentary on the dishes served and the restaurant's new daytime thrust as a mood-altering tea sanctuary.
While more commercial cafes and tea salons would practically shoo you off if you're just availing of the free Wifi and have consumed your minimum one cup of coffee or tea, Van Gogh seeks to attract souls in need of silence and healing in the daytime hours of 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can avail of the Wifi but better if you take a break from the use of electronic gadgets by lying on a hammock reading from the book swap library, sipping tea that will address any negative mood at the moment (confusion, anger, panic, depression), doing art (art materials are provided free) or just wandering in the pocket garden.
There truly is something about the way Jetro prepares his meals that calms you down. He described the meat as "free range," the fish "wild." And I, like the fox in The Little Prince, felt tamed. All these things happened in a venue that has been named by a network or an international magazine as one of the coolest homes in Asia.