Bibliophile entrepreneur finds right business mix: Books, café

By: Cris Evert Lato-Ruffolo June 18,2017 - 10:31 PM

Philosophia Café, a library cafe in Barangay Guizo, Mandaue City, (above) is a good venue for photoshoots and for research. At left, customers enjoy the café’s pastries and of course the books.


Caroline Tan Porras has a thing for beautiful pieces.

She frequents book shops and secondhand stores to search for unique and exquisite art and literary finds.

Over the years, these pieces consisting of furniture items, lamps, book stands and cabinets were stored in a room only to gather dust.

But Porras felt that someday there would be a place for them.

Porras runs a printing company, ClintKAMMS Corp., which prints coffee-table books of the University of San Carlos, and she was looking at building a showroom where she could display these books.

While converting the space located on National Highway corner Jayme Street in Barangay Guizo, Mandaue City, to be the showroom, Porras had her “eureka” moment.

“Why don’t I open a library café instead? I can have the books integrated in the design and layout of the café. Writers can stay in the café to write and the place can be open for any person who wants to read and relax,” she shares.

Thus born, PhiloSophia Library Café in September 2016.


Named after the Greek word “philosophia” which means love of wisdom, the café stays true to its etymology by emphasizing that books and publications are open for browsing and reading.

People go there to do research as most of the books are on Cebu’s rich culture, history, cuisine and heritage — and are written by Cebuano authors who are experts and world-renowned in their respective fields.

Porras, who finished her Master in Entrepreneurship at the Asian Institute of Management, finds joy in books. It is no wonder that her café is the kind that has books intertwined in its story.

“I love books. I can spend hours in a book store. PhiloSophia was built with the thought that there may be other people who, like me, just needs a place to sit down and read,” says Porras.


The café has gained the reputation of being a perfect venue for photoshoots and meetings.

It may have soft opened in September 2016, but it is yet to have its grand launching as they are still in the process of completing the different components of the café.

Aside from pastries and coffee, PhiloSophia also has a souvenir shop which sells T-shirts, mugs, bags, fashion accessories by Grace Niggel of GracieQ Creative Designs and works of arts such as paintings by Dr. Nanette Nacorda-Catigbe, who is best known for her handpainted and personalized art cakes.

The café is also booked for special functions and meetings as it can accommodate between 20 to 30 people.

“The café can be a place to unwind too. People can sing their hearts out here because we have full sound system and karaoke here,” says café manager Kingsley Benedict Sode Medalla.


Recently, the café hosted a calligraphy workshop and heritage night, two events which jumpstarted their organization of relevant activities.

“Our guests vary from solo visitors to families and group of friends. It is a café for everyone. We open our doors to anyone who wants to take time to relax and unwind,” says Medalla.

The plan is to open other PhiloSophia Library Cafés in key cities in the Visayas and Mindanao.

But for now, Porras is focused on perfecting the first café of its kind in Cebu.

“There may be other cafés in Cebu with books in it. But ours is a café that proudly exhibits books that are published by a Cebuano institution, printed by a Cebuano company and distributed by a Cebuano café. We have that edge and we intend to do better in this business because of that advantage,” says Porras.

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TAGS: Bibliophile, books, business, cafe, entrepreneur, finds, MIX

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