CAFÉ YAGAM: THE TRADITIONAL CORDILLERAN SHOP

by - 7:30 PM

There’s a traditional way of preparing chicken for a meal that’s certainly not for the animal activists to witness.  From the mountains of the Cordillera region of the Philippines, a dish named Pinikpikan is served.

In a homey coffee shop named Café Yagam, a plate of pinikpikan was the main dish for our dinner.  That was the first instance I tasted the said dish.  But there’s more to a pinikpikan that the shop has to offer.


Maintaining the ambiance of a family home, Café Yagam’s interiors can easily caught the attention of vintage collectors and travelers.  An array of antiquated pieces of ornaments, luggage, travel and architecture books serves as an accent to the fireplace that sits in the middle.


As I am not fully acquainted with the nook and corners of Baguio City, the single landmark I can remember is that, Café Yagam is situated near Elizabeth Hotel.  To be specific, the address is #25 J. Felipe Street, Gibraltar, Baguio City (09464550364; 09212565677 or (074)423-0839) and a typical residential house appears as its façade.  No fancy decorations and no frills.


pinikpikan

Café Yagam is built with an advocacy.  Others may question the service of pinikpikan but it all boils down to the preservation of culture and tradition of the Cordilleran region.  But apart from the controversial chicken dish, the shop takes pride in the coffee that they serve – declared to be freshly roasted handpicked beans and ground just minutes before a sip from your cup is made.  As I am no coffee drinker, I left the taste test to my travel buddies.  There are three (3) choices on how coffee shall be served, these are:

Roast (light, medium or dark)
Brew (paper drip or french press) and
Strength (light, medium, strong)


As to which one tastes good?  I don’t know (unless my companions will comment on this post).

Photo by:  Darwin Cayetano
Going back to advocacy, Café Yagam sources its coffee beans from Cordillera Green Network (CGN), an environmental non-profit organization. In 2006, CGN introduced coffee as cash crop in their partner communities in the Cordillera as part of their agro-forestry advocacy.  Farmers in Kibungan, Coros, Kabayan, Tublay, and Kapangan, Benguet and in Kadaklan, Mountain Province offered the use of their farmlands.  In return, CGN provided them with coffee seedlings plus workshops on how to grow and tend the coffee plants.  In 2009, after three years, the farmers began harvesting coffee beans/berries, processing them into green beans and selling them back to CGN for grading and roasting.  The roasted and ground coffee beans are packed and sold locally and abroad, where revenues help maintain their projects including the Green Scholarship and Environmental Education Programs.


Full meals are likewise available at Café Yagam, making it not a coffee shop solely.  A mini stage with a few musical instruments is likewise set-up in the main dining area.  And there are scheduled gigs as well to entertain guests.

Café Yagam’s setting can be romantic as well and apt for melodramatics.  As the strums of a guitar echo over a fireplace to give everyone warmth, an instant dating place is born. 

But that was just my imagination, no such thing happened when we were there.  I came in silence.  I might have been thinking of someone as I sit in one corner of the shop or maybe I was just full of the food service.  What do you think?

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