This Katipunan gallery is perfect for those who are just starting to appreciate art


( When Mag:Net Cafe beside the Rustan's Supermarket on Katipunan Avenue closed in September 2010, it was as if its small community of visual artists, poets, writers, musicians, filmmakers, and students lost a home too. Mag:Net, in its five years of existence, hosted live music performances, poetry readings (better known as Happy Mondays), indie film screenings, improv theater, art exhibitions, and workshops where guests almost always had a bottle of Pale on hand. They also served curious dishes like the Pakbet Pizza and Filo-wrapped Sisig.


Fast forward to 2016, and 55 Square Cafe and Vongarde Art Gallery have taken it upon themselves to cater to a new generation of students, yuppies, artists, and art enthusiasts looking for a new artsy tambayan.




Art by Claudine Delfin


55 Square Cafe, the brainchild of UP Fine Arts graduates Kit Singson and Dan Villacruel, opened on July 13. It is a 55.4-square meter-venue for coffee, conversations, and contemporary art. Through the cafe, Singson wants to promote her advocacy of championing Filipino produce, especially coffee, and contributing to the development of farming communities in the country. Their coffee beans are directly sourced from farms in Bukidnon and the Cordilleras.

The cafe serves fourth wave coffee, which means making artisanal coffee (popular in the third wave) more accessible and giving coffee drinkers a sense of community.

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Filipino Deli Pasta


Chicken Inasal Panini


Adding to the homey ambience are the familiar and comfortable flavors found in their dishes. Leading their menu is the Filipino Deli Pasta (P245), which you can mistake for a palabok because it has tinapa, salted eggs, and kesong puti. You can even squeeze calamansi over the fettuccine to enjoy it better. Another all-Pinoy plate is the Chicken Inasal Panini with Salted Egg (P185). Imagine having a bite of a Bacolod favorite, enveloped in mozzarella.



Artworks by Koji Arboleda



Artworks by Maria Magdamit


Coinciding with the goal of 55 Square Cafe to bring good coffee and good food closer to people, Vongarde Art Gallery is on a mission to bridge the gap between art lovers of all kinds and forge a renewed art community in the city. Gallery owner Villacruel observed how galleries are often very exclusive as they're not exactly common spaces like a cafe or a resto. The comfortable couch inside 55 Square Cafe, more often than not, draws you in, makes you see art while enjoying a plate of pasta, and inspires you to talk about art and life.



"Earth Haul" by Sam Penaso


"Anting-Anting sa Puso ng Saging" by Leo Velasco


Vongarde Art Gallery also opens its doors to young and up-and-coming artists. They are those who, while talented, haven't yet gotten their break in the art scene. For the first exhibit at Vongarde, they featured artists using different media, including metal artist Sam Penaso, painter Claudine Delfin, sculptor Leo Velasco, photographer Koji Arboleda, and ceramic artist Maria Magdamit. All artworks are for sale and exhibitions run for two weeks.




Vongarde also hosts the Maison Art Workshops, a series of one-on-one courses for basic painting and drawing as well as advanced lessons in acrylic and watercolor painting. There are also group workshops for figure drawing, portrait painting, photography, digital painting, and visual storytelling. It's open to all ages above five years old.



55 Square Cafe is an all-in-one creative hub which everyone can call home. Hopefully, it'll make its own mark in the Katipunan art scene the way Mag:Net did.


55 Square Cafe is at G/F ALCAL Building, 285 Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City. It is open daily from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. The first exhibit runs until July 29. To register for the workshops, visit Maison Art Workshops' Facebook page.

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