Tucked in the busy streets of Quezon City, Philippines, Tweedle Book Cafe became our saviour by being our official venue partner for our upcoming event, Convos of Books. When our friend first recommended this cafe to us, we were definitely shocked (if that is even the proper term) because we did not even know that there is a book cafe that exists in this country. Indeed, we (or should we say Eena) haven't maximised our time here in Metro Manila, and seeing this cafe simply gives us hope for the Philippines, that the universe of books is still there and the country is simply not just a social media capital of this world.
Read our time with the owner of Tweedle Book Cafe, Jamie Perez-Ong:
Conversations of Us: As an introduction first, tell us more about yourself and this cafe?
Jamie Perez-Ong: I’m Jamie and a book lover and I’m currently juggling full-time job and this café, but I really would love to travel more.
Then, Tweedle Book Cafe is a product of me being a book lover. When I was a kid my favourite books were the Sweet Valley series and one of the twins there, Elizabeth, like going to libraries and was even pictured as the nerdy type. So from there I was thinking, “why can’t I do that here in the Philippines,” especially because there is no such accessible well-stocked libraries here in the country and from then on it was my goal and my dream to build a library here in the Philippines. Well that was supposed to be a public library talaga.
I really saved up for it and then a few years back I was already thinking, because I was in a corporate world it made me realise that I really should do something for my own. So, my husband was thinking what can you do and this was not the first idea that we’ve had. I think it was really fate that our past plans weren’t pushed through, because suddenly an idea popped and I said “Hey, diba I wanted to build a library, why not like kinda turn that into a reality and do a book café, because I will get to share books, I will get to build people in having access to these books and at the same time make money.”
CoU: When did the cafe start?
JPO: It opened in November 2014 and was actually planned for a few months only. We thought about this around April (2014) and the construction started in July (2014).
CoU: Why was it named Tweedle Book Cafe?
JPO: It’s after Tweedledum and Tweedledee of Alice (in Wonderland). At first, when we were thinking about the name, we looked for a lot of book references and settled with Tweedle, partly because it is fun to say and it will make you ask “What does it mean?” And a small connection is that they are somehow to crazy beings that you sometimes don’t know what they’re talking about but they really have a meaning to what they’re saying, it’s just that we cannot get those at times, so we’re thinking it’s like us (her and her husband), so yes, “let’s just go with that,” we said to each other.
CoU: What were your struggles and even up until now in having this type of themed cafe in Metro Manila?
JPO: Well on a shallow level it is hard to clean because of the dust that gets stuck in books and of course, there are some lost books that we cannot monitor, but actually it’s not so different naman din with the other cafes and restaurants, I think the problems are just all the same.
CoU: Do you have any memorable happening inside the cafe?
JPO: Maybe the most memorable is there is this guy, I met him during the time that he finished writing his book already and told me “I was having a bad writers block when I first came here,” then he said his friend recommended our cafe during the time that it was newly opened, and then he suddenly said “This was where I actually finished my book.” And then I also saw in one of the comments on where a his friend was looking for a place on where she could put her books and then the writer tagged us saying “Hey, give it to Tweedle Book Cafe I finished two of my books there” and I was like “Oh, it’s two already!” So yeah, for me that is one of the nicest things that happened. One of the memorable things too was there was a couple who had their prenup shoot here and it did not even come into my mind that people would actually like to have their prenup shoot here.
CoU: What is your most favourite book inside your shop?
JPO: Well, ever since before my all time favourite is The Little Prince, I think a lot also love that.
CoU: What is your most favourite area of the café?
JPO: I like sitting at the communal and also at the sunken sits outside, though in there it could sometimes get warm.
CoU: What’s your biggest dream for the cafe?
JPO: I really like it to be a haven for book lovers, because before I visioned it that this will be a hangout place of the book clubs or at least if you’re not part of a book club, this will be a place for you to read and discover new books like a library, but yeah ours is maybe a mini library.
CoU: Lastly, give a quote from a book that you could say inspired your life and cafe in many ways possible.
JPO: “I would always rather be happy than dignify” from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, but yes this is also like my motto in life, that I’d rather always do things that I want on where I’d be comfy in, rather than look nice to other people.
Visit Tweedle Book Cafe at 106B Sct. Gandia St, Diliman, Quezon City, 1103 Metro Manila