CCL Cafe revived my love for Portugal, and it saved me


I have to confess. My love for travel and journaling might have died a slow death during this pandemic but not solely because of the coronavirus – on a greater part, by who I turned out to be coping with the challenges. I tried to resuscitate what’s left in my system but for months I felt like it was a lot of work. 

It is a disservice to my blog and to myself, I guess, as a lover of discovery and stories to tell. But writing just didn’t feel orgasmic. Neither was booking flights, hotel accommodations or tours.

Don’t get me wrong. 

I am not saying I didn’t feel excited, but excitement and orgasm are on two different levels of euphoria. And the latter, I will always need the latter not only for my mental and emotional comfort, but for my treasured creativity; more so hunger for getting stuff I got to do done.  

Today, I am back to that state.

This is not to say I had an orgasm at CCL Café. Also, I am talking metaphorically, so keep an open mind.

My obsession with Portugal

Two years ago, I was actively desiring for Europe. I bumped into several travel books and the one about Portugal caught my attention. 

If I’d be honest, the reason it did was because the book selling cost was marked down 95%. What can I say, not everyday I find Php1200 books with such discount and somehow it felt it was a justified purchase. 

Not only did that book make me feel I was being a wise-spender, it provided me a window to Portugal’s greats and firsts—Piri-piri, Port Wine, Lisbon, the country’s UNESCO heritage sites and Portugal’s big focus on the use of renewable energy—made my interest grew fondly and have decided to put it on my bucket list. 

Law of attraction

In my life, I am all about attracting things I want or goals I aspire to reach, although I don’t always succeed, I am good at rerouting and moving forward towards manifesting my deepest intentions. 

Or at least that’s what I believe. 

Or it could be that I have solid trust God’s putting me to where I exactly need to be to fulfill my life’s purpose. 

Portugal is not my life’s purpose per se. But like any other destination, the journey to getting acquainted with its culture, contributions to the world, its people—this empowers me to have a more mindful approach to a meaningful life I desire. 

Photo opp with Nikko Baluyot, founder and owner of CCL Cafe 

Traveling to Portugal and meeting Nikko Baluyot, CCL Café owner

I haven’t been to Portugal but I will go there once opportunity comes. I can feel it.

Last night, I met a person who’s also very fond of Portugal—Ernesto Baluyot Jr. known to the digital world as “Nikko”. This dauntless young entrepreneur put up his own company at the age of 23 and now leads a multi-industrial corporation at 26. His achievements are inspiring.

During my quick interview with him, he told me he was supposed to migrate to Portugal but the pandemic has put that dream on hold. So being a great businessperson that he is, he ventured out into the circumstance and brought an aspect of his Portugal vision here in Makati.

Talking to Nikko not only reminded me of my love for Portugal but also a top strength I often forget to celebrate: curiosity. 

I was keen to understand and draw inspiration from how he was able to do it all. What is his next career move? And to myself, what is my next right step? 

Surely, Nikko’s success were not achieved overnight and didn’t come without risks. But the main ingredient to his success is the determination to never stop working on what needs work—to really invest in himself and mirror what it is that he wants in a business or in relationships with people. 

Admittedly, Nikko finished his graduate studies and business courses to expand his entrepreneurship, took hosting classes for upcoming projects, treated his network with respect and humility, and practiced patience that meant starting over, taking a different path when the current trail is not passable and not being afraid to start alone, “Don’t be afraid to start alone, the right people will eventually come and join you along the way.”

Welcome to Makati CCL Cafe
my blogger friend took a photo of me while I was attempting to photograph this hollow log coffee table inside CCL Cafe

CCL Café in Arnaiz, Makati

I wasn’t supposed to go because I had an injury but since I promised myself to honor my commitments whenever I am able to, I showed up. Good thing the café is just across from Scott’s apartment. 

In the afternoon, when I felt my pain was a bit tolerable, I confirmed my attendance with Vernie, one of the organizers, who was kind to usher me in when I arrived at CCL Café. 

CCL stands for CAFÉ, CHÁ E LEMBRANÇAS which in English translates to COFFEE, TEA AND MEMORIES.

It is not just a café that serves coffee and tea but a gorgeous space that caters to the working and business people around Greenbelt area. 

If you want a workspace that has exquisite tables or if you are appreciative of thoughtful design and decors, you will enjoy hanging in this café. 

CCL has fast internet connection and power outlets inside its spacious yet cozy space. 

It is one of the cafés that will surely make an impression to you from when you enter the premise, when you actually go up the stairs that lead to the entrance, and when you are inside. Its interior has the warm tones of the wood elements that are balanced by the cool air conditioning and greenery that’s spread in appropriate places.  

Inside smells fresh and floral. I know the vaporizer in the corner provides the soothing vapor but I am sure the dried flowers arranged on table tops also add to the fragrant smell. 

CCL serves pasta (Php 235 – Php290), milk tea, fruit tea (Php120 – Php135), milk shakes (Php140), coffee (Php80 – Php155), waffles, soup, and snacks like fries and quesadilla. Last night we tried the creamy salmon soup, seafood pasta and lasagna, cheesy beef quesadilla, blueberry waffle, and classic beverages. 

I hope they expand their menu though and serve breakfast menu with grilled salmon, eggs, guacamole and salads with arugula. But the current menu now is outstanding for its taste and serving versus the price.  

The best feature of this café is the well-thought customer experience that can be carried through: affordable tasty food and drinks, thoughtful interiors and music, quick service, generous parking space, workspace or function room with fast internet, and staff that exudes joy of work and passion for the coffee business. Nikko and his team did a great job putting up the entire concept. 

CCL cafe interior
butterfly wooden table at CCL Cafe
CCL Cafe coffee bar counter
CCL Cafe Blueberry Waffles
CCL Cafe Seafood pasta

More photos on my Instagram:

Visit CCL Café 

When you visit the café at 910 Arnaiz Avenue, Makati City, maintain social distancing. The café is open Mondays to Sundays from 7AM till 9PM.  

For full menu, delivery, and reservations, check out their website or email them at You can also follow them on social media channels for real-time updates/promos: @CCLcafe

Parting Words

When I said CCL Café revived my love for Portugal, I meant the time I spent there during the soft opening lead me to realizations I ultimately need in this time of my life, and I will be forever grateful. I am sure I’d be visiting and inviting you to come to CCL Café when you are in the area. With me? Sure. Or with your special someone. Bring your date or your friends. Make the best of your remote work here, close deals. Just create memories over coffee and tea. After all, this café is all about the luscious drinks you can enjoy and precious memories you can keep. In hope that those memories change your life or someone with you for the better. 


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