I stumbled upon Ponce Suites through Kublai Cafe when I was researching for the Davao itinerary some months ago. Yes, travel geeks actually do that. The blog shows pictures of interesting artworks and a quaint-looking cafe. I thought to myself, it’s a must-see. I also considered Ponce Suites for accommodation, but the prices online were a bit pricey for our trip. I opted for a relatively new hotel called North Zen mainly because of its proximity to Sta. Ana Parish Church, where Al and Jann’s wedding was to be held. It’s actually the main reason for the trip.
For some creepy reason, I really did not like North Zen the moment we got to the room. There’s something about it, besides the T&B not having a vent (yikes!), that didn’t sit quite right. There was this 3:00 AM incident on the first night involving the AC. The temperature suddenly spiked without us adjusting it. And there’s Marvin’s creepy feeling of the room being crowded. That just freaked me out, thank you.
And so when we got to Kublai Cafe for dinner the following night, I checked out the Ponce Suites rates. And, luckily, the rooms were on discounted rate! I was feeling giddy at this point, but I knew I have to make some convincing first. So, while waiting for dinner and admiring the artworks everywhere, I introduced the idea of transferring hotel to Marvin. I had to say please a couple of times, I think, and promised to not whine (or at least, to whine less).
The vegetarian stir-fry and pasta were taking a while to be served, so I went back to the Ate on the front desk and asked if they have a twin share accommodation. They do! At isa na lang, because the other rooms are currently being renovated. I immediately requested to see the room and it was on the second floor, just across the entrance to the cafe. For someone like me, who, at this point, gravitates a lot more to convenience (life is too short to be wasted on avoidable inconveniences), that was a plus point. I asked Marvin to see the room for himself, too. When dinner was served, I had to make some more convincing. And I had to make sure we don’t get fined for checking out earlier than our intended length of stay at the North Zen. Hindi naman daw. At this point, ang tanging issue na lang ay ang proper timing ng paglipat, since the wedding was the following day.
Or so we thought. According to Ate, the room was reserved for December 30, the day of our flight back, and the guests requested for an early check-in. That means we have to get out of there early if we want to get the room. Ugh. I wanted to stay in that hotel so bad, it kinda hurt.
But I didn’t give up. I got their phone number and left mine, asking Ate politely (and a little desperately) if she could call the guests to see if they can cancel their early check-in. She told me that she’d do what she can and would get in touch with me.
While walking to J.P. Laurel to hail a cab to get back to North Zen, I was a bit convinced that the trip was already unbecoming. I really, really, really wanted to stay at Ponce Suites.
The following morning, no message from Ate Front Desk. I went out to
sulk eat breakfast. I was about to go back to the hotel when I got a message from Marvin asking where I was and that he’s done packing. He had programmed himself to wake up early, pack and transfer hotel that morning. (I think I haven’t told you this, but thank you for doing that!) I told him I didn’t receive any message.
When I got back to the hotel, I asked the front desk to connect me to Ponce Suites. Nalaman yata na gustung-gusto ko nang lumipat, ayaw akong i-connect! Hindi daw nagri-ring. Of course, I didn’t give up. I called them on my cellphone, and it rang. I talked to the girl on-duty at the front desk and luckily, one of the higher-ups in the hotel was there, and we were allowed to check in that day. Bliss!
I immediately went to the nearby cafe, where Marvin was eating breakfast (yes, our personal time for breakfast doesn’t really sync) and told him about it. Truly, when you really, really want something, the Universe conspires for you to get it. Ang saya lang!
At around 10:00, we were checking in at the most unforgettable hotel I’ve been to as of yet. For the next two nights, I slept in an art gallery! It was amazing. As in no words would be enough to describe it. You gotta experience it yourself to appreciate what I am blabbing about here.
Sure, the hotel is a bit old. It is celebrating its 15th year anniversary. The room is basic for a discounted P900 per night (no breakfast). But the T&B has vent! And may bintana! As in bintana na wala sa
pathetic North Zen. And the AC, although kinailangang medyo gawan ng paraan ang ingay, at least sure kaming may timer. And we actually knew nag-automatic off when it started to feel a bit warm at 3:00-ish in the morning. Medyo uncomfortable ‘yung unan, but at least I didn’t have to ask for extra since there are already three pillows in each bed. Ganito na lang, for my friends who know me too well, kung ako nakatulog dun, I’m pretty sure kayo din. Hehe
I felt so at home, ewan ko kung bakit. It must be because of the artworks everywhere. I’ve always been a fan of the Arts (and yes, to some degree, ng artists din), kahit taong stick lang ang kaya kong i-drawing. Kublai is one heck of a great artist. He’s a poet, too, by the way. He is a graduate of UP Diliman, College of Fine Arts. He’s friends with Kidlat Tahimik, a Baguio artist I also admire (lalo na ‘yung gwapo n’yang anak na si Kawayan). Lahat yata ng usual medium ginamit ni Kublai sa artworks n’ya all over the hotel. And when I say the hotel is covered with his artworks, I mean it to be literal na nababalot ng paintings, photographs, sculptures and whatnot ang buong hotel. Every time I go up the stairs and walk the hallways, I see them in a different perspective. It’s like seeing everything for the first time, every time. Some artworks are so far-out, I could just appreciate the beauty in their weirdness. Perspective and “werd”, the buzzwords for this trip, by the way. The experience was so damn amazing, I want to go back and stay there again. And I’m pretty sure when that time came, it will all be in new perspective.
Our favorite part would have to be the Roof Deck, the smoking area, a.k.a. Marvin’s Rabbit Hole. Kung siguro hindi ako papayagang mag-stay sa Roof Deck ng Ponce Suites just because I don’t smoke, I would have been willing to learn how to puff kahit dalawang araw lang, just so I get to stay there. And for someone who despise smoking, I couldn’t believe I even said that. But really, it was heaven in an arts haven.
Ponce Suites is definitely not the most posh hotel I’ve been to, but it has the biggest heart. I got to chat with Ms. Min, Kublai’s mother, over breakfast during our last day at the hotel, and it’s how I came to love Ponce Suites more. She is such a lovely lady. She told me about the humble beginnings of the hotel, her sacrifices for her children, her ukay-ukay adventures, her finding her “soulmate” (Mr. Thompson), her breakfast regimen, the difficulties of running an eccentric hotel, her management tactics in dealing with her staff, and a lot more. I have learned so many things from her and I was so overwhelmed. I almost offered to write for her kahit free when she asked me about blogging. She is such an inspiring lady. I would want to be like her when I am her age. But then I have to learn how to swim if that’s gonna be my goal, I think, for she swims once a week to maintain her figure. I can do tennis, instead, perhaps? But I digress.
According to her, Ponce Suites started with a vision. And with her unfaltering dedication and passion, her dream to have a hotel that is unique and charming in its own wonderful way came to life. And so, I am starting 2014 with a vision to go back to Davao and be at home again at Ponce Suites. Dahil “wala rito, wala riyan”. Nasa Ponce Suites lang ‘yan. 🙂