iChill Theater Café is a first of its kind here in the Philippines, an establishment combining the café and theatre experience in one. Its originality surely brings something unique to the foodie haven surrounding the University of Santo Tomas.
The café came about as a result of its artist owner’s acceptance of a few realities in life. In the world of stage performance and acting, it’s hard to be able to earn a stable income. As iChill Theater Café owner and actor-singer Kuya Manzano puts it, “I didn’t want to be a starving artist anymore, so I had to put up a business and earn some passive income and get wealthy.”
Manzano said that he wanted to bring in the underground theatre scene that he inhabited from his hometown in Madrid, Spain.
“In Spain, we have a [rich] underground theatre scene. So in Madrid, that’s where I’m from, that’s what we call alternative theatre, where non-commercial things can take place and there are no limitations at all,” Manzano said.
The café offers an array of food and beverage choices at student-friendly rates, which range from Php 60 to Php 250. Bestsellers include carbonara, which is only at Php 60, and their Java Chip frap for Php 100.
iChill Theater Café holds open mic sessions for aspiring performers who want to showcase their talents in singing, poetry, dancing or even sharing a joke. For their performances, they either get a free drink or a cupcake.
Another unique thing about this café is their free five-minute massage whenever a customer purchases a drink. For a fee of Php 100, the customer gets a more relaxing one-hour massage.
Manzano pointed out that the Philippines needed theatre performance spaces with no limitations and censorship. In line with this, iChill Theater Café also offers a venue for independent companies and filmmakers for showcasing their works. The whole second floor of the café can be rented for Php 1400, consumable of food and drinks with free use of a projector, karaoke machine, a giant screen and wifi. There’s also a cheaper option of paying a corkage fee of Php 700 every hour, where you can bring in food and drinks from the outside.
Now on its third year, iChill Theatre Café hopes to inspire and invite more people to perform on their open mic sessions, or to even just dine in and, as its name suggests, chill.