Knick knacks: Buku-Buku Kafé has a table full of stickers, zines, and other craft items for sale.

CHECK OUT COUNTER: Keeping it kool at Buku-Buku
Gaby Gloria (The Philippine Star) - December 21, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — I think that we can all collectively agree that holiday traffic is the worst. As much of a pain as it is to head out these days, there’s no escaping all those invites to class reunions and barkada get-togethers.

Sometimes we don’t want to veer that far away from home, but it can be a struggle to find a unique place that’s both photo-friendly but still easy-on-the-pocket. For those living in the South, Buku-Buku Kafé might be your answer. Situated between all the usual local and international chains inside SM Southmall is a quaint little café that serves Southeast Asian food.  

Run by siblings Jessica and Nicholas Santiago, Buku Buku means “many, many books” in Bahasa Malaysia and was named so in honor of their dad, who lives and works in Malaysia. As an artist and musician respectively, the two started the café as a way to create a space for art and literature to flourish in the South. They have a library of books and zines that you can check out. With a cozy and light atmosphere, the café’s interiors easily serve as the perfect background for all those “candid” group photos. If you’re feelin’ a little extra, the second floor has a wall made entirely of book pages.





It isn’t just an Instagram-worthy place, either. This Christmas, Buku-Buku is introducing Big Plates in which they’ll offer their bestsellers in larger portions. I recommend the Three-Way Sisig made of pork, tofu and tuna. It’s a hearty meal that has just the right amount of spice and zing, and it’s great for splitting with three to five people. The Darling Tuna Belly, made of tuna steak and peri-peri sauce, is great for those looking for a healthier option. It comes with mashed squash that’s divine. For dessert, try the festive Champorado de Suman, which is like a mash-up of all your typical Filipino holiday fare. Think: champorado shaped as a suman, with a cup of tsokolate on the side.

If you’re a last-minute gifter, there’s no need to make a mad dash around the mall anymore. They’ve got a table filled with merch from independent artists and entrepreneurs. You’re sure to find the perfect gifts for your friends from the array of zines, stickers, prints, and other items on display at Buku-Buku Kafé. And for that, staying in the South finally sounds like a plan.

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Buku-Buku Kafé is located on the Upper Ground Level of SM Southmall, Alabang-Zapote road, Las Piñas. Follow them on Facebook ( and Instagram (@buku.bukukafe) for new food, events, and updates.

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