Wenceslao: Garganera’s ‘Cafe’

Candid thoughts

I USED to wonder how Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera redesigned his office to be able to claim it to be a coffee shop that he now calls Panday Cafe. How much did the design interfere with his legislative work and his daily dealings with his constituents? I could not answer that then because that “wonder” was merely based on his posts in his Facebook account. With my recent visit to his office, I now have a better appreciation of what he did, which I would say is a game changer for city councilors who want to better welcome visitors to their office.

Eons ago, Leo Lastimosa, who was then the news director of radio station dyLA, assigned me to the City Hall. That was when a “fresh” Tomas Osmeña was mayor: younger and more dynamic and not yet the quarrelsome and arrogant leader we all know him now. Okay, I say that was in the late 1980s. Covering City Hall required us to visit the offices of the city councilors who, obviously, have now either already passed away or are in the twilight of their years and are merely observing the city’s politics from the sidelines.

The City Hall compound setup was far different then, with only the old structure standing by its lonesome on one side of Plaza Sugbo. The offices of the city councilors were cramped and mostly consisted of a visitor’s lounge and staff members’ tables with the councilor holding fort in a mezzanine whose floor was already close to the ceiling. The councilors then made no effort to redesign their offices either for lack of funds or lack of creativity. But coffee shops then were not that popular and were not that well designed, so there was no design model to copy.

I don’t know which came first, Garganera’s rethinking of his office setup or Osmeña spending millions of pesos for the redesign of the office he once occupied and which he destroyed supposedly to restore to its original look before his redesign. The “destruction” was done after Osmeña lost in the last elections and before the then newly elected mayor, Edgardo Labella, could assume the post. We would have known who copied whom: Garganera or Osmeña.

My one beef when I visited Garganera’s office was that he brought down the signage on the front door with his name on it and replaced it with a “Panday Cafe” signage that was small and thinly painted. I got lost for a time looking for the office because I was looking for the “Garganera” signage. The councilor said he took down the signage because it carried the word “Hon.”—a lame excuse, indeed.

Anyway, I say the office’s overall design does not interfere much with the office holder’s legislative work because only one big table in front of Garanera’s working area was added. The tables of the staff members were in a bit narrow spaces around it, which means everybody could still do their thing freely.

While looking for Garganera’s office, I espied the redesign being done on one neophyte city councilor’s office, with one wooden wall being replaced with a glass panel. “Bongga,” I told myself, then thought: I hope they are not overdoing this office redesigning fad.


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