One of the most popular cafes in Siargao finally makes its debut to Cebu—but its journey is like no other.

Hab Hab Cafe, founded by Cebuano Ronald James “RJ” del Rio in 2018, were among the first 24-hour restaurants on the island and quickly became the locals go-to spot for late night “habhab” or “panic eating.”

RJ was a former tattoo artist based in Minglanilla, Cebu when he visited Siargao for a client. Immediately, he fell in love with the island and found a clear opportunity in its food scene: a 24-hour restaurant, something which was lacking at the time.

It started with a restaurant, a spot where people hung over from a long night of drinking could sober up with savory meals and caffeine—but after business arrangements turned sour with a business partner, RJ was left to start from scratch.

With the help of his parents and family, as well as his loyal team, RJ scraped just enough to open Hab Hab Cafe—this time, on his own—off the ground and grew rapidly.

After the success of its opening, he was able to open a coffee shop, then another one, with plans for more expansion.

Unfortunately, when Typhoon Odette struck Siargao, all his establishments were destroyed and would have to close temporarily. Food and water were scarce on the island and with 30 people in his staff relying on him, RJ had to do something.

So, he made the hardest choice and decided to restart and rebuild in Cebu together with his wife Cathleen May “Macy” Pineda, bringing along those who were able. For those left back home, RJ sent money for food and their basic needs regularly.

As RJ said: “Hab Hab is more than a business, we are a family. Without them, I am nothing.”

Eventually, they narrowed down to Papa Kit’s Marina and Fishing lagoon, a paradise away from the hustle and bustle of the city with precisely the right atmosphere for a Hab Hab Siargao Restaurant.

After finding the perfect location, RJ was barely keeping a minimum balance on his accounts—it was only through a miracle loan that he pulled enough funds together to open Hab Hab Cafe.

The cafe extends deep into the lake connected by a stone path, which cars can pass through, so guests are surrounded completely by calm and peaceful waters.

Like in Siargao, RJ kept the environmental and beach themes with the nipa roof while his wife Macy, who designed the place, decided on red walls and a modern aesthetic.

As for its food, Siargao’s favorite Dim Sum dishes such as steamed fried rice, siomai and empress roll are must-tries. As well as its big-serving, flavorful beef burger and chicken wings, which come in original, spicy, honey mustard, garlic and BBQ.

Of course, Hab Hab still serves their famous tall, generous servings of all its drink selections such as its salted caramel, white mocha, cafe latte, fresh mango shake and its special drink, strawberry racy.

The Hab Hab team’s journey to Cebu was challenging but the early success of its newest branch made it all worth it.

“It was a test of faith. I cannot give up, my family, parents, my staff here and back home, are all counting on me. I have to do it for them.”

HabHab Cafe Siargao is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day and is located in Papa Kit’s Marina and Fishing Lagoon, Liloan, Cebu.