From the odd gate, the walkway leading to the garden was patched together with broken tiles and mirrors. Benches and tables scattered around the garden seemed set up for a mad tea party. Under the shroud of overgrown trees and plants, masks of deities carved in stone peeked from every corner.
Stepping foot inside Goodtimes Cafe is like entering an eclectic and surreal wonderland. This quirky space, which is officially named Galeria Indelecio, is a pub, restaurant and art gallery in Dipolog, the capital city of Zamboanga del Norte. But unlike typical art galleries that just focus on a few pieces, every available space here is just filled to the brim with art forms of every kind. The cafe also contains a chapel within the grounds.
Converted from an ancestral house surrounded by a tropical park, Galeria Indelecio was designed for “spiritual rejuvenation” through nature and art. According to visual artist and the gallery’s founder Ed Tabancura, Goodtimes Cafe used to be in Ermita, Malate before it relocated. Ed himself works a lot with recycled materials and found objects to create interesting New Age art pieces including several larger than life deities made of a mixture of papier-mâché and cement.
Goodtimes Cafe now serves as an exhibit space and events venue for rising local artists in Dipolog. Workshops on indigenous and visual art are sometimes held here.
The recurring theme of masks and faces is pretty evident. Whatever your religion is who your gods are – or if you have none – there’s a piece that will still resonate with you. Large Hindu-inspired figures sit side by side with carved wooden Buddha statues and popular Catholic saints. Paintings depict figures from folklore, while mixed media crucifixes and statues of birds hang from the windows. There are even a couple of garden gnomes thrown in for good measure. Walking around was an overwhelmingly spiritual experience to say the least.
On the way out, I noticed the words “Love, dignity, freedom, oneness” written at the back of the arch that displays the name of the place. I think that pretty much sums up the place.
Good Times Cafe is located in Carlos P. Garcia corner Lopez Jaena Street, Brgy. Biasong, Dipolog City, Zamboanga del Norte, Philippines.