By in Travel

The Honesty Store in Batanes, Philippines

I have the opportunity to travel in Batanes, Philippines in June and September in 2014. Batanes is the northern most province of the country. It has 6 municipalities. The total population of the province is only 16,000 according to latest official data.

What struck me most in the said province is the honesty of their people who are called Ivatans. A proof of this trait is the Honesty Coffee Shop in the municipality of Ivana.

No one is manning the store. It is self-service. Coffee, biscuits, and souvenir items are available. You have to list the item you are purchasing and drop your payment in a box.

The owner, Ms. Elena Gabilo, is a retired teacher. She started operating the Honesty Coffee Shop in 1995 when she was still teaching in the nearby Island municipality of Sabtang. The purpose of the Coffee Shop then is to serve the travellers to and from Sabtang.

“In the original structure, you would find coffee, sugar, and hot water. There was also a stove ready for those who wanted to cook food or heat water,” the Ms. Gabilo said.

There are two signposts inside the shop which run “Lord is My Security Guard” and “This Store is Too Small for Dishonest People.”

Image Credit » Photo is mine

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Shadi wrote on January 4, 2015, 6:08 AM

I have seen that in Turkey once too. Some bakeries also had a shelf for the poor, to take bread for free if they can't pay. But I don't think this would work everywhere.

arthurchappell wrote on January 4, 2015, 6:54 AM

neat travel writing - I love the shop sign posts - shows the owner has a great sense of character and humour

maxeen wrote on January 4, 2015, 7:45 AM

Nice to see it working,there are a few country places that just leave fruit and flowers outside on the lanes with a place to leave money in Jersey Channel Isles.

scheng1 wrote on January 4, 2015, 8:45 AM

If every shop operates in the same way, all the retail workers will be out of jobs.

karen5416 wrote on January 4, 2015, 9:40 AM

Don't think that would work around here, they want everything for nothing

LadyDuck wrote on January 4, 2015, 9:45 AM

I have seen that in a small Caribbean Island. It is so good to see that there are still honest people in the world.

BarbRad wrote on January 4, 2015, 5:42 PM

I'm glad there are places in the world where stores like this can still exist. I used to work for a Christian bookstore that had a sign on the back door (outside) that said "This store is protected by the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob." I think there was more to it than that, but it was 35 years ago and I can't remember all of it. WE also have a produce stand in my town that operates on the honor system, or used to until someone wasn't honest.

darlingyumi wrote on January 4, 2015, 11:32 PM

Hi Kabayan! I have heard of these Honesty Stores popping up in so many places in our country. I hope that the proprietors of these are getting good graces from good people and not be stolen from with the good deeds they do. Practice honesty!

FreyaYuki wrote on January 6, 2015, 11:46 AM

What an interesting store. It's good to know that there are still honest and good people in this world.

maramadalina wrote on January 6, 2015, 3:59 PM

This Honesty Coffee is really a nice idea. I wish you to have a great trip in June.

shiela32 wrote on January 6, 2015, 8:28 PM

I wish that I could visit Batanes and relax at that good looking coffee shop.

vanGogh wrote on January 6, 2015, 9:00 PM

that is one source of pride (among many) of the proud Ivatans; in due time (and money permitting) I too would like to go to Batanes; actually in my bucket list

MommyCharm wrote on January 17, 2015, 10:46 PM

Batanes is in our vacation list this year and surely, I will visit that Honesty Store and see if it really is for real :)

Karonher wrote on January 24, 2015, 3:04 PM

Wouldn't it be great if that were to happen everywhere? Sadly I cant see it happening.

snerfu wrote on February 10, 2015, 11:43 AM

Such a lovely place. I am enamored by the concept of an open door store. Nice post.

valmnz wrote on February 12, 2015, 12:43 AM

We have roadside stalls selling fruit and vegies here on an honesty basis, but I think this is a wonderful idea to cater for tourists and visitors.