The Ruined project?: Creating beauty amid the ruins

“Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation.” — Eat Pray Love

Flowers rise from the rubbles, silver linings shine out of dark clouds, and rainbows come after the rain.

 Indeed, ruin is the road to transformation and this year no doubt has given us that jump-off point from which we can again leap to greater heights, taking with us all the lessons from all the challenges and headwinds we faced.

No stranger to adversities, Manuel Villar Jr., the so-called brown taipan who has successfully written his own rags-to-riches tale, inspires his team to do just that and this mindset is reflected in the Villar-owned Coffee Project’s The Ruined Project?.

The Ruined Project? at the Villar Group’s luxury development, Crosswinds in Tagaytay is visualized to be the flagship store of Villar’s homegrown coffee chain, The Coffee Project.

One can say this is the antithesis to The Coffee Project, touted as the most Instagram-worthy coffee chain.

After all, at The Ruined Project?, one will see unfinished buildings with exposed ceilings, coarse concrete walls, and open holes for windows.

One will actually notice there is no physical door to this retail concept.

Ruined? Maybe. But the devil is in the details. The ceiling is teeming with live plants, and the walls are lined with unfinished murals and stamps, invoking a sense of mystery. Wide windows open up to a breathtaking view of 35,000 pine trees, and the door welcomes you with the naturally nippy breeze of Tagaytay. There is so much beauty in the seemingly chaotic vibe. 

The project is certainly as unique as can be, and it was inspired by Villar when he posed a challenge to his Coffee Project team — to shine even in the darkest hours because, says Villar, if they were truly creative and innovative, there would be no better opportunity to shine when the hours are darkest.

On a larger and more existential scale, it was a challenge to accept the pandemic, embrace one’s situation, and grow from one’s limitations.

The secret really is to change one’s perspective, Villar said, and to see that there is beauty in ruin, that sometimes a pause is what we exactly need and that if we embrace the ruins, we can see something even more beautiful and create something never before seen.

The result is The Ruined Project?, which puts together all that the coffee group has and so much more.

The menu is a twisted take on the regular cafe offering, with brick-oven pizzas, Jalapeno burgers, and desserts on skillets. 

For those picture-perfect Tagaytay moments, one can warm your hands with a Ghirardelli Carmelo hot chocolate or go lean and green with Yoga Yogurt drinks.

“In a way, the Ruined Project? reflects our own take of the year 2020. Plans laid to ruin remind us of the potential of what could have been. Yet, at the same time, we cannot help but admire the fighting spirit that forced each and every person to adapt and brave new norms. The end result? Something even more breathtaking than you could have imagined,” said the team behind The Coffee Project.

Indeed, the resilience of the human spirit is unparalleled and while it has never been tested as greatly as it was this year, it carries on, unfazed and unbeaten. This is the DNA that we Filipinos are made of and The Ruined Project? is a testament to this — that even in the face of ruins, we can all still find beauty and magic.

Visit Ruined Project? at Crosswinds Tagaytay or follow its Facebook and Instagram accounts at @ruinedprojectph.

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