MILK TEA AND FRAPPES were served sweet and nice with syrup glazes. Bread and pastries were baked fresh with hollow crisps. Pasta and congee were cooked with an enticingly savory taste and aroma so hard to resist.
The crew who served the tables smiled aptly for a job well done. The day was just starting. Students, professors, and staff lined up in the café. It excited him. One order after another, he serves tables with ease. He always leaves a customer with a gesture: “Thank you!”
Yes, he is Deaf and contented and where he works has been like another home—the Embrace Café.
Even though a majority of workplaces do not accomodate the Deaf people, the Embrace Café is an exception. This establishment uses the services of the differently-abled persons, among which is the Deaf community. The Embrace Café was established by Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, the Executive Minister of the Iglesia Ni Cristo, for providing livelihood and opportunity to connect more with the community.
The café has four branches around the New Era University (NEU) campus: beside the NEU Integrated School Building, at the Professional Schools Building canteen, in the School of Management building, and the newest, close to the Central Recreation and Fitness Center. It also has branches at the Commonwealth Avenue and at The Garden in Ciudad de Victoria in Bocaue, Bulacan.
The employees, who are differently abled persons, were trained in preparing the food properly and maintaining the cleanliness of the café. When they are given instructions, they follow responsibly and happily.
To further increase awareness and concern for the Deaf community, the Embrace Café also promotes Sign language learning. At the Commonwealth avenue branch, a sign language book guide lies at the counter. This lets customers learn about the basics of sign language, particularly finger-spelling, everyday words and common greetings.
In 2018, the NEU, under the Special Education Department launched the Certification Program for Sign Language Interpreters for those interested in leveling up their sign language skills. But for those willing to learn from the comfort of their mobile phones, the Iglesia Ni Cristo Sign Language application is available for iOS and Android devices.
Indeed, the Embrace Café is renowned for its delicious meals and trendy drinks. But more importantly, it extends its concern and love for the welfare of our fellow differently-abled persons.