Nostalgia galore: This Greenhills shop lets you send handwritten letters to your future self, loved ones 

Juno Reyes

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Nostalgia galore: This Greenhills shop lets you send handwritten letters to your future self, loved ones 
Named after its owner’s daughter, Sonata’s Love Letter Lounge is the perfect place for stationery lovers and K-pop fans to make memories

MANILA, Philippines — Online messaging has already become the norm in this digital age. You can send practically anything to anyone in the blink of an eye, and they’re bound to receive it within mere seconds, no matter what part of the world they’re in. 

Given the convenience of digital exchanges, it’s the mode of communication most people opt for nowadays. However, hidden in the basement of a San Juan City mall is a shop that does quite the opposite. 

This is none other than Sonata’s Love Letter Lounge in Promenade Mall, Greenhills Shopping Center, a colorful little store that allows visitors to write and send out elegant handwritten letters to their future selves and loved ones.

Dear self, lover, friend, fanboy, fangirl

But the concept behind Sonata’s Love Letter Lounge actually didn’t begin with the letter-sending service it is now known for. Its owner, Ed Margareth Barahan-Acayan, just wanted a happy and colorful store that could reflect all the cute things she would buy for her then-two-month-old daughter Sonata – the store’s muse and namesake! 

“The idea was initially set aside due to many factors, but soon after, an opportunity arose when we were offered a space in the same area as our Chingu Dachi branch in Greenhills. I took it as a ‘sign’ to finally pursue the idea,” Barahan-Acayan shared. 

Barahan-Acayan had initially only envisioned it to be a trinket store with a photobooth, which was already a pretty novel concept in itself in the Philippines. Eventually, though, the letter-sending service idea became the shop’s central feature when her husband was reminded of his experience at South Korea’s Nuldam Space – a café that sends out the letters visitors write to their future selves. 

The fun of Sonata’s Love Letter Lounge’s letter-sending service lies in the fact that it doesn’t limit you to only sending letters to your future self. You can express your deepest thoughts and feelings to a friend, lover, or even to your fellow fangirl or fanboy – so long as they also reside in the Philippines. 

DEAR YOU. Drop your letter in one of these mailboxes when you finish writing it. Juno Reyes/Rappler

And even with how much easier it is to just shoot someone a message online, receiving handwritten letters easily produces the sentimental value that digital texts can’t replicate. 

“The focus on handwritten letters stems from what I’d describe as appreciation for nostalgia. In our fast-paced, digital age, tangible items like handwritten letters and printed photos offer a unique warmth and personal touch, a piece of memory to hold onto,” Barahan-Acayan shared. 

While being able to rip open an envelope from your mailbox is already exciting, the process of writing and sending out the letters themselves is a fulfilling experience in its own right. 

NOSTALGIA CORNER. Write your letter, seal the envelope, and jot down the necessary details on the envelope for mailing. Juno Reyes/Rappler

For P250, visitors can do just that. One letter-writing kit contains your postcard of choice, five sealing wax beads whose colors you can select yourself, and a plain white envelope. The letter-writing corner is equipped with candles and wax seal spoons to melt your wax beads for the letter seal, along with wax seal stamps that come in different designs. 

Make sure to label your envelope with the sender and receiver’s names and addresses, as well as when you want Sonata’s Love Letter Lounge to send your letter out. Don’t worry, there are easy-to-follow instructions posted on the wall!

For the anik-anik lovers, K-pop fans, and local artists

Truly an all-in-one shop, handwritten letters aren’t the only keepsakes it has to offer. It also has a photo booth with adorable props to choose from, as well as a variety of fun frame designs to choose from.

And if you’re an anik-anik lover or you resonate with the meme-worthy reverse of the saying, “Ang mga sticker dinidikit, hindi tinatago (Stickers are meant to be stuck, not kept),” chances are, Sonata’s Love Letter Lounge has something you might want to stick or keep. 

Sonata’s Love Letter Lounge is home to countless rolls of washi tape, art prints, stickers, button pins, acrylic and bead keychains, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and various crochet items, among other things. It’s every anik-anik lover’s dream. 

“It’s a blend of love letters, capturing memories, and cherishing life’s little joys,” said Barahan-Acayan. 

Sonata’s Love Letter Lounge also spotlights the work of Filipino creatives, allowing them to showcase and sell their items to the store’s visitors. The best part? Any artist is welcome to join. 

“We have no specific criteria for this; if you’re a creator of anything cute or fun, you’re in. It’s about embracing and showcasing diverse forms of joy and creativity,” Barahan-Acayan explained. 

If you drop by the shop every once in a while, you might also notice that the decor at the entrance changes every month. This is Sonata’s Love Letter Lounge’s “featured partner maker of the month” initiative, where different artists can doodle on the store’s glass windows according to their art style and put up posters they made themselves all around the store. 

“Our featured partner maker of the month is chosen based on how their art style complements the season or special occasions of that month. It’s a delightful process of matching artistic expression with the time of year,” she said. 

Visitors are also welcome to unleash their inner creativity at the store’s Decoden Corner. With a multitude of charms, beads, and decoden whipped cream to choose from, you can turn a plain toploader into an ultra-cute little frame to add an artistic flair to your bias’ photocard. 

JAZZ UP YOUR TOPLOADER. The shop’s Decoden Corner lets you decorate your plain photocard toploader with fun charms, beads, and decoden whipped cream. Juno Reyes/Rappler
Surprises in store

With Sonata’s Love Letter Lounge’s steady popularity on social media, its owner can only hope to keep serving as an avenue for unforgettable memories to be created. 

“The love and enthusiasm from K-pop fans and stationery lovers for our little store have been both surprising and humbling. It’s the joy and smiles of our customers and partners that truly define our success. Our goal is to continue creating these happy, memorable moments,” Barahan-Acayan said. 

Seeing how Sonata’s Love Letter Lounge has already produced the much-needed bursts of color for all of its visitors since its grand opening in September, Barahan-Acayan and her team plan to expand it even further for the southies out there. By 2024, they will be launching “Sonata’s Room” at the BF Homes Parañaque branch of Chingu Dachi – Sonata’s Love Letter Lounge’s sister company. 

“[Sonata’s Room is] a fusion of a K-pop and stationery store, designed like a fangirl’s bedroom,” the owner explained. 

Sonata’s Love Letter Lounge will also be getting more new features in the future. While these are meant to be a surprise for visitors and have yet to be revealed by the team, you can continue to enjoy the shop’s well-loved letter-sending service, decoden corner, photo booth, and seemingly endless supply of stationery.  –

Sonata’s Love Letter Lounge is located at Basement 2 of the Collective Base Complex in Promenade Mall, Greenhills Shopping Center in San Juan City, Metro Manila. It is open every Tuesday to Sunday from 11 am to 8 pm.

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