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Sama Sama

Photos by Kainoa Kaeha

The sweet and mellow taste of a bright purple ube dessert, 

The perfectly balanced sweetness and tartness of a crispy fried banana lumpia, 

The bright, citrusy taste of fresh calamansi picked straight from a tree.

Mmm. Can you imagine if these classic Filipino flavors were in the form of a refreshing, ice cold boba tea drink? Well, Sama Sama cafe has the drink for you! 

Come and visit Sama Sama, the Filipino boba tea shop located in the Leeward CC Library! If you enter the library in the Learning Commons area (2nd floor), take a left and you will be met with the sweet and warm smell of freshly cooked boba. The clean, crisp, and cozy cafe is a great environment to study or catch up with friends over boba. 


Sama Sama means together-together or togetherness in Tagalog. As a child, co-owner Lalaine Ignao frequently visited the boba shop that was nearby her family’s favorite Chinese restaurant. She dreamed of having her own shop just like it one day. Along with her significant other, Eric Ganding, the two put this dream into action in 2021. With their love and passion for their Filipino identity, Sama Sama was born! They started off doing pop-up events in their unique and beautifully decorated food truck. Ignao says that Sama Sama was a way to, “represent our Filipino culture and bring the community together”. The pair opened up their very own shop at our Leeward CC Campus in April of 2023.

Sama Sama offers a variety of drinks including milk teas, iced teas, and coffee. Each signature drink flavor is made fresh with handcrafted syrups that are intentionally picked based on unique Filipino flavors such as ube, leche flan, and buko (young coconut). Additionally, for the weary eyed college student, Sama Sama sells Barako coffee, a fragrant and invigorating coffee variety grown in the Philippines. 

If you aren't familiar with Filipino flavors and are excited to try something new, Ignao recommends the Calamansi Green Tea, which is a refreshing and citrusy drink that tastes like lemon-lime. If you’d rather go for something creamier, Ganding recommends the Buko Pandan Milk Tea which has a nuttier vanilla flavor that comes from the aromatic pandan leaf, followed by the sweet and mellow taste of buko. They also have a selection of toppings to add to your drink such as classic boba, pandan jelly, taho, and halo halo. Employee Marky Rafael recommends pairing the Strawberry Calamansi Tea with boba and pandan jelly. 

Aside from the fun Filipino inspired drinks, Sama Sama also has a variety of baked goods to choose from including mamon (sponge cake), banana bread, scones, and pandesal. Ignao and Ganding value the strength of connections and community, so they collaborate with fellow Filipino small businesses to sell their baked goods. Some desserts to look forward to are the butter mochi mamon and ube brownies. Mmm masarap! Delicious! 

Sama Sama is more than just a boba shop. Their unique and nostalgic flavors provide hope, education, and empowerment to the Filipino community and the aspiring young adults who work for them. Employee Marissa Halagao says, 

“It was so empowering for me to work here as I began to learn about my roots. It is a fun and transformative way to get in touch with Filipino culture and to celebrate it with food, drinks, and entrepreneurship."

Halagao along with other employees agree that Sama Sama and the guidance of Ignao and Ganding provide them with an outlet to learn more about and embrace their Filipino identities and culture. There is pride in good drinks and togetherness! 

      Ignao says that everyone is welcomed and hopes that their cafe will feel like a home away from home. You don’t need to be an LCC student to buy from their shop, so bring your whole boba barkada (group of friends) and enjoy the flavors of the Philippines!

Hours: Mon-Fri 8-5PM 

Location: Leeward CC Library- Learning Commons (2nd floor)

Instagram: @samasamahawaii 

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