Thin golden pancakes still wriggling from the pan smothered with melting margarine and a shower of white sugar.
Pansit bihon scooped from a tin batya of army camouflage color and drowned in a bowl of hot oily goto soup where it will be blessed with a drop of patis, a shake of pepper, a squeeze of calamansi, and washed down with a warm bottle of Pop Cola.
Small round pieces of hopia with an onion-like aftertaste from the neighborhood store.
Yes, my childhood recollection of Mapandan is good food.
And nearby San Fabian where we built a hundred mini castles from the dark sand of the beach, where the hot sun fried our skins that have been marinated tender in the foamy brine of the sea, and where the bathing multitude shouted abuse at colliding human excrement.
San Fabian owned us. It was our weekend haunt. Our only surviving family photo was taken there in a place called the Japanese Garden.
Wife’s last two birthdays were spent getting sunburned with the kids and riding short boat rides there. But me, I have mellowed from the sea to the comfort of a rented shed where I get a high watching the greatest fights of the great Manny Pacquiao, then switching to concert videos of the Queen, Scorpions, and ABBA in between sips of Spanish brandy and bites of grilled Bonuan bangus.
And every going home, we pass by Mapandan hoping to find the suman, the pancakes, and the pansit that now seemed to exist only in my memories…
(1) A sabadista picnic in a place called Japanese Garden somewhere along San Fabian. That’s me in the center with the white shirt and a green hat. Mom is the lady with the red pants on my right while Dad is the serious looking guy with the curly hair behind me.
(2) This year on our way home from San Fabian, we passed by Mapandan where I showed wife and the kids the places I walked through as a 3rd and 4th grader in the sabadista school where my Mom was a teacher. This photo was taken in the town plaza with Mapandan’s St. Joseph’s Church in the background.
(3) The closest representation of Mapandan’s pansit bihon in goto soup is a hot bowl of sotanghon na may sabaw at Pepita’s Carinderia in the public market of the Science City of Munoz, Nueva Ecija.