A week before my little sister’s birthday, we carted ourselves off on a bus out of town to take another weekend trip on our older sister’s home in Pampanga, a town two hours away from Manila. We arrived in the late afternoon, due to bus schedules, and rode off to my sister’s place in a tricyle since our brother-in-law was still in the hospital and cannot fetch us. As we got off the bus, we could smell the country breezy air despite the noise and dust at the terminal. It’s a brief respite from the heat and stuffy air of Manila.
That evening, the couple (who’s always on the look out for good food) brought us to this little charming Italian restaurant, Panizza at C. The rough faux-stone walls and heavy iron chairs lend a rustic charm to it. When you first enter the restaurant, you can see white plates hanging on the wall full of signatures of customers. There’s two big rooms inside to fit the guests but there’s also a garden at the back with a little outdoor kitchen and bar for the guests who would rather eat outside under the sky and surrounded by little shrubs strung with lights. The food is delicious. But what got my attention is the ceiling high shelf on one side of the wall full of wine bottles. Guests can choose any selection available. I’ve been dying to try but I know red wines on restaurants aren’t exactly cheap.
The next day, we decided to put up a Christmas tree. Since it is their first Christmas as a couple, my sister decided on teal and silver as their motiff (their wedding motiff, too). We shopped for a tree and decor and spent a part of the night putting the whole thing up. It was so much fun. Also, my little sister decided to curl her hair, and so, she set off to Tony and Jackey since she likes their style. I, then, commented that considering the aesthetic priority of Kapampangans on their looks, salons and derm clinics must be thriving here. The couple totally agreed with me. By now, they are so attuned to the local culture.
The rest of the time were spent with my little sister and I watching How to Tame a Dragon on the huge LED television (oh, we love that movie), going back to eat at a local cuisine grill bar, eating homemade cupcakes, and trying the unique gelato shop at the mall. After two days, we rode back to Manila and as we got off the bus, the heated air of Manila, the noise of traffic and milling crowd greeted us back.