When I started dating the lady who would become my wife over a dozen years ago, I visited Pampanga religiously. I actually found the city to be charming and bustling with promise. Bearing the promise of better days after having finally recovered from both Pinatubo and the sudden exit of the affluent constituents of Clark Air Base.
Of course, there was the indelible identification of good food with the Pampangueños, together with the beautiful Capampangan women. Top this off with an ambitious master plan of developing what was Clark Air Base into a fully functional eco-zone complete with office complexes, factories, and duty-free shops, and you’ve got a city with a perfect blueprint for prosperity.
So the PX-goods were gone, to be replaced with quaint cafes, holes in the wall that served great Capampangan food, and little boutiques that offered selected dry goods now mostly bought from Manila. But the city was alive, and dreams were overflowing along with laughter sweetened by halo-halo.
That was then. This is now.
Driving back to Manila, the wife bemoaned the state of the city she once called home. Both saddened and relieved that she now lived in the big city.
We’ll drive back again sometime soon. Hopefully, there will be working air compressors then, and Victor’s will look enticing again…
(as written March 3, 2008)
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With no pending need for compressor hose heads, we happily breeze through Angeles City around a month and a half after the above from two days of work in Baguio City. It was dinner time on a Saturday night, and the barbeque boutiques along MacArthur Highway were alive and literally smoking hot. Invitingly so.
(Only two days previous, April 17, 2008, we found out over the news that Lucia Lagman Cunanan, better known as Aling Lucing, Pampanga's "Sisig Queen" was brutally murdered. Sadly, the lively octagenarian will not live to see her name proliferate even more as her namesake sisig restos sprout around Manila. My very pregnant wife joins her fellow Capampangans in mourning the loss of one their champions in giving the country a popular face to their home province of Pampanga.)
So where was I...? So I finally convinced my wife to agree to stop by Victor's BBQ (that's what it says on the signboard, dude...) for the sisig, crispy barbecued pork ears, and other fat-laden forms of tasty suicide we've become familiar with over the past decade.
Yes, it was unhealthy, and according to the ads will do a number on my liver, but it was damn good.