it was the closest to an ancestral house/museum that i went to, except that it was a restaurant. even cooler. for the first 10 minutes, i couldn’t bring myself to sit down. i just wanted to look around and take photos of the place!
the decorative windows had me at hello. but then again, wooden spanish windows with their trademark capiz shells always do. once upon a time, i told myself that if i ever buy a house, i want windows like this. i don’t know why. i just do. these windows speak to me in a way that i can’t quite explain. or maybe it’s simply the nostalgia of it. a nod to the past when women wore maria claras and kalesas roamed the streets.
i’m probably romanticizing the philippines during that spanish era but if there’s one legacy of that time that i truly appreciate, it would have to be the houses. i’m a sucker for spanish ancestral houses. and i have heaps of posts scattered around this blog to prove it. some of the more note-worthy ones include casa gorordo, yap-sandiego ancestral house, and balay ni tana dicang, among others.
paolito’s restaurant definitely had that historical/ancestral house vibe going. i don’t know how some customers can just walk in and go straight for the menu. i inhaled that place. let the atmosphere fill my lungs and my system with reverence for the past.
even their handwashing area didn’t escape my poetic admiration! gotta give them props for trying to make everything authentic. although back in the olden days, they didn’t have the luxury of running water from a tap.
of course, what true-blue cebuano isn’t a firm believer of sto. niño? it’s almost a given to have his statue or image displayed somewhere, be it in the privacy of homes or openly exposed in commercial establishments. kind of like how vietnamese restaurants have these little altars tucked in a corner with fruits and offerings in there.
cebuanos and sto. niño, we go a loooong way back. he’s our homie. the roots of our history are so deep and so entwined that the moment we collectively put our hands up in the air to sing “kanamo maluoy ka unta…,” GOOSEBUMPS GALORE!!! i swear, it’s one of the most magical moments that happen during the novena masses leading up to sinulog. rain or shine.
here’s a video to show you what i mean. credits to the owner. you don’t even need to watch the whole entire video ‘coz it’s quite long. the first 2 minutes should suffice.
anyway, it was good that the restaurant wasn’t full at the time we were there. meaning, i got to take a lot more photos.
as it’s a native restaurant offering popular local dishes, food-wise, it was great! and i say that as somebody who had been pining for authentic filipino food as the ones we have here in australia don’t hold a candle to the real thing. you might argue that your mom or lola can cook better and yes, i must admit, hands down, nanay cora whips up the meanest tinuwa na isda that’s better than this restaurant’s but their grilled panga and the other dishes we ordered weren’t bad either.
if i remember correctly, jeff loved the crispy kangkong. as always, i had a bit of everything because that’s just how i roll. fats and all.
the nice thing about this restaurant too was how you get to pick the seafood that you want them to cook, and how. and they were fresh. something you really get to appreciate when the ones you get at the fish shops here are/have been frozen.
back home, we have vendors going door-to-door selling the freshest catch of the day. and a nanay cora to cook them.
now i miss home.
*raven at 1 year and 3 months old