I have a Pavlovian hankering for pansit whenever news breaks. It is the result of conditioning in the years that I worked in the Sun.Star Cebu Central Newsroom.
Whenever a story broke late at night and we knew we had to stay late to prepare the next day’s issue, our editor PA Seares would ask newsroom assistant Titing Bontilao to buy bread and pansit either from State Fair or Snow Sheen.
The pansit wrapped in banana leaves would then be served at the newsroom pantry. Its delicious smell would waft into the central newsroom, alerting us to gather in that small space. It was like we were carbo loading for the re-layout of pages and editing of the late-breaker.
When the 9/11 attack happened, we ate pansit. We were horrified but full. When the Vatican announced that Pope John Paul II was dying, I was assigned the morbid task of waiting for him to pass on so we could put out an extra edition. We ate pansit. When Pope Benedict XVI was elected, we ate pansit.
When Pope Francis was elected in 2013, Marlen and I were in Iloilo for Digital Tourism work. It was way past midnight and we were in our room in Casa La Granja. Marlen was asleep from exhaustion (because of the day’s work) while I continued watching the news on CNN.
When white smoke came out of the Sistine chapel past midnight here on March 13, 2021 and the excitement at St. Peter’s was palpable, I stood up to approach the screen, soaking in the historic moment.
We had a new pope. But since it was late at night where I was, I did not have pansit. None were available, not even batchoy cup noodles.
(This week, Cebu celebrates Press Freedom Week.)