“Can I take you out on a date, Mrs. Patrocinio?”
This was the post that I shared on my Facebook and my introduction as I asked permission from Mrs. Patrocinio’s son and daughter-in-law if I can take their mom out on a date.
So, that’s how it feels like to ask someone to have a date with you. I personally got an intensified feeling of both jittery and excitement while I was waiting for their response. This kind of anticipation happened after I posted a blog last February 18 regarding my search for a mom that I can treat to celebrate Valentine’s with and as I remember my mom’s birthday.
I was actually expecting for more women to participate but to my surprise the ones who really made an effort to join and follow my instructions were men, while a number of women sent me private messages about their moms instead. Of course to be fair, I chose someone who followed my instructions and the story that really won my heart.
So as stated from that blog, I was looking for:
- A special companion who can enjoy a lunch feast with me
- Someone who loves food and stories
- Someone who’s open to share experiences
- Someone willing to take the elevator with me (who’s not afraid of heights)
- Someone who can travel and meet me at our designated meeting place
Before I continue my story, obviously I got a YES from the son and daughter-in-law of Mrs. Patrocinio. Yey! But the question is did she and I tick all of the boxes listed above? Did we both meet our expectations? Or did we experience some challenges along the way?
But first let me introduce you to Mrs. Patrocinio or Tita Pat the way that her son, Pastor Dennis Isleta wrote about her (made my eye kinda watery):
“My mom’s name is Patrocinio Dumlao Isleta. Friends call her Pat or Ciniang. She was born in 1939 and was raised in the province (Nueve Viscaya) by a very frugal and strict father and a mother who was a public school teacher. She experienced life under the Japanese and had close encounters with death when she was a child. She graduated Library Science from UP – Diliman; worked as Librarian in Ateneo de Manila (which allowed my brother and I to enter that exclusive, high end school with the salary of a soldier); worked as Librarian in Philippine Center for Asian Studies in UP-Diliman; Librarian at the Development Bank of the Philippines and finally at the Asian Development Bank where she retired. In between all those assignments, she had a fair chance to travel abroad, even to some destinations you have been to already. It is her flair for travel that moved her (and my father) to allow my brother and I to travel on our own (separately) to various destinations around the world while we were still very young.
What makes her unique is she married a military man who was assigned all over the country and even in Vietnam. She had a close encounter with death in Vietnam during a mortar shelling attack by the Vietcong when she visited my Dad. Because my Dad was in the military, she raised my brother, Chad, and my sister, Mian, for the most part of our childhood on her own. She trained us in household chores, in gentlemanly conduct and in independence and love for life. I think the greatest challenge for her was when my Dad became sick with renal dysfunction and had to undergo very frequent dialysis sessions. This lasted for ten long years during which time, my mother selflessly dedicated her everything to the fulfillment of her vows to him, through sickness or in health, until death finally parted them last December. There is more to my mom beyond these lines, so I think it would be a lovely conversation you will have with her over lunch if and when you choose her to go out with you on a date.
A nice sideline story of her Valentine’s Day celebration last week you can read on my FB timeline. Enjoy!”
Honestly, after reading her story and while washing the dishes, I couldn’t help but cry. I became touchy just by reading about how inspiring Tita Pat is. And I was already praying that if God wanted for us to meet then He would make it happen. (For obvious reasons, I instantly felt a close connection with her.)
(With Ptr. Dennis’ busy schedule I never thought that he’d even have the time to compose such beautiful and inspiring piece. Thank you Ptr. Dennis and Ate Meg for the privilege of knowing you guys for the past 9 years. Thanks for being a part of my growth and our family too.)
THE BLOG THAT LEAD TO THIS DATE:
SO… WHAT HAPPENED?
I was nervous. I thought I was going to be late for this date! I arrived at Marco Polo Ortigas Manila wearing my grandma’s vintage blouse (I removed the 80’s shoulder pads, it was that vintage) and with hair still damp I hastened to arrive at our rendezvous. I felt the need to wear something special for this date. So yes, I exerted just a bit of an effort so I can look presentable for my feels-like-a-blind-date kinda thing.
I tried to relax, listen to some music and noticed some artworks at the lobby. Then I got a text about Tita Pat’s arrival from her daughter-in-law. Okay, good thing I’m not late! But I was still nervous. I tried to chill while looking for photos of her from her son’s Facebook just so I would recognize her when she arrives. I also uttered, “Dear Lord, please help me make this special…”.
Waaah! I couldn’t describe how I felt when I first saw her image as she was entering the lobby of the hotel. It was like I was zooming into her as the main and only subject of my frame. I immediately stood up from my seat upon noticing her. And I don’t think that anyone would miss her with the kind of graceful aura that she has.
I couldn’t remember if I shook her hand and / or kissed her (made beso) after introducing myself. It was just a little bit awkward at first since it was our first time to meet each other but we were able to manage our nervousness and excitement (the feeling was mutual, haha).
Thankfully, the beautiful set of orchids at the lobby kind of broke the ice. And as a welcoming sight to us especially to her, I think it was sweet!
For the many times that I’ve been to Marco Polo, it was the first time that I saw these kind of orchids being displayed at their lobby. I jokingly told Tita Pat that I actually had those prepared just for her.
While still at the lobby and while looking at the beautiful orchids, we started chatting about flowers and her own home garden (which is my dream of having one too in the future).
I have to double check if she was afraid of heights. Good thing she wasn’t as we needed to go up to the 24th floor for us to go to Cucina for our buffet lunch date.
Upon stepping at the main lobby of the 24th floor of the hotel, we started talking about how Ate Meg (her daughter-in-law) has been affirming us to each other. It was funny! She sounded like the perfect matchmaker.
THE FIRST COURSE/ INTRODUCTION
I never heard of a first date that happened at an all-you-can-eat restaurant and I haven’t been to one yet as well. But you know what, BUFFETS are actually not a bad idea for a first date (except that you can’t really eat that much when you’re enjoying each other’s company too much).
So what made it a good idea? THE SALAD STATION…
While chatting and getting our first course / appetizer, Tita Pat and I had been offering each other different vegetables to fill up our plates. And I find that really sweet. Then I got a text from his son, checking if I already met his mom. 😂 So I sent him a photo of us together.
With the limited time but meaningful conversations that I had with Tita Pat, my heart was filled with insights and lessons that I learned in just a couple of hours of being with her:
- Be mindful of other people’s time and needs. Since Tita Pat has a curfew, I needed to be mindful of our time together and to check on her from time to time. (The food that she eats, is she feeling a bit warmer or cold? Does she have a ride back home?)
- “Gentlemanly” ways are not just limited to men. All of us should practice being considerate and chivalrous (polite, honest, and respectful) at all times. Make others feel special / more important that you are. (She is one incredible woman to date!)
- Avoid checking your phone that often and ask permission if you could check or use your phone if you’re expecting an important text or call. Since Tita Pat has a curfew, I’ve been asking her if it’s okay to check my phone just to see if I already got a text from her daughter-in-law. Nowadays, we miss a lot of real conversations because we decide to stay in the virtual world instead of being in the moment with real people who can give us raw interactions.
- Make sure that he/she is enjoying! One of the ways to do this is to be yourself, be honest and just enjoy your time with the other person too. Don’t be too pressured to be perfect! That’s not fun.
- Be open to learn from each other. As I talked to Tita Pat, I was amazed about how much she honors (and loves) her husband and how she fondly talked about her son, daughter, daughter-in-law and the other people that she mentioned in her stories. And that’s refreshing to hear!
- Learn the “WHEN’s”. Be mindful of your airtime! Learn when to talk, when to listen, even when to pause. Make worthwhile and stimulating conversations that are worth remembering.
- Have fun and inject some sense of humor. I love it that although there were moments when Tita Pat and I were nearly getting teary-eyed from some of our stories about our loved ones, we didn’t forget to smile, laugh and make things lighter.
THE FOOD AND STORIES
We were able to just go to the buffet twice (thrice for me) since we had a lot of stories that we shared and because of the time. I was filled with both good food and Tita Pat’s wisdom.
- Expect the unexpected / surprises in real life. Knowing that Tita Pat’s a librarian, I really thought that I’d be meeting a bookworm and a geek. I was kind of afraid to be questioned about my limited choices of books. But to my surprise we barely touched the subject of literature. And when I asked about her favorite book, she just said that she loves biographies. Then we started talking about other topics again. Don’t limit people from their bios and how you see them online. Experience their fullness in person and in real life. You’ll be surprised to discover more interesting things about them.
- Take time to really know them, and I mean really KNOWING THEM. When Tita Pat asked for the meaning of the initials of my first name (I have two), she didn’t stop there. We were able to talk even about the spelling of my name and connected it to Johann Strausse, the composer of the famous “The Blue Danube” (the famous waltz). I actually appreciate her ways of really getting to know me.
WOULD THERE BE A NEXT ONE?
It was the perfect date, the kind of date that you’d want to have again. And I’m glad that our talk ended with a question that needs to be answered on our next date,
“With all the travels that you had with General Isleta, what was your favorite and why?”
- Be grateful and thoughtful. Our date ended with Tita Pat offering a second date with me. I was of course kilig (giddy)! And I couldn’t be more grateful to her, to her son Ptr. Dennis and daughter-in-law, Ate Meg for allowing me to have such special time with her. And of course I thank God for giving me the opportunity to meet Mrs. Patrocinio and to experience her heart as a woman who dearly honors God and her husband.
Tita Pat also shared to me this verse to encourage me:
“Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. The vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.” (Habakkuk 2:2-3)
So did we tick all the boxes? Despite having a few challenges that we had, our limited time together and being too vulnerable at different points during our conversations, I think our date was a success!
✓ A special companion who can enjoy a lunch feast with me – YES!
✓ Someone who loves food and stories – DEFINITELY learned a lot from Tita Pat
✓ Someone who’s open to share experiences – GRATEFUL for her openness
✓ Someone willing to take the elevator with me (who’s not afraid of heights) – She even loved the view from the 24th floor!
✓ Someone who can travel and meet me at our designated meeting place – She can even drive but she’s coding! So for this particular date a very special thanks to her daughter-in-law, Ate Meg for making sure about her ride to and fro
What are your do’s and don’ts whenever you’re on a date?
What we enjoyed from Marco Polo Hotel’s Cucina:
It was the perfect time for us to enjoy some new buffet signature dishes from Cucina as they also prepared something for meat-lovers like me. Imagine succulent and incredible dishes such as one of Filipino favorites Crispy Pata with stuffed foie gras and topped with pineapple salsa, Braised Beef Roulade stuffed with cream cheese, shrimp, fish and shellfish meat and their Surf and Turf blanket (with salmon and minced beef with sundried tomato) that Tita Pat and I enjoyed.
I also told her about one of the things that I always look forward to in Cucina – their Paella, which was definitely a must try. Enjoyed the well-curated international spread and the different stations from this dining place and of course I went back after my date with Tita Pat just to have their homemade chocolate ice cream, some other desserts paired with brewed coffee! What a way to end a very special date.
Thank you Marco Polo Ortigas Manila, for being one of the venues for my most memorable moments.
For more information / reservation:
CUCINA, 24th floor of Marco Polo Ortigas Manila
(632) 720 7777