A Love Story in a Sandwich

My parents have been married for 45 years. All throughout those years, I have never seen Tatay (Dad in Filipino) as an expressive person. He shows his love in very discreet and simple ways.

Let me tell you about the story of the Starbucks Chicken Pesto and Shiitake Mushroom Melt on Flat Bread as a case in point. He knows it's Nanay's (Mom in Filipino) favorite.

One day, he and I went to a mall to attend a trade fair. Since it's a construction trade fair, Nanay did not want to join us but she asked for a pasalubong (souvenir in Filipino): a Starbucks Chicken Pesto and Shiitake Mushroom Melt on Flat Bread sandwich.

So, we were there at the trade fair and we got hungry going from booth to booth. We bought snacks from one of the food booths. While eating, Tatay asked me, “Is this where we could buy the sandwich?” I said no. I told him we would find it only in Starbucks. He said nothing.

After the snacks, we went from one booth to another. He bought some stuff, after which, we decided to go home. Before we could leave the trade center, he told me we should go to Starbucks and buy Nanay the sandwich.

I answered him yes we would do that but not in that area as traffic was already building up and I did not want to get caught in the middle of it. He did not say anything.

While driving along Macapagal Avenue, we passed by a row of restaurants and I asked him where he wanted to eat. Why was I not surprised? Tatay picked Starbucks.

So, there we were in Starbucks Power Station Macapagal; at the counter, he told me even before making his order not to forget Nanay's sandwich. I said yes, I remembered it too well. But then while ordering I realized that it would be better to buy from the C5 outlet so that the sandwich would still be warm and fresh by the time we reached home.

From the counter, I went to our table bringing with me our order. I noticed his eyes silently looking for the mysterious Starbucks Chicken Pesto and Shiitake Mushroom Melt on Flat Bread but he could not find it anywhere on our table nor on the tray. I sensed panic and worry in the air but very calmly, he asked me, “Were we not going to buy a sandwich for Nanay?” I told him we would buy it in C5. I was getting irritated and like the sensitive person that he was, I knew he felt the impatience on my voice. Again, he said nothing. He's a man of very few words.

So, we quietly had our dinner and we drove home.

While driving we passed by a Starbucks store along Tomas Morato in Quezon City. Guess what? The moment he saw it, he told me, “There's Starbucks, we should buy Nanay's sandwich.” Oh how I wanted so much not to drive anywhere within 300 meter radius of any Starbucks store at that time!

Controlling my temper, I told him that there were more than 100 Starbucks stores in Metro Manila. We would go to the one nearest our home. I told him to relax because we would never run out of Starbucks on the way home. Maybe I raised my voice because he did not mention about Starbucks or the sandwich ever again all throughout the drive. It was a quiet drive from then on. I felt a tinge of guilt in my heart.

While driving, I realized again that C5 was not along the way home. But the one in Cainta was. When Tatay noticed that I went straight to Marcos Highway I told him even before he could speak that there's a Starbucks store in Cainta and that's where we would buy the sandwich. Again, there was silence.

Finally, we reached the Starbucks in Cainta where we got the ever-elusive Starbucks Chicken Pesto and Shiitake Mushroom Melt on Flat Bread. When the Barista handed it over to me, I, in turn, immediately handed it over to him. He took the sandwich and he said very quietly to himself (although I could hear him speak), “This is Nanay's favorite sandwich.”

And while I did not stop to see how he looked when he took the sandwich, I felt his face beamed with joy and satisfaction like a boy of 5 who was happy with his party loot.

And that, my friends, is love in the legendary Starbucks Chicken Pesto and Shiitake Mushroom Melt on Flat Bread sandwich.

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