Hannah and Pot's love story started like a fairytale: The couple met during their review in Pampanga while processing their papers to look for a job abroad. Everything was well planned for the young couple who were both registered nurses. They were set to save up for their wedding and have a family of their own. In 2012, Hannah went ahead to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and worked in a hospital. Hannah returned home a year later and the couple got married as they planned. Hannah went back to Saudi and waited for the approval of Pot's papers.
In 2014, Hannah felt a sudden pain in her hips and had herself checked with a series of tests. Their fairytale suddenly became a nightmare when Hannah was diagnosed with sarcoma, a very rare kind of aggressive cancer that started as a tumor in her spine. She was given four to five months to live. As the world started to cave in, Pot's employment papers were ironed out. It was a miracle for them because only Pot's papers were approved out of the dozens of applicants. Pot's arrived just in time for Hannah's major operation. Each day was a struggle for the couple. Hannah had several operations which made her lose a lot of weight while Pots was taking care of her and juggling his work schedule. It was difficult according to the couple but they never gave up, even if they were crying every day and evey night.
Far away from home, they relied on the health care benefits provided by Hannah's employer and the help of fellow Filipinos. The tumor on Hannah's back grew bigger and she needed to undergo a major operation which also required blood transfusion of more than 15 liters of blood. She was later transferred to the ward and had 25 sessions of radiation therapy. Half of Hannah's body became paralyzed and she had regular physical therapy sessions. For more than a year, Pots endured his very tedious routine of working 12 hours in a day and taking care of Hana during his free time leaving him with barely two hours of sleep in a day. Hannah recovered in steady phase and the couple was able to return to the Philippines with boxes of supplies for Hannah.
The couple initially stayed in Pampanga with Pot's parents and later moved to Zamboanga where Hannah started gaining back the pounds she lost during her treatment. Pots had opportunities to go abroad but decided to stay with Hannah. During their free time, the couple experimented in the kitchen. I was holding back my tears while listening to their story during out interview but the couple's optimism is incredible. After all the turmoil that they have been through, they still look forward to a positive life ahead. Hannah is a real fighter which is very evident as she tries doing things independently from her wheelchair.
Hannah loves making pastries and Pots grew up in the land of sisig and tocino. They came up with the Sigpanada (fusion of sisig and empanada) made of authentic sisig wrapped in a tasty dough. Pots cooks the sisig by boiling and grilling the pork then sautéing it in butter with spices just the way they do it in Pampanga. Hanah wraps the sisig in a dough before frying it to a golden brown color. Every bite of the empanada tastes like sisig from Pampanga that has a meaty taste from the pork and liver. The Sigpanada is available through delivery in Zamboanga with a minimum order of two boxes plus a delivery fee of Php 30. A la carte orders of their authentic Kapampangan sisig is also available. Pots is very passionate with his sisig and he makes sure that every platter will bring yout tastebuds to Pampanga! News about the sisig and Sigpanada went out like wildfire and, soon enough, they are almost fully booked every day.
As their business is growing, Po's and Hannah will open a restaurant on the first week of January. They will serve their signature Sigpanada along with Hannah's pastries and some new items on the menu. Something to look forward to is their chicken and pork barbecue marinated with tocino style sauce, another Kapampangan inspired dish. Meat is cured overnight before hitiing the grill. The marinade caramelizes in the flames giving the meat a sweet and umami goodness.
Pots and Hannah will finalize their menu during the holidays while accepting orders for delivery. Their restaurant will open in San Jose Road, Corner Normal Street, Zamboanga City near Western Mindanao State University where they will serve delicious and affordable meals. After the storm that they have been through, Hannah and Pots share their story to inspire others. Their story is a testament of answered prayers, undying faith and true love.