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Pan de San Nicolas: Pampanga's famed cookies believed to have healing powers

Pan de San Nicolas: Pampanga's famed cookies believed to have healing powers

MANILA, Philippines — Pan de San Nicolas, a cookie delicacy from Pampanga, is believed to have a healing power.

Named after Saint Nicolas de Tolentino, the cookie is a buttery shortbread made with egg yolk, flour and coconut milk then stuffed in a wooden molds of the saint before baking. 

Lillian Lising-Borromeo, owner of Kusinang Matua in Pampanga which bakes Pan de San Nicolas, told Philstar.com in an exclusive interview that she bakes Pan de San Nicolas and gave it to frontliners for free for their guidance. 

“(The) cookies were named before San Nicolas de Tolentino, the patron saint of children, bakers, the sick at saka calamities. Ginagawa ko ngayon gumagawa ako tapos pinapamigay ko sa mga frontliners para ma-guide sila,” she said.  

She also narrated how it was named after the saint and why it is believed to have a healing power. 

“Ang sabi kasi, noong buhay pa si San Nicolas de Tolentino, he got sick no'n tapos napanaginipan niya si Virgin Mary asking him to get a piece of bread soaked in the glass of water tapos kainin niya 'yon at siya ay gagaling. Then he did gumaling,” she said.  

According to Lilian, historians from different schools said that the cookie started in the country in 1600.  

“Based sa mga research ng mga eskwela, 1600 dinala na dito sa Pilipinas 'yan. Ang mga simbahan noon at mga gusali, ginagamitan nila ng puting itlog parang semento. So ngayon, saan pupunta 'yung pula ng itlog? So 'yung mga pula ginamit sa mga tinapay kasama na 'yung Pan de San Nicolas,” she narrated.

Last November, the Department of Tourism (DOT) brought the media to Pampanga and Lilian showed how Pan de San Nicolas was made. 

DOT has started to promote the various tourism circuits that it had been developing throughout the year last year. One of these is the Pampanga-Clark-Cebu City interregional tour that involves a diverse set of tourism attractions and experiences and their respective award-winning international airports.

“We have been ramping up our efforts to vaccinate our tourism workers so that we restore confidence in people to travel again... We are encouraging tourists to visit destinations that have a high number of fully vaccinated tourism workers,” said Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat.

For Pampanga, including Clark Freeport Zone, 92.08% of its tourism workers have already been vaccinated. Tourists can now safely visit the restaurants of Pampanga, the country’s culinary capital, and explore the province’s sites, such as the Bacolor Church, Mt. Arayat National Park, Diaspora Farm Resort, Lubao Bamboo Hub, and the various attractions at the Clark Freeport Zone, like Clark Natural Park, Dinosaur Island, Clark Museum, to name a few.

For Metro Cebu, which includes Cebu City, 93.74% of tourism workers have been inoculated. Travelers can now visit these sites in Cebu City: Adlawon Farm, Sirao Flower Garden, Magellan's Cross, Sto. Nino Church, Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral, Plaza Hamabar, Cebu Heritage Monument, Colon Obelisk, and Museo Sugbo, among others.

This particular interregional tour showcases not only the best of Pampanga, Clark, and Cebu City, but also encourages safe travel by air and highlights alternative gateways that tourists can utilize, such as the Clark International Airport and the Mactan-Cebu International Airport. Current available Cebu-Clark-Cebu flights are serviced by Philippine Airlines every Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, and by Cebu Pacific every Tuesday and Thursday.

The DOT chief said that with the reopening of domestic tourism in the country, they aim to provide more meaningful experience for travelers while also supporting the restart of the tourism industry and its allied sectors, such as the aviation industry.

For more updates about open destinations in the Philippines and the safety protocols and requirements needed for each location, you may visit www.philippines.travel or download the Travel Philippines app at the Google Play Store and Apple App Store. —  Video by Deejae Dumlao