EACH year brings new twists to San Fernando’s lantern-making culture, as giant lanterns have inspired a whole range of other products as well. This season, pastry chef, entrepreneur and Fernandino beauty queen, Fatima Garcia Santos, takes Kapampangan pride to a different level by infusing giant lantern designs on cakes which look too beautiful to eat.

Fatima, who hails from barangays Dolores and Del Pilar, is a scion of the family behind the famous Kapampangan brand Emy’s Sweets and Pastries. She finished her diplomas in Culinary Arts and Kitchen Management and Pastry and Bakery Arts from the International School for Culinary Arts and Hotel Management, a renowned culinary school in the country. Fatima also comes from a family of beauties and she herself was crowned as Mutya ning Dolores in 2013, the same title that her sister Tiffany held before she went on to vie for the Mutya ning San Fernando with a runner up finish.

When Fatima turned 22 in 2016, she ventured on her to put up Love at First Bite Patisserie which has since made a name for delicious desserts, especially Christmas cakes which highlight flavors of the season. This year’s runaway hits are the delightfully and colorfully executed giant lantern cakes which come in three distinct Filipino Christmas flavors, namely tsokolateng batirol, ube quezo, and salted egg bibingka. A breather from the more western Christmas flavors we are used to, these add to the attraction of a cake that draws inspiration from Kapampangan cultural heritage.

The patisserie currently has two branches, at Lazatin Boulevard, City of San Fernando and Eastwalk, Santo Tomas, Pampanga, a promising start for our young and hardworking entrepreneur.

For a pastry chef like Fatima, baking and intricately decorating her cakes like lanterns is her own contribution to the festive tradition in our city, showcasing Pampanga not only as a Christmas Capital but as culinary center as well. In simple yet meaningful acts like these, Fernandinos are able to contribute to our history of enduring festive traditions.