Even though they went to the same high school at the same time, Fernando and Maybellene’s paths didn’t cross until later in life. Fernando is the youngest of six children and is fluent in Spanish. His parents immigrated from Michoacan, Mexico and lived in Denver, Colorado for several years before finally setting down in Pittsburg, California where he was born and raised. Maybellene was born in the Philippines and moved to the United States when she started high school to join her large, extended family residing in Pittsburg, California. She is the second of four children and is fluent in Tagalog.
It was a few years after high school graduation that their paths finally crossed. Fernando says when he saw her for the first time, he had to meet her, “I was going to the mall with a friend who happened to know Maybellene. We ran into her and said hi. She seemed incredibly sweet, well spoken, intelligent and incredibly beautiful. I stood back, smiled and didn’t say a word. I knew I had to meet her, but in the moment felt shy, intimidated and at the same time completely infatuated with her. After she went on her way, I bombarded my friend with questions about her. I learned she worked at a local pharmacy, and started finding reasons to stop at the pharmacy as often as possible. After what Maybellene jokingly describes as ‘stalking for a whole year’, I finally worked up the courage to ask her out. I knew she was different than any girl I had ever met and that I wanted to share the rest of my life with her.”
Maybellene says Fernando caught her eye right away also, “I was doing my pharmacy externship at one of the pharmacies in Pittsburg on most Saturdays. I would see Fernando in the drug center aisle and of course he caught my eye. A whole year later, he finally had the guts to ask me out. I’ve never met anyone who is as caring and loving as Fernando is. He’s the one I can talk to about everything and can always make me laugh. To this day, he does the little things to make me happy.”
It wasn’t long before the couple were engaged and planned their dream destination wedding in Mexico. “We decided on a destination wedding to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico in December 2012. We fell in love with Capella Pedregal, now the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal, for our wedding venue. We had a beautiful wedding surrounded by family and friends on a cliffside, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Truly the best weekend of our lives. Each year since our wedding, we travel to Cabo and celebrate our wedding anniversary,” says Maybellene.
If you have enjoyed Mexican food at Los Panchos in downtown Danville, then you have tasted the Fernandez family’s authentic Mexican recipes that are now famous throughout the Bay Area. Fernando grew up helping out in his parents’ restaurants and says he always knew he wanted to work in the family business. “The story of Los Panchos began a long time ago. My father immigrated to America at a young age and worked in construction for a good part of his adult life, and my mom used her cooking skills to work at various restaurants. In 1991 they took a gamble, quit their jobs and used all the money they had saved to open the first Los Panchos Restaurant in Pacheco, California. More than 10 years later, the second Los Panchos was opened in San Ramon. Over the years, all of my siblings have come to work at the restaurant. Even though we all have college degrees ranging from education to chemical engineering, we all came together for the sake of our family business, which has now been a staple in Danville for over a decade. My parents are long retired, but my brother and I, along with three of my sisters, now run and operate the Los Panchos restaurant locations,” adds Fernando.
Maybellene is a pharmacist and has played an important role in getting the local community their COVID-19 vaccinations. “I graduated from the University of the Pacific with a degree in Biology and Chemistry in 2004 and received my Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 2007 from the University of the Pacific Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy. I started my career as a licensed pharmacist at the Kaiser Permanente Walnut Creek Hospital. My practice as a clinical hospital pharmacist gave me the opportunity to be a part of a multidisciplinary team and allowed me to recommend therapy changes and improve patient’s health. Being able to have a real impact on patients’ lives and avoid harm has been the most gratifying part of my career. After five years of hospital practice, I took on a pharmacy management role at the Kaiser Permanente Vallejo Hospital. The opportunity to work with a team and collaborate with other hospital departments to maintain quality and services for our patients has been very rewarding work. Since COVID-19 hit last March, so many things at the hospital have changed. There has been so much learning this past year with treating our COVID patients in the hospital as well as ensuring that we are following safety and protective measures. Like all healthcare workers, I have experienced and felt first hand the effort that has gone into fighting this pandemic, and know all too well the physical and mental toll it has taken on everyone in the healthcare industry. After a year, my work has now started to shift toward COVID vaccinations and I am incredibly proud to be part of the force that’s fighting to save lives and get this country back on track. I have been helping with Kaiser’s mass vaccination programs and doing my part to get back to a pre-COVID way of life.”
Mia, Fernando and Maybellene’s five-year-old daughter, completes the Fernandez family. She enjoys gym class, ballet and swimming. “It’s important for us as parents to teach Mia the value of helping others. We have an annual tradition to pack shoe boxes full of gifts to help bring joy to kids in need around the holidays. At 3 years old Mia had her first lemonade stand and donated the money she raised to the Make- A-Wish Foundation,” says Maybellene.
Travel is a top priority for the family, and they have visited 20 countries in the 18 years that they have been together. “We have a picture wall in our home with photos of the places we’ve been along with the saying ‘Life takes us to unexpected places, Love brings us home’. Mia has already visited five countries and has been on over 50 flights. Traveling is definitely something we love and enjoy as a family,” says Fernando.
Relatively new to the Blackhawk community, the family fell in love with the quiet and beautiful Hidden Oaks neighborhood in Blackhawk. “We love both our home and its surrounding community. We moved in right before COVID hit, which was actually the perfect time to move in. So many people worked from home, and with the stay in place orders and shutdowns in the beginning of the pandemic, our neighborhood streets were always alive with people going for walks. In the first few months we got to meet most of our neighbors. We both come from big families and have a lot of friends locally; that’s part of why we really love the sense of community here in Blackhawk. Everyone was so warm and welcoming. We feel blessed to have been able to create friendships with our neighbors,” says Maybellene.
Do you know a neighbor who has a story to share? Nominate your neighbor to be featured in one of our upcoming issues! Contact us at email@example.com.
By Megan Scott, Resident since 2010
Resident Feature is proudly sponsored by Tucker Associates Real Estate