Showing posts with label a taste of silay. Show all posts
Showing posts with label a taste of silay. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Silay, The Home Of The Dulce Gatas

I grew up in Silay surrounded by food, from simple fares to not so very simple ones.  Every Sunday, our breakfast in my paternal grandparents' house would consist of tsokolate (made from cacao tablea and fresh carabao's milk), fried rice, scrambled eggs, vienna sausage, homemade chorizo recado and bas-oy ( an Ilonggo soup made of minced beef, tomatoes, onions...etc).  Meanwhile, next door was my grand-aunt's home where there was always some kind of food cooking in her kitchen, from pinangat, lumpia sariwa, homemade ice cream made of coconut, vanilla or cheese, but best of all was the Dulce Gatas (literally means milk candy). This Silay specialty was something "to die for" so to speak.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Ann Legaspi-Co, In Her Mother's Footsteps

When I was a little girl, there was only one person from whom we would order our birthday cakes - Tita Maguit Jalandoni-Legaspi.  She made the best mocha and chiffon cakes I have ever tasted and of course, her unrivaled Mocha Sans Rival par excellence. From the time Tita Maguit passed on, the cake making business in Silay was reduced to commercial ones and there was no one who made cakes that tasted as good.  Our birthday cakes were never the same again. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Silay History Trivia: Graciano Lopez Jaena And His Cousin, Eustaquio

Graciano Lopez Jaena is a national hero. He is also the first cousin of Eustaquio H. Lopez who settled in Silay around the mid 1800's.  Eustaquio is from Jaro, Iloilo. His parents are Fermin Hilaria Lopez and Fernanda Hechanova. Eustaquio is the eldest among a brood of 11 other brothers and sisters. La Solidaridad editor and reformist Graciano Lopez y Jaena is the son of Placido Hilaria Lopez, brother of Fermin.

Graciano Lopez y Jaena
The family of Eustaquio Lopez with his last wife, Ana Ayalin
Silay's oral history says that Eustaquio was one of the richest men in Silay during his time with at least 18 haciendas to his name, which included Hda. Dalinson in Kabankalan Norte. In fact according to those living there, you can find remnants of the winding stairs of his house somewhere in the hacienda. Not many people today know that Barangay Estaquio Lopez in Silay City was originally called Kabankalan Norte. During the Spanish colonial rule, Kabankalan Norte was a separate town from Silay. It had its own local government and parish. The successful Cinco de Noviembre revolution that triggered the end of colonial rule in the island of Negros was almost foiled in this town. A woman told the parish priest of Kabankalan Norte, Fr. Tomas Cornago of the impending revolt. He then inquired of his friend, Doroteo Quillama, cabeza of the barrio, seeking to verify the report. The cabeza claimed no knowledge of the revolt, when in fact he was very much involved in the planning.  After the revolution, Kabankalan Norte was already popularly known as E. Lopez probably because almost 99% of the landholdings in the area belonged to Don Eustaquio. On April 2, 1902, provincial governor Leandro Locsin decreed the annexation of E. Lopez to the nearby progressive town of Silay.  E. Lopez ceased to be a town and became a barrio of Silay.  Today, it is officialy known as Barangay E. Lopez.

So what about our national hero? Graciano went to live in Negros to escape the fury of the Spanish authorities in Iloilo after he wrote Fray Botod. It was never officially published, but a copy was widely circulated in the region to the ire of the friars, fortunately for Lopez they could never prove that he wrote it.  However because he was openly defiant against authorities and fought for justice, he got threats to his life. He decided to leave Iloilo and stayed with relatives in Silay and Saravia. With the help of his cousin Estaquio, Graciano Lopez fled to Barcelona Spain after staying in Silay for two years. While in Spain it was said that Eustaquio sent him regular financial support.  Eventually, Graciano feared that his relatives in Negros will be persecuted so, he added 'Jaena' to his surname to separate himself from the them and thereby sparing his family from suspicion. His family through his uncle in Saravia in gratitude for his help, gave Eustaquio a wooden Santo Niño which has since become a family heirloom and has been passed on to my family in 1981. What is ironic is that we only confirmed this as fact more than a hundred years later, when we were able to connect with Graciano Lopez Jaena's descendants - those of his brothers' families.  You see, Eustaquio Lopez is my great-great grandfather. When I was growing up, the story about the Santo Niño ranged from the improbable to the plausible. According to a grand aunt, the Santo Niño was hand carried by Lopez Jaena from Spain which to my young mind was impossible since this was not a small statue. And besides, my grand aunts were never were able to establish our family relationship to the hero. Graciano Lopez y Jaena never married.  He died in Spain, sick with TB and destitute.  But he had lots of nephews and nieces who now live right here in Negros Occidental. It was during an accidental meeting in 1994 with Mr. Rolly Espina, a prominent Ilonggo newsman, that I finally learned the true relationship between Graciano Lopez and my grandfather Eustaquio. He invited me to join them in the planning of a Lopez y Jaena Reunion.  After meeting with long lost relatives during the first Lopez reunion, I was able to get a more believable story about how our family got our Santo Niño.

Graciano and Eustaquio were close first fact Graciano came to Silay twice, the first time he stayed for 2 years before deciding to move to Spain, and the second time was when together with other nationalists, he came back to the country, but after being sent word that there was a pending arrest order from the Spanish authorities in Manila, he decided to go to Silay instead before escaping to Hongkong.

It's a pity that this part of Graciano Lopez Jaena's history has never been properly documented.

* The now defunct AIDSISA Sugar Central is located in Barangay E. Lopez.

Reference: The History of Brgy. E. Lopez
                Lopez Descendants of Silay

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Silay's Food Heritage: Emma Lacson's Original Silay Lumpia...and then more

There are many versions today of the Silay lumpia but there is only one original...and that is Emma Lacson's lumpia ubod.  All others are poor imitations.  Tita Emma's lumpia use fresh ubod (young coconut trunk meat), no decorative lettuce (yuck) and the thinnest homemade egg wrapper ever. The secret sauce is included in the filling (which is distinctive of most Silay lumpia) and they used to put in a green onion stalk but did away with it when they learned that people just threw it before eating.  I should know...I grew up surrounded by food and yes, I was one of those who threw away the green onion.  There was no big commercial food establishment in Silay when I was growing up, except maybe for El Ideal. So that when people wanted to eat a particular food, we would call a particular family known for making the best version in the city and make an order.  These food made from family recipes have been handed down from generation to generation and were not available commercially.  In fact, when one makes an order, it comes out as a request and a favor at the same time. Of course, that was then. Today, Tita Emma's lumpia ubod is available daily and the family "hobby" has now grown into a successful food business but still small and manageable. The one taking care of business is her youngest daughter Nora, or Baby to family and friends.  They have been featured in magazines and other bloggers have written about them, but as I told Baby when I came over to take pictures, I want to put on record and for people to know that they make the best that Silay can offer.  Other old favorites aside from the lumpia, are the empanada...often copied but never equalled; the paño-paño are mini tarts, so called because the banana filling is placed in a crust that is shaped and folded like a napkin; the senorita is made of several crispy crusts layered with caramel in between; and last but not the least, the very popular pili squares which is a relatively new addition (although it is an old family favorite but due to low supply of pili nuts before, orders were very limited) having been available commercially for only about 20 years or so, compared to the others which have been Silay favorites for probably the last 100 years.  The crispy empanada is great for afternoon snacks or tea while the rest are yummy desserts.  I should warn you though that once you start eating the paño-paño and the pili squares, it is hard to one should just take a few of the tarts  and  2 or 3 pieces of the squares and then keep them in a place as far away from you as least well until the next meal.   

Lumpia Ubod (Fresh Spring Rolls)
Pili Squares (small)
My memories of the Lacson house is not all about food...the patriarch of the house, Tito Rudy was my first dentist...see that door and stairs where the tricycle is parked?  That is where the most embarassing dental experience I have ever had in my entire childhood happened...but that is another story to tell for next time ;)

Retrieved from
The house is located at the corner of Rizal and Ledesma St (formerly Mckinley) right besides Bank of the Philippine Island-Silay Branch. Contact number is (02) 495-5047.  You can reserve orders from 6 AM to 6 PM.   Happy eating!!!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Tsokolate and Silay's Bizcocho Principe

An afternoon merienda staple in my grandparent's house was tsokolate and bizcocho principe.  The tsokolate is made from cacao round tablets (tablea) and fresh carabao's milk, although now-a-days because it is hard to get this, we use Alpine full cream milk instead, which is a good substitute in terms of taste. About 6 years ago, a friend who regularly goes home to Iloilo brought us tableas sourced from her hometown (Passi) and they smelled exactly like the ones my grandparents used to have. From then on, we would buy our stocks from her. It is also cheaper than the commercial one we used to get in supermarkets, the brand Antonio Pueo.  I also noticed that while before they only had the pure cacao, they have diversified into different products like the mixed kind of tablea which is more easily available here than the pure kind. But the taste of the Iloilo tablea in my opinion, is much better than this commercial one.

(Retrieved from
(Retrieved from
To this day, we cook our tsokolate in the same way as my grandmother's cook, Culing did...pure unadulterated tsokolate! We would have it during breakfast, poring it over our rice, or afternoon merienda together with suman, toasted pinipig, but the best for me was bizcocho principe...the original Silay version...and it is not the sweet kind of biscocho with sugar and baked butter on top or the ones that taste like toasted sponge cake sold in Bacolod and Iloilo.  The bizcocho principe I grew up on was a crunchy, mildly flavored, breadlike slice that literally melts in your mouth. For the longest time I have been looking for the original...and failed.  The ones being sold in Silay are what they now call...Kinihad, thin slices of toasted bread much like biscochos without the butter and sugar.  SIGH...then one fateful day (exactly one day ago), my Mom attended a meeting and she came home with.....yes! the bizcocho principe of my youth!  She said it is available in Hda. Luguay, a farm near the northern border of Silay which operates a bakery that makes specialized bread. This is the family where the owners of the famous 21 Restaurant of Bacolod belongs to. The bakery, I believe is a joint enterprise between the owners and farm workers which helps augment income during off sugar season.  This afternoon we ordered 2 packs and it was delivered just before merienda time :)

my afternoon merienda-09/23/11 - Tsokolate and Bizcocho Principe
I might as well share my family's Tsokolate recipe. I can honestly say that none of the other commercial tsokolate I have tried tastes as well as ours...but of course, I'm biased.  It is very rich and probably (^_^) fattening...that's why we use the little cups :)

My Family Tsokolate

3 tablea
3 cups of Carabao's milk or 1 (one) 370 ml can Alpine Full Cream Milk

Melt 3 tablea in 1 cup of carabao’s milk in a deep sauce pan using medium heat. Once melted, pour the remaining 2 cups of milk.  Bring to a boil and start mixing using a batidor (see picture above).  How to use a batidor: Place it in the saucepan, then roll the handle quickly between both flattened hands until bubbles are formed in the tsokolate. Serve in small espresso cups.


To order Hda Luguay's special breads (french baguette, bizcocho principe) either call: 4950536 anywhere in Negros where there is a PLDT phone. You can order their products and they deliver anywhere in Silay. Or you can pick it up in an agreed location. Or you can drop by their is on the left side of the highway after the bridge before the road to Central Hawaiian, if you are coming from Silay City.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

El Circulo Femenil de Silay and the Silay Puericulture Center

The Silay Puericulture Center was built in 1915 for P8,000 under the leadership of Dr. Jose Corteza Locsin, (later Senator and Secretary of Health), together with a group of women who called themselves El Circulo Femenil de Silay.  Their mission was to serve mothers and their babies. The center had a doctor, 2 nurses and 3 midwives offering medical services to the community during a time when infant mortality was high.  It was solely supported through the tireless efforts of these women raising money for its operations either by soliciting donations, government support, fund-raising activities like summer balls and bazaars, carnivals, concerts, food fairs, rummage sales, etc.  I remember fun summers as a teen when we would help in their activities since my mom was an active member and one of the last presidents of the club before it dissolved, mainly because government support for the puericulture center ended as well as the use of the building. Later, we learned that the building was used as an extension of the Silay City Health Office for rehabilitation and nutrition services.  Eventually, this too was transferred to another new location.

Looking at the old buildings and heritage houses in Silay brings back much memories and longing for things of the past. Life was so much simpler then. The puericulture center is where one of my brothers was delivered (an emergency one!), it was the place where Lola Miss (Miss Silva) spent all her years of dedicated nursing work, it was where we would ran for first aid every time we get hurt when playing in the plaza or in the surrounding neighborhood, and most importantly, it was the place where women could always come for free or low cost maternal health services. Behind the building used to be a large tennis court which also served as the venue for cultural shows and balls.  Today, the puericulture building is old and deteriorating.  It currently houses the different rescue groups of the city but I have a feeling that this building will be gone soon as it is not in the list of heritage structures.  It's a pity because it has a lot of important history in the growth and development of health services in Silay.  Maybe because I too am growing older that I feel that the present should always appreciate and learn from the past (yes, good and bad)... it is fact that the past has a lot to do with what we are now in the present.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Ang Manuglibod Sang Silay

Silay is not only known for it's heritage houses but also for its food.  I grew up enjoying gustatory delights such as lumpia ubod, dulce gatas, ibus mais, tortitas, masa podrida, pianono, señorita, piaya, bread pudding, butong-butong, salab, bañadas, butse, bichokoy, paño-paño, chicken empanada, chicken pie, panara, bitso-bitso, etc...brought daily by the friendly manuglibod (literally meaning, a person who goes around to sell aka a street hawker) for us to buy, of course!  One particular manuglibod whom I will never forget is Tya Sitang.  She was small and rotund with a really happy face, wearing a baro't saya and balances on her head this wide flat native basket (nigo in the vernacular) full of these food stuff but neatly and securely covered with white cloth.  She walks around the city with this on her head and I used to be fascinated with the fact that it never falls off.  The secret I later learned was in the white cloth that is rolled tightly and turned into a round circle to be placed between her head and the basket.  This little "cushion" was the thing that stabilized and balanced the basket.

(Picture retrieved from:
The manuglibog would balance the flat basket seen above on their heads similar to this woman with the jar (Retrieved from:

Every day at around 10 in the morning she would pass by my grandparent's house and we (both kids and adults) would eagerly watch as she would open her "nigo". Tya Sitang would always give me a rosy cheek smile and she would be very patient with us while we took our time looking over her "nigo" and choosing what we want to eat. The food items would always be placed in an orderly and circular manner so that it was very pleasing to the eye. It was always difficult to choose since, everything looked delicious. I would always reach out for the tortitas and pianono as we kids were allowed only 2 kinds each.  Sometimes, I would look at my Lola and she would allow me an extra ibus mais, or butse.  After the apos, my Lola would then buy merienda for her afternoon "pangingue", usually it's the panara or empanada.   In the past, the source of all these food were only two or three families who sold their "specialties" through the manuglibod.  Later on when other people started making similar food which they sold at a lesser cost, the manuglibod had alternative sources and a small industry developed.  Today, there is the so called "barter market" in Silay Public Market held every early morning where food items are displayed for sale or consignment to the manuglibod, most of whom now ply the Bacolod route, since Silay is no longer a lucrative market. The story I got from the traders was that initially it was an exchange system wherein each vendor would bring in only one kind of food and they would exchange products with each other however because of many problems encountered, the system is now generally COD.  The days of the flat basket are gone too and replaced by the regular native basket lugged around by the manuglibod, seen mostly in offices.  So what happened to the original flavors?  Since the manuglibod no longer source the food items from them, these families began taking direct orders, so that today the originals can still be bought directly from the homes either through phone orders or by just stopping by.  Of course, one has to pay a little more if they want the taste of the originals because even though how much people try to imitate, quality suffers because they scrimp on ingredients and of course, there are the mixes that the families have never shared with anyone, not even with their manugluto (cook), much more their manuglibod.  Emma Lacson's lumpia, señorita, chicken empanada, paño-paño and pili cake can never be equalled.  El Ideal's tortitas, chicken pie and bread pudding will always be one of a kind. The Legaspi sisters' piaya will always be the best.  I do not know who made my favorite pianonos but today's version can never match the taste of the past.  And Tya Sitang and those like her? They are a thing of the longer do we see gently swaying middle aged women walking down the road with laughing children greeting her excitedly over what goodies she has to offer. I miss those days...I miss Tya Sitang.