Showing posts with label street hawker. Show all posts
Showing posts with label street hawker. Show all posts

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.