Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Colegio de Santa Teresita

The Missioneras Siervas de San Jose came to the Philippines in May 1932 and established themselves in San Jose, Antique. In 1933, they moved to Silay, where they established the only private, Catholic secondary school in the city to this day.  The name of the school was adopted from the original name of the parochial school in the city, calling itself Colegio de Sta. Teresita however this was later anglicized to St. Theresita's Academy, more popularly known by its acronym, STA.  Initially the school was established in a house rented from Don Jose "Pepe" R. Ledesma on June 13, 1933 with pioneer sisters Mother Amancia Bautista, Milagros Sarmiento, Anunciation Marco and Olivio Moreno as teachers. This area is now the Rural Bank of Silay City, owned by the descendants of Don Pepe. Part of the original wall of the building and the grills are still intact as you can see in the second picture below.

In 1950, the school transferred to it's present location in Rizal Street offering educational services for pre-school, primary and secondary pupils. The High School department was for female students only, until 1984 when they started accepting boys in the secondary level.

Seventy eight years after the sisters arrived, a lot has changed.  Once upon a time we called them Mothers (I was told that this was their title when they become professed nuns) they no longer use that title and are all referred to as Sisters regardless of rank. They used to have internas...usually children of well-off families from the southern and northern part of the province who found it difficult to travel to and from school everyday.  Spanish was a major subject taught daily from kindergarten to high school.  It was even one of the academic awards a student can get at the end of the year.  I can still sing the Spanish nursery rhyme Niña Bonita  taught by Mo. Magdalena Braganza, my pre-school teacher who is turning 90 in November, retired and yes, is on Facebook :)  Today Spanish is no longer taught. Work Education is now HELE and unlike before when we were required to make samplers of stitches, now-a-days it's all about computers. Yes, a lot has changed...even the name of the congregation has evolved...from MSSJ to SSJ.  But all these changes have not altered the school's mission of providing integral education to its students using the Holy Family as a model teaching the Nazareth values of austerity, humility, simplicity and charity. I would like to believe that majority of the graduates of STA continue to live these values in their lives.  I know I do.

The SSJ and STA have every reason to celebrate this year. Their foundress, Blessed Bonifacia Rodriguez Castro will be elevated to the register of Saints on October 23, 2011. Gracias a Dios por esta bendición!

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.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Forgotten Ruins - The Old Port of Silay

As a child growing up in Silay, I would listen to stories of the past told by my dad and later on as a young adult, by my grandmother who would be my off and on roommate when she was in Silay.  One of these stories was about the old port in Silay.  I have never been near the ruins but then there was no need to go near it because it was very visible from the distance at a time when the surrounding area was just tall grass and weeds. In the 60's and even up to mid-70's all we had to do was drive down to the Boulevard...the name we called the south road to Mambulac, a coastal barrio of  the city....and there it was....awesome!   Now-a-days, you won't see it unless you go near the area.  I remember the first time I saw it, I think I was 6 or 7 yrs old and I felt this great sense of fascination...perhaps an early sign of my interest in history.  I wonder now if  up close I would get that same feeling as when I saw it from afar back then?   Probably not, because  then nobody really paid much attention to it except that it was said to be the longest port in the country in the Spanish era with a distance of 2 kms or, you were a history buff like my dad.  Even today, there is not much information about the port said to have been built in the early 1800's, which seems logical because that was the time when Silay began to be called "Paris of Negros"...where arts, culture, music and good food were all part of the inhabitants' daily life.  I can imagine the ships that brought to the shores of Silay artists, singers, commercial goods and luxury items coming from Manila and abroad. I can just picture the hustle and bustle of the port and how exciting life must have been. When and why did the Silay port fall out of use...the most logical reason I believe is due to natural the years went by the coastline moved further so that the changed sea level no longer allowed the ships to dock, or...coastal erosion may also have happened.

I don't know if the city has any plans to develop the area of the old port, but I hope they will do something to preserve what is left of it.  After all these ruins have withstood the test of time on its own.

Photo courtesy of Mr. Bob Lacson

How to get there:

DIY via Barrio Mambulac.  Your friendly tricycle driver can bring you there.  Please be warned to wear boots or rain boots because it is quite muddy.

or visit the Tourism office in the Silay Civic Center to get a guide or directions

For those who just wants to see it from a short distance (not up close) the best place for viewing is Sunburst Bay Resort, where you can take a hike through their fishponds and see the old port in all it's glory. There is a small entrance fee to the resort (P30 to 40).