Sunday, October 9, 2011

Silay City Hosts the Philippine Blog Awards - Visayas

It's official.  The Philippine Blog Awards - Visayas will be held in the heritage city of Silay, Negros Occidental on November 12, 2011 Mayor Jose "Oti" Montelibano has graciously agreed to host the event in cooperation with the Negros Bloggers led by their president, H. James Toga of the Negros Daily Bulletin. The core group had their first of many weekly meetings last Thursday, October 6, 2011 to plan for the activities during the event.  It is interesting to note that the next day, November 13 is the parish fiesta of Silay - The Feast of San Diego de Alcala.  There is a planned walking tour around the city for those interested to know more about it's heritage, lifestyle, culture and food.For more information and updates, please visit the Negros Blogger and PBA website.  We will be putting up a registration page soon...we hope to see you in the event!  

From left: H. James Toga, Atty. Eli Gatanela, Elena Gatanela, Mayor Jose "Oti" Montelibano, Gil Severino, Maritel Ledesma (photo courtesy of H.James Toga/NDB)

First meeting - October 6, 2011  from left: Atty. Eli Gatanela, ELena Gatanela, Glady Tumolto, Maritel Ledesma, Marchel Espina, Eduardo Joven (photo courtesy of H.James Toga/NDB)

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!!!

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!