August 2007


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We just say diversion to mean Benigno Aquino Avenue.  Such spectacular photo.  Thanks to Jun Rojas.  From the left side, you can take nice photos too of our Iloilo sunset

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That’s San Jose Church at Plaza Libertad at the heart of Iloilo City.  The devotion to the Sto. Nino which gave birth to the Dinagyang started in this Catholic church.

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Jun Rojas is certainly one of Iloilo’s award-winning photographers. Its not a profession for him, just a hobby. (He’s a businessman). I’m so, so happy because Jun said yes to my request to have his great photos featured here in iloveiloilo. We were classmates once in a basic photography class some years back. He moved on to perfect the art (he’s now into digital but just as skilled with manual photography) and reap awards while I moved down to point-and-shoot.

Jun has won awards at national and international levels.  His mastery of the of the camera’s capabilities (he’s a Canon guy) working in synergy with his artist’s eye brings you spectacular photos of ILOILO culture.

Above is a photo of a warrior participating in the Dinagyang, the popular festival of Iloilo happening every third week of January. 

Not because he’s my dear father. That’s coincidental. Its just that no kinilaw nga isda I’ve tasted so far has surpassed his recipe. The kinilaw of Doming’s Talabahan in Miagao, Iloilo comes in second place.

I grew up assisting my Papa On make the kinilaw–one of his many specialties. He was often requested by friends to prepare them for their parties. My job was to prepare the spices: sliver the hot peppers, chop the onions, garlic and ginger, mash the red eggs, open the can of black beans and grate the green mango.

I just revealed to you his prized ingredients. What’s missing? The filleted tangigue. Slice the meat into thin rectangles. TLC needed when handling the tangigue. Bathe the fillet in dalisay nga langgaw (pure, unadulterated, well-aged coco vinegar). Drain. Mix in the spices. Add the coconut milk. Refrigerate for a few hours and serve.

Well, I’ve been following Papa On’s kinilaw recipe, cooking it to impress my husband (ha,ha). Nah! Once in a while (needs plenty of prep time; not much on a working mom’s hands), I prepare it for him and his friends for the most special occasions. Kinilaw is not seen as a viand (I like it with rice, though) but more as a pulutan or partner in drinking sessions.


Located along the National road just a couple of kilometers before the town proper of heritage-rich Miagao is a rustic foodstop called Doming’s Talabahan. What started out as a place to eat talaba (oysters) drowned in a couple of beers or softdrinks has grown into a seaside place serving ala Tatoy’s, Ilonggo sugba-sugba (grilled) favorites such as manok (chicken), baboy (pork belly or pork chop), lukos (stuffed squid), isda (fish), atay sang baboy (pork liver) plus sinabawan nga isda (soured fish soup), kasag (crabs) and pasayan (shrimps), whenever they’re abundant, and the star of Doming’s Talabahan (in inday hami’s opinion) — its kinilaw nga isda.

Doming’s kinilaw comes close to my Papa On’s kinilaw because of its freshness and taste. Unlike other seafood restos in Iloilo city which are loyal to tangigue, Doming’s prefers bantalaan and even panit (both members of the tuna family). What’s more, the fish brought to Doming’s come direct from the waters of the area–Tigbauan, Guimbal, Miagao, San Joaquin. It couldn’t get any fresher than that.

As to the ingredients– you know there is no scrimping on the gata (coconut milk) and the chopped spices like garlic, onions, ginger and red peppers. The addition of grated hilaw nga paho (green mango) adds tartness to the spicy yet creamy explosion of kinilaw goodness. (oops that sounds corny! No wonder I couldn’t make it as a mainstream food writer.)

Anyway…really. It’s very good! One more thing, their servings are bigger but cheaper. As of last summer, a platito (saucer) of kinilaw costs P100 at the more established seafood restos in the city. At Doming’s, it’s a heaping platito…for less than a dollar.

I remember with amusement how two years ago, heavy with my 3rd baby, I’d endure two tricycle rides from my university base just to get my fill of Doming’s kinilaw, eaten with a cupful of rice and iced Mt. Dew. Ahh, the pleasure of that experience repeated a number of times. In hindsight, I guess I was at my panamkun stage. In Filipino, paglilihi. In English, I don’t know if there is an exact translation; that practice doesn’t seem to exist in the West.

kINILAW is thoroughly explored in the definitive book by Edilberto Alegre and the late Doreen Fernandez. It is any kind of meat or vegetable that is cooked in “liquid fire.” Long before the Spaniards came, we were already making kinilaw. One more thing, this dish is one of those things that unify us Filipinos; from North to South–Aparri to Jolo, we each have our own varieties of kinilaw. Thus, kinilaw is truly Philippine.

The West Visayas region (that includes Iloilo of course) has its distinctive kinilaw versions. The most popular is kinilaw nga isda. But not all fish are ideal for kinilaw. Most preferred is tangigue. A student of mine did a research on why tangigue it is. One rustic seaside restaurant in Miagao, though, prefers bantalaan, a member of the tuna family. (check out Doming’s Kinilaw). Another kinilaw choice is the gurayan (sorry, I still need to research on the scientific and English names of these fish).

There are two basic kinilaw nga isda. One is vinegar-based; the other is gata-based (with coconut cream).

The secret of great fish kinilaw? The freshest fish and the purest coconut vinegar or what we call as dalisay.

Another kind of kinilaw that is popular with us, Ilonggos, is kinilaw nga baboy (pork). The parts used are the panit (skin) and the maskara (pig jowl and ears) because they’re tastier than the pork’s regular parts. Unlike the kinilaw nga isda which is raw then cooked in vinegar, kinilaw nga baboy starts out cooked–either by boiling (laga) the meat lightly or broiling (sugba) over charcoal. After this, the pork is sliced into thin strips and spiced up.

Not so popular but also prepared in Iloilo is kinilaw nga panit sang kanding (goat skin). Yes, that’s right. I found one stall in San Miguel market specializing in this and all other viands made from the meehe , the goat. Come to think of it, goat-meat is organic as compared to commercially or backyard-raised baboy.

Hmm, let me think. What else is gina-kilaw in Iloilo? Right now, my mind is stuck. If you’re Ilonggo, perhaps you know of some other varieties.

More reads:
Basic KINILAW recipe
Doming’s Kinilaw
Papa On’s Kinilaw: my first pick