November 2007


For my Sunday market ritual at San Miguel, I found several varieties of shrimp among others.  Since my budget will not allow the so, so enticing lukon or tiger prawns (P550 per kilo), I settled on the white shrimps beside it, which looked equally fresh anyway. 

Balaskugay.  That’s what the shrimp vendor called it (I should get her name next time).  It is cultured in tab-ang, or brackish water, growing in shrimp ponds in  Carles.  I got 1/4 kilo for P60.00 or P240.00 per kilo.  That’s relatively cheap considering it would fall on the large category and it was still very fresh. 

Marketing tip:  For really fresh shrimps, go to the wet market early, say at 6-7 a.m.  By noontime, the shrimps are already tired from all the exposure, that if you are sensitive to them, you’ll end up with an itchy throat.

There’s another variety which looks darker.  That’s also good.  Will have to ask  manang for its local name next time.

The balaskugay I bought ended up as soft and light tempura.

My apologies.  Pix of balaskugay will still have to be downloaded from cp and uploaded to the net. 

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Utan nga tambo loves bagongon.  (await post from Charity).  We buy this by the lata (an evap milk can).  Bagongon is also perfect with utan nga gabi.

Yesterday, Inday Hami’s special request was to have batchoy while Nonoy Rad wanted chicken.  Ok, this weekend, its Inday Hami’s pick.  Nonoy Rad will have his chicken inasal the following week.

So off we went to Ric Rugged’s Batchoy near Mandurriao Church.  A guy in his early 50s was preparing the bowls of miki.  This must be Ric.  Without hesitation (before my shyness got me), I asked him “Nga-a Ric Rugged ngalan sang batchoyan mu, Nong?” (Why is your batchoyan named Ric Rugged, sir?”)

He smiled and told me his story.  You know rugged?  Back in the 80s, that was a term referring to jeanswear which was “in” at that time.  The tailoring shops were busy making maong jeans.  

That’s right.  Ric Araneta was a tailor.  He thought of venturing into food when a friend taught him how to make batchoy.    So, in 1989 he started his small batchoyan near the Mandurriao gym (now, his place is near the church).  Just like any small batchoyan, it didn’t have a name.  Whenever people wanted Nong Ric’s batchoy, they just referred to it as “mamatsoy ta kay Ric Rugged” (“Let’s have batchoy at Ric Rugged’s”)  The name has stuck.  Prior to the conversation with Nong Ric,  I used to think that  the Rugged in Ric had to do with the place, being simple and well…rugged.   It does pay to ask.  The value of research. Now, we know better. 

Anyway, having that chat with Ric Rugged yielded more interesting info regarding batchoy.  That’s knowledge and wisdom from the local folk. 

For one, he said that the secret to caldo is  the tui/tuwi (?) of the pig.  It’s what gives the batchoy broth or  caldo its distinct flavor.  Needed too are the beef (baka) and carabeef (carabao) bones.  The carabeef are much better than the beef bones.  The longer they stay, the more flavor they produce, he said.   

Some batchoyan add ginamos (shrimp paste) in their batchoy.  Ric doesn’t add ginamos anymore for he can no longer find the the dark colored ginamos (laon) that is ideal for batchoy.  It seems like the tradition of producing this ginamos has disappeared.  (Inday Hami will check on this. )

Ric Rugged also misses the Marca Manok brand of vetsin that was really an ingredient of the traditional batchoy.  This was produced by the Chinese owner of Espanola at the downtown.  When the owner died, the recipe went with him.

Ric Rugged also told me about another old batchoyan–Inggo’s, now at Iloilo’s Central Market.  He used to frequent it in his younger days.  The folks at Inggo’s even mentioned that long before Ted’s and Deco’s were established, Inggo’s was already around.  Ted’s and Deco’s owners were actually helpers at Inggo’s batchoyan, originally at La Paz Public Market.  Hmm, that’s an interesting point to confirm.

Two last things: Ric Rugged cooks his own chicharon for the batchoy.  Namit.  Also, you can forego the msg (just like we do.  Just tell him or his assistants not to put vetsin in the bowl.)  Other batchoyans prepare their broth in the big cauldron with msg in it already, so even if you request for no msg, its pointless.

Learned a lot from a Sunday afternoon eating batchoy at Ric Rugged’s.

More reads:

Batchoy of Iloilo

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Whenever relatives, friends and associates come over to Iloilo, their visit will never be complete without batchoy.  After all, Iloilo is synonymous with batchoy.

The late Philippine food and culture guru,  Doreen Fernandez, wrote a very thorough essay on batchoy.  I’ll post it here sometime.

Batchoy is basically   a sweet meat broth with fresh noodles (miki) topped with slices of pork meat and innards, fried chopped garlic, spring onions (sibuyas dahon) and crushed pork cracklings (chicharon).

Ted’s  batchoy is the most popular, having had a headstart in marketing it upstream. (They have branches in Manila already..but haven’t tried them there).

Lately though, Deco’s is challenging Ted’s supremacy.   What used to be a typical batchoyan at La Paz Market, Deco’s has been given a sleek image by the owners of Mang Inasal.   

Ted’s and Deco’s are not the only batchoy places in Iloilo.  Batchoy is everywhere.  I should say batchoy is the soup of the Ilonggo public. Before Ted’s and Deco’s became cozy and airconditioned, these two  were rugged batchoyans inside the La Paz Public Market catering to marketgoers and market vendors alike.  That’s why, the marketplace or tienda is the place to go for a batchoy adventure.

So  far (I haven’t tried that many yet)  the batchoyan that I keep coming back to is found at the dry goods market in the town of Pototan.  It’s called TAK’s, short cut for Takya…Eustaquia, its owner.  The meat broth is not watered-down but heavy with real carabeef flavor.

Another batchoy, the one Inday Hami likes is found along Mandurriao Plaza.  It’s called Ric Rugged’s Batchoy (that’s pix above) Fancy name, huh? It sure is rugged.  No plush seats and tables.  Inday Hami even likes climbing the 40 degree ladder/stairs? to eat her twenty peso tasty batchoy at Ric Rugged’s “balcony.” 

Now, I’m really hungry.  It’s 1:15 p.m. already.  I think you know what I just craved for.  Till the next post.

P.S.  If you know of a great batchoyan, tell us about it at iloveiloilo, ok?

Dr. Socorro Martinez, a radiologist based at St. Paul’s is an active member of PSI or the Photographic Society of Iloilo.  You can also see a couple of her works at the PSI exhibit currently shown at the UPV ART GALLERY.  Prior to that, she had a one-woman exhibit at Newpost along Gen. Luna St. , Iloilo city fronting JD Cafe.

While waiting for the exhibit at the UPV Gallery to open, I got into a light conversation with Dr. Martinez.  There I discovered that aside from her passion for photography, she has found herself getting involved in humanitarian work. 

It was not a planned thing, she said.  A couple of friends and she thought of putting up a dance show to raise money to pay for the chemotheraphy and other medications of three poor Ilonggo children suffering from cancer.  (One is a 4 year old from Dumangas, another is a 5 yr. old from Pavia and the third is 14 years old from Guimaras.) 

The show which they entitled “Cross-Over Dance Concert” was held on March 25-26, 2007.   Although they had less than a month to prepare, “Cross-Over” came out a success.

Inspired by that project, Dr. Martinez and her friends decided to formalize their group which they registered as KKK or Kaibigan ng mga Kabataang May Kanser.  KKK’s mission is to “aid indigent children with cancer and their families through enhancing their emotional, social and medical well-beings.”  Their website is already up: http://www. iloilokanserkids.com

This coming December 16, 2007, KKK is sponsoring back-to-back plays from the Ateneo de Manila theater group:  “Ang Sistema ni Propesor Tuko” by Al Santos and “Tatlo Tatlo” by Rene Villanueva.    There will be two runs–matinee at 3:00 p.m. and gala at 6:00 p.m.    The proceeds of the plays will go to the needs of the children with cancer.

You can also reach Dr. Martinez at psikuramar@yahoo.com

Inday Hami believes in the cause, thus, this post.

We call them kamonsil/kamunsil.  In Luzon, it’s called camachile.

November is not yet the season for kamonsil.  Wait till summer.  Along the national highway going south, particularly nearing Iloilo’s southernmost town, San Joaquin, you will see lined up along the road, small tables with plastic bowls or plates of  kamonsil for sale.

Right now, I’m reminded of  a kind of traditional biscuit called kamonsil.  Panaderia de Molo, for one, has it.

In a couple of hours, I’m off to the University of the Philippines Art Gallery housed at an Ilonggo heritage  treasure, the Arellano building (now the main building of UPV’s Iloilo campus).  Jun Rojas and his fellow photographers from PSI or the Photographic Society of Iloilo will have their exhibit opening this afternoon at 5:00 p.m.

I’ve met a number of these PSI artists and seen their works.  Photography for them is an avocation, a passion.  Jun Rojas  for instance, is a businessman.  So is Jessie Garcia  Carlos GarciaVic Pido is an orthopedist.  Therese Jarantilla is a dentist…

Hopefully, we can get their awesome shots featured here exclusively in ILOVEILOILO.

If you happen to be here in Iloilo at around this month, do visit the UPV Gallery for PSI’s Photo Exhibit as well as the Art Gallery’s own collection .

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