January 2008


  By Rizelle F. Navarro*

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As I was looking across the endless horizon, several shadows slowly appeared and became clearer into my vision as it approached the shoreline. Those were small boats carrying determined brave men who aim to win the race. Their success depends on how fast they paddle and the mobility of their boats. The first racer to touch the flag at the finish area would be declared as winner. This is how the baroto race is done.

Barangay Nipa is one of the 25 barangays in Concepcion, Iloilo which practice the tradition of palumba or baroto race or small boat racing. The baroto race is a competition of speed among small boats usually operated by sail, paddle or motor engine.

Concepcion is small coastal town located on the northern part of Iloilo. Aside from the mainland barangay, the town has under its wing more than 10 island barangays. Fishing is the main livelihood of the residents. This mainland barangay produces good quality baroto for palumba. Builders of these baroto are usually fisherman themselves. They make boats when there is an order. They are only paid for their labor because the materials are provided by the customer. One can also acquire a boat for the race by purchasing other fishermen’s boat.

 

Normally, fishermen usually buy or make boats of their own. The carpenters or panday makes different kinds of boats depending on its purpose. It is either for fishing, transportation of goods, ferrying of passengers or for sports competition.

According to the book authored by Prof. Henry Funtecha, “The Fishing and boat building Industries in Western Visayas: History and it’s Significance,” smaller kind of boats such as baroto or bangka are usually used for fishing or for the palumba. Baroto or bangka is the general term nearly referring to every type of West Visayan boat. Baroto is made up of wood from different type of trees found in the locality. It has a katig or a wooden framework attached to each side of the boat for support. It is usually operated by motor engine, sail or bugsay (paddle).

The tradition of palumba in Barangay Nipa started in the 1940’s with the use of bugsay (paddle) or layag (sail). According to 78 year-old Vivencio Navarro Sr. (he’s actually my lolo ), a former Bgy. Captain of Nipa, a fisherman and a panday himself, fishermen on their way home would compete with each other. They would paddle as fast as they could in order to arrive first at the coastline and be declared as winner. That motivated those who were left behind to improve their baroto for better chances the next time. Back in the 40s, baroto race was merely for leisure, a past time activity. Tuba or bino was their bet. The loser buys the tuba and they would altogether enjoy in simple celebration. `As time went by, fishermen in Nipa tend to pangayaw (to wander); the tradition of going to other sitios or barangay to challenge other fast paddlers there to a palumba. The information of having rivals in other places triggered this event.

Aside from bugsay (oars), the fishermen also used layag (sails). This was during windy season. Layag were made of katsa (cheese cloth) or bandahan, large and thick sacks. During 1945-1948, banig was use as alternative because katsa became expensive due to the war. Banig was locally made by women in Nipa.

Thirty years of informal palumba, the baroto race was turned into a formal competition in 1970. This was usually done during fiestas, promotions and festivals. Fishermen and boat racers from different barangays joined to show their skill and pride in their trusted baroto and hoping to gain prizes too. The 70s was also the time when a new palumba category was devised —barotos with motor engines.

Wilfredo Bonito is a skilled boat builder and a participant in the palumba. He focuses on making his baroto faster and competitive. According to him, baroto should be light and easy to maneuver. The materials to use are very important such as the type of wood and propeller to be used. Most importantly, one should be optimistic in boat racing, he advised.

The palumba continues to be held during fiestas and other special occasions. I really enjoy watching it and hearing the loud voices around me cheering for their bets. Families and friends are gathered together to experience the excitement and fun. Fiestas would never be complete without the baroto race for it is one of the highlights. Why?

Because the baroto is the symbol of the hardworking Concepcionanon whose life is so closely tied to the sea.

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*RIZELLE F. NAVARRO.  “I love to play chess and basketball.  For your comments about my article please email at

rizelle_navarro@yahoo.com.ph.”

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By Elizabeth R. Gonzales*

The last woman I saw wearing a patadyong was my grandmother. She was a Cebuana, but got to spend the rest of her days in Antique for she married my grandfather from Antique. Like alitaptap, I also have this strange feeling that such a topic belongs to ancients.

            Seeing my grandmother wearing her patadyong made me wonder how the patadyong came about.  So here goes my lola’s answer: According to the Maragtas Legend, Datu Lubay taught the villagers how to weave. If the Antiquenos are proud of their patadyong in Bugasong, it is because of Datu Lubay.  He is said to be one of our last known Bornean forebearers. Some say that he was different because he was an artist. Nevertheless, it was said that it was because of him that patadyong weaving became one of the oldest continuing customs in our town.

Patadyong weaving is one of the oldest industries in my hometown Bugasong, particularly in Brgy. Bagtason. The weaving industry there is very evident and weaving is as natural as breathing. In almost every balcony of the houses there, you can see a lot of tiral.  Tiral is a wooden loom used by the weavers to produce patadyongs of different designs. If the dressmakers have their sewing machines, the weavers have their tiral.

Now, you may ask what the heaven is patadyong. Patadyong is the cloth of man y colors of stripes, squares, and rectangles. It is like a malong (the tubelike garment of the Muslims) but with a checkered or plaid design. The patadyong has a variety of uses.   Primarily, women used it as a skirt , paired with a blouse called kimona.  Also, the patadyong  was used as a mobile, personalized bathroom because in the olden days, women took their bath and washed their clothes in the river. With either one hand or their teeth holding the patadyong,  they soap and clean their bodies with another hand, assured of protection from malicious eyes.  I remember my lola would  take her baths at the water pump outside the house, using her patadyong  to cover her up.

            The patadyong was also used as a hammock for babies and for transporting the sick across hills, valleys, and rivers.

            Being a Bugasongnon (that is how people from Bugasong are named), I have always been hearing a lot about the patadyong made in Bugasong but I haven’t seen any of it yet. I haven’t even been to Barangay Bagtason yet-until I went there on September 9, 2007.

            It was my first time to go there and I nearly got lost. I was making my way along the dusty roads of Bagtason under the extreme heat of the sun and I felt like cursing, not because I hated the idea of walking, but because I was starting to get nervous. How could I be calm when I did not have any idea who and where these patadyong weavers were.

I felt so lost, literally. Luckily, I saw a group of handsome passersby, on their way to the barangay chapel.  So I asked them if they knew where the house of one of the weavers is.  They walked me to Eden Serra‘s house.

            Mrs. Serra is a 55 year-old weaver who’s been weaving for almost 30 years-almost half of her life. Not only does she weave patadyong, she makes dresses and hats out of hablon as well.   Hablon are hand-woven textiles, sometimes in muted colors and sometimes in combination with silk threads.   Although both are hand-woven, hablon does not employ checkered patterns. 

            Among the many weavers in Bagtason is also Florita Cadapan who has been weaving patadyong for almost 30 years. Her house is just a step away from  56 year-old Yolanda Valenzuela‘s house, still another patadyong weaver.   She has been weaving patadyong for almost 43 years since she started at 13.

            Like Bugasong, Iloilo also produces patadyong as well as other woven cloth since it was once the textile capital of the Philippines.  Today, with the change in lifestyle, demand for the patadyong is only for special occasions. Many of the children of weavers would rather work as factory workers or domestic helpers rather than spend their time in front of the old tiral.   

            I hope this tradition of weaving colorful patadyong will gain more recognition and patronage for it is what gives Bagtason, Bugasong, Antique its identity.

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* Elizabeth R. Gonzales is a 2nd year BA Broadcast Communication student at the University of the Philippines Visayas. She sleeps, eats, and breathes music and movies. She loves medieval history and literature oh so very much. She even has this illusion that she was guinevere or isolde in her previous life. She is highly romantic, yet ironically, a love cynic. She cannot swim or sing well, but she can dance. She hates sentimentalism but then again, she feels like crying everytime she hears Hale’s Broken Sonnet and Alanis Morissette’s Ironic

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*By Pia Regina Zamora 

How do you call a 73-year old guy who never finished elementary, had two failed marriages prior to his present love life, but has developed a number of machines borne out of inherent intelligence? You can call him anything you want but for conversation’s sake, let’s give him the name Senor.                                                        

When he was young, Señor Bonilla never liked to go to school. He would cut classes and just go anywhere. With that, he was hated by his teacher. But according to him, there was really this incident that made him decide to stop school. In their classroom, there was the teacher’s platform.  With the growing dislike by his teacher for him and vice-versa,  he bore a large hole into the platform and covered it with a thick cloth. As expected, his teacher stepped unknowingly into the trap and fell on her backside.  Her skirt rose up to her thighs, giving everyone  a full view.   The whole class burst out laughing and Señor, of course, had the loudest.

When he went home, he told all his friends about the prank and remarked, “Ay hala! Maestra namon katsa ang panty!. (Oh no! Our teacher wears a canvas  undergarment!”) Her teacher eventually heard about it and whipped him really hard.  Senor accepted the brutality wholeheartedly; he was just too happy to finally have the reason to quit school.

 Anyway, Señor left school after fourth grade and helped in the farm. He was very keen in observing the best planting practices for rice and other crops.   During his teenage years, he found work in a furniture shop in Mambusao, Capiz. He would make wooden cabinets and peddle them along the streets of nearby barangays. But because income was not good, he left his job and tried his luck, as everybody else does, in Manila. He did odd jobs and even ventured into photography,  taking pictures  people for souvenirs.  He did several jobs other than those already mentioned that listing them all would fill the whole page.

With every vocation came a new place to visit.  He had gone to Mindanao, several parts of Visayas, and of course, Luzon. He called all these escapades of his as “lagaw.” This would explain all his flings and his two failed marriages which were brought about by his adamant ability to hop from place to place.

When Senor came back to Iloilo, he came to work in a factory in Janiuay. And because being observant was innate in him, he studied  how the “galingan” mechanisms of the Japan-made machines worked. His observation led to the completion of his invention. But prior to his major invention, he already had previous experiences with metals. In the year 1960, alongside his job at the factory, he started making ice cream carts for the Morning Star Ice Cream, Star of the Sea Ice Cream and Dairy Gold Milk

His inquisitive and workaholic nature led him to develop  Johnny’s Ice Cream.   He learned the art of  making  ice cream with the use of  gata or coconut milk  as a key ingredient. It was in the arduous task of continuously mixing the ingredients  that he came to realize the value of the Japanese-made “galingan.”

Day and night, he would think and dream about it. He thought of all the materials that were needed and the way to piece them together. On that same year, he bought scrap metal and rubber and made the first ever locally made mechanized ice cream mixing machine in Iloilo city. It proved to be  much more efficient than the usual mano-mano style of mixing.

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Johnny’s Ice Cream benefited from his invention. After this positive turnout, orders for the machine came pouring in. Several came from Calinog, Calumpang, Sta. Barbara, and even as far as island of Negros.  Aside from ice cream machines, Senor Bonilla also fabricated 14 processional “caros” for the religious celebrations of Calumpang.

In the year 1968, his dynamic lifestyle started to lie low when he began working as a construction worker for the DPWH (Department of Public Work and Highways) in Iloilo. After several promotions, he became the head of the construction unit for the whole province. Four years prior to his promotion, however, he had started, yet another business of his, the Carling Special Ice Cream. 

Everything was going well with Señor until his house and the ice cream factory at Timawa, Iloilo city, was demolished for a road widening project. After that fateful day, Carling Ice Cream remained passive but still, hope remained for the entire Bonilla family.

From the year 1987 onwards,  Señor continued making his machines but produced no  ice cream of his own. Finally in 1992, at their new location at Molo Boulevard, Senor Bonilla made a comeback.   Carling Special Ice Cream was peddled once more along the streets of Iloilo City.

At the time of this successful rejuvenation, he also made his last ice cream mixing machine for   Garinfarm.  Since then, he has stopped fabricating his mechanized ice cream machines.  Why? He said, “Tigulang na ko ah. Tak-an na ko.” (I’m already old and I’m tired.)

At present, he stays at home, manages a sari-sari store, a small money lending business, and his Carling’s Ice Cream. He also admires his son, Carlo, for putting up his own ice cream business. As his heyday is over, he now enjoys the comfort that his family gives him and the occasional drinking sessions with his buddies.

As this conversation closes, you are left to answer this: “How do you call a 73-year old guy who never finished elementary, had two failed marriages prior to his present love life, but had produced  a number of machines borne out of inherent intelligence?”  When you say that he is a suave, charismatic and street smart guy with a perfect combination of wit, humor, enthusiasm and determination, you get the jackpot. But laconic humans who always shorten their verbal outbursts, would simply say, “He is one great guy!”

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*Pia Regina Fatima Zamora is second year BS Public Health student of the University of the Philippines Visayas.  She loves to read suspense thrillers and watch them as well.  Email address: tonigiov@yahoo.com

By Rovilyn R. Faiwas*

One would wonder, what in the world is a linagpit? Derived from the word “lagpit” or “being stuck between”, linagpit is a specialty of San Joaquin, Iloilo.  These are really small fish called bisya wrapped in a banana leaf parcels and clamped by a bamboo stick that look like tongs.  The wrapped bisya is inserted between the two arms of the bamboo stick, referred to as the arasalan

I asked a person from our barangay what kind of fish bisya is. She said that bisya are baby  bangrus or milkfish (chanus chanus). It seems to me that she is not sure of her answer so I asked Mr. Mel Cinchon, librarian of the UPV College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. He said that he is not really familiar with bisya so handed me a book instead. The book is entitled, Philippine Fishes and their Local Names.  Maybe it is just a twist of fate or I really can’t find the word bisya in that book. Fortunately, the word humoy humoy is listed there. Humoy Humoy is what the people in Antique and Aklan called the fish that San Joaquinhons call bisya. Humoy humoy, also known as tabilos/tabilus is under the family Leiognathus and has the scientific name of leiognathus elongates. Its English name is slender ponyfish.

People in the town of San Joaquin catch bisya for a living. They use nets with fine holes to catch this nearly invisible fishes which often wander in shallow waters during clear nights. When you unwrap a linagpit, the colour of the bisya is white, different from its original transparent look while at sea.

I asked myself, “Why should I write about this linagpit thing? I found the following answers: one, my former topic didn’t work out well. Two, I can get information about this linagpit quite easily since some people in our barangay know how to make linagpit. Third and above all else, San Joaquin is the only place I know where linagpit is being made and sold. Clearly, I want to showcase my town’s uniqueness and I hope that by writing about linagpit, people will know and appreciate the culture of San Joaquinhons.

Anyway, I interviewed Mrs. Flora Pio, also known in our barangay as Manang Flora, a linagpit maker.  Living just two houses away from our house. I went to visit and found Manang Flora and family watching TV. I wish I could just watch TV. But Marimar will just dance at my problems; she’ll never be able to answer my research questions.  

 I asked Manang Flora if she could spare me a few minutes.  She was puzzled at my interest in her work which to her, was probably very ordinary.

She said that the tradition of making linagpit has been in their family as far as she can remember. The art was handed down to her by her mother, who got  it from her own mother.  But who taught her grandmother how to cook linagpit? Manang Flora said she doesn’t know.

For many generations now, the art of linagpit making has been their family’s livelihood. Together with her daughter, Mrs.  Nemia Abrito, they make 24 sticks of linagpit out of 2 gantas of bisya.  A stick of linagpit costs 20 pesos.

There are two ways of selling linagpit. One is for the makers to go to the market and sell the linagpit themselves.  The other way is to let someone sell it at the terminal. This process is called pag-alsa. The makers of linagpit will give the cooked linagpit to the vendors, who will sell the product. The agreement usually, is that half of the money will go to the vendors, the other half, to the makers.  Manang Flora sells her products on her own.

Mrs. Adelina Saylon, another linagpit maker, invited me to experience first hand how to make linagpit,. I gladly accept her invitation.

At  4 o’clock Wednesday morning (that’s right, 4:00 A.M.),  I went to Manang Adelina’s house. Manang Adelina wants to finish selling her linagpit early, so she always starts making them very early in the morning.  Besides, Wednesday is a good day to sell linagpit at Tiolas, for it is its market day. Tiolas is the stopover for vehicles before they embark on the zig-zaggy road across the mountains to the province of Antique.  This makes Tiolas an ideal place to sell food to commuters and private travelers on their way to Antique.

 When I reached her house, Manang Adelina, immediately ushered me to their kitchen. In their kitchen table were the materials and ingredients to be used in making linagpit: 2 gantas of bisya, 25 pieces of arasalan each a ruler long, 75 pieces of banana leaves, and sea salt.

To start, I washed the bisya. The fishes are soft and slippery and well, smell like fish of course.   Because the bisya are extremely tiny, it seemed like they melted into the water.  Its difficult to see them if you possess a not so good pair of eyes. I drained the  bisya in the saran or sieve.

Manang Adelina took over and added sea salt to the bisya to flavor it.  Next, she put the bisya onto the banana leaves resting on the table. One cup of bisya for three banana leaves. With deft hands, Manang Adelina seals in the bisya, folding the banana leaves into mini plump squares.   She told me that the banana leaves don’t just serve as wrapping for the bisya; the leaves give the fish a nice aroma.

The next step was to slip the square pillows of bisya between the split bamboo stick which clamped it tight.   She tied the open end of the arasalan so the linagpit won’t slip. The final step was to cook the linagpit over glowing charcoal.  After several minutes, the linagpit was ready for hungry travelers.

Linagpit making has been with the San Joaquinhons for many generations now. As time passes by and with the introduction of new technologies, some Filipino traditions are slowly disappearing. I hope this will not happen with the linagpit for this tradition helps strengthen our identity as  San Joaquinhons.

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*Rovilyn Faiwas is proudly San Joaquinhon.  She studies at UPV in the adjacent town of Miagao.

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Text and photos by Franielyn Tagolgol* 

No regrets… Absolutely! That’s how I’m feeling right now. I’m so lucky that I’ve come to Iloilo. It’s my home away from home. Want to ask why? From the island of MILF’s and Abu Sayyaf, I really went here just to pursue my career and to study at University of the Philippines Visayas in Miagao, Iloilo.   I thought I wouldn’t enjoy staying here. But, no, no! With many fascinating sites in Iloilo, it’s difficult to leave this place. Much more than that,  Ilonggo food is so delicious. That’s what Iloilo is known for… It’s already their trademark. There’s the famous batchoy, pancit molo, biscocho, etc… But there is another one in which Miagaowanons (Ilonggos from the heritage town of Miagao) could be proud of. And it’s the native snack called  bayi-bayi  – bite-sized rice or corn cakes flavored with coconut and wrapped in banana leaf. FYI: Miagao is one of the municipalities in Iloilo where bayi-bayi is different from the rest. (I’ll tell you later why’s it unique.)

Because of my curiosity, Mrs. May June Yandok, a bayi-bayi maker, shared to me what she knows about the origins of  bayi-bayi.  Long time ago, during the time of harvest, farmers from different parts in Iloilo would really separate a part of their harvested rice as a way of thanking the Almighty Father for the fruitful harvest. It served as the gift to the Almighty Father.  This portion of their harvest was made into this delicious specialty of Miagao.  This is how it started. Nowadays, bayi-bayi making has become a means of livelihood for a number of  people in Miagao.

As for myself, I would say that bayi-bayi is quite delicious. I wanted more the first time I tasted it! I’m not exaggerating. It’s just a mere fact! And evidently, as I asked the people from the tinda or market, there was only one answer, “Namit lang guid siya ya! Kag kahamot pa guid.” (It’s really delicious and it smells good!) Well… Why not? But then, during my conversation with Mrs. Gloria Timon (another bayi-bayi maker), she revealed the secret to great bayi-bayi.

It’s how you cook the sticky rice and how you choose the coconut for your bayi-bayi. The sticky rice must be cooked well. As with the young grated coconut, the fresher the better. With its very affordable price (each costs P3 for the bite-sized  pieces and P10 for the bigger one), for sure, you wouldn’t hesitate to go back to Miagao’s tinda.

But what has really made the bayi-bayi of Miagao unique from the bayi-bayi in other parts of Iloilo? Aside from the delicious taste, it’s the packaging. Try to go to Iloilo City. You’ll find out that they only wrap it in cellophane.  Though there may be some bayi-bayi makers in other parts of Iloilo who do wrap in banana leaf, still their packaging is different.  Miagao has an attractive way of wrapping the bite-sized bayi-bayi in shiny, bright green banana leaf.  They look like miniature, fluffed-up green pillows.  Using banana leaf as its wrapper started since the very first bayi-bayi in Miagao was made and that was surely a long time ago.

When I asked Mrs. Anita Datu-un, she answered that  wrapping the bayi-bayi using banana  leaf makes it attractive for  people.  The young banana leaf (colored bright yellow green)  keeps the bayi-bayi secure with no need for a ribbon or tie.   Using light green banana leaf for the bayi-bayi is also a way of distinguishing it from another famous Miagawanon rice cake- the kalamay-hati.  By the way, Mrs. Anita Datu-un, a resident of Bgy. Kirayan, Tacas, Miagao, has  the best-selling bayi-bayi among the Miagao rice cake vendors. She usually sells about 300 pieces in just one day.

I know you guys are excited to make this delicacy. So, this is how to make bayi-bayi…

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You will need:

4 kilos pilit (sticky or glutinous rice for making rice cakes)

3 kilos sugar

8 pieces grated young coconut

            How to make bayi-bayi:

            First, wash the pilit. Make sure that you wash it thoroughly.  Then, remove the pilit from the water and let dry under the sun.  Once dry, toast the rice grains in a frying pan, constantly moving the grains around until they turn brown.  Be careful not to overcook them for they will taste bitter. 

The next step is to galing or grind the pilit.  (In the olden days, grinding was done through a traditional hand-operated stone mill.  These days, all one has to do is bring them to a mechanized grinding machine at the market.)

The ground roasted pilit is now ready to be mixed  with grated young coconut and sugar. According to Manang Anita, if you want the bayi-bayi to have a longer shelf-life especially if it is to be sent abroad as pasalubong, the grated young coconut should be candied  or cooked in sugar (dulcehon). 

In the olden days, people used  a wooden mortar (lusong) and pestle to mix all three ingredients to create bayi-bayi.  At present, the mechanized grinder has taken oven the tedious manual mixing (pagbayo) to make bayi-bayi.   

There you go!  That’s how to make bayi-bayi

            Clearly,  bayi-bayi is the top favorite among native rice cakes in Miagao.  Fiestas, birthdays and other special occasions often have bayi-bayi.   Furthermore, bayi-bayi goes abroad with many Miagawanons based in the US or elsewhere who regularly return to their hometown during Miagao’s religious fiesta, the foundation week (Salakayan Festival) and other important occasions.

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           *Franielyn C. Tagolgol is a second year student from the University of the Philippines  Visayas taking up B.S. Applied Mathematics. Singing and eating are her pastime.