cuisina ilongga

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. 



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


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?

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.


By Archie E. Nacional*

I remember that every time my mother my mother does her marketing chores, she always looks for budbud. So I wondered. What’s so special about this salt of Miagao? Why on earth is my mother so devoted to it?
Perhaps, this is the right time to satisfy my curiosity. I may learn much information about budbud while doing this article. I found out from the book of Failagao entitled “History of Miagao” that the salt-making industry in Miagao originated in Barangay Guibongan in the year 1823. Actually, from my personal interviews with budbud salt-makers, there are three salt varieties identified in Western Visayas. These are the budbud of Miagao, the baldoza and the Guimaras variants. They vary according to the method of producing the salt.
Of the three, Miagao’s budbud is the most unique and very traditional. 


By Issa G. Gayas*

Having a hot cup of tablea brings back old memories with my grandmothers in Guimbal, Iloilo during school breaks. One of my grandmothers would make these cocoa tablets from the cacao plant in their backyard. She would serve tablea for us during breakfast especially during the cold month of December when we would go there during Christmas break. She would also give us tablea to bring back home to Talisay City, Negros Occidental.
In the Philippines, tablea- drinking has long been a tradition. Chocolate drinks have been around since the Spanish times. It was brought by Spanish colonizers who probably influenced the growing of cacao trees and the processing of the beans into cacao tablets and the cooking of the chocolate beverage. During the Spanish era, the drink was usually served for breakfast especially on special occasions. Even our national hero, Jose Rizal, wrote about tsokolate in his novel, Noli me Tangere. He observed that the friars served two kinds of hot chocolate- tsokolate e (expresso)  for special guests and the “watered down” version called tsokolate a for ordinary guests. It was also said that a suitor would know if he was liked by the family of the girl he is courting by the type of chocolate drink served to him by the matriarch.
Today, the chocolate drink may not be well-appreciated by the present generation because the grocery-bought instant choco drinks like Milo and Ovaltine. But still, nothing beats the warm frothy goodness from pure, organically grown chocolate.
Tablea or tsokolate as some locales call it, are blocks of pure ground cocoa made from cacao beans. It comes in the form of circular tablets but could also be formed into balls. The process of making tablea is quite easy. It involves removing the fresh cacao beans from their pods and peeling the skin. It is then dried under the heat of the sun, after which these are roasted (like coffee) and then ground. Brown sugar is usually mixed with the ground cocoa to temper the bitterness of pure cocoa. The mixture is finally formed into tablets, thus the name tablea.
During my search for tablea in the Miagao Public Market, I came across two tablea makers. Emma Nilmar, 65 years old and resident of Bgy. Palaka. She started making tablea in 1993 in order to make herself busy and recover from her daughter’s demise. Nang Emma, who also makes peanut candies, delivers her tablea to native food sellers in the Miagao public market.

Another tablea maker is Violeta Piedad, a resident of Bgy. Kirayan Takas. She has a stall at the public market where she sells different kinds of native goods including tablea. Her tablea is slightly bigger than a five-peso coin and about a centimeter thick. Five tablets go into one pack priced at P20.00. Having learned the art from an old couple, she started making tablea in the early 1980s. Nang Violeta usually makes around 3 kilos of tablea, several packs of which she also distributes to other tinderas at Miagao market. She also said that some buyers place their orders to bring as pasalubongs abroad.
I bought a pack of Nang Violeta’s tablea and was quite excited to try it not having tasted tablea for a long time. The cold weather was also good for drinking a cup of hot chocolate. No offense to Nang Violeta, but it was not like what my grandma used to make. Well, the tablea was sweet and it can actually be eaten directly like a candy. But as a chocolate drink, it was rather grainy and with a smoked taste. Perhaps that was how Miagao tablea really tasted. I’m not sure though. What is certain is that I miss my the tablea my lola in Guimbal used to make.
Making hot chocolate with tablea is easy. You just put some tablea and water in a pot and use a batidor (a wooden stick with carved rings on one end) to mix. The wooden stick is spinned between the palms to make the drink frothy. Keep mixing as the chocolate starts to thicken. Tsokolate is best served with puto, ibos and other native delicacies. Broas and churros (fried dough, pastry- based snack) are also good with the tablea drink. However we enjoy it, our love for the chocolate drink is another testament of the Filipinos’ passion for food.


*Issa G. Gayas is a second year BA Psychology student at UP- Visayas and currently stays at Balay Madya-as. She enjoys reading books and magazines, watching TV and having movie marathons.

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