ILONGGO FOOD (cuisina ilongga)

I’m not making this post because she’s my friend.

Impressed lang abi ako sa kanamitun sang iya nga ube halaya, kag pati ang iban nga nakatilaw, sigurado ako amu man ang reaksyon. Thus, I believe more people show know and have a taste of Mommy Ondette’s rich ube dessert.

Halaya/haleya is actually more popular in Luzon.  Also Bohol, they have this but with a different name.  Heritage worker, Gardi revived his lola’s recipe for this ube dessert and makes it avaiable to visiting friends and tourists.

Although born in Tapas, Capiz, Mommy stayed long in Manila.  I think that’s where she perfected her ube halaya. Now that she’s back in Panay, she decided to start her simple home-based business (on a per order basis) by concentrating on three items:  UBE HALAYA , LECHE FLAN (just as delicious, just how traditional leche flan should be), & BANGUS RELLENO (namit man).

Naive that I was about ube halaya, i really thought Mommy put coloring to make it a rich violet.  Yun pala, It was actually the natural color of the ube they chose:  the TAPUL variety.

Last Christmas (her peak season for orders), she sacrificed profit for insistence on quality.  Her suki ube vendor at Super mixed some ordinary ube (the white ones) with her tapul order. When she and her son assistant reached home and discovered this, Mommy refused to use the white ube.  They had to buy additional tapul–this time from an honest vendor.

Mommy also told me that to cut down costs, other halaya makers put in gabi or palawan instead and simply add food coloring.   Some also put ground pilit or sticky rice.

Mommy’s ube halaya is basically just a combination of ube, condensed milk and egg yolks.  But the secret is in the proportions, the right heat, the manner of mixing (I suppose) and most especially, the insistence on only the best ingredients.

P.S.  Thanks to for the photos.


By: Miah Maye Pormon*

“A banana a day, keeps the

doctor away…”

The very first time I tasted linupak, I could really savor the banana melting in my mouth together with the grated coconut meat and margarine. That was during my 16th birthday. I really remember the night before my birthday: my aunt and uncle brought inside our house a big lusong about one meter long and a hal-o in the same length too. They were going to make linupak.

It is a big “OH MY GOD” for me to make linupak just for my birthday…My BIRTHDAY! I will be the one to pound the bananas and all… It is very tiring, just looking at my aunt pounding makes me ask: “Ahm….Gagawin ko ba talaga yan?” and she just nodded… I will have my own adventure in making linupak…here it goes…

LINUPAK, also called nilupak by others and in Cebuano–linusak, is a Visayan snack mainly cooked in Cebu and Panay region.

Boiled bananas are peeled (those are my cousins peeling them bananas) and then pounded until it turns into a sticky paste to which sugar and margarine are added. One serving of linupak weighing 78 g contains 215 Kcal, 1.3 g protein and 54 mg calcium.

In our town in Cabatuan, any celebration during my grandmother’s time was not complete when there’s no linupak, and when it is served, people would come rushing to taste it. Cabatuan is known of its tinuom but linupak also made its way to the hearts of Cabatuananon especially to the people of Pamuringao Proper were my relatives live. If they have time they make linupak for the children; for them to taste the sweetness  of hard work one exerts to make this snack… Now, because of modernization, many or most would rather serve pork barbecue and other fatty foods instead of pounding bananas which seems to be a waste of time. And because of that, this present generation just recognizes linupak when a vendor in a school or market would sell it.

In the market, linupak is wrapped in banana leaves or if not in plastic. It is some times shaped “bola-bola” or in rectangles.

My adventure does not end here… Why would I forget the most important part: the recipe…



1 bunch of Banana (saba is the preferred banana in making linupak choose the quite     green and yellowish in color or the quite ripe banana)

1 kilo Sugar (brown or “was”)

4-5 coconuts (then grate the coconut meat)

½ cup Margarine (if needed)


1. First, boil the bananas and wait for about 30 minutes until it is tender.

2. Then, prepare the lusong and hal o.  Peel the bananas and put it one by one in the lusong.

3. Pound it and add sugar and coconut to sweeten it, mixed them and pound it again    until it become sticky.

4. Lastly, you could add some margarine to make it more savory.  Jst pound it some more and presto!  LINUPAK nga SAGING.

Why do I choose linupak using banana and not cassava? It is because; bananas are one of the best sources of potassium, an essential mineral for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. Since the average banana contains 467 mg of potassium and 1 mg of sodium, a banana a day may help to prevent high blood pressure and protect against atherosclerosis. Another is, banana is more available than cassava.

Linupak, for me is the dessert for all seasons, it does not only pertain to the taste and health advantages of this snack but it shows the meaning of hard work, teamwork and love in doing this. Thanks to our ancestors for discovering Linupak. Thus, we must try to preserve, honor and forever be grateful to them in making this delicious Ilonggo delicacy…


1. Paz Pormon(grandmother), 86 yr old, Bacan, Cabatuan, Iloilo

2. Pacita Pormon(aunt), 61 yr old, Brgy. Pamuringao Proper, Cabatuan, Iloilo


* I am Miah Maye Pormon a major in BS Economics I and currently

enjoying a life of a freshman student. I am trying to cope up

with the hard and strenuous world here in UPV. I am a frustrated

feature writer and also obsessed with writing a pocketbook.

In the future I want to be an economist but better

yet let just see what will happen.

Contact no: 09108550188

E-mail address:

By Krencelou Gaile O. Briones*

It was the year 2007 when I entered college in University of the Philippines- Iloilo City campus. It was also during the same year when I was introduced to kumos-kumos. I was with my friends talking when our stomachs called out for food. “Gigutom me ug tinabi.” (Hehehe, that’s Siquijor language for “we are hungry from talking.”) It was then when they mentioned about kumos-kumos. I was so naive then when they brought it up to me. I thought it was just a popular food eaten by the students in the university. But, it’s not. It is actually a way of eating rice packed in plastic and partnered with a viand, usually barbeque.

Kumos, an Ilonggo word actually means to crumple in English. It was from that word where kumos-kumos came from. And the story of kumos-kumos goes like this.

Kumos-kumos started in the year 1997. It was introduced by the UP High School students as they found out that rice can be eaten even if it is served in plastic. When they started going outside the campus looking for food, they found alternative ways to eat rice served in plastic. And so they come up with the practice kumos-kumos.  Later years, the college students also used the term kumos-kumos. There were also other names used to refer to kumos-kumos like “chupe”; but it didn’t last as long as the term kumos-kumos did. Now, kumos-kumos continues to be practiced by the CM students. (CM stands for College of Management).

Kumos-kumos is known by a lot of students in the university and is continuing to be introduced to every student who enters CM. Why? First, the way it is done is interesting. One doesn’t need to have a plate and a spoon and fork. One can just eat anywhere in the campus or even outside the school. Popular “tambayans” of students are the “mushrooms” and “umbrellas”. (These are called such because the structures of these “tambayans” look like mushrooms or umbrellas.) You see, we UP students really like giving names to things. Usually, people find it weird. Another place where kumos-kumos is usually done is in classrooms. Students doing group projects or assignments in classrooms prefer to buy rice and viand and just do kumos-kumos there. This way, they can save time and effort going to “carenderias” or food stores and have their meals there, the second reason why kumos-kumos is mostly done by students. Third reason why kumos-kumos

continues to be popular is that the rice and viand are affordable. One can have rice and two “inasal” for just P19.00. See? That’s how cheap it is. Lastly, it is interesting because of its uniqueness. It is unique in the sense that it is done mostly by the students in UPV- CM and not by those in other schools found in Iloilo.

However, UP students influence other students. How? It is through bonding in dormitories and boarding houses. Example of such is that of Grizelle ladies dormitory. Grizelle is a ladies dorm just beside UP. Since most of the dormers come from UP and often do kumos-kumos during weekends, they influence other students who also live there.

The packed rice for which kumos-kumos is done is usually bought in food stands where barbeque is also sold. And mind you, many food stands of that kind surround UPV-Iloilo City campus, one of which is located in Fonts.”Fonts” is a place just near the UP gate, wherein a group of food stands can be found. These food stands sell different kinds of food for snacks and even for meals. These food stands are open during weekdays, sometimes even Saturdays; but with fewer food stands selling.

Now, let me teach you how to do kumos-kumos. Given that you have already bought rice in plastic, you can now follow these steps.

1.      Make a hole at either of the corners of the plastic by tearing the corner with

your teeth. This would release the air inside and will allow you to form the rice into the shape you like.

2.      Crumple or squeeze the rice to the form you like for it to be eaten easier. It could be in a form of a mountain, a cone or a corn. As for me, I usually make it into a mountain. However, it changes to other forms as I get through my eating.

3.      Make the hole you made earlier bigger through your hands.

4.      Start eating the rice. Of course, alternate it with your viand. You can take a bite of your barbeque after the rice; or you may take a bite of your barbeque first before eating the rice.

5.      Finally, you just have to repeat the process of eating rice alternate with barbeque until it’s through.

That’s how to do kumos-kumos. It is easy right? Oh! Please, really, don’t forget your viand. First timers have the tendency to forget their viand as they do kumos-kumos. “Bason mawili mo pagporma sa luto dayon kalimot namo kaon sa inyo sud-an.” (Maybe you’ll be so much enjoying doing kumos-kumos that you’ll forget to eat your viand.)

About ME:

My name is Krencelou Gaile O.Briones, a BSA-II student from the College of Management. Many of my friends call me Bebe. I come from Siquijor and I am currently staying here in Iloilo for my studies. I love experiencing new things at the same time learning from it. Although kumos-kumos is no longer a new experience for me, I still enjoy doing it.

One can email me at or add my Friendster account if there are clarifications or other related concerns and if one just want to be my friend. Hehehe

By Jen Lorenz de los Santos*    



Rosario Lebrilla whom we fondly call as Lola Sayong grew up in a remote barangay of Sibaguan, 12 kms more or less from the town proper of Lambunao, Province of Iloilo. Lola Sayong is my mother’s mom. Lola would say that during her elementary years she, along with other children, would walk almost 5 kms of a combination of dusty roads, muddy rice fields, and forests paths to get to the main road where their school was located. Her parents seldom went to town to buy their basic needs, particularly food, because of the difficulty in going to town.  Besides, plants and animals were abundant in their place that it was not really necessary to go marketing.       




            One edible plant that surrounded their house was the bamboo. At the start of the rainy season, bamboo shoots – tambô in the native tongue – would start to appear. It is the season called tigtarambô. And almost daily, their viand was tambô cooked in different ways.



            At present, Lola is living with us in the town proper of Lambunao. Lambunao is a relatively progressive town, approximately 45 km from Iloilo City, and we could readily get almost everything that we need here. Because of this, we learned to cook foods like crispy fried chicken, instant noodles, and other urbanized food. Although my family’s cooking style and practice was influenced by modernization, my lola has still brought with her the skill in preparing food the way her family did in their barangay a long time ago.

            One native dish my Lola usually cooks at home since I can remember is the dinuguan. I have observed that this particular dinuguan is one dish that is almost present on our table during occasions. I cannot say that it has really caught my appetite because I do not eat that much. But lately, it has caught my attention. Since I was also thinking of a good topic for my paper in Humanities, then perhaps this dinuguan would be an interesting topic.

Dinuguan is a common dish here in the Philippines. It may be cooked with extenders such as shredded banana bud, chopped langka, monggo, cubed ubod of coconut or even buri (according to the country cooks in Lambunao). What makes my Lola’s dinuguan unique is the use of “pinaklay na tambô” as its extender.

Pinaklay comes from the word paklay which means to cut into thin strips.  Market vendors say that the “pinaklay na tambô” is not available in the market all the time.  One has to order for it a few days before, because few people buy the “pinaklay na tambô“.  In our case, we paklay the tambô at home. In addition, our “pinaklay na tambô” is soured or we call it ginpaaslum ang “pinaklay”.

Although I eat it, I always take this dinuguan for granted. But relatives who come to visit us, especially those who are from abroad, would sweetly request for the “Dinuguan with pinaklay na tambô” for them. There was also a time when an Iranian visitor asked for “bring home dinuguan” to let his family taste it.

  Here is the recipe for the Dinuguan with Pinaklay na Tambô


2 cups pinaklay na tambô soaked in 2 cups water for 3-5 days (to make it sour)

¼ kg. pork meat or organs, cut into small pieces and marinated in garlic, luya, soy sauce, salt and vinegar

1 cup fresh pig’s blood

5 cups water

1 tbsp oil

2 cloves regular garlic

1 head regular onion

few slices of luya

20 alabihud/alubihud (libas) leaves

3 peppers (green and red)

lemon grass

seasonings (soy sauce,  vetsin, knorr cubes)

salt to taste

Note:  The amounts of the ingredients listed are all estimated quantities.


A. Preparing the “pinaklay na tambô nga ginpaaslum“:

  1. Slice the tambô into strips. (about 3.5 cm long, 0.5 cm wide, 0.2 cm thick)


     2. Soak the pinaklay na tambô in 2 cups water for 3-5 days.

    Note:  Do not refrigerate the pinaklay na tambô

B. Cooking the dinuguan:

1. Remove the pinaklay na tambô from the water it was soaked in.

2. Boil the pinaklay na tambô in 2 cups water for 15 minutes.

3. Drain and set aside.

4. Sauté garlic, onion and pork meat and/or organs in oil until tender.

5. Add water just enough to cover the pork meat and/or organs.

6. Put in the lemon grass and alabihud leaves.

7. Cover and set to boil.

8. Add the pinaklay na tambô and 2 cups water.


9. Cover and set to boil. 


10. Add the peppers and the pig’s blood.

11. Stir over low fire for about 10 minutes.

12. Season and salt to taste.


The soaking of pinaklay na tambô  for three to five days makes it sour which gives a distinctive taste in the dinuguan.  This might be the reason why relatives and friends who have tasted it long for  Lola Sayong’s dinuguan.

I have never encountered or eaten this recipe outside of our home. But my mom said that her co-teachers are familiar with the “Dinuguan with pinaklay na tambô” and they say that they like it, too. The meticulous preparation of this recipe might be the reason why it is seldom made.  width=


Now, I not only like it but I love it. I’m proud of our dinuguan. Most of all I’m proud of my Lola – I’m proud of my heritage.  I learned to give special attention not only to her dinuguan but also to the other indigenous dishes she lovingly prepares.



I am a quiet type of person who loves singing and folk dancing. I also love to travel and see different places. But when I’m at home, watching TV, sleeping, reading books and playing keyboard are my past-time.





































By Michellene Mae Trava*

X marks the spot










Whenever I pass by the small eatery situated near Villa plaza (known as “La Villa de Arevalo” during the Spanish settlement), I feel nostalgic. The place brings some childhood memories I spent with my aunt. I remember how we used to go at Dac’s when I was still in grade school. I used to work at my aunt’s hardware store as the cashier/assistant, that’s why I looked forward to my summer vacations. The hardware store (now family-owned) is located near the Arevalo public market. During afternoons, we would usually go to Dac’s to have our merienda or we would sometimes “take-out” the food and eat at the hardware store instead.I can still remember the first time I tasted Dac’s kutsinta and how much I loved it (I still love it now!). That’s what I always order at Dac’s. I have also tried their other food items which are hamburger (beef & longganiza), siomai, spaghetti and palabok. My family still buys kutsinta from Dac’s but not as often as we used to since we’re all busy. Their store hours is from 1:00 pm-6:30 pm only.Doing this art research made me reminisce about the things that I enjoyed when I was young. One of these is finding Dac’s kutsinta. Kinda like a treasure (if you know what I mean). 😉 For a number of years, I haven’t really given much thought as to how Dac’s began. As a young child, I was only aware of their great delicacy. Dac’s kutsinta is now a successful business. Have you ever wondered how their wonderful business started? Let me tell you a short story about it 

The tale of Dac’s Kutsinta 

  A long, long time ago (well, not really that long. It was the year 1994).    

A man named Danilo A. Corteza left his job as an accountant at Hyatt Regency in Baguio (he was 38 years old then) to seek for greener pastures. The following year, on April of 1995, Mr. Corteza (fondly called as “Dac’s”) decided to venture into the food business because cooking is his hobby. He used his family-owned lot as the location for his small business. It is situated along the highway leading to Oton, just at the edge of Villa plaza.He first started selling cookies and pastries but later on, he shifted to kutsinta because the ingredients used are simple and cost-efficient.  He got the recipe from a cookbook and later developed it into something he can call his own.

With only 3-4 workers in his eatery, they can make 1,500 pieces of kutsinta everyday.





He also added hamburgers, siomai, spaghetti and palabok in his menu to have a variety of food for his customers to choose from. Thirteen years after, his business has become a success.In my opinion, Dac’s makes the best kutsinta. Many people like the taste of Dac’s kutsinta since it is made out of rice flour rather than the all-purpose flour that others use.




Another reason why people honor it is because it is affordable (it only costs Php1.25 per piece!). I know it sounds great but wait till you hear this: The price hasn’t changed ever since. Now, don’t you think it just keeps getting better? It is affordable for everyone since it doesn’t cost much and all. So that is the story behind Dac’s kutsinta. ;o)


The secret ingredient


Can you keep a secret? Modern day kutsintas are made out of all-purpose flour. What is a kutsinta, you may ask? Well, it is a native rice cake in the Philippines made from rice flour and lye water. It is brown in color and sticky in texture. Anyway, I’m not saying that the kutsinta that is made of all-purpose flour doesn’t taste good but in my opinion, it has a less appealing taste to me. Unlike rice flour (now this is the secret that I was talking about. Well, not really that much of a secret now haha.), it makes the kutsinta delicious. The stickiness of the kutsinta (thanks to lye) gives texture to it, therefore making it feel good to eat. The sweetness is just right and best topped with grated coconut. It is also best served when cold since it would become firm and easier to eat. Kutsinta makes a very good dessert or “pang yam-is” and is also served during meriendas. In our family, we serve it when there are big gatherings or even just simple family get-togethers.The big question markHave you ever thought how kutsinta is made? I know you’ve been thinking about it when you began reading the first page, so stop thinking and keep on reading. I’ll tell you everything that you need to know on how it is made, from what ingredients to use to how to serve it. This is the recipe that was told by Mr. Dac’s himself. Now let’s start the show…What do I use?



  • First of all, rice flour (this is the most important, by the way).    
  • Water
  • Lye water (added to make the kutsinta sticky)
  • Brown sugar
  • Grated coconut

One step at a time… Now this is what Manong Dacs said.

1)       First, mix the sugar, flour, lye water and water using the spatula.

2)       Strain it using a strainer.

3)       Place it on kutsinta molds and steam for about 30 minutes.

4)       Wait for it to cool before serving.

5)       Top with grated coconut.

*** Makes about 150 pcs.

From another point of view. 

 Since the recipe that came from Mr. Dac’s doesn’t give much info on exact measurements, here is a kutsinta recipe from the cookbook “Filipino Cooking Here & Abroad” by Eleanor Laquian and Irene Sobreviñas to give you an idea of what measurements are followed by others. It is quite similar to Mr. Dac’s recipe, the only difference is that they use all-purpose flour (as I have said earlier, Mr. Dac’s uses the rice flour). Wanna know how they make it? Well, here it goes…


What do I need?


  • 1-½ cup water    
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. lye water
  • Grated fresh coconut

What to do?

1)       Bring water and sugar to a boil. Let cool. Add to flour, stir until smooth. Add lye water and mix well.

2)       Fill greased muffin pans ¾ full with mixture. Steam for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool before removing from pans. Serve with grated fresh coconut.

*** Preparation and cooking time: 30 minutes. Makes 10.

So there you go. Just a bit of patience is needed and voila! You have kutsinta. What are you waiting for? Grab your plates and forks and get ready for one amazing experience you’ll surely never forget.



Me, myself & II am Michellene Mae T. Trava. I’m a second year student at University of the Philippines Visayas taking up B.S. Management. I am fond of eating, although it doesn’t show in my body that I eat a lot, haha. Singing and dancing are two of my many hobbies. J



By: Antonette Angeline J. Alban

I can still remember the very first day, during my toddler days, when I first got the feeling of fulfillment in eating Balasan’s RCJ bibingka. When I was a kid and staying at Batad, Iloilo, I loved attending the holy mass in Agtalin Capiz, though it is quite far from Batad, because I know that on our way home, we would buy RCJ bibingka and my weariness from the long trip would pay off. 

Bingka is the ilonggo term for the tagalong word bibingka which is a native delicacy made of rice or coconut sold in town plazas and a good merienda after the long Sunday Mass.


RCJ Bibingka is owned and managed by the Jaro Family of Balasan. It is named after the sons and daughters of Mr. Reginald Jaro and Mrs. Florenda Cualing-Jaro namely, Roland, Regina, Reginald Jr., Ramil, Ruben and Riza. (That’s Manong Rege and me).  It was a business originally owned and managed by the mother-in-law of Sir Reginald and was passed on to them. The said business has been existing for over 50 years; it is even older from their eldest son.


RCJ only uses young coconut so that the fillings won’t be tough. Some other bibingkas I ate were tough and that the strands of the coconut flesh were very noticeable which implies that these weren’t young coconut. RCJ doesn’t use wheat flour because they don’t want their bibingkas to look and taste like bread.  They also use refined sugar to give the bibingka the sweet taste. You will notice the yellowish frosting of RCJ bibingka. It is made of Alpine Milk, egg and sugar which they call as the “icing.”

In ordinary days, they can produce and sell bibingkas worth 5 gantangs of rice a day and even more during festival seasons. They get their ingredients from the neighboring towns like Capiz and Estancia.

The Mayor of Batad always invites the RCJ bibingka to participate in their Food Festival. And also, RCJ bibingka can be seen at the Jaro Plaza during the Fiesta ng Birheng Candelaria in February.  (In fact, they start selling their delicious bingka at the Jaro Plaza as early as the Christmas holidays).

In 1986, the old SM at Delgado discovered the RCJ bibingka and asked them to have a place in SM; they would bring the name “Balasan Bibingka.”   It was unsuccessful because they had to use electric oven so the bibingka ended up tough and the partnership didn’t work well so they decided to go back to Balasan and concentrated their business there.

Due to the fame of RCJ special bibingka, others tried to copy it. There was even an instance in Roxas City where a bingka stand even used the name RCJ!  People weren’t fooled for they knew it wasn’t authentic RCJ. 


Sir Rege said that the only way you can say that you are eating their original bibingka is when you see them in the shop working. Recently, a worker from RCJ was pirated by a business man who wanted to compete with RCJ.  Well, the ingredients may be the same but nothing beats the original.

The RCJ bibingka are very soft and very friendly to my teeth with braces. Even if the bibingka are no longer warm, still, you can eat them without re-heating or steaming. The best way to re-heat the bibingkas is steaming with the use of the steamer or just putting the bibingkas at the top of the sinaing.   Re-heating it in a microwave oven would harden the bibingka.

During the first years of operation of the RCJ bibingka back in the 70’s , they sold bibingkas for only P 5.00 per 8 pieces, but now, it is P 10.00 per 4 pieces and the plate size bibingkas are sold for P 80.00 from the old price of P 20.00.  That’s inflation for you.  Inspite of this increase, it’s still very reasonable considering the quality of such rice cakes.

RCJ Bibingka really captured the heart of the people in Balasan and even those people outside the town.

The right formulation of rice, young coconut, sugar, milk and eggs makes the perfect recipe of the ‘D Original RCJ Bibingka.

When we moved to Nueva Ecija in 1998, the taste of the RCJ bibingka was still vivid in my memory. I didn’t find the Bibingkang Galapong of Nueva Ecija that exceptional. It is made of eggs, white sugar, salt, rice flour, melted margarine, baking powder, and coconut milk with the slice of red egg on top served with grated niyog.

It has a rough texture as compared to RCJ’s. Probably, it’s because of the baking powder that makes the bibingkang galapong look like bread.

Now that I’m back in Iloilo, I can eat as many RCJ bibingka as I want to. I used to spend weekends in my lola’s place in Batad and everytime I go back to Iloilo city, I’d take the bus from the Estancia terminal, which is in the next town, rather than wait in the bus stop in front of my lola’s house simply because I want to Balasan’s pride. Then I always hear the passengers asking the bingka vendors “RCJ na?”



P.S.:Balasan is a 3 hours Ceres ride from Tagbak Terminal in Iloilo City (that “3 hours” is subjective, relative to the lunacy of the bus driver). It is a town right after Estancia.


hi!  I’m Antonette Angeline J. Alban, a second year BS Accountancy student at UPV.  I was born in Batad, Iloilo but grew up in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija and now claim Taguig City as my home address.

Though I spent half of my life in Luzon, my Ilongga heart drove me to go back to my home province and study here.

This research has never been boring to me; in fact, this was an opportunity for me because i realy love eating native delicacies, specifically puto and bibingka.  Eating RCJ bibingka has been my dream since I came back to Iloilo.  And this research gave me more reason to love and appreciate RCJ Bibingka!

You can reach me through


By Nichole dela Cruz*

           Almost all the bibingkas or bingka here in Iloilo shares a common place of origin_Villa, but one is distinct for it comes from a different place. RCJ Bingkahan of Balasan, Iloilo (a three and a half hour ride north of Iloilo City) was established in 1982 by Mr. and Mrs. Reginald and Florinda Jaro, Sr.

           RCJ bibingka is a mixture of rice flour, butong (young coconut – the one used in making buko salad), refined sugar, eggs and milk. It is placed in the pugon (an improvised oven made of thin galvanized iron sheets) for ten minutes if coconut husks are used for cooking and fifteen minutes when it is firewood. The way RCJ makes the bibingka is different. They set fire on top and bottom of the bibingka (for the usual, it is only on top). The raw bibingka mixture is placed on a round metal cups (evaporated milk tin cans) lined with a round cut banana leaf.

They now place the bibingka in the pugon. When the bibingka is halfway done, they pull it out and brush margarine on the bibingka and sprinkle a pinch of refined sugar on top. They pack the bibingka by 4’s and can be bought for ten pesos. They also sell a plate of bibingka that is around 18 cm for eighty pesos.

           Before the RCJ Bingkahan came to be, Florinda went through so many trials and hardships. Florinda inherited her skill in making bibingka from her mother, Clara. Clara has five children and Florinda is the only girl. Back in 1960’s, Clara was the only one operating a bibingka business in Balasan. It didn’t even have a name. In making bibingka, Clara and Florinda used rice flour, coconut, refined sugar, eggs and milk but had different measurements of it. Florinda wanted to improve Clara’s bibingka mixture. It was in 1970’s when she came up with her own mixture which people found more delicious.

           When Clara died, Rodrigo as the eldest was the one who managed the small bibingka business that their mother had already started. Eventually, Florinda became the business partner of Rodrigo. They made turns in managing the small bibingka business. In the morning, it was Rodrigo who managed the business, selling their mothers’ bibingka. In the afternoon, it was Florinda that took over the place of Rodrigo, selling her own recipe of bibingka. Rodrigo and Florinda oftentimes argued on whose bibingka to sell. For Rodrigo, they must honor the recipe that their mother left them as a sign of respect and to appreciate their mothers’ work. But Florinda insisted and stuck with her recipe for her bibingka was patronized by many. The business went on. Rodrigo sold in the morning and Florinda in the afternoon. Jealousy took place when Rodrigo noticed that it was Florinda’s bibingka that sold the most. With this situation, Florinda put up her own small bibingka business. As years passed by, their business was a hit and people demanded for it. On the other hand, Rodrigo closed his business because he had a hard time coping with losses. With a good heart, Florinda couldn’t afford to see her brothers experience difficulties. So, every time her brothers ask for financial assistance, Florinda couldn’t turn her back and would still help.

           In 1980’s, the old SM Delgado management attempted to buy Florinda’s recipe, but Florinda valued her original recipe a lot, that despite the large amount of money, she turned down the offer. Since the buying of the recipe and the name “RCJ Bingkahan” didn’t push through, there were alternatives raised by the supposed buyer. The arrangement was that Reginald will supervise the business in Iloilo City (the place where Shakey’s was located in the old SM Delgado) and Florinda remains in Balasan. Both parties (between Florinda and SM) agreed that Florinda will send her workers together with Reginald and will work for SM. This business partnership didn’t work and lasted only for three years.

           Back in 1990, Florinda saw a child shaking in cold and has a high fever outside the Balasan Church on her way home. She brought the child to her home and took care of him. When Bertido, the child, got well, Florinda supported him all through out, even sending him to school. Bertido is one of the many deserving people whom Florinda helped send to school. Aside from her children she was able to send about ten kids to school. These are Florinda’s simple joys. Although, Florinda has financial difficulties at times, she doesn’t hesitate to help other people.

           In the midst of our conversation, I questioned Florinda why in spite of the popularity of RCJ, she doesn’t appear to be financially well-off. She agreed with my observation. She said that she is fond of helping other people especially her scholars. Florinda finished up to 1st year high school only and she doesn’t want people to experience what she had experienced. In every graduation ceremony that she attended, she pictures out herself in the position of her scholar. And that she pretends to see herself also graduating, experiencing self-fulfillment and end up teary-eyed. At present, Florinda is sending some of her grandchildren to school.

Recently, typhoon Frank, damaged their area of business and almost all her cooking materials were ruined. She had a hard time looking for coconuts, an essential bibingka ingredient. She said that their capital was also wiped out by that said disaster. In spite of that, Florinda manages to cope.

           My journey to Balasan was worth it. I went there for the purpose of conducting an art research and went home forgetting my real intention, inspired by the struggles of Mrs. Florinda Jaro. With my experience in Balasan, I didn’t only gain knowledge on bibingkas but also gained lessons that will help me with my journey through life.








About the author:


I love to eat bibingka, that’s it.

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