Monday, August 16, 2021




Bacolod Chicken House...the local legend


If ever there was any reason why Bacolod chicken inasal became the legendary Bacolod delicacy it is now known to be, it can all be traced back to Architect Joe Cajili's Chicken House. Currently known as Bacolod Chicken House, the real Chicken House started as a hole-in-the-wall at San Sebastian Street, catering to everyday passers-by.  Later on, it opened as a  small restaurant just across Colegio de San Agustin along North Drive (B.S. Aquino Drive today).

It's humble beginnings as a restaurant included an al fresco (back in the days it was just called "open-air") section which one was able to access through the sidewalk and that small street leading to the back of the Redemptorist Church. Long before there was a Manokan country at Bacolod's reclamation area, Chicken House had already set up shop. Joe Cajili's initial patrons were also his golfing buddies at the nearby Marapara club (Negros Occ. Golf and Country Club)

Chicken House's next branches were located at the downtown area along San Juan street (across the current location of Sylvia Manor) and at Mandalagan where it still serves its mouth watering roasted delights to this day. In the days when Chicken House was at San Juan, which was around the mid 1980s, I would only have to cross the Bacolod Public Plaza with my classmates from La Consolacion College to get to the little haven of chicken barbecue.  There, we would while away some time before catching up with one last class at 6:30 p.m.

Many other chicken houses or "inasalans" have followed the path led by Joe Cajili's local legend of a resto. One thing is sure though. One cannot claim to have been in Bacolod if he or she hasn't eaten at the real and only Bacolod Chicken House.

I wrote this in 2008 on the Multiply.com platform.

Chicken House...The Bacolod Legend

Bacolod Chicken House...the local legend If ever there was any reason why Bacolod chicken inasal became the legendary Bacolod delicacy...

Sunday, August 15, 2021

What You Didn't Know About Cuadra Street, Bacolod City

Bacolod City's famous chicken dish inasal (barbecued chicken) has spread far and wide across the globe reaching not just the United States of America but also the Middle East.  Unknown to many is the fact long before it reached foreign shores, inasal's humble beginnings are traced back to a small street in Bacolod known as Cuadra.

Before the legendary Manokan Country of Bacolod found its way on the culinary map, there was a series of small stalls along Cuadra Street, near Bacolod's public plaza which earned the name as Chicken Alley.  This was started by the Velez sisters, Elisa Velez-Garrucho and her sister Nena, and the other Velez siblings.

Given its proximity to the public plaza and because it was near jeepney stops, people flocked to the area to buy the barbecued chicken we now know as Bacolod chicken inasal.  One has to be reminded that back in the days of the 70s, the tasty dish we know of today was simply "inasal".  "Bacolod chicken inasal" as used in one phrase was still a long way off.

As its popularity grew, inasal found a new home in Bacolod's reclamation area which is known today as Manokan County (translated as Chicken Country).  Soon, the people of Bacolod started flocking to the stalls of Manokan Country which now offered seating to the diners.  As Manokan Country got too crowded, Elisa Velez-Garrucho decided to get out of Manokan Country and put up Chicken House in San Sebastian Street, near the Garrucho residence.  Eliza's sister, Nena, also followed soon.

Vincent V. Garrucho, one of Eliza's sons relates, "My brother Jomi Garrucho and myself, as well as my sisters, were trained since grade school to know the recipe by heart.  Honestly, we can do the ORIGINAL INASAL with our eyes closed.  Almost everyday, our packed lunch to school was... FRIED chicken inasal. People haven't tried that yet."  Vincent adds, "Me and my siblings as kids were trained to make the mix every morning before going to school and cook and serve in our resto after school."

Eliza Velez Garrucho is credited to have contributed greatly to making inasal the mainstream dish it is known today after exiting Manokan Country and starting the famous Bacolod Chicken House.  Eliza V. Garrucho sold Chicken House to the Cajili family in 1976 and the rest is history as the new owners have taken Chicken House and its distinct taste to inasal lovers like us.

Chicken House in Metro Manila is located in Makati along Chino Roces Ave., fronting Makati (Cinema) Square.



The writer, Lloyd Tronco, is from Bacolod, a chicken inasal lover and addict who always eats inasal with garlic rice and a stick of baticolon (chicken gizzard). 








Negros Island.  The SWEET Spot of the Philippines.



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This post is a long overdue piece because the idea for writing it came about late last year when an article appeared in the Philippine Daily Inquirer, delving into how the lifestyles of Negrenses (inhabitants of Negros Island) were supposedly laid bare through the architecture and the ancestral homes seen across the island......Read More








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Negros Island.  The SWEET Spot of the Philippines.

Cuadra Street, Bacolod Chicken Inasal, and the Beginnings of Manukan Country

What You Didn't Know About Cuadra Street, Bacolod City Bacolod City's famous chicken dish inasal (barbecued chicken) has spread ...

Over the past two decades, Bacolod City's famous chicken dish, inasal (barbecued chicken) has spread far and wide across the globe, reaching the United States of America and to the sandy borders of the Middle East.  In the wave of Bacolod chicken inasal’s popularity, different restaurants specializing in inasal (the Hiligaynon word for grilled or spit-roasted) have aspired to be the servers of the most authentic of this Visayan chicken delicacy.  To examine where this all began, nothing comes close to going back to Bacolod City itself to unravel the mystique of this fowl favorite.

Our travel takes us back not only to the heart of Negros island, the “sweet spot” of the Philippines where sugarcane fields stretch endlessly to the horizon, but also chronologically to a time when Negros relished a boom in sugar production and exportation.  Bacolod City, the capital of Negros Occidental was then a place with a laid-back lifestyle having a fair amount of urbanity within the backdrop of a rural landscape, beautifully enclosed by a natural border of rugged mountains.

We are transported to the decade of the 1960s, where we find the beginnings of Bacolod inasal as we know it now.  The downtown area of Bacolod sees an emergence of low-rise buildings built in art deco, meant to serve an economy revolving around the sugar industry.  Back then, people employed in the downtown offices and stores would clock out at five p.m. to go home to their families and have dinner by sundown.

To highlight of the end of a workday, some would buy a few sticks of grilled chicken from a small stall beside the Floredith Theater along Araneta Street, right next to the Bacolod City Hall.  It was here that Sabel Velez opened the first chicken inasal stall, serving what would eventually be among the most popular fowl viands of the Visayas.

Barbecued chicken is the more common description of what inasal really is.  Nevertheless, beneath the simplicity of inasal’s description lies the embodiment of Negrense island life, the agricultural abundance of the island finding its way into a stick of paa (leg) or pecho (breast).

Before the chicken hits the grill, it is quartered, segmented, and marinated in a concoction of ginger, garlic, calamansi, brown sugar, rock salt and native coconut vinegar.   Though sugarcane may be the main produce of Negros, coconuts abound too.  From here comes the vinegar which is an integral element for the inasal marinade, having the right amount of sourness to create that distinct, tangy flavor for which inasal is known for.

Equally important as an ingredient to the marinade is the right amount of brown sugar.  One can’t put too much sugar lest the sweetness overpower the other spices, the garlic and ginger, that lend flavor to inasal.

We’ve also found some home-made experiments on inasal wherein the sugar is substituted by ounces of Sprite, the carbonated beverage.  Such experimentations, perhaps inclusive of some random incantations, are what makes the quest for the most flavorful inasal exciting.  The timing as to how long the chicken is marinated is also part of inasal’s mystique – some want it longer, others want it short.

Skewering the chicken is also a ritual in its own right.  Most prefer to put it on skewers immediately after the chicken is quartered.  Yet, some opt to marinate the chicken prior to placing on the bamboo skewers.

With so much said about the marinate, it is easy to skip the importance of the chicken itself.  While most chicken inasal used native chicken, I learned from Toto Tarrosa of Aida’s, one of the best chicken inasal grills, that Aida’s was the first to use white leghorn chickens for inasal.  The reason why they opted to grill white leghorn chickens instead of the usual native chicken back in the day was partly due to the timing and availability.  Native chickens were sold out in the market by the early hours of the morning for various uses.  Given the timing of when to grill inasal, which is usually in the afternoon towards the end of the work day, the short supply for native chicken led to a happy discovery of a delicious version of inasal with the use of white leghorns. 


As it is, chicken inasal is really a viand meant to be eaten after five p.m.  For those who really understand the beginnings of this delicacy, eating inasal is not just about having it to fill one’s stomach come dinner time.  Eating chicken inasal more than anything else, is viewed as a subdued yet meaningful celebration of simple victories in life.  Honest work well done at the close of day, the joy of having family close by, it is the humble yet flavor-rich inasal that brings Bacolodians together in modest jubilation.  Eating chicken inasal is more than just having another chicken dish.  Wherever in the world it is eaten, it is a sacred communion that ties BacoleƱos and Negrenses back to their homeland, Bacolod…Negros Island…the sweet spot of the Philippines.



 



The writer, Lloyd Tronco, is from Negros Island.  This piece was written for the 2018 Doreen Gamboa Fernandez Food Writing Award.  The entry did not win, but it captures the richness and beauty of Negros Island, the land where Doreen Gamboa Fernandez grew up in.







Negros Island.  The SWEET Spot of the Philippines.






Related Post :


Bacolod City's famous chicken dish inasal (barbecued chicken) has spread far and wide across the globe reaching not just the United States of America but also the Middle East.  Unknown to many is the fact long before it reached foreign shores, inasal's humble beginnings are traced back to a small street in Bacolod known as Cuadra......Read More



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Bacolod Chicken Inasal : Beyond Food, A Ritual

Over the past two decades, Bacolod City's famous chicken dish, inasal (barbecued chicken) has spread far and wide across the globe...

Friday, July 2, 2021

 


And just like that, half of the year (2021) has gone,and today is a Friday, so the week has already gone. The sands of time are trickling through the hourglass of our lives and so our prayer is, “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90: 12).

This verse is often treated as if it were a proverb that means, “Life is short, so live wisely.” But in the context of the whole psalm (Psalm 90), it means much more than that. It is a key part of a meditation on God and on living as the people of God. 

Psalm 90 allows us to reflect on how good God has been to us with the lens of seeing things from a "cradle to grave" perspective. Amidst all the struggle and strife we have been through in our lives, we can still definitely say, The Heavenly Father has been really good, sustaining us to this very day.

Psalm 90 ends with this:

14
Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
15
Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.
16
May your deeds be shown to your servants,
your splendor to their children.
17
May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.

Teach Us To Number Our Days

  And just like that, half of the year (2021) has gone,and today is a Friday, so the week has already gone. The sands of time are trickling ...

Sunday, April 25, 2021

 



April 25, 2021.  Today is the ninth death anniversary of Bro. Rolando R. Dizon, FSC.  Bro. Roly, as he is fondly known by the many who have met him and loved him has always been a person esteemed for the wisdom that would flow out of his mouth.  Very articulate in his words, I would always be careful to listen to the nuggets of truth that would be delivered with his well modulated voice.

Bro. Roly, for me was not just the Bro. Roly we commonly know.  As it was, Bro. Roly was also my uncle.  A cousin of my mother through the Ramos family of Bacolod, Bro. Roly (or Tito Roly when I first met him as a 6 year old) was the first one to welcome me to La Salle Greenhills in 1974.

Through the years and by way of the many occasions Bro. Roly would have the chance to speak, be it at a lectern on an official school occasion or over the dinner table when we had the chance to be at family gatherings, I likened myself to a beggar with cupped hands waiting for his next few lines of wisdom to be handed out.

Yet nothing prepared me for what he would say at the funeral of one of my great aunts in the mid 1990s when he was already based in Bacolod as President of the University of St. La Salle.

At any funeral regardless of who is speaking, we often hear the same thing over and over again, that is how good the person was throughout his or her lifetime, or even how Christ-like he or she was. 

What Bro. Roly said about my great aunt that morning totally changed the way I started living and gave me a good mental picture of what to aim for.  In today's business-speak, it was as if he had outlined a KPI (Key Performance Indicator) for goodness.

In reference to my late great aunt, Rachel C. Estrebillo, Bro. Roly said, "Rachel was a person who enriched the life of others".  When I heard that, it struck me so deep that it made me realize that it's not just all about being a good person, but really being good and making impact to enrich the lives of the people around us.

I'm sure we all know of people who may not be rich in the way the world measures financial wealth.  Yet they are the people who bring more than wealth into our lives and by doing so enrich us in a way deeper than what money could bring.

From then on, I have always borne this in my mind. "How could I enrich the life of this person?".

As a husband I ask myself, "How could I enrich the life of my wife today?". 


As a parent, I ask myself, "How could I enrich the life of my kids today?". 


As a friend, I ask myself, "How could I enrich the life of my friend today?".

As a newly introduced acquaintance, I ask myself, "How could I enrich the life of this person today?".

That was how Bro. Roly impacted me.  I hope that this has enriched your life too.

God bless you, reader.  Have a great Sunday!





What Bro. Roly Dizon said at a funeral totally changed the way I started living

  April 25, 2021.  Today is the ninth death anniversary of Bro. Rolando R. Dizon, FSC.  Bro. Roly, as he is fondly known by the many who hav...

Sunday, March 14, 2021

 

 


MAKATI, Philippines, March 14, 2021 — As we hit the anniversary of the declaration of the Enhanced Community Quarantine, I look back at what transpired in the last 12 months. To say that the Coronavirus, more aptly called nowadays as COVID-19, has changed the way we live is an understatement.

It is clear that we are not really going back to the way we used to live before. As we’ve often heard it, the New Normal has come. The time when we could freely crowd a mall, a government office, a restaurant, or attend a seminar/event is gone. Even with the vaccine in sight and within reach, at least for other countries, it will be hard for us to resume the old patterns of living, traveling, and even celebrating.

Such behavior has impacted the industry that I am in. I come from the outdoor advertising industry. In the past, this field was commonly referred to as billboard advertising. Today this industry and the medium it literally banners is known as Out-of-Home media or OOH. Much like the travel industry, OOH media has really taken a big hit because of COVID-19. Out-of-Home media thrives on the premise that 94% of the Filipino population is outside of their home at least once within their day.

Being out-of-home makes the perfect case for us who are in the OOH industry to erect billboards, posters, and LED signs, in order to convey the advertisers’ message to the commuters and pedestrians in the course of their daily activity.

When the Enhanced Community Quarantine was declared in March 2020, the metropolis suddenly became a ghost town. Suddenly, the need to view the billboards on EDSA or SLEX, and the lightboxes on Ayala Avenue or in the malls became irrelevant. This predicament obviously made the business I had started and operated for the past 15 years slide.

Like all other businesses which have been greatly affected by COVID-19 and the quarantine, I would say that I valiantly tried to keep things up for as long as I could. In the time that there were no billboard bookings and the advertisers pulled back their budgets, the upbringing instilled by my late father, who taught me practicality and mental fortitude was undoubtedly put to the test. As I’m writing this, I’m thinking that other entrepreneurs, most especially the men would agree with this, that COVID-19 has brought out the best in us despite the mental strain. And that strain is different especially if one is the head of the family, for therein lies the responsibility to provide that hedge of protection over the wife and the children.

There are times though when courage is best displayed not by fighting on, but by surrendering. So by September 2020, I made the decision to finally close the business I had started from the time I left my employment in McCann-Erickson in 2005. In my mind, fifteen years for me was a good run. It was not an easy run. There were many hardships in between especially with government regulation perennially at the throat of the billboard industry.

With hardly any advertisers making bookings on billboards, I had to tell my staff that we would be closing shop. It was sad, but it made us all realize that no matter what,God’s sovereign hand was guiding us in everything. Finding out what would be next to do had to take some time. However, one of the things I have really wanted to do was be a full-time artist. I’ve never had the chance to be that given the frenetic pace of the advertising world. I also believe that I am not alone among advertising peers who wish to break free and just do art.

Throughout the quarantine period, we’ve heard a lot of talk about innovation and reinventing ourselves. That holds true for me as well. I had to dig into what I really love doing. The long and short of it is that I love to write and I love to paint. As a child, I used to draw and color a lot. I hung around a lot of artists and visited galleries. My late father even gave me the opportunity to go sketching with the late National Artist Cesar Legaspi.



My 7 year old self sketching with the late National Artist Cesar Legaspi in Bacolod City, 1975.


Recently, I painted the largest abstract painting in the Philippines, entitled “Alab ng Sining” (Blaze of Art), a poignant reminder for me to stoke the flames of art. The size is 62 feet high by 40 feet wide. The total surface area is 230 square meters, which is about the size of a regular subdivision lot. It is too big to hang in a gallery so I hung it on an EDSA billboard.



IN FOCUS : My artwork, “Alab ng Sining” which is the largest abstract painting in the Philippines.


This is where my profession as an advertising guy meets my artistic self as a painter and artist.

Despite the loss of my business, I am finally finding myself, and the purpose for which I was cut out for. This for me is the silver lining of the pandemic — that things slowed down enough for me to reassess what I really need to do. As what the Generation X hero, Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

So going back to innovation and reinvention, sometimes the personal “innovation” or “reinvention” we need is nothing really new. Most of us need to just go back and RECAPTURE the vision of our best selves — that person we were supposed to be before the cares of this world took us down a different path.






Link to PeopleAsia Article






How I Lost My Business…But Found Myself Along The Way

    MAKATI, Philippines, March 14, 2021 — As we hit the anniversary of the declaration of the Enhanced Community Quarantine, I look back at ...

 

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