Sunday, June 5, 2022


I recently visited Silay in my first ever trip outside of Luzon in in three and a half years.  Blame it on the pandemic, my family and I have been limited to travels 250km away from home at the maximum. This trip was short but I was really thankful for it for it allowed me to have a glimpse of what life would be like for a Talonggo (Tagalog-Ilonggo) in a post-COVID-19 world, with all the adjustments in terms of travel preferences.

Upon arrival at the Bacolod-Silay Airport, Atty. Eli Gatanela and wife Elena, whisked me away to the hills in Patag for a lunch hosted by Raymund and Yves Javellana.  Raymund as we may have known, is the dynamo behind turning the Ruins into one of the top tourist attractions in Negros, once of the 12 most fascinating ruins in the world, and one of the best landmarks in the Philippines, which was recently voted by netizens as the Best Heritage Site for 2016 sponsored by Choose Philippines, the travel website of ABS-CBN.

Raymund and Yves have blissfully relocated themselves in this private enclave of like minded nature and serenity lovers in the cool environment of Patag in Silay.  As they prepared a sumptuous lunch, I zoomed in on the callos, which is often present in Negrense lunches.  I've written about callos in the past and Raymund and Yves' callos is really up there with the best.

Throughout the short visit to Negros, the culinary highlight this time was the Lumpia I brought home to Manila.  My cousin Tina Tronco-Baldevia messaged me the afternoon before I would fly back to Manila if I would want to bring home Lumpia from Silay.  All of us in the family love lumpia made of ubod (coconut pith).

In the seventies, I knew that there would be a lunch to be hosted at home because our kusinera, Elenita, would stack up lumpia in the freezer the on the eve of the lunch.  I'd open up our freezer and you'd see all the lumpia stacked up in rolls with the green sibuyas dahon jutting out.

I picked up the lumpia from Tina's house on the way to the airport and was excited to have this for merienda when I got home to Manila.  For those who aren't familiar with the Lumpia of Silay, this is the unique derivation of the Chinese spring roll created with the ingredients we find in abundance in Negros, the sweet spot of the Philippines.

The Lumpia of Silay is distinct and unlike those in most parts of the Philippines. While most "fresh" or uncooked (sariwa) lumpia elsewhere consists of sautéed vegetables in a white flour-and-water wrapper, and occasionally in some parts garnished with ground peanuts or a sauce, the Lumpia of Silay is different.

The soul of the Lumpia of Silay is the ubod or coconut pith. The ubod is always fresh as can be.  The coconut tree cut down for ubod only hours before, so that the pith is not only white but sweet and juicy yet crunchy.  The crunchiness accentuated by shreds of chicharon (pork cracklings) and a leaf of local lettuce.

As for the freshness of the ubod, as far as I remember, in Negros, there were small trees just for ubod sometimes planted between full-size nut-bearing trees.  That's  farm to table for you, long before farm to table became a buzzword.

I thank Tina for sending me off with a box of Lumpia from Silay. More than a week after we had the last piece of lumpia here in Manila, this Talonggo is still craving for lumpia of Silay - the culinary capital of Negros.

SILAY on my Tastebuds

  I recently visited Silay in my first ever trip outside of Luzon in in three and a half years.  Blame it on the pandemic, my family and I ...


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