Tag Archives: Ilocos

Empanada battle (Vigan vs Batac): and the winner is…

 

On the Yellow Corner: Vigan

On the Yellow Corner: Vigan (photo from here.)

On the orange corner: Batac

On the orange corner: Batac (cropped from a photo by blauearth)

While this popular delicacy is not an Ilocano original (It was introduced here by our Spanish colonizers), empanada has become as Ilocano as saluyot, marunggay, and baggoong. It comes from the verb empanar, meaning to wrap or coat in bread.

In the Ilocos dichotomy that is Norte and Sur, two versions emerged from two key locations: Batac and Vigan. It’s not the first time someone compared the two Ilocos empanadas, but I will be more upfront about my verdict.

This comparison results from a series of store visits, interviews with tourists and locals, online reviews, direct observation, and, of course, product tasting conducted this summer in various empanada stalls in Vigan, Ilocos Sur and in Batac, Ilocos Norte.

For purposes of this comparison, Batac Empanadas, particularly those sold at the young city’s Riverside Empanadaan, are considered as the Ilocos Norte standard. On the other hand, the Vigan standard are those sold at Plaza Burgos and stalls like Irene’s and Abuelita’s, which follow a common recipe. I have to make this clear because other variants have sprouted in both provinces, like the crispy empanada sold in Bacarra and the sweet empanada served at a stall in Laoag City, both in Ilocos Norte. Then there are the empanada variants sold at Insiang’s and Hidden Garden in Vigan City, and the Candon, Ilocos Sur version which, interestingly enough, looks every inch a poor clone of the Batac empanada.

How do we proceed with the comparison? Taste, I admit, is highly relative because one tends to prefer what she is accustomed to. This is evident in the response made by Malot Ingel, an anthropologist from Vigan.

Malot Ingel, well respected anthropologist from Vigan

Malot Ingel, well-respected anthropologist from Vigan

“Kahit nag-eexplore ako sa maraming iba’t ibang klaseng pagkain. I mean, kahit foreign food, halimbawa Italian, gusto ko rin naman ‘yun. Pero pagdating sa Ilokano food, napaka-conservative ko, na kung ano ‘yung alam kong lasa, mag-i-stick ako dun. Halimbawa, ang pipian ng Vigan, very particular ‘yan. Minsan nilalagyan nila ng butter to improve the taste supposedly, nagiging unacceptable sa’kin ‘yun. In the same way, kapag empanada, Vigan empanada lang ‘yung gusto ko. I mean, maraming beses ko nang nalasahan ang empanada ng Batac, sabi nila masarap, pero di ko matanggap-tanggap ang lasa ng empanada ng Batac.”

I fully understand Malot’s point, and this preference for what one has come to call her own is why I found it important to conduct interviews with people who are from neither of the two provinces. For proper disclosure, I am from Laoag but I tried to write this feature as objectively and balanced as humanly possible.

We’re now ready to dissect the two empanadas. Let’s get ready to rumble. Continue reading

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Filed under Food, Uncategorized

Empanademocracy

empanada2

empanada3

With or without egg

Meaty or meatless

Egg half done or fully cooked

Grated papaya and mongo beans stuffed neatly

Inside a crisp shell made of rice flour.

Orange, yellow, green, brown, white

Burst into flavorful hues

Vinegar or catsup, which condiment would you choose?

Push it with soda, beer or water

But, oh, does it matter?

And even as we enjoy this Ilocano delight

Of, by, and for us

We concede: burgers can be good, too, alright.

With diverse tones, thus.. In God, we trust

Over, Empanada we crave

And, hopefully, burp.

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Filed under Food, Ilocos

Michael, how could you?

The bell tower of Paoay Church is defiled by a man named Michael, or by someone deeply in love with a Michael. That this graffiti has been there for over a year disturbs me. Now, there are at least two other names “inscribed” at the base of this tourist attraction. What person in a healthy state of mind would do this to a Unesco World Heritage Site?

Paoay Church Belfry (11/21/2011)

TRIVIA: The three-storey coral stone bell tower which stands to the right of the church served as an observation post in 1896 for the Katipuneros during the Philippine revolution against the Spaniards, and again by the Filipino guerillas during the Japanese occupation in World War II.

According to historians, the bell tower also served as a status symbol for the locals. The bell would ring more loudly and more times during the wedding of a prominent clan that it would during the wedding of the poor.

Source: http://digitaljournal.com/blog/3098

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Filed under Ilocos, Tourism

But did tourists come?

I ARGUE, dear karikna, that the Ilocos Norte Tourism Office folks are the busiest bees in this part of the world. And I argue further that their queen bee, Governor Imee Marcos is Awesome with a capital A. After the successful staging of the Sineng Pambansa here in Ilocos, they initiated a series of events for Halloween, the most notable being the Parada Iloca-locana held last October 31 in Laoag, from the cemetery down to the centro.

Viewers, including my dad who sits on a wheelchair, were so happy with the event. He was even doing the high five with zombies, white ladies, and elementals. I heard others who saw the event murmur, “First time detoy aya? Nagmayat.” (This is the first time, right?  Beautiful.) Beautiful, however, may seem an inappropriate term, because the parade participants were no doubt at their scariest best. But really, the event is very uplifting. It makes you feel that something good is really happening in Ilocos. Day after that, it was the eerie Tumba Festival’s turn to paint the town black in Paoay.

Did tourists come because of these recent events? No, not yet. But we are definitely moving in the right direction. We must continue to make Ilocos a fun place so guests would be enticed enough to hit the long road up North. There must always be a show to go to, a spectacle to marvel at, an experience to try, and temptations that are impossible to resist.

I am glad there is no stopping. Before I can even congratulate the masterminds, here comes the Tan-ok ni Ilocano Festival of Festivals unfolding next week.

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Filed under Festivals, Ilocos, Tourism

Bura vs Bora

Room 137, The Manor Hotel, Camp John Hay. I am in Baguio as I write this, but two other places are on my mind.

Last month, I had the chance to join a trip to Boracay, which I first visited in 1999. I trooped to the world-famous beach along with colleagues from the local media, particularly those from the Provincial Capitol Press Corps. Of course, we had a lot of fun. The beach was superb.  And there was overflowing beer and wine, countless platters of gustatory delights, and a lot of the three S= Swimming, Shopping, and Sayawan. No, there was no fourth S, it was all clean fun. Continue reading

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Filed under Ilocos, Tourism

Before Celdran, there was Rafales

AND THE present pales in comparison to the past.

Carlos Celdran, a well-known tourist guide, made news recently when he walked into the Manila Cathedral in the middle of a Mass and shouted, “Down with Padre Damaso!”  in protest of the church’s arrogant blocking of the Reproductive Health Bill.

There were mixed reviews of Celdran’s theatrics.  A few said  it went overboard, that it was tasteless, even “bastos,” but most were appreciative, thrilled, even blown away by his act.  Many felt that Celdran did what they would themselves do if only they can muster the same amount of courage.  “His stunt was not only brilliant, it was one of the most classy protest we have seen in many years,” said one fan.

I agree, Celdran did well.  Few people know, however, that two and a half decades before the Manila Cathedral incident, something like it happened at the St. William’s Cathedral in Laoag, and it was even more meaningful and classier. Continue reading

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Filed under Church, Government/Politics, Ilocos

I am Makoy

TIME HAS COME, dear karikna, to make Ferdinand Marcos more relevant to our times.  I feel that our people are ready to give the man a second look, to unravel his life with new eyes, to look past the thickly waxed cadaver displayed for nearly two decades now in a Mausoleum in his hometown Batac.

A survey conducted by Pulse Asia earlier this year reveals that Marcos is regarded by our people as one of the most loved Filipinos of all time.  It came as a surprise because the former president and his family are constantly vilified, demonized, even ridiculed in media.  This result is validated by the political comeback of his widow Imelda, and children Bongbong and Imee.

It was not difficult to undo my initial bias against Marcos after realizing that he was beyond doubt the greatest social architect this country has nurtured.  I believe that his vision of “Ang Bagong Lipunan” was sincere, courageous, revolutionary.  He knew just exactly what he wanted for our country and he had a blueprint on how things can get done. From infrastructure to participatory democracy to Cultural Revolution to educational reforms and values reorientation, Marcos did more than his fair share.

True, he was a dictator who suspended some of our freedoms, and it’s ok with me. I can trade in some of my freedoms for food security, for jobs, and for real and lasting progress.  Marcos was brave and brilliant, sinister and cunning. People question his motives.  One thing is sure: he loved us Ilocanos, and he was proud of our people. That is why most of his trusted men were from the North. I love Marcos, and love needs no explanations. Love, in fact, defies reason.  As French philosopher Blaise Pascal puts it, “The heart has reasons that reason cannot know.”  Uncle Gerry, my uncle, was an activist during the martial law era, but he ended up being a Marcos loyalist… and up to this day.

Madame Imelda posits that Marcos became a great Filipino because he was, first and foremost, an Ilocano.  An Ilocano is naturally resilient, resourceful, industrious, brilliant, and God-fearing.  She posits that Marcos became a good Filipino by being a G.I., genuine Ilocano.

I totally agree, and it is in this context that I broached the idea of an “I am Makoy” campaign, to Madame Imelda no less, during a seven-hour brainstorming session held at MMSU last month.  Now that we have established the greatness of The Apo, time has come to develop more Marcoses, in ourselves, especially those in the younger generations.  Marcos must be demystified, reinvented, popularized so we can draw him closer to our children.

Yes, this idea is not exactly original as it was done, too, for Ninoy Aquino in the “I am Ninoy” campaign, but the nobility of the Filipino soul, dear karikna, is no monopoly of anyone.  The seed of greatness is in human nature, and no one can rightfully claim exclusive rights to it in the same manner that Noynoy Aquino could not claim patent to a shining, shimmering, widening forehead, which I also have. Continue reading

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Filed under Government/Politics, History