Doreen G. Fernandez, Food Writer, Queen

From Hometown Foods: Essays on Filipino Food:

Quiet, bucolic Silay used to have a lot of gambling for high stakes going on behind the walls of those gracious houses. Some, I was told (I never saw them) had sophisticated warning, hiding and escape systems built into them in case of an unlikely raid — unlikely because of pakikisama, because important officials were among the gamblers, because it was an important part of the community lifestyle. Tales were told and zarzuelas were written about jewelry, land titles and car registrations flung on the gambling table; of haciendas lost in a night of gaming; of marriages sacrificed at the mahjong, panguingue or monte tables, or at the cockpit.

For these gamblers, I was told, were developed for kalan-unon (kakanin) for which Silay is famous, and the accompanying institution, the manug-libud (accent on ug and ud). The kalan-unon are portable — they can be eaten without getting up from the gambling table, and they used to be made by the best cooks in Silay — maiden aunts, young wives, mothers, girls, many from the best families. The food was taken around by the manug-libud (“libud” means to take from place to place, usually to sell) to homes with or without gambling, to restaurants and schools, in large round baskets covered with cloth and carried on their heads.

Are there any chefs from Silay in the Bay Area? Are there any Filipino restaurants in Redwood City? How about Half Moon Bay? Just wondering.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

 

 

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