Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Landang Story

Do you know what landang is? Landang is a very important ingredient for binignit, a local dish and snack staple in the Philippines.

Do you know how landang is made? No, it is not grown like most of the ingredients for binignit. Well, the raw material is grown, however, the final product is manufactured through a process that is as old as our grandparents.

The raw material for landang is derived from a tree called buli, which looks almost like a coconut tree except that it doesn't have fruits. According to our local guide Rolly, the buli blooms and releases thousands of pellet-sized seeds. Trees are allowed to bloom before they are chopped down, they said. A buli tree grows to maturity after 30 years, our other tour guide Archie added.

Another interesting fact is that the different parts of the buli tree when harvested are useful in the entire process of creating landang. Here's how it goes.

First, the bark is scraped off the trunk of the tree. This bark then serves as firewood to fuel the fire that is used to boil the raw material for landang, which is the final step of the process. After the bark is scraped off, the inner skin of the tree is then harnessed and this serves as the raw material for landang.

This is the raw material for landang. At first, it takes a wood-like appearance but this is refined later on to the powdery form you see above. The refinement process involves the raw material being pounded with mortars until it reaches the desired consistency. Check photos below.

After the material is pounded to pure dust-like appearance, it is then mixed with water. There even is a "landang pool" where children swim just to stir the material and make sure the powder is dispersed evenly in the water. Unfortunately, we were not able to take pictures of this pool but we did take pictures of the small-sized pools where the material is stirred by hand.

All in all, the entire process take eight hours to complete until the binignit-ready landang is produced. We were not able to see how the landang is coagulated to its final form, but we were explained that it is heated. Besides, we already know what landang looks like.

~ Immortalundead

Inside San Fernando Rey Church

By the sweats of forced labor, the church of Liloan was built in 1847. As previously blogged, we asked the parish priest's permission to take pictures of the underground tunnel. The priest couldn't know where the opening of the tunnel is.

It was reported that during the American offensive to liberate the Philippines in WWII, the US Airfoce dropped bombs to destroy the church. It was absolutely an easy target yet there were no hits (only big holes in the ground). It was as if the bombs were like "thrown stones deflected in their flight by a sword."

Was it because Liloan Church's patron saint was a warrior king?

Take a look at the well-designed and highly furnished interiors of the church.


We can never talk about Liloan if we don't mention the mouth-watering and sweet-tasting cookie called rosquillos from Titay's. For many Cebuanos, Liloan is even synonymous to rosquillos. If Carcar has ampao and "itlog mo noy orange", Liloan's perennial pride has been the rosquillos. The truth of the matter is that when Liloan joined Pasigarbo Sa Sugbo's Festival of Festivals, the town showcased its uniqueness and pride by featuring the Rosquillos Festival to all onlookers.

Rosquillos is a cookie curiously shaped as ringlets. The Spanish word “rosca” means ringlet. The ingredients for rosquillos include flour, egg, sugar, shortening and baking powder. But many people have felt that there must be a secret ingredient why rosquillos tastes so good.

Titay’s Rosquillos traces its roots all the way to 1907 (the year before UP’s founding), when Margarita “Na Titay” Frasco one day got bored and started experimenting with her baking ingredients and all of a sudden made her new culinary creation. Like a real scientist, Na Titay used her neighbors and passerby as lab rats who were offered the snack as a freebie for every purchase of a bottle of soda. The yet-to-be-named cookie was “baptized” by then Cebu governor Sergio Osmeña, Sr., who called it rosquillos in reference to the Spanish wine ring cookie known as Rosquillos de Vino.

After more than a century of home baking tradition, the patented secret family recipe has been passed on to the next Frasco generations paving the way for Titay’s to continue making delicious and one of a kind rosquillos. People going to northern Cebu have made it a habit to drop by her store to buy and enjoy the rosquillos. Titay’s Rosquillos gains the prestige of being known domestically and internationally. For foreign nationals who want to get a taste of rosquillos, most Filipino stores abroad have a display of this cookie wunderkind.

While Titay’s is synonymous with rosquillos, the family baking business has expanded to an array of homemade delicacies ranging from galletas de bato, torta, peñato, binangkal, polvoron, mamon, monay, otap, caycay, CPA (chicken pork adobo), bao-bao, elorde and a lot more mouth-watering pastries.

But before you taste other different animals, you got to try out rosquillos first for its charming tongue treat. And because rosquillos recipe can never be replicated in any other home than Liloan.
Group Presentation - Festival Queen - Rosquillos Festival 2008.mp3 - Liloan

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Street Businesses in Liloan

It is normally in the poblacion area of small towns where all sorts of commerce converge and human activities mingle. Liloan is no exception except that the town’s poblacion area is, by all definitions, a truly one-stop-has-it-all.

If you stand at the town rotunda (there’s a lighthouse replica in the middle), you will be surrounded by the plaza; municipal hall; the Liloan Church; gymnasium; and perhaps the biggest private school of Liloan (La Consolacion College). The Liloan Public Market, beach area, Balay Pilapil, sizable tennis court, and Suba Channel are all few walks away.

All around the poblacion teems with street businesses of all colors and sizes. For gastronomic needs, you won’t encounter any problem at all. Let the pictures tell you about what’s a cooking in Liloan’s main thoroughfare… from yummy halo-halo to motorcycles to little pizza stall to peanuts to fresh fruits to native rice delicacies known as "pa-init" to chicharon to Jollibee to lechon manok… ahh… Liloan... a place like no other!

Twin Towers of Liloan (naming game)

Let’s have a little breather here. We are already aware that Liloan has two lighthouses. The first one was erected by the Spaniards in 1857, making it older than the Ateneo de Manila University. The other one was constructed through the order of then Governor General William H. Taft in 1904, making it older than the University of the Philippines. Sad to say, only the American version stands high and mighty. The Spanish parola is now left to ruins and rubbles, only its base part remains for the curious eyes.

The Liloan lighthouses should not be neglected further. The twin towers of Liloan, as we like to call them ala Lord of the Rings, have played a significant role to the whole province being the knobs of the old Cebu doorway by the sea. You can just imagine how the structures have helped brought home many a lonesome sailor to the arms of waiting wives and children. Liloan Trippers humbly suggest for the restoration of the Spanish lighthouse (the two lighthouses have quite distinct designs and material structures).

Sure, the lighthouses are relics of a sad past. But it should not stop the people of Liloan from putting off the light of vigilance. It is through looking back at the past that we can determine better ways to navigate the future. There must be a concerted effort by concerned individuals to restore and preserve these structures back to old glory. The lighthouses will not only show the way for ships, but also serve as the town balcony. If it isn’t possible nautically to have two lighthouses in one place, then at least have the Spanish parola for keepsake. Liloan Trippers also suggest for decent lighting around the lighthouses to encourage more tourist visits especially at night, as well as for a guided tour of the old lighthouse for safety and tourism purposes.

In the words of one Liloan chronicler, the lighthouse is “full of light, a vigilant guide to the eye that blinks but does not sleep on duty”.

And, finally, for the breather… I think we could convince the bureaucracy more to speed up its moves with respect to the lighthouses if we put names to the twin towers. For instance, they’d say “gee, they do really care because they are treating the lighthouses like their babies!” So, help us with the job of coming up with names for the twin towers! Of course, the most popular suggestion will win the naming game and one glass of special halo-halo from us (fare ticket not included).

You can vote through this post by making a comment. It’s not hard as you think. You only need to press that little comment icon and place your log-in Gmail/Blogger account. You may opt to comment as “anonymous” if you are that shy. Hard enough? The second and much easier option for voting is to go to “Interact with the Writers” widget at the side of this site. Type in your comments at the “message” space and put your name. The space for “website” is optional. That easy and we will then tally the results.

I once blogged in my Multiply page that if ever I’ll have my own male twins, I would name them Engelbert Humperdinck and Fra Lippo Lippi. My Pa loves their songs, that’s why. But I couldn’t use those names for the twin towers, lest I won’t have originality anymore with my baby twins. I’m thinking of exotic names for the twin towers like Isla Marcheline and Amelie Jane. But no, Angelina Jolie used them already. What cha think, guys? Please help us! ;-)


The Mulao Adventure

Once again, the Swerver-Immortalundead tandem (better known as Liloan Trippers) braved the perils and hindrances and found themselves once again in Liloan, with our fellow freelancer and photographer Eyean tagging along.

I will not enumerate the places we traveled here, because I've already done so in a previous blog. Instead, I will tell you about the (mis)adventure we had in the rivers of Mulao in our quest to find the boat-shaped stone that people were talking about.

The trip started in earnest around 12:30, just after lunch near Wiggy's Beach Resort. The Liloan Trippers, together with our tour guides and transports Archie and Rolly, started motoring off to the far-flung and elevated barangay in Mulao. Once there, Archie picked up another guide, his friend Charlie. Charlie had warned Archie that the trek to the boat-shaped stone was a tough one but Archie thought Charlie was joking. The end was history.

After a few minutes' motor trip up the mountain, we started descending towards the river. Once there, we learned that we were going to wade into the waters, dressed in jeans and all. It's a good thing that we were lent slippers or it would have been more dangerous in shoes. All unprepared, the Liloan Trippers still chose to go forward with the adventure.

An hour's worth of currents, rocks and stones, and soft soil, we found ourselves in front of the awe-inspiring, dark colored boat-shaped rock. Our three local friends went through the obstacles like Legolas skipping lightly over snow, but the Trippers lagged behind blaming our unpreparedness. Still, we refused to give up. I wasn't able to take pictures because of the fear of getting my camera damaged since it didn't have a sling, but Eyean was able to. His pics will be shared later.

A few minutes were spent at the stone ship, where Archie decided to take a dip while Swerver, Eyean and I eyed the ship. It was a wonder. The three-storey structure precariously perched on two rocks with an approximately 2-meter gap between the two bases. What's amazing is that the bottom of the stone ship was shaped exactly like the bottom of a real ship. On close look, the thing was shaped like a Noah's Ark, which led may have led to its nickname "The Stone of Faith."
We decided to pack up and go back the way we came after a while. The trip was smoother this time, because the Trippers were now confident of their traveling skills. However, we still lagged behind because our legs felt like rubber and were heavy as steel. But the trip was shorter this time. At the end of the road, our three guides got us some coconuts to replenish our lost salts and water.

~ Immortalundead

Friday, August 29, 2008

Holes in Cave Fish Story

It is highly believed that there’s an opening to underwater cave (or amphibious cave) at the back of Liloan Church’s altar. In the old days (perhaps until the early 1970s), the cave opening was left open for public viewing. If you throw something in the hole, it would send off a hollow sound suggesting a sizable hollow space. Some brave souls even went as far as going down the hole.

The underwater cave could be man-made and used as escape route during the marauding days when Spaniards ruled the town. Or maybe it is just a freak of nature and nothing but a black hole. The actual opening of the “cave in a cove” is some meters from the shore at the back of Liloan Church. It runs underneath towards Suba Channel and back to the altar of the church or elsewhere. In any way, there’s a huge tourism potential for it. The cave could contain past secrets and other unveiled beauties.

Deep inside the underwater cave, as blogged earlier by Immortalundead, there were reports that the inhabitants down under are ancient sea creatures. Giant fish called cogtong? Octopus? Mermaids? We don’t know. And there’s not much available literature about it even in Internet archives of folklores.

So we asked around. The older Liloanons we interviewed failed to provide conclusive answers. Wanting for authoritative take, we went several times to hear words from Church people. A few days ago, we were able to finally “corner” Fr. Eric Jecong, the parish priest of Liloan. He is one cordial priest and appears very animated when he talks. He allowed us to take pictures inside the church but not beyond the altar.

Swerver: “Can we have a look at the hole for a sec, father?”
Father Jecong:
We would only take some pictures… very quickly. We won’t go down inside for sure. If the hole is padlocked, we won’t ask anyone to open it…
Father Jecong:
Dong, I’m just new to this parish. I don’t really know where’s the hole or if there is really a hole.

I know he’s a good and sincere priest. Father Jecong is. But something tells me there was an apparent “air of discomfort” with Church people whenever we talked about holes. Something fishy?


The Latest Escapades of the Liloan Trippers

Yesterday the authors were offline and unable to make updates. But do you want to know what the authors were up to yesterday? We went to Liloan -- once again -- and toured the town the whole day.

First, we revisited Suba Channel for the sake of our latest recruit, Eyean, who also brought his camera just for the trip. His photos will be uploaded and used soon.

Next, we went to the Landang factories where we learned about the manufacturing of landang, a very important ingredient for binignit.

We visited that former golf course above the memorial gardens where we saw the "lamakan" and an overlooking view of Punta Engaño and the Lighthouse.

Afterwards, we went to some of the potteries and ceramics makers in the area.

Then, we went to Silot Bay. God, the place was beautiful.

We visited Wiggy's Beach Resort before lunch...

Last but not the least, we braved the rocks of the river in Barangay Mulao...

... all the way to the boat-shaped, gigantic, piece of rock.

More blogs about these later. We have a lot to tell.

~Immortalundead and Swerver

Thursday, August 28, 2008

What’s Innit, Silot Bay

Silot Bay is the most enchanting part of Liloan where many lives – past and present -- thrive. A shallow tidal lagoon, with mangrove swamps, fishponds and two islets, Silot Bay is all over in the heart of Liloan. Silot Bay is vital to both livelihood and recreational purposes of Liloanons.

The bay is connected to a channel that is abundant with sea urchins, a huge area of mudflat where locals gather seashells during low tides, and a productive fishing ground. It is also a feeding area for herons, egrets and other birds. During weekends and holidays, Liloanons from as far as the mountain barangays go to the bay to have a swim. The more daring ones have the option to dive from the concrete bridge (it used to be made of wood) down to the whirling waters called lilo.

The soothing atmosphere of Silot Bay, ironic considering the presence of whirlpools in the mouth of the bay, has rendered many a lives to find inner peace and respite during gracious sunrises and sunsets. (It is not saying though that there were no “troubled” lives lost who felt the troubles were worth a dive from the bridge.)

Silot Bay is also the cradle of all stories, myths, legends, folklores or whatever you call it. If you believe any of them, it is where Liloan has begun. Liloan’s own Garden of Eden.

One story, which I previously related in more details here, tells that long time ago a defiant couple found refuge for their love near Silot Bay. There is abundance of fish so good for business. And indeed they did make business from their catch, although no coins yet then, by bartering it to nearby villages. When people asked them where the heck did they get it, the lovers would say “sa may lilo” (near the whirlpools). And thus born the name “Liloan”. The current location of Balay Pilapil is widely believed as the probable site of where the couple used to live.

Another version of that same story and couple has a more violent ending. After their defiance, the couple were cursed and punished or something like that by their family and community. One native Liloanon told us that the couple were thrown to the sea and died instantly. The whirlpools are said to be a reminder of their passionate love, defying all odds. And thus born the name of the bay “Silot,” a Cebuano word for punishment.

Another story is more Disney-like. Once upon a time in Liloan, mermaids were very friendly to humans. In fact, they mingled, played or even dined with people on some occasions. The mermaids possessed of bejeweled utensils, perhaps made of pearls, and they were kind enough to lend some of them to their friends. Lured by material wealth, some humans did not return their borrowed plates. The mermaids politely pleaded for the return of the plates but found no ear. This caused the anger of the mermaids, who unbeknownst to humans were more vicious in wrath than any other creatures. The mermaids left the place of “human interaction” but not without causing great tidal waves. The whole community near the sea got wiped out. The whirlpools remain to this day as ripples of those great waves.

Yet another story is fantastic to people’s standards. Liloan used to be a home of black fairies or “dili ingun nato” (not like us). Human settlements caused them to retreat somewhere else. (The bloggers don’t know their exact location as of press time.) In retaliation to their forced eviction, them wicked dili ingun nato would claim at least a life each year. Some well-meaning residents reported to us that there has never been a year without a missing bather who would get mysteriously lost even during calm waters. Some days later, the lost soul would float lifeless somewhere far. The residents would then just sigh and resign to the thought that the sea claimed that poor life.

And the final story that we were able to gather tells that Silot Bay is haven to one primordial, giant fish called cogtong (we don’t know if the specie actually existed ever in history). It is so huge that it could swallow at least three people in one instance. The cogtong could have its nest in the underwater cave (there’s a real amphibious cave in Liloan, yes) which traces all the way to the altar of Liloan Church. The same modus operandi with them dili ingun nato: the cogtong would swallow at least a human body each year. The twist is that with the cogtong, the poor human body would never be found again.

Scared yet? No, these are just stories. The bloggers will find it for themselves first if any of these were true and post about it here (that is, if one of us would come out alive during encounter). But, I tell you the actual view around the whole expanse of Silot Bay is breath-taking. And once you’re in the bridge, it is so nice to jump straight to the whirlpools. With my girlfriend’s permission and watch, I will jump from there one of these days. I don’t know with Immortalundead. ;-)


The Story of a Sea Creature Living Below the Church

Like I mentioned in an earlier blog, the Church of San Fernando Rey in Liloan is the subject of a few myths and urban legends. Well, perhaps not just the church itself but the general vicinity of the church. Let me say first that these are just stories, passed down from generation to generation, that some of the things I have heard might differ from those that you might have heard.

Most importantly, it has not been proven that such stories have some truth to them. I will not claim anything for that mater.

For years, there have been stories that an underground cave network or tunnels exist beneath the foundations of the San Fernando Rey Church and the immediate grounds. It is said that when you try jumping on the grounds behind the church, near the sea, you'd find that the sound is hollow suggesting the presence of a tunnel below it.

I've heard stories from people there that this supposed underwater cave terminates right below the altar of the church itself. What makes it more interesting is the legend of something big, a sea creature, living right below the altar in the underwater tunnel. Of course, Swerver and me hasn't seen it, and I doubt anyone did and lived through it. All we know are the stories.

There have been several versions of what creature is supposed to live there. Some say it's a big fish, maybe a primordial fish called a cogtong in the local dialect. Still, some of the current generation of Liloanons were told that it's a giant squid or octopus. Whatever it is, the creature is said to spit something out from time to time into the church. It is said to eat something, and then regurgitate it the same way anacondas do with their prey. In another version from another person that Swerver interviewed, though, the cogtong's catch is never found.

And, yes, the cogtong is known to swallow a person whole. Not much unlike the anacondas in the Anaconda movie series, to give a more vivid description.

Even the nearby Suba channel is linked to the story of this underwater creature. One of the people we talked to in one of our visits told us that, once a year, there is a very big whirlpool in the channel. Legend says that it is a sign that the creature below the church is pulling something -- or someone -- to eat. Scary huh?

Then again, legends are legends. It may or may not be true. However, this makes the Liloan all the more interesting. I can't help but think what other interesting stories does this wonderful town have for the imaginative and the inquisitive?