Himugso Heritage Feature: Memories of the old hometown: Life in the Slow Lane
(We are bringing back stories of the olden days of Cagayan de Oro in commemoration of the 65th Charter Day Anniversary of its founding)
Its Culinary Delights
My mother used to say that one way of sizing up a person is by knowing about the kind of food he/she enjoys since food is part and parcel of living well. It wasn’t until I left home that I realized that we have so many culinary delights, some of them peculiar only to Cagay-anons – like the much-touted “bihod” coming from that special fish known as “pigok”.
There’s the “binaki” that most people in the Philippines don’t even have an inkling of. Then there’s the fresh milk puto from the Soriano kitchen, the yemas, brazo de mercedes, sans rival and boat tarts that only Tita Gely Dayrit can make.
There’s also the Elloso’s banana candies and the late Tita Flor Jaldon’s special coconut candies (not macaroons). From my mother’s kitchen, I learned to make “keseo” (white cheese), “budin” (bread pudding),“jalea” (pure mango jam) and fresh milk ice-cream churned from a hand-cranked ice cream maker or “garapinera”.
Who can forget the late Tita Luz Macaranas’ special ensaimadas, fresh lumpia and “masa podrida”, theCastanos’ “empanadas”, Lola Iling Fernandez’s pastillas de leche (also made from fresh carabao’s milk) and the “manticao” and “crema de fruta” recipes of the Neri sisters (Tita Perla and Tita Flor). Almost every family had “tsokolate” at breakfast & dinnertime made from their own backyard cacao trees.
What about the “kayam”? I remember that my mother had a “suki” who would deliver cooked or boiled “kayam” to the house. I haven’t seen kayam for a long, long time now. And who can ever forget the “ginamos” made from “hipon” or little fish that come only once a year, usually the first day of February.
I wonder if other places in the country have as many delicacies such as the ones that Cagayan can boast of (except for Pampanga and Bacolod, of course).
Life in the Slow Lane
My recollection about growing up in a small town is mostly about simple pleasures – walking to school, going to Patag golf course on Sundays with my parents along with other golfers and their families, to the beach on weekends either in Opol (with the Rabes and their Canoy relatives) or in Baloy (the original Neri enclave) with the Dayrits, Nobles and Eparwas.
It was lazy summers spent in the company of visiting Manila cousins (the Pelaezes) who spent almost every summer vacation in Cagayan. Other happy memories were the joyrides with cousins Babe, Sonny, Inday, Gangging, Sweetpea and Charito Fortich, Gigi and Tetel Borja, Annabel Montalvan, and Jing, Lani and Beth Eparwa, and my brother, Boy.
We would go all over town, to the pier to buy hot “pan de sal” then end up at Lumbia to gaze at the stars and the city below, all the while singing Mitch Miller sing-a-long songs.
All of these happened a long time ago but the memories live on and linger, like the notes of an old forgotten tune. Growing up in Cagayan meant being around a lot of relatives and other people whom you knew your entire life; where “everybody knew your name”, to borrow a phrase from Cheers. Although it was akin to living in a fishbowl, I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. These happy, cherished memories will carry me through life whatever may come my way. (posted by The MINDANAO CURRENT @ 4:01 PM , reprinted with the permission of the author)