Iloilo Culinary Tour: Ilonggo Heritage Painit in a Bahay na Bato

Jun 25, 2012

by Mike Baños

ILOILO CITY – The best meal I had during a recent tour of this “Queen’s City of the South” was a painit at the Avanceña Bahay na Bato in Villa Arevalo, this city which remains the residence of the fourth generation of the Melocoton-Avanceña clan.


(Photo credits to Precious Heradura)

It was a simple snack but somehow, the company you keep your meal with and perhaps, the ambience of the place where it is taken play equally important roles with the cuisine in your enjoyment of the total experience.

It was Father’s Day, June 17, 2012 and our group of travel writers from Cagayan de Oro had just taken the Heritage Tour of Iloilo courtesy of Cebu Pacific and the Department of Tourism Western Visayas (Region 6). We had been touring the Southern Iloilo countryside.

(Photo credits to Precious Heradura)

We dropped by the Garin Farm, Miag-ao, Tigbauan, San Joaquin and Guimbal churches with Iloilo Tour Guides Cooperative Chair Melanie Y. Ortega, herself a licensed tour guide, Erlyn S. Alunan, the Municipal Tourism Officer of San Joaquin and Mr. Edison Molanida, the Municipal
Tourism Officer of Miag-ao.

Our party included moi, Froilan Gallardo, Ed Montalvan, Orwin Austria and Butch Enerio from Cagayan de Oro; Ping Jimenea and Pam Cababasay from DOT Region 6; MP Pestano and Len Balmonte from Cebu Pacific and JG Summit
Holdings, and Charles Lim and Precious Heradura of Selrahco Management and Consultancy Services.

After a brief visit to a Sinamay dealer where we got ourselves some pasalubong for the folks back home, we proceeded to the Arevalo District for a visit to the Avanceña ancestral house now better known as the Camiña Bahay na Bato.

Melanie tells us the house was built in 1865, predating even the only remaining Balay na Bato in Cagayan de Oro known as El Casa del Chino Ygua, built in 1882 by the first Chinese migrants in what was then known as Cagayan de Misamis and historically significant since this
was where Filipino revolucionarios gathered in January 10, 1899 for the first ever parade marking Philippine independence from Spain and many of whose remains lie buried behind the house.

However, in stark contrast to the well preserved Camiña, El Casa del Chino Ygua had been repeatedly renovated and the bricks on its facade that originally came from Fukien, China long gone.

Once inside Camiña Balay na Bato and the contrast becomes even sharper, with the two storey edifice now also serving as a museum and curio shop (Lola Rufina’s Heritage Curio Shop) with even some of the original owners personal collections on display.

Like many old houses in Iloilo, one can find weavers doing their traditional products like hablon and patadyong. Antiques from plates to little jars and painting line the walls. And really old looking santos watched us gravely from their ornate pedestals which look like they date back to the Spanish times.

When one ascends the steep staircase, one literally gets transported to its earlier genteel times when the owners held court in the grand sala while visitors from all over the province would pay their respects.

It was when the hosts invited us to the dining room where two tables laid out as they were during the earlier times that the time travel became complete.

It was late afternoon and the weather was kind enough to send some sun and wind to ruffle the curtains of the comedor. Perfectly complementing the fine china and silverware were the traditional Ilonggo painit of  piping-hot Pancit Molo, sweet brown red cuchinta with freshly grated coconut and my oh my, the greatest tasting tsokolate I have ever tasted in my life served in metal pitchers (or tsokolatera, if you must) with wooden batirols!

Ah, to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon in the company of old and new friends, gracious hosts, good food, fine house and perfect weather, life doesn’t get any better than this!

Cebu Pacific flies direct from Cagayan de Oro to Iloilo Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Cebu Pacific is the largest airline in the country with the lowest year-round fares.


[Photo credits in this story goes to Precious Grace Heradura]

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