Pangasinan Food Tour 2014: Mangaldan

Undying Filipino staple

One of the things that define our mornings as Filipinos is the undying breakfast staple, tapsilog, which stands for tapa, sinangag (fried rice) and itlog (egg).

Over the years and after several experimental touches, new versions have been concocted served as hearty meals to start the day of the hardworking Filipino. We started eatinglongsilog (longanisa, sinangag at itlog), tocilog (tocino, sinangag at itlog), bangsilog (bangus, sinangag at itlog) and other combinations dished up by the practical Filipino kusinero.
Mama Cela, however, stuck to tapa and made a living out of this original Pinoy pride. Mangaldan is a town in Pangasinan known for tapa. While others continue to sell the product in the public market, Mama Cela has stood out, established a one-stop shop for her products at the heart of the town, and became an empress of meat products and more.
Tapa, strips of beef, or carabao meat that are salted and seasoned, is what Mangaldan is known for. Ask where you can find the best tapa in Pangasinan and everyone will surely point you to this town.

Evidently, her hard work which started when she was just a kid paid off and led her to where she is now. And during our food tour, she had been generous enough to let us taste what exactly she and her business have been known for—tapa. But, it wasn’t the regular tapsilog that she and her trusted employees served to us on the second day of the tour.
Cooked during the demo rendered by Ate Joan, an English-speaking employee who sounds like British, their take on the famous dish originating from Dagupan City, pigar-pigar, had been served to spectators circling around the sweet sounding pan over the dancing flame of the stove.

After several minutes of waiting and salivating over a lip curling treat, everyone took hold of a toothpick, ready to lunge any moment.
True enough, our expectations had been met. Perhaps, even exceeded. The tender meat touching our tongue oozed with a flavorful taste that would make you crave for more.
What makes Cela’s tapa special?
Simple. They use carabao meat and beef and mix together the right amount of ingredients and process it the right way. Couple the whole thing with humility and the business will surely get a natural boost.

No wonder, after many years, Mama Cela’s Meat Products continue to become a hit, and a trend as we say in the modern times. The community they built within the enterprise continues to grow stronger, too. Well, I must say, our visit to Mama Cela’s comfortable and warm abode was one of the tastiest food encounters during the food tour. One heaven of a delight!

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Pangasinan Food Tour 2014: Laoac

A basket of sweet treats

It may be the youngest town in Pangasinan, but Laoac seems to have mastered the art of making their delicacies through hundreds of years of practice.

At our second stop during the Pangasinan Food Tour 2014, we were delighted to fill our stomach with sweet treats from Laoac. Their close to unique presentation of two of the most famous Pangasinan rice cakes proves to be a good quality of the town one will find admirable.
True, they might not have originated from Laoac, but their tupig and patopat can be considered one of the best. The town dared to be different and has been successful enough in its feat.

Tupig, a mixture of glutinous rice, coconut bits and sugar, is one of the things that make Pangasinan popular across the country in terms of food. Sure, other places such as the Ilocos provinces and Tarlac also offer the treat, but Pangasinan’s is considered one of the most sought after varieties.

Presentations of this heavenly snack and desert, however, also vary from town to town. Some come with less amount of glutinous rice which renders the texture rather rough because of the coconut bits. Others are so sticky that they stick to the banana leaves with which they have been wrapped. Later on, you’ll realize you’ve eaten less than what you’ve paid for.
Still others come with a smooth texture, satisfying your delicate tongue and raging palette because of the right amount of glutinous rice. The level of sweetness is just right and the whole thing doesn’t stick to the banana leaf. If you’ve tasted this variety of tupig, then it surely must have come from Laoac. Trust me on this: It won’t fail your expectations. Sure enough, you definitely get exactly what you’ve paid for P5.
The town’s patopat is equally flavorful and satisfactory. Well, that may be considered an understatement because it’s definitely close to excellent! Laoac’s patopat, wrapped in woven coconut leaves just like the other varieties, is cooked in boiling sugarcane juice produced from Laoac’s sugarcane mill.
Rice cakes, however, are not all that Laoac can offer to us. Rising in this municipality is the Fifth District of Pangasinan Dairy Cooperative, a cow’s milk processing facility producing 4,500-5,000 liters of fresh milk daily from hundreds of corn fed cows.

Chocolate flavored fresh milk is a regular find at supermarkets and grocery stores; even at the dairy farm. But, what makes their product more delightful and enticing is that it’s been reconciled with such flavors as pandan, ube, melon and strawberry. Now that’s an exciting way to drink milk.

Evidently, Laoac is not rich in tourist attractions, but its principle of daring to be different in what it can offer makes the town attractive to tourists. As we know, travellers often go for the unique, the extraordinary. And when talking about that, Laoac is one of the go-to places that must never be absent from your list.

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Pinalaka nga pag-text kadwa ni Dextr (Texting made easier with Text with Dextr)

Bagla ketdin,  maisa finger friendly nga keyboard para smartphones ken tablet. Nagado nariing nga smartphone owners interot lubong nga pakiramdam da ket haan isudo nauteken. Diba dapat nalaklaka ngem dagijay imununa nga cellphone? Apay ajay pindutan na ket nagbaset ngem idjay dalirek? Apay haan ko mai-tayp ajay naglaka nga sarita nga haan ko mapinpindot mali nga litra? Anya ajay nagrigat nga keyboard? QWERTY? Kwanko, WTF!

Dextr ket a Chile-based nga tech start up, nangipakilala ito balo nga keyboard, inararamed kasatno nalaklaka nga ag-tayp idjay smartphone ken tablet, napartak, nag-simple, ken nalalaing. Its radical innovation? kasla alpabeto nga layout. Wen, ABCD haan nga QWERTY. Dextr, redesigned ajay texting experience from scratch, adda flexible layouts nga para lima nga daliri, duwa nga hinlalaki ken maysa nga numero typing. Adda met iti features para kanyada nga kanwigid nga agsursurat. Maliban iti familiar alphabetic layout nga nalaka nga adalin iti users, adda met iti Dextr nga sakto tan size ken button spacing, napartak ken accurate nga predictive text systems idjay maket.
Imbaga ni john lambie, founder iti Dextr nga, “Iti makitkita mi nga maaramid dagitoy teknolihiya ket nalaka nga usaren iti amin nga tat tao. No dagado nga oras iti masapsapol you gapo laeng nga biruken iti “A” no “B” o ajay “C” nga pagpindutan na tapno maka-text, maka-tweet, maka-search, maka-chat, makaaramid iti email, maka-post, maka-comment o maka-tag, haan ka nga nalaing ah idta smartphone mo.”
“Kaadwan nga managusar iti cellphone ket naiulo dan ata nga alphabetic key arrangement. Isu nga us-usaren da iti mano nga taon. Insulto garud kanyada nga pilitem isuda nga pagadalan ata nga makabutbuteng nga QWERTY system. Agdamag ka — kaadwan nga tao ket addo nga aldaw iti masapol na tapno maiulo amin, mano nga bolan o taon. Apaya gamin ket ata nalaka nga sistema laengen iti pagadalan iti mano nga minuto? Apaya ket haan nga ata nga nalaka nga sistema iti nalaka nga ipakita kenyada tapno mabibiit, mas nalaka, mas bassit iti pagkakamali.
“Araramiden tayo ket atoy nga eksamin idtoy lubong: Kenya, Nigeria, China, India, Turkey, Vietnam, Venezuela, Argentina… Kala kastoy, adda agus usar idtoy Pilipinas nga naparpartak nga agtext, naparpartek ngem 99.9 porsyento idtoy planeta — awan maadalan, mano laeng nga bulan nga usaren!”
Ata market iti aplikasyon iti touchscreen ket iso ti kaykayat iti tao isu nga ado gumatgatang. Uray ket nagrigat iti agtype idta touchscreen nga kasla met lang iti nakadakkelan tayo nga keyboard ken isu iti kaykayat da.
Of-offeran na ni Mr Lambie ni Dextr libre nga pagdownload para ayanti Android Smartphones and tablets. Available idtoy:

Translated by Anna Khristina Orpilla and Anissa Natalie Meridith Pascua
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Pangasinan Food Tour 2014: Alcala

When noodles become a healthy option

Innovations in technology have been prominent these past years. Everyone has always been enlightened on their benefits and the cool features these innovations entail.

What we sometimes miss are innovations being done on food.

We’ve always known noodles are unhealthythat’s a fact. Despite this, however, we still eat noodles during snack time. Sometimes, we even substitute a pack or cup of noodles to our lunch and dinner. This leads to the conclusion that noodles have been a part of our lives and removing it from our diet, though unhealthy, is a hard thing to do.

But, why do we have to quit eating noodles if something can be done to make it a healthy option?

The answer is we don’t. We just pick the one which contains the nutrients our body needs and which doesn’t have preservatives.

On Jan. 10, day one of the Pangasinan Food Tour, we learned about Alcala’s Veggie Noodles processed at the Alcala Livelihood Center and Veggie Noodle Production. A team of women from the locality work together to produce the healthy noodles which contain—yes, you’re right—vegetables.

Here are some of the ingredients…

…to produce this:

The livelihood center produces squash canton and mikilunggay. Whichever you choose, you can be sure that you’re putting something healthy in your body in a form which is not difficult to eat.

Composed of bloggers and mediamen, our team was given the opportunity to taste test this wonderful find. They prepared spaghetti—my favoriteand pancit using their very own product.

Veggie spaghetti.
The flavorful sauce of spaghetti made it very exciting to eat. The usual taste of Pinoy spaghetti—sweet with just a hint of sourness—was there, so there was nothing much new about it.
Being a lover of the dish, I finished two helpings and wanted to swallow another, but stopped on my tracks knowing that we still had to do a series of food tasting for the rest of the day.

Pancit  is a regular find in Filipino celebrations, but a very healthy preparation is something to look forward to. We tasted their take on this very famous food and concluded: It was yummy!

Visiting the Alcala Livelihhod Center and Veggie Noodle Production was a great way to kick off the Pangasinan Food Tour. When you visit Pangasinan, never forget to visit the place and get your veggie noodles to complement your healthy diet.

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Blessed year of savory mix

Whoa! Time is indeed quick! Year 2013 is over and we’re now greeted by 2014—another year of happiness and laughter, of sadness and pain, of excitement and energy.
When 2013 started, I wrote an entry on my previous blog about words describing each month of 2012. Now, I’m listing down 13 of the most significant and unforgettable events and experiences I went through and dealt with last year. We’re now more than halfway through January, but I hope this post isn’t late yet.

Undeniably, it was a year of ups and downs (well, which year wasn’t), of joy and sorrow, of laughter and tears. But, guess what, even though 2013 was a roller coaster ride, and even though there were instances I thought of giving up on some things, I survived. I stand with my hopes high and my dreams getting fulfilled every step of the way.

Oh, about the list, here it goes:
With or without a grand celebration, my birthday (January7) will always be memorable for me. Last year, unlike the one that I had in 2012 (an escapade in a resort in Pampanga, although that wasn’t for my birthday primarily), we just had a small get together at a friend’s house. I feel guilty, though, for I didn’t reserve that special day for my family.

My elder sister, Lauren, was generous enough to order a pizza for my pre-birthday bash last year.
That was the last press conference I attended in college as a staff of our student publication, The Students’ Herald. In a few months’ time, I’d be leaving the university. And so it felt like I received the grandest gift in my life so far as my colleagues and I went to Albay for the Luzonwide Higher Education Press Conference. All my life, I wanted to see Mt. Mayon and last February, it stood in front of my very own eyes, screaming its heart-warming welcome to this traveller. What made it more special was that it was my first time to ride on a plane!

I was really looking forward to our Albay tour. Unfortunately, we were left by the bus at the hotel. Not that we were late. Coordination was not done properly, that was why.

3. My application for graduation got approved.
With all the pressure and heap of tasks in college, it would sometimes feel that you would fail to graduate on time. But, after I wrote on the blank spaces and filled the boxes on the form, I filed my application for graduation. When it got approved, I knew in my heart—and I was sure about it—that 2013 would definitely be the year I would finish my course.
4. Four years after, I finished my course.
And so, it did happen. In April 2013, after going onstage and bumping fists with the university president, I got my diploma. (Well, not my diploma; only the case. I received the real deal a few months after.) I even recited our pledge in front of my fellow graduates. After four years of many sleepless nights and stressful days, I earned my college degree…without spending a single centavo on tuition as I had a scholarship. That was a great help to my parents, a blessing I would forever be thankful for.

Definitely, after graduation, a person faces bigger challenges in the bigger world. And with that, I mean looking for a job. While others chose to take a rest, I got to my feet and made a career move by submitting my resume to the company I used to render my service at as an intern. Guess what, I got hired right away. Well, it actually happened four days before graduation, so rest was alien to me.

Bloggers’ at Talk, one of the productions we worked  at Talk TV Global on one month after I got my job.

6. This is something I’m absolutely not supposed to talk about. So, let’s move on to the next one…
7. The beginning of a relationship.
I’m not really the type of guy who talks a lot about my relationship with my girl, but I just would like to acknowledge how significant it was for me when our relationship started in summer. Exchanges of sweet messages made the ants go gaga, although we were still on the courtship stage back then. Before it all happened, we were two happy individuals with separate lives, minding our own business and contented with our single status. And then it hit us. Cupid’s arrow struck us at the time we both least expected it.

8. …and on June 5, our relationship became official about two months after courtship. That day she said yes to me was one of the happiest days of my life.

Fast forward to November. My credibility as a blogger (that’s how it felt, at least) was recognized as I attended the annual gathering of bloggers, Blogapalooza, at the SMX Convention Center, SM Aura Premier in Taguig City. It was a business-to-blogger meet up where companies offering diverse brands participated and presented their products to bloggers who gladly received freebies and gift certificates. Hopping from booth to booth made me immensely ecstatic especially that it was the first blogging event I’ve ever attended.

Photo op with Bogart the Explorer.

10. I was at the Mobile Festival 2013.
True enough, learning doesn’t stop at finishing a degree. It continues even at work. On Nov. 25 at the SMX Convention Center, SM Mall of Asia in Pasay, I’ve been enlightened on the growing trend among companies—international and local—of going mobile, thereby reaching their target market anytime, anywhere, without having to place commercials on TV, or put their ads on billboards. Creating a mobile app for your company and product is one remarkable innovation.
Remember my plan to go to Hundred Islands on my birthday last year which didn’t push through? Well, I’m quite grateful that before 2013 ended, I finally got the chance to marvel at the world-renowned tourist destination. It wasn’t purely leisure, though. It was part of my job as co-manager of GBG Pangasinan. We were there on Dec. 17 for the inaugural meet up of the group.
12. That very special Bolinao getaway.
Now, this is a travel that was not work-related. The level of enjoyment reached the sky as I got the chance to explore Bolinao, a place where you can enjoy the clear water of its beach and the marvellous seascape on the view deck of the Bolinao Lighthouse.

13. And yes, I was overjoyed to end the year and welcome 2014 with my family. My aunts and cousins came home from abroad, and the celebration at my grandmother’s house in Novaliches was a happy get together with them, a prelude to our grand reunion.

You might think that my 2013 was all leisure and enjoyment because of the things listed here. Well, no. There were lots of sadness and pain, just like the previous years I went through, which I won’t write about because there’s no use in doing that and focusing on the negative side of things.

It was a rough year, but one that I truly savored and enjoyed nevertheless. It marked memories and etched another set of principles on my being.
God blessed me with a load of wonderful gifts that I’m quite thankful for. And I’m certain that 2014 will be grander and more alive as God continues to bless me and my family.

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Tasting Pangasinan

In my last post, I talked about how wonderful it is to learn about stories of people you meet when travelling. Isn’t it heart-warming to feel how comfortable they are in sharing with you, a person whom they’ve just met, some of the most significant fragments of their lives?
This time, though, I won’t be talking about another story I was enlightened on during another travel. But this post is something about one of the most exciting activities you can do when travelling—food trip.

Cela’s Tapa and Meat Products’ version of the ever famous pigar-pigar. You can find that in Mangaldan, Pangasinan.

Pangasinan boasts of not only cool tourist destinations and scenic views but also of delicious foods and delicacies that will tickle your palate—another good reason for you to travel to this place. So, if you’re looking for that perfect destination for your food trip, head out to Pangasinan.

As one of the advocacies of Google Business Group (GBG) Pangasinan and Dagupan chapters that is the promotion of food tourism in the province, Pangasinan Food Tour made tummies glad and full on Jan. 10-12. The event which was another awesome way to kick off 2014 with is a prelude to the upcoming creation of a food map in Pangasinan.

Indeed, Pangasinan is a total package when it comes to food. The best tasting bangus (milk fish) is in Dagupan City. That sticky puto (rice cake) with a texture you’ve been looking for is in Calasiao. How about a mouth-watering bagoong (fish sauce) and alamang (sautéed shrimp paste) that can be a perfect match to your grilled bangus and green mangoes? You’ll find both in Lingayen.
Whatever food you’re craving for, Pangasinan surely has that. And expect the satisfaction your taste buds will get.
Pangasinan Food Tour 2014 featured seven towns—Alcala, Laoac, Pozorrubio, Mangaldan, Calasiao, Binmaley and Lingayen—and one city—Dagupan. Guests coming from Manila and from the media, and our team visited several restaurants and eateries during the three-day event, making my stomach so full it felt like it would burst.
Some of them offered regular finds like inihaw na bangus and hito (catfish), and kare-kare. Others dared to be different by adding a twist to ordinary dishes—like putting tomato sauce in pinakbet and making a clam soup spicy. Still others weren’t contented and created their very own recipe out of the available ingredients in the province—like the bangus siomai and veggie noodles.
But, it wasn’t just my tummy that was happy; my heart was glad as well, for I got the chance to know more about the place I live in.
It may have been a job-related task of tasting food and dumping everything served in front of us into my stomach, but I also consider it a reward after a year of hard work. Still, I would say that the event was another great—and tasty—combination of work and leisure, something I’ve quite loved since getting this job.
Well, I’ll leave the excitement hanging for now. You’ll get to know more about the restaurants and eateries we featured, and our delectable finds in my succeeding posts. Meantime, let your taste buds crave as you feast on photos posted on my Instagram account.
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A story carried by the wind

Most tourists only find cool destinations, extreme adventures, scenic views and picturesque landscapes in places they visit. Little do they know that there are stories waiting to be told; simple realities that touch a heart and draw a curve on the lips. Simple realities made more alive by the characters figuring in every story.
One of these is the story of Aling Rosa—a story we learned about during our taping in one of the places we featured on Traveldotcom.

Rose Rosas lives in Imbo, Anda. She is an abaniko (fan) maker for which she has been called ‘Ate Palaypay’ by her townspeople.

She does it all by herself. She cuts the leaves she uses for the fans she makes. She dries and dyes them, then she crafts them into beautiful big fans. Later on, she sells each for P25—an amount just enough to pay for all her effort.
At most, she finishes 15 fans per day.
She has children whom she tries to teach how to make fans themselves. But they are not interested with the skills she intends to pass on to them. They have other interests from which they say they can make money. That leaves no one to inherit the craft.
She no longer has a husband. She says she has returned him to his parents after learning that she had ‘co-owners’—eight to be precise. For many years, she has performed the role of both a mother and a father to her children with only her fan-making business and other side line jobs to get by and provide for her children.
Despite all the hardships, though, one trait resonates in her personality. She is jolly. She is a person full of humor, with a face drawn with a sincere smile, with wrinkles sketched by many years of loud laughter.
We ask why she never married again and if she would. She quips with a grin, “It is better to be alone than to have a bad companion.” Yes, she speaks English from time to time. She talks about her amigas from other barangays asking her why she speaks English. Then she continues to say, “Kelan ko gagamitin ang aking Ingles? ‘Pag ako’y patay na? (When will I speak English, then? When I’m dead?)” Then she laughs.
She never seems to get tired. Not even a bit. Not even for a second. It seems that being tired is a luxury she does not have time for. She does not stop working. She stops perhaps only to answer nature’s call, or to do other chores. She does not quit talking. She pauses only to breathe and get ready for another round of stories. Above all these, she does not lose her confidence, her comic self, her resilience, her fighting spirit.
She lives a simple life in a simple home with a simple business.
She originally hails from Lopez, Quezon. In 1987, she had moved to Anda.
She is Rose Rosas, Aling Rosa, Ate Palaypay. She is happy. And this is her story.
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