The recent success of the Philippine football team brought to mind the image of the little quaint town of Barotac Nuevo, a municipality not far from Dumangas. Barotac is called the footbal capital of the country, and rightly so, as there was once a time when our national team was mostly composed of players from the town. To this day, some of the best players in our national pool are from this peaceful municipality.
The footbal crazy town is perfect breeding ground for soccer players because the sport is the only game in town! Here the “Beautiful Game” is King.
The exploits of the legendary Paulino Alcantara should be enough to convince us that we can achieve great things in this fine game. By the way, Alcantara hails from Iloilo City, the son of a Spanish military man and an Ilonga mother. He and all the football loving Ilongos has kept the game alive in a country where basketball seem to be the only sport. Isn’t it ironic that we love playing hoops, a game where height is a definite advantage? Those damn Yankees! They should’ve taught their Little Brown Brothers soccer instead of basketball! Well, USenses find soccer boring, they prefer their version of football – the Beuatiful Game never really caught up with them.
Along the road, I noticed people in makeshift small huts selling “pantat” (hito, mudfish). The area is surrounded by rice fields where this fish abounds. I asked my relatives how it is prepared – they said the simplest is by grilling, “pantat inasal”. Turns out my Dumangasanon relatives doesn’t find mudfish and all the other freshwater fish apetizing. Maybe because our ancestors has always live along the coast and prefers the taste of salt water fish (A great grandfather, a fisherman, actually died in the high seas in the early 1900’s). I grew up here in Manila but I never develop a liking to the “isdang tabang”. I find it, well, matabang, it lacks the taste I look for. Most Visayan prefers the fish caught in the sea, to them its far tastier and enjoyable.
I remember the only visit I made to Barotac. We went shopping at the busy Barotac fish market. No pantat for us, we were looking for some big fish to make tinola. We found our guy but I forgot what it was called. I marveled at the rich harvest from the sea displayed on the roadside, of course, they were cheap – if you have little money you’ll never go hungry here. I never really went around town well enough. One of these days I should – maybe pick up the sport of football. Who best to teach it other than the locals of the “Football Capital” of the country, right?
photo from simpliving.blogspot.com