A few weeks ago a colleague shared with me his baon. Now, usually I’d politely decline such offers but when I found out that it’s puto biñan I just dug in. The last time I had one was two years ago.
puto biñan is the most delectable of all puto. And I could say this with certainty. I’ve traveled the country and puto is a standard eat. This delicacy from this Lagunense town has become my puto yardstick!
Since I have some time to spare today I decided to dropped by Biñan. I tried to look for real backyard bakers of puto biñan. I found none. So I had to settle for the rice cake’s most popular maker — Nila’s (Nilas).
The rice cake’s box says that they started in 1925 but according to this blog, whose author claims to be a relative of Aling Nila Samaniego, the business started in the 1940’s.
According to delicaciesinbinan puto biñan “is compose of grinded rice, lots of eggs, mixed with water and after that it is pampered with cheese, smolted with butter and top it with grinded egg.”
Aling Nila also started making new variation of putos like puto polo and puto popo.
The Biñense lady must have been some kinda baking genius.
There’s another Biñense food I’m curious to experience–pancit biñan.
I have not been lucky in my search for this brand of pancit so far. I now doubt if there’s ever such a pancit rooted in Biñense tradition.
I few year ago I had this amusing experience. I went to one of those small stalls serving merienda near the market. “Is this pancit biñan,” I asked. “Yes,” one of the helpers said.
After finishing my plate, I asked the lady who appears to be the owner what makes pancit biñan special.
” pancit biñan? pancit bihon yan!”
And so, the search for the authentic pancit biñan continues…
Of course, I wouldn’t leave Biñan without seeing its great antillean houses. There are still a few extant bahay-na-bato in the old town. I’m dumbfounded how one of the most prosperous Laguna city continue to ignore them.
Why not help promote these houses like San Fernando in Pampanga?
The city recently lost one of the most important historical houses in the entire province–the Alberto house. First time I saw a government so helpless in the face of losing a historical and cultural heritage building.
Now that it’s gone, there’s this gaping hole in old town’s delta. I can’t wait for it to be fully torn down. It just pains me to see it in its present state.
The Alberto house has been transferred to Bataan. I’m not sure if it’s already standing. The present owner (whom I interviewed a few years ago) is thrilled moving the house. He claims to no longer have the money to keep it and expresses satisfaction that “that at least Filipinos could still see” his family’s house — not in Biñan though — in Bataan.
I would write more on the history of Biñan’s antillean houses in the coming months. The old town has been a Filipino Chinese enclave for the longest time. Families that pioneered businesses in nearby towns like Sta. Rosa and Calamba are somehow related to the rich town of Biñan.
If only its present leaders could get their act together in promoting and protecting their heritage, not only will they draw more visitors, such projects would also instill a unique historical identity amongst the towns folk.