Written by Jose Louis Castellano, B.S. in Fisheries II.
As the cold breeze from the shore lingers your feet as you woke up early in the morning. The noise of the fish vendors to sell the fish on the streets, will be the cue that the day will start. To start the day, a delicious breakfast is prepared by my grandmother; freshly baked “Pan Bisaya”, hot coffee and fruits. And, it will not be complete without the happy conversation of the family. These are the moments that I missed when I am started studying away from home. These are the moments when we as a family shared and treasured each moment that we are together.
I spent my childhood with my grandparents and we had a simple life. One of the 19 barangays of Sagay City, Negros Occidental is where I considered my home, Brgy. Molocaboc. It is the home to fisherfolk where big jars (banga), mangrove reforestation (bakhawan). It is about one hour travel via a motor banca from the Vito Port, Sagay City. According to the online source of the Negros Occidental Provincial Government, it all started with a small settlement founded by Tenientes Francisco Rodriguez and Basilio Cordova in the year 1860, situated in the mouth of Bulanon River, which was then called Arguelles. Through the active leadership of both founders the place thrived and prospered, and eventually became a town. In 1870, the town was transferred to a bigger settlement near the sea upon orders of the Spanish Governor who renamed it Pueblo de Magallanes, known today as Barangay Old Sagay. Here are some photos taken by the Mr. Roger Rochar, the former principal of the Molocaboc Integrated School. In his social media accounts, he showcases the magnificent views of the island when sunrise and sunset.
Even though the island it is too far away from the ease and comfort of living on a city, we have our own unique ways to appreciate things on a more simply ways. The community don’t have the access to freshwater for daily chores and drinking water, so they innovate some parts of their houses. They attached “Sandayong” or a roof-gutter and it is connected to the water reservoir or the locals called as “Banga” to catch or save water when the rainy seasons come. When the rainy season come, the fisher folks will have a problem for their livelihood because it is too risky to fish on a bad weather. However, the women and children of the family will have a contingency plan. Making and selling shell-crafts on fiesta trade markets or resellers. Also there is this one livelihood and I can also consider it as a form of art that must be treasured and appreciated, “Pan Bisaya” Baking.
Last October 28, 2016, the local government conducted the inauguration and turn-over of the Water Tank that will serve as water source when summer comes and lesser chances of rain.
According to an online blog the “Slipper Game”, the term “pan bisaya” is any native bread made in Visayan Islands. It may have different versions, ingredients and baking techniques across the Visayan Islands. Some of the versions had fillings of coconut jam inside and baked in a “hornohan”.
I was honored to meet Mrs. Conchita Amancio-Dawa (99 years old) and known as the pioneers of bread baking in the Island. According to her, “Pan Bisaya” has been a staple food in the life of the people especially for the fisherfolks, because it is cheap, delicious and longer shelf life compared to the bread bought from the city proper. Mrs. Dawa was also a wife of a World War II Veteran, she said, “Kung akoang bana molakat sa kampo akoa siyang padal an og pan kay para naa siyay kan on kay usahay walay konsumo nga gina hatag”. She also added that “Pan Bisaya” was a perfect combo with hot coffee for breakfast and “lugaw” for snacks in the afternoon. Aside from it is a form of art of baking “Pan Bisaya”, it also gave Mrs. Dawa the avenue to let her children finished in college and compensate for their daily needs and consumption.
Furthermore, I also meet the 3rd generation “Pan Bisaya” baker of the family and happens to be my grandmother, Mrs. Virginia A. Jarina. According to her the methods and ingredients of baking “Pan Bisaya” was turn over to her from her aunt (Mrs. Conchita Amancio-Dawa). She shared some of the ingredients that been passed to her from her aunt: water, palm oil, salt, cane sugar, vanilla extract, baking soda, baking powder, flour, egg, and yeast. But she has her own secret; the secret of a delicious “Pan Bisaya” is the love and dedication while making and baking. The measurement of the ingredients will depend on the number or how many “baston” (pieces) of “Pan Bisaya” to be baked. In the other hand, the process was first to mix separately the liquid and dry ingredients. In a big mixing bowl; water, palm oil, eggs, yeast and vanilla were mixed together. Using separate mixing bowl; flour, salt, cane sugar, baking powder and baking soda are combined and transferred to the bowl of the liquid components. It is mixed and knead thoroughly and left to proof (fermentation of yeast to let the dough rise). After it is separated to different “baston” or rows of 4-5 bread pieces. Using banana leaves as baking sheets and improvised stove (hornohan) made up of galvanized iron sheets or metal tin oil or biscuit cans. The baking time is around 15-20 minutes. For her capital of 500 pesos she can bake around 100 bastons. Daily she will bake twice, early in the morning for breakfast and in the afternoon for snacks and supplies for the fisher folks that will be going for the night at the sea.
She told me some stories with her daughters while helping her in preparing and baking “Pan Bisaya”. She started baking when she was 24 years old. Until she had her sixth daughter, she slowly trained them so that she will have some help in making and preparation. To compensate the needs of the family, in the morning she will bake goods and bread while in the evening she will accompany her husband to help in fishing. Each week she will go to the city proper and buy supplies that will last for two-three weeks. Early in the morning, she will wake up to prepare and every day before her daughter will go to school, they need to sell around 50 bastons. However, her daughters are stubborn so they will be chasing around the house and pointing to one another if who will be the one selling. But one of her daughter, who is clever to wake up early and brought some of the baked goods and went to school and get some commission for her allowance. With hard work and perseverance of Mr. and Mrs. Jarina, they let all their six daughters finish until college.
There are some modifications and alterations of the traditional “Pan Bisaya”. Instead baking the dough some are fried and/or covered with sugar which the locals called “Panyam or “Donut”. Also instead of using flour, others used sticky rice flour which is also fried and with sugar glazing (Butchokoy). These are eaten as breakfast that is perfect with hot coffee or tsokolate or as snacks in the afternoon.
For me art has different forms and meaning. Even how small or unpopular the practice or form of art is, it is significant in the evolution and improvement the multi-dimensional scopes of art. Baking is one those forms of art that I considered to be treasured and appreciated. You need inspiration, passion and purpose. In the stories and experiences of my grandmothers, art gives them inspiration and in return they serve as a purpose for the younger generation to appreciate their art form.
Flour 1 kilograms
Yeast 2 teaspoons
Egg 3 pieces
Baking powder 3 tablespoons
Baking Soda 3 tablespoons
Sugar 500 grams
Oil 3 teaspoons
Vanilla 3 teaspoons
Salt 1 teaspoon
Water 4-5 cups
Due to limited time and resources, Mrs. Jarina improvised the baking methods. Instead of using the traditional hornohan, she used gas stove and hollow frying pan for baking.
Slipper Game. Retrieved November 05, 2016, from https://slippergame.wordpress.com/
City of Sagay. (2012). Retrieved November 5, 2016, from http://sagaycity.gov.ph/
Resource Persons: Mrs. Conchita Amancio-Dawa Mrs. Virginia Abong-Jarina Mr. Roger Rochar