*This blog is dedicated to the Queen of Philippine Travel, the Ultimate Traveler on Foot, Ms. Susan Calo-Medina (1941-2014).
BATANGAS BULALO. The nippy January air is making us crave for a steaming bowl of bulalo. The rich flavor of this beefy soup comes from shanks of beef and marrow bones that are boiled for hours under low heat until the meat becomes tender and the fat melts into the broth.
With the coolness of the weather, the bulalo becomes the ultimate Filipino comfort food craving. So off we went to Batangas City, where according to tradition the original recipe for bulalo was invented.
BATANGAS HEROES. Our first activity upon arriving in Batangas City is walking around the town plaza. Central to this landscaped park is an obelisk crowned by a bust of Apolinario Mabini. Known in Philippine history as the chief political adviser to President Emilio Aguinaldo, every proud town in Batangas have a monument or park dedicated to him.
Mabini wrote The True Decalogue to promote the needed patriotism of his time. His words are inscribed in Spanish and Tagalog at the back of this 1917 monument. Seated at the foot of the monument is a woman with her legs crossed under the baro’t saya. While I’ve seen several monuments built during the American period with this kind of theme, I wonder who this woman is or what she represents. Marcela Agoncillo? Inang Bayan?
BATANGAS CATHEDRAL. Overlooking the Plaza is the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Similar to churches built during the Spanish period, this church was damaged and rebuilt on several occasions since its founding in 1581.
BATANGAS LOMI. The walking got us hungry so we had Batangas Lomi. Like the bulalo we were originally craving for, Pancit Lomi is popular in Batangas. Lomi noodles are thicker than spaghetti. Its sauce is thickened with starch. Its flavor is from the sautéed garlic, pork meat and liver, soy sauce and calamansi juice mixture.
Lomi must be eaten while it’s steaming hot. But the challenge really is to be brave enough to finish up a bowl serving of lomi. It’s a carbo-loaded diet that kept us filled-up the rest of the day.
PASTOR-ACOSTA HOUSE. A few walks from the lomihan shines a huge Christmas parol from the Pastor-Acosta Ancestral House. Built in 1883 by Gobernadorcillo Don Alejo Acosta, the house is maintained by fourth-generation members of the clan.
A story is told about a failed assassination of then US Governor-General William Howard Taft (Yes. Taft Avenue was named after him) when he went to Batangas City. The assassin’s bullet was found stuck inside the wooden door frame of the ancestral house’s sala.
EPILOGUE. For an entire day, we’ve experienced Batangas as Mabini, history, and Lomi. In the evening, we found our ultimate craving –the Batangas Bulalo.