by John Mark Guda, Choose Philippines
Luzon Empanada, Longganisa, Panutsa, Suman, Barong, Balisong,Tapa, Tulingan Tamalis and Tawilis- who would have thought that all of these products come from the small town of Taal in Batangas?
Taal is also the site of the very first El Pasubat Festival where all these delicacies are showcased. More than home to the world famous Taal Lake and its volcanoes, the townsfolk of Taal wants to show that they have more to offer.
Though some of the products can be found in other places, Taal takes pride in the uniqueness of each product â€" from the way they manufacture to the finished product.
When in Taal be sure to find time to savor their native products such as: Taalâ€™s Empanada for example, consists of ground pork with potato and carrots wrapped in a soft and delicious crust is considered to be one of the best-tasting version of this Filipino version of the pocket sandwich.
Taalâ€™s longganisa (sausage) has a distinct taste from being marinated in secret ingredients and can only be bought at the Taal market. Panutsa is made of peanuts coated with sugar. It may sound common, but Batangenyos boast that their peanut varieties are tastier.
Suman or rice cake wrapped in banana leaves is also something one should not miss â€" they say what makes it exta tasty is the fact that it was mixed for several hours in order to achieve a desired consistency!
Taal is also known for its hand-embroidered barong (native shirt) that features the talent of TaaleÃ±as in sewing that has been passed down from generation to generation. Marcela Agoncillo, who sewed the very first Philippine Flag, is a proud daughter of Taal.
Who does not know about the deadly balisong or butterfly knife, another proof of TaaleÃ±oâ€™s craftsmanship? A balisong is a perfect (though sharp) souvenir to prove that a traveler has been to Batangas.
The famous Tapang Taal (dried meat jerky) is unlike other tapas, instead of the usual beef its made of pork with a sweet and salty flavor that one should really not miss.
You can best savor it by trying to have breakfast in Taal â€" tapa, eggs and friend rice! Tulingan is a kind of fish cooked theB batangueÃ±o way by broiling it under a portion of pork fat. The cooking process takes hours and is soaked in ginger lily (kamias) that lends a distinct sour flavor to the dish. The â€˜Sinaing na Tulinganâ€™ counts as a must-have.
Tamalis wrapped in banana leaves is a sumptuous local delicacy made of glutinous rice, sauteed in pork oil with boiled egg and pork and steamed to perfection! Completing the elpasubat is Tawilis, a fish that can ony be found in Taal Lake and is highly prized for its taste and texture. Best eaten fried with white rice.
The EL PASUBAT Festival coincides with Taalâ€™s celebration of 439 years of rich history, culture and people, and you wonâ€™t regrest visiting this place!
TRIVIA: Visitors to Taal should take the time to visit the town's ancestral homes dating back to the Colonial Era. One of these is owned by the Estacio family and known as the "Pink House". Built in 1934, the house mis ade of narra and molave shipped all the way from Mindoro and has never been remodeled or fixed. A chandelier remains hanging from the living room ceiling and is said to have come from an older church years ago that was deconstrcuted and given to prominent families. Across the house is the old house of Gregorio Agoncillo, one of the active supporters during the Philippine Revolution.
(with Sarita Kare, ABS-CBN Southern Tagalog)