Bicolano dishes on fire | Business Seeker
Today is the feast of Our Lady of Peñafrancia. A big and joyful celebration to all the Bicolanos and the faithful!
Technically, we can get to Naga, which is currently in general community quarantine (GCQ). Pleasure travel from Metro Manila to areas under the jurisdiction of the GCQ and Amended GCQ is permitted, subject to local government direction. But since this is only a point-to-point trip, you might get stuck in your hotel upon arrival and miss out on the festivities. So we’ll just be celebrating the feast by proxy through food and prayers.
Our Lady of Peñafrancia, the patron saint of Bicol, is called by her local faithful as “Ina” (mother).
Its original image is in Spain, at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Peña de Francia, located on the Peña de Francia mountain in Salamanca. It would be the highest Marian shrine in the world.
His origins are unknown but in the 1400s Simon Vela, a Parisian from a wealthy family who gave up his heritage to become a room boy in the Franciscan convent in Paris, traveled to the distant and rugged mountains of Peña. from Francia to Salamanca after hearing the instructions of the Blessed Virgin herself in a dream. “Go to Peña de Francia in the west of this country, and there you will find the shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary,” he was reportedly told.
He embarked on the journey and, after finding the location, hired men from the nearby town of San Martin del Castañar to help him. On May 19, 1434, they found the most coveted image of the Blessed Virgin with the Child in her arms embedded among the rocks.
In 1712, a Spanish officer from Peña de Francia arrived in Cavite. His son, Miguel Robles de Covarrubias, studied as a seminarian at the University of Sto. Thomas. During his studies he fell seriously ill and prayed for healing through the intercession of Our Lady of Peña de Francia, holding a photo of his image and vowing to build a chapel if he was healed. He was then ordained in Naga, then called Ciudad de Nueva Caceres, where he kept his promise. He also asked a local sculptor to carve an image modeled on the photo he had of Our Lady of Peña de Francia.
After reports of numerous miracles, on September 20, 1924, Pope Pius XI granted the image a canonical coronation. This image can be found today at the Minor Basilica of Our Lady of Peñafrancia in Naga.
The Peñafrancia Festival is a big celebration in Bicol, with the participation of millions of worshipers and tourists. It has spread beyond religion to become a true celebration of the life of Bicolanos of all faiths, with concerts, parades, triathlons, etc. It has also been recognized as the largest annual Marian pilgrimage in Asia.
This year, due to the pandemic, the festivities will be more solemn than festive. Online masses will be held.
Of course, when there is a fiesta, there has to be an abundance of food. But since we can’t travel, let’s do the best thing by cooking some of these famous Bicolano dishes:
Tinutungang Manok: This is my favorite dish among all the Bicolano dishes. On a trip to Albay, I got to watch the chef of 1st Colonial Grill, Jeric Llandelar, prepare this and he explained that the coconut flesh (sapale) is cooked in a cauldron until it is either grilled or looks like “tutong” (burnt rice). He advised to make sure it is not burnt black, otherwise it will turn bitter instead of smoking. Once grilled, water is added to make a gata or coconut soup. This becomes the tinutungang gata, which creates the cream for the stew. The special thing about this is that it has a smoky flavor. This is then added to the chicken and then served with slices of green papaya or green saba. It’s a really elegant dish although I first tried it at the very casual 1st Colonial Grill.
Adobo sa Gata: The ultimate Pinoy dish but with a Bicolano touch. This version uses coconut milk and siling labuyo. You simply braise the meat in the traditional adobo marinade but finish with coconut milk. The result is a creamier adobo with a spicy bite.
Laing: In some areas it is called pinangat na gabi. The original version of Bicolano does not use a shredded taro leaf, but a whole one called “natong” by some. A mixture of cubes of precooked pork, shrimp or fish flakes, along with crushed chilli pepper (siling labuyo), shallots, ginger and shrimp paste (bagoong alamang) is wrapped in the taro leaf and tied with lemongrass (tanglad). It is then steamed in coconut milk until the leaf pouches are fork tender and the gata is reduced to a thick sauce.
Ginataang Dahon ng Kamoteng Kahoy or Young Yuka Leaves in Coconut Milk. This is a fairly straightforward vegetable dish, although one can add pork belly or tinapa which, again, involves simply cooking the ingredients in coconut milk and add siling labuyo. It would be perfect with hot steamed white rice.
Kinunot na Pagi or Spicy Stingray with coconut milk. It’s really just a coconut fish stew, but if you don’t know how to properly clean the stingray, leave it to the professionals or it may have a foul odor. Otherwise, it’s a real treat.
Sili ice cream. When you visit Bicol, you cannot leave without tasting the sili ice cream. As usual, there’s coconut milk and, yes, siling labuyo. It’s an experience. At the first bite you think it’s regular ice cream, then two seconds later the chili peppers creep in to surprise you.
There are so many other Bicolano dishes that don’t fit on this page. Maybe with the direction of Our Lady of Peñafrancia you will find them. If Simon Vela has found the buried image of Our Lady in the distant lands of Peña de Francia, on the side of an uninhabited mountain, I’m sure you can easily find a Bicolano recipe to your liking.
Happy birthday once again to everyone in Bicol and to all Bicolanos around the world. May our faith in the Lord, strengthened by our devotion to “Ina”, help us through this pandemic.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to access The Philippine Daily Inquirer and over 70 titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download from 4 a.m. and share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.