My only Mom’s sister, Tita Gamay, who’s blind since birth along with her yaya, Tita Acay, stayed in Cebu almost half of her life. My Mom built a small little cottage for her to stay at the blind community of Banilad. Those were one of the most fun times I have had with the company of great and wonderful, group of people. Inspite of their disability, they remained warm, energetic, jolly, gifted with musical instruments and ideal masseuses regarded as their major source of income. This community once held a concert with Nora Aunor as their special guest. Tita Gamay, my aunt, had a solo with her, as she played the acoustic accompaniment for Ms. Nora. Don’t be surprised if I did, too performed that night. Not to sing nor to play an instrument, but to dance the hula to the tune of the familiar Hawaiian song, “To you sweetheart, Aloha…”? I was about 8 or 9 years old then. Both of my brothers went to Cebu for college. So you see, Cebu is quite a big part of my life.
Of course Cebu, being so progressive has SM City and Ayala. One of my favorite places i love to hang around is the Pearl section of the Malls. Ayala used to have a large space for Philippine cultured pearls alone. When I came to visit recently, i was saddened to see only a few stalls with very limited jewelry selections.
There’s this Pork CHICHARON, traditionally deep-fried pork skin, crispy, salty and hot. They now come in exotic flavors such as garlic and vinegar, sour cream and onions, and chili. I like the traditional ones with a little meat in the center. The famous kind are the ones of Carcar. But what I got was a large pouch of Chilen (this was my surprise gift for my husband). I heard the Villalonga Chicharon is good too. I serve this with my spiced homemade sinamak or with some balsamic vinegar and VOO (virgin olive oil) as sawsawan.
Great tasting MASAREAL a bar-shaped concoction of crushed and ground peanuts, sugar and milk, wrapped in white paper, which is then secured by a piece of string or twine. It's gritty, sweet, and absolutely delightful. The famous ones are that of Didang’s. But this will not hold long coz they usually develop molds if not consumed right away. This is far better than Choc-Nut!!!! Yum yum!
Then, there’s BIBINGKA A LA CEBU, a steamed rice cake made from ground glutinous rice mixed with sugar and coconut milk, and topped with strips of exotic goat or carabao cheese. I happen to get a bite near the Santo Nino church in Colon while waiting for my friends light some candles for Sto Nino. Look at that! It's generous with coconut meat! Now, what could be more spectacular than that?
(Me and Georgen in Ayala Cebu)