It was already past 1800H and the light of day was fading fast when we motored to Talingting (the original name of its municipality, E. Villanueva, about 22 kilometers from Lazi in Siquijor. Fr. Leonard Tan, the parish priest of the latter drove his blue car with four other passengers with me at the front seat.
Siquijor’s countryside is beautiful with good and lonely roads towards our destination where a fiesta (feast) is being celebrated in honor of the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, the patron saint. This is the legacy of the Augustinian Recollects who administered the island during the 19th century. They also built the biggest kumbento in the country, found at Lazi.
We arrived in Talingting. Parked just beside the road and went to the house. I followed Fr. Tan and his sacristans and after a while, plates were distributed. A lone but big lechon (roast pig), with its rear part including hind legs missing was scarily placed at the center table. There was blood stew (felt eerie, really), blue crabs, chopped fried chicken, grilled and fried pork as well as a dessert of torta (cake) all downed with coke or beer.
We had a sumptuous dinner but I dug in to the lechon’s crispy skin. Savoring its fullness and crunch plus a little bit of the meat. We then had a round of beer but I kept it only at a few glasses and refused the Tanduay.
After almost an hour, we started to leave. I thought that we will now be going back to Lazi but I was told that we’ll just be going to another house!
The residence was at the town center. Just infront of the gym and a used clothes bazaar built for the fiesta. People were everywhere with many youth waiting for the gym to open for their bayle (dance). After a few introductions, we were again seated at the table.
What’s this? Made me remember that in Bohol, anyone is invited when there’s a fiesta. And one can even go from one house to house. I was even told by Fr. Tan that in Siquijor, some houses will borrow your guests just to have their food eaten.
Only a piece of lechon was left. Too little and not a single skin. I opted to have the goat caldereta(stew) and some pork dish. As I was already full, I just ate a little. But when they started bringing in the dessert plus a seaweed dish? I got curious.
Guso is popular in the Visayas as cheap seafood. It’s usually brownish, boiled then smothered with vinegar, ginger and onions and served as an appetizer or, in some cases, as viand.
But the type served to us was different. It was green and just washed. Not boiled. No vinegar but just fresh and served as is. What I liked most about it is that its sweet and crunchy. Its texture is smooth yet they way it sounds as its being bitten and chewed.
Siquijor is also known for their delicious torta. And I really made it a point to taste these. The one served to us was still hot when it was placed near my plate. I took one, smelled it, freshly baked. Sunk my teeth and chewed a piece. It was heaven. Not too sweet. Soft and not dry. It is something that you will just bite and eat, bite and eat and consume two, three or four pieces. It’s that good!
We’ve started to clean our plates of the mango float dessert while I got busy with the torta. After that, we just went outside as Fr. Tan went to the kumbentoto do a courtesy call on the parish priest who invited us again for another round of dinner.
Wow! Fiesta’s in the provinces are really something. The technique there is really to eat in small portions so that you can still visit other houses and not turn down several host/friends and keep tabs with the beer and liquor.
It was already starting to get late but at the same time, lively. Several young men and women were already lining up at the gym entrance where loud music was blaring. At the other side were people checking used clothes, toys and kitchen stuff.
While several people continued to arrive, mostly in motorcycles riding in tandem, we boarded Fr. Tan’s blue car and drove back to Lazi.