What Are Long-Life Family Recipes From Taal, Batangas?
475 Barrions: People in this Family Live Long. Could it be Their Food?
Two Food Recipes From Taal, Batangas
Note: This article came out in Cook Magazine’s Jan-Feb 2002 issue. At that time, I used the byline Mona Gonzalez, excluding my middle name. When the internet caught on, I discovered there are dozens of people with the same name, so I included my middle name in my byline
Food and Culture in the Philippines
Filipinos equate food with family gatherings, togetherness, and welcoming a stranger. No family exemplifies this better than the Barrion clan of Taal, Batangas. They are five generations of 475 family members. Every year, on the first Sunday of January, they hold their family reunion.
“The people in our family live long,” says Cecilia Dimaano Alip, a retired UP Professor in special education. “I can only recall 40 deaths. And the women often outlive their husbands. My mother, Marcaria Barrion Dimaano died at age 97, while two of my sisters died at ages 95 and 92.”
The oldest living Barrion, (as of this writing in 2002), is Marcelina Barrion Salazar. She is 100 year old woman and a former Miss Taal. She is still healthy, Cecilia says, adding, “She doesn’t get sick, and she walks every day,” she says.
The reunions began in 1957 with Arsenia Barrion Ocampo, a Presidential Panday Pira awardee who pioneered hand embroidery in Taal. “She sacrificed her own education so her siblings could go to school through her embroidery business,” Cecilia says.
The fruits of her effort include Fernando Barrion, a former Taal Mayor; Rody Dimaano, an RTC judge in Boac, Marinduque; Rosie Banaag, who in 1951 won an award at Ecole d’Art Americaine, Palaise de Fontainebleu, France; Gina Medina, concert violinist and twice an NAMCYA awardee (National Music Competition For Young Artists); and several lawyers and teachers. “Our family values education,” Cecilia says.
When the clan was small, they met in private homes. But as they grew they had to rent halls in schools. This year, it was at the Development Academy of the Philippines. On the average, some 260 members attend, coming from Taal, various parts of the country, and even from the United States whether from California or Boston.
“Our reunions are whole day affairs with raffles, prizes (including an early bird prize), party games, skits and special numbers prepared by each family,” Cecilia says. “It’s bigger than Christmas!” Each family contributes to the food, too.
More than togetherness, this huge clan does not forget its roots. They have for example the JM Barrion Family Foundation Scholarship Program where each family pledges an amount, and a treasurer handles the fund. It is used to pay for the tuition and books of deserving students (as many as 62). They also donate books to Taal National High School, and they have a Medical-Dental Mission composed of family members who are doctors, dentists and medical reps. Last June, they went to Barangay Maabud in Taal, where their clan originated, and ministered to some 1,200 patients.
Each year, too, they have a special project. One project was a collection of the favorite recipes from members of the family, for they are all foodies. Here are two samples from their collection:
RECIPE ONE: TAAL CHICKEN AND PORK ADOBO by Candida Ilagan - Barrion
1 large chicken, including chicken liver and gizzard, cut into serving pieces.
1 kilo kasim (shoulder pork cut) or pigi (pork buttocks), cut into 2 inch cubes
1 to 1 ½ cups native vinegar
2 tbsps. native turmeric or “dilaw” (yellow) ginger, sliced thinly. If none, substitute with turmeric powder (available in supermarkets)
3 heads garlic, minced
3 onions, sliced thinly
2 leaves laurel
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 cloves garlic, crushed
- Marinate the chicken and pork meat in native vinegar, turmeric, salt and pepper for two hours or overnight in refrigerator. Drain. Set aside the vinegar marinade.
- In a casserole, fry minced garlic and onions. Add cubed pork with turmeric pieces. Add chicken liver and gizzard. Season with salt and pepper. Add a little of the vinegar marinade. Simmer until tender and meat begins to give off oil. Take out chicken liver and mash it. Dice the gizzard meat.
- Add the chicken pieces (put additional minced garlic, if desired). Sauté very well. Pour the remaining marinade plus mashed chicken liver and diced gizzard. Simmer until chicken is cooked. Adjust salt and seasoning. Fry the extra garlic and sprinkle on top of adobo before serving. Adobo will have strong yellowish color similar to curry.
RECIPE TWO: TAAL PASTEL by Candida Ilagan – Barrion
1 kilo (pork shoulder cut) kasim or (pork buttocks) pigi (cut into 2 inch cubes)
1 chicken, cut into serving pieces.
½ cup soy sauce
2 tbsps. calamansi (similar to lemon) juice
2 tbsps. butter
3 heads garlic, chopped finely
4 onions, chopped
2 pieces chorizo de bilbao (El Rey), sliced diagonally or 1 can Purefoods chorizo bilbao
1 can tomato paste
½ cup pickle chips or sweet mixed pickles
1 cup canned mushrooms or champignons (reserve mushroom liquid)
½ cup whole olives
2 laurel leaves
¼ cup grated queso de bola (round cheese with a red “skin” wrap, quite salty) or Edam cheese
1 tsp. oregano spice
Salt and pepper to taste
- Marinate pork and chicken in soy sauce and calamansi approximately 2 hours. Frequently turn the meat to ensure that all parts are immersed in marinade liquid.
- In a casserole, sauté ½ of the garlic and onions in a little butter. Add the ½ of the chorizo de bilbao and pork. Fry until brown. Add ½ of the tomato paste and the remaining marinade. Add salt and pepper. Simmer until pork is almost done. (Pork needs longer cooking time than the chicken).
- In another casserole, sauté the garlic and onions in the remaining butter. Add the chorizo de bilbao and the chicken parts. Brown the chicken skin. Add the remaining tomato paste and the chicken marinade. Add salt and pepper. Simmer until almost done.
- Combine the chicken and pork mixture in a large skillet. Add the pickle chips, mushrooms and its liquid, olives, laurel leaves and oregano. Simmer in low-medium heat in a covered casserole. Adjust seasoning (salt and pepper). When both pork and chicken are done, add the grated queso de bola to the mixture. Serve warm. Good for 12-15 people.