October 1, 2012

My Parents’ 31st: Family, Food, Fun

Tatay and Mama’s wedding has become a running joke in the family after relatives from my mother’s side got no invites. That’s because they eloped and got wed secretly by Ninong Ben (Msgr. Ben Sabillo) in my father's hometown following the elders’ disapproval of their marriage.

During their 25th wedding anniversary, my father jokingly said in his speech that they decided to have another church wedding for the benefit of the uninvited relatives to witness what they have missed 25 years ago. And six years after their 25th, my parents still obligingly do the cake and wine ceremony done during wedding receptions.

Here’s why we celebrated their 31st wedding anniversary here. J

Tatay and Mama got their tickets early this year to celebrate their anniversary here in Manila. In another seat sale, my sister secretly bought her tickets to surprise them. But unlike last year, where I successfully flew home without them knowing, our little secret leaked. FAIL! Tita Rhodel, Mama’s youngest sister, and Nanay, Mama’s mother, also booked their flights.

Initially, Ate Les and I planned to dine in a restaurant somewhere for the occasion. But Tatay had something different in his mind— a simple party in Taguig with some of our Manila-based relatives.

And so the simple gathering.

If the buffet was the stage and the food were the cast, I’d say that the lead roles and the stars of the show would be the lechon from Leyte and the caramel cake from Estrel’s.

We found our favorite lechon in Tanauan, Leyte, the town next to ours. From the highway, I would always sniff to my nose’s pleasure and peek at the rows of cooked and uncooked lechons skewered in kawayan. It is the best lechon I have tasted in my life and I’d definitely vouch for it’s taste without hesitation.

While others scramble for a piece of a lechon’s crunchy skin, I wait until they uncover my heaven— the ribs! As a child, I remember loving every bit of lechon skin. But when I grew older, I have come to love the ribs probably because I already learned how to appreciate more complex flavors besides salty and sweet, and I could already rip off the bones with little or no help at all from others. It actually is the most delicious part of the lechon because it gets the most flavor from the ingredients they place at the pig’s core.
I love you, ribs! Mwaah mwaah!
Thank goodness for airplanes, lechon from Leyte can be flown to Manila in an hour.

The other lead character was the caramel cake from Estrel’s. As usual, its fluffy cake and delish caramel coat and filling got all of us mmmm-ing and slicing for more. Ahh, life! J I’ll be doing a separate post on Estrel’s soon because it deserves one.

Supporting cast

The main cast did a stellar job, but what is a lead without the supporting cast?

In Leyte, when we need fresh seafood, Shed in Sagkahan or Tanauan’s market are the no-brainer go-to markets. Here, we didn’t have the time to buy fresh seafood from I don’t know where and cook them at home. But we know of a yummy solution— Dampa!

I haven’t been to Dampa in Baclaran but I suppose it works the same with the Dampa in Macapagal Blvd where diners buy their raw food in a market and have them cooked in a string of restaurants. The “Team Dampa” bought the following dishes:

Sweet and Sour Fish

I did not try this but since there were no leftovers, I guess they were good.

Buttered Shrimps

I love shrimps! These buttered shrimps tasted good but I wish it had a spicy kick to counter the overwhelming butter flavor.


The calamares were no longer crispy come lunch time BUT I still loved them. The tender meat made this dish pleasant despite its lack in crunch.


We found it weird that this kinilaw did not have coconut milk. But when I tasted it, it sure was a bomb. It was spicy and the fish was tender, perfect for a soft, white, piping hot rice.

Team Dampa’s four-man team has a two-man counterpart composed of Tita R and myself. I call our team “Team Landmark.” That’s because we had to do some last minute shopping for plates, glasses, and other utensils in Landmark to augment what we have at home. And since we were already there, we bought a medium-sized bila-o of Pancit Bihon (P970) at Buddy’s, The Link, just across Landmark.

We are a family of pancit lovers, I assume. Mama finds any party incomplete without pancit. And the fact that the bila-o was empty at the end of the day confirms my assumption. Buddy’s pancit never fails to make me happy. That’s my other way of saying it’s delicious. Period.

I haven’t eaten THAT much in a long time. It seemed like my mouth never rested from eating, talking, and laughing from lunch until dinner. I haven’t eaten that much ice cream in a long time, too! [HAHA]


Great food wouldn’t be as great without great visitors. Like what I have said here, I always get amused at how stories are retold yet still elicit the same heartfelt laughter. Thank you for coming and celebrating Tatay and Mama’s 31st wedding anniversary with us. ‘Til the next get together.

I am going to post more photos as soon as I get a better Internet connection. J

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