Thursday, August 18, 2005

1st Lasang Pinoy Food Blogging Event : Sotanghon Sabaw tan Manaoag Puto

Manaoag is the town in Pangasinan which endlessly hosts devotees from around the country. These pilgrims touch and kiss the hem of Our Lady of Manaoag's skirts in the belief that she has the powers to grant favors. The pilgrimage town's name comes from the legend that Our Lady of Manaoag called to a farmer from a well where the image of the Lady was waiting to be found. Manaoag, in the Pangasinan language, means to call or calling. From then on, miracles, tales of diseases healed and illnesses treated, of being brought back from the dead, of financial downpours, have been attributed to the Lady that the fame of her healing and giving powers spread.

Pangasinenses are particularly devoted to Our Lady of Manaoag. Everything, even trivial matters, are offered to her for her blessing and intercession. Any student who takes an exam - be it the bar, professional board exams, or even college entrance exams, or the NCEE - goes to Manaoag to pray.

Each of the forty-two towns in Pangasinan has a special day in Manaoag's yearly prayer and mass schedule. During a particular town's feast day, the entire town flocks to Manaoag to celebrate mass. I remember my lola telling me she and her family had to leave home the night before the feast day to make the 8-hour trip on carts pulled by carabaos, so to arrive by 6AM in Manaoag.

I was too young to be aware of the political situation in the country pre- and post- 1983. But I do remember we had held black rosaries intermittently and had made frequent trips to Manaoag. And I remember, as bright as day, that in the afternoon of Aug. 21, 1983, our neighbor rushed to our house and told my mommy to burn whatever documents she had because Ninoy was dead. Upon hearing this I remember feeling relief. Perhaps, Ninoy was branded then as an enemy of the state, and I, being a child, had accepted that to be true. His death then meant peace in our country.

Coupling with the relief I felt was the happiness that came from the even more numerous trips to Manaoag that followed. For, of course, to me, then, a trip to Manaoag meant sotanghon sabaw and puto, the perennial merienda fare for children going to Manaoag. These were vended by the side of the church where wooden tables and benches had been set up, the sabaw kept hot in cauldrons perpetually on top of red coals. The steaming, achuete-dyed soup, the vermicelli noodles, and the bonus hard-boiled egg always brought comfort to me who had to wake up early so we could catch the last mass (travelling time had then been shortened to two hours, by jeep).

The round, flat, anise-topped puto is made from pure ground rice and is more moist than its counterpart in Binan. It was cut into triangular slices by knotting a piece of nylon cord through the plastic package several times. Watching the vendors do this was always an adventure for me, and I have not encountered anything like this slicing trick anywhere else. The puto is a perfect accompaniment to the hot soup, and to the salty pancit guisado (stir-fried noodles) in the nearby town of Mangaldan, as well.

I went back recently to Manaoag, and I found that time had not diminished the number of devotees. If the thickness of the crowds were to indicate the political temperature of this country, then I must surmise we are now worse off than during the last three years of martial law rule. But then again, this does not consider population growth, and other factors for a politically correct conclusion. I am just happy to note that yes, the sotanghon sabaw is still there, as well as the puto, although the vendors now wield knives in lieu of the nylon cord. The vendor I bought puto from didn't know the old trick, but the vendor next to her did and obliged me, using a stretched plastic bag for the ritual. I took comfort in that, never mind my age.

Lasang Pinoy

Schedule of Masses
Monday to Friday, 5AM-11AM, 4PM-5PM, every hour
Saturdays and Sundays, 5AM-12NN, 3PM-6PM, every hour

Blessing of icons and other religious items after every mass

Dagupan Bus has daily trips to Manaoag, every 45 minutes on the hour round-the-clock.

Dagupan Bus Transit, Inc.
EDSA corner New York Street
Cubao, Quezon City, Metro Manila
Tel: (02) 7272287 or 7272330


Anonymous said...

thank you for this wonderful post, great information on Manaoag

sarap ng post dito!!!

pls do write more

Anonymous said...

I can only agree with Sha! Welcome to the food blogging community Karen!

Thank you for participating in Lasang Pinoy. There will be more events in the next months but with or without them I look forward to reading your blog. I'd love to hear more about Pangasinense cuisine. How about tupig in your following posts? ;-)

celia kusinera said...

A new food blogger! Welcome to the delicious world of food blogging, Kai.
I made a mistake here, I visited before I have my lunch and I am drooling drooling ... yum yum!

dexiejane said...

What a very informative read. I'm from La Union and Manaoag is just a bus ride away. I remember going there with my family to buy a statue of Our Lady of Manaoag for my Papa's boss. FYI, he's Caucasian. So the power of Our Lady of Manaoag is internationally known :)

Anonymous said...

What a lovely post Kai! You really evoked some wonderful images...I love hearing stories like this about places here in our country, especially when told from a "hometowner's" perspective...and especially when food is involved :-)

Welcome to the food blogging universe and I hope to hear more from you! :-)

Anonymous said...

kai, welcome to the foodblogging world! an awesome entry. i especially liked the blending of food, politics and religion in your story -- can't wait for your subsequent posts! ps - are you an LOTR fan? my daughter is another "arwen".

Unknown said...

hello kai,
thank you, am so glad you joined. it is a thrilling read! my sister implored the Lady to help her pass the bar, take two, and she did! i think she went more than once.
i wish i could have some of your soup and puto right now. you can do this cutting trick at home--use unflavored dental floss hehe.
we look forward to more of your posts.

ting-aling said...

Oh Kai, I am glad you're writing about Manaoag. I was born and raised in Baguio and Manaoag was one of the places my parents frequented out of desperation to save a dying sister from Leukemia.


Kai said...

Wow! It sure is fast here in the blogging world! I wasn't expecting to be read that fast! Good thing I decided to beat the deadline for this blogging event.
Thank you all for your welcome. It is such an awesome encouragement.
Karen-tupig is definitely on the list. My fave!
Dexiekins-I should have followed my gut instinct and said Our Lady is famous internationally!
Stef-Yep,yep,yep, I'm a hardcore fan! I named my daughter arwen, too!
Drstel-hahaha, never thought about that. Will try next time!

Anonymous said...

thanks to karen for giving me your link, this is a wonderful post! welcome to the blog world, by the way :)

Ive never been to Manaog but because of your description, I get the 'feel' of it..and your sotanghon/puto combination, yummm!!

looking forward to more of your post, Mabuhay ka, Kai!

JMom said...

Hi Kai! Welcome to food blogging. I was hoping you had the recipe for that puto :=( I remember those! Baguio born and bred din ako, but my mom is from Sison, Pangasinan. That's where we spent many a summer vacations. I remember taking long bus trips to manaoag or mangaldan with my lola, and the puto and bibingka were always a treat. Thanks for sharing :-)

jeyc14 said...

What a beautifully written piece. I found myself drawn to your words and I just couldn’t stop reading. Hope you post more! :)

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