IN NEGROS, eating is a way of life. In Silay City, cooking and eating have been a part of our heritage. The Cinco de Noviembre Revolution was won because the “hacendados” and the “jornaleros” had their meetings in the guise of having a “banquet” or a “fiesta.”
My good friend, the late Professor Doreen Gamboa Fernandez (a Silaynon educator, culinary expert, and journalist) told me, “Eating in Silay is an event. We can always offer the best home-grown food and the assorted delicacies available in the market or at the kitchen of some houses.” Doreen always emphasized that Silay is “banwa sang dulce.”
Our specialty restaurants, cafes, and bakeries confirmed that Negrosanons love to eat outside as often as they dine in their abode. When is this big eating event, “Kaon Ta Liwat,” in Silay? This will be on June 10 (Saturday) and June 11 (Sunday). The venue is Balay Negrense Musem ballpark. Eating (buying and selling) starts at 8 a.m. and will run until night time. Eating includes music, dancing, getting together, and drinking to socialize (after sunset).
This food upshot is part of the 60th anniversary of Silay City. “Kaon Ta Food Festival” was launched in November 5, 2016 during the Cinco de Noviembre Commemoration. Until now, it is still the talk of the town. Guests from Manila and other parts of the country will fly in to savor what is toothsome in Silay. Politicians, pillars of the tourism industry, government employees, students and teachers, senior citizens, and their grandchildren will have a fine time eating in Silay.
The organizers formed by Mayor Mark Golez have invited Silaynons from all walks of life who found pleasure in cooking to share their talents. They have been given already a review course on food management by the Department of Trade and Industry and the staff of the Association of Negros Producers. It is not everyday that one can taste the heirloom food of the “buena familias.”
Here, the non-Silaynons will have the opportunity to taste the ambrosial food of the “hacenderos” that they learned from their “abuelos” (grandparents). Other than food, the organizers are also available to share to tourism and hospitality management students some tips in event organizing like this that involves the participation of community-based culinary artists, “hacendados” kitchen staff, tourism personnel, politicians, business community, educators, and the “buena familias” of Negros.
Last week, I was invited by Zonta-Makati to be their resource person in their three-day heritage tour of Silay, Bacolod, Bago, Victorias and Manapla. They loved shopping at our “pasalubong centers” and eating Negros food: empanada, lumpia ubod, dulce gatas, puto lanson, adobo milyonaryo, homemade ice cream, assorted tarts, piaya de Silay, and the best of Aboy’s. Mayor Mark, with Mrs. Tess Golez (the mayor’s mother), hosted their third night dinner at Gary’s Place (punong in Hacienda Tinihaban). It was a night to remember dining under the giant mangrove canopy.
The visit of Zonta-Makati is just an example of how we prepare our places and our food. This was demonstrated by Msgr. Guillermo Gaston when he hosted lunch for them at his mansion with his rondalla (now in the Panaad Hall of Fame). It was not just eating his family food, it was also sharing the Negrosanon culture and our lifestyle.
“Kaon Ta Liwat” in Silay will ignite harmonious relationship among Negrosanons (regardless of political affiliations) and will gather new friends. Our tour operators who are coming over will surely find new business prospects and will establish contacts here in Silay (for their future food order). This is also the showcasing of Balay Negrense Museum that will soon undergo restoration to serve tourists better.
Since this is fiesta time in Silay, guests may have other things to enjoy like joining the Zumba group or witnessing dance sport and drum beaters’ competition or spend the night with a bigger crowd in the street party.
In the second day, there will be a taekwondo tournament, street dance competition, cultural presentation, male pageant, fireworks display, and another street party.
It’s eating for culture in Silay on June 10 and 11. “Kaon Ta Liwat!” It is an invitation that you cannot afford to miss. Be there and see who should be seen. You could be one of them.