Yesterday afternoon, I was thinking of how I can make myself more productive. While backreading through the Bacolod City and Negros Occidental Thread 116, I remembered a fellow Negrénse forumer BoyMuscovado (or Doc Boy for short) about a virbrant Negrénse Community in Bangkal and the existence of a Bailon’s Store in the area. In no time, I boarded the MRT going to Magallanes Station and yes, I paid the fare if you know what I mean. Bailon’s is a good walking distance from the MRT Station, passing by Ecology Village, along the posts of Skyway and the chugging trains of the Philippine National Railways. Doc Boy was right, Bangkal indeed is one little Bacolód with Hiligaynon speakers everywhere from the pedicab driver, construction workers to the baker in a nearby bakery. It is like being transported back to my very hometown itself. It took me a while to figure out where Bailon’s is. Across an interestingly shaped church, I saw the signange “Bailon’s”. I entered the store and was greeted by the colorful walls of the lovely eatery.
A fellow Negrénse greeted me as I entered. I asked her if it is Bailon’s just to be sure, she said yes and I took no time to tell her I’m going to order piaya. She said there is before going inside to check the stocks. I know full well that Bailon’s piaya is a best-seller so I am prepared if there would be none. True enough, their piaya was out of stock but the workers inside are in a tedious process of preparing another batch. I said I am willing to wait for the next piaya to be cooked. On the wall of the counter, I noticed that there hang framed copies of the famous food blogs like Market Manila and Bacolod Food Hunters. Indeed, this humble puesto in Bangkal and its mother store in San Sebastian St., Bacolod City had made rounds in the blogosphere and print media. I’ve seen countless reviews about their piaya and nothing beats a personal experience. While waiting, I asked her a few details especially about Bailon’s. She actually hails from Ilog, a town south of Negros Occidental and as such she also mentioned that Bailon’s employees are all Negrénses. Eventually, years ago, the Bailon Family decided to pioneer a store in Metropolitan Manila so they set foot in Bangkal, a middle class residential area that is home to a large chunk of Manila’s Negrénse Community. Bailon’s does operate a few stalls in the Metro like SM Makati, Megamall, Festival Mall, SM Southmall and soon, Mall of Asia. After an hour of talk, I became hungry and so checked their menu list.
As I am undecisive about what to order, I talked to her some more about Bailon’s. An amusing fact she mentioned that various celebrities, politicians and businessmen flock to their store just to get their hands on the piaya. I would understand why since even just in Bacolód, their piaya is the most common sold out item. They usually make more than what is in demand the other day or ordered but even so, their stocks are nor always enough. She mentioned that during the Christmas season, there would be a long line of people buying their fresh piaya. In fact, some would reserve months in advance with some as early as November. Since Bangkal itself, neighboring Magallanes and San Lorenzo Villages are in themselves home to a large number of Negrénses, Christmas sales are always a gargantuan task. During lunch, Negrénses and people around the community would even flock their canteen to eat Negrénse food that many would miss. As we were talking, a total of seven people inquired piaya and ordered their empanada instead because the first batch of piaya would be out by 6pm. I checked again their snack items and there I found omelette, pasta and palitaw with muscovado. I ordered what palitaw was left to ease a bit of my hunger.
I’d always have to say that palitaw is best with muscovado. As I was eating my palitaw, I was able to talk to other store employees as well. They’re all from Negros and it is most amusing to listen to them speak my native language. At that time, in that certain place, it was as if I was in Bacolód itself. Just as I was about to take pictures of the store outside and some of the employees, both batteries of my camera went dead! I think one of the nightmares a blogger and more specifically a blogger writing about food is to not have a camera to take as many pictures as you can. Instead of despairing, I took time to read John Piper’s “God is the Gospel” while writing my journal. It was a total ease even as more customers come and go. Just when the store had to close and I spend the rest of my waiting time at Paseo de Magallanes, the personnel inside informed us that the first batch of piaya was already done. The one in charge of the store went inside to get my stack of ten piayas. I clutched my precious package as I said my musings and take cares to a kasimanwa. My batch of piaya was carefully wrapped in plastic and was initially placed in a paper bag.
As it was raining, I carefully clutched it as not to break the delicate piayas but also shield the package from the rain. The people are looking at me clutching this package of piaya as if there is no tomorrow. Arriving home, I gladly placed my package on the table and hurriedly took the camera charger from my room so that I can take pictures. My Dad came and I shared some with him. The piaya was in fact thin but full of molten muscovado. The relative thinness of the piaya and the flavor of muscovado is superbly right and matched. I would understand why people line up outside Bailon’s on Christmas season just to buy their piaya. Yes, piaya is best eaten when shared with family members with a cup of native tablea choco or coffee at hand. I also took a picture of the piece I ate earlier. If you are going to buy their piaya, I advice that you call beforehand to reserve. I tell you, it is worth the effort.
Bailon’s Homemade Delicacies accepts orders for delivery or pick up. Their address is at 1115 Rodriguez Avenue, Brgy. Bangkal, Makati City with contact numbers (632) 843-6673, (632) 843-3721 or mobile at (63916) 751-9071 and email at firstname.lastname@example.org.