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Bulletin Today

January 27,1974

The 'Sweets' Lady of Retiro
by Deedee M. Siytangco

Retiro street is a hodge-podge of small shops, smart tailoring salons, schools, auto repair shops, etc. It extends all the way from Quezon city to Manila.

In between Isarog and Labo streets is a sweet-tooth's haven known modestly as Bulacan Sweets, home of "kingly gifts for those who have everything."

Except of course, sweets and other delicacies found only on the shelves of Bulacan Sweets like burong isda and atcharang damalit.

Reigning over this kingdom of sweetness (and calories) is comely matron Lydia Tecson-Veneracion. Admitting to being forty, Lydia is the mother of five healthy, robust children ages ranging from12 to 5 months. Hubby Lorenzo, a lawyer who can be counted upon to take over the business when motherhood interferes.

Bulacan Sweets was started on a very small scale some three years ago. Lydia and Lorenzo had this apartment row and one door was left vacant for some time. Why not utilize it for a store or something? "Something" turned out to be pastillas de leche from her hometown, San Miguel, Bulacan.

San Miguel is well known for its sweet products. Its patron saint, San Miguel de Mayomo is said to be the patron saint of sweets. Lydia bought pastillas, fruit preserves and other stuff from friends and relatives and retailed them at her little store. Word-of-mouth recommendations from customers brought more people to her doorstep, so Lydia decided to go all out and round up the sweets from San Miguel.

Today, Bulacan Sweets is a cozy paradise from hunters of out-of-the-ordinary sweets and foodstuff. They have way-out stuff like "borbado" dayap, suha, santol and the like.

These fruits are embroidered in San Miguel by an old woman one by one before they are cooked and preserved. The result is aesthetically as well as gastronomically pleasing. The exotic-looking fruits come in "tribusons" or balls. The "pastillas de leche" and the "pastillas na ube" are extra-special - made from carabao's milk, they sell for P9.00 a box and are unlike the commercial ones sold which are made from powdered milk. Turones de casuy comes in two types - Pampanga's flat ones or Bulacan's round pieces. Sweet sampaloc comes in balls, straights, sweet-sour or plain sweet. No fruit has been spared by the home cooks in San Miguel, green suha, guyabano, kamias (tastes exactly like dates) balimbing, kundol, santol, dayap, and mango.

Lydia is a friendly soul who loves to talk with her customers who in turn find her hospitable and accommodating, Lately, Lydia has turned to canning - hito, paksiw na lechon, burong isda (fish in red sauce sauteed in rice) fried langoniza, and the ingredients for sinigang-kangkong, guavas, kamias, etc. People who want to send their relatives native food can have them canned by Bulacan Sweets. Lydia also makes "binagoongang baboy" for her homesick countrymen. Many of her customers are doting parents who regularly send their children "kakang gata" bagoong balayan, hito or taba ng talangka.

Lately, Lydia has had to make thrice weekly trips to San Miguel to buy broducts. Pastillas de leche, however is brought in fresh everyday. Carabao's milk can also be ordered from Lydia in advance. Kesong puti is always available, so is sitsaron na may laman, sukang Paombong which ferments in the bottle, mantika ng baboy, burong mangga, and drool. so forth and so on.

Bulacan Sweets are sold in Lising Arcade, Bricktown, Magallanes Commercial Center and Manilabank Arcade.

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