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
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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