Thursday, August 25, 2016

Sugarlandia: Original Bacolod Piaya and Barquillos by Maria Sigrid Dugeno-Lo

For almost nine decades, the Mercado family of Bacolod has been making native delicacies that have since been collectively known as Bacolod pasalubong.

For travellers to and from Bacolod, it seems always a must to bring pasalubong of piaya and barquillos. Despite the proliferation of similar products in the market during the past several decades, nothing beats the popularity of these two. It seems that all the rest are just add-ons to these all-time favorite Bacolod pasalubong.

Many pasalubong houses have developed their own versions of piaya and ibarquillos but only one name can lay claim to being the origin of these two—Sugarlandia by Tia Dami. 

Damiana Mercado, or more popularly known back then as Tia Dami, is the family matriarch of Sugarlandia. She started the business in the 1930s, which was a period of peace in the province of Negros Occidental, because she wanted to be able to send her children to good schools. It was not surprising that she started this endeavour because she came from a long line of bakers from Molo, Iloilo.

Tia Dami, which literally translated to Aunt Dami, would sell her food stuff everywhere she passed by and to those who ordered but she would most especially sell them at the Central Market. She coined the name Sugarlandia, a very catchy name for her business, because the province of Negros is known for as the largest producer of sugar in the country. Tia Dami grew the business with the help of her family, adding more products along the way. 

When she passed away, one of her children, Medalla Engallado, took over the business and ran it single-handedly for more than 30 years. At present, Sugarlandia is managed by the Engallado siblings, third generation heirs of Tia Dami. At their store at Yulo St. where the family compound and Sugarlandia production area are located, they sell not only piaya and barquillos but a host of other baked goodies as well as meringue, pinasugbo, candied fruits, and many more. Some of the products sold there are made by individual family members, making it a truly family enterprise.

The secret to making Sugarlandia survive the times is strict compliance to the recipes set by Tia Dami. The new generation has innovated, including the development of new products like the barquirice that uses organic rice instead of flour, but they have maintained the quality of their main products. 

Sugarlandia products are available at their store at Yulo St., Bacolod City and at the Negros Showroom branches at 9th-Lacson Streets and Robinsons Place Bacolod.

31st Negros Trade Fair "One Sweet Spot"
September 14-16, 2016, 
Glorietta Mall, Makati

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The Negros Trade Fair is the longest running provincial trade fair in the Philippines held annually in Metro Manila since 1985.

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