Flavours and Memories of Cebu: A tribute to my Lola Tilde and Lolo Ino

I spent eleven years of my life in Cebu with mama (lola) and papa (lolo). Growing up with my grandparents has been the happiest moment of my life. They taught me a lot of things but most of all, they loved me unconditionally no matter what and treat me as their own.

P.S. I am writing this post today because I suddenly miss them, they are both in heaven right now, watching over me and how I missed all the things we do and eat together. Cebu is my home because that’s where the most beautiful memories of my childhood were formed. So today I’m gonna list down the flavors/food of Cebu that means a lot to me and my story.

Tinolang Tulingan-

Photo: mamavern

I could only eat this before every Monday. That’s the day our neighbor Nanay Irene, who owns a paksiwan came back from the city to buy fish. My lolo would patiently wait for the Librando bus to arrive, when it did, 5 or more men will help Nanay Irene to carry the big barrels of tulingan from the kalsada to her store. One of them is my lolo, he was thin but he patiently helps nanay Irene in exchange for 2 pcs of Tulingan. Upon receiving the fish, he would hurry home so my lola could cook the fish. I love Mondays so much because I got to eat tinulang tulingan for lunch and sinugba for dinner. It’s a simple dish, but it brings back to much memories of how my lolo care so much for me. Every now and then I try to create this dish, and every time it brings me back to our shabby kitchen, my lola cooking the tinola and me and my lolo waiting at the table. (myged, my tears rn)

Puto Maya and Sikwate (Hot Chocolate)

Photo: https://www.huiledolivevelika.com/

The warmth and comfort of this food bring me back to Sundays with my mama in Dumanjug where we buy our supplies. Sundays are church day and also the day we buy our supplies and I love it because I got to ride the tricycle for almost 30minutes. I love the feeling of the wind in my face as if I’m going on another adventure. After buying all the stuff we need, my mama would always bring me to the puto place inside the dry market, there we sit silently while sharing this food. We don’t need to speak too much but the feeling of being with my mama gives me so much happiness. I will not be able to share this snack with her anymore, but eating this still gives me the warmth of her love for me.

Ginising Fresh Alamang

Photo: http://www.marketmanila.com/

This is one of the dishes that my mama used to cook and I super love this especially with eggs and lots of green onions. We lived a simple life back in Cebu and even though we only eat pork during fiestas and I have only discovered beef when I moved to Davao, those moments with my mama and papa are the most precious ones. It was simple yet full of love, like this dish. Whenever we are out of budget because my mom (who’s working in Manila) sent money late, my mama would buy PHP5.00 worth of bagoong and 1 egg so we could cook this. This would be our viand for lunch or dinner, and I don’t mind. At a young age, I was grateful that I’m able to share a meal with my grandparents every day and that’s all that matters to me. This dish is memorable for me because this symbolizes all the hardships that we happily faced together and all the difficult times that we made into happy memories.

Chicken Inasal

Photo: http://foodcartfranchisephilippines.com/ (for reference only)

Every graduation (elementary), one of the cultures in the province is that the honor students are encouraged to bring food to give to our teachers as a thank you for all their hardship teaching us. I was an honor student back then, and when you are first honor you need to give 3 chicken inasal, 2 inasal for the second honors, and 1 inasal for the 3rd honors, there’s a ranking back then and I also don’t know what happened to the chicken after graduation hehe.

Anyway, this dish is memorable because I am always on the honor list. (three times 1st honor) meaning I had to give 3 chickens, and we don’t have chickens nor the budget to buy since what my mom’s been sending us is enough every month. What my papa and I do every March is we visit our relatives in the next barangay (1 hour of hiking) so we could ask for chickens from his relatives. My papa (lolo) has 8 siblings and a whole barangay of relatives, he was the only one who migrated to the next brgy because he married my mama. My other lolos (his brothers) have a bunch of chickens and every time we go there, they would prepare chicken tinola for us. (I loved it so much). We spent a weekend there to spend time with his siblings and pamangkins, while I play with my cousins, and when we go back we have three chickens in hand ready to be grilled.

What I love about this food is that it brings me back to the time when my lolo and I were walking from Laum-Atabay to Lawaan, it’s scorching hot but the wind is rushing through my face, I would occasionally get some guava from our trail and eat it along the way. I remember how he used to tell me stories about his childhood, his family, and his adventures living there. I appreciate it and it was a special moment for me and my lolo that we do for almost 7 years.

Chicken Tinola (Leg part)

Photo: https://www.yummy.ph/

My birthday is November, and every November my grandparents would prepare pansit and tinola for lunch. What I love about it is that they would always give me the biggest leg part and the chicken blood since it’s my birthday. It’s always like that, it has become a birthday tradition. Maybe that’s why I find it hard to celebrate my birthday right now because I kinda miss them and our lunch together while sharing this simple food. I know it’s never gonna happen again but I would love to make new traditions with my family as well (soon, God willing).

Sinugbang Isda sa Bato

My lolo loves to go to the sea which is 30 minutes away from our home. He loves to get me these weird-looking black or colorful fishes so I can have something nice for my baon to school. I appreciated it so much because it’s like their love language for me is service. They gave me everything that they can give me, time, effort, service and this fish reminds me of that love. Aside from it’s really delicious when grilled, it also brings a nostalgic feeling of how happy I was when I open my baon during lunch knowing that my lola and lolo worked really hard to prepare it for me.

That’s it for now, this post is really emotional lol. I had to finish it for three hours cos I kept crying. I just missed my grandparents so much 😦

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