Tuesday, April 10, 2007


When I was a kid, the woman who sold banana-cue and kamote-cue in the middle of our block would also be selling halo-halo at this time since it’s now summer. During the afternoons, besides this woman, there was also Mang Fermin who sold dirty ice cream or sorbetes, as well as the weekend kakanin vendors comprised mostly of neighborhood kids. There was also the kernel corn or binatog vendor.

The freshly-baked pandesal and machakaw were available from our neighborhood baker, Perfection Bakery, in the early morning and again at around three o’clock in the afternoon. The taho, puto, kutchinta, and bicho were peddled only in the morning by Chinese vendors, while at night was the usual Pinoy balut and chicharon vendor.

Right in front of Cine Noli on Avenida Rizal near Blumentritt, was the street vendor who roasted corn on the cub right there on the sidewalk and the vendor who sold fried peanuts with garlic. It was the former that my Tiyang Inez would bribe me with so I would accompany her to see the latest Lepoldo Salcedo or Rosa Mia tear-jerker flick inside that surot-infested movie house.

Over in Sta. Cruz — more popularly known as “downtown” back then — the only food I remember being sold right on the sidewalk was hopia, but it was always in front of a Chinese bake shop. It was the same scene along the entire stretch of Azcarraga (now known as Claro M. Recto Avenue) by the university belt area. Neither was there a single street food vendor in the vicinity of my high school — whether in Doroteo Jose or Intramuros. For the most part all foodstuffs were only available inside the student canteens or in the restaurants; two of the most popular among the students and the general public back then was Little Quiapo and Ma Mon Luk.

Today is a different story.

Sidney Snoeck has done an exhaustive pictorial series of street foods; whereas, Ivan Henares has come up with a comprehensive listing of which, including those unheard of during the days of my youth. For example, certain ingredients of pancit canton guisado, much to my astonishment, are now merchandized as individual merienda offerings — fish balls, kikiam, and what appear to be boiled eggs breaded with yellow flour. There is also the popular chicken feet and day-old chicks, as well as barbecued pig and chicken innards or lamang loob.

Incidentally, pork barbecue are now commonly found at any densely-populated neighborhoods from the early afternoon until the late evenings. Even lugaw and noodles are sold on roving makeshift bicycle carts.

I don't usually buy any of this new generation of street foods, not because I'm overly concerned about sanitary issues; rather, I find most of these foods extremely salty. I guess having lived in New York for so long made me develop a bland taste; ground pepper is the only condiment I use, salt I can often do without. I've also steered away from lumpia and turon (banana with a strip of jackfruit or langka) from street vendors because the oil they use for frying rarely agrees with my system. The smell alone of the hot oil used to deep-fry fish balls and kikiam would sometimes make me dizzy.

Nonetheless, when I was a kid, I used to look forward to going with my father to the palengke on an early Saturday morning, because almost always, we’d eat palabok for breakfast at one of the market’s food stalls. It was delicious. Whereas, in the afternoons, my mother would give us some change for some banana-cue, kamote-cue or turon.

As for the puto and kutchinta, at present, I only buy the latter from Dolor's Kakanin, while the only kind of puto that I really enjoy these days are those mini puto from Dagupan City that my sister would have delivered to her office. Gone are those really tasty puto, kutchinta and bicho; the ones available now are not as good. Gone, too, are those Chinese vendors who used to peddle them in my old neighborhood.

And be that as it may, believe it or not, I still enjoy an occasional balut.

Visit Sidney's My Sari-Sari Store to view various photos and Ivan About Town for a comprehensive listing of Manila's street foods.



posted by Señor Enrique at 6:46 AM


Blogger Photo Cache said...

i cant believe they sell pancit that way, not too appetizing in my opinion. i hope you had a blessed easter.

April 10, 2007 9:07 AM  

Blogger BW said...

You just made me nostalgic about the surot-infested movie houses :)
I love the smell of street food but very wary about those that use innards of chicken or pig as ingredients!

April 10, 2007 10:54 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Took that picture from a food shop in Quiapo, Photo Cache.

You should see the other planggana-size of other noodle varieties they sell. Very attractive to most people, though. The place is always crowded.

April 10, 2007 11:51 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Those barbecued innards, BW, are actually very popular nowadays, especially when served during drinking bouts!

I used to come home from Cine Noli littered with welts behind my thighs from those surot bites. It was disgusting :( My father would get obviously incensed upon seeing them, but would not say anything about it to my Tiyang Inez.

April 10, 2007 11:58 AM  

Blogger Sidney said...

What surprises me most in Manila is that almost everything happens in the streets. In some neighbourhoods people take showers outside, they cook, they eat, they play, they drink, they hang out together, EVERYTHING is happening in the street.
In this context it is probably normal that you can find all those foods on every street corner.

April 10, 2007 1:19 PM  

Blogger sheilamarie said...

i miss those street foods, eric! LOL! outside of school, esp. i dapitan, it was the first place we go to during short breaks. kaso i had 2 schoolmates who got infected with hepa, so it's not all that safe(especially the dipping sauce in bottles for the yummy fishballs and fried quail eggs).

and also our street corner! filled with delights! LOL! you can go out anytime of the day, and u'll find street vendors there with all kinds of kakanin. especially the balut at night! haha... (and the abot ng langit sermons i get from both mom and hubby when i do buy those gorgeous foods. LOL!)

April 10, 2007 4:29 PM  

Anonymous leo said...

street foods kept me from going hungry when i was a struggling student in manila. Even now whenever I am home I would buy a tabo full of taho from the street vendor.

April 10, 2007 5:41 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Interesting observation, Sidney. This phenomenon may also have to do with the population explosion since I was a kid.

There are indeed some streets that I would drive by ever so slowly because of the surprising number of kids playing outside and spilling onto the streets. There are as many adults also outside doing their thing.

Thus, it would only be logical that other activities once reserved inside the house have been accepted as normal to be done outdoors such as those you've mentioned.

Yes, I've witnessed on a few occassions of both young and old alike taking bathing outside on the street. And of course, the table crowded with chairs around it for an evening of drinking and carousing. And with a crowd, there's always a food vendor or two nearby.

It does seem like fun, but I'm sure I wouldn't be able to deal with the noise on a nightly basis.

April 10, 2007 5:42 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Ala ka, Sheilamarie! My nephew got hepa from those quail eggs! You have got to be careful!

But then again, I've a weakness for kakanin :) and the balut one in a while!

But I've a feeling you really enjoy sampling these street foods near your house, eh?

April 10, 2007 5:44 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Yes, Leo, these street foods are quite affordable and in most cases filling, too. So I can imagine some students keeping these vendors busy, especially near the universities. When I was a struggling working student in NYC, I used to eat a slice of pizza everynight, but would sometimes feel too exhausted to even eat once I got home. A slice then was only like 50 cents, so, it was no luxury food by all means.

A tabo-full of taho? Whoa! Hehehe! I love taho and would always have one whenever possible, but without the sago, though.

April 10, 2007 5:51 PM  

Anonymous rhodora said...

I panic everytime I see my kids eating street foods. Not that I am over anxious, but you see, my two sons had typhoid fever before from eating these foods. But you know kids - the more you prevent them from doing something, the more they want to do it, and they would even dangle the 'isaw' in front of me... "look ma, I'm eating dirty food!" Hay, naku!

April 10, 2007 7:56 PM  

Anonymous kyels said...

I love pancit!


April 10, 2007 8:01 PM  

Anonymous niceheart said...

Oh my, this brings me back in time. :)

I also used to buy that garlic peanut and chicharong bulaklak.

When I first came here in Winnipeg, my mother asked me to bring her some chicharong bulaklak. But when I came here at the airport and the Customs asked me if I brought with me such and such food, I couldn't lie and they sequestered the chicharon.

Hinayang na hinayang si mama. Kasi nakalusot na sa Vancouver eh nadali pa dito. Itatapon lang daw yun ng mga puti. Sayang nga naman.

April 10, 2007 8:27 PM  

Anonymous jepaperts said...

argh, i missed that estero food eb we had!

give my regards to sid as well... i cant view his site from here (guess the isp did it again blocking sites including flickr).

next year, be ready! :)

April 10, 2007 9:50 PM  

Blogger NOYPETES said...

Man, I must commend you both Eric and Sidney for the wonderful post and photos of those yummy street foods. Only a "Batan'g kalsada" in Manila can truly relate to your post and salivate on those photographs of local delicacies. Yes, the ever memorable cine Noli! Remember my arsenal of "FLIT and kerosene" for the surot infested moviehouses? I used to frequent the Blumentritt market for breakfast(Ox tail kare-kare, sabaw ng buto and garlic rice) on weekends. The "Lumpiang sariwa" sold on the sidewalks of Divisoria was also a treat after a day of shopping at the relief market back then.

Double dipping on the sawsawan for fishballs was not a big deal, it's a communal thing!

April 10, 2007 10:43 PM  

Blogger U.T.O.Y said...

I remember back in USTE, Senor Enrique, before I go to the library, I need to dash down to the fishball vendor + mani + banana cue + whatever food that my scholar-budget can buy. It's nice to remember and savor those days...

April 11, 2007 12:14 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I can understand your great concern, Rhoda. As I've mentioned, my nephew got hepa from eating those quail eggs. But then again, as you said, the more you ask these kids to avoid something, the more formidable their defiance becomes.

April 11, 2007 7:22 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Borrowed from the Chinese tradition, pancit is usually served on birthday gatherings to signify long life. Is it the same where you are, Kyels?

April 11, 2007 7:23 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I've heard of many instances in which local delicacies were not allowed through port of entries in the U.S., Irene. Naaawa tuloy ako sa mga TNTs na sabik sa mga pagkain na yon na hindi available sa mga Pinoy food stores sa States. Once I was surprised to hear a US custom officer asking me if the hopia I have in my luggage were of monggo or baboy. He must be married to a Pinay :)

April 11, 2007 7:27 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Hayaan mo, Jeff, next year pag bisita mo uli I'll bring you to this dumpling house in Binondo which I frequent. Masarap talaga! I've brought some fellow photo enthusiasts there and they love it :)

April 11, 2007 7:29 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

There was a small turo-turo stall by the entrance of North Cemetery, Noypetes, that my cousin and I went often after playing at the nearby handball court. I would always go for the pritong galunggong at nilagang monggo. Masarap at di naman ako nadale ng ano mang sakit.

But at the Blumentritt palengke, it was always the palabok for me :)

I haven't made it to the National Library, yet. Maybe this summer. I really want to get a full listing of the Manila movie houses that we've talked about.

April 11, 2007 7:34 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Ay, UTOY, the scene is the same today amongst the students of UST along Dapitan. Same with the other students from the university belt area. And this is why Recto has vendors all along its entire strip.

April 11, 2007 7:38 AM  

Anonymous rhodora said...

Eric, bakit dalawa ang presyo ng pancit? P20 at P25?

April 11, 2007 8:04 AM  

Anonymous rhodora said...

Ah, I think I know now - P20 without egg, and P25 with egg.. hehe.. ginugutom ako..

April 11, 2007 8:09 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Know what, Rhoda? This pic might have got you thinking about palabok, but I've been thinking of Puto festival in Dagupan. When is it?

April 11, 2007 9:02 AM  

Anonymous rhodora said...

I think the Puto Festival is sometime this April, but not sure if there would be one this year, coz everyone's busy campaigning for the May elections.

We have Bangus Festival here in Dagupan though, on April 30, I think. Street dancing, concerts all night, bands playing all over the main streets of the city. Masaya, pero mainit!

April 11, 2007 9:24 AM  

Blogger watson said...

I found myself becoming a regular visitor of Sidney's Sari-Sari Store because it's such a delight looking at ourselves in the eyes of someone else.

I love this post. Reminded me of the time when I was young too. We used to wait for the Taho guy (Sidney also has lots of photos on taho). When we hear his familiar call, we'd get our bowls which he fills with Taho and arnibal. There wasn't sago then.

We also loved puto and kutchinta. Still do.

April 11, 2007 5:43 PM  

Anonymous leo said...

One historical note about street food and struglling students. Deng Xio Ping, the late chinese premier had a penchant for croissants. He said that when he was still a young and strugggling student in Paris he would salivate whenever he would pass by those boulangiere and see those mouth watering croissants,but lacking funds he seldom could afford to buy one. When he was already the most powerful man in China he would have croissants daily for breakfast.

April 11, 2007 6:47 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Oh, I see, Rhoda. That Puto Festival really sounds fun. I have seen the bangus festival on the news on an annual basis, and this may be the reason why I'm drawn to the unheard and unseen puto festival :)

April 11, 2007 7:02 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Actually, Watson, it was Sidney's pictorial essays that inspired me to write about my childhood memoirs on street foods.

His and Ivan's entries ought to be preserved for use by our schools. Where else can you get such comprehensive compilation in both words and pictures. Kudos to these fellow bloggers of ours :)

April 11, 2007 7:05 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

That is what usually happens, Leo, we tend to become abundant with things deprived from us in our past.

Thank God for my brother James, he would never lend you a penny, when you're broke, but just call him and tell him you're hungry and he'd gladly take you out for a hearty meal of your choice. It's weird, he loves to feed people ... hehehe.

April 11, 2007 7:08 PM  

Anonymous Shari said...

I followed Sidney's series drooling over every picture. Street food stands are rare nowadays, methinks. When I was young(er --- which is not really that long ago hehe), I splurge in street foods everyday that my parents had to scold me once in a while. Now, what I see mostly are computer/internet rentals occupying the places where I once enjoyed pigging out.

Have to text my dad and ask him to bring home banana-cue. ;)

April 11, 2007 8:23 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Not unless they were driven out in the streets because of high rents ... hehehe. Yes, that was some series of photographs that Sidney compiled.

Hmmm ... is there still a place at this time where your dad can get you banana-cue?

April 11, 2007 8:51 PM  

Anonymous clett said...


Your post brings back old memories. I used to live in Makata St. between Batangas and Laguna streets and I know Mang Fermin's ice cream from my early childhood days. Back then it was safe for young kids to go out at the crack of dawn or late in the evening to buy pan de sal at the back of the Perfection bakery, I used to do that.

Early in the morning weeks before Christmas my mother used to sell puto bumbong at an esquinita where we lived. In the afternoon she sells snacks like guinataan, goto lugaw, banana q, fried lumpia, okoy, maruya. Jeepney drivers in the area and neighbors enjoyed eating at her carinderia.

I also used to peddle snacks at a street corner in Blumentritt market when I was young.

I wonder if we were neighbors back then.

April 13, 2007 12:13 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

We were, in fact, neighbors once, Clett!

I'm not that familiar with Makata between Batangas and Laguna; more with Makata between Batangas and Tayabas. My mom had friends from her province, Bicol, who lived there whom we'd visit at times in the afternoons.

Were you closer to the Batangas or Laguna corner?

Wow, glad to have known another blogger who remembers Perfection Bakery ... lol! Would you believe my father would have them roast a turkey for us every July 4th? We must have been the only family in the entire Manila weird enough to celebrate July 4th with a huge turkey. Perfection Bakery as it was is no more -- only a small store front along Batangas a few meters from Avenida.

Had your mom's carinderia on Misericordia where we live, I bet we would have been among her regular customers -- ginataan halo-halo, banana q, lumpia, oko, and my ever favorite, maruya were some of my favorites!

What was the other movie theater near Silver Star Hotel adjacent to Noli? It wasn't Dalisay, right?

Do you remember the movie houses in downtown Avenida from Azcarraga to Carriedo?

Did you attend Bonifacio Elementary School?

Goodness, I have so many questions, huh?

We have to get together with Noypetes and Batapaloc for some nostalgia roundtable ... hahaha!

April 13, 2007 6:32 AM  

Anonymous Clett said...

This is a pleasant surprise.

I live right in the middle of Batangas and Laguna. My mother's stall was situated in an esquinita of Makata st.

I do remember the Silver Star hotel but I don't remember the name of the movie theatre. Dalisay and Noli sound familiar though.

The only movie theatre I can remember on Avenida Rizal is the Ideal Theatre. I do remember Odeon but I don't know where it is located.

I attended F. Balagtas Elementary School only because my aunt was a teacher there. I attended Arellano High School. Talk about nostalgia, back then it was safe to walk to school and back home so there will be a big group of schoolmates and classmates walking home then eventually it would just be me.

Actually I am not a blogger just a reader of blogs. When I'm not busy, I spent my free time infront of the computer and surf the internet.

I would have taken-up your get together invitation but I am not located in the Philippines. I will be reading your blog though and occasionally send you comments so you know I am still around and kicking.

April 13, 2007 9:00 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Hi Clett,

I was supposed to list all the movie houses along Avenida during the 50s and 60s, but have been unsuccessful in getting information. I even went to the National Library the other day, but their database is not as high tech as Google's, so, I gave up after literally sweating for about an hour.

My best friend at Bonifacio went to Arellano, while I had to follow my brothers' footsteps to MIT at Doroteo Jose.

Yes, I do remember groups of Arellano kids walking to school and back home after class. My school didn't have many students from my neighborhood so, there'd be no one to walk home with. But I did on some occassions to stop by at Mayon Toy Store at Avenida and Bambang. Actually, (embarass to admit this) it was only towards the end of my third year that I stopped collecting and playing with model cars -- Matchbox and those you'd put together.

Noypetes now lives in California; you ought to check out his site, too. He's a source of many fond memories, too, from way back when.

Yes, please do stop by, and always add in your thoughts! Many thanks, Clett!

BTW, I was born in Galang Maternity Clinic on Batangas near J. Abad Santos.

April 13, 2007 9:30 AM  

Blogger A! said...

I used to go around quiapo everytime I am in Manila not only to visit the quaipo church but also I am amused with the crowd..and that foods they are selling. Really nice take though.

April 13, 2007 4:50 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Thanks, A!

Actually, the top photo of palabok was taken at a food shop on Hidalgo Street in Quiapo. This district has got to be one of the most colorful throughout Metro Manila.

April 13, 2007 6:28 PM  

Anonymous jacq said...

i think you were referring to the yummy palabok being sold by my Tito Oca along P. Guevarra street (Blumentritt). I am also a fan, and i love the impelya that they use...for me his palabok is the best!

July 29, 2012 5:36 PM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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