ESCALANTE’S CLASSIC PAN BISAYA
The famous Pan Bisaya of Escalante and the sweet coconut filling of the pan bisaya
“Pan Bisaya” is the most popular bread in the City of Escalante, Negros Occidental and in some northern parts of Negros. If you have not tried it yet, the Pan Bisaya is a native bread with a sweet coconut filling. What makes it famous and patronized by the people is its unique and delicious taste created by a traditional and special way of baking. The bread is baked in a makeshift oven called “Hornohan” which is composed of empty cans of cooking oil. Dried coconut husks are burned to produce heat.
The bread is placed inside the hornohan for a few minutes until they turn golden brown.
What makes this bread even more special is the story of its famous baker, Mrs. Victoria F. Dayday, also known as “Vicki”, a 51-year old mother of six from Brgy. Old Poblacion, Escalante City, Negros Occidental. The knowledge and skill of making the pan bisaya originally came from her late grandmother in Calatrava, Negros Occidental who eventually handed it down to her mother. Tita Vicki started to make the bread when she was just 12 years old. Together with her 9 siblings, they would help their mother in baking the pan bisaya. But amongst her siblings, she was the one who really focused on the process of making the bread.
When she started to have her own family at the age of 26, she moved to Brgy. Old Poblacion or “Old Escalante”, some few kilometers away from Brgy. Balintawak, the center of the city. With no steady source of income, she made the pan bisaya, her only skill, as her livelihood. People began to notice her delicious product and soon it became a hit and a favorite. Tita Vicki and her husband raised their children primarily through their income from pan bisaya and fishing. Two of her children have already graduated in college and are already working.
The making of pan bisaya is laborious. Tita Vicki would start preparing the dough and grating coconuts for the filling at 6 am. When all of the dough have been filled with the coconut, she would then start preparing the manual oven by burning the dried coconuts husks. She is very thankful that her own children have also embraced the making of this bread. During weekends and holidays, her daughters Vida and Vigel would help her. Vida fills the dough with the grated coconut while Vigel bakes the bread in the hornohan.
L-R: She rents this space in the market of Old Poblacion for P15 a day;Vida helping her mother during a holiday
Tita Vicki is always grateful of the good reception of the people of her pan bisaya. Her regular customers are re-sellers in Brgy. Balintawak and other barangays, schools and offices. In addition, she would often receive bulk orders. There are even those who buy the native bread for their families abroad. Other municipalities and cities in the province have also known of her product. In fact, she is always invited during the Panaad sa Negros Festival. You can find her cooking and selling pan bisaya at the booth of Escalante City. She was also invited to participate in an organic fair in Bacolod City recently. These are great opportunities for her to promote her product and earn extra income. But she would sometimes decline the invitations because going out of town requires a lot of effort and preparation. Although it is just easy to make the hornohan anywhere, the process of making the dough and the filling takes time and she needs more personnel to meet the huge demand considering that these events attract large crowds.
The pan bisaya is always on the table in parties, simple gatherings or any activities in offices and schools in Escalante City. Every mornings and afternoons, the native bread is the crave of the Escalantehanon. Coffee, tea, juice or soft drinks are always best when paired with the pan bisaya.
Bethel with the famous baker, Tita Vicki
Many are wondering what is in Tita Vicki’s recipe for the pan bisaya. There are others who make the pan bisaya but the people will always look for that of Tita Vicki’s original and consistent taste. But for her, the best recipe is to give love and dedication to what you do, especially in baking or cooking. She is proud she was taught of the skill by her mother and grandmother. Because of this, she is now famous and has earned the loyalty of plenty of customers.
Contributor:Bethel Joy H. Virata is a graduate of the University of St. La Salle with the degree Bachelor of Science in Management Accounting. She is currently employed with China Bank Savings, Inc. She is also taking up Masters in Business Administration at La Consolacion College Bacolod.