Abra’s Pillow-Soft Puto by Princess

Puto

The first time I visited Abra was to check the free-range chicken and French pates of the Pamora Farms (here). Then I went back to check the famous antique binakol weaves (here), and bought preserved kamias from Valera Enterprises. In those two times I went up to Abra, no one ever suggested I should try the delicacies at Princess Restaurant. When I woke up, I saw two boxes on the dining table, opened one and tried to figure out what were inside. They looked like puto, but I wasn’t really sure ‘coz even without tasting you could tell that they were soft like marshmallows. Before I ruin the dainty arrangement, I took photos just in case they are worth sharing. A friend gave them as pasalubong for my husband. I had to double check with the giver if they were indeed puto.

Puto

Puto is a Filipino rice cake and traditionally steamed. It can take the place of bread, like eat it with butter, or cream cheese (for the more sosyal), or pair it with another dish. Dinuguan tastes so much better when eaten with puto. And it’s only lately that I discovered in Iloilo that banana leaf-wrapped puto is ubiquitous in all the batchoy (local noodle soup) places. The classic texture of puto is spongy, with a tiny  bit of roughness for some bite (the way I like my rice puto).

Going back to the modern puto, topped with grated cheese, from Bangued, Abra, the texture is somewhere in between a marshmallow cake (if you’ve tried those coconut mallow desserts) and an angel food cake. So it must be made from a special flour, but not even sure ‘coz the pillowy soft thing is white, and not even quite like mamon. It is not too rich, nor sweet, just heavenly. Maybe, if you are around Bangued, you can drop by Princess Restaurant and Groceries, where these puto are made. A box contains 25 pieces. I was too embarrassed to ask the giver about the price, so maybe you can ring them up to inquire. They also make other cakes, which makes me want to visit them soon.

Princess

Princess Restaurant and Groceries Taft, Bangued, Abra, Philippines Tel. No.: +63 74 752 8465

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2015

Preserving the Fading Threads of the Abra Abel

Abra Abel

Abra, a former  Ilocos town, now among the provinces of the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR),  has a rich texture of social, political and cultural history.  Abreños are largely Tingguians and Ilocanos.

The centuries-old impaod (backstrap) weaving and its many forms, developed through rituals and dreams, are so much a piece of history of the people (Itnegs) of the Tineg River. Pinaing is the goddess of  the women weavers who were taught to weave at the age of ten.

Nana Norma

Norma Agaid with a hand-embroidered ritual tapis.

With pride and flame, nana Norma Gintengan Agaid, an Itneg native (internationally referred to as Tingguian) of Abra, speaks about the traditional craft she inherited from ancestors, “It’s the only thing I can pass down to my children and their children.”

The Tingguian colors are predominantly muted. Natural dyes such as malatayum plant (for indigo) were prominent in the designs of the olden days.

White sinugkitan  is worn to signify mourning.

Tingguian Tapis and Lace

A lace-edged slip underneath the tapis signifies wealth, according to nana Norma.

Piningitan edging such as tinulbek (tulbek ti biag) symbolizes life.

Pagablan

An Ilocano pagablan (loom).

The Abra abel of today are based on traditional pinilian (sampaga, python, river and horse patterns), dinapat (a special seamless weave), and binakol (op art weave like kosikos). The pastel and livelier  motifs are influenced by the times.

The ethnic handwoven fabric comes in the forms of traditional garments, blankets, scarves, table covers and many more. Special designs can be ordered from the remaining indigenous loom weavers in Abra.

Impaod FabricPinilian FabricAbra Binakol ScarfImpaod Weavers

Namarabar Ethnic Crafts and Antiques, Namarabar, Peñarrubia, Abra, Philippines
Maria Librada M. Donato
CP Nos.: 0905 2422069 / 0921 4359173
Zita M. Benabese
CP Nos.: 0905 5036515 / 0920 5437921

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved 2009-2014