Tunnel Vision

Max's, Vigan

On a roadtrip to Abra in the Cordillera Administrative Region with Leehua and Marion, stopped by Vigan for maka-tulo-laway Filipino food at Max’s. You will see Vigan bagnet, kare-kare, tokwa’t bagnet (a take on tokwa’t baboy), pakbet (that is more like bulanglang) and pinaputok na bangus (milkfish). Because I grew up in Ilocos Norte, I am biased to the bagnet we call chicharon in Laoag, yet Vigan bagnet entices just the same. The skin is not as “nakarsi” and “nasarangsang” as Laoag’s, but the fat part is chewy to the bite, sweet and very malasa, perfect with the subtle flavors of the bugguong they use at Max’s.

BagnetTokwa't BagnetPakbetPiinaputok na BangusLight at the End of the TunnelMarion and LeehuaAbra

Abra. Will post beautiful designs of centuries-old impaod, the abel of the Tingguians of Abra next.

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

Abra… photos from the edge

On Sunday, we traveled to the verdant mountainous province of Abra. Abra is landlocked by Ilocos Norte on the north, Kalinga and Apayao on the east, Ilocos Sur and the Mountain Province on the south, and Ilocos Sur on the west. Abra has an interesting political, social and cultural history. Abra used to be part of the Ilocos Region (Region I). On July 15, 1987, then-president Coazon Aquino issued EO 220 creating the autonomous Cordillera Administrative Region comprising the provinces of Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga and the Mountain Province and the chartered city of Baguio, occupying most areas in the Cordillera Central mountains of Luzon. In terms of total land area, Abra is the largest in the region, with 3,975.6 square kilometers. It has a population of 230,953, predominantly Ilocanos and indigenous peoples belonging to the Tingguian tribe. There are other peoples groups and tribes spread across the province.

The highway was devoid of traffic, making the drive seem a lot shorter than usual. We visited Pamora Farm, “Home of the REAL Free-Range Chicken,” situated n Pidigan,  just a few kilometers away from Bangued, the capital town of Abra. I featured the farm’s traditional French style pâtés and confit in October last year. Fellow bazaarista Pia Crisologo-Cua, brought them in to Laoag for the Red Dot eco-living bazaar. I never got to try Pamora’s free-range chicken, which might just be the solution to my allergies from eating commercial chicken. Free-range is tantamount to uncaged. Practically, one square meter space is provided per chicken. Chickens are allowed to range and forage freely within the farm. (For a better understanding of free-range poultry raising, read here.) Free range farming is touted to produce better quality poultry meat – healthier, leaner and tastier. In Pamora, herbal concoctions are used to protect the chickens from diseases. They are fed with a special cornmeal feed recipe.

I got to meet the French Gérard Papillon, the other half of the Papillon couple, who built the Pamora Farm in 2000. After introducing myself as a blogger from Ilocos, he warned, “Be careful, I can talk for hours.”

Pamora is a contraction of Papillon and Morados, the maiden name of Gérard’s Filipina wife, Arestina or Tina. Tina’s mother is an Abreño. Gérard relates, “When we started, it’s like I have bare hands.” Today, the 3.2 hectare farm has a dressing plant, a warehouse, a water retention pond, a compost pit, gardens, green houses and lodging facilities. He humbly adds, “We wouldn’t have made it this far if not for my wife’s family. Tina’s mother is a big help.” Roger and Wilma, Tina’s siblings, help manage the farm’s day-to-day operations.

Serving us a taste of France -- Perroquet cocktail with diluted Pastis anise-flavored liqueur and green mint syrup. Brandon had a glass of lemon in water.

Such a nice fellow with a cheery nature, Gérard showed us around the farm. His passion for farming is evident, he explained all the nitty gritty details. The F1 day old chicks or first generation chicks are procured from the French Grimuad breeding company, which has farms in Batangas, Cavite and Antipolo. They are grown 81 days for optimum results. No hormones and other synthetics added.

At present, Pamora Farm supplies to specialty stores such as Santis Delicatessen, Rustan’s, Shopwise, The Greenhouse at Market! Market!, Mara’s Organic Market and hotels and restaurants such as Sofitel Philippine Plaza, Pan Pacific, Je Suis Gourmand Restaurant and Beer Paradise & Taverne Restaurant among others. Along with whole dressed spring, broiler, capon and special chicken, they produce choice cuts, free-range eggs, chicken wings lollipop and ready-to-cook burger, empanada and rolls, all made from chicken meat. The items are more expensive, but Pamora Farm assures excellent farm fowl meat with no shrinkage. The high-quality farm-made pâtés are worth trying. I especially love the liver and gizzard variant. Currently applying for Halal Certification, Gérard hopes to be able to export to the Middle East soon.

The Pamora Farm experience is something beyond the usual, informative and entertaining. Not a dull moment with Mr. Papillon.

After thanking and bidding Gérard and Wilma goodbye, Dexter Bigornia (an Abreño friend of the hubby), who met with us at Pamora, led us to Cassamata Hill National Park. Victoria Park affords a vantage point of the sweeping skyline of the towns of Bangued, Tayum, Peñarrubia and La Paz. We also got a partial view of Abra River, the 6th largest river system in the country.

Veiled in clouds, the mountain locals fondly call "Sleeping Beauty."

Don Mariano Marcos Bridge, located along the Abra-Kalinga National Road. It is the third longest bridge in the country, with a total length of 886.812 linear meters.

Picnickers at the Lusuac Dam, a concrete gravity dam across the Abra River. It is located along the Abra-Ilocos Norte Road and the La Paz-Lagayan Provincial Road.

We had no time left to visit the caves, waterfalls, and hot springs as well as the tablea makers, bamboo artisans and loom weavers in Abra.

Pristine nature abounds in this province – the beauty of Abra.

Pamora Farm Inc. Km. 396 Brgy. Garreta, Pidigan, Abra, Philippines •  Unit M-IX, The Gallery Bldg., Amorsolo St., Makati, Philippines Tel./ Fax: (+63) 2 759 2678 / 811 1580 Mobile #s: 0917 537 5639 / 0919 673 8484 / 0917 520 1184 Email: tina@pamora farm.com / sales@pamorafarm.com

Photographed by Blauearth © Blauearth™ All Rights Reserved