A day before 2012 ended, I found myself in Plaridel, a 3rd class municipality which is located 45 minutes away from Oroquieta, the provincial capital of Misamis Occidental. It has a small yet vibrant sea port that services vessels that come from or headed to Tagbilaran and other islands in the Visayas.
I did a similar roadtrip many years back, so the scenes that unraveled before me that morning were familiar – vast green ricefields and quiet farming villages. This time around though, I dragged Cherry Fe, my cousin’s energetic wife with me in this brief, relatively unplanned madness, just to taste again the famous pan bisaya of Plaridel.
We arrived at Plaridel shortly before 11 AM. Our trike driver told us to look for this house located at the back of the local church near the sea port. It is partly covered by a simplekawayan fence and you would not have guessed that behind this is where Plaridel’s famous delicacy is made. We were then greeted by Mrs. Guillena who apologetically informed us that there were just six or so packs of the day’s bread left for us.
A pack costs Php 10.00 which is quite a bargain considering the bread’s unique taste and the effort put into making one. Mrs. Guillena added that her husband kneads the dough the old way or by hand, which is why their bread is called as ‘bisaya.’ It is then baked into a pugon or a wood-fired oven. They only make two batches daily, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon, to guarantee freshness every time.
The bread is noticeably heavier in comparison to those being sold from franchise bakeshops elsewhere. It smells and tastes delicious too. One bite would tell you that it is not just another ordinary neighborhood bread. It has a slight tinge of sweetness and an unmistakable hint of coconut juice. Pairing it up with peanut butter or jelly or cheese would do great disservice to this flavorful bread, so we only bought bottled water to go along with it.
It took us more than an hour to get to Plaridel but we only spent around twenty minutes there. I still enjoyed our very brief roadtrip that morning as it became a welcome detour to the lechons and the already irritable yet unavoidable Gangnam tune played in all our family reunions.
So if I should I find myself in these parts again, I already know where to momentarily escape from it all, and find Plaridel’s pan bisaya which is undoubtedly the best pugon bread I’ve tasted so far.