About a week ago, we posted a picture with the hashtag #CommentYourFavoritePlaceInIloilo asking fellow Ilonggos and non-Ilonggos to comment their favorite place in Iloilo – and we received scores of feedback ranging from establishments, tourist locations, and so much more! One comment suggesting Lapaz caught our eye and, of course, what could be more Iloilo-iconic than the Lapaz Public Market? So, as one of our firsts in the many future visits we will have is Iloilo’s very own Lapaz Public Market!
First off, where in the world is Lapaz? Technically La Paz, it is one of the seven districts in Iloilo City. Before it became a district, it was actually a part of Jaro and was referred to as Ilawod meaning ‘wet’, in contrast to Jaro as Ilaya meaning ‘dry’. The name La Paz was actually taken from the district’s patron saint, Nuestra Señora de la Paz y Buen Viaje. The patron saint was referred to as the Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. So the Spanish term ‘La Paz’, actually means ‘peace’. Peace yo!
So why Lapaz Public Market? When you ask an Ilonggo, ‘saan ba pwede makapag-batchoy dito sa Iloilo?’, or ‘saan ba dito ang original na batchoy?’ (‘where can we find original batchoy in Iloilo?’). Thing is, the place of origin is appended to the name of the legendary and iconic Ilonggo dish. Lapaz Batchoy, unmistakably, originated from the district of Lapaz!
Friends, this is original Lapaz Public Market Batchoy!
Inside Lapaz Public Market alone, you already have three batchoy destinations. These are Deco’s, Ted’s, and Netong’s. How are they different? Well, they differ by the establishments that made them but I guess you should try out the three to see any noticeable difference. While you can find Deco’s and Ted’s outside the market and along the road, Netong’s is hidden cozy inside the market.
Batchoy is a noodle soup made with pork organs, crushed pork cracklings, chicken stock, beef loin, and round noodles. Tracing the roots of batchoy, it came to existence in 1938 when Federico Guillergan Sr. concocted a dish made by mixing noodles, broth, beef and pork. When asked for the recipe’s name, the inventor would usually say ‘Bats’ and, later on, appended ‘-choy’ from chop suey, a popular vegetable dish. Another origin came into play when the first batchoy shop was put up in the district of La Paz by Teodorico Lepura in 1945. Back in the 1930s, Lepura concocted his own version of batchoy while working for a Chinese merchant. The earliest price of batchoy was 20 cents a bowl. Now, batchoy is still affordable at less than Php 100 a bowl.
But of course, the market of Lapaz is not only exclusive to Batchoy. Here, I revel to Arroz Caldo – rice porridge made from the collision of Spanish and Chinese influences. This Filipino favorite is made of rice, of course, chicken, chicken stock, garlic, onion, and lotsa garlic please.
What else is there inside the Lapaz Public Market? Seriously speaking, tucked inside this little market is no other than authentic native coffee prepared in the traditional ‘pour over’ method that has been practiced for more than 50 years – yes, even up to this day despite the upsurge of brewing machinery! Madge Cafe is all the rage and is considered an Ilonggo gem. A brewing concept of Vicente de la Cruz, Madge Cafe was named after his wife’s nickname, Madge. To date, the family business has been passed down for generations and continues to amaze visitors with its unique blend of coffee.
“Kapeng kaya ka ipaglaban”. Yes, we all need coffee that can fight our battles for us. Need an extra caffeine kick to finish that thick book in time for tomorrow’s exam? The coffee at Madge can be your best best. “Namit kape nila. Kaya ka ipaglaban mga six (6) rounds against antok.” Since my tastebuds were not trained to decipher the differences of coffee from one establishment to another, I asked my friend Joshua what is it in Madge coffee that had him a regular customer for two (2) years. Well, the remark says it all.
Nai Cha Tea and Tapsilog at Madge’s
Delving deep into the market, I found a pool of fresh produce, the Ilonggo favorite-tuwing-tag-ulan Uga (dried fish), the ever saboroso Guinamos (shrimp paste), and a lot more. If Lapaz Public Market can have all these things – best batchoy ever, best coffee ever, and all these – hell yeah, this gotta be my favorite place in Iloilo, too!
Our heartfelt thanks to those who commented Lapaz as their favorite place in Iloilo! Come and join the fun and comment your favorite place on our Facebook page as well, and we will try our best to visit and make usisa what’s in store!