By: Benson D. Panaguiton*
Everybody likes sweets. I myself like sweets. That is why it was not hard for me to appreciate the taste of bandi.
Bandi is a delicious candy made of peanuts and caramelized sugar. My Antiquena grandmother likes to make bandi for us. She is not a famous bandi-maker but still she can create delicious bandi for her grandchildren.
Certain towns in Antique are famous for bandi. For the neighboring province of Iloilo, the bandi capital is the town of San Joaquin specifically Barangay Qui-anan.
From the town of Miag-ao where I study, I traveled 30 minutes going to Qui-anan. While riding on a bus going to Qui-anan I asked many passengers about the bandi shops in San Joaquin. “There are a lot of shops there in San Joaquin” they said, “but we think the store of Marlyn produces a good quality of bandi”.
From this informal interview, I learned from the 26 out of the 44 in the bus that one shop stands out among the rest, Marlyn’s. There I met the owner of Reymart Store–Manang Marlyn who inherited the bandi business from her grandmother.
Their products have already reached Saudi Arabia and Brunei . “Because of bandi I have finished my studies. What we are now is because of bandi,” she said.
I met Manang Marlyn’s employee Manang Belen – the bandi maker. Since Grade 3, she was already making bandi to earn money for her studies. “We live because of it, ”, she said. “…Being a bandi-maker for about 40 years is a difficult task; I have to work with determination in order to make good bandi.
I saw Manang Belen make a batch. She offered me one to taste. Delicious! Her bandi was more delicious than other bandi I’ve tasted. Manang Belen used fresh native or bisaya peanuts and sesame seeds. Maybe it also had to do something with Manang Belen’s technique.
Here is the recipe on how to make homemade bandi.
1 cup native peanuts
¼ cup water
1 cup sugar
¼ cup sesame seeds
Materials: Plastic cover (the one used for wrapping books)
Frying pan or wok
HOW TO COOK YOUR BANDI:
1.Mix 1 cup of peanuts, 1 cup of sugar and water in the frying pan.
2.Heat and stir for about 15 minutes for the sugar to caramelize and for the peanuts to be cooked.
3.While waiting, wipe some oil on a plastic cover.
4.Remove the frying pan from the heat and pour the caramelized peanuts onto the plastic cover. While wet form into flat round shapes.
5.Leave to harden and dry.
The mani or peanuts, the main ingredient in making bandi are proudly San Joaquin-grown by the bandi makers themselves. They have little peanut farms in Quianan.
In the old method of making bandi – the saha sang saging (a layer of banana trunk) serves as the tray for the bandi to dry. They use these saha because these contain moisture that enables the bandi to dry immediately after cooking. These days, however, they’ve opted for the plastic wrapper for convenience.
Known for their bandi industry, the Municipality of San Joaquin is the “Bandi Capital of Western Visayas”. It even celebrates the “Adlaw Kang Bandi” as one the highlights of their Bayluhanay Festival. This event aims to pay tribute to the bandi makers of San Joaquin. Lately, the San Joaquin created for the record the biggest bandi so far, with the surface area of 140.65 square meters or the size of two classrooms. Wow!
*This is Benson, our Quianan bandi guy. He’s a biology student at UPV.