Yesterday, Inday Hami’s special request was to have batchoy while Nonoy Rad wanted chicken. Ok, this weekend, its Inday Hami’s pick. Nonoy Rad will have his chicken inasal the following week.
So off we went to Ric Rugged’s Batchoy near Mandurriao Church. A guy in his early 50s was preparing the bowls of miki. This must be Ric. Without hesitation (before my shyness got me), I asked him “Nga-a Ric Rugged ngalan sang batchoyan mu, Nong?” (Why is your batchoyan named Ric Rugged, sir?”)
He smiled and told me his story. You know rugged? Back in the 80s, that was a term referring to jeanswear which was “in” at that time. The tailoring shops were busy making maong jeans.
That’s right. Ric Araneta was a tailor. He thought of venturing into food when a friend taught him how to make batchoy. So, in 1989 he started his small batchoyan near the Mandurriao gym (now, his place is near the church). Just like any small batchoyan, it didn’t have a name. Whenever people wanted Nong Ric’s batchoy, they just referred to it as “mamatsoy ta kay Ric Rugged” (“Let’s have batchoy at Ric Rugged’s”) The name has stuck. Prior to the conversation with Nong Ric, I used to think that the Rugged in Ric had to do with the place, being simple and well…rugged. It does pay to ask. The value of research. Now, we know better.
Anyway, having that chat with Ric Rugged yielded more interesting info regarding batchoy. That’s knowledge and wisdom from the local folk.
For one, he said that the secret to caldo is the tui/tuwi (?) of the pig. It’s what gives the batchoy broth or caldo its distinct flavor. Needed too are the beef (baka) and carabeef (carabao) bones. The carabeef are much better than the beef bones. The longer they stay, the more flavor they produce, he said.
Some batchoyan add ginamos (shrimp paste) in their batchoy. Ric doesn’t add ginamos anymore for he can no longer find the the dark colored ginamos (laon) that is ideal for batchoy. It seems like the tradition of producing this ginamos has disappeared. (Inday Hami will check on this. )
Ric Rugged also misses the Marca Manok brand of vetsin that was really an ingredient of the traditional batchoy. This was produced by the Chinese owner of Espanola at the downtown. When the owner died, the recipe went with him.
Ric Rugged also told me about another old batchoyan–Inggo’s, now at Iloilo’s Central Market. He used to frequent it in his younger days. The folks at Inggo’s even mentioned that long before Ted’s and Deco’s were established, Inggo’s was already around. Ted’s and Deco’s owners were actually helpers at Inggo’s batchoyan, originally at La Paz Public Market. Hmm, that’s an interesting point to confirm.
Two last things: Ric Rugged cooks his own chicharon for the batchoy. Namit. Also, you can forego the msg (just like we do. Just tell him or his assistants not to put vetsin in the bowl.) Other batchoyans prepare their broth in the big cauldron with msg in it already, so even if you request for no msg, its pointless.
Learned a lot from a Sunday afternoon eating batchoy at Ric Rugged’s.