Another woman of character. The reason why Deocampo’s Barquillos is an Ilonggo icon.
Good morning. Hmm. Last January 13, I was able to have a casual chat with two amazing ladies in one day. Tya Pacing of La Paz Market and this other outstanding woman (she should be and Tya Pacing too, in that Outstanding Women of Iloilo City list).
Way back in 1995, I did a small transaction with Manang Alicia for a cultural heritage exhibit at the Seminario de Jaro where I was teaching for a sem. If I’m not mistaken, the title was Salog: Handumanan Sang Kahapon. We wanted to include her barquillos and other delicacies, as they are part of Salog (yes, old name of Jaro) history.
She was so kind and trusting, letting us display her goodies at the Seminario on consignment basis.
Almost two decades after, i get a chance to talk with her again. She’s already 72! Did you notice her plastic gloves? She was busy mixing the dough for her mamon tostado. I was so happy she still took time to chat.
Iloilo food blogger, Jorry Palada of flavoursofiloilo did a good write up on Deocampo’s Barquillos here…(wait, i need to relearn how to add a link). In the meantime, you can just search his blog for that post which came out in a local newspaper.
Decompo’s Barquillos history
In a nutshell, Mrs. Alicia Deocampo inherited this business from Bessy, her mother in law, who in turn inherited this from her mother-in-law. In the late 19th century, the Deocampo family was the designated maker of hostias (communion hosts) for the parish of Jaro, already the seat of Catholicism in Western Visayas.
Mrs. Deocampo remembers seeing the metal molds on which hostias were made. Unfortunately, not a single memento is left. Some of these metal equipment ended up in holes for some house foundation.
According to Mrs. Deocampo, barquillos was born after some experimentation with the basic hostia batter. There was not much variety with snack items back then. So that’s how barquillos came to be. The grandmother of her late husband added eggs, fresh cow’s milk and sugar to give it some taste.
Totong, barquillos maker. Has been with Deocampo’s for 18 years already. He can make 1000 rolls a day! In the past, the griddle was placed on a clay stove with charcoal.
In Spain, there is such a thing as barquillos, looking exactly like these wafer rolls in Iloilo. The vendor is called a barquillero. It may be possible that someone introduced this concept to the Deocampo family and the rest is history. But it’s also equally possible that the Deocampo family originally came up with this delicacy in Jaro.
Maam Alicia can very well retire, relax, at her age. Her children are the ones managing the business already. But what a surprise to see her busy at work. She still does the mixing of the key ingredients for her mamon tostado. This is her first contribution to the Deocampo’s line of delicacies.
Back in the 70s, barquillos was the only product Deocampo’s sold. She got this idea to make mamon tostado from her sister in Manila, who had her own bakery. Ma’am Alicia toasted the fresh butter cupcakes and ended up with mamon tostado, now a staple of Deocampo’s.
Another product that Ma’am Alicia developed is the Paciencia, very thin, melt-in-your- mouth cookie drops. There are other bakeries carrying this Paciencia but Ma’am Alicia’s version is the most delicate I’ve eaten so far. She couldn’t believe she did it, calling her work with the Paciencia as “palagpat.” Then, she brings in the phrase, “sa grasya sang Ginoo,” or by the grace of God. All throughout our conversation, I heard this deep faith in the Lord as the reason for her success.
Still another product that Deocampo’s is fast becoming known for is it’s filling siopao. Again, Ma’am Alicia had her story to tell. Although she employed a manug-siopao at first, she eventually learned the ropes of this siopao making thing and kept on improving the siopao recipe into what they are serving now.
Among Jarenos and perhaps Ilonggos from other districts, Deocampo’s siopao is a favorite post-funeral take-away snack for those nga nag kompanyar. I should know because we ordered, if I’m not mistaken, we ordered around 20o pieces of siopao when our dear Lola Lucy went home.
In closing, I just want to say that Mrs. Alicia Tiolo Deocampo is one amazing woman. Seeing her with plastic gloves on and listening to her talk about hard work, generosity, gratitude and faith in God makes me say, over and over again: ” Long live, super women!”