Looking for sweets treat this Christmas season? Then go buy assorted pastillas de leche in San Miguel, Bulacan and savor them alone or with your love ones.
Pastillas de leche is basically a candy made out of milk and sugar. It is rolled into thumb-size pieces, wrapped in white paper and then packed in different colorful papers.
The best thing about the pastillas de leche is that once popped inside the mouth, the partaker finds the grits of sugar and the slow, gentle melting of it in the mouth and offers a heavenly goodness of pure carabao’s milk. It gives not just sweetness but also creaminess and softness of a candy that one would crave for more.
Coming in different varieties, this delicacy in San Miguel town has become an addiction to travelers and most especially to its locals.
A gateway to Nueva Ecija and Cagayan Valley region, San Miguel town is a favorite stopover for travelers who crave for mouth-watering pastillas de lecheout of carabao’s milk.
According to Rafael Payawal, popularly called as “Ka Ape”, who is one of the oldest living residents in San Miguel, the pastillas industry in the town traces its history to the Spanish period.
“San Miguel as an agricultural area has many carabaos. Because of this, people thought of capitalizing it for other uses aside from farming activities. And so they came up with collecting its milk and developing it into pastillas,” Payawal said.
Due to growing demand, pastillas has become at par with farming as the main livelihoods in San Miguel.
Now, the number of commercial pastillas makers is growing in number. Among these are Ocampo Sweets, Sevilla Sweets, Andrea Sweets, Garcia’s and Ricmar’s. Their common secret? It’s the freshness of the carabao’s milk, which is pasteurized immediately upon delivery and uses it for pastillas making.
The Sevilla and Ocampo sweets products include the following:
- Pastillas de leche. Soft and creamy milk candies made of pure carabao’s milk and sugar. Available in boxes containing 25 jumbo pieces and plastic bags with 24 smaller pieces.
- Flavored pastillas. Pastillas de leche with langka (jackfruit), cheese and ube (purple yam) flavors. These are packed in plastic bags with 24 pieces each.
- Assorted pastillas. An assortment of flavors in plastic container, namely; pastillas de leche, pastillas de yema, pastillas de ube, pastillas de langka, and pastillas de keso.
- Ube pastillas. Thumb-size morsel rolled in sugar and wrapped in clear cellophane with ube as its main ingredient made tastier with carabao’s milk.
- Pastillas de yema. A sweet, sticky delicacy made of condensed milk, egg yolk, cheese, sugar and lemon. Available in plastic bags containing 24 pieces.
- Pastillas stick. It is composed of 12 sticks of yummy pastillas bound by festive yellow ribbon.
- Cheese candy. Consisting of 12 sticks of cheese-flavored tied with yellow ribbon.
Other products include special polvoron, polvoron de pinipig, assorted polvoron, assorted macapuno balls, dried fruits, cashew tart, pili tart, lengua de gato, turon de casuy, pacencia white, uraro, and minarka.
Aside from being used as a favorite dessert on the locals’ and travelers’ tables, the pastillas products are also used as a present (pasalubong) or a gift during special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and Christmas because of its delicate, colorfully wrapped goodies.
“These milk products continue to live because of the strong patronage of the locals in San Miguel,” says Mayor Roderick DG. Tiongson.
In fact, Bulacan celebrated the first Pastillas festival on May 5-7, 2005 which highlighted the importance of pastillas in the lives of its locals. According to Mayor Tiongson, the province of Bulacan will set another pastillas festival in May 2011.
In 2008, San Miguel tried its best to be included in the Guiness Book of World Records for producing the “longest pastillas in the world”. The efforts involved the use of 12,800 liters of carabao’s milk and 1,600 kilos of sugar that produced a 200-meter long, five-inch diameter pastillas. The finished product, when cut into pieces, resulted in 500,000 thumb-size pieces morsels.
The effort, though, was not officially recognized due to some reasons.
Nobody can really claim where pastillas has originated.
But according to Caridad Sevilla, her mother-in-law Olympia Sevilla, more popularly known as “Lola Impiyang”, was said to be the very first resident of San Miguel who started the pastillas business.
Caridad relates that Lola Impiyang was then a vendor of coffee with fresh carabao’s milk. At the end of the day, she still has overflowing liters of milk. With this in hand, she applied what she has learned from her ancestors, and that is cooking the carabo’s milk into pastillas. At first, she would just give it to her neighbors but eventually turned it into a family business when more and more locals became patrons of her pastillas.
Today, more than 200 households in San Miguel town are engaged in pastillas making. They sell their products in the town and other places.
The production of pastillas de leche in San Miguel, as a business enterprise, is expected to grow, not wane, as the years go on.