Starweek Magazine

Biñan in Sta. Rosa

- Lydia Castillo - The Philippine Star

The towns of Biñan and Sta. Rosa in Laguna are neighbors. In the course of the years that passed, the latter has become very industrialized, hence has been elevated to cityhood. In our youth, we were told that their respective patron saints, San Pedro and Sta. Rosa de Lima were, initially friends until there came about a misunderstanding. Each then playfully vowed it would rain during their feast days. While this might just be folklore that could be true or false, during our childhood in Biñan, the rains did come every feast day.

On the last Sunday of this month, June 29, Biñan and Sta. Rosa will share the spotlight during a cookbook launch to be mounted by SM Sta. Rosa. We are pleased that in that event Biñan will be in Sta. Rosa by way of a focus on the town’s much-hidden and unheralded cuisine. We appreciate the effort of our friend Millie and her staff, plus the management of SM, in finally highlighting (in a segment of the event) our town’s valued heritage food, giving new and much deserved recognition, that indeed the vintage food of the town is worth being introduced to homemakers, their families and all other foodies.

Biñan cuisine is genrally characterized by the sauces that accompany their main dishes, for example, chicken tinola comes with a dipping sauce of patis, juice of calamansi and crushed chicken liver.

A dish that we will introduce at the event is beef la oya, which gives nilagang karne an additional taste and texture by serving it with a thick sauce made of sweet potatoes, eggplants and cooking bananas (saba).

We have a dish that approximates paksiw na lechon called kilaweng baboy, done with lots of grilled liver, vinegar and brown sugar.

Please allow us to share with our readers the recipe for beef la oya, a hearty dish which in our childhood was served as a fitting reward given by our lola to the able-bodied men tasked with regularly emptying  our well in the bath house. We remember the rhythm and cadence of water splashing as it was poured from the buckets. The manlilimas (workers) would keep up a merry chatter, singing even, and would hail the arrival at lunchtime of the bowl of the la oya,  matched with the traditional pritong biya.


Beef La Oya


1 and a half kilo beef shank, cut

1 beef tuhod (knee with tendons), also cut

1 onion, quartered

Leeks and celery, two stalks each, 3-in long

2 tbps anatto seeds (soaked in water to extract color)

1 and half teaspoons each of salt and ground pepper

Six pieces cooking bananas

2 pieces eggplants

3 pieces sweet potatoes

5 cloves native garlic, crushed

2 tbsps brown sugar

3 cups water



Boil beef in water with leeks, celery, onion, salt and pepper.

Soak annatto seeds in 3 tbps water for a few minutes. Then rub between fingers to extract red liquid.

When meat has become tender, add the bananas, eggplants and sweet potatoes. Continue boiling. When bananas, eggplants and sweet potatoes are done, remove from the pot, pound or mash together. Mix well with garlic, vinegar, sugar and a little broth to make it a bit pasty. Serve this on the side.

Optional: Cabbage can be added to the meat. Let cook before serving. The broth will serve as soup.

Those living in the vicinity of Sta. Rosa, please be there for the launch.

Have a good cooking Sunday!


E-mail me at [email protected].


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