Santa Maria is a highly urbanized town of Bulacan province . This is one of the most visited towns and within 32 kilometers north of Metro Manila . It was founded as a “barrio” of Bocaue in the early part of the 17th century until it became an independent town around November 26, 1793.
The town is also a cradle of war heroes , which were immortalized in the town’s monument .
The church was named under the patronage of the Immaculate Conception (also known as La Purisima Concepcion). The church had a small convent museum.
Santa Maria had an area of 90.92 square kilometers, has a population of about 260,000 ( 2015 census) making the town one of the most important economic hub of Bulacan .
The town is well-known as the ” Chicharon Capital ” of Bulacan, The title is being shared by another town , San Miguel town further north . Chicharon is crispy pork rinds or pork cracking deep fried in hot oil.
The chicharon making is a multi-million pesos industry . There are several well-known chicharon makers within the town , each had their own specialty in cooking their pork cracking . These includes chicharon with laman ( pork-loin with fat and thicker meat ) chicharon “balat / cocktail ” ( pork skin without the fat ) chicharon “bilog” ( pork belly skin ) chicharon bituka ( pork intestines ) chicharon “bulaklak” which look like flowers ( pork intestine railings thoroughly cleaned, blanched and deep fried ) , chicharon bits and chicharon ground .
Most the the wholesalers and retailers are from Barangay Poblacion . The industry have began around late 19th century from backyard growers and small piggeries . Eventually, it had expanded and had been supplying special pasalubong stores in Metro Manila and OFW communities.
Aldana House is now a 2-storey apartment for students and transient . This house is where Ms. Michelle Aldana ( Miss Asia-Pacific 1993 used to stay)
Jose Corazon de Jesus (November 22, 1896 – May 26, 1932), the incomparable poet, the one and only “Huseng Batute“, who started composing his verse as a child and nationally He is best known for being the lyricist song Bayan Ko..Another is Francisco Santiago (January 29, 1889 – September 28, 1947) His compositions are the kundiman “Sakali Man”, “Hibik ng Filipinas”, “Pakiusap”, “Ang Pag-ibig” and other famous songs. Santa Maria also produced two Bulacan governors Jose J. Serapio( first civil governor ) and Fortunato F. Halili.
Well-known celebrities ,models, beauty queens includes Ms. Michelle Aldana ( Miss Asia-Pacific 1993) , Ms. Angel Locsin, Aaron Junatas ( child celebrity ), Ms. Krystal Reyes, Ms. Maine Mendoza ( Yaya Dub ) , Alfred Yargas ( celebrity and politician) , Ms. Margaux Salcedo ( GMA channel 7 news anchor , reporter and journalist ) Ms. Celia Diaz Laurel, Mr. Cocoy Laurel, actor-director Nick Lizaso, Lilia Reyes Amoroso, even Coco Martin was a one-time resident of Santa Maria in past years.
Tinumis de Santa Maria is a type of blood stew similar to dinuguan . Unlike its Gapan , Nueva Ecija counterpart . Santa Maria ‘s version uses carabao’s blood and meat . Slowly cooking them in charcoal lighted stove. This is best accompanied by freshly steam puto lansong.
Puso Lansong / Puto Lanson is well-known delicacies from Santa Maria. The town boast of large rice plantations and agricultural produce.
Tsokolate ni Nana Meng and Ka Tage is a must for those who wanted a sip of the town’s famous chocolate . The chocolate drink is thick type or “Tsololate- Eh” mixed with grounded peanut .
People would remember them preparing foods especially during town fiesta or special occasion . They also prepared food for distinguished people like Presidents Manuel L. Quezon, Elpidio Quirino, Ferdinand Marcos among others.
Unfortunately, most of the family heirloom recipes like kesong puti, chicharon, sinigang sa bayabas, lumpiang sariwa, ensaymada and dinuguan, among other Bulacan recipes have never been written down. Instead they have been passed on from generation to generation but only to those who labor in the kitchen. It was Nana Meng and Ka Tage who managed to pass some of the recipe to their descendants .
Nana Meng is Ms. Carmen Torres-Reyes is the maternal grand aunt of Ms. Margaux Salcedo .
Ms. Erika Varona is one of the kundiman and singers of the town paying tribute to Maestro Francisco Santiago.
The tour was conceptualized by Mr. Jose Benigno Salvador for Immaculate Concepcion International College of Arts and Technology (ICI – Sta Maria)- HRM and Tourism students. The aim of this cultural and heritage tour is to help promote the town , its different ancestral houses and culinary heritage.
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