by Atty. Daniel Balaoing Valdez

Camiling is a major municipality in Western Tarlac, Philippines.  A town made famous by the Romulos (foreign service) and the Bengzons (judiciary), it has its humble beginnings as a small barrio of Paniqui (not Bayambang as earlier believed) whose conversion into a town in 1838 was hastened by immigration from the North that peaked in the early 1800’s. This explains the dominance of the Ilocano tongue in an isolated locality surrounded by Pangasinenses in the Northwest, and the Kapampangans of the Southeast.

At the town proper is a barangay known as “Caviganan” which, as the name implies, is populated by migrant farmers from Ilocos Sur specially Vigan.  Thus, today, one still hears there of ubiquitous surnames like Lorenzana, Brillantes, Gorospe, Yadao, et al.

A noted legacy of the town’s Ilocano sector is a fried pork delicacy known as “Camiling Chicharon” – the counterpart of Vigan’s “bagnet”.  Its disciples attest to its distinct crispness and yummy taste enhanced by a mouth-watering aroma.  In fact, those of them who are now settled abroad fantasize its nostalgic taste through their hi-tech ovens, self-timed grills and turbo cookers albeit with little, if any, success.

Through the centuries, this culinary concoction has survived a volatile market without abandoning the customary and natural way it is cooked - mute testimony to its popularity as a product at par with (if not better than) similar endemic ones.

The recipe is still available from the “aglaklako” or traditional meat vendors at the town’s market especially during Sundays and the homecoming holidays of Camiling’s Iniruban Festival, Paskua (Christmas), All Saints Day, Semana Santa, etc. when droves of passing-by motorists normally drop by to buy it.

If fried chicken (Max’s) built a house, why can’t chicharon sell a town? ---dv  

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