a favorite pasalubong from Negros.
See El Ideal food in photos.
For the people of Silay, El Ideal can be many things. It can be a landmark, a heritage site, a restaurant, a bank of childhood memories, a go-to for delicious snacks and meals, and of course, for comfort food. They had been there in the exact same spot at 118 Rizal St., Brgy. 3, Silay City for close to a hundred years already, with the façade of the old house as the face of the modern El Ideal. Many have dated there, I presume, have gotten married have kids and even have grand kids. For me, El Ideal has been my source of Angel cookies since 20 years ago and now, it is a favorite stopover whenever our family brings someone to or picks someone to the airport.
The Beginnings of El Ideal
El Ideal was started by the family’s patriarch, Cesar Locsin, some time in the 1920s. It was First World War but he pursued his passion for baking by making breads for the locals. He made his products at their family home where the present El Ideal still stands.
The legacy of baking was then passed on to his children, with his youngest daughter Alice working on paving the foundations of the El Ideal as we know it today. Alice’s daughter, Ma. Teresa “Tess” Villanueva Sanchez eventually continued her mother’s work and through the years, she has gradually expanded and added new products. They also redesigned the logo, revamped the place and made the dining area bigger, and then spruced up the pasalubong corner with their products displayed in antique cabinets that looked like my grandmother’s pre-war furniture. They have also diversified by carrying other local brands, making it a one-stop pasalubong shop for travelers to Negros Occidental.
At present, Tess manages El Ideal with her son Mark Henriko. Among the original products that they made were specialty cookies like the famous bañadas, kinamunsil, masa podrida, lubid-lubid, biscocho de caña, and biscocho prinsipe. But through the years, they have added so many more items, including piaya, tarts, barquillos, and other cookies, which includes the now very popular “Angel Cookies,” which they developed only in the early 1990s but is still a hit until today.
But when asked which is their bestseller, Tess says it’s really hard to say which one among their many products is the bestseller because through the years, different people have share varied experiences about El Ideal’s products. Most of what they sell move fast, so it is safe to say that everything that they have must be really good.
El Ideal Out of Their Comfort Zone
More than 30 years ago, El Ideal joined the Association of Negros Producers (ANP), where Tess is one of the founding members. Through the ANP, they joined the Negros Trade Fair in Manila and their products have built a following. Tess says that it really feels good when people from the national capital light up with familiarity about their brand, as they only have one store in Silay City and they don’t really advertise aggressively. Now, El Ideal products are available at ANP showrooms at the Robinsons Place City Walk and at 9th-Lacson Streets. They also have a booth at the Robinsons Place north wing.
The opening of the Bacolod-Silay Airport has also opened new frontiers for El Ideal. In the early part of the century, Tess recalls that El Ideal was a favorite stopover of sugar planters who would buy snacks on the way to the farm in the morning. When they went home in the afternoon, they would buy more food for their family. It was also a favorite jaunt of locals who wanted home-cooked snacks and refreshments. Now, their clientele has expanded to tourists who want El Ideal’s brand of pasalubong items as well as those who want snacks or meals on the way to the airport. For us, we always stop by El Ideal whenever we are in Silay just to buy some of their pies or their famous fresh lumpia.
Tess humbly states that they really wanted El Ideal to become a household name, a place not to be missed whenever one is in the vicinity. And I think, they have already achieved that. El Ideal has become a by-word not only in Silay City but in the entire province of Negros Occidental for quality food products. With that, they have already made an institution for themselves.
El Ideal is located at 118 Rizal St., Brgy. 3, Silay City. They are open daily, from 6:30am to 6:30pm. They have a small booth at Robinsons Place Bacolod, north wing, and they have product displays at the Negros Showroom branches at 8th-Lacson Streets and at Robinsons Citywalk.