The oldest name in the Bacolod pasalubong scene
is Sugarlandia. And they are still growing strong.
For almost nine decades, the Mercado family of Bacolod City, Negros Occidental, Philippines has been in the business of making native delicacies that have since been collectively known as Bacolod pasalubong.
For travellers to and from Bacolod, it seems always a must to bring pasalubong of piaya and barquillos–the two most popular of Bacolod delicacies. Despite the proliferation of similar products in the market during the past several decades, nothing beats the popularity of these two food products. It seems that all the rest are just add-ons to these all-time favorite Bacolod pasalubong.
For decades, many pasalubong houses have developed their own versions of piaya and barquillos, but only one name can lay claim to being the origin of these two native products—Sugarlandia by Tia Dami.
Damiana Mercado, or more popularly known back then as Tia Dami, is the family matriarch of Sugarlandia. She started the business way back in the 1930s, which was a period of peace in the province of Negros Occidental. Without any background in business, she plunged head on because she wanted to be able to send her children to good schools when they grow up. But it was not surprising that Tia Dami started this enterprise because she came from a long line of bakers from Molo, Iloilo.
Tia Dami, which literally translated to Aunt Dami, would sell her food stuff everywhere she passed by and to those who ordered from her directly, but she would most especially sell them at the Central Market. She was the one who coined the name Sugarlandia, which is a very catchy name for her business because the province of Negros is known as the largest producer of sugar in the Philippines. Tia Dami grew the business with the help of her family, adding more products along the way, in order to grow the brand.
When she passed away, one of her children, Medalla Engallado, took over the business and ran it single-handedly for more than 30 years. At present, Sugarlandia is managed by Manuel Engellado and his sister Teresa, who are third generation heirs of Tia Dami. At their store at Yulo St., Bacolod City where the family compound and Sugarlandia production areas are located, they sell not only piaya and barquillos but a host of other baked goodies as well as meringue, pinasugbo, candied fruits, and many more. Some of the products sold there are made by individual family members, making it a truly family enterprise.
The secret to making Sugarlandia survive the times is strict compliance to the recipes set by Tia Dami. The new generation has innovated, including the development of new products like the barquirice that uses organic rice instead of flour, but they have maintained the quality of their main products. This product won in the Bulawan Awards hosted by the Association of Negros Producers (ANP).
Sugarlandia products are available at their store at Yulo St., Bacolod City and at the Negros Showroom branches at 9th-Lacson Streets and at Robinsons Place Bacolod.
Maria Sigrid D. Lo is a multi-awarded Bacolod lifestyle blogger and social media advocate. It is her desire to make the city known to the world through her online presence. She promotes Bacolod restaurants, food tourism, social media etiquette, breastfeeding, and a greener Bacolod City in her blogs and talks. She loves taking photos, mostly of her children and of food. She is a proud member of the Negrense Blogging Society Inc. (NBSI) or the #NegrosBloggers.