So you placed two electric fans side by side, turned them full blast, and yet you still felt beads of sweat trickling down your face and neck. You tried to catch siesta to sleep the afternoon away, but all you succeeded at was to take cat naps as you are wakened again and again by a – gasp! – thirst that couldn’t be quenched. You end up with a headache as unrelenting as the furious sun.
You remembered the PAGASA public advisory to stock up on sun block and lots of water to get ready for the summer heat that has just registered its highest, at 36 degrees Celsius (as of April 6). But after drinking a pitcherful, water had become so blah and bland and boring you could just barf.
So you quit trying to sleep and get up to get out and go for something more exciting in summer "samalamig."Just the thought alone of the glasses of summer coolers awaiting you just outside your home made your head a bit clearer and your soul less oppressed.
This is exactly what I did last weekend – dabbed sun block, grabbed an umbrella and rounded up the best palamig in town.
Halo-halo ni Nanay
Think summer cooler and you cannot but think of halo-halo. You and I have our own favorite halo-halo. It seems to be a toss-up between Chow King and Digman's. But there are those who would swear by Aling Taleng's halo-halo in Pagsanjan, Laguna that Metro Manilans make dayo for, because it had halo hard to find: buwa ng niyog and crisp dried kondol. Priceless!
But why go the distance and shell out more pesos when just a block away, rght in your neighborhood, there’s a halo-halo stand?
On Ilang-ilang Street, in our barangay in Pasig, Nanay Rosa yearly opens her halo-halo store soon as the schools are out. She offers a very good deal. Bring your own container, no matter what size, and she’ll fill it up. But since I forgot to bring my tall Selecta pint container, which I recycled as a glass at home, I had to make do with an ordinary plastic cup. Nanay Rosa spooned sago, gulaman, sweetened banana, langka, pinipig and melon strips into it, while her son quickly shaved ice. For just fifteen pesos, my halo-halo even had ube and leche flan. Sure, there was more ice than "halo," I guess it's par for the course with neighborhood halo-halo.
But the halo-halo to beat is our own home-made mix-mix. Time was my Mom would stock up on bottled macapuno, sweet beans, kaong, nata de coco, and halayang ube. We could ask her to put a bit more of our favorite halo into our glass. She would often oblige on condition that we shaved our own ice. The nice thing about our halo-halo was that we could put as much milk into it as we wanted. The best thing about it, we could ask for a second glass (not always granted, though). The weird thing about it: my mom would sometimes put fresh fruits into it, like cayomito, ripe mango, guyabano, and avocado. Eww!
At Goto King in Libis, I ordered a glass of guinomis. I guess I spoke too loudly, for the elderly woman behind me at the counter asked her son, "What’s guinomis?" and the son answered, "Hindi ko po alam."
Guinomis is in a sense a simpler version of halo-halo, still with the shaved ice on top, but with specific and fewer ingredients: sago (the tiny pearls), gulaman, and toasted pinipig. The caramelized sugar, sago and gulaman are cooked with pandan leaves. But what makes guinomis especially tasty is the gata (coconut cream) that takes the place of evaporada in halo-halo.
The first time I tasted guinomis was in my freshman year in UP Diliman. At CASAA, a stall whose specialty was sizzlers sold guinomis as well. It was so good I went back again and again. Nowadays, when I eat out, I always look for guinomis on the dessert menu.
The mother and son behind me, out of curiosity, ended up buying guinomis as well. I hope they were not as disappointed as I was: Goto King’s version had cornflakes instead of pinipig on top. And worst – that was no coconut milk they used as cream!
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