In Guinobatan, Albay, there’s an old way of preparing and prolonging the shelf life of meat and it’s called bay-way. Bay-way is a contraction of the word “binalaybay” that traces its origin from the local Bicol dialect spoken in the area of Guinobatan-Camalig. The word basically means “to hang”.
“Naka-hang sya ta para mag-dry sya. Para ma-prolong ang life span ng meat. No’ng [unang] panahon baga wara pa man kitang refrigerator. Wara kitang freezer na mapaglagan nin sobra-sobrang karne. Narumduman ko su mga gurang sadto, iyo yan ang ginigibo ninda. Pinaga-slice nindang manipis, pinaga-marinate sa secret na mga rekado,” said Lowell Tolosa, owner of YangMatt, a thriving food establishment in the said town.
(It’s being hung to let the meat dry; to prolong and preserve the life span of the meat. During old times, refrigerators did not exist yet. We don’t have freezers to put the excess meat into. I remember the elders that time practicing bay-way. They slice the meat thinly, and marinate it on secret ingredients.)
Tolosa family and the bay-way process
The Tolosa family are actually the first in Albay (and even in the region) to integrate the dying process of preserving meat to their food business. According to Lowell, a known commercial restaurant in Bicol was interested in utilizing bay-way on their recipes but the problem is they can’t ensure their supply will last during the rainy season since the resto is known for producing varieties of Bicol dishes.
However, since Tolosa’s nature of business is grilling, they have a huge advantage over others because they can utilize the bay-way process even if it’s already the rainy season.
“So kami ta para-lechon, yaon na talaga, every day ‘yon na ang negosyo namin, lechonan, pwede kaming mag-produce. Although rainy season, yaon. I-hang mo sana didto, ogka wara ki problema,” Mrs. Shirley Tolosa said.
(Because we are in a grilling and roasting business, we can produce bay-way everyday. Rainy season or not, we can do so. Just hang it above the griller, the supply will not be a problem.)
Bay-way integration to modern taste
Tolosa owns a food business establishment called YangMatt.
YangMatt was traditionally known to be selling fried/roasted chicken initially in a cart during the early 2000s. But because of the dedication and humble beginnings of the Tolosa, they managed to produce and offer other dishes such as lechon manok, lechon baboy, liempo, lechon belly and others that made them expand the reach of their business. They started from scratch to cart and then now, they have four (4) branches.
Similarly, through YangMatt, Tolosa integrates the unique smoky taste of meat preserved via bay-way to different Filipino (and Bicolano) scrumptious dishes they offer.
“Pero mas masiram siya i-air-fry,” Mrs. Tolosa advised.
(But it’s more tasty when the bay-way has been air-fried.)
But for all locals who didn’t have an air fryer – fret not. The meat can also be fried and eaten as it is. With soy sauce squeezed with calamansi and a red pepper (eat it the Bicolano way!) as a sauce, the meal will make you salivate and will make you go sheeeesh. Just kidding.
Tolosa aims to preserve the bay-way process by incorporating it through their thriving food business.
Meanwhile, YangMatt is considered as home of the best lechon in Guinobatan town. YangMatt has been chosen by the Department of Tourism Bicol Region to be featured in its Siram Project, a project that aims to boost the region’s tourism through Bicolano culinary that will circuit all throughout Bicol.
To all readers who are interested in knowing the bay-way process, here are the quick steps:
(Total disclaimer: Tolosa’s secret ingredients for meat marination cannot be told. Sorry.)
Step 1: Prepare all the necessary ingredients for meat marination. The meat must be cut into medium rectangular sizes (Do not put onions!)
Step 2: Mix the ingredients. One by one, mix it with the meat.
Step 3: Marinate it overnight. If you want the mix to really penetrate the meat, let it soak for three (3) days. Refrigerate it.
Step 4: After marinating it, get a stick with a piercing end and stitch the other end width of meat.
Step 5: Get a thick thread to bind the end of the stick. Hang it over your griller. Let it stick for hours until the meat becomes reddish-brownish. Done.
After following these steps, you can now integrate the meat to whatever dish you want it to be mixed into. Enjoy cooking and have savory food! I Arvie Bediones and Mayet Marcayda
Photos: Mayet Marcayda, Renato Jao