History of SÍSIG: How Angeles City Kept Reinventing a Traditional Kapampángan Delicacy

SÍSIG has always been a part of Kapampángan culinary history. It may have been as old as the history of the Kapampángan nation itself. In 1732, Spanish friar Diego Bergaño recorded the existence of SÍSIG in his Vocabulario de la Lengua Pampanga. At that time, SÍSIG was a kind of salad with a spicy vinegar dressing or any sour snack that included unripe mangoes or guavas. Hence the term MÁNYÍSIG ‘to snack on something sour.’ It was a delicacy once reserved for expectant mothers. It has always been difficult for pregnant women to keep down much needed nourishment in the first trimester of their pregnancy. SÍSIG, being sour, was believed to fight morning sickness and nausea that accompanies pregnancy. SÍSIG BÁBÎ ‘pork sísig’ was originally made of boiled pig’s ears and tail mixed with onions and dressed in spicy vinegar. It was believed that the cartilage in the pig’s ears and tail aid in the bone development of the child in the mother’s womb.

Sísig Púsûng Ságin (Banana Heart Sísig)

Sísig Púsûng Ságin (Banana Heart Sísig)

SÍSIG is not limited to pork or meat however. There is SÍSIG MANIBALANG KAPÁYÂ, half ripe papayas dressed in sweet and spicy vinegar; SÍSIG PÚSÛNG SÁGIN or boiled banana heart dressed in garlic, vinegar, onions and dried shrimps; SÍSIG APALIÂ, raw bitter gourd with shallots, fish sauce, pepper and vinegar. There is also SÍSIG BANGUS, steamed milkfish that has been deboned, shredded, and mixed with chopped red onion, KALAMUNDING (Citrofortunella mitis) juice, soy sauce and chili peppers; SÍSIG ÉMA, a specialty of Sasmuan, is made of steamed crab meat and crab fat with chopped onions, ASLAM SASA ‘nipa palm vinegar,’ salt and pepper; SÍSIG TALABA, a specialty of Masantol, is made with raw oysters, ginger, onions, salt, pepper and ASLAM SASA ‘nipa palm vinegar.’

In his 1960 book “Taste and Ways of a Pampango,” Mariano A. Henson of Ángeles listed four SÍSIG dish that he was familiar with: 1) SÍSIG BÁBÎ (pork sísig), 2) SÍSIG PACÛ (fresh fern sísig), 3) SÍSIG PÁRO (shrimp sísig), and 4) SÍSIG TALABA (fresh oyster sísig). However, he also mentions QUILÓ USA (raw deer) that is prepared SÍSÍG style with calamunding juice, sibúyas and lárâng inanis, in his 1964 “Pampanga and Its Towns.”

Sísig Balugbug Bábî (Pig's Ears Sísig), a.k.a. Sísig Matua (Old Style Sísig)

Sísig Balugbug Bábî (Pig’s Ears Sísig), a.k.a. Sísig Matua (Old Style Sísig) served at Hardin in Magálang.

Although SÍSIG was still very much a dish for expectant mothers in many Kapampángan homes until the early 1980s, something happened in Angeles City in the late 1960s that changed the history of SÍSIG forever. It was in Angeles City that SÍSIG was first served as pulútan, the snack that accompanies alcoholic drinks.

According to many old timers, it was in the late 1960s that dancing halls, locally known as cabaret, began appearing on Henson Street. Enterprising ambulant vendors grilled barbecue on wooden pushcarts as fish ball vendors would do today. On the carts would be rows of sauces on tall cans. Many preferred the strong sugarcane vinegar spiked with chopped shallots, chili peppers, black pepper and salt, rather than the spicy sweet American style barbecue sauce. The men who prefer the strong spicy vinegar dip for their barbecue were known as MÁNYÍSIG and their vinegar-dipped barbecue as SÍSIG.

These ambulant barbecue vendors mostly gravitated on the vacant lot at Burgos Street that was sandwiched between Henson Street and Rizal Street. It was a few walks away from the dancing hall on San Francisco Street in what is now known as Barangay Agapito del Rosario. At that time, the more enterprising of these began selling alcohol and brought tables and chairs for customers who wanted to relax and drink. To make their customers stay longer, these vendors also brought enamel plates and cutleries. They would remove the barbecued meat from their bamboo skewers and served them on these plates with the customers preferred sauces so that the customers could take their time drinking, chatting and munching tidbits of grilled meat with their preferred sauces.

The dish known as SÍSIG BARBECUE was thus born this way, mostly grilled BALUGBUG BÁBÎ ‘pig’s ears’ served on an enamel plate with the strong spicy vinegar. Often times a customer would like his grilled pig’s ears SÍSIG mixed with “Bárbekyung Spare Parts,” that is, the discarded chicken parts that these enterprising vendors collected, grilled and sold: BALUNBALÚNAN ‘chicken gizzard,’ PÚSÛ ‘chicken heart,’ PALDÉWUT ‘chicken tail’ and ATÉ MANUK ‘chicken liver.’ This became the usual SÍSIG BARBECUE mix sold by these barbecue vendors at Burgos Street.

In the late 1960s, a huge fire broke out at the railroad crossing when a train collided with a North bound passenger bus. The wooden houses and squatter shanties by the railroad on Galicano Valdez Street were razed to the ground. After the debris was cleared in the 1970s, stalls were built instead and rented out. These became drinking places that sold barbecue as pulútan. The area was simply called Crossing, after the railroad crossing at its corner.

Bápang Cadoc’s SÍSIG BARBECUE is made from finely chopped grilled pig’s ears and onions, seasoned with salt, chili peppers and KALAMUNDING juice.

Bápang Cadóc (Ricardo Dinio) of Barangay Agapito del Rosario was said to be the first on record to serve SÍSIG commercially at the Ángeles Railroad Crossing in the early 1970s. He was the owner of the first stall and rented out electricity to the other stalls since he alone had a contador ‘electric meter’ among all the stalls there at that time. According to the story, Bápang Cadóc’s regular customers were the livestock dealers from Pangasinan and Ilocos who, after selling all their merchandise in Manila, often stopped over at Angeles to have a good time before heading back to their provinces in the North. They were said to always complain that the only pulútan available in Angeles is BÁBÎ ‘pork.’ They missed their kilawên or raw goat meat in spicy vinegar, which they believed was an aphrodisiac. Bápang Cadóc convinced them that he has a pork dish that would make them forget their kilawên. He served them SÍSIG NINGNANG BALUGBUG BÁBÎ a.k.a. SÍSIG BARBECUE, which in his version was made of crunchy BALUGBUG BÁBÎ ‘pig’s ears’ which he grilled and finely chopped, mixing it with freshly chopped onions, red chilli peppers, salt, KALAMUNDING juice and a shot of ginebra. It became a hit with the Ilocano and Pangasinan merchants. Soon, even insurance agents from Manila were asking for Bápang Cadóc’s SÍSIG BARBECUE. It was only sometime that the curious locals began to wonder why Bápang Cadóc’s stall was always full and discovered his SÍSIG BARBECUE. Unfortunately, Bápang Cadóc met an untimely death in the late-1970s. It was Aling Lucing (Lucia Lagman Cunanan) in the nearby stall that absorbed Bápang Cadóc’s existing clientele. Bápang Cadoc was said to have given her his own recipe before he passed away.

A photo of Aling Lucing’s Stall at the Angeles Railroad Crossing in the late 1970s, posted by Jack Ramblin on the Facebook group “I remember Clark Airbase.”

Aling Lucing, however, decided to create her own version different from Bápang Cadoc’s. Instead of Cadoc’s usual BALUGBUG BÁBÎ ‘pig’s ears,’ Aling Lucing replaced it with the meatier BALÍNGIT BÁBÎ ‘pig’s cheeks’ for added volume. According to their story, Aling Lucing would obtain for free the discarded pig’s head at the abattoir in the former US Airforce Base at Clark. She simply called her dish SÍSIG.

At that time, Aling Lucing served SÍSIG in saucers. Her use of the meatier pig’s cheeks produced more servings than Bápang Cadoc’s use of pig’s ears. Aling Lucing however still retained much of the same process and ingredients she learned from Bápang Cadoc. She grilled the boiled pig’s cheeks and chopped them finely as Bápang Cadoc did with the grilled pig’s ears. She also retained the use of KALAMUNDING juice instead of using vinegar and the chopped sweet onions that Bápang Cadoc preferred instead of the sharp and spicy shallots used by the ambulant barbecue vendors at Burgos Street.

Aling Lucing’s innovation however has its drawbacks. Although the BALÍNGIT BÁBÎ ‘pig’s cheeks’ she replaced the BALUGBUG BÁBÎ ‘pig’s ears’ with was meatier, it also has a lot more fat. Unlike the crunchy and cartilaginous SÍSIG BALUGBUG BÁBÎ that seem to taste better even when cold, Aling Lucing’s SÍSIG made of fatty pig’s cheeks becomes unpalatable when the fat become gelatinous and slimy as it cools down.

Photo of Benedict Pámintuan (right) grilling pig’s cheeks for Sísig with her mom, Imang Lilay (left), posted by Linda Bondoc Pamintuan at “Benedict’s Sisig Kapampángan” Facebook page.

It was none other than Benedicto Pámintuan, the brother of Angeles City’s former mayor Edgardo Pamintuan, who would solve this drawback from Aling Lucing’s SÍSIG. He decided to serve it on a sizzling plate! This was the birth of the SIZZLING SISIG we know today. Imang Lilay, Benedict’s mom, owned a restaurant in Sta. Mesa, Manila where she had a collection of sizzling platters. Benedict decided to borrow these and used them for his version of SÍSIG which he initially named, SÍSIG BENEDICT. People, however, simply called it SIZZLING SÍSIG.

With Benedict’s innovation, SÍSIG would once again undergo another cultural transformation in Angeles City. Benedict Pamintuan was the first to serve SÍSIG as a family dish rather than just as a pulútan at his restaurant, “Sísig Benedict’s at Sugay’s” at the garage of his in-laws’ residence on Lakandúlâ Street in the early 1980s. Years later, he moved his restaurant to Miranda Street where the Imrex Hotel now stands.

SÍSIG also found its way to Manila in the early 1980s when Benedict’s mom, Imang Lilay, introduced his son’s dish at her restaurant in Sta. Mesa, Manila. At the same time Dan Táyag, another Angeleño, also began serving SIZZLING SÍSIG at his Trellis Restaurant in Diliman, Quezon City. Adding ATÉ MANUK ‘chicken liver’ was a Táyag innovation to the evolution of SÍSIG BÁBÎ. Dan Táyag says it was reminiscent of the 1960s SÍSIG BARBECUE with chicken “spare parts” that was popular in the 1960s at Henson and Burgos Street.

Sizzling Sisig by Aling Lucing

Not to be outdone, Aling Lucing also began serving her SÍSIG on sizzling plates at her place in Crossing. Being strategically placed at the crossroads of many travellers coming to and from Angeles City, Aling Lucing’s SIZZLING SÍSIG became popularly known even outside the city. Rumor has it that Bongbong Marcos, if not President Marcos himself, was her patron. It was said that Aling Lucing would be whisked away to the presidential palace in Malacañang where she would cook SÍSIG exclusively for Marcos and his guests. Aling Lucing undoubtedly became one of Angeles City’s icons because of her SÍSIG. Catering to a wide range of clientele for more than two decades, Aling Lucing outshone and outlasted many of her local competitors and became the undisputed “Sisig Queen.” By the 1990s, Aling Lucing’s version of SÍSIG would become the only version known to most Angeleños. Yet throughout her “reign,” many of the old time patrons still visited the by then semi-permanent barbecue stalls at the vacant lot on Burgos Street that still sold their off-the-menu SÍSIG made of grilled pig’s ears and barbecue chicken “spare parts” until the mid-1990s. Instead of calling it SÍSIG BARBECUE however, they called this version SÍSIG MATUA ‘old sisig,’ since it has long been eclipsed by the ubiquitous sizzling version.

In Barangay Santo Domingo,far away from the railroad crossing and the dancing halls, Ápung Mila (Milagros Gomez) continue to served continue to serve the old style “original” SÍSIG, which in their version is simply sliced boiled BALUGBUG BÁBÎ ‘pig’s ears’ in spicy vinegar at her restaurant, Mila’s Tokwa’t Baboy which she opened in 1989. She also has her own version of SIZZLING SÍSIG that is made of finely chopped deep fried crunchy BUNTUK BÁBÎ ‘pig’s head’ mixed with red shallots and mild green onions. Quiet and reserved, Ápung Mila did not earn the title “Sísig Queen” but she could have been a “Sísig Empress” in her own right with a strong fan base that includes a number of famous national celebrities and personalities that often visit her place to relax and enjoy authentic Kapampángan dishes quietly and incognito.

Remaining faithful to Bápang Cadoc’s recipe, his son Ronnie decided to revive Cadoc’s Sísig Barbecue in July of 2021.

In July of 2021, Bápang Cadoc’s son, Ronnie, decided to revive his dad’s SÍSIG and opened up Cadoc’s Sisig and Barbecue, remaining faithful to his dad’s simple recipe of smoke-gilled pig’s ears, onions, chilli pepper and KALMUNDING juice.


Bergaño, Diego. 1732 (reprinted 1860, English translation 2007). Vocabulario de la Lengua Pampanga en Romance. Manila: Imprenta de Ramirez y Giraudier (1860 version). English translation by Venancio Q. Samson. Angeles City, Pampanga: Holy Angel University Press.

Bergaño, Diego. (1732). [Reprinted 1860]. Vocabulario de la Lengua Pampanga en Romance. Manila: Imprenta de Ramirez y Giraudier.

Henson, Mariano A. (1960). Tastes and Ways of a Pampango. Ángeles, Pampanga: By the Author.

Henson, Mariano A. (1965). The Province of Pampanga and Its Towns: A.D. 1300-1965. [4th ed. revised]. Angeles City, Philippines: By the author.

Sources (Personal Communication):

Mayor Edgardo Pámintuan and Mrs. Herminia Pámintuan

Marco D. Nepomuceno

Dan Táyag

Cecile Yumul

Ernesto Díniô

Angela Larrica

Carol Santos Rodrigo

Ámung Samson (Venancio Samson)

Ápûng Nénâ (Eléna Limcolióc Táyag Manalóto)

Adoracion Táyag Manalóto

Maria Felicia Táyag Manalóto Pángilinan

Also recently published as:

Pangilinan, Michael. (2016). History of SÍSIG: How Angeles City Kept Reinventing a Traditional Kapampángan Delicacy. In Sálángî kó pû. July-December 2016. pp. 27-32.

Also read:

Kari (Curry) versus Kari-Kari (Curry-like).

© Copyright 2016 Siuálâ Ding Meángûbié

3 Thoughts on “History of SÍSIG: How Angeles City Kept Reinventing a Traditional Kapampángan Delicacy

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