Wednesday, April 10, 2013

San Bartolome Church - preparing to celebrate 400 years

San Bartolome Church is celebrating its quadricentennial next year and preparations are in full swing.  I visited the church during our Visita Iglesia this year, and found that more renovation work has been done since I was last inside it in October 2011.

To see pictures I took, please go to:  San Bartolome - preparing to celebrate 400 years

Monday, February 25, 2013

Art @ Malabon

To celebrate National Arts Month, the Art Association of Malabon presented "ART @ MALABON - Portrait Sketching Session" today at the Malabon City Hall Lobby.  The event was graced by Mayor LenLen Oreta and Mr. Nemesio Miranda of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and marks the city's participation in the Philipine Arts Festival 2013.

To view photos of the event, please go to:   Art @ Malabon

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Malabon starts off the year in style

Finally.  Some of Malabon's beautiful heritage houses debut in a coffee table book that chronicles the unique architectural history of the Philippines --"Philippine Style - Design & Architecture"  by Luca Tettoni and Elizabeth V. Reyes.

Image from Arkitekturang Filipino Facebook page

A chapter in the book, "Malabon Art Nouveau Gems," features the beautiful, well-preserved interiors of the Martinez, Borja-Roxas and Chikiamco ancestral houses.  The ancestral house of the Santos-Andres clan is also included.

To welcome the coming-out of our hometown's heritage gems in a prestigious publication, the Parokyanong Malabon in cooperation with Anvil Publishing held a soft launch and book signing on January 11, 2013 at Pescadores Restaurant.  Entitled "Ma'arteng Malabon: A tribute to Malabon ancestral houses" the event was graced by Mayor Len Len Oreta, author Ms. Elizabeth Reyes, heritage house-owners and prominent residents of the city.

Parokyanong Malabon is composed of Atty. Ramon Lucas, Archt. Richard Bautista, Terry de Jesus and Leona Nepomuceno.  Their group has been spearheading culture & heritage promotion activities in Malabon for the past many years.

Being included in this book on Philippine Style is a huge step in putting Malabon on the heritage map of the Philippines where it rightfully belongs.  And last Friday's event launching the book in Malabon is an auspicious beginning for the year for our hometown's heritage promotion efforts. "Metro Manila's hidden gem" is hidden no more.

Malabon has started off the year in style and we can look forward to more exciting things to come!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Rufina Patis: very much a part of Malabon heritage

It's not a structure, landmark or person.  Nor a tradition, event or work of art.

But it is an institution in itself, and a part of Malabon heritage:

RUFINA PATIS -- that golden amber fish sauce first discovered by a housewife from Malabon that has been turning Pinoy dishes into delectable culinary experiences here and abroad for more than a century.

(Image from the RUFINA PATIS Facebook page )


Rufina Salao vda. de Lucas was said to have discovered patis in 1900.  She was a fish dealer, and like others during those days when there was no refrigeration yet, she was looking for ways to preserve fish especially during the summer when fish was abundant. She would make bagoong for her family by mashing fish and salt and storing the mixture in earthen jars.  She soon discovered that the raw mixture secreted a juice that was much clearer than the bagoong mash.  After experimenting in the family kitchen, she found that the juice blended well with our native dishes, bringing out and enhancing the flavor of the dish.

Thinking that people might like the delicious fish sauce, Mrs. Lucas decided to produce the liquid in commercial quantity.  She began with an initial capital of 50 pesos and a number of earthen jars housed in a nipa hut.

A sketch depicting the beginnings of RUFINA PATIS in 1900 (From a frame in the RUFINA PATIS office).

Other housewives in Malabon and adjacent towns soon picked up on Mrs. Lucas' discovery and began producing patis as well.

Before 1941, when the demand for patis began to really pick up, Mrs. Lucas had to discard the earthen jars and began using large wooden barrels, which were discovered to provide for natural filtration, resulting in a much clearer product free from impurities.

After the war, with the demand getting bigger, the wooden barrels were likewise discarded and replaced by concrete vats.  Production stepped up, and distribution became more diversified, with groceries and supermarkets beginning to stack up their shelves with RUFINA PATIS.

To meet the increased demand, the first processing and bottling plant of RUFINA PATIS was put up at C. Arellano Street in 1957.

In 1958 when her son Jesus S. Lucas went to the United States, he realized the huge potentials of exporting the product to the US particularly in places with big Filipino communities.  After submitting many samples to the Federal government, RUFINA PATIS passed the very stringent requirements on food imports and was authorized to be sold in the American market.

In 1968, RUFINA PATIS inaugurated its second processing and bottling plant on Bonifacio Steet corner Naval. With this plant, the company more than doubled its production output. 

Mrs. Lucas received the BWAP award from President Carlos P. Garcia for her "vision, ingenuity, industry, leadership and determination."  She was presented the top award posthumously by the Philippine Marketing Association in 1966 for her "exemplary work in elevating a common domestic product to a level that has gained acceptance in the Philippines and in foreign countries and for providing an inspiring example of a total marketing success."  The Lions Club of Malabon also honored her in 1968 for her notable contribution in the field of home industry.

Mrs. Lucas passed away in 1961 and Mr. Jesus Lucas took over as General Manager of the company.

The old RUFINA PATIS bottle  (From a laminated picture in the RUFINA PATIS office).

A 1968 ad of RUFINA PATIS with a sketch of its founder, Mrs. Rufina Salao vda. de Lucas  (From clippings in the Malabon City Library).

The second RUFINA PATIS processing and bottling complex located at Bonifacio Street corner Naval, said to be the biggest and most modern automated fish sauce plant in the country at that time.  (Photo from The Manila Times, March 27, 1968).


From its modest beginnings in the kitchen of an enterprising housewife in 1900, RUFINA PATIS has become a byword in homes and restaurants over the years.  As front runner in the fish sauce industry in the Philippines, it has continued to develop its product scientifically while maintaining rigid quality control.  This dedication to quality has made RUFINA PATIS very popular not only locally but also in Europe, Canada, Hongkong, Australia, Middle East and the Mainland USA, where it it is currently being exported regularly.

RUFINA PATIS has become an institution in itself.  With its distinguished history going back to more than one hundred years, RUFINA PATIS has become an iconic home-grown product, and very much a part of Malabon's heritage that we can be proud of.

The RUFINA PATIS plant on Bonifacio corner Naval Streets today.

RUFINA PATIS factory on C. Arellano Street.  The traditional Easter Sunday "Salubong" (Meeting) of Mary and the Risen Christ is held in front of this building.  Behind the factory is the Malabon River, where the annual pagoda (fluvial procession) sponsored by the Lucas Family is held every December 9 in honor of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

Interesting display at the RUFINA PATIS office:  a display of all their competitors' products.  Even more interesting: their biggest competitor is not any of the other brands -- it's the fake RUFINA PATIS !


290 C. Arellano Street
Malabon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Tel. Nos. (632) 281.6230-32
Fax No. (632) 281.5636

1.  Various articles in The Manila Times, March 27, 1968 issue (From the Malabon City Library).
2.  "Salao Lucas, discoverer of Rufina Patis," by Sol H. Gwekoh, The Manila Times, September 23, 1968.
3.  Rufina Patis flyer (2011).