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As a kid, I was fascinated only by three sweet confections that my mom and aunties would give me: yema, meringue, and pastillas de leche. Of the triumvirate, I would always request for pastillas de leche. It is known as a carabao milk-based product. The Spanish term means tablet of milk in English. It is much desired by kids and adults alike for its smooth and rich milky sweet taste.
We were not well-off as kids, so a typical chocolate cake could only be expected whenever someone celebrated his/her birthday which is once a year. This made pastillas de leche all the more accessible. During that time, it was normally sold in various travel terminals with buses bound for several provinces. My mom and her relatives all hail from the Quezon Province, so if it was not espasol or suman that I’d have for my snack, it would be pastillas de leche.
The origin of the soft-tasting candy is popularly known to be Bulacan. San Miguel is particularly called the pastillas country because it is where most of the variations of pastillas de leche came about. We now have pastillas de mocha, pastillas de ube, pastillas langka and pastillas manga, among others. As a matter of fact, San Miguel, Bulacan even has a Pastillas Festival which is celebrated every first week of May. The first one was done in 2006 only. It’s a 3-day festival which underscores the importance of the product in their community.
The image featured here is actually a set of pastillas de leche which I bought for Php70 from an officemate who hails from San Miguel. S’yempre ‘yung nasa picture na lang ang natira kasi ipinamigay ko na ‘yung iba sa opisina. These days, pastillas makers pack their products in gift-wrapped boxes so as to suggest the idea to the buyer that it can be given out as a gift. This, after all, is what sweet Filipino products are all about — sharing.