Looking for Siargao’s Pan de Surf

Siargao is an island filled with surprises at every turn – a surf spot in front of an Oceanside cemetery, a vast mangrove forest that leads to a hidden lagoon, and a famous type of bread with a makeshift stall. Pan de surf is all the rage in Siargao, and with good reason.

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Right outside the Gonzaga household, Franklin and his wife Jennylyn set-up their homemade shop by the road, complete with a native oven that feeds of dried niyog (coconut) hulls.

The couple has been living off their special bread and their unique process of baking that it has earned them a reputation in General Luna, so much so that they were donated a signboard by a foreign patron to distinguish their ambiguous location.

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Finding pan de surf is easily an adventure. Ask the locals and they’ll point you towards the church a few streets by the Boardwalk. Once there, a few more locals will point you straight towards a distance. You just need to trust their finger pointing and walk in that direction. Keep walking until you see a crowd forming on the side of the road despite the rising temperatures from an open fire.

Constructed out of sheets of tin and beams of wood, the ingenious oven allows high heat to quickly bake the bread. In a couple of minutes, batches of golden brown dough are pulled out and placed in a basket, ready to be sold.

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Down the road, another elderly couple displays the same set-up. The owner tells me this way of cooking has been part and parcel of the island’s culture and his ancestors’ way of life.

In General Luna particularly, there are three variations of the bread. Find one stall and the fingers pointing to the next is like a trail of breadcrumbs leading to the next. It’s great fun walking around the town in search of an elusive delicacy. Be sure to try one of each:

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1. Pan de Surf
Elongated in shape and features a crisp outer shell with a soft and full interior that makes each bite more addicting.

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2. Pan de Coco
Features similar characteristics in taste and texture as the pan de surf, however, this is filled with fresh homemade coconut jam in the center, and comes in the shape of an irregular ball.

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3. Choco Lanay
Just like its counterparts, the choco lanay exhibits the same qualities after being cooked briskly in high temperatures – crusty shell with a chewy core. However, the main difference is the melted chocolate center made of tablea, thus its bittersweet flavor on the palate.

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Bea Celdran

Bea traverses through life much like her travelling and biking – impulsive and sans an itinerary. More often than not, she arrives at her destination unscathed but not without getting terribly lost in the process.

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