Who would have thought that “Pancit Malabon” would capture hearts and minds of Filipinos and has gone a long way and soar far greater heights. Like chicken-pork adobo and other known Philippine cuisine, you can see this noodle dish from Filipino gatherings not just in the Philippines but across the globe. Where there is a Filipino abroad (overseas Filipino worker/migrants), there is “Pancit Malabon or Pancit Palabok (variation).
The ingredients are simply fat rice noodles, squid, oysters, smoked fish flakes, pork cracklets, shrimps, special sauce, chicharon flakes and duck/chicken eggs laid over.
It obviously originated in the town then Tambobong Malabon Philippines (now divided into two municipalities, Navotas and Malabon). It is actually common then since the 1880s and the locals called it “pancit bame.” However, it was only at the onset of 1900’s that Manileños (primarily celebrities) discovered this authentic dish noodle variety when dropping by for food to and from location shootings. They called it “Pancit Malabon” referring to the (only) place where it is found.
The dry firm fat white noodles were made of 70% rice and 30% flour. Historically, this type of noodles were manufactured then in a particular Bulacan factory (Philippines) till to this day. The noodles where delivered to small eating sheds on the shoreline where travelers, mostly, buyers and sellers on their way to the market, wait for small boats that transport them.
The pondahan of Caligays developed into a famous and growing chain of restaurants. The nine enterprising sons and daughters of Pedro and Leonora who took it to themselves to manage the branches.
The Caligay eatery was established in 1911, was in brisk business until a few years after Second World War. It was only closed when no more Caligay clan member was enthusiastic to continue the endeavor. The Caligay thought that was the end of their “pancit bame” business.
But in 1965, Impong Inay’s grandchildren and now her great-grand children revived the old business this time in the far municipality of Marikina. Before 1965, this family was involved in fishing and patis making. No one ever thought of establishing eateries until Jose saw the potential of the residents in shoemaking, which was then an infant industry (the eldest, who became a monsignor and parish priest of Marikina). Rosa and cousin saw the need for a food booth. They established a food corner, sold “pancit bame” and thereby introduced the townspeople to the dish they started to call “Pancit ng taga Malabon.” After the fair, the residents loved the special noodle dish so much that they ordered from Rosa and cousin for special gatherings (Rosa, the only girl and foundress of Pancit ng taga Malabon chain of restaurants). Because of the food response from the people and the numerous orders, Rosa decided to open a small restaurant along the parish (side) church. Take home food were placed in native bilao of varying sizes.
As years goes by, they innovate both the ingredients and packaging. Times change but the tradition continues.
From 1966, when the first restaurant “Pancit ng taga Malabon” was opened, several branches were developed one after the other. The first branch along Aurora Boulevard corner Harvard Street came two years later in 1968. At present, they have seven (7) branches and many copied their recipe and put up their own restaurants and eateries offering this specialty dish.
Note: Photos are excerpted from Google images