Latest Stories

Country Cooking

Merced Bakeshop marks 40th year–still the house of traditional baked goodies


EGG pan de sal

My mother had a soda fountain once. That was before I started writing about food. And when I did write, somehow my curiosity wasn’t stoked enough for me to ask her about the soda fountain. I regretted that oversight, especially after my mother suffered a stroke and she found it difficult to talk.

In the old days, a soda fountain was a small eating place usually in a pharmacy. It  served colas, sandwiches and ice cream. According to my sister, the ice cream in my mom’s soda fountain was delicious and imported, though she couldn’t remember the brand name.

My mother’s soda fountain was within the Merced Drug in the Free Press building along Avenida Rizal (Rizal Avenue) in Manila.

Thankfully, my ninang (godmother) who owns Merced Drug and Bakeshop, Dr. Milagros Sevilla, is, at past 90, still hale and hearty and can recount those days.

There’s a Merced Bakeshop on Edsa near the corner of Quezon Avenue in Quezon City and I have been there many times. I would stop by more often then when my boys were at nearby JASMS, their school. I would buy the excellent cake, like pan de bonete, the Spanish bread and a soft loaf with toasted crunchy bread on top. My ninang and I would make small talk; she invariably asked me about my parents.

But last week she asked me to sit down with her, ordered the newly cooked egg pan de sal that is enriched with egg yolks sandwiching kesong puti for me to taste and to wash down with great icy buko juice. She said she, with her husband, lawyer Leandro Sevilla, went out regularly with my parents scouring different restaurants in Manila, particularly in Chinatown. Sevilla regularly gave my father his injections though she can’t recall what for and guessed it must have been liver extract. The closeness made my parents choose her as my godmother. When my father had to go to the United States for his medical problems, my mother left her soda fountain to my aunt. By the time my parents came back from the US, the soda fountain had closed.

I remember my mother saying she learned how to make hamburger from her uncle, who was a short order cook in the US having gone there by stowing away on an ocean liner. Always put a little vinegar for the wonderful aroma, he advised. Sevilla smiled and said she remembered how that lured many to the soda fountain. And like my mother, she remembered the constant customers like Nick Joaquin and Leon O. Ty, who worked at Free Press, both enjoying the ice-cold beer.

Regional cuisine

Dr. Milagros Sevilla of Merced Bakeshop

Both my godmothers, Nora V. Daza and Milagros Sevilla, are into food. Is there a connection? I hope so. But while I know about Nora Daza having worked with her on two books, that snack at Merced made me think that I must have gotten my urge to know about regional cuisine and specialties from Sevilla. She goes to each and every source of all those specialties behind the glass counter like the pastillas from Bulacan, uraro from Lucena and kamote chips from Pangasinan. She goes to the provinces herself every other day in the week and can tell you where to get the best “shing-a-ling,” the crisp fried noodles with the danceable name. She said she has to see as well where those are made in order to be reassured that the place is sanitary. With excitement in her eyes she asked if I would like to go with her the next day to Lucban, Quezon, just to eat. I wish I had that same energy if ever I get to reach 90 years of age.

I like it that we are on the same page—that of preserving traditional specialties. I document it, she searches it out and sells from the best sources at her Merced Bakeshop. She has pickled dampalit, a weed that grows on the fishpond walkway (pilapil), kesong puti (our white cheese made from carabao’s milk), bagoong isda and alamang (fish and shrimp pastes).

Merced Bakeshop is named after her mother, Mercedes Daez. Sevilla opened Merced Drug Store on Sept. 24, 1952, on her mother’s birthday. The drugstore has since closed because she said pilferage couldn’t be controlled. Merced Bakeshop was inaugurated on Sept. 24, 1972. When I reminded her that it was so near the declaration of martial law, she said, yes. It seems that didn’t deter her from honoring her mother and starting this bakeshop that this year celebrates its 40th year.

E-mail pinoyfood04@yahoo.com.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Food , Lifestyle , Merced Bakeshop

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  4. This is not just a farm
  5. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  6. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  7. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  8. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  9. Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  10. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  1. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  2. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  3. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  4. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  5. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  6. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  7. France makes work beyond 6 p.m. illegal
  8. Ever heard of HydroBob?
  9. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  10. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?


  • Title of new Hillary Clinton book: ‘Hard Choices’
  • 14 killed in car bombing in Homs
  • 57-nation group plays key Ukraine monitoring role
  • French President Hollande’s top aide resigns
  • Japan to redesign Antarctic whale hunt after UN court ruling
  • Sports

  • Pacquiao shorts in Bradley fight sold for P1.7M in LA auction
  • Ryu pitches Dodgers past Giants
  • Alonso sets the pace in Chinese GP practice
  • Heat seek Three-peat but Spurs, Pacers top seeds
  • Can Spurs get back at Heat? Can they survive West?
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • EXO postpones release of mini album ‘Overdose’
  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Whoopi Goldberg debuts as marijuana columnist
  • ‘X-men’ director accused of sex assault on teen boy
  • Business

  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Oil prices mixed ahead of long Easter weekend
  • Technology

  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Filipinos #PrayForSouthKorea
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • DoH denies Filipino nurse no longer positive for MERS virus
  • WHO warns vs spread of MERS-Cov, urges vigilance in taking precautions
  • Last call for nominations to ’14 Presidential Awards
  • San Francisco business coalition slams proposed tax on sugary drinks
  • A ‘time-travel’ production of ‘Les Miserable’ at Stanford