Pan Bisaya is a generic term used to call native, local breads in the Visayas. I have tasted countless versions of the pan bisaya and the more genuine it is, the better it tasted for me. Lilibeth’s Pan Bisaya is very tasty, really soft dough, with just the right crunch on top, and often sold freshly baked from the pugon (clay oven) located at the side of their humble bakery.
Nang Lilibeth makes for a good story-teller. When I asked her how she came to learn how to bake bread, I was surprised by her answer (mainly because I have high regards for people who learned pan bisaya by learning it from their mothers who learned it from theirs). Nang Lilibeth learned how to make pan bisaya by observing her neighbor. She said she migrated to Mindanao when she was younger and she married there. She had Chinese bosses and learned to love eating bread because her bosses loved eating bread for breakfast. When her first husband died, she went back to Siquijor to build a new life. She brought with her her children and the habit of eating bread.
She said she spent almost PHP300 every day for bread (as of Sept. 2015, the minimum daily wage for non-agriculture workers in Siquijor is PHP295, PHP275 for agriculture, but non-sugar, workers, and PHP290 for agriculture workers). So, I deduced all her daily earnings were spent on bread. And, so she learned how to make bread.
If you ask me about genuine and authentic pan bisaya, Siquijor version, I can point you to many, but I sure would not point you to Lilibeth’s. I am not saying their breads are not delicious. They are. They are also very affordable at PHP6 per piece. When you see the family toiling together (the mother tending to the fire of the pugon, the father kneading the dough, the daughters forming the dough, and the brothers cutting wood for the oven), you could not help but be impressed and wish them all the good fortunes in life. Because, even if I think theirs is not the most authentic pan bisaya in Siquijor, theirs is a product born out of a collective desire to have a better life.