Posted by: hoz49 | February 18, 2008

The Old Man and Titays

To Filipinos the world over  Rosquillos are a little part of home. They are small cookies (called biscuits in the Philippines) with a serrated edge and a hole in the middle, sort of like our sugar cookies except Rosquillos don’t have much if any sugar, they are much more delicate.

The Rosquillos I’ve eaten in the US usually made the trip over in a shipping container are are stale by the time they reach the nearby Oriental store. I have never gone out of my way to eat them.

If Rosquillos are a bite of home Titays is the home of the best Rosquillos. Titays is in Lilo-an north of Cebu City and south of Litos hometown, Danao. I read that all buses stop at Titays on their way north or south. Of course we were no exception on our way home from the Farm.

I was feeling a bit car sick (again) and really wasn’t sure I wanted anything to eat but got got out of the truck anyway for the air.

There was an old man at the door who I thought was a street beggar. He looked a little rough with worn dirty clothes and old sandals. I gave him the “eyebrows up” and said “good mor-ning”. He smiled back, smoking a cigarette.

Once inside I could see case after case of cookies, cakes and rolls. I also spied a refrigerator in the back that held soft drinks, so I made my way there to get a 7up for my squirming stomach.

While Fe and Lisa were shopping I saw the Old Man enter the store, take a chair to the side of the entrance, and start playing a harp! As a musician myself I have a soft spot for street buskers so I immediately dropped a 20 peso note in his empty cup and sat down for a listen .

While we were there he played three different songs, without stopping, and barely recognizing his audience. Someone would drop a coin in the cup and he might give a small nod, but he never made any gestures or facial expression. He simply stayed focused on his music.

I can’t state the names of the songs but they were all recognizable western ballads. He played without mistake and with some exaggeration, glissando’s and trills in appropriate passages. I was impressed and moved by his musicianship and dignity.

I saw this man as an unknown artist, who made his living in a hard country in an unusual way.

As we left I made sure to catch his eye and said, “salamat” for the concert and he nodded an acknowledgment.

As we joined the fray of honking, passing traffic I ate a few rosquillos and really enjoyed their taste, now that I finally had them fresh.

Not everything is as it seems here in the Philippines.



  1. hi there,
    my name is margo frasco and i am the great-granddaughter of mama ‘titay’. i am so happy you enjoyed your experience. a little history about the old man and his music, he is blind and has been coming daily to titays for the past 6 years. gracing customers with his beautiful music it is people like him and visitors such you that give us great pride in our business. i will pass on your letter to the rest of the family.

    very best,
    margo frasco

  2. I hope to return to Titays in Lilo-an before we go back to USA. I would like to take a video of the Harp player and listen again to his beautiful music. I was very impressed by his talent, and I didn’t notice he was blind.

    Of course, we will also stock up on the tasty Rosquillos for our return home!

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