The Art of Bulacan Pastillas Wrapper Making (also known as "Pabalat" or "Borlas de Pastillas")

Bulacan Pastillas wrapper pabalat

There are many versions of pastillas in the Philippines. But what sets apart the pastillas in Bulacan is how they wrap it in wonderfully made pastillas wrappers or locally called pabalat or borlas de pastillas. Through the years the "pabalat" making in Bulacan has transformed from a local, folk tradition into a popular art. I consider it a tedious art and perhaps a labor of love as it requires patience in making it.

Bulacan Pastillas wrapper pabalat

In Bulacan, they have been known to wrap their pastillas in colorful and intricately designed paper wrappers or pabalat made of Japanese paper. Fiestas are not complete without these elaborate paper-cut pastillas wrappers often used as decoration, table centerpieces as well as souvenirs. Luz Ocampo, now on her 80's learned the craft at the age of 11 in her hometown of San Miguel. It was used to be taught in schools as part of their home economics class. But it slowly diminished, and only a few were left to continue it. One of them is Nanay Luz.

Bulacan Pastillas wrapper pabalat

She gets inspiration of her designs from nature. It ranges from bahay kubo, rice fields, farmers, flowers, Maria Clara to landscapes and figures. She can also custom-made designs depending on the request of the client. She now has so many design patterns which were all patented.

Bulacan Pastillas wrapper pabalat

During our Bulacan Food Tour 2014 last weekend, we were fortunate to meet Nanay Luz' daughter, Ate Naty. She's one of the few to learn the craft. She told us that her mother won't be able to meet us as she's already old.

Bulacan Pastillas wrapper pabalat

Ate Naty told us that it is her mother who taught her how to make the pabalat. She also shared to us how to do it. First, is she trace the design on the paper. After tracing, the tedious part comes in - the cutting. This part takes minutes to hours depending on how fast you can cut through those tiny and elaborate designs.

Bulacan Pastillas wrapper pabalat

Each set is composed of 4-5 pastillas wrappers.

Bulacan Pastillas wrapper pabalat

I was fortunate to try how to do it. She gave me a paper with an already traced design, the she taught me how to cut it with a tiny scissors. It was not easy. It takes a lot of patience and precision to perfectly cut each pattern. But I'm very happy to have tried it. I love it! The experience is very therapeutic!

Bulacan Pastillas wrapper pabalat

Due to time constraints, I was not able to finish it. But here's my (not so) finished pastillas wrapper. I'm so proud of it! Isn't lovely?

Bulacan Pastillas wrapper pabalat

These pastillas wrapped in pabalat have also become popular gifts and pasalubong among local tourists and balikbayans visiting the province of Bulacan.

So, if you wish to learn how to do it or to order pastillas wrappers, you may contact:

Ocampo's Specialty Products

"Makers of Borlas de Pastillas and Inukit na Dayap"

Contact Person: Naty Ocampo-Castro
Address: 83 Inang Wika St. Caniogan, Malolos, Bulacan
Telephone Numbers: (044) 791-5657 / 0999-1898827 / 0922-8611379
E-mail Address: mnocastro@yahoo.com

Bulacan Pastillas wrapper pabalat

This is part of Bulacan Food and Heritage Tour 2014 that happened on May 10-11, 2014. Thank you to Malolos City Tourism Office for introducing us to Ms. Naty Ocampo.



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Ramil Delos Reyes said...

Thanks Pinoy Adventurista for featuring the art of Pabalat-making in Bulacan. We can see that this art is now being revived and appreciated by the present generation. Thanks to blogs like yours :-)

Cai LipstickandChopsticks said...

I've always wanted to learn how to do that! Does Nanay have a patter book or something?

Cai LipstickandChopsticks said...


Pinoy Adventurista said...

yeah, she has patterns (which according to Ate Naty) are all patented.. :)

Ria Jose said...

I've always wondered how they did that. Amazing!

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