July 23, 2024

Binatog lovers of this city are mourning the death of Ben Magilao whom they have tagged as “Mr. Binatog King” for whipping up the yummiest of such Filipino fare in the city.

Magilao’s son Errol confirmed that his 53-year-old father who along with his wife Berta peddled the popular streetfood from a hole in the wall beside the Maharlika Livelihood Center died after a lingering illness at 3 a.m., June 24.

The city government led by Mayor Benjamin Magalong expressed sympathies to the Magilao family in their time of bereavement.

Errol said since September last year, the stall had operated irregularly as their family grappled with their father’s illness.

The absence of the steaming pot loaded with boiled cracked corn with toppings of grated coconut, milk, sugar and others made regular customers pine for their favorite snack and pasalubong and for Mang Ben who like his dish had become a legend in his own right.

Some took to social media asking why the store was closed and when it will open again to have another go at the flavorful concoction that they swore Mang Ben’s store alone offers.

The answer came on June 24 when a number of Facebook pages, mostly patrons of Mang Ben announced the news of his passing.

“Isu gayam, nagawidak Pinas ta mamiss ko binatog na ngem kanayon close, everyday ak mapan kitan nu nakaopen ngem awan latta. I may not be able to taste the most delicious binatog that he makes anymore but the memories of it will forever be in my tastebuds… I’m so sorry to hear such sad news, sending our condolences to the family,” one commenter expressed via The Igorot page.

Errol said their parents had run the store for more than 20 years supporting their family of six.

“Sabi nila marami naman kapareho namin ang paninda pero sa amin ang pinakamaraming pumupunta kaya kami rin ang nagtagal,” Errol recalled.

True enough, their binatog sold like hotcake evidenced by the daily queue of customers who attest to the special flavor and generous servings of toppings. Most have patronized the dessert for decades now.

“Ewan ko ba basta pag sa kanya kakaiba talaga ang lasa,” one customer quipped.

“Hindi tinipid sa gatas kaya yummiest,” another offered.

Errol said there were lag times like when they had to stop operating first for five years for some reason and again during the pandemic but they always went back to their small business.

With the loss of Mang Ben, Errol said the family has still not decided on what to make of the binatog livelihood but patrons hope that they can go back to business soon to once again dish out “Mr. Binatog King’s yummiest binatog.” – Aileen P. Refuerzo