Why La Torta de Argao is a Must When Visiting Southern Cebu

May 20, 2022 Travel

Every municipality or city in the Philippines is has its own specialty when it comes to food. In Argao, a coastal municipality located in the southeastern part of Cebu, visitors find their famous torta especially tasty.  

Torta in Spanish means cake. But where I grew up, torta means omelet. The most popular variety is made with a combination of egg and eggplant. In Spain, torta means flatbread. It is also a type of sandwich in Mexico. In Argao, a torta is a spongy cake slightly bigger than a cupcake.

La Torta de Argao


La Torta de Argao has its origins way back to the Spanish colonial period. Back then, building contractors used egg whites to cement coral stones together. Of course, the Argaoanons did not let the egg yolks go to waste. So, tortas were invented. The people of Argao are so proud of their torta that they even have an event for it titled “La Torta Festival.”


During the recent Southern Cebu Jubilee Churches Tour, which I was fortunate enough to join, we spent an afternoon with Argao’s queen of torta, Ma’am Jessie Magallones of Jessie’s Homemade Torta.

Ma'am Jessie


It was a very fun and lively afternoon, and Ma’am Jessie was the perfect pick-me-up after a morning packed with activities and a filling lunch of seafood. She welcomed us like we were long lost relatives she missed so much.


Ma’am Jessie used to only bake her torta for family members. But then, orders started pouring in and now she has a popular homebased business. It was her mother who introduced her to torta making and now she is passing the knowledge on to her family. 


Before her cooking demonstration, she made sure each one of us first tried her ice candy. I knew that Argao is also famous for its sikwate or hot chocolate, so I tried the one made of tableya or ground-up cacao beans. I was afraid it would be sweet because I am not really a fan of sweets but Ma’am Jessie’s tableya was not. It was rich, nutty, and I could still taste the bitter flavor of chocolate. 


After relaxing a bit and enjoying those tasty treats, we walked to her cooking area to see a demonstration of how she makes her famous torta.


Torta, as mentioned above, is made with egg yolks, margarine, milk, and sugar. But what makes Ma’am Jessie’s torta really special, aside from using only fresh ingredients, are tuba or traditional coconut wine and lard. These give her torta that distinct taste. 


The best is baboy. Mantika sa baboy. (The best is pork. Oil from pork),” she exclaims. 


Ma’am Jessie gets her lard from Carcar, a neighboring town known for its lechon and chicharron or fried pork rinds.  Earlier that day, we gorged on these Carcar specialties together with puso or hanging rice. 


The Southern Cebu Jubilee Churches Tour, organized by the Department of Tourism Central Visayas (DOT7) and the Archdiocese of Cebu, is as more of a food tour than it is a pilgrimage. We had breakfast buffet at Quest hotel; seafood lunch at Maayo Argao Resort; dinner at a fund raiser in Boljoon, complete with entertainment. At Ging Ging Resort in Oslob we enjoyed a plated breakfast; then traditional delicacies sinakol, tinumpi, and palagsing in Ginatilan. We also had a boodle fight in Badian; snacks at Unchuan Farm in Barili; and capped all that off with dinner at Parilya Restaurant in Cebu City. 


Back to Ma’am Jessie’s torta, aside from using traditional ingredients, she also uses a traditional cooking method.


Her tortas are cooked in ovens heated by coconut husks. In normal weather, its takes Ma’am Jessie four hours to bake her torta. During the rainy season, cooking takes longer, around six to eight hours.

According to Ma’am Jessie, several torta bakers now use modern ovens and yeast for leavening. Some also use commercial oil.  This is why Jessie’s Homemade Torta is the best place to go for that authentic La Torta de Argao taste.

After our cooking demonstration, we of course, had a taste of her tortas, and we paired them with sikwate

Our tour organizers also made sure we each had a box of those delicious tortas to take back home to our families and friends.

For those interested, Jessie’s Homemade Torta is located at Barangay Canbanua, Argao Municipality, Cebu. 


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