Queen of Iloilo siopao passed away at the age of 71.

AdChoiceTV News — Claude Yap, one of the owners of Iloilo’s iconic restaurant Roberto’s, passed away at age 71 but his legacy as the true queen of Iloilo’s siopao lives in the hearts of discriminating Ilonggo customers.

Long queues of customers waiting for their orders at Roberto’s have always been a typical sight at the busy J.M. Basa street in City Proper, Iloilo City.

On regular days, Madam Claudia, or “Daku” as friends called him, would run the cashier at Roberto’s and his loud and infectious laughter usually greets customers.

“Roberto’s was a huge part of my childhood. So sad that I won’t be able to see this happy and loud person by the cash register when I get back to Iloilo,” netizen Mark Alvin Bernaldez shared on Facebook.

Some customers remember Claude as the cheerful owner of Roberto’s who would entertain his customers with his humor and pleasing personality.

He would usually chit-chat with his customers as if he personally knows them.

“You are always remembered by your suki the way you entertained them. Kasadya gid kung ikaw ang cashier,” Genecarl Caraig shared on Facebook.

“This man has a sense of humor. I like him when he was entertaining his customers,” another netizen Marynor Caraig shared on social media.

Since 1978, one brand of siopao has stood out in Iloilo City.

Roberto’s, an old Chinese family’s restaurant, has been known for its famous huge steamed buns, meatballs, pancit, and other Ilonggo and Chinese food.

The restaurant’s iconic siopao filled with bacon, Chinese sausage, chicken and pork adobo with egg earned the title as the “King” and “Queen” of siopao in the national food map.

Since then, Roberto’s siopao has been a favorite of both locals and tourists visiting Iloilo.

Despite its success, the home-grown restaurant never branched out. The iconic restaurant remains at the JM Basa St. in City Proper.

In an interview with social media site “Humans of Iloilo,” Claude shared a piece of advice to people wanting to establish a food business in Iloilo.

“You just have to make sure with your product and if you have used the right ingredients it will also show. Di ko kilanlan mga fancy-fancy…mga ngalan-ngalan…kag mga fusion-fusion. People will get confused,” he said.

When asked about the secret ingredients, he answered while laughing out loud, “That’s why it’s secret!”

As Ilonggos mourn his sudden death, many were also quick to point that Claude was indeed Roberto’s lucky charm.

His infectious laughter, humor, and friendly personality charmed locals and other customers in a similar way that their famous siopao satisfied the taste palettes of every person who tasted it.

Through the years, Roberto’s remained an institution that shaped the culinary history of Iloilo.

The queen may have passed away but the legacy of Claude Yap will surely live on in the hearts of Ilonggos and faithful customers. — via Sean Tyler Chan

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