ILONGGO FOOD (cuisina ilongga)

By Charity Fernandez*


            “Nay gusto ko magsud-an sang utan na puti iya sabaw”, a young Ilonggo girl remarked. As April Rose, who is now nineteen years old and lives in La Paz, Iloilo City reminisced her childhood days, she used to say those words when referring to one of her most favorite dishes. Therefore, in deciphering the dish she was asking for, I have come to think about a dish with gata or coconut milk. It actually best fits the description. The dish that young April had craved for was utan nga tambo.

Tambo is the Ilonggo term for bamboo shoots while labong is the tagalog term. Sometimes the term tambo refers to the dish itself because tambo is the signature ingredient of this classic Ilonggo sud-an or viand. However, for a more detailed description, the dish is oftentimes called utan nga tambo in order to emphasize that what is wanted is tambo with vegetables rather than referring to other dishes such as Atchara nga Tambo or Tambo with Bagongon-telescope shells.

These fresh bamboo shoots come from the farms and mountains of Iloilo. Right after summer, at the end of May, new bamboo shoots sprout from the main bamboo plant especially when the rainy season starts to unfold. This is what rural folks refer to as “tigtarambo or season for bamboo shoots. Thus, tambo can be bought cheapest during this season. Therefore, you could find it in public markets in Iloilo, for only ten pesos per kilo.

However, whenever tambo is already out of season-starting from the months of August and September-its price from ten pesos per kilo doubles.
Utan nga tambo can be cooked in different ways and with varying ingredients. I discovered through my interviews that the choice on whether what ingredients to be used depends on one’s preferences and social status. For instance, the simplest tambo recipe only has the following ingredients: tambo, coconut milk, okra or tugabang (saluyot leaves) and bagoong. Moreover, the regular tambo recipe includes shrimps and does not include bagoong. Finally, the ultimate tambo recipe would consist of tambo, coconut milk, crabs or  even alimango, okra and tugabang (saluyot leaves) or takway.

Furthermore, unlike KBL (kadios-baboy-langka), utan nga tambo is not served during fiestas or other special occasions. This is because the production of tambo is seasonal. And perhaps, Ilonggos just do not see it as something they usually serve in fiestas-something that is more appropriate for ordinary days.

Hence, these variations of recipes of utan nga tambo, which somehow depends on social status and ones’ preferences, only prove the versatility and resourcefulness of Ilonggos to adapt to different life situations.

Tambo Recipe

To be able to cook tambo, you will need the following:
• Tambo or bamboo shoots
• 1 coconut to produce the pure and the diluted Coconut Milk or “gata”
• onions (sibuyas)
• “Subak”
-bagoong- for the simplest recipe
-shrimps or pasayan – for the regular recipe
– 3 crabs or alimango- for the ultimate recipe
• leaves
-tugabang (saluyot leaves) – for the simplest recipe
-okra or takway- for the regular and for the ultimate recipe (or it could be a combination of the three)
• corn-for the ultimate recipe

How to cook:
1.) Blanch tambo, then when done, squeeze until dry; or you could squeeze it with salt.
2.) Cook tambo with diluted coconut milk.
*you can add your “subak”, however, if you’re going to use shrimps add it five minutes before the dish will be finally cooked
3.) Add seasoning. Add onions.
4.) Add the leaves.
5.) Then, when the dish is finally cooked, add the pure coconut milk.

The dish is now ready to be served.


*Charity Fernandez did this feature last year.She’s now a junior at UPV Miagao. 















*by Gemini Marie C. Arrojo & Portia Pauleth O. Pancho

Portia and I were sitting on a long, old bench along the Sapa bridge beside Portia’s boarding house. We were watching the children with drops of sweat all over their faces playing under the heat of Mr. Golden sun. While having our little conversation, Manong June interrupted. I didn’t know if we were going to call him Manong or Manang but he prefers to called “sister”. He asked us to buy his nilugaw. Nilugaw is a native delicacy that is made from ground sticky rice, sugar, coconut milk, purple yam, banana, sweet potato and bilog-bilog (balls made from ground sticky rice). In Antique, our home province, we call nilugaw as palutaw.

The sweet aroma and the bilog-bilog tempted us to buy from “Sister” June even if we had just eaten our lunch. We never expected that our mouth could water so much. At that time, it made us homesick since Antique is 35 miles away from Miag-ao. It reminded us again of our happy childhood memories.

I still remember those times when my late grandmother used to cook palutaw whenever I celebrated my birthday. Palutaw was always on the top food items for every special occasion in our house. Granny was really a good cook of native delicacies.

She would also cook palutaw in the afternoon before I had my nap. I hated to sleep because I wanted to play. I was a naughty girl so lola used this line “Ang di magturog hindi pagtugruan kang palutaw.” (For those who will not sleep, they will not be given palutaw.) Since I love palutaw I will force myself to sleep. There were times that I could not sleep, so I would just close my eyes and pretend that I was sleeping. Imagine lying in bed for two hours? It was agony! Lola really knew how to tame a naughty girl like me.
As to Portia, palutaw reminded her of her aunt who cooked it during Sundays. Portia would put the palutaw inside the refrigerator. She loves to eat it when it is cold. She told me how she started to like eating palutaw. Kay kato kang gamay ko hindi gid ako parakaun kang palutaw. Pero natandaan ko kato kang grade four ko guid man. Pag-uli ko gutom-gutom gid ko, ti nakita ko ang palutaw sa ref. Biskan di ako hilig magkaon kara, ginkaun ko na lang wara man ko bi ti choice mu. That time, ridto ko lang naapreciate kag nanamitan kang palutaw. Amu man to ang reason nga nanami-an ko magkaun kung ramig ang palutaw.” (When I was young, I was not fond of eating palutaw. I started to love it when I was in grade four. I remember that time when I got home from school, I was starving. I looked for food in the ref but only to find a bowl of palutaw. I had no choice but to eat it. That time, I started to appreciate this native delicacy. In fact, until now I love to eat it that way.)

Now that we’re in the University, we couldn’t eat palutaw as often. So Portia and I decided to make our own palutaw specialty since we really missed eating it. Moreover, we got challenged by this research for Hum 1.

First, we interviewed three experts’ palutaw makers to know the ingredients and procedure as well as their cooking secrets. Each of our interviewees uses some kind of technique to make his/her palutaw more special.

Manang Delia, who sells palutaw in our homewtown, San Jose, adds strips of langka (jackfruit) for a sweet smell. Manang Diday, who is my relative, adds plenty of gata to make her palutaw creamy. The ingredients being added depend on the availability of fruits and root crops.

As to Sis June, a Miagwanon, “Ang sekereto kang manamit nga palutaw is love. Patas man ra kang mag-alaga kang bata. Kailangan mo storyahan, kantahan kag mga kaechuzan para nami magbahul” (The secret ingredient for a delicious palutaw is love. Cooking a palutaw is like nurturing a child who needs a little storytelling,, singing, and other creative means to get them to eat.) Talking to a food sounds funny. But when we had adopted Sister June’s technique, we are telling you: it is very effective.

So now, we proudly present to you Gemini & Portia’s Palutaw.

4 pcs. of ube (purple yam)
6 pcs. of saging (banana)
5 pcs. of kamote (sweet potato)
1/2 kilo of wash sugar
1 kilo of ground pilit (grind sticky rice)
1 piece of grated niyog nga butong (young coconut)
6 cups of gata (coconut milk)
1 ½ cup of sago
1 ½ cup of vanilla
5 cups of water

1. First make bilog-bilog. Moisten the 1/4 kilo of ground sticky rice until it sticks together. Roll it into ¼ inch balls.
2. Boil 5 cups of water. When it comes to a vigorous boil, drop the bilog-bilog gently. Stir it occasionally so it will not stick to the bottom. Stir till cooked.
3. Add the other ingredients like the saging, kamote, grated niyog nga butong and ube.
4. While waiting for the ingredients to cook, dissolve the remaining pilit in 3 cups of water.
5. Pour the ground pilit with water when the ingredients are already cooked, Continue stirring.
6. Add sugar to sweeten the taste and vanilla to add the sweet aroma.
7. Lastly, stir in the gata.

Our mouth watered while cooking our masterpice. After all the stirring, our palutaw was ready. We could hardly speak a word when we were eating it. It’s very delicious. We are not exaggerating here! It’s really nice to eat the bilog-bilog. It was fun chewing them.

Palutaw is very easy to cook. It does not require skills, creativity or even talent. You don’t need to study its recipe, just memorize the steps by your heart and learn to appreciate every single spoonful of it. You can make your own mouth-watering palutaw. We had our nice and fun experience. It’s really nice to eat especially if you are the ones who cook it.

Namit gid!



Gemini Marie Arrojo is half-Negrense and half-Antiqueña but she spends mostly of her life in Antique. Reading novels and inspirational books is her passion. She is an avid fan of a writer named Jessica Zafra.
Portia Pauleth Pancho is a proud Protestant. She is an anime addict and she loves to watch Yakitate Japan anime which means “freshly baked”. Currently taking up BS Food Technology in the University of the Philippines in the Visayas (she loves to eat but doesn’t know how to cook).

By Genevieve Caberte*

Eating is absolutely my passion. Well, I’m pretty much aware that I’m getting bigger, but I don’t think it’s a big deal. When I was at my highest pitch of craving for food, the word diet abruptly left my dictionary. I love to hear the growls and the knocks in my stomach. Whenever I can see food, my mouth will start to water and I begin to imagine how it will slowly catch the wants of my taste buds.

For 17 years of living in Negros Occidental, a place where sweetness never runs out given that it contributes to the country’s sugar industry is a great blessing. I love eating sweets and knowing that Negros Occidental is best known for panyam-is (dessert) with intense sweetness, no surprise I have so many great reasons why I love my hometown so much. Eating such delicacy not just satisfies my appetite; it also makes me feel the sweetness of my fellow Negrense. My ultimate favorite is kalamay hati.

Kalmay hati is a native kakanin or rice cake. It is made from ground sticky rice, sugar, mascubado, coconut milk and sesame seeds. It is brownish in color; it is very sticky that you will almost spend your whole time chewing it.

Kalamay hati is quite similar to the Calamay of Leyte and Bohol. Calamay, according to my friend Melanie who lives in Leyte, is less sticky than the kalamay hati. I guess that’s the very reason why our kalamay hati stands out. The unique characteristic of the kalamay hati in Negros, that is being very sticky, will make you enjoy eating it as you spend a long time chewing it, savoring its sweetness, as it sticks to your teeth.

When we were kids, my siblings fondly referred to the kalamay hati as snot because it has similar consistency. You know…kids. But come to think of it, kalamay hati is actually very delicious.

Oddly, my family enjoys kalamay hati as our breakfast almost every day. I used to accompany mama and papa to the nearby Burgos market every 4 in the morning to buy our food and native coffee. Although it was an everyday routine, it’s an exciting day for me.

Upon reaching the market, I would rush to Tatay Liroy, our favorite market vendor and get a pack of kalamay hati he always reserved for me. Tatay Liroy would always enjoy looking at me licking the kalamay hati as they stuck around my fingers. I would slowly enjoy it as if I’m counting the time my mouth opens and closes. Kalamay hati is actually sold with a cute plastic spoon but my family will enjoy eating it using our fingers, licking it because it is a lot easier and enjoyable too.
Oh, well it’s good to reminisce all those moments when we laughed at each others faces whenever the kalamay hati stuck on our faces down to our shirts.

Although our new home is far from Burgos market, and the routine of buying it every morning had changed, we always find chances that we can have it at least once a week because yes, until now we still crave for it.

During the holiday season of 2007, I spent my vacation in Tobao, Rizal, San Enrique Negros Occidental. San Enrique is 30 km away from Bacolod City. I was so surprised that this ordinary trip would make me fall in love even more with kalamay hati. In this place I met Nong Ontoy, my auntie’s friend who happens to be the supplier of the famous Bong-Bongs pasalubong center in Negros Occidental.

Nong ontoy loves to cook kalamay hati and I love to eat kalamay hati: a terribly perfect combination. I didn’t miss the chance of having a conversation with him as well as watching him cook the kalamay hati. Well. For the last 17 years, I just enjoyed eating this delicacy but I haven’t had the chance of actually seeing how it is cooked. I was so excited, imagining making it myself. I thought at first it was just very easy to prepare. After seeing the whole cooking session of Nong Ontoy, I realized that all the hard work put into the making of this delicacy was another reason for its sweetness. (I will tell you later why.)

Well I know that many of us wonder why such delicacy is named kalamay hati.. According to Nong Ontoy as told by some elders in Sn Enrique, the name originated from the way the kalamay hati was originally packaged.

Kalamay hati is traditionally put inside a whole paya (a pair of smoothened coconut shell) that are sealed shut by a characteristic band of red tape to emphasize that the paya is cut in half .The kalamay (sugar) refers to what is inside the paya plus hati, meaning half because literally when you open the paya the kalamay will separate.

In Banago, Negros Ocidental the vendors still sells kalamay hati in this traditional packaging. One vendor said that the essence of kalamay hati is in its traditional packaging. They sell the kalamay hati in this kind of packaging for Php 30.

On the other hand, Nong Ontoy does a different packaging. He uses plastic cups and containers instead of the paya. He said that this kind of packaging is easier and the customers of Bong-Bong’s are comfortable buying it in cups or bigger containers than carrying the whole paya.

I listed the ingredients as well as the procedures on how to cook kalamay hati during the cooking session of Nong Ontoy. I hope that you will enjoy cooking my favorite delicacy (perhaps to become your favorite too)


2 kilos of pilit (sticky or glutinous rice used in rice cakes)
6 kilos of brown sugar
1 kilo of mascobado
½ kilo of sesame seeds for toppings (optional)

(This recipe can fill 40-42 pcs. of 250 ml plastic containers*)


• First. You need to wash the pilit. Make sure you wash it thoroughly. Put the pilit in a bowl and add some water (use the proportions you have with an equivalent amount of rice; for this recipe, you can use 1 ½ to 2 cups of water)

• The next step is to galling or to grind the pilit.

• The ground pilit is now ready to be mixed with the coconut milk (stir this mixture consistently for 45 mins.)
• After 45 mins., add the combined mascobado and brown sugar. Stir this mixture continuously for 45 minutes.

• The kalamay hati is now ready to serve. You can sprinkle the sesame seeds as toppings

I know it’s never that easy to cook such delicacy. You will most likely end up with muscle aches in your shoulder because you need to stir it for 60 full minutes! As the kalamay hati gradually becomes stickier and stickier, the harder it is to stir it. Nong Ontoy had actually developed muscles because of this .Though its hard to cook kalamay hati, the enticing aroma plus the delicious taste will made you forget your aching muscles. Sorry if I make you crave for it, but I can’t help to share this. As I tasted Nong Ontoy’s specialty, served hot, sticky and sweet…I could almost die, that I almost kissed him for such very delicious kalamay hati. “Amu gid na basta negros..aton gid ang pinakanamit nga kalamay hati,” (Of course, this is Negros..We have the most delicious kalamay hati.), he proudly told me.

Kalamay hati often reminds me of all the old good memories of my childhood. I will never get tied of craving for it and I still love sharing it with my family.

Kalamay hati had always been one of the reasons why we, the Negrense live with the spirit of sweetness.

All about me*

* Genevieve G. Caberte. 17. Barangay Handumanan, Bacolod City, Negros Occidental. Broadcasting Communications student at UPV. 092071093720.
* Hobbies: eating, reading, engaging in spiritual activities
* Motto: Hakuna Matata
* Affiliations: Jehovah’s witnesses
* Dream: to be an evangelizer

By: Benson D. Panaguiton*

Everybody likes sweets. I myself like sweets. That is why it was not hard for me to appreciate the taste of bandi.

Bandi is a delicious candy made of peanuts and caramelized sugar. My Antiquena grandmother likes to make bandi for us. She is not a famous bandi-maker but still she can create delicious bandi for her grandchildren.

Certain towns in Antique are famous for bandi. For the neighboring province of Iloilo, the bandi capital is the town of San Joaquin specifically Barangay Qui-anan.

From the town of Miag-ao where I study, I traveled 30 minutes going to Qui-anan. While riding on a bus going to Qui-anan I asked many passengers about the bandi shops in San Joaquin. “There are a lot of shops there in San Joaquin” they said, “but we think the store of Marlyn produces a good quality of bandi”.

From this informal interview, I learned from the 26 out of the 44 in the bus that one shop stands out among the rest, Marlyn’s. There I met the owner of Reymart Store–Manang Marlyn who inherited the bandi business from her grandmother.

Their products have already reached Saudi Arabia and Brunei . “Because of bandi I have finished my studies. What we are now is because of bandi,” she said.

I met Manang Marlyn’s employee Manang Belen – the bandi maker. Since Grade 3, she was already making bandi to earn money for her studies. “We live because of it, ”, she said. “…Being a bandi-maker for about 40 years is a difficult task; I have to work with determination in order to make good bandi.

I saw Manang Belen make a batch. She offered me one to taste. Delicious! Her bandi was more delicious than other bandi I’ve tasted. Manang Belen used fresh native or bisaya peanuts and sesame seeds. Maybe it also had to do something with Manang Belen’s technique.

Here is the recipe on how to make homemade bandi.

BANDI Ingredients:

1 cup native peanuts

¼ cup water

1 cup sugar

¼ cup sesame seeds

Materials: Plastic cover (the one used for wrapping books)

Frying pan or wok


1.Mix 1 cup of peanuts, 1 cup of sugar and water in the frying pan.

2.Heat and stir for about 15 minutes for the sugar to caramelize and for the peanuts to be cooked.

3.While waiting, wipe some oil on a plastic cover.

4.Remove the frying pan from the heat and pour the caramelized peanuts onto the plastic cover. While wet form into flat round shapes.

5.Leave to harden and dry.

The mani or peanuts, the main ingredient in making bandi are proudly San Joaquin-grown by the bandi makers themselves. They have little peanut farms in Quianan.

In the old method of making bandi – the saha sang saging (a layer of banana trunk) serves as the tray for the bandi to dry. They use these saha because these contain moisture that enables the bandi to dry immediately after cooking. These days, however, they’ve opted for the plastic wrapper for convenience.

Known for their bandi industry, the Municipality of San Joaquin is the “Bandi Capital of Western Visayas”. It even celebrates the “Adlaw Kang Bandi” as one the highlights of their Bayluhanay Festival. This event aims to pay tribute to the bandi makers of San Joaquin. Lately, the San Joaquin created for the record the biggest bandi so far, with the surface area of 140.65 square meters or the size of two classrooms. Wow!


*This is Benson, our Quianan bandi guy.  He’s a biology student at UPV.


By Christian Bondoc*

I was just thirteen when my mom who was (and still is) the Municipal Health Officer of the Municipality of Zarraga brought the whole family to the annual Pantat Festival celebrated in the said municipality. As we were approaching the place, I observed that a lot of pantat vendors were found almost everywhere in the plaza. Aside from the fact that I was amazed by the relatively big number of pantat vendors in the plaza, it was also my first time to go to this Pantat Festival.

 Fast forward to noon time of that day. It was lunch time and our stomachs were craving for something so we had to eat. We had pantat inasal together with rice. It was again a first for me to eat the dish and I liked it. From that day on, my interest in pantat grew and I just had to know more about cooking it – especially because I like to cook as well.

To help me discover the secrets of pantat and why Zarraga is so popular for it, I conducted an interview with Mrs. Nelida Octaviano, my aunt and a Zarraganhon.  She showed me how to cook pantat and I surely learned a lot of things from the interview.

First thing I learned is that pantat is commonly prepared as inasal. The fish is marinated and then grilled. Before, the people would use soy sauce and garlic as marinate for the pantat. Recently however, they’ve found out that just by simply rubbing salt on the catfish, the inasal nga pantat is crispier and more delicious. No more need for marinating with soy sauce and garlic.

Aside from grilling, ginat-an is also another delicious way of preparing pantat. Although a little bit harder to prepare, this way of preparing pantat is one of my favorites.

I also learned that pantat is raised not only in Zarraga but also in other places in Panay such as Sta. Barbara and Roxas. However, people from Zarraga claim their pantat as the best since it is juicier and softer to chew. This is evident when the Zarraga pantat is grilled since it juices more compared to the pantat raised in other places. The people believe that the composition of the soil in Zarraga produces a better-tasting pantat.

The pantat being bred in Zarraga nowadays is not anymore the native pantat which used to live in the place. The said native pantat fertilized naturally and only a few eggs would hatch. With the increasing demand for the fish, the slow reproduction rate resulted to its gradual disappearance. The native pantat, which according to my interviewee was a more delicious one, was then replaced by the African pantat and Taiwan pantat.

The owners of Bambi Hatchery in Zarraga were the first ones to bring the new varieties to the place more than ten years ago. Soon, the people of Zarraga  started to culture the new varieties of pantat. The ovary of the female would be mixed with the sperm of the male to hatch new fish.

The new varieties of pantat are also the same ones grown in other parts of Panay. Knowing that the varieties are the same in the different parts of Panay, it can be concluded that something in Zarraga makes the Zarraga pantat unique from the rest. With a little help from science, the people’s belief on the effect of the soil quality on the fish may be confirmed.

Although my family is now based in Jaro, Iloilo City, my fun and very educational adventure in the Municipality of Zarraga would keep me coming back to the place to have my self satisfied with the goodness of PANTAT. Count on that!




Ginat-an Nga Pantat

This recipe given to me by Mrs. Nelida Octaviano shows the usual way the people of Zarraga would cook ginat-an nga pantat.


 A. Ingredients

1    kg           pantat (five to six small pieces)

¼   cup          vinegar

5    pcs.         batuan (cut into four)

1    pc.          medium size ginger (cut into chunks

4    pcs.         sili or cooking peppers

2    pcs.         small onion (sliced)

5    cloves      garlic

                     coconut milk (from two medium size coconuts)

                     salt to taste


                     gabi leaves or guava leaves

 B. Procedure

1.      Spread salt and ash (from burnt material i.e. wood and paper) on the live pantat to kill it and prepare it for cooking.  The salt is used to kill the pantat. The ash, on the other hand, is used to remove some of the waxy, slimy substance covering the pantat. The ash may also be used to kill the pantat but it does not kill it as fast and as efficient as salt does.


2.      Clean the pantat by using old newspaper. Place the pantat in between a sheet of newspaper and pull it so that the remaining waxy substance covering the pantat is left in the newspaper.


3.      Grate the coconut meat from the two medium-sized coconuts. Extract the gata. Coconut milk should be extracted twice.  The first extraction (1st gata) is characterized as being thicker than the second  (2nd gata). Set aside.


4.      Soak the astuete seeds in water (less than a cup) and allow to stay for some time so that astuete juice may be extracted. Rubbing the seeds in one’s fingers will quicken the process.  Strain to get the orange-colored liquid.  Set aside.


5.      Line the pot with gabi or guava leaves.  Place the pantat, ginger, garlic, onion, sili. Add salt and 2nd gata and allow to boil for 3 to 5 minutes.


6.      Add the batuan and astuete juice and allow to simmer again for 7 to 10 minutes.


7.      Add the vinegar and allow boiling for 1 to 2 minutes.

8.   Finally, add the 1st gata and allow to boil for another 5 to 7 minutes.


9.      The ginat-an nga pantat is ready to be served. Yummy!




* Christian Earvin is a freshman BS Biology student at UPV.  A graduate of Pisay (Phil. Science High School), he believes he and everyone else is intelligent in their own way.  Christian is a serious person when it comes to his academics and is very determined when it comes to his goals.  Nonetheless, he is a jolly and fun-loving person when he is with friends.




*By Jovy Ann Valera 

It was Saturday, the thirteenth day of September when I decided to stroll around the Miag-ao market to find something to be featured.  Before that, I tried to check at the municipal hall and ask someone there.

As I was looking around the hall, I saw enlarged photos of  wonderful natural spots here in Miag-ao.  Also, there were pictures of the patadyong (plaid handwoven cloth used as a wrap skirt), kuron (pots), and many others. All of these are made by Miagaoanons.

Of all the attractive and eye-catching framed pictures, what caught my attention was the creative carving of a wooden ladle by an old man. This wooden ladle is locally called as luwag.
The luwag is made of paya (polished coconut shell) and kawayan (bamboo). The paya here constitutes the rounded portion of the ladle while the kawayan is what the elongated handle is made of.  The length of a luwag ranges from 1-2 feet. The deep bowl is tightly attached to the bamboo handle by  means of rivets or nylon.  The traditional fastening material is uway, a kind of vine.

I interviewed Ernesto Empinado or Tay Erning, as I call him, a luwag-maker from Barangay Sapa, Miag-ao, on how he makes a luwag. He said that he only uses not the bolo knife nor the usual knife but the kutsilyo bilong-bilong (a Cebuano term for a particular kind of knife) in making the entire luwag.

The bamboo- made handle and the deep bowl are smoothened. Gina-lagis–that is process of smoothening the bamboo with the help of sharp objects such as knives. On the other hand, kiyas or kiskis is the process of smoothening the coconut shell or the paya. After this, the paya is attached to one end of the bamboo handle and prest0! A luwag is born.

Inspite of modernization, in the age of aluminum and teflon, the luwag is here to stay.  Here in the Philippines, particularly in Miag-ao Iloilo, the wooden luwag is still patronized by many households.  As what I observed in many houses, cooked rice are being karikad (scraped evenly) with the aid of luwag before being served on the table. Furthermore, during special occasions, country cooks prefer to use the luwag instead of metal ladles in cooking traditional fiesta fare like valenciana, lauya and KBL.

When preparing native rice cakes such as suman, kalamay-hati which require longer cooking time, the wooden luwag is also preferred.   The main reason why wooden ladles are chosen over metal ladles is their characteristic of absorbing less heat when exposed to fire. Unlike metal spoons, the luwag can also be safely used without scratching the bottom of a pan. And still, another advantage of wooden ladles is the price. You can buy these native wooden ladles at twenty-five pesos to thirty pesos only.  In an interview, Tay Erning told me that the pricing is dependent on the size of the ladle. The larger and longer it is, the more expensive is the price.
So you see….. Wooden ladles are playing their important roles in our busy kitchens everyday and Miagaoanons are there to continue the skills which we almost forgot. And that is the art of making the luwag.



Jovy Ann Valera is a second year B.S. Biology student
of the University of the Philippines in the Visayas.
When she learned how to swim, she began to love
exploring the wonders of the sea.
Contact #: 09153219289
Email address:

By Regine Viel Manderico* 

“Nang, maayong aga, pwede kami ka pamangkot dyutik lang?” (Ma’am, good morning, can we ask a few questions?). It was 7 am in the morning. Residents of Brgy. Hibao-an, Mandurriao were starting to go about their typical Sunday activities when I interfered in order to know about this unusual stove for my Hum class.
Hibao-an is a pottery haven located at the outskirts of Iloilo City, at the boundary of Pavia and Mandurriao. Different potters display functional and decorative pots, jars and more Ionggos to buy.

My focus is on a special kind of clay stove. This stove I am talking about is really different from the rest, I mean, from the other traditional ones.
The potter behind this interesting work is Mr. Rainier Roa or as I call him Nong Rainier. He is a typical potter whose source of livelihood is his craft but his stove is nonetheless a not-so-typical one.

His special stove and other works are periodically on exhibit-sale at Robinson’s Mall and SM City. This stove or locally the kalan, Mr. Roa uniquely calls the “Mabaga Stove”. It is not made to aesthetically stand out from other locally made stoves but to economically stand out. But its contrasting (and quite unusual) parts make it aesthetically pleasing too. So let me point out these parts to you by comparing it to the traditional one.
Basically, they look the same. The traditional stove that costs Php 50.00 is entirely made of clay and has a steel grate. The pot holder of the traditional kalan is usually far from the body. (It’s not the pot holder one uses when the pot is too hot for the skin, it’s the part of the stove where you place the frying pan or the casserole). Since this pot holder is set some distance from the inner edges of the traditional kalan, the flames from the firewood or charcoal sometimes comes out at the sides of your pot, naga-awas. Thus, one ends up with a pan or a pot with soot-blackened sides.

So what’s so different about the MABAGA stove? First, the pot holder or the top most part of the “kalan” is unusually tight. This is for the heat and the fire to be enclosed and concentrated on the food being cooked. Next is the internal body which as you can see in the picture is covered in concrete. But mind you, if you chip off the concrete the next layer is ash in order to further insulate the heat. My favorite part is the grate which as I visualize is like a beehive (because there are a lot of holes) made of clay or dagâ.  The grate is where one places the fuel which in this case would either be wood or charcoal.

The Mabaga grate is made up of small holes so that only the debris of your fuel would fall down the holes. With a steel grate, however, large chunks of unburnt charcoal can fall down the opening, thereby losing the chance to provide the heat.

So what’s the point of all these unusual characteristics of Nong Rainier’s stove? This stove is able to cut off almost 50% of the usual fuel used in the traditional stove because there is less heat lost to the surroundings while cooking. Nong Rainier actually learned this craft when he attended a month-long seminar in Cambodia last December 2004 that tackled about energy efficient stoves.
There are actually 2 versions of this stove: one costs Php 80.00 – a stove for charcoal fire. The other model costs Php 450 — it’s for both charcoal and wood (only 2 pieces of 2×2 wood are needed to produce cooking heat.)  Model 2 is extra energy efficient than the other because the entire body is insulated by ash and a pail-like structure with a handle.

You can avail of these Mabaga stoves at these prices if you get them direct at his humble shop–the Iloilo Pottery Crafts stand at Brgy. Hibao-an, Mandurriao, Iloilo City.
Mr. Rainier Roa is not only an entrepreneur, but is an artist that has not only made a visually pleasing work of art but a major scientific and most of all economic breakthrough for Filipinos, specifically Ilonggos.
Nong Rainier, you have made Ilonggos proud… I salute you.

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