Written by Gerel Rio Rañin, B.S. in Chemical Engineering III.
Native delicacies or “kakanin” are foods that are popular only in places where they are coming from. Usually, these types of food have already been made and produced way back years ago. Today, while some people still appreciate these native products, others seem to slowly forget about their existence. For younger generations, it is more difficult for them to appreciate this kind of food because of the present day influences. They easily get attracted to what is the trend and sometimes, don’t even consider basic native food. There are also some that are still unconscious about the existence of these foods which may lead to this tradition’s dying.
Suma, ibos and bayi-bayi are one of these delicious native delicacies found here in Miagao. They do belong to the same family because they are all made using sticky rice. In my hometown, suman is biko, and ibos or suman sa ibos is simply suman. Bayi-bayi is new for me and this is the first time I tasted this kind of rice cake. We, in Leyte, may have some of the delicacies in this town, but there are still foods which can be considered as Miagao’s native.
This research may help remind people that native food can also fit to the standards of the present generation and to the type of environment we live in now, and may also help in prevent its slow disappearance. This research is also limited only to one artist for bayi-bayi and ibos and one artist for suman. This also aims to promote Miagao’s culture to people coming from other regions. Suman, ibos and bayi-bayi should also be recognized because these foods also belong to Miagao, Iloilo’s heritage and is a part of the whole package of what Miagao is. It’s time to discover how amazing and different food can be in a little town Miagao.
Suman, bayi-bayi and ibos are native delicacies I found here in Miagao, Iloilo that are also present in my hometown. Manang Anita, one artist I chose to feature told me that Ilonggos call it suman while for others, it’s called biko. She also told me about the different sticky rice cakes and how they differ from one another.
Suman is already sweetened during cooking as well as bayi-bayi but for ibos, it is cooked with salt. Suman and ibos are cooked with normal sticky rice while for bayi-bayi, the sticky rice used is dried and turned into powdered form before cooking. Ibos is also suman but bayi-bayi is different.
In our barangay in Leyte, ibos as suman is not only salted but it also has chocolate flavor. Also, suman as biko is either dark brown or white in color. This is because of the rice and sugar used.
- Artists Featured
Anita Dato-on, 56 years old, is the first artist I ran unto when I was searching for suman in Miagao. She willingly answered all my questions and even invited me to sleep in their house for me to be able to know what it is like to prepare bayi-bayi and ibos. She has been making these kakanin when she was about 6 years old. Up until now, she still continues what her parents taught her. Along with his husband Juanito and her children, they all work together in their house in Brgy. Kiraya, Tacas, Miagao. She told me she was the one who taught people nearby selling bayi-bayi because it’s her specialty.
Ingredients used are already prepared the day before they actually use it. So for our set-up, they already have stacks of coconut, sugar, salt and the glutinous rice so it’s not hard for us to. They order all their coconut from “uma”.
For bayi-bayi, first step is washing the the glutinous rice (pilit). Then put the rice on the “kararaw” and let it dry by air. After drying, the rice is toasted on “dalungasi” or “karaha”. The rice is cooked with constant mixing and stirring, until the rice turns brown. Next is grinding (galling) the crunchy rice making it powder in form. While this is done, young coconuts are grated. This grated coconut is cooked with sugar. Once the sugar melts with the grated coconut, powder form pilit (bokbok) is added. After this, the bayi-bayi is then mixed either manually (pagbayo) through “lusong”, a large wooden mortar with large wooden pestle or by machine. The last step is to mold the bayi-bayi by sizes or weight. It may be wrapped in young banana leaves or in plastic. Bayi-bayi usually expires after two days but through refrigeration, it can last longer.
For the suman sa ibos or ibos, glutinous rice is still washed then placed in large bowl with water letting the rice absorb the water. Meanwhile, buri leaves are swirled on their molder and locked to keep its form and prevent it from swirling back. Then for the rice, gently mix it with coconut milk (gata) and salt. Let it stand first then transfer a fair amount of the mixture just right for each buri leaf molded. Seal each leaf then place it on a bowl where it will be covered with water. Then boil for about an hour or more. Last step is to remove it from the water and cooling it.
Manang Anita said that she in a year; she gets to sell most of her products, especially bayi-bayi, usually in November 1 or All Saint’s Day.
Another artist is Manang Norma from Brgy. Mat-y, Miagao. I met her in the School of Technology wherein she sells snacks or “pamahaw” for the students as well as the faculty and staff. I usually buy from her since I really have no time eating my breakfast before going to school so I decided to feature her because she’s really working hard a lot. She also told me that she’d be happy to sell all day rather than just to staying at home.
I just went to her house and did what she usually does in making suman. The process is just so easy and not that long so I did not sleep there but instead, I went one afternoon when I had no class.
So for suman, I was the one who bought the grated coconut from the Miagao’s tinda because she told me to do so. The time I went there was not the usual time she works for suman so I need to bring grated coconut for actual work. The pilit is washed and cooked with the same manner as the usual rice is cooked. We just used firewood in cooking the rice. After cooking the rice, set it aside and then mix the coconut milk and brown sugar on the big pan (karaha). Continually mix it until it becomes “malapot”. Then add this mixture to the cooked glutinous rice and mix again evenly. This is actually the hardest part for me because when I thought I mixed it evenly, manang always remind me, “ara pa to sa dalom ho”. And I was like, “Sorry gyud kaayo nang”. Then after this, cook this mixture for the rice to absorb the coconut milk and sugar mixture. Last part is to cover this with the banana leaves. She only sells one size of this product and it’s for P5 each.
In my hometown, I never really experienced the actual cooking but I know just know about it because my grandmother used to bring this kind of natives in our house.
The best part of this activity is I actually get to taste my own work. Bayi-bayi of Manang Anita is exceptional because it’s only here in Miagao that I got to taste something different from what I had back in my hometown. Also, I got to taste Miagao’s own suman/biko and ibos/suman.
These native foods taste and feel like home, my second home, Miagao, Iloilo. Being able to meet artists that can actually give me this feeling is very satisfying. We Filipinos should actually appreciate more of the native products we have because some day, if we continue ignoring some of our preserved heritage, there will no place like home.
Contact Information Available:
- Anita Dato-on
Brgy. Kiraya, Tacas, Miagao
Brgy. Mat-y, Miagao