I was in General Luna, Siargao, upon the invitation of Mayor Sol Matugas, to judge the first ever Kumbati Boodle Fight competition.
What I thought would be a spread of food, arranged just to look pretty, turned out to be an edible art exhibition.
The Siargaonons have truly become masters of the art of the boodle fight. Their tablescapes simply left me speechless.
Though Siargao fare is simple, it is the freshness of the ingredients and the manner they prepare their food, closest to its natural state, cooked simply to enhance its flavors, that make what they bring forth special. The island’s mystique, of course, could not be discounted, as it surely lends festive flair to their fare.The theme of the first ever boodle fight competition was “Embracing Siargaonon Culture through Food Tourism.”
The event, held at the General Luna Elementary School, General Luna, Surigao del Norte, on Sept. 21, was spearheaded by the Siargao Tour Guides and Organizers Association (Sitgoa) in partnership with local government unit of General Luna.
There were eight local establishments that took part in the event: JML Travel and Tours, Ideal Catering Services, Biyahe ni Kuya Noy Travel and Tours, IAO Lokal Surf and Tours, Xargao Tours, Sus Pastilan Restaurant/Hashtag Paradiso Travel & Tours, Green Waves Café and Got Marked Tours.
With me on the panel of judges were Flora Belle Roculas of Department of Tourism Caraga Region, Milma Antipasado from General Luna and Viola Ravelo of the Department of Education Siargao.
Each entry had a tale to tell.
The champions were Sus Pastilan/Hashtag Travel & Tours. Their interpretation was inspired by the sturdiness of the coconut trees that withstood the challenges of the pandemic and typhoon “Odette” (international name: Rai). The gustatory highlight of their presentation was the Ninijugan, an old Siargaonon dish with kayabang and coconut meat as the main ingredients.Second placer Xargao Tours showcased Siargao delicacies and a beloved household dish, the pinaksiw na buntog. The tale of their table was the strength and the power of women as leaders, homemakers and contributors to society.Ideal Catering Services, third place, aesthetically laid out the various specialties of Siargao.
It was impossible to choose just one winner, as each table was simply exceptional. As such, special awards were given to entries that have displayed exceptional skill in arts and presentation. The Best in Artistry was presented to team Biyahe ni Kuya Noy Travel and Tours, while the Best Entry Presentation was handed to Got Marked Tours.
Kumbati Siargao will now be an annual event to promote culinary tourism, infused with art and culture.
Mayor Sol’s goal is to highlight local cuisine, Philippine hospitality and camaraderie. She believes differences can easily be overcome through food. To share a meal is the easiest way to connect visitors and islanders.
Congratulations to Adrian Camingue, the event’s main organizer, for a job well done.
When in Siargao, try local fare like tinolang isda. I had mine cooked by Alona, the wife of Kuya Dhens, who drove for me, all over the island. Her tinola was delightful. Though far from lavish, every spoonful of it was comforting.
6 c water
½ kg fish of choice, freshly caught, cleaned and scaled. The secret to this dish is the freshness of the fish.
1 bunch malunggay, picked
1 bunch talbos ng kamote2 pcs tanglad, tied
2 pcs onions, sliced
1 pc small ginger
1 pc red chili
2 pcs tomatoes
½ Tbsp salt
small pinch Magic Sarap
Bring water to a boil. Add all ingredients except malunggay, kamote tops, fish and Magic Sarap. Let simmer for 10 minutes. Add fish. It is cooked the minute the eyes pop out. Season and finish with malunggay and kamote tops.
I am so pleased to present my adobo siopao, now available at all 7-Eleven stores in Metro Manila.
It is about time that our beloved national dish was made into a convenient and easy-to-eat snack.
My adobo pao is cooked the old fashioned way—exactly as my mom, Amparing Aspiras, cooked it, specifically for our adobo sandwiches.
Mom had many ways of cooking adobo. She didn’t usually put soy, but did so if the purpose of the adobo was to stuff our flying saucer sandwiches with.
The 7-Eleven rendition requires browning of the meat to enhance its flavor. Once caramelized, lots of native Ilocos garlic is added and cooked until it is almost golden.
Soy sauce is drizzled into the mix, followed by vinegar to deglaze the pan. Aromatics are added—crushed bay leaves and whole peppercorns. The mixture is left to simmer over low heat until tender.
The slow-cooked adobo is then stuffed into ultra soft, lightly sweetened and airy, green-hued siopao dough, so you can spot them easily on the 7-Eleven food warmers. This combination is a coming together of two of our favorites in one. A delicious and affordable snack, only P43.
www.reggieaspiras.com; @iamreggieaspiras on Instagram and Facebook.