Taluksangay’s beautifully wrapped suman

Categories Food
A bundle of beautifully wrapped suman caught my eye while riding a traysikad in Taluksangay's main street
A bundle of beautifully wrapped suman caught my eye while riding a traysikad in Taluksangay’s main street

A man happily posing after taking a bite of the kakanin
A man happily posing after taking a bite of the kakanin
I was riding the traysikad along the road in Taluksangay, Zamboanga City when the sight of something wrapped in brown caught my attention. Suman, steamed rice cakes, or so I thought, but with a brown wrapping? It piqued my curiosity so much that I motioned the driver to bring me to the store where a man was selling it.

I’ve always been curious about native food and delicacies. Almost each place that I’ve been to, there’s always something different to offer. And Taluksangay is no exception.

I came near the store and asked the crippled man what it was he selling. Suman, budbud in Cebuano. But beautifully, and looks intricately wrapped. In most other places, the wrapping is just blanched banana leaves cut into squares or rectangles. But here, I tried unwrapping one. As it unravelled, I only realized that it was almost a whole young coconut leaf carefully folded and tied.

The suman unwrapped! The packaging is almost a whole young coconut leaf, blanched and then steamed.
The suman unwrapped! The packaging is almost a whole young coconut leaf, blanched and then steamed.

Muslim children who milled around me, watching me unwrap a suman, marvel at its packaging and eating it with sugar
Muslim children who milled around me, watching me unwrap a suman, marvel at its packaging and eating it with sugar
I took a bite and it was unsweetened but the aroma of coconut milk or gata was something familiar. Kainin mo with asukal. (Eat it with sugar), the vendor told me.

By this time, several Muslim children in the neighborhood of nipa houses along the water’s edge was already milling around me. Smiling and laughing but at the same time, curious to this large man inspecting a simple suman, unraveling its wrapping and taking pictures at the same time.

Just like what we used to do at home in Cebu, I dipped the suman in powdered white sugar. And it was delicious.

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications.

He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces.

I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

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