While waiting for my ride after a photoshoot in Balamban back to Cebu City, a vendor came up to me and offered me her ware, packs of bingka dawa, three pieces wrapped in banana leaves for just P25 ($0.55).
I’m a fan of native delicacies and bought two packs, especially after she mentioned that she supplies these to West 35, a highland resort that I’ve stayed at last year and where I first tasted this delicious rice cake.
Most Filipinos love rice cakes. In Cebu, it has a myriad of types under the collective word bingka (bibingka in Tagalog). While most are made from pilit (glutinous rice), or cassava, there’s another one, a specialty ingredient that can be more expensive: dawa (a kind of birdseed).
For lovebird enthusiasts, dawa is familiar to them as a bird food. But in places like Catmon in Cebu and Dumaguete City, it is formed into budbud, delicacies like rice cakes but elongated and wrapped in banana leaves. In Asturias? They make this into round rice cakes but instead of ground glutinous rice, uses this ingredient.
I do love it’s texture. While budbud kabog can be very grainy, bingka dawa, has a smoother, softer texture than most bingka made from glutinous rice. It has more fluff. Depending on the other ingredients, it can be made richer with coconut milk. In West 35 Resort, three pieces is microwaved hot, drizzled with chocolate syrup on top and deliciously served for P100 ($2.25). It is best paired with ice cold coke, or if you want a more traditional snack, thick chocolate made from pure cacao tablea.
You can order bingka dawa from the vendor, Charito Baligwat. She’s from Uwak, Asturias and has been selling these native and delicious rice cakes since 2006. She also supplies the needs of West 35 Eco Mountain Resort, a beautiful place to escape.