It has been more than a decade since I visited North Cotabato when I was still working as a telecoms engineer and based in Davao City. Although I only passed by this province a few times, my fond memories of the place have been about the very good quality marang (terap in Malay) that one can buy along the highway in the municipality of Makilala. Yes, Makilala marang is one of the best that I have tasted. Speaking about their marang evokes images of luscious seeds thickly covered with sweet whitish pulp. Ah, writing about this makes me salivate.
When the opportunity to visit North Cotabato last month presented itself, to write about the Museyu Kutawato, perhaps the most beautiful museum in south Mindanao, I got so excited but at the same time worried. Is Makilala marang in season? I asked the driver about the marang in Davao City but he mentioned that its not in season and it might be expensive if there are fruits available. Darn. I might have come at the wrong time, I said to myself. As the vehicle that picked me up from the airport cruised along the highway, passing fruit stands in Davao City along the way, there were a few. But then, as we passed by Davao del Sur, there, at the roadside were backyard marang fruits sold by their owners. First, a few. Then more stalls as we passed. I got excited and told the driver, that perhaps, there are marangs in Makilala!
As we entered the municipality, driving through its wide and good highway, we soon sighted several stalls with piles of marang at both sides of the road. This is it! We pulled over at the one with the greatest number of Makilala marangs. I hurriedly opened the door, walked to the stall, inspected the fruits and asked how much. P35 per piece. But these are large ones and for that price, is still quiet cheap! I asked the vendor to select two for me. He obliged and moved his hand among a pile. Up, down, sideways, until he picked one. And another.
When I arrived at my destination, lunch time, I held one with both hands. Felt the coarseness of the fruit’s texture. I pushed my two thumbs into one section and parted it. Ah. The sweet smell of Makilala marang. I opened it and admired the pearly pulp. The sweet marang smell wafted into my nose. At last!