*by Gemini Marie C. Arrojo & Portia Pauleth O. Pancho
Portia and I were sitting on a long, old bench along the Sapa bridge beside Portia’s boarding house. We were watching the children with drops of sweat all over their faces playing under the heat of Mr. Golden sun. While having our little conversation, Manong June interrupted. I didn’t know if we were going to call him Manong or Manang but he prefers to called “sister”. He asked us to buy his nilugaw. Nilugaw is a native delicacy that is made from ground sticky rice, sugar, coconut milk, purple yam, banana, sweet potato and bilog-bilog (balls made from ground sticky rice). In Antique, our home province, we call nilugaw as palutaw.
The sweet aroma and the bilog-bilog tempted us to buy from “Sister” June even if we had just eaten our lunch. We never expected that our mouth could water so much. At that time, it made us homesick since Antique is 35 miles away from Miag-ao. It reminded us again of our happy childhood memories.
I still remember those times when my late grandmother used to cook palutaw whenever I celebrated my birthday. Palutaw was always on the top food items for every special occasion in our house. Granny was really a good cook of native delicacies.
She would also cook palutaw in the afternoon before I had my nap. I hated to sleep because I wanted to play. I was a naughty girl so lola used this line “Ang di magturog hindi pagtugruan kang palutaw.” (For those who will not sleep, they will not be given palutaw.) Since I love palutaw I will force myself to sleep. There were times that I could not sleep, so I would just close my eyes and pretend that I was sleeping. Imagine lying in bed for two hours? It was agony! Lola really knew how to tame a naughty girl like me.
As to Portia, palutaw reminded her of her aunt who cooked it during Sundays. Portia would put the palutaw inside the refrigerator. She loves to eat it when it is cold. She told me how she started to like eating palutaw. “Kay kato kang gamay ko hindi gid ako parakaun kang palutaw. Pero natandaan ko kato kang grade four ko guid man. Pag-uli ko gutom-gutom gid ko, ti nakita ko ang palutaw sa ref. Biskan di ako hilig magkaon kara, ginkaun ko na lang wara man ko bi ti choice mu. That time, ridto ko lang naapreciate kag nanamitan kang palutaw. Amu man to ang reason nga nanami-an ko magkaun kung ramig ang palutaw.” (When I was young, I was not fond of eating palutaw. I started to love it when I was in grade four. I remember that time when I got home from school, I was starving. I looked for food in the ref but only to find a bowl of palutaw. I had no choice but to eat it. That time, I started to appreciate this native delicacy. In fact, until now I love to eat it that way.)
Now that we’re in the University, we couldn’t eat palutaw as often. So Portia and I decided to make our own palutaw specialty since we really missed eating it. Moreover, we got challenged by this research for Hum 1.
First, we interviewed three experts’ palutaw makers to know the ingredients and procedure as well as their cooking secrets. Each of our interviewees uses some kind of technique to make his/her palutaw more special.
Manang Delia, who sells palutaw in our homewtown, San Jose, adds strips of langka (jackfruit) for a sweet smell. Manang Diday, who is my relative, adds plenty of gata to make her palutaw creamy. The ingredients being added depend on the availability of fruits and root crops.
As to Sis June, a Miagwanon, “Ang sekereto kang manamit nga palutaw is love. Patas man ra kang mag-alaga kang bata. Kailangan mo storyahan, kantahan kag mga kaechuzan para nami magbahul” (The secret ingredient for a delicious palutaw is love. Cooking a palutaw is like nurturing a child who needs a little storytelling,, singing, and other creative means to get them to eat.) Talking to a food sounds funny. But when we had adopted Sister June’s technique, we are telling you: it is very effective.
So now, we proudly present to you Gemini & Portia’s Palutaw.
4 pcs. of ube (purple yam)
6 pcs. of saging (banana)
5 pcs. of kamote (sweet potato)
1/2 kilo of wash sugar
1 kilo of ground pilit (grind sticky rice)
1 piece of grated niyog nga butong (young coconut)
6 cups of gata (coconut milk)
1 ½ cup of sago
1 ½ cup of vanilla
5 cups of water
1. First make bilog-bilog. Moisten the 1/4 kilo of ground sticky rice until it sticks together. Roll it into ¼ inch balls.
2. Boil 5 cups of water. When it comes to a vigorous boil, drop the bilog-bilog gently. Stir it occasionally so it will not stick to the bottom. Stir till cooked.
3. Add the other ingredients like the saging, kamote, grated niyog nga butong and ube.
4. While waiting for the ingredients to cook, dissolve the remaining pilit in 3 cups of water.
5. Pour the ground pilit with water when the ingredients are already cooked, Continue stirring.
6. Add sugar to sweeten the taste and vanilla to add the sweet aroma.
7. Lastly, stir in the gata.
Our mouth watered while cooking our masterpice. After all the stirring, our palutaw was ready. We could hardly speak a word when we were eating it. It’s very delicious. We are not exaggerating here! It’s really nice to eat the bilog-bilog. It was fun chewing them.
Palutaw is very easy to cook. It does not require skills, creativity or even talent. You don’t need to study its recipe, just memorize the steps by your heart and learn to appreciate every single spoonful of it. You can make your own mouth-watering palutaw. We had our nice and fun experience. It’s really nice to eat especially if you are the ones who cook it.
Gemini Marie Arrojo is half-Negrense and half-Antiqueña but she spends mostly of her life in Antique. Reading novels and inspirational books is her passion. She is an avid fan of a writer named Jessica Zafra.
Portia Pauleth Pancho is a proud Protestant. She is an anime addict and she loves to watch Yakitate Japan anime which means “freshly baked”. Currently taking up BS Food Technology in the University of the Philippines in the Visayas (she loves to eat but doesn’t know how to cook).