September 22, 2006

Dumaguete and the now controversial budbud kabog

Leave it to Marketman to have the patience, determination and passion to make his own budbud kabog when no one else will. And being the generous man that he is, he even gives a blow by blow account of the whole learning process on his blog for the benefit of his readers, carefully detailing his mistakes and findings. What would we do without him?

Unfortunately, his post ruffled some feathers and took an ugly turn. How something so unassuming and which can trace its heritage to "the city of gentle people" can cause such a brouhaha could only be the result of a grave misunderstanding. But faster than you could say Makabuang gyud! (it's driving me crazy!- or something like that) it was all sorted.

Budbud kabog is a native delicacy similar to suman (sweet, sticky rice wrapped in banana leaves) but made from millet which is a whole grain used to make bread like chapatti and roti. In some Eastern European and African countries, millet is also used in porridge and as baby food. It has a sweet, nutty flavor and is known to be rich in fiber, vitamins and phytochemicals. One of those rare food that's both tasty and good for you!

My grandmother's house on the boulevard

I had been meaning to wax poetic about the budbud kabog and Dumaguete (my dad's hometown) for a long time now and was finally prompted by MM's recent posts. For me these two go together like peanut butter & jelly, like bagels & cream cheese, like Louisiana & crawfish, like Captain & Tennille, like ramma lamma lamma ka dinga da dinga dong chang chang changity chang shoo bop..... sorry got carried away there heehee. What I'm trying to say is, I can't think of one without thinking of the other.

top and bottom photos: typical day on Rizal Boulevard.
Both photos taken right across my grandmother's house
Ever since I can remember, every summer that I spent in Dumsville, we had an abundant supply of budbud kabog in Mamaita's house (that's what we called our grandmother).We always looked forward to that so she made sure there was plenty. We would have it for breakfast or merienda (afternoon snack) and unlike other sumans which I prefer to eat with some sugar , this is perfect as is.

I don't get to spend summers there like I used to for months at a time, but I still try to visit when I can. It is my favorite city in the whole country, naturally because it holds so many memories for me, but also for so much more than that.

The people are amazingly gentle, the seafood is fishing-net-fresh, the food in general is delectable, the beaches and waterfalls are exquisite, the pace is very laid-back, and the overall atmosphere is one of lazy charm. For many tourists, the lure of Dumaguete is the outdoors. So if scuba diving, snorkling, dolphin or whale-watching, caving, trekking, fishing, golf or just plain lounging and perfecting that tan is your thing then this is the place to be. Oh and by the way, if you are ever in town, make sure to visit Sans Rival on San Jose st., birthplace of the House of Sylvanas. Every afternoon we walked the 2 blocks there for our daily dose of sans rival or sylvanas. Just thinking about those slices of heaven is making me drool.

the sandbar in Campuyo at high tide

Mamaita was a wonderful cook! She was famous for her homemade chorizo (I vividly remember playing with those dried intestine casings, wrapping it around my neck like it was a feather boa and strutting my stuff on a pretend catwalk), bacalao, leche flan, callos, fabada, salchichon de pili and native delicacies like pichi-pichi to name a few.

She was also a very passionate woman who possessed admirable business acumen. With these qualities, it was inevitable it seems that she would go on to build and operate one of Dumaguete's hotel resorts, the North Pole. When I took a chance and looked it up on the net, I came upon this book written by Tara FT Sering which has a reference to the hotel. I thought that was pretty cool! :)

The hotel was soon followed by a restaurant of the same name along the boulevard (now named Mamia by the present owners). The hotel didn't last very long as tourism in Negros Oriental at that time was still pretty much non-existent. The restaurant, on the other hand, lasted much longer. It was a favorite hangout for my cousins and I because we had "signing privileges". The ballrooms of both the hotel and the restaurant were venues for many disco parties during my sister's time and my time. It was always so much fun because (or should i say despite the fact that) we were related to 95% of the people there. Not surprising as I think I'm related to most of the city's population!

Although my uncle still sends the occasional budbud kabog (and chorizo) packages, discovering it in the Salcedo Saturday Market c/o the Van Hovens was serendipity! I loved that I could get it so conveniently. Most of the time, I'd get there too late and all that would be left are the other flavored budbuds. Although they were certainly delicious as well, it was the bk I was after. So I persisted, trying to drag my sleepy butt out of bed earlier every Saturday, hoarding enough for myself and the rest of my family much to my dad's delight. Soon after I found the same stall in the Legaspi Sunday Market with an abundant supply this time.

If you live in Manila and have not yet tried budbud kabog, go go go! and make a beeline for them at the markets this weekend. I do suggest going very early though, as I'm sure MM's readers are planning on doing just that! :)


christine said...

Reposted from Senor Enrique:

Wow! What a life. I love your grandma's house ... grand!

BTW, Bugsybee had mentioned that the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra will be doing a free performance in Dumaguete!

Ooops, I forgot ...

The photos are all wonderful. Thanks for sharing some sights with us :)

christine said...

Reposted from Mila Tan:

Yes, she'll definitely have a long line at her table tomorrow. Might even introduce myself as the one who got everyone all riled up (accidentally of course, how was I to know a passing comment was going to stir up a hornet's nest?).

christine said...

Sorry, I had to redo the post because of some minor glitches, and so reposted your comments.

Eric, thank you. I seem to be on a nostalgic trip lately. :) Do you know when the Philharmonic is performing there? I'll let me cousins know, in case they don't already.

Mila, that was you? I wondered if it was, but because your name on the comment didn't link back to your blog I wasn't sure. Haha, wonder what they'd say if you told them it was you. :) They'll probably even thank you!

Anonymous said...

I really love the nostalgia that you have going here, but I do envy the foodstuffs that you're privy to! It's just weird, my grandparents came from the Phillipines but never in my life have I wanted to visit. I'm sure that I still have relatives there, but know nothing about them.

But again, the mention of all those foods is heaven to my ears and I just wish that my grandmothers had taught me the basics of the filipino kitchen. Loved this post. Rock on!

Anonymous said...

Wow if only i had a boat ;-)

That sure looks like an awesome restaruant

Keep blogging

christine said...

Rowena, I didn't know your grandparents are from here? Coming from Hawaii though, I'm sure you've had your share of Filipino food , no?

Both my grandmothers loved the kitchen and were great cooks, especially of Spanish food. But when they were still alive all I was interested in was eating the food and didn't care how it was made. Wish I could have learned from them too.

Hi Alex, thanks for dropping by! Maybe on your next trip to Asia, you can swing by and explore the Philippines too. :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Christine, I have this 'infatuation' with anything Spanish at the moment, eversince my "Ibiza week-end". I soo want to live in Spain, I'll be blogging about the long list of reasons why pretty soon. Your childhood sounds very idyllic. Thanks for sharing!

Unknown said...

Yum! Nena aka Christine. I thought I was one of the only people on this earth that knew about bubud kabog, and apparently, I was wrong. Although, I had always thought it was made out of bird seeds. My Lolo and Lola Escano in Cebu (although she was from Dumaguete too) told me that when I was a young girl.

From the time I first tried it, it has always been my favorite type of suman. Second came the suman that you could fry and sprinkle sugar on. I have no idea what that was called, but that was another favorite.

Señor Enrique said...

I will ask Bugsybee for the exact date and let you know.

christine said...

Hi Nunu'smom, I had that same infatuation which began in high school all the way to after college. I had fantasies of studying in Salamanca and living as a senorita. :) I'm looking forward to reading about those reasons!

Hi knittymommy!! :) I'm gonna have to pick your brain about that lola Escano thing. I'm related to the Escanos from Dumaguete, does this mean we're related? After all these years, we didn't know?! Not that I would be surprised, I'm still meeting and discovering all these surprise relations. How cool would that be if we traced our roots and found we were cousins! I'm not sure I know about the frying type of suman.

Eric, thanks!

Señor Enrique said...

Here's the info courtesy of Bugsybee at

"The PPO is going to perform in Dumaguete on Sept. 28 at 8 p.m. at the Sofia Soller Sinco Hall at the Foundation University."

Anonymous said...

Hi Nens. What great memories we had every summer at Dumaguete. And the bountiful food was something else. I really miss Mamaita's budbud kabog!!

Jen said...

gorgeous photos. I really felt I was there in your stories.

christine said...

Hey Gins! If you didn't tell me you posted that comment, I wouldn't have known for sure it was you, thought it was Macky. :) We were just talking about going to Dums next summer, what do you think?

Hi Jenjen, thanks! :)

Unknown said...

I feel kinda funny about my earlier post. I just realized the millet is sold as bird seeds here in the US. So I was right pala. Katawa talaga.

Marketmanila said...

Imagine MY SURPRISE when the innocuous delicacy turned into such controversy...and there is more to expert from Cebu gave me a 4 hour tutorial on how to make it with her own 30 year tried and tested recipe so I will be posting that in time for the holidays... Great post!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
christine said...

Oh wow tried and tested and used for 30 years! I can't wait to hear all about that! :)

Corey said...

Nice photos of the Boulevard. I always like seeing these because they bring back some great travel memories for me.