Several provinces have competed to make it to the Guinness Book of World Records for preparing the longest tupig (a variety of rice cake). For the people of the northern provinces of Luzon island, cooking and selling tupig is rooted in their way of life, is a source of livelihood, and a regular fare during festivals and the Christmas celebrations.
BY AUBREY MAKILAN
URDANETA, PANGASINAN (183 kms north of Manila) – Several provinces have competed to make it to the Guinness Book of World Records for preparing the longest tupig (a variety of rice cake). For the people of the northern provinces of Luzon island, cooking and selling tupig is rooted in their way of life, is a source of livelihood, and a regular fare during festivals and the Christmas celebrations.
Tupig is a rice cake preparation which used to be associated with Christmas and New Year celebrations. Old folks say that tupig used to be served during the noche buena (Christmas eve dinner). Elders also give tupig to young carolers instead of money.
In the late 60s it became commercially available in the market with several variations in preparation, taste and quality. It has similar versions in Ilocos Norte, Isabela, Tarlac and Pangasinan.
Intemtem in Pangasinan, or popularly known as tupig, is made of ground rice, sugar and buko (young coconut) strips, rolled and wrapped in banana leaves, then grilled over live coals. This native kakanin (rice-based food products) belongs to the suman (rice cake) family.
Tupig has been one of the favorites of devotees to the Our Lady of Manaoag Church in Pangasinan province. But the commercially sold tupig is very thin, with only a tablespoon of mixed ingredients wrapped in banana leaves.
Through time, this native delicacy has also been developed in different flavors such as jackfruit, pandan (screw pine), guava, ube (purple yam) and strawberry.
Although best eaten hot, it can be stored up to three days under room temperature.
Source of living
Linda Damascon and Doming Orbito are from Urdaneta and Carmen, Pangasinan, respectively. They both try to earn a living by tupig.
Damascon sells tupig, which she cooked, at her makeshift stall along McArthur hi-way in Urdaneta from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. By 9 a.m., she would be competing with other vendors also lined up along the hi-way.
Damascon, 50, learned making tupig from her mother who also used to sell the native kakanin. Though her husband is jobless, she was able to send her only child to college by selling tupig. At a selling price of P25 per pack of 10 ($0.49 at an exchange rate of $1 = P50.13), she earns from P300-P400 ($5.98 – $7.97). Her customers are locals and travelers from Manila who stop at her post to buy pasalubong (take home).
Meanwhile, Orbito, 34, carries a box with packed tupig. He sells them by boarding commercial buses or at bus stops were passengers wait for buses.
His wife prepares and cooks the tupig in their house in Carmen. He earns about P300 ($5.98) a day.
Rooted in the way of life
As a native delicacy, tupig is also a source of pride of the north.
Many provinces in the north have been vying to set the record for the longest tupig in the world.
The first record in the Guinness Book was set by Laoag City, Ilocos Norte in 2002 for its 1.5-km tupig. But Solano, Nueva Vizcaya beat this record after cooking a 1.8-km long tupig. However, in 2005, Lasam, Cagayan prepared the longest tupig so far at 2.82 kms long.
The longest tupig was displayed in the town’s poblacion (municipal center) and was eaten by over 5,000 people. About 100 people grilled the tupig for about five minutes.
Tupig is rooted in the way of life of the Ilocanos (people who originated from the Ilocos provinces).
The people of Cagayan province cooked the tupig during the town’s 3rd Aringay Festival on May 19. The Aringay Festival is a tribute to the special and aromatic rice variety which is resistant to pests and bad weather conditions, planted on the slopes of hills and mountains there. It is a week-long festivity in the town as thanksgiving for the abundant harvest of rice, the main source of livelihood of the people in the province known as the rice granary of the north. (Bulatlat.com)