Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts

Vol. VI, No. 13      May 7-13, 2006      Quezon City, Philippines











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Pride of Ilocanos–Giant Rice Cake, Dinengdeng

The towns of Tagudin in Ilocos Sur and Agoo in La Union made Ilocanos proud as they cooked up two things closest to their heart.


Residents of Tagudin, Ilocos Sur  and visitors partake of the giant inkiwar, May 1         


A sticky rice cake the size of a small swimming pool and a vegetable dish cooked 1,001 ways.  Ilocanos may not be known as the world's best chefs but on May 1, they made their own claim to fame, with a giant inkiwar (rice cake) and dinengdeng (vegetable stew) cooked in more ways than you can taste.

Giant inkiwar of Tagudin

In Tagudin town, Ilocos Sur province, Tagudinians struggled to make it to the Guinness Book of World Records with a 10-meter in diameter inkiwar.  

Tagudin Mayor Roque Verzosa said 200 persons helped make the giant rice cake using 250 gantas (roughly 560 kilos) of malagkit (glutinous rice), 1,000 pieces of coconut, and 125 gantas (roughly 280 kilos) of molasses (sugar cane juice).

Verzosa said it took them a week to prepare the giant fete, in time for fiesta day when thousands of Tagudinians come home from abroad to join the revelries.

Inkiwar is an Ilocano word meaning “to stir.”  And stir the cooks did for days, patiently and continuously, on 20 giant silyasi (vat).  They didn’t cook with blue flames, but the Ilocano way – flames from dried bamboo over giant makeshift ovens dug in the ground.

The rice cake was placed on a gigantic bilao (flat basket of woven bamboo strips) that took three weeks to make.

The giant inkiwar was displayed at the town plaza where some 3,000 villagers from the 43 barangays of Tagudin and other visitors eagerly lined up for a piece.

Festival chairperson Antonina Ocania said they had better preparations for the giant inkiwar festival this year than last year.  She beamed to reporters while she sliced and gave out chunks of the sticky cake.

Ocania said they spent P185,00 for the inkiwar, almost double the P100,000 they spent in 2005.

Verzosa said Tagudinians have become better at making the giant rice cake, observing the standards in sanitation in food preparation. 

Agoo's 1001 dinengdeng menus

Dinengdeng is a popular Ilocano vegetable dish, consisting of locally-grown legumes and sprouts. It is mainly flavored with bagoong isda (fermented fish paste), and grilled fish.

The fishing and farming town of Agoo in La Union showed how it can cook a favorite Ilocano dish in more ways than 1,000.

On May 1, thousands gathered at the newly-renovated Imelda Park at the town center for the 2nd Dinengdeng Festival.

Agoo "chefs" dressed in native Iluko pandiling and patadyong  (blouse and skirt weave) paraded their 1001 fares made of different vegetable ingredients:  dinengdeng kalabasa (pumpkin), dinengdeng patani (lima bean), dinengdeng kardis, dinengdeng talong (eggplant), and dinengdeng okra.  

“There is nothing like dinengdeng, and nothing like Agoo dinengdeng,” said Agoo Mayor Eufranio Eriguel as he led La Union Governor Victor Ortega around the 1001 dishes for a taste test.  The governor could only nod in approval as he chewed a mouthful of dinengdeng sabong kalabasa (pumpkin flowers).

The people of Agoo promised to hold another Dinengdeng Festival next year, as the Tagudinians vowed to make the giant cake again, to honor St. Agustine, their patron saint. Bulatlat



© 2006 Bulatlat  Alipato Publications

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