It's May... Fiesta time!
COOKING WITH CHARACTER - Dr. Nestor Alonso ll () - May 1, 2012 - 12:00am

Filipinos, in general, love fiestas and festivals.Each town, barrio, sitio or even a housing project has a fiesta to celebrate in honor of a patron saint, and, in the Roman Catholic hierarchy, more saints are added each year. From May 1 to May 31, it is the Flores de Mayo for the devotees of the Virgin Mary and on the last day, we have the Santa Cruzan to commemorate the rediscovery of the Cross by Emperor Constantine's mother Helena.

During these fiestas and festivals, Filipino hospitality is truly remarkable. Families who celebrate these events sometimes go into debt just to entertain their guest in a most lavish style.So many months of savings and preparation, fattening those cattle, pigs and chicken and these are only consumed in a day or two.

Many heirloom recipes, homemade delicacies and snacks come to bloom during the fiesta. Take the case of the Torta from the town of Argao; some shops in town sell these delicacies on a daily basis but only during a fiesta can you taste, excuse me, the truly remarkable ones.

There is a hotel here that collects all these dishes and delicacies, the best that these towns in Cebu have to offer and these are available at the Kan-anan Restaurant of Cebu Parklane Hotel (corner Archbishop Reyes & Escario St, www.

In fact, Parklane Hotel sponsors cooking competitions like the Sangka sa Kaha and last January, it was held in the town of Ronda.The winner was Lucia Ypanto who prepared the best humba and it is now served at the Kan-anan Restaurant with Ms. Ypanto as guest cook and her dish will be a staple in the menu.

Your favorite food columnist was invited to the launching last March 23 and finally had a taste of the authentic Humba de Ronda, along with other specialities like the Labtingaw, Linarang nga Isda, Ginabot, Pochero, Bam-i Guisado, Adobong Atay ug Batikulon and desserts like the Suman with Ube Haliya and Torta Argao.

For my beloved readers, today, I will share the original Cebuano recipe for Humba, from the book Lagda sa Pagpangluto written in April 1923 by Maria F. De Rallos. I made an attempt to translate the recipe into English because it was written in Cebuano.


1 libra baboy (1 pound (?) pork, preferably belly portion cut into large pieces, 4 fingers (gibag-on) length and 3 fingers (gitas-on) width


8 lusok ahos (8 cloves garlic)


5 cucharang tawsiyo (tablespoons of fermented black beans)


1/3 c. suka (vinegar)


2 c. tubig (water)


1/3 c. kamay (brown sugar)


½ canela (cinnamon?)


½ sanki (star anise)


8 lugas pimienta (pieces of whole black peppercorn)

After cleaning the pork, place in the kaha (wok). Place some water and boil to remove the excess fat then remove when pork is a bit red in color. Transfer to a kolon (earthen cookware) with the bottom lined with cut pieces of tubo (sugarcane), add the water, vinegar, black beans and diutay nga panakut sa insik (a pinch of vetsin, according to old folks). Ilung-ag (boil) until pork is tender. Taste for its sweetness, sourness or saltiness.

Notice that no soy sauce is used and sugarcane pieces are placed at the bottom of the pot to prevent the pork from sticking. Instructions are silent when to add the sugar, cinnamon (Chinese variety), star anise and peppercorns. Remember the year is 1923 and only freshly slaughtered native black pigs were used (no freezers then) and fire came from wood, charcoal or coconut husk (no LPG). This adds a smoky flavor to the humba.

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