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PRESIDENT QUIRINO, Philippines – San Pedro, formerly Tuato, is a small barangay in the municipality of President Quirino, province of Sultan Kudarat, known for its muscovado products. This is even made special as the locals themselves produce it, ensuring a high quality that makes it “tatak San Pedro.”
Blessed with hectares of farmlands, San Pedro’s annual sugarcane, locally known as “unas” or “tubo” harvest, fuels the production of muscovado across its three operating factories. This abundance is celebrated annually with a vibrant muscovado festival, an expression of gratitude for the barangay’s bountiful harvests.
In keeping with this tradition, kakanin makers in the barangay prepare a variety of delicacies using muscovado, infusing each bite with the essence of San Pedro’s sweet success.
Several pasalubong (gift) stalls line the national highway, marketing these products, some of them even exported to nearby municipalities like Tacurong City and Isulan.
San Pedro is a treasure trove of delectable muscovado treats! Let’s explore some of their most popular offerings.
Classic Muscovado sugar
A rich, brown-colored sugar made from evaporated sugarcane juice and draining off the molasses. This muscovado sugar boasts of a toffee-like taste and can be a healthy substitute for regular sugar as it has a lower glycemic index compared to refined ones. It can delight your palate with your favorite biko latik, puto bumbong, and kalamay hati. This can be bought for P90 per pack.
Pakta’al (Muscovado bars)
One key difference between pakta’al and muscovado sugar lies in their post-processing methods. While muscovado sugar requires significant effort to refine it further, pakta’al only needs to be cooled. Once cooled, it is cut into bars, then coated in oil and sesame seeds. Pakta’al is sold for P30 per pack.
Bokayo is a classic Filipino dessert that awakens the taste buds with its chewy texture and rich sweetness. The main star of the show is the gelatinous coconut strips, also known as buko, which offer a delightful bite with a hint of coconutty flavor.
But what truly elevates bokayo to another level is the muscovado sugar. It’s sold for P30 per pack.
Sinamak (Sugarcane spiced vinegar)
Sinamak is not your average vinegar – it’s fermented sugarcane juice infused with a vibrant blend of spices like chilies, onions, garlic, ginger, and sometimes even black peppercorns. This potent concoction undergoes a multi-month fermentation process, resulting in a complex and aromatic vinegar with a fiery kick. It can be bought for P50 per bottle.
Anelita Bando, 57, who has been selling muscovado pasalubong items since 2013, said that marketing these products serves as a means to showcase the vibrant culture of Barangay San Pedro, particularly to those who are not native to the area.
“Nami gid ni nga pamaagi nga makatabang nga makilala ang aton barangay kay ang bal-an ko, kita lang ang may muscovado pasalubong stalls dire sa aton munisipyo,” Bando said.
(This is actually a way to promote our barangay because, as far as I know, we are the only barangay that has muscovado pasalubong stores within our municipality.).
“May ara ko suki halin pa sa Davao City, Bukidnon, kag may ara man sa Manila. Gabalik-balik dire kay namit daw ang muscovado,” she added. (I even have loyal customers from Davao City, Bukidnon, and even in Manila. They revisit frequently because they find muscovado irresistibly delicious.)
You can buy all of these at more than five pasalubong stores, located conveniently alongside the national highway.
More than just pasalubong, these are products of San Pedro’s soul. Savor the flavors, feel the textures, and discover the stories within. – Rappler.com
Brian Jay B. Baybayan is an Aries Rufo Journalism Fellow for 2023-2024.