Text and images by Mary Angela S. Barlongay
Bohol has everything—beautiful beaches with clear blue water and white sand, adorable tarsiers, and chocolate hills. But wait there’s more. Just as we start the year, Bohol celebrated its 17th Ubi Festival, a festival not known by many but loved here in Bohol.
17th Ubi Festival
Ube/ubi (purple yam) is a well loved root crop in Bohol for it is believed to have saved a lot of Boholanos from severe famine during the war. They treat ube with great respect that in some traditions, they offer the first harvest to the gods and ancestors. Elders also believe that if ever you drop an ube on the ground you must kiss it, as if it is something sacred.
Since January 2000, Boholanos has been celebrating the Ubi Festival in the city of Tagbilaran. It is their way to manifest their gratitude for a good harvest. The event gathers everyone from students, chefs, businessmen, and celebrities. This year, with the theme “Ubing Bol-anon Dugang Palambo-on; Mga Batan-on Ang Pagananom Buhaton,” headed by Governor Edgar Chatto, the event stared with the installation of booths and exhibits showcasing products made with ube—muffins, jams, polvorons, empanadas, and more. Followed by a motorcade and the “Pinaka Contest,” where the biggest and the best ube harvest was given an award. A Literary Musical Contest was held at the Plaza Rizal where big prizes were at stake for the Ubi Balak (farmer and student categories), Ubi Poster Making, Ubi Kuradang (farmer and student categories), and Ubi Rap/Jingle. Last year, a feisty cooking battle was held at Bohol Cultural Center, where the best chef from different restaurants, resorts, and hotels in Bohol battled out to give their best dish made with ube. Bellevuew’s creamy silky ayan seafood soup became the winning dish.
During the Ubi Festival, Boholanos showed that aside from sweets and deserts, ubi can be used to create different delectable dishes.
Amorita resort in Panglao, a 97-room luxury resort that won awards for excellence from Conde Nast Johansens and Tripadvisor, offers its guests with a four-course meal all made with its special ingredient—ube. For starters, guests were served with an ube- flavored soft rolls; followed by fried ube prawn puff with hoisin bbq sauce, pickled cabbage salad pork soup with purple yam, and shitake mushroom; Surf and turf, aged Australian ribeye yakiniku with soy glazed shrimp mushroom; Prawn tempura on sesame bakchoi and purple yan muusseline with ginger sweet soy reduction; and an ube lava cake that truly melts in your mouth.
A vintage looking restaurant in Tagbilaran called 10:31 serves a special ube royale cake and upgraded their ordinary salad with peanut kisses and ube chunks. While at Amerela Resort’s restaurant, they added ube to the well loved turon that was perfect match to its sweet ube milkshake. Amerela Resort’s rooms replicates old traditional Filipino houses and guests can enjoy its infinity pool and public art gallery from the owners’ collection.