Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Since I was a child, I have always had a sweet tooth. I think I took after my Mom in this regard. I remember she would actually eat a teaspoonful of sugar if there was no dessert or fruit to be had. I never got that bad, but I do remember that Mommy used to take orders for birthday and wedding cakes and I was the unofficial "finisher" of whatever batter or frosting was left in the mixing bowl or spatula or mixing spoons. After the cakes were baked, I would scrape the crust that was left on the baking pans. And this did not stop me from eating the finished product either.

I was also very fond of salty stuff as a young boy. I wouldn't/couldn't eat anything without ginamos, the Bisaya version of bagoong. At that time, ginamos was ambrosia, the one element that completed each meal that I took. My yaya 'Nang Carmen tried to get me to stop my ginamos habit, but she failed, notwithstanding the fact that she was a tough cookie. So tough that among the help, she was the only one who could get away with talking back to Mommy. Exasperated, 'Nang Carmen took me to the mercado (palengke) one day and took me to the smelly dried fish section, where the ginamos was also sold. She pointed to me row upon row of recycled Baguio Cooking Oil cans, filled to the brim with the fantastic and familiar fermented aroma of my beloved ginamos. Never mind that the surface was bubbling (I now would like to think from the ongoing fermentation), or that the color was an unappetizing brackish puce-grey blend.

Ginamos sold by the taro in a wet market. In my childhood, the ginamos was stored in huge recycled Baguio Cooking Oil cans
(Image courtesy of

None of this mattered to this (erstwhile) diehard ginamos fan. Until 'Nang Carmen pointed out the rust that line the cans, inside and out, and told me, "Tan-awa nang mga lata, gipang-taya tungod sa ginamos! Gusto nimo tayaon imong tinai? Na hala, kaon pa ug daghang ginamos!" (Look at how badly-rusted the cans are! That's because of the ginamos! You want your insides to rust away? Go ahead and eat more ginamos!) Well, that was my first does of aversion therapy, and 'Nang Carmen was not a good yaya for nothing. From then on, I have been avoiding ginamos and nothing can make me touch it now. Unless there's ginamos, biyasong (Bisaya lime), siling kaguko and nilung-ag nga saging hilaw (boiled unripe banana). Otherwise, when I look at ginamos now, it doesn't look so appetizing anymore, on a plate, much less when it is in a plastic pail (the Baguio Oil cans have since been phased out in favor of plastic).

A typical Bisaya painit (merienda) of boiled unripe banana with a ginamos-sili-biyasong/kalamansi dipping sauce
(Image courtesy of


Anonymous said...

i liked ginamos as a kid but would devour the ones from Cebu with those red intestines sticking out, what did they call them, turnos? pug-an ug biyasong or kalamansi, and yes, boiled unripe banana. heaven.

Zelmarq said...

wow, its my favorite, makes me want to eat saging na hilaw.....sigh...


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