Linubihan as Christmas Treat

Linubihan is THE food for the gods.  It is a Leyte delicacy, so named because Lubi or coconut is one of its major components.  Can you commercialize Linubihan?  If you can put a price tag to your labor of love–to your soul–then go ahead.

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Guinarona, with its world-class irrigation system, is a major rice producer in Region 8, Philippines. Naturally, on important occasions, such as the Guinarona Fiesta and Christmas, rice, in all its permutations, figures well in the tableau.

Among our Christmas activities, including assisting and singing in the series of Misas de Gallo, making the Linubihan on December 23, is tops. Guinaronanhons rarely do it–very strenuous, this linubihan business–but when they do, it is an event they cherish forever. You need a team to do Linubihan, two huge wooden mortars, nine wooden pestles (the three are alternates). The clique members, male or female, should have the stamina of bulls–as in, you need all the energy you can muster to do the ceaseless pounding (for making the pilipig), which in some cases lasts 24 hours non-stop. Meanwhile, the other team members are in charge of making the bukayo—grated coconut cooked in syrup with anise flavor– which you mix into the cooked pilipig (the first product of the intense pounding), which mixture you are going to pound gingerly again to make the Linubihan. Also, part of the pilipig is ground to a flour, and this is applied as a coating and at the same time incorporated into the mixture for pounding.

Pounding by threes in making Linubihan

Pounding by threes in making Linubihan

Group members proceed to the site of making the Linubihan (usually the granary) with jocose disposition, singing along, as the moist December breeze caresses their faces. During roasting of the fresh rice and its pounding, much ribbing and taunting occur, as to who are the expert bayoheros, and who the clumsy ones. The jocularity prevails all throughout, and it makes the work easier and fun. The staccato of the pounding sound and the group revelry reverberate throughout the night and could be heard for miles. Very tricky is the pounding by threes, and it takes skill and practice to make it work.

At the end of the day and the linubihan done, the finished product is shared among the team. Mucho delicioso is how to describe it. And why not–you perspire in all parts of your body making it.

And damn if you put a price tag to your Linubihan for Christmas.

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