VIGAN CITY, Ilocos Sur?Care for some ?malunggay? ice cream? Or would you prefer ?ampalaya? or ?sili??
An ice cream manufacturer in Ilocos Sur is using vegetables to make frozen treats.
Instead of chocolate, vanilla or even mango, Bungro Ice Cream, based in San Ildefonso town, offers marunggay (malunggay or moringa), paria (ampalaya or bitter gourd) and sili (chili) flavors.
And surprise, surprise?the veggie flavors are a tremendous hit.
In less than a year, Bungro, named after the village which is home to the ice cream factory, has grown and now has eight ice cream peddlers.
This early, Bungro owner William Pangot has decided to share his success: For every P10 cup or cone of ice cream sold, Bungro will donate P1 to the feeding program of San Ildefonso students.
Let them eat malunggay
Another culinary hit in Ilocos is the malunggay cake.
A creation of 4 Stars bakeshop in Sto. Domingo town, the malunggay cake is actually a box of 16 muffins sold for P110.
The ingredients, according to bakeshop owner Elizabeth Benzon, are malunggay leaves, sugar, egg, raisins and baking soda.
Benzon says most of her customers are balikbayan who buy baked goods as gifts and teachers who sell the muffins to their students.
?The teachers in our place have suggested that I put more vegetables in my products,? she says.
?Go veggies!? seems to be the Ilocano people?s rallying cry against global recession.
In fact, Sto. Domingo is promoting squash noodles for its One Town One Product (OTOP) program, which the town sells to local and international markets.
Ilocos Sur Gov. Deogracias Victor Savellano has also started his ?Pinakbet Farms,? a flagship project for Ilocos Sur?s antipoverty program.
?We are going back to the basics with backyard gardening,? he says.
It has allocated P2.5 million for the promotion of vegetable gardening in Ilocos Sur.
Provincial administrator Vicky Cu says the Ilocano people are known for being vegetable-eaters, thus, vegetables were featured in the Kannawidan (Heritage) Festival held here from Jan. 28 to Feb. 3.
?There was a food fair, cultural dances and a fashion show using Ilocano fabric,? Cu says.
There was also a trade and agricultural fair which showcased the province?s services and products including vegetables.
A crowd drawer was the ?Pinaka? contest where the biggest vegetables were on exhibit. Popular were the longest and biggest upo (white gourd), the longest moringa fruit, the biggest papaya, the longest ampalaya, the longest ear of corn and the biggest tomato.
Also on exhibit were the biggest catfish and sea urchin.
?Although the prizes were modest, there was fierce competition among the farmers here,? Savellano says.
Cu says since Ilocos depends heavily on remittances from overseas contract workers and immigrants, the effect of the world recession is imminent.
?But Ilocanos are simple people. As long as they have vegetables in their backyards, they are content,? she says.