Pampanga city shares ‘suman’ on feast day | Inquirer News

Pampanga city shares ‘suman’ on feast day

/ 08:37 PM May 30, 2011

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Residents here shared 2,050 pieces of “suman” (native rice cake) on the 257th feast day of the patron saint of this Pampanga capital yesterday to highlight one of the top products of the city.

At six to seven inches each, wrapped in “ebus” (coconut frond leaves) and laid end to end on tables, the native snack stretched a kilometer long between the City Hall and the Metropolitan Cathedral at 7 a.m., city tourism officer Ching Pangilinan said.

By 8 a.m., when the cathedral bells sounded off preparations for the Mass, Mayor Oscar Rodriguez led city employees in handing two pieces of suman to every resident, many of them children, who lined up to get their share.


Rosita Santiago, 73, took her share before entering the church.


“Giving out suman is a simple way of celebrating our fiesta. We should thank Apung Fernandu (Saint Ferdinand III of Castille) for watching over our city and making us safe,” Santiago said.

Rodriguez said the native rice cake is made to shine in this feast to celebrate the hard work of suman makers.

The native snack’s ingredients are simple. These are 100 kilogram of freshly squeezed coconut milk, 200 kg of glutinous rice, and 5 kg of salt, said Marian Austria, the event’s suman maker.

It took 15 workers about 40 hours or roughly two days cooking the suman by mixing the ingredients, boiling them to perfection and blending non-stop using large wooden ladles on slow fire, Austria said.

“Getting the right consistency and taste takes time. We were almost sleepless,” she said.

It entailed 10 bundles of fronds sourced from Quezon and western Pampanga, to wrap small amounts of the cooked glutinous rice.


In Austria’s village, there are no signs that the homegrown industry is dying. Purok Kuatro in Barangay San Pedro Cutud—also known for its Christmas lanterns and real-life crucifixion—has more than 50 suman makers.

Austria, 33, learned making suman from her mother, Perla Catacutan.

“She required us children to help in the cooking when we were still in elementary school,” Austria said.

She had to take over five years ago when her mother had to rest following a heart attack.

“We’re tired but we’re very happy when we saw that many people are enjoying the suman. Our fatigue is gone,” she said.

Suman making, as an industry, is shared by San Pedro Cutud with its border village, Cabalantian in Bacolor town. Like those in Cabalantian, suman makers in San Pedro Cutud also make tamales and various kinds of suman from corn and cassava.

Tamales is made of ground rice steamed in a thick wrap of banana leaves and topped with peanut sauce and shredded ham or chicken or boiled egg.

Suman making gives jobs to neighbors because it remains labor-intensive. Suman makers earn more than P500 a day.

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Despite quick-serving hamburgers and hotdogs, Austria said suman survives because it “eases hunger quickly.” It does not also harm the environment because the wrapper is natural and biodegradable, she said. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon

TAGS: Fiestas, Food, Regions, Tradition

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