Comebacking 'sili' king and new 'queen' shine in Magayon Festival | Inquirer News

Comebacking ‘sili’ king and new ‘queen’ shine in Magayon Festival

The two winners each ate 2 bowls of hot, spicy Bicol specialties in 57 seconds and 1 and a half minutes, respectively

Jomar Balderama and Mary Jane Sorro are crowned the “Sili” King and Queen of 2017 in Albay’s Magayo Festival after each eating two bowls of Bicol specialties packed with chili pepper in record time in the last week of May 2017. (PHOTO BY MICHAEL JAUCIAN / INQUIRER SOUTHERN LUZON)

LEGAZPI CITY, Albay — For Jomar Balderama and Mary Jane Sorro, the newly crowned “Sili King” and “Sili Queen,” joining the Hot-aw sa Kaonan (chili eating contest) during the “Magayon” Festival meant eating bowls of Bicol Express and Laing made spicier than usual by loads of siling labuyo (chili peppers).

Balderama, who hails from Barangay (village) Tumpa in Camalig town, was also the Sili King in 2012 and 2015.


He said eating and finishing the two bowls of Bicol specialties in just 57 seconds was his fastest time.


“Whenever I join the contest, it really excites me because I would like to test myself if I could bear the hotness of Bicol express and Laing they served,” he said.

The Magayon Festival is a month-long celebration in Albay of its local culture, its way of life and its communities; its natural wonders and tourist spots, especially Mount Mayon; and  its history,
accomplishments and progress as a province.

The sili eating contest spotlights the distinctive spicy cuisine of Albay as part of Bicolandia.

Contestants, divided in the male and female categories, were told to eat and finish two bowls, each containing 250 grams of Bicol express and Laing, without drinking water. The fastest win the title of Sili King and Queen.

Sorro, a resident of Taysan village here and a first timer in the contest, said beating the other nine contenders in the women’s category proved her roots as a Bicolana. Sorro took only a minute and 35 seconds to finish eating the two viands.

“It was very hard chewing and swallowing the food….it is very hot,” she said.


Asked what she would do with the P10,000 cash prize she said she “will buy school supplies for my kids and basic things needed at home.”

Aspiring sili kings down two bowls of Bicol specialties packed with siling labuyo or chili pepper at the 2017 Magayon Festival on May 23, 2017. (PHOTO BY MICHAEL JAUCIAN / INQUIRER SOUTHERN LUZON)

Sheree Longaza, event coordinator said the sili eating contest, which started in 1999, was the highlight of the Magayon Festival.

“There were changes in the mechanics in the previous years, contestants were asked to eat pure siling labuyo, but now we converted it into viands but still loaded with siling labuyo,” she said.

She said before they allowed the contestants to join the contest, they check if their blood pressure rates were normal.

A Singaporean tourist called “Jappah” tried the challenge (open category), and found the experience enjoyable.

“My God! The siling labuyo is very spicy! I encourage everybody to take the challenge,” he said.

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Dorothy Fernandez-Colle, Albay tourism officer, said the Hot-aw Kaonan contest has been a way to promote authentic Bicol cuisine.  SFM

TAGS: Albay, Bicol, Celebration, Cuisine, Culture, Feasts, Festivals, Food, History, laing, Provinces, public events, Sili King, Sili Queen, siling labuyo, Tourism, Travel

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