Maguindanao is known for a lot of bad news. All we ever seem to hear about from that region are stories about massacres, violence, and uprising. But Maguindanao and the surrounding provinces of Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and the other areas in the ARMM are bursting with diverse culture and beautiful cuisine.

This region was the most resistant to Spanish colonization and so they were able to retain many of their original customs and recipes, passed down from previous Muslim generations. Everything from the music to the costumes and the food has stories that the rest of the Philippines isn’t really aware of.

 

I met a bunch of wonderful people who have grown with so much love for their identity and culture. They have a sense of pride that I wish all Filipinos would have. Despite our many “differences”, they were so open to sharing their culture and food with me. It’s about time we stopped looking at what separates us, and instead focus on what connects us all as Filipinos.

I took a trip down to Maguindanao and Cotabato City. There are so many things to explore in the area but I focused mainly on food. From street snacks to feasts saved for special occasions, I tried as much as I could in the short time I spent there. One of my favorite experiences was cooking pilipit with Babu Asya. Did you know that pilipit, a twisted treat that is usually deep fried and coated with syrup or sugar, is also made in South Africa? They have their own version of the twisted “donut” called Twisted Sisters or koeksisters! Babu Asya makes her pilipit with a unique, purple twist. She uses purple rice which is then ground into a flour-like powder. With a bit of water she makes a purple dough for deep frying.

Want to see more of what I got into in Maguindanao? Check out my video below!

Erwan Heussaff
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