Oh my goodness. You just never know when a post will stir a bit of controversy. And as usual, it seems to crop up in the most seemingly innocuous topics. First it was yemas. Then it was a fishpan. Now it seems I have inadvertently ruffled feathers over my previous post on budbud kabog. First, let me say that I have always liked Maribel Van Hovenâ€™s budbud kabog sold at the Salcedo Market on Saturdays. I even featured her products last year in this post and have mentioned her wonderful budbuds repeatedly. But little did I know that an email which has apparently disappeared into cyberspace and another comment in the previous post would upset Ms. Van Hoven. Let me recap the whole episode in an effort to try and understand what could have smacked the proverbial overcooked kabog against an electric fan set on highâ€¦
On September 3rd, I received a comment from Ms. Van Hoven from which a quote a relevant portion here (full comment is on my post on Cebuano Bam-i):
â€¦â€¦I have only been selling the rice suman but I have many demands for the millet suman (budbud kabog) I would like to know if you know or heard about any place in Cebu where I can find and buy the millet grain? I have checked the market in Cebu and they say there is none. I was thinking of checking Bohol too but I am not sure if there is. I know that Budbud Kabog is sold in Cebu so they must have the millet grain there …I just can’t find where to buy. (Millet grain for the birds is easy to find but its the ground millet specially for cooking the budbud is what I need)I read here that you travel a lot ( read your article on Cebu Pacific and yes I heard some scarey stories on Cebu Pacific as my family travels from Negros to Manila often) I was just wondering if you could help me with this dilemma.Thank you in advance.
I happened to be in Cebu a few days later and answered Maribelâ€™s email with the following email which I reprint in full (emphasis is new):
I am in Cebu at the moment. I have sent people to scour the Carbon market and after several hours visiting nearly all of the stores, they have located one store that sells kabog. I am guessing it is the right one. But it is a whopping PHP170 a kilo!!! The vendor only had 3 kilos of stock and I had my guy buy all of it. It doesn’t look like much frankly.He cannot guarantee supply, I asked him if he could get it by the sack… Perhaps my next visit I will have them try other markets.I have never made a budbud kabog and I wonder if you could give me some tips…I realize your recipe is a family heirloom so I wouldn’t ask for that. Just the general method. Do I soak the kabog overnight first? Then cook with coconut milk before wrapping and steaming? Or do I just go straight to cooking it with coconut milk then steam it?If you are at the Salcedo market this weekend I can hopefully drop by and show you the raw millet that I got in Cebu to find out if it is the right one. If I find more volume, I will let you know.
When Marketman got back to Manila, I did go to the Salcedo Market and I did show the kabog to Maribel who did confirm that it was the right millet indeed. I told her I would get back to her after my next trip to Cebu and if I could find more supply. I did not give her the name of the supplier because I didnâ€™t know it. My staff from the Cebu office are the ones who went to the Carbon market. But I am sure they could escort Maribel to the source if necessary or desired.
Since I did not receive a reply to the email above, I decided to test recipes as I narrated in my previous post on budbud kabog. At any rate, in the comments to the previous post on Budbud Kabog, I never mentioned in the main post that I had not received a recipe from Maribel. It is only in the comments section that the following comment from Mila was received:
MM, in case this question hasnâ€™t been answered, would the Salcedo market lady have a recipe you can try? Perhaps it would have eased your pain to get her to teach you how to make it first. Does seem sad to think that millet is fast disappearing from our natural habitat. I hope you find a local supply soon.
To which, I answered with this reply:
Mila, I actually asked, but didnâ€™t get a replyâ€¦so I gather the family recipe is not one to be shared. Which I totally understand. Even if I promised not to sell it commercially. But now that I am figuring out the recipe on my own, maybe I should sell it to make up for all the â€œdevelopmentâ€ costs – a large tank of gas, kilos of millet, lots of coconuts, sugar, sweat, etc. Since I figure the budbud kabog costs just PHP4-5 each to make, my staff could make a mint these holidays if they sold say 2-3,000 pieces by special orderâ€¦ hmmm, there go my social action ideas againâ€¦ heeheeâ€¦
Please note that up until this point, I never once mentioned Ms. van Hoven’s name in an effort to keep her out of the issue totally. Several comments down, however, Ms. Van Hoven wrote this commentâ€¦
Maribel Van Hoven wrote:
I think I made a mistake in asking for your help. Now I will have another competitor!
Anyway, I did reply to your letter where you mentioned that you were in Cebu and able to find Kabog but I did not get a reply to that letter of mine.
In that letter I enclosed a recipe that was close to how I did the kabog so its not fair for you to say I did no share any information on how to make budbud kabog.
Also I wrote you a letter to help me find kabog but you never told me how and where I can get it. Yes you said you can find it in Cebu market(and I knew this already) but no details. And here in your article you said it costs P150 but in my letter you said it was a whopping P170! So which is right? I also offered to compensate for your trouble and friendly gesture to help me out but I guess I was wrong to think that you could help and I think that you could even hurt my business as you have written an article on how to make it. Am sadâ€¦.
As I mentioned above, I never received the email from Ms. Van Hoven with the recipe. If I did, I would never have told Mila that I had not. And I would never have had to try five separate attempts and waste 3 kilos of kabog. There would be no reason to do so. As for having a competitor, not to worry, I have no intention of going into business selling budbud kabog commercially. If you have read this blog from the start, you would know that I have NEVER withheld a recipe and I have shared all of my recipes as I use them. I think good recipes are best served when they are known to more people so that more people can eat well. I have posted disasters and I have posted triumphs. I have NEVER EVER made any money out of this site and have spent several hundred thousand pesos on it thus far. In fact, most of the times that I mention a vendor on this site, their sales have risen significantly in the weeks following the post. Several vendors at the Salcedo market have told me that sales in some cases rose 30-60% the weekend after I featured them so if there is anyone who has gained from a mention on this site, it is the vendor itself, not Marketman. As I said in my email earlier and at the market, I would wait until getting back to Cebu to find out if there was more supply or any other sources. I have not yet gone back to Cebu, but because of the controversy, for your benefit and that of all the thousands of readers of Market Manila, I just called my office in Cebu and had the same guy take a cab to the Carbon market to find out the following information so that everyone can benefit. The supplier in the market is:
Ms. Tessie Tariman
Nardaâ€™s Store, Carbon Market 09067767284 and landline 032-2563301
The store quoted PHP170 a kilo when first asked, and yielded to PHP150 a kilo for a bulk purchase. That in response to your odd suggestion that I intentionally gave you the wrong price.
Also in the interest of Market Manilaâ€™s readers, I sent the same scout to several other Cebu markets and at the Mandaue Market he seems to have located additional sources of kabog which he will let me know first thing tomorrow morning and I will post it here when I have the information. I do not consider anyone who is making a local dish or delicacy to have a patent on that dish and I regret that you feel I am doing harm to your business by trying to post a recipe of budbud kabog. When I posted a recipe on an heirloom ensaimada did it kill off Cunananâ€™s? Mary Grace’s? Or Marc Medinaâ€™s at the Salcedo Market? When I posted a recipe on pan de sal, did Pan de Manila shudder and shutter its branches? Of course not. I have posted several hundred recipes on Filipino food before and I have NOT censored myself because I thought it would reduce the sales of any one vendor of a product. In fact, all of this attention is likely to increase the consumer interest in a product that is heretofore less well known. As you can see from the many other comments in the previous post, readers are just as curious about locating and reading about a recipe that works. Most of my readers have been extremely generous with their recipes and it is never an issue as to whether trade secrets are being divulged. Even in my email above, I deliberately avoided asking Ms. Van Hoven for the entire recipe so that I would have to figure the details out myself. Much of the confusion would have been avoided perhaps if I had received Ms. Van Hovenâ€™s email with her instructions. However, I did not. I absolutely do not begrudge anyone who chooses to keep their recipes private. But neither should folks think they have a monopoly on any one dish, especially one that goes back several centuries. Not to worry, Ms. Van Hoven, folks will continue to pay PHP20 a budbud as they have neither the time nor the desire to make their own for PHP5 each if from scratch. And now that I have graciously given you the source of kabog in Cebu with one more option to come hopefully, (where your own efforts I might add, by your own admission, to locate kabog in Cebu were fruitless), you shall continue to make money with your budbuds. Stay tuned for more information regarding other sources of millet and my final recipe when I get my next batch of kabog… Oh, and by the way, the photo up top is of an overcooked batch of kabog…now imagine a handfull of it flung directly at my industrial electric fan at full speed… :)