28 Feb2008


There is something so wonderful about the color green, particularly when experienced at a provincial market with farm fresh produce. The color green can be soothing and invigorating at the same time. In this post, I feature photos of several “greens” – leafy vegetables both familiar and not, as well as other veggies colored green. Up top, a huge pile of betel leaves, buyo to locals, overturned, and waiting for buyers. I know betel leaves are used as part of a Thai dish (a wrapper for herbs, dried shrimps, lime and sometimes sour fruit like green mango), but locally I think it’s main use is to wrap betel fruit for the traditionalists to chew on and get their nicotine fix…


A “discovery” for me on this recent trip is a common local green called “lubi-lubi“. I will be doing a separate post on this green as I was fascinated by its color, shape and crispness. So stay tuned for that post… suffice it to say I have never seen this green before, let alone tasted it.


Another revelation were these cassava tops on sale. A vibrant light green with red stems, I never realized folks ate the young greens of cassava. Again, I don’t think I have ever eaten young cassava greens. This same vendor also had all of the other greens like talbos ng kamote, ampalaya, saluyot, etc.


Bicol seems to be one of the epicenters of pako (fern) production. I always assumed that pako grew in dark moist rainforests but I actually came across a LOT of pako in suburban coconut plantations and roadside underbrush around Legazpi. I LOVE pako so I was in heaven when i spotted all of this incredible pako at the market… but wait, I had no access to a kitchen so I could look but not eat, bummer!


Who would have thought a pile of banana leaves could be so photogenic?


The selection of chillies at the market was pretty impressive… and if you notice, these are a darker green variety than the finger chillies often seen in Manila groceries packaged in styrofoam and plastic wrap.


Really healthy stalks of lemongrass or tanglad were also on offer, yet another of my favorite ingredients.


And finally, bilaos filled with green tomatoes…



  1. rachel says:

    MM, these are gorgeous photos.i wonder if you know lagikway,it’s
    a type of greens that’s kinda like okra in consistency. i’m from gumaca quezon and my grandma and mom-in-law always prepare this whenever i come visit as this is one of my favorites.it gets steamed and served with a squeeze of calamansi and bagoong isda.yum! i really miss that.i love you blogs.

    Feb 28, 2008 | 10:23 am


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  3. Maria Clara says:

    Your pictures say it all — green is beautiful and healthy! My grandmother used to say lubi lubi comes out only after lightning strike. It is good sautéed like sitaw with shrimp and pork and the juice of the pounded shrimp heads and shells seasoned with patis. I believe the betel leaves and nuts have some powerful dental antioxidant. I do not know of anyone who chew these goodies with bad breath and they have strong teeth. Well just to chew that dry betel nut in and of itself a proven statement! Their reddish orifice looks horrible to me though. I heard it too though unsure whether it’s an old wife’s tale that cassava leaves are poisonous did not have any idea that it’s edible.

    Feb 28, 2008 | 10:25 am

  4. penoybalut says:

    Young cassava (balinghoy)leaves were used to wrap the biya fish, not sure what it sa Inglis, cooked in coconut milk. It is pretty savory, as it provides a texture and contrast in flavor to the fish. The fish alone with coconut milk is a little flat. Not much contrast or texture to hold on to. You’re right about the betel leaves, it is used by the elderly folks for their nicotine fix, nganga in Tagalog, they chew on it with other elements and spit something red and pungent.

    Oh to be a Pinoy, your post certainly evokes memories of my childhood.

    Salamat po!

    Feb 28, 2008 | 10:42 am

  5. Marketman says:

    rachel, unfortunately, I have not come across lagikway, and I googled it and can’t even find a photo! Yet another vegetable to add to my must find and taste list… MC, yes, isn’t the range of greens fascinating? penoybalut, glad to bring you a bit of nostalgia…

    Feb 28, 2008 | 10:44 am

  6. kasseopeia says:

    Rachel, is lakagway similar to saluyot?

    I also love anything green and needless to say I wanted to grab everything in the photos. When I am depressed I crave chocolates and a big green salad, haha.

    I would love to slice up those green tomatoes, dip them in beaten egg, roll in bread crumbs and fry on olive oil. Yum!

    Feb 28, 2008 | 11:40 am

  7. rachel says:

    kasseopeia, i don’t think it’s the same but i’m not sure.it’s a little bit on the slimy side (good slimy though).and i do love fried green tomatoes also.i use cornmeal,salt,pepper and a little garlic powder. can’t wait till summer now when my sister’s garden have lots of tomatoes.

    Feb 28, 2008 | 11:48 am

  8. Pedro says:

    Hi MM,
    I have the now the contact number of the person who made the tortas from Bohol posted here for sometime: BELEN CIMAFRANCA, Poblacion, Dauis, Bohol: Cel No. 09106341057; 09159144452; PLDT Line: 038 4160019

    Feb 28, 2008 | 11:49 am

  9. Marketman says:

    Pedro, I will post contact details in the torta post… thanks!

    Feb 28, 2008 | 11:53 am

  10. joey says:

    These photos leave me sighing…i love markets and pretty vegetables! :)

    Feb 28, 2008 | 2:41 pm

  11. Marketman says:

    joey, I think we were a tindera/tindero in a nice farmer’s market in a previous lifetime. I take GREAT pleasure from my market forays. And for the price of less than one shoe, you get so much more in a provincial market… so it’s better than going to a mall, in my opinion!

    Feb 28, 2008 | 2:47 pm

  12. misao says:

    i am wary about the natural cyanide content of cassava so i haven’t tried eating cassava tops… but one of the frozen vegetable exporters i’ve worked with have this. they would blanch then grind the leaves before packing and freezing. they told me it is cooked like laing.

    Feb 28, 2008 | 2:50 pm

  13. alicia says:

    I was so excited when I saw your pictures and thought I had better get to the Legazpi market to get me some greens on Sunday, only to realize when I read through the end that this is the Legazpi Market as in BICOL and not Legazpi Village… Oh no!

    Feb 28, 2008 | 2:51 pm

  14. Marketman says:

    alicia, I have added “Albay” to the title to prevent confusion… :)

    Feb 28, 2008 | 2:58 pm

  15. Teresa says:

    MM, up north we call the market, dapon. It’s the Ilocano word that conjures images of green, greener and greenest! With dapon hapenning only once a week in a town all the buyers and sellers flock to this activity religiously. I hope you can feature markets when you travel up north.

    Very interesting greens in today’s post. I wonder how you will prepare the pako. I have never tried it.

    Feb 28, 2008 | 3:41 pm

  16. Marketman says:

    Teresa, I have done posts on markets in Vigan and Laoag, as well as Baguio in the past, they are in the archives…

    Feb 28, 2008 | 3:48 pm

  17. Pedro says:

    One of the things which really excites me is going to the market such as one featured here. I happened to be with MM,in legaspi market, althougn it was windy and raining and we were in the third floor of legaspi market, I enjoyed being there so much. We were sometimes wet with the water of the makeshift stalls yet it did not matter. It is sad to note that some of the nice things in the provincial market, are slowly disappearing as few consumer are interested. These things are not found in the books nor at school, yet it really gave me a quantum leap of what I learned in school. Thanx MM for bringing me there. And again to market we shall go.

    Feb 28, 2008 | 4:57 pm

  18. Eina says:

    This got me thinking…cassava and rhubarb both have red stalks and are both poisonous.

    Feb 28, 2008 | 7:02 pm

  19. Maria says:

    Very nice post and pictures, MM. I love “pako” with something they locally call “sopsop” (it is a small triangular-ish shaped shell. Baby pako is better as it is tender than the bigger ones.Have you seen siling labuyo, MM? Mabalos for the post.

    Feb 28, 2008 | 7:13 pm

  20. honey says:

    MM, next time you’re in legazpi and if you can spare the time, try dropping by at the central market of naga city. It’s in camarines sur, about 2-3 hours away from legazpi. it has a great selection of dried fish there. the best for me is the one called “new look” (i’m not sure how it’s spelled)- it’s a dark oily fish- and pagutpot. sarap! and also, try the longganisa from guinobatan. i think this is available at the pacific mall in legazpi.

    hmmm… maybe i should invite you to come over in sorsogon and cook for me… :D

    Feb 28, 2008 | 7:40 pm

  21. Dennis Rito says:

    Oh, I miss Bicol! Where almost every dish are cooked with gata =) I can well remember my mother prepares gataang lubi-lubi, gatang cassava tops and gatang pako!

    Feb 28, 2008 | 8:11 pm

  22. MarketFan says:

    speaking of green, heard that the new color of protest for tomorrow’s rally in makati is green, is this true? will you be there, mm?

    Feb 28, 2008 | 8:32 pm

  23. edel says:

    your gorgeous “greens” entry makes me want to visit my hubby’s relatives in sorsogon now.. hehehe

    Feb 28, 2008 | 9:20 pm

  24. Cumin says:

    Like Joey and MM, I suspect that I too was a tindera in my previous life! I get a high in the market that I never get in aircon malls, and often have to hold back from buying too much of the wonderfully fresh stuff. Ate lots of cassava leaves in Tanzania where local people prepared it in many different ways. The dish I liked best used a lot of garlic, and I think they probably pounded the cassava leaves, too. Nobody mentioned poison! :-)

    Feb 28, 2008 | 10:30 pm

  25. eej says:

    Ah, utter abundance of health food. Follow this mantra,” Eat your greens for a long healthy life.”

    Feb 28, 2008 | 10:37 pm

  26. PinaySpy says:

    I realize there are many kinds of leafy greens one can cook in the Philippines. I want to cook more vegetarian when I start living there but it seems that I am not educated enough which is which and what recipes I can use. If you or anyone knows of a complete reference of Philippine gulay/produce please let me know.

    Feb 28, 2008 | 11:48 pm

  27. Maricel says:

    Nueva Ecija is also a treasure trove of indigenous vegetables. When I got married I was introduced to a whole gamut of vegetables I have never even seen or heard of bearing such outlandish names such as teramuki, tugi, tungo, pongapong, himbabao, alibangbang, kulitis and much more.

    Feb 29, 2008 | 10:53 am

  28. risa says:

    Hi MM,

    Which market can you suggest I go (in Manila) with varied vegetables? All I ever see even in some large public markets are chinese cabbage, sayote, baguio beans and carrots (boring).

    Oh, by the way, thanks for showing what Lubi Lubi is! I only ever know Lubi lubi from the song Enero, Pebrero, Marso, Abril…lubi-lubi… It doesn’t make sense that it’s in that song, does it? Haha.

    Feb 29, 2008 | 5:42 pm

  29. Rene Guatlo says:

    i read somewhere that betel leaves are used to wrap areca nuts; but that “betel fruit/nut” is a common mistake. perhaps you have better info.

    Mar 3, 2008 | 5:18 pm

  30. Marketman says:

    Rene, you may be right, after all, the betel leaf is not from the betel nut tree, but from a totally different vine…

    Mar 3, 2008 | 5:52 pm

  31. GenerSumilang says:

    Lubi-lubi is known to ilocanos as the cassava or banana cake! they normally cooked the cassava or tapioca in water then put it on a hollowed wooden pod, smash the cassava by two long wooden shafts or they called it “binabayo” until it will become tender and totally finely smashed. they then mixed it with margarine,sugar and grated coconut meat. im surprised to know that there is a leaf called lubi-lubi, strange to me,
    Well, many exotic vegetables are not yet known to many here like the “KURKURAPPOT”,BALLA-IBA,PANNALAYAPEN,KALUNAY,UBOG and many more, ask the ilocanos and they know them very well…

    Feb 11, 2009 | 5:23 pm

  32. GenerSumilang says:

    Betel leaves??I dont think if we call it a “common mistake” because its not only the philippines who are chewing them, i went as far as morocco and tunisia and they are known to these countries too! they may be banned in some middle east countries due to their characteristic but still sprawling illegaly around.Its common to thailand,burma,laos,vietnam,india and pakistan as an alternative to tobacco and in indonesia as an stimulus leaves but they have one simple similar procedures, to chew it with a bettlenut and spit! which makes me wonder if how all this countries know these? Our indigenous people here like ifugao,igorot,ilongots and even some ilocanos are like part of their daily lives. but using it for food? havent heard it before, perhaps as a herbal medicine yes. i planted some of these leaves in my house in morocco and i got some critics on it. i dont realised that they even haves better quality than what we have(as they said)I tried once or twice eating it but i got too dizzy, then i stopped! I feel too hot and bad to chew!!! its very unpleasant to me..

    Feb 14, 2009 | 4:44 pm

  33. Elmer I. Nocheseda says:

    It like your photos of lubilubi and cassava tops. I have not tasted them yet.

    Do you know that we can eat also the “coffee tops”, the young sprouts of a coffee tree? I was able to buy a bunch from a Tausug trader in Quiapo Muslim Center.I still have to be used to its very bitter taste which lingers even long after you have eaten it.

    Sep 2, 2009 | 8:45 am

  34. Marketman says:

    Elmer, sorry, I am not familiar with coffee tops as an ingredient.

    Sep 2, 2009 | 8:56 am


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