30 Apr2008


I don’t smoke. But I stopped in my tracks at the Bogo market when I passed by a stall with bunches of whole dried tobacco leaves and what looked like pre-made cigarette wrappers which nearly the color of the tobacco and not white or pale like commercial cigarettes… An older lady, who looked like she had enjoyed her share of tobacco for several decades, explained that the dried tobacco leaves were sourced in Mindanao, and she was selling them for PHP5 per leaf…


Her younger assistant, probably 14 years of age and legally unable to purchase tobacco, was unfurling the leaves and I took this great photo where you can clearly see how enormous these leave are. Depending on how much tobacco you take in your cigarette, one large tobacco leaf could probably easily make 10-15 rolled cigarettes…


… and for some reason, I was thrilled to see that folks still chose to make their cigarettes from scratch, not so much to save money, but because that is how they wanted to enjoy their nicotine, the old-fashioned way.


I turned my attention to the cigarette wrappers, neatly rolled and almost uniform in size, and they turned out to be dried duhat leaves! I never realized you could even USE the leaves of a duhat tree but here they were, perhaps 40-50 pieces for just PHP8.


To make your own cigarette, just put a bit of dried tobacco in the duhat leaf (don’t pack it in too much, she advises)…


…then light and inhale or puff gently as the wrapper and tobacco catch…


…and spend the next 2 hours with a wicked smoke induced HEADACHE!!! :)



  1. ECC says:

    MM, did you really smoke that cigar/cigarette?

    Apr 30, 2008 | 6:06 am


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  3. eej says:

    Interesting read.

    Go ala Clinton; “Don’t inhale” to avoid a headache ;)

    Apr 30, 2008 | 6:07 am

  4. billy says:

    as an unapologetic smoker, i find this interesting. BTW, i don’t think that this cigarillo contains nicotine. its probably far healthier than the branded cigarets on offer. this probably accounts for the longevity of those lil’old ladies from ilocos we see smoking away into their 90’s.

    Apr 30, 2008 | 6:43 am

  5. Marketman says:

    billy, apparently all tobacco leaves and leaves of all related plants (cousins of tobacco) naturally contain nictoine, see this link for a more scientific take on it… Now I wonder which is more deadly, burning duhat leaves or cigarette paper? eej, hahaha. ECC, I took two puffs and didn’t inhale and I STILL got a headache! The last photo isn’t me, one of my office crew…

    Apr 30, 2008 | 6:52 am

  6. leo says:

    My maternal lola smoked native tobacco till her final years. I am reminded of her everytime i smell the sweet aroma of dried tobacco leaves.

    Apr 30, 2008 | 7:35 am

  7. millet says:

    wow, my first time to see this! although i don’t smoke, this is still interesting. thanks, MM!

    so, smoking tobacco through a bunch of duhat leaves would have the same carbon footprint as burning the leaves in your backyard, no?

    Apr 30, 2008 | 8:04 am

  8. Mila says:

    Wow, how cool, duhat leaves in place of the paper rolls, love the fruit, will look at the leaves differently from now on.

    Apr 30, 2008 | 8:26 am

  9. Apicio says:

    Yes Millet, like burnt offerings, same net effect except for some tell-tale trail left in your lungs. Next thing you know you will be offering libations to the gods by letting the wine filter through your kidneys first.

    Apr 30, 2008 | 9:12 am

  10. kyang2x says:

    Oh, this bring sweet memories. My late grandmother, whom I fondly call Mama, used to blow cigarette smoke into my tummy when I’m bloated (read: butod, in Visayan) and insists that I cover myself with a blanket after she puffs the smoke inside my shirt. I dunno about those smoke, but the gas did start to come out after a few minutes…=)

    Apr 30, 2008 | 9:16 am

  11. Silly Lolo says:

    Don’t get me started on smoking. I experienced the ’60s here in San Francisco and boy, did we smoke (funny looking cigarettes, sweet aroma off the smoke, and ummm…highly illegal). I spoke to God directly, face-to-face, many times! I flew with butterflies from flower to flower and each flower was beautiful and willing with a short memory. Ahh yes, those were days to remember.

    Now I know why you hang out at these markets, MM – it’s where life is! The plans are falling in place and soon I will join you.
    I have even started to grow my pony tail!

    Apr 30, 2008 | 9:54 am

  12. CecileJ says:

    Haha, Silly Lolo! I like your thinly disguised metaphors! Willing flowers with short memories, haha! (As those in my generation used to say: Hippie, pare!!!Peace, man!!!)

    Apr 30, 2008 | 10:26 am

  13. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    hahahaha….Silly Lolo….I remember those days too!!!…I’m ready to join you and MM make “estambay” in the local market

    Apr 30, 2008 | 10:26 am

  14. sonny sj says:

    This post brings back good memories of my maternal grandma. After chewing her nga-nga and while trimming coconut leaves later to be made into walis ting-ting, my Lola would light a stick of Alhambra. halfway through the cigarette, she will invert the cigar and place the lighted end inside her mouth. We kids are really amazed how come the ember does not burn her tongue. As my cousins would remark: that’s the way the oldies do it, malinis kasi sila. Ayaw nila mahulog ang abo ng sigarillo sa sahig, ng hindi madumihan ang bahay! And, could she talk! She can give us her regular “sermons” with the lighted end inside her mouth! She peacefully passed to the other side some 20+ years ago, at the ripe age of 97! Now, who says smoking shortens your life?

    Apr 30, 2008 | 11:29 am

  15. CecileJ says:

    Silly Lolo and Artisan Chocolatier, can a lady join your palengke estambay group? I can grow a pony tail, too, and try my hand at smoking duhat cigs! :)

    Apr 30, 2008 | 1:20 pm

  16. lety says:

    Hi, MM.
    See what your blog started? A mini-comnmunity. :-)
    Soon, most of your readers will make estambay together at the nearest market to join you in your daily market jaunts. :-)
    My grandma did the same thing with her cigarette and we also wondered how her tongue did not get burned.

    Apr 30, 2008 | 1:54 pm

  17. kasseopeia says:

    For a smoker-in-denial, this post stood out like the smell of durian in a closed room! Hehe…

    My paternal lola smokes like her life depends on it, lighted end in her mouth. On my first visit to my mother’s province up North, I encountered old ladies in their 70’s to 90’s hand-rolling tobacco and smoking the tiny brown things. I bought a few for 1 peso each. At that time I’ve been smoking for a couple years so it was a new taste. And now I’m curious as to how different it would taste with duhat leaves instead of just tobacco leaves to wrap it in, the way the Ilocano ladies did.

    May I join the estambay sessions. I already have a pony tail. Hehehehe…

    Apr 30, 2008 | 2:02 pm

  18. natie says:

    hehe–this has turned into a confessional..i’m surprised the children of the 60s could still recall, after all the smoke and haze of those substances..to quote john mccain,”i’m sure it was a cultural and pharmaceutical event”..

    Apr 30, 2008 | 9:41 pm

  19. chinachix says:

    i don’t smoke, but i love the composition of your first photo!

    Apr 30, 2008 | 9:57 pm

  20. Dale says:

    As a cigar and pipe smoker (who had the occasional cigarette) I’d suspect that these are far superior to your regular cigarettes. BTW, what are duhat leaves?

    Apr 30, 2008 | 11:56 pm

  21. Silly Lolo says:

    Can you imagine? Aged hippies, all in a group making estambay at the Cebu Market!
    Why that place will will never be the same!
    Can you grow a pony tail MM? Ok then,Cebu Market it is!

    May 1, 2008 | 12:42 am

  22. Silly Lolo says:

    A hundred apologies, Cecile J. Of course ladies are most welcome. I have always liked ladies because they are soft and smell nice!

    May 1, 2008 | 12:45 am

  23. dhayL says:

    Very interesting post as I’ve never seen hand-rolled cigarettes before, well aside from “nga-nga”.

    May 1, 2008 | 6:49 am

  24. Jasmine says:

    a post on “nga-nga” – that would be fun!

    May 1, 2008 | 5:31 pm

  25. caryn says:

    MM, i love how abstract the first picture looks!

    May 2, 2008 | 10:40 am

  26. Toping says:

    Before they cut down the lomboy (duhat) tree in my aunt’s front yard, it was not unusual to see (mostly) old people milling around to collect the dried fallen leaves for use as cigarette wrappers. I liked the fruit better, hehe…

    May 2, 2008 | 12:02 pm

  27. Osay says:

    Lovely. I had a similar experience during a trip to the market in Vigan, Ilocos. Meeting an old lady selling leaves of tobacco and hearing her stories beats buying regular cigarettes at 7-11. And yes, a post on betel nut chewing would be awesome!

    May 3, 2008 | 9:04 am

  28. bagito says:

    Silly Lolo, et al: Sali ‘ko d’yan!!!

    Peace, man! (Hmm, could the expression “peks man” possibly been derived from that, I wonder?!?!)

    May 4, 2008 | 10:17 am

  29. CecileJ says:

    Silly Lolo, I’m taking my muu muu and sandals out of storage and getting ready for our “aged hippie” happenings at various markets!

    May 6, 2008 | 9:11 am

  30. b says:

    haha puff puff – i want to roll my own for real.. but with a machine…
    if that is not a contradistinction in terms

    Mar 24, 2010 | 3:57 am


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