04 Jun2008


For Marketman, the biggest advantage of being on an island in the middle of abundant seas was the incredible amounts of freshly caught seafood. I realize I was coveting the exact creatures that the divers around me wanted to view swimming in their natural habitat. But I am sure if the fish were smart enough, they would eat the divers up in a flash, rather than wading through billions of gallons of seawater munching on minute bits of plankton or worse, human waste products. So it is a quirk of nature that in this case, we are the hunter and the fish are our breakfast, lunch or dinner.


Most of the families on the island of Malapascua rely on tourism related revenues to sustain their families. They work in the resorts, they sell trinkets, and they fish, hoping to sell some of their premium fish to tourists or restaurants in resorts. The small bancas land at one end of the island (a half hour walk from our hotel) and the ladies carry the catch to the hotels, hoping to find buyers. At 6 a.m. on a Friday morning, there weren’t too many tourists out on the beach, so I had first pick. :)


Besides the talakitok, they also had a large kubotan or cuttlefish, and perhaps 10 kilos of less premium “rock fishes.” If only I had access to my own kitchen and or a stash of basic ingredients… I would have been in seventh heaven. But the eating had to be paced, so a single talakitok was the prize for the first day’s breakfast.


An hour later, we enjoyed the simplest of tinowas or soups with gentle flavorings of green onions, onions, tomatoes, lemongrass, and some savoy cabbage together with the freshly caught and cleaned fish. I know this may sound bland to some of you, but it was perfect. The fish was reef fresh, the soup gentle on the palate. A huge helping of rice each and four of us were completely satisfied with this meal.


And just as we finished our soup, another ambulant vendor walked by, carrying this fantastic looking 2-3 kilo lapu-lapu (still alive and gasping for water… even wonder about that… humans gasp for air, do fish gasp for water?) that she was selling for PHP100 a kilo! Gluttony would have been to purchase it and have it fried right then and there. Again, this fish would easily command PHP350 a kilo in the city, but we resisted the urge and figured there were a lot more fish to be had on this short vacation on Malapascua…



  1. maria says:

    i hope you experimented with different ways of preparing kilawin. wow…yumyum. it would only work best if the fish or other edible sea creature is caught fresh. i hope you try it out. hmmm just in case you have tried it…and i missed the column…shoot…sorry about that. nothing like the taste of the sea

    Jun 4, 2008 | 8:08 am


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  3. eej says:

    I wonder if the hotel’s kitchen staff ended up preparing the fish for you or you had access to a kitchenette in your room/condo unit?

    Nevertheless, you sure have had a nice healthy fish soup for breakfast. It sure does beat a bowl of cheerios! :)

    Jun 4, 2008 | 9:36 am

  4. Joey Herrera says:

    Nice post, as always. Pic no. 3 looks like a bouillabaisse selection! See any thresher sharks?

    Jun 4, 2008 | 9:39 am

  5. kasseopeia says:

    Wow, tinowa! When I cook it, I put in slivers of ginger. Not too much, just a touch.

    The lapu-lapu is as fresh as it gets! I can imagine the fish in the steamer then eaten as it is with a light dipping sauce… *drools* Sana lunchtime na!

    Jun 4, 2008 | 11:52 am

  6. sonny sj says:

    With fishes as “reef-fresh” as the ones sold in Malapascua, you should have brought along some wasabi and kikkoman. Talakitok and lapu-lapu makes good sashimi! The fish head and bones can be cooked into tinowa. Just had lunch pero ginutom na naman ako.

    Jun 4, 2008 | 12:57 pm

  7. skyemermaid says:

    your tuwa (deep Visaya for tinowa) does not sound bland to me, marketman. my parents have a pet theory that the reason why many Visayan dishes are so simple in taste (which to others translate as “bland”) is because the ingredients are so fresh that the people do not feel a need to enhance it with spices.

    when we made tinowang isda growing up, it would consist of fresh fish from the market or direct from the basnig, and kamunggay, kamatis, tangad, and green onions from the garden. and atsal, if available. we also had ginger in the garden but we normally did not add it to our fish tinola.

    we used onion bulb, but that was bought as that did not seem to grow where i grew up. and rock salt was bought too. but mommy says my lola used to make their own rock salt.

    Jun 4, 2008 | 1:20 pm

  8. presentacion says:

    i also love nice fresh fish for breakfast, “tinowa or in my case pinangat sa kamatis at sibuyas” with some calamansi & patis serve w/ garlic fried rice.

    Jun 4, 2008 | 7:33 pm

  9. edwin de guzman says:

    ji can i get the recipe or ingredients of tinowang manok please it seems like so deliciuos

    Jun 4, 2008 | 8:00 pm

  10. paoix says:

    yumm fresh seafood. i miss it already.

    Jun 5, 2008 | 7:45 am


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