Lacatan, Latundan & Senorita Bananas


A recent post listing over 50 Fruits grown in the Philippines featured so far on this blog unearthed an INCREDIBLY OUTRAGEOUS oversight… ban2 I had never bothered to write about our wonderful eating (as opposed to cooking) bananas!!! Can you imagine? Perhaps the most commonly available fruit, native to this part of the world, and eaten in huge aggregate volume across the country every single day of the year; nutritious, delicious and economical, the banana is THE FRUIT. We ALWAYS have bananas in our kitchen and I simply took it for granted, I suppose, and forgot to do a post on them. So last weekend, I made a point to get three of the most commonly consumed bananas in the Philippines and did a little research only to find out how little I know about this fascinating tree, bush, no it’s actually an HERB…

Believed to be native to Southeast Asia, the banana has probably been consumed for several thousand years and cultivated in people’s backyards for as long as they had backyards. The “tree” is actually an herb, and the trunk is actually overlapping strong leaves that then blossom out at the top of the trunk and at some point, the herb flowers ban3which then turn into humongous and heavily laden fruits. The tree dies back to its roots and starts the growth process all over again. I can’t make up my mind which local favorite vies for the number one spot in usefulness and nutrition…the coconut or the banana? The latter is terrific for fresh, nutritious fruit. The fruit can be cooked into dishes or used in several manners of preparation. The trunk is used to shade seedlings from the hot sun, the leaves are used as liners for ironing boards (geez, can you just remember that smell of hot banana leaves under your iron???), as an organic wrapper and packaging material, etc. Our favorite eating banana at home is the lacatan, which is flavorful and sweet and aromatic. It is of medium size (when compared to the hundreds of varieties which range in size from a large pinky to a whopper of foot), and has an appealing color, fragrance and easily removed peel. It tastes terrific fresh or baked into banana bread…

Latundan is the choice of others and it is a pudgier banana that seems to have a thinner skin than lacatan and the flesh is paler and perhaps less fragrant. ban4I find many Visayans seem to prefer latundan and I wonder if it is again just a preference for what one grew up with. The latundan comes in a range of sizes but generally speaking, if a lacatan is a graceful slender finger, a latundan is a fat, shorter one… I don’t purchase latundan that often out of force of habit, but I suppose I would be equally happy with this or lacatan. I am definitely not thrilled with the Cavendish variety which are the large kind of rather tasteless bananas that are grown down south and exported to Japan and are often thought of as the “Chiquita” bananas in the U.S. They seem to travel well and last many days, which I presume is the main reason they are popular in those areas…

Not as common in Manila groceries are the Senorita bananas. Typically purchased at roadside fruit stands, while on out-of-town outings, these bananas are tiny and have an ban5irritating habit of simply falling off the stem when ripe. They are intensely sweet and delicious but sometimes have a rather difficult skin to peel off. They are about the size of my thumbs… while I like this variety, I find we rarely buy them if the other types of bananas are available. My pet peeve with this banana, actually, the folks who consume them, is that many people tend to eat them in their cars/jeeps/etc. during an outing and they then fling the skins out their windows and onto the road or shoulder of the road. I realize the skins are biodegradable, but this whole littering business is UTTERLY bizarre and reprehensible. I would love to visit one of these people’s homes and in the middle of lunch, drop my drawers and poop on their favorite four square feet of carpet tiles or abaca rug. Maybe then they wouldn’t think their habit of blithely littering the roadside was acceptable behavior. At any rate, which banana does it for you? Do you prefer the lacatan, latundan or senorita. And this question excludes the saba, which I consider a different category altogether…


42 Responses

  1. Growing up in the Philippines, we always had bananas at home. My grandparents ate it with their rice and ulam, although none of us followed that habit now that I think about it. (Interestingly, my lolo and lola on the other side ate mangoes with their meals.) We loved the “white” kind, but we could never remember which was which (had to read above to tell you it’s latundan)so we always reminded the cook “yung maputi, huwag yung yellow, ha?” when she went to the market. I miss latundan so much…can’t stand the “Chiquitas” here in the States and only tolerate it so I won’t cramp up in the gym (good source of potassium). By the way, the Chiquitas here probably come from South America now. A few months ago, I discovered something wonderful, but more expensive: Organic Peruvian Bananas == what else, but latundan!

  2. The cavendish bananas have no flavor at all. I had it in the US and immediately spat it out. Thought I had a bad banana but then tried another one only to find they all were bland. They are probably only good for banana bread, but even then they’d need heavy sugaring.

    I like lacatan’s, and an occasional senorita when eaten with adobo. I also remember coming across something online that said dried and smoked banana skins are good for mosquito repellant. Can anyone confirm that?

  3. i love bananas! growing up we’d always get lacatan and latundan mixed up thus my younger brother started referring to lacatan as the orange banana and the latundan as the white banana. he preferred the ‘orange banana’ and when he was younger and wasn’t sure which banana was in the fruit basket, he’d smell it first. he swears the ‘orange banana’ smells sweet while the ‘white banana’ smells aphud. of course, today he can tell the difference just by looking at it but he still refers to the bananas as orange bananas and white bananas :)

  4. I like latunndan with adobo – the sweetness goes well with the vinegary, spiciness and halt the grease. Lacatan variety is and always part of our fiesta dessert selection – they are the queen but I love them so dearly in banana split ice cream showered with caramel and chopped cashew nuts. Yes, you are indeed right senorita are utterly sweet but transporting them is kind of a challenge and they bruised easily.

  5. MM,you’re lucky that you can choose from a variety of bananas in the P.I. Here in Oz, we can only choose from either lacatan or lady fingers.Occasionally,we can buy plaintains.As for saba,we can only buy it frozen in asians shops. If I have to choose which one? I’d choose latundan,kasi we don’t have it here.

  6. Growing up in Cebu My mother only buys Saging tundan, that what we call it. Lacatan is the smelly orange one. Here in NY the bananas are slender like lacatan but has white flesh like tundan. I don’t think I have seen any lacatan type here. Then there is the small one they call baby bananas. They may be sweeter but sometimes the skin sticks to the flesh and sometimes the flesh has hard bumpy feel when you eat it. I like to eat bananas when they are ripe and uniformly yellow just before the brown spots appear.

  7. I like lacatan. I used to like Senorita as a kid. I’m still wondering as to why the Senorita variety is the one recommended for babies?
    About the insect repellant, I remember having a science project about that during HS. Anyone have tried Banana peelings burger? I tried it long time ago and surprisingly it was delicious, and I think a dish similar to Kilawing Puso ng Saging too.

  8. I used to like lacatan more than latundan when I was younger. But my mom influenced me into eating latundan instead as she said that it is healthier and easier to digest hence that’s what I also give to my little kid now. I also remember my lola way back, when she can’t swallow her medicine by itself. She had to insert her pill in the banana first before she can swallow it :P

  9. MM, the french version of the tv reality show “Survivor” was shoot in Palawan particularly At El NIdo, i am exhcited about the defy that the contestant will encounter or have encountered. The show will be televised for their summer program.
    Back to bananas…is Lacatan the one with the orange flesh? Here sometimes we can buy senorita they call “prinset” but the price is very expensive. My mom in law loves it… so whenever she comes here i buy for her 6 or 8 pcs. They never had latundan here.
    And i never know what is the name of the variety they import here, and that variety was never sold or i never find in Philippine market.

  10. i prefer lacatan and senorita, and i do miss them here, the first time i ate banana here was a let down, i thought this isn’t a “real” banana! ….now we’re buying the organic ones from south america as they are sweeter.. or maybe i’ve just gotten used to their bananas here :)

  11. Been eating bananas religiously. They’re rich in potassium and believe it or not they keep my white hairs at bay :–)

  12. Two fruits that generally disappoint me here in Australia are mangoes and bananas. I reckon nothing beats Philippine mangoes and bananas. Too bad Australian Customs is really strict about the importation of Philippine bananas. I’m sick of the Cavendish (“Queensland Bananas”) we have here…I find them too bland not to mention expensive! Due to the lack of good bananas here, I have not baked banana bread my mum would be proud of.

  13. I have not eaten LAKATAN since 1993, and my God I really miss it. I can close my eyes and remember how it smells and how it tastes but, nothing beats reality of course. I have to make do with cavendish for the simple reason that I have to eat bananas and for turon which I love, I have to make do with plaintains. I still remember the small, malagkit na saba that my aunt used to bring whenever she visited us in the city and these are just boiled saba, but they are to die for.
    I’ve seen the senoritas in Chinatown but never tried it yet.

  14. Although bananas gives me constipation I still eat bananas atleast once a day I especially like buying bananas from those people selling in the streets a.k.a “naglalako”. My mom often buy from supermarket she buys D*** and I kept telling her it taste funny something artificial about it or something. I like making banana bread with super overriped bananas, I got the recipe from Nigella Lawson’s book How to Be a Domestic Goddess. Its actually goos coz my family loves it. I myself is not a big fan of banana cakes, I don’t eat them I just like making them.

  15. I like lakatan. Although, I also eat latundan, specially the one grown by my papa. It was so fat that the skins are bursting once it is ripe. I don’t like the cavendish as well, very tasteless. Would you believe there was a time that bananas here in OZ priced at around Php500+ per kg? It’s a bit cheaper these days but still it’s not as tasty as the one we have in the Philippines.

  16. i love bananas…kahit lacatan, latundan or senorita….good source of potassium….pang-iwas sa cramps…

    can anyone share a recipe for banana bread/cake….my son likes banana bread and I would like to make one for him….thanks in advance…..

  17. i just love lacatan. i’m the biggest fan at home. every weekends, whenever I go home in Pampanga, my nanay will always buy a piling of saguing lacatan just for me.

  18. i like lacatan among the 3. i just hate it though when the banana is not yet ripe, it’s mapakla–leaving a fuzzy feeling on the teeth. the banana tree (boo to our neighbor for stealing our bananas and papayas too) we have here is the mondo (mundo?)–similar to a saba but smaller and firmer. i like it more than the saba as the saba gets soft, esp sa minatamis na saging. yummer.

  19. My mom loves lacatan. I like senorita. But i love the variety with the reddish skin. I think it’s called principe

  20. As a rural doctor in the barrios of Camiguin Island way back in 1984-1985, I always included latundan in the diet of my dehydrated patients to replace lost electrolytes. A lot of them always look at me with this quizzical stare because they don’t eat these type of bananas, mostly fed to the pigs. so I had to do my share of educating and just hope they got it and I also wish a lot of our impoverished kakabayans eat more fruit, any fruit even, as they are a good source of vitamins, many are not expensive and a lot grow just about everywhere! BTW, I still prescribe bananas for those with the “runs”.

  21. My favorite is the latundan. I love it with adobo. To eat with desserts like banana split, I prefer the lacatan.

  22. You’re right that Visayans have a preference for latundan, which is the only banana my lola eats. I only eat lacatan bananas, simply because they taste so much better. On a side by side test, my banana crazy birds always choose the lacatans.

  23. Short and to the point:

    LOVE latundan.

    Really like lakatan.

    Hate senorita.

    Oh, what I would give to be able to eat latundan here in California…

  24. Latundan’s are available in the SFO bay area oriental markets, although i think they are coming from south america or Mexico. When ripe they are really sweeter than the cavendish. BTW i think that the IE version 7 is the culprit for the missing words or sentences in the green sections of the blog. I get that problem when i use my daughter,s laptop that has the IE7.

  25. i prefer lakatan over latundan. the latter is a bit too “creamy” for me. though i eat both.

    i never got around to eating the señorita variety. when i was a kid, my dad used to feed our pet mynah with señorita so i grew up thinking said variety is bird feed :)

  26. whether its lacatan or latundan, its my favorite. MM, you should have included the variety being sold by Dole in the supermarket (green cavendish) and also the dark red skin one, my Mom calls ‘Igorot’ type of banana. Its the favorite food badminton players as it gives energy.

  27. We have a farm located in Rizal Zamboanga del Norte,Philippines and we are looking for a future buyer of “banana lacatan and banana saba” by volume.Pls contact farm manager Justiniano Estologa.Thanks

  28. Many thanks to ‘Market Manila’regarding our “LACATAN”very sweet and native while our “SABA” good quality.We have also a farm of “KALAMANSI”our harvest time from the mid of August to September,we welcome buyers from Manila.Earl farm,Rizal,Zamboanga del Justiniano Estologa,cell no. 09186681185.

  29. I miss bananas (don’t give me a giggle on this one because I’m serious!). Here in Eire there is only one variety you can find and I don’t bother enough trying to find out what really is its kind. A lot of us here fall into discussions as to what family it really belongs. It’s the long, soft and yellow skinned kind. Buy it green and unripe and it tastes sour and hard. Then again it ripes quickly and turns black rather fast. Lately, I found one similar to what you call ‘Murado’. But, it’s long, purplish to reddish skin and the meat when cooked like ‘Turon’ nearly resembles that of Saba. But, I don’t really like it when I eat it raw. In Mindoro, when I was young you’d always find me eating grilled saba bananas in the street or my granda’s backyard finishing couples of senoritas. Seeing the bananas on this site… Well, it makes me crave…!

    God bless…!

  30. Efren, the second banana you describe could be a variety of plantain bananas, they are cooking bananas as well and used in desserts as we would saba bananas.

  31. My mom loves lacatan and I guess I kinda picked that up. Unfortunately we don’t have that here in San Francisco so I had stopped eating bananas. I’m not really fond of “chiquita” bananas that could be found at the stores, I find them bland, boring, and sometimes tarty.

  32. Hi there!
    I visited Philippines two weeks ago and me and my wife ate a burger out of banana blossom. It was fantastic. Is there anybody who has a recipe for those fantastic philippino food?
    Warm regards Chris and Claudia from Germany

  33. Lovin’ this fruit since my birth! Kanina lang bumili ako ng isang kilong latundan. Nasa fruit diet kasi ako and I eat mostly bananas. I very love lakatan! Senyorita is the next but there are no any available in the market. OK na sa’kin ang latundan, basta kailangan very ripe siya (not overripe or bruised) para matamis! Mas mura din siya sa Lakatan. Ang bili ko sa 1 kilo ng latundan kanina ay 30 pesos. Medyo mahal kumpara noong isang araw dahil 25 lang ang bili ko. Minsan ayaw ko rin ng Lakatan for health reasons… kasi yung mga galing sa Davao ay may chemicals. Do you know Bungolan? Masarap din yun!

    My grades of favoritsm:
    1. Lakatan
    2. Latundan
    3. Senyorita
    4. Saba
    5. Butuan (Actually ayaw ko nito kasi walang lasa at mabuto! Pero puwede na rin ‘pag walang choice, for the sake of being a banana-lover!)

    Take note, I never cooked banana. Actually I don’t cook any fruits because it becomes acidic and you loose the enzymes and other nutrients. Acidic is dangerous to your body, thus, cooking them makes your body acidic and you lose those precious nutrients in them.

    PS: Pinaglihi ako sa saging!

  34. Been researching all over the nation re: diff varieties of bananas in the Phil.

    1. Lakatan – long finger shape,Orange with a sweet aroma taste w/c are usually serve as table fruit in some occasion

    2. Latundan – tastes bitter to sweet, commonly used as cure
    for diarrhea loose vowel movement. In some cases, mothers feed their children with this kind to improve thier child’s digestive organ…

    3. Senorita – are most found in cold places like Tagaytay /laguna/batangas or commonly known as CALAVARZON which particularly grow with mild climate. smaller in nature coapred to Latundan matched with a thin skin that may last only from 2-3 days ripening period

    4. Saba – used commonly for cooking glazed banana and is widely spread all over the country. Considered domestic tree

    5. Butuan – likely similar to SABA but bigger shapes, has tiny black seeds and thicker skin. Most are found in the Visayas region.

    6. Sweet Banana Milk – wilder variety of Latundan with a sweeter taste and aroma. last with almost black peel but has a firm and white meat inside. This can be find in some areas with virgin forest and wildly breed by several backyard growers in the Northern part of Luzon like Ilocos Region and Viscaya region..

    7. Cavendish – having a long finger like with white meat and thick skin. This variety may last up to 40 days if not treated. Common exporters send this one to mny countries but is not sellable in the Philippines because of its lesser taste and aroma. Its most likely cheaper than any other banana.

  35. I didn’t know how awful bananas in the US were until I spent a few years in the Philippines where I ate the local ripe bananas. I loved them, especially what I believe must have been the lacatan, about 4″ long, creamy colored and so tasty! In the 25 years since returning to the US, I have never been able to enjoy a banana. I thought it was just because they were picked green some 2 weeks before they were ripe and just never had the opportunity to ripen properly. I have recently learned, however, that the cavendish is simply an inferior banana. DO you suppose it would be possible to obtain a few lacatan roots to grow in my greenhouse for my personal use? How could one obtain these?

  36. Here in the states the Cavendish replaced the superior Gros Michele (Big Mike) bananas what were all but wiped out in the 1950s by a fungus. The Cavendish are the only ones that travel well from the tropics, so we’re kind of stuck with them. I had no idea I was eating an “inferior” banana, and I can’t wait to get a hold of some of these other varieties if I can find them – in San Francisco, you say? Not too far from me in Sacramento!

    The Cavendish is currently under siege from a new strain of the same soil fungus and they’re afraid that it will be off the shelves here in 10-20 years. They’re working on genetically modifying the current varieties to be more resistant…maybe they can add some flavor, too?

  37. hi, your articles on bananas are so informative…though i hope you can also post about the SABA banana variety..some says raw SABA contains more potassium and is best for cramps and swollen feet and ankles..good also as form of diet.

    thank you.

  38. Sino buyer ng lacatan im a grower here in mindanao specially in davao interested just call 09287351292

  39. Hi guys! XD I was wondering do Senyoritas and Latundan taste the same? My memories say they do but I can’t really remember now! I haven’t tasted them for so long!

  40. Hey Market Manila! I love your informative website on the produce of the Philippines. Anways, I think the banana that is common here is Lacatan, Tundan, and Senorita. I havent heard of anyone called it Latundan.haha. Just a correction. Btw, I love banana especially Lacatan – the orange one is the best. But sadly, it is not that common anymore.

  41. Just to add to NYCmama…me too, my favorite is the yellow banana. I remember my lola always telling my mom, don’t buy they white, the children like’s latundan.

    It’s always one of the first things I eat everytime I am in Philippines (there are no yellow bananas in Australia…they think it’s weird for a banana to look yellow inside).



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