Roadside Bibingka, Catmon Cebu


A couple of weeks ago, Marketman & Company went off to Malapascua, that small island on the Northern tip of the island of Cebu. The next dozen or so posts shall chronicle highlights of our terrific trip up North. A leisurely three hour drive plus 30 minute banca ride from Cebu City, Malapascua is a diver’s paradise and sometimes hailed as a “mini-Boracay” or “Boracay -15 years ago”. Heading North out of the City of Cebu, at the early hour of 5 a.m., we passed Mandaue, Liloan (where the famous Titay’s rosquillos are made), and through more and more rustic towns along the Eastern coast of Cebu. We kept our eyes peeled for roadside bibingkas that one of my crew recalled enjoying on previous trips along this route. Finally, in the outskirts of Catmon, we ran across some roadside street vendors whose stalls were just letting off a phenomenal amount of smoke.


We stopped the van and got out and crossed the street and sure enough, the most amazing little bibingkas were on display. But almost more amazing were the makeshift ovens in which they were baked. Made of some galvanized iron sheets with burning coconut husks placed above and some hot embers underneath a drawer filled with small pans, this oven was hot enough to cook the bibingkas in say 10-12 minutes. Probably better referred to as “puto” in Manila and up north, these simple rice cakes with a little coconut milk and sugar were sublime simply because they were hot out of the oven and done in such an ingenuous, and smokey manner. Cooked in little metal tins lined with banana leaves, these vendors sell hundreds of these bibingkas to passing cars and trucks every single morning (with the possbile exception of Sundays).


I tried to get close to one of the ovens to take some photos but was quickly OVERWHELMED by the smoke! Teary eyed and temporarily blinded, I decided to step back and do telephoto snapshots instead. With 4 guys in the van, I figured a dozen small bibingkas would be sufficient, but we quickly regretted not buying more, because just a few kilometers down the road we ran out of the hot, tasty, baked (not steamed) bibingkas. They were incredibly fresh tasting, the cake springy and lighter than most steamed putos available in Cebu, and they had a subtle coconut milk flavor and just the right amount of sweetness. Perfectly cooked, they had a nice “crust” on top. And get this, at a price of PHP2.50 or 6 U.S. cents each, these were definitely the bargain purchase of the trip!



45 Responses

  1. Yum! I missed my neighbor’s bibingka back home. Looking forward to your post on Malapascua. =)

  2. I remember these puto/bibingkas or what I thought were baked putos when I first had them. Very tasty and love them slathered in butter.
    Didn’t see anything on my ride up to the pier to Malapascua, as it was in the middle of the night and the roads were kind of spooky! But it is a place I’d love to return to one day.

  3. Roadside bibingka is considered another truly pinoy classic. One can see that this are still baked in a make do oven, fired with coconut husks or shells from top and below. Although amazingly primitive one can see that it is the very basic principle of an oven. The one in the photo is already a new style, here in the province the makers just use veg. oil tin cans. This is still how rural folks do it today in our part of the country. But you’re right there MM the smoky flavor makes it unique! Before baking powder, bibingkas were leavened with tuba which made them all the more distinctive, but it takes a long time for it rise. Would you be interested in a recipe for this bibingka?I will be happy to provide you with one that is if you don’t have it already.

  4. Homebuddy, would love a recipe with tuba… all the ones I have, including those for tortas, already use baking powder. However, I understand the version with tuba needs to “stand” overnight or at least several hours… Thanks for the offer! Mila, I can definitely see how the drive up at the witching hour could be utterly creepy. Gaye, lots of posts coming up from Northern Cebu and Malapascua…

  5. those are some great looking and i bet great tasting bibingkas! i haven’t tasted one of those since last year lol! bibingkas like that can also be spotted in aklan and i really love them hot. anyway, thanks for a scrumptious post mr. marketman! ^^

  6. They also have that in Pardo and Talisay. Love the smell of freshly baked bibingkas. I would rather have them than the oily suman.

  7. I have never had one of these fresh from the oven. My Cebuano officemate brings them as handcarry whenever he comes back from a weekend with his family. We have to make do with reheating it in the microwave and then slather them with sweet butter. I find them denser and richer, probably because of the coconut milk.

    Maybe I can cook this using a traditional bibingka contraption only maybe I would put it in muffin tins. Hehe…

  8. MM, sorry I couldn’t find the old, old recipe using tuba as leavener, I have probably discarded it because sometimes the bibingka turns a little sour because tuba ferments and it takes forever, before it can be cooked. But don’t worry, this version taste the same without the sour taste. Try to use “lina”, newly harvested tuba minus the coloring, one that you posted a few weeks ago. However, if not available new tuba with coloring will do. By the way, I use my toaster oven with a thermometer, one with coils on the top and below to achieve the same results as that of the make do native oven. Works very well, although you can only bake 4-6 pcs. at a time.

    “Bibingka Bisaya”

    1/2 kilo “Laon” White Rice soaked in water overnight.
    Drain then add 2nd extraction coco milk. Let
    stand for 30 min. and grind to a smooth paste.
    (include coco milk when grinding rice).

    3 coconuts grated
    a. 1st extraction: Add 1 1/2 cup hot water and
    extract cream. Set aside.
    b. 2nd extraction: Add enough water to cover the

    Since commercial rice flour is so convenient and easy, I use:
    4 cups rice flour
    1 1/4 cups coco milk (2nd extraction.
    1/4 cup Tuba
    Soak flour and let stand until all the liquid is absorbed and a thick paste-like consistency is obtained.

    1 coconut “ungol” (coco that is in between young and mature)
    grated. Grind with the rice. If using rice
    flour, process “ungol” so its finer and mix with
    the rice paste.

    To the 1 1/2 cups coco cream, add 1/4 kilo refined sugar and cook stirring until it turns to “latik” (heavy syrup stage, not jam). Cool and mix this with the rice paste.

    Add: 3 Tbsp. Baking Powder
    1 tsp. Baking Soda
    1 1/2 tsp. salt
    The consistency should be like thick batter.

    Line molds with wilted banana leaves and fill 3/4 full. May garnish with buco strings if desired ( it tastes better with buco). Cook in a 350 deg. toaster oven until done, then turn on the broiler in the last 1-2 minutes of baking to get that burnt crisp top crust.

    Do keep me posted on the result of your bibingka.

  9. When we were small, whenever we went on trips around Cebu, and especially to the beach, my sisters and I always kept our eyes peeled for roadside bibingka. What a treat! Several decades older now, but some habits never change, still stop the car at the hint of bibingka! Thanks for this post, MM.

  10. only P2.50? wow!
    makes me want to go back to cebu soon.. thanks for the post, will list down bibingka @ carmon, cebu for our next cebu trip =D

    ps.. can i request for a list of yummy torta makers in cebu? thanks thanks

  11. Thank you so much HOMEBUDDY for posting your recpe…would love to try it.

    Sister, MM, Homebuddy, Maria Clara, Apicio, Silly Lolo…anyone out there, can you please help out a fellow foodie? Don’t have access to tuba over here…What can I substitute for tuba? Would adding yeast work?

  12. Can’t wait for your post on Malapascua Island. I visited the island about 7 years ago. I was pleased to see it was not as crowded and overbuilt as Boracay. Locals still live by the sea and we even photographed the kids who were playing/swimming in the beach with us. We couldn’t understand them much as we did not speak the dialect but the laughter and smiling faces I will never forget.

  13. betty q: There is tuba at the Thai market in a beer like bottle. It tastes exactly like our tuba it is called “Palm Juice.” I would use yeast or baking powder concurrently with the tuba to give the galapong/batter a lift. It is very rich though not sweet at all but flavorful has different flavor profile from coconut milk. I use it making guinataang bilo bilo and pina colada cocktail drink but not in puto or bibingka.

  14. I feel nostalgic looking at the photos… I, too, have a favorite freshly-cooked puto/bibingka(we call it puto in Ilocos)the ones sold at the foot of the historic Santa Maria (Ilocos Sur) church… they are delicious! (Although I doubt it if they sell it at P2.50 ea!)

  15. mm, these are the kinds of posts i truly look forward to reading. I will be in the philippines this july and have been going over your previous posts for ideas of where to go and what to try. bibingka is definitely going to be on my list!

  16. MM The best Bibingka (and cooked in a virtually identical way) we have eaten were on Bantayan Island a couple of years ago. I have been addicted since. Bantayan is close to Malapascua and north Cebu – must be something in the Bibingka air in that area…
    Have been away for a while and have not had the chance to say that the Mangosteen jam I was fortunate enough to win was absolutely great and many thanks to you! We tried it all sorts of ways but the favourite was at weekend breakfast with croissants (which is a treat and not the normal fast gulped coffee and out of the door to work!). We also covered some pork chops in a mangosteen jam, ginger, onion and other bits mix, individually wrapped them in foil and then baked them in the oven. Sounds awful but tasted delicious – it makes the meat succulent and sweet.
    Looking forward to your Malapascua stories – it’s a nice island.

  17. yummy, bibingka(any kind, as long as it’s fresh and slathered with butter + kesong puti)my favorite…can’t wait to try this when i visit the philippines soon!

  18. Betty Q,
    You’re welcome! You can probably use the semi-day red wines that taste like bahalina, anyway the tuba in the recipe is just for flavor. Happy baking!

  19. Thanks for the recipe Homebuddy, and many more thanks for the tip on using an oven toaster. That I have in my cramped apartment. No need to kill the neighbors with smoke from the traditional bibingka cooker, though the smoke flavor would be nice. Hehe…

  20. hmmm, yep i can still remember the smell of these roadside bibingkas the last time i went to bantayan island(they have the same route, right?)..apprarently i haven’t tried the bantayan bibingkas but im pretty sure its going to taste good as well. as far as i can remember, vendors are also selling this inside the bus-still very fresh and hot.
    i guess every part of the Philippines has their own version of their bibingkas especially those towns that has vast coconut plantations….
    i have tasted also bibingkas in davao(not in the city but rather in the neighboring towns/cities like digos and tagum) and they are very tasty aswell.

  21. MM, pls forwrd me recipe of you bibingka. i am from capiz and would really love to get hold of ur recipe. my wife from the US will be here in 2 weeks and she always loved bibingka. pls help. thanks in advance

  22. MM!

    i almost cried seeing those scrumptious bibingkas lined up… we used to go through the same road, and probably bought from the same stall. bibingka made with tuba is really the best, although it doesn’t last as long after it’s cooked.

    if only plane fare from Dallas was like MNL-CEB via PAL… Tsk, tsk…

  23. No wonder bibingkas in Lugait, Misamis Oriental, hometown of my husband, taste and look like Catmon bibingkas. My husband’s family hail from Catmon as well as 3-4 generations of his relatives who are now taga Lugait. Everytime I visit Lugait I always ask my late mother in law to order the Lugait bibingka and Kabog suman. The latter also originated from Catmon, Cebu and is only available after the February fiesta in Catmon when some people from Lugait would visit and buy a kind of “bird food” which they use for Kabog. Kabog, in addition to bibingka is a must taste for everyone who wants to experience truly Filipino countryside snacks.

  24. Do you have a bibingka recipe using yeast instead of baking powder? In the late 40’s on the island of Maui, I recall my grandmother making bibingka with yeast, ground sweet rice,white sugar, coconut milk (don’t recall other ingredients, if any) and pouring batter into tin cans lined w/banana leaves. It was baked. Results was not cake. More like a dense bread. Hope you can help me out.


  25. Maria Clara’s post about tuba in Thailand made me purchase here in Australia some frozen puto from Thailand made wth tuba. It is called “Kanom Tarn” and ingredients are listed as:
    white rice flour 40%, coconut cream 22%, Toddy Palm 20%, sugar 17% salt 0.7%, water 0.3%.
    It was unlike any rice cake dish I have ever tried with an underlying lingering richness, which must experienced as it cannot be described. It was even packaged with fresh grated coconut.

  26. Interesting observations on my common snack when I was growing up. I was born in Argao, Cebu to a mother who is from Maca-as, Catmon.
    Bibingka was our snack food especially during Thursdays during Catmon, Cebu’s market day, our “tabo” in Catmondaan, a barrio six kilometers from the “lungsod” or town center where the church is located.
    One of my cousins have a secret recipe for bibingka, I just don’t have it now….but the taste makes all other bibingka’s pale in comparison. One of these days I will ask her to make that bibingka here in Manila.

  27. Homebuddy! Craving roadside bibingka these days. My Tita tried to cook one but it’s the Abra version. I’m in Canada. Is it possible to cook it without using Tuba? What can be used as a substitute to Tuba?

  28. I have tasted the bibingka in COLAWIN ,ARGAO, CEBU, I love it

  29. Thank you soo much Homebuddy for the recipe. i really miss bibingka in cebu! its been a long time since i eat some. waaa the picture makes my mouth watering..i remember when i was in cebu (in our province) everytime there is a fiesta my mama bought lots of bibingka for us,hehe.

    i will try to make some at home! tnx again Homebuddy for the recipe.

  30. Nostalgic feelings come to mind when I remember the Bibingka in Catmondaan on Thursdays (market day). They were only P0.05 each then. But that was a long, long, long time ago.
    Bibingka was only 25 minutes away from us then…from Macaas North of Catmondaan where I stayed with my great grandmother and 25 minutes east from Baktas where I stayed with Mama Ason, my maternal grandmother.

  31. Like Joie on Maui, I remember my grandmother (from Siquihor, 1911) making bibingka using cake yeast in the 1940’s on the island of Kauai. I used to help her grind regular rice using the guilinang (?) and watched her cook the breadlike cakes over and under a makeshift charcoal stove using gallon cans. The freshly cooked cakes were so uniquely yummy! Do you have a basic recipe for me to follow so that I can do some experimenting to see if I can duplicate Gramma’s unique bibingka flavor with the help of my uncle who was her constant helper.

  32. thank you for posting the bibingka bisaya. my mouth watered while reading the recipe and copied. i will sure try to make bibingka as one of my favorite sweet since i was a little girl. up in the mountain of cebu sa basketball lan yummy! always have tindera ug bibingka beside the court. also still warm ohhm i can almost smell it!!

  33. I loved bibingka. It was my favorite Sunday treat for me.By the way, the picture was great. It capture the real bibigka maker and those bibingka boy when they cooked they smell good and taste good.

  34. Hey anyone been to Catmon in the past few months ? I am making my first trip to that place in January 2010…..First stop is Manila 2 weeks december and Then CDO last 2 weeks and the to Cebu….Seeking some nice places to visit in Cebu that dont ask 1 arm and 1 leg cost to visit,,,,HeHeHe….. Please send replies to my yahoo mail….
    Also enter in subject area…. CEBU PLACES

  35. Im in illinois USA, and we could not fine tuba here for sure. So, what is the substitute for that in the ingredients ? I love bibingka, one of my favorites… Thanks for posting the mouth watering pictures and the recipe…i will try it my own.
    I hope you guys can answer me question. By the way, can you email to me the whole recipe for the bibingka that taste like catmon but made in the USA, using some substitutes.
    Thanks and hope to hear from you soon.

  36. I’m so hungry na!!! Wats wrong with me? EVERY TIME i SEE SOMETHING SMALL, QUICK, AND EASY TO COOK/BAKE, i GET HUNGRY… I guess i got cravins… Well, I tried bibingka n they were great.. I still have a post on Yummy Cebu I think…



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