Baragatan Foodie: Introducing the Cuyonon Cuisine

8:09:00 AM Christian Aligo 0 Comments

Being the inhabitants of Palawan’s historic Cuyo Island, the Cuyonon people have maximized the natural wonders of their island to feed themselves for hundreds of years. Food is everywhere and free for them.

During this year's Baragatan sa Palawan Fest 2017, I was given the chance to go through the Cuyonon cuisine and appreciate the lifestyle of people living on an island.

The Cuyonon cuisine is all about the edible greens one can find on an island. With little salt and simple preparation, the Cuyonon people are able to come up with healthy meals.

Freshly- Harvested Seaweeds

I was informed that seaweeds are not all the same. Each has a different taste based on the sea where it was harvested from. I am not sure though if saltier water means better- tasting seaweeds since taste is very subjective.

Native Ampalaya Grown in the Backyards

Cuyonon tribesmen grow a certain variety of ampalaya in their backyard and harvest it for their daily meals. They mix it with tomato and other veggies they grow for a healthy meal.

Bamboo Shoots for the Appetite

Everyone loves bamboo shoots. These are sauteed then brought to the dining table for a good lunch or dinner. When this was being introduced to us, I was thinking of my vegan friends.

Radish on the Menu

Just like bamboo shoots, radish is sliced into small pieces and is marinated in vinegar. Small bits of onions and tomatoes are also added to make a rich veggie experience.

Pickled Young Papaya

When I was younger, my aunt would serve us pickled young papaya as a special food. This is my favorite, but it is rare in the place where I came from. For Cuyonons, this is just an ordinary part of the plate.

Fish and Malunggay Leaves 

Since Cuyonons live with the sea, they get a wide variety of fishes. And they do not miss a good meal without adding malunggay leaves to the fish dish. I think every Filipino can connect to this. 

Original Dish: Chicken and pork with Nuts and Jack Fruit

Cuyonons add nuts and jackfruit to chicken and pork to come up with a unique tasting dish. This was the highlight of our food-tasting activity. It tasted like tinola with some odd flavors. 


I was not wrong when I said it was pop rice.

Kakainin All Throughout the Year 

Just like any other Filipino groups, Cuyonons use leaves to wrap native delicacies for the snack time. They have sticky rice and cassava cakes at the food-tasting event. They also have "kumbo" which is actually maruya.

Now let me recognize the women who introduced to us the humble Cuyonon cuisine.They are Liya Madartos, Jocelyn Filipinas, Nilda Filizarte Eleazar, and Rebcessa Manalo. 

And look what I have placed on my plate!