DRIVING TO the mountain about three to four times a week can get
you going bananas.
No, it has nothing to do with the show we once watched before the
advent of cable television, or Youtube providing you access of
shows from way back our grandparents' time.
It is literally going bananas when one goes to trudge off in the
mountain often enough.
I like going back in time when hiking simply meant bringing
yourself and ardent friends of the same passion.
The recent regular trips find me buying up bananas when I find
them being brought down from the trails used at the mountain side
in Gintung Pakpak Eco Park. They come in different colors,
shapes, sizes and scent.
Small but definitely one of my favorites wherever I find them,
not necessarily in the mountain alone, are the Señoritas. In
fact, there is this long stretch along the highway down south
where you'd buy them green and by the time you make it home to
Pampanga past all the traffic, tollgates, then more traffic after
exiting the tollgates, they'd already turned yellowish with that
sweet lingering scent that entices you to gobble up a few pieces
in quick succession. There's even the joke, "Gang gisanan me ing
metung a buli eka sungkad a dungus," because of their diminutive
Then there are the Sagin a Butulan which are in contrast to the
size of the previous ones. They are big and feel slippery inside
the mouth, and every bite of which makes you pause before
swallowing because of the small black pepper-like seeds.
There too are the Latondans which are among my favorites. The
thinner the skin, ripened naturally, the more sustenance one has
on the mountain trail.
Others will argue that plentifully growing Sagin a Saba is just
good as part of the kusinera's sangkap for pochero, sinigang,
nilaga, among other popular daily table fares. But it also comes
in the form of banana chips, iced banana, bananacue, bukayung
saging cut into small cubes as part of halo-halo topping. But the
simplest way of enjoying this variety is to boil the ripe ones.
Or, if wanting variety after a campfire and the embers are still
glowing, the folks will tell you, "Payabub kayung sagin." When
the thick skin is charred to black, they'd be just right for a
midnight snack after the rounds of mythical tales gathered in the
circle of friends huddled in the dying embers of the campfire.
That is not the end to going bananas. For the next day's packed
viand is kilayin, and this is one ulam best paired with Sagin a
Lacatan. However, if the trip is a hurried one, the lacatan
variety also tastes best with Sky Flakes crackers (which used to
come only in plain flavor, but with the mushrooming of
competitors even the plain crackers have done their overhauling
in varieties from garlic to onion, chives, cheesy, chicken,
bacon, beefy, chocolate, etc.).
As a popular saying goes, "Put icing on the cake." I suggest you
do it differently in the mountain. Be sure to pack among your
easy to eat food treats, a bottle of peanut butter. Peel off the
top skin and dip your banana tip into the gooey, earthily,
delicious peanut butter for each bite. Life in the mountain will
definitely make you go bananas.