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cecile s. yumul
cecile s yumul 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 size.

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.

[About the author. A renaissance social worker, a revolutionary teacher, a supporter of artists, a trail-blazing woman of substance, Cecile S. Yumul is an embodiment of the phrase "Carpe diem!" This multi-awarded teacher/broadcast journalist started her broadcasting career over 27 years ago. Her radio/tv show "Bukas Bayan" has been on air since 1999 and is still airing with a multi-sectoral fan base. She is an accomplished cook, a mystic gardener, an actress, and a true environmentalist—a distinction she is indeed proud of.]

-Posted: 10:00 AM 2/2/13 | More of this author on eK!