Duman: A celebration of Sta. Rita’s communal flavor-A A +A
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
AROUND midnight, the faint sound of the "asug" would reverberate, increasing steadily with rhythmic intensity accompanied by the December breeze. The scent of the newly roasted palay being pounded to become the proverbial and expensive Christmas delicacy hovers in the air, in the streets and into the houses for it is the time of making duman in Sta. Rita town.
The town has been making duman even before the famed Duman Festival was conceptualized by the local theater group ArtiSta.Rita. A matter of fact, duman making is not exclusive to Sta. Rita as barangays in Porac, Luabo and Mexico have still living traditions of duman-making. The duman of Sta. Rita town had its claim to fame as ArtiSta.Rita repackaged the delicacy as the center of attraction of a Yuletide festival.
The festival, started in 2002, originated from the tradition of pounding and winnowing unripe glutinous rice (lacatan) and turned into a light pale gold or green delicacy called "duman." The glutinous rice is harvested just before it gets ripe and continuously pounded amidst song and merriment.
During harvest, mature kernels fall off. The prized duman are the young greenish kernels that stay on the stalks. The way to get the duman is to shake the stalks.
The greenish grains are gathered, watered and toasted for two hours. The grain is pounded then winnowed to separate chaff from grain.
However, it is still unclear how duman-making started as there is little serious research into indigenous delicacy history.
Growing up in Sta. Rita made me accustomed to duman. Duman, for one, is expensive. Owing to the already expensive rice variety from which it is made, the cost of growing the palay and making the duman adds up to an exorbitant price. A kilo in fact is almost P2,000 depending on the quality and variety.
Eating duman is as intricate as making the product itself. Folks here eat duman plain from newspaper wrapping after being bought from the public market. Others like it mixed with tsokolateng batirol. Once mixed in cup with the hot tsokolate and letting it stand for a few minutes, the duman cereals would expand, absorbing the liquid and turn to a pudding like substance.
I like eating duman while taking pinch servings in between conservative sips of hot coffee. I also like to sprinkle the duman cereals on top of the sansrival, another famed local delicacy of the town. On early mornings, after the Simbang Bengi, I take a hurried breakfast of duman swimming in a generous bowl of warm carabao milk sprinkled with a pinch of rock-salt making every breakfast experience a little taste of heaven on earth.
Duman is more fragrant when eaten in a bowl of fresh sugarcane juice.
Place a cup full in a bowl and add the sugarcane juice and let the mixture stand for a few minutes. The duman would then swell into a thick, almost porridge consistency.
The mixture blends the raw duman flavor and the sweetness and aroma of the sugarcane juice. It is a perfect morning perk-up meal but an absolute horror for diabetics.
First-grade duman, which is reserved for Sta. Rita town’s elite, is almost translucent yellow green with grains perfectly whole. While the duman of lesser quality gets the more commercial exposure and ends up in the dining tables of ordinary folks. It is only during the annual Duman Festival, held every first Saturday of December that different grades of duman are made available to the public.
The Duman Festival of Sta. Rita features the best duman mostly coming from the barangays of Sta. Monica and San Agustin. But even before the festival, duman is sold in the towns of Porac and Guagua. People try to look for these vendors as prices for duman just before November is relatively cheap.
But woe to the gullible and ignoramus, there is in fact “fake duman” going around during the Christmas season. If the duman you bought is extremely cheap, sticky, fluffy or crunchy, it is most likely a cheap imitation.
Duman, in most homes of the old-rich, is eaten as a side dish to the mamon tostado, mamon and the masa podridu during the December month.
Some take it with milk or tea.
Most people who troop to the annual duman festival like eating the rice delicacy under the shade of the old Sta. Rita De Casia Parish Church. Here, they eat the duman and sample other food delicacies of the town displayed in many food booths surrounding the church.
But the best way of eating duman for me is grabbing a fist full and nibbling at the grains little by little and sipping hot chocolate in the company of friends while feeling the damp December breeze.
For comments, suggestions, violent reactions, invites, indignant rebuttals and what-have-you email: firstname.lastname@example.org (09173435197)
Published in the Sun.Star Pampanga newspaper on November 23, 2011.