Palmes-Dennis: Dreaming of ‘ginamos na muli’

I HOPE to find some “ginamos nga hipon (fermented shrimp)” or locally known as “muli” in the table during the fiesta celebration in my birthplace of Tagoloan town, Misamis Oriental in northern Mindanao, the Philippines on Feb 1 & 2.

This would perfectly complement the traditional Filipino food spread on the table like roasted pig (lechon), adobo (stewed chicken/pork), sotanghon (angel hair noodles), spaghetti and pastries.

Yes, “ginamos na muli” on the table, why not? I could not resist thinking about this when I saw the Facebook post of my friend Terry Abejo Racaza on the “ginamos na muli” that was ordered by friends in nearby towns and in Cagayan de Oro City. Terry Abejo Racaza belongs to the old rich family in Tagoloan town and popularized the “ginamos na muli.”

She inherited the recipe for the dish from her mother, the late Nang Payla. It was not for sale and when she made her own “ginamos”, she gave it as a gift to balikbayan friends from the US, Canada, Germany, Australia and to friends in Manila, Davao and other places.

Word of mouth was favorable and Terry became a byword for those seeking some “ginamos” for their own consumption. The muli is caught in the waters off Barangay Nabulod in Tagoloan where it is plentiful during the last quarter of the moon. Residents there call it “himatayon.”

Muli can also be found in the waters of Barangay Balacanas located between the towns of Tagoloan and Villanueva. In the 80s Terry used to accompany her mom in Balacanas to buy” muli” direct from the fishermen.

“The supply of muli then was abundant and there was a huge crowd waiting for the fishermen. It was unforgettable,” Terry said. People bought “muli” by the drums and some even brought trucks to stock up on muli.

“I have not witnessed that in recent times,” Terry said. Whereas other women would be interested in other stuff, Terry’s eyes would light up when she sees schools of fish. When asked how she prepared her fermented shrimp or “ginamos na muli” she would smile and keep silent.

That I understand though I guess she is willing to teach the basics of preparing the dish. “We removed the amount of salt water before we combine it again with the rock salt. The procedure is easy but what is needed is care. The amount of rock sea salt should be enough for the fish,” Terry said.

When Terry was in college, her mother would call her to tell that it is time to prepare the muli and she would come home to help in preparing and selling the dish. She would bring enough “ginamos” back to Cebu to last for one semester.

But it wouldn’t last the semester because she shared it to classmates, board mates and finally to others. Terry said her friends and classmates told her that it tasted good and they developed a craving for it. Terry said she didn’t know then that years later she would resume producing “ginamos na muli” after her mother died in 2002.

I am familiar, of course, with the “muli” because my own grandfather Felix Quilang Naelga was also a fisherman. But unlike before when supply wasn’t a problem, Terry said now it would take six to eight months before the muli surfaces on the waters. “Fishermen and their families are praying for the muli because it would mean livelihood for them,” Terry said.

For now, she said they could only tell when the muli would return if they see them in the stomachs of other fishes. Just like any Tagoloanon or resident of Tagoloan town, Terry is also disturbed about the changes to the environment caused by the pollution from companies around the town.

She hopes that the local and national governments could implement programs to protect marine life and their habitat so she and other Tagoloan fisherfolk can hope to harvest more muli and my favorite fish called “pigok.”

I may ask former regional director Arlene Bibanco Pantanosas of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) about the decline in muli population since she is also a Tagoloanon.

In fact the Tagoloan municipal council should pass a resolution calling for the protection of the muli and I hope nearby towns follow suit. In the meantime, I wish a Happy Fiesta to Tagoloan town.

Again, I repeat my wish and hope to find “ginamos na muli” on the table not only during the town fiesta but all year round.

********

I would like to greet a good friend of my mine Senny Macas, a neighbor at Melecia Homes in Barangay Macasandig Cagayan de Oro City who is celebrating six years of blissful marriage to the good looking Eric Trippe.

They were married in January 21, 2012 a week after a snow storm in Washington State. Senny described Eric as “God’s greatest gift to me.” It was so kind of Senny and Eric and her sister Suani Strickland to visit me last Christmas here in Charlotte.

Suani is based in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It was during that time that I met Eric and it was there that I observed they have a lot in common being outdoor and fitness enthusiasts.

(Please send comments or questions susanap.dennis@yahoo.com)
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