On my trip to Antipolo last weekend, I went ahead and visited the Church of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. I’ve always found it funny how churches around the world have a “specialty” for supplicants, even though it’s always the exact same blessed virgin Mary they are praying to.
Apparently, when Mary is in Antipolo, she promotes peace and safe trips. When in Manaoag, she grants miracles. It’s all very confusing to me, but hey, whatever attracts the tourists.
And what an evil tourist trap this church turned to be. Preying on the devotion of its visitors, there are hawkers swarming the streets ambushing everyone coming by, giving you “free” rosaries and scapulars for a “modest” donation. The cheap bits of plastic and thread are forced on you by angry-looking women, as if to say, “If you don’t take this I will break your bones and cast you into a burning hell.” They then thrust them into your hands and take 60 bucks from your pocket without batting an eyelash.
Avoid these evil shady people and enjoy the cathedral for what it is: an awesome peace of Spanish-style religious architecture with some good eats on the side!
And here’s the real reason we are here:
Antipolo’s known for two things: its Cashew Nuts and its Suman. The Cashew Nut is well-loved around the world for its clean, delicious milky flavor. You can buy them in droves here in Antipolo, and around the Church you can have a nice snack-sized bag for 70 pesos.
They come in four main flavors: plain (original is best!), roasted (inihaw), sweetened (glazed in sugar, tastes just like the glaze used for pili nuts from Bicol), and Adobo (but tastes more like garlic peanuts than adobo flavor).
The cashew here tastes great, and is better than the other place in the Philippines well-known for its Cashews: Palawan. The taste here is cleaner, I am not sure why but I like the cashews from here better than the ones I had in Palawan.
Also of interest is one of my favorite childhood desserts: Suman. If you’ve never had one before, Suman is basically sticky rice wrapped in some leaves — I am not sure what leaf they use but it is long and stringy.
Suman preparation differs by province, but the one here is as simple as it gets: the rice is packed together and wrapped in long yellow leaves that infuse it with some extra flavor. There is nothing extra added, so it’s up to you if you want to eat it as is (delicious already) or if you want to sweeten it with something, like the irresistible coconut jam you see pictured above.
I like to eat my suman with butter and sugar, but I eat it in many different ways. The suman here in Antipolo is surprisingly prepared almost exactly the same as in Bicol, and tastes pretty much the same. I like that!
The suman here is 70 pesos for a big bag of 8 rolls, or more, depends on how good you can harry the vendors. Use your haggling skills and net a big bag of this delicious, native treat!
Here’s the suman I brought home to eat afterwards. Toasted and with butter and sugar. Delicious!
Have you been to Antipolo lately? How was the food? Let us know in the comments below.