Tagbilaran, Saturday, 21 December 2002 02:35:00
Somehow, the kinampay of Bohol seems to be special. Although kinampay grows in many places in the Philippines, the fragrance and taste of the Bohol variety is unsurpassed. Even when emigrants from Bohol bring the same tuber with them to their new place, it would grow big, but when they cook it, they would find it not as tasty and delicious as at home. The story of this rare quality of the Bohol kinampay runs thus:
In olden times when the good angels walked on earth in the form of men, it happened that one of them, while he was wandering about very tired, saw night coming before him, before he had found a shelter. There were a few people who lingered around but he saw that the place was a plain, big pasture land of cows. In fact, there were many cows grazing on both sides of the road. The road was near San Pascual, Ubay, all of a sudden, he saw on the road close by, two houses opposite one another, one was large and handsome, while the other appeared miserably poor. He perceived that the former belonged to a rich man, and the other to a poor man, so that the angel thought he could lodge with the former, because it would be less burdensome to him than to the other to entertain a guest. Accordingly, he knocked at the door, and the rich man opening the window asked the stranger what he sought. The angel replied: "I seek a night's lodging."
Then the rich man scanned the stranger from head to foot, and perceiving that he wore ragged clothes, and seemed one who had not much money in his pocket, he shook his head and said: "I cannot take you in. My rooms are full of herbs and seeds, and should I shelter everyone who knocks at my door, I might soon take the beggar's staff into my own hand. Seek a welcome elsewhere."
The angel pleaded: "The night is dark, the way difficult, and the houses are few. Take me in, even if you place me in an animal's shed until early in the morning. I'll not bother you. I'll be gone before you wake up."
"That cannot be;" so saying, he shut the window, and left the good angel alone, who immediately turned his back upon him and went over to the little house. Here he had scarcely knocked, when the door was opened and the poor man bade the wanderer welcome and said: "Stop here this night with us; it is quite dark, and today you can go no further."
This reception pleased the angel much, and he walked in; and the wife of the poor man also bade him welcome and holding out her hand said: "Make yourself at home, and though it is not much, we will give you everything with all our hearts." Then she placed some camotes on the fire, and while they roasted, she milked the only carabao that they owned for something to drink. When the table was laid, the good angel sat down and ate with them, and the poor food tasted good, because they who partook of it had happy faces. After they had finished, when bedtime came, the wife called the husband aside and said to him: "Let us sleep tonight on the floor, my dear, that this wanderer may have our bed whereon to rest himself, for he has been walking all day long, and is doubtless very tired."
"With all my heart my dear", replied the husband, "I will offer it to him;" and going to the angel he begged him if he pleased, to lie in their bed that he might rest his limbs thoroughly. The good angel, at first refused to take the bed of his hosts, but at last he yielded to his entreaties and lay down, while they unrolled their mats on the floor. They next morning they arose early and cooked their guest a breakfast of the best they had, and when the sun shone through the window, he got up, too, and after eating with them prepared to set out again. When he stood in the doorway he turned around and said to the hosts: "Because you are so compassionate and pious, you may wish three times and I will grant, each time what you desire."
The poor man replied, "Ah, what else can I wish but eternal happiness, and that we two, as long as we live, may have better health and strength and our necessary daily bread; for the third thing, I knew not what to wish."
"Will you not wish for a new house and a fine garden?" asked the angel.
"Oh, yes!" said the poor man," If I may stay on this spot, it would be welcomed."
Then the good angel fulfilled their wishes and changed their old house with new one, and there was also a garden at the back with a strange new plant in a row. The angel gave them once more blessings and said: "Look to the plants. When they grow high, provide a trellis so that they can find support; when they bear fruits dig around the roots and get the tubers. Cook them as if they are camotes and they maybe used as vegetables, too, to cook with meat. Propagate and spread it all over the island. That plant will be a symbol of kindness and hospitality. May your people prosper! Goodbye!" After saying this, he went out of the house.
It was already broad daylight when the rich man arose, and looking out of the window, saw a handsome new house of red brick where an old hut stood. The sight made him open his eyes, he blinked his eyes and called his wife up and asked: "Tell me what had happened; yesterday evening, what stood opposite was an old miserable hut; but today, there is a new fine house better than ours. Run out and find how this happened," he commanded his wife.
The wife went out and asked the poor man, who related to her how a wanderer had come that evening, seeking a night's lodging. Before he left next morning, he granted them three wishes, eternal happiness, health and food during their lives; and instead of their old hut, a fine house.
The wife ran home and told his husband all that ha passed and he exclaimed: 'Ah, had I only knew it, I would have wished a fortune! The stranger had been here before and would have passed the night with us, but I sent him away."
"Hasten then!:" returned his wife, "Mount your horse and perhaps you may overtake the man and give him this bottle of wine to keep his thirst away. Be more kind and diplomatic so that he would give you three wishes for yourself."
The rich man followed this advice, and soon overtook the angel. He spoke softly, begging that the angel would not take it ill not let him in at first, for he had gone to seek the key at the front door, and meanwhile, he had gone away; but the angel came back the same way, he would be glad if he would call again. There would be no delay, next time. The angel promised that he would come on his return; the rich man asked if he might not wish thrice what his neighbor was allowed.
"Yes," said the angel, "You may certainly, but it will not be good for you, and it were better you would not wish."
But the rich man pleaded and coaxed until at length the angel said: "Ride home, and three wishes you will make shall be answered."
The rich man had what he desired; he thought now of obtaining something that would tend to his happiness, so he rode homeward happily. He began to consider what he would wish. While he was thinking, he let his reins fall loose, and his horse presently began to jump, so that he was jerked about; so much, that he could not fix his mind on anything. He patted horse on the neck and said, "Be quiet." The horse began kicking and became savage until finally he shouted angrily: "I wish you might break you neck." No sooner had he said so, then down it fell and never mover again, and thus his first wish was fulfilled. But the rich man was so covetous in nature, began to carry the saddle and continued her journey on foot. He was thinking that two wishes still remained. It was already midday and he had not yet decided what to wish for. The saddle at his back became heavier and heavier; a stone disturbed his steps and he stumbled. He cried with fury: "I wish I could get rid of this saddle." As soon as his words were out of his mouth, the saddle disappeared from his back and he perceived that his second wish was fulfilled. He became furious, he ran to his home and found his wife away. As he was waiting for his wife, the dog howled and howled. He was so tired that he went to bed and tried to sleep. Suddenly, the barking of the dog was heard. It bothered him so much that he uttered a sharp cry: "I wish that dog were dead!" His third wish was fulfilled. Thus the rich man gained nothing for his wishes but vexation, troubles, scolding, a lost of horse and saddle and the hatred of his wife.
The poor couple now lived happily in piety and contentment in their new house. Seven months afterwards, the root crops were harvested. The poor couple had gathered their kinampay in big baskets and stored them for future use and sale. The poor man suggested: "Let us cook kinampay for supper, tonight. We have never tasted it yet. Did you notice that they are like ubi, only they are rounder in shape and fuller, and the smell is sweet."
The wife picked up some of the tubers and cooked them in pot. As the water boiled, someone knocked at the door. A man bending low over a staff, with long white shoulders, with a beard hanging to his breast, was at the door. He requested for a night's lodging. He was welcomed by the couple and was invited to eat their supper. As the wife divided the kinampay, it smelled sweet and good. She sliced it and its fragrance attracted every passersby. The beggar ate it by spreading latic over each slice and each felt content and satisfied. The husband and wife looked at each other, and smiled; while the old man continued eating contentedly and with relish. He smiled continuously. The next morning, the old man thanked the couple and went away. Everyone who smelled the kinampay came to inquire what it was and tasted it. Everyone seemed satisfied. The fame of the food became known all over the province. Boholanos began to flock to Ubay to secure some tubers for propagation. The old couple received everyone kindly and were charitable toward everyone in the village. They gave the kinampay to the poor and sold them to the rich. The peasants repaid them with many kindness. Soon the plant was grown all over the island. The story of the delicious and fragrant kinampay was spread and told from one village to another, from one generation to another, even after the old, poor couple died. The kinampay therefore is the gift from the gods for kindness and hospitality. It will remain in the province exclusively, as long as its people are kind and hospitable. A peculiar feature was found in connection with kinampay. Its fragrance and taste is more improved if it is grown in rocky soil. The best kinampay in Bohol today is grown not in Ubay, but in rocky regions like Tagbilaran, Dawis, Panglao, Corella, and Baclayon.