Local Flavors

Halal Goodness: The Flavors of Eid’l Fitr


Enrico Dee | Aug 10, 2015

I see women, fully clothed in traditional Muslim wear, silently walking along the hotel corridor. They were about to  offer a morning prayer in hotel premises reserved for them-- it was then that I realized that today is the feast of Eid’l Fitr.

People are very careful not to disturb the ceremonies that are very sacred for our Muslim brothers. Here are the snapshots I took during the feast: 

We headed to the house of one of the city officials to partake of their celebration of the Eid'l Fitr. Everyone was wlecome to join the feasting of Muslim delicacies. 

The highlight of our Cotabato trip is probably our visit to the Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Masjid or more popularly known as the Grand Mosque. The grand mosque has become the iconic symbol of Cotabato. It has also become the center of Islamic worship for many Muslims living in the city.

Of course, I grabbed the chance to take a few snaps of the famed golden dome and its towering minarets. I also had my selfie taken at the mosque to serve as souvenir.

From the mosque, we went back to the ARMM Complex to partake of Pagana lunch from the Iranun Village. We were then served with traditional Iranun dishes specially prepared for the occasion. We had omelette sautéed with lots of tomatoes and palapa. Palapa is a Mindanaoan ingredient that is common in Muslim areas. It is also used by the Maranao and Maguindanao people as main ingredient in many of their dishes.

Aside from the omelette, we also got to try the stingray (pagi) cooked in coconut milk with palapa. We were also served with beef sinina, a traditional Muslim dish served spicy with lots of chili. Sinina is somewhat similar to our beef kaldereta except that the Muslim version also has coconut milk (gata), giving it a rich creamy texture and flavor.

From the Iranun village we went to the Maguindanao Village to partake the community’s Eid’l Fitr Pagana.

The Maguindanao people living in Cotabato City have interesting stories to tell. Among the ethnic groups in the Philippines, they were heavily influenced by the Chinese culture. This was evident in the decors of their homes, as well as foods.

During our (second) lunch, we were served with freshly harvested very fat crabs cooked in gata and spices. It was really good!

They also had sinina but their version was served with goat meat. It was fork tender and the spices are just right. We were also served with stir fried veggies somewhat similar to those you see in some Cantonese restaurants. We also had beef strips cooked in oyster sauce and broccoli.

The village has a small souvenir shop where one can buy pasalubong for friends. They have key chains, dolls dressed in traditional Maranao outfit, Malay CDs as well as assorted brassware. While checking out some items at the shop, one official of ARMM DENR gave me a beautifully crafted purple Darangen doll as a goodwill gift.

Cotabato City is a City of Peace. There’s no need for you to worry when traveling to this part of Mindanao. The peace-loving Cotabateños would always welcome you with open arms and let you experience their unique and distinctly Mindanao culture.

READ more Byahilo articles on Choose Philippines!

(These travel essay and photos were previously published on www.byahilo.com. For more features about Philippine travel destinations, food, delicacies, festivals and products, as well as hotels, resorts and restaurants, LIKE Byahilo: Ito ang Trip ko! FB Page.)

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