LAST week I went to Ginatilan for a final photoshoot for my upcoming book, “Tam-is, Heirloom Cebuano Delicacies.” The ride to Ginatilan takes one across the winding provincial road from Carcar to Barili then on to the Southwestern towns until one reaches the coastline of Malabuyoc where the trees pay obeisance to the azure sea. What a sight to behold! Trees bending down branches to kiss the sea.


Along the way, we saw ongoing graduation ceremonies which brought to mind funny incidents in our childhood when children with low grades were teased with threats of being served kalabasa or squash that night.

In some instances it is the kamote that is served to children with low grades. Both nangalabasa and nangamote meant one scored low in examinations.

There was a time when a city mayor used to give the Kalabasa Award to a certain airline for bad performance! The kalabasa indeed has had a bad rap.

I wonder if mothers instinctively knew that squash is a good brain food. A study on the nutritional values of squash shows that it is rich in vitamins B, A, C, E as well as niacin, thiamin, pantothenic acid and folate.

The mineral content reads: magnesium, potassium, manganese, copper, phosphorus, calcium and iron.

Squash has anti-oxidant compounds as well as carotenoids. All of these are needed for brain function. So mothers of yore were right all along!

Bad or good grades aside, a favorite dish of the family is dinuldog. In its simplest version, squash is washed and cut into small squares.

It is cooked with coconut milk and flavoured with garlic, onions and ginger.

It can be presented as a side dish to a meat dish or made into soup by the addition of more coconut milk.

Most cooks add subak of shrimps or pork or dried fish to the dinuldog. But in the mountains no subak is needed.

Subak is the term for meat that is added to a vegetable dish for flavoring aside from the herbs and spices.

One can also add kamunggay (Moringa) leaves. This will make it more nutritious. Others put in string beans and okra. But the basic dinuldog remains my choice.

Here then is the recipe for dinuldog.

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