Image by Mabuhay-Manila

Saging na Saba, or plantain, as it is called in English, is a staple snack food in the provinces. There are so many ways to prepare it: Minatamis, Deep fried in caramelized sugar (Banana-Q), as a turon, and even coated with batter and fried (Maruya in Tagalog, Kumbo in Akeanon). Such is the versatility of the vegetable-fruit that it is a well-loved rural dessert.

In Jaro, Iloilo City, there was once a fried banana-Q stand that was there every single day. The owners and operators were an aging couple who would diligently fry their bananas, day in and day out. Daily, people of all ages would come and buy sticks upon sticks of banana-Q's as their afternoon merienda. In the 90's, that was an afternoon fixture.

Fast forward to 20 years after. No longer do we residents pass by and see the couple. There is another banana-Q stand, but it may not be owned by the same people. What happened to the couple? Did they age and need to stay at home? Did they prosper from their humble business? Were they able to put their kids through college and thus move up in life? We'll never know.

There's also another story of a lady who sells different kinds of plantain dishes. This lady, who's probably in her 30's, owns a sari-sari store in Boracay. The store is on Bolabog Extension Road, right along the lake upon which the restaurant and cultural show central Lake Town is located.

Every afternoon, this lovely lady would cook Turon, Banana-Q, and sometimes, Kumbo/Maruya and sell these along with her other wares, which also include a steady supply of other Philippine desserts known as "kakanin."

Residents of the area, especially Boracay's locals, would usually ask her in the afternoons if she already has stocks of their favorite Plantain dessert. And when she does, everyone snaps off her offerings almost immediately.

And we'd just like to share how plantains are far more nutritious than the real banana. Fascinating how you get great nutrition, tasty desserts and fond memories in one vegetable-fruit.

Such are the memories of Philippine Desserts. They will always come with fond memories of the people who made them. In the case of the nutritious Saging na Saba, these are the happy thoughts we can share from the heart of the Iloilo/Panay/Boracay area.