Paniki kabog is the name in Cebuano dialect for what is called paniki in the rest of the Philippines. It is sometimes referred to as dawa, meaning “bird seeds.” It is a small-seeded cereal plant known as millet in other countries. Kabog is type of Panicum miliaceum, and comes in darker and lighter brown varieties. It is cultivated in Cebu, one of the central Visayas Islands of the Philippines, from locally acquired seeds. It has a short growing season under dry, high temperature conditions. Kabog millet is used to make budbud kabog, a term for a black suman or cake.
Kabog was a native cereal staple food of Cebuanos long before the Spanish colonizers came into the Philippines, and it is the only known millet existing in the Philippines. In Cebu, this millet grew wild and in abundance in the mountains of Catmon. Residents later cultivated the plant when they realized that its grains could be utilized for food. Kabog gets its name for the local word for “bat,” for its dark brown color and a local legend. Folklore has it that a farmer once discovered millet grass scattered on a cave floor. The cave bats (kabog in the native tongue) used the millet as food. Thinking that the grass seeds could not be poison, he cooked them but found his recipe to be coarse and bland in taste. He then experimented by pounding the millet seeds before cooking, and added sugar, creating a delicious dish.
Locals celebrate the Budbud Kabog Festival every February 10. Some Cebuanos have plantations of Kabog in some parts of the province, notably the north central area which includes the towns of Catmon, Borbon and Tabogon, and the southwestern town of Balamban. It is usually not sold in its raw form on the market, and when it is only in small quantities. It is more often found in its cooked form as budbud or suman. Overall, though, the production of the kabog is dwindling. It is not promoted as a profitable crop, and the government encourages the planting of higher yielding varieties, disregarding traditional, historical crops like kabog.