Landang (Native Tapioca)

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Landang is a processed tapioca product made from native palm flour. The flour used is derived from the inner part of the trunk of the buli or buri palm tree (Corypha elata). The consistency is lumpy and uneven, with a chewy and slippery feeling and bland taste. Landang has the smell of mildly fermented grain and is off-white in color. The production process is done by hand and requires several skilled people 5-7 days to complete it. One tree will produce about five sacks of finished flour.  

First, a buli palm of about 50 years of age is carefully selected and cut. Then, the trunk is bisected vertically to expose the core. This part is cut into slabs of about 23 cm x 30 cm in size, which are then sun-dried, a process that takes 2-3 days. Once dry, the slabs are pounded and pulverized with a wooden mortar and pestle. The pulverized flour is sieved and any fibrous matter is separated out for further pounding. The flour can be packaged and sold at this stage, or producers will continue on to the next step: the soaking of the flour. Flour is placed into a rectangular wooden container (the unawan) and soaked in water for 8 hours, to clean the flour. Dirt and sediment is drained away and soaking continues until the flour is white or light tan in color. The lighter the color, the fewer impurities. The water that is drained away is usually given to livestock. The soaked flour is then dried in the son and sieved again. Then, it is roasted in an oil-coated pan, stirring for about an hour and a half until the flour forms small lumps, and completing the production process for making landang.  

Properly roasted landang can be stored in a clean, dry place for later use. Binignit is one traditional dish made using landang and coconut milk cooked with sweet potatoes, bananas, sabá, sticky rice and jackfruit. Binignit is traditionally prepared as a Lenten dish. Kinugay is a simple stew of landang, coconut milk and muscovado. The flour can also be mixed with corn grits and steamed to produce the snacks puto buli or budbod.   It is belived that landang was created as a wartime food, with hunger driving civilians to explore the food potential of the buli palm. Landang production often involves the extended family, with each member having a different role, and cooking together with landang once it is complete. Landang can also be sold on the market, and is often vound in Carbon, the largest market in Cebu. Production takes place throughout northern Cebu, and there is even a town called “Sitio Landang” where the production thrives and equipment is shared communally.  

Today, however, landang production is threatened with cutting of buli forests for development of subdivisions and malls. Other parts of the tree are used as well, for building and craft materials, and all are at risk of being lost. The palms are not cultivated, but harvested from the wild. Furthermore, the trees take decades to grow before being able to be used for landang. In addition, younger generations are seeking work in cities, moving away and leaving fewer people to continue landang production. 

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