It would take close to two centuries before the most iconic Boholano sweetÂ pasalubong gets its long overdue recognition, and starting April 28, Jagna town, home of the original calamay gets to celebrate the first festival for the spread that sticks as tight as the Boholano family.
The abundance of glutinous rice harvest and coconuts in this sea-side town was providential in the incidental introduction of the delicacy an Augustinian Recollect priest Mariano Gutierrez OAR, according to Jagna sources.
The priest was assigned in Jagna from 1825 to 1855 and in his administering the parish, Fr. Gutierrez incidentally introduced the calamay. It was not revealed how he got to learn about the concoction, but as he was a naturalist, many presumed he could have discovered the concoction himself.
A concoction that aptly fits the Boholano bill for being sweet-tooth; calamay is a concoction of pre-soaked finely ground glutinous rice (pilit or malagkit), coconut milk (tono) and brown muscovado sugar cooked over low fire.
Cooked from latik, another Boholano bread dip made from boiled coconut milk and sugar, the ground glutinous rice cooks after hours of continuous stirring, until the unmistakable consistency is achieved, calamay makers shared.
It is the endless constant stirring that makes calamay-making laborious, that and the constant exposure to heat makes the job even more of a labor of love, another calamay maker who has picked the tradition from his parents who also got it from a long lineage of tradition, said.
Packed in a unmistakable spoke-shaved pair of coconut shell, calamay’s red paper band has become as iconic as Bohol tourism is. Now, calamay also come plastic packs.
Now an omnipresent pasalubong in practically all sea ports and airport in Bohol, calamay has also become a fitting image of hardwork and consistency which results on sweet labor.
Owing to the generations ahead who handed down the tradition which has become synonymous to the identity of Jagnaanons, the Local Government Unit, along with businesses, and civil society organizations pay tribute to the Can-upao calamay makers with the First Calamay Festival.
Taking the Jagna Municipal Plaza grounds, festival showcases present generation of original calamay makers from Can-upao, the towns calamay has been imitated but is never been equaled, states Amiela Balaba, town information officer.
Day 1, April 28, brings out the oldest and youngest calamaderos from Can-upao to the town center where there is free calamay tasting, a demo cooking exhibition while on the sidelines would be the town’s public utility pedicab and habal-habal motorservice sporting the calamay decorations.
The day also promises calamay inspired contests, parlor games and kite flying contests while the history of calamay in drama form would take the stage in the evening.
On April 29, at the Jagna Business Center, balak and folk dance contest happens while the Search for Miss Jagna Festival 2015 at the CMM Quadrangle happens at night.
On April 30, Miss Jagna Calamay Festival winners go on a parade while a street party caps the celebration in the evening. (rac/PIA-7Bohol)