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Ka Tasing’s Pinindot: From Sunong to Cell Phone

Call it what you like. There are those, in the western section of the province, who will say paridusdos. Amongst most other Tagalogs, people will just say the generic and unimaginative bilo-bilo. However, in the eastern side of Batangas, most everyone from the very old to the very young will simply call it the totally outrageous and probably untranslatable pinindot.

Alright; so probably, directly translated into English, the word is “poked.” Albeit, one naturally wonders at the etymology of the Batangueño word and probably finds no connection.

The pinindot, of course, is this outrageously delicious delicacy made with glutinous or sticky rice balls and pearl tapioca – sago – cooked in coconut milk. There are those who like to include fruits as well. By and large, the pinindot is sweet but tempered with a pinch of salt. It is perfect either as dessert or a snack.

In the small municipality of Mataas-na-Kahoy, Anastacia Ona – a.k.a. Ka Tasing – is a practically a street fixture selling cups of pinindot. She is practically a household name in the town.

The pinindutan – pardon the strange-sounding word – was a business that was started by her parents all of 45 years ago. One day, her mother asked a household katiwalâ to cook pinindot for the family. She was so enamoured with the taste of it that the family decided to make it its business.

In the old days, Ka Tasing used to go around the town with a large caldero of the pinindot delicately balanced on a sunong on her head. The sunong, as most people will probably not know, is a thick sheaf of cloth wound tightly into a circle. This is placed on the head as a flat surface on which to carry things like calderos.

“Pinindot! Pinindot kayo d’yan!” Ka Tasing would call out to neighbourhoods most afternoons; and God only knows what those of poor hearing thought she was shouting.

To this day, the rice dough is prepared early in the morning for rolling into tiny balls; pun unintended. The pinindot is cooked just before lunchtime; and Ka Tasing would go on her daily sortie around town early in the afternoon.

The difference is, these days, that she goes around without the sunong and prefers to drag behind her caldero as it sits in what used to be a baby stroller. Age is catching up with her, she says.

Ka Tasing recalls that, once upon a time, a whole caldero of the pinindot cost no more than 50 pesos. How times have changed! Now it is between 750 and 800 pesos. A cup costs 15 pesos.

Ka Tasing’s pinindot is the classic sticky rice and pearl tapioca version every day of the week except Mondays and Fridays, when she cooks pinindot with slices of saging na saba – a banana variety – and strips of langkâ. She counts Aga Muhlach among her customers, by the way.

For those interested in ordering, her place is at 005 Barangay 4, Mataas-na-Kahoy. The former sunong vendor has also reinvented herself. She may now also be reached by cell phone. Her number is 0909-2695730.

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