TJ Monterde, KZ Tandingan stage first Davao concert

Disclaimer: I do not own the photos used in this article. They are grabbed from Renelyn Barbarona and the Cornerstone Entertainment, Inc on Facebook. 

What happens when a sweet, endearing crooner and an edgy, soul royalty share one stage?

TJ Monterde and KZ Tandingan showed it is so far the most unique blend ever.

The real life couple artists just enthralled and kept their Davao fans swooning throughout their TJxKZ Live in Davao concert Sunday, August 06 at the University of Southeastern Philippines (USEP) Gymnasium.

It is TJ and KZ’s first concert together and first in Davao.

“Gipili namo nga diri sa Davao kay taga diri mi (We chose to perform here in Davao because it is where we came from),” said KZ in one of chat with the audience. Both artists are from Mindanao. Monterde hails from Cagayan de Oro City while Tandingan is a pride of Digos City, Davao del Sur.

Soft and sweet ballad

At the start of the show, TJ Monterde set a lovely mood by singing Sa Tuwina, a hit from his 2014 album Ikaw at Ako followed by Imahinasyon from his self-titled album in 2016.

TJ Monterde x KZ Tandingan Live in Davao
TJ Monterde Photo courtesy: Renelyn Barbarona

Despite his fame, the musician still humbly introduced himself to the shrieking crowd. “Hello po. Ako nga po pala si TJ Monterde,” he said and went on telling the stories behind his songs. Monterde is known for his serenading approach to songs. His lyrics, which most of them he wrote are also quite unorthodox compared to most of the OPM songs.

WATCH: TJ Monterde intro performance

Monterde, after a few chats, sang the soothing Majika, one of his latest songs which he said is dedicated to his partner.

“Sa kada album nako, naa gyud koy kanta para kang KZ (I always have a song for KZ in every album),” the 28-year-old crooner, who spoke all throughout the show in Bisaya, shared to his avid supporters. He said KZ is also his inspiration of his song Ikaw at Ako, the song that catapulted him to popularity. “Mao ni ang kanta nako katong nanguyab pa ko sa iyaha (That was my song for her when I was still courting her),” he said.

Aside from that, he performed his only Bisaya hugot song Kung Siya Man, and other hit songs such as Dating Tayo and capped his set with Tulad Mo.

WATCH: Kung Siya Man, TJ Monterde sings Kung Siya Man

Edgy and beastly soul

From the sweet atmosphere, the mood gradually shifted into something heavy and soulful as KZ had her dramatic entrance. Her edgy style – blue, baggy top, glittery boots and bleached thinly braided hair, demands attention as her voice crept into senses. She is doing yet a breathtaking act. Not until she displayed her rapping prowess in her rendition of rap icon Gloc-9’s Sumayaw Ka. She seemed to have transformed into a beast.

It was about three minutes of awe.

TJ Monterde x KZ Tandingan Live in Davao cornerstone entertainment inc.
Photo courtesy: Cornerstone Entertainment, Inc.
TJ Monterde x KZ Tandingan Live in Davao cornerstone entertainment inc
Photo courtesy: Cornerstone Entertainment, Inc.

WATCH: KZ Tandingan’s amazing performance

Tandingan was taken far from by her jazz rendition of the 1955 Judy Garland song Over The Rainbow as her audition piece in the Philippine franchise of the singing reality show X Factor in 2012 and became its very first grand winner. Since then, she had been performing pop-belting songs but after she established a name in the music industry, she realized she can do better than just hitting high notes. She followed her heart’s delight and finally evolved into a soul and contemporary R&B royalty, with rapping on the side.

What is being concealed by her strong image is her comical demeanor. She, an effortless comedienne, lightened the ambiance with her usual Davaoeno humor.

Being an alumna of the university where the concert was mounted, she felt comfortable “catching up” with her fans in between her songs, retrospecting her memorable experiences in her school days and perpetually thanking the people behind her successes. She also granted hugs and selfies to few of her fans on stage and messed around with them at the same time.

TJ Monterde x KZ Tandingan Live in Davao cornerstone entertainment inc
KZ invites fans to have selfies with her on stage. Photo courtesy: Cornerstone Entertainment, Inc.
TJ Monterde x KZ Tandingan Live in Davao cornerstone entertainment inc
Photo courtesy: Cornerstone Entertainment, Inc.

Despite having members of the band coming from places other than Mindanao, Tandingan loosened up by sharing stories in Bisaya. She remarked that those who can’t understand the dialect should be the one to adjust since the concert is in Mindanao.

“Kanang mga katapad nga bisaya sa mga tagalog, kamo na bahala og explain unsa akong ginapang-ingon diri. Magbisaya ta. Naa ta sa Mindanao (To those Bisaya people beside those who can’t understand our dialect, just explain to them what I am talking here. We should speak in Bisaya. We are in Mindanao), ” she jested. The empowered fans cheered loudly.

Among the songs she sang in the show is Labo from her latest album Soul Supremacy. Aside from that, she performed her version of Tadhana by UDD, the OST of the prime time teleserye Ang Probinsyano, Wag Ka Nang Umiyak, electrifying renditions of a Parokya ni Edgar hit Bagsakan and Teeth’s Laklak, and finally, her one of the most requested song, Mahal Ko o Mahal Ako. She also granted the fans’ request to sing a sample of Two Less Lonely People, the official theme song of the high-grossing film Kita Kita.

Extraordinary harmony

Two different genres. A balladeer and a soul supreme. A romantic and an edgy.

They may, at some point, have contrasting appeals when it comes to their music but it only made them the most interesting couple there is. It is their love for music that kept them in harmony.

The moment the couple ruled the stage, it became a celebration of Vispop (Visayan pop). TJ and KZ sang few of the famous Cebuano songs to the delight of the audience. On top of the lineup are the frequently requested songs Hahahasula by Cebuano artists Kurt Fick, Pero Atik Ra by Jacqueline Chang, Balay ni Mayang by Martina San Diego and Kyle Wong, and Ay Labyu Langga by Jerika Teodorico.

TJ Monterde x KZ Tandingan Live in Davao
Photo courtesy: Renelyn Barbarona
TJ Monterde x KZ Tandingan Live in Davao cornerstone entertainment inc
Photo courtesy: Cornerstone Entertainment, Inc.

WATCH: TJxKZ, TJ and KZ join together on stage

But more than the blissful songs are the sweetness of the lovebirds. KZ fondly teased and messed around with her partner in front of the swooning crowd. The couple became official since January 28, 2015 but their relationship became public in February after they guested on a morning show in Kapamilya network. They considered themselves an inspiration to each other, especially to their music.

It was an awesome and love-filled concert. Aside from TJ and KZ, Mark Carpio serenaded the audience with his song Hiling along with few Davaoeno artists Rexvin Galang, the band Footwear, and Zhalia trio. The show was organized by the Positive Impact Productions.

Latest Kadayawan jingle released, an ode to unity

[Featured photo: Kenneth Baroquinto/CrossTV/105.9 Balita FM]

Its overture is an enthusiastic beat of an ethnic drum, perhaps gimbal. In a few counts, the enchanting chant of Maan Chua (I should know) resounds until a burst of harmony from the instruments kulintang, kubing, and some stringed instrument I am no expert at completes the ensemble. And finally, the unique voices of Mindanawon artists Popong Landero, Joey Ayala, Bayang Barrios, Maan Chua, Raffy Ayala, Maree Cantaoi Cayas, and the female band Duchess in Throne weaved the euphoric musical colors of the newest anthem for the 32nd Kadayawan Festival entitled “Kadayawan, Kahiusahan.”

The full version of the song was released on Tuesday by the official Facebook page of the festival Kadayawan sa Davao. “The song talks about the celebration of Kadayawan as an ageless story of unity and resiliency,” the caption says.

The song is a refreshing addition to the Kadayawan music repertoire following the one composed and performed by Dandin Ranillo in 2011. The song was entitled “Davao (Kadayawan sa Davao)” which spoke purely of the festival and the interesting and iconic spots in the city.

Kadayawan, Kahiusahan (Kadayawan, Celebration in Unity) was composed and arranged by Mindanawon country, folk, and reggae artist Popong Landero.

Listen to the full song here and sing along:
https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fkadayawanfest%2Fvideos%2F137968596795168%2F&show_text=0&width=560

KADAYAWAN KAHIUSAHAN (KADAYAWAN CELEBRATION IN UNITY)
Composed and Arranged by: Popong Landero
Featured Artists: Popong Landero, Joey Ayala, Bayang Barrios, Maan Chua, Raffy Ayala, Maree Contaoi Cayas, & Duchess in Throne.

Kadayawan
Kasaulogan
Kasaganaan ng pamayanan
Kahiusahan natong tanang
Napulo ug usang kaliwatan
(KADAYAWAN, CELEBRATION,
THE TIMELESS GENEROSITY
UNITE US)

Sa dagat, lawa, kapatagan, kabukiran
Nagtitipon-tipon, salo-salo sa biyaya
(WE CO-EXIST WITH NATURE AND GATHER TOGETHER TO SHARE ITS GRACES)

Matatag na pamayanan
Di natitinag ang kahiusahan
(IN THE SPIRIT OF RESILIENCY AND STRENGTH, WE ARE UNITED)

Pasalamatan ta ang Kahitas-an
Sa biyaya ng kalikasan
(LET US GIVE THANKS TO THE ALMIGHTY
WHO GRACED US WITH BOUNTIFUL NATURE)

Kadayawan
Kasaulogan
Kasaganaan ng pamayanan
Kahiusahan natong tanang
Napulo ug usang kaliwatan
Sa dagat, lawa, kapatagan, kabukiran
Nagtitipon-tipon, salo-salo
Kadayawan
Kasaulogan
Kasaganaan ng pamayanan
Kadayawan
Kasaulogan
Kasaganaan ng pamayanan
Kadayawan
Kasaulogan
Kasaganaan ng pamayanan
Kahiusahan natong tanang
Napulo ug usang kaliwatan

Like the Kadayawan sa Davao Facebook Page and follow its Twitter account for more of the event schedules. Enjoy!

Celebrate a meaningful Kadayawan

[Featured Photo: Anton de Arca/CrossTV/105.9 Balita FM]

It is Kadayawan season once again!

People from all walks of life will soon come together in streets of Davao City to celebrate the profusion of harvest and richness of culture. We can’t help but swoon over the colorful and vibrant events lined up this month, whether it is organized by the government or the malls. All are in-store to let you experience the essence of being a Davaoeno.

But is missing no single event the best way to celebrate Kadayawan?

The activities are odes to the five icons of Davao City – the Philippine Eagle, the Mount Apo, the Indigenous People, the Durian, and the Waling-Waling. There is the Indak-Indak (street dancing), the Pamulak (floral floats), tribal music performances and contests, Hiyas sa Kadayawan to name a few. There are baskets and stalls brimming with different fruits at a low price for you to enjoy.

Davao Logo 2017

However, the bliss and excitement during the whole month are ephemeral. The city returns to normal after the festival. The memories may linger for a quite a long time but not until the next Kadayawan.  And the significance, for some reason, will be left intangible and ideal.

There is something we can do to at least one of the city’s icons – the Philippine Eagle, the preserver of nature where the bounty springs from and the guardian of the forest where it resides, in unity with the indigenous people.

Staff from Marco Polo Davao struts the fancy eagle stuffed toys for bid.
Staff from Marco Polo Davao struts the fancy eagle stuffed toys for bid.

Philippine Eagle Marco Polo Davao

Philippine Eagle Mascot, "Pepe"
Philippine Eagle Mascot, “Pepe”

For the whole duration of the celebration, adorable and fluffy eagle stuffed toys in traditional and fashionable ethnic garbs are up for bid at the Marco Polo Davao. Buying a pair of the eagle toys mean adopting and supporting a real Philippine wildlife king at the Philippine Eagle Center. The auction starts with a price of 2,500 pesos for a pair. Proceeds will go to the Philippine Eagle Foundation.

The toy eagles were presented by the staff of the hotel as they open this year’s Kadayawan with the launching of Fashion and Fusion, both a gastronomic and visual festivity of everything Davao. There are also paintings that are for sale. And lastly, the cacao and chocolate products from various business members of the Cacao Industry and Development Association of Mindanao, Inc. (CIDAMi) are on the display. In case you don’t want to bid, you can still donate by buying a regular stuffed toy eagle for 600 pesos.

Painting Marco Sunstar
Photo credit: Ace Perez, Sunstar Davao Social Media Content Editor

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chocolate malagos marco polo sunstar
Photo credit: Ace Perez, Sunstar Davao Social Media Content Editor

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Feel the vibe of Kadayawan by visiting the hotel at the heart of Davao, Marco Polo Hotel for the month-long arts and business exhibition and celebrate with a lasting impact. Supporting the eagles, the symbol of a true blooded Davaoeno, will perfectly embody this year’s theme: “Stand Tall. United. Resilient.”

Quest inspires to begin again with Unang Hakbang

Do you want to start something, perhaps a project, a cause, a hobby or whatever but you have a lot of reservations, the fear of not being accepted, of failure and of disappointments? Do you want to start your life again because you are too torn and stressed, tired and depressed but are afraid that hurt will continue to haunt? Then Quest demands you to make his new song your motivational anthem.

When I was in the middle of it all (and still is), the new song Unang Hakbang by Quest feat. Keiko Necesario came to my solace.  I first heard the 35-year-old Filipino artist when he was featured in fliptopper Loonie’s song “Tao Lang”, an equally empowering music.

Quest ft Keiko Necesario Unang Hakbang

But the Hiphop and R&B singer Quest or Jose Villanueva III in real life earned his popularity through his music “Sige Lang” in 2012 which was the anthem of the basketball team Gilas Pilipinas. He then swooped up after he wrote the “Walang Hanggan”, the official soundtrack of “Ang Kwento Nating Dalawa (The Story of Us that Never Was)”, a melancholic independent film by Nestor Abrogena starring Nicco Manalo (Sam) and Emmanuelle Vera (Isa). It is the story of two souls who are both aware of their romantic connection but are afraid to admit it. They just played everything by ear, until the end.

Writing inspiring songs could be Quest’s cup of tea, perhaps influenced by his Christian background. He was a lead vocalist and music ministry director at Victory in Manila. He concentrated on his music in 2007 and started recording Flip Music with Jumbo de Belen in 2009.

Since then, he reaped the ‘Best Urban Music Video for 2010’ at the MYX Awards Philippines for his first single “Back to Love”. Finally, he became an official Warner Music Philippines baby in 2015 with his sophomore album Life of a Champion which was released on May 20, 2016.

And just recently, he introduced his newest song in his Youtube Channel officialQuesttv. This will be the first of the original songs he presented “stripped down as requested”. Set in a room with his band, he sang it raw and live. The song is as chilling as the one prior to this but with an optimistic sting. His husky voice compliments the tone and melody. Adding to the dramatic spice is Keiko Necesario.

The song is a perfect moral support when you wanted to move on but do not know where to start. “Yung di na mababago bitawan mo na, sa paghilom ng sugat may bagong simula. Maniwala ka man o hindi, lahat yan ay merong silbi, sige. (Leave those you can’t change. In the healing of wounds, there is a new beginning. Believe it or not, it will pay off in the end.),” the song suggests.

And further, the chorus taps into a reality you either did not recognize or deny to believe. “Pwede ka nang kumawala, dyan sa rehas mong gawa-gawa. Wag na magpanggap na nawawala. Wala namang mawawala kung magsimulang muli. (You can now break away from your makeshift chain. You will not lose anything if you begin again),” the song added.

Get the feels by listening to it here:

Unang Hakbang (Lyrics)

Keiko:
Ayoko ko na dito.
Sawa na ko dito.

Quest:
Hingang malalim, damhin ang hangin
Tingala sa langit, di pa to tapos
Meron pang galit, inagaw, inakit, paasa, pasakit
Pusong naghihikahos, kumapit ako
Kahit ano gagawin ko pero bakit gan’to
Nangyari sa’yo, bakit ako
Pwede na’kong sumuko
Dito na lang sa dulo
Pero sinubukan kong matuto

Quest, Keiko:
Yung di na mababago bitawan mo na
Sa paghilom ng sugat may bagong simula
Maniwala ka man o hindi, lahat yan ay merong silbi, sige

Chorus:
Pwede ka nang kumawala
Dyan sa rehas mong gawa-gawa
Wag na magpanggap na nawawala
Wala namang mawawala kung magsimulang muli

Quest (Rap):
Pagbigyan mo ang bukas
Wag kang matakot umusad
Kapag nahanap ang lunas ang nakaabang ay walang katulad
Ang puso’y namulat, may mga patunay na sugat
Mas malakas ka na ngayon, tumingala ka sa ulap
Kwento ng tagumpay ang pinakahihintay
Akala mo tapos na, muntik ka pang bumigay
Ngayon nagdiriwang ang langit, simulan mo na ulit umawit
Ibaon ang noon para sa ngayon unang hakbang

Quest, Keiko:
Kung gusto mo ng bago iwanan mo yan
Hilumin ang sugat ito na ang paraan
Maniwala ka man o hindi, lahat yan ay merong silbi, sige

Chorus then…
Buksan  mo ang ‘yong mga mata
Para hindi ka na nangangapa
Di mo na kailangan pang mangamba
Magpaalam sa nakaraan at magsimulang muli

Keiko:
Ayoko ko na dito
(Quest: Hindi kita iiwan) (3x)
Sawa na’ko dito

2nd Chorus then…
Magsimulang muli (3x)

It turns out, the song is actually a sequel of first hit music Walang Hanggan. Quest shared the video of the indie film’s OST on his twitter with a teaser:”Let me tell you a story. A Trilogy. Feb – WALANG HANGGAN (Pt 1) Mar – UNANG HAKBANG (Pt 2) Apr – KALAWAKAN(Pt 3)”.

Putting the pieces together, the story chronicles the heartbreak with Walang Hanggan and standing up and starting again with Unang Hakbang.  Meanwhile, He already performed Kalawakan live in a musical session called A Space Manila and several venues. Uploaded on Youtube by radiorepublicph, Quest conveyed the message about opening your heart again.

Watch it here: Quest – “Kalawakan” Live and _Acoustic at A Space Manila!

Whatever you are going through, wherever you are right now in your life, you are joined by Quest in your quest. For now, you should be taking the risk, beginning again, and refreshing your life. All you need to do is to take that Unang Hakbang (First Step) and everything will follow. Aja!

Seeking for a quiet place to study? Try Seekhana Study Hub Cafe

When all you want to hear are the noises of the bloody lessons you need to muster in school, then Seekhana Study Hub Cafe offers you a much-needed silence.

Since two of my best friends got into law school, it partly changed our taste in coffee shops where we hang out. We now choose coffee shops that are conducive for studying and reading rather than be spoiled in our usual chitchat-kind of bonding moments. In fact, one of them allowed me to go with them given that I should not talk. I eye-rolled okayed. Lol!

I am supportive though but my nocturnal tendencies often stimulate me to speak more. I become an impulsive storyteller, expressing every bit of nonsense in my head. I thought it is impossible I wouldn’t become a welcome distraction to them.

We turned to Seekhana Study Hub Café, a revolutionary coffee shop in Davao City that doesn’t only sell unlimited brewed coffee but a cozy space and peaceful atmosphere to complement one’s study routine or a day job’s overtime.

Seekhana Study Hub Cafe
I dare not read that book. But I had three cups of that unlimited coffee.

The culture shock was real. Noisy people will be penalized! Just kidding. LOL! They discourage noise and chatting as it may disturb other customers who need silence to finish their stuff. They are an antipode to the common environment of coffee shops – noisy, busy, and distractive among others.

Seekhana Study Hub Cafe
Cubicles for introverts or extroverts who got tired of being one. Haha

Seekhana Study Hub CafeSeekhana Study Hub Cafe

Aside from that, they are also a membership café. You don’t just sit there, order a latte, and proceed. Be a member by paying 749 pesos which can give forty (40) hours of usage, 999 pesos for sixty (60) hours, and 1,499 pesos for one hundred (100) hours. The membership is inclusive of usage freedom, unlimited coffee, free internet connection, and a plug-in of one gadget. You don’t have to use them at once though.

However, if you are the type that seldom needs tranquility in your endeavors, you can avail of their walk-in rates.  Your 100 pesos can be used for three (3) hours and an unlimited coffee while adding 50 pesos to it entitles you with additional, unlimited lemonade. Since they also decided to stay up late to cater those who need their place, staying there for twenty-four (24) hours only costs 200 pesos.

Seekhana Study Hub Cafe
Ayusin mo pag-aaral dzae para discounted na ang notaryo ko. LOL!
Seekhana Study Hub Cafe
Absorb what you read by taking a short break.
Seekhana Study Hub Cafe
Ask the counter for their promos. You still have a lot avail!

Other amenities to support your study and work habits are meals and beverage, napping kits, power outlets, comfy seats and cubicles, printing, copying, and scanning services.

It was a game-changing café experience. They somehow achieved their visions. The place was well-lit and the people are accommodating. What only bothered me is that they did not have the heart for binge-eaters. Nyahaha. They should consider adding variety to their finger foods other than nachos.

Nonetheless, I got things done. My friends were able to study except that they can’t discuss as much as they wanted to. Well, it is just how it is. You have to adjust. After all, they want you to learn, in Hindi, “Seekhana”.

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You might want to try them; Seekhana Study Hub Café is located at Unit G & H, L36 &37, Blk. 10, Marfori Heights, Circumferential Road, Davao City. Their contact numbers are 287-3997 or 0943 229 1404. Follow and like their social media accounts for updates of their promos: Facebook (@Seekhanastudyhubcafe), Twitter (@seekhana_SHC), and Instagram (@seekhanastudyhubcafe).

A Heart-touching Poem by a Soldier – A Tribute

It has been months after the war broke in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur. And until now, our Philippine soldiers are still fighting for our freedom and peace, and for their lives.

I may have seen their struggles. But the intensity of fear and the quest to survive is greater to those who are on the ground than those who just witnessed their situation in media and social media. I can only empathize and say a prayer especially for the families of the soldier’s whose lives were short-lived.

My Facebook feed during the time the war was still fresh is depressing. You just can’t set aside watching or reading bad news whenever you feel somber. The news and testimonies of the unsung heroes are heartbreaking.

Soldiers in Marawi
Photo grabbed from New Marawi City Pulse Facebook Page

Just like the poem of a soldier that circulated the internet. According to FilTimes, the poem “A Heart-touching Poem By A Soldier” was seen posted by New Marawi City Pulse (@MaranaoPulse), a Facebook page of an organization that gives updates on the Marawi crisis. The post affected many netizens, reached millions, share after share. The chilling poem goes:

A HEART TOUCHING POEM BY A SOLDIER

If I die in a war zone,
Box me up and send me home,

Put my medals in my chest,
Tell my mom I did my best,

Tell my dad not to bow,
He won’t get tension from me now,

Tell my brother to study perfectly,
Keys of my bike will be his permanently,

Tell my sis not to be upset,
Her bro will not rise after this sunset,

Tell my love not to cry,
“BECAUSE I AM A SOLDIER BORN TO DIE”

Tragic, isn’t it?

But have you ever wondered who could have written this piece? Could a soldier in distress manage to pen a poem in the middle of a fight? Perhaps, but not in a breeze. Also, he would rather choose to head on to the battle than be engrossed to his Facebook. Of course, not. Someone has to write it for them.

My research did not yield me to its real author. The poem is shadowed with anonymity. But whoever wrote it, it is a snappy representation of what could be every soldiers’ farewell.

Just as how snappy this poem embodies their goodbye, we also give a snappy salute to all their courage and sacrifices in the battlefield in their quest to achieve world peace.

May victory be in their favor. May God, Allah bless them!

The Satiety of Satti (and more): A Taste of Tausug Delicacies in Zamboanga

The welcoming Zamboangeno vibe at the Zamboanga International Airport.
The welcoming Zamboangeno vibe at the Zamboanga International Airport.

Bienvenido a ciudad de Zamboanga!

I arrived in the city of Zamboanga as a side trip from my deployment in Jolo, Sulu. I am lucky enough to have a job that allows me to travel. In my first few months as a media relations officer in a government agency, I was able to reach the “Asia’s Latin City” in the Philippines – Zamboanga City. It is one of the cities that I have longed to visit, especially that some relatives of my father was in Zamboanga Peninsula, particularly Dipolog.

Our deployment really was in Jolo, Sulu. But because we failed to hitch transport that will bring us directly to the venue from Davao City, we flew to Zamboanga then took an 8-hour sea trip aboard a commercial ferry to Sulu. That was real quick because our schedule demands us to be at the venue ahead. But I and my co-officer promised to be back.

And so we did.

After the day’s work in a not-so-safe area, we hurriedly booked a commercial ferry ticket. Aside from the fear in staying longer in Jolo, it was the chance to go around Zamboanga that made me excited.

Our flight back to Davao is in the afternoon so we did not waste time as soon as we arrived in the city. Good thing we have the PIA in Zamboanga who served as our tour guides.  We went around the city and fed our eyes with the romantic view of breaking dawn at the port for a while and they introduced iconic spots in the city – the Fort Pilar, the markets, and the preserved Hispanic or European architecture of the City Hall among others They tell stories that made me realize how much I neglected listening to my history teachers. Some fast food establishments also willingly adapted its architectural designs, keeping the Spanish feel somehow consistent during the tour. That tour was also quick as we responded more to the growl of our tummies than to the hunger of our sense of sight.

And one way to make the most of your travel is to eat something original. So we ditched the fast food and turned to some of the famous Muslim delicacies. Zamboanga City can be considered a food haven as it offers its own iconic gut-fillers.

As soon as the morning breaks in Zamboanga, we headed to Jimmy’s Satti House in Pilar St., Zamboanga, Zamboanga Sibugay. Looked nothing modern in this seemingly carenderia but it is the home of the residents’ long-time favorite satti.

Jimmy's Satti Haus
Jimmy’s Satti Haus. Standing the test of time.

Satti, according to our friends from the PIA, is an ideal breakfast for Tausugs. It is beef, chicken meat or liver barbecue “swimming” in the pool of spicy, orange, viscous sauce with cubed rice. To someone who only thinks that sauce was just meant to be dipped on, the liberality of sauce in a plate was overwhelming. Now I understand why it is a favorite. But my co-worker find it too saucy, something she is not into. Oh well, you can’t please everybody.

Satti
The specialty, Satti.

For our lunch, we went to the rustic and cozy Dennis Coffee Garden seated in San Jose Road, Baliwasan, Zamboanga. It is a restaurant distinct in their focus on Tausug cuisine. Aside from that, they are promoting the Kahawa Sug, the authentic Sulu coffee.

Since there are a lot of us, we decided to order the resto’s food platter. If I am not mistaken, it is called Latal. The platter comprised of the mother of the Tausug dishes, the Tiula Itum.

Latal
Overloaded!

Tiula Itum is a spicy beef soup cooked with turmeric and blackened by burnt coconut flesh. In his article, the Sulu-born and Halal and Peace advocate in Zamboanga Peninsula Rezai Mijar described Tiula Itum as the “head of all viand”. “Without it at the center of a food tray, to some, it is incomplete,” he said in his blog, All Tausug. “Tiyula’ itum is a food that symbolizes the Tausug pride most likely the ethnic Buranun,” Mijar added. It is probably the reason why it is placed at the center of the platter. That’s cool!

Tiyulah Itum at Sitti's Halal Foods www.pinasmuna.com
Tiyulah Itum at Sitti’s Halal Foods http://www.pinasmuna.com

Another delicacy beside it is the Pastil. It is a pastry that looked like empanada except that it has bean sprouts or rice noodles as its fillings. The thing about this that intrigued me is its condiment. They said it is “suka” or vinegar. It looked like one, yes. But it doesn’t taste as sour as vinegar. So you can be generous in putting it on your pastil. In fact, the more you drench the food with its warm ‘vinegar’, it becomes tastier, more exciting to eat.

Pastil
Pastil

Next up is the Kulma or the beef curry in a skewer and the Tyula Sug or the beef soup cooked almost similarly to Tiula Itum.

Beef Kulma. Food styling and photography by Aliyya Sawadjaan c. Rappler.com
Beef Kulma. Food styling and photography by Aliyya Sawadjaan c. Rappler.com
Tyula Sug. Food styling and photography by Aliyya Sawadjaan c. Rappler.com
Tyula Sug. Food styling and photography by Aliyya Sawadjaan c. Rappler.com

Lastly for the viand is the Chicken Piyanggang. It is a spicy chicken dish with burnt coconut meat and coconut milk.

Chicken Piyanggang Food styling and photography by Aliyya Sawadjaan c. Rappler.com
Chicken Piyanggang. Food styling and photography by Aliyya Sawadjaan c. Rappler.com

One distinct characteristic of the Tausug cuisine is the spicy taste and the use of burnt coconut, perhaps a manifestation of the Malaysian influence. Sulu in the Philippines is geographically a neighbor to Malaysia and Indonesia.

For the dessert that is not really light, we had the Juwalan (fried banana dipped in latik or caramelized coconut milk) and the Putli Mandi (sticky flour balls filled with bukayo, rolled in grated coconut). Burp!

Juwalan
Juwalan
Putli Mandi
Putli Mandi

I sealed my meal with a cup of hot chocolate which ultimately pleased my sweet tooth. We walked out the resto uber satisfied!

Hot Chocolate
Hot Chocolate

Aside from the food places that offered authentic cuisines, we also tried some of the food hubs which were as old as like the pastry house Tsokolate.

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There are still a lot to discover in Zamboanga. I failed to try their famous Knickerbocker and the Curacha (deep-sea crab) in Alavar sauce among others. Our food trip was swift because of our flight schedule. But it was already a well-cherished, satiating cultural gastronomic adventure one should not miss. I am definitely going back! Who’s with me?

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