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Spice of Life

Historically speaking, the Spanish ventured to the far east in search of spices and gold, both of which were found in our country. Fast forward to the present day and living in the city of “Golden Friendship”, I am at home to a fast-growing metropolitan beast yet still fresh to the establishing of homegrown businesses.

Sammi’s Homemade Palapa is one of those businesses which is gaining quite the cred not only in the city of CDOC but slowly expanding in the reaches of the region. For those who don’t know, Palapa is a spicy condiment which is made up of chili, ginger, and other ingredients. It is considered as a cultural symbol of the Maranao people and is an omnipresent accompaniment in every meal.

After she hired a Maranao nanny to look after her second son, Mrs. Frances Medina was unaware that a new chapter in her life was unfolding. February of 2019 was where it all started when the nanny’s 2 younger sisters who were displaced from the Marawi incident came into the Medina household and were generously supported by their family.

Granting the ingredients to make the “Palapa” which the nanny and her sisters requested because they missed it, Mrs. Medina and her family came to fall in love with it after it was produced in a small amount for their consumption. Later on, Her (Mrs. Medina) husband ( Mr. Lens Medina) requested that she learned how to make it herself. After intuitively listening and observing the process, she made her own version of the spicy concoction with a personal touch and the rest, as they say, is history.     

Sammi’s Homemade Palapa was first introduced in Mr. Len’s workplace. The workmates loved and craved for it and It was then and there that the orders started coming in. Seeing the potential of a business, she started to sell it online. March 2019 was the first bazaar where she displayed the Palapa for sale. Adding some Filipino “kakanin” to her space, she introduced the product to the customers and gave some samples. In her first 3 day bazaar, she was able to sell 35 jars! Now on her 7th bazaar, she is continuously encouraged and motivated by different individuals in all walks of life to further explore different avenues for the Palapa. Her next schedule is on August 2 -4 in Limketkai Mall. 

Muslim brothers who were the suppliers and makers were surprised to find a Christian who knows how to prepare Palapa. Frances Medina explains that by doing so she is discovering a different culture, she enjoys the process and is passionate about what she is doing.

The unique blend of spice which attracts consumers and encourages them to add more in every serving is priced at 100 pesos per bottle. The concoction is a welcome addition to achieve a whole new avenue of taste from your usual food. The usual Siomai with soy sauce and lemon is reinvented by adding the Palapa. The tenderness of the Siomai with the Palapa is at the right degree that when it’s in your mouth it literally melts away. A spoon or two (depending on your spice tolerance) would leave your forehead a line of sweat and your mouth craving for another serving.

Rice meals such as Sisig and Pork Chop becomes an entirely different dish, as each bite has added depth in your favorites but nevertheless maintaining the balance of your OGs. The rice toppings are sold at 50 pesos only and sell out quite quick (So if you’re in the area, better get them asap!). The spiciness gradually develops from the back of your mouth/tongue to the front, a better if not best way of enjoying the delicacies without losing the interest or will to eat.

The Sammi’s Homemade Palapa is Cagayan de Oro’s homegrown spice, an authentic yet refined ambrosial addition to any food. This is a testament that a revolution of taste is happening in the asphalt jungle of the Oro. As Mrs. Medina is planning on adding more rice meals and food to the mix, the potential is yet to be capped by this exquisite brew. I’ve said before that supporting local is the way to go, and It’s definitely still the way it should be. As a writer-photographer, I am humbled to see visionaries and go-getters in the early stages of their hustle. Businesses that will grow eventually to be passed on to the next generations and a pride not only of the city but of the island of Mindanao and in time, the Philippines.  

To order Sammi’s Homemade Palapa, please message her through 09356362069 and on Facebook through @frances.fhm

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About Glenn Palacio

Glenn Palacio

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