A relatively small municipality but the richest one amongst all towns in the Philippines, also the gateway to the East is the sweet urbanized suburb of Cainta, Rizal. Let’s uncover its humble history. And unfold their rich secrets, flavor-wise and business-wise, with their savory festivities.
Jacinta is one sweet and lovely lady who’s quite popular in her hometown, as well as the neighboring suburbs. She’s known to be of great beauty, kindness, and wealth. Despite her elite status, she showed compassion to the poor.
Years went by as she flourished to be a well-loved maiden. When the only love of her life and then, parents passed away, she became more close to the masses. She’d feed and give alms to beggars and took care of orphans at her own home.
Ka Inta, as the people fondly call her, “Ka, ” refers to a term of respect for the elderly, went on to help others even in her old age. On, one, Christmas day, she was not seen, by the window, the people, then, went inside and saw her, lying, on the floor. In memory, of her, sweetness and generosity, her native town, was named after her, and called, Cainta.
Sepoy & Maglalatik
The Cainta natives embrace their sweet origins with their cottage industry, the “kakanin” or sticky rice cake making. Which remains rooted in their traditional practices. An industry believed to have been the town’s main source of income since the 15th century. Namely, suman, a sticky rice cake wrapped in coiled palm leaves then steamed; bibingka malagkit at latik, glutinous rice cake with coconut curd spread on top; and coconut jam.
The term bibingka, though, may refer to another sticky cake, which in theory, influenced by the Sepoys.
In the 18th century, the British briefly occupied the Philippines with Indian infantrymen called Sepoys. They, however, later on, mutinied against the British Army then settled mainly in Cainta. The sepoy themselves share their own sticky sweets called, bebinca/bibik, a traditional Goan dessert, normally consisting of sixteen layers of cake batter made with coconut milk, egg yolks, ghee, and flour. The local adaptation is made of rice flour, coconut milk, and salted duck eggs. Butter and sugar are used for glazing after cooking and before serving.
Dubbed as the “Bibingka Capital of the country,” the town of Cainta, then fully embraces their traditions with a festival. Showcasing their cooking skills since 2014, Suman, Bibingka’t Latik, the SumBingTik Festival was served. It’s celebrated in line with the town fiesta, the 1st of December, the feast day of the venerated image of the Our Lady of Light. The festivities may start a week before the fiesta proper. Giving enough time to savor literally. The highlight of the festivities the SumBingTik house decoration at Brgy. Sto. Niño, where natives are the original maglalatik.