Rice is one of the staples of Bicol, together with coconut and abaca. In 2017, the region’s rice industry production expanded by 4.67% in 2017 despite calamities. With this bounty, Bicolanos have various ways of preparing dishes and snacks with rice as its main ingredient.
Binutong is a tasty and easy-to-cook merienda known in Bicol, made from sticky rice with coconut cream wrapped in banana leaves. The word “binutong” means to tie the knot, associating its name with how it was wrapped and sealed with a knot.
The fertile land of Bicol has sustained the lives of its inhabitants for so many years. The Bicol River’s broad basin, narrowing through Rinconada to Lake Bato, continuing to Guinobatan and the low watershed of Camalig, is suitable for rice cultivation. The narrow coastal plains of Daet, Lagonoy, Tabaco, Albay, Sorsogon Bay, and Catanduanes are major rice producers.
Rice cultivation in the country started a thousand years ago and has developed into its staple food. Indo-Malaysia, Chinese, and Vietnamese brought and introduced rice to the Filipinos. Filipino households have always served steamed rice with viands. Its leftover is usually fried with garlic to make “sinangag” best consumed for breakfast. They also turned rice into delicious treats, snacks, and desserts. The Filipino language has different words for rice. In Bicol alone, there are varied terms for rice, like “paroy” (unmilled rice), “bagas” (milled rice), and “maluto” (cooked rice).
Rice (Oryza sativa) is an edible starchy cereal grain and a member of the Poaceae family. It is an important human crop supporting more people than any other crop. Rice is a unique and diverse plant; unlike other crops, rice can grow in aquatic environments.