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Abatud | The Indigenous Food for Survival, the Manobo Style







Working inside the forest is not an easy job as what many think it is. My job is actually co-enjoyed by those who are fond of environmental protection and conservation.

San Miguel, Surigao del Sur is feared by many due to the belief that the forest is home to many of the leftist in the northeastern side of Mindanao. Challenging to say, this was the venue of my previous project.


A Job You'd Surely 'Love'?

My job is to assess the environmental condition of the area and to do this, I have to be in the actual site. It was a strategy on my part to keep my work easy and safe by hiring the locals (IPs) as my assistants, and in this case I decided to have at least 8 Manobos on my side to direct and give me insights and history of the area and be my personal protection from the "unknown".

Looking for something

The jump-off of the actual site is actually 15 km starting from Brgy. Magroyong along the national road.  There were no paved roads, so walking through a muddy trail was the only way to reach my target place.

And from there I have to scout part by part the 5000 hectares of a secondary forest.  Fortunately, I had some stints of mountain climbing prior to the acceptance of my luck in Mindanao.

Though most of the time we have an ample supply of food and water but there were some cases that we got short with our supplies and got stranded in an unknown location due to heavy rains. With the unexpected circumstances, we usually rely on any available forest food that can be found inside the jungle.

My local research assistants from a manobo tribe

I'm actually used of eating some of  exotic food coming from various types of plants and animals, but there was this particular unlikely dish that had become so unforgettable to me.

Due to the long stay doing the survey, most of the time we got short out of food supply, and we have no choice but to use our instinct looking for something edible in the forest. My favorite jungle food was the “pechay na ligaw” but unfortunately it wasn’t around during that time.

Survival of the Fittest!

I saw one of the Manobos busy removing fibers from a decaying palm tree. Until he announced a happy discovery and showed me a handful of COCOONS!

Cocoon recovered from a decaying palm tree
One by one he opened the cocoons and this wiggling yellow pupa appeared. He said we would be able to survive the day by eating this creepy creature they locally called abatud or batud. WHATTTTT!???? Hearing those words shocked me and can’t believe that I shall be consuming something that I haven’t heard of before and mind you … I will eat them RAW and ALIVE!


Left with no other options, I washed it with water and faced the bottom part inside my mouth and I started to juice out the yellow creamy squirting content and swallow it immediately without touching my taste buds. I said YUCK at first. But since I was hungry, I took another and at this time, my tongue can’t help avoid the substance and  surprisingly the taste wasn't so bad at all. It tastes like milk people! So I got hooked and looked for more  until our hunger was satisfied to survive the night.

And I confess!

Eating ABATUD for the very first time was a learning experience to survive the jungle.  Though the organism was not properly identified, it was assumed to be a pupa of a moth or of a horned beetle. This experience can’t be topped by anything I have tried before.


Until now, my heart is still longing to do it again. One thing for sure, if ever I get lost in the forest and got short with food supply again, I already have a favorite item on the menu of things we can find inside the forest. I just hope that this experience of mine can still be enjoyed by the youth of the next generation  especially the indigenous people of Surigao del Sur. Chow!


What's Next?
The Untold Story of Bibang ( Varanus cumingi)
Fish Cage & Sandbar:Resort in the Middle of the Sea
Finding your way in Surigao del Sur


31 comments :

  1. nice one. i wanted to do something ike this too!
    i want to learn jungle survival from the tribes.
    thanks for sharing your experience!

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    1. am glad to share it there is too much to learn.. sad to know it is slowly disappearing due to lost/decline of natural habitat.

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  2. whoaaaa if it tasted like milk, then im gonna eat it too! ikaw na kuya! im your number 1 fan hehe!

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    1. just like eating durian for the very first time wandershugah....hahaha...the first time is always memorable talaga... i think somewhere in butuan meron nito.... marami kasing manobo tribes sa BXU

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  3. Replies
    1. thank you sir ... means a lot to me.. it drives me to share more :)

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  4. Now that is not easy. Although essentially, every mountaineer must learn one way or the other to survive the outdoors in desperate times. Swallow the unswsllowable and eat the whatthefcks. awesome feat sir.

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    1. Thanks sir Reuel.. i couldn't agree more, but I am still looking forward to have a formal training on forest survival...for now I rely mainly on instinct and shared knowledge from companions :D

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  5. wow, that's one hell of an experience. i once worked for the protection of the samar island national park but did not still tried it. maybe next, il change my guides with local guides. hehehe thumbs up!

    red bautista
    centro speleo de samar

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    1. I love Samar sir red, my mother is from eastern.. i wish i could explore the place soon ...there are more to see in the Philippines ... keep on exploring and let's help each other to promote sustainable ecotourism :D

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  6. OHMYGOSH!!! I can't believe I actually finished reading your post, hahaha! My father used to tell stories about this Batud and how they eat it. He also said that it tastes like milk. I don't know if I have the guts to try this, I kind of have a phobia on worms. I wonder what would I do if I was in your situation, eat batud or die of hunger? Hehehe!

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    1. thank you swexie... we can now realize that we are all blessed that we enjoy the "normal" food served daily on our table... we just have to be thankful that we dont have to end up doing same experience i had..but when faced with the same situation, at least we have now an idea how to survive even without the comfort of our kitchen

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  7. OMG, ang saya siguro ng job mo (no sarcasm here) kasi nakakatravel ka ng ganyan.. hands up ako sayo because you were able to eat it - despite not knowing what the species is. Ang galing din ha, because you'll do anything to survive. Not sure how i'll eat that if i were you, pero.. that's one experience i'm sure you'll never forget!

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    1. I am not sure how I am going to respond, but Ill take the indifferent experiences as perks either good or bad...

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  8. alam ko kaya kong kumain ng ganyan.

    pero reading from this blogpost, parang nanghihina ako.

    ano kayang masarap na lunch?>

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    1. when faced with the same situation, i think we wont be choosy any more... we will consume whatever is available just to survive the day:D

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  9. pupae are beetles of family scarabaeidae:
    http://salagubang.net/pages/gallery/gallery_sca_dynastinae.html

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  10. thank you estan for the referal and enlightenment. you surely do know your insects :D

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  11. wahhh db nagiging Salagubang to? ikaw na ang real survivor dennis jejeje

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  12. ikaw na ang bear grylls pinoy version! =)

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  13. The Pinoy ExplorerAugust 13, 2012 at 8:24 AM

    I would love to try that! But many times, I have to be wary of insects and all due to my allergies. I love your job! Hehe!

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  14. ganda ng work mo at matikman nga ang batud na yan... hehe

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  15. Wow, that was truly impressive, eating the pupa and actually enjoying it, alive!!! Whoa. WHOA.

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  16. I never thought that I could eat abatud unless if I have no choice. If I were to eat the cocoon, it would be so weird. Yayks!

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  17. Rochkirstin SantosApril 28, 2013 at 11:53 AM

    I already know my answer: I won't survive and I certainly cannot be the queen of the jungle. Wahaha insects for food made me remember Timon and Pumba suddenly. :D

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  18. oh! what an experience and I can relate with you since I used to be a field worker as well. Though I've never tried eating pupa before ha!ha! looks creepy, hmm. . . . dunno if I cna endure that one.

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  19. Although my camping and trekking skills are almost non-existent, I'm adventurous when it comes to food so I might actually be interested in trying the abatud especially since you said it was good :D So far my list of tried-exotic food is limited only to balut, frogs, eels, crocodile and ants (served ceviche style).

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  20. Oh, I want to try eating Abatud too! Doesn't look yummy, but eating it will surely add up to my list of extreme experiences =)

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  21. Your job sounds awesome. Dangerous but awesome! I don't think I can ever stomach eating a pupa >.<

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  22. consolacion miraviteMay 12, 2015 at 10:45 AM

    Wow! I like exotic food but not this exotic, please! Heheh! Nice article about a specie that I haven't heard of yet! :D

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