Photo by Megan Cortez

The Cheap Ilonggo’s Guide to: Buying Merienda in Central Market

Ever since graduating from college and getting into the “real world”, I truly understood the value of money. Well, I was already aware of it while still in school, but it did not feel as weighted as it does now that I’m earning. Every piso counts!

However, as much as I love buying food, it’s even more gratifying when eating it with others! There’s something special about sharing one’s food with people who keep you happy or, you know, people going through the same stresses as you.

So I thought: With a limited budget, can I feed the people in the office? There are eight of us in our space; each of us ultra-hungry and craving for afternoon merienda. With my stomach growling, one place went to mind: Iloilo City Central Market.

With that set (and 100 pesos in my pocket), I went there around 3 in the afternoon to buy. Here is what my budget got me:

1. Bitso-bitso

This is a sweet Filipino delicacy I’ve grown up eating. So, it would only follow that out of all the food I bought, this one is my favorite!

To those unfamiliar to bitso-bitso, it’s a sticky fried dumpling shaped in a twisted braid that’s covered in muscovado sugar. Since I am such a sweets lover, I found it better that the delicacy was caked in sugar!

Since bitso-bitso is gummy, its texture offers a great contrast to the crispiness of the muscovado. If you have a sweet tooth like I do, I’m sure this would be your favorite, too.

HOW MUCH I BOUGHT: Bitso-bitso is ₱5 for every two pieces. Since I bought six pieces, that amounted to ₱15.

2. Bitsukoy

This is basically fried dough covered in white sugar. So yes, it’s kind of like doughnut, but just more Filipino. But there’s nothing wrong with that, of course! Kind of like dirty ice cream, when you think about it.

HOW MUCH I BOUGHT: I bought two pieces of bitsukoy for around ₱5.

The Cheap Ilonggo's Guide to: Buying Merienda in Central Market - Project Iloilo
Photo by Megan Cortez

3. Serafina

The closest words one could probably ascribe to lubid-lubid is…. Well, “tough” and “braided” comes to mind. As long as you’re not eating this with a pustiso in your mouth, then you should be fine!

HOW MUCH I BOUGHT: Serafina is ₱7 for a pack of five pieces.

The Cheap Ilonggo's Guide to: Buying Merienda in Central Market - Project Iloilo
Photo by Megan Cortez

4. Suman/Suman Latik

Kakanin, like steamed rice, is a staple in almost every merienda. And suman (pictured above) is arguably one of the most recognizable products of this variety for looking exactly like steamed rice, except it’s sticky and brown-ier than usual.

Suman latik, on the other hand, seems to be less popular with some people we know. It’s probably because it’s just steamed sticky rice topped with caramelized coconut. Good thing the people at the office aren’t that choosy in their kakanin.

HOW MUCH I BOUGHT: One piece of suman is ₱5; suman latik, on the other hand, is also priced at ₱5 a piece.

The Cheap Ilonggo's Guide to: Buying Merienda in Central Market - Project Iloilo
Photo by Megan Cortez

5. Kutsinta

Kutsinta is like puto, except it’s brown.

Don’t expect us to describe it further than that because we’re just eating it.

HOW MUCH I BOUGHT: A pack of four pieces of kutsinta is at ₱10.

The Cheap Ilonggo's Guide to: Buying Merienda in Central Market - Project Iloilo
Photo by Megan Cortez

6. Turon

What would an afternoon merienda be if there’s no turon to choose from? Malls may be carrying it now, but nothing compares to eating a fresh one straight from the skillet!

HOW MUCH I BOUGHT: Two pieces of turon cost about ₱5. With six pieces, these cost me about ₱15.

The Cheap Ilonggo's Guide to: Buying Merienda in Central Market - Project Iloilo
Photo by Megan Cortez

HOW MUCH I SPENT IN TOTAL: It’s around ₱62. When combined into a single picture, they also looked like the picture you see at the top of this post.

I also had ₱38 left from the merienda spree.

Now, who wishes it’s already 3 pm?

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