Filipino Pina, A Love Affair With The Pineapple
The pineapple is a juicy, nutritious, and tangy tropical fruit that is a great favorite among Filipinos. It is probably the only other fruit that comes close to the coconut as a cooling delight, especially during summer.
Local legend has it that the pineapple is actually a girl who was turned into a fruit. Pina is a child who does not like being told to look for the things that her mother asks her to locate.
One day, Pina’s mom asked her to look for her ladle in the kitchen cabinet, but Pina, without really searching, only answered that she couldn’t find it. Frustrated, her mom yelled that if Pina couldn’t find something with two eyes, maybe she should have a couple more.
Pina disappeared, but the very next day a strange little fruit with many eyes sprang up outside their yard.
Scoop of Freshness
The pineapple’s queer exterior, with its many “eyes”, serrated leaves, and tough skin, cover a flesh that’s as sweet and tasty as a fruit should be. The yellow flesh is usually cut up into round slices and served chilled.
Pineapples are best known for their thirst-quenching properties, high Vitamin C content, and sweet juice. They can be served as a stand-alone dessert or mixed in with a variety of other fruits or added to meat viands for extra kick.
The pineapple fruit is also used as a meat tenderizer, often used in Filipino food it’s poured into marinade mixes for barbecues to break down the tough tissue. Filipinos don’t really like to cook with wine, brandy or rum, but if you give them pineapple juice or fruit, they can whip up something delectable for you in under an hour.
A Short History of the Pina Fabric
The most superb barongs are hand-woven from the best pineapple fabrics in the country, emphasizing the local’s ingenuity as well as their love for finely-crafted things.
Silk worms are not indigenous to the Philippines, so the natives resorted to plant fibers to make their clothes. The barong Tagalog and its female counterpart, the baro at saya (blouse and skirt), evolved as the clothing of choice among Filipinos during the Spanish era.
These clothes became popular because of their simple form and light texture, two qualities that are perfect for working-class Filipinos labouring under the hot tropical sun. Today, the barong Tagalog is now regarded as an appropriate male outfit for special occasions (like weddings), corporate events, and even male pageants.
Pina From Scratch
Pineapple or piña is deemed as one of the best fabrics for making barongs and baro at saya because it is beautiful, locally grown, and easily woven into different designs.
The fabric is made from dried leaves beaten until they separate into long, resilient fibers.
The fibers are then fed into a hand-operated loom for weaving and embroidering, the patterns emerging little by little as the weaver moves the clacking wooden pegs expertly.
A traditional barong is usually off-white or cream in color, but the pina fabric also takes to dyes really well, so you’ll occasionally see pink, green or even black barong Tagalogs.
Apart from pina, there are also a number of other native plants that can be turned into wearable works of art, like jusi or abaca. However, pina is still regarded as the most precious of them all due to its soft, airy feel and amazing durability.
The hand-woven barong is most prized for its delicate embroidery, but hand looms are slowly but steadily being replaced by machines. The most authentic handmade barongs can fetch a price tag of upwards of Php6,000 or US$150.