TAUSUG IN DOHA: Durian symbolizes hospitality, love, respect and honor 

DOHA, Qatar (MindaNews / 25 July) — Durian season is one of the most awaited seasons by every Tausug in Sulu and elsewhere because lots of them love to eat this exotic, strongly flavored, and sharply aromatic fruit.

Alhamdu Lillaahi, thankfully, my homeland is truly blessed by Allah with so many things, amongst them He allows durian to be grown in the Sulu Archipelago. In fact, durian is one of the prides of the province of Sulu.

The durian is a fruit of a perfectly unique character. There is no other fruit you can compare it with athough, there are many exotic fruits seasonally found in my homeland, amongst them lanzones, mangosteen, marang, bauwnu.

Whenever military launches air strikes on the hideouts of “terrorist groups” in my homeland in Sulu province, civilians are frightened, especially at night when they hear the sound of war planes and bombs being dropped on the targets which most Tausugs describe as “ripe durians falling from the tree” – as a metaphor.

Most people from rural areas of Sulu have a durian plantation in their huge, vast tracts of lands where they annually harvest it and eventually sell it to market. This is one of the sources of Halal-living of many countryside dwellers.

I remember when I was in Kandayok, Panamao, Sulu, I told my family that we will be visiting my cousin Hja. Darwina Tulawie in Buntod, Talipao, Sulu and eat durian there. The smile on their faces was priceless as they were exhilarated to go.

Alhamdu Lillaahi, we had a quality time together as we enjoyed eating durian for the first time that year. Well, all of us love to eat this fruit and we can consume even two pieces of it individually. What about you?

Moreover, most Tausug confectioneries such as sweet creamy porridge or congee, soft macaroons, among others, are best prepared and served when there is durian flesh mixed on it during the course of cooking because its taste and aroma will be more attractive, drooling and appetizing. Isn’t that so, durian lovers?

By the way, it’s quietly difficult to prepare this jam. I have tried it before with my late paternal grandmother Hja. Asia Tulawie-Tan. The smoke from the wood fire made my eyes sting, and although she let me push the durian flesh around the wok with the large wooden paddles, I couldn’t stay close to the fire for long without waving my hand in front of my face, drops of sweat and coughing. This is how durian jam is traditionally made, hand-stirred over wood fire. Nevertheless, it was a noteworthy experience.

Remarkably, this season is a symbol of HOSPITALITY, LOVE, RESPECT and HONOR between and amongst Tausug wherever they are. Whenever they harvest durians, they cannot forget to share it also with their families and loved ones be it their neighbors or staying far away from them. It’s either they will send raw durians or durian jam or known to us in Sulu as “Mantakiliya”—which is also one of the best favorites of many Tausug durian lovers.

However, for us who stay in another country, we can only have the durian jams/pastries because airline policy doesn’t allow raw durian on board as non-durian lovers don’t like. They find the aroma overpowering, the odor unpleasant, causing headache and nausea to them. But, personally as a durian lover, I regard it as having a pleasantly sweet fragrance.

Durian symbolizes HOSPITALITY, LOVE, RESPECT and HONOR between and amongst Tausug wherever they are. This has been affirmed that even if we are miles away from our family and loved ones, they still never miss to send us “mantakiliya,” Alhamdu Lillaahi.

Indeed, no matter how miles away and oceans apart I am right now, there are really times that my heart will miss the “only place I call home” and where I happily grew up and spent many precious memories with my family and loved ones; that’s my beloved homeland, LupahSug.

(Mindanawon Abroad is MindaNews’ effort to link up with Mindanawons overseas who would like to share their experiences in their adopted countries. Gamson Jr Mawallil Quijano of Sulu is a registered Radiologic Technologist who works in Doha, Qatar. He was on his way to Sulu supposedly for vacation with his family when the  COVID-19 lockdown was imposed in mid-March in Zamboanga City. He returned to Doha on June 25 without having the chance to visit Sulu)