There are claims that the Bikolano kitchen is dominated by “natok” (coconut milk; or “gata” in Tagalog) and “lada” (chili pepper) . Even rice is cooked with coconut milk (the dish is called “binutong” in Albay) while noodles are usually eaten with pepper. Panama na sana kan Korean-Chinese noodles na Jjamppong.
The claims, however, are not always true. May mga Bikolano na habo ki maarang asin igwa man na dai naaako kan tulak an ma-natok na pagkaon. Kaya an kadaklan mahilig sa may sabaw lalo na sa cocido. Mala ngani na an iba, napag-adalan kun paano ikonektar an saindang kusina asin natad. Proof: Utilizing the fruits of trees like santol and guava, andthe leaves of libas or lubas (Scientific name: Spondias Pinnata) known in English as “hog plum” or “common hog plum”.
Lubas is a tree growing to as tall as” 25 meters and a diameter off (sic) about 60 cm. Bark surface is smooth, with irregular cracks, greyish to pale reddish brown, exuding a clear, sticky sap with a turpentine smell. Leaves are alternate, pinnately compound, 20 cm or more in length. Leaflets are pointed at the apex, rounded or abruptly pointed at the base, 7 to 14 cm in length. Flowers are small and in panicles. Fruit is rounded, yellow, a one-seeded drupe, with a finely flavored, edible pulp.” It is common in lowland areas and primary forests and are usually planted as fence posts or for shades.
The wood of lubas is also utilized for temporary construction, mouldings, carvings, interior finish and even as core stock of plywood and pulp. However, because the wood is soft and light, libas is more suitable in the manufacture of matchsticks, matchboxes, boxes and crates.
Both the young leaves and the fruits of lubas are edible. But because of its sour taste, lubas leaves are used as ingredient in fish and meat stew. (See sinigang sa buko.) Lubas leaves are also used as fillings for sinanglay, a fish delicacy; or as a major ingredient in gulay na santol (santol cooked in coconut milk) or gulay na layang natong (dried taro leaves). The fruits, meanwhile, can be eaten raw or can be made into jams, jellies and juices.
The use of lubas leaves are common especially in the rural areas and is almost a part of the rural kitchen table. But while many enjoy the taste of lubas, only a few knows its medicinal values. Researchers had shown that the leaves, the bark and the fruit contain medicinal properties that can be used to treat wounds, sores and burns. The leaves also contain anti-toxin elements and studies are now being done on how to use the same to treat cancer.