[ Native delicacies ][ Philippines ]

kakanin at Mers

Where else in this part of the country can one sample delectable and tempting delicacies, mouth-watering bibingka (puddings made of ground rice, sugar and coconut milk, baked in a clay oven), and a variety of other kakanins if not in Mers?

Mers is conveniently located at the corner of Rizal and Lapu-lapu Streets and just a few meters away from the city hall of Digos City. It is the perfect stop-over for leg-stretching and relaxing cramped feet on long-distance trips from Davao City to Cotabato, General Santos or from anywhere else in the South.

Famed for its “bibingka” (rice cakes) whose secret recipe has been handed down for three generations, Mers has already become a byword not only in Mindanao and the country but even abroad.

Dining at Mers can be a welcome treat that promises a different taste that makes you crave and go back for more.

Aside from bibingka, Mers also serves diversified kakanins like puto, puto maya (glutinous rice), torta, suman malagkit, palitao, sapin-sapin, bitso-bitso, bico, maja blanca, special casava cake, tupig and others.

My favorites are the tupig (ground sticky rice wrapped in banana leaf and broiled) and the bico which literally swims in sweet syrup.

The latest addition to the Mers menu is their puto cheese.

“What makes our puto cheese unique is that you get the real taste of what is advertised. Meaning, if you choose ube, its  real ube you will taste,” Zeny, one of Mer’s six children who took over the reins of the establishment said.

To maintain its distinctive taste, Zeny personally conducts a taste-test in the kitchen every day. Mers bibingka as large as a child’s grinning face piping hot from the oven are available as early as 5 a.m. By midmorning, Mers display stalls are almost empty.

Mers bibingka easily gained reputation and won the patronage of the residents. Word quickly spread by word of mouth and very soon, Mers opened its doors to customers from all walks of life and from all over the country.

“Mers’ bibingka has a taste that is only ours. This is a secret family recipe my mother got from her mother in the early 50’s, and this makes our bibingka famous,” Zeny said.

Mers is owned by the family of Gumercinda “Mers”  Sagolili Cago. The family business started in Carcar, Cebu in the early 1950’s.

Mers was the fourth child in the family. Her parents started the bibingka business in Carcar in the early 1950’s but Mers moved to Digos in 1973 and started her own bibingka business.

Starting with a P200 capital producing bibingka from 10 kilos of rice daily in 1973, Mers has come a long way and is now consuming at least two sacks of rice daily.

Expansion plans are on the way as they have already tied up with Department of Science and Technology (Dost) for market opportunities abroad. Zeny said that the shelf life of Mers bibingka can last up to one year if kept frozen.

For anyone who wants to eat genuine bibingka and other kakanin that will leave you craving for more, Mers is the answer.

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