Written by: Russ Cleppin M. Paster | September 30, 2021

Tagana-an, a hidden paradise in the province of Surigao del Norte with a population of 17, 323 (as of 2020 census population), comprised with 3,733 households and a total area of 29.84 sq. mi. boasts of its breathtaking landscapes, pristine beaches, astounding lagoons, and delectable delicacies.

Hagikgik, otherwise known as lidgid na hagikhik, a sweet delicacy made from grated cassava doused with coconut milk, the center filled with candied sweet potato and wrapped in a leaf to which the delicacy owes its name. Finally, steamed to perfection and best consumed hot.

Hagikhik (Phrynium sp.), is actually a leaf found scattered in the low-lying mountains of Tagana-an. It has a smooth glossy texture and has a unique fragrant once steamed together with the grated cassava and candied sweet
potato filling thus getting the famous name of Hagikhik known to all Tagana-anons.

The dish came into birth simply because in the older days during the second world war, when food was scarce and people only relied on root crops such as cassava, sweet potato and taro, they got tired of eating the usual way so their ancestors learned to grate the root crops and as the recipe has been passed on from one generation to
another the dish evolved into what it is now.

Nanay Josefina Mativo, a native of Brgy. Union, one of the few people who knows how to make the delicacy fondly recalled her memories back when she, together with her siblings prepare and share it with each other. As far as she can remember, it was passed down to them by their parents and was also passed to their parents from their grandparents.

This heritage passed on from generation to generation says a lot about how we Filipinos preserve these priceless treasures and enables us to look back to our history, learn from it and pass it to our children and our children’s
children.

I had the privilege of watching Nanay Josefina make Hagikhik in her home and noticed how laborious and
meticulous the process was.

The Process
Here’s the steps and ingredients in making Hagikhik.

Ingredients:
1 kilo cassava
½ kilo sweet potato
1 kilo grated coconut
1 kilo brown sugar

The recipe above can make up to 30 pieces of lidgid na Hagikhik. It is also advised to gather Hagikhik leaves moments before steaming.

Procedures:

Candied Sweet Potato

  1. Clean the sweet potato.
  2. Fill casserole with a liter of water until sweet po tato is cooked.
  3. When the sweet potato is ready, peel it then mash.
  4. Add brown sugar until desired sweetness is achieved then set aside. Lidgid na Hagikhik
  5. Wash the cassava and then peel.
  6. Grate all peeled cassava then squeeze the juice out using a clean linen.
  7. Take the grated coconut then squeeze to get coconut milk.
  8. In a large bowl, place the grated cassava and add the coconut milk then mix.
  9. Add the sugar until all the ingredients are mixed.
  10. Wipe the freshly gathered Hagikhik leaves then fold into a cone like-shape.
  11. In the folded leaf, stuff the mixed grated cassava, sugar and coconut milk and pinch the center
    using your pointing finger to make a space for the filling.
  12. Add the candied sweet potato in center then close the leaf.
  13. Steam for 2 hours in medium high heat.
  14. Serve hot.

Livelihood
Tagana-an is a 5th class municipality (Income class) which derives 71% of its annual revenue from mining tax and the 29% is further subdivided into other taxes such as business and agriculture. Composed of 14 barangays, seven of which are in the mainland and seven are island barangays.

Tagana-an is a municipality surrounded by towering luscious green mountains and wide blue seas teeming with life thus people earn their living through farming or fishing.

Nanay Josefina is one who’s blessed to be surrounded by such an environment. She grew up tilling the land she got from her parents and whenever people orders Hagikhik from her she earns extra and uses it for their everyday needs.

It was never their intention to make Hagikhik for a living, she said. There were instances where they brought Hagikhik as snacks to their family gatherings and people just started to notice it. That was when people ordered the dish from them every now and then.

Now, Nanay Josefina accommodates orders when she’s available and do it as her hobby. She’s now 65 years old and still grinds the dish that Tagana-anons love.