The man extended to us a lunch invitation (even though we were shy, our craving for a hot meal overcame our inhibitions). We obliged and we were led to an open beach hut facing the sea. It turned out that what we stumbled upon was the local Ivana municipal government Christmas picnic, and the man who invited us was no less than the Ivana town mayor. We were seated in the company of a barangay captain and members of the local government (good thing our companion, Pinky, was acquainted with Laila Agudo who was also there, buffering our shyness) in front of viands of meat, fish, seafoods. etc. Heaven at last!!!
Laila handed us a familiar (at least to me) looking leaf in place of plates. She called it chipohu, which I recognized as similar to what we call antipolo here in Manila or Artocarpus blancoi. But the leaf seemed darker and shinier compared to an antipolo leaf. Somehow (knowing that it is me the fat guy and food lover) the unusual leaf use has taken my mind off of the enticing appeal of food (which was at that instant already calling out to me). I perused through the broad leaf and skeptic in placing the first viand on it. But eventually the hunger took over me as pieces of grilled pork, fish, squid and sauteed taro made its way onto my natural leaf plate. The sumptuous taste of the food made me forget that I am not using a regular plate at all. When we finally finished, there was no need to wash the plate as the leaf was disposable like a banana leaf that we are more accustomed to. But the chipohu had a much nicer shape than the boring squares that banana leaves are cut into.
I took pictures of the chipohu tree in Batanes which botanist Leonard Co identified as Artocarpus treculianus. To the Ivana Mayor, the Agudo Family and the municipal government, thank you for the hospitality and sparing us from another cupped noodle meal that day. The chipohu leaf meal moment, more than the use of the leaf but the conversation, the ambiance and the company will leave us memories to cherish for a long time.