Good Friday is supposed to be the ultimate fasting day for Catholics. But for Filipinos, it’s – more often than not – a “binignit day”. What really is it that makes binignit a Good Friday favorite?
In the Visayas and some regions of the Philippines, binignit refers to the combination of sweet potato (kamote), plantain banana, jackfruit, glutinous rice balls (bilo-bilo), and sago pearls cooked together in coconut milk. It’s a widely popular and healthy Filipino snack or dessert. It can be had anytime, regardless of season or occasion.
However, during Good Friday, instead of doing absolute fasting, most Filipino Catholics rather subsist on binignit. This has become a sort of local tradition for many families that you can expect to see bowls of binignit in almost every other house all day on Good Friday, particularly in suburban and rural areas. My family is an exception to this tradition, though.
Coming from an actively practicing Catholic family, we strictly followed – and still do – the customary Catholic observance of the Holy Week, particularly on fasting. On Good Friday, it had always been a “one light meal plus water only” or “only water” fast for us. And, as a child, I always envied our neighbors who had binignit for meals during the day. There was even a time when I wished I belonged to our neighbors’ families than my own so I could also have that “delicious treat”.
However, as I grew older, I realized that binignit is not an exclusive Good Friday thing after all. And, I still hold on to our family’s traditional “one light meal plus water fast” on this holy day as much as possible.
Binignit can also be prepared with varied ingredients, depending on the region and on one’s personal taste or choice of ingredients. This yummy snack or dessert is called by different names in different regions of the country. Some people call it dinuldog, tabirak, or ginataang halo-halo. Although binignit contains sugar and heavy on carbohydrates, I still call it healthy, counting on the sweet potato, banana, other tubers, and fresh coconut milk for nutrients.