Suman is one of the most identifiable if not the quintessential Philippine kakanin. What is kakanin anyway, you might ask. Kakanin is a Filipino word that refers to those native sweets that are typically made of glutinous rice (malagkit). Although I have heard from some people that refer to other native sweets made from sweet potatoes (i.e. cassava), or other starchy tubers (e.g. ube), coconut, and even eggs also as kakanin. I am not quite sure yet where the distinction lies. I have yet to find definitive definition for kakanin. The online Tagalog English Dictionary defines it as: "(noun) tidbits, dainties, sweetmeats (rw. kain)." I know, not a big help, right?
I say quintessential because Filipinos are voracious rice-eaters and Suman is one of those kakanins that are unmistakably made of- you guessed it- rice, glutinous rice that is. Malagkit is virtually the only ingredient of suman. Suman is further divided into several kinds, the more common being the suman sa lihiya and suman sa ibus. I remember going to Antipolo as a child when we have our new vehicle blessed. No trip there is ever complete without going home with loads of kasuy (cashew) and suman sa ibus. There is a trick to eating this suman- you hold it in one hand, uncoil its buri palm leaf wrapping with the other hand, and you dunk it in sugar before you take a bite. Yum!
Suman is available in a number of SM hypermarkets and I have spotted several specialty stores in most malls, if you are not the wet market kind. There's also a stall in Salcedo Market that sells Budbud Suman. They have a variety of suman flavors. Among their specialties, BudBud Kabog is made from millet seeds. I liked their BudBud Mangga- suman with a juicy mango center. Rice and mango rolled into one-- How patriotic can you get?