Insects are just everywhere. We don’t actually give them so much attention and priority because we were informed and believed that insects are useless. They are just created to harm and destroy our primarily food resources like sugarcane, vegetable and rice crop. They are part of a bigger animal group called arthropods. Insects have certain characteristics. They have six legs. They have three body parts, a head, a thorax and an abdomen. They have wings. They are usually in dark brown to blackish in color. Never in a million years we imagined that insects made its own important purpose. As the centuries passed by, we never thought that some of the insects that we commonly know are edible and can totally invade the dining tables of the people especially the farmers in the rural places.
The practice of eating edible insects or what we called Entomophagy is very popular and well-practiced most especially in some of the third world countries. Where as their number one problem is food. In lacking of food, they find alternative way to fight hunger and they found insects can be one of most edible and tasty to eat. Not just hunger that pushed the people to eat insect sometimes and other way they eat insects on the specific occasion, beliefs, rituals and particular ceremonies in order to complete the event.
Here in the Philippines, the most well-known edible insect is June beetle or locally known as Salagubang with a scientific name, Leucopholis irrorata. June beetles can be found and grow underground as grubs until they are 16-30 mm long, then emerge after the first rain of the season. June beetles go through four stages of development first egg, larva, pupa and lastly adult. The egg is laid in the ground, and it can live for two to three years in the ground as a larva before surfacing to become an adult. The total lifespan of June beetle is up to four years. They are just a thumb-sized but they are the number one enemy of the farmers because the adult salagubang eats the leaves of the crops or plants while the june beetles in their larva stage eats the roots of the plants. Because of the presence of salagubang, the farmer found a way on why to prevent the increasing population of salagubang in their plants.
In Tuy, Batangas, which their primarily resources are the sugarcanes. They have this very unique event during June 15 and 16 every year in order to minimize the damage done by the Salagubang. They called it Salagubang festival/pestebal. This festival held to help eradicate and kill the major sugarcane crop pest in their town. They are considered as a serious pest because they can damage over 97 million-peso every year (2 million US dollars). Salagubang Festival/Pestebal existed which pursued to have an economic and environment-friendly way of controlling the salagubang infestation.
The salagubang festival will never be completed and made possible without the float parade with salagubang mascots.
During this festival, they have full of unusual, exciting and unique activities to celebrate this event. They have this what you called “Ug-og”. Which people shake the trees and catch the fallen salagubang and put it in the sack. The people collected it and the person who had the most number of salagubang collected wins a cash prize.
They have also had the game of race and wrestling of salagubang called “That’s my salagubang”. Where the contestants in the said event are dressed in salagubang costumes during the game. The other exciting game in the festival is called Salagubang Fear Factor Challenge, which dares the contestants to do challenges like eating a live salagubang or lie on a bed of salagubang for the longest time possible.
But the much awaited event in the festival was the Sarap Langhap Cooking Challenge. Of course, the main ingredients are the salagubang. As the participant in the event, you were allowed to create your own dish but the highlight on your dish are the salagubang.
The salagubang festival are fun and amazing to experience but its primarily purpose is to decrease the salagubang during the time of planting and harvesting the crops of the people in Tuy. This festival is also the thanksgiving for a good harvest of their crops.
The salagubang or June beetles are edible same as with ants, grasshoppers, stinkbugs and termites. We never thought that insects can be useful in a way that full our stomach. We never thought also in our wildest dream that this insects can help minimize the hunger in some places. According to the studied, the insects are rich in protein especially compared to meat. They have also some vitamins and other mineral that we usually see our normal food. They are almost no fat. For example, 100 grams of June beetles have ~13.4 g protein, 6 mg iron, and 22.6 mg calcium while lean ground beef has 27 g of protein, 3.5 mg iron, and no calcium. So, it means that they have similarities in food nutrients in our normal food.
But eating insects like salagubang are not yet dominating the whole world because they are still people who does not believe that some insects are edible and safe to eat. They have the hard way to meet the society’s approval, especially if they are not informed how safely to eat the edible insects. In some way, we just cannot force to believe to it. This is just to inform in order the people to know that they are some alternative food to eat other than in our usual normal food.
The salagubang festival in Batangas is a living truth that insects are not useless anymore. Maybe they can still harm our food resources and surroundings but we made a way to prevent and stop it. Eating exotic food like insects are not still usual but why not give it a try? Instead of saying “No way” just accept the challenge because eating unusual spice up your life and will letting you out of your comfort zone. So, put salagubang in your plate.