Let’s practice saying it: SAMA-LAMIG. SAMA-LAMIG… SAMA-LAMIG!
That is how street vendors say it in Manila and environs, accented on the second syllable. Language purists will say it’s pronounced wrong, because the adjective malamig, meaning “cold,” is accented on the last syllable. However, the vendors’ way of chanting the name of their products has taken precedence, in the spirit of whoever screams the loudest wins, ha-ha-ha.
Actually, the complete statement is Dito, sa malamig! Sa malamig, or “Here, for a cold drink! For a cold drink!”
It’s an important – and convenient, and inexpensive, and delicious – way of hydration, having a glass of samalamig.
During my recent two-week vacation in Antipolo City, a part of metro Manila, the days were consistently hot. Even during out-of-town trips, which took me to interesting towns along Laguna de Bai; around Lake Taal; beside the Manila Bay shoreline to Ternate, Cavite; and down the South Luzon Expressway to the battlefields of the Bataan peninsula, which is enveloped by Manila Bay, I felt h-o-t .
Here is a record from the website http://www.weather2travel.com/may/philippines/manila.php
|Max Daytime Temperature (°C)||34°C (93°F) in May|
|Min Night-time Temperature (°C)||25°C (77°F) in May|
|Hours of Sunshine (Daily)||7 Hours per day in May|
|Hours of Daylight (Daily)||13 Hours per day in May|
|Heat and Humidity Discomfort||Very High in May|
|Days with some Rainfall||11 Days in May|
|Monthly Rainfall (mm)||129 mm (5.1 inches) in May|
|UV Index (Maximum)||11+ (Extreme) in May|
|Sea Temperature (°C)||30°C (86°F) in May|
Samalamig is, therefore, always needed to relieve one’s system from the searing air temperature. It may be plain juice in pineapple, mango, guayabano, melon, and pandan flavors. Sometimes it contains bits of fruit, such as cantaloupe strings.
Samalamig may be ice-cold water flavored with arnibal and contain pieces of gulaman (agar) and pearl sago.
Arnibal is a term borrowed from the Mexican vocabulary, which came to our shores with regularity during the 16th-century Acapulco-Manila galleon trade: almibar means syrup.
Agar, somehow doubly called agar-agar in the Philippines, is a natural vegetable counterpart of gelatin, which is obtained from the skin, bones, and connective tissue of animals. Agar was discovered in algae during the mid-1600s in Japan. It is now sold as dried strips or in powdered form. Warm water is added to the dried strips or powder to make the gel, then sweetening, flavoring, coloring, and pieces of fruits or vegetables are added before the gel is poured into molds. Finished products include jellies, puddings, meats in aspic, and other products.
Sago is from the spongy center of various tropical palm stems. It is a major staple food in the Spice Islands (Moluccas) where it is called sagu. Sago “pearls” can be boiled with water until chewy, and then added to cold drinks, Lately it has received wide acceptance as an addition bubble tea and fruit smoothies, also known as “boba.”
Finally, here is samalamig in solid form: the famous ice candy. It is fruit juice of any kind, poured into narrow tubes of plastic which are sealed at the end by a knot, and kept in a freezer until solidified. Compared with traditional cold drinks sold by the glass, ice candy is cheaper and more portable. And refreshing. And delicious, like candy !