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Kinampay (Aromatic Purple Yam)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Monocots
Order: Dioscoreales
Family: Dioscoreaceae
Genus: Dioscorea
Species: D. alata
Binomial name
Dioscorea alata
A piece of cake made with ub-kinampay.

The Kinampay or Ubi-kinampay is a specific variety of ube which is found mostly in Bohol, Philippines. It is the a symbol of the Province of Bohol as the provincial plant.[1] In Bohol province, the ubi-kinampay is considered sacred and is venerated. A unique tradition is that people kiss the "ubi" every time it falls to the ground as a sign of reverence. To a Boholano, there is always a story to tell about the ube. It is the only staple food included in the Bohol hymn Awit sa Bohol.[2]

An Ubi Festival is celebrated in January every year in Bohol.[1]


Kinampay is a rootcrop with white or light to dark purple meat. This rootcrop is very aromatic and is cooked as plainly boiled, mixed to other vegetables or dried and used as a flavoring for ice creams, candies, cakes and other goodies. The best kind of ubi is believed to be found only in Bohol. The other varieties are kabus-ok, iniling, tamisan, baligonhon, binanag, binugas/gimnay and binato.

It is an aromatic dark-purpled root crop which tastes very sweet. Essentially, it is a carbohydrate food from which starch is the main component, which is needed mostly in processing in the world market today. The sweet taste of kinampay is due to the sugar content such as sucrose and glucose. It is also contains protein, carbohydrates, calcium and phosphorus as well as moisture and energy.

History of ubi[edit]

During the years intervening between the great migration and the great famine, the ubi became a "wild" plant unknown to the people. As a "wild" plant, it continued its natural cycle of propagation and dormancy, while its underground tubers continuously spread, until accidentally discovered due to the famine.

In their constant search for food, someone accidentally struck a fleshy tuber in the ground - some colored white and some with purple color. The famished settlers cooked it and found the tuber to be very delicious and highly nutritious. The "unknown" tuber saved the people from famine. Thereupon, the newly discovered tuber was instantly venerated as a savior crop.

The sacredness of the ubi did not come for no reason, apart from being given by Providence. Ubi is also about the rich history of the ordeals of the Boholanos and their resiliency as a people able to triumph over natural and man-made adversities.


Ube in general refers to all varieties, while ubi is a specific vernacular applied to the aromatic dark-purpled "kinampay" found in Bohol. Essentially, ubi is a carbohydrate food from which starch is the main component, which is needed mostly in processing in the world market today. The sweet taste of ubi is due to the sugar content such as sucrose and glucose.

It is also contains protein, carbohydrates, calcium and phosphorus as well as moisture and energy - thus, ubi is better compared to cassava and sweet potato.

The historical significance of the ubi crop to the Boholanos is described by a Jesuit missionary. Father Ignacio Alcina, SJ in his Historia de las Islas e indios de Bisayas (Madrid, 1668) wrote:

Bohol province boasts of being the bread basket as the biggest rice producer in the Central Visayas. There is more to this, however. Bohol is recognized as the source of the rare "kinampay" variety, an aromatic and velvet-colored variety, scientifically named Dioscorea alata Linn. Hence, that Boholanos venerate and consider the root crop holy has a more or less decent basis.

Zenaida Darunday, the keynote organizer of the ubi festival, cited statistics that in 1997, Bohol had 780 hectares devoted to ubi involving 3, 471 farmers. The average production is 17.9 meters tons (MT) per hectare or a total of 14,000 MT, making Bohol the ubi capital of the Philippines.

Despite the fact that Bohol is the largest ubi-producing province in the country, still the root crop has remained untapped in terms if marketability and production.

Philippine exports of processed ubi products such as fresh/dried or flour/meal tediously extracted from raw ubi have been declining in the past years.

China is the leading importer of ubi flour/meal in 1997, followed by the US and Southeast Asian countries.

Bohol is the leading producer of raw ubi accounting for 18,165 MT in 1997 or about 71 percent of the total production in the country. Cagayan de Oro followed, Isabela and Surigao del Sur.


Ubi is also a good subject for a love story. Rene Sumodobila, the Bohol Ubi Center Foundation Inc. technical adviser, recounted the legend and historical interpretation of ubi.

He said that "there was a beautiful royal princess in the island of Bohol named Bugbung Humasanun, so secluded (binokotan) in her chamber where she could only be found spinning, weaving or embroidering. She was adored for her coiffured panta or talabhok, a great mass of hair accented with artificial switches which is of great offense for a man to even touch. Her appearance to the public was like the first ray of the sun that gives joy and delight, or like a sudden flash of lightning that causes fear and respect.

"A great, brave and just chief named Datung Sumanga married her after several pangngagad and going through ordeals to prove his love to the princess. He ruled his subjects, settled their disputes, protect them from the enemies, and lead them in battle. There was peace in Bohol during his rule.

"From this couple and the barangays and communities they led, grew the population of the Boholanos."

Ubi festival[edit]

The Ubi Festival is celebrated every January in Bohol.[1] It provides agri-entrepreneurs a venue for promoting quality, high-value and sustainable ubi products and services to generate income from direct sales and bookings as well as adequate and up-to-date technologies and information.

The 2006 ubi festival was held from January 19 to 22. A total of 20 exhibitors from 17 local government units and participating agencies displayed their different ubi product varieties like the aromatic kinampay, kabus-ok, iniling, tamisan, baligonhon, binanag, binugas/gimnay and binato.

The best ubi-processed foods and new ubi products were displayed starting January 20, after the judging of the kinabug-atan (heaviest) and Bohol-like shape variety on the 19th. The biggest ubi jam in the world was unveiled on the 19th. The Boholanos aim was to include it in the Guinness Book of World Records. In the evening was the literary musical contest featuring balitaw, balak and Rondalla-Kuradang.

The second national ubi symposium, which is held once every 10 years, was scheduled on January 21 to 22. Ubi growers and enthusiasts from other ubi-growing provinces as well as local growers were invited to attend. The first national symposium was held in VISCA, Baybay, Leyte.

Relevant topics like marketing, new technologies and discoveries, and pest control and management were discussed by speakers from Philrootcrops of Leyte State University, the Department of Agriculture and other ubi research centers. Meanwhile, the search for the Ubi Festival Queen was held on January 21.


  1. ^ a b c Provincial Symbols The Official Website of the Provincial Government of Bohol Retrieved 12 December, 2006.
  2. ^ Bohol to hold 'ubi' festival Philippine Daily Inquirer Retrieved 12 December, 2006.

External links[edit]