For the people of San Nicolas―the smallest barangay in the province of Batangas and one of the nine re-established along the shores of Taal Lake―the maliputo is a source of nourishment and its primary source of livelihood. The monsoon months of August to November are recognized as prime fishing season, with maliputo fetching as much as ₱600 per kilo. To celebrate the area’s thriving fishing industry and showcase its prized catch, then-Mayor Epifanio Sandoval established the Maliputo Festival, celebrated every August 9, the same day as the town’s foundation anniversary.

The highlight of the festival is the annual cook fest, where contestants demonstrate innovative ways to prepare maliputo, going beyond the traditional sinigang, inihaw, and fried dishes.

This story appeared in Animal Scene’s April 2015 issue.