According to the Department of Agriculture website, there are 57 cultivars of banana in Southeast Asia but only five are common in the Philippines: saba, latundan, lacatan, bungulan and cavendish.
I don’t know where the señorita bananas went as they seem to be very common in the southern part of Luzon, from Cavite to Batangas, especially, yet they didn’t make it to the list. I remember those trips to Tagaytay when I was young and we would buy a whole piling (arm) of señorita bananas and tie the handle at the back of the Land Rover so that the bananas were suspended in mid-air all the way back to Manila. Señorita bananas have very thin skin and they fall off the piling very easily. If left on the floor of the truck, they got bruised easily too.
All that trouble for señorita bananas? They were my favorite. My least favorite is the pale latundan. Truth be told, I wasn’t really familiar with banana cultivars until I became a mommy. The girls’ pediatrician prescribed mashed latundan bananas as a cure for diarrhea. So I learned to tell the difference between lacatan and latundan just by looking at them.
To this day, however, I have not developed any affection for the latundan. I prefer the creamier and sweeter lacatan when señorita bananas are not available. As for saba bananas, well, they aren’t eaten raw so they fall under a different category. They are cooking bananas and we love them. See the following recipes with saba bananas as an ingredient:
- Minatamis na saging (sweetened bananas)
- Arroz a la Cubana
- Cheesy turon
- Ginataang halo-halo