Tuesday, May 14, 2024


As a kid growing up in Mt. Province, I remember those summer evenings when swarms of flying termites would descend on open lamp posts and light bulbs. In our Kankana-ey language, we call these airborne insects "liyek".

The insects usually come out when the rain stops and darkness falls. These winged termites are at a reproductive stage and are looking for places to set up new colonies.They would stubbornly follow sources of light so keeping them out of the house was often a challenge. You open a door or a window and dozens of them would fly through.

In the following morning, there would be hundreds if not thousands of wings lying everywhere especially under outdoor lamp posts. During the night, the "liyek" would shed their wings and seek refuge under rocks, wood, anything that would conceal them. Sometimes, we would collect the insects just for the fun of it. Overturn rocks or slabs of wood and there's hundreds of them crawling about.

And if there's enough of them, they make for a good snack or meal. The preferred method of cooking them is by oil-frying them in a pan. Depending on your preference, you can fry them until they are slightly brown or go all the way until they become dark brown and crispy. Add some seasonings like powdered salt, chili, or sauce and you are good to go. You can also mix it up by adding extra ingredients like meat, onions, and chopped veggies in there. They make for great "pulutan".

What does the insects taste like? They have this rich but a bit sour taste when fried to a crunchy and crispy state. A milky taste if they're not fried well enough. That's why they taste best with a lot of spices. They smell good too when freshly fried.

Photo credit: Jhul Gaye Agr Dhee