Sutokil, Mactan Island

If “sutokil” sounds foreign to you, chances are, you’re not from Cebu or haven’t toured Cebu. I’m using Cebu to refer to Cebu province — there’s a Cebu City and a Cebu province, the first being a component city of the latter (unlike Quezon City, which is not a part of Quezon province).

This distinction has to be made because “sutokil” is best known at the area where the Mactan Shrine stands in Mactan island, just a bridge away from Cebu City and a few minutes from the airport (on the way to Shangri-La Mactan). It’s the spot where Ferdinand Magellan, the Spanish explorer who “discovered” the Philippines in 1521, was killed by a local chieftain, Lapu-lapu. It’s amazing how you could have your history and eat it too. These days, Lapu-lapu is being eaten. It’s a fish, also known as “snapper”.

Sutokil is a contraction for “SUgba” (sinugba), “TOla” (tinola) and KILaw (kinilaw). “Sinugba” is grilled food. “Tinola” is, for lack of a better term, soup? “Kinilaw” is raw seafood in vinegar and spices (be sure to eat the “kinilaw” right away, as the vinegar actually “cooks” the fish meat). There’s also “Sinuglaw”, which is a combination of “Sinugba” (grilled pork) and “kinilaw” (raw fish meat) thrown together in a bowl of vinegar and spices. The combination of these words are as varied as the ingredients in the dishes served.

Sutokil also stands for the area where you could buy fresh marine food — fish, clams, crabs and what-have-you — then have have it cooked, in any which way you want, in restaurants just behind the market.

Perhaps you’re wondering why the concept of haggling for the price of fresh seafood and having it cooked in the same place is deliciously familiar. It’s called “dampa” here in Metro Manila, except that in Mactan, the Sutokil cluster is beside the seashore, partly hidden from the sea by mangroves.

[See Map: Directions on how to get there]

The price of fresh seafood and the restaurant fees — just like the general cost of living — are also much lower in Cebu compared to Metro Manila. Fresh air. Fresh seafood. Reasonable prices. Who says you have to spend a lot to enjoy the beauty of the Philippines?So, the next time you’re in Cebu, drop by the Lapu-lapu Shrine, where you could also enjoy fresh seafood at Sutokil. I suggest you have your seafood cooked and eat at “No Problem”, which is the name of the restaurant we frequent. Do you want your food deliciously cooked fast? No problem.