Vendors of fried “itik” (native duck), a famous delicacy in Angono, Rizal, have managed to survive despite the odds brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Starting in the afternoon each day, a long line of people is seen on E. Rodriguez corner Mauricia Diaz Street, just a few steps away from the Angono Municipal Hall. This means that the food stall selling fried “itik” is already open.
The queue of buyers at Marlon’s Fried Itik would only disappear around 9 p.m. or 10 p.m., the time when the duck delicacy is already sold out.
A female customer, who was one of those who lined up, told Manila Bulletin that she and her partner travelled from Binangonan just to buy the fried duck for their dinner.
When asked why she preferred to line up instead of going to other food stands that sell the same kind of delicacy, the customer said it is the sauce and the crunchiness of the fried duck that make her want to come back to the food stall.
Auralyn Sinfuego, one of the children of couple Lamberto and Teresita dela Cruz, the owners of the fried itik stall, said her parents’ business was challenged by the pandemic for a few months when the supply of live ducks became scarce.
The Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) last year also resulted in the slowing down of itik business in Angono as there were no customers to buy their products.
“Apektado din kami noon ng kahirapan ng pagbiyahe ng mga itik galing sa Pangasinan, Zambales, at Pampanga noong mga unang buwan ng ECQ (We were also affected by the difficulty in the transport of ducks from Pangasinan, Zambales and Pampanga during the first few months of the ECQ),” Sinfuego said.
After the easing of the quarantine restrictions in Angono, other fried itik sellers, including Armando’s Fried Itik which is also located on E. Rodriguez Street, have started recovering their losses as customers from as far as Metro Manila and nearby towns in Rizal Province are returning to their favorite food shops.
During Higantes Festival every November and the holiday season, restaurants including food stalls of fried itik used to enjoy brisk sales, according to the office of Mayor Jerimae Calderon.
The municipal tourism office said the local government has also been promoting the local food industry alongside the art galleries and other tourist destinations in the town.
Prior to the 1990’s, several residents living along the shore of Laguna Lake ventured into duck raising which provided a steady supply of the native ducks for those sellers of fried itik.
It was after 1990’s that duck raisers shifted to other sources of income, resulting in the scarcity of duck meat.