People travel for different reasons. Personally, I travel for food! Sure, great beaches, cheap beer, and nice climates are great – but I allow my stomach to decide where I go to.
So when I recently found myself in Kalibo in the Philippines, I knew I simply had to try tamilok. Tamilok, also called a woodworm or a shipworm, live in dead trees in the mangroves.
There are a few places in the Philippines where you can harvest tamilok, and then eat them. One of the places just happened to be at the Bakhawan Ecopark in Kalibo.
After taking a quick tricycle ride from my hotel (Cess Summer Boutique Hotel) to the Bakhawan Eco-Park, I was greeted by a lovely staff member. I paid the entrance fee of 120 PHP, and then set off to enjoy the park.
The park is one of SouthEast Asia’s largest restored mangrove areas. Visitors can enjoy a 1 KM walk through the mangroves. At the end, they’ll be met with a lovely view of the sea. The walk is peaceful, and not too difficult.
The highlight though was the tamilok. What is tamilok? Well, believe it or not – it’s not actually a worm at all. While it is called a woodworm or ship worm, it’s actually a mollusk – similar to a clam or an oyster.
To see the harvesting of the tamilok, you’ll need to pay 300 PHP. A piece of wood is presented, and a worker starts to harvest the tamilok by chopping at the wood with a large axe.
After the tamilok are harvested, they are cleaned. The ‘mouth’ and intestines are removed, and they are rinsed several times. Salt and vinegar are added to the creatures, and then they are eaten raw.
I was a bit hesitant, but decided to try it out. The taste? Surprisingly – not bad! They were a bit chewy, and tasted like an oyster. More than anything, it tasted like the vinegar they were marinating in.
Overall, it was a really fun experience. I would recommend stopping by Kalibo the next time you are in the area, and visiting Bakhawan Eco Park. Definitely try the tamilok. It’s an experience you won’t forget!