When we say 'IPON', almost every Filipinos would say 'SAVINGS'. But when you are talking to an Ilocano and you say 'IPON', I can assure you that there will be sparkle in their eyes with a big smile for this 'IPON' is very special to us Ilocanos.
What is this IPON I'm referring to? This IPON:
Ipon, which I would usually call as million fish, is an Ilocano name for the fry of the various species of gobies that spawn in the sea, but which spend most of their life in the fresh-water streams of the interior. Ipon had always these effect on Ilocanos everytime that they are in season. As they are gathered in huge quantities, lot of ipon sellers would be seen in wet markets.
It is also called a lunar fish because they only appear after counting ten days from full moon. The harvest season usually lasted for 3-5 days in a month. Fishermen usually harvest once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
COASTLINE OF SANTA, ILOCOS SUR DURING THE HARVEST SEASON OF 'IPON' (photos from tupanggala.com)
How do they catch ipon? Village folks or the fishermen would ride on their boat to the center of the puyupuyan or estuary of the sea where the ipon are. Once they reached the puyupuyan, they would do the what we called daklis or pulling of the huge net, helping each other to trap the fish. They transfer their catch to the boat and bring it to the ladies on the river bank for them to wash and clean by the use of gakko, a woven strainer. They again place it to the banyera and dispose it in the wet market.
It is just amazing how Ilocanos go crazy over ipon when it is in season. Most of the locals trooped to the market to buy a kilo or so of this ipon. Even if it’s expensive on its first release at a rate of Php 400-600 per kilogram, they would grab it. They wouldn’t mind the expensive price as long as they can get some to cook and eat for dinner or lunch.
It's not only Ilocanos here in our country would go crazy when it comes to ipon. Ilocano communities in the United States, especially, in Hawaii and different parts of the world, they would often request for this ipon from their relatives here in the Philippines.
Ipon are cooked in different ways. We have:
Scrambled egg with Ipon
Tortang Ipon / Ipon with egg
Kinilaw na Ipon / Ipon salad
Paksiw na Ipon
Or you can just simply make it into bagoong or fermented ipon
Some might think that it is much better to buy bagnet which is the same range as ipon, it doesnt hurt to buy since its not always available. Despite the expensiveness of this ipon, Ilocanos are still waiting for its season as ipon had always been a part of our lives.
Source : https://www.tupanggala.com/santa-ipon-harvest/