25 September 2023

Little Wonder Town Changed Its Name

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By David Ellis.

IT’S probably little wonder the folk of the Philippines town of Sasmuan changed its named back in 1991.

Because up until then it was known somewhat bizarrely as Sexmoan, and even more weirdly that was given it not by some raunchy visiting seafarers in days of yore, but by early Spanish friars sent as missionaries to bring Christianity to the country several hundred years ago.

And who, in attempting a strictly-correct translation of Sasmuan – which actually meant “meeting point” – somehow screwed up, and inflicted upon the locals the new name of Sexmoan.

And although they accepted the name for all those years, finally in 1991 the townspeople decided they’d been saddled with its negative sexual connotation long enough, and opted to go back to Sasmuan that it had been known as before the arrival of those well-meaning friars all those years before.

Today some 29,000 or so people live in Sasmuan, that’s 54km north-west of Manila, with their main industry being aquaculture based on the breeding of fish, prawns and crabs in vast natural and man-made ponds, these seafoods sold in markets in Sasmuan itself and numerous surrounding towns.

And it is also somewhat-famous for a confectionery called Polvoron that’s a Spanish-style shortbread filled with nuts – the most popular varieties being those with almonds or cashews, while they can also include peanuts, strawberries or a local purple yam, with some chefs also adding a chocolate coating as well.

THE seafood markets are a staple of the economy of Sasmuan in the Philippines, that several centuries ago was inflicted with the name Sexmoan by well-meaning Spanish missionaries, who unfortunately screwed up on the translation. It was finally changed back to Sasmuan in 1991.

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