The Tausug, particularly, living in the hinterland (Tau gimba) of Sulu archipelago is fond of going to the shore to search for sea food or known as “magpanagat” in Tausug language. They usually do it during low tide on the day time. This practice is still carries on up to this time.

Packed with roasted and steamed cassava the Tausug step off the shore to look for anything in the shallow water. The well-known sea food to the Tausug is the edible sea urchin - Sulu archipelago has plenty of this. The good timing to search for the sea urchin is during full moon. According to some Tausug, during this time, the sea urchin contains rich roe. Whereas on the normal days its roe is thin.

Talking about urchin roe, according to, “some exotic roes include sea urchin roe, called uni by Japanese and scallop roe... In Australia, scallop roe is called coral, probably due to its bright orange color.” To the Tausug the name of roe is called as unud tihi’-tihi’. In addition, the roe, as mentioned in the Wikipedia, are a prized culinary delicacy in Japan and Chile, among others. .., and can retail for as much as $450/kg.[5] The Japanese serve it raw as sushi or sashimi, with soy sauce and wasabi, while the Chileans prefer lemon, onions and olive oil.

Sea urchin is a general term used in English but for the Tausug, there is a specific name for this creature such as the Tihi’-tihi’ and Tayum. Tihi’-Tihi’ has assortment of color while the Tayum only possessed black hue. The strange is that even these creatures have different colors they have similar roe taste. The Tihi’-Tihi’ has shorter spines while the Tayum has long.

The look and shape of a sea urchin has been described in this article, “A sea urchin skeleton (called the "test") is made of hard plates that surround the body and form a rounded shape, like a flattened ball. Sea urchins are covered in spines that both provide defence and help them move. In some species the spines are poisonous. Urchins usually live on the sea floor or in tide pools, where they eat algae, seaweed, tiny organisms, and organic material sifted out of sediment.”

There was assumption of the Tausug, according to them, people who loved to eat Tihi-Tihi’ can’t be easily infected by illnesses and there’s a possibility they can live longer. Is it true? Whether it is true or not, just leave it there. Let us witness the confession of experts on this matter.

According to, “...the sea creature’s genome is remarkably similar to humans’ and may hold the key to preventing and curing several human diseases.” Also on the same site they added, "Sea urchins could very well provide a new set of antibiotic and antiviral compounds to fight various infectious diseases." I think even though the Tausug, who loved to eat Tihi-tihi’, are not well-informed about the benefits of this beautiful creation, the best things they left with us is the way on how to eat it.

In Sulu Archipelago, Tihi'-Tihi' can also be found in most markets. The people who sell it were the Samal or Bajau Laut (one of the Tausug sub-ethnic). The Tihi’-Tihi’ placed inside a bottle is already mixed with sea food like sea cucumber and other sea vegetables. Unfortunately, if not during Ramadan this food rarely found in the market.

If you want to experience magpanagat do it with some friends during holiday or weekend. Before going to the shore, make sure to pass by in the market to buy the following:

Unripe Mango
Chilli Pepper
Brown roasted coconut powder (Pananglag)
Piyutu, Siyanglag or Biyanban

To be safe during “Magpanagat activity” do provide safety gadgets, protective gloves, shoes, pain relieving medication and vinegar (vinegar soaks may help dissolved embedded spine). To the Tausug, embedded spine can be easily dissolved by urine.

Here are few tips to make Tihi-Tihi’ Salad

  • Pull Tihi-Tihi as many as you can from sea water then collects all its roes and put in a basin.
  • If you are familiar with sea cucumber and knew how to classify which one can eat raw or not, do get it then remove all the sticky on its back. If it already cleaned, slice it into pieces then mix it with roe. (Sea cucumber can be optional to those who don’t know how to categorize it). The typical sea cucumber included by the Tausug with roe of sea urchin is called as Bat Bantunan or Bat Taddik. This sea cucumber dwells inside the sand. The Tausug experts “Magpanagat” knew a lot of sea vegetable to be added with roe, such as the dugu’-dugu’, lukut-lukut, kitut (variety of sea cucumber), and others.
  • Peel the unripe mango and Onion then slice it.
  • Slice the agal-agal then mix them with roe and sea cucumber in a basin. Squeeze the Lime or Calamansi then add the sliced unripe mango.
  • After preparing make sure you already have fish ready to be grilled if not you miss the other delicious things on the shore.