Filipino Eating Customs: What You Should Know

Everybody in the Philippines knows how much the Filipinos love to eat. Food is more than real food. It is an integral part of the culture, community, and celebration that they enjoy sharing with anyone willing to participate. Read on and learn how to dive into the Filipino eating customs.

To many non-Filipinos not familiar with the Philippines, it is challenging to recognize Pinoy’s food’s look and taste. Unlike other Asian cuisines like Chinese and Japanese, Philippine cuisine is where foodies can connect particular tastes with culture.

Filipino eating customs

Nevertheless, even among Filipinos, it is difficult to explain our food unless we talk of typical dishes such as adobo, pinakbet, sinigang, and halo-halo.

Filipino Eating Customs

When you eat with local people or encounter authentic Filipino cuisine, it is difficult to distinguish just how special the dining tables’ arrangements are, as are the small items Pinoys seem to have. This is not that we do this specific practice deliberately. It is just that we have been born, and the Philippines’ community continues to flourish until today.

It’s a social affair to eat.

Users seldom see a Filipino family cooking or sleeping at different times of the day while focusing solely on a TV screen. That is because meals will carry the family together in Filipino households. It’s time to think, think about each other’s days, and connect. Food brings people together in the Philippines. 

Eat three big meals and a couple of smaller meals in them.

Many people experience shock by how much the Philippines eat every day. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are typically significant. Yet don’t think these are adequate to satisfy the Philippine appetite. Many snacks are eaten during these meals as well, what the Philippines call merienda. Generally, these snacks are something that you not eat with meals, i.e., cookies, baked goods, sandwiches, noodles, etc.

It’s not a rice-free meal.

People serve Filipino food in the middle of the dining table, with a large bowl of rice and many types of meat. Rice’s always going to be there. That is why meats or ulams in the Philippines are still very rich in taste because the neutrality of rice balances it with each other.

Use a fork and use your spoon.

It is much easier for Filipinos to eat with a spoon than a knife as rice can rest in more space. Most Filipinos have mastered how to cut meat on their spoon edges, which leaves little use for sharper utensils unless more substantial cuts are used, such as steaks.

Know an adequate food portion on the plate.

Funnily enough, the Philippines also have a default way of arranging food on their plate. At the bottom of the plate, the rice is on center near the eater, and the food is around it. It is the best approach because the Philippines usually takes a little of the beef, moves it on the fork to their spoon, portions a more significant amount of rice, and moves it into their mouth. These arrangements involve the little movement of the utensil, primarily in the middle part of the dish.

You should know how and when you will eat with your hands.

A common Philippine joke is that when food is eaten with hands, it tastes better. While this doesn’t improve the taste of the food, it makes it far more immersive and pleasant to eat. This also makes it possible to eat fish and bone meats. Although peeling items like shrimp typically require both hands, the actual food portion only really needs one to be used.

Meat and rice are first portioned on the plate and then mixed with the most significant four digits. The thumb pushes the food to the finger to compact it and supports it when the hand reaches the mouth. And, eventually, the thumb moves from the protection of the food to the mouth.

Eating with your hands is typically achieved in the comfort of your own home today, at group gatherings, or in quiet businesses. In restaurants, people rarely eat with their hands, unless it’s an exceptional seafood or a “boodle fight” restaurant.

Build yourself some sawsawan or condiments.

One of the filipino eating customs is that Filipinos love to eat their ulam with sawsawan (condiments), as they enrich the dish ‘s flavor. Fermented shrimp paste, bananas (yes, bananas), and combinations of soya and kalamansi (lime), fish sauce and kalamansi, vinegar, and chili are among the most popular styles. Different people have different tastes, but the combination of ulam and sawsawan depends on how well one complements the other. Sweetmeat is possibly combined with vinegar (sour). A basic sample of fish can be combined with soy sauce (salty) and kalamansi (sour).

No part of the animal goes to waste.

Filipinos don’t want to waste food. It is smart to make sure that no part of an animal’s body is wasted while cooking a dish. In reality, a nationally beloved dish sisig, mostly made of the porcine parts of the face, was first developed to use the unwanted cuts that were thrown away in the country by what was then a US air force base. Don’t be surprised to find entrances blended with several Philippine dishes. 

Be a thrilling eater.

Of course, some Filipino delicacies may be unusual — not all people eat bird embryos or skewered chicken intestines. But to dive into the rich food culture in the Philippines, it is essential to be a brave eater willing to try it all at least once. It’s easy to turn things away if you have given it a chance and decided it wasn’t for you. Yet don’t call it down until you’ve tried it.

Philippines Eating Habits

filipino eating customs

A traditional Filipino meal involves a meal or a meat dish served with tea or coffee with soup, vegetables, and rice. Aside from filipino eating customs, what are the habits?


Spam is a popular breakfast treat in some countries. Instead, it’s either tea or coffee, and rice or food left the night before it’s not reheated. Either rice is eaten as a porridge-style cereal that can be flavored with a variety of ingredients, eggs, or vegetables in different types. Tea may be either drunk with lemon, cream, milk, or sugar. 

Special times are used for eggs and bacon. Small buns called pandesal can be bought early in the morning from vendors. Toast is also referred to as toast.


Merienda is the name of a Spanish midday and afternoon snack, which was traditionally served around 3:00 pm after a siesta. Cakes, tarts, fritters, and sweets made with cocoa milk and palm sugar are usually available. 

Most people take a merienda in the morning around 10 am. Filipinos love sweet foods. They can serve a mixture of instant coffee and evaporated milk and sugar. Coca-Cola is extremely popular. Fresh rolls, doughnuts, or a dish of noodles can be provided.


The lunch is usually the main meal of the day, and even today, it can be an elaborate affair with many courses in busy cities, and even in a few minutes, it can be a simple noodle dish or fast food. Moreover, lunch can also be a light meal of rice and another soup, often a stew of fish or beef. 

They serve it between about 12:00 and 13:00 and includes sour soup, poultry, meat stew, fish, and vegetables served with rice, fruit, or cakes. 

Most dishes can be steamed, fried, or boiled easily or more elaborately in several ways. Moreover, Lechon or pork is usually barbecued or roasted and is very popular with meat. You ‘re going to see adobo, a spice, everywhere. 

The majority of the Philippines’ ethnic foods are made with fish sauce and fish paste and have slightly pungent tastes: start carefully. Filipinos love sweet pastry, and with every meal, there is usually a lovely dessert of fruit, pudding, or cake. Often, soft drinks, beer, and/or tea or coffee are consumed with lunch and dinner.

Dinner is served at 6:00 pm, late at 7:30 pm and typically served with rice and vegetable dish as a chicken or pork bowl. As if the day’s main meal was lunch, dinner is somewhat lighter, mostly with families at home. The menu often resembles the more formal lunch. 

Fish, pork, or chicken is served with a lentil or vegetable soup at dinner. Pork fatty is a favorite. Portions of brown pork fat small cubes are considered a particular dish. A typical dessert is a fresh fruit. 

Filipino Eating Customs: What You Need To Consider

The Philippine islands’ diversity made food easy for fishers, farmers, hunters, and collectors to reach, but also made it possible to prepare food with some of the simplest cooking methods, including boiling, grilling, stewing and steaming. Centuries of trade with Spain, China, France, Southeast Asia, and the United States have also influenced the cuisine. Here are some things you need to take note of Filipino eating customs.

Say yes to food. 

It’s welcome in the Philippines to ask whether the person has eaten or invited people to eat. It is often achieved without the intention to serve or offer food. The polite answer is to say that you have or are already full. But if asked twice, or if the person insists, it’s kind to give in. Some would even invite you to eat on the table for the next meal.

It’s never polite to reject food in the Philippines, even though you are already really crowded. The Philippines would rather starve than cook for a visitor a small meal. Furthermore, refusal to eat can mean that you do not like or trust the person who gives you food or that you do not eat from the table. A snack or meal is appropriate to demonstrate gratitude.

While some people would say it’s polite to put some food on the plate to indicate satisfaction, not all Filipinos believe that. Many would like to eat all the food on their plates and thank all the people who bring the food to the table, from the farmer in his field to the dish manager.

Hospitality allows the hosts to set up and clean between meals, but it is often helpful to assist with the preparation and cleaning.

Don’t let the food wait.

Late at the dinner table is one of the taboos of a Filipino family dining. If a person is called to eat, he or she must respond and join the table immediately.

Food on the table is regarded as a household gift, and being in good time demonstrates appreciation for food and the family. Although international visitors are often excused, it’s best to be ready when food approaches.

Say a prayer before meals.

This is taught to the Philippines at an early age, so that Christian dinner tables have become a popular, but compulsory, custom. Praying before meals is another way we show respect for the food, and thank you for the blessings that we have received.

There is no reason or meeting to give or pray. Many households do so. Others do not. In the public sense, some Philippines are able to make a sign of the cross and bow their heads before taking the spoon and gabbling. 

There is no provocation when the Philippines do so in the presence of people who follow other religions. Those who follow their faiths will not be forced to join the prayer, but it is good that they bow their heads and remain quiet in the short thanksgiving.

A group encounter.

As in Italy, food is also a social resource for the Philippines. Even if you don’t plan to eat, it’s always lovely to appear at the table. Chatting is welcome at the table — laughter and voices that overlap are a familiar sound over the scratch of utensils on the plates. A quiet breakfast, lunch, or dinner in the Philippines is often awkward experience.

Anything can be talked about, bar sad stories during meals. Politics and the family are favorite subjects. It’s also Cool to be on the sidelines during these conversations; often, two or three questions are on the same occasion, especially with more significant meetings. Guests are not supposed to add to the general discussion, but they are spoken and understood.

Special occasions are typically often labeled with food. A non-Filipino guest is a unique opportunity, so when house-hopping with relatives, foreign guests should expect a feast or a big handaan.

A handaan may have restaurant, potluck, or homemade dishes ordered. Only one or two meals are not enough for the handaan; they frequently served three or more distinct dishes, rice, drinks, and sawdust. Usually, a handaan doesn’t stop even when they clear the table, talking and sharing are normal and typically end late at night.

Pinoy eating and dining habits have their own life, which will be a great experience, particularly for people from the west who do not know Asian cuisine, from non-Filipinos. More than just food, eating is a Philippine cultural and social experience.

Final Words

Despite the cliché, nourishment is one thing that brings people and filipino eating customs together. Filipinos are friendly and hospitable at all costs using just one subject for a small conversation; food. Local guests, passengers, tourists, and ex-pats are loving the Philippines’ company while eating because we have not only appetite but also uncommon eating habits.

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