Let me tell you a story. This story is about my uncle. Well we have to really give him a name. It would be disrespectful for me to address him in pronouns or “psst” or “hoy” or “sya”. We Filipinos are a respectful lot. So his name is Richard. Quite a royalty actually. He is the mestizo  in the family. Everybody calls him “Kano” because he has this “white-man” feature.

Now here’s where the story really starts.

When Richard eats; he puts one feet up on the seat, rests one elbow on his knee, grabs food by his bare hands (including meat in sauces), stuffs his face like there is no tomorrow, and starts blabbering about this and that while his mouth is full. Almost everyone loves him because of that. They say Richard’s way of eating is so inviting that you want to eat with him. He is just so happy when he’s on the table.

Well not really everyone. My ever so prim and proper aunties sometimes would call him a pig.

Filipino Utensils
Filipino Utensils

Now let me tell you about his brother, my father. My Pa is in the service. (I would love to tell you the story of how dirty cops went spraying our house with hundreds of bullets when he was doing internal investigations but that can wait.) So let’s talk about some of the important etiquette that I learned from him. He says in a militaristic tone and rhythm and in whispers too, “you heb to adjus widjur sitwesyon when you are eating. Ip you are out in da wild. You heb to cook in your mital plet. You heb to eat in your mital plet. When you was your mital plet do nut trow da water, you drink it… To sorbayb”. Or you die… (Then he shoots Ilaga with his homemade German Luger. Finally after weeks of waiting between 9pm to 12pm, we got the dirty, fat rat.)

He gives that advice all the time. And in front of our prim and proper aunties, he too is called a pig.

Now let me enumerate:

1. Most Filipinos eat with their hands. And sometimes even with soups. Yep, either sip from the plate or the bowl.

2. Fork and spoon is common on the Filipino table. But for the indulgent, it’s thumb and spoon.

3. We love to suck stuff. Crab claws, prawn heads, fish eyes, chicken bones, spinal columns, snails.. almost anything that has a hole or hidden brain-like substance, we suck them all.

We shoot rats!
We shoot rats!

I am sensing that you want me to stop. So I will.

Filipinos do not have any dining inhibitions. We fondle food like it’s a one night stand.

Or did not have any until the westerners came. They taught us manners and right conduct while on the table. If you ask me though, they taught us how to be stiff. How to stop ourselves gorging what is gorgeous. To be “civil” on something that we can be intimate with. Do I need to explain further? Or shall I ask you about the time that you were on all ten fingers on some steak that you picked up from the smoking grill. Or how about that burger that you happily devoured and didn’t really care as the juice and sauce oozed from your pinky to your wrist.

But Filipinos have long been independent of that cage, that limit, that line, those shackles that stop us from having hungry union with our food. Because we know how to eat. Yes we do.

And for you people who are in the food jungle that is the Philippines – You heb to adjas to sorbayb.

We shoot rats.


Post Author: Ziggy (11 Posts)

Ziggy writes about Filipino Food at www.myfilipinokitchen.com. He also writes about food and technology for Australia's leading Telecommunications Corporation - Telstra, in their blog - www.exchange.telstra.com. He advocates Filipino Food blogs and helps aspiring Filipino Food bloggers. Ask him a recipe of a Filipino dish and he'll be happy to make one for you.

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  1. David L Smith says

    hey Ziggy
    You can still gorge with a fork and knife. I have seen people over here use cutlery like the fastest gun in the west, haha…or at the speed of lightning. A whole plate of food has been demolished in less then 5 minutes, but i think aussies and Filipinos have a lot in common in that they love their tucker, lol….great post mate, very humerous.

  2. says

    Cheers David!

    You know what, I have seen those “Flash” eaters in action and I can’t believe my eyes how fast they finish giant steaks and a load of chips. And some of them are kids too. I have seen a 7 year old devour 2 slices of a family size pizza in minutes. I was shaking my head in turbo of disbelief.

    On the other hand, there are Filipinos that eat like birds. I don’t understand what the world has gone to.

    • Papa Duck says


      If you eat too fast you can’t actually taste it and enjoy it. Good article Ziggy. Good to see you back!

  3. Bryan G says

    When I worked in the Philippines at festive occasions we would lay a table in our office with a whole Lechon Baboy and open the office door to all – within 20 minutes all we had was a few white bones. Eating is not taken lightly – it is a serious business! If eating is ever made an Olympic event the Philippine team would have no competition !

    • says

      Eating is indeed a serious business. Imagine, almost a quarter of our day is spent stuffing ourselves with food. How could you not enjoy it?

  4. Jim says

    Hi Ziggy – I’m comfortable eating with knife and fork, spoon and fork or my fingers all depending on my surroundings. Its about enjoying your food that counts. My wife must be the slowest eater I have ever known everyone is finished before her but dare not leave the table until she says so. I must say when you live in the Northern Hemisphere you do tend to eat quicker so your food does not get cold before you finish.

    • Chasdv says

      Ha Ha,Jim your comment about your wife reminded me of our Queen,apparantly she eats very slowly,but no one is allowed to leave the table until she has finished,or they get locked in the Tower,Lol.


    • says

      yeah i’ve noticed that with some Filipinas. I can understand the 14-16 chews before swaloowing thingy but why so slow? Reminds me of this kid that sucks the food in her mouth before chewing it. weird man. LOL

  5. says

    I grew up in a family of five kids — you learned to eat fast or you ended up with the scraps no one else wanted. I expect that most families of the Philippines, being hard pressed to even put an adequate amount of food on the table, learned the same survival skills at an early age. Add to that equation, the fact that most of the Philippines think birth control is simply being able to count the children … then, certainly the average person is some what of a champion when it come to gorging themselves with food whenever it is available.

    Olympic champions at eating?? Probably not… Look at many Americans and Europeans with waistlines just about equal to their height. They did not get so big (make that obese) at being slouches when it comes to eating. Go to some buffets in American and you can find people who practically “inhale” the food!

    • Papa Duck says


      I know one family that was banned from a chinese buffet because they just about cleaned out the whole buffet.

      • Mars Z. says

        Ha ha ha Papa Duck, is it one of those “All you can eat” places, so the Manager told them “hey, that’s enough, that’s all you can eat!”

        • Papa Duck says


          Yes it is one of those all you can eat chinese buffets here in Bradenton Fl. It sounds unbelieveable but it was true. I guess they don’t expect people to eat that much. A lot of family members and most of them are big sized. Take Care.

  6. says

    Lol…You hab to adjast to sorbayb… if there’s no more food on the table shoot that frickin’ rat!!!

    Bountiful rodents … ha, ha, ha find them on your nearest restaurants selling the best tasting siopao.

    Shhhh that’s unconfirmed.

    My uncle use to tell me that, maybe because he knows I’m crazy over those steam buns.

    I remember when I was in my youth (I’d like to believe it was just a couple of years ago), we’d compete shoving up 5 large white shiny steam buns, chew it down like a mulching machine and swallow it the way anaconda does. Hit the 2 liter Coke bottoms up to win the pot money.

    I don’t recall anybody winning because we end up cross-eyed and gasping for breath before we even get to half of the 2 liter bottle.

    Haaaayyyy…the good old days in the Philippines. Take me home naaaaaaaa country road.


    • says

      We were literally across the table while waiting for that rat. It was so huge that our cat was afraid of it. I hate rats! Just thinking about it makes me cringe.

      What’s confirmed is cat meat Jesse.

      Nah, im just kidding.

      When I was six my mom let me joined this hamburger eating competition at SM because she thought I was a pig (she still thinks to this day). I didn’t win it. Only because I ate 2 burgers before that.

      Those were the good old days. LOL.

  7. Ricardo Sumilang says

    I read somewhere that a teacher in Canada admonished her Filipino grade school students for being “uncivilized” in their dining habits while eating in the school cafeteria, because the Filipino kids were eating with spoon and fork, instead of knife and fork.

    “Civilized” folks eat escargot with those tiny, little forks called cocktail forks by stabbing the meat inside the shell and drawing the meat out with a twisting motion. The hands are never soiled as escargots are also served, in addition to the cocktail fork, a special utensil like a tong that holds the escargot in place while it’s being “unscrewed.”

    We, folks, in Zambales eat our “bisokol” (escargot to you, civilized people) by using thorns from the kalamansi tree and drawing the meat out in the same manner, but with our bare hands. Because Ilocanos are a frugal people, nothing is left to waste. We suck the remnants of the meat from inside the shell, the juice sometimes dripping down our chin. “Civilized” people, on the other hand, do not go around sucking escargot in public.

    It all boils down to culture. Neither right nor wrong.

    • says

      I was actually going to start off with that Canada story but then my folks story won me over. They actually won over that school and the school was penalized for a handsome sum.

      Only ignorant people would think another person’s culture or way of eating is wrong.

  8. says

    I personally really enjoy the way Filipinos eat….they are not so “STUFFY” in their eating and it actually makes eating enjoyable.

    God, the “prim and proper” way of eating is disgusting to me.

  9. Dan says

    I really do not think it matters how you eat as long as you eat. Fork,spoon,knife,chop sticks hand ,feet…hell if you have to use a scoop shovel.

  10. Chasdv says

    My Grandma used to say,fingers were invented before knives and forks,lol.

    Chinese saying for you,
    “We eat everything with legs except a table,we eat everything that flys except an aeroplane”.


  11. Mark G. says

    Very funny Ziggy. The future Missus thought I would be upset when she ate with her hands, as I would think her uncivilized…well to quote your dad “you heb to adjus widjur sitwesyon when you are eating”. It didn’t bother me at all and still doesn’t. Westerners ARE too stuffy with thier food some times! lol

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