About Filipino Snacks

Filipinos eat endlessly for any occasion and for no occasion.

To cater to this predilection, some food stands in Parañaque used to serve a succession of snacks appropriate for particular hours of the day or night.

Dawn to 9 a.m. was for champurado and suman. Mid-morning was for pancit guisado. After lunch was the time for tokwa’t baboy, lumpiang sariwa and ukoy, then palitaw and ginataan were served all through the merienda hours. With the setting of the sun, the champurado reappeared, this time with tapa or salted fish. Monay bread with a salted red egg was also available, as was ground pork in a hot pandesal bun. The evening ushered in bibingka and puto bumbong. After midnight, longganisa, fried rice with egg, karne norte or tocino could be expected. This stretched on until 4 a m when the champurado-cycle began again.

The Filipino’s diet in the provinces is one-track. All throughout the year he lives on vegetables and fish (sometimes out of necessity). But when fiesta time comes, his festive board groans with an unrelieved succession of meat dishes. Meats are for special occasions and he has tucked all the lowly vegetables away. He has slaughtered the cow, the goat, the pig and the chickens and they are all there in the form of kaldereta, lechon, menudo, adobo, estofado, kare-kare, and bola-bola.

If proteins are for fiestas, starch is traditionally for snacks. The Filipino repertoire of carbohydrate meriendas and snacks is inexhaustible. From Batanes Islands in the north to Tawi-tawi in the south, glutinous rice.

During the Spanish colonial period, the Filipino, like his colonizer, had a regular breakfast, a mid-morning snack called segundo almuerzo, a complete lunch, a merienda at four clock and then a full dinner from soup to dessert.

Even with the Americans and the Japanese living with us in between, the habit dies hard and at any old hour one’s relatively modern mother still follows one around asking plaintively “Have you had your lunch? Would you like a snack?” “Try a bit of the newly cooked leche flan. Maybe a cup of chocolate? Mango? Polvoron?”

Hunger of any one member of the family was a reflection on the mother unless she was at the ready to paste the gap up with a rice cake. Have you ever heard of a Filipino mother inhuman enough to punish a child by sending him to bed without supper like some Americans do? Beat him up, yes, but always, always, on a full stomach.