Visiting The Philippines? Here's A Dining Etiquette Guide
Image Credit: PEXELS

FILIPINO cuisine offers a sensory feast for both the eyes and the stomach. Vibrant colours, unique flavours and the communal spirit of sharing food come together to create an unforgettable dining experience. Before you dig into the delicious array of dishes, let's take a moment to understand some of the cultural nuances and etiquette practices that make Filipino dining so special.   

No 'Hostess' Here, Please!

In the Philippines, it's best to address your host by their name or, if they're older, as 'Kuya' for men and 'Ate' for women. This shows respect and acknowledges their seniority. Avoid using the term 'hostess' as it has a different connotation in Filipino culture.

The Art of Using Utensils

Filipinos have a unique way of using cutlery. Unlike the traditional knife-and-fork routine, the spoon is held in the right hand, and the fork in the left. The fork is used to push food onto the spoon, creating a seamless and efficient way of enjoying a meal. Embrace this twist and have fun mastering the art of Filipino cutlery!

The Magic of Kamayan

One of the most exciting aspects of Filipino dining is the tradition of 'Kamayan'. This communal feast involves spreading food on banana leaves and eating with your hands. It's a sensory experience that brings people together, fostering a sense of camaraderie and connection. So, roll up your sleeves, dig in, and savour the flavours with your fingertips!

Respect the Rice

Rice holds a special place in Filipino cuisine. It is considered a staple and is treated with utmost respect. When dining in the Philippines, avoid sticking your spoon upright in your rice bowl. This gesture is believed to bring bad luck. Additionally, try to finish all the rice on your plate as a sign of appreciation for the meal. It's a small gesture that shows respect for the culture and the effort put into preparing the food.


The Balut Challenge

For the adventurous foodies out there, the Philippines offers a unique delicacy called 'Balut'. It is a fertilised duck egg with a partially developed embryo inside. While it may seem daunting at first, trying Balut is a way to immerse yourself in Filipino culinary culture. However, if you're not comfortable with this particular dish, it's perfectly acceptable to politely decline. Remember, dining is about enjoying the experience, and there are plenty of other delicious Filipino dishes to explore.

The Power of 'Po' and 'Opo'

In the Philippines, showing respect through language is highly valued. When conversing with elders or people in positions of authority, it's customary to use the terms 'Po' and 'Opo'. These words are similar to the Indian 'Ji' and add a touch of politeness to your conversations. Using 'Po' and 'Opo' demonstrates your respect and appreciation for the person you're speaking to.

The Joy of Pasalubong

If you're invited to a Filipino home, it's customary to bring a small gift or 'Pasalubong'. This gesture shows gratitude and thoughtfulness. It could be anything from sweets to a souvenir from your home country. The act of giving a Pasalubong is a way to express your appreciation for the invitation and to create a positive impression.

Wait for Everyone to be Served

It is considered impolite to start eating before everyone at the table has received their food. Wait patiently for the hosts or elders to give the go-ahead before digging in. This shows courtesy, consideration and respect for others. The Filipino culture places high value on communal dining where everyone enjoys the meal together. By waiting for everyone, you are embracing this spirit of sharing and togetherness.  

Say 'Salamat' After the Meal

At the end of the meal, it is polite and customary to thank your hosts by saying 'Salamat Po' which means 'thank you' in Tagalog. This simple yet meaningful gesture shows your utmost gratitude and appreciation for the food, hospitality and time that went into preparing and hosting the meal. Saying 'Salamat Po' in a respectful tone will leave a positive impression and signify that you appreciate Filipino dining etiquette.

Greet the Chef

If possible, greet the chef or the person who cooked the meal after you finish eating. Thank them personally for preparing the delicious food. This is a kind gesture that shows you appreciate their hard work and culinary skills. In Filipino culture, food is made with love and care, so acknowledging the chef is a way to honour that effort and passion behind the meal. Simply saying 'Thank you for the wonderful meal' with a smile goes a long way.

By understanding and embracing these practices, you can fully immerse yourself in the Filipino culture and create lasting memories. So, pack your bags, embark on a gastronomic adventure in the Philippines, and remember to enjoy the food, respect the traditions, and savour every moment. Bon Appétit, or as the Filipinos say, 'Kainan na!'