Filipino cuisine is quite different from other Asian cooking and
is remarkable by its restrained use of spices. Spanish, American,
Chinese, Malay, and Japanese influences have left their
of cultures and flavours. Seafood features strongly
in all areas. It is freshly caught and frequently barbecued, stewed, boiled,
fried or steamed and served with kalamansi (the local lemon), bagoong
(a fish paste) or vinegar with labuyo (the fiery native pepper).
There are many restaurants specialising in seafood, offering lobster,
crabs, prawns, tuna, oysters, freshwater fish, bangus (the
bony but prized milk fish) and the sweet maliputo. The roasted
whole pig or lechon is usually served at fiestas
and family celebrations. Some other specialties are kare-kare,
an oxtail stew in peanut sauce served with bagoong; sinigang,
meat or fish in a sour broth; and adobo, braised pork and
chicken, in tangy soy sauce, vinegar and garlic. Regional dishes
include the Ilocos pinakbet, vegetables sautéed with
pork and bagoong; Central Luzon’s relleno, boned and
stuffed chicken or fish; and the Visayas’ kinilaw, raw
fish marinated in a spicy vinegar dressing. Rice is a main staple
of Filipino food. Plenty of fruit is available such as bananas, chicos, guavas, mangoes,
lanzones, papayas and rambutans. Philippine
preserves such as atsara, a chutney-like vegetable preserve;
and the native desserts like the pili nut brittle, a crunchy
sweet made with the luscious pili nuts (found only in the Bicol region);
can be found in the local markets. Manila’s many excellent
restaurants feature all the native dishes, and like the restaurants
of all the major cities, offer a diverse cuisine. For the less adventurous,
many European and American fast food restaurants are also available.
San Miguel is the popular and locally brewed beer. The Philippines
rum is also popular. There are no strict rules with regard to the
sale of alcohol.
Everything ranging from high-tech discos to lavish cultural songs and dances,
including excellent pop singers and performers, trios, show bands and classical string ensembles can be found at the five star hotels.
Many evenings cultural performances by native artists or foreign
groups are organized at the performing arts venues. Free weekly
concerts are held at several parks. You may even get to enjoy some
outstanding musical groups like the Pangwat Kawayan bamboo orchestra,
that uses bamboo musical instruments, or the Rondalla group that
uses tiny guitars like the ukulele. Casinos can
be found in Manila, Ilocos Norte, Pampanga, Cebu, Zamboanga, Iloilo
For many people, the Philippines is a shoppers paradise. A number of bargain
opportunities for handicrafts from the different areas are found
in the many shopping complexes that range from sleek air-conditioned
shopping malls to open-air markets. From the renowned barong tagalog (hand-embroidered dress shirts for men in
delicate jusi material) to Tiffany lamps made with capiz shells
are offered in the chain department stores. At the old markets selling used goods and products, all types of cloth weaves, brassware, woodcarvings, local crafts,
rare seashells, and painted papier-maché horses of Laguna can be found.
Good purchases include silver jewellery from Baguio, coral trinket boxes,
rattan furniture, baskets, woven grass mats (banig), antique
wooden saint figurines, ready-to-wear clothes, garments embroidered
with the traditional callado, dresses made from banana and pineapple
fibres, cigars and abaca placemats. Handicraft shops are
all over the country, particularly in cities. The bigger department
stores generally sell native and foreign manufactured goods.
Shopping hours: Monday to Saturday 9.30 am to 10.00 pm, but may
vary. Most shopping malls, department stores and supermarkets are
open on Sunday.
Many colourful festivals are held in the Philippines all year
round. A complete listing of the important Muslim festivals and
Catholic feast days in honour of patron saints etc, can be acquired
from the Department of Tourism.
The following is a list of some of the major celebrations and events
in the Philippines:
||Philippine Game Fishing
Tournament and International
Billfish Tournament, Sta Ana; Kuraldal (residents dance
to honour St Lucia), Pampanga and Sasmuan.
||Feast of the Black Nazarene, Manila.
||International Bamboo Festival,
Las Pinas City; Annual
Philippines Poker Run & Motorcycle Rodeo, Damaguete City.
|| Carabao-Carroza Festival, Ravia.
||Moriones (re-enacting of the beheading
Boac, Gasan, Marinduque and Mogpog; Turumba,
Laguna and Pakil; Holy Week Lenten Rituals, nationwide.
||Santacruzan and Flores de Mayo
Carabao Festival, Bulacanl and Pulilan; Pahiyas (parades and
flower decorations), Lucban and Sariaya; Obando Fertility
|May 30- June
||Mango Festival 2004, Manila.
||Independence Day Celebrations,
on Manila’s Luneta Park.
||Parada Ng Lechon (roast pig feast),
Balayan. Jul Pagoda Sa Wawa, Balayan; Sandugo Festival, Bohol.
||Aurora Festival, Tanjay; Kalibongan
Festival, Kidapawan City; Tuguegarao City Fiesta; Kadayawan
Sa Dabaw, Davao City.
||Nuestra Senora de Penafrancia,
||Zamboanga Hermosa Festival; Masskara
Bacolod City; Lanzones Festival, Camiguin Island.
||Feast of San Clemente/Gigantes,
Angono and Rizal.
||All Saints’ Day, nationwide.
||Giant Lantern Festival, Pampanga
and San Fernando; Binirayan, San José.
||Misa de Gallo (Filipino Yuletide
||Christmas Festival, Laoag.
||Rizal Day (festivities at Luneta
Usual modes of address and levels of politeness are expected. Government
officials are addressed by their titles such as Senator, Congressman
or Director. Casual dress is welcome in most places. Visitors
should cover up in the Muslim areas. Filipino men wear an embroidered
long-sleeved shirt or a plain white barong tagalog with black trousers
for the more formal occasions. The Philippines are more westernized
than any other Asian country but there is also a rich underlay of
10% of the bill is expected. Hotels normally
add a 15% service charge in the bills but it is appreciated to leave small