By Jo Ann Ancheta-Lim
Food is at the heart of the Filipino culture. Filipinos show pride and loyalty to their identity through food. Food is meant to be shared and is better when shared. Food in the Filipino culture is essential to binding families, friends, generations, and a nation and is a means for creating and strengthening fellowship. Filipinos express pride in their longstanding traditions through food.
Filipinos show their sincere generosity and hospitality as a people through food. Filipinos offer food even if they themselves have very little. They share what little food they have with others, even to complete strangers.
When you enter a Filipino home, you are almost always asked if you have already eaten. Soon afterward you are inevitably always offered a drink or a snack or even asked to stay for a meal with the words Kain na! which is a warm invitation hailing you to come and eat. During the course of the meal, you are encouraged to eat more and to not be ashamed for eating more. After a meal you may even be asked if you are busug (full) because the host or hostess feels a sense of responsibility to treat their guests like family. Even after a meal, you are offered more food in the form of baon (food to take with you to enjoy afterwards). This act of generosity through baon is a gift of warmth for one’s journey for that day and beyond.
Food is part of your memory that never seems to fade. Memories of childhood are vividly revived through food. Food reminds you of special holidays and events in your life.
Birthdays are normally celebrated with pancit (a Filipino noodle dish) or spaghetti to bring heartfelt wishes for a long life. Food makes you want to create for others, from your heart. Food reminds me of my two grandmothers whose food reflected their constant care and love for their families. Filipinos who cook as a family bring the old and the young together for a common purpose and this act of working cooperatively strengthens bonds, bonds that can cross generations.
Food comforts you especially during times of loneliness and isolation. No matter where you are in the world, food brings you home to your homeland. For some of us, food is primarily a means of satisfying one’s appetite or hunger. But for others, food is more than just a means of sustaining one’s physical needs. Food provides us with spiritual nourishment for the long journey ahead.
Support the Hesser Foundation today and in doing so you will provide nourishment to bodies with food and food to fill your spirit for the journey.