In almost all private, commercial establishments (hotels, banks, malls, restos, etc.) anywhere in the country, the main entrances are manned by private security personnel. Their uniforms are very typical: white or dark blue shirt (with or without a tie), dark blue pants, with a sidearm and nightstick on the belt plus a cap similar to that of policemen.
Upon entering major shopping malls, expect to go through separate lines for men and women and have your bags checked or scanned with a portable metal detector. With men, they usually make it a point to grope the back of your waist to check if you have a pistol tucked behind you. It's really a cursory way of inspecting for guns or bombs...a determined and smart would-be terrorist can easily beat the system. But the locals have grown used to it and don't give it much thought.
Christmas is one of the best season to visit Manila because there will be lots of decorations, shopping sales and other Christmas activities happening in the city because Philippines is predominantly a Catholic country. I was in Manila in late November 2007, and already could feel the Christmas atmosphere (and the Christmas trees and decorations are great!).
However, there will be no snow but you get lots of beautiful beaches here :)
filipinos often add the word "po" (poh) in the end of their sentences when talking to other persons, especially the elders, as a sign of respect. "Opo" means yes. It also wouldn't hurt to say "Manang" for women or "Manong" for men as titles when speaking respectfully to strangers - cab drivers, vendors, etc.
the act of "mano po" is taking an elder's hand, bowing down and touching it with your forehead while saying "mano po." the elder would then say "bless you."
it's a traditional way of greeting the elders.
Pancit Bihon (aka Bijon) is what foreigners traditionally associate with the word "pancit": very thin rice noodles fried with soy sauce and some citrus (kalamansi) and possibly with patis (fish sauce), and some variation of sliced meat (chicken and pork), wooden ear mushrooms, squid balls and chopped vegetables. The exact Bijon composition depends on someone's recipe but usually, Chinese sausage and cabbage are the most basic ingredients in a pancit bihon.
"Pansit" is stir-fried noodle dish, common in the Philippines, though of Chinese origin. This food is second in popularity to rice in the country. It's similar to Pad Thai thai noodles or yakisoba Japanese-style stir-fried noodles. The word pancit is derived from the Hokkien (Min Nan) word pian i sit, which literally means something conveniently cooked fast
The first pancit that landed in the Philippines is likely to have been made from wheat noodles brought as provisions by a Chinese traders from Fujian Province. Sometime later, another Chinese merchant probably tried his hand on making his own noodles when his provisions ran out. With inquisitive natives by his side, he may have experimented with batch after batch until he produced something that looked like what he may have had in his homeland. But since rice, not wheat, was on hand, he made rice noodles. Rice starch differs in nature from wheat, having less gluten that provides that familiar “bite.” Rice noodles are whiter in color and have less “muscle” in body. But that may not have mattered much to the homesick Chinese trader; pancit was pancit, and anyway rice noodles could be had in China as well.
There are lots of Variations for Pancit like Molo, Luglog, Palabok, Canton, Habhab, etc. it depends on the region or town you are going.
bibingka is a Popular Filipino Cake, it was originally eaten only during the christmas season wherever the Dawn Masses (Misa De Gallo) would start but it spread in it's popularity that it is available today all year round. It is available into 3 types, the Bibingka made with Flour, The Bibingka Galapong, Made with Rice Flour and the Cassava Bibingka, made with rootcrop Cassava. It is also popular in Goa in India, East Timor and Macau where it is known as Bebinca. In the portugese version it is made with flour plus Ghee (a kind of indian butter).
In the Filipino method of preparation, rice flour or wheat flour is used and sliced salted duck eggs plus quesong puti, a semi-soft white cheese made from carabao's milk (similar to bufala mozzarella) are added into the batter before baking (the baking process is similar to that of the bebinca). Before being served, butter or margarine is spread and sugar is sprinkled over the bibingka. It is typically served with grated coconut.
baking the bibingka is no small matter. the batter is poured into a clay pot or coconut shell lined with banana leaf--the leaf is there to make it easier to lift the bibingka out, but it also imparts a wonderful aroma to the cake. the pot is placed on small clay coal-fired oven, and then a metal tray covered with more of the hot coal is placed on top of the pot, and the cake is carefully watched for a few minutes until it has gently risen, the cheese has melted, and the top has browned and blistered. once out, the leaf-lined cake is wrapped up in more banana leaves to keep it warm and toasty; then some newspaper, with a generous bag of grated coconut wrapped within, a final bind of twine and you are sent on your merry little way.
Via Mare Restaurant makes the best Bibingka!
PASTILLAS DE LECHE originated from San Miguel and Bulacan. Its manufacture spread to Cagayan and Masbate provinces. In the beginning, it was home made by farmers rearing carabaos using carabao's milk. Then, a small-scale industry developed in the area to produce PASTILLAS DE LECHE. PASTILLAS DE LECHE is a sweet delicacy. Pastillas is a milk-based pastry. It can be made with just milk and sugar. The milk and sugar are boiled together until thickened, then cooled and formed by hand into little mini-logs that are often rolled in more granulated sugar before they are individually packed in cellophane and paper. If the mixture is allowed to boil to the point that it starts to get darker in color, almost moccha like, this is known as “tostado.It has the shape of a cylinder (1/2-1 cm diameter and 4 cm long). Its body is yellowish and has a sweet and fruity taste.
Espasol (Rice Pastry) is a cylinder-shaped Filipino rice cake originating from the province of Laguna. It is made from rice flour cooked in coconut milk and sweetened coconut strips, dusted with toasted rice flour and can be given a distinct taste by adding favorite flavorings such as pandan (pandanus leaf), buko (young coconut) or langka (jackfruit) for a heavenly melange of flavors and textures. It has a sweet taste. It is coated with powder to lessen stickiness and prolong shelf life.
Prepared from the finest natural ingredients rich in vitamins, minerals and protein-rich choice peanuts, real fresh butter, refined cane sugar and corn syrup. Goes well with coffee, tea, juice and even ice cream!
Brittles are confections, usually very hard and brittle, made of caramel, or near-caramel sugar syrup, and nuts. Peanut brittle is one of the numerous varieties of nut brittles, which consist of flat broken pieces of hard sugar candy mixed with nuts.
A mixture of sugar and water is heated to the hard crack stage corresponding to a temperature of around 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Peanuts are mixed with the caramelized sugar. At this point spices, leavening agents, and often peanut butter or butter are added. The hot candy is poured out onto a flat surface for cooling, traditionally a granite or marble slab. The hot candy may be troweled to uniform thickness. When the brittle cools, it is broken into pieces.
Romana's have some of the yummiest peanut brittle I have ever tasted. Finely chopped peanuts in a delicious wafer thin caramel and flavored with just a touch of butter that is cut and expertly packed into cylindrical plastic bottles and sell for 90 Pesos ( 2..2 US$) for 800grams… what a deal!
The milkfish, Chanos chanos, is an important food fish in Southeast Asia. It is the sole living species in the family Chanidae. The fry are collected from rivers and raised in ponds, where they can be fed almost anything and grow very quickly, then are sold either fresh, frozen, canned, or smoked.
The milkfish is also a national symbol of the Philippines, where it is called bangus. This meal is called Daing na Bangus (marinated milkfish in vinegar) and is easy to prepare.
First cut your fish lengthwise along the back, taking great care in not breaking the skin. The place the fish skin side down in a a wide and shallow container. Add vinegar, peppers, garlic, salt and ground pepper, and let marinate in your refrigerator for 24 hours, turning the fish over after the initial 12.
To prepare, drain, and fry with oil in a large skillet for 5 or 6 minutes, or until the fish reaches a golden brown color.
Although this dish is full of Transfats and triglycerides, I Still love it although rarely do I eat it due to it's Fatty Content. This dish is made by slow cooking beef knuckes in it's broth by 4 to 6 hours to ensure tenderness then adding onions, garlic, pepper, chili and then cooking for another 1 hour and viola, it's done! it is eaten with plain fluffy rice and you can add patis (fish sauce) and Kalamansi (philippine lime juice).
Pinipig (Roasted rice puffs) is a filipino rice dessert made from immature glutinous rice that is harvested and pounded into what look like colorful (depends on the food color or additive) flakes . The flakes are moist and redolent with a fragrance that is simply unique. They are almost the quintessence of rice. These flakes can be eaten raw but it can be also eaten boiled or roasted. Pinipig rice is used for rice-based convenience food products in which no rice ingredients are packed separately and mixed only during heating. It indicates that a significant amount of protein, vitamins and minerals. This version of Pinipig which I like is coated with either chocolate or vanilla. This version is made by Mikasan in Baguio City.
Assorted Kakanin or native cakes.
In the Philippines, glutinous rice is known as malagkit (literally "sticky" in Tagalog), glutinous rice flour is known as galapong. The rice grains are treated with a solution of lye and then dried, then the grains are poured into a banana leaf cone or cocount leaf wrapper and steamed. It may be mixed with sugar, coconut milk, or other grains such as millet. Glutinous rice cooked in coconut leaf or banana leaves wrappers are steamed to produce "suman," of which there are many varieties depending on the region. Some of the common toppings are "bukayo", grated mature coconut cooked in sugar, coconut jam, and freshly grated coconut. Some regions eat suman as a snack with ripe mangoes or bananas.
A general term for sweet rice cake, "bibingka" mainly consists of glutinous rice cooked with coconut milk. Another traditional Filipino snack very similar to Japanese mochi is called "palitao."
Puto alone boggles the mind with its variety. It comes in all shapes—small round, big round, huge round, square, oval, tube, etc. Some puto are called by the place where they are made, among them Marilao, Biñan and Manapla. Suman is another general name for a kind of kakanin, more elongated in shape and wrapped in an assortment of leaves. All over the country, suman sa ibos is known by that name. It is made of steamed glutinous rice, wrapped in strips of nipa leaves that turn yellowish in color when cooked. Sapin sapin, bibingka, kalamay, biko, espasol, Bud Bud, Latik, Maja Blanca and a lot more!
Filipinos have a Sweet Tooth that is why there is a dizzying variety of sweet ricke cakes. you can but them anywhere in Manila specially at the food courts of department stores and supermarket. Price starts from 20 pesos to 250 pesos depending on the size!
calamares (deep-fried breaded squid), was an invention of Spain which was adapted by filipinos since we were once a colony of spain. This is popular but expensive snack here wherein squid rings are de skinned and deep fried into vegetable oil then vacuum packed. it cost about 120 pesos a 100 gram pack. great with local vinegar or honey mustard sauce as dip.
Nata de coco is a chewy, translucent, traditional Philippine dessert which is "coconut gel-product from coconut water by bacterial fermentation-prepared cellulosic white to creamy yellow substance formed by acetobacter aceti subspecies Xylinium, on the surface of sugar enriched coconut water / coconut milk / plant extract / fruit juices or other waste materials rich in sugar it is also described as a chewy, translucent, jelly-like food product produced by the bacterial fermentation of coconut water. Nata de coco is most commonly sweetened as a candy or dessert, and can accompany many things including pickles, drinks, ice cream, and fruit mixes. The product originated from the Philippines and was invented by a college student at the University of Santo Tomas named Teodula Afrika in the 1970's and has caught asia by storm!
Proudly Filipino, the technology for the production of nata de coco originated in the Philippines. But today, other Asean countries have gained headway in producing the product on an even better or improved process rendering the country's sunshine food industry behind in competition. There is a need to revive the ailing industry and bring it back to mainstream as a major export product.
It is popularly used as a dessert. It is also used as an ingredient in other food products, such as ice cream, fruit cocktails, etc.
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