Our Food Tells Something About Our Society

Filipino butthurt again raged over an article titled “I would rather go hungry than eat Filipino food again,” where a tourist described her experience trying various types of Filipino food. The tourist’s opinions focused on some negative aspects (of course she would, she got sick), and that invited butthurt reactions from Filipino commenters. Many pointed out that the tourist was led to street food rather than proper Filipino restaurants. So the blogger was forced to change the title to “I would rather go hungry than eat Filipino STREET food again.” Which I believe was a sad cop-out to the pressure from butthurt commenters (considering that not everything she consumed was street food).


To quote Richard Gordon again, “The problem with Filipinos is we do not think; we just react.”

The raging Filipinos basically say: “don’t generalize us Filipinos because of our street food.”

But it’s futile to say that.

Because… what the title of this article says.

First, let’s understand that this person comes from a developed country. What they usually throw out to the trash grinders, we Filipinos turn into skewered roasts, or part of a stew – isaw, soup number 5 or mata ng baka (eye of the cow), anyone?

Next, I believe the assessment of the blogger was accurate in some points.

The Filipino cuisine embraces all the common elements of Asian cuisine – sweet, salty, spicy and sour. Ingredients commonly used include garlic, vinegar and soy sauce, all of which are used in chicken adobo – easily one of the most recognisable Filipino dishes.

I’d say this is mostly true. Nothing derogatory here.

What shocked us the most was the poor quality of food. Most of dishes were left on the table without being covered with a lid, or without a fan to get rid of the flies, as it’s a common practice in other Asian countries. Fish and meat were mixed up together in the same bowl, sausages were displayed on a plate surrounded by flies and bugs…

Go to most open markets, carinderias at the poor (squatter) areas or the talipapa, isn’t this what you see?

4 days of stomachache, dizziness and feeling overtired and bloated….

and diarrhea.

I know fellow Filipinos who experienced this after eating at a certain carinderia. Also, don’t we often get news of food poisoning, where a whole family died or something like that, every now and then?

Street food already tells a lot about our society, that we are a dysfunctional society. But it’s not just the nature of the food. It’s the conditions surrounding the food.

Firstly, some Filipino commenters on the article posit that the guides were probably hoodwinking the blogger. For example, the blogger did say that after asking about longganisa, they were given a hotdog sandwich from 7-11. OK, given that’s the case…. Is that what Filipinos do when foreigners are around? They hoodwink people? Can’t we have a matinong (decent) guide for these people? If we are going to have tourists, are we going to force them to have stomachaches, diarrhea and cholera? What’s that, the classic fault of “naghahanap ng karamay” (looking for someone to share the suffering with)?” Think about it – when a tourist comes in, the first food they are likely to see is the street food. Is that what we want to show them?

Secondly, the condition of people preparing our street food and other food highlights our poverty. As fellow blogger Paul Farol quoted from a friend, poverty porn is one of the marketing ploys of our country. It’s as if the country wants to highlight that it is poor – and wants to stay that way. Now food porn joins the mix. Food porn + poverty porn = food poverty porn (well, the blogger probably hasn’t seen pagpag yet).

As the blogger said, the food we eat often has oil, sugar and salt – because they are cheap and easy to prepare. Go to restaurants where you have safer food – they cost an arm and a leg. Sometimes, even the carinderias you expect to be clean might have their own hidden risks.

Of course, people need to sell food to earn a living. But at times, because of their poverty and lack of education, or even because of hard-headedness they are unable to provide proper sanitation for their products. Not to mention the types of recipes are high in fat and other substances that increase our risk for cardiac disease and other such illnesses.

Make no mistake, I still like our food. I also eat some street food. But food safety is certainly at risk here in the Philippines. For example, tap water is undrinkable because the illegal tapping by squatter areas soils the water supply. I’m sure that there are other cases… like the donations by other countries during Yolanda getting rotten because of non-distribution (and reportedly still getting sold in markets?). In the end, it’s just not the food itself. It’s how the people around it behave.

I wonder…. is the blogger’s observation one of the reasons for Filipino cuisine not being a big hit abroad, which some Filipinos lament?

Before reacting at another negative review of our food, it’s better to think first from that person’s point of view, and ask ourselves, it this what our food tells about us?


About ChinoF

I stick with this blog because I believe, as my cohorts do, that many things Filipino embrace as part of their culture keep their society backward. And blogging freely to show that in a truly decent society, with true freedom of speech, even nobodies have a voice.

Post Author: ChinoF

I stick with this blog because I believe, as my cohorts do, that many things Filipino embrace as part of their culture keep their society backward. And blogging freely to show that in a truly decent society, with true freedom of speech, even nobodies have a voice.

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111 Comments on "Our Food Tells Something About Our Society"

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Butthurt Filipinos can’t take criticism. May point naman yung blogger eh, sa totoo lang marumi talaga ang mga pagkaing karinderia ni hindi natin alam kung paano nila ito prini-pare. Sa office lagi akong pinupuna ng ibang officemates ko kapag ang lunch ko inorder ko pa sa Jollibee or Chowking, kesyo ang sosyal ko daw, kesyo raw hindi healthy, bakit daw hindi ako gumaya sa kanila na masustansya at murang lutong-bahay ang kinakain (where in fact sa carinderia lang nila ito pinabili). No thanks. Hindi na baleng unhealthy ang fast food, alam ko naman na mas malinis pa rin yun kesa… Read more »

That’s another story..

She knows what she’s looking, why settle for what the worst of our country can offer her? Street foods can be defined as dirty and lesser dirty, malls do serve street foods too and they are less of an unhealthy as the blogger said but they insisted because that’s how they do this travel blogging thing, but in fact we as filipinos considered and know that eating street foods along streets with all the polution and the classification of people that preparing it was the most unlikely, unhealthy thing. I can offer her Taho, Nilagang Mais and Barbeque for a… Read more »
I acknowledge that what those two bloggers experienced was unfortunate, but what enrages so many people is not that they had a bad experience but rather their illogical assumption. There are so many towns, provinces, and cities in the Philippines — we are a nation of 7,107 islands after all! And how many areas did these two travel to? From one I can tell from their vague and poor writing, only one. Or at least very few. Why should they then assume that the street food in those few areaa they went to define the entire country’s street food? I… Read more »

I’d also like to add that they seemed to highlight getting ripped off in the Philippines, as if to say that the it only happens in the Philippines– and that is not the case. Perhaps it is the first time rhey experienced getting ripped off but jt is certainly not happening only in the Philippines. They have a right to complain about their experience here. But do it responsibly, at least. Don’t go creating overgeneralizations and misleading assumptions about your bad experiences.

As the blogger said, the food we eat often has oil, sugar and salt – because they are cheap and easy to prepare. Go to restaurants where you have safer food – they cost ANA ARM AND A LEG. Sometimes, even the carinderias you expect to be clean might have their own hidden risks. An Arm and A Leg? Seriously? Mind you, I’ve been to more than 10 tourist-friendly places in our country, and I can get a let’s say Pancit Habhab in Lucban, Quezon for only 50 pesos which is good for 4 persons already. I can get a… Read more »


The Filipino masa’s inability to take any form of criticism is laughable.

Relax, it’s just food. Food preferences are subjective. Why argue over the blogger’s experience of Filipino food? It’s HER experience.


Someone said our street food is pretty inferior to other south east Asian countries that are well travelled by foreigners. Maybe the fact that we don’t as many foreigner traffic, our street food wasn’t able to evolve.


I agree with Corinne.
I smell a lot of butthurt here.

Jack C
It’s a guilty pleasure to indulge in carinderia, local food places and street foods. It’s the exact same thing as the food places in Mexico, with questionable food prep and safety… yet people keep coming back to them because they’re delicious! The reason there are very few Filipino restaurants abroad is not because of food safety – it’s because there’s nobody making Filipino restaurants outside the country. Most Filipinos go overseas to work, and those who do business overseas would rarely (if ever) dabble into the highly competitive food business. The closest would be franchising something like Jollibee, but that’s… Read more »
The blogger is essentially right, filipino food regrettably ranks as one of the worst in the world – street food or otherwise. If you say to someone – ‘ how about a filipino tonight’ – it does not conjure up going out to eat! The reason has little to do with poverty. In so many countries i visit it was the poverty which drove the initial creativity to maximise variety and flavor from very basic choices and to experiment with ingredients. It seems more to do with a generic culture of laziness and lack of creativity which extends to the… Read more »
It’s natural that tourists want to try street food, regardless of whether they can afford to eat better – check out any travel forum or list of travel dos and don’ts, and you’ll see street food being praised as an essential part of the trip. People who avoid it are often labelled as snobs or not having an interest in local cultures. Unfortunately, this is where the Philippines fails, as many people (like me) who backpacked around the rest of South East Asia enjoying a mix of local food stalls and restaurants are shocked to see what passes for street… Read more »
Hi, I’m the author of this article. Thank you for the mention. I have noticed that Filipinos can’t take the criticism here. I’m referring to my bad experience with street food I tried in several Filipino cities and towns. I am not an ignorant traveler, but an experienced and respectful travel nomad who has been living and travelling in various Asian countries since 2011. I have tried a lot of different street dishes from Thailand to Sri Lanka and I felt disappointed with the Philippines cuisine the most. It’s my personal experience, but it seems like Filipinos hate everyone who… Read more »
Philippine street food reflects just how the pinoy is. Cheap, quick and easy, convenient. This should be good if it doesn’t translate to “katamaran” – laziness. Which it does in fact. This is evident not only in street food. To change how the world sees the filipino dishes then a major change should be done first with the pinoy character. This would be reflected, later on, on their food, e. i. japanese food – attention to details. I cannot blame the author of the said article, as street food is really the gateway to a nation’s cuisine. A good starting… Read more »

Ironic as it is, we filpinos actually take no pride in what we do (well, mostly low income businesses). Public transport is crap because people still ride it, communication companies provide the worst service with no competition and food of course, made with the cheapest ingredients just to earn an extra centavo. I read the comments and I don’t get why filipinos need to redeem ourselves like offering to treat them when they come back. It’s like we’re trying to protect an image. Folks, try living abroad and you’ll know, we don’t have any reputation to protect. So just chill.


But I do have to concede that when it comes to desserts, Filipinos seem to have it mostly right especially the pastries. Yes, they’re still derived from the Spanish, but if you have a craving for anything mildly sweet then you really can’t go wrong with something like ensaymada or polvoron

Lets compare the Philippines with one of your neighbours, Thailand. In 2013 Thailand was fortunate to get over 22 Million tourists visiting the country. This was despite the political instability that still continues. The Philippines in comparison received a paltry 4.6 Million in comparison in 2013. Why? Filipino food is without hesitation the worst food in the world – everything is fried in fat and is flavourless apart from the addition of sour vinegar! To the proud and patriotic Pinays that don’t like what I’ve just said, please take your head out of the sand and realise that its not… Read more »
Jose Antonio

Obviously, those folks where not trying to get the food listed on


Instead, they are aiming for the street food. No, those on the CNN list are not mostly street food and would certainly cost more than the $25 budget they put on.

No offense taken on that blog, i know for one it was hoping to get a lot of traffic from us,lol. I just do not think street food is what traditional Filipino Food is.


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