Filipino Seed Snacks

Among many Filipinos’ fondest memories is gathering around a bowl of dried watermelon seeds with a piece of old newspaper on hand ready to be piled with discarded shells. Ahhh… butong pakwan!!

Filipino Seed Snacks

Dried seeds are old-time favorite Filipino snacks. Fun and addictive to snack on, satisfying one’s oral fixations, unshelled seeds boast a fairly low “calorie to bite” ratio — what with the amount of effort involved in carefully extracting each seed’s kernel from out of the shell. In terms of nutritional value, seeds run a close second to traditional nuts as a source of potassium, manganese and zinc.


Among many Filipinos’ fondest memories is gathering around a bowl of dried watermelon seeds with a piece of old newspaper on hand ready to be piled with discarded shells. Parents and older relatives take on the task of cracking open the buto (“seed”) for young children who have yet to develop the skill of extracting the kernels as whole as possible.

Snacking on butong pakwan happens when family and friends are just hanging out, chatting or watching television. It’s a great “busy food” to give bored hands something to do. The ethnic Chinese in Southeast Asia are known to do this type of snacking over the Lunar New Year or during a funeral wake. The seed-eating session usually only ends once you’ve run out of seeds or your lips and tongue have become too painfully sore from the salt.

Watermelon SeedsButong pakwan does have a distinctive flavor beyond mere saltiness, brought about by the addition of sanki, which is star anise (Illicium verum), and it is not uncommon to find one or two of the beautifully desiccated anise flowers still mixed in among the black seeds, providing a subtly sweet enhancement. Watermelon seeds come in packets that are sometimes labeled simply as “melon” seeds.

Popular Filipino and Fil-American brands include Captain Sid’sPaning’sAling Conching and Tropics.

Continue reading “Filipino Seed Snacks”


More often spelled as barquiron, influenced by Spanish. Barkiron is the spelling based on Tagalog orthography.

Barquiron from Bacolod: Bongbong's brand

Barquiron are barkilyos filled with pulburon, then individually wrapped in colorful cellophane.

It is highly likely the name barquiron is a portmanteau of the words barquillos and polvoron.

Barquiron and Barkilyos are delicacies associated with the city of Bacolod, the capital of Negros Occidental province, which is part of the Visayas region of the Philippines. BongBong’s is a popular local brand.

In the nearby Iloilo area, Rewel’s is a known brand, spelling their product’s name as barqueron.


This word is from the Spanish sorbete (meaning: sorbet or sherbet).

local ice cream

a man who sells ice cream

Mamang Sorbetero (Mister Ice-Cream Man) is the title of a popular Tagalog song in the Philippines. Continue reading “SORBETES”


Combination of two words: chicharon + bulaklak

crispy pork rinds


Chicharon is traditionally pork rinds (skin). For this “flower” chicharon, the intestinal parts of a pig are deep fried. In particular, it’s the peritoneum that is used. The peritoneum is the lining of the abdominal cavity.

Omentum is a fold of the peritoneum. Great omentum is the fat-filled sac covering the small intestines. Lesser omentum is the omentum joining the stomach and liver.

Continue reading “CHILAK”


Kiamoy is a salty dried plum that is one of the many popular Chinese treats in the Philippines. It is usually dry and ranges in color from red to orange to brown. There are versions that are not very dry. Continue reading “KIAMOY”


Panotsa, Panutsa, Panocha?

These words are used to refer to different things in various regions of the country, but the Philippine government now translates panocha as a class of muscovado sugar.

In the Philippines, four types of muscovado are produced: Class A (golden brown), B (brown), C (wood brown), and panocha.

cane sugar manufactured by a crude milling process

a chunk of cane sugar; a cake of brown sugar

a sweet Filipino delicacy made from sugar cane

Photo of Panutsa / Panotsa

Panocha also refers to a sweet treat that looks like a flat disk of crystallized, dark brown sugar that is studded with peanuts. Continue reading “PANOTSA”


Siomai is the Filipino term for steamed Chinese dumplings that are usually filled with pork, occasionally shrimp. It’s what Americans call “siumai” (siu mai) or “shumai” (shu mai). In the Mandarin language, it’s shaomai.

shaomai, “shumai”

Also sometimes spelled as siomay in the Philippines.

Variations in spelling: syomay, siyomay, shomay, shomai
Continue reading “SIOMAI”


Bukayo (spelling variations: bocayo, bucayo, bucaio, bokayo) is dried-coconut candy.

Its color is light to dark brown and its chewiness can range from soft to hard enough to give your jaws a tough workout.

Continue reading “BUKAYO”