Christmas Food in the Philippines

Here are a few of the foodstuff and beverages that Filipinos typically enjoy during the holiday season of Pasko.

PUTO BUMBONG

purple-colored rice treat cooked in upright bamboo tubes

Puto Bumbong on Coconut

BIBINGKA

flat cake served on banana leaves and topped with a pat of butter and grated coconut

Bibingka on Banana Leaves
Bibingka

TSOKOLATE

hot chocolate, the drink most enjoyed by Filipinos during Christmas

SALABAT

warm ginger tea, a traditional drink after early morning mass

ENSAYMADA

a soft, fluffy pastry topped with finely grated cheese and white sugar

Ensaymada

LECHE FLAN

(from the Spanish word for milk: leche)
velvety custard made with egg yolks, has a rich caramelized topping

Filipino-Style Leche Flan
Filipino-Style Leche Flan

QUESO DE BOLA

Keso de Bola

imported keso de bola (from the Spanish queso de bola)
ball of Edam cheese usually with a red covering, a traditional Christmas food

LECHON

litson: whole suckling pig, roasted

Lechong Baboy
Lechong Baboy

MACARONI SALAD

prepared with Lady’s Choice mayonnaise

Filipinos consider it stylish and classy to serve Western foods.

In recent years, carbonara (aka “white spaghetti”) has been in vogue for Christmas Day… And the pretentious insist it should be pasta carbonara on Christmas Day and traditional spaghetti with tomato sauce during New Year festivities.

* There’s a joke that Christmas in the Philippines should be renamed Spaghetti Day because it’s become the national staple during the holidays… Everyone aims to to finish all the spaghetti on the 25th because otherwise the leftover will remain in the refrigerator for days. Throwing away food the way Westerners nonchalantly do after every meal is a habit that Filipinos have yet to develop.

Fruit Salad, Ham, Spaghetti

FRUIT SALAD

from the can, almost always with a mix of sweet condensed milk and cream, as well as strands of young coconut; served in a glass dish

KASTANYAS

roasted chestnuts (from the Spanish castañas)

HAMÓN

especially jamón dulce
sweet-cured Christmas ham (from the Spanish jamón)


CULTURAL NOTE


Many of these items are luxuries that not all Filipinos can afford, so be careful about that. Don’t go, “Hey, it’s Christmas. Why don’t you have letchon? Or ham?”

Even a relatively simple meal that’s not regularly eaten like pork BBQ and pasta can be considered special foods for Noche Buena, the Christmas Eve dinner. What’s more important is that the family is together during the holidays, which is not always a guarantee because one-tenth of the Philippine population works full-time overseas.

Notse Buwena

* Spageti ang pambansang handa tuwing Pasko. 🙂