ENCA Farm Logo

Insights to Filipino Food Cultures: The Indigenous and the Traditional

by Aguinaya 


(Aguinaya received a Diploma in Culinary Arts from American Hospitality Academy, Philippines (AHA, Philippines), Makati and is now a one-woman operator of Aguinaya's Cloche, a small, home-based business based in Tublay, Benguet selling home-made specialty cookies and also offers her services as a personal chef to select clients).


Filipino indigenous knowledge in cooking is one of the most prominent and significant embodiments of Filipino culture and subcultures, because it's appealing, edible and delicious. It is easily adaptable to the changes of time and sometimes, it can be the most appreciated and cheapest souvenir.


In an archipelago like the Philippines, traditional cooking methods and recipes vary in thousands of ways. The way a neighbor cooks is different from your own style. When cooking, Filipinos bring in centuries of culinary preparation, selection, and other techniques from our ancestors.


As hospitality is a general cultural value, the most common practice in rural areas of the country is to manifest this hospitality through their food. Meals often become elaborate affairs, particularly when there are special celebrations or distinguished guests. The dining table highlights the best produce at the peak of the season, prepared in the best methods to bring out the unique flavors and ingredients in each dish. For Filipino's, cooking in the home is an all-in-one show of the local abundance, the pride of the host to be able to provide the best ingredients (perhaps even ingredients coming from the host's own garden or livestock), and the craftsmanship of culinary talent of those who prepared the food based on the oldest family traditions.



Ensalada Ilocandia: a variety of lowland and highland veggies that are either grilled, blanched or fresh and commonly served with "bagoong" a fermented fish sauce.
Agricultural and farming practices, livestock-raising and food preservation are some activities associated with food production where indigenous knowledge is still being applied. These practices are deeply integrated into the culture of these indigenous communities and greatly influence their identity as individuals and as a community, despite the many competing factors, (such as religion, colonization and occupation, migration and modernization), that have changed the environment over the centuries.


Some communities have adopted more modern practices, (with a few alterations and modifications to ensure that the technology is non-invasive and feasible to the environment), as a means to propagate heirloom crops and preserve remaining indigenous wildlife in their respective areas. This is an ongoing effort to ensure sustainability with the hope of continuity in and for the generations to come.  

open fire cooking
"Inanger" [/ee-na-nger/], or boiled, the standard huge wok over open fire while boiling chunks of meat. Often used for huge feasts and community gatherings. 

Recognition and support for indigenous knowledge validates its existence in the 21st century, and should thus no longer be described as "primitive". The preservation and conservation of these customs help sustain and maintain the diversity of the Filipino food culture as a whole. From production to food preparation, and everything in between, Filipinos' value of customs and traditions is more than just following a norm. It is a unifying factor for a community, and it is this sense of community, this sense of belonging, this appreciation of these practices, that enable these customs, traditions, and our indigenous culture to thrive. It is this quality that makes Filipino gastronomic experiences distinctive and unique.

Winter 2012 Special Food Edition
Filipino Food Cultures


Friends of ENCA Farm 

3rd Annual 
Denver,Colorado  Special Event

Saturday May 18th 

Like us on Facebook 

Follow us on Twitter

View our videos on YouTube





PAKO field
Pako: Indigenous Edible Fern at ENCA Farm