Manga-on ta! (Let's eat!)

August 2004

When you come to Cebu, you have to eat some Cebuano foods...

Cebuano foods


Ampao: Carcar delicacy made from sweet crunchy rice crispies.

Balut ("bah-loot"): Fertilized duck eggs. These are allowed to develop until just before the duckling is ready to hatch, then steamed and served with vinegar. You crack the top of the shell, suck out the (yummy / yucky, you decide) amniotic fluid and then chomp down the little head and the rest of the feather-covered body. Yumm! (I've nibbled, but never gotten a whole one down yet.) According to Cebuanos, this is a must-eat snack for men before an evening of woman-chasing. Judging from the number of children in the Visayas, it must be a reliable aphrodisiac.

Banquillos: Rolls of crunchy sweet wafer.

Bibinka a la Cebu: Steamed rice cake made from ground glutinous rice mixed wth sugar and coconut milk, topped wth strips of exotic goat or carabao cheese (exotic is a euphemism for ...uhhh.....)

Budbud Kabug: Sweet Bisayan delicacy made from glutinous millet, rolled and steamed in banana leaves.


Bucarillo: Sweetened grated young coconut meat formed into candy.

Bulad ("boo-lahd"): Dried, salted fish. Foreigners usually hate the smell of frying bulad which permeates deep into the nostrils, but many Cebuanos can't get through the day without their plateful of fried bulad and rice. I believe that bulad is the primary protein source for many poor Cebuanos.


Chicharon: Traditionally deep-fried pork skin: crispy, salty and hot. Cebu chicharon comes in exotic flavers such as garlic and vinegar, sour cream and onions, and chili.


Ginamoos: Salted, fermented fish. A few spoonfuls over a plate of rice is a meal for many poor Cebuanos. I've tried it many times, but have not yet arrived at "This is delicious!"


Hipon: Odorous fermented krill (tiny shrimp) used as a condiment on green mangoes.

hipon greenman

Isda: Fish. Doesn't matter whether it's fresh, dried, or frozen; raw, grilled, BBQ'd, boiled, or stewed: Cebuanos love their isda. Here's a selection of fresh fish at the Mandaue public market.

fresh fish

Kan-on (rice) Kanon is the heart and soul and stomach of any meal here in the Bisayas. If you haven't had your rice, you haven't yet eaten. Usually boiled, then served later. I don't like the way Cebuanos prepare rice (cooked with too little water and then served cold), but who am I to tell Filipinos how to cook?


Kinilaw ("kinee-lao"): Raw fish chunks steeped in native vinegar, ginger, garlic, onions, tomatoes and gatas (coconut milk). Can also be made wtih fresh seaweed, shrimp, shellfish, and squid.

Lechon Baboy ("laychoan bahboy"): Whole roasted pig. This is the classic Cebuano feast dish, mandatory at weddings and fiestas for those who can afford it. Poor couples will even go into debt so they can serve lechon pig at their wedding reception. A serving consists of meat, chunks of fat, and the delectable shiny roasted skin, for many the best part. Provides a thick, protective coating to the inner walls of arteries to protect them from attack by vitamins and other harmful substances found in fresh fruits and vegetables.

lechon baboy

Lechon Manok: Roasted native free-range chicken seasoned with local herbs and spices like tanglad, sangig and luy-a that give a distinct flavor.


Mangoes: Eat 'em ripe, green or preserved: Cebu mangoes are the best in the country, sweet and plump.


Masareal: Bar-shaped concoction made of crushed and ground peanuts, sugar, and milk. Wrapped in white paper, which is then secured by a piece of string or twine.

Pusit ("poo-sit"): Sun-dried squid. Usually grilled, then eaten as a chewy snack with beer or Tanduay rum. Make sure your dentures are well secured.


Puso ("poo-soh"): Strips of coconut leaf are woven into small diamond-shaped containers, which are then filled with raw rice and steamed. The result is little "baskets" of cooked rice which can be carried and eaten later. Versatile and last longer than regular cooked rice. Excellent with lechon, sinugba and kinilaw. Also known as hanging rice.



Puto Maya ("poo-toh mayah"): Two varieties of glutinous rice (pilit and tapol) mixed together and boiled in coconut milk flavored with salt, sugar and ginger. Served in Carbon Market with cups of tsokolate (hot chocolate blended from native cacao) for eight pesos (16 cents U.S.)

puto puto

Seaweed: Green and nutritious, but like many foods here, it's an acquired taste. This one is called guso.


Sinugba ("sin-oog-bah"): Pork, fish or chicken grilled over charcoal. My favorites are fresh fish: tangigue, blue marlin steaks, and whole anduhaw.


Tagaktak: A triangular root crop delicacy unique to Mandaue.

Tinola ("teenolah" or "teenowah"): Stew made from fish head and belly, seasoned with shallots, tomatoes, salt, ginger and lemongrass.

Tuba: Fermented coconut wine. Is it food? For some, it is an essential part of a balanced diet.

tuba tuba