Etiquette is vital wherever, whenever you are. It shows how well you respect a custom of a place, showing proper behavior, while genuinely avoiding to offend others. It is even more crucial to show etiquette when you are in a culture-oriented country like the Philippines.
Etiquette can also define the person you are. It will reflect how courteous and humble you are. Moreover, it will describe your family, nationality, and your manners. Showing respect to others can gain you a lot of incentives. You will earn someone else’s trust, and they will even give you back the respect.
When you travel the Philippines and you are invited to lunch or dinner by a friend, do not reject the invitation as it can be very upsetting for the inviter. As much as possible, appreciate the invitation. More than that, here are more tips on how to show proper etiquette when dining with a Filipino family presented to you in an infographic created by Gourmet Society.
Etiquette When Dining with a Filipino Family
In the Philippines, there is so-called Filipino Time where guests usually arrive one hour after the appointed time. This habit, though very typical for the Filipinos, is sometimes offensive and even frustrating. When you are invited
over for lunch or dinner in a Filipino home, try to arrive early, 15 to 20 minutes earlier. Arriving 15 to 30 minutes late is still acceptable, but try not to come one hour after the scheduled time. This can ruin the inviters’ timetable.
When you are invited to a large party, it is still acceptable to arrive up to 30 minutes late. Arriving too early can give an impression that you are overly excited for the party.
Also, leaving early is acceptable especially when you have valuable reasons. When leaving, try to say goodbye to everybody and personally thank the host of the party. Do not leave unnoticed as it is rude for the Filipinos.
Use fork and spoon
Filipino dishes are always partnered with rice. Soup is occasionally available. Fork and spoon are the common utensils used by Filipinos when eating. A table knife is not usually included in the table setting when eating in a regular Filipino home but may be available when eating out in fine dining restaurants or deluxe hotels. In provinces, Filipinos usually eat with hands only – with no utensils. Filipinos will be glad if they see you are trying to do the same, but it is not always compulsory.
In the Philippines, there’s this called Boodle Fight where a group of Filipinos eats together with the food prepared on a Banana leaf, no plates, and no borders. When invited in a Boodle Fight, try your best to eat with your fingers. Otherwise, you can ask for utensils.
Other families may use chopsticks accordingly to their prepared meal. Others may be courteous to prepare Japanese, Chinese, or Korean cuisines. In most cases, they use chop sticks or regular fork.
Serving spoons are always available in the platters, avoid using your spoon to grab food from the larger plates.
No to Hostess
With all the best intention, you want to acknowledge the inviter as the host or hostess (if it’s a female). But in the Philippines, “hostess” is more understood as an explicit female entertainer and calling a lady “hostess” will trigger commotions. If the inviter is a close friend, you can call her by name. If the host is someone older than you, you can call him “Kuya” (older brother) or if it is a female, “Ate” (older sister; pronounced as a-teh). But you must be careful when using these terms. Others do not want to be called Kuya or Ate as it will give them an impression that they are aged or old. Other hosts would typically suggest what they want to be called. Also, try your best to pronounce their names correctly. Filipino names can usually tangle a tongue.
Random Trivia: In Philippines, there is a superstition that a guest will arrive when a spoon or fork drops to the floor. There is really no scientific evidence with this belief, but native Filipinos still consider this superstition to be real. But one thing is true: whoever comes to the house to visit, Filipinos will welcome him or her humbly, and will even prepare food for the guest.
There are really no defined rules about burping because apparently, there is no way of stopping this loud exhalation of air from the tummy. In fact, hosts will feel happy when they hear their guest burp as it shows that the guest is satisfied with their meal. Though an apology before or after the burp will be highly appreciated. Even though hearing a burp is allowed, make sure to cover your mouth with your hand when doing so, because, apparently, no one wants to see your face while burping.
Don’t Just Leave Yet
Don’t leave the table when you’re done with your plate. Leaving the table can be very disrespectful to the host or even to the whole family. Wait until everyone is done with their plates. While waiting, you can build a conversation by asking the family questions you are curious at. You can even ask the couple how they met each other. If you’re from aforeign country, you can share stories about your place but avoid pointing out or comparing things about your country to the Philippines.
You may leave your table if necessary, say if you need to go wash your hands or go to the bathroom. Make sure to get back to your seat once done.
Don’t refuse a packed leftover food
I think it is quite typical for Filipinos to offer a packed leftover food to guests especially when there is a lot of leftovers. Thankfully accept the gift even if you don’t see it necessary. The host usually packs it, so show appreciation by not refusing it. Accept it even if you don’t like it. Make sure to eat it within the day or refrigerate it so to avoid damaging the food.