The Indigenous & Austronesian Influence

In the Philippines existed the Tabon cavemen and later three main indigenous groups: the Aeta, Igorot and Lumad tribes, who lived scattered in the islands, living off nature’s bounty. In 3200 B.C., during the pre-Hispanic era, the Austronesians traveled from China and Taiwan, bringing with them knowledge of rice cultivation and other farming practices. This increased the variety of edible ingredients.

The Indian Influence

Iron Age finds in the Philippines also point to the existence of trade between the Indian subcontinent and the Philippines during the 9th and 10th century B.C. The trade also included spices.

The Maharlika Influence

From the 9th century to the 15th century C.E., the land of Maharlika was composed of the Philippines, Borneo, Guam, Marianas Island and Hawaii, ruled as the Maharlika kingdom. Being an archipelago, surrounded by water, seafood was one of the main staples.

The Indo-Malay Influence

Land bridges made migration possible to the Philippine islands for the Indo-Malays over 20,000 years ago. Before the Philippines was born, it was a divided set of nations, islands and tribes. Bagoong, Kare Kare, Pinakbet are some of the related recipes.

The Chinese Influence

As early as 300 C.E., Chinese traders may have sailed their junk boats across the yellow sea. By the year 1000, trading was taking place on a regular basis. By 1400 they were established as part of Filipino culture. Many married local Filipinas and introduced noodles, lumpia, and hearty soups.

The Spanish Influence

The first recorded visit by Spain to the Philippines was with the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521. This was the beginning of Spanish rule, when the country became a Spanish colony until 1898. The colonizers in the 16th century brought with them produce from the Americas like tomatoes, corn, and potatoes, as well as the method of sautéing with garlic and onions. The Spanish influenced Filipino’s appetite for rich stews, like Kaldereta and desserts such as Leche Flan, Sans Rival and other pastries. “Lechon” is a Spanish word referring to roasted suckling pig. This celebratory dish is prepared for special occasions and is the center of attraction. The whole pig is seasoned, stuffed and cooked over wood charcoal in a rotisserie method, basted and roasted on all sides for several hours until done, making the pork skin crisp, the meat tender and seasoned. Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain claims Filipino lechon is the tastiest.

The Mexican Influence

For two and a half centuries, between 1565 and 1815, many Filipinos and Mexicans sailed to and from Manila and Acapulco, as sailors, crew, slaves, prisoners, adventurers and soldiers. The Manila Galleon ships assisted Spain in its trade between Asia and the Americas, bringing to the Americas cargoes of luxury goods such as spices and porcelain, in exchange for silver. Avocado was first introduced to Spain in 1601 and eventually to the Philippines. The thriving galleon trade between New Spain and the Philippines first brought seedlings of the Manila mango to Acapulco more than 200 years ago.

The American Influence

Spanish rule ended in 1898 with Spain’s defeat in the Spanish–American War. The Americans took control and eventually the Philippines became a territory of the United States. The Americans brought U.S. bases, transportation, education and a passion for everything American, especially kitchen conveniences like the refrigerator, which made preserving food possible. With the exposure to American fast food joints and military bases, Filipino taste developed for burgers, hot dogs, fries, spaghetti, Spam, canned foods, ice cream and processed foods.

The Hawaiian Influence

People of Filipino descent make up a large and growing part of Hawaii’s population. More recent data indicates they have become the largest ethnic group in Hawaii. It is likely that people from the Philippines visited the Hawaiian Islands en route to and from Manila and Acapulco. A few Filipinos during the 19th century mainly worked as cooks and musicians. Tikki bars were said to be created and staffed by Filipino bartenders, cooks and musicians. Filipino workers migrated to work on the sugarcane and pineapple plantations in the 1900s.

The CASA manila Influence

Since 2010, CASA manila has been offering authentic Filipino cuisine, while preserving its historical integrity. In 2012, CASA manila introduced Kamayan, Filipino hand-to-mouth dining, one of the earliest practices in the country’s dining history. The CASA manila way emphasizes the indigenous roots of hand to mouth dining, while paying attention to detail, like the hygienic aspect of individually portioning the Kamayan selection within the communal platter. CASA manila has contributed significantly to the movement of wholesome Filipino cuisine in North America. CASA manila was the first Filipino restaurant featured on Food Network Canada’s “You Gotta Eat Here” and Gusto TV’s “DNA Dinners”. The restaurant’s decor depicts the regions, the colonial, the artistry and the rich culture of the Philippine Islands.

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