Wednesday, May 27, 2009


EAT NEAT. A Home Economics class in Guagua shows students learning the proper way to set a table and to behave when partaking of meals. Ca. 1924-1925.

Like early Filipinos, our Kapampangan forebears found it natural to eat with their hands. Even now, as hosts, we command our guests-- “Manggamat ka!’—our way of encouraging them to loosen their inhibitions, unbridle their appetites and eat with unabashed gusto. Sharing food and water from a single bowl or cup was a common table experience, and it was also alright to express one’s gustatory delights through slurping, smacking of lips and making chomping sounds.

All that changed when we adapted our colonizers’ ways with the introduction of hand-held eating implements—cubiertos. Eating with silver cubiertos was the civilized way to eat food, and Filipinos soon had to master eating with a cuchara and tinidor while differentiating the usage of a cucharita from a cochillo. Suddenly, eating with bare hands was deemed as barbaric and unhygienic, moreso with the coming of Americans who were obsessed with both sanitation and proper etiquette. Filipinos had to learn social graces and observe proper table manners to keep up with a “civilized’ world.

A 1934 Kapampangan cookbook, Libru King Pamaglutu, outlined “Apulung Utus Karing Mamangan” (Ten Commandments for Diners) with regards to proper table decorum and the use of dinnerware.

1. E yu sasabit ing servilleta king talab ning baru you o king sinturon , nung e buklatan me lalam ning mesa at ilantang mu king kekang sapupunan.
(Don’t tuck the table napkin in your neckline or in your belt, instead open it, and spread on your lap, under the table.)

2. Nung miminum ka, pulisan mu pamu ing asbuk mu ning servilleta.
(If you need to drink, wipe first your mouth with the table napkin)

3. E yu gagamitang antimong kutsara ing kutsilyo a gawang panyubu.
(Don’t use a knife to put food in your mouth--as if it were a spoon).

4. E yu panyubu ing tinidor a makagulut.
(Don’t use the end of a fork to eat)

5. Ning mimilup kang sopas, e king punta ning kutsara nung e katalindikingan.
(If you’re sipping soup, use the side of the spoon to sip—not its tip.)

6. Nung sakali at mabaldug ing kubiertus king lande, manyawad kang panupaya kareng karungut mu at e mu na kukunan nung e mayari ing pamangan.
(In case a dinner utensil falls on the floor, apologize to those before you and don’t pick it up until the end of the meal.)

7. E re durusug bandang gulut ing silya nung makalukluk na ka.
(Don’t push back your chair when you are already seated.)

8. Makakalale ing pamaninum, alang alang keng kekang kayapan at king kayapan ning kekang panugali.
(Be careful when you drink, for your own good, and for the good of your manners.)

9. E yu lalabulan ing nasi ban parimlan.
(Don’t blow rice to cool it off.)

10. Nung tasa ing yadwang mu, ing talanan na ing idwang mu.
(If you’re handing a cup to someone, give it handle first.)

The rules end with a proper reminder: “E ko mamako king mesa nung eka pa mamun king kabisera. Nung king bale mu, king inda o tata ka mamun pa mu”.
(Don’t leave the table until you say goodbye to the host at the head of the table. If at home, bid goodbye to your mother or father).

Too many mouth-watering dishes, too many rules. I just want to eat with my hands again!

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