Eating with your bare hands; unethical or part of Philippine Culture?

This was captured in Daranak Falls
How do you enjoy your favorite food? Do you use spoon and fork or perhaps chopsticks like the Chinese does? Have you ever tried to eat with your bare hands?

Dining etiquette is observed in every country and different countries have different dining etiquettes based on their culture. Spoon and fork is widely used in many countries today, while chopsticks are used by Chinese, Japanese, Korean and other Asian countries. We can safely say that dining etiquette is a sign of good behavior and good behavior is dictated by society. Society dictates good behavior based on what are socially acceptable.

During the time when utensils have not yet invented our ancestors use their bare hands. In Muslim tradition, they practice eating with their bare hands in accordance with their religious belief; because in the time of Jesus utensils have not been invented. It’s interesting because nowadays only a few of us use our hands while eating.

Eating with bare hands is practiced in the Philippines. Some may think that it is weird and others say that it is primitive but for us Filipinos we consider it as part of our culture. It has been a tradition for Filipinos from the province eat with their bare hands. Most of these people are farmer or fisherman who spent a lot of time tending their crops or spending their time in the middle of the sea to catch fish. Since, these people are too busy they usually eat with their hands rather than bring utensils with them; until eating hand become their habit. In addition to that there people live in rural places (near the mountains or near the sea) are far from the main city so many of them don’t have time to buy spoon and fork, aside from the fact that they don’t enough money to buy these things.

I remembered a few years ago when my visited our province in Leyte; back then, my Grandfather was still alive. We always had our breakfast together and he would always eat with his bare hands. Actually, all of them were eating with their bare hands including my Grandmother, my Aunts, Uncles and my Mom and Dad. I would always complain and ask for a spoon and fork during mealtime. But my Lolo would tell me there’s none. My mom told me that they don’t have a spoon and folk because they consider it as a luxury and besides you can enjoy your food more when you eat with your bare hands. My mom also told me that even if they have those utensils they would not allow me to use it because it is a sign of disrespect for my relatives if I use those things.

It may sound funny, but based on my observations I noticed that there are a lot benefits in eating with your bare hands:

1.) When you eat with your bare hands you will be able to determine if the food is hot, in this way you would avoid being burned just in case the food is too hot.
2.) It is more convenient to eat because you can control how much food you intake.
3.) It is more appetizing to eat food using your hands (especially if you are eating rice with friend salted fish or rice with barbecue- Yum yum yum!).
4.) You can eat without worrying about cleaning the utensils after eating.
5.) You can eat everywhere without the hassle of bringing plates and utensils with you. Just bring a piece of banana leaf and your all set.

Finally, as a tip before eating with your bare hands; just make sure that your hands are clean and sanitized before eating. Also be sure that your nails are trimmed.

We often view people eating with their bare hands as a sign of poverty, but looking back at history we can clearly see that it is part of our culture. These things are part of us; part of who we really are. Eating with our bare hands showcases our attitude of being resourceful. Lastly, eating with your bare hands is finger licking good!

 Allan Aban
Guest Writer 
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  1. eating with our bare hands is part of the pinoy's culture. we often eat this way at home and enjoy my mom's home cooked dishes!

    1. That is right Farida? Even I, I usually do that in Fast Foods, Who cares, as long as i enjoyed


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