WHY FILIPINO FOOD IS SALTY: JOLLIBEE, ANCIENT SCIENCE, LEMURIANS


Erle Frayne  Argonza

Filipino taste is peculiar in that it loves salty food. One who is accustomed to less salty food, such as those cooked in the USA and Japan, will easily recognize the peculiarity of Filipino food.

One is free to think of the cultural behavior as either good or bad, depending on where you are in the health & wellness scale. If you are in a hot region where water is relatively scarce, salty food may serve you well as the salt can help in retaining the body’s water and prevent dehydration. On the other hand, if one suffers from perennial hypertension, salty food could be bad.

Take a look at the Jollibee hamburger. Why do you think is this burger, which doesn’t taste like the originals (European/American), did good in the Philippine market? So good did this burger start off in its early origins that the love for it spread like wildfire, and had already crossed the borders to as far as the USA. Jollibee Corp itself is now a global corporation, thanks to people’s love for its burger.

Packaging has got nothing to do with it. Branding could possibly explain it, most specially the mascot of a (a) ‘jolly bee’ that signifies the happy side of Filipinos (jolly) and (b) the capacity to do things impossible even under the most rigorous circumstances (bumble bee’s wings are too small to carry it theoretically, yet it can fly! Impossible!).

But no, those marketing strategy things of packaging and branding are merely secondary. The real reason is that the originator of the burger, Mr. Tony Tan himself, was able to capture the Filipino taste in the burger, resulting to a Filipinized or salty burger. This successful consumer story is a case of indigenizing foreign food so as to suit the local taste and, ergo, create a big market for the product.

Now, the deeper question is, what explanation can be advanced to explain the salty taste of Filipinos? This is the tougher question which is a good problem for students of social and cultural theories.

One explanation could be that ancient science—of the Lemurians, the forefather of Malayo-Polynesians including Filipinos—could have resulted to prescribing food that are salty. The Philippines, located near the equator, always exudes humid and hot climate throughout the year, save for the few months of rainy monsoon season.

Salt, mixed with the proper diet of fish, vegetables, and fruits, may have served well the need of the islanders to preserve water in the body. No matter how abundant the archipelago may be in waters, surrounded as it is by oceans and seas, it is hot and sultry almost the year round. And so the ancient islanders, who were the survivors of past cataclysms (including the ones that destroyed the Lemurian continent), easily recalled from their collective memory those bits of science that could make them survive in a drastically changed terrain and climatic condition.

Nice thought for the day. Meantime, for those who haven’t tasted the Jollibee burger, please try to savor one yourself. Enjoy your meal!

[Writ 03 June 2008, Quezon City, MetroManila]

 

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2 Comments on “WHY FILIPINO FOOD IS SALTY: JOLLIBEE, ANCIENT SCIENCE, LEMURIANS”


  1. […] unknown wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptErle Frayne  Argonza Filipino taste is peculiar in that it loves salty food. One who is accustomed to less salty food, such as those cooked in the USA and Japan, will easily recognize the peculiarity of Filipino food. One is free to think of the cultural behavior as either good or bad, depending on where you are in the health & wellness scale. If you are in a hot region where water is relatively scarce, salty food may serve you well as the salt can help in retaining the body’s water and prevent dehydration. On the other hand, if one suffers from perennial hypertension, salty food could be bad. Take a look at the Jollibee hamburger. Why do you think is this burger, which doesn’t taste like the originals (European/American), did good in the Philippine market? So good did this burger start off in its early origins that the love for […] […]


  2. Way cool! Some very valid points! I appreciate you penning this post plus the rest of the website is extremely good.


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