The traditional Filipino breakfast


The traditional Filipino breakfast

1. Tuyo and Sinangag

Typically, in Asia, leftover rice from dinner is breakfast the next day. Cold rice is sauteed with fresh garlic and salt. Hence, the traditional “garlic sinangag” or Filipino fried rice.

The rice is commonly paired with Tuyó or dried Tawilis (Filipino sardines), fried eggs, and fresh tomatoes. It’s cheap and sold everywhere, making the breakfast pair synonymous with food for the masses.

Although Tuyó is often teased as the poor man’s breakfast, Filipinos from all walks of life have cherished it since the Spanish colonial era despite its obnoxious smell.

In the 1990s, home-spun businesses elevated the dried fish into “gourmet Tuyó” (De-scaled Tuyó fillet infused with Italian herbs in olive or corn oil).

Elena Tabora from Bacolod City is said to have pioneered gourmet Tuyó in the mid-1980s and popularized by the brand Connie’s Kitchen in the 1990s.

For a time, gourmet Tuyó became the ubiquitous Christmas present. Today, they can be found in nearly every Filipino home pantry.

Tuyó (dried Tawilis) is esteemed at the Filipino breakfast table. Connie’s Kitchen popularized it in the early 1990s, making it the ubiquitous Christmas present and pasalubong. (Photo: Connie’s Kitchen Facebook)

2. Longganisa and garlic fried rice

The traditional Filipino sausage or Longganisa may have its roots in the Spanish Chorizo, but unlike its Hispanic counterpart, the uniquely Pinoy sausage is garlicky and on the sweet end.

As pork became more affordable in the 1980s, Longganisa gradually replaced dried fish as a staple viand: the stuffier and redder—the tastier.

Then came the “uncured skinless Longganisa,” popularized by the brand Pampanga’s Best—sweet and cooked slightly burnt to aroma perfection.

Longganisa is sold in every local market, especially in the central and northern Philippines, where each province usually has its version. Vigan, Pampanga, and Lucban Longganisa are the most popular.


3. The “Silogs”

Silog is a portmanteau (blended word) for “Sinangag and Itlog” (fried rice and eggs) that can be paired with any Filipino viand.

Tapa (Beef marinated in garlic and light soy), or Tapas, was traditionally an appetizer of bite-size fried meat among the Mestizos.

But for the masses, it was viand, paired with “Silog,” an affordable staple meal that became popular in the mid-1980s. Hence, the “Tapsilog” (Tapa, Sinangag, and Itlog).

As a popular breakfast for daily waged workers, “Tapsilogan” (the outdoor eatery that served it) also became the go-to meal for students because it was filling and affordable.

The make-shift eateries sprung like mushrooms. From here, we saw the beginning of another portmanteau, the “unlirice” (unlimited rice).

Tapsilogan is often situated in the bustling residential intersections of Manila. Most were old homes that converted their ground floors into compact, accessible eateries with low overheads. From Tapa, the meal combination expanded to other varieties.

The most popular “Silogs” today

  • Tapsilog: A combination of cured beef (Tapa), garlic fried rice (sinangag), and fried eggs (itlog) or “silog.”
  • Longsilog: A combination of longganisa (Filipino sausage) and “silog.”
  • Bangsilog: A combination of fried bangus (milkfish) and “silog.”
  • Tocilog: A combination of Tocino (sweet cured pork) and “silog.”
  • Ribsilog: A combination of fried pork ribs and “silog.”
“Tapsi Restaurant” along Asturias Street in Sampaloc, Manila, is one of the pioneers of Tapsilogan. They started serving Tapsi in 1986 and are part of a new food culture that first emerged in the old city. (Photo: UST Varsitarian

4. Lugawan and Pares

Like all Asians, Filipinos have been eating steamed rice for centuries. However, the influx of Chinese immigrants in the 16th century brought different ways to cook rice.

One is Lugaw or rice porridge, which is eaten as Champorado (porridge with cocoa) for breakfast or salted porridge for mirienda (afternoon snack), usually with Bicho-Bicho or Chinese donuts.

After World War 2, the latter version of Lugaw found its way into familiar carts just outside the mercados (marketplaces) referred to as “Lugawan.”

Usually boiled with beef bones and innards, pairing it with tripe or offal became popular and was later known as Goto or Gu-To (Beef tripe) in Hokkien.

It is affordable and filling, making it the poor man’s meal, but the perception changed over time.

By the 1990s, fast food chains elevated the Lugaw by calling it Arroz Caldo (Spanish for Hot soupy rice), although Spain had nothing to do with it.

The impression of Lugaw as the poor man’s breakfast remains. Former vice president Leni Robredo used it as a political stunt. Lugaw was her appeal to the masses during the 2021 Presidential Election.

GoodAh and Jona’s Pares

In the 1990s, GoodAh!!!, a restaurant named after a TV comedy show, expanded the Silogs. They started as a 24-hour kiosk that served Goto and Arroz Caldo (beef and chicken rice porridge).

GoodAh later introduced the acronym for Tapsi, Tosi (Tocino Silog), Longsi (Longganisa Silog), and Adsi (Adobo Silog) dishes—establishing the familiar “si” breakfast pairs we know today.

The iconic alfresco restaurant was first known for its distinctive use of red and white (bathroom) tiles and price points.

It attracted customers from all walks of life and became known as the go-to breakfast after discos and concerts.

Pares,” which means “pair,” is a set meal of rice, soup, and the Four-Spice Beef Chinese Stew. It was a quick, heavy breakfast, although uncommon to the Filipino taste buds.

Chinese restaurant Jona’s first introduced the meal in the predominantly Chinoy area in Retiro St. (Now Amoranto St.), Quezon City, in the 1980s.

By the 1990s, Pares became widely popular in Manila as an all-day meal, particularly for field workers.

Along with GoodAh, they changed the Filipino “24-hour breakfast landscape.”

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