Kamayan: How to enjoy food the Filipino way
“The Dinner” is a film by Safeguard Philippines that brought together celebrities from different industries, Boy Abunda, AiAi delas Alas, Bianca Gonzalez, Tessa Prieto-Valdes, Neri Miranda, James Deakin, LA Tenorio, and Drew Arellano) for a Chef JP Anglo-prepared fine dining experience that requires them to eat the Pinoy way—with their bare hands. While easing into the dinner, they discuss what eating with hands means to us Filipinos, and why we believe it makes food taste even better and so much more.
These days, there are so many different ways to eat. Indeed, we’ve come a long, long way from eating just for survival. Today, eating has evolved into somewhat of an art form, with the dining experience sometimes holding just as much weight as quality or taste.
But there was a time when we all ate with our bare hands. More than primal, the practice was also communal–it meant a time for people to come together and share the meal.
In the Philippines, the practice of eating with bare hands or kamayan still exists. You may not realize it, but you probably eat with your hands at least once a day. However, it’s not really the norm anymore–we’ve become so accustomed to using utensils for our meals that we think it’s our only option. We tend to forget how much the act of eating with bare hands connects us to our food in a deeply and uniquely Filipino way.
There are a few misconceptions surrounding the practice of eating with hands, of which hygiene plays a big part. It’s easy to think of it as a common but disgusting and unhygienic practice or that you can catch and transmit diseases through it. There’s a notion that it’s “nakakahiya,” or if you do it, you’re “gutom na gutom.” But the truth is, with clean and sanitized hands, anyone can enjoy eating with hands and experience how it makes food taste even better.
At “The Dinner”, the celebrities were in on a surprise when the cutlery was taken away and they were asked to proceed with the meal using only their bare hands. How did the glamorous kamayan dinner prepared by Chef JP Anglo unfold? It proved, inevitably, that kamayan is an important part of Filipino culture and is the best way to enjoy Filipino food. Here are a few reasons why:
1. Kamayan bonds people.
Kamayan does a lot more than bring people together–it bonds people. There’s just an unspoken, special connection that sharing food brings forth, and something about using your hands that makes it feel more personal. “The power of the Filipino hand,” says Boy Abunda. “I love that. We touch.”
2. Kamayan makes eating more fun.
Eating with your bare hands encourages you to let loose. It tells you to disregard the proper posture and etiquette you’ve been taught to use at the table and just allows you to relax and enjoy your food. Therefore, it’s a liberating experience that opens you up to the company of people around you. “Earlier when we were starting, we were all so stiff,” Boy Abunda notes nearing the end of the dinner. “Ngayon, wala na.”
3. Kamayan is a sensory experience.
We’re all used to tasting and smelling our food, but kamayan adds the dimension of touch. “You’re feeling your food, so there’s texture now in your hands. So the whole experience is improved.” James Deakin remarks. This additional sense of being able to physically touch your food and physically partake with members of your community enriches the whole experience.
4. Kamayan is a part of Filipino tradition.
“What makes you proud to be Filipino?” Boy Abunda recalls asking an interviewee. “Alam mo ang sagot? ‘Kumakain akong kamayan.’” Kamayan truly evokes everything great about being Filipino–samahan, community, love of food, fun, and life.
5. Kamayan just makes food taste better.
“It really tastes better!” Tessa Prieto-Valdes claims. “May ibang lasa eh,” Says LA Tenorio, to which Drew Arellano adds, “Umiiba yung kain mo, yung lasa mo dahil ginagamit mo yung kamay mo.”
It would be surprising for any Filipino to disagree that eating with your hands makes food taste a lot better. Maybe it’s psychological or cultural. Maybe it has to do with the whole experience. But the truth is, there’s no need for more discussion–it just does.
If you’re curious to find out more about these celebrities’ kamayan dinner and their discussion on what makes kamayan truly Filipino, watch the video below.
Everyone can #GoKamayan. But remember that there is always an important step you can’t miss before eating with your bare hands–handwashing. Keep your hands protected with Safeguard and its pabaon to the nation: protected hands that enable richer experiences.
Make the experience of eating better with your friends and family, a good meal, clean, protected hands, and Safeguard. “Pag protektado ang kamay, mas masarap ang kamayan.”
To learn more about #GoKamayan, visit Safeguard’s official website: https://www.safeguard.ph/en-ph/go-kamayan
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