What kinds of food did ancient Filipinos eat and what do contemporary humans say of their meals?
In “Ancient Filipino Diet: Reconstruction Diet from Human Remains Excavated in the Philippines,” the food eaten by ancient Filipinos based in six burial sites in the country dating from the paleolithic period (50,000 to 10,000 BC) to the historic period (16th to 19th centuries) are analyzed.
Published by the University of San Carlos Press, Cebu, in 2013, the book was written by Filipino archaeologist Ame Garong who scientifically examined human remains in the archaeological sites of Uyugan, Batanes; Lal-lo, Cagayan; Kabayan, Benguet; Sta. Ana, Manila; Banton, Romblon; and Boljoon, Cebu.
Garong noted the ancient Filipino diet evolved mostly on what are immediately available in their respective localities.
These include terrestrial animals such as deer, pigs and chickens, marine and riverine shellfish, medium and big-sized fish species, taro, yam, sugar cane, millet, rice, potato and corn.
The author noted that “despite the introduction of rice cultivation in the late neolithic period (10,000 to 500 BC) in the Philippines, Filipinos utilized many types of food items dependent mostly on plant ecosystem and domesticated pig and chicken as protein sources.”
Garong explained “food sources in the Philippines, especially plants, have not differed much then as now” adding that plants were the staple food of ancient Filipinos.
Although that is the case historically, what is certain now is that Filipino eating habits have changed based on the recent study conducted by the global nutrition firm Herbalife.
Conducted in 11 Asia-Pacific countries including the Philippines, the study underscores the importance of the most important meal of the day which is breakfast since it helps avoids various health risks.
Nutritionist Dr. Chen Zhen-Yu, a food and natural sciences professor at The Chinese University of Hong Kong who was recently in the country for the Herbalife Asia-Pacific Wellness Tour emphasized the significance of eating breakfast every day since skipping it decreases the performance of a person in a day and can cause health issues like heart and digestive problems.
The former deputy chair of the food safety committee of the Hong Kong government and a member of the Herbalife nutrition advisory board added a person should eat a well-balanced meal and that “we should eat breakfast like a king, lunch like an ordinary person, and dinner like a beggar.”—CONTRIBUTED