Tuesday, May 5, 2015

This is how I researched for my Philippine Food, Cooking, and Dining Dictionary


The kind of research methodology employed in this dictionary varies depending on where a certain food word and definitions could possibly be sourced. There are information that can readily be gathered at the grocery stores and supermarkets, or at the food stalls and eateries in the neighborhood and the busy streets in Metro Manila and other cities across the country. My personal experience and knowledge on Visayan foods and cuisine and my almost three decades of making my first Visayan vernacular dictionary helped me a lot in compiling Cebuano, Boholano, Waray, and Ilonggo food words. Some data and information I gathered required me more effort to discover as they are rarely used in present day commerce that you have to dig like bookworm in libraries, bookstores, newspapers, magazines, cookbooks, and other publications including the virtual world of internet. I also asked information from ordinary cooks and chefs on how foods are prepared and what else they knew about our foods. 

My enthusiasm in language and food research even brought me to the point of going to all four corners of our archipelago where I could find native speakers and actual specimens. It is in my many travels around the country that I witnessed and experienced the daily lives and foods of the locals. My many travels in the southern part of the Philippines introduced me to the kind of foods and culinary customs of our Muslim brethren and other ethnolinguistic groups in Mindanao. When there is urgency for immediate verification or validation for Muslim food words, good thing there are Muslim communities right in the heart of Metro Manila, such as in Quiapo, Manila and in Maharlika Village in Taguig City.  My many travels all over the provinces in mainland Luzon gave me an opportunity to discover food words directly from the natives and local residents.  My field research across the country proved to me that many provincial delicacies and country cooking, particularly in the Visayas, Mindanao, and in central Luzon are least or have never been featured in any book, magazine, and any other publication or medium of mass media communication. For instance, in southern Mindanao, there are plenty of daily fare cooking, their kind of ingredients, dishes, fruits, and  other food stuff that are still unknown to the rest of the Philippines. I have the same findings in the hinterlands of Cordillera Regions in central Luzon.

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My kind of research methodology  also took advantage the advancement of information technology and the complexity of electronic gadgets in gathering, storing, and exchanging information about Pinoy food, cooking, and dining.

My self-styled research methodology helped me create this first-of-a-kind dictionary that covers many of our local and ethnic dialects, with long list of food, cooking, and dining terms never known or heard of before by most of us. With this book, you don’t have to travel and conduct lengthy researches the way I did just to find out what a native or indigenous food word is all about. The encyclopaedic entries I wrote in my dictionary would help capture imagination closest to the real thing and enrich our knowledge and awareness of what else we have in this country. It does not serves merely as a reference but also helps preserve and share Pinoy food culture, traditions, and practices. This makes my dictionary more interesting to read and to own a copy.

Sources of information

  1. Personal experience and knowledge

My personal experience and knowledge on Visayan words being a native speaker helped a lot in my almost three decades of compiling my first vernacular dictionary, the Cebuano-English Dictionary. My 20 years of stay in Metro Manila exposed me a lot on Tagalog words and the kind of food and dining places you find in this metropolis. I’m also into cooking Pinoy dishes where I learned more the simplicity, intricacy, and versatility of our foods and tastes.

  1. Interviews and insights from cooks and other informants

In various parts of the country, I also Interviewed, though informally, ordinary cooks and chefs about their cooking. I also interviewed those who have tried a kind of food for their insights and comments about the food. Having been to many food exhibits and festival celebrations in the provinces and in Metro Manila, I learned from my informants what are those foods considered by Filipinos as panghandaan (food for special occasions), pambahay (home cooking food), and pagrestoran (ideally sold or served in restaurants). I realized in my many interviews that in the rural areas, foods for them are classified into pangkaing pangmayaman (affordable only by those who are  rich) and pagkaing pangmahirap (what the poor can afford to have).

  1. Printed materials

My personal collection of various indigenous and cultural dictionaries is my most treasured depository of written literature, word bank and semantics. My daily newspaper readings kept me updated with what food columnists and feature news writers are talking about food. My fondness of visiting libraries all over the country helped me open the pages of some unpublished research papers and thesis right in their bookshelves. I also mined the treasure of food and agriculture magazines. Moreover, I am not sparing any kind of food brochures, hand outs, and print ads in updating my list of food words.

  1. Broadcasting media

I also picked words and information from radio and television programs that feature food, cooking, and curret events. During my childhood years in Leyte, I was an avid listener to radio broadcasts from local radio stations based in Cebu. Even when I moved to Tacloban City in my college years still listened to local radio and television news programs in Waray-waray dialect and brought that habit in Metro Manila when I moved to work here. I always wake up with my radio clock every morning and listen to Tagalog broadcasts, and watched television programs featured both in English and Tagalog at evening prime time and on weekends. Local broadcasting media regularly and consistently used local dialects that these medium of communication helped enrich my lexicon of the local dialects and stock knowledge about anything around us.

  1. Internet and electronic applications

With the advancement of communication and information technology, data gathering these years now include browsing the internet. I regularly checked information from government websites, bloggers’ posts, and posts from circle of social networks. I also get information and data from legitimate local and international on-line databases of plants and animals other than my visits to the Philippine National Museum in Manila for information about the scientific names of living things around us. With the modern communication technology, I can now access to on-line and software-application-based English and other foreign language dictionaries hosted by legitimate sites and the web-based encyclopaedia. The Internet websites and social networks are my widest and fastest way of getting and sharing information from around the globe. In fact, I am now a regular food blogger.  I posted some of my works and finds in my blog sites and accounts in Yahoo, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

My workplace at home

Research methods

Ethnography type of research under qualitative research method, was largely employed in gathering words and descriptive definitions of food words from ethnolinguistic groups in Mindanao and the locals in Luzon and Visayas. I travelled a lot around the country, and conducted actual interviews with native speakers in any possible location. I personally interviewed my informants/participants while in the marketplace, restaurant and other eateries, stores, trading centers, even in the farm and the village of fishermen. I inquired and took notes directly from them of information about their kind of foods, cuisine, as well as about their customs and traditions in preparing, serving, and eating their foods.

Visiting local places is my best opportunity of finding native speakers, printed references, and actual specimens of food, ingredients, and implements that could help me define and validate the following:

a.)   How certain words are commonly spelled in certain locality.

b.)   How certain words are pronounced by the locals or native speakers.

c.)   How their kind of foods are prepared and what are the ingredients and implements needed.

d.)   Have an actual visual description of food, ingredients, cooking tools and other implements, as well as the place and people from where and whom I sourced or found the specimen.

e.)   Experience the taste, smell, and touch of their kind of food and how it feels joining them in partaking their foods.

Wherever I go in the Philippines, I visit any library and bookstore to search and secure a copy of any written literature on cultural foods, customs, traditions and practices of the locals.

While in travel, I also got information from a fellow passenger or traveller while in transit or in the station.

I also took the opportunity of talking to my relatives, friends, officemates, and neighbours who are native speakers of a particular dialect to get information about certain words and their pronunciation.

Basic research method is also employed, such that I took photographs and made audio and video recordings to aid descriptive recollection and to recall some details of the interview. When possible, I brought home some specimens to further evaluate and scrutinize my finds.

Back home, I compared and validate my finds with the entries from my collections of indigenous and local vernacular dictionaries and other references that include on-line databases.


Now, I will  tour you to some of souvenir photographs of places where I had been. Click the images below and you will be redirected to my Facebook account to view the photo albums.

Setting footprints in Luzon (volume 1)

Setting footprints in Luzon (volume 2)

Setting footprints in Visayas

Setting footprints in Mindanao

Setting footprints in Metro Manila


Philippine Food, Cooking, and Dining Dictionary (Open & Free)

Philippine Food Illustrated

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About Me

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Author of Philippine Food, Cooking, and Dining Dictionary. A lexicographer since the age of 14.  Filipino Linguist. Blogger with 11 blog sites. Researcher of food culture, pop culture, places, structures, transportations, churches and whatever interest him about the Philippines. Visual artist. Photographer. Traveler who had been to all four corners of the Philippine archipelago, and still setting more footprints. 

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