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What most astonishes foreigners in the Philippines is that this is a country,
perhaps the only one in the world, where people buy and sell one stick of cigarette, half
a head of garlic, a dab of pomade, part of the contents of a can or bottle, one single egg,
one single banana (J oaquin, 1970). In almost all sari-sari stores in our country, almost all
sari-sari stores use retail techniques either by takal (by measured volume) or tingi (by
piece, referring to the division of goods into quantities smaller than is usually available in
the marketplace. It may either by cigarettes sold by the stick, cooking oil by the cup, etc.
A recent survey by Synovate of consumer preferences, revealed on a paper by Malapit
(2007), reports that 63 percent of respondents bought items in tingi, with the majority
represented in the lowest income groups (D & E market segments). For middle-income
households, sari-sari stores are convenient sources of emergency and impulse goods,
whereas for low-income households, sari-sari stores as their extended pantry, getting
products they need at just the right amounts at the time they need it. According to
Pabico (2006), tingi has allowed cash-strapped consumers to continue buying items that
their shoestring budget could afford. Food and culture, undoubtedly, are intimately
related and mutually constitutive. It is often adduced that one can know a people by what
they eat and by their methods of food and preparation (Aguilar, 2005).
According to Global Online ACNielsen Consumer Survey (2006), beyond
convenience as their reason, one third cited that it is cheaper to purchase ready to eat
meals rather than buying all the ingredients and preparing from scratch. Same survey
found that 74% of consumers claimed that they didnt have enough money. The survey
was from a poll of 22,780 internet users in 41 markets from Europe, Asia Pacific, North
America to the Baltics.
Meanwhile, regional data for Southeast Asia shows that the Philippines has one
of the highest incidences of poverty, with 15.5 percent of its population living below $1 a
day (Global Call Action against Poverty, n.d.). Poor Filipinos survive eating instant
noodles, which cost P5.50 a pack (Clemente, 2005). Some people would even consume
more than one instant noodle brand daily (De Guzman, n.d.). Additionally, according to
Ligan (2007), some families cant afford to eat three meals a day while others may have
enough budget but make wrong diet choices. It has also been noted that some families
frequently eat instant food, fast food dishes or oily food, which dont promote good
In New York, consumers buy ready-made meals, liked the cooked food, because
there are quite a few people who dont have a chance to cook because they are busy
with work or they live alone (De J esus, n.d.). In Thailand (Food Navigator, 2001), most
consumers want to save and prefer to buy and keep instant foods for consumption in
case of emergencies. Similarly, according to Asian J ournal Online (2004), in a Philippine
survey, convenience, affordability and the increased incidence of working mothers have
made eating out, take-out and home deliveries more practical family choices than
cooking their own meals. Filipino food tastes good, but its a lot of work to make, and
you cant make it for just one or two people (De J esus, n.d.).
Most of the food products commonly taken by the marginalized sector of the
Philippine society, particularly those in the depressed area, like sardines, instant
noodles,, are now fortified with micronutrients and have the Sangkap Pinoy Seal)
label. SPS is the official certification issued by the Department of Health (DOH), through
the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD), that food products bearing the seal have been
fortified singly or a combination of the three basic micronutrients, namely Vitamin A, iron
and iodine ( News, 2005). From chips to instant noodles to chocolate drinks,
labels have included the term fortified (Veneracion, n.d.). In Belgium, France and
Germany during 2003, Knorr launched a new range of premium quality soups to address
consumers increasing concerts about nutrition (Unilever, 2003).
Aguilar, Filomeno V. J r (2005). Rice in the Filipino Diet and Culture. Retrieved J uly 16,
2007, from
ACNielsen Survey (2006). Retrieved J uly 16, 2007, from
Asian J ournal Online (2004). A Pinoy favorite gets exclusive treatment. Retrieved J uly
16, 2007, from
Clemente, Cherry B. (2005). The Filipino Youth and the Struggle for National Freedom
and Democracy: What is to be done? Retrieved J uly 16, 2007, from
De Guzman, J in Paul (n.d.). Sealed Meals. Retrieved J uly 16, 2007, from
De J esus, Fatima (n.d.). Savoring the Past and Present. Retrieved J uly 16, 2007, from
Food Navigator (2001). Consumer Demands New Flavours for Instant Food Market.
Retrieved J uly 16, 2007, from
Global Call Action against Poverty (n.d.). Retrieved J uly 16, 2007, from News (2005). Survey shows wider use of fortified foods in RP. Retrieved J uly 16,
2007, from
J oaquin, Nick (1970). A Heritage of Smallness. Retrieved J uly 18, 2007, from
Malapit, Hazel J ean (2007). The Filipino Sari-Sari Store. Retrieved J uly 18, 2007, from
Pabico, Aleckz (2006). Mini-size Me. Retrieved J uly 18, 2007, from
Unilever (2003). About Unilever. Retrieved J uly 16, 2003, from
Veneracion, Connie (n.d.) Fortified junk food, etc. Retrieved J uly 16, 2007, from