05 Jun2007


Pongko pongko or pungko pungko literally translated means to sit around on a simple stool. The term, for Cebuanos at least, suggests hanging out, shooting the breeze, and usually having nothing better to do. Apparently, it now also applies to a particular of street dining as in sitting down on a basic wooden bench on a sidewalk to have lunch, merienda or dinner. In several parts of the city, these makeshift sidewalk restaurants spring up pong2during the day and while they do a brisk lunch time turnover, the late afternoon or early evening business is probably much stronger… A customer walks up, sits on a simple wooden bench facing an array of typically deep fried viands such as lumpia (spring rolls), ukoy (shrimp fritters), tuyo (dried fish), hotdogs (?!), fried fish, etc. He or she typically purchases one or two puso or rice cooked in young coconut leaves and a viand or two, and in a plastic bowl covered with a clear plastic bag, eats his or her meal with one’s hand in a plastic bag. Vinegar with chili is free. Cost of a typical meal? One viand at PHP6-8 pesos each, one or two puso at PHP2 each and a softdrink at say PHP6 a bottle. It amazes me that for PHP10 or about 20 U.S. cents one can get a meal without the hassle of cooking or cleaning up. Of course the vast majority of viands are deep fried and thus are able to sit around for hours with minimal risk of food poisoning. I must say that the overall hygeine of this sort of set-up is enough to make many a squeamish mother shiver… but you have to admit, it is economical! One huge downside for me, however is the amount of non-biodegradeable plastic that becomes garbage as a result. Considering my previous post on a sandwich at Balthazar costing roughly $8.00, one could feed 40 folks to a Cebu pongko pongko meal instead…



  1. Peter J. says:

    Hey MM, I’m an avid fan of your site, but I seldom send comments or suggestions to you. Let me give you a quick background of myself, I’m a filipino immigrant here in Seattle, WA. I’m about to graduate from culinary arts school this summer quarter with A.A.S in restaurant operation (Check our website http://www.chefschool.com). first, let me say thank you for sharing your desire/passion for food through this site. this is so much helpful for a foodie guy like me. Now, may I ask you a favor, I’m just wondering if you can hook me up to any decent pinoy food resto there in eastwood area to do my intern? (just for few months) after which, my plan is to put up my own filipino cuisine resto here in Seattle. As it is sad to say that our own food is way behind when it comes to acknowledgement in the western world compare to any other cuisines of asian countries and I wanna change it with a help from foodie pinoys’ like you guys (I wanna find out whats wrong with our foor why would this people would not eat it). thank you. hope to be in P.I. this September.

    Jun 5, 2007 | 8:03 am


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  3. bluegirl says:

    If you ate there, then I admire your guts. I don’t think I can compromise hygiene for a cheap meal.

    Jun 5, 2007 | 8:04 am

  4. bluegirl says:

    Peter J, I have a theory that attention to food could be tied in to the economic progress of a country. Look at Thailand.. the attention to their food really took after after the country itself started progressing and was being labeled as an emerging tiger economy.

    I think as a country progresses the changes and developments get reported in the news. People then become interested in learning more about the country. This covers not only the economic development but includes the culture and food.

    Just my 2 cents worth.

    Good luck in your venture.

    Jun 5, 2007 | 8:11 am

  5. lee says:

    i’m a street food gourmet. A friend told me that they also call these eating places Mcdo which is short for “Mak duko duko.” Duko is the Visayan equivalent of the tagalog “yuko” which means “to bend.” Aside from pungko pungko you also do duko duko while eating your puso.

    Jun 5, 2007 | 8:44 am

  6. Nikita says:

    oh my.. that beats the 5 peso pancit in lucban! hehe ü

    Jun 5, 2007 | 9:27 am

  7. Sister says:

    “Pungko” refers specifically to squatting on one’s haunches.
    I did notice the lines of benches at the corner of the circle up at Lahug, towards the Camp, figured it was a street food operation. Part of the problem with popularizing Filipino food is that it is so varied as to have no quickly discernable specific flavours or intrinsic appeal. Maybe because it really is fusion, thanks to the history of the country.

    Jun 5, 2007 | 11:22 am

  8. TOPING says:

    MM, puso is actually rice cooked in young coconut leaves. And you can remove the question mark after hotdogs–they have that too, albeit the kind which I suspect is probably 90% flour, hehe…

    lee, McDo is right. Non-Cebuano speakers don’t get the pun, of course.

    Jun 5, 2007 | 12:19 pm

  9. Marketman says:

    TOPING, you are of course totally right…I am typing faster than I am thinking. Have changed that… I did a post on puso before, as well for those who are interested. Thanks.

    Jun 5, 2007 | 1:07 pm

  10. The Steak Lady says:

    I noticed this row of street food vendors lining up across Jy Square in Lahug, i think even some of them relocated from the popular Larsian BBQ in Fuente. My brother loves patronizing this street food and you’re so right.. much to the dismay of my squeamish mother, hahaha. Good food though =)

    Jun 5, 2007 | 8:01 pm

  11. peanut says:

    MM I come from Ormoc City and last time we went home we ate at a Magdoc place.It was lots of fun and brought back fond memories.For those worried about the hygiene,well lets just say we survived a few meals there without any bad consequences.We have been living here in Canberra for the last 20 years but every chance we have we try to eat where we used to eat while we were still living back home.
    And I can tell you that the food we used to have still tastes as delicious as before.

    Jun 5, 2007 | 8:26 pm

  12. richbeat says:

    I stumbled into your site by accident as i was searching for chicken inasal recipes. Was a little skeptical about the star margarine but was blown away by the outcome. Read through most of what was written/posted and happy to say, i’m quite hooked on your site. My dad is cebuano and although i grew up in manila, i spent my summers in cebu. Your posts on Mcdo and puto brought back fond memories.

    Jun 6, 2007 | 7:21 am

  13. chinkysue says:

    ohhh i really love ur site marketmanila.i always follow and excited what´s coming up next. by reading ur Pongko2 blog,i miss Cebu more.yeah,i survived eating in Pongko2 for 4 years back in college days together with my siblings,roommates,classmates and friends.

    Jun 7, 2007 | 6:01 am

  14. Boy says:

    I think this is the pongko pongko at Lahug. This is still in operation until now. Others have been relocated, I think you should try the ginabot the next time you visit another pngko pongko.

    Jan 12, 2009 | 4:23 pm

  15. Tristan says:

    @Boy: you’re right, that’s the one in Lahug. But where i go to is the one at Belvic. And yeah, ginabot’s the best.

    May 1, 2009 | 11:58 am


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