06 May2010


A ran across a lone vendor out of several hundred vendors in several markets in Bohol that had a basket of dried whale meat for sale. Now before we all get judgmental about this, first let’s talk about some context. In several parts of the world, whale meat was considered for hundreds of years, as a source of protein and nutrition. Whale meat was plentiful at one point in time, preserved nicely in salt, high in fat, etc. So from the Atlantic to the Pacific, North to South, there is a history of consuming whale meat. Such is the case in certain parts of the Visayas as well. So yes, it now seems reprehensible to consume such a large yet gentle creature, but it isn’t as outrageous when you have some context from which to view this issue…


Dried and salted whale meat is apparently grilled (not sure if it is re-hydrated first) and chewed on like jerky. It can also be prepared by other dishes but fewer and fewer folks seem to know how. Hopefully, as that culinary knowledge dies out, then there won’t be any demand for the whale meat. From the little marine understanding that I have, apparently the strait between Bohol and Cebu is deep, dark and cool and filled with lots of whale food (how come we don’t feel as bad for the bijillions of plankton or little shrimp that whales inhale like Marketman downs Diet Cokes?), hence their passing through the area on their annual migration runs.


I have a question mark on the local name “sanga” for the whale meat, as I had an old post with Manta and Stingray meat (also dried) where they were locally referred to as “Sanga & Pagi” so frankly now I am a bit concerned that at least one of the names is wrong. Or hopefully, this isn’t actually whale meat. Have any thoughts that would be helpful?



  1. bearhug0127 says:

    I remember eating “pagi” when I was young and I recall it was “stingray”. We call stingray in Iloilo “pagi” .

    May 6, 2010 | 4:53 pm


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  3. kitchen says:


    May 6, 2010 | 6:49 pm

  4. scramoodles says:

    This is probably the first time I’ve ever seen dried whale meat from the Philippines. This is intriguing and like you, I’d try to find out more too. Will give you an update. Thanks for this MM!

    May 6, 2010 | 6:59 pm

  5. Connie C says:

    The whale and other marine life migration shows just how all of us can be affected by marine accidents such as the BP giant oil spill from off shore drilling here in the US. Now we have to pay attention to what we are consuming as marine life ingests the oil. It will only be a matter of time before we find out that the catch off Philippine waters is also affected.

    Much as I have lessened my shrimp consumption, I better stock up on dried shrimps….a bargain in the dried fish section at the market in Puerto Princesa during my upcoming visit.

    If only conservation efforts of threatened species also take into consideration other sources of livelihood for the fisherfolk and others. For the poor, the catch is a survival issue….as the only source of income for many.

    May 6, 2010 | 7:13 pm

  6. atbnorge says:

    I usually run into whale meat at the OBS! Supermarket in Sandefjord, a former whaling city. But it’s too expensive and I am not so keen on eating it. I would rather hear my wedding sponsor Bernt tell stories of his whaling adventures in the Arctic Ocean.
    When I saw pictures and videos of the pilot whale killing in the Faroe Islands, I didn’t think any judgmental thoughts about it. It’s a tradition for them and to think that they only have three months of sunlight, where would they get sustenance?…The thing that concerns me is that some species are protected in one country but not in another. So, what’s the use in formulating laws to protect such animals?

    May 6, 2010 | 7:34 pm

  7. wanderingfoodie says:

    stingray is the pagi in bohol particularly in our town. the tale of that fish used to be a paddle when somebody misbehaves in the family. thank God, i haven’t tried that punishment.

    MM, have you tried eating “kinilaw na sanga”? it was one of the most unforgettable dish my tatay made for us. lami kaajo! since my tatay died, i never eaten “kinilaw na sanga” and the bulad sanga.

    May 6, 2010 | 9:23 pm

  8. Fred says:

    What whale species is “sanga” from? I remember tasting dried dolphin meat when I was in Bohol several years back. didn’t like it that much because of the texture. It reminded me of gritty dried fish.

    May 6, 2010 | 10:00 pm

  9. Footloose says:

    Hey ConnieC, you’ve got to really weigh your options. The exorbitant charges they slap on excess baggage nowadays might very well wipe out whatever advantage you gain in bringing with you dried shrimps from Puerto Princesa. They are hibe you know.

    May 6, 2010 | 10:58 pm

  10. FestiveRebel says:

    @ Footloose, rofl – Right, they are “hibe” hahahaha. This is another reason why i keep coming back to this site… such witty bloggers!

    May 7, 2010 | 12:41 am

  11. det says:

    MM,sanga is not whale meat but manta ray the cousin of sting ray.I should know this because I grew up eating the meat .Pero ngayon they can`t hunt the manta rays any time,may close and open season na for hunting.THe meat especially if not dried well has very strong odor. we cook it also with coconut milk,called nilabog

    May 7, 2010 | 3:20 am

  12. Lilibeth says:

    Is it legal to sell whale meat in the Philippines? It’s illegal here in the US, in fact, just recently, a restaurant in nearby Santa Monica, CA and its head chef were charged for serving whale meat. The owners and the chef face up to a year in prison and $200,000 in fines for serving an endangered specie.

    May 7, 2010 | 4:38 am

  13. atbnorge says:

    @footlose, lol, hibe, really!

    May 7, 2010 | 4:58 am

  14. Footloose says:

    I do not know where I got this notion that Eskimo/Inuit kids get whale blubber as treats and (not quite related) the grown ups kiss by rubbing their noses. Looked it up and surely enough Wiki says whale blubber tastes like arrowroot biscuits. Silent on nose rubbing though, probably apocryphal if not taboo.

    May 7, 2010 | 5:36 am

  15. Connie C says:

    Hi Footloose. Thanks for the reminder. They’re not so hibe.

    I don’t have much in my luggage as I leave my summer stuff there. I will probably load up on tablea as well among other things. The hibe I get are small ones and not too dry as the ones you get here , good add on for flavor for ginisa dishes, ampalaya, monggo, pancit sotanghon, etc. and you don’t need to use much. Because shrimps are scavengers, and due to the environmental effects of cultured shrimp farms, my environmentalist son keeps reminding me to keep shrimp consumption to a minimum.

    May 7, 2010 | 8:25 am

  16. bearhug0127 says:

    @Footloose – you just made my day — am laughing out loud!

    May 7, 2010 | 3:48 pm

  17. Christina says:

    How much was this per kilo? I’m interested to try it and see if my dog would eat it.

    May 7, 2010 | 9:03 pm

  18. Nadia says:

    May 7, 2010 | 10:30 pm

  19. jumper says:

    @Christina, no dont feed your dog that. Your dog will loose all its fur and suffer.

    May 8, 2010 | 9:44 am

  20. gorgeous witch says:

    no judgement please, but from where I came from – we do eat pagi and pating… but we take off the skin and just cook the boiled and shredded white meat with coconut milk and malunggay leaves…. it’s known that you’ll get the best “kinunot” in Donsol than in any other part of Bicol. The joke is that sharks are actually scared of the fisherman from Donsol especially when the sharks see the malunggay leaves. :)

    May 8, 2010 | 12:05 pm

  21. hoz says:

    In 2008 we kayaked to Pamilacan Island (the residents historically were whalers) from Dumaluan Beach on Panglao and saw their “Whale Catchers Museum” , which is only a small hut with a few pictures and displays of the catchers tools. I don’t envy them their endeavors.

    Though they had harpoons first the catcher would jump into the ocean with a sharp steel hook and line. The hook was about a foot long and 8-10″ wide. He would then impale the whale BY HAND with this hook and the fight was on.

    Whaling around Pamilacan and I’m pretty sure throughout the Philippines is now banned. I’m not sure where the vendor MM saw on Bohol was getting his meat. The residents of Pamilacan have been trying to develop a whale watching tourist industry with mixed results. Though most all are fishermen not everyone can run a tourist business.

    May 9, 2010 | 8:42 pm

  22. hoz says:

    And BTW, the Inuit (the name “Eskimo” is considered pejorative and offensive among most natives of the far north) still do rub noses as a greeting. It’s called kunik and is not just rubbing noses but is accompanied by sniffing in your partners smell.

    May 9, 2010 | 8:49 pm

  23. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    I was at a relatives house for lunch today and the main dish was Pagi (stingray) curry. According to the host, the Pagi was caught by fishermen (by hook) between the island of Cebu and Leyte. I have to say the meat was soft and delicious.

    May 10, 2010 | 7:12 pm

  24. Candygirl says:

    I’m sure this would interest my friend who’s doing research on the history of whaling in the Philippines.

    May 11, 2010 | 6:51 pm

  25. KUMAGCOW says:

    okay, i got lost in eskimos, stingrays, whales and sharks… very hebi to understand… LOL

    Lotsa issues on this kind of meat… good thing I don’t eat it!

    May 13, 2010 | 7:03 am

  26. jon mikel says:

    yup ,,definitely a whale meat,, since blue whale some blue whales can pass in the philippine water following the migration pattern i ve seen this kind of meat preservation in hawaii, guam , saipan

    May 14, 2010 | 4:48 am

  27. Wolveric says:

    Interesting, thanks for the info…. I wonder what the whale meat taste like because i know it’s not a fish but a mammal…. I must try this one day…. But some say it’s not whale’s meat but a kind of ray’s meat, i’m not sure which one because pagi is one of my favorite fish the’re good eating fish. Fantastic flavor….

    Oct 30, 2010 | 12:29 pm


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