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Wonderfully Filipino: A nation filled with love

Wonderfully Filipino: A nation filled with love

“Don’t say Fili, sister. Say Pili. In Tagalog, ‘Pili’ means to choose. ‘Pino’ means fine. Pilipino equals ‘fine choice.”

? Jessica Hagedorn The Gangster of Love


The Philippines is an archipelago composed of 7,100 islands each island a unique haven of its own. By these standards the Philippines is a haven of many wild life flora and fauna and is rich in both mineral and agricultural resources.  The country acquired its beauty from nature; it is one of its definitive traits. Nature has always been a refuge for many Filipinos it is the primary source of comfort and amenities. The primary reason why the country has been conquered and fought over by other countries during the years is due to the natural treasures it possesses. It is endearingly termed as “Perlas ng Silanganan” which means “Pearl of the Orient”. Which is true for it is like a pearl hidden beneath the South Pacific Sea. A treasure coveted by many nations.

But its true beauty does not only rely on its natural resources but its people.  Filipinos are fascinating it is a trait that has been around since the dawn of time when the first explorers have discovered its lovely white sand shores.  Filipinos have a culture that encompasses half of the world; from the poetic Spaniards, to innovative Americans, to British royalties, Chinese Tycoons and even French artisans.  Our culture is a mixture of influences that have been brought to us by visitors from foreign lands and have been incorporated in our lives.

And yet despite all of these we still remain ourselves.  We are resilient and oftentimes stubborn in our faith and beliefs, we are fiercely loyal to our families, protecting and providing for them even from distant shores, we are compassionate in our understanding of the world. Although sometimes many people think that we are a nation that is filled with greed and corruption these are only trivial matters for there is not a single nation that is not greedy and corrupt.

We have our flaws, sometimes they are too painful to admit especially when it is broadcast around the world and yet we also have our virtues, this proves that we are but human; as human as God had intended us to be.  Some of our most notable traits is our hospitality. We Filipinos have a way of caring for others in such a way that we treat each other as family members.  Filipino children learn at an early age that people who are older than them are called, “Tita” (Auntie) or “Tito” (Uncle)  it is not only a sign for respect but of love and affection. Whenever there are guests in our household we always provide food and refreshments and even entertainment for them.  We are generous with our resources, especially to those who are in need.  And when calamity strikes, we display our acts of “bayanihan” or heroism, protecting and serving others needs.

Filipinos are genuinely talented artists, from boxing, singing, fashion and style, dancing, and most specially in cooking. We are making a mark on the world. It is always a point of pride to see our fellow countrymen flourishing in other countries, we maybe not as advanced or as rich as other countries and yet we continue to persevere and endure.  Filipino artists have brought glory and inspiration to every Filipino, even those who somehow reject their heritage can’t help but feel that twinge of pride whenever our country is exclaimed over the world.

As a Filipina, I am proud of my country’s achievements, even though I have lived away from my motherland for years I still have that burning Filipino pride in me. A pride that I showcase every time I cook and bake.  Despite being away from my native land I still retain the Filipino values that have been ingrained in me when I was younger and I strive to indoctrinate these values to my children, wanting them to embrace their Filipino heritage and hopefully when they grow older and have a family of their own they will pass these traits to their children.


“Genuine virtue consists of being charitable, loving one’s fellow men and being judicious in behavior, speech and deed.”

— Emilio Jacinto



Filipinos Love affair with Kakanin

“A thing that doesn’t change with time is a memory of younger days”

-Sheik (Legend of Zelda Ocarina of time)

Rice is a primary staple in the Filipino diet; it is part of our cultural identity that makes us unique. For us Filipinos rice is not a side dish served with savory dishes, it is center of our meals. In any celebration or feasts it is the rice that is the crowning glory, simply because we are not fully satisfied without eating rice.  We revere rice so much that it is not only served as an accompaniment to a hearty meal but through our tradition it has become a meal of its own.

Kakanin is a product of Filipinos love for rice. It is a food mostly made out of glutinous rice, sugar and coconut milk. It might sound simple and quite unappetizing however that is not the case. The simplicity of its ingredients is deceptive but the process and variation of this product is quite complex.  From these simple ingredients springs a myriad variety of “Kakanins” this proves the creativity of Filipino people to create extraordinary things from simple ingredients.

Our love for kakanin goes back even before the pre-colonial era where the Spanish had come to the Philippines to establish their government.  It can be concluded that it was during the time when the Philippines has a free flowing trade with its neighboring Asian countries that Kakanin flourished in the Filipino household. In the Filipinos there is a wide variety of Kakanin for each region has its own “specialty” and even then many households contain trade secrets of the art of making “Kakanin”  It is no wonder therefore that many Filipino people who have come to live in foreign countries have a longing for these native delicacies; because for a Filipino, “Kakanin” is not simply a dessert but it is the symbol for home, memories of childhood and of LOVE …






Chocolate and Vanilla: The Gods and Goddess of Flavor

“There are four basic food groups:  milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, and chocolate truffles.”

–       Anonymous

What is it about chocolate? That question alone has the same philosophical conundrum as the question, what is love? However unlike love, chocolate is much more potent.

Chocolate; The single word alone causes your mouth to water, eyes to sparkle in expectation, lips quivering with longing. What is it with chocolate that is so addicting that even those who are allergic to this sweet confection are tempted to cause themselves injury? Or those who wish to lose weight and live healthier are called back to sin, to bask into that sweet goodness?

Even its fragrance alone induces that warm, giddy feeling, a sensual scent that caresses the senses and brings to mind devilish promises of happiness.  The smell of chocolate fires up your imagination, filling you with longing of that bittersweet flavor, the earthy smell of love and desire. And once you give in to that sweet temptation you are transported into a state of pure unadulterated bliss that bite after bite after bite and leaves you with that warm, radiant afterglow , that lasts for hours.

For chocoholics, Chocolate is like a drug. A substance that induces such a state of euphoria that should be made illegal and yet by some miracle from God it isn’t.  A famous quote once said God has angels in heaven and gave chocolate to humans. Frankly if it was illegal then more people are bound to crave for it, after all. We humans have a penchant for the darkest pleasure in life.

For food enthusiasts like me, Chocolate is much more than a drug. It is the God of Flavor; A tall, dark, seductively handsome deity that turns any dessert into a work of pure magnificence. In the epicure world; Chocolate goes beyond just a simple flavor because it is the epitome of flavor which all pastry chefs pay tribute to.  Who could resists the dark confection of moist, warm, delectably soft pastry smothered with dark velvet filling? Or wonderfully plump and juicy strawberries covered with dark chocolate? Or even the simply pleasure of warm rich dark liquid that flows through your throat like ambrosia that is the lifeblood of the Gods?

Chocolate is a substance that is harvested from the Cacao Tree. Its origin dates back over 4000 years. The word “Cacao” is a Mayan word that means “Food of the Gods” it was highly prized and worshipped by the Aztecs that it was used as currency as well as a commodity.  It was revered so much by the Aztecs that even their Emperor Montezuma drank it fifty times a day for its aphrodisiac quality and is quoted in saying Xocolatl: “The divine drink, which builds up resistance and fights fatigue. A cup of this precious drink permits a man to walk for a whole day without food”

Truly nothing is comparable to that dark sweet substance that is chocolate. However if Chocolate is a God then Vanilla is a Goddess.

Vanilla is a flavor that is the complete opposite of chocolate and yet somehow they complement each other. While Chocolate can be likened to that of Mars, A strong, masculine flavor that attacks the senses with its fiery dark temptations. Vanilla is like Venus, a delicate and gentle substance that tickles the senses, its subtle presence creates an impeccable rhythm of flavors that swirl and dance in your mouth in perfect harmony.

Vanilla is a flavoring derived from orchids in the genus Vanilla planifolia native to Mexico. The name “vanilla” comes from the Spanish word “vainilla”, meaning “little pod”.   Its history like the chocolate is filled with passion, mystery, intrigued and piracy.   Two flavors that have the same love story. Their fates intertwined during the fifteenth century when the Totonaca Indians who cultivated the plant were conquered by the Aztecs. Since then they were inseparable.

Chocolate and vanilla are like Yin and Yang, Light and Dark, two flavors that blend perfectly like two sides of a same coin. Here at Five tables Chocolate and Vanilla is a staple in our cakes and native delicacies.  We used these to enhance our creations and give them depth and character.

From these two wonderful substances we are able to create delicacies that can be considered as Food for the Gods.

Philippine Delicacies: Five tables bringing “kakanin” and other Filipino treats to your tables

When it comes to desserts Filipinos are at par with the world for producing the most delectable delicacies ever created by man. Filipinos have a natural flair for food and almost everyone is capable of cooking from simple dishes to elaborate feasts, nothing beats homemade Filipino cooking. Why? Because we are capable of using simple and understated ingredients and turning them into gastronomical wonders that entices the taste buds and ignites the senses.

Kakanin is derived from two words coined together, kain which means ‘to eat’ and kanin which means ‘rice’.  These delicacies are made from glutinous rice, sugar, coconut milk and coconut shavings however the term applies to all delicacies made traditionally by Filipino people. These delicacies are usually prepared wrapped in banana leaves and steamed for hours to achieve that wonderfully enjoyable sweet sticky gooey consistency that is distinctively kakanin.

When I was younger I usually see women carrying big flat woven plates or bilao’s over their heads covered with banana leaves. And whenever I have the money or if my parents or grandparents are home I will coax for some money and head out to call one of those women to our house and unveil the variety of those tasty homemade delicacies of every shape, size and color. Those moments were a staple of Filipino culture that still exists until today.

Here at Five Tables we strive to emulate our traditional cooking culture by bringing it to the rest of the world.  It is our goal to raise the prestige of our heritage and leave a permanent mark upon the world of cooking. We accept orders via online application and we also offer made to order services that deliver quality Filipino delicacies, cakes and pastries at your dining room table.

Each delicacy is meticulously prepared by our seasoned kitchen wonders and is made with the choicest ingredients. We offer a wide variety of Kakanin and Filipino Delicacies that are sure to please and delight your taste buds.


These are a classic Filipino favorite because of its bright orange color and its delightfully sweet flavor. This delicacy is made up of brown sugar, rice flour and achuete.  These are made to look like cute little miniature pies and are served with grated coconut shavings on top.


Another Filipino favorite that is the perfect pair for Kutsinta, they resemble white miniature muffins served with melted cheese and salted egg on top. It is delightfully sweet and savory at the same time and is a popular side dish to Dinuguan; a classic Filipino dish made up of pigs blood, meat and intestines (not as tasty as it sounds but it’s actually heavenly to eat)


Another traditional Filipino dessert and actually a very cute name altogether pichi-pichi are made with grated cassava (kamoteng kahoy) or cassava flour, water and sugar. The mixture is steamed, cooled then cut into pieces that are rolled in niyog (grated coconut).  This delicacy is usually served as merienda (afternoon snack) and is great fun at parties.

Sapin – Sapin

This is a very colorful delicacy that is usually composed in three or more layers of different colors and flavors. This Kakanin has a smooth texture similar to puddings.  It is made up of galapong (glutinous powdered rice) coconut milk, sugar, and condensed milk it also incorporates a variety of flavors like ube, jackfruit and cheese.


Palitaw or Dila Dila is a sweet flat rice cake made out of pounded glutinous rice, coconut milk, sugar, sesame seeds and grated coconut shavings. This delicacy is very fun to cook as it dipped in boiling water which then floats upwards to indicate that it is already cooked (this gives it its name palitaw which means “to float”)  then it is rolled into sesame seeds and grated coconut  with sugar, served almost at anytime and at any event.


This is a traditional Filipino sweet rather than a kakanin. Espasol is like a rather healthier version of a granola bar as it is made with fresh coconut milk, sweetened young coconut and glutinous rice flour. It is typically rolled into cylindrical logs or it can be served in any shapes.  This sweet delicacy is absolutely satisfying and can be eaten plainly or with coffee and hot tea.


This is a special holiday dessert that is usually served at fiestas or at Christmas time. This dessert is also called as coconut pudding because it has the same consistency and texture. It is adapted from the traditional Spanish holiday dessert “manjar blanco” which means white delicacy; Maja Blanca is made primarily from coconut milk and cornstarch. We serve it with corn kernels which adds an extra oomph to this popular holiday treat.

Leche Flan

This dessert is a staple at every feast and celebration and usually it is the dessert that is most sought after and immediately consumed. And who can blame them? This dessert is Spanish in origin and is sometimes referred to as Filipino custard. We make this classic Filipino dessert with high quality free range eggs, condensed milk, vanilla extract, brown sugar and a little lemon zest.  The caramelized sugar on top is similar to crème brulee   but instead of being torched it is steamed into a stove. This dessert has a very creamy consistency that just melts in your mouth and feels like you’ve eaten a slice of heaven.


This Delicacy is made up of malagkit (sticky rice), brown sugar, coconut milk, coconut cream and fried coconut shavings.   It is warm, sticky, chewy and absolutely perfect as a snack or dessert paired with coffee or green tea. This dessert is served at weddings or fiestas and even at funeral wakes as a part of Filipino tradition.


Pandesal is as important as rice in the Filipino diet. It is called the bread of salt and is usually served at breakfast although it can be happily eaten at any time during the day as a plain fare or paired with any sort of filling.


This delicacy is another popular Filipino delicacy served and wrapped carefully inside banana leaves and steamed for hours to give it that sweet, sticky consistency. It is made out of glutinous rice mashed and enveloped in thick coconut milk. It can be eaten dipped in sugar or as it is, served with coffee or hot tea.


Bibingka is a popular Christmas treat that is served during “Simbang Gabi” (Midnight Mass) near the entrances of churches. This together with puto bung bong is the classic Filipino delicacy that is sorely missed by Filipinos living abroad.

Bibingka is a steamed rice cake made out of ground glutinous rice (galapong) , water, coconut milk  and  eggs. It is cooked on a clay pan that is lined with banana leaves to give it a aroma, then topped with salted egg slices and cheese.  This delicacy is best eaten warm and can be reheated in the oven and is best topped with butter and coconut shavings.

Puto bung bong

Much like the bibingka this delicacy is enjoyed during cold Christmas nights after the misa de galio (midnight mass) Puto Bumbong is made from soaked, ground glutinous rice called Pirurutong, which has a distinctly purple hue. It is poured into bumbong or bamboo tubes, and then steamed until cooked. It is topped w/ butter, fresh coconut shreds, & muscovado sugar (cane sugar) this delicacy is perfect for cold evenings served with coffee and tea.

These are only a few of our many products that we make in our kitchens, our goal is to recreate the Filipino experience for both Filipinos living in foreign countries and for those who wish to savor the unique indigenous culture of the Filipino heritage.

Coconut, The wonder nut: tree which gives all that is necessary for living

“He who plants a coconut tree plants food and drink, vessels and clothing, a home for himself and a heritage for his children”

– South Seas saying


“The coconut nut is a giant nut

If you eat too much, you’ll get very fat

Now, the coconut nut is a big, big nut

But it’s delicious nut is not a nut”


So goes the lyrics to the song Da coconut nut of the popular Filipino band Smoky Mountain.  The coconut is an extra-ordinary fruit that is part of the Filipino pride.

The Philippines is the world’s largest producer of coconuts, Filipino experts have concluded that the Philippine coconut variety arguably tastes the most delicious in the world.

This is due to our country’s unique geography as an archipelago which allows for the best growing conditions due to the natural wind patterns and sea currents that cross ventilate the 7,107 islands which then combined with an ideal tropical climate and suitable sandy soil to produce the world’s best-tasting fresh coconuts.

In the Philippines coconut trees are as common as pine trees in America, in its peak season; it is natural to see people climbing up the tree to procure the prized fruit 75 feet off the ground. Most homes in the country side have their own coconut tree in their backyards and come October families gather around to enjoy the delicious fruit.  As a child it was a fascinating to watch the skilled way the coconut vendors peel and cut the coconut to extract the wonderfully refreshing juice from within.

The coconut has over a hundred different purposes, from its delectable fruit to its sturdy lumber and even its leaves. Nothing is ever wasted when it comes to the coconut tree which is why it is most commonly referred to as the tree of life.

However the most remarkable aspect of the coconut is its role in food.  The coconut fruit with its sweet savory white meat, its creamy milk and thirst-quenching water has been used in Filipino cuisines and is a staple in the Filipino diet.

My deepest love for coconut can be explained in one word, Kakanin (rice cakes). Kakanin is a dessert that is named after its main ingredient which is “Kanin” (cooked rice) and its purpose, Kain (to Eat) Uniquely Filipino, these are sweet delicacies or sometimes desserts made from rice, sweet rice or root vegetables that are slow cooked and made with coconut or coconut milk.

Kakanin is an integral part of the Filipino culture, in fact almost every province in the Philippines have their own special kakanin and often they dedicate a festival to it.  Kakanin is made in a variety of ways often involving long hours of meticulous preparation.  Making even the simplest kakanin which is the “Suman” takes about a whole day, but as with any good food, it is all worth it, once you have tasted the sweet, sticky, chewy delicacy best accompanied with coffee.

We use coconut for a variety of kakanin and cakes we make. Our coconut infused kakanin includes:

 Kutsinta: a sticky-chewy brown rice cake that incorporates cassava and uses lye water topped with grated coconut. It is a popular delicacy for children because of its bright orange hue and the generous serving of coconut on top.

Pichi-pichi: a filling merienda staple, made with grated cassava that has a soft gelatin like quality. It is covered in coconut curd in the same way as donuts are rolled in sugar and other toppings. The coconut compliments the softness of the kakanin by giving it a crunchy, chewy texture.

Palitaw:  is made out of sticky rice is washed, soaked, then ground, then scoops of the resulting batter are dropped into boiling water.  The way it rises to the surface is what gave it its name “litaw” which means to float. Similar to pichi-pichi the soft, flat discs are rolled into coconut shavings and sugar.

Bibingka: a Popular delicacy served during Misa de Gallo (Midnight Mass), which Catholic devotees attend, from December 16 to 24.  Bibingka is a type of pudding, baked in clay ovens, in our kitchen, the batter is made out of coconut milk which makes it creamier and healthier than regular milk. This fluffy cake served with melted cheese, salted egg and coconut shavings is reminiscent of cold winter nights spent with family and friends while paying homage to God.

Coconut with its variety of uses truly is the most outstanding of all the trees, no wonder people write songs about this life giving tree, and yes, it doesn’t actually make you fat.

“It’s the coco fruit (it’s the coco fruit)

Of the coco tree (of the coco tree)

From the coco palm family”






Pan De Sal: the bread of salt, a treasured Filipino tradition

“Bread is the king of the table and all else is merely the court that surrounds the king. The countries are the soup, the meat, the vegetables, the salad but bread is king.”
-Louis Bromfield, American novelist

Every morning at the crack of dawn, when the streets are bare and the atmosphere is misty, there exist familiar tunes that always make people get up out of bed and into the cold early dawn. It is something that people always look forward to in the morning, A Filipino tradition that has been around since the time of the Spaniards and is carried on until today by men wearing plain white shirts, riding atop a bicycle, honking their horns and shouting to the top of their booming voices. You might think that people will be angry at this early morning intrusion but on the contrary it is as welcome as the sunrise.  You see this men carry with them a delightful treat that Filipinos have loved for over five hundred years.  The Pandesal: the national bread of the Filipino people.

Pan de sal which means “bread of salt” in Spanish is a Filipino comfort food that is best eaten with a cup of coffee, butter, cheese, tuna, ham, egg, bacon, dried fish, jam, peanut butter, nutella  or… just about anything actually.   It’s soft, fluffy texture, rich aroma, crunchy crust and sweet taste is an absolute wonder to the taste buds.

In the Philippines, Pan De Sal is always available at any given point of the day; In fact there are stores that are open for 24 hours with the sole purpose of selling this beloved bread.  Sadly this Filipino staple is rare in foreign countries which are one of the things that many Filipinos miss. Pandesal is not just delicious bread but it is a symbol for the simpler times in life, a time when families are united at the breakfast table, eating and sharing stories together, a time when Filipinos can enjoy life in the Philippines without having to worry about how to feed their families.

Pandesal is something that is close to my heart, because it reminds me of the time when my late father would come home from work late at night, with a smile on his face and the familiar bag of pandesal in his hands. Even until now the scent of the warm bread reminds me of him.

Which is why I long to bring this Filipino tradition and introduce it here in Australia so that Filipinos can have a taste of home with them. Some stores sell pandesal but I feel that the taste is completely different, maybe because they’re not made by familiar hands whatever the reason is, as a true blooded Filipina, I feel it’s my duty to create these wonderfully soft bread.

“Oh, God above, if heaven has a taste it must be an egg with butter and salt, and after the egg is there anything in the world lovelier than fresh warm bread and a mug of sweet golden tea?”

–       Frank McCourt, ‘Angela’s Ashes’

Five tables: My culinary journey through the world of Cakes, Desserts and other Filipino delicacies.

Hi, I’m Ces Jellicoe I’m a mother, a wife, a business woman and an absolute kitchen wonder (at least that’s what my friends tell me) and I am here now to tell you about my new obsession in life: “Kakanin” (rice cakes) and Cakes! And I hope that you’ll be with me as I make this journey as I aim to bridge two cultures with my love for food.

Food is a sensory experience; it engulfs the senses the same way as fire consumes wood.  There is such an inherent beauty in food; the taste, the smell, the feel and the sound is all unique. Food brings families together, it brings a smile to someone’s face, it nourishes the body and also the soul, truly food is magical! Not to mention delicious!

The reason I started this business is because I want to give joy and pleasure to Filipinos who are longing for a taste of home and to those who are longing for the taste of something unique. This idea has been stirring in my mind like cake batter for over two years.  I started experimenting with different recipes for kakanin (rice cakes) and cakes in our kitchen. My first taste-tasters were my family and friends who were only too happy to give their opinion about my excellent cooking (probably because the food was free).  Their encouragement along with my faith in God had become my inspiration to pursue my passion for cooking.

Ever since I was a child I had always loved food, most especially desserts! I can still remember the very first cake I had ever tasted…

It was on the eve right before my fifth birthday, my parents had bought the cake from Goldilocks, it was mocha flavored filled with all the decoration and frosting that a child could ever want!  I never stopped sneaking into the kitchen to stare at it inside the fridge, admiring its frosting and the sweet chocolate-coffee scent, and when nobody was looking I dipped my finger at it and took my first taste of the sweet, creamy buttery mocha frosting. It took all of my willpower not to eat it right then and there (because I was such a good child back then).

I remembered how anxious I was on my birthday; I waited impatiently while they were still singing the happy birthday song, that’s how badly I wanted to eat that cake. And when the time finally came, and I was given my first slice of that spongy, mocha filled heaven, the first bite made me crave for another, and another until I wound up eating nothing but cake for the entire day! And ever since that day my tastes for cake had never waned, and when it comes to a slice of cake, my heart will always have a soft spot for the creamy mocha goodness.

The first cake I baked was for my boyfriend (now my husband), it was a luscious chocolate cake filled with dark chocolate ganache, the perfect gift for our first valentine’s day! I was not an expert at decorating cakes but I made sure that every mistake I made was filled with love. And even until now with years of experience I make sure that I give my creations my full attention, to impart to them the same level of love as I had given into making that cake.

My background in business studies and customer service as well as my experience as an eBay seller for seven years had inspired me to think about having my own business. With my penchant for food and my passion for business, I started to wonder, if I could use my inherent abilities to start a business that would focus on creating food that will suit every discriminating tastes?

After two years of quite reflection and much food experimentation, the idea for five tables was born one faithful day, while I was on a lunch date with my close friend Ye. We were having a casual conversation about my plans for starting my own little quaint café, with just “five tables” to start with and that was when my dream had finally come into reality.

Five tables also have another meaning, it symbolizes the five basic sense of the human body, which involves sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste, and these five senses are heightened in the presence of good food.

Five tables also symbolizes the five elements; earth; the bearer of the fruits, fire; the element that transforms, metal; the vessel for the ingredients, water; the purifying element, and wood; what my spatula is made off (kidding) the element that feeds fire.

Why do I choose Filipino Food?

I also make various cakes and desserts, which consumes half of my time but I have always had profound respect for the culture and tradition of my country which is why I wanted to create something which symbolizes the Filipino spirit. Filipinos have a deep love for food, our culture is embedded with different kinds of customs that have come from every part of the world. For us food is special and is treated with respect, and much of our pastime is dedicated on talking about food.

My heart has always been gravitated towards making Kakanin, Cakes and Desserts, truth be told I has conceived my two kids while eating bibingka, a Filipino delicacy served during the Christmas time, made out of pure ground rice (galapong) infused with rich coconut milk, topped with salted egg and creamy white cheese.

So come join me towards this savory adventure, where you can engulf your senses with our highly delectable cakes and pastries that will surely tickle your taste buds and satisfy your craving for Filipino food.

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