SPAM and the Philippines

December 7, 2009

World War II made a huge impact on the lives of the Filipino people, most specifically on the food. Because the Japanese took over the Philippine islands, the Filipino people were constantly running away from them, which meant they had to leave their crops and animals they couldn’t bring with them behind. Since American soldiers were present basically everywhere around the Philippine islands, their food rations were the only way they could get food to survive. These soldiers would then give their surplus items to the Filipino people. One of the key products that came from these rations was SPAM, which nowadays is considered a main food dish that Filipinos treasure.

SPAM’s efficient storage in cans made it an easy and effective way to get meat to the soldiers on the front lines.  Soldiers basically had to eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner since there was hardly any other food available.  These soldiers also began to joke that SPAM was simply “ham that didn’t pass its physical” or “meatloaf without basic training.”

The Philippines is actually one of three places that are known for their love of SPAM, the other two being Hawaii (of course!) and Guam. A surprising fact I learned about SPAM was that if you look at the word you see the two countries that took over the Philippines, SP for Spain and AM for America. Coincidence? That’s up to you to decide.  Today, SPAM is still strong as ever and is even part of the “silog” family! Spamsilog, which is slices of SPAM with garlic fried rice and a sunny side up egg is normally eaten for breakfast but can be eaten at any time. So next time you eat SPAM remember that it plays a major part in the history of the Philippines.

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