Be RICEponsible All rice!

 By Rey Anthony Chiu | 11:42 AM November 17, 2023

Take it with a grain of salt, or masticate on it. Boholanos are generally rice eaters. 

Whether it is in eating or in living, there is so much of the Boholano culture that is soaked in the rich rice culture. 

This can make any rice production or consumption campaign here, tricky. 

As if feeding 1.3 million Boholanos amidst problems of shrinking rice fields, fewer farmers and climate change challenges, opting for tourist to come adds up to the already plenty of mouths to feed. 

And as sectors in agriculture broadcast the campaign message, “Be RICEponsible” to cut on food wastage, it is also dipping the campaign into the culture that dries the fight out of the most avid of advocate. 

Here are some of the popular Boholano rice-related expressions that could prove our point. 


The Dagohoy rebellion left something worthwhile for Bohol: rice farming for food. For sympathizing in the revolution, insurectos who fought with Dagohoy received tracks of land which they wrestled out from the Spanish missionaries who earlier forcibly took these from the natives.  

After the rebellion, these rebels settled in the vast fields of central Bohol, producing palay, but then, no matter how much they abhor the Spanish priests, also believe that as long as they can be self-sufficient, then there is nothing much more to do. 

This accounts to why most Boholanos, even if they own tracks of land, do not overproduce, considering the belief that after planting what is enough for the year, anything in excess can stale and would not be good.  


For several Boholanos, if they have rice, then there is few to worry. 

Known to be frugal in almost everything, Boholanos can be a bit stingy as to food. Getting tinola nga isda is your perfect example of that. With tinola, you can have fish and soup, which could be counted as another dish. 

Try the sinaksakan. 

Sinaksakan, also called sinabakongan, is basically boiled rice cooked with crop extenders like sweet potato, ube, gabi, apale, wild ube, green cooking bananas, cassava. The extenders fill the pot when cooked, saving the rice enough for another meal.

Or simply, having boiled rice sometimes, even when with a pinch of salt, is already enough. The protein which the red rice can give, indeed is all that the farmers who toil day-in and out in the field needs. So what do you ask for more? 


Frugality among Boholanos can also be a thing, but then, when it comes to caring pets, this race can be hail-worthy. 

A Boholano home will always have a pet: a pig for slaughter, a few chicken, a dog and a cat. At least. 

And, many would consider these pets part of the family, christening them with fond names and endearments like these are really family. So they occupy a certain space in the house, or under the house, and would get a share of the day’s cooking. 

No matter how poor a family is, an allocation for the cat is assured, even when it would mean scraps from the table. 

If you happen to be hosted by a Boholano where food is available, many consider it good manners to leave some for the cat. GMRC experts call this etiquette. Or for the cat. 


For a meal of only boiled rice to work, it has to be the best of harvest. 

Mimis is that newly polished glistening robust grain of red, white, brown or black rice, which still has its heaping serving of starchy sweet taste to the Boholano palate. 

For those who are discriminating, the mimis is only that pearly white grains cooked in a boil or steamed. Not anything else. 

No matter how much red, brown or black rice is available in the markets, expect the regular guys to pick the white. 

This also means one has to chew and savor the savor the goodness of freshly polished rice, something that could be lost when the harvest is industrially milled. 

That kind of rice, to be truly mimis, has to be pounded in wooden mortal and pestle, winnowed just right to retain the starch and the nutrients that can be discarded during milling. 

With everything there, would there be anything more to ask indeed?


That penchant for demanding not much is well documented in this Boholano expression. 

Roughly translated to: “there may not be enough viand, but for rice, they give extra servings.

As for social gatherings: birthdays, weddings, christening, burial, Boholanos are known to be lavish. With rice. 

 it was said that a guy, who was on his way home from a social event met people yet on their way.

A friend asked: kmusta ang kaon? 

He accordingly said, aw, wala gyud hinuon kaayoy daghang sud-an, pero, luto, dugangdugang. 


When in Bohol, how full can a full person be? 

Another Boholano standard for fullness, at least in food, is this: until you can crush a flea  in your tightly full stomach, you are not full yet. 

This puts in the fore a new kind of fullness, one that can go very visual as to the point of belt-snapping full. 

That is why, one can still hear expressions here like “hugot og busog,” when one eats boiled or coconut-milk cooked mongo, and root crop alternatives for the staple: cassava, sweet yam (camote), taro (palaw), gabi, apale, to the wild ‘boot,’  and even boiled banana variety of the sab’a. 


If grandmothers have a way to get to their grandkids, one of the most unforgettable could be the permanent fear they can instill on the threat of hell. 

It would always start with making sure you eat everything your parents put in your plate. And it means everything, to the fullest stretch. 

First, they would tell you what a day in hell would be. A day on earth is a year in hell. 

And then, they expertly transpose the situation to the rice on a child’s plate. 

Any grain left unconsumed, would be counted and that would be converted into hell days. Horrible. 


Which kind of explains why kids are forced by circumstance to over-eat. And if only to please the eagle-eyed lola, would be obliged to pick every grain that falls on the table, or the one left on the plate. 

If one asks where Boholanos pick the habit of over-eating rice, chances are, it is a carryover from these ages. 

And if by any chance, you also grew into this culture and you wipe your plate clean after you eat every morsel, this is the graphic way of showing how semi-blind people consume what is on their plate: lick the plate empty. Etiquette and all. Even the ones for the cat. 


Roughly translated, it says “you do not have to eat much, you would not need much energy in pulling the sheets to cover you from the cold.” 

So when a standard household in Bohol cooks 2 cups of rice per meal, expect this family to cook half of that for dinner. 

And the family gathers at 6:00 for the oracion (the Angelus), and then it’s dinner time. 

Kids have to be home from play by then, so they can join the prayers, and then, dinner. Anybody who could not get there on time, would find no more food, he would have to go to bed on an empty stomach. 

And then the Lolas would be talking of hungry spirits detaching itself from the body to seek for food in the kitchen. When by any chance, it could find food, but could be accidentally trapped in the pots, it could be terrifying to find a soot-blackened soul going back into the body. 

Over-all, whether it’s a campaign to produce more, or to eat less, dictates of culture matter in the people’s lives that and decisions. 

Here becoming riceponsible can be just as casually be taken with a grain of salt, or chewed well for the province to fully suck the nutrients out of this campaign.

Now, shall those with the campaign stand up and all Rice! (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)

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