Is Rice the Staple Food in the Philippines?

Eduardo Joven
Eduardo Joven | Nov 18, 2015

Suman sa Ibos is always present when it's merienda time, but more importantly, it clearly shows the creativity Filipinos have shown in using our primary food staple: rice. The food staple is very popular and culturally significant across the entire country, and is primarily grown in the vast plains of Luzon. In fact, the Philippines has been eating rice for so long, that one of our oldest rice farms, the Banaue Rice Terraces, has been producing rice since ancient times.

Suman is a dish that exemplifies how we can turn a dish usually associated with savory ulam into a sweet snack, perfect as a dessert! Though the wrapping of suman is difficult and the preparation laborious, it is, like any art form, perfected over time. Regardless, here’s how to cook the tasty Suman sa Ibos Recipe:


  • 3 cups malagkit rice
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups thick coconut milk
  • 1 cup water


  • Wash and soak the malagkit (glutinous rice) in water for an hour or until the grains are swollen then drain.
  • Add salt and coconut milk, then mix well.
  • Prepare Ibos wrapper (refer below) then fill with rice mixture.  Seal tubes and tie with strips of the ibos.
  • Arrange the suman in a big saucepan and cover with water. Cover the pot and  boil for 2 hours or until cooked.
  • Serve with sugar or ripe mango.

How to Wrap

  • Fold the end of the buri leaf by 1 1/2 inches.
  • Fold the bottom edge into a triangle.
  • Start rolling up the buri leaf in an overlapping manner.
  • Roll up the buri to make a tube.
  • Attach a small piece of wooden pick to secure the tube.
  • Fill the tube with malagkit.
  • Seal the ibos tube.
  • Tie with strips of buri.


READ more Pinoy Recipe articles on Choose Philippines

(These recipe and photos were previously published on For more features about Philippine food and delicacies, LIKE Pinoy Recipe FB Page.)

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