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Delicious Traditions

Somehow, there will always be an ever-present dish that is forever part of this ever-rotating, always-altering menu

Honey Jarque-Loop



Through the years, the landscape of what’s on the Christmas dinner table has significantly changed — due to reasons and circumstances, influenced by your unique experiences, determined by your status in life.

As a young couple with energetic growing children, the fun food must be attuned and appear attractive to the young kids.

Other times, friends came over for the holidays with a special request: to recreate their favorite goodies that you have served them in the past which they enjoyed immensely. It is more than just flattery — it is a genuine compliment to your culinary skills.

There were instances where foreign guests have been invited for Christmas dinner. So you consciously opted for a Filipino-inspired spread, for the Pinoy-style celebration experience.

Perhaps a gracious, well-meaning relative shared with you tons of various ingredients and you just felt the need to use it as the main star for Noche Buena.

The situations are endless. Somehow, there will always be an ever-present dish that is forever part of this ever-rotating,

always-altering menu. This mainstay may be a sentimental recipe, or an heirloom concoction that only makes a much-anticipated appearance during Christmas. One thing’s for certain: it will always be there, no matter what.

Here are the mainstays of some Cebuano families:

Without a doubt, sans rival is a favorite. It is a dessert made up of various layers of buttercream, meringue and chopped cashews. Mentored by my sister Ening who was well-known in Ormoc City for this signature cake, it occupies a place of honor in other milestone celebrations. No Noche Buena is complete without it. Hence, this family secret is one I hope to pass on for generations to come.


Louella Alix
Growing up, we always had pochero during Noche Buena. My dad had special memories of this dish as he watched his grandmother prepare it for the family. It had beef, a slab of pork and a whole chicken. No fancy morcilla or Chorizo de Bilbao though. This was a rustic version which had saba bananas, cabbage and potatoes. A hearty hot meal for a family just coming from the Misa de Aguinaldo.

Mariles Nable
Noche Buena at my parent’s house was always a culinary delight with cheeses and charcuterie brought from several travels. But a mainstay among the Christmas spread was Mommy’s home-cured glazed ham. We also had her scrumptious apple dumplings — peeled apples stuffed with butter and cinnamon-sugar, wrapped in a pastry crust and covered in a buttery brown sauce, baked until golden. To this day we still carry on with the tradition. But this time, at the home of my sister, Marita who inherited my mom’s long-time excellent cook into her household.


A Christmas day fare in my family is not complete without Mom’s signature Chicken Relleno. It is a labor of love as the preparation is intensive, from deboning the chicken to the tons of must-have ingredients made extra special by the generous addition of minced Chorizo de Bilbao. This treat is first served in our family’s Noche Buena. It is a favorite, so it makes a second appearance on Christmas day together with other traditional dishes.


Since the days of my great-grandmother, the center stage at our festive Christmas table should always be a juicy roasted turkey, complete with seasoned traditional stuffing. This is complimented with homemade warm and crusty toasted bread like no other. Both recipes were handed down by my great grandmother Casilda Martinez Mejia, to my mom Carmen Mejia Rodriguez — and is now imparted to the other siblings.