Pongko pongko or pungko pungko

Pongko pongko or pungko pungko literally translated means to sit around on a simple stool. The term, for Cebuanos at least, suggests hanging out, shooting the breeze, and usually having nothing better to do. Apparently, it now also applies to a particular of street dining as in sitting down on a basic wooden bench on a sidewalk to have lunch, merienda or dinner. In several parts of the city, these makeshift sidewalk restaurants spring up pong2during the day and while they do a brisk lunch time turnover, the late afternoon or early evening business is probably much stronger… A customer walks up, sits on a simple wooden bench facing an array of typically deep fried viands such as lumpia (spring rolls), ukoy (shrimp fritters), tuyo (dried fish), hotdogs (?!), fried fish, etc. He or she typically purchases one or two puso or rice cooked in young coconut leaves and a viand or two, and in a plastic bowl covered with a clear plastic bag, eats his or her meal with one’s hand in a plastic bag. Vinegar with chili is free. Cost of a typical meal? One viand at PHP6-8 pesos each, one or two puso at PHP2 each and a softdrink at say PHP6 a bottle. It amazes me that for PHP10 or about 20 U.S. cents one can get a meal without the hassle of cooking or cleaning up. Of course the vast majority of viands are deep fried and thus are able to sit around for hours with minimal risk of food poisoning. I must say that the overall hygeine of this sort of set-up is enough to make many a squeamish mother shiver… but you have to admit, it is economical!

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