A Brief Story Behind the Popular Halo-Halo

Wherever you are in the Philippines, you’ll surely come across Halo-Halo. This is a Filipino favorite dessert that is made of milk, shaved ice, and a mix of assorted fresh fruits, nuts, and gelatin. Because the Philippines is a tropical country, this dessert will definitely give you a quick escape from the tropical heat.


But is this really a Filipino treat? Digging deeper, here is how the Halo-Halo came to be.


The origin of Halo-Halo can be mapped out back to the mid-1800s where the Filipinos have no idea about ice until the Americans brought it to the country. After a century, a technique for preserving beans by the use of sweet syrup was introduced. These beans were eventually poured above the shaved ice and became a dessert known as “kakigori”. As expected, it became a hit in the Philippines. Japanese immigrants that have soon owed a property would usually sell mongo-ya, a dessert made of red beans topped with shaved ice, sugar and milk. And even when the Americans and the Japanese went home to their lands, the knowledge about shaved ice and kakigori remained, until the Filipinos learned on how to create their own dessert.


Simply put, desserts that are prepared in shaved ice are not found only in the country. All the other parts of the world have their share, too. South Korea serves patbingsu, Brunei, Singapore, and Malaysia boasts of their ais kacang and cendol, and many more.


Most tourists would often ask about the “best” Halo-Halo in the Philippines. If you are going to ask one citizen in a specific place, they would say that the Halo-Halo from the far north or south is the best. But if you ask someone from the far north or south about the best Halo-Halo, they would answer the other way around. The point here is that the better way to have the best Halo-Halo in the country is to ask yourself. Would you prefer more ingredients or would you like it to come with just a few ingredients? How sweet do you like it to be? Or if you find yourself eating the Halo-Halo from that same store over and over again, then that must be the best.