Enjoy the Filipino Ice Cream, Sorbetes!

Aside from a man shouting “Tahoooo!” in the streets, a typical Filipino childhood is not complete without the mornings greeted by the ring of a handbell by “mamang sorbetero”. As a kid, we are used to rushing towards him and hand a 10 peso coin for a cone of a delicious home-made ice cream known to the Pinoys as a dirty ice cream. It is termed ‘dirty’ not for the literal meaning, but because it is sold anywhere in the streets of the Philippines. In proper Filipino language, this is called Sorbetes.


The country’s very own, Sorbetes started on the importation of ice in the Philippines. First served during the feast during the 1898 declaration of Independence when Aguinaldo won the election for the presidency in the country, this has captured the hearts of many Filipinos and slowly became everyone’s favorite.


The first Sorbetes in the country was created through “grapiniera”, an ice cream freezer with a manual handle to whip the ice cream mixture. In the colonial times, the processing and making of Sorbetes was a family tradition where each family member takes turns in turning the handle until the desired consistency of the ice cream is achieved. Inside the ice cream freezer is a cream mixture primarily made of Carabao milk, crushed ice, eggs, and any flavoring they want. Before, the families use salt to keep the ice cream from melting.


Today, a lot of vendors called “sorbetero” are roaming around the towns, walking as they carry their uniquely made carts that would automatically give a hint of what’s inside: three metal canisters with different flavors of ice cream. Through Filipino creativity, the carts are typically designed based on how they like, just as what is done in a typical Philippine Jeepney.


Almost all of the Filipinos have grown with this kind of refreshment that childhood wouldn’t be totally complete without the experience of shouting to mamang sorbetero while rushing towards him excitedly to get a cone of Sorbetes. It is of the greatest hopes that this will not be faded in our culture, and the children of the future generations will also get to experience the happiness brought by a man who hands a cone of ice cream to every child waiting for him.