The Origin of the Filipino Style Spaghetti

catering filipino style spaghetti

What is the origin of the Filipino style spaghetti?

  1. The dish was dated back as early as the 1940s to the 1960s.
  2. General Douglas MacArthur was served an “updated” version of the Japanese Neapolitan, which eventually transformed into the classic Filipino-style dish known and loved by many.

The Filipinos are one of those people known for introducing a new flavor to classical dishes. What better dish to add the Pinoy touch to than the classic spaghetti? This traditional Filipino style spaghetti is so delicious that it is a food that is appropriate for any occasion. It can be found everywhere; it can be offered as part of the wedding catering in a fancy hotel or in a simple family dinner at home.

Impact on Filipino Culture

Filipino kids who grew up between the 40s and the 60s can happily say that the local style of spaghetti is one of the brightest images of hope in their day. The ‘40s in particular was a grim time filled with oppression and violence because of World War II. If there was one shining ray of light that surely brought people –  especially children – immense amounts of joy, then it’s this timeless dish.

A lot of people growing up were served their own family’s version of this spaghetti. Some families liked it spicier than usual while others relished in the creaminess that cheese can bring to it. The dish is flexible and that’s what gives it its charm.

But what seals the deal in this ability to customize the dish is how easy it is to do so. Just by adding or removing ingredients or varying their amounts, families could make their own special recipes that they pass on to future generations. If you want to create your own recipe, then you must know what each and every ingredient adds to the dish.


The number one factor that makes Filipino-Style Spaghetti stand apart from other forms of pasta is its signature taste of its catsup spaghetti sauce. This features a unique tangy sweet flavor that is comparable to the taste of banana ketchup. In fact, other recipes include the use of sugar in their dish to intensify the flavor even further.

Another noteworthy aspect of the Filipino-style spaghetti is its meaty taste. Usually, Filipino-style spaghetti is adorned with ground beef (called ‘Giniling’ in Tagalog). This comes along with garlic and onion to complement its saltiness. It this unique mix of saltiness of the meat and sweetness of the sauce that gives the Filipino style spaghetti its unique taste.

Another thing about this dish is the generosity of cheese in their menu. There are many variants of cheese that can be used. It can either be grated, spread, or even infused into the sauce.


While the crux of the Filipino style spaghetti can be made up of ketchup spaghetti sauce, ground beef, onion, garlic, and lots of cheese, the secret recipe that children will always look forward to are the thinly sliced cuts of hotdog that surround the sweet meaty dish. All together, these individual ingredients give the Filipino style spaghetti its uniquely Filipino taste that Filipinos all over the world crave for when they reminisce about their happier, simpler days as children.


While there isn’t a concrete origin story for Filipino-style spaghetti, research shows that the first instance of it appeared during the final days of World War II. This happened when General Douglas MacArthur tried Spaghetti Neapolitan at a hotel in Japan. While this is entire different from the Filipino version, it is believed that General Douglas MacArthur’s Filipino Adjutant/Staff Member modified it. He then brought the recipe it back with him to the Philippines. Eventually it transformed into the beloved Filipino-style spaghetti.

The ‘problem’ with the origin of the Filipino-style spaghetti is that nobody really took the time to sit down and write how they stumbled upon the recipe. They were too busy enjoying it to think that it needed to be documented. This means that, today, people are stuck with fragmented stories of the history of the Filipino-style Spaghetti. However, this lack of origin is actually what brings the magic to the dish. This because, today, this beloved Filipinizeddish has numerous variation which makes it loved by all.

Hotdogs for Kids

While the basic Filipino-style spaghetti is made up of catsup spaghetti sauce, ground beef, onion, garlic, and lots of cheese, the secret ingredients that children will always look forward to is the thinly sliced cuts of hotdog that surround the sweet meaty dish. It is this taste that Filipinos all over the world crave for when they reminisce about their happier, simpler days as children.

All together, these individual ingredients give the Filipino-style spaghetti is uniquely Pinoy. Since the flavor could be easily customized by adding or removing ingredients, you can take this opportunity to be more generous in what you’re going to add. Whether it be meat, cheese, or maybe even more pasta, just go for it. You’d be surprised on how happy you’d make your family. The best part is it is just as easy as preparing the classic Italian spaghetti.

Key Takeaway

So there you have it. Though the country’s history in some aspects may not have been kind due to certain circumstances, their culinary journey has nonetheless continued to thrive over the years.

With Filipino-style continuing to make the rounds with spaghetti-lovers everywhere, it’s no doubt that the Filipino-style Spaghetti continues and will continue to bring smiles to people’s faces. It remains to be one of the best foods that the Philippines can offer to both its visitors as well as its beloved residents.

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