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Unveiling the Cultural Significance of ‘Malunggay’: Filipinos in the UAE and Their Unique Connection to the Nutrient-Rich Plant

Every Filipino can relate to the amusing incident where Kris Fade’s longtime nanny, Ginia, casually walked home with a bunch of malunggay leaves ‘stolen’ from their neighbor’s garden.

“I’d like to apologize to our neighbors,” wrote the famous radio DJ in the caption of the viral video. The clip shows Ginia admitting she picked the malunggay branches from another garden in front of their neighbor’s camera.

Cultural Significance in the UAE

In the UAE, where malunggay is known as drumstick leaves, Filipino expats often look for ways to obtain it for free, reminiscent of the practice back home. Malunggay is a staple in Filipino cuisine and is valued for its nutritional benefits.

Sentimental Value of Malunggay

Filipino residents in the UAE shared stories of acquiring malunggay from neighbors’ gardens, emphasizing the cultural significance of this nutritious plant. While it is readily available in supermarkets, the act of sharing and acquiring it for free holds sentimental value for many Filipinos.

Nutritional Benefits and Cultural Connection: Malunggay 

Malunggay, also known as moringa, is a common ingredient in Indian dishes as well. It is recognized for its nutritional value, containing essential vitamins and minerals. Filipinos have grown up with the knowledge of malunggay’s health benefits, making it a sought-after item in their diet.

Culinary Practices and Community Bonding

Despite being available in stores, the act of obtaining malunggay for free from neighbors or growing it at home reflects the cultural connection Filipinos have with this nutritious plant. The sharing of malunggay not only holds culinary significance but also fosters community bonding among Filipino expats in the UAE.

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