There’s cochinillo, chicken galantina, or even a whole roast turkey, but there’s nothing like a big ball of ham to steal the spotlight on the Christmas dining table. Filipino Christmas ham comes in all shapes and sizes and flavors: there’s bone-in and boneless; there’s the usual ball, the pear, and the brick; there’s Chinese, smoked, and pineapple-glazed. It’s eaten tucked between warm pandesal, atop steamed white rice, or as part of a charcuterie board together with slices of queso de bola.

Christmas is never complete without ham for Filipinos, and with so many options available, it’s always good to grab one that suits your liking.



Opened in 1955, Adelina’s in Mandaluyong has become one of the leading purveyors of holiday hams in the metro. Now available year-round, Adelina’s ham is of the salty, smokey Chinese-style variety balanced by the sweetness of a honey-based sauce. Its pinkish meat is tender and just slightly enrobed in a layer of fat. Adelina’s offers bone-in, boneless, sliced, and scrap options.



Cagayan de Oro is known as the home to some of the sweetest pineapples in the country, so it’s only fitting that one of the popular hams produced here is also pineapple-based. The ham is thickly sliced and is suggested to be oven-baked with pineapple rings, brown sugar, and Bigby’s special sauce as topping. Bigby’s has been offering Pineapple Ball Ham for over twenty years and has already reached Cebu, Davao, and General Santos.



Operating since 1972, Excelente Ham is already an institution in Quiapo, Manila, so much so that people come in droves to the infamous store come holiday season. Theirs is textbook Chinese-style with that distinct smokiness that permeates all the way to the center. This ham is also lean and firm with only a thin layer of fat. Aside from their bestselling Chinese ham, Excelente also sells deboned ham, pineapple sweet ham, cooked pear-shaped ham, and scrap ham.



Mabet’s is one of Davao’s top choices when it comes to holiday hams since they opened in 2012. They have three ham options available: a traditional Chinese ham with a distinct saltiness and a delicious twist introduced by Mabet’s; a sweet ham that is a lighter version than the previous and is best paired with their special sauce; and a special chicken ham, which is very tender, affordable, and 100-percent halal.



Consistency in quality, whether purchased over the holidays or otherwise, makes Majestic another popular ham brand in Metro Manila. Producing each ham leg, done in the Chinese style, is a painstaking process. It is first cured in American Oak barrels for 4 to 5 months, smoked using wood from fruit-bearing trees, air-dried, dry-cured, boiled in a mixture with cloves and star anise, and glazed to produce a sweet, crusty outer layer. The result is nothing less of the brand’s name.


Sant Jordi Meat Corner

Found at the heart of Sugarlandia, Bacolod City, Sant Jordi Meat Corner is an industrious artisanal charcuterie and butchery shop. It is a local purveyor of cured meats, sausages, and steaks. For the holidays, they are offering their Jamon de Navidad, a family recipe for a boneless, glazed ham bedecked with pineapples, cloves, and cherries. They also offer other Spanish-style hams like Lomo Negresco, Lomo de Melasa, and Lomo de Pimenton.



Also known for their delectable chicharon, Slers actually started with hams. In 1969, Founder Fely Pelaez learned how to make smoked country hams as a hobby. Family and friends learned of the product and bought the ham for Christmas. Soon, Slers became a well-known brand in Bukidnon and Cagayan de Oro. Sold in a traditional cotton bag, their Jamon de Cagayan goes through a tedious process of salt-curing and smoking before being fully cooked.


The Plaza

The Plaza is a four-generation family enterprise that has established its name as a leading caterer of special functions and events. One of their top products since the ‘60s is The Plaza Premium Baked Ham, developed by their master chef Gosta Pettersson. Inspired by Swedish hams but tinkered to cater to Filipinos’ preference for that sweet-salty balance, The Plaza’s ham is first cured then lightly wood-smoked with herbs and spices before being baked and glazed. It is available in various Metro Manila outlets as a whole bone-in leg, ball, or slices.



Cebuanos are not to be left out when it comes to ham options. One of the top choices is Victoria, offering different types of ham during the Christmas season since 1974. Must-try is their pineapple ham, a rolled-type of ham that comes thickly sliced with a charred outer layer. It is best drizzled with the special pineapple sauce and reheated by the slice on a frying pan until caramelized. Other Victoria products are tenderized ham, tenderized leg ham, and sweet ham.