InsightPress Release

Insights behind Filipinos’ strong affinity to drinking during festivities revealed in Sari IQ study

MANILA, PHILIPPINES — Sari IQ, the sari-sari store market intelligence platform run by startup Packworks, recorded a five-fold increase in beer sales despite the liquor ban at the Sinulog Festival that drew an estimated crowd of 2 million this year. The total gross merchandise value of beer products from sari-sari stores within the Sinulog Festival vicinity was recorded on January 15, 2023, the day of the main festivity, which outperformed brandy and gin as compared to the previous day.

The spike in sales may be due to stricter liquor ban enforcement in retail establishments, causing people to buy from sari-sari stores that have more lenient rules and lowered prices to celebrate the festival, according to the analysis made by Fourth Wall, Packworks’ socio-cultural research firm partner.

Drinking for socialization


Further analysis from Fourth Wall revealed that there is a profound reason why Filipinos tend to defy liquor bans during festivals, and it runs as deep as the Spanish era. Historically speaking, the missionary accompanying Magellan on this voyage, Antonio Pigafetta, had documented scenarios of drinking sessions among Filipinos to celebrate their fleet’s arrival.

Drinking is commonly associated with socializing, but it has also been linked to sandugo or the blood compact to forge allegiance and loyalty between two parties.

“During the pre-Hispanic era, two parties would wound themselves with a dagger and drip their blood into a cup of wine, where they would then drink from the same cup to mark their bond of friendship. This symbolized that they are close as blood brothers,” said John Brylle L. Bae, Research Director of Fourth Wall.

The contemporary practice of drinking from one glass, or what is now called “tagay,” closely resembles this ancient Filipino practice – except that in today’s version, no blood is shed. Nevertheless, the idea remains: drinking from the same glass symbolizes a deep, familial relationship.

According to a 2014 study by Quartz, the Philippines offers the second-lowest cost of beer in the world, next to China, making the product more accessible. Furthermore, beer has the strongest affinity to sawsawan culture, as it complements the Filipino fried and grilled food that is usually served during fiestas and celebrations.

“Sari IQ is the perfect business intelligence tool for retailers who are seeking market data on consumer behavior and spending habit patterns of their customers across the Philippines. Data can be customized based on their desired variables such as location, product category, etc. providing them a clear picture of the spending patterns of their customers,” Packworks Chief Data Officer Andres “Andoy” Montiel said.

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