TO say that Filipinos love food and eating is an understatement. Lindsay Bennett, in globetrotter island guide, Philippines, wrote:

"Food is more than simple nutrition for Filipinos; they love to eat, whether it's a sit-down meal with family or friends or a quick snack. Sharing food is one of the great social pleasures for all classes, and not having food for your guests is considered a source of hiya, so mountains of it are served at parties and fiestas."

Those from Davao City need not to go far to eat all those merienda foods you have been craving all these years. For P450, you can eat them all at the White House Cuisine and Wine Lounge located at Camella Northpoint along J.P. Laurel Avenue.

"These are the food that your nanay or lola used to comfort you during summer days and rainy afternoons -- cooked not only using the finest ingredients but also with passion and love," explained Cathy Binag, co-owner of the restaurant and also a chef.

The White House started offering the smorgasbord of native delicacies last June 3. "This is the first time that a Davao restaurant is offering a merienda buffet," Binag pointed out.

She added, "Our Filipino merienda treat offers overflowing sweet delights that will not only satisfy your cravings and complete your day, but also will bring back happy memories of home and family."

To find this out, my three friends and I embarked a food trip to the White House. I wanted to know what their thoughts about the foods they would eat. Those who joined me were singer-composer Wency Cornejo (who writes a food column for another paper), Atty. Kelvin Lee (Sunstar Davao's legal adviser who's also into food business), and Armando Mortejo (a food connoisseur who writes occasionally for some local and national papers).

The first I tried was the "lugaw," which I was just right to my taste. It was so good that even Atty. Lee loved it.

"This is my third time," he said. He tried several others but he still went for "lugaw" -- and "turon."

Cornejo, on the other hand, wrote in his Facebook account:

"So far, this experience is so much better!" It was his second time to eat at the White House. The first time was during his birthday; and he didn't write a good review on what he had eaten. Now, I can't wait to read his food review on the merienda he had eaten.

The singer liked champorado with bulad. "Lami no?" he told one of his Facebook friends.

Mortejo, on the other hand, ate with much gusto the bibingka and suman sa latik. He also didn't miss the tokwa't baboy. "Sobrang sarap," he burped.

Other delectable, sweet dishes you can enjoy eating are the puto bumbong, binignit (ginataang halo-halo), sopas, ginataang mais, lumpiang sariwa, pansit luglog, mais con yelo, saba con yelo, and lumpiang gulay. If those won't make you hungry, I don't know what you have been eating lately.

Not to be outclassed is its halo-halo. When Binag saw how I prepared by own halo-halo mixture, she told me, "That's not how to do it. Let me prepare something for you." And she did!

Literally translated, halo-halo means "mix mix" in Tagalog. It is often used as a metaphor for the country's own distinctive mixture of East and West. You can see these cross-influences in the dessert itself, a mélange of ingredients served in a tall, clear glass and eaten with a long spoon.

Now, going back to Binag. She said it was her mother who taught her the secrets of home food cooking. "The best chefs in the universe are our own mothers and with great joy, the White House wants to share these secrets with you through a table full of merienda treats garnished with the joys of home and the affection and love of mothers," she said.

The White House Cuisine and Wine Lounge starts serving the "all-you-can-eat merienda buffet" from 2:30 in the afternoon until 5:30 pm.

What are you waiting for? Go now and eat the perfect merienda.