How Do You Define "Isang Gatang"?

Perhaps all Filipinos within the Philippine archipelago and across the globe know the word “gatang“. A popular joke includes this word. Andres was talking with his friends. He was insisting that he was not under de saya (a husband overtaken by his wife). He gonna yell at her when he got back home. Suddenly his wife came and commanded him to cook rice. Andres answered back loudly, “ilang gatang?”

Perhaps the closest translations: isang gatang = one measure, ilang gatang = how much by volume.

Gatang commonly refer to a small container use to measure amount of rice to be cooked. It can be made of metal, plastic or ceramic. When I was a kid, we were using a tin can. I thought it was a tool specially made for the purpose. I thought all gatang were of the same sizes. I also thought all were made of tin.

Grandma asked me to get and wash rice for her. I was a bit surprised! Her “gatang” was smaller than ours. It’s weird!

Our gatang was broken. I could not remember the cause. Mom provided a replacement. She could not find a can of the same size so she settled with a smaller milk can.

I think gatang is a non-standardized unit of volume – a derivative of standard cup, 250ml. One gatang for us is enough but might be too less for you. It is synonymous to the word “takal“. However, one takal of rice is not equivalent to one takal of coffee berries. Big cooking oil can, balde, is usually used to measure coffee berries. Gatang can be a milk can, plastic glass, drinking glass, plastic cup or ceramic mug of different sizes.

kulang kulang isang gatang na bigas



  • In our province, gantangan is made of a squared wood ply…the one used for selling rice…more or less it can contain 2.5 kilos of rice.
    The big evap milkcan is usually called Takal. (when buying sea clams, mussels, etc..)

    • Thanks! I remember seeing the wooden measuring box when I was still a little kid, often used by salt and pinipig vendors.

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