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Our stoneware moat bowls
By Elson T. Elizaga
Stoneware moat bowls designed by Elson T. Elizaga, Cagayan de Oro, Philippines
Stoneware moat bowls for people. Made in the Philippines by The Stoneware Pottery, Inc. Designed by Elson T. Elizaga. [The white mark is calcium residue left behind after water has evaporated. It is not part of the bowl.]

Ants, I love them and I used to keep a terrarium full of them. But they're not welcome on the dining table.

To keep ants away from food, my mother-in-law uses a non-toxic method -- a common practice in the Philippines. First, she pours water on a large plate, creating a small lake. Then on the center of the lake she puts a bowl containing food. Water surrounds the bowl, and since the ants can't swim, the food stays protected.

Cito making the moat bowlAfter observing this technique, I made a sketch of a special bowl, and showed it to the manager of The Stoneware Pottery, Inc., in Bulua, Cagayan de Oro. Since 1997, I’ve been making photos of this German-Filipino joint venture. So, I’m familiar with their work.

After about a week, I got my prototype. It was relatively small. So, I asked the potter named Cito to make three big ones, each about six-inches in diameter. I called them Saturday bowls, because they looked like planet Saturn, but changed it to moat bowl later.

We've been using the moat bowls for almost a year, and we’re happy with them. As you can see in the picture, each bowl has an outer circular receptacle for receiving water. The inner ring serves as a bowl where you can put food, or use it simply to support a plate containing food. Either way is fine. The ants cannot reach the food.

This design should be great for picnics. Many of us in the Philippines love to spend time on beaches during weekends. It can also be used for resorts, hotels and restaurants.

I thought the name moat bowl is original but when I did a research online I found many pictures of moat bowls for pet food, most of them made of plastic. The purpose is the same – to keep the ants away. But it is possible our moat bowl is the first one made of stoneware, and the first moat bowl intended for people. As of September 24, 2014, it shows up as the only one of its kind if you search for "stoneware moat bowl" in Google Images.

stoneware moat bowls

The moat bowls can be blue, brown, white, black and green. The blue bowl is this photo is covered with a plateful of a popular Filipino fried pork, also known as adobo.



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