[RECIPE] Filipino Style Corned Beef

By Bianca Garcia

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I’ve loved breakfast food for as long as I can remember, and there’s nothing I love more than a Filipino breakfast. 

Give me kesong puti (buffalo mozzarella), pan de sal (breakfast rolls), and tsokolate (hot chocolate). Give me sinangag (garlic fried rice) paired with any of our traditional breakfast meats. Any time, any day, and I will be happy. 

I love the concept of “-silog” which is an abbreviation of the words sinangag and itlog (egg), essentially fried rice and fried egg, typically served with longganisa (breakfast sausage), tapa (thinly sliced beef sirloin), Spam, or corned beef

Today I want to share my recipe for corned beef - and I’m not talking about the boiled corned beef with cabbage - but rather, canned corned beef that’s sauteed with potatoes, garlic, onions, and tomatoes. Corned beef that’s served with garlic fried rice and fried eggs. Corned beef that’s been a breakfast staple for many Filipinos like myself.

My husband Matt (who is not Filipino, but has embraced Filipino culture and Filipino food) and I often make corned beef for brunch during the weekends. We stock up on our favorite canned brands (Delimondo from the Philippines, and Palm brand from Asian grocery stores) and always have the rest of the ingredients on hand, so it’s an easy meal to whip up. We usually make garlic fried rice and fried eggs to eat with the corned beef, but sometimes we just do plain rice, sometimes scrambled eggs. Sometimes I don’t have tomatoes, sometimes I have too many potatoes, but it still always turns out delicious.

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Filipino Style Corned Beef

1 can corned beef (depending on the brand, cans range from 11 oz to 14 oz)

For this recipe, I used Delimondo Garlic and Chili Corned Beef

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 medium yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped into half-inch cubes

1 small white onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup cherry tomatoes, each tomato sliced in half

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add potatoes and cook until softened, stirring to make sure they don’t brown too much, about 7 minutes.

  2. Pour remaining oil and add onions to pan. Saute onions and potatoes, until onions begin to soften, about 5 minutes.

  3. Add garlic to pan, and saute with onions and potatoes until fragrant, about 3 minutes.

  4. Add tomatoes to pan, and cook until tomatoes start to release juices and burst from the skin, about 3-5 minutes.

  5. Add corned beef to pan, and cook until beef is fully heated. Season with salt and pepper.

  6. Increase heat to medium-high and cook corned beef mixture to your desired dryness. (I like getting some crisp and charred bits of corned beef.) 

Filipinos In Boston: An Interview With Doctor Manny De La Rosa

By Trish Fontanilla

Well it’s been almost 2 years of Filipinos in Boston profiles (I started this a few months after we started the organization), and we’re finally interviewing a doctor! I met Manny at the BOSFilipinos meetup at Parsnip in July (amazing food and crew over there!). He’s super new to Boston, so I figured why not introduce him to the BF community more formally? After all, we’re all about storytelling and community!

Thank you to Manny for taking time to chat with me, and I hope you all enjoy getting to know him!

Where are you and your family from? Also, feel free to share more about your family’s background and ties to the Philippines.
Manny:
For Fil-Ams like ourselves, the story really began in the Motherland. My mom is originally from Bataan and grew up in Quezon City, and my dad in Candelaria in Quezon Province. My maternal grandparents were physicians; Lola (grandma) was a psychiatrist and med school professor and Lolo (grandpa), a pediatrician. On my dad’s side, my Lolo was the Vice Mayor of Candelaria, while my Lola stayed at home to support the kids. My parents are from huge families! My mom grew up with six sisters and two brothers, and my dad has two brothers and two sisters. Starting in the 70s, my parents, titas (aunts), and titos (uncles) on both sides of my family gradually came to the U.S. to pursue their professional careers and start their branches of our family. I have relatives on both coasts and in the Midwest. My dad settled in Iowa for his first job as an engineer for Case before moving to Indianapolis to work for General Motors. My mom finished high school in Ohio, studied nursing initially, but then moved to Indiana, where she switched her major to respiratory therapy and was later hired by one of the local hospitals in Indy.  My parents met through mutual friends in the small Fil-Am community in Indianapolis, where I was born, raised, and educated. I have a younger brother who lives in Orlando and runs his own social media marketing firm called Vadela (check it out at www.vadela.co). After graduating from medical school at Indiana University in 2016, I moved to the D.C. area for internal medicine residency at Inova Fairfax Hospital. I finished residency this past June, and here I am now!

So tell us a little more about where you work and what you do.

Photo provided by Manny De La Rosa / “Still looking alive after a night shift!”

Photo provided by Manny De La Rosa / “Still looking alive after a night shift!”

Manny: I’ve worked as an internal medicine doc at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and a part-time instructor at Harvard Medical School since July. My job at the Brigham is to admit patients to the various medical and oncology floors at night, whether they come in as transfers from another hospital or through the emergency room. At the same time, I am available for any overnight needs for about thirty to forty patients who are assigned to me for the shift. At Harvard, I teach med students how to interview and examine patients at the hospital, and I am one of the proctors for the clinical skills exam they take at the end of the course. I am a tough grader… muahahaha. 


For most Filipino families, having someone working in the medical field feels like a pre-req, but when did you decide to get into medicine? 
Manny:
I knew I wanted to be a doctor when I was about 7 or 8 years old. My mom kept many of her college textbooks around the house, and I remember browsing through many of the pictures and diagrams. I thought that the human body was the coolest thing in the universe! Particularly inspiring for me as a kid was how my own pediatrician listened and observed carefully to address my concerns. Every time I saw him, I was curious about why he was asking so many questions, and what he hearing with his stethoscope that helped him come up with a diagnosis to restore my health when I was sick and keep me well when I was healthy.  Combined with the fact that I always naturally enjoyed my science classes, loved working in teams of all kinds, and engaged in philanthropy, I knew that medicine was the perfect career for me. Even though a handful of my relatives are physicians, nurses, and medical lab techs, I never experienced family pressure to pursue a career in healthcare. Now that I am a fully practicing physician after many years of school and on-the-job training in residency, I believe that the same things that drew me to the profession as a kid are why I still enjoy coming to work every day! 

Photo provided by Manny De La Rosa / “This is from my residency graduation banquet. My colleague and I shared the award for Resident Scholar and Teacher of the Year.”

Photo provided by Manny De La Rosa / “This is from my residency graduation banquet. My colleague and I shared the award for Resident Scholar and Teacher of the Year.”

On Boston…

How long have you been in Boston?
Manny: 
I moved here at the end of June, and I live in JP. 

What are your favorite Boston spots (food, parks, spaces, etc!)
Manny:
My favorites are Fenway, Newbury Street, Seaport, the Boston Common, and Quincy Market. In terms of food and drink, James Hook & Company has the best lobster rolls I have ever had, but if you know of a better place, let me know! The Liberty Hotel is my go-to for upscale drinks and dining. Last, but not least, JP Licks in Brigham Circle is where you will frequently find me for a cup of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream before work!

This town is great for fitness too! I often take my bike out to Cambridge and ride along the Charles for the great views and fresh air. Before I moved to Boston, I took up powerlifting. I hired a coach based at Rx Strength Training in Somerville, but I now do most of my workouts at GymIt near BU since it’s in a more convenient location for me, while my coach works with me remotely. 

What’s your community superpower?
Manny:
Large-scale philanthropy! I was the Vice President External for the Midwest Association of Filipino Americans (www.wearemafa.org) from 2011 to 2012. As part of my role as VPE, I organized a school supply donation competition between the MAFA member organizations (all university-based Filipino clubs) called the Balikbayan Box Project. We sent a wide variety of items to the Philippines-- everything from pencils and books to old computers.     


On Filipino Food...

 What's your all time favorite Filipino dish?
Manny:
I am thinking about this while my mouth waters… tinola

What's your favorite Filipino recipe / dish to make?
Manny:
Beef Kaldereta

Photo provided by Manny De La Rosa / “Last Fall, we went on a triple date with my girlfriend and friends from Indianapolis who were visiting D.C.”

Photo provided by Manny De La Rosa / “Last Fall, we went on a triple date with my girlfriend and friends from Indianapolis who were visiting D.C.”

On staying in touch… 

How can people stay in touch? (Social, email, website, whatever you’re comfortable with)

Manny: Instagram and Snapchat: mannydlr, and email: mcdelaro2@gmail.com

I will be starting a vlog and health/medical education channel on YouTube in the upcoming months, so stay tuned!


We’re always looking for BOSFilipinos blog writers! If you’d like to contribute, send us a note at info@bosfilipinos.com.

Filipinos In Boston: An Interview With Real Estate Broker Ronnie Puzon

By Trish Fontanilla

If you’ve gone to any of the Filipino Festivals in Malden, Ronnie’s name might sound familiar. That’s because he’s one of the founding partners, along with organizer Kristine Bautista!

Hope you all enjoy our interview with Ronnie, and special thanks to Ronnie for all he does for the Filipino community here in MA!

Photo provided by Ronnie Puzon

Photo provided by Ronnie Puzon

Where are you and your family from?
Ronnie:
My mother is from Bicol and my father is from Ilocos, but my parents met in California. My mother was a nurse at the time and my father was in the Navy. When my father got stationed in Boston, my mother planted roots here and became a teacher. They lived in the Charlestown Navy Yard in Navy housing, and when that was closed down, they moved the families into the Charlestown projects. I would call the projects home for the next 15 years.

Where do you work and what do you do?
Ronnie:
Right now, I am a Broker / Owner of RE/MAX Trinity in Malden, MA - a real estate agency and we currently have 20 agents. In addition to co-managing the office and agents with my partner, I also assist buyers and sellers with their real estate needs.

Can you tell us a little more about how you got into real estate?
Ronnie:
Well I attended Northeastern University and graduated with a degree in Finance. The co-op programs led me to a career on Wall Street where I was an equity trader for 20 years. After retiring in 2012, I decided to pursue a second career in real estate. I first started to get into real estate 20 years ago as an investor. It started out as a sort of hobby. I now rent a number of my apartments to low-income families, and I also help to educate my investors on using real estate as a retirement vehicle.

What are some of your hobbies outside of work?
Ronnie: I love to travel. My bucket list would be to travel to every country in the world. I have only been to 63 countries, so I may be running out of time! I also run and train for marathons. I have completed the 6 World Marathon Majors (Boston, New York, Chicago, Berlin, London and Tokyo). And since every true Filipino has at least 1 or 5 side hustles, I’m also into real estate and trading stocks and options.

If anyone ever wants to talk about any of the above, drop me an email!

Photo provided by Ronnie Puzon. // This picture is of Ronnie with his wife Malinda and his daughter Serena in Venice.

Photo provided by Ronnie Puzon. // This picture is of Ronnie with his wife Malinda and his daughter Serena in Venice.

On Boston…

How long have you been in Boston?
Ronnie:
I was born and raised in Boston. I worked in New York City for about 6 years, then came back to Boston. I just couldn’t stay away.

What are your favorite Boston spots?
Ronnie:
I like to spend a lot of time in the Seaport District and the North End.

What’s your community superpower?
Ronnie
: I like to give back to the community. Although I have not worked for a non-profit, I am involved at the local level with the Malden Rotary (President), Malden YMCA (Board Member), and Asian Real Estate Association of America - AREAA (past Board Member). Internationally, I am involved with Habitat for Humanity where I have been a part of a team that’s build houses in 10 countries.

On Filipino Food...

What's your all time favorite Filipino dish?
Ronnie:
I love all Filipino food. Whenever I get a chance to go to a cookout or party with Filipino food, I jump at the chance. I loved my mom's pancit and egg rolls. I wish I had the recipes.

What's your favorite Filipino recipe / dish to make?
Ronnie:
Unfortunately, I do not cook.

Photo provided by Ronnie Puzon // This picture is from his recent build with Habitat for Humanity in a village in Lesotho, Africa.

Photo provided by Ronnie Puzon // This picture is from his recent build with Habitat for Humanity in a village in Lesotho, Africa.

On staying in touch…

How can people stay in touch? (Social, email, website, whatever you’re comfortable with)
Ronnie:
Please feel free to drop me an email with questions on anything. I like to try to help people out and connect them if I can. I also love meeting people. My email is rpuzon@aol.com, and you can also add me on Facebook or Linkedin.


We’re always looking for BOSFilipinos blog writers! If you’d like to contribute, send us a note at info@bosfilipinos.com.

Filipinos in Boston: An Interview with Lead Bartender Justin Ang

By Trish Fontanilla

About a week and a half ago I went to check my Instagram feed, and my inbox was flooded with pictures of purple colored drinks. I had gotten messages from the Filipino community and beyond, “Did you know the lead bartender at Baldwin Bar is Filipino?!” Well of course, I had to find out who that was and feature them on the BF blog for what might be the drink of the summer.

Hope you enjoy this profile on Justin Ang!

Provided by Justin Ang / Justin and his mom

Provided by Justin Ang / Justin and his mom

Where are you and your family from?
Justin:
My family is from Manila, Philippines. I'm Filipino / Chinese, but I was born in 1989 and lived in Manila for 20 years until my mom, my brother, and I moved to America in 2008.

Where do you work and what do you do?
Justin:
I'm the Lead Bartender at The Baldwin Bar in Woburn, MA. I bartend at both bars (The Baldwin Bar downstairs, and Baldwin & Sons Trading Co. upstairs). I'm also in charge of cutting down a block of ice for the bar program.

How did you get into bartending?
Justin:
When I decided to leave college, I was already working in a Chinese restaurant called Lilac Blossom as a server and I liked it a lot. It was a very educational experience for me. Being a shy guy in a new home, not only did it help me hone my English speaking skills, I also got confident being around people. One day, out of curiosity, I asked my fellow bartender to teach me how to make cocktails. I fell in love with it! It's so much fun mixing different ingredients, and the possibilities are endless! Being a fast learner, I became a bartender slinging Chinese Mai Tais and Scorpion Bowls, and the rest is history.

Provided by Justin Ang / Photo credit": Ran Duan (Instagram @cocktail_lens @thebaldwinbar )

Provided by Justin Ang / Photo credit": Ran Duan (Instagram @cocktail_lens @thebaldwinbar )

On Boston…

How long have you been in Boston?
Justin:
I used to live in NH for 9 years. Now I live in the outskirts of Boston, but I've been living in MA for a year and a half now.

What are your favorite Boston spots (food, parks, spaces, etc!)
Justin:
Hojoko, Eastern Standard, Drink, Yvonne's, Lone Star, The Automatic, State Park, The Abbey, Gustazo, Shine Square Pub.

Provided by Justin Ang

Provided by Justin Ang

On Filipino Food...

What's your all time favorite Filipino dish? (Feel free to link up some recipes, otherwise I’ll find them around the web)
Justin:
A good Bistek, extra onions please! I also love Filipino breakfast food (longganisa, tocino, etc), served with scrambled eggs, banana ketchup, and Sinangag!

What's your favorite Filipino recipe / dish to make?
Justin:
I don't really cook much, although my girlfriend Sarah is slowly teaching me how. However I do have to admit, I do make a good Sinangag!

Provided by Justin Ang / Photo credit": Ran Duan (Instagram @cocktail_lens @thebaldwinbar )

Provided by Justin Ang / Photo credit": Ran Duan (Instagram @cocktail_lens @thebaldwinbar )

On staying in touch…


Do you have any upcoming events / programs / work things that you’d like to mention?
Justin:
Just come by The Baldwin Bar, eat some spicy Sichuan food, and pair it with our delicious cocktails 👌

How can people stay in touch? (Social, email, website, whatever you’re comfortable with)
Justin:
Instagram: @ang_justin @thebaldwinbar









We’re always looking for BOSFilipinos blog writers! If you’d like to contribute, send us a note at info@bosfilipinos.com.

Filipinos in Boston: An Interview with Biological Engineering PhD Candidate Aaron Dy

By Trish Fontanilla

We’re halfway through Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and thanks to everyone nominating themselves / their friends / partners / colleagues, we’ve had a wonderful response. Keep em coming!

One of the awesome Filipinos that did respond to our call for more Filipino stories is Aaron Dy, profiled below. I hope you enjoy hearing his story as much as I did!


Aaron cheering on the Red Sox at the 2018 ALCS game 2 // Photo provided by Aaron

Aaron cheering on the Red Sox at the 2018 ALCS game 2 // Photo provided by Aaron

Where are you and your family from?
Aaron
: My dad is from Cavite City and my mom is from Indiana. They met while both serving in the U.S. Navy and originally settled around San Francisco, which is where I was born. My dad still lives in South San Francisco, but my mom moved back to Indiana. I mainly grew up in Indiana, but spent many summers and school breaks in the Bay Area. I came to Boston for graduate school at MIT along with my wife who came for optometry school. We both love it here and have jobs lined up to be able to stay in the Boston area after our graduations this year.

Where do you work and what do you do?
Aaron
: I am currently working to finish my PhD at MIT in Biological Engineering, and this fall I’ll be starting as a healthcare strategy consultant working for Health Advances. My PhD research has been on developing new kinds of diagnostic tests for infectious diseases like HPV that causes cervical cancer, C. difficile infections, or antibiotic resistance.

In my free time, I do quite a bit of running and volunteering with local civic or political groups. On the running side, I’ve run 5 marathons so far including the 2019 Boston Marathon. On the civic engagement side, I was an Organizing for America fellow and president of College Democrats at Indiana University in college. Now I am a part of progressive political groups such as the Boston Ward 4 Democratic Committee and Young Democrats of Massachusetts.

Can you tell us more about how you first found out about biological engineering or what led you down that career path?
Aaron:
I probably first heard of biological engineering some time when I was in college. I’d always been torn between interests in science and public policy. I had actually enrolled as a journalism major at first, but pretty quickly switched to a physics major when I started college. I reached out to older students and learned you could get professors to let you do part-time research in their labs and even get paid. I ended up working in a biophysics lab for most of my time in undergrad and got exposed to what it’s like to do laboratory work and come up with independent research ideas. I was interested in going further with biomedical research after graduation, and I hoped to contribute to projects improving human health. Once I decided that next move was to go to graduate school, I tried to look for departments where exciting work was happening, I would have the skills to make an impact, and I could learn the most. In biological engineering I saw so many new technologies being developed that could help prevent or cure diseases, and I thought my background in physics would be good enough preparation while still being far enough out of my comfort zone to push me to learn a lot.

Aaron running the 2019 Boston Marathon // Photo provided by Aaron Dy

Aaron running the 2019 Boston Marathon // Photo provided by Aaron Dy

On Boston…

How long have you been in Boston?
Aaron
: I’ve lived in the Boston area for five years now, with one year in Cambridge and four years in Boston. Currently I live in the Fenway neighborhood near where it intersects with South End and Back Bay.

What are your favorite Boston spots:
Aaron:
A lot of my favorite Boston spots are from my running, and Boston is definitely a great running city. I run a lot around the Esplanade, the Emerald Necklace, Jamaica Pond, Fresh Pond, and Minuteman Bikeway. I lived near the Boston Common for three years and now live by the Fens so I’ve been fortunate to have such great green spaces to walk or run around.

Fenway Park was one of the first attractions I ever visited when I came on a graduate school visit, and I still love seeing a game there. Last year we even got the chance through the random drawing process to buy face value ALCS tickets and it was one of the best sports fan experiences I’ve ever had. I’m also fond of the Museum of Science where I’ve been able to visit, volunteer, and attend hosted events. In terms of food and drink, there are places all over greater Boston I like including Tanám (Somerville), Friendly Toast (Back Bay or Cambridge), The Beehive (South End), Dumpling House (Cambridge), Hot Pot Buffet (Chinatown), Pho Pasteur (Chinatown), Democracy Brewing (Downtown), and Lir (Back Bay).

What’s your community superpower?
Aaron:
I think I’m someone who consistently shows up and gives time for a wide range of issues I care about. I’ve volunteered with lots of different groups from STEM outreach, to food banks, to science policy advocacy, to political causes. Sometimes I can get far out of my comfort zone, but I think these differing experiences help me find the work that’s important to me and puts me in contact with so many people that I wouldn’t have met through just my day job.

Aaron enjoying some Filipino food at Tanám in Somerville // Photo provided by Aaron

Aaron enjoying some Filipino food at Tanám in Somerville // Photo provided by Aaron

On Filipino Food...

What's your all time favorite Filipino dish?
Aaron
: My favorite Filipino dish has to be lumpia. Lumpiang Shanghai to be specific. Our nanay’s (my grandmother’s) lumpia to be even more specific.

What's your favorite Filipino recipe / dish to make?
Aaron
: My best Filipino recipe is probably Filipino BBQ (recipe below). It’s easy to make and can be scaled up on the grill to make plenty for a get-together with friends.

Filipino BBQ Recipe

  • 3-4 lbs of boneless, skinless chicken thighs and bamboo skewers

  • Cut chicken into ~1 inch cubes

  • Stab chicken pieces with a fork

  • Make marinade

    • 1/2 cup soy sauce

    • 2 tbsp of ground black pepper

    • 1 cup Sprite or 7UP

    • 8 cloves garlic, minced

    • Juice from 3 lemons

    • 1 12 oz bottle of banana ketchup

    • 1/2 cup brown sugar

    • 1/2 cup white vinegar

    • 2 tsp. kosher salt

  • Marinate chicken in the fridge for 1-3 hours

  • Soak bamboo skewers in water for >1 hour

  • Cook chicken on grill on low for 25-35 minutes

  • Baste with marinade 6-8 extra times as you flip

On staying in touch…

Aaron and his wife Mary at a Celtics game // Photo provided by Aaron

Aaron and his wife Mary at a Celtics game // Photo provided by Aaron

How can people stay in touch?
Aaron
: You can find me on Twitter or Instagram @AaronJDy. I’m usually more active on Twitter with some mix of science, politics, running, cat photos, and local Boston stuff.


We’re always looking for BOSFilipinos blog writers! If you’d like to contribute, send us a note at info@bosfilipinos.com.

Buried Histories: Historical Books & Memoirs About Life in the Philippines

By Reina Adriano

A postcard of Escolta, Manila during the World War II.

A postcard of Escolta, Manila during the World War II.

My penchant for history started with the books I grew up with, the ones I stashed deep in my suitcase filled with clothes and other belongings when I came to the States. I was (and still am) a bookworm who loved stories about my country’s roots from the Spanish, American, and Japanese occupations. They made me visualize the scenes that my social studies professors depicted in their lectures. In high school, I read martial law novels like Bamboo in the Wind by Azucena Grajo-Uranza, State of War by Ninotchka Rosca, and Empire of Memory by Eric Gamalinda. In college I had a penchant for historical accounts written for children with my favorite being Kung Bakit Umuulan by Rene Villanueva which depicted the Panayan legend of how the world was created.

When I came to the States, I realized that not everyone understood Philippine History the way I learned it. Many parents of first generation Filipino-Americans could not remember who were the heroes before World War II, much less tell their children stories of the Martial Law era. And even if they did try to scour for books about the Philippines, there is little explanation of the American occupation in the Philippines in textbooks, only that they staged a war to claim the country from Spain.

I invited friends to suggest some books to people in our BOSFilipinos community who are inclined to read about Philippine history, and many of them were eager to help. Buried histories contain a part of Filipino identity. They have the ability to explain why many Filipinos easily forgive and forget, why poverty remains in so many cities, and why we treat other nationalities the way that we do.  Here is the compilation of those books, in hopes that people will find themselves intrigued at the depth of history that the Philippines has had over the years.


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The Miseducation of the Filipino by Prof. Renato Constantino, Journal of Contemporary Asia, Vol. 1, No. 1 (1970)

“Although this set of readings aren’t necessarily Filipinx memoirs, etc., reading through them gives us a more objective perspective about the Filipinx-American culture and how it exists today. I think The Miseducation of the Filipino represents the essence of these readings pretty well: it talks about how the U.S. has used education as a means of ‘colonizing the minds’ of the Pilipinos during World War II. This education system is the foundation of the current Philippine education system that the remnants of American colonial teachings have now seeped through to our culture, giving birth to what most have called the ‘colonial mentality.’ As such, these readings aim to educate us about the colonial mentality that has persisted through generations and how we can use this knowledge to reclaim the true essence of the Pilipinx culture, independent of colonial influences. In the words of Samahang Pilipino at UCLA: Decolonize. Destigmatize. Educate. Empower!” - Recommended by Jaira Mendoza, intern at SPACE (Samahang Pilipino Advancing Community Empowerment)


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The Revolution According to Raymundo Mata, Insurrecto, and Gun Dealers' Daughter by Gina Apostol

“My favorite is Raymundo Mata but Fil-Americans will totally relate to Insurrecto because it deals with identity. Insurrecto takes place in the present-day and tells the interweaving stories of Chiara, an American filmmaker and Magsalin, a Filipino translator. The two are forced to confront their past and question their identities as they embark on a journey to Samar together to work on a film about the Balangiga Massacre, a colonial atrocity committed by American soldiers in 1902. This intriguing and sardonic novel manages to capture the tensions of history and historiography and presents us the ways in which the shockwaves of colonial rule are still felt today.” - Recommended by Carmel Ilustrisimo, Creative Writing grad student at University of Santo Tomas


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The Gods We Worship Live Next Door by Bino Realuyo

“This is a poetry book that is divided into different segments of Philippine history, following the Spanish, American, and Japanese occupations. Postcolonial as it may be, it shows us the diaspora of Filipinos during the tough times in those days, showing the effects of our colonization through a series of poems.” - Recommended by Angelo Galindo, Geography grad student at University of the Philippines



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Slum as a Way of Life: A Study of Coping Behavior in an Urban Environment by F. Landa Jocano

“A saddening reality of Philippine society is the prevalence of slum communities. Jocano’s Slum as a Way of Life looks into how life in a slum community has affected the behavior of the people there. Although published in 1975, it remains a significant ethnographic study that puts into perspective the hardships and tribulations faced by these people who are, more often than not, looked upon with disdain by those higher in the social hierarchy. Concepts used are applicable even in today’s setting because although people may leave the slum area, the culture there is resistant to change. I believe that it is a work that should be read because it shows a different aspect to Filipino culture that is largely ignored. Aside from that, the method used by Jocano is simple and easy to understand focusing more on qualitative and descriptive approaches.” - Recommended by Nicole Poneles, BA Social Sciences graduate from UP Diliman


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Pinatubo: The Volcano in Our Backyard by Robert Tantingco

“The book focuses and emphasizes one of the most talked about and internationally known calamities, the Pinatubo eruption. People knew about the demise some parts of the Philippines underwent, but people didn’t know what made some of those affected be resilient in those trying times. With a focus on the kapampangans, the readers will have a better and detailed glimpse on what other changes took place, be it into their lives, culture, and society. There are few genuine accounts of stories that are included to enrich the readers’ knowledge and understanding of the Mount Pinatubo eruption. his book also includes references and glimpses of mythology, science, and modern remembrance to make the whole account of the Mount Pinatubo eruption holistically known and understood.” - Recommended by Sig Yu, animation instructor


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Barefoot in Fire by Barbara Ann Gamboa-Lewis

“It's about a Fil-Am girl growing up in World War II Manila. I remember it was a lot of daily life and the innocence of childhood, albeit with the war going on and attempts to understand the war from a child's perspective, limited as it is, seeing the humanity in everyone and seeing others as people and not just as sides in a war. Definitely stuff an adult would take with a grain of salt, but child readers, I think, will have a lot to think about. It's very vivid so you get a sense of what they ate while food was being rationed during WWII, how they used the bathroom, how they studied, among other things.” - Recommended by Stef Tran, poet



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Breaking the Silence by Lourdes Montinola

“Montinola, the daughter of renowned doctor, Nicanor M. Reyes, founder of FEU, experimented with the process of searching and discovering the atrocities that happened to her family through many entry points, her memoirs of childhood. It was so gripping and emotional I read the book in one sitting! After the whole experience, I told myself, this should be read by all Filipinos to remind us never to relive that kind of war again brought about by colonialism! It's brutal. I recommend it to everyone who's interested in World War II memoirs.” - Recommended by John Toledo, grad student at UP Los Banos




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The Summer Solstice and Other Stories by by Nick Joaquin

Tatarin (the movie version of Nick Joaquin’s well-known story) fervently captures the belief of Filipinos in superstitions, deities, and religious practices weaved into communities and families. Also present in the narrative is the patriarchal ego that seeks to be stroked but a strong Filipina like Lupe Moreta counters the status quo in a traditional Filipino household by questioning her husband’s ideologies and encompassing the so-called limitations of a woman.” - Recommended by Reena Medina, University of Santo Tomas Teatro Tomasino alumna


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America is in the Heart by Carlos Bulosan

”Bulosan’s memoir is about his childhood memories of immigrating to the States as a young boy from the Philippines. It depicts an immigrant’s journey as a laborer in the rural West trying to survive in a different country and culture, far from what he has been accustomed to back home.” - Recommended by Ludo Madrid


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Feast and Famine by Rosario Cruz Lucero

“This book is a compilation stories about Negros Occidental that encompasses the entire Philippine history--from the Spanish occupation up until the Marcos era. Four stories and one novella are enough to tell the tale from a far-fetched province that felt the passage of time through the years.” - Recommended by Nicko de Guzman, assistant editor at Anvil



Seeing our heritage and the years of history embedded within the pages of books shapes our ideas of what the Philippines has become through the memories that continue to haunt us. And with those, a teeming desire to pass on what we know to people who are curious about our nation as well. My only request is that you pass on what you know about our nation’s history that many Filipinos try to discover but often fail to remember.


We’re always looking for BOSFilipinos blog writers! If you’d like to contribute, send us a note at info@bosfilipinos.com.

Filipinos In Boston: An Interview With Artist Lexi DeLeon

By Trish Fontanilla

A couple weeks ago I wrote a bit of a rally cry post to invite more of the community to share their stories with us. It’s. Been. Amazing. Please, please keep the stories comin’ by nominating a Filipino you know / nominating yourself.

This month’s Filipinos in Boston post came to me thanks to Alex Poon who nominated his girlfriend Lexi DeLeon. Lexi is a super talented artist and - well, I’ll just let you read the interview below!

Photo provided by Lexi DeLeon.

Photo provided by Lexi DeLeon.

Where are you and your family from?

Lexi: I was born in the U.S., but my parents are both Filipino and both have family in the Metro Manila area (specifically in Marikina). I visited the the Philippines for the third time in my life last year, the first two times being when I was quite young. I don’t speak Tagalog, unfortunately, but it was really amazing and humbling for me to visit there, especially at an older age. I was also shocked at the amount of cousins I had that I never knew about. It made me realize how much of my culture I’m unfamiliar with, which was kind of sad and alienating at times. One thing that I really loved about being there was just the strong sense of community and family. Even though there were many titas / titos (aunts / uncles) that I had never met, they never hesitated to show me anything but warmth and hospitality, and always sought to make me feel included. I felt like I was never alone there, which was a really comforting feeling.

Where do you work and what do you do?

Lexi: Honestly I’m kind of shy about it, and it’s kind of surreal to write out, but I’m an artist. I do a lot of commission work and I also work a part-time job.

Can you tell us a little more about the art you create and how you got started?

Lexi: As a kid I was always drawing and doodling. My mom told me that when I was young I would take markers and scribble the brightest colors in different patterns until it filled up the whole page. I didn't take it seriously until I moved from New York to a random suburb in Connecticut during my teens. I was really shy and quiet, and I moved at a very weird point in the school year, so that was definitely a very isolating time for me. My mom had signed me up for an after school program which had a focus on the arts and I think that's when I really got into it because the teachers there were extremely supportive and encouraging. They were always willing to lend me art materials that I didn't have at the time or take the students to different art galleries in the area. And I dove head first into art as a means of trying to deal with this difficult transition in my life. Also because I’m shy and internalize a lot of my thoughts, art provides a way for me to express my emotions or how I’m feeling in a way that I can't articulate through conversation.

As for the art I create, I don't think there's a real deep meaning or grand message that is the driving force for the imagery. I think my art is really more emotion based and is inspired by whatever media I'm interested at the time. I'm really drawn to vivid colors at the moment so I'm always trying to incorporate as many colors in one illustration as I can, and there's always a lot of florals and nature. I love honing in small details or intricate line work as well, because my mind just gets lost in it. I feel like the way I make art now is definitely very similar to the way I made art as a child - just picking random colors that catch my eye and filling up a page with different intricate patterns until I feel it’s finished.

On Boston…

Photo provided by Lexi DeLeon.

Photo provided by Lexi DeLeon.

How long have you been in Boston?

Lexi: I’ve been in Boston for about 5 years now I think? I came here for college and have pretty much stayed ever since.

What are your favorite Boston spots (food, parks, spaces, etc!)

Lexi: Ooh, I love visiting different places for food and coffee especially. I’d have to say my favorite place as of now is definitely Solid Ground Cafe on Huntington. I saw an ad for it on Instagram I think, or maybe it was on the BOSFilipinos Instagram page (the only time I was ever actually been enamored by an ad on Instagram), and it was for a coconut pandan latte. I haven’t had pandan since I visited the Philippines, so once I saw the post I made it a priority to try and visit before they closed that day. I was running really late (in typical Filipino fashion) and I think I made it at 2:55PM, and they close at 3PM. I felt so bad being *that* customer, but they were extremely kind and made me a latte anyway. It was single-handedly one of the best lattes I’ve ever had in my life, and I’ve honestly had a lot - I worked at a coffee shop for like 3 ½ years. They also make this amazing ube tart and bibingka (Filipino bake rice cake), which makes me really happy because finding Filipino food in Boston can be really difficult. The owners themselves are just really sweet. When I can, I love just sitting there to have those nostalgic flavors and write / reflect / sketch. Oh, and I am a hardcore stan for Coreanos in Allston.

My long winded love letter to Solid Ground Cafe aside, I also really love sitting on the benches of the Charles River Esplanade during the Spring / Summer and walking along the river and people watching. The reservoir by Cleveland Circle is also a really lovely spot to go to on a nice day. I’m not a very talkative or outgoing person, so finding these spots / areas to just sit and reflect in the midst of everything means a lot me.

On Filipino Food...

What's your all time favorite Filipino dish? (Feel free to link up some recipes, otherwise I’ll find them around the web)

Lexi: This is so hard, wow. I think it has to be kare-kare (Filipino stew with peanut sauce) maybe? Growing up, I only had it during special occasions, so I would eat 3 servings of it as a kid and even now. I have to say lechon kawali (deep fried crispy pork belly) is a really close second though. After that has to be tapsilog (beef tapa, garlic fried rice, and egg). And anything ube flavored. Honestly, I love all Filipino food so much and it’s so rare that I have it so it’s very difficult for me to pick.

What's your favorite Filipino recipe / dish to make?

Lexi: I’m sadly not very blessed with cooking skills but either sinigang (Filipino tamarind soup) or tinola (Filipino chicken soup). They’re just really comforting foods to make, especially in the wintertime. Oh and arroz caldo! I like to make it in a big batch so I can eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I had a dream that I made an ube cheesecake. I can’t really bake but I’m determined to learn now since I clearly prophesied this concoction.

Art by Lexi DeLeon

Art by Lexi DeLeon

On staying in touch…

Do you have any upcoming events / programs / even work things that you’d like to mention?

Lexi: I’m part of a group show at MECA gallery in Lowell , and the reception is this Wednesday on April 24th. I post a lot on Instagram but this is really one of the few times I’ve ever showcased my work in a gallery setting so it’s pretty exciting and anxiety inducing for me. There’s definitely a lot of fear with putting your work out there. At the same time I’m really excited to meet other artists and cultivate those relationships with creatives who may face similar struggles, and to help each other grow.

How can people stay in touch? (Social, email, website, whatever you’re comfortable with)

Lexi: I’m most active on my art Instagram, which is @lecksydee, and a lot of my work can be seen on my website at lexideleon.com.


We’re always looking for BOSFilipinos blog writers! If you’d like to contribute, send us a note at info@bosfilipinos.com.

Help Us Tell More Filipino Stories

By Trish Fontanilla

Trish as a hand model with the program from Dragon Mama.

Trish as a hand model with the program from Dragon Mama.

Last year when I saw Dragon Lady, the first piece in Sara Porkalob’s Dragon Cycle, I was completely blown away. And so this past Sunday when I had the opportunity to see Dragon Mama, the second installment in the trilogy, I was super excited. So excited that from the moment the lights went down, my mouth was embarrassingly wide open in awe. I may have whispered, “She’s so talented,” once or thrice to myself. By the end of the show I was crying (as much as I let myself in public) and in between my low key eye dabs, Sara came back out for some final words since it was the last night of the run. Honestly, I was so high up in the feels, I don’t quite remember everything she said, but there were two things that really stuck out. First, American Rep commissioned Sara to write Dragon Baby, a full cast musical and the final installment of the Dragon Cycle (cue a million screaming emojis and GIFs). And second, if we don’t tell our stories, who will?

Since we formally launched BOSFilipinos almost 2 years ago, I’ve been connecting with everyone’s “one Filipino friend” in Boston pretty much every week. And it’s been awesome, but I want more.

Next month is Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. A month meant to celebrate everything API (Asian Pacific Islander) in the history of the United States. So I’m taking a cue from Sara, and pushing to share even more stories than we ever have before. I’d love to highlight, at least, 31 new stories of Filipinos around Boston, one for each day in May. That’s a lot of content, which means we’re going to need your help!

So, here’s my call to action:

  • If you have an awesome Filipino friend / partner / colleague / acquaintance in Boston or you’ve got a Filipino story to share that has something to do with the history of Boston, we would love to hear from you. You can either pass along our email address, info@bosfilipinos.com OR you can share their email address (with their permission) and I’ll reach out OR you can nominate them for a profile or interview by filling out this form. Don’t forget to tell them how awesome they are. I’ve found that folks don’t always believe that their story is worth being told. Hint: It is. Another hint: Don’t be afraid to nominate yourself!

  • If we’ve already highlighted you, let us know what’s new! Tag us on social with @BOSFilipinos / #BOSFilipinos on Twitter / Instagram / Facebook, or email us, and we’ll figure out a way to highlight you as well!

And while we’re here, it’s more than just getting Filipinos to tell their stories right? You can also…

  • Be more conscious about amplifying Filipino voices. That could be re-sharing a post from a Filipino artist in your news feed, or taking a look around during a club meeting and letting folks know that we’re missing from the conversation.

  • Support platforms and organizations like American Rep that are investing in storytellers like Sara, so that we can continue to get our voices and messages out to our community and beyond.

Thank you, as always, to our many supporters, sponsors, allies, and friends for continuing to support BOSFilipinos thus far. We wouldn’t be here without people like you. And if you'‘d like to get involved in any way (volunteer / sponsor / amplifier), please send us an email info@bosfilipinos.com.

We’ll see you out there!


We’re always looking for BOSFilipinos blog writers! If you’d like to contribute, send us a note at info@bosfilipinos.com.

Filipinos In Boston: An Interview With Account Executive Sunanda Nair

By Trish Fontanilla

I’m super excited to introduce you to, Sunanda Nair! Sunanda and I were trying to remember how we first met, but settled on some networking event many moons ago. The funny part is I’ve known her wife Melissa way longer since we were both among the early users of Yelp when it first launched in Boston almost 15 years ago! Sunanda and I recently reconnected on LinkedIn when I gave our previous Filipinos in Boston women a shout out on International Women’s Day because I wasn’t seeing many Asian / Filipino women being highlighted on speaker’s lists in Boston and beyond.

Thanks again to Sunanda for being a part of Filipinos in Boston, and I hope you all enjoy reading her interview!

Photo provided by Sunanda / Sunanda (far right) with her parents.

Photo provided by Sunanda / Sunanda (far right) with her parents.

Where are you and your family from?
Sunanda:
My mother is from the island of Bohol in the Philippines, and immigrated to the US after nursing school. My father is from Kerala, a state in Southern India. The majority of my mom’s family is still in Bohol and Cebu. When we go back, we always stay in Bohol but we stop in Cebu to see extended family on the way.

Both my mother and father are close with their families, so as a child I visited their homelands every other year on a rotation. I was born in India but truly feel close to both my Filipino and Indian sides. I grew up around a lot of Filipinos and Indians in the Detroit area, and most of our meals were either South Indian or Filipino cuisine. It was a treat when we got “American” foods in the house for dinner. Although I still prefer the food I grew up with. I could eat rice with literally every meal.

Where do you work and what do you do?
Sunanda:
Currently I work at Privy, a tech company in downtown Boston. I am a Senior Account Executive on the team.

You’ve got an interesting resume that’s taken you from non-profits to for-profits, startups and public companies. Can you tell us more about your career journey and what led you to Privy?
Sunanda
: So my career trajectory is a winding one. I went to school for cognitive science and landed my first job abroad in India doing  HIV / AIDS research at the largest government hospital in the country. After that I came back to the US and split my time between playing poker online and working for non-profits and NGOs. I landed in Boston accidentally because my close friend was moving here, and I came along for the ride on the moving truck. I hung out here for awhile before deciding to take a summer certificate program at Boston University in public health. After finishing the program, I found myself working for an organization called Massachusetts & Asian Pacific Islands for Health (MAP for Health) doing program management, and research with the Massachusetts Department of Health and the CDC. The focus was on HIV / AIDS awareness and prevention in the Asian community. After MAP I worked for MataHari, a local Boston organization that works with diverse communities with a mission to end gender based violence and exploitation. While I was there I started to really enjoy marketing and took on a part-time internship as a social media marketer, which then turned into a part-time job. Because of that I started taking on consulting projects doing marketing and lead generation for various small businesses. While that was great, I realized I wanted some benefits like healthcare so I decided to apply for full-time marketing roles. I was able to secure an interview at a small startup that had no VP of  Marketing, so the VP of Sales interviewed me. Two days after my interview he offered me a sales job and I thought he was legitimately crazy. However, he challenged me to take a risk and I took it. I’m lucky that he was a great coach and mentor. I quickly learned I loved sales, even though it was really hard. That first sales job was all cold calling and even door-to-door sales. From there I went to a few more startups, and landed at one that was acquired by IBM. I spent 2 years at IBM and then wanted to go back to small company life and back to sales. I worked with Wistia for 2 years, which was amazing, but an opportunity to join Privy presented itself and it felt like a challenge so I took it. I love where I am right now, but can’t wait to see what the next 5 years have in store for me!

Photo provided by Sunanda / Sunanda with her 2 y/o son Rishi.

Photo provided by Sunanda / Sunanda with her 2 y/o son Rishi.

On Boston…

How long have you been in Boston?
Sunanda:
I moved to Boston in 2009, spent half a year in NYC and then ended back up in Boston. So almost 10 years! Wow, that’s crazy for me to type out.

What are your favorite Boston spots (food, parks, spaces, etc!)
Sunanda:
I love the Boston Common and Public Garden in the summer. It seems a little cliche but it’s a great place to have a picnic, walk around when the weather is nice, and just enjoy the urban park. Now that I have a son the Frog Pond is the best thing to go to on hot days.

Also, I love love  Winsor Dim Sum Cafe in Chinatown. It’s been one of my favorites for years.

I hesitate to share this secret but in my opinion Charlestown is one of Boston’s best kept secrets. I lived there for almost 3 years, and it’s like a mini town right next to the city. It feels like a community.  I knew my neighbors, some who have lived there for 50+ years. There are tons of parks, a brewery, a growing restaurant selection, and you can walk to the North End in about 15-30 minutes depending on where you are in the neighborhood.

Photo provided by Sunanda

Photo provided by Sunanda

On Filipino Food...

What's your all time favorite Filipino dish?
Sunanda:
Oh, man. It’s hard to pick. I will say my mom’s pancit recipe (noodle dish I would have to write it out), and kare kare (coconut milk or peanut sauce version). I couldn’t pick between the two. I feel like lechon is a given. Does it even need to be said?

What's your favorite Filipino recipe / dish to make?
Sunanda:
Ok, so full confession I am not really the cook in my house but my goal is to perfect my mom’s version of pancit.

On staying in touch…

Do you have any upcoming events / programs / even work things that you’d like to mention?
Sunanda:
I love a good side hustle and started investing in real estate in 2016. I am always down to talk to people who are interested in it, currently doing it, or both. I consider myself a novice still so the more I talk to people about it the more I learn.

Also, I am working on a product with my first sales boss which you can view at suvliner.com. Yes, we definitely know the website needs work. I would love to connect with people who have a background in consumer goods since we both are learning as we go. The website just got launched, but we aren’t in full selling mode yet, but we do have inventory.  Right now we are testing a new prototype for a smaller version of the product so we can offer 2 sizes. We are still very early in our journey and we aren’t looking to be millionaires just trying to have fun and keep learning new things. Although, if we hit it big neither of us will complain. :)

How can people stay in touch?
Sunanda:
sunanda.nair@gmail.com / https://www.linkedin.com/in/sunandanair/ (if we haven’t met just leave a note introducing yourself and I am happy to connect) / and Twitter: @snaps4life

I am open to grabbing coffee with people all the time so don’t hesitate to reach out!


We’re always looking for BOSFilipinos blog writers! If you’d like to contribute, send us a note at info@bosfilipinos.com.

This is Our Strength: Why Filipinos Celebrate Fiestas and Festivals

By Reina Adriano

Photo provided by Reina Adriano

Photo provided by Reina Adriano

In many Filipino homes, there will always be a corner for reverence. You will find an altar with many statues of saints perched on top, with candles, rosaries, and novenas adorning the table where it is set. In the States where I do not have my own altar, I  have a makeshift one instead: a small area of my study table is occupied by stampitas—images of the Pope, the Virgin Mary, and Jesus Christ on bookmarks—staring straight at me while I read my notes for grad school, allowing me to remember where my religious roots lie. Beside those on my desk, a rosary hangs around a small lamp. My mother usually chats me up on Messenger in the evenings, “Don’t forget to pray before going to bed,” she says. “And ask for guidance while you’re away.”

 

“I will, Ma,” I reply. “I always remember.” I close my laptop and head to bed.

 

I make it a habit to remember that February is the feast day of Santa Misericordia, the patron of my mother’s town--and to some extent, mine--in Legazpi, Albay. It is a small town in Bicol, Philippines. Tourists who visit our place long for beach weather and white sand, clear skies and fresh flowing water, but reality is far from that. Where my mother comes from, there is not much but sea and storms, the wind brushing past from the east side of the peninsula. There is also an active volcano that erupts every so often, spreading lava to the nearby towns and dusting every rooftop with ash. My mother loves visiting our province--both her hometown and my summer spot--in time for the fiestas; my grandparents, too. They are all religious devotees of the Virgin Mary.

 There is this concept called Panata, or a votive offering, wherein families pass on the tradition of servicing the Church. The religious statues symbolize the faith of many Filipino households, always revering the saints in altars secluded in a corner of living rooms. The scent of candles, fragrant oils, and incense waft through the house; rosaries, novenas and prayer books decorate the pedestals. It is our way of connecting with divinity. In addition to this, some families give out donations, others volunteer their sons and daughters to partake in the parade for the festivals of their patron saints. In my family’s case, we promised that we would give our patron saint, Nuestra Senora de Santa Misericordia (Our Lady of Mercy), her dress for the parade. It is a tradition that has been upheld and passed on for generations.

My mother is an avid believer of this Panata. It is her promise of attending to Our Lady in exchange for a good life for everyone in our family. Imagine buying fabric, getting the measurements, sewing the dress, adding beads and sequins, and putting ornaments on a statue. Imagine numerous preparations, sleepless nights on choosing the best design “worth wearing by the Virgin Mary,” hands overworked from threading through a needle. My family does all of this because we believe there is value in these acts somewhere in the afterlife. However, my family also does it to show how close-knit we are with the community. Not many people understand our customs and traditions, but it is in that mystery behind the beliefs that make them want to see it for themselves. What’s so amazing about this culture of togetherness that other nationalities find so fascinating? What is so special about the Filipino handaan (feast) and salusalo (get-togethers), the kamayan or boodle fight, and the festival etiquette that is associated with it? Why do we love celebrating feasts and even eating with our hands with the food served on banana leaves as a way of sharing food with the entire community?

Photo provided by Reina Adriano

Photo provided by Reina Adriano

Popular festivals such as Masskara, Sinulog, Ati-Atihan, Dinagyang, Panagbenga, and Moriones are part of tourists’ bucket lists. These festivals are mostly connected to our history and Spanish influence due to the 300-year occupation. Needless to say it also anchors us down to our religious history of the dominant Roman Catholicism. Many tourists watch penitential rites during the Lenten Season, thinking its all colors and loud music when in fact it’s all about people reflecting on their faith and their way of life—a time for contemplation and penance. I remember as a child watching other young girls being dressed up as an angel to help in the Salubong for Easter Sunday, as a flowergirl for Flores de Mayo, and as Reyna Elena, if chosen for the Santacruzan parade. It should be worth noting that these are quite different from the livelier festivities tantamount to fun and enjoyment. However, if they stay long enough until Easter they will find themselves surrounded by activities that signify rebirth and renewal. Cash-prized contests such as Bingo and raffle draws, palarong Pinoy (Filipino games), and even beauty pageants are also part of the week-long activities.

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The food will not disappoint, either: the adobo, palabok (festival noodles), kare-kare (curry), lumpia (egg rolls), all the smells of palatable cuisine which the household is ready to share to anyone who chooses to enter. Sometimes I would watch my grandmother toil in the kitchen in her own sweat, wondering why she tries to give so much when in fact she receives very little in return. She would let me taste-test a few of her treats, lest she’s expecting a lot of guests knocking on our door. “May bisita, Apo (We have guests, Granddaughter,” she would tell, “Papasukin mo lang (Just let them in).” Never mind the small, cramped living room, or the lack of air-conditioning in the house. We have extra monobloc chairs and mini-electric fans, anyway. Never mind that there isn’t much to go around; what’s important is that we have something to share.

The fact remains that people will always invite you to eat at their place, even when you tell them you're just passing by, or that you just wanted to see the parade, and then go your way after. The locals would even ask you to take some food along before you leave. This is also the reason why we love karaoke over beer and good company while singing to our heart’s desire, why we can fill an entire house with a dozen relatives or more from both sides of the family. We remember our faith and traditions by celebrating these festivals. But we also love to leave the impression that we can always share, despite the strain in financial resources or in times of trouble. We choose to welcome those who are estranged, those who rise above adversity, those who have strength to hope. All I can say is that Filipinos endure. I am miles away from my family right now, but I can imagine everyone happily eating with their hands. I can smell the waft of great food from the kitchen. I can hear the chatting of relatives and the queuing up of songs on the jukebox. Somewhere in the corner, the saints and our offerings. This is our way of community.


We’re always looking for BOSFilipinos blog writers! If you’d like to contribute, send us a note at info@bosfilipinos.com.