Friday, January 16, 2015

A revolutionary Pope in a very, very Catholic country: The RH Bill and Freedom of Speech

Pope Francis sat with children at a foundation that helps homeless kids in Manila on Jan. 16. (Source: Associated Press / Wall Street Journal)
The People’s Pope, Pope Francis, is in the Philippines. He set foot on Philippine soil to, no surprise here, throngs of devout Catholics. As a Catholic myself, I can sense the excitement all the way here from Canada.  I'm excited and hopeful his arrival will tir up some sense in the country.

There are a number of concerns embroiled between the Catholic Church and the Philippine state. (Insurmountable) poverty, environmental degradation, political violence and corruption are some of the obvious ones.  These concerns, I’m sure are ones our Latino Pope may already know all too well. But, nowhere is the discussion more contentious than the debate around the Filipina body and her reproductive health.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sandok and Pampanga's yummy -silog menu

Biya and Longsilog at
Pampanga Restaurant
I had breakfast this morning at Pampanga Restaurant.

It isn't everyday I get to enjoy a Filipino breakfast out, but this visit was spurned by a need to tie up some loose ends with our upcoming publication, Sandok.

This oral history/food culture/recipe book is (as I've mentioned) written by Manila to Manitoba researchers, Kezia Malabanan and Ma. Monica De Castro. In 2011, the authors set out to interview local restauranteurs and record their narratives on regionalism, immigration, and (of course) food culture. Tita Lourdes of Pampanga Restaurant is one of the five informants featured.

Nestled away on Henry Avenue in Winnipeg's downtown, Pampanga is best known for its Filipino breakfasts. This much is evident by the number of customers seated in the restaurant (beside its large banquet hall). The aroma of dried fish (tuyo), hearty Filipino meats (longanisa, tocino and tapa), garlic fried rice, and eggs resemble the Philippines in its own morning hours. The Filipino Channel streams the news in Tagalog on its numerous TVs and the murmur of Filipino dialects are punctuated with the slight clanging of utensils. Ordering breakfast is an adventure - especially if you like deciphering word combinations. So, what is a silog anyways?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Manyfest: Where's the Patis?

Filipino food truck "Pimp My Rice" at Manyfest
Over the weekend, Winnipeg was spoiled with a culinary offering of "truck food." Memorial Boulevard became a generator-powered food court of moving kitchens. It was a beautiful sunny day to stand in the music and the sun waiting for an order. There were plenty of people about with their cameras ready to show the e-world their lunch. Although some meals appeared faster and better prepared that others, it was evident that the longer the line the more popular the food truck. Filipino "street food" was clearly one of the sought out kitchen.

Outside the 'Pimp My Rice' food truck, there was a good mix of hungry Filipinos and non-Filipinos standing in line. I'm not sure if any expected the traditional ihaw (barbecue) of bituka (intestine), ulong manok (chicken heads), dugo (blood cubes) that litter many street corners at night in the Philippines. I didn't see anyone leave with a plastic bag (yes a bag) filled with soda and a straw  (my favorite kind of island packaging).  I imagine the Filipino food truck offered a platter of the safer Filipino-Canadian fare like pansit, pork barbecue and rice. It was a menu of things I'm sure we (as Filipinos) could cook at home. So, why the long line?

Friday, September 5, 2014

Inspiring Filipino-Canadian Oral History: Rap me a story

Hip hop is said to be an amalgamation of many artistic forms. Its roots lie within a subculture of celebrated marginalism in New York's South Bronx and Harlem in the 1970s. It has since grown to an amazing network of barrios, barangays, and bantustans the world over. Hip hop is universal with or without a colour to whatever beat.

In Canada, it is no surprise then that Hip Hop would take root among today's Filipino-Canadian communities to create a narrative and a sound all its own. The uniqueness of immigration, separation, regionalism, cultural confusion and economic struggle from the Filipino perspective is an honest and edgy offering of oral history neither a museum nor academic can portray.

In this blog post, I will introduce two Filipino-Canadian artists who employ hip hop as their medium: Han Han of Toronto and Nereo II of Winnipeg. Both offer much inspiration to our emerging generation.