Every Day is a Food Day

Filipino Food: "Ang Sarap!" ("It's Delicious!")

October 27, 2022 Van Valin Productions & YumDay Season 3 Episode 34
Every Day is a Food Day
Filipino Food: "Ang Sarap!" ("It's Delicious!")
Show Notes Transcript

Mabuhay, Listeners! October is Filipino American History Month, and we're excited to celebrate with a special Filipino food episode! Our Chef-Creator Lia Ballentine shares her Filipino culture with us and dives into her culinary heritage with stories about her favorite family dishes, traditional ingredients, and how Filipino food is becoming mainstream in America (even though Filipinos have been in this country since the 1580s!). Plus we find out which celebrities are secretly Filipino (Bruno Mars! Darren Criss! A quarter of the Black Eyed Peas!) Then in the Deep Dish, our Foodlospher Anna Van Valin unveils another hidden figure in the food and science world: Maria Ylagan Orosa! Maria was a food scientist and war hero who revolutionized the way Filipinos eat, created some of the most beloved Filipino foods and ingredients, and also saved thousands of people from starvation during World War II. Are you ready to take a bite into this delicious episode? "Kain na!" "Let's eat!"

Read the transcript of this episode.

Explore more from the show:

  •  Listen to White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford talk about her days as a "Salad Bar Girl." 
  •  Watch Chefs Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan talk about the rise of Filipino food in America.  
  •  Get your groove on with this Black Eyed Peas hit in Tagalog, "Bebot."

Connect with us!
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* Join our mailing list for extra content and to keep up with all the exciting things we have planned for this season.
*Get yourself a delicious Yumday snack box

0:00:00.0 Lia Ballentine: And she got invited to set up a food vending spot at Coachella. And what she decided to do was make halo-halo. I mean, talk about a perfect, cool, icy dessert.


0:00:11.0 Anna Van Valin: Yeah, when it's 100 degrees out there.


0:00:12.6 LB: Oh, yeah. And then she mixed it with Red Bull.




0:00:18.0 LB: So now you've got this delicious dessert, pumping you full of energy, and with the ube and all the colors, it was so pretty. People were Instagramming it everywhere. And folks were like, "What is this?"


0:00:30.0 AV: Way to play the game.


0:00:32.0 LB: Genius.


0:00:33.0 AV: Play the game.




0:00:37.1 LB: Mabuhay, listeners. Welcome to Every Day is a Food Day. A show about the stories, scandals, and history, and holidays behind your favorite foods.




0:01:01.2 LB: I'm your host, Chef-creator, Lia Ballentine.


0:01:04.0 AV: And I'm your other host and Foodlosopher, Anna Van Valin. We've got something very special for you today. October is Filipino American History Month, so we're going to take a trip to the land of Leah's birth and dive into all things Filipino food.


0:01:17.8 LB: We're going to talk about traditional ingredients and dishes, the huge role Filipinos have played in American history, chefs who are rocking the culinary world and Instagram, and all the celebrities you didn't know were Filipino.


0:01:28.9 AV: We're looking at you, Bruno Mars.


0:01:30.1 LB: Plus, I'm gonna tell you all about my favorite foods from home.


0:01:33.8 AV: And I'm gonna try to pronounce them. I'll also tell you about a phenomenal Filipina named María e Ylagan Orosa, a food scientist and war hero who single-handedly revolutionized the way Filipinos eat, invented some of the most beloved and significant Filipino foods, and saved thousands from starvation during World War II.


0:01:51.0 LB: Support this women in BIPOC created independent podcast by clicking the Buy Me a Coffee link in the show notes or on our website to help us cover the cost of production. And please leave us a rating and review.


0:02:02.0 AV: For more delicious content about these foods and stories, and a peek behind the scenes, check out the links in our show notes. To visit our website, join our mailing list, and connect with us on social media at the screen name @FoodDayPod, including our monthly Instagram Lives.


0:02:15.4 LB: Thanks for listening to today's special episode and maraming salamat sa inyong lahat.




0:02:25.6 AV: Hi, Lia.


0:02:26.0 LB: Hello, Anna. Or should I say, Mabuhay which means welcome.


0:02:30.3 AV: You should.


0:02:30.9 LB: And long life.


0:02:34.0 AV: [chuckle] I'm so excited. We're gonna talk about Filipino food, Filipino-American food, and history.


0:02:37.9 LB: Yay! I know.


0:02:40.0 AV: I can't wait to hear all about it.


0:02:42.2 LB: I'm really pumped, and it's super special to be able to get to do this.


0:02:46.0 AV: I know.


0:02:46.1 LB: And talk about it, in this format with all of you. And this is my first time to really just dig into Filipino food.


0:02:52.8 AV: I know. You mentioned several of your favorite dishes and that experience of being an immigrant kid with your food in our very first episode, but we're gonna dig deep.


0:03:02.8 LB: We are.


0:03:03.5 AV: I had my first real Filipino meal today.


0:03:07.0 LB: Tell me all about it. Oh, my gosh! 


0:03:09.3 AV: Yes. I was like, "I should probably know what I'm talking about, at least a little when we do this." So I went to Big Boy, which is Filipino comfort food in West Los Angeles. It was delicious.


0:03:22.7 LB: Oh, my gosh! 


0:03:23.7 AV: And I got the lumpia, which is we're gonna talk about all these foods, which is like meaty egg rolls. I wrote, "Perfect meat-to-flake ratio."


0:03:32.7 LB: [chuckle] You gotta get it just right. You gotta have those flakes in there, the nice crispy pastry part.


0:03:38.2 AV: But also have the filling, so you don't just feel like you're biting through pie crust.


0:03:44.6 LB: Exactly.


0:03:45.5 AV: I had the pancit 'cause I want my long life.


0:03:48.7 LB: You gotta have a long life, yes, the noodles...


0:03:50.0 AV: And I did it. I tried the spaghetti. We've talked about the spaghetti so many times.


0:03:57.7 LB: [laughter] Okay. Tell me your thoughts on the spaghetti. I didn't try it from Big Boy, so I don't know what their take is on it.


0:04:04.4 AV: Well, it wasn't exactly the way you've described it, which makes me think that they westernized it a little bit 'cause it wasn't that sweet, but it did have... So it was like regular spaghetti. It had a little bit of a meat tomato sauce. And then it had... You've said they put hot dogs in it. I thought they were more like cocktail weenies.


0:04:24.2 LB: Oh, so they must have done like little smoked sausages in there.


0:04:27.0 AV: Yeah, they were like little sweet smoked sausages that were kinda sliced up.


0:04:29.9 LB: Oh, okay. Nice.


0:04:31.6 AV: And then like a pile of cheddar cheese.


0:04:36.7 LB: [chuckle] Just good old processed cheese.


0:04:39.0 AV: Just like bright yellow cheese on top. So what's not to like? Hello.


0:04:48.1 LB: [chuckle] Keep adding more cheese.


0:04:50.0 AV: But then I also had the calamansi. Am I saying that right? 


0:04:53.8 LB: Calamansi. I say calamansi, but... [chuckle]


0:04:56.1 AV: Calamansi.


0:04:57.0 LB: That could be my accent. [chuckle]


0:05:00.8 AV: Juice. Which I'd never had, and I read about it when I was doing my research for The Deep Dish. And the calamansi is a citrus that's native to the Philippines. So it's like a Filipino lime.


0:05:10.8 LB: Yeah.


0:05:11.4 AV: So it was like a funky limeade.


0:05:13.3 LB: Yeah, it's like our own little key lime. Kind of more tangy like a key lime flavor.


0:05:18.4 AV: It was delicious.


0:05:19.7 LB: Oh, gosh. I love calamansi. You can take that, squeeze it on the pancit to brighten it up, the way we would squeeze lemon on different dishes.


0:05:29.1 AV: Yeah. Everything felt like recognizably Asian food, but with its own flavors. Like a very different surprising cast of flavors that I wouldn't get if I was eating Thai food or Vietnamese food. And I thought that was super cool.


0:05:43.3 LB: Oh, yeah. And we'll talk about that a little bit later too, because there's just a ton of different influences that have led us to what we see and eat as Filipino cuisine today. But I'm so glad you got to go to Big Boy. First of all, I love that place. And then right next to Big Boy is B Sweet.


0:06:01.9 AV: B Sweet, a Filipino dessert shop.


0:06:04.7 LB: Yes.


0:06:06.6 AV: And they weren't open. 'Cause I went for lunch, so they weren't open yet. But a friend and Food Fay fam, Roya. Hi, Roya, if you're listening.


0:06:13.1 LB: Hi, Roya. [chuckle]


0:06:14.7 AV: Brought me ube bread pudding a few weeks ago. And get this, Dole whip pie.


0:06:23.3 LB: What? 


0:06:24.8 AV: Dole whip pie.


0:06:26.0 LB: That's amazing. Okay.


0:06:28.8 AV: It tasted like a damn Dole whip, people. And the ube bread pudding was really interesting because, I don't know, you're gonna talk about ube. I've had ube donuts, but that's a lighter, fluffier texture to bread pudding, obviously. It was dense and heavy. The ube and the bread pudding, it almost have like a dark chocolate vibe.


0:06:51.5 LB: Oh, yeah. It's rich and deep.


0:06:54.1 AV: Definitely gotta go back there. It was closed.


0:06:56.2 LB: Yeah. You have to go back.


0:06:58.8 AV: Research, people. I'm thorough.


0:07:00.0 LB: That's right. It's for research. Oh, that's awesome.


0:07:04.3 AV: Well, tell us again about... You came to the US when you were in elementary school, right? 


0:07:08.9 LB: Mm-hmm.


0:07:09.5 AV: And you were telling me before about that immigrant kid lunch box moment.


0:07:14.3 LB: Yeah, the lunch box moment. For all of the other immigrant kids who are listening, you know what I'm talking about. This is that moment where you bring your food from home. The food that you eat all the time on your first day of school. And you sit there, and you open it up, and some other kid says, "Ew, what's that smell?"


0:07:32.7 AV: Oh, no.


0:07:33.3 LB: "What are you eating? What is that? Gross." And it's the most just traumatic, horrifying thing. And I just remember when that happened to me, I became super ashamed and scared, and I talked about it in our very, very first episode you know that.


0:07:50.0 AV: Right, I remember.


0:07:50.9 LB: This was like, food was how I was learning about America, and then food was the way I was gonna show off my culture. But having that lunch box moment freaked me out, because I felt like, "Okay, now I'm definitely not going to be accepted." People think what I'm eating is weird, and it made me question a lot of like, "Oh, is this weird? Am I weird? I guess so." And yeah, it's really sad. And you're just like, "Mom, dad, I just wanna bring like a sandwich to lunch," even though I was bringing amazing pancit or adobo leftovers. But when you're a kid, you don't realize that. And instead, you're like, "I guess I'll just have Lunchables, because that's better." [chuckle]


0:08:29.7 AV: Right.


0:08:31.0 LB: It was really sad, but there was a moment, where we had this Filipino culture day. The teachers are like, "Oh, would you like to present about your country, and your history, and traditions? And you wanna bring food samples?" And I was super nervous about this. I'm already trying really hard to fit in. I already know people thought my food was gross. And now here, I've gotta talk about being Filipino, dressing up in traditional clothes. I used to do folk dances when I was a kid, too. So I was wearing that to school. I just was bracing to get made fun of and bullied, and all of that. And then my mom thought, "You know what we should make for the food is pancit? We can make a lot of it, a lot of this great noodle dish." And we've talked about it before. We always serve pancit on special occasions, because the noodles symbolize long life. It's to your health, and so I thought, "Okay, fine. We'll do it." But I just thought, "This is over. This is over. I'm not going to have a single friend. Everyone will hate me. I'll just get made fun of." And you know what? The kids freaking loved the pancit.


0:09:41.9 AV: Of course they did.


0:09:44.0 LB: I could see some classmates hesitant to try it, but I think they saw teachers trying it, which was really cool and they liked it. And then other students were eating it, and they thought this was the best. But yeah, there were kids that were really enjoying it to the point where some classmates were asking all the time, like, "Hey, did your mom make those noodles?" Yeah, I felt so good and proud about it, and I think they were very excited, too. And mind you, I'm a Filipino immigrant kid going to school in East Tennessee in the '80s. So yeah, it was just like me and my sister. [chuckle] We were like the only people of color, really, at the school, at our small school, and.


0:10:24.5 AV: It was really doing it on hard mode. It's not like you were in San Francisco.


0:10:28.4 LB: Exactly, right? [chuckle] And so that definitely gave me the courage to be able to talk about my food, bring my food, invite other people to come to the house and eat Filipino food with me, which was great. And it's cool to see so many people today. And I love seeing young kids today just being open to trying all sorts of cuisines, and willing to do something different, try something they've never eaten before. And that makes me happy.


0:10:57.0 AV: Aw, that's wonderful. And look at you now.


0:11:00.2 LB: And look at me now. Now I get to talk about it. Talk about all the foods that used to give me these waves of anxiety if I had to bring them to the lunchroom.


0:11:08.9 AV: Yeah. But it's like we talk about... Food is so much a part of identity, and it's a human constant, right? It's part of our holidays, our celebrations, our relationships, and all these things. So for somebody to reject your food, I can totally see why that would feel like a rejection of yourself and vice versa, right? And then when they're open to your food, it feels like, "Oh, you're open to me."


0:11:32.0 LB: Exactly. That's it.


0:11:34.0 AV: I'm just having an image of an American kid in the Philippines, who brought a PB&J and having all the Filipino kids be like, "Ew, what is that?"


0:11:43.3 LB: What is that? 


0:11:44.9 AV: What's your weird, slimy peanut butter? 




0:11:49.7 LB: And then they tried it...


0:11:51.0 AV: And were like, "Whoa!"


0:11:51.7 LB: And they were like, "Goddamn. Yeah." PB&J all day.


0:11:55.9 AV: All day.




0:11:57.8 AV: All right, well, I'm so excited now. I wanna hear all about Filipino American History Month. I wanna hear about all of the holiday celebrations, dig into this food, and people. Apparently, every other celebrity is Filipino.


0:12:10.6 LB: Oh, yeah. They are.


0:12:11.7 AV: And you don't know it.


0:12:12.6 LB: You don't know it.


0:12:13.1 AV: I don't even know it.




0:12:30.5 AV: So let's start with the reason why we're talking about this today. It's Filipino American History Month.


0:12:36.1 LB: Yes, it is. Happy Fil-Am History Month, everybody. This is so exciting.


0:12:41.3 AV: I know. Honestly, I didn't even know there was a specific Filipino American History Month.


0:12:46.2 LB: Yeah, this officially got recognized by Congress, US Congress, in 2009, but it was started way back in 1992 by a couple of Filipino American activists, Doctors Fred and Dorothy Cordova. And they are the folks that created and launched the Filipino American National Historical Society to really try to capture and document all of the things that Filipino Americans did to change culture and impact culture here in the US.


0:13:15.0 AV: I like that you said all the way back in 1992.


0:13:17.3 LB: All the way back.




0:13:18.9 LB: All the way back.


0:13:19.7 AV: All the way back.


0:13:20.1 LB: Do you remember those days? 


0:13:21.3 AV: To fifth grade.




0:13:24.5 LB: So it's interesting that they decided to start this recognition month in October. And that's because October 18th, 1587, all the way back in 1587.


0:13:36.5 AV: That's an all the way back.


0:13:37.5 LB: Yeah, that's an all the way back. That's when the first Filipinos were documented coming into the United States. So there were Filipino sailors that were on board a Spanish galleon called Nuestra Señora de Esperanza. And they came ashore at what is now Morro Bay in California.


0:13:55.5 AV: Wow. That's so cool.


0:13:58.8 LB: So that's an actual record of the first Filipinos arriving here back in the 1580s.


0:14:04.1 AV: Amazing.


0:14:04.6 LB: Which is awesome. We've been around for quite some time.


0:14:08.1 AV: Somebody kept those guest lists, those ship manifests.




0:14:12.0 LB: That's right.


0:14:12.9 AV: Good job hoarding, whoever that was.


0:14:14.8 LB: Good job. But yeah, so this month is just a great time for us to recognize the role that Filipinos have played in American history. So during this time, we like to honor all those Filipino-American veterans, who served during the war. Filipinos who participated in really important labor movements, and there's one person I wanna call out. And his name is Larry Itliong. And Larry was part of the Farm Labor Movement in California. He called on a bunch of Filipino great farm workers in Delano, California to go on strike for better pay. Obviously, bad conditions, poor pay, people being treated horribly.


0:14:53.0 AV: Hard, hard, hard labor.


0:14:55.0 LB: Yeah. And Larry wanted to make sure that we deserved better for our workers. So here's the interesting thing. You all might know the name Cesar Chavez as being a leader in this movement. But it was actually Larry who got Chavez to join him on strike with the grape workers. Yeah, so Larry kind of brought the Filipinos together to go on strike. And he called his friend, Cesar, and was like, "Hey. " The Mexican community was also really big, took up a lot of the farm labor positions.


0:15:25.2 AV: Right.


0:15:25.5 LB: And he said, "It would be great if you all joined us to go on strike because we deserve better." And so the two of them worked together, started the strike. It went on for five years from 1965-1970. And all of their work and activism started the United Farm Workers Union, so this is huge.


0:15:42.0 AV: Wow, very cool.


0:15:43.5 LB: And then, as we mentioned, there are a lot of Filipinos in the arts that you didn't even know were Filipino.


0:15:49.3 AV: Didn't even know.


0:15:50.1 LB: Didn't even know.


0:15:50.9 AV: Okay. This list is gonna blow your mind.


0:15:53.4 LB: [chuckle] We'll start with an obvious one. So I wanna do a shout out to Ms. Lea Salonga, Tony Award winner, Miss Saigon, the voice of Jasmine, the voice of Mulan in all the Disney movies. She's actually who I'm named after. I mean, I'm Lia, but she's Lea.


0:16:09.0 AV: Wow, are they big musical fans? 


0:16:11.4 LB: They are, and she was just on the rise when I was born. So she was this Filipina who went to the States and just was living out this dream.


0:16:21.5 AV: Oh, I love that.


0:16:23.4 LB: Yeah. And then, today we've got Saweetie.


0:16:27.0 AV: Saweetie? 


0:16:27.9 LB: We've got her, Apl.de.ap from the Black Eyed Peas. Darren Criss. Hello? 


0:16:35.8 AV: Right? 


0:16:36.1 LB: Yeah, that blew my mind. I really didn't know about that.


0:16:39.1 AV: Me neither.


0:16:39.9 LB: Until he brought his Filipino mom to an award ceremony.


0:16:43.3 AV: Right? Well, I'd see him on Glee, and I'd be like, "He's not quite White." But I couldn't quite put my finger on it. And then he was playing Andrew Cunanan, who was Filipino.


0:16:55.8 LB: I know and I was like...


0:16:56.1 AV: And I was like, "That's weird."


0:16:58.4 LB: He looks like him.


0:17:00.3 AV: But then, yeah, he brought his Filipino mom.


0:17:01.4 LB: Yeah, he brought his mom. And I was like, "Oh, do you think she's happy that he's not a doctor? 




0:17:08.8 AV: Well, mom, I've made it. I'm playing a gay murderer.


0:17:11.8 LB: That's right. I did it. Forget medical school.




0:17:16.5 AV: Who needs to be an engineer? 


0:17:18.0 LB: Exactly.


0:17:18.8 Darren Criss: As we've seen, this has been a marvelous year for representation in Hollywood. And I am so enormously proud to be a teeny tiny part of that as the son of a firecracker Filipino woman from Cebu that dreamed of coming to this country and getting to be invited to cool parties like this. So mom, I know you're watching this. You are hugely responsible for most of the good things in my life. I love you dearly. I dedicate this to you.


0:17:41.2 LB: Yeah, Darren Criss, he was a surprise. I think you've got some stars today, like Olivia Rodrigo. Vanessa Hudgens.


0:17:47.9 AV: Really? 


0:17:49.0 LB: Yeah. Yeah.


0:17:49.4 AV: Wow.


0:17:49.6 LB: Yeah. Bruno Mars.


0:17:52.0 AV: Okay. This, guys, this blew my mind. I thought Bruno Mars was just everything and nothing.




0:18:00.0 LB: He is kinda.


0:18:00.0 AV: But he's a full Filipino? 


0:18:01.9 LB: Filipino, Hawaiian, it's a little mixed there, but he's definitely Pinoy.


0:18:07.9 AV: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Mystery solved.


0:18:12.1 LB: Yeah. Bruno Mars.


0:18:12.9 AV: We were onto you, Bruno Mars. He's one of those people that everyone claims.


0:18:14.0 LB: Yeah. He's ours. He's ours.


0:18:15.4 AV: He's one of those.


0:18:20.2 LB: Filipinos really love to do that, though. They're like a sixteenth Filipino.


0:18:25.2 AV: Right. Right.


0:18:25.6 LB: They're like, "Oh, they're ours." Arnel Pineda, the lead singer of Journey.


0:18:30.9 AV: Really? 


0:18:31.0 LB: Filipino.


0:18:32.3 AV: Don't stop believing, guys.


0:18:36.8 LB: Have you heard his story? 


0:18:36.9 AV: No.


0:18:37.0 LB: Oh, my gosh! So Steve Perry was like the OG lead singer of Journey. And then when he was gone, they needed to find a new lead. And Arnel Pineda was a little karaoke guy. There's like YouTube videos of him, and he sounds exactly like Steve Perry. So when the band was looking for a new lead singer, they're like, "Who is this small Filipino dude...


0:18:56.9 AV: Who's got some pipes.


0:18:57.0 LB: Singing Don't Stop Believing? And he sounds just like Steve Perry. And he is the lead singer of Journey. And it's amazing. As a gift, we took my mom to a Journey concert because Arnel was performing. And when he sings, he sounds exactly like Steve. No different. But then when he would stop and talk to the crowd, it was so cute because he had his Filipino accent. You couldn't understand what he was saying. [laughter] It was adorable.


0:19:25.3 AV: Oh, no. But yeah. Amazing. And then classic, Lou Diamond Phillips.


0:19:27.2 LB: Lou Diamond Phillips. That surprised me, too.


0:19:31.6 AV: Right? The little bomba threw you off.


0:19:33.9 LB: It threw me off. I was like, what? Richie Balans is Filipino? 


0:19:37.9 AV: Come on.


0:19:40.4 LB: Of course.


0:19:41.4 AV: You should DM us if you know of other people and celebrities who are Filipino that we didn't know about.


0:19:44.7 LB: Yes, please. Yeah. The clandestine Filipinos.


0:19:47.7 AV: Surprise us. They're everywhere.


0:19:51.7 LB: I love it. Well, they've been here since the fricking 1570s or something.


0:19:58.9 AV: Right. Obviously. There's Going to be a little Filipinos everywhere.


0:20:01.1 LB: That's why we should be celebrating Filipino American Heritage Month is because it is more of our heritage than we realize.


0:20:07.5 AV: That's true.


0:20:08.7 LB: Not you.


0:20:09.2 AV: Well said.


0:20:12.9 LB: But overall, American. Big capital A.


0:20:14.1 AV: Yeah.


0:20:22.0 LB: But what's interesting is, you know what? There aren't any specific Filipino food holidays in the US, 'cause I was looking this up. We always have our epic list. And you would think that with Darren Criss and Lou Diamond Phillips and all of these folks being Filipino, there would be more.


0:20:32.5 AV: They can't get together, pull in Vanessa Hudgens, and make pancit day? 


0:20:37.9 LB: Come on, guys. Let's do this. Yeah, there's not a specific food holiday. So I'm just gonna throw out three that everybody should mark on their calendars so that they can celebrate it with the Filipino dishes that I'm going to talk about later.


0:20:49.0 AV: Got it.


0:20:49.8 LB: We have National Cook a Sweet Potato Day on February 22. And I want everyone to celebrate that day with ube, which we'll chat more about. National Egg Roll Day. Now, this is on June the 10th. And it was created by Vietnamese immigrants in 2019 to celebrate the founding of their restaurant. And so they make Vietnamese egg rolls. But you know what? Let's make some Filipino egg rolls, too. And then we have National Noodle Day on October 6. So that's a great day to celebrate pancit.


0:21:17.1 AV: Love it.


0:21:18.4 LB: Now, in the Philippines, there is a Filipino Food Month in April, and it's kind of interesting to think, why would the Philippines have a Filipino Food Month? 


0:21:26.6 AV: Isn't every day Filipino Food Day? 


0:21:29.9 LB: Yeah. Isn't it? But I think why they've done this is because Filipino cuisine is just so diverse. Filipino Americans are the second largest Asian-American group in the US.


0:21:40.7 AV: Wow.


0:21:41.2 LB: It's the third largest ethnic group in California. And this Filipinos themselves can come from everywhere in the Philippines. So the Philippines is made up of like 7,000 plus islands. There are over 120 languages that are spoken. And I mean languages, languages, not just dialects. And so you can imagine that you have different people, different cultures among the regions and that leads to variations in the food and the style.


0:22:08.7 AV: Absolutely.


0:22:10.0 LB: But a lot of that influence on the food also comes from years of colonization and being occupied by other countries. So when you do eat Filipino food, you can probably find influence from Spain, Japan, the US, and China with different trades. So it's a good mix of different types of cultures on a dish. But I think there are like three main flavor profiles that you can find in most Filipino cuisine. And that's sweet, salty, and sour. So Anna, you've had your first Filipino meal. I'm sure you hit on all of those three things in each of the dishes.


0:22:47.1 AV: Oh, absolutely. There was on the pancit that I had, there was like some pickled cabbage on top. So it definitely had that sour vibe.


0:22:54.4 LB: Yeah. And then you've got sweetness in that spaghetti, good salty meat in the lumpia. But the sour part, which I want to point out, is pretty important. So the souring agents that we use, like vinegars or fermenting our foods, helped us preserve foods in our warm tropical climate. So this is similar to what we talked about in our chili peppers episode. And what I think is really, really cool is Filipino food is getting super popular here, especially in really recent years. I mean, it's been a long time, though, for it to finally be mainstream.


0:23:26.6 AV: Right. It is a little bit strange that I can go out and I know where to get Malaysian food, I know where to get Vietnamese food, I know where to get Korean food, I know where to get all types of Asian or Pan-Asian food. But this is the first time I've had Filipino food with Sidae.


0:23:40.4 LB: Well, hopefully you'll start to see more and more of it and more truly Filipino food establishments pop up. And I think people are really becoming familiar with some of our great dishes. And so I'm gonna talk about a few of our most popular ones. Hopefully, you've tried it. If you haven't, I hope you do soon. And I'm gonna go from appetizer to dessert here. So I'm gonna take you on a full meal.


0:24:04.3 AV: A full meal.


0:24:04.4 LB: So we're gonna kick it off with the lumpia, which Anna had. There are a few different types of lumpia, which is a Filipino spring roll. The most popular one, which is what you ate, Anna, is the lumpia Shanghai. So there's a little bit of that Chinese influence in it. And that's the one that's filled with the ground meat and it's fried in that crispy, crispy wrap. And then it's really delicious when you put it in a sweet and sour sauce or even put banana ketchup on it, which you'll talk about later. So it kind of gives it all that sweet, sour, and salty bits. But what makes it different than a Chinese egg roll is you notice that the lumpia roll is a little bit thinner. So you get a nice crunch. And I always thought it would be fun to have a little lumpia truck and then take it around to bars after last call.


0:24:51.0 AV: Oh, heck yes.


0:24:51.5 LB: Because this is like the perfect party food. You can just eat so much of it. It's great when you've been drinking.


0:24:57.9 AV: You would make a killing.


0:24:58.9 LB: Well, and then usually when we make lumpia, you've got to make pancit, too. Pancit is our special occasion noodle dish because the noodles represent the long life. So we have it at all the parties, all the potlucks. And pancit is like a quick, fast cooking meal. So even though it's like a special food, it's like a delicious street food that you can make super fast. Everybody has their own style of how they make it. You can use thick noodles. You can use thin noodles. You can put meat, vegetables in it. And it's got a nice savoriness to it. The noodles, if you get the... To me, I love the thin rice noodles in a pancit. Kind of refreshing when you bite into it as well. And then Anna, like you said, you had a pickled cabbage on top. So you get a crunch and you get that brightness.


0:25:43.2 AV: Yeah.


0:25:46.1 LB: It's just so good.


0:25:47.3 AV: Today the ones I had were glass noodles. So they were like kind of like vermicelli. So they had that nice kind of thin, delicate feel. And then with the pickled vegetables on top and there was a lemon to squeeze, it was just a really nice combo. It was all familiar food, but it was just in a different combination that was really refreshing.


0:26:05.0 LB: And I think that's what's so interesting is because it's got... We're pulling from all of these other cultures and influences to create this one unique dish, you get to try something in a new way. So to me, the pancit is a fun one to experiment with, too. So I'm gonna wrap my food dish section with a two desserts. Yeah. So I put ube in as a dessert because that's usually how we like to have it. But ube, for those of you who don't know, is a purple yam. It's an indigenous food to Asia. It grows in the Philippines. And we use it and sweeten it to make a lot of desserts. Ube's got this gorgeous purple color.


0:26:41.8 AV: It really is pretty.


0:26:44.4 LB: It is pretty.


0:26:44.5 AV: And it's a color that doesn't come along in produce or in nature a lot. It's like eggplants and then what? 


0:26:50.3 LB: Yeah.


0:26:52.3 AV: Ube.


0:26:53.9 LB: And then ube. Right. So we make a lot of ube cakes, pastries. And today, you can find ube ice cream at most grocery stores, which is awesome.


0:27:01.9 AV: It's very on trend, the ube.


0:27:05.3 LB: It is super trendy. And I think it got trendy because it's pretty Instagram worthy. That purple, you can't beat it.


0:27:10.8 AV: Yeah. And it's fresh and new, even though it's been around for a thousand years.


0:27:17.0 LB: Even though it's been around forever. [chuckle]


0:27:17.1 AV: But yeah, I bet now listeners, if you didn't know what it was, you weren't looking for it. Oh. Now, you're gonna see it everywhere. Everyone's got ube something now.


0:27:29.1 LB: I was at this restaurant a while back, and they made a cocktail with ube in it.


0:27:32.6 AV: Weird.


0:27:36.8 LB: It was like a tequila sunrise, but they did this cool gradient of the purple.


0:27:38.0 AV: Oh. Maybe there was an ube syrup they made or something like that.


0:27:42.3 LB: Yeah. Yeah.


0:27:42.8 AV: Oh, infusion.


0:27:45.3 LB: But another great thing that ube can go in, like ube ice cream, is Halo-halo. And this is one of my favorite Filipino desserts. It's a nice, icy treat. And what I love about Halo-halo, first of all, the name itself means mix mix. And Halo-halo is a mix mix of cultures and ingredients.


0:28:02.9 AV: I love that.


0:28:04.4 LB: So that's just the term for making a mixed up icy dessert, a mix mix. And so with Halo-halo, it starts with some shaved ice. And one of the reasons Halo-halo became popular was this happened post-war, and we got ice machines in the Philippines. And so this became a thing. It's so hot. Now we have a way to make ice. Let's make a dessert out of it.


0:28:28.4 AV: Have you guys heard of ice? 


0:28:29.7 LB: Ice is like amazing.


0:28:29.8 AV: Ice is the next big thing.


0:28:29.9 LB: It's so good, y'all. So you put ice in this mix. You put condensed milk. So it's just like nice and rich and sweet. You can throw in... I mean, you can throw in whatever you want. Traditionally, you put in red beans, which sounds kind of crazy, but it sort of helps cut some of the sweetness with like this earthiness from a red bean. The red beans comes from the Japanese because it's those adzuki beans that we use in the Halo-halo. So there's a little bit of that influence there. The local people adapted it to put whatever fruit they wanted. So you can put jackfruit in it, mangoes in it. You can put banana in there. There's this one type of fruit that I like that goes in Halo-halo, and it's called macapuno. And macapuno is sometimes referred to as a freak coconut.


0:29:18.8 AV: A freak coconut? 


0:29:22.0 LB: Yes. So it's like a coconut that doesn't get all the way developed. So when you crack it open, the inside is like jelly. Isn't that weird? 


0:29:28.1 AV: Oh. Weird.


0:29:31.5 LB: Freak coconut. But the jelly is super sweet. So you can take a melon baller, ball it out, put it in your Halo-halo. You can just scrape it in there, and it's still kind of stringy. But it's like this jelly coconut flavor.


0:29:43.0 AV: Oh, yeah. This is going to be the next thing. This is like the next lychee. Remember when lychee was everywhere, people discovered lychee? 


0:29:50.1 LB: Yeah.


0:29:50.2 AV: It's gonna be this is next. Macapuno. That's next.


0:29:52.1 LB: It's all macapuno. Freak coconut.


0:29:53.8 AV: Gooey, gooey coconut.


0:29:56.7 LB: So good. I like to put cereal on top to add some crunch. So I'll do my Fruity Pebbles for color and crunch.


0:30:04.8 AV: Respect.


0:30:04.9 LB: As a kid, yeah, put Rice Krispie Treats. And this is also kind of a nod to when the US was in the Philippines. They sort of brought with them all of these cereals.


0:30:15.0 AV: Fruity Pebbles.


0:30:16.9 LB: Yeah, Fruity Pebbles. Just cereal foods. And that was something else that was added on top. You can do your mix mix however you like.


0:30:23.6 AV: That sounds so good.


0:30:25.7 LB: And I got to highlight a person who I think kind of kicked off the popularity of Halo-halo in the States. And this is Chef Isa Fabro. So she is a cool chef. Cool lady chef in Los Angeles, and she...


0:30:40.7 AV: She's cool.


0:30:40.8 LB: That's the category. Exactly.


0:30:41.3 AV: Cool chef.


0:30:42.1 LB: Cool chef. And she got invited to set up a food vending spot at Coachella, I think like 2016. And what she decided to do was make Halo-halo. I mean, talk about like a perfect, cool, icy dessert.


0:30:56.3 AV: Yeah, when it's 100 degrees out there.


0:30:57.9 LB: Oh, yeah. And then she mixed it with Red Bull.




0:31:04.5 LB: Yeah. So now you've got this delicious dessert pumping you full of energy. And with the ube and all the colors, it was so pretty. People were Instagramming it everywhere. And folks were like, "What is this?" And we're like, "It's Halo-halo, guys."


0:31:18.5 AV: Way to play the game.


0:31:21.0 LB: Genius.


0:31:23.1 AV: Play the game.


0:31:23.3 LB: Oh, gosh. And it was so funny. I would see these Coachella tweets and posts. And everybody has is, "Just discovered this new thing called Halo-halo."


0:31:29.6 AV: Isn't that great when people discover the thing? 


0:31:36.5 LB: Yeah.


0:31:37.6 AV: I love that.


0:31:38.8 LB: I'm like, "I've been eating this since I was a kid. You all thought the beans were weird in it. But now look at you." [laughter]


0:31:43.5 AV: Now look at you eating those beans.


0:31:45.9 LB: But it's great. Thanks to chefs like Isa Fabro, we're really starting to see more and more Filipino food here in America. And I love it.


0:31:54.5 AV: Love it.


0:31:55.4 LB: So I'm going to highlight some notable Filipino chefs that we all should know about.


0:31:58.5 AV: And there's so many.


0:32:00.2 LB: And there's so many. So I had to kind of narrow it down. I love that there's so many now. That's the great thing. There are four in particular I'm gonna shout out. So the first one is Chef Cristheta Comerford, who was the first woman and person of color to serve as our White House executive chef.


0:32:16.6 AV: Whoa! 


0:32:17.4 LB: Our White House chef is a Filipina.


0:32:19.7 AV: I love it. Is she the White House chef right now? 


0:32:23.6 LB: Yes, she has served since Bush administration.


0:32:25.7 AV: Wow! 


0:32:26.5 LB: Bush Jr. George W. Yeah.


0:32:27.5 AV: That's amazing, 'cause we've talked about James Hemmings. We've talked about Zephyr Wright. We've talked about these incredible people of color and women who have been behind the scenes but not had that distinction.


0:32:39.7 LB: Yes, exactly.


0:32:40.7 AV: They made all the recipes and did all the work, obviously, but did not get that distinction. So that is awesome. Chef Cristheta jumped that hurdle.


0:32:51.7 LB: Yeah. And the fact that she's been there for multiple administrations now just shows the kind of work and influence that she has, which is amazing.


0:33:02.8 AV: If those spatulas could talk.


0:33:06.1 LB: I know. But she actually started her culinary career overseeing a salad bar at a hotel near O'Hare Airport. So definitely humble beginnings. But yeah, her brother calls her the salad bar girl. And she actually has this neat little interview that she did while she was a chef during the Obama administration. So it's actually at the Obama's White House YouTube channel. And here she talks about everything she learned when she was just a salad bar girl and how it led her to becoming this really great White House chef.


0:33:38.4 Cristheta Comerford: My very first job, you might wanna know, is that back in Chicago, when my family moved there from Manila in 1983, my first job was a salad bar girl. And at the time, when I was working, it wasn't one of those glamorous jobs or anything that you might really aspire for. But being a culinary right now and looking back, I've learned so many things from that very first job. I've learned how to organize myself. I learned how to work with other people. And I learned to really love what I do. So even though at the time being, it might not seem very important, every job is important. Like as a chef right now, I rely on this salad bar girls to really take care of my needs, take care of everything that I need to have, to ensure that an event that I have or a menu that I have will work very nicely. So looking back, it was a very great experience for me.


0:34:39.2 AV: I love that so much. I'm sure when she was a salad bar girl, she could have never imagined that this is how it would turn out.


0:34:46.6 LB: It's awesome. And then these two chefs are husband and wife, Chef Ami Besa and Romi Dorotan. And they're founders of a couple of restaurants in Brooklyn. And together, they've co-authored this book called Memories of Philippine Kitchens, which is actually an interesting documentation of dishes and techniques that are kind of disappearing and were sort of unknown because of all of the influence from colonizers and occupants. So they were going way, way back in history to find out what true Filipino cooking was, which is amazing. It's like one way they pay tribute to that, at their restaurants, was they created a chicken adobo dish, but they made it with coconut milk. So if you ever have adobo today, there's no coconut milk in it. But that's a nod to the way indigenous people would add this kind of coconut milk to a meat dish, which I thought was really cool. And so in this interview back in 2019, both Chef Ami and Chef Romi talk about what it means for them to see Filipino food arrive here in America.


0:35:47.5 Amy Besa: When you say that the media has embraced it, yes, it has arrived. But I generally, am not very happy about Filipinos judging our food as having arrived simply because the media or the American media have decided that it has arrived.




0:36:21.3 Romy Dorotan: And then the after effect of mainstreaming to me is that it becomes the cuisine or the dishes becomes more generic, more homogenous across the board. And there's not much distinction between regions, between chefs cooking it and all that stuff.


0:36:39.5 AB: As far as I'm concerned, it arrived when I arrived here in the United States and started cooking it. It arrived when the first farm workers arrived in the United States to work here. And they started cooking Filipino food simply because that was part of their culture and they were nostalgic for it, and that's... Food defines us.


0:37:02.1 LB: And then last but not least, shout out to Chef Anna Swann, who is the founder of Ulam, which is a modern Filipino pop-up restaurant in Dallas. So she's a Texan like me, and she started her pop-ups not too long ago. I actually remember seeing her first on Instagram making lumpia and doing like catering for people, serving up like delicious lumpia and pancit for events. And over the past couple of years, her pop-up has become more and more popular.


0:37:30.0 LB: And her pop-up name, Ulam, that's actually the Tagalog word for a meal, like the entree that you would eat, the meat dish. So it's wonderful to just see that also in the name of her company and her business. But what she's doing, which is a lot of fun, and I love to see it, is she's putting her own twists, her own modern twists to Filipino comfort cuisine. And she does a take on pancit that she calls tipsy pancit, which has... It's actually quite labor intensive because she cures egg yolks for a few days. I mean, she really works on this, but it's supposed to be incredible. So Chef Anna, I'm definitely coming up to Dallas at some point to catch one of your pop-ups. And she was recently named as like one of the best Filipino restaurants in the state of Texas by Food and Wine.


0:38:11.9 AV: Nice.


0:38:15.3 LB: Yeah. And so if you all are interested in discovering more Filipino food, trying out some dishes, you could actually check out Food and Wine. One of their issues this summer pointed out the best Filipino food places to eat in every state in the United States.


0:38:25.6 AV: Oh, cool. So we'll put that link in the show notes.


0:38:28.9 LB: Yeah.


0:38:30.3 AV: So people can find their nearest and best Filipino food. This is so cool, Leah. Thank you so much. It's so great to hear you talk about this and you're so passionate about it, and to learn a little bit more about you and your culture and all these incredible foods I can't wait to eat now. I really want that adobo.


0:38:46.0 LB: Oh, my gosh! The adobo. So the word for delicious is sarap. Masarap is like, "Oh, that's delicious." So if you ever are at a Filipino restaurant and you hear people saying, "Oh, masarap," it means you know whatever they're eating is good and that's what you want.


0:39:01.0 AV: I'll order what... I'll have what they're having. Definitely.


0:39:04.4 LB: It's so exciting, though, that I can be doing this and talking about it, especially when I think about coming to America, having my scary lunchbox moment. And now today, I can be on a podcast with Anna telling all of our friends about Filipino food and what it means to me. And it's awesome to just see people embracing this, learning more about our culture, and also for Filipinos, too, who are coming out and talking more about our heritage. 'Cause I think it's just because of that colonizer mentality that we have, we've kept these things to ourselves. And now we're breaking free of that mindset. And we're getting out there and we're getting to share our stories and talking about what makes us special as Filipinos.


0:39:48.4 AV: And we're all better for it.


0:39:50.5 LB: Absolutely.


0:39:51.2 AV: The more cultures that we share, the more things that we're open to it, we are all better for it. So thank you for sharing this with us and our listeners today and for everything that you do at Yum Day and in all of your channels to open us all up to wonderful things like this.


0:40:09.3 LB: Salamat. Maraming salamat. That means many thanks.


0:40:15.9 AV: I saw salamat at a sign at Big Boy.


0:40:19.8 LB: You did? And now you know what it means. Salamat.


0:40:23.3 AV: Salamat.


0:40:33.2 LB: Salamat.




0:40:42.6 AV: You know you're not getting out of this without showing us pictures of you in your folk dancing costume, right? 


0:40:46.6 LB: Oh, I'll have to find some old photos and scan them in. I mean. I look pretty adorable. [chuckle] Y'all, it might be too much.


0:40:57.9 AV: What was the garb? 


0:41:00.4 LB: Well, my garb was like this funky little cape thing and then a weird, very tropical, florally skirt and like a bandana. I don't know how authentic that was. It was like an aunt made them for us for the folk dancing. It was pretty fun. The one dance that I did, that I was like the lead on, was one called the itik itik, which basically you dance like a little bird. So it looks like the chicken dance.


0:41:25.2 AV: It's like the funky chicken? 


0:41:26.3 LB: It's like the funky chicken.


0:41:28.9 AV: [laughter] So really the funky chicken, it just transcends boundaries.


0:41:32.3 LB: Exactly.


0:41:34.1 AV: It's a universal expression.


0:41:36.8 LB: Every culture has a funky chicken.


0:41:38.1 AV: It's a funky chicken dance. Well, I look forward to all of this.


0:41:40.6 LB: Well, I'll dig them up.


0:41:44.8 AV: So for today's deep dish, we're doing something that we love, which is telling you the story of a woman you don't know so that you could get angry that you don't know her.


0:41:52.0 LB: Yeah. We love it when you get angry.


0:41:54.7 AV: Love it. So in addition to the incredible Filipino food Sheros that, Lia, you told us about earlier, we're gonna talk about one more. And her name is María e Ylagan Orosa. Am I saying that right? 


0:42:08.3 LB: Very nice.


0:42:09.4 AV: Oh, thank you.


0:42:10.9 LB: María e Ylagan. Yeah, you did that perfectly.


0:42:12.2 AV: E Ylagan Orosa. She was a food chemist, an inventor of food products, recipes, and methods of preservation, a patriot, a humanitarian, and a war hero, who was killed in the line of duty at the Battle of Manila on February 13, 1945.


0:42:26.0 LB: Amazing.


0:42:30.5 AV: So she is impressive.


0:42:31.6 LB: Yeah.


0:42:32.3 LB: So some historical context, which you kind of touched on, because of its placement in the Pacific Ocean, its many, many islands and topography in rich natural resources. Philippines has long history of colonization and occupation, and also the fight for independence and to claim, establish, and keep their national identity. So Maria was born in 1892 in the province of Batangas at the tail end of the Spanish occupation. Spanish occupation ended six years later in 1898. And the Philippines had been a Spanish colony since 1565, which is five years after Magellan arrived. So earlier, we were talking about the people who were trying to find pre-colonial recipes, that's why we mean they got to go way, way back.


0:43:15.0 LB: They're going way, way back.


0:43:18.4 AV: Oh, side note, do you want to hear a funny story about Magellan in the Philippines? 


0:43:23.1 LB: Yeah, let's hear it. [chuckle]


0:43:24.2 AV: So do you remember in our Pineapple Ep where we also talked about a legendary island queen, Queen Lili'uokonani, do you remember that we talked about the, "discovery," of Hawaii by British Captain James Cook? By discovery, I mean he went there intentionally and didn't get lost looking for cinnamon.


0:43:44.9 LB: Oh, no, he totally meant to be there.


0:43:44.9 AV: He meant to be there. Do you remember how the natives greeted him? 


0:43:47.5 LB: Oh, how did they greet him? You'll have to remind me.


0:43:51.1 AV: They killed him.




0:43:54.6 LB: Oh, yes.


0:43:55.5 AV: They fucking killed him. His ship dudes thought it would be funny to try to kidnap one of the chief's kids.


0:44:05.2 LB: Yeah, that's not going to work out.


0:44:06.8 AV: It wasn't funny. And he got killed. The same thing happened to Magellan.


0:44:12.5 LB: Oh, yeah, Lapu-Lapu.


0:44:16.3 AV: Yes, on April 27, 1521, Magellan got off the boat on the island of Mactan. And the indigenous people who followed Lapu-Lapu, great warrior, attacked them with ranged weapons. So bow and arrow, throwing spears, rocks. But Magellan had just brought like five guys with muskets.




0:44:34.9 AV: That didn't really work. Magellan got hit in the leg with a poison-tipped spear and he died. And the natives overran the other five guys with muskets. Pretty easy. So that was the end of Magellan. I didn't know that.


0:44:47.0 LB: Yeah, Lapu-Lapu got him.


0:44:50.4 AV: Back to Maria Orosa. She was born, like I said, 1892 on November 29. She was one of eight children. Her mother ran a general store, and her father was in the Filipino Navy. But he was secretly part of the resistance, fighting against the Spanish. And at one point, he became a political prisoner, and he actually died when Maria was very young. So this was a big influence on her. She was very aware of the political climate, colonialization, and its effects. She went to the University of the Philippines. But after a year there, in 1916, she was sent as a government-sponsored scholar to the University of Washington in Seattle, where she received a bachelor's and a master's in pharmaceutical chemistry and a bachelor's in food science.


0:45:34.2 LB: Amazing.


0:45:37.3 AV: Amazing. And let's just all take a moment to think about all the shit that she had to put up with when she went and did that.




0:45:43.4 AV: To make ends meet, she did a bunch of cool jobs during her time in college. One was she spent her summers in Alaska working in salmon canneries, learning all about industrial preservation and packaging methods of food.


0:45:55.8 LB: Wow.


0:45:57.9 AV: And then during the school year, I love this, she worked as an assistant chemist in the food laboratory run by the dean of the pharmacy school, where she tested food samples brought in by state food inspectors.


0:46:09.7 LB: Oh, interesting. Okay.


0:46:11.8 AV: So the state food inspectors would be like, "I'm not sure if this is as pure as what they say it is," and they'd bring it in. And then Maria was one of the people that would test it, and then be like, "Your shit is just Crisco."




0:46:24.4 LB: Peanut butter? I don't think so. [laughter]


0:46:27.1 AV: So again, my rant, my food-losophical rant. There have always been women in every position in every society. There have always been women chemists and sculptors and doctors and warriors and politicians. Always.


0:46:42.6 AV: It's not something that just started happening in like 1988. So please don't assume that anything you've ever heard about was done by a man, unless you heard otherwise. Thank you. Moving on. When she graduated, obviously, she was a superstar. She had a number of opportunities in the US and was at the beginning of what was a very promising career. But she was a patriot. And she decided to go back to the Philippines to be of service to her people. Specifically, she wanted to battle widespread malnutrition and dependency on foreign food, which she saw as an extension of colonialism. So she actually returned to the Philippines in 1922 and began work there. And there were two things that she really wanted to accomplish to address those issues. She wanted to find ways to use the natively grown fruits and plants to make nutritious food and to bring modern forms of food preservation in. So this would help eliminate food waste and also allow the Philippines to export some of its products, rather than just buying other people's products, they could export some of their products and build up their own economy. So at this point, there was actually no canning of Filipino foods or produce.


0:47:49.2 LB: The only canned goods were coming in from other countries. And they were super expensive. And only like the upper classes got them. Maria experimented with all kinds of preservation techniques like canning, dehydration, fermenting, and freezing local produce and protein sources. We've talked about that a lot this season, that not just having food and cooking food, but preserving it, making sure it doesn't go bad immediately, getting the most out of it is incredibly important and that people have found all sorts of ways to do that. So that's something that she wanted to do as well. She went into the barrios, the neighborhoods, to teach local women how to cook, how to can, how to use local foods, sub in local foods for their everyday recipes. And she also established the Homemakers Association of the Philippines.


0:48:34.1 LB: What? 


0:48:35.5 AV: Yes.


0:48:36.3 LB: That's so cool.


0:48:37.0 AV: I feel like her and Ruth Desmond would be BFFs.


0:48:41.0 LB: I think so. I think they're kindred spirits.


0:48:42.0 AV: Indeed. One cool thing I read about was in February 1925, Manila had its 18th annual carnival. In addition to, I'm assuming, the partying, the beads, et cetera, there was an exhibition. Maria was in charge of the Bureau of Sciences exhibit. And what she put together was the first display of canned Filipino native fruits and vegetables. Like the first canned sliced mangoes, things like that.


0:49:11.9 LB: That's awesome.


0:49:12.7 AV: The people were shocked. They were like, wait a minute. This works on our food? This is exciting. So this reminded me a little bit of the World's Fair.


0:49:21.7 LB: Sounds like it.


0:49:23.1 AV: A little tiny World's Fair. So Maria was getting results. The government really supported and funded her work and thought that she needed to go further. So in 1927, the legislature actually created the Division of Food Preservation and made her the head of it.


0:49:40.9 LB: What? 


0:49:42.0 AV: They made a government department for her.


0:49:47.3 LB: That is awesome.


0:49:51.4 AV: So that she could get government funding for resources, labs, experimentation. Isn't that nuts? 


0:49:53.8 AV: They obviously had so much respect for what she could do and what she could bring.


0:49:57.1 LB: That's amazing.


0:49:57.2 AV: And then in 1928, they actually sent her around the world so that she could study how other countries manufactured, packaged, and preserved their food. So she could bring that knowledge back to the Philippines.


0:50:10.4 LB: Again, 1928? 


0:50:13.2 AV: 1928. So some of the foods and inventions that I wanna talk about. She's credited with over 700 recipes and inventions.


0:50:21.1 LB: No way.


0:50:23.8 AV: Yeah, 700. We're not going to get into them all. But here are...


0:50:25.9 LB: Epic list. Epic list.




0:50:30.3 LB: Epic list. You were wondering why this episode was four hours long. Here's a few that stood out to me. One is the palayok oven. The palayok was a traditional clay pot for baking that you could make adobo in and things like that. She figured out how to turn it into an oven by lining it with aluminum and creating a different kind of lid. And then taught people how to create fires specifically for this oven so that the heat would go up into the clay pot that was lined with aluminum, keep all the food in there, and actually cook the food.


0:51:01.6 LB: Oh, my gosh! 


0:51:02.8 AV: She invented soya lac, which probably a lot of people have heard of. It's baby formula. So it's powdered soybean product that is very high in protein and used as a supplement and it's in a ton of baby formula.


0:51:15.3 LB: Wow! 


0:51:17.8 AV: Which is also crazy to think probably how many babies survived infancy, just because of this one thing that she made.


0:51:28.4 LB: Amazing.


0:51:29.5 AV: There's dadak. And you can jump in and tell me if I'm saying any of these things wrong. Dadak.


0:51:32.6 LB: Yeah, I'm learning.




0:51:36.5 AV: It's a rice bran powder, which is rich in thiamine, vitamins, A, B, D, and E, and all kinds of other things. It's good at treating beriberi disease, which is a severe vitamin deficiency. In a November 1975 article in the Women's Journal, a writer named Yai Panlilo, who was a good friend of Orosa, wrote that she used this bran powder, the dadak, because one tablespoon a day could keep a starving man's digestive system open, his bowels functioning normally, and no cramps or pain. A palmful could keep him on his feet. Two palms full, and he could fight.


0:52:13.9 LB: Whoa! 


0:52:15.4 AV: Yeah.


0:52:20.1 LB: Oh, my gosh! To create something that's so nutrient dense, that it can take a hungry person from basically feeling like they're starving to be able to have the energy to fight.


0:52:30.5 AV: Right.


0:52:30.6 LB: It's crazy.


0:52:31.4 AV: And the strength. I also love that because just that last bit of he could fight, she's not just doing this because she's interested in food chemistry. She's already got this political message and ideology that's running through this food, so I thought that was cool. And then if you sift the rice bran, you come up with a flour called tiki tiki. So she made a recipe for tiki tiki cookies, or dadak cookies, also called biscuits that people could eat as a meal. Do you get where I'm going with this? 


0:53:04.6 LB: Wait a minute.


0:53:06.7 AV: People, this lady invented Filipino survival crackers.


0:53:09.2 LB: She did.


0:53:11.0 AV: Full circle. We are going full circle. She made survival biscuits.


0:53:16.1 LB: Well, like you were just saying, she had this whole ideology lens that she saw all of her food preservation techniques through. And one of it is like, how can we survive? What do we need to keep us alive and kicking? And she made survival crackers.


0:53:31.7 AV: Survival crackers. I just love the idea of her being like, here's some crackers in case you get in a fight. When the revolution breaks out. Here are your crackers.


0:53:44.8 LB: Eat this.


0:53:45.6 AV: Probably the thing that she's most famous for is banana ketchup. Surprise, surprise. Tomatoes, not native to the Philippines.


0:53:53.7 LB: Nope.


0:53:54.3 AV: So obviously, if you wanted ketchup, that's a foreign import. So what she did is mash together saba bananas, which are native, to the Philippines, brown sugar, vinegar, and some spices, and then dyed it red.


0:54:08.9 LB: That's it.


0:54:09.9 AV: I've never had it, but what I read said that it actually tasted pretty close to regular ketchup.


0:54:21.5 LB: Yeah. Texture, color looks just like ketchup. Maybe has a slightly sweeter taste to it. But other than that, you really wouldn't know the difference if you had removed the labels off the bottles.


0:54:30.2 AV: Right. So this is something that is even still ubiquitous in homes and grocery stores. It's used in classic dishes such as tortang talong.


0:54:39.8 LB: Tortang talong. Yes.


0:54:41.8 AV: Which is like an eggplant omelet.


0:54:43.1 LB: Yeah. So good.


0:54:44.0 AV: Burgers, fried chicken, and Filipino style spaghetti.


0:54:46.8 LB: That's right.


0:54:50.7 AV: Hello.




0:54:54.8 AV: So everything's going great. She's hitting her goals. She's manifesting. She's helping the people. Then the 1940s roll around, and everything goes to shit. Like we said, the Philippines is very strategically placed. And so it became the kind of epicenter of the Pacific front in World War II. So as of 1940, the US had a couple of bases in the Philippines that was sort of a staging area and supply stop. And it was also to keep an eye on the Japanese, sort of protect it. On December 7, 1941, a day that indeed lives in infamy, Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. And then while the US military was reeling and totally distracted, seven hours later, Japan attacked the Philippines, and specifically attacked the US military bases. In a very short time, they had just obliterated the US forces and began three years of pretty horrific occupation by the Japanese. And one of the main ways that the Japanese controlled the civilian population was through starvation, cutting off imports, disrupting agricultural production, really severe and harsh rationing. And it just created these widespread food shortages, made the malnutrition worse in the Philippines.


0:56:10.5 LB: Yeah, it's horrible.


0:56:13.5 AV: But there is a lady there who's a food technologist, right? Who can come and save the day? She kind of did, honestly. Yeah, Maria Orosa sprung into action. Just kidding, she was always in action. But she redirected the Division of Food Preservations, if you will remember, that's the department that the government made for her, redirected their resources and efforts into the creation of nutrient dense food products like Soya Lack and the Dada Cookies.


0:56:41.1 LB: There we go.


0:56:43.4 AV: Hello. Superhero. I mean, she knew. She knew that these were gonna be needed. And spent years developing it, and then she could spring into action. So prepared. Love it. She actually joined the resistance and became a captain in Marking's Guerrillas, which was a guerrilla group organized by Marcos Marking Augustin. So she not only created and dispensed rations for civilians, but also for other guerrilla fighters and for the resistance. And she even invented new ways of packaging the food so that it could be delivered to resistance fighters all over the country.


0:57:15.7 LB: Wow! 


0:57:17.3 AV: Japan had set up concentration camps, where they put civilians and Filipino and US POWs. And one of Maria Oroso's greatest and riskiest achievements is that she figured out how to smuggle food into the POW camps and get it to the prisoners.


0:57:36.5 LB: Oh, my gosh! 


0:57:37.8 AV: So she actually stuffed Soya Lack, Kalamansi Nip, and the Dadak powder, so all these different powders with different nutritional value, into hollow bamboo shoots.


0:57:50.5 LB: What? 


0:57:50.9 AV: Yes. She got in with the carpenters and the maintenance people. Because the camps were set up in university spaces and in these public spaces. So she got the bamboo shoots to the carpenters and maintenance people, who then brought them into the camps and got them to the prisoners, who were then able to eat it, re-hydrate it.


0:58:12.6 LB: Oh, my god! 


0:58:13.3 AV: So she wasn't just an amazing scientist and patriot. She saved thousands of people's lives through all of these efforts, really at the risk of her own.


0:58:21.2 LB: Exactly. Oh, my goodness! 


0:58:24.5 LB: Right? And not just Filipino civilians and troops, like American, too. February 3, 1945, a little over three years after Japan had started its occupation, US troops marched into Manila, joined forces with the guerrilla fighters to drive out the Japanese. And this started the Battle of Manila, which lasted one month. And it was one of the deadliest battles of World War II outside of Europe. And it's estimated that 100,000 civilians lost their lives in February of 1945 alone.


0:58:54.7 LB: Wow.


0:58:55.9 AV: It's awful. When the battle began, Maria Oroso's family evacuated, but she refused to go with them. She stood behind and said, "I cannot abandon my work."


0:59:08.8 LB: Oh, my! 


0:59:09.0 AV: She must have seen that it was helping. She must have seen the effect that it had. And this was her life's work up until this point.


0:59:18.0 LB: Exactly.


0:59:18.1 AV: She wasn't gonna walk away. She was gonna see it through. On February 13, she was hit with shrapnel from a bomb. She was on her way to Malate Remedios Hospital, but the hospital was shelled. And she got hit with another piece of shrapnel straight into her heart, which killed her.


0:59:34.7 LB: Whoa! 


0:59:34.8 AV: Let me just point out, it took two bombs to kill her. Two bombs. Two.


0:59:42.1 LB: Two.


0:59:42.3 AV: Not one. Bombs.


0:59:44.8 LB: First one did nothing.


0:59:47.3 AV: First one didn't even slow her down. Had to bomb her twice. That's how tough this lady was.


0:59:50.0 LB: Amazing.


0:59:53.9 AV: Yeah, so what an incredible life.


0:59:54.0 LB: Like you were saying, the people that she saved, the use of her skills to create new ways to do things, just it blows my mind.


1:00:03.8 AV: Right? Why don't we know about her? 


1:00:05.4 LB: Why don't we? This is a movie. This is a movie.


1:00:08.6 AV: Where is this movie? Come on. Do I need yet another Spider-Man origin story? No. How many hulks do we need? Really? 


1:00:19.2 LB: Got too many hulks.


1:00:19.8 AV: Too many hulks. Too many Spider-Man.


1:00:24.9 LB: Too many Peter Parkers.


1:00:25.5 AV: And I have one more thing to make you furious. If you weren't angry enough, I've got one more for you. The banana ketchup is still a household item. However, in 1942, a man named Magdalo V. Francisco Sr. Patented Maria's recipe.


1:00:43.6 LB: Are you kidding me? 


1:00:46.2 AV: No credit to her. No royalties to her family. Nothing. Patented Maria's recipe for banana ketchup and started mass producing it under his brand, Mafran. Do you know the Mafran brand? 


1:01:00.6 LB: Yeah, that's like, "The brand."


1:01:01.7 AV: The brand. So that remains the number one brand of banana ketchup.


1:01:07.3 LB: Oh, no. I don't know if I could have Mafran ketchup anymore.


1:01:11.4 AV: I feel like her descendants should go after the Mafran. Be like, I would like 80 years of royalties. Thank you.


1:01:18.8 LB: Yes.


1:01:18.9 AV: Thank you. Also, it was 1942. He could have asked. Yeah. She was still alive. Rude.


1:01:24.8 LB: So rude.


1:01:29.8 AV: It's like, well, she's busy feeding people in concentration camps. I'm just going to submit this patent.


1:01:31.8 LB: Yeah. Let me just take this.


1:01:35.2 AV: While, she's distracted. So she's not as well known as she should be, but she does have a really powerful legacy. In addition to the foods and the inventions, just the fact that she saved so many lives.


1:01:44.0 LB: Yep.


1:01:44.3 AV: This was 80 years ago, so generations, right? 


1:01:47.5 LB: Yeah.


1:01:49.6 AV: It's incredible. And something very cool that happened in 2020. There were some good things.


1:01:58.8 LB: Remind us.


1:02:00.4 AV: This happened in February. It was before everything fell apart. The site of the hospital where she died is now a school. It's the Malete Catholic High School. In early 2020, a team of archaeologists from the University of Philippines were doing an excavation at the high school. They were trying to find remnants of things from World War II, from the Battle of Manila.


1:02:18.6 LB: Oh, Okay.


1:02:20.7 AV: And on February 8, 2020, they found a grave marker for Maria Orosa at the site of the hospital.


1:02:27.4 LB: Oh, wow.


1:02:30.0 AV: And it says, Maria Y. Orosa, her birth and death date. And then it says, died in the line of duty.


1:02:37.5 LB: Wow.


1:02:38.6 AV: No remains were found there. I'm guessing because it was probably lost in the rubble or put in a mass grave because it was so chaotic and there was so much death. But that grave marker remains. And I think they're protecting it and keeping it there.


1:02:52.7 LB: Wow.


1:02:53.7 AV: I thought that was so cool.


1:02:53.8 LB: That is.


1:02:53.8 AV: There are other memorials to her. There's a street named after her. A building at the Bureau of Plant Industry. There's a bust and a plaque honoring her at Laurel Park in Batangas, where she was born. And she was posthumously given a humanitarian award by the American Red Cross.


1:03:12.5 LB: Oh, wow! 


1:03:12.6 AV: For saving American soldiers from starvation in the POW camps.


1:03:18.3 LB: That's awesome. Wow.


1:03:22.8 AV: That is a bit about Maria Orosa. I find her incredibly impressive, incredibly inspiring. And I hope you do, too.


1:03:30.1 LB: Anna, thank you for sharing that. There was so much I didn't know about her. I mean, banana ketchup was pretty much the thing. But I didn't realize everything that she had done for the Philippines to save people and just to be an incredible, awesome woman superhero. Wow.


1:03:48.9 AV: She's a real superhero. Forget the Hulk.


1:03:53.6 LB: [laughter] That was an amazing story.


1:03:56.8 AV: Well, this has been so fun, Leah. I hope this was fun for you, getting to talk about your homeland, sharing your culture with all of us. We appreciate it. We love it. And I'm really glad we did this.


1:04:06.4 LB: Me too. Thank you.


1:04:09.1 AV: Bye, everyone. Salamat.


1:04:10.7 LB: [laughter] Salamat.


1:04:19.0 LB: Thank you for joining us for this episode of Every Day Is a Food Day. Be sure to follow the show and catch up on past episodes wherever you get your podcast. Connect with us on social media at Food Day Pod. Join our mailing list through our website, yumday.co./Podcast. And don't forget to leave us that rating and review.


1:04:37.5 AV: The clips and music you heard today were from the Black Eyed Peas, Aries and Pia Folk Dance Tutorial on YouTube, NBC, Filipino Time, and the Obama White House YouTube channel.


1:04:46.7 LB: Every Day Is a Food Day is a production of Van Valen Productions and Yum Day. It is produced and hosted by us, Lia Ballentine and Anna Van Valin.