Help me chronicle #FilipinoFood

I miss being able to write, and becoming inspired to write about how I feel. 

I feel indignant – though that may be a strong word – about how the reality of in-depth research on the history of Filipino food remains very close to this passage from Doreen Fernandez, in an essay called “Historias, Crónicas, Vocabularios: Some Spanish Sources for Research in Philippine Food” from the Philippine Studies Journal, Vol. 35, No. 3.

The researcher who seeks to explore Filipino food before or early in the era of Spanish colonization, probably starts by discovering the dearth of source material. Records of the period before Western contact are virtually nonexistent, for three reasons: first, if there were any, they were probably inscribed on bamboo, bark, or leaf, and no longer exist; second, three centuries and a half stand between them and the present researcher, a hiatus which has created not only a data void, but a psychological distance; and third, friar and government accounts, which constitute the bulk of extant records, say little about food.

I’d like to share a bit of what my last few months have been like. It will be quite detailed, but possibly worth it!

There have been lots of ups and downs over the past four months, along with a good bit of soul searching. I decided to leave a good job working with great people because I felt like I needed to learn more about a medium I used every single day, to explore learning more about how to code and create all these awesome things on the Internet. I discovered the importance of great user experience design, and how it affects every single thing you do, from the second your alarm clock app rings its slow chime to how you choose the wine to have way too many bottles of.

I took classes in front-end web development, and feel like I’m starting to come along. What has been incredibly eye-opening throughout this process surprised me, in very many good ways – I’m learning how not to feel guilty for chasing after my dreams, both the large ones and small.

I would love to help chronicle the history of Philippine cuisine as best as people connected by the Internet can. I would love to get in touch with Philippine food historians, or be placed in contact with them, to ask about how we can build a database that brings the ingredients, origins and evolution of Filipino food forward. I trust this exists in journals, textbooks, and many dusty corners of libraries in the Philippines and elsewhere, and can’t wait to work on a project that would allow us to share those stories with the world, told with the help of data, photographs, linked citations and more.

To cover all the viewpoints (including cultural, political and historical aspects) concerning Filipino food will take a lot. I’ve had this idea in my head for so long as I don’t know where to start! What I do know is that I would love to help bring context to our cuisine as it finds its global fans. 

Yes, I have an unabashed love for Filipino food – something I came to regard much more deeply since moving to Canada. I have learned to love our cuisine for what it is – spamsilog, buro, sisig and all! – and would also love to share how discovering the history of what constitutes a very big part of me has helped me discover more about who I could be – at the very least, a data collector, presenter, and lover of Filipino food on the Internet.

If you’ve read this far, and think my pipe dream of travelling the Philippines to document its culinary history hasn’t made you ’umay’, please consider signing up so we can create a group of like-minded (project-minded) folks!

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