kasaysayan (a history)

As I mused about an appropriate title for the subject matter I wanted to write about – surrounding new chapters in life, my fledgling career and growing into the person I would like to be – the word kasaysayan, a Tagalog word for ‘history,’ popped into my head. With the snap of a gnat sucked into an electric insect killer, I wondered, how have I not thought about this word before?

We all write our own histories, day to day, with the things we put conscious effort into doing. We learn to accept the decisions we make, because really, how are we supposed to know any better until we try something new? (And either fail miserably with our goals, succeed with determination, or just get plain lucky.)

I’ve just started reading Dianne Jacob’s Will Write for Food, which I also can’t believe I just picked up – it’s such an incredible resource. In the first chapter she asks, “What’s your reason to write about food?” and I found the following points spot-on:

  • You’re fascinated by the history of a certain food and want to research it.
  • You want to capture the cuisine of a country and people you love.

This is why I’ve treated myself to ordering topically-relevant books every other paycheque, and why I spend the precious quiet hours of 3 to 5 a.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday nights reading entries from Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cooking about things like budbud kabug, a sweet, steamed millet cake made with coconut milk traditionally wrapped in banana leaves.

I also finished reading Michaela Fenix’s Country Cooking this week; paired with watching Kyle Jennerman’s adventures in Mindanao, it’s making me want to set an alert for seat sales from YYZ to DVO!

Setting foot in the places I would love to visit, to explore the culinary histories and everyday foods of locals in incredibly diverse regions of the Philippines, would be fantastic and beyond exciting. It will involve a lot of work, and require a lot of help from anyone willing to lend a hand. But as Katherine Viner argues in this home-hitting piece on journalism in the age of the open web, this a ripe, wonderful age for storytelling – in whatever form best suits the story, for readers who care and want to be involved with how history plays out – in my corner of the Internet, for a better understanding (and documentation) of the history of regional foods in the Philippines.

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