Free Film Showing November 4 in LA: “Vapor Trail Clark” The Unfinished Business of Toxic Contamination Left Behind

Water buffaloes and children playing at a polluted stream, Pampanga, Philippines (cover photo of the documentary Vapor Trail Clark)

On November 24, 1992, the US lowered the American flag on Clark and Subic bases in the Philippines, the US largest military installations outside the continental US. 26 years later, the US still has unfinished business of cleaning up the toxic contamination left behind in the US former bases in the Philippines.

On November 4, 2018, the Bayanihan Foundation will co-sponsor a free film showing of John Gianvito’s “Vapor Trail Clark“, a four-hour and 25 minute long documentary of researchers investigating the U.S. military’s environmental contamination of the abandoned bases in the Philippines. The film screening will be held at the Pilipino Workers Center, 153 Glendale Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90026.  The free film screening will be held from 12 PM till 5 PM, with a half hour merienda break in-between. Filipino snacks and refreshments will be served.

Myrla Baldonado standing in front of a Korean multinational factory in Clark Freeport Zone (2011)

Guest speaker, Myrla Baldonado, will talk about her two decades as the founding Director of the People’s Task Force for Bases Clean-up. Her personal story in fighting to clean up the toxic wastes left behind also became the main highlight of the documentary, “Vapor Trail Clark.” Myrla relentlessly advocated for the victims of toxic contamination and for the environmental clean up of both Clark and Subic bases. Ms. Baldonado lobbied for research studies that confirmed serious environmental and health problems in these areas.  In addition, the People’s Task Force for Bases Clean-up also provided medical help to over a thousand victims of contamination.

(standing far right) Myrla Baldonado with members of Saup in Clark, Pampanga (2013)

Documentary filmmaker John Gianvito produced and directed the film, “Vapor Trail Clark.” He initially found out about the contamination issue at Clark and Subic from a news article he read in the Boston Globe.  The film examines how and why the former US Air Force (USAF) Base in Clark became an environmental disaster area and what can be done to help the people of Luzon Island. Vapor Trail (Clark) was an official selection at the 2010 Rotterdam International Film Festival. Myrla Baldonado will also conduct a brief discussion after the film screening. Please RSVP by emailing Myrla Baldonado

Mural portraying the toxic contamination left behind by the US former military bases in the Philippines

“Being able to continue working on this unfinished task for the Philippine environment and the health of the Filipino people affected by the toxic contamination is one of the many rewards of continuing this fight,” Myrla Baldonado said.

Posted in Bases clean up, colonialism, government | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Five Years Later: Evelyn Castillo Sees Mangrove Forests Growing, Successes And Challenges

(standing far right) James Castlllo leads youth workshop in envrionmental conservation and renewal and in planting mangrove trees in Cebu, Philippines

(standing far right) James Castillo leads youth workshop in environmental conservation and renewal and in planting mangrove trees in Cebu, Philippines (2013)

On January 2013, Bayanihan Foundation board member James Castillo went to Liloan, Cebu, Philippines, where he led a youth workshop and planted thousands of mangrove seedlings as part of the foundation’s projects for environmental renewal and sustainability.  For the next five years, the Bayanihan Foundation supported a fisher folk community in Liloan, Cebu and continued planting thousands of mangrove seedlings there. The fisher folk community formed a self-help organization called PAKAMA (Pakigbisug sa Kabus nga Mananagat/ Poor Fishermen’s Struggle) in Barangay Calero. The youth also formed their own organization, “Youth for Nationalism and Democracy” (YND) Liloan chapter as part of their leadership development. Since then, the Bayanihan Foundation has supported the planting of 30,000 mangrove seedlings and the training of hundreds of youth in environmental leadership to fight climate change.

Youth participants plant mangrove trees in Cebu, Philippines

Youth participants plant mangrove trees in Cebu, Philippines (2015)

On September 2018, Bayanihan Foundation Liaison Evelyn Castillo went back to Liloan, Cebu and revisited the thousands of mangrove seedlings planted. Evelyn was pleasantly surprised to see some of the mangrove seedlings to have bloomed into fully matured mangrove trees that now protects the cove and sustains more fish and wildlife.

Fisher folk community leader from PAKAMA, and Evelyn Castillo, Bayanihan Foundation Liaison (September 2018)

Return to Paradise, Paying it Forward

The fisher folk community of PAKAMA have protected the mangrove seedlings and helped them mature into mangrove forests despite the imminent threat of commercial resorts and modern development nearby. The fisher folk community understood that the mangrove forests serve as an important part of their survival. The mangroves serve as a nesting ground for marine life. The fisher folk knew that if the mangrove forest disappear, their livelihood will also eventually disappear.

Mangroves alive and well in Liloan, Cebu protecting fish and wildlife (September 2018)

Evelyn Castillo also have spoken to some of the past participants of the youth group, “Youth for Nationalism and Democracy” (YND) Liloan chapter. They described how invaluable was the leadership development trainings they have participated.

The mangroves that were planted five years ago have now grown. They are showing plenty of leaves and some have matured to be fully grown mangrove forests. Mangrove trees grow slowly and takes years to mature.  Planting mangroves is also not easy. Despite the years of planting mangroves and the hard work of the fisher folk community, these efforts will go to waste if the government decides to give the land to investors who do not care about sustainable development. Can we do something to declare these areas as permanent mangrove forests for environmental sustainability?

The fisher folk community in Liloan also continue to face other challenges. Unfortunately, the local fisher folk organization do not have strong allies and many are still struggling to earn a decent living. They don’t have a lot of resources to fight big commercial developers and corporations who want to convert the forest into urban development.  Some of the local politicians do not care if the mangroves get converted to commercial properties.  Some of the people who live on the island also do not care if the mangroves get chopped down just because they do not directly depend on fishing as a means of livelihood.

Despite these problems, the growth of the mangroves have stopped for now the bulldozing of  the mangrove forests. Some local political leaders have also spoken up to support the mangrove forests. Ms. Nida Cabrera, an environmental legislator in Cebu City said during her visit during the Pagbabalik (Coming Home) workshop, ” It is time we start looking at preventing environmental disasters before it destroys lives and property.”

The Bayanihan Foundation hopes to continue working with the Visayas Mindanao People’s Resource Development Center (VMPRDC) and plan together on how to sustain the progress that’s been made.  The fisher folk in Liloan continue to be hard at work in protecting the environment despite their meager access to resources. The Bayanihan Foundation urges its donors, supporters, and Filipinos in the diaspora to continue supporting this important work.

Youth participants planting mangrove trees in Northern Cebu, Philippines

Youth participants planting mangrove trees in Northern Cebu, Philippines (2015)

Posted in climate change, Diaspora Giving, environmental sustainability | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

It’s About Time: FilAm Leaders Urge The Return of Bells of Balangiga

Excerpt from this blog entry came from the Casper Tribune article,  “Bells of Balangiga a Divisive Symbol of War, to leave Wyoming and Return to the Philippines” (August 16, 2018)

The Church Bells of Balangiga now in Ft. Russell, WY

On October 2, 2018, the Filipino American community in Chicago called for the return of the church bells of Balangiga, Samar, an important symbol of the Philippine-American War. The US Secretary of Defense James Mattis recently notified Congress that the US government is expecting to return the Bells of Balangiga to the Philippines, where they would be treated with the “respect and honor they deserve” by the Catholic Church there, according to a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Manila cited in published reports (Casper Tribune, August 16, 2018).

Since 1905, the US military has kept the bells of Balangiga as war booty and it’s often seen as a divisive symbol of the Philippine-American War. Filipino Americans should contact their Congressional Representatives and urge their elected officials to hasten the return of the bells back to Samar where it belongs.

(from left to right): Representative from Filipino American Veterans of IL; Deputy Consul General Romulo Israel; Consul General Gina Jamoralin; Rose San Diego; and more representatives from the Filipino American Veterans of IL

Rose San Diego, Liaison of the Filipino American Veterans of Illinois and representatives of the Chicago Nightingales, a group of Filipino American nurses advocating for health and wellness in the community, joined forces with other Filipino American leaders in Chicago to rally for the return of the Balangiga bells.

In 1901, the bells were taken from a burnt-down church in Balangiga, Samar as trophies of war dating back to the U.S. military’s occupation of the Philippines in the early 20th century. Two of the three bells  now reside at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming where they have been kept since the return of Wyoming’s 11th Infantry from the conflict.

Balangiga Church, Balangiga, Samar (June 2018 photo)

It’s about time the US return the bells to Samar. The US should not keep them as war booty. The bells serve as spoils of the Balangiga Massacre, a mission of retaliation by the U.S. military following a morning assault on American fighters by machete-wielding Filipino militants, killing 48 of the 78 Americans in the unit. The bells were taken by the Americans following a directive by General Jacob H. Smith to shoot all Filipino men over the age of 10 and able to bear arms: an illegal act of revenge against the civilians of the small town of Samar. Both Smith and Major Littleton Waller were court-martialed for the massacre, however, only Smith was found guilty. The conviction was later dropped.

Balangiga statue depicting the Balangiga Massacre (June 2018)

In May and September 2018, I visited the Balangiga Church and the statue in front of the church plaza depicting the massacre. I was surprised myself to learn about this forgotten part of history (Ignacio, The Forbidden Book, 2004). I always thought the US was helpful and benevolent towards its former colony, the Philippines.


Depiction of Balangiga Massacre, painting at Tanuan, Batangas (August 2017)

At the end of the US Philippine War, soldiers of the 11th Infantry brought two church bells from Balangiga back to the base where they were stationed at the time—Fort D.A. Russell outside Cheyenne, now F.E. Warren Air Force Base. A third bell from the Balangiga church, owned by the 9th Infantry, remains at the U.S. Army’s Camp Red Cloud, Uijeongbu, South Korea. These bells are finally coming home and it’s the right thing to do.

The return of the bells has long been a concern of officials in the Philippines: most recently, President Rodrigo Duterte asked the U.S. to return the bells during his second State of the Nation Address last year, noting their symbolism as a sign of resistance against American colonialism in the 19th and 20th centuries.

“Those bells are reminders of the gallantry and heroism of our forebears who resisted the American colonizers and sacrificed their lives in the process,” a translation of Philippine Duterte speech reads.

“That is why I say today; give us back those Balangiga bells,” he said to applause. “They are ours. They belong to the Philippines. They are part of our national heritage.”

“We are aware that the Bells of Balangiga have deep significance for a number of people, both in the United States and in the Philippines,” US Secretary of Defense Mattis said in a statement.

The return of the bells has been pushed for by some Americans, including retired Air Force pilot Spike Naysmith and former U.S. Ambassador to the Phillipines Frank Wisner, who wrote a letter to U.S. Rep Liz Cheney describing the taking of the bells as a “profound error,” and that the arguments in favor of taking and keeping the bells were based on historical inaccuracies. In a letter dated June 16, 2017, Wisner claims the bells kept in Cheyenne were neither brought to Wyoming by Wyoming’s own Company C, nor did they serve as signals of the surprise attack at Balangiga: they were instead “shipped to the U.S. from a scrap yard.”

“While I understand the issue has long been a cause for members of the Wyoming veteran community, and there are many who feel connected to the Bells, they do not belong on a U.S. Air Force base,” he wrote. “Their true home is in the belfry of the Church of San Lorenzo de Martir in Balangiga, Eastern Samar.”

No specific date has been identified for the return of the bells, one of which currently resides at an air force base in South Korea. The fight for the return of the bells is not over. I also spoke briefly during the program ceremonies and advocated for the Filipino American community to contact their US Congressional Representatives and urge them to advocate for the return of the Bells of Balangiga.

Posted in history, Philippines | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Pagbabalik: 2018 NEXTGEN Camillo Geaga Travels Back to the Philippines

In September 2018, NEXTGEN Fellow Camillo Geaga travels back to the Philippines. Camillo writes an essay of his personal thoughts of his 2017 trip at the same time as he reflects with his recent experience in 2018:

In August 2017, as a recipient of the 2nd annual NEXTGEN Pagbabalik ‘coming home’ program, I was guided through a 10-day trip of the Philippines, visiting mainly three islands.

2018 NEXTGEN Fellow Camillo Geaga attempts to climb a papaya tree (Samar, September 2018)

Ultimately, my favorite part of the trip was the deliciously rich tropical fruits such as the sweet mango (that looked like canned peaches) and the ‘lakatan’ banana (local banana variety that tastes like mango).

I sat on a balcony, to catch up on readings that Dale had given me describing Filipino cultural and social values such as ‘hiya’ [shame], ‘amor-propio’ [love of one’s self], ‘utang na loob’ [indebtedness], and ‘pakikisama’ [togetherness], I thought “am I crazy?”, I had not even considered this opportunity less than a year before, and there I was. Then I heard a young male (maybe a teen) singing “I’m not crazy, I’m just a little …” the rest I didn’t know, with a young woman tearing in with “Livin la vida loca.” I think that it was my favorite part because it showed an emotional longing and more common side of people, for affirmation and acceptance, that reflected what I had learned about at historical site such as the Rizal birthplace  and Mabini shrine, describing the plight of Philippine leaders during their revolutionary fight for freedom, that occurred over a century ago.

Camillo Geaga posing in front of the US landing of General Douglas MacArthur at Leyte Beach during WWII (Tacloban Leyte, September 2018)

I’m not quite sure of the origins of karaoke if it’s Filipino or American, as music is universal, and why I feel I can relate to it so well. Although I rarely sing, I play a lot of music, usually loud, that could be bothersome, especially to someone trying to sleep. I also feel that music can be like medicine with a nice vibration and a positive message that one can learn from. It’s like carrying the spirits of those before us, although it’s easy to get carried away. And not everybody likes the same music.

On the trip, I thought a lot of the difference between Filipino and American cultures, as American culture tend to be more individualistic and less community oriented (or ‘bayanihan’ spirit) than the Filipino culture. Regardless, one must stand for something, and that it can be difficult to navigate in our capitalistic culture that has mostly stripped us of our traditional ancestral heritage and customs.

In 2017, on my flight back to the States I had a difficulty breathing. I was wheezing on the plane and I was not able to sleep. Was I suffering from poor nutrition and eating mostly processed foods and sugar, leading to possible allergic reactions? Or was it the antibiotics that I have taken off and on for the last four years to fight a skin infection? Or maybe it was the medication that I had taken, for almost the same amount of time, to fight a mental illness? Or it could have been from my habit of smoking herbs that could also be filled with pesticides? Whatever it was, as I sat on the plane thinking of what could be the cause of my discomfort. I felt a pain in my liver that almost made me faint. I recognized that I was one sick puppy.  I felt a seriousness of it all. I had to take my health into my own hands and I couldn’t rely on anybody else to do it for me.

(left to right): Dale Asis, Venise Castillo, and Camillo Geaga riding a jeepney in Tacloban City, Leyte (September 2018)

One factor, that’s crucial, is diet and nutrition. I believe that food can and should be medicinal for us: specifically, foods high in vitamins and minerals, such as fruits and vegetables, that allow us to function optimally. However, my favorite meal on the trip was ‘lugaw’, a traditional mainly white rice porridge with chicken, ginger, garlic, and a pinch of green onion.  I have later come to realize that it was not only the warm memory of times when my mother would make ‘lugaw’ when I was sick, or the warmth of the soup itself, but that there may be truly healing properties to the stimulating qualities of plants such as ginger and garlic.

When I got home, I had a pasalubong (gift) to myself – the desire to change for the better health wise – primarily focusing on diet and nutrition. I don’t want to solely blame certain foods as bad, however I would like to encourage others to consume more nutritious foods. As Filipinos, we have a tremendously rich variety of traditional foods, some that could boast as champions of nutrition: some vegetables like malunggay (moringa), ampalaya (bitter melon), kalabasa (squash), eggplant, ube (taro), etc. as well as tropical fruits like mango, calamansi, banana, pineapple, rambutan, coconut and much more including mung beans, vinegar, and countless varieties of fish.

So, in taking better care of ourselves we can honor this life and what we have been given and prepare for a better future. This, I believe, is the active component of our long-held traditional belief in ‘bahala na’, or ‘come what may.’ I realized that life is a valuable struggle and that we are inheriting an honorable fight of the spirit that has carried on for centuries, even through positive lifestyle choices such as food.

I also want to recognize the plight of fellow brothers and sisters in the Philippines. We visited historical sites in the Philippines and planted mangrove seedlings in hopes of keeping another village from getting washed away and prevent the effects of climate change.

Teachers looked on as Evelyn Castillo (standing middle) and Camillo Geaga (standing far right) looked over the donated books for two elementary schools in Giporlos, Samar (September 2018)

At the close of our trip, we flew back to Manila and stayed in Ermita. We visited Intramuros, the old walled city, where Filipino hero Jose Rizal was imprisoned and executed; Quiapo Church and its open-air market; and Makati, where we saw a precolonial gold exhibit at the Ayala Museum. I was surprised to find out that gold was found on many islands and was worn mainly by the local leaders at the time. Overall, the trip was a valuable and enriching experience, one that I had hoped for, thanks to the Bayanihan Foundation.

Posted in Education, Philippine poverty, Philippines, Youth leadership development | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Will Dix, Juvenile Protective Association (JPA) Donate Over 2,400 Books for Library

(left to right); Kyle Craven, Dale Asis (Bayanihan Foundation), Karen Foley, and Willard Dix of Juvenile Protective Association (JPA) donate over 2,400 books to the ‘Balikbayan Box’ Book Drive (August 2018)

My partner, Willard Dix, and his employer, Juvenile Protective Association (JPA) donated over 2,400 children’s books to the Bayanihan Foundation’s ‘Balikbayan Box’ Book Drive. The generous book donation of Will and JPA will hopefully motivate others to donate and support the Bayanihan Foundation’s goal of education and long-term sustainability.

Willard Dix rescued the books from imminent landfill and donated them instead to the ‘Balikbayan Box’ Book Drive (August 2018)

Will’s employer, Juvenile Protective Association (JPA) received an unexpected donation of thousands of children’s books. However, they were not able to use them. So Will took the opportunity and donated the books to Bayanihan Foundation for the ‘Balikbayan Box’ Book Drive. The books will be used by thousands of school children in the Philippines and not being dumped in an eminent landfill.

Willard Dix of Juvenile Protective Association (JPA) helped shipped the books in balikbayan boxes to the Philippines (August 2018)




The thousands of book titles will be shipped to Giporlos, Samar and Iligan City and will be used to build libraries there.  JPA Intern Kyle Craven helped packed the books in balikbayan boxes. Willard Dix’s mother, Barbara, provided a generous donation for the shipment of the books to the Philippines.



In addition, the Bayanihan Foundation will  host two house party fundraisers in Chicago, IL and in Los Angeles, CA. The Chicago house party fundraiser brunch will be held on August 25, 2018 – 10 AM at the home of Dr. Maria Ferrera and Dr. Adam Avrushin in Oak Park, IL. The Los Angeles house party fundraiser will be held on August 26,2018 – 12 noon at the home of Joselyn Geaga-Rosenthal and Fred Rosenthal.

NEXTGEN 2018 Fellow Camillo Geaga will travel to the Philippines and help build school libraries in the Philippines (August 2018)

The fundraisers will also celebrate NEXTGEN 2018 Fellow Camillo Geaga as he travels  to build these libraries in the Philippines. Camillo will also co-host the Los Angeles fundraiser. Please RSVP by calling Bayanihan Foundation (773) 273-9793 or email at if you’re interested in supporting the foundation’s educational efforts and enjoy delicious Filipino foods. You can also support this book drive by donating securely online at through PayPal or through Facebook:

Posted in Diaspora Donors, Diaspora Giving, Education | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

FilAm Kids Kick Off ‘Balikbayan Box’ Book Drive Building Libraries in Philippines

Filipino American children put together mini-balikbayan boxes for ‘Balikbayan Box’ Book Drive. They are part of MG Bertulfo Kuwento! Filipino Story and Language Camp (photo courtesy of MG Bertulfo August 2018)

On August 7, 2018,  MG Bertulfo and the Kuwento! Filipino Story and Language Camp in Oak Park, IL launched the Bayanihan Foundation’s  NEXTGEN ‘Balikbayan Box’ Book Drive. 12 excited Filipino American children put together ‘mini balikbayan boxes’ full of books and school supplies, as part of a  week-long ‘Kuwento (Stories) Camp. The mini-boxes kicked off the foundation’s plans to send 3,000 books to Giporlos, Samar and Iligan City and build libraries there. The kids’ enthusiasm to build the mini-balikbayan boxes hopefully spur others to donate,  help build the libraries and support the Bayanihan Foundation’s goal of education and long-term sustainability.

(standing left to right Dr. Maria Ferrera and Dale Asis) sharing stories about bayanihan, balikbayan and other Filipino values to Filipino American children in Oak Park, IL (photo courtesy of MG Bertulfo)

Bayanihan Foundation board member Dr. Maria Ferrera of DePaul University and I joined renowned artist and writer MG Bertulfo as she spearheaded a successful Kuwento! Filipino Story and Language camp in Oak Park, IL. MG inspired the Filipino American kids to learn about their Filipino heritage at the same time they learned on how they could share beyond themselves.

Filipino American children learn Filipino culture and values including Bayanihan, Balikbayan and Pasalubong (photo courtesy of MG Bertulfo August 2018)



The Bayanihan Foundation will host two house party fundraisers in Chicago, IL and in Los Angeles, CA. The Chicago house party fundraiser will be held on August 25, 2018 at the home of Dr. Maria Ferrera and Dr. Adam Avrushin in Oak Park, IL. The Los Angeles house party fundraiser will be held on August 26,2018 at the home of Joselyn Geaga-Rosenthal and Fred Rosenthal. NEXTGEN 2018 Fellow Camillo Geaga will also co-host the Los Angeles fundraiser. Please RSVP by calling Bayanihan Foundation (773) 273-9793 or email at if you’re interested in supporting the foundation’s educational efforts and enjoy delicious Filipino foods.


Your donation will also support the NEXTGEN 2018 Program that promotes young Filipino Americans to know more about their culture & heritage and develop sustainable projects. Your donation can also be directed to support the Jolynne Andal Biljetina Scholarship Fund.

(standing far left) Iligan Central Elementary School librarian Idamarie Navarro receives donated books for library from Bayanihan Foundation Evelyn Castillo (second to the right) and Dale Asis (standing far right) (August 2015)

You can donate securely online at through PayPal or through Facebook. Bayanihan Foundation is an US registered 501c3 public charity and has donated over $350,000 in charitable giving locally and globally to the Philippines through individual donors. 95% of donations go directly to programming.

Posted in Diaspora Giving, Education, philanthropy | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Filipino Cuisine – the joy of stinky food

Portions of this blog entry came from Eating While Immigrant: The Bitter Taste of Assimilation and the Joy of ‘Stinky’ Food by Joseph Hernandez, Chicago Tribune, August 1, 2018

Chicken adobo (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Ever since I remember, my brother always liked chicken adobo. Almost every weekend, he would always asked my Mom if she would make it. My mother would always indulge him and make him his favorite dish. The house would smell of garlic, vinegar and soy sauce. My brother would relish the last bits of brown, soy sauce and smear it over white rice. The adobo smell seemed to stick to the kitchen walls as the aroma permeated our tiny kitchen for days. I asked my brother once, “Do you make chicken adobo at your house?”

“No, I don’t like it to stink up my house,” he said.

Was my brother ashamed of my mother’s cooking? Was he ashamed of being Filipino?  Was my brother trying so hard to look, act, and, yes, eat like an American? We certainly didn’t grow up eating grilled cheese sandwiches or chicken nuggets. Or was he just getting used to peanut butter sandwiches, Lunchables, and cups of diced peaches drowning in high-fructose corn syrup for lunch?

Filipino food is not stinky or weird. It’s comforting. It was how I experienced the world, both old and new. Food is how I knew I was loved.

Fast forward to 2018, Filipino cuisine — and Korean, and Sichuan, and Thai — is trendy. Restaurants around the country, run by white chefs, have “elevated” the foods of my mother and my people, of other immigrants, having profited off stacks of lumpia, bowls of pancit and adobo, and bottles of house-made fermented vinegars, without so much as a nod to the brown kitchens and people from which these foods originated (The Joys of ‘Stinky Cuisine’: Hernandez, Chicago Tribune, August 1, 2018)

It’s a little bittersweet hurt to see my people’s food celebrated now as the new “it” girl of cuisine. To know that for years, my brother and countless others needlessly felt embarrassment and shame for loving the food of our mothers. To know that my mom just wanted us to fit in, as much as our brown skin stood out. There’s also the simultaneous joy in sharing, in the invitation of a meal — “come, get to know me, to know us, to know our food. There’s plenty of knowledge (and rice) to go around (The Joys of ‘Stinky Cuisine’: Hernandez, Chicago Tribune, August 1, 2018).

Nowadays, when I bring a tray of pancit to work my Latinx coworkers would gobble it up in a heartbeat. No more comments of “that smells weird” or “what’s that?” They would heap their plates with my Mom’s noodles and said, “Hey this is good. Can you bring some more next time?”

At the age of six, I had, for the first time, a friend from school over for a play date. At that time, my family and I were living in a suburban town that was predominantly white. My playmate, Linda, was white. As it is customary, my mom provided us with a snack. Instead of crackers and juice or cookies and milk, she decided to put out a plate of rice and pork chop adobo. I was mortified. As Linda stared at the plate seemingly confused, I protested to mom, “She does not eat rice!” 

Excerpt from Glimpses into the Indigenous: Cultural Portals and the Ethnic Identity Development among Second Generation Filipino Americans by Maria Ferrera, 2013


My Mom’s Chicken Adobo Recipe

1 whole chicken, cut up in pieces

1/4 cup Marca Pina brand soy sauce

1/4 cup Marca Pina brand vinegar

1 whole garlic, chopped

3 bay leaves

10 to 12 whole peppercorns

4 tablespoons vegetable oil

Cut up whole chicken to pieces. Mix the soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, bay leaves and peppercorn as marinade. Pour over chicken. Marinate the chicken overnight.

Take chicken from marinade. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry chicken pieces until golden brown on both sides.  Add marinade back to chicken. Bring to boil then simmer until the chicken is tender and cooked through for an additional 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve with white rice.

Posted in colonialism, culture, identity | Tagged , | 1 Comment