June 13, 2016

Mabuhay! On Filipino Culture & Food

A belated Happy Independence Day to all my fellow Filipinos out there! Rachel of Hello, Chelly & I have been collaborating for the past two years to celebrate our Filipino heritage (in literature and in our lives) with Mabuhay! It is always important to us both to try to share a bit of our culture with our readers, particularly because it is so often misrepresented or underrepresented in the media and literature. 

Today, I'm honored to be sharing a few thoughts from Roshani Chokshi (author of The Star-Touched Queen, who happens to be half-Filipina!), as well as a Filipino meal inspired by Out on Good Behavior by Dahlia Adler (which happens to feature a half-Filipina main character as well). After checking out my post, definitely go and visit Rachel's blog to see Melissa de la Cruz share some thoughts on her upcoming novel Something in Between

To kick off today's post, I asked author Roshani Chokshi to answer the following question: As a Filipino, what do you find special or inspirational about Filipino culture? Here's what Roshani had to say!

What I find inspirational about Filipino culture is its vibrancy. The Philippines has endured Japanese occupation, American rule, Spanish colonialism and yet, it still has a strong sense of identity. I remember walking along Intramuros and seeing the golden footprints where Jose Rizal met his end at the hands of a firing squad. And I remember how the streets outside something horrific were filled with Christmas parols and hot taho served in flimsy plastic cups. It’s that juxtaposition — new outlooks and nightmarish history — that has always intrigued me. The cultural fabric of the Philippines contains threads of horror. And yet, it never forgets who it is. The Philippines is music and magic, myths long forgotten and myths remade. It is home :)

I absolutely loved Roshani's take on Filipino culture! It is so, so true that it is an eclectic mix of culture and traditions, especially after years of occupation by different countries. And I think that's part of what makes the Philippines so unique - our history and our culture and the melting pot that it is when you examine it. And I love it! 

Another thing that I love about the Philippines? The food! I've always had a soft spot for various Filipino dishes, since I basically grew up chowing down on just that. I found myself craving Filipino food more than ever after reading Out on Good Behavior, where Dahlia Adler chooses to feature a meal comprised of a full Filipino menu. I wound up getting some Filipino food yesterday (during Independence Day), with most of my choices inspired by what they eat in the novel!

clockwise, from left: adobo, garlic rice, lumpia, kwek kwek & sisig

Adobo is pretty much a staple in Filipino diets, made up of chicken and/or pork marinated in a mix of soy sauce, vinegar and garlic, and cooked in that same mix. (So good, and such comfort food!) Lumpia can be made fried or fresh, with meat or vegetables wrapped in a rice wrapper. (Sooooo addicting! I eat loads of them when they're in front of me.) Kwek kwek is basically quail eggs deep fried in batter, and is well known as street food for most Filipinos. (This is another comfort food for me.) And sisig is basically boiled and chopped pork and chicken liver seasoned with vinegar, calamansi juice, onions and served on sizzling plates. Together, these comprise a really great staple Filipino meal - that I pretty much completely devoured.

And there you have it, ladies and gents - this year's Mabuhay! post in its entirety. Thank you to the lovely Roshani for answering my question, and to Dahlia for including Filipino food in her new adult novel and inspiring me to have my own Filipino meal for Independence Day. (For more, check out Rachel's blog!) And, once again, a belated Happy Independence Day!

As an amazing bonus, Dahlia Adler offered up three (3) e-books - a full set of her Radleigh University series: Last Will and Testament, Right of First Refusal and Out on Good Behavior - for a giveaway!! I've read all three of these new adult novels, and they are phenomenal. I certainly hope that you enter to win them so that you get to read them and fall in love with them like I did!


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