bourdain in the philippines

Tony Bourdain makes a long anticipated (by many of his Filipino viewers) visit to the Philippines in a decent episode of No Reservations. The visit is largely motivated by a video sent in by Filipino-American fanboy named Augusto during the viewer-choice contest a year ago.

The running theme throughout this episode was of identity. Culinary and cultural. While seemingly unimpressed with Manila street food, Tony remarks that there doesn't seem to be one dish that identifies itself as "Filipino". However, after being wowed by sisig, oxtail kare-kare, goat head and sinigang in Pampanga and lechon in Cebu, he discovers that Filipino cuisine is truly a melting pot of culinary influences reflecting a complex history of foreign influence and occupation. Plus, distinct regional differences stir up the pot even more. He ponders why Filipino cuisine is largely absent in America - to which one of his hosts suggests that Filipinos are more adaptable to where they emigrate.

Tony meets up with Augusto in Cebu and examines Filipino identity through his eyes. As it turns out, Augusto has only been to the Philippines once. While he was exuberant with Filipino pride in his video, he appears reticent with his family in the Philippines. Tony plays counselor, as Augusto admits that he feels like an outsider caught between America and the Philippines without truly feeling part of either place and ultimately identifying himself as a New Yorker. His whole family in Cebu was eerily silent - perhaps nervous about having cameras jammed in their face while eating. But the lechon and its trusty handlers livened the mood and Tony claimed it to be the best pig in the world.

Even though only 3 regions were investigated, it was a decent episode. The Filipino guides were familiar to me in their emotional expression of pride and knowledge in their homeland. They complained about being overlooked in southeast asia (not just by Bourdain) and then admitted to looking westward to America more than its Asian neighbors. In many ways, I can identify with Augusto and now I'm craving for that crispy lechon skin. Video clip below. Deleted scene featuring tapsilog here.


kiita said...

More background info:

Manong's said...

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