Fourth Week: Food Lessons

Hello there!  This week’s blog is dedicated to food!  When I first think of Filipino food I think of two words either sour or SWEET.  This is because most Filipino foods have vinegar in them which makes them have a rather sour taste.  On the other hand, the food here is very nice and sweet.   As a person who loves nearly all things sweet, my taste buds are definitely living their best life here.    

-“matamis”, sweet in Tagalog- 


On Wednesday (the 29th), Sarah and I went with my supervisor Sir Alex and Miss Lea to Bulacan for site visits.  We visited three Nutribun adopters: one was a large production facility, one was a national high school, and the other was a bread shop.  Before the work excursion, I did not know how widely distributed Nutribun is.  Miss Lea informed me that site visits to adopters (people who are licensed to produce and distribute Nutribun) are done annually and that there have even been some site visits that required plane travel.   

During the first site visit, Sir Alex gave me a brief history of how Nutribun came to be.  Nutribun was created by the United States in the 70s-80s, Americans created it to help with providing nutrition to those who are malnourished in the Philippines.  

That afternoon, we were served lunch at the large facility, where I tried pancit for the first time and Don Benito’s Cassava Cake (the dessert in the picture below in a square box).  Cassava Cake is honestly probably my new favorite dessert I’ve had here in the Philippines (which just slightly surpasses an ube shake with boba).  Unlike the awkwardness I’ve felt in the states while eating with people I don’t quite know, here I feel so welcomed and seen by people I’ve met only an hour before a meal.  This once again shows the hospitable and kind nature of the people here.

I find it kinda funny how Wednesday morning I had never eaten pancit before and by the afternoon I had tried not one but three different pancits.  Sir Alex explained to me that pancit is a very popular dish here for parties and celebrations.  Additionally, the Chinese belief of eating noodles leads to a longer life is also believed here in the Philippines.  Later, on the way back to Bicutan I joked that I now have three times longer life, because of the three pancits.  

Friday was DOST-FNRI’s Anniversary

This Saturday, Sarah and I explored Mall of Asia (including SM By The Bay).  The mall is truly bigger than I could have ever imagined.  Every time I thought I saw just about everything, there was always a new level, wing, or building to explore.  I spent nearly an hour looking for a BDO ATM and gave up,  later finding it in a part of the mall I had never been in before.  The maps app wasn’t really helpful when it came to the mall and had we not asked mall security we might have never found SM By The Bay.  There we got to ride a Ferris wheel as the sun set and a few other carnival rides.  Sarah told me it gave her Navy Pier vibes.   

Week 4 takeaway:  Philippines culture is similar to Vietnamese culture.  It’s funny as I spend time here I start to miss my extended family members.  The use of family titles when even addressing strangers is similar across both cultures.  Oddly, I feel closer to my Vietnamese-American identity here than in the states, maybe that’s due to how curious people are about my Vietnamese identity.  I recall during the study abroad pre-departure meeting, Director Shimizu addressed how the weight of your identities may change as we go abroad.  I didn’t think much of it then but now I understand.  Also, the food is similar in some aspects. Lots of rice.

-Till Next Week, Jess 🙂

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