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Mar 28th
Home Sections Food Reinventing the Overseas-Filipino Diet
Reinventing the Overseas-Filipino Diet PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 23 May 2007 02:12

One of the most-remarkable persons I have met was Conrado Pascual, Sr., who earned his Master’s degree in Maternal and Child Care from Harvard University. He earned also his degree in medicine from the University of the Philippines and practiced as a pediatrician. But he chose to serve the Philippine government as an expert in food nutrition. He could have continued to work in the United States and earned 10 to 20 times more but he chose to go back to the homeland and serve his people until his retirement in the 1970s. He was remarkable also for his motto, "Give until it hurts." The late Dr. Pascual was our family friend and the father-in-law of my sister-in-law.

On the other hand it is said that while there are many Overseas Filipinos who are like Dr. Pascual, more Filipinos practice the art of charitable giving only to their relatives and close acquaintances. In other words, are Filipinos charitable only to their circle of kin and friends but not to society in general? This is precisely what this essay is all about. I say that the Overseas Filipinos are as generous as other nationalities or ethnic groups.

Today, many of the estimated three-million Filipinos in the United States have a little bit of Dr. Pascual in themselves. Many of them still give to their kin and friends back in the Philippines not only money but also canned goods, clothing, shampoo and what not that they ship in the ubiquitous "Balikbayan" carton boxes.

In fact when Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo addressed on May 17, 2003, the Filipino-American community at the Cathedral of the Queen of Angels in Los Angeles, CA, she paid tribute to the Overseas-Filipino generosity. She said that Filipino Americans, who constitute about one-third of the more than eight-million Overseas Filipinos, remit yearly 70% of the 10-billion dollars that the Filipinos receive from their kin and friends abroad. Yes, the Overseas Filipinos have actually kept the homeland afloat with their remittances and shipments of "Balikbayan" boxes.

American holidays (and long weekends) are perhaps the most-opportune times to discuss how to emulate better Dr. Pascual's motto without really hurting ourselves. In fact, we may even be able to help ourselves maintain a better life style, from the medical viewpoint, if only we "reinvent" holiday meals and our day-to-day cooking. How? 


This writer can see two ways of how to “reinvent” the Overseas-Filipino diet. 


The first way is to produce healthier recipes, so that Overseas Filipinos can cook using lower amounts of sodium and do away with MSG (vetsin). This can be done by reducing the consumption of fish sauce (patis), soy sauce and/or sautéed shrimp paste (bagoong) in cooking and in dining. Filipino food preparers can also use leaner cuts of meat or follow more recipes that involve seafood and vegetables.  


"Philippine Cooking in America" Cookbook

This online publication will soon have the participation of Ms. Marilyn Donato of Virginia. She is a dietitian and the author of a very popular cookbook, "Philippine Cooking in America." She has her own web site, She used to write articles about food and diets in the now-defunct "Ningas Cogon" publication of Ms. Loida Nicolas-Lewis and the Filipino Reporter newspaper of New York. Ms. Donato will discuss with readers the recipes for “healthy foods” as we go along and make progress as an online source of information.


Eventually the will be selling Filipino books, including cookbooks, not only in our web site but also in Filipino expos, trade fairs and travel shows. We intend to resume also our participation in the Los Angeles Times' Festival of Books at the UCLA, where we operated twin booths for three years from 1998-2000. The L. A. Times Book Fest is scheduled on the last weekend of April.


The other is to do an initiative that I dub the "Filipino Outreach by Overseas Donors (FOOD)." This will be posted in Part II of this presentation.


Editor's Note: To read Part II of this series, please click on 

Inventing the "FOOD" for the World (Part II)

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Last Updated on Saturday, 24 May 2008 02:52

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