by Margaux Aquino

It was a chilly night in Manila and my Dad and were walking around for a bite to eat. Food adventures have always been an important part of our relationship. As we walked down a busy street, we could smell something bready, barbecue-y, and sweet. It smelled so familiar, even though I was in the Philippines for the very first time. We kept walking, and eventually found the source of the smell: a small street cart parked on a corner. Suddenly, my Dad was speaking Tagalog and handing me a steaming-hot bun that I couldn’t put a name to. How could something smell so familiar, yet seem so foreign? As I took a bite, a warm rush filled my body as I tasted the sweet, fatty pork that I remembered from family dim sum at the Chinese mall back in Michigan. The bun reminded me of the Hawaiian rolls my Mom would always set out with dinner – soft and sweet. I wanted to live in this moment forever, when my Dad broke the news that the siopao I was eating was something we could never ever find back at home. I savored the moment and ate much more siopao during my visit and subsequent visit to the Philippines.

My siopao memories continue on, as it was first a tasty treat enjoyed with my Dad, and then a food I rediscovered once I moved to New York City in 2012. I wanted to trace the history of siopao and my memories through both an infographic, and a Story Map, both below. I think it’s interesting how siopao has served as a comfort for both its early creators and myself. Food is something that comforts so many of us, through so many different circumstances: illness, heartbreak, homesickness. I think the fact that humans are so drawn to sadness is a reason why humans are also so drawn to food. Sometimes a good meal is the only thing that can pull me out of a downward spiral. And for that, I thank food.





Works Cited

Ortile, Matt. “31 Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About The Philippines.” BuzzFeed. August 20, 2014. Accessed May 04, 2016. https://www.buzzfeed.com/mattortile/buzzfeed-bayan?utm_term=.ryXBxw2LM#.egRKQ4XBw.

Tan, Lara. “Philippines to Host World Street Food Congress in April.” CNN. April 20, 2016. Accessed May 04, 2016. http://cnnphilippines.com/lifestyle/2016/02/24/World-Street-Food-Congress-Philippines-WSFC-BGC.html.

White, Jay. “What Is The Average Salary In The Philippines?” Dumb Little Man. August 23, 2010. Accessed May 04, 2016. http://www.dumblittleman.com/2014/05/what-is-the-average-salary-in-the-philippines.html.

“A Brief History of Siopao.” Pretapoptart: Pop Culture with a Side of Fashion and Food. May 12, 2012. Accessed May 04, 2016. https://pretapoptart.wordpress.com/2012/05/12/a-brief-history-of-siopao/.

“Research and Markets: Philippines – Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband.” Press Release Distribution, EDGAR Filing, XBRL, Regulatory Filings. August 23, 2010. Accessed May 04, 2016. http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20100823005660/en/Research-Markets-Philippines—Telecoms-Mobile-Broadband#.U-U5gIBdV7Q.

“Story of Mami King Ma Mon Luk.” ZS News. April 1, 2010. Accessed May 4, 2016. http://www.zsnews.cn/zt/zsqwj/QiaoKan_Showcontent.asp?id=1417040.