Asian Food Tourist | Mga Kuwentong Pagkain annual storytelling announces winners | Mga Kuwentong Pagkain (MKP), an annual storytelling contest launched a decade ago by the Mama Sita Foundation is delighted to announce its latest crop of winning entries.
For its essay category, the plum prize dubbed the “Pinilakang Palayok” award went to “Chasing Ginilo” submitted by 49-year-old Edelwisa Roman Gonzaga, of Moses Lake, Washington State. The essay pays homage to the writer’s idyllic childhood in Bataan where her whole family busied themselves making Ginilo, a refreshing melee of sweet potatoes, gelatin, and rice crispies swimming in coconut milk and shaved ice, the perfect antidote to humid afternoons. Now raising her own family in the West Coast, Edel relives these cherished memories by making Ginilo with her kids despite the limited ingredients available to them. Every indulgent spoonful takes her back to the good old days. Ginilo is ‘Liquid nostalgia.’
“A Soulmate of Flavors” by Ian Ocampo Flora takes the essay category’s “Sorpresang Sangkap” award. This evocative essay, penned by a millennial, puts front and center his lovable granduncle who believes that some ingredients are fated to be together, harking to a Kampampangan culinary philosophy that jealously guards the integrity of flavor combinations. The highlighted dish, Tausing Ema, which consists of mud crabs and black bean sauce or tausi boasts of a magical partnership never to be messed with!
The last of the essay category awardees goes to Jacqueline Dechavez-Brady who took home the “Lakbay-Lasa Award” for her work titled “Nourishment and Love: A Filipino-American’s Understanding.” Currently residing in Michigan, USA, this Filipino-American recounts her journey towards understanding her late uncle’s love language: food. Her Uncle Oscar was the family’s designated cook who took care of their lavish buffet spread every Sunday. He painstakingly explained each Filipino dish to the young Jacqueline, shaping her palate as well as her heart. Now at 34 years old, Jacqueline finally appreciates the love and care that went into every food tray and snack that her uncle prepared. She carries on his acts of service by cooking up a storm for family and friends In Detroit, where the Fil-Am community is strong and vibrant, with hordes of people to feed in a constant stream of parties and events.
The overall winner of the visual narrative category is Roel Anthony Wagan, a student and freelancer. In a heartwarming video titled “Ang Sinigang ni Lola Emma,” Roel narrates how a sour soup dish made from a small silver fish known as ayungin, an endemic species abundant in Laguna de Bay, has sustained the family through generations. His grandfather would fish at the break of dawn while his grandmother Emma made fish stock flavored with ripe guavas picked from their backyard. Fresh vegetables from the neighborhood were added to this comforting dish that fed the entire household. Soon after they began selling steaming bowls of Sinigang na Ayungin to the community, a household business that thrived enough to hang several diplomas and graduation photos on the walls of their humble ancestral home.
MKP, an annual storytelling contest focused on Filipino food heritage garnered more than 350 entries last year. The four winners were selected through a rigorous process driven by a distinguished panel of judges representing various academic and culinary disciplines: culinary historian Felice Prudente Sta. Maria; Harvard alumna and former President of Miriam College, Dr. Rosario Lapus; food writer and columnist Michaela Fenix; multi-awarded book designer and writer Ige Ramos; home cook, author, and culinary advocate Nina Daza-Puyat; and Filipino language teacher and author Paolo Ven Paculan.
A decade of Filipino food stories
MKP, an initiative of the Mama Sita Foundation, began as a storytelling competition in 2012 with the objective of celebrating Philippine culinary heritage by collecting narratives that made it meaningful and relevant. The initiative has become an advocacy, especially among diasporic communities where there is a graver need to understand the Filipino identity through food.
Most submissions focus on cherished family recipes, hometown culinary traditions, regional food folklore, and locally grown crops and spices. MKP celebrates the uniqueness of Filipino food and the stories that continue to shape it. To make room for more creativity and style in sharing food stories, separate categories were set up for essay, photo and video formats, with each offering prizes up to ₱ 20,000 in cash. Stay tuned for announcements on MKP 2023!