Artisan Made Philippines


Ay nako!  It has been almost 2 years since my last post!

Yesterday, I attended an amazing launch event for Artisan Made Philippines.  Overnight my cup runneth over with the sense of Pinay Pride.  And just in time!

One of the biggest things that has been weighing down on my mind, heart and soul has been my struggle to teach my kids Tagalog and cultivate their Filipino identity.  Yes, I speak to them exclusively in Tagalog, but I know my version of Tagalog is not enough.  I myself need some immersion crash course in order to discuss more complex thoughts and feelings with them.

Thanks to Artisan Made, I came away from last week feeling connected to a vibrant Filipino-American community.  I’m feeling happier.  It’s the kind of feeling you might experience when you spend a whole day with cool cousins.  Mind you, I only knew Kristine Surla, the founder of Artisan Made when I walked in the door, but everyone felt familiar as they shared their stories of being Filipino or Filipino-American.  It didn’t matter that we were from all different parts of the Philippines or different parts of the US.

It’s a huge understatement to say that I was thrilled and inspired.  The day wasn’t about fleeting fashion trends.  It was about Filipinos and Filipinas making a difference in other people’s lives.

  • Moved by the work that the non-profit, Gawad Kalinga, is doing to end poverty and hunger in the Philippines.
  • Lost my mind shopping for beautiful pieces by Anthill – a social and cultural enterprise in the Philippines working to preserve local weaves through contemporary design to sustain livelihood and tradition.  Each piece had a story about the specific weaves and the weaver or craftsperson who created it.
  • Witnessed the inventive and improvisational culinary skills of The New York Times-featured Filipina chef, Yana Gilbuena.  I inhaled the 5-course kamayan meal after admiring her artful presentation.  I also learned that you can peel ginger with a regular spoon!  It’s work, but it means that you don’t waste any of the ginger!  Genius.
  • Discovered that “heirloom Philippine rice” exists!  Last night’s menu included black rice by Social Products — an organization that sources organic food products from Philippine coop smallholder farmer partners that empower rural farmers, women, and indigenous peoples with a more sustainable way to eradicate poverty.
  • Excited to taste and learn about Kalsada Coffee from the Philippines and roasted in Seattle.
  • And wow!  Theo & Philo artisanal chocolates.  Yum!  They’re the Philippines’ first bean-to-bar artisan chocolates.  You have to try them!
  • And calamansi liqueur?  Yes, please!  I am now on the hunt for Manille Liqueur de Calamansi.  According to Forbes, it was “conceived as a Filipino take on the Italian limoncello by president and CEO Olivia Limpe-Aw, in collaboration with restaurateur-turned-writer-and-television-host Stephanie Zubiri-Crespi, Manille Liqueur de Calamansi, launched in January 2014, is a vodka-based drink that uses the essence of the zesty calamansi rind sourced from Mangyan farmers in Mindoro, a province located off the coast of Luzon, and northeast of Palawan.”
  • And most importantly, I have secured some SoCal Tagalog play dates in my family’s future!  In fact, because of the press coverage leading up to the event, I now know that there’s a show, Kababayan Today.  And because of that show, I now know that there’s a summer school program by the Filipino Cultural School here in LA!  It’s far but it will be worth it to enroll Cedro next summer.

Maraming salamat, Kristine! Mabuhay!



2009 Philippine Independence Day Parade – NYC

Cori, Anne, Cory Aquino (aka Liz Casasola), & Ardith @ NYC Filipino Day 2009

Cori, Anne, Cory Aquino (aka Liz Casasola), & Ardith (Photo courtesy of Cori Kaylor)

Today was absolute chaos at the Philippine Independence Day Parade and Festival here in NYC!  Chaotic in both good and bad ways… It’s always an amazing feeling to be surrounded by THOUSANDS of Filipinos who are out celebrating their Pinoy Pride.  But it was SO packed that it was almost impossible to get food!  The one booth we chose even ran out of rice!  Needless to say, the crowd was appalled!  “Can you ee-MAHHHhh-jeen!?!”  Oh well…  It was still well worth the 45-minute wait for our 2 skewers of BBQ pork and the high price of my hair stinking like sweat and smokey, barbecued meat.

While I may be proud to be Filipino, I had no intention of showing up at the festival until the very end… Only our homegirl, Liz Casasola, could drag us out of bed before noon on a weekend!  She was scheduled to walk with fellow cast members for “Imelda – The Musical” which will open in NYC in September 2009.  She’ll play the role of Cory Aquino!…  She wisely gave us a 12:15pm time to show up at the parade.  So, Brian and I ran up to Madison Park by 12:30pm which meant we were in time for the REAL appearance of Liz in the parade at 2:15pm.  (I should’ve known she was gonna use the Filipino Time trick on us!)  Of course, we love Liz and we’re so proud of her!  You should all buy your Imelda tickets today!

All in all, it was a fun, sunny day in NYC hanging with the girls and bumping into old friends in the crowd.  Before we left, someone stopped and pointed to the stage and asked me, “What’s going on here?”  Being the big Filipino dork that I am, I shouted, “IT’S FILIPINO DAY!”  One day, I hope no one will have to wonder.  People will just KNOW that it’s Filipino Day.  Watch out!

A new way to eat an old treat!


I ALWAYS run into problems whenever i decide to do jello shots!  I mean i run into problems when i make jello shots…I have no problems doing the shots…hehehehe.

I could never decide how to present the perfect shot!  I used to make the jello and have people scoop up a shot with a spoon!  (not that hygenic!); then i decided, individual shots are better so i would steal plastic condiment containers from the commissary at my work (i would also have co-workers do the dirty deed with me….stealing containers…not the other “dirty deed”).

Then finally, while searching online, i discovered a wonderful way to make the shots – USING ORANGE SLICES!  You just cut the oranges in half, scoop out the inside (you can eat these later; in my case, i fed it to a hungry boyfriend), pour the jello in and let it sit.  When it solidifies, you cut them into slices!  It looks better and it feels more organic!  The orange aftertaste is a plus too!  It tastes a lot better going down!  YUMMY!

Seafood Heaven!

Master Chef Brian w/ the Lobster Tails!

Master Chef Brian w/ the Lobster Tails!

Every year, my good friend, Heather, hosts a big loft party to celebrate her birthday and cherry blossom season.  I’m usually involved in the party planning and Brian has been our volunteer gourmet caterer.  This year, Heather wanted the party to be more low-key.  None of us had a whole lot of time this year to plan or prep.  “No more puff pastries in and out of the oven and no more sushi rolls hand-rolled all night long.”  This year, we simplified the menu to stuff that could be prepped well in advance.  Well….  we kept that plan for about two New York seconds!

The day before the party, B got a call from one of his buddies who wanted to pass on some unused seafood from a photo shoot.  When Brian met up with us at party central, we were expecting a little bag of something.  Uh…. he showed up with 60 lobster tails and 8 lbs of beautiful shrimp!  Wuhhhhhh?????….  It was so much food, we didn’t even use it all.  For a party with 50 guests, we only used half of the stash.  That yielded several dishes!  Lobster Salad w/ Miso Butter and Shiso (Japanese Mint) on Toasted Baguettes, Shrimp Cocktail w/ Turkish Pepper Dipping Sauce, and Shrimp, Avocado, & Japanese Cucumber Rolls.  With the lobster shells and shrimp tails, Brian made an amazing seafood stock which we’ve already used for some amazing after-party lobster risotto. YUUUUMMMMMMMY!

Needless to say, everything was a big hit!  Next year, it’s going to be hard to top this spread!  [Especially if we’re going to be in LA! ;)]

This will undoubtedly be the first of MANY posts about the gastronimical heaven that is now my life thanks to my husband, Brian.

Seafood Spread!

Seafood Spread!