Gwyneth Paltrow, meet Pinoy Pride

No, Gwyneth Paltrow is not “endorsing” another Filipino product. It just so happens that every time there is a mention of a Filipino personality/product crossing paths with a foreign celebrity or entity, there’s this free item called Pinoy Pride that comes along with it. Yet this free commodity is not a bonus for the end user; it’s more like excess baggage that Pinoys not just attach, but dump onto other unsuspecting people because it makes them feel big about themselves, even if they don’t have a substantiated reason to.

Pinoy pride, after all, is like toyomansi, in a way. There’s a sour component, a strong salty base, and it even has that bitter aftertaste when you’re done swallowing it.

The whole “mountain out of a molehill” exercise can be attributed to this misleading headline by ABS-CBN. First off, she wasn’t doing any endorsement. She just happened to be a guest of a reputable chef, Keith Rhodes, who just happened to use Asian condiments when she was around. Read the whole entry on her website Goop, and no where will you find an endorsement, not even unofficial, of any sort. It wasn’t even used on the main dish, and by itself!

I repeat, it was not an endorsement of Datu Puti, but a passing mention of what the chef used to flavor vegetables. So once again, Pinoys made much ado about nothing. I understand the tendency to lose objectivity every time a product from your own country is mentioned, but this? Filipinos take false pride and stupidity to a whole new level yet again. Instead of screaming “we’ve made it to Hollywood!” when we’ve actually not, we should be wondering how to market our cuisine, how to build up and sell the uniqueness of it to foreigners. In other words, how do we make our cuisine attractive and worth trying?

I am a “foodie”. I love to eat. I want to be able to say that I’ve tried everything I possibly can. I appreciate the food culture that we Filipinos have, yet the fundamental question remains: how do I convince non-Filipinos that our food is worth trying, without resorting to an “Ah basta!” argument?

By the way, do keep in mind that Asian flavors such as soy sauce will seem exotic to Americans and their rather pedestrian tastes for a long time to come. The question now becomes, how do we fit Filipino cuisine into the picture? When Andrew Zimmern, the host of a travel/food show called Bizarre Foods, said that “Filipino food will is the Next Big Thing”, I sincerely wanted to believe it. So how exactly are we Filipinos going to be proactive in making this happen? Are we going to once again wait for the guava to fall from the tree, just as we are currently doing with the HSBC prediction for the Philippines in 2050?

Indeed, the problem that plagues marketing not just Filipino food, but other aspects of our culture still persists. As benign0 has asserted before in his previous article:

Some societies make up for their initial lack of technological and engineering prowess with the development of innovative business models – new ways of producing and marketing indigenous technology, crafts and arts or resources that are unique or abundant in their respective settings.

Food is a simple example. As Thai, Indian, Vietnamese, Malaysian, and Indonesian restaurants flourish all over the world, Filipino cuisine, otherwise equally exotic in taste and variety, languishes in obscurity. There are no business models for marketing it across cultures, no artistic or at least tasteful way of preparing and presenting it, and no wherewithal in the few restaurateurs of Filipino cuisine to expand beyond their ethnic Filipino clientele. At one extreme, the Japanese are known for weaving elaborate philosophies around food preparation and presentation. Filipinos, on the other extreme, have very little if any regard for food presentation. As long as their chow can be contained in big vats and shoveled into one’s maw as quickly as possible along with a fistful of rice, the Filipino gourmet is happy.

There is no Filipino brand and no “Philippines Inc.” The Philippines has no brand equity to speak of. Our cuisine, as shown in the previous examples, is virtually unknown and unmarketable globally. Chinese, Thai, and Indian individuals, by sole virtue of their being Chinese, Thai, and Indian, can set up a restaurant in any corner of the world and can easily command an immediate following. The very words, “Chinese”, “Thai”, and “Indian” placed before the word “restaurant” by themselves already add value, just like Picasso (as the unverified story goes), carried around a pen and a doodle pad instead of a credit card or chequebook whenever he went out shopping.

The challenge to us Filipinos is how do we market and concoct a presentation for Filipino cuisine? How do we make a convincing value proposition? How can we make a unique experience for foreigners which doesn’t involve simply just pouring meals over rice?

Former tourism secretary Dick Gordon said it best: “It’s more fun in the Philippines” is not that impressive. The product has to sell itself. You do that by developing your product. Filipinos can once again toot their Pinoy pride horn all they want about how good they think they are, but if the buyer does not see an attractive product, then why will he/she bother? Why bother visiting the Philippines and trying Philippine culture if it’s just one big mess, right?

If Filipinos can’t add sweeten the deal by cleaning up their act and working on the substance, the meat, then let’s face it, we will forever miss out on opportunities to make ourselves known in the global arena. We missed the boat in the post-WWII boom; we don’t want to do that again.

That would be a bitter pill to swallow.

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About FallenAngel

А вы, друзья, как ни садитесь, все в музыканты не годитесь. - But you, my friends, however you sit, not all as musicians fit.

Post Author: FallenAngel

А вы, друзья, как ни садитесь, все в музыканты не годитесь. - But you, my friends, however you sit, not all as musicians fit.

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17 Comments on "Gwyneth Paltrow, meet Pinoy Pride"

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BenK
Editor

I find Filipino food lazy.

Robert Haighton
Guest

Probably I ate in the wrong restaurants, maybe I chose the wrong menu´s but in all cases all the food tasted tasteless. In lign with all other things in the Philippines. So in hindsight I shouldnt be that surprised nor shocked about the food.

I have no idea how to market tasteless food and make it into a haute-cuisine thing.

joeld
Member
Usually the Filipino food that we showcase are not really those which represent our region. What we show internationally are dishes which are culturally confused and at the same time modified by the chef or cooks who prepare it. Take for example the lowly adobo…it has spanish roots but modified to suit depending on who cooked it, ilokano, tagalog, etc. Thus confusing which is really adobo to start with. And we cant even claim that adobo is really a Filipino dish anyway. Same as true with what is happening in our society. People are really confused (misled) as to what… Read more »
ChinoF
Member

Another lame attempt to promote something Filipino in the world scene, which you don’t really need to do if you’re truly proud.

Winter is Coming
Guest
Adobo is Spanish? I thought the name sounded hispanic but when I had Mexican adobo, it bore no resemblance to Filipino adobo. Anyway, I’m not too bothered if some viands have roots elsewhere. A Japanese friend pointed out that tempura has roots from Christian missionaries from Portugal(?) but it’s still quintessentially Japanese. If our adobo is a Spanish import: Thanks, Spain! We’ve made it our own now. Well, I’m glad people are taking notice of Filipino cuisine. Apologies to those who don’t enjoy the food but who knows, maybe someone else might. As for folks going gaga over the mere… Read more »
benign0
Admin

I did a really amateurish restaurant review after a really nice meal at this place called Kanin Club during my last visit to Manila. I’m quite convinced Pinoy food can be marketed well overseas. Perhaps Pinoys simply lack enough audacity to do so beyond their little comfort zones — owing to our renowned Heritage of Smallness.

skyturn
Guest

well if we’re to really sum it all up, there’s really not a Filipino culture to speak of. what’s there right now is a mere consolidation of what’s similarly occurring in the archipelago. to start with, this group of islands was never a country. it was a territory that was cordoned off by spain to exploit the gold and other resources. let’s not forget that ‘Philippines’ or ‘Las Islas Filipinas’ was not coined up by the individual who supposedly and claimed to have founded this state. It is that same fact why the first revolution failed.

skyturn
Guest

with regards to food, though there is not a Filipino cuisine, there are regional cuisines. food culture in the region truly exists, especially in the provinces. unfortunately, you could hardly find this in the metropolitan cities.

Sid
Guest

When it comes to Asian cuisines, Filipino food is up there as one of the greasiest and fattening selection I’ve ever eaten. I’m surprised that the country hasn’t suffered from an obesity epidemic like the West.

BenK
Editor

It would, if more people actually got enough to eat.

Ismelina
Guest
I certainly didn’t think of her using “toyomansi” as an endorsement or an excuse to be proud, but I was pleasantly surprised. We DO have a cuisine, and it lies among our dwindling tribes, like the Aeta natives who would use “kawayan” to make their food. The way our food is prepared is what makes it Filipino. We certainly have evolved to be a hodgepodge society of sorts, with our mixed heritage, but nonetheless, we still have that unique touch to food. But even the way we showcase our “best” cuisine has crab mentality…I’ve seen it in practice when I… Read more »
joeld
Member
Was that Anthony Bourdain’s episode in which the only thing that Fil-Am guy showed him to be special was the Lechon? Its really frustrating to have him settle for that, while there could be more dishes which he could have showcased, dishes which would really shout Filipino. Whatever happened to Dinengdeng, Bicol express, or pinakbet? Some would say dinakdakan, or pinikpikan, etc. These dishes could have been more appropriate. Furhtermore.. the local media could have found out that they are shooting an episode here and exhausted all means just to showcase the Philippines or the DOT. Sayang ang oportunidad. Lechon??….for… Read more »
Anti-V
Guest

Now that you’ve mentioned it, yeah, for me, what’s so special about our lechon to make it so unique from the versions of others. I mean it could taste better, but it’s definitely not unique and utterly we could call an icon of “Filipino cuisine”. I’ve seen recently an episode of Anthony Bourdain when he was (I think) in Brazil and he was treated to their own unique and looking really appetizing food that they have (not to mention Amazononian cuisine, if there is such).

t_ray
Guest
Anti-V, Actually, lechon would be considered the “top dog” of flip food, especially in cebu, where I’m from. You don’t put fresh lumpia as the main attraction during a fiesta, right? If I enjoyed entertaining guests from abroad,lechon would be one of the first things I’d let them try. In my opinion, what makes a cuisine special to us is the fact that it’s ours. I reminds us of home, of what mom cooked for us, what yaya cooked. I’ve been living away from the PI since 2009 and whenever I come home, I always eat the food that is… Read more »
joeld
Guest

@t-ray…
This is not about showcasing what Filipino food you miss. This is about how the Filipino can stand out and show the world and they can say, “Yes, that is definitely a Filipino dish”. Its just like saying “hey, listen to the group Journey, the lead singer is a Filipino”. But hey, nothing about Journey’s music is Filipino if you ask me.

roi
Guest

There is a thin line between motivational catchphrase (used to encourage further result) and racial discrimination slogan (colonizers and Nazis to advance their imperialistic propaganda). We have just crossed it.
Look at how we Filipinos horn Pinoy Pride now when in fact there is none to trumpet about. Such an inane. Imagine how Filipinos would be so full of themselves if the Country actually made it. We would be the modern self-styled “La Grande Nation”, “Great Philippines” or “Philippines über alles”.

eilidh
Guest

I disagree with calling any country’s citizens tastes, AS A WHOLE, pedestrian, or anything else. Blanket statements, such as that one, are most often wrong. I am American and my tastes are definitely NOT pedestrian.

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