Roperos: The Chinese in us

IT IS only apt and fitting that the theme of this year’s Sinulog festivities mentions Chinese culture. Touches of Chinese influence have been with us long before Ferdinand Magellan came to our shores.

When I was in China in 1987 as guest of the Chinese writers union, I learned that the Chinese had long visited the Philippines to trade. In fact in South China, some farmers still till the land using carabao-drawn plows, which is exactly like what we are doing here.

In what was then Canton, we were offered lechon and pancit for lunch. It is not surprising then that a great part of our contemporary life is almost as much native Cebuano as it is also Chinese. One of my daily drinks is tsa, or Chinese green tea. Iced tea is now almost always a “bottomless” drink in restaurants.

One of the cheapest soups our kitchen folk have is the miswa. But we have, actually, a choice of Chinese noodles as daily fare or for high-end social gathering, such as the pancit canton, sotanghon, or bihon. In fact, there are a number of dishes that Cebuanos offer during special occasions that are influenced by Chinese cuisine.

Whenever I am travelling and decide to bring home food as sinugatan, my choices are always narrowed down to siopao, siomai, pancit canton, and bihon—-all “native” dishes of Chinese origin. (more)

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