thisfilipinoamericanlife

7 Mile House, a 161-year old restaurant in the Bay Area, continues long legacy with Filipino Food

Established in 1858, 7 Mile House, located in Brisbane, California (just south of San Francisco), is one of the oldest standing restaurants in the country.  However, this historic restaurant doesn’t serve any 19th century delicacies.  Instead, 7 Mile House serves Filipino food.  Yes…Filipino Food.

We  get some answers about the Filipino connection to 7 Mile House from owner, Vanessa Garcia.  Vanessa Garcia, originally from the Philippines, was a drummer, backup singer and original member of the Philippine-based all female pop-rock group ‘Prettier Than Pink’.  Enjoy this interview!

As a Filipina immigrant & owner of a 161-year old establishment, how do you see 7 Mile House in the context of the San Francisco Bay Area Filipino American community?

It is rare that a Filipino immigrant is given the opportunity to preserve a historic establishment’s legacy and stories and I consider it an incredible honor to be the owner and guardian of the 7 Mile House.

Its original owners in the mid-1800s were immigrants from Italy — hard working families who wanted to survive in America by incorporating skills, experience and culture that they learned from their motherland and could apply to their livelihood in order to succeed in a foreign country. Over 150 years later, that story has not changed. As an immigrant from the Philippines, I share the same intentions and feel immense gratitude for the opportunity this country has handed me, which is one I will never take for granted.

Many Filipino-American immigrants share this same sentiment, which is why we work hard, seize opportunities and never forget where we came from.

 

Right now is an incredibly exciting moment for many Entrepinays (Filipina/Pinay entrepreneurs) not just in the SF Bay but around the country. What lessons can you share about the intersection of your experience in culture, food & entrepreneurship?

Nothing is impossible and there are no limits to what we as Entrepinays can do. I have never let anything or anyone stop me from reaching my goals and in return, have achieved what I once thought were impossible dreams: I run a landmark restaurant despite being an immigrant and not knowing how to cook. I published an award-winning book on its history, which took 13 years of data collection and only 7 months to write, design and publish. 7 Mile House has won numerous awards for various categories including our food, ambiance, live music and dog-friendliness, to name a few — all of which I never thought a little dive bar could ever achieve.

Dig deep down into your soul and figure out what you want to achieve. Do everything it takes. But do so in the name of kindness, honesty and sincerity. It is much more fulfilling to know that you do things because you have good intentions and people around you will see that and will treasure you for it.

 

 

Can you talk about the community 7 Mile has built in the neighborhood, particularly with Filipinos & Filipino Americans?

In 2004, when I purchased 7 Mile House, I was frustrated. More Filipinos lived in the Bay Area than other Asian groups like Thai and Vietnamese, yet the locals knew more about their food and culture. I thought, “How could one know more about Korean food when 30% of Daly City is comprised of Filipinos?”

Our very long history of colonization from Spain and the United States has made Filipinos quite invisible within this country. As a result, many in our community have internalized this invisibility and believed they were inferior.

Eventually, things aligned and Filipinos started getting noticed worldwide. Entertainers like Apl.de.ap and Bruno Mars, as well as the rags to riches story of Arnel Pineda touched many people’s lives. Comedians like Rex Navarrete seemed to give us permission to relax and laugh at who we are. And of course, there’s Manny Pacquiao, who really brought the most pride and limelight to the Filipinos as a fighter.

While all of this was happening, I was still fueled by the frustration that our cooking and culture was little known by others, so I set out to talk about our culture through their stomachs. My strategy was to lure my guests with something familiar — a really good burger. Then, sprinkle amazing Filipino food into a menu mostly comprised of American and Italian food. I wanted to offer people Filipino food that was familiar — adobo and lumpia — and then to introduce to something more interesting, such as pork sisig made with pig cheeks on a sizzling plate.

Back then, no one knew what sisig was. “Sig Sig?,” non-Filipinos would say. “Sing Sig?” No one even know how pronounce it. I was so determined to bring this particular dish to 7 Mile House because it is my all-time favorite when paired with a cold bottle of San Miguel beer. In addition to this, no one was doing it “right.” Restaurants at that time were simply cooking dishes that resembled pan-fried sliced beef and that frustrated me.

Like I said, I don’t cook. And when I discovered this little Filipino Restaurant in Alameda that actually did it right, I drove every few days to that restaurant just to buy their sisig and resell it at 7 Mile House. Once we figured out how to make it ourselves, our formula just kept getting better and better. Today our Sisig is one of the most popular items on the menu, along with lumpia, adobo and of course, the cheeseburger!

Through the years and through our tummies, my mom and I spread the word about our food and culture. We talked all day long about how beautiful the Philippines is to whoever wanted to listen. I even went as far as inviting everyone on a nice vacation to the Philippines with the idea that somehow someday they could come see the sights and rich culture.

Then, the Filipino Food Movement started to emerge. Young Filipino cooks started creating both traditional and fusion dishes. It became cool to sport the Philippine star on your shirt and even as a tattoo.

And as my Mom and I continued to spread the word about our heritage in our little restaurant, little did we know we would be a part of a Filipino American movement that would change how the world saw our culture and how we would see ourselves.

 

 

You came out with the book “See You at the 7” last year, a book that chronicles the buried history of 7 Mile. How do you think this contributes to the legacy of Filipinos & Filipino-Americans in San Francisco?

See You at the 7 along with books like Journey for Justice: The Life of Larry Itliong, help chronicle our contributions to this country. This book leaves an indelible mark on American history — throughout the book you will read stories of Filipino Americans, and how they are all connected to 7 Mile House, and the SF Bay Area. It also tells the story of a Filipino immigrant family that would become historians of a 161-year old establishment in California, and document it in the first book ever written about Bay Area mile houses. I hope this book inspires more people to document their history as Filipinos in the diaspora.

 

7 Mile House

2800 Bayshore Blvd

Brisbane, CA 94005

http://7milehouse.com/

Episode 79 – Gio-Stories: Three Tales about Filipino America by Giovanni Ortega

In this TFAL episode, we switch gears a bit and give you a few literary works in audio form by Giovanni Ortega, multi-disciplinary artist, writer, and teacher. Giovanni joins the TFAL podcast and shares his upbringing as a 1.5 generation Filipino American from Chicago. He then gives us three short stories from different Filipino American experiences. The first is an excerpt from the play, ALLOS, a story about writer Carlos Bulosan. The second story is about life as a young Pinoy soldier in the U.S. military. Finally, the last story depicts the struggles of a Filipina migrant working overseas. We hope you enjoy this episode as much as we did.

Listen through the embedded player below, download directly here, or subscribe to us on iTunes here.

 

Do you have an audio story to share?  Let us know by leaving a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL (8325) or email us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com.

Episode 78 – Filipino American Karaoke Culture

Filipinos and karaoke go together like peanut butter and jelly, like peas and carrots, like green mangoes and bagoong. Karaoke is essential to every Filipino party and every late night Filipino beer house.  We perform karaoke in the swankiest KTV room to the local roadside hole in the wall.  Filipinos even kill each other over karaoke!  Though the first karaoke machine was invented by Daisuke Inoue in 1975, did you know that it was a Filipino, Roberto Del Rosario, who holds the first patent on a karaoke system he developed in 1975, the Karaoke Sing-Along System?  Yes, karaoke is in the Filipino blood.

In this TFAL episode, we finally discuss karaoke, the beloved Filipino pastime.  We discuss what makes a good karaoke song, what’s a good karaoke playlist, and why performance and atmosphere – whether on a night out or in the living room – is so important.  We also talk about funny cultural nuances that make Filipino and Filipino American karaoke jam sessions so unique.  And of course, there is actual singing involved.

Listen through the embedded player below, download directly here, or subscribe to us on iTunes here.

What’s your favorite karaoke jam?  Do you have a memorable moment that involves karaoke?  Drop us a line on our voicemail (805) 394-TFAL (8325) or email us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com!

In the Belly of the Eagle: Man@ng is Deity Reminds Filipino Americans of Their Important Past

“Everybody doesn’t have to be a hero; everybody doesn’t have to be famous. Each person who’s Filipino American, to me, is very, very important as a story… Our stories are really in our people. It’s not so much in what the achievements are…as much as what is the story itself.” – the late Fred Cordova, co-founder of the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS)

Everyone Filipino American has a story. Certainly, those who came before us had stories. Descendants of the Manong generation and students of Filipino American history may recall the history of the thousands of Filipinos who traversed the Pacific Ocean to make life in Depression-era America. During their heyday between the 1920s and 1960s, many Filipino Americans of this generation spent their lives picking fruits and vegetables in the Central Valley, canning salmon in Alaska, and bussing tables in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Mostly male, they came as laborers and faced the harsh reality of racism, anti-miscegenation, and poverty. Yet, they lived out more meaningful lives. Despite their bleak situation, these young pioneers shined in taxi dance halls, led labor strikes, built fraternal bonds, raised families, and developed long-lasting institutions. The Manong generation forged a community and identity lasting decades. Theirs is a story that too few know and remember.

Alleluia Panis pays tribute to the Manong generation and fights for their memory in her latest innovative work, In the Belly of the Eagle: Man@ng is Deity. The multimedia dance performance centers on Manong Valentino Pablo who, in his deathbed, experiences flashbacks of his earlier days in early 20th century San Francisco. Through dance performances, original music by Joshua Icban, and media art by Wilfred Galila, Man@ng is Deity communicates both the struggles and joys Pablo and so many of his contemporaries faced during their lifetimes. Through it all, Panis captures the resiliency of this increasingly forgotten generation of Filipino Americans, something in which all people – Filipino or not – can find inspiration.

Man@ng is Deity is truly a testament to Panis’ artistic creativity, passion for inclusion, and commitment to the Filipino American community. Like the Manong generation, Panis is a pioneer in her own right. For over three decades, Panis has contributed to the arts canon with more than 20 full-length collaborative dance theater works presented on stages throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. Her work precedes and inspires this current age of #GoldOpen and #MyYellowFaceStory, when present-day audiences are voting with their money and demanding more diverse representation in the arts sector.

Panis joins many Filipino Americans – from Carlos Bulosan to Dorothy and Fred Cordova to Dawn Mabalon – in expanding the body of work of telling the Manong generation’s story. While so much of our Filipino American narrative points to our present day struggles of erasure and invisibility, we must not do the same to those who came before us. Filipino American history is vast; more than we realize. We must remember and honor it. Alleluia Panis’ Man@ng is Deity just does that.

 

In the Belly of the Eagle: Man@ng is Deity premieres March 22-24 at Bindlestiff Studios, 185 6th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103.

 

SHOWTIMES

March 22 & 23 at 7:30pm

March 24 at 2:30pm

TICKETS

$20 in advance

$25 at the door

For tickets go to http://manongisdeity.eventbrite.ca.

About Kularts:

Founded in 1985, Kulintang Arts, Inc., now known popularly as Kularts, is the premier presenter of contemporary and tribal Pilipino arts in the United States. Through three decades of service, Kularts has grown into a leading elder arts organization, uniting generations of artists and community activists in a common effort to build a collective space and sense of belonging within San Francisco, specifically the SOMA Pilipinas: Filipino Cultural Heritage District. Kularts creates work that makes visible the contributions of Pilipino Americans and creates room for cultural continuity and knowledge.

About Bindlestiff Studio:

Bindlestiff Studio cultivates artists who reflect and celebrate the diverse values, traditions, and histories of Pilipino and Filipino American cultures through bold artistic expression and community engagement. Originally opened in 1989, Bindlestiff became the only permanent, community-based performing arts venue in the nation dedicated to showcasing emerging Filipino American and Pilipino artists. The studio provides the often under-served Filipino American community access to diverse offerings in theatrical productions, music and film festivals, workshops in directing, production, acting, stand-up comedy, and writing, as well as a children and youth theater program.

About Alleluia Panis:

Alleluia Panis has received awards for her choreography from the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, San Francisco Arts Commission, California Arts Council, New Langton Arts, and Creative Work Fund. She has created over twenty full-length dance theater works since 1985, which have been performed on main stages in the United States, Europe and Asia, including the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Dance Theater Workshop, Singapore Arts Festival, and Verona Arts Fest – Italy. Her work was recently nominated for two Isadora Duncan Awards in ‘Outstanding Achievement in Performance’, and ‘Outstanding Achievement in Visual Design, for ‘Incarcerated 6×9’ (2018).

About Wilfred Galila:

Wilfred Galila makes use of a variety of media for storytelling and art making. His films have been screened at the 23rd and 26th annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival and the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. As a media artist, he has collaborated with dance artist Alleluia Panis on the multimedia dance theater productions She, Who Can See (2015) and Incarcerated 6×9 (2018, nominated for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Visual Design – Isadora Duncan Dance Awards), as well as the dance film She, Who Can See (2017) that was screened at CAAMFest in 2018. Galila is mounting a multimedia art installation piece as a commissioned artist by Kularts for the Postcolonial Survival Toolkit exhibition and series of events at The Luggage Store Gallery in San Francisco in May 2019.

About Joshua Icban:

Joshua Icban is a composer based in Vallejo, California. As a creator, his work focuses on the intrinsic relationship between memory, history and identity. Josh is also a regularly performing guitarist who plays in a number of projects and groups in the Bay Area. Past credits include the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco State Gospel Choir, Afro-Cuban Ensemble He has served as composer/arranger & music director for Awesome Orchestra and Bindlestiff Studios and has had his work as sound designer featured in spaces such as Counterpulse and the Asian Art Museum. He recently graduated with an MA in ethnomusicology at CSU East Bay and teaches private lessons in the North Bay.

Episode 77 (33.5) – Healthy Filipino Cooking: A Conversation with RG Enriquez of Astig Vegan

We talk a lot about food on the podcast (and in life) partly because it’s fun, but also because it creates discussion about recipes, deliciousness, and creativity. Filipino cuisine continues to evolve. Creative home cooks and chefs alike are more mindful about available ingredients relative to their geography and health benefits of delicious alternatives.

If you ask most Filipinos of what popular Filipino dishes look like, the majority will likely have meat in them (lechon, adobo, dinuguan).  Clearly, none of those are vegan, but are you able to imagine kare kare that’s completely vegan? Or having bagoong (shrimp paste), that’s completely made without any shrimp?  What would our health be like if we removed (even a little bit) the meat from our favorite Filipino dishes?

That’s exactly what chef RG Enriquez from the blog, Astig Vegan, talks about on this episode as she talks to the TFAL crew from San Francisco. RG is a vegan Filipina who re-imagines and creates vegan Filipino dishes. RG believes that Filipino food can be vegan, healthy and delicious without losing its soul!  Find out which is our favorite spice, why some of us have changed our eating habits; and join us in discovering with RG some Filipino dishes that are traditionally vegan and we just didn’t even think about it.

And, let’s face it – we just want our food to taste delicious, right? But we also want them to be healthy and nutritious as well!  Hopefully, you’re flexible enough to try vegan Filipino dishes and check out RG’s YouTube channel for some awesome recipes.

Listen through the embedded player below, download directly here, or subscribe to us on iTunes here.

Do you want to eat healthier?  Are you vegan?  Tell us your story!  Call us and leave a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL (8325), or email us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com.

Episode 76 (33) – When Filipino Pride Goes Wrong…

Most of us have some ounce of Filipino pride.  “Successes” by other Filipinos such as Bruno Mars, Jordan Clarkson, and Catriona Gray become “successes” for us.  Because Filipinos are constantly rendered invisible in the Western world, we tend to internalize these victories as our own.  But what happens when fellow Filipinos do something “embarrassing”?  Countless incidents in our past – Pacquiao’s anti-LGBT comments, Filipino divers, the 1992 Philippine Little League Team, Marcos, Duterte, etc. – have cause an unwanted spotlight on us.

In this TFAL episode, we discuss those moments that make Filipinos and Filipino Americans feel “not so proud.”  How do we feel about it? How do we handle it?  Does our pride remain incognito, then emerge when something goes right?  Are we simply out for global recognition rather than internal legitimation?  What does this tell us about “Filipino Pride” (nationalism) in the diaspora at its root?  Why is representing an entire Filipino nation our cross to bear?  We explore some of these questions and more in this latest episode.

Listen through the embedded player below, download directly here, or subscribe to us on iTunes here.

What do you do when Filipinos are viewed in an infamous light?  Listen through the embedded player below, download directly here or subscribe to us on iTunes here.

Episode 75 (32.5) – Pinoy Basements: A Conversation with Filipino American Actor Eugene Cordero

You might recognize Eugene Cordero from roles in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Wrecked, or the film The Mule. The TFAL crew love him as Pillboi in The Good Place. On this episode the TFAL crew chats it up with Eugene and learn about his path into comedy and improv. We also find out how he convinced his parents to let him go to college to study theater. And what goes down in a Filipino basement! For us California kids, this basement conversation was quite insightful!

You can catch Eugene currently on Showtime’s Black Monday. You’ll also be able to find him in TACOMA FD, a new series on truTV, by the crew that created Super Troopers.

Listen through the embedded player below, download directly here, or subscribe to us on iTunes here.

Do you have a Filipino basement? What happens in your basement? What have you sold as fundraiser for school? Let us know by emailing us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com or call our voicemail (805) 394-TFAL.

Take a moment to watch the short film we mention in the episode ASWANG NEXT DOOR and the Spinning Beach Ball of Death prank that Eugene was a part of with Improv Everywhere

Episode 74 (32) – TFAL Live at Cinema Sala: Filipino Films with Marie Jamora

During the holiday season, TFAL was invited by the good folks at Cinema Sala to record a podcast episode live in front of an audience. As a first attempt at a live show, this mini-episode looks at the handful of Filipino films on Netflix.  Filmmaker Marie Jamora joins the crew to discuss films like Heneral Luna, BuyBust, and Bird Shot, as well as the state of Filipino film distribution outside of the Philippines.  Listen to our armchair, half-assed internet researched critiques of these films, our dark meat vs. white meat debate, and Ryan’s knowledge of bomba flicks.

Listen through the embedded player below, download directly here, or subscribe to us on iTunes here.

What do you think about the films that are on Netflix?  How do you watch Filipino films?  Let us know by emailing us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com or call our voicemail (805) 394-TFAL.

Big shout out to Marie Jamora for inviting us to join Cinema Sala!

Episode 73 (31.5) – Reflections on Beauty Pageants and Miss Universe Catriona Gray

Though beauty pageants in the Philippines can be traced back to the celebration of Santacruzan and other religious festivals, modern beauty pageants, emerged out of the Manila Carnival, an annual event during the early 1900s.  According to scholar Genevieve Clutario, the queen contest became a platform where both Filipino nationalists’ and American colonial officials attempted to redefine Filipina femininity and with it, the image of the Filipino nation.  Today, beauty pageants are a fixture in almost every Filipino celebration from the small town fiesta, to the ever-popular Miss Universe contest.

In this episode of TFAL, the crew, with special guests Gerlie Collado and Kat Carrido-Bonds, discuss the pervasive cultural phenomenon of beauty pageants in the Philippines and the impact of Catriona Gray’s Miss Universe win on Filipinos everywhere.  Why were so many Filipinos ecstatic over Gray’s victory?  What does her win say about the Filipino nation?  Why are pageants so pervasive in the Philippines?  Can we simply ignore beauty pageants as spectacles of patriarchal notions of femininity?  Or are there more nuanced aspects to such extravagance?

We discuss these topics and more in this episode!  Listen through the embedded player below, download directly here, or subscribe to us on iTunes here.

Have any thoughts on beauty pageants? Leave us a voicemail at 805-394-TFAL (8325) or email us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com.

PLEASE NOTE: We are slowly veering away from the “.5” numbering system of the episodes, in case you’re wondering where episodes 32-72 are.

Episode 31 – TFAL Goes to SD: Community Organizing w/ DJ Kuttin Kandi, Kirin Macapugay, and Ree Obana; Filipino American Apparel w/ Zar Javier of Kampeon Co.

We conclude our San Diego interviews with community organizers DJ Kuttin Kandi, Kirin Macapugay, and Ree Obana. In this discussion we highlight the issues that these womxn currently center their work around. Kirin and Ree give their perspectives as born and raised Pinxys, while Kandi discusses her experience as a transplant from Queens, NY by way of the Bay area. You may also know Kandi from her time as a member of DJ team champions 5th Platoon. The TFAL crew discuss the work that Kandi, Kirin, and Ree presently do with the Paradise Hills community, Asians for Black Lives San Diego, and Asian Solidarity Collective.

From PNoy Apparel to Kampeon Co, the TFAL crew gets to know Filipino American business owner Zar Javier.  Zar highlights how Pnoy Apparel was founded and its transition from its early days as a t-shirt/streetwear brand to branching out and growing into Kampeon Co.  The company will be celebrating their 20 year anniversary in 2019. Be on the look out for exciting things!

Listen through the embedded player below, download directly here, or subscribe to us on iTunes here.

Thank you San Diego for your hospitality. We only scratched the surface. Where should we head next? Who should we talk to? Have thoughts or suggestions? Leave us a voicemail at 805-394-TFAL (8325).