Growing up Filipino American had its ups and downs; now that I’m older, it’s clear my parents sort of had no idea how to navigate life in America + raising kids + being American. I was scolded a lot for doing things that “we don’t do in our culture” like hugging my boyfriend for more than 2 seconds. Or standing in front of his house in conversation before leaving to go home. I don’t know, it was just… weird. And it was usually my dad who said these things but it was also my dad who loved my bf’s being around versus my mom really didn’t. It’s like the ones my dad liked the most, were the ones my mom didn’t like even more.
I was lucky enough that I was surrounded by my culture everywhere I turned. I was born in San Jose, CA and raised in Vallejo, CA. I was lucky that Asian culture was strong in both places and everywhere in between. I could get Filipino snacks/food from my mom making them or I could buy them pretty much anywhere. I was also really lucky that I grew up going to the Philippines. In fact a lot of my favorite Filipino snacks have some kind of Philippines memory attached to them.
I haven’t been back since my Lolo passed away; it’s been way too long. But it’s harder to get there as an adult and with everything going on. I def owe him a visit. And speaking of, I owe my dad a visit as well. It’s going to be so weird going home and knowing he’s not there anymore.
My culture is incredibly important to me. My roots are my everything and I don’t hide that. I’m a combination of the people I’ve loved and lost and the things I grew up learning as a Filipino American. I just hope I can pass these things to my own daughter as well as these snacks;
| Durian Candy
I know this is like… controversial, even in the Filipino community. My BFF who was born in the Philippines is even like “wait, you eat Durian? Why?” lmao. But I grew up eating Durian Candy. Every time my dad would come back from the Philippines or any relatives they would bring us some. And every time I went to the Philippines as a kid I would STOCK UP on this stuff! Because for some reason you can’t find these anywhere in the US. Like at all. I’ve searched loads of Asian grocery stores and even freakin Seafood City doesn’t carry them?! But hey, WHITE RABBIT FOR EVERYONE I guess lol.
And it’s so crazy cause growing up I never knew it was a thing people didn’t like. I guess because my family in the Philippines didn’t really act like it was a big deal. So it wasn’t until, I don’t know, I started dating my ex husband who’s half Filipino when I found out most people don’t like it. Probably one of the handful of things me and my ex father in law had in common — we both liked Durian. And the rest of the family didn’t lol.
Okay, seriously, how can anyone hate Otap? It’s basically a crunchy, crispy fried biscuit with hella sugar on top and if you know Filipinos, you know we LOVE our sugar. We LIVE for sugar. SUGER ON EVERYTHING PLS. I freakin loved these as a kid. And for some reason there was always some in my house even though I don’t remember my parents ever eating them… weird.
And now as an adult? Yep, still love them. They bring back so many good memories of making a mess in my mom’s house sitting on the floor just shoving these things in my mouth lol.
I lived for these when I was pregnant and my mom would send me box full’s! I only like the butter one though. I feel like these have changed since I was a kid — I remember there being a cheese bottom and the top being more sweet. The ones now are just as good; if you’re needing something bland to eat but not boring I’d suggest these!
| Pastillas De Leche / Yemas
I have so many memories growing up and this candy. I remember my Lola showing me how to make them in the Philippines and recently my brother attempted to make them as well and sent me some. They’re fairly easy to make and they’re super yummy. Especially if you like things rolled in SUGAR. Told you we like our sugar.
| Ice Candy
I vividly remember when I first tried this; it was in the Philippines and my mom had made them. The coconut ones are my fav and if my childhood could have a taste, it would be this! She made them again when we got home, I’ve been asking her how to make them because I’ve been craving them. They’re basically Coconut milk + Coconut in a plastic bag almost but in a small popsicle shaped plastic bag, if that makes sense and frozen.
They’re super refreshing on a hot day and the fact you bite in them in a plastic and suck makes it harder to make a mess, esp when it starts to rapidly melt!
Despite spending a lot of time in high school making Halo Halo’s, Buku Pandan floats and whatever that drink with the balls (kinda like boba but not) I don’t eat any of those snacks lol. I’m really not a fan of Halo Halo, and when I do feel like eating it, I’m super picky with what’s in it.
Have you tried any of these? If not which one would you be more likely to try?