A Taste of Nationalism, Arts and Theater


By Jim Moriones, Foodfindsasia.com |

“If a country lost her culture, she must have lost her identity.”

I have might learnt this on my socio-anthropology class in college but the truth is, this probably might be the worst thing that could happen to us.

We went to Luneta (Rizal Park) last week and and found some good food-in-a-show in“Cook-a-Loka” at the Mabuhay Restop. We were welcomed by the very accommodating General Manager, Billy de Jesus.

Dio Marco, who portrays singing Chef Frito Sipsip Supsup, educated the crowd on every dish on the dinner list and sings folk songs without a pitch missed and all tones in tune. The best part was that everybody had a hand in preparing the dishes.

Dio Marco as Chef Frito Sipsip Supsup
Dio Marco as Chef Frito Sipsip Supsup. He will be in the lead role in production “Kabesang Tales” by Ricky Lee
mabuhay restop
Bloggers Unite. (starting from left) Jim Moriones of Foodfindsasia.com, Jane Gonzales Hoshilandia.com, Dio Marco, Irene Tria of Sportsentro.com and Bon Labora of Agimat.net

First on our list was Sinigang na Baboy.

Some even say it is as our national dish, as nothing beats Sinigang na baboy on rice, with fish sauce to taste. The sour soup was definitely refreshing.

Second on our list was Ashitaba Salad. Ashitaba is good for your health actually, and this time was paired with golden salted egg and coco vinegrette.

Then the Bicol Express, the food I am quite familiar with, caught my taste buds alright for it was made of siling haba (chili fingers) and was indeed very appetizing.

Lumpiang Shanghai (Fresh Spring Rolls) and Rellenong Bangus, (Stuffed Bangus), deep fried until golden brown, was next. With this dish you’ll definitely ask for a second round of rice. We then had the Palitaw and Mango Flambé for our dessert — a sure knockout.

Sinigang na Baboy Photo Credit to Jim Moriones
Sinigang na Baboy is best with rice and fish sauce on the side
Ashitaba Salad with Golden Egg Photo Credit to Jim Moriones
Ashitaba Salad with Golden Egg
Mango Flambe Photo Credit to Jim Moriones
Mango Flambe, a crowd favorite. Guimaras Mangoes are said to be the sweetest of its kind.
Palitaw Photo Credit to Jim Moriones
Palitaw is made of rice flour and is coated with coconut meat sesame seeds and sugar.
Bicol Express Photo Credit to Jim Moriones
Bicol Express is the one of the most famous dish in the Philippines for its distinct taste and because it is very spicy.

While we were chatting with Billy, we asked her further about the restaurant.

She said that Mabuhay Restop is a social tourism enterprise of Gawad Kalinga (GK), founded by Atty. Rose Cabrera, one of the GK Champions, and seeks to promote social action and awareness while promoting and reliving Philippine Arts and Culture through production plays and shows. GK is a non-government organization helping those developing communities to have sustainable living.

Mabuhay Restop Souvenir Shop Photo Credit to Jim Moriones
Mabuhay Restop Souvenir Shop
Sungka Photo Credit to Jim Moriones
Botaka Photo Credit to Jim Moriones
Stained Glass Art
Stained Glass Art by Pancho Piano
Jota Manilena Photo Credit to Jim Moriones
Jota Manilena. This stained glass art is one of the Philippine Folk Dances which is an adaptation of Castillian Jota.

picni table for kids i am filipino (2) art 3 (2) art pancho piano Mabuhay Restop Art Photo Credit to Jim Moriones

Mabuhay Restop was intended to be built in 2008 at Camarines Sur, since most of the partners were from there. It was just in 2012 that they pushed it to its realization and found itself in the heart of Manila, in Rizal Park.

They are also offering a different kind of so called volun’TOUR’ism for families, for students groups, teams and corporations. The tours can either be in Intramuros with its rich History, or at one of GK’s Community sites, like the Enchanted Farm, in Bulacan.

Not only that they serve good food but they also have an amazing production house for some live Filipino Entertainment.

You have “Cook-a-Loka”, the “Manila Vanilla”, showing Pinoy pop-culture, written by Nestor Torre, a renowed artist with many hit productions under his belt, the music of Ryan Cayabyab and “Laugh Out Loud,” one of the newer plays Nestor Torre has written, and so many others like “Mga Kwento ni Tita Beauty,” a sure hit for the kids and kids at heart.

Mabuhay Restop is just one of the many social enterprises of GK and they are committed to giving 30 percent of its revenues to GK Communities. So you’re not just filling your stomach, you’re getting your share of nationalism, social action and will be proud of your Pinoy identity.

Bayani Brew Photo Credit to Jim Moriones
Bayani Brew is another social enterprise product of the Gawad Kalinga.

Mabuhay Restop is located at South Drive, Area II, Rizal Park, Ermita, Manila 1000.

For inquiries and reservations  you may contact them in these numbers (02) 359 7927/ 0917 810 8194, or email them at info@mabuhayrestops.com.