‘Mama Sita Makopa’ Offers Cultivation Opportunities For Pinoy Farmers

‘Mama Sita Makopa’ offers new opportunity for local star ruby growth.

‘Mama Sita Makopa’ offers new opportunity for local star ruby growth.

When we think of Mama Sita, we think of delicious sauces and mixes that have enabled harried homemakers to cook quick, delicious, and budget-friendly family meals. The brand is also synonymous with giving Filipino overseas workers a taste of home.

Not a lot of people know that the well-loved brand is also a champion of Philippine agriculture via the Mama Sita Foundation (MSF), whose main goal is the support and promotion of Philippine heritage and agricultural sustainability.

One of MSF’s projects is the development of the star ruby, a cultivar of the fruit commonly known as makopa (Syzygium malaccense). The makopa is seedless, crunchy, and has a neural taste.

Rediscovering the Makopa

MSF partnered with PCARRD and Senator Ramon Magsaysay, Jr. to introduce fruit cultivars from different countries in order for local farmers and agricultural enthusiasts to grow for mass production.

The project report, authored by Benito S. Vergara, Felipe S. dela Cruz, Jr., and Bert Lapus, stated that:

“Four rooted cuttings of Star Ruby from Bangkok, Thailand were introduced on February 9, 2007. The cuttings were transplanted in 80-liter containers, grown under full sun in Los Baños.

“The plants were evaluated for their growth, productivity, taste of the fruits and comparability to the Thai-grown crop.”

Easy to Grow

Results were as follows:

“The transplanted plants had vigorous growth. By January 13, 2009 or 22 months of growth, the plants flowered. On April 30, 2009 or 75 days after flowering, the first fruits were harvested.

“The fruits were comparable to Thai-grown makopa. The excellent quality and flavor was acceptable by the Board of Trustees of the MSF that they decided to name it ‘Mama Sita Makopa.’

“The fruiting ‘Mama Sita Makopa’ is less than two meeters tall with pinkinsh young leaves, oblong, and pointed. The ruby colored fruits are seedless, flesh white, juicy, crispy and not spongy; and pleasant mild taste (sic). The average size of the 2009 October-November harvest is 7.9 cm long and 6.2 cm in diameter. Average weight of the fruit is 118.3 grams. There is no curled remnant of the corolla where ants usually stay.

“Even before flowering, branches of ‘Mama Sita Makopa’ were marcotted as it appeared a sure winner. The plant is very easy to propagate by Marco ting and cuttings. Since then, more than a hundred seedlings have been sold and are now being sold in plant nurseries. Large scale plantings have been made.

“The same experimental trees were sprayed with pachlobutrasol on July 22, 2009. Flower buds appeared 49 days later (September 9, 2009). First fruits were harvested in November 2009 or 60 days after full opening of the flowers.”

Clara Lapus, President of the Mama Sita Foundation, adds, “The makopa needs further study and I hope that (we) can encourage agronomist to experiment on how to control the fruit flies that attack the fruit. I heard that DOST has funds to fund such research at 0% interest (from Land Bank) which might interest agri-entrepreneurial students who want to earn from growing macopas.”

Business Opportunity

Those interested to grow them can order from Mama Sita Foundation the marcotted rooted seedlings, but they have to commit to get their ordered rooted seedlings which will be ready within 1-2 months. All they have to do is plant the seedling in soil and they can grow their own mother plant and do their own marcotting.

Source: Yvette Tan, http://agriculture.com.ph/2017/11/09/mama-sita-makopa-offers-cultivation-opportunities/, November 9, 2017




Kamote vs. Global warming

Kamote was the star at a memorable dinner with the Ateneo de Manila’s students of SA 157:  Introduction to Cultural  Heritage, under the Cultural Heritage Studies Program of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology. Every first semester, the class, under Fernando N. Zialcita, organizes a dinner featuring the cooking of a particular region where the Ateneo Cultural Laboratory took place during the Intersession. This year Vigan and the northern towns of Ilocos Sur were the setting.

Nov 02 2017 photo 1.jpg

With the focus on Ilocano cuisine, the class thought of connecting their topic to the major crisis of our time, global warming, which endangers the very survival of our human species.

Ilocanos stand out for their love for vegetables and root crops. They abhor a largely carnivorous diet. In the barrios, bagnet, igado, and other meat dishes are for fiestas, not for everyday eating. While many urban Filipinos consider themselves kawawa if they eat only vegetables as their daily fare, Ilocano farmers say that when they visit Manila, they feel weak because of the lack of truly fresh vegetables.

Congressman Deogracias Victor Savellano, owner of Victorino’s Restaurant, shared with the students his mother Virginia Savellano’s collection of recipes featuring kamote dishes. Thus was born “Ilocano Recipes for a Warmer Planet,” a dinner planned around kamote, a root crop that flourishes even under harsh conditions.

Dr. Zialcita noted that throughout East Asia, rice is prestigious while root crops are considered low-class. But rice is a crop that requires more water and demands more care. Another reason to prefer root crops is the nutritional value of root crops over rice. Kamote is a good source of protein, fiber, and other basic nutrients in the roots and green leaves.

This school year, the class did seven projects in Ilocos relating to cultural heritage.  1) A study of the Ilocano’s fondness for vegetable; 2) an ethnography of the weaving of binakul cloth in a coastal barangay;   3) a history of binakul weaving in that same barangay over the past 70 years; 4) the making of gold tambourine jewelry; 5) local perceptions of birds and their utility, 6) a script for a tour of craftmaking; and 7) a module for teaching appreciation for local crafts in high school.

Once a year, the Cultural Studies Program of Ateneo’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology organizes a field school that focuses on the cultural heritage of a particular region. Its partners are the History Department, the Fine Arts Program, and the School of Management Business Accelerator Program. In June to July, students and faculty members stayed for three weeks in Vigan and the northern towns of Ilocos Sur.

Participants concluded that root crops would play a big role in food production when global warming peaks. The humble kamote will rise, not only because it is filling, but also because it is delicious. This year’s batch for Introduction to Cultural Heritage under the Cultural Heritage Program of Ateneo de Manila University traveled north to Vigan to learn all about Ilocano cuisine, arts, and crafts.

Kamote dishes, inspired by the recipes of Jean Savellano, were served at dinner, followed by an open forum encouraging dialogue between students, guests, culinary experts, and heritage advocates, including Congressman Savellano.

“This kind of dialogue is precisely what the foundation strives to inspire through our projects like Mga Kuwentong Pagkain,” says Clara Reyes-Lapus, president of Mama Sita Foundation. “Mama Sita loved to promote local foods and how they are prepared. She traveled to different places to search for the most authentic flavors and, in turn, she spread it out to share it with the world.”

After the Ateneo presentation, the MMSF launched the foundation’s annual food writing contest, Mga Kuwentong Pagkain. The contest encourages Filipinos nationwide to talk about a special dish, what makes it special, and how it is made and enjoyed in an effort to make known and preserve the flavors of homegrown cuisine. Deadline for entries is on Jan. 26, 2018.

Source: Sol Vanzi, https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2017/11/02/kamote-vs-global-warming/, November 2, 2017




‘Harana,’ Food and Memories

These past weeks and months I’ve been watching stage productions, documentaries and films, attending events and gatherings that dealt mostly with our human rights and the tyrants, despots and plunderers that oppressed us in times past, on how to be vigilant so that we will not be in shackles ever again.

So it was quite a change to receive an invitation to a “harana songfest” honoring and serenading one of the country’s celebrated cooks, Teresita Reyes, better known as Mama Sita, who is celebrating her 100th birth anniversary in culinary heaven. The invite came via Virginia R. Moreno, poet, playwright and many things else, whom one does not refuse especially if the event is at the Cine Adarna of the University of the Philippines Film Center which she midwifed into being — and no one is to dispute that.

“Harana Para Kay Mama Sita” is “Pasasalamat at Paggunita  sa Isang Ina, Kababayan at Kusinera” presented by the Mama Sita Foundation and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts. It was an evening of thanksgiving and remembrance for this mother (of more than a dozen children), Filipino and cook. No euphemisms for this denizen of the national kitchen. (“Kusinera” means cook.)

It was also a celebration of a life spent promoting the Philippines’ culinary heritage. Mama Sita created and perfected Filipino dishes not only for her large family but also for homesick Filipinos in the diaspora who craved the flavors of the native land.

Long before the title “chef” became de rigueur and much coveted, Mama Sita was already kitchen bound, interested only in feeding people through her joyous cooking. She “lived, loved and cooked,” and she loved God, her family and her country. And so the musical tribute had to be just as flavorful, a banquet of folk songs, love songs and patriotic songs that brought back the yesteryears.

The music makers were The Andres Bonifacio Concert Choir with composer Maestro Jerry Dadap conducting (even while at the piano), and the RTU Tunog Rizalia Rondalla conducted by Prof. Lino Mangandi. In all, there were almost 100 of them on stage. (I spotted Inquirer contributor Amadis Ma. Guerrero in the choir, clad like a katipunero.) The soloists held their own with their solo numbers.

Before the show, while savoring the merienda (santol sherbet with a sprinkling of salt, anyone?) and while going over the exhibit/sale of Mama Sita food products and recipe books (I bought a copy of “Mama Sita Homestyle Recipes”), I bumped into Dadap who told me he would spring a surprise toward the end of the show.

The show (all in Filipino), directed by Victor Sevilla, was brisk and crisp, with inserted biographical vignettes lyrically recited with images projected on screen. The Filipino folk songs were followed by “harana” love songs then capped by rousing patriotic songs. National Artist Lucio San Pedro’s “Kayumangging Malaya” (lyrics by Rodolfo de Leon) shook my soul, as it always did in the past when it was sung in Masses celebrated by the late Fr. Ruben Villote. But with a 40-member choir and a 40-member rondalla bringing the music to a crescendo, my patriotic juices leapt and rushed to the sea.

 

To fete Mama Sita, Dadap composed a serenade: “Sita, Iniibig Kita,” and nationalistic songs “Awit ng Pagkakaisa” and “Alay sa Inang Bayan,” plus religious songs sung before and toward the end. Then a  postre of a march, “Awit ng Pagkain, Mama Sita March.”

Oh, the surprise: While the choir was singing “Bayan Ko” (Constancio de Guzman), in came a soloist, three-year-old Eumie Maurin, in Filipino costume and all, who sang with gusto and hit the notes right like it was nobody’s business. I did take a photo of her singing but I kick myself for not turning on my camera’s recorder. (Anyway, famous cinematographer Romy Vitug and his team were recording).

Congratulations to you, Eumie, and to your parents Junnel and Edelyn (both members of the choir). Yes, Eumie is three years old! Backstage, her father was carrying her like a baby. I asked her parents’ permission to post her photos (with this article) on Facebook and they said yes.

So you see, patriotic fervor burns well with the kitchen fire. Food and freedom!

Source: Ma. Ceres P. Doyo, The Philippine Daily Inquirer, October 5, 2017




Two Cool Events in Cebu

Teresita “Mama Sita” Reyes a stalwart in Filipino cuisine learned invaluable lessons in cooking from her mother Doña Engracia Asiang Reyes, who is today regarded as the “Grand Dame of Philippine Cuisine.”

Through her dealings  with vendors, cooks and kitchen helpers, she learned and mastered the art of cooking and food preparation. Mama Sita would detain herself in the kitchen to conduct her cooking experiments and practice her extraordinary skill in baking steaming breads and delicacies such as banana cake and her own version of hopia.

Through the years, Mama Sita traveled to different countries and observed how Filipinos longed for food prepared and cooked the Filipino way. This inspired here to collaborate with her son-in-law Bart Lapus, a biologist to create a line of sauces and mixes that would bring the taste of the Philippines to Filipinos abroad.

To keep her memories alive and promote her vision of bringing taste of Philippine cuisine to the world, a Foundation bearing her name was created.

Honoring the 100th anniversary of the nation’s culinary icon figure, Teresita “Mama Sita” Reyes, the foundation recently donated commemorative stamps and cookbooks to the Cebu City library.

Ruth Chua, chief librarian of Cebu City Public Library, received the stamps and cookbooks in a turn over ceremony which was led by Mama Sita Foundation delegate Chinggay Utzurrum.

Source: Honey Jarque Loop, The Philippine Star, September 2, 2017

 

 




What Kids Should Know about Filipino Food: Mama Sita’s Centennial Edition

In celebration of Teresita “Mama Sita” Reyes’ 100th birth anniversary, the Mama Sita Foundation has collaborated with Adarna House publishing the Special Mama Sita’s Centennial Edition of What Kids Should Know About Filipino Food.

Felice Sta. Maria, a celebrated author of various food books including the award-winning The Governor-General’s Kitchen: Philippine Culinary Vignettes and Period Recipes and the Foods of Rizal, has been collecting historical materials regarding Philippine cuisine since the 1970’s.

The Mama Sita’s Centennial Edition features highlights of the life of Teresita Reyes, and her contribution to Philippine food history.

Teresita was born on May 11, 1917 in Manila to a family known for good cooking. Her mother established the first and perhaps one of the most famous Filipino restaurants that still stands today. Having grown up in a family that loves to cook and eat, Sita learned the rudiments of marketing and cooking as a young girl. She raised her 11 children through various food ventures-reviving her mother’s old canteen, peddling turon and kakanin in schools, selling fruits in her mini-store-on wheels- experiences that enriched her culinary journey.

In her travels, she realized how difficult it was to prepare Filipino food away from home, without the ingredients one has become used to like sampaloc and bayabas for sinigang. Since then she had made it her mission to make Filipino food more accessible anywhere int he world.That was how Mama Sita’s products came into being and her vision became reality.

In 2013, a commemorative stamp was launched by the Philippine Postal corporation in honor of Teresita “Mama Sita” Reyes. Dr. Maria Serena Diokno, former chairperson of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines remarked, “Philippine food history is not complete without taking into account the role of Teresita Reyes in popularizing Philippine cuisine…”

Source: Cook Magazine, July 2017




What Kids Should Know About Filipino Food

What Kids Should Know About Filipino Food

One of the projects by the Mama Sita Foundation is in Dingalan, Aurora. Dingalan can be considered the gateway to Central Luzon from the Pacific Ocean across the Sierra Madre Mountains. It is located at the eastern end of the government’s Urban Beltway Project running from Subic Freeport through Clark Freeport to Dingalan Port...




Sita's Legacy

Philippine culinary history would not be complete without long chapters on the roles and contributions of generations of women from the Reyes family, beginning with Aling Asiang, founder of the iconic Aristocrat Restaurant. She set the standard for what Filipino dishes should taste like and elevated home cooking to restaurant standards.

Her daughter Teresita laid the groundwork for a vast food industry that now enables Pinoys anywhere in the world to cook sinigang, kare-kare, and other Filipino dishes. Her Mama Sita mixes encouraged millions here and abroad to overcome intimidation, venture into the kitchen, and cook for their loved ones.

Teresita’s daughter Clara established the Mama Sita Foundation which aims to preserve Filipino culinary traditions and heritage for present and future generations to appreciate and enjoy.

Clara Reyes Lapus thanks Adarna and QCPL

Clara Reyes Lapus thanks Adarna and QCPL

 Food facts for everyone

In celebration of Teresita “Mama Sita” Reyes’ 100th birth anniversary, the Mama Sita Foundation has collaborated with Adarna House in publishing the Special Mama Sita’s Centennial Edition of What Kids Should Know About Filipino Food.

This new book by culinary historian Felice Prudente Sta. Maria is an informative food guide not just for kids, but for adults, too, and anyone who wants to know the littlest details with greatest importance on Philippine food and culture.

Felice Sta. Maria, a celebrated author of various food books, including the award-winning The Governor-General’s Kitchen: Philippine Culinary Vignettes and Period Recipes and the Foods of Rizal, has been collecting historical materials regarding Philippine cuisine since the 1970s.

Book of What Kids Should Know About Filipino Food

Book of What Kids Should Know About Filipino Food

Culture and History

The Mama Sita’s Centennial Edition highlights the life of Teresita Reyes and her contributions to Philippine food history.

In the book introduction, Clara Reyes, daughter of Mama Sita wrote, “This edition celebrates Mama Sita’s love for children, her family, and Philippine food culture as her story, recipes, and food tips are featured for kids and their parents to enjoy.”

Teresita was born on May 11, 1917 in Manila to a family known for good cooking. Eighty years ago, her mother established the Aristocrat Restaurant, the  first and perhaps one of the most famous Filipino restaurants, which remains the Philippines’ most popular and still stands today as one of Manila’s best known landmarks.

Having grown up in a family that loves to cook and eat, Sita learned the rudiments of marketing and cooking as a young girl. She raised her 11 children through various food ventures: reviving her mother’s old canteen, peddling turon and kakanin in schools, selling fruits in her mini-store- on wheels. Such entrepreneurship enriched her culinary journey.

 Culinary Mission

But her lasting legacy in Philippine culinary history has its beginnings overseas. In her travels, she realized how difficult it was to prepare Filipino food away from home, without the traditional indigenous ingredients such as sampaloc (tamarind) and bayabas (guava) for sinigang.

She made it her mission to make Filipino food more accessible anywhere in the world. That was how Mama Sita’s products came into being and her vision became reality.

In 2013, a commemorative stamp was launched by the Philippine Postal Corporation in honor of Teresita “Mama Sita” Reyes. Dr. Maria Serena Diokno, then chairperson of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, remarked, “Philippine food history is not complete without taking into account the role of Teresita Reyes in popularizing Philippine cuisine….”

Mama Sita’s Centennial Edition of What Kids Should Know About Filipino Food is available at Mama Sita’s kiosk at Greenhills Bazaar.

Source: Sol Vanzi, Manila Bulletin, June 8, 2017