Who is Mama Sita?


Teresita “Mama Sita” Reyes was born in Manila on May 11, 1917.  She was the eldest daughter of Doña Engracia “Aling Asiang” Reyes and Justice Alex. Reyes. Mama Sita grew up in the social milieu of Divisoria-Navotas and larger culture along Manila Bay.  Her  parents lived in the trading post cum residence of her grandmother, Luisa “Luisang Kare” Garcia Cruz, at Divisoria. 

Mama Sita exhibited great interest in history and literature leading to a deep understanding of history which made  her a nationalist. This was apart from the nationalistic spirit instilled in her by her mother. In every sense, she was proud of being a Filipino.

Mama Sita regularly traveled to the far reaches of the world to learn and savor its various cuisines and concluded that indeed Philippine food can stand out among the best. Thus arose Mama Sita’s vision of bringing the flavors of the Philippine Islands to the world. The rest is history.

So Mama Sita’s life revolved around food and enterprise, be it growing, marketing, cooking, selling or sharing. This was so until her dying days.


Mama Sita Commemorative Stamps

In recognition of her contribution to Philippine cuisine, the Philippine Postal Corporation launched a five-year series of commemorative stamps for Mama Sita. During the launch, former National Historical Commission of the Philippines chairperson, Dr. Ma. Serena Diokno, shared, “Philippine food history is not complete without taking into account the role of Teresita Reyes in popularizing Philippine cuisine.”


Mama Sita Awards


The Mama Sita Excellence Award is given to institutions or individuals who are recognized as sharing Mama Sita’s values of family solidarity and community involvement (the bayanihan spirit). To date, only two recipients have been given the award:  Larin’s Family of Mercy’s Carinderia and White House Executive Chef Cristeta Pasia Comerford. 


1st Culinary Excellence Award for Mercy and Benjamin Larin of Mercy's Carinderia

With the aim of encouraging family-owned food enterprises to use healthy ingredients in their menu, the Search for a Cooking Family was launched in 2001 in Metro Manila. Ms. Mercy and Mr. Benjamin Larin of Mercy’s Carinderia emerged as the winner and won the first ever Mama Sita Culinary Excellence Award. 

Mr. Larin’s income before of P4.00/day could not support his five (5) children, so he and his wife decided to venture into the food business. They would cook 2 kinds of food inside their apartment and sold it to their neighbors. Now, they sell 18 kinds of food under a little shade in front of their apartment unit which greatly helped support the education of their children who turned out to be professionals in their respective fields. They take pride in their little carinderia which was very instrumental in supporting their financial needs.  

2nd Culinary Excellence Award for Cristeta Comerford


On the 3rd of October 2009, the Mama Sita Foundation vested a Culinary Excellence Award to Chef Cristeta Pasia Comerford in Washington D.C., USA. Chef Comerford, Philippine born, was a University of the Philippines food technology student who migrated to the United States. She rose in the culinary field after stints in international hotels and eventually to become the first Asian-American Executive Chef at the White House. First chosen by then First Lady Laura Bush, she was retained by First Lady Michelle Obama.