Everything You Need to Know About #TheFilipinoFoodProject on Instagram
It's a modern effort to showcase our favorite Filipino dishes and bayanihan in the digital age.
7,280 kilometers away from home, Jaclyn Pingol Garcia is busy conceptualizing, cooking, and shooting her next Instagram post. Her culinary and photography playground, tenthousandthspoon on Instagram, has gained traction in the past several months not only because of her beautifully styled images but also because of her efforts in establishing #TheFilipinoFoodProject and #TheKakaninProject.
Food was a way to connect with family and her heritage.
Originally from Sta. Rosa, Laguna, Jaclyn grew up in a middle class family that always sought out good food wherever they went. "My parents had a tailoring shop and also buys and sells factory overruns. They would always go to Divisoria to buy fabrics or around Calabarzon to go to different factories. When they returned from their trips, they brought home fruits and different kinds of food from all over. Divisoria trips meant kiamoy, hopia, tikoy. Going around provincess meant kaings of lanzones, rambutans, guyabanos, langka, as well as different kakanin or specialties from that place."
Unsurprisingly, Jaclyn's parents, who always knew the best sources of food and prepared feasts on ordinary days, passed their love for food to their daughter. Except, by the time she got married and moved out of their house, she realized how she took all that for granted. "That was the only time I first tried to learn to cook," Jaclyn shares.
This only intensified, when, two years ago, her husband was assigned to a post in Doha, Qatar. With their two daughters in tow, the husband and wife resettled in a new territory, far from the comforts of the food they grew up eating. So Jaclyn cooked: "That's when I really had to find ingredients and also Instagram the food I ate or cooked to show to my mom. Food was what connected us, with every call, text, or email entailing me asking for a recipe or having somebody send me achuete or buko pie."
Living away from home only made Jaclyn appreciate Filipino food more and, ultimately, see it in a different light. "Moving away has made me realize how integral Filipino food is to my identity as a Filipino. In every adobo, sinigang, kakanin is the story of my life, my family, and my heritage." From this realization arose her desire to share the food she loves with her Instagram followers. Thus, #TheFilipinoFoodProject and #TheKakaninProject began.
"These are both personal passion projects of mine, which I decided to share with other people with the same passion of cooking and photographing Filipino food. I wanted to feature other Filipino bloggers and photographers who are also making efforts to introduce Filipino food and make it more visible on social media."
Toting her iPhone or a Canon 5D Mark II, Jaclyn shoots Filipino food until she likes what she sees. At the beginning, she wasn't satisfied with all the Filipino food shot in the traditional way that made them look dated and far from appetizing, especially for a foreigner's perspective. "I want to make people see that Filipino food is at par, as beautiful as any other cuisine and, thus, deserved to be flaunted, celebrated, and showcased as well. So I would do tablescapes of our tapsilogs or suman, and consciously style it differently from what we're used to seeing."
How does she choose what to shoot and how does she plan every image? Her creative process is fairly simple. She uses pegs to help her choose a color story, a mood, and the props. "Most of the time, though, I post food photos and cook food according to what I'm craving," Jaclyn shares. Sometimes, she does it all in a day and shoots and styles by instinct.
The captions attached to her posts are just as captivating. "I also do some research regarding its history," Jaclyn explains. But her resources are scarce especially while far from home. So she's not shy to ask help from her friends and followers. "Right now, I am reserving Fridays for featuring a different kind of kakanin and food blogger or photographer. I try to reach out to fellow Filipinos who would be interested in joining the project."
"Moving away has made me realize how integral Filipino food is to my identity as a Filipino. In every adobo, sinigang, kakanin is the story of my life, my family, and my heritage."
It's a project that espouses bayanihan in the digital age. "The main goal [of #TheKakaninProject] was to feature kakanin from all over the Philippines, so we can learn about new rice cakes apart from the usual kakanin we are aware of." It's been an overall enjoyable process for Jaclyn, who's learned about Filipino food as much as she's learned new things about her identity. "I never imagined myself learning to cook biko, kalamay, espasol, or pichi-pichi."
#TheFilipinoFoodProject is a passion project that goes beyond taking beautiful photos. It's a way to highlight the food we love most to the rest of the world.
So many times has it been said that Filipino food is the next big thing. And as any Filipino, who is resilient and hardworking, would, @tenthousandthspoon took matters into her own hands and embarked on a humble yet effective way to promote her beloved food- in a matter that is organic and uncontrived. It's very current; it's very now. One day, Jaclyn wishes to set up her own website that would also showcase the history and cultural significance of Filipino food. "I really would like to study and document it, as well as our indigenous ingredients in the future. And maybe write and shoot a book about it."
There's a long way to go for Jaclyn and #TheFilipinoFoodProject but it's a journey her fellow adobo lovers won't hesitate to rally behind.