Street Food (2019) s01e09 Episode Script

Cebu City, Philippines

I live near the sea to be close to the reef eels.
If you eat reef eels, your life will change.
There are some people who are hesitant to eat, because they don't look appealing.
Until I made my own reef eel soup.
The people who have tried it had changes in their bodies.
Strength enters their bodies after eating.
My reef eel soup can also help in enhancing libido.
Now, they call my soup "the Viagra of the Cebuanos.
" The Philippines is a group of 7,000 islands in Southeast Asia.
We belong to the Coral Triangle, which hosts the most exotic sea life in the world.
The birth of the Philippines, as we know it today, was actually Cebu.
Everything else evolved from that point for Philippine history.
Street food in Cebu developed over the centuries because Cebu is one of the main trading ports in the Philippines.
And there were always people coming in and out.
Street vendors prepared food to serve these people.
And you see a lot of people still enjoying the same meals that have been cooked for generations.
Our population is three million people.
But almost a quarter of the population live below the poverty line.
A lot of people don't have ovens or proper kitchen equipment to cook their own food at home.
So they depend on street food vendors for their everyday fare.
Street food is really a good way to get to know Cebu.
Because you can really taste the flavors of the island.
That's what makes Cebuano street food special.
Most of our street food is very simple because of the geography of the island.
There's always fresh agriculture from the mountains.
And seafood is also very fresh every single day.
- Thank you.
- Thank you.
The most popular street foods in Cebu would be Lechon, lumpia, which is Chinese-style spring rolls.
The gravy with the hanging rice.
And the nilarang, a soup cooked with the freshest fish possible.
If you want to experience the best nilarang, find your way to the coastal town of Cordova, just over the bridge from Cebu City, to a place called "Entoy's Bakasihan.
" Entoy's nilarang is unique because of the bakasi or the seawater eels.
It was something that was actually frowned upon.
What Entoy did was to elevate the bakasi because of his very special soup.
It was so unique that it stood out as something that was not found anywhere else in the world.
He's become some sort of an icon for Cebu.
No! Wait.
Get me some blue crabs, shrimps, and spider shells.
It's really windy.
I might only be able to get a few.
Please, try hard to get them.
Get them for the kids.
My name is Florencio Escabas.
But my grandfather used to call me Entoy.
My nickname means "little boy.
" I really loved my grandfather.
Which is why to this day, I still go by the name Entoy.
My grandfather was a fisherman and I did the same thing for 30 years.
But life is not easy for a fisherman here in our village.
So, I have decided to create this business, to improve the lives of the fishermen.
- Thank you.
- Thank you.
- Come back again.
- Thank you, Entoy.
We will.
Through my restaurant, I'm hoping that my barangay will flourish.
And my grandchildren will be spared from the kind of life I lived.
That is my goal.
Oh, that looks juicy.
Can I have a taste of the meat? - Okay.
- How much is it per kilo? - Five hundred.
- Okay.
When Cebuano families have a feast, you always have a Lechon as a centerpiece.
The tradition started really long ago.
Because it was very simple to do, you know? You just hunt the wild boar, and put it in a bamboo stick and roast it.
It would easily feed the entire family.
One of the best places to have Lechon Cebu is in Talisay.
Everyone has their favorite but Leslie's was the first.
In the 1940s, my grandmother started the Lechon industry in Talisay.
Talisay was famous for the beaches.
So, she slaughtered a pig, and then roasted it.
Then sell it to the tourists to support her kids.
Because I think she had ten children to feed.
I'm the third generation, so I want to pass it down to my son.
The best Lechon to slaughter is a native pig.
Then you have spices.
First garlic, then star anise, and salt.
Put it in a bamboo pole.
Soy sauce.
Then, put it in the fire.
We use coconut lumber.
That's what makes the skin perfect, crunchy very tasty.
There are many Lechon vendors in Talisay but I am the best.
I was born in Cordova, Cebu.
October 30, 1947.
My life was hard back then.
We could hardly afford to buy rice.
I would cry because my parents wouldn't give me money to buy candy.
My father would then hit me.
So, I would run away to my grandfather.
I would ask him for candy because every time I asked for some, he would give it to me right away.
That's why I have no teeth.
Now that I think about it, I really was loved by my grandfather.
He taught me how to fish when I was five years old.
We would gather together, sharing our eels, and we would cook them.
Despite our poverty, we have food that came directly from the sea because of my grandfather.
For that, I am grateful.
How much for the tuslob-buwa? Ten pesos per hanging rice.
Tuslob-buwa is something that has been around for centuries in Cebu.
"Tuslob" means to dip, and "Buwa" means bubble.
So, it's really dipping the hanging rice into the bubbling gravy.
It's like a Filipino fondue.
Tuslob-buwa is a simmering pot of sautéed onions, garlic, and pig's brain.
They used pig's brain because nobody actually bought it, so they made something delicious out of it.
It was a very economical way of feeding people who really can't afford meat or fish to cook with.
Azul was one of the first restaurants that managed to bring tuslob-buwa to this generation without losing its spirit.
Now, it's young, it's cool, it's hip.
We serve tuslob-buwa a different style from the traditional one.
We tried to innovate something that can make it hygienic for the people to eat.
Cooking your own, for your own group.
Everybody eats here.
From the rich to the poor.
From the young to the old.
For the people who doesn't like to eat pork brain, maybe you should try it and maybe it will become your favorite.
It's better to drink now, while we are still young.
I am 71 which is 17 in reverse.
Okay, take a shot.
Let's get girlfriends later.
When I turned 15 I met the love of my life.
We married very young and we had four children.
Two boys, and two girls.
I needed to work so I could provide for us.
So, I started fishing.
Compared to other fishes, I always caught reef eels because they were the most abundant.
Sadly, no one wanted to buy them.
That's why I needed to work harder to make a good life for us.
That's when I thought that I should gather some fishermen, so we could discuss what we could do to make reef eels sellable in Cebu.
So, I looked for ways to sell them.
I realized we needed to improve the way we cooked them.
That's when the idea came to me for the nilarang- style reef eel stew.
I knew that my wife was a great cook.
She helped me experiment with different ingredients, to make it taste really good.
The nilarang recipe is very classic.
You make your broth with whatever vegetables and herbs that you have available from the island.
And it's usually soured with green mango and fermented black beans which gives a very distinct flavor.
But it's really the biodiversity of the sea that allows the cuisine to shine.
You can have nilarang with different kinds of fish but when it's cooked with seawater eel, it's truly something special.
It's hot, it's steamy, and there's a bit of tang in it.
It wakes you up, it makes you sweat.
It's delicious! The fishermen enjoyed it so much.
They suggested I build a restaurant by the sea.
In 2002, I decided to build a small hut on the shore.
I was afraid that no one would come because there were no roads to get here.
But, people still came to visit.
At first, there were 20 people, and it became 30, and that's when I started to hear testimonies.
There are couples without children who tried it, and after a while, they were able to bear children.
Since then, people started flocking here for the reef eels.
So many people started coming that they constructed a road.
A cement road.
Bernarda and I were awarded for being the best couple in Cordova for helping our community to thrive.
Entoy's nilarang started to get the reputation of being an aphrodisiac, making Cordova quite popular.
After that, more people started creating street food there.
Now, on the way to Entoy's, there's this classic carinderia called Rubilyn's.
Here in Buagsong, people already sell a lot of fish.
So, I sell different kinds of food.
I sell different varieties.
Eighteen different dishes.
But the best seller is the vegetable spring roll.
Cebu is actually one of the oldest Chinese settlements in the world.
When the Chinese arrived, they introduced the wok.
Which really allowed us to evolve our cooking.
We began to sauté our aromatics.
And one thing that became mainstream, is the Chinese-style spring roll, which is now found almost everywhere in Cebu.
I start to cook them by preparing the garlic cloves, onions, bell peppers, and a mix of vegetables.
Just a little bit of oil.
Don't put too much, because it will be gross.
It's simple but it's indescribably delicious.
People always come looking for it.
They come back because it's delicious.
My motto? Never be lazy.
No matter how poor you are, you'll live.
In 2013 my business was thriving.
And then, Typhoon Yolanda came.
We tied ropes around the store for support, so that it wouldn't fall down.
Unfortunately, the roof ripped off and our boats were destroyed.
Bernarda and I were stressed about it.
Then suddenly I began to have a hard time speaking and using my hands.
I had suffered a stroke.
That was a very difficult time.
I made a request to God.
I told Him that I'll offer my life and pay Him every day just to be young and healthy again.
But God didn't agree.
Soon after that, my wife had a heart attack.
She did not recover.
She died that January.
Cardiac arrest.
Losing Bernarda left a big hole in my heart.
After my wife passed away managing the business alone became hard for me.
I didn't have anyone to talk to about my plans, so I called my children.
When our mom died, our whole family was so worried about him.
He helped a lot of people.
His children, his grandchildren, and most of all, the people in this community.
So, we wanted to find a way to help each other.
So, my siblings and I decided to run the business.
We would work together here so the business will continue to grow.
I am very grateful for my children.
I let them manage the business.
Their profits should be spent on education for their children.
I only need 200 pesos every day.
It's for my medicine and for my candy.
That's when we started to expand the store's menu.
Now, we have spider conch.
We now have shrimps.
We now have different kinds of seafood, along with sea grapes, sea grapes ceviche.
But still, the most popular dish in our restaurant is the reef eel soup.
People really respect Entoy because he's creating a legacy for Cebu.
Cordova has developed over the years and people love him for that.
In the Cebuano culture, you don't invest just in yourself.
It is about surviving as a community.
There's a spirit of sharing.
It's always about feeding not just one, but feeding everyone.
Here in Cebu, it doesn't matter if you're rich or you're poor.
Everyone in Cebu will come and try you once.
But they'll only come back to you if you're truly good.
I pray that when my time comes, I hope that the people of Buagsong will remember something, that no matter how poor I was, I was someone who helped this community in my own little way.
All of you, come here.
I need blue crabs, and small crabs.
Go ahead, I'll pay you right away.
Let's go.
Be careful.
I now have 25 grandchildren and another one on the way.
I truly believe that one of the reasons why I have so many of them is because of the reef eels.
When I'm with my grandchildren, I teach my grandchildren how to catch and how to get reef eels and crabs.
So that they can do something for fun.
I want to give them a glimpse of our childhood back in the old days.
But the truth is, I always encourage my grandchildren to take their education seriously.
I see a bright future ahead for my grandchildren.
That is my happiness.
I'm retiring in show business because I am tired.
Subtitle translation by Danielle Franco