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Juana Manahan-Yupangco And Her Smart ‘Mesa Ni Misis’ Kitchen

Juana Manahan-Yupangco is no longer your ordinary housewife or mother. In just a year’s time, she’s taken her unique advocacy to places she might have never imagined at the outset. Chalk that up to the fact that it’s an advocacy where, at least for now, she solely controls the conversation; and because its resonance extends far beyond the borders of the social milieu she comes from. It’s to her credit that she has doggedly pursued this advocacy when others, at the start, may have ignored or downplayed her; and they now realize that it’s a message whose day has come, and are happy to find Juana’s it’s resident champion/poster girl. 


To really simplify it, Juana’s Mesa ni Misis advocacy espouses that without sacrificing taste, flavor, or nutrition, Filipina housewives and mothers should be using our local and endemic vegetables and produce, instead of falling victim to more expensive and faddish vegetables that aren’t locally sourced or cost an arm and a leg when grown here. And while she does push for vegetarian dishes and menus, she isn’t totally strict about this, but wants people to realie that there is that vegetarian alternative—especially when the insistence on canned or processed meat only creates such a dent in a household’s food budget. 



To showcase how this can happen, Juana has been giving us recipes that make use of these local veggies, even using them as substitutes for recipes that come from abroad. Working with the likes of Executive Chef Luis Chikiamco of Flame, Discovery Primea, it’s been a journey of culinary discovery—as when their Mediterranean lentil recipe had our local monggo taking the place of the lentils.


This basic message was so interesting and unique that iFLix partnered with Juana to create one season of her own culinary show. Beyond this series, her time is spent giving talks and seminars at the barangay level as she really wants to open the minds of those who could use the message most effectively. She puts a ridiculously cheap ceiling on any recipe she champions, as she knows it’s the kind of language that makes best sense to these mothers and housewives.

So yes, the Flame event was her way of saying 'thank you" to the establishments, restaurants, and personal friends who have helped and supported her from the start. And to keep the whole lunch thematic, we were served the following courses:


Tomato, Tomato - cherry tomatoes, black olives, capers, romaine hearts & balsamic vinegar.


Braised Monggo - mushroom sausages, oyster mushroom chicharon, spiced vinegar reduction (my photo is my platter where I ‘cheated’ and had Chef Luis add some lardons)?


Roasted Mango - fruit sorbet, tapioca pearls and dragon fruit.


While Juana’s beaming mother & sister were there, I liken the event to a recognizing of Juana’s new extended family—because you could feel the outpouring of admiration and love for her, and the appreciation of what her efforts have achieved in such a relatively short amount of time.


Photos by Philip Cu-Unjieng

Lead photo from @mesanimisis