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Let’s eat! Great food, good times at the Mabuhay Philippine Festival

Sudbury’s Filipino community has grown to about 700 strong and they are excited to showcase their culture on June 23
Anna Domingo will be serving up Filipino snacks at the first ever Mabuhay Phillipine Festival later this month. Domingo sits at the head of the table close to her white and yam pandesal breakfast breads and the national dish of the Philippines: Chicken Adobo. The Lumpia Shanghai springrolls near Domingo are also a favourite of the Philippines. They can be made with pork, chicken or beef. Lumpia translates to “moist pastry”.

Challenge yourself to name a traditional Filipino food. Unless you have travelled to the Philippines or have friends or family who make the dishes, you aren’t likely to rhyme off anything too quickly.

The organizers of the first ever Mabuhay Philippine Festival, being held in Sudbury this month, are hoping to change that.

Dr. David Javier, president of the Sudbury Filipino Association, is leading the charge.  

Dr. David Javier, president of the local Phillipine Association, mixes the Pansit Chinese Noodle dish also known as the ‘Birthday Noodles’. It is good luck to eat this on your birthday.  It’s made with long rice noodles to signify a long life. The dish is a blend of cabbage, carrots and snow peas, beans, shitake mushrooms and chicken or pork. Two sauces are added: oyster sauce and soya sauce. Image: Anastasia Rioux

“We have five decades of Filipino families now living in Sudbury, starting with those who came in the 1960s during the mining boom,” Javier said. “While we all tend to be quiet and shy, it is important for a sense of belonging to recognize and celebrate our community, culture and foods.”

Inspired by the Sudbury Japan Festival in recent years, there will be arts and crafts, traditional foods, singing and dance.

Anna Domingo, a Filipino cook in the Sudbury community, will be serving up lots for people to taste test.

Domingo arrived in Sudbury in 2014 to be a nanny for her sister Joan Domingo-Sales’ two kids.  Both come from the northern part of Luzon, the largest island in the Philippine archipelago, in a region called the Cagayan Valley.

Now that the children are older, Domingo works out of a commercial kitchen on Lansing Avenue, in New Sudbury.

Domingo will be there serving traditional dumplings, also called “siomai” as well as breads and desserts at the festival.

Anna, Javier and I recently got together to explore Philippines foods, including famous dishes like Adobo chicken and pandesal breads.

Pandesal bread is a salty bread served everyday in local bakeries in the Philippines.  

Halo-Halo, otherwise known as ‘Mix Mix’ is a blend of all things sweet to cleanse the palate. Anna’s variety includes purple ice cream made with whipping cream and purple yam jam for colouring, shredded coconut, beans, jellies with bananas from the Philippines that are much starchier.  . Image: Anastasia Rioux

“Break it down to ‘pain de sel’ — you get salty bread as our language is very phonetic,” Domingo said.

She prepared two varieties during my visit. One is made with purple yam jelly, providing a rich, colourful hue to the dish and sweeter tasting bread. Yam or taro grew all over her parents' property growing up.

“Neighbourhood bakeries bake it fresh every morning there,” Javier said. “You have it for breakfast with your coffee.”

Food from the Philippines comes with a lot of Asian influence.  

The national dish is Chicken Adobo with soya sauce giving it the real pop. There are many variations, but here is the breakdown of Anna’s recipe:

  • Cook chicken for about an hour on the stovetop.  
  • Domingo’s trick is to start on high to brown the chicken a bit.  
  • Stir in a lot of sauteed garlic and onion.
  • Add pepper and local lime for more taste.
  • Bay leaves are optional.  
  • Add soya sauce, vinegar and a bit of butter.
  • She sometimes adds a bit of brown sugar to sweeten and counter the taste.

When tender, the chicken is ready to eat although some people prefer the meat to be a bit drier.  

The leche flan is a dessert made with all egg yolks, milk, sugar and vanilla. Similar to a crème brulée the dish is dense and sweetened to perfection, and made with steam rather than the oven. Image: Anastasia Rioux

With the city’s Filipino community growing, Domingo’s catering business is kept busy.  

Javier said when he arrived in 2019, there were about 300 members in the Filipino Association with Christmas parties being the major focus.

“Christmas begins with the ’ber months. We start decorating and celebrating in September until Epiphany as it is such a joyous and happy time,” he said.

The local Filipino community now counts around 700 members thanks to immigration, and they want to show the community what they are all about.  

Mahuhay, a greeting in Tagalog, the primary Indigenous language of Luzon, means “to live”. Javier said the community wants to show Sudbury they are vibrant, loving and strong here in the Nickel Basin. 

The first ever Mabuhay Phillipine Festival will take place on Sunday, June 23 between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. at Bell Park’s Grace Hartman Ampitheatre.

Follow the event Facebook page for more details.  

Anastasia Rioux is a writer in Greater Sudbury. Let’s Eat! is made possible by our Community Leaders Program.


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Anastasia Rioux

About the Author: Anastasia Rioux

Anastasia Rioux is a writer in Greater Sudbury.
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