BIYAHE NI JUAN: Gastronomía en Barcelona

 

 

 

The diaspora needed to be recorded…”

VIAJERO

What does it take to uproot oneself? To pluck oneself out of the nourishing cocoons of family and friends, to have to learn to speak an alien language and live an alien culture, and to bear all of the loneliness that comes with it? Migrants know this best, and creative migrants could perhaps give us the best glimpse into this world through their works. We at Route Projects are proud to present their thoughts and celebrate their works in RUTA NI JUANA / BIYAHE NI JUAN – a record of the Filipino diaspora in stories and art.

COMIDA, IDIOMA y ROCK EN’ ROLL

Almost every country has a greeting for people about to start their meal. The Spanish say “Buen provecho,” the Germans say “Guten Appetit,” the Catalans greet you with “Bon profit,” while the French and the English-speaking world use “Bon appétit!” But what about food-loving Filipinos? There is no real translation for these phrases in Filipino, because it’s simply not a Filipino thing to wish you well before having your meal. Rude? Not exactly. What Filipinos often do goes beyond well-wishes. And it’s actually the person who’s about to eat that does the greeting. They say “Kain!” – which literally means “Eat!” – a cross between an invitation and an imperative to sit down and share the meal they’re just about to have.

For the food-loving DIASPORA, invitations are abundant! There is no lack of birthday lunches, graduation dinners and all other types of celebrations to go to, which are often excuses to cook and share a meal. But be it Filipino cuisine or otherwise, every foodie knows that there are endless options in the city of BARCELONA – a city that’s become known for its gastronomical revolution! The Catalan capital is home to some of the most innovative and creative talents in contemporary gastronomy. Ferran Adrià, a true Barcelonés and considered one of the best chefs in the world, is one of only two names associated with the culinary movement called “molecular gastronomy.” Adrià’s very own El Bulli Lab, a kind of space station for avant-garde chefs, is located in the heart of Barcelona.

The very same Barcelona where almost 9 thousand Filipinos live. So, it should come as no surprise if at least some of the many Filipino chefs in the city picked up on Catalan innovation. Luckily, Route Projects found one of them! We got to chat with MARIO LLORENTE BABOL, a Bicolano Chef and Instagram food influencer (@indishtempo) about his roots, his route, and his creative dreams for Filipino cuisine.

 

Mario Layout7

WHAT ARE YOUR ROOTS?

Ako si Mario Llorente Babol, Ipinanganak noong ika-19 ng Oktubre 1976 sa Bayan ng Nabua Camarines Sur, Probinsya ng Bicol. Panganay sa tatlong magkakapatid. Galing ako sa mahirap na pamilya – Magsasaka ang tatay ko. Malaki ang pasasalamat ko na pinalaki nila kami nang maayos. Nasaksihan ko kung paano nila kami binusog ng mabubuting pangaral ng mga kapatid ko, at kung paano nila kami iginapang para makapag-aral.

Simple lang pangarap ko noon – maging driver ng 18-wheeler trucks tapos naka-salamin ng Ray-Ban! Pagkatapos ko ng Elementary school, lumuwas na ako ng Maynila para mag-aral at tumira sa kapatid ng tatay ko. Noong nakapag-tapos na ako ng High School, nag-umpisa na akong mamasukan sa mga Fast food at Restaurant sa Maynila habang nag-aaral ng kolehiyo sa Arellano University, sa kursong Business Management. Pero hindi ko na din natapos ang Kurso ko. Nangyari na ako ay natanggap na mag-trabajo sa isang Construction Firm. Nag-umpisa ako bilang Liason Officer at kalaunan ay nabigyan ako ng promosyon at naging Project Management Coordinator. Noong panahong iyon mas pinili ko na magpatuloy na lang sa aking trabaho para makatulong sa aking mga magulang para sa pag-aaral ng dalawa ko pang kapatid.

I’m Mario Llorente Babol, born on the 19th of October 1976 in Nabua Camarines Sur, Bicol. I was the first of three children. My father was a farmer. I’m very thankful for how my parents brought us up – they educated us well and worked hard to send us to be able to send us to school.

My dreams were simple – to drive an 18-wheeler truck and wear Ray-Bans! After elementary school, I went to live and study in Manila where I finished high school. While studying Business Management at Arellano University, I started working in fast food restaurants. But eventually, I got offered a job at a construction firm where I started out as a Liason Officer and later, a Project Management Coordinator. I decided to just keep on working in order to help send my siblings to school.

Mario Layout8

WHAT WAS YOUR ROUTE?

Nagpasya kaming mag-asawa na iwanan ko na ang aking trabaho sa Pilipinas at subukang magkasamang mamuhay at magtrabajo dito sa Barcelona. Sa Tulong ng aking asawa, mas napadali ang proseso ng aking papeles. Taong 2007 buwan ng Disiyembre ako dumating ng España. Makalipas ang isang buwan ay nagkaroon na ako Tarjeta de Residencia. Sabi ko, eh di ibig sabihin pwede na ako mag trabaho? Anong trabaho? Hindi ako marunong magsalita ng kanilang Idioma. Pero lakas ng loob un ang una kong naging sandata at abilidad na naituro at namana ko sa aking mga magulang. At doon na ako nag-umpisang maghanap ng trabajo. Awa ng diyos meron nag-recomenda pero extra lang, “Dishwasher.” Sabi ko – OK! Maigi na to kesa sa wala. Ang magtanim ay di biro, pero ang mag-hugas pala ng sobrang daming plato ay hindi rin pala biro!

My wife and I decided to leave the Philippines and try to build a life together in Barcelona. With her help, my papers were processed immediately. I arrived in Spain in December 2007. After I got my Residence Card, I asked myself – But what can I do? I can’t speak their language. But I was determined and thanks to my parents’ tireless lessons on hard work, I was able to find a job as a dishwasher. At that time, I thought it was better than nothing. They said planting rice was not a joke, but washing so many dishes was really no joke at all!

Tumagal ng isang buwan ang pag-extra ko bilang Dishwasher. Sa Pangalawang buwan ko, meron ulit nag alok ng trabajo sa akin. Taga-gawa daw ako ng Bocadillo. Sabi ko nakakain nako niyan ng tatlong beses pero di ko pa masyadong alam gawin. Si Eddie Vedder (JOKE!)… si Edison, asawa ng kaibigan ng aking asawa, (ay) naki-usap sa kaniyang Jefe at sa may-ari ng kanilang restaurante na doon niya ako tuturuan ng actual na pag-gawa ng Bocadillo. Namangha ako noon nang bigla niyang hiniwa ang mahabang tinapay na kung tawagin ay Baguette… sabi ko sa sarili ko – Eto pala yun, sa Maynila nakikita ko lang iyan sa mga panaderong pang-mayayaman pero alam ko na French Baggutte ang tawag dito, eto pala un sa totoong buhay!!! Makalipas ang panahon, natutunan ko na ang dapat matutuan, hanggang sa ako na lamang mag-isa ang gumagawa ng mga orders ng mga camarero. Isang araw, bigla ako tinawag ng Jefe de Cocina, akala ko pauuwiin na ako… Ang ibig palang sabihin eh, nagustuhan daw nila ako mag-trabajo at huwag na raw ako pumasok sa isang nag-aalok sa akin at kukunin na lamang daw nila ako.

I worked as a dishwasher for 1 month. On my second month I was offered another job – making Bocadillos. I remember thinking – I’ve had that before but I don’t really know how to make it. So my friend Edison asked his boss if he could train me. I was in awe the first time I saw him slice a full Baguette – I had seen that before in bakeries and bread shops for the rich back in Manila, now it’s right in front of me! After a while, I learned to make a Bocadillo on my own, as well as other dishes offered by the restaurant. One day, the Kitchen Manager called me, I thought I was going to be fired… but no, he told me how much they liked the way I worked and that I should stay with them.

Sa Restauranteng iyon nag-umpisa ang lahat – unti-unti kong natutunan ang mga tamang gawain sa cocina, at unti-unti kong natutunan ang basikong salitang Castellano. Tumagal ako doon ng dalawang taon at natutunan ko rin ang ilang mga tradisyonal na pagkaing Española. Nag-karoon pa ako ng isa pang opurtunidad na makapag trabajo sa isang Japanese Restaurant, at isa pa ulit sa cocina Thailandesa na talagang ginusto ko matutunan katulad ng Japnese cuisine. Habang nag-tatrabajo, nakapag-aral din ako ng Lengua Española at isang Curso Avanzado de Cocinero. At doon nagkaroon pa ako ng iba pang opurtunidades na makapag-trabajo sa mga kilalang Restaurante sa Barcelona at nakilala ang mga kilalang Chefs sa España.

And that’s where it all started – little by little, I learned everything I needed to learn in the kitchen, and I also slowly learned their language – Castellano. I worked in that restaurant for 2 years where I learned how to make traditional Spanish dishes. After that, I had the opportunity to work in a Japanese restaurant and a Thai restaurant.While working, I was able to continue studying Spanish and an Advanced Cooking Course. From there, I got many other opportunities to work in famous restaurants in Barcelona, as well as meet famous Chefs in Spain.

 

MARIO at Alimentaria – Barcleona’s Food & Beverage Fair – seen here with Michelin Star Chefs Danny Garcia (Manzanilla – New York) & Elena Arzak (Arzak – San Sebastian)

PLEASE TELL US ABOUT HOW YOU GOT STARTED WITH YOUR CREATIVE PROJECTS

Sa Edad na 8 años nag-umpisa ang lahat. Doon nag-simulang mag-turo sa akin ang tatay ko kung paano ang mag-saing at kung paano humawak ng gitara at ilang basikong nota. Magkasabay kong napag aralan ang maayos na sinaing at ang mga kantang una kong natutunan. Ang sabi naman ng nanay ko ay maging mahinahon at mapag-pasensya sa lahat – mga salitang lagi kong baon kahit saan ako mapunta. Bago pa ako makapag-saing, mag-papalingas muna ng apoy. Ang malupit pa nun ay kung walang pang-gatong. Naranasan ko lahat, hanggang ang maghanap ng pang-gatong! Nag-papasalamat ako sa mga magulang ko na naturuan nila ako kung ano ba talaga ang buhay – sige lang, kailangan sige lang! Maging independiente at tumayo sa sariling paa.

It all started when I was 8 years old. My father taught me how to cook rice, and how to play the guitar with some basic notes. Together, I learned how to cook rice well and how to play my first songs on the guitar. My mother taught me how to be calm and patient with everything – words I take with me wherever I go. Before cooking rice, I’d first have to prepare the fire. The worst thing was when there was no firewood. I experienced everything, even going out for firewood! I’m really very grateful to my parents, that they were able to educate me in life – that I had to keep on going! And to be truly independent.

Ang Tatay ko ay kilalang isang magaling na kusinero sa amin at isang musikero, kwento sakin ng mga tiyuhin ko madalas daw siyang manalo sa mga amateur singing contest noon. Marahil nga doon nag-umpisa – namana ko sa tatay ko ang pagkahilig ko sa musika, at sa nanay ko naman ang pagiging mahinahon sa lahat at pagkahilig ko sa kusina. Tanda ko pa nuon madalas ako isama ng tatay ko pag walang pasok sa eskwela sa mga okasyon kung saan siya ang mag-luluto ng mga ihahandang pagkain at doon ko natutunan kung paano magbalat ng patatas, at kung paano biglang maiyak ng walang dahilan. 🙂 Ang mag-hiwa ng mabilis, nakakamangha! Sabi ko sa sarili ko noon pag-laki ko kaya ko rin yan. At isa yun sa mga dahilan sa hilig ko sa pag-luto. Nagkaroon ng katuparan ang lahat ng iyon pag-dating ko ng Barcelona. Hanggang sa dumating ang araw nang di ko na namalayan na umabot na pala ako sa puntong kaya ko na pala mag-luto ng mag-isa at gumawa ng sarili kong receta. Nagpapa-salamat ako sa mga kababayan natin na tumulong sa akin noong ako’y baguhan pa lamang.

Back home, my father is known as a great cook and musician, he even used to win amateur singing contests. Maybe that’s where it began – I inherited his love for music, and from my mother, her calm disposition and love for the kitchen. As a kid, my father used to take me with him to occasions he had to cook for, and that’s where I learned how to peel potatoes and cry for no reason at all. Really quick cutting and slicing, amazing! I used to tell myself that one day I’d be able to do that. All that came true when I finally got to Barcelona. Until one day, without realizing it, I got to the point where I could not only cook but also create my own recipes. I’m very thankful for all my fellow Filipinos who helped me when I was just starting out.

Ang lahat ng karanasan ko at kung paano ako natuto, kung paano ako tinuruan ng maayos ng mga nakasama kong Chef, ganoon din ang itinuturo ko sa mga nakakasama ko sa trabaho. Lagi ko sinasabi sa kanilang mag-pursige at ayusin ang kanilang trabaho nang matuto ng maayos at hindi habang buhay ay manatili lamang sa iisang posisyon o kategorya. Isang napaka napakalaking parte ng buhay ko dito sa Barcelona ang trabaho ko bilang isang Cocinero. Dito kami nabubuhay at dito rin nag-mumula ang bawat centimong ipinapadala ko sa aking pamilya sa Pilipinas.

Everything I’ve learned, everything I’ve been taught by the Chefs I’ve worked with, is exactly what I try to teach my colleagues. I always tell them to work hard and well so they don’t stay in just one position. My work as a Chef is a big part of my life in Barcelona. It is what gives us the kind of life we have here and what allows me to provide for my family in the Philippines.

Isang napakalaking impluwensya sa akin ang makapag-trabaho kasama ang mga magagaling na kusinero at mga pag-dalo sa mga mga eventong may kinalaman sa Gastronomiya. Nakikilala ko ng personal ang mga magagaling at hinahangaang Chef ng España at sa Buong Mundo. Sila ang nagsisilbing inspirasyon ko para patuloy ako sa isa sa panagarap ko na magkaroon ng sariling Restaurant at magkaroon ng pagakataong ipakilala sa bansang España at sa buong mundo ang Innovative Filipino cuisine.

What has really influenced me and my work are the opportunities I got to work with excellent chefs and to attend important gastronomy events. I was able to meet brilliant and much admired chefs from Spain and other parts of the world. They inspire me and push me towards my dream of having my own restaurant, and to be able to introduce to Spain and the rest of the world what I call Innovative Filipino Cuisine.

 

Sa bahay sa tuwing day off ako sabi ng asawa ko – dapat nag papahinga ka! Di ka ba naapagod? Hindi naman talaga nakakapagod lalo na at gusto mo talaga ang ginagawa mo. Sinusubukan ko gawin constantly ang pag-luluto ng tradisyonal na pagkaing Filipino to the highest level or in an innovative way, pero andun siyempre ang tunay na lasa at ang kwento ng kultura. I always aspire to improve my skills. Mas mahabang pasensya talaga ang kailangan kahit paulit-ulit na lang, kahit sa araw-araw na gawain – kahit pag-sakay ng tren parehong oras at posisyon nang lalo pang maging Passionate! Ang totoo hindi ko talaga ito pinangarap, kusa na lamang siyang dumating. Hindi naman ako matalinong tao, ma-abilidad lang. Siguro bilang isang Oragon na rin!

ORAGON is from the root word Orag. Natatandaan ko pa noon sabi sakin ng Lola ko huwag daw gagamitin ang salitang Orag kung hindi alam ang pag-gagamitan nito. Nag-evolve kasi ito into different suffixes and prefixes that constantly changed its meaning. Pero ang totoo talagang kahulugan ng Oragon ay galing sa mga sinaunang Tao sa Bicol. Maliban sa magaling kumain ng maaanghang na pagkain, Oragon means strong and bravest warrior, with valor and dignity like a gentleman. Iyan ang mga Bicolano.

At Isang malaking Parte sa buhay ko ang MUSIKA! Walang masarap na pagkain kung walang musika. Rock en Roll´ Lets get this fucking kitchen Rolling… parang nasa Guerra lang kasi lalo na pag weekends, napakaraming tao kaya kailangan laging armado! Isa sa mga bala naming hindi pwedeng mawalan musika sa kusina. It keeps my spirit up and helps me with the monotony, pati mga kasama ko sa trabajo lahat Ganado. Pag walang Rock ‘en roll, hindi talaga lumalabas yung mga super powers namin! Hahaha! Yung super fast knife skills, kasabay ng bawat hiwa nun ang malakas na guitar Riffs ni Tom Morillo at ng Rage against the machine, at kalabog ng Drums ni José Pasillas ng Incubus. Iba ang naidudulot ng ingay sa akin, mas lalong tumatalas at nagiging ganado ang isip ko!

 

HOW DOES YOUR PROFESSION HELP YOU AS A FILIPINO MIGRANT IN BARCELONA?

Dito sa España, malaki ang kaibahan kung ikukumpara ang migranteng Filipino sa mga taga- ibang bansa. Kilala tayong mga Filipino sa ating work ethics. Iba tayong mag-trabaho, may kusa, maabilidad, maunawain, at marunong makipag-kapwa-tao. Dito sa Barcelona/España, kilala at alam ng karamihan at kapwa migrante kung paano mag-trabaho ang mga Filipino. “Sipag at Tiyaga” – yun tayo eh! Kaya halos karamihan ng kompanya, ang gusto nila ay Filipino. Pero sana isang araw ipamalas natin ang tunay na galing ng mga Filipino, na hindi lamang sa Servicio. Pwede nating gawin pag-sabayin ang pag-tatrabajo at pag-tuklas kung ano talaga ang gusto natin makamit sa ating buhay.

In Spain, there’s a big difference between Filipino migrants and migrants from other countries. We are known for our work ethics. We just work differently, we have initiative, concern, we know how to improvise and we can relate well and easily with others. Here in Barcelona/Spain, everyone including fellow migrants know how Filipinos work. “Patience and hard work” – that’s us! That’s why a lot of companies prefer to work with Filipinos. But I hope that one day we could show our true talents, not just in the service industry. And we can do it all at the same time, to work and discover what we truly want to achieve in our lives.

 

WHAT IS THE CURRENT SITUATION OF FILIPINO MIGRANTS IN SPAIN?

Karamihan naman sa tingin ko ay mayroong trabaho at namumuhay ng payapa. Mangilan-ilan ang walang trabaho, at ibat-ibang dahilan na ang naririnig ko kung bakit walang trabaho at nawalan ng trabaho. Ang iba ay minalas at nag-sara ang Empresang pinapasukan, at ang iba naman ay natangal sa trabajo sa magkakaibang dahilan.

Most Filipinos here have stable jobs and peaceful lives. There are a few who don’t have work, and I’ve heard different reasons for it. Some were simply unlucky as the company they’d been working for closed down, while some were fired from their jobs.

Isang malaking dahilan kung bakit nagkakaroon ng masamang Imahen ang mga Filipinong nag-tatrabajo sa Hotel at Restaurante ay ang Droga at Sugal. Hindi ko nagustuhan ang isang balitang lumabas sa isang sikat na diaryo na kung gusto makahanap ng Shabu dito sa Barcelona, ay pumunta sa isang restaurante kung saan mayroong nagtatrabahong Filipino. Nakakapanlumo! At nakaka-bahala ang patuloy na pag-dami ng nagiging biktima nito.

Filipinos in the Hotel and Restaurant industries have a bad reputation because of drugs and gambling. Some news reports are really disappointing, saying that if one wants to find Shabu (Crystal Meth) in Barcelona you just have to find a restaurant where Filipinos work. Really depressing! And also worrying as the number of victims of drug abuse are increasing.

Sana ay magkaroon ng mga produktibong programa ang komunidad Filipina para sa mga kababayan natin. Lalo na para sa mga kabataan, na mahikayat sila sa maayos na gawain at magkaroon ng sapat na kaalaman at matutunan nila kung bakit tayo nandito, malayo sa sariling lupa at sa ating mga pamilya. Mamuhay ng tama at nang hindi masayang ang lahat ng pinag-hirapan. Alamin at kilalanin ang Kultura Española, magkaroon ng sapat na kaalaman Laboral, karapatang pantao, benificio, at iba pa.

I hope that the Filipino community could come up with an effective program for our fellow Filipinos. Especially for the youth, to encourage them to choose the right path and to educate them so that they know why we are here, far from our home country and the rest of our families. I hope we can inspire each other to live well so that everything we’d sacrificed does not go to waste. We have to get to know Spanish culture, to educate ourselves on labor laws, human rights, and other benefits we deserve as migrant workers.

Bilang isang manggagawa ang nakikita kong dapat pag-tuunan ng pansin ng bawat Migranteng Filipino sa España ay ang matutunan ang salitang Castellano. Bagong salta pa lamang ako noong nasabihan ako na “Magaling ka sana mag-trabaho kaso kailangan mo pang matuto mag-Español…” Isang karanasang tumatak sa akin at iyon ang nag tulak para lalong ko pang pag-butihin ang pag-tatrabaho at pag-aralan ang mga bagay na kailangan ko pang matutunan.

As a migrant worker, I think all Filipino migrant workers must make an effort to learn the Spanish language. When I first arrived, I remember being told “You work well, but too bad you can’t speak Spanish…” That’s an experience I’ll never forget, and one that pushed me to work even harder and learn everything I need to learn.

Ang buhay migrante sa Barcelona ay kailangang harapin ng buong lakas at tapang. Taas noo sa anumang ibato ng tadhana. Kailangan lamang maging masigasig. Mahalin natin at pahalagahan kung ano ang mayroon at yun ang magiging pundasyon ng darating na bukas.

Migrant life in Barcelona has to be faced with a lot of strength and courage. Dignity in whatever comes our way. We just have to be diligent and enthusiastic. We have to love and give importance to what we have, and that will be the foundation of our future.

 

TAGGED! See what other IG accounts say about Mario’s work:

 

 

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