When I was a kid, not many people in the UK knew where the Philippines even was. But more tourism, news coverage and emigration (those friendly Filipino nurses at your local GP) have made our culture much more visible in the UK. It helps that there are an estimated 350,000 Filipinos in the UK – the highest population in Europe – with around 70 percent living in London.
The Philippines has a tangled colonial history, which is reflected in its languages, religions and cuisine. Our national dish, an indigenous vinegar stew recipe, was christened ‘adobo’ by Spanish colonists. There’s no shortage of Filipino joints around London, with enterprising second-generation Filipinos pioneering cultural exchange through supper clubs and food stalls. As our warm and colourful heritage gets increasingly woven into the city’s cultural tapestry, these are exciting times for Filipino Londoners. Melissa Legarda Alcantara
Did you know? A Filipino named Roberto del Rosario patented the world’s first karaoke machine in 1975, which he named the ‘Sing Along System’. It took the Japanese to rename and popularise it.
Melissa’s favourite Filipino spots in London
Earl’s Court is London’s ‘Filipinoville’. Head to the 22-year-old Manila Supermarket for Filipino snacks and imports: everything from boneless bangus to Filipino chorizo.
Order adobo and crispy pata (that’s deep-fried pig trotters) followed by halo halo for dessert at the popular Romulo Café in Kensington.
Peckham’s Filishack food truck is run by a pair of young Filipino brothers bred in SE15.
Pop-up supper clubs The Adobros and Luto London are run by second-gen Filipinos mixing East with West.
Try some sizzling sisig at Cirilo in Tower Hill, washed down with a potent, Filipino-brewed Red Horse Beer.
London’s annual Barrio Fiesta was set up in 1985, with my dad as founding chairman! It’s now Europe’s biggest Filipino gathering, drawing crowds of over 80,000 and big Filipino pop stars. This year’s is on July 16 and 17 in Walton-on-Thames.
The best of Filipino London, according to you
‘The Sarap Super Club at Brooksby Walk wins hands down for its flavours and atmosphere!’ Charlotte S via www.timeout.com
‘The Filipino mini-supermarkets in Earl’s Court are where I pick up popular snacks, including sugary ensaymada and Fili-style chicharon. Wow, now I’m hungry…’ Hubba B via Facebook