I stumbled upon this article by Philstar writer Alfred Yuson, entitled “Honoring Doreen’s Legacy”. Today is Doreen Fernandez’s 10th year death anniversary.
“Tikim: Essays on Philippine Food and Culture” was one of the first book I ever bought when I started buying books. I don’t know who she was then. I was starting to build my Filipiniana collection and her publisher is known for the quality of its writers and published materials. I decided to grab a copy hoping that it was more than a cooking book.
Well, it was more than what I expected.
It became one of those books that influenced the way I think about Filipino culture. She write in very simple form and she understands how to explain culture like no other. She has traveled the country in search of stories behind our culture of food.
People like her made me realize how much history is in the things we taste and try to digest. She’s a writer that proves history is everywhere and can be easily found. Having parents that grew up in the same province where Doreen came from made me relate to much of what she wrote about. To this day, whenever I’m in Negros, and eating, I would be reminded of her wonderful stories.
In her writings one can sense her fear of losing Filipino culture. I share this fear – as do many Filipinos who had opened their eyes to our dying traditions. What I like about her is that she traveled and researched more than any other person that taught or write for a living. She was out there experiencing Filipino culture and history. When I read her today, I know that she wrote was what she experienced first hand and not what she just read and heard.
The Philstar writer included an excerpt from the introduction of Maya Roxas, Doreen’s niece, in the book “Appetite for Life”: “Her strength rests in this, the exploration and presentation of food not just as the stuff of lifestyle magazines and serial cookbooks, but as a significant and compelling index of who and what we are as a people.”
Doreen is one of our best historian. Although her topics were mostly about food culture and traditions there was no doubt that what she accomplished with her writings did more for Philippine history appreciation than any other history essayist of her time.