Keeping it real, I really don’t know much about the Philippines. I mean, beyond Imelda Marcos and all those shoes … I know the country is made up of a bunch of islands in the Pacific, but aside from those two facts, that’s about it. There was a short-lived friendship with a Filipino girl while I was in high school but she was so interested in adopting Western customs – dyed blond hair and green contacts – that she was most definitely not a font of knowledge about the Filipino culture.
Where high school geography and a young friend failed me, Krizzia Yanga and a trip to her new restaurant Bonofacio succeeded. Yanga explained that young Filipinos today are trying to express their culture and not let it get lost in translation. “There are three levels of culture,” she said.
“Food is the first – it’s the gateway to identity and culture, then comes reclaiming the traditions, and finally, a change in mentalities and attitudes.”
Yanga explained that this (re)embracing of Filipino culture is happening all over. “When we started [with Red Velvet Café] in Pickerington, I never thought Columbus would like this kind of food,” she said. “But there is a renaissance across the country, it’s exciting and see young Filipino business owners rediscovering their culture through food.” Prior to opening the space, Yanga traveled to see what other eateries are doing in places such as San Francisco.
Standing in the restaurant space that will open its Bonofacio, which features full-fledged Filipino menu, the young restaurateur talks about how cool it was to read up on her country’s culinary history. “For 400 years, the Spanish colonized us, and then the Chinese, and Americans – all these ingredients are in the food.”
Throughout Yanga’s life, there wasn’t really a place where the Columbus Filipino populous regularly met up, unless it was in private homes. When the downtown Red Velvet started a brunch featuring traditional Filipino dishes, it became a meeting place for the community.