Wednesday 3 December 2008

My Friend Ed Maranan and the Dangers of Unfed Filipinas

I made a rare visit to the Philippine Embassy the other day. The occasion was a flying visit by my writer pal Ed Maranan, a soft spoken creature with a passing resemblance to the Filipino national hero Jose Rizal.

Ed is an essayist and a writer of children's books. My favourite has to be The Jinx, the Dolphin and the Deap Sea Mystery - a picture book (beautifully illustrated by Girlie Aragon) that would probably struggle to fit neatly into the fixed boxes that sadly make up the building blocks of UK children's publishing today.

While he was living in London, Ed whiled away the time winning the Guardian's weekly online haiku competition. That while at the same time steadily winning the Palanca Awards (the equivalent of the Philippine Booker Prize) year after year for his fiction and essay-writing. Apparently he's won it 30 times to date! Come on, Ed, step aside. Give others a chance!

The reason Ed was in London was to launch a book he co-edited with his daughter Len Maranan-Goldstein, titled A Taste of Home, compiling the "food memories" of Filipino expats all over the world.

When Ed first issued the call to submissions, I had intended to write an essay about my own secret cravings for condensed milk on white bread, spam and vinegar, and tomatoes in fish sauce - comfort food guaranteed to cure any Filipino exile's homesickness. But alas, other things got in the way and I attended the book launch as a spectator and not as an author.

There were short readings from the book by five England-based contributors - moving and mouth watering at the same time. The one I most identified with was by IT consultant Desiree Latimer (who happens to be from my hometown of Davao):
The mystery of the Filipina, according to (my husband), is perhaps not her Oriental charms, beauty, vivaciousness or even her penchant for karaoke. It is her craving for food. He is painfully aware that there is nothing more dangerous than a Filipina unfed ... A Filipina, in a crisis, must be fed Filipino food.
A Filipina unfed is a dangerous thing. So true.

I hope all my friends are paying attention.

Ed Maranan signing books at the Philippine Embassy launch

Proud contributors to the book posing with the Philippine Ambassador to the UK: (left to right) Gene Alcantara, Carla Montemayor, Gina Consing McAdam, Ed, Ambassador Edgardo Espiritu, Desiree Latimer and Catherine Walden.


  1. Wow, Candy, thanks a lot for this write-up! Nice photos, too! Could you email me high-resolution copies of these photos, please? maraming salamat! e:D

  2. I imagine the book is being sold here too? I haven't been out in a long time. No malls, just happily cocooning at home.

    Food and Filipinos -- nothing quite matches this combination.

  3. Hi, is it ok if I borrowed the picture of the crosseyed baby from your site? I added a link to your site too at the bottom of my post. I hope you don't mind. If I broke protocol or if you are not pleased with the representation of the picture for my post, I would gladly take the necessary measures to correct it. Thanks

    btw, I was intrigued by the title that summoned me to read about it. I live here in the US and was wondering if Ed Maranan's book is already distributed here. Would Amazon already carry the title?

    Thanks again.

  4. Thank you for your interest in the book! If you're abroad and would like to get a copy, just quote the ISBN to your local bookseller and they'd look for the book for you. It's 978-971-27-2037-6.

  5. Hi,Candice, Mahalia,

    You could also email the publishers themselves, and inquire how you can order the book from them.

    Please email:


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