The award-winning Parts Unknown explores a city's cultural identity in the context of its past as well as its quickly evolving present, often zeroing in on the stories of the various featured individuals and tying in to what elements they represent about the country in focus.
As in his previous shows, food plays a central role in introducing the viewer to the featured city's way of life, offering a glimpse into what makes the place special.
Let's take a look at his Manila experience:
Note: If you don't want to know what goes on in the episode, read no further.
Adobo and sisig from home and on the streets
The episode, which aired on April 24 at 9 pm ET in the US, showed Tony dining at Jollibee, sharing halo-halo with kids on the street, and having his favorite sisig with cover band, Regatta. (WATCH: New clips from 'Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown' Manila episode released)
“I hate mascots, you know they fart in those suits” @Bourdain at a Manila @Jollibee. https://t.co/gWkTLPe5mo pic.twitter.com/G3d0A6knw6 — Parts Unknown (@PartsUnknownCNN) April 25, 2016
. @bourdain describes halo halo tasting like Froot Loops marinating in milk too long. This is how it’s made pic.twitter.com/QN2yLiSg7X — Parts Unknown (@PartsUnknownCNN) April 25, 2016
“Quite possibly the greatest thing you can ever eat with a cold beer” @Bourdain is talking about sizzling pig face pic.twitter.com/I8lGuvKWlp — Parts Unknown (@PartsUnknownCNN) April 25, 2016
It was the Christmas season when Tony visited, and his trip was limited to Manila because of a typhoon. But he made the most of his stay, not only enjoying Filipino cuisine, but talking to locals about culture as well.
Clips of the episode have already shown Tony dining with Filipino cover bands, Keystone and Regatta, and talking to them about their dreams – playing for crowds in Las Vegas for Regatta, and for Keystone, simply playing for a bigger crowd.
Christmastime in The Philippines starts Sept 1. Some Carollers @Bourdain met in Manila https://t.co/gWkTLPe5mo pic.twitter.com/lHQ3ARndnu — Parts Unknown (@PartsUnknownCNN) April 25, 2016
"I think the fulfullment, for me, is getting more people to enjoy the music," said Keystone's drummer, who said he never had formal training but can memorize a song in one day.
What’s ‘White Wedding’ w/o Billy Idol? @Bourdain explores Manila’s cover band underground https://t.co/gWkTLPe5mo pic.twitter.com/4SImMH3CoS — Parts Unknown (@PartsUnknownCNN) April 25, 2016
Keystone also showed Tony how to make adobo, which they ate at their home.
Who makes the best adobo in The Philippines? Answer is always “Mom.” Here's how it’s made https://t.co/gWkTLPe5mo pic.twitter.com/3PbNNI5G6z — Parts Unknown (@PartsUnknownCNN) April 25, 2016
Lechon at a Christmas party
Aside from dining with the bands, Tony also attended an office Christmas party, where he ate lechon and participated in the games – "If I remember correctly, there was a quick interlude of drunken musical chairs, and the HR director might have been sitting on my lap."
Tony also mentioned his last trip to the Philippines, where he tried local cuisine for his older show, No Reservations. "I had really fond memories of the last time I had lechon in the Philippines. In fact, not to kiss your ass, but it is the finest pig I've ever had." That time, Tony had lechon with a Filipino family in Cebu.
. @Bourdain declares lechon in The Philippines the best pig he ever had. https://t.co/gWkTLPe5mo pic.twitter.com/Cneq8SEwoY — Parts Unknown (@PartsUnknownCNN) April 25, 2016
The Oarhouse Pub
Tony also spoke to photojournalists Mark Navales, who lives and works in Mindanao, and Ben Razon at The Oarhouse Pub in Malate. (IN PHOTOS: Anthony Bourdain visits Malate restaurant)
With them, Tony discussed the need for journalists to carry firearms in the country even today, citing the martial law era under former president Ferdinand Marcos, and the Maguindanao massacre in 2009, which killed 58 people, many of them journalists.
"There is no sense of justice, there is no government attending to your needs... no one's coming to save you," said Mark.
"There is a lot of poverty, for sure, but there's not a sense of hopelessness or rage. They decorate. They may not have much, but they decorate, they sweep the street," Tony commented on the attitude he observed of the Filipinos.
Mark replied, "There's still a sense of humble ownership, and a sense of 'this is my home, and it's going to be safe, it's going to fine.'"
Kare-kare at Aurora's house
Far from just visiting a city's most popular destinations, in Parts Unknown, Tony goes where the locals go, eats what locals eat, and interviews people to find out more about issues that concern them today and together, make up the city's evolving characteristics.
As he's mentioned in a previous essay about the Philippines, understanding and appreciating the situation of Overseas Filipino Workers was important to him this trip.
To end the show, Tony visited Aurora and her family at their home for a lunch of kare-kare.
When the show was filmed, Aurora had been back in the Philippines for 3 years, but she worked as an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in Hong Kong for 5 years, and in the US for almost 30 years.
Aurora took care of Parts Unkown producer Erik Osterholm and his sister when they were growing up.
Tony read a letter from Erik about Aurora out loud. He said: "Aurora has such an infectuous and loving energy that is so powerful. I am 100% the man I man today because this woman raised me from when I was 6 months old, singing to me, dancing with me, wiping away my tears, cooking for me, and making me laugh at every turn.
"Unfortunately, like many Filipinos, her story is not all smiles and love. She had to choose a life away from her daughter, thousands of miles away from her family. There are literally thousands of people around the world, me included, who have been influenced by her endless kindness and love."
Many of Aurora's family work abroad, too, in the States, Dubai, Qatar, Hong Kong, and other countries.
"I tell them, several times they called me up, 'Please get home soon, I need you,' said Amy, Aurora's adopted daughter, about her children working abroad.
After Aurora sang and her family was drawn to tears, the episode ended on a bittersweet note – opening a balikbayan box from one of their relatives, Albert: "I really hope that you enjoy the simple gifts I sent, and I know that my heart is with you always."
The Manila episode of Parts Unknown was the first episode of season 7. The season will also feature Chicago, Greece, Montana, Georgia, Senegal, Germany, and Buenos Aires.
What did you think of the Manila episode of Parts Unknown? Let us know in the comments! – Rappler.com