Sunday, October 23, 2016Clear 8°C
Eat & Drink

Taste of Manila draws a crowd to Bathurst and Wilson

Posted by Ab Velasco / August 25, 2014

taste of manilaThis past weekend, entering Wilson Avenue and Bathurst Street felt like stepping into the crowded, noisy, and aromatic streets of Manila, Philippines.

The inaugural Taste of Manila street festival took place at Toronto's Little Manila community with Bathurst Street being closed off between Wilson and Allingham Street. About two dozen vendors offered a sumptuous sampling of Filipino food, drinks and pastries - and live music and performances on a stage at Wilson and Bathurst entertained the busy crowd.

taste of manila"It's been pretty crazy and really enjoyable. I love to see everyone out here, smiling and getting a good bite to eat," said Berlinie Tuong from the Sampaguita Village Restaurant stand, as she busily took orders for items like pansit (noodles), lumpia (spring rolls) and barbecue beef short ribs. "(Filipino cuisine) is obviously a booming thing here. The fact that we're hosting this festival for the first year is great."

taste of manilaFilipino cuisine is described as a mix of Chinese and Spanish influences, as seen in items like empanadas and lumpia. These food staples were present at Taste of Manila, including: chicken adobo; chicken, beef and pork barbecue; lechon (roast pig); siopao (steamed buns); siomai (dumplings); kare kare (stewed ox tail in thick savory peanut sauce), diniguan (stewed pork in spicy dark gravy of pig blood), and longonisa (native Filipino sausage).

taste of manilaVisitors also soaked up the saucy and greasy goodness with garlic fried rice or pansit - and washed it down with traditional beverages like sago at gulaman (made of brown sugar, water, gelatin and tapioca pearls) or buko pandan (refreshing coconut and gelatin beverage known for its distinct green colour).

taste of manilaThere were also desserts like Halo Halo ("mix mix" of shaved ice, evaporated milk and ingredients like red bean and purple yam ice cream).

taste of manilaAs a Philippine-born Torontonian who occasionally craves the flavours of back home, it was also nice to see less popularized items like Banana Q (deep fried banana) and bangus (fried milkfish). As my souvenir, I packed home a container of freshly made chicharon from Violet's Catering. Who knew the simplicity of deep fried fatty pork skin, salt and oil could be so sinfully delicious?

taste of manilaToronto is home to many summer street festivals - including the Taste of the Danforth, Taste of Little Italy and T&T Night Market. So a festival that spotlights Filipino cuisine and culture was inevitable and judging by the long lineups, Taste of Manila was also long overdue.

taste of manila"The turnout has been incredible," said Pepito Torramba, Vice Chairman of the Philippine Cultural Community Centre, who organized the fest, which was expected to attract over 10,000 people. Torramba said the neighbourhood is the ideal festival location, because of its vibrant Filipino population. "Filipinos are the number one growing community in the GTA."

taste of manilaThe crowd was predominantly Filipino indeed. Visitors packed the streets - many sitting on the edge of the sidewalk with overflowing styrofoam containers in hand. Chatter and laughter was muffled by the loud live music and performances.

taste of manila"It's like being back home," said Bolivar Bao, Vice Consul, Philippine Consulate General of Toronto. "The support that the City has given to the street festival has simply been great and shows the strength in (Toronto's) diversity."

Photos by Richard Kordts



Perry Como / August 25, 2014 at 08:28 am
There was garbage left all over the place. Poorly planned event. Thanks Toronto
Materloo / August 25, 2014 at 09:30 am
It was actually quite fun! Good food, but even better live music!
A / August 25, 2014 at 10:20 am
It's a shame I missed this!! Glad that the turnout was awesome and hopefully, it grows even more over time!
abc / August 25, 2014 at 10:36 am

Overall, it was not bad considering it's their first time to do something like this. Police were visible and I saw a lot of people collecting garbage. Some areas for improvement:

- Close off the road entirely.
- More street food, less combo meals. Events like this is more about sampling every food you can eat while walking with one hand, not sitting by the sidewalk with a spoon and fork.
Filipina Torontonian / August 25, 2014 at 10:54 am
Hi! How can we find out how to participate in this event next year? I googled the Philippine Cultural Community Centre in Toronto and came up with the Kapisanan Centre, is this the same organization? Also looked up Pepito Torramba and came up with zilch. Can someone please make it clear where this organization is located and who the contact is for this event?

Reg / August 25, 2014 at 11:17 am
Was this held on the same weekend as the Mabuhay Philippines Festival at Harbourfront? I know Olivia Chow was at the Mabuhay Festival not sure if she was at Taste of Manilla.
Reg replying to a comment from Reg / August 25, 2014 at 11:19 am
ACTUALLY MY MISTAKE: Olivia Chow was at both events. She did attend Taste Of Manilla!
picard102 replying to a comment from Yigal / August 25, 2014 at 11:46 am
Perry should be ashamed for not wanting garbage strewn about the neighbourhood?
Toronto / August 25, 2014 at 12:07 pm
Yes SOME Torontonians can be real litter bugs whether at a festival or not. There's a mentality in this city that someone else will pick up after you, whether its another resident, the city or the government.
Daisymae / August 25, 2014 at 12:43 pm
Too bad I missed this very first Taste of Manila! But good job mga kababayan! Really proud of those who organized this event. I heard only those restaurants along Bathurst joined this event. Hopefully, next year,those filipino restaurants along the GTA would be able to join. More choices more fun! Hopefully, next year me and my family would be able to come to join you guys in this wonderful event. This is why I love TO. Very festive indeed! God Bless!!!
Disappointed / August 25, 2014 at 12:58 pm
I was a bit disappointed and hopefully my comment will improve next year's event. To me this was the vendor's opportunity to jack up the prices for something that we've been buying in that area. Shame on you guys! The bbq sticks that sells for $2/stick was $3/stick at the event. Everything was raised by $1 and it was the same things that you can get at the restaurants that were situated in that area. Way to take advantage of our people and yours.
LK / August 25, 2014 at 03:59 pm
Thank you all for your supportive comments. There are always a few bad apples (from any faction) on message boards, such as Guwapo in this case, but it's nice to see inclusiveness and common sense prevail. Sorry that I missed out on this festival and definitely looking forward to attending the next one!
Bathurst-Wilson / August 25, 2014 at 08:46 pm
This festival was a long time coming, and I'm glad that it is finally here. But it was far too crowded. Next year, the organizers should push the tents away from the stage area. There were many children and lolas who were stepped on, especially when Gerald came on, and this was really sad to see. This is supposed to be a family-friendly event.

Also, about the children: was there anything for them? I saw bingo for the adults, but what about the kids? Was there any tent geared towards them? Facepainting, balloons, etc?

And about the tents: can we have a Filipino event that doesn't have Western Union, iRemit, and the like? We have so many artists in our community, why not showcase their wares?

I'm glad that this event has begun, but I'm more excited for what happens in the coming years.
Taste of Manila / August 25, 2014 at 11:29 pm
Visit our website or email us for inquiries about 2015 Taste of Manila.
Joseph Franco / August 25, 2014 at 11:32 pm
Here is Taste of Manila contact details for inquiries about booth, vendor, and sponsor for 2015 Taste of Manila.
Tel. 416 254-4804

PCCC (Philippine Cultural Community Centre) is the Brand owner of Taste of Manila and the Official organizer of the said event.
RC / August 26, 2014 at 12:04 am
Congratulations to the organizers!! Please showcase some cultural dances on the MainStage next year.
Radfi / August 26, 2014 at 01:24 pm
Overall, I think it was a good event. It brought out the sense of community among the Filipinos. There was good music and great food. There was a food shortage but I guess it's because the turnout wasn't expected to be so big. I hope they continue Taste of Manila next year as it was a huge success this year. Congratulations to the organizers and to all those involved!
vangie replying to a comment from Disappointed / August 27, 2014 at 08:01 am
i couldnt agree more. I personally think that if you really want people to buy your food, the price should reasonable and not over price like they had on the taste of manila. otherwise, people will just ended going for the entertainment and not bother with the food since its so expensive. hopefully, next year will be better.
KT replying to a comment from Disappointed / August 27, 2014 at 10:07 am
Raising a dollar or two on food items is reasonable considering they needed a lot of extra staff and time to prep all that for the event. People work hard to organize event like these in the city and if you can't appreciate it and have nothing good to say, just stay home.
Amy / August 28, 2014 at 08:47 am
Plan a community clean up day for the next day so the community can get involved!
Rita / August 28, 2014 at 05:40 pm
Happy about it.
PEPITO TORRALBA replying to a comment from Filipina Torontonian / August 29, 2014 at 02:13 pm
My name should read Pepito Torralba. Its a great pleasure to have you participate for 2015 event. You can email me and will send you the registration form.
Thank you for your interest FILIPINA TORONTONIAN.
Marilou replying to a comment from Bathurst-Wilson / August 30, 2014 at 01:56 pm
Totally agree , let's give chance to the individuals willing to share their talents of all kinds like cooking ,
Paintings, even fashions ....let's put aside remittances , water filters, even realtors are there to make their businesses ...the organizers need volunteers l,let's involve the young or new generations of Filipinos and add more garbage containers , recycling bins and envelope compost containers...overall
It was fun , hats off to the organizers , hope you get more helps next year !
Pepito replying to a comment from Filipina Torontonian / October 25, 2014 at 10:09 am
Call me. Pepito Aleson Torralba 416-836-4645 or email me. We are accepting reservations for 2015 event at a first came first save basis.

Pepito / October 25, 2014 at 10:39 am
Taste of Manila was in the drawing board since 2008. Rolly Mangante and a group of 8 (magnificent 8)including myself wanted it done no matter how hard and difficult its going to be. January 2014 I was assign to find out what is the requirements from the city to have a street festival and before we know it all the pieces are starting to shape accordingly. 2014 event is a learning process and a meeting with the city of North York gave us a very good review of the event. The Manager of the Toronto police special event Mr. Michael Perreault's statement in the meeting who said and I quote "You guys the organizers should be very proud of yourself for a very successful and peaceful event". All your comments negative or positive will be taken as a constructive criticism for improvement for the 2015 events.
Laura / August 21, 2015 at 05:20 pm
As a northern Canadian girl who has fallen in love with Filipino food and culture going to the fesitval with girlfriends and my son was so much fun. We are so excited to be heading there tomorrow for the second annual event :)
Jean Benemerito / August 25, 2015 at 06:25 pm

I was there last sunday 23 August at the event...and while waiting for Jericho to arrived..we did fill out the ticket stub distributed by World Financial Group Inc...then it was raffled after Jericho performance...That time I left that event. My friend mentioned that my name was called that I won a one way plane ticket back home...

Is anyone here to guide me to race where to claim that prize?

It means a lot.

Jean Benemerito
Other Cities: Montreal