On very rare occasions, the biggest challenge in the day of the average isko and iska is looking for a place to eat. This isn’t for a lack of choices within and off-campus, but because there’s too many—actually a surplus of food joints serving everything from snacks you can munch on in an Ikot jeep while running between classes, to more laidback and comfortable nooks where you can have a food trip with your GE classmates.
Apart from the noteworthy tapsilog in Rodic’s, or The Chocolate Kiss Café’s more posh offerings, there are a number of food hubs emerging from around the UP community. In case you’re looking for a new favorite spot, here are some.
Tinapay is run by Kuya Onz, a resident of San Antonio Street, Pook Dagohoy in UP Diliman. He opened the store in mid-2000 but closed it briefly recently and was missed terribly by its patrons, mostly dormers looking for a quick bite late at night. Customers will be greeted by funny signs flanking its simple menu of footlong sandwiches, aptly named “footlong” for one long sausage, “feetlong” for two, and “footres” for three sausages in one footlong bun. They also serve burgers but what makes these sandwiches truly unique are the generous toppings of egg, ham, cheese, and multi-colored sauces ranging from green, blue, and yellow—something that will pop out of your Instagram feed. The store is open from 6:00PM to 1:00AM but they are closed on weekends.
For the more adventurous, a short tricycle ride from the campus will lead you to Buen Comer, a hole-in-the-wall joint which offers Filipino-Mexican fusion meals. The quaint, unassuming store opened its doors last year with a small metal van reminiscent of food trucks, and basic stools and tables inside. Its tasty dishes soon caught up through word of mouth and the store has now gotten itself a cult following from foodies in the Maginhawa area. This is no simple feat, as the Maginhawa-Malingap-Matalino quadrant is continuously sprouting food parks and shops catering to a vast array of culinary cravings. Buen Comer’s bestseller is its kare-kare burrito which, as the name suggests, is kare-kare rice with beef chunks wrapped in pita. You should also try nacho potato crisps, peri-peri chicken, steak and fries burrito and their limited edition pares burrito.
Of course, when you don’t have a lot of time and money, the landmark kiosks of the Samahan ng mga Manininda are your best friend. The unmistakable green iron booths bear the standard feast of fishballs, squid balls, kwek-kwek, pancit canton, and sandwiches. You may order separately or through their “combos” which usually include a meal and drinks. These kiosks are found all around campus but people frequent the ones near the College of Architecture, the College of Arts and Letters, Vinzons Hall, and the College of Human Kinetics.
Oldtimers in UP always tell the younger students that the go-to drinking place is Sarah’s along C.P. Garcia Avenue. However, over the past decade, another watering hole has gained popularity among members of the UP community—students and professors alike. Previously located along Maginhawa Street (the old spot became campaign headquarters for a losing vice-presidential candidate), Tomatokick is now located on Malingap Street in UP Village. With its typical but tasty renditions of the usual pulutan paired with local beers and spirits, the restobar has also been a spot for cultural performances (Parokya ni Edgar even had a spontaneous gig last March), poetry reading and book launches, and even charitable fundraisers for conflict-ridden areas in the country. Tomatokick is now a hub not just for merrymaking but for meaningful endeavors as well.
The UP Mindanao campus was established in Barangay Mintal located 16 kilometers from the city center at the boundary of suburban and rural Davao City. The UP Mindanao campus itself is two-and-a-half kilometers from the highway.
The College of Science and Mathematics is known by the nickname “Kanluran.” It’s one kilometer farther uphill from the Administration Building and deeper into the forest. In early-2000, students patronized the “KFC” or Kanluran Food Court. These were tiny stalls along the main campus dirt road operated by informal settlers. They served affordable snacks like pancit palabok and sandwiches, banana-cue, and minatamis-na-saging, perfect for cash-strapped students.
For full meals, students relied on the small canteen of Manang Lydia Espiritu and her husband which was housed in a wooden mess hall-type canteen provided by the College. This canteen has been upgraded in recent years into a concrete dining room but with a smaller area. Manang Lydia continues to operate the canteen in “Kanluran” with her husband.
The other canteen on campus since early 2000 was one kilometer downhill near the administration building and operated by Marichu Mendez. Although housed in a “beach-house” type building made of plywood and screens, the canteen met the demand of the seasonal student market and operated seven days a week, being near the Elias B. Lopez Hall Dormitory, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences and the School of Management. Ms. Mendez reportedly served food for free to students who were penniless.
UP Mindanao recently put up the Kalimudan (“Convergence”) Student Center, with concessionaires who provide snacks and full meals. The popular offerings here include fruit shake drinks and rice pastil which is boiled rice with strips of meat wrapped in banana leaf. Ms. Mendez continues to operate a canteen in the Kalimudan. Half-servings are available upon request of students who are saving money.
To meet the demand of constituents stuck in their offices, ambulant vendors Maribel Bustamante and Rodelia “Bibing” Niegas deliver food to them. Maribel provides popular dishes like law-uy vegetable stew with rice, and lumpia, while Bibing serves rice cakes like puto, biko, palitaw, and lumpiang kamote.
Seasonally, fruits are delivered from neighborhood farms to the campus. Durian and rambutan are some of the popular fruits that are sold for unbelievably low prices.
In the most exciting development for UP constituents, a new ice-cream producer has set its production facility in Bgy. Mintal. Donna Ice Cream is a new and constant presence at university birthday parties, with a gallon of ice-cream selling for only P300. UP Mindanao’s presence has clearly brought not only more food but more fun to Bgy. Mintal.
With contributions from Mr. Rene Estremera and Assistant Professors Aileen Delima and Cyrose Millado of UP Mindanao. Email the author at email@example.com.