The title of American Adobo refers to the way Filipino immigrants to the United States adapt their home culture and lives to their adopted society. As Marissa (Bonnevie) asks at the beginning of the film, “Is this Philippine or American adobo?”; Tere (Picache) responds, “Adobo is adobo anywhere. There’s really no difference.” But as five schoolmates find out during their years in New York, American life definitely flavors their Filipino sensibilities.
Adobo is a process native to the Philippines, involving the stewing of pork, chicken, or both in vinegar. Usually the meat is cooked slowly in vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, and black peppercorns. Sometimes pan-fried or browned in the oven, adobo is often served with pancit noodles or white rice. Tere is the expert cook in this circle of friends, and her adobo is always the centerpiece of their meals together. Although the film does not focus on the foods served, there are mouth-watering views of a couple of other dishes associated with Filipino Americans:
--lumpia (or lumpiang), fresh spring rolls, sometimes fried and often made with bean sprouts, string beans, carrots, and small pieces of pork, beef, chicken, or shrimp, served with vinegar and chili peppers or toyo-mansi (a dip made from soy sauce and calamondin juice);
--Filipino barbeque, usually marinaded pork, skewered and cooked over charcoal.
American Adobo, ironically, merely underscores the ever-changing nature of Filipino cuisine: with roots in the Malayo-Polynesian culture, Filipino cooking has over the centuries adapted Chinese, Spanish, American, and other influences. In this, however, it is no different from native cuisines the world over, which continue to evolve as cultures come into contact and cooks borrow ingredients, techniques, and tastes from one another.
Directed by Laurice Guillen
Written by Vincent R. Nebrida
Starring Christopher De Leon as Mike, Dina Bonnevie as Marissa, Ricky Davao as Gerry, Cherry Pie Picache as Tere, Paolo Montalban as Raul, Randy Becker as Sam, Keesha Sharp as Debbie, Sandy Andolong as Emma, Gloria Romero as Gerry’s Mom, Susan Valdez-LeGoff as Gigi Manalastas, Sol Oca as Lorna, Wayne Maugans as Chris, and James C. Burns as Fireman Tony
Awards: 2003 FAP Award for Best Supporting Actress (Picache)