Island Food – Filipinos in the Bahamas

Ya’ll people fan out like nobody’s business.”  

That’s what my buddy said as we waited for our order at Little Philippines Restaurant, in downtown Nassau, Bahamas.319906129_70d00cebe0_o.jpg

The proprietor, Lorna, was like an auntie but I don’t think she took me for a Filipino when I walked in. Maybe its because I was dressed a little different? Or because my friend was with me?

Anyways, I pulled out my ‘rough but still admirable-for-the-effort Tagalog’ to verify my card carrying-status. If my ‘po-smattered’ conversation didn’t give it away, then surely my order would. No foreigner would walk into a Filipino restaurant and say ‘PO’… Ok, well — No foreigner would walk into a Filipino restaurant period. But really, no foreigner would walk into a Filipino restaurant and put down the following order: – Dinuguan – Pinakbet – Pork Adobo – Kare-Kare – Caldereta ng Kambing 319906204_4c0d82dde3_o.jpg

Shortly after ordering, the Bahamanian waiter informs us “WE DYON’T HYAVE ANEH MORE DINU-GWAN.” My friend says, “I guess the shipment of pig’s blood didn’t come in today.” Furthermore, they don’t have any Caldereta either, probably because there wasn’t a spare goat around that day. What there was, was a lot of rice. Mounds and mounds of it. And karaoke. Mounds and mounds of it. 319905978_7288dd4885_o.jpg

Group by group, Filipinos began to pile into Little Philippines. Lorna whispered to me, “They work on the cruise ship and today is their last day here. Last night, they were singing karaoke until 4am.” Evidently, these Filipinos were just waking up, because as we were eating our lunch, they were feasting on Tapsilog and Sinangag. 

Leave it to my bud and I, who like to think we’re a little more informed and educated than the average joe, to have a conversation about ethnic people in the diaspora, globalization, the worldwide export of labour, brain drains and shriveling 3rd economies… while we eat our pork, which by the way, is slave food – check your history. 

For me, it was surreal to be in a Filipino restaurant, eating Filipino food and singing Filipino karaoke songs with real-life Filipinos — in the Bahamas, of all places. As amusing the idea was to me, I didn’t bask in it long enough to forget that these Filipinos were Overseas Contract Workers, or OCWs, many of whom had left their families in order to work and provide money through remittance. This small restaurant was their only connection to home. In fact, my pork sweats had me momentarily thinking that I was sitting in a restaurant in Malate right off Roxas or something. 319906358_9082750ca2_o.jpg

One by one, they came in. And they all seemed to know each other as evidenced by the patented Filipino head-nod salutation. No head nod to me, though. I guess I didn’t come across as Filipino to them either. Didn’t matter that we were heaping the bagoong on our food like it was going out of style – they knew I was different. 

By the time night fell, we saw the same Filipinos all up in the club, partying with the best of them. Determined to at least be acknowledged, I said what’s up to some of my brethren. 319905834_21fe838a2a_o.jpgA few of them were from my mom’s province. One girl who was from Manila, told me that she had a cousin in Toronto and do I know her (I didn’t), and that she’d always wanted to visit Canada, but could never afford it. 

All this said while we both dropped stacks of green bills at the bar, not thinking where we came from and how we got here and how we really are so different. Same club, same music, same drinks and same cash… just really different ways we got to this moment.

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19 Responses to “Island Food – Filipinos in the Bahamas”

  1. I actually did see this restaurant when we were in the Bahamas in December. We wanted to try the place out, but we opted to try out some Bahamian food instead. Thanks for the article. Now we know what to expect next time we go there.

  2. Im goin to Nassau this Sunday and I’m searching online for Filipino food and WOW thanks a lot for this article!I will definitely look for this little restaurant. I’m currently working and residing in Turks and Caicos Islands, Bahamas’ neighbor island. I really hope they will have dinuguan or bangus this time coz I’m really craving for those!U didnt mentioned the price, but I wish their affordable!

  3. thanks for this blog. check http://www.pinoysabahamas.org for additional info.

  4. Actually there are two filipino restaurants in downtown nassau. Aside from little philippines, the other restaurant is Cabalen. It’s more spacious than little philippines. However a little far. More or less 5 blocks from little philippines. but the food are both great. tatak pinoy!

  5. Where is the Cabalen Restaurant? We have visited the Little Philippines twice and both times, the place was close. We will be in Nassau for a few more days. Appreciate any info. Thanks..

  6. On our last day in the Bahamas, we managed to finally have lunch at the Little Philippines restaurant. The owner (I forgot her name) was very friendly. The food was great. Have a nice day. We are back in Chicago working. Arghhhhh….

  7. I went to the Bahamas surprised to hear tagalog around the dock areas of the cruise ship. I just couldn’t believe it.

  8. Could someone provide contact details for the restaurant? I would like to export philippine products in the Bahamas. Thanks!

  9. Celebrated my 50th birthday on Paradise Island in December of ’07, and was equally and pleasantly surprised to find Little Philippines. I too asked the same incredulous question, and was humbled when our hardworking kababayans came in.
    Just like Edwin who asks for contact info, I too would like to contact the managers or owners. It is a small but powerful showcase of our culture and I would like to talk to someone so I can help make that representation better.
    Edwin-if you don’t mind sharing that info, that would be great.

  10. To all filipino in the bahamas Please support our Philippines representative for the upcoming Miss Universe Pageant she really needs our support.

    Thank you

  11. Kumusta po kayong lahat diyan sa Bahamas! Ako po si Ricardo. Nandito po ako ngayon sa North Carolina, USA. Nandiyan po ako sa Bahamas sa Aug. 22, 2009. Manonood po ako ng Miss Universe. Sana po ay magkitakita tayo diyan para suportahan si Bianca Manalo. Mag-isa lang po ako. Sana mameet ko kayo para may kasama akong mamasyal. Ito po ang aking email address single051368@yahoo.com. Please contact me. i’ll contact you. Thanks!

  12. http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/entertainment/08/18/09/pinoys-bahamas-all-out-support-rps-miss-universe-bet

    Hello po sa lahat. I work here in the Bahamas and I can say that we have been giving our full support for our candidate. Bianca gets the loudest cheer from the audience, well, second to Miss Bahamas, of course. Sabi nga sa report, there are 500 “landed” OFWs here. Those from the cruise ships, which docks 2-3 times a week here in Nassau, are not yet included. To Ricardo, its easy to spot Filipinos here. They always come in groups. Have fun!!! As for the restaurants, I think Cabalen food is better. Cabalen is located along Bay Street, corner Elizabeth St. When you see the Gucci Store, I guess it will be 1 or 2 blocks more.

  13. of course cruise ships are expensive but of course the trip is very nice :.’

  14. I am really thankful to this topic because it really gives up to date information “*”

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  19. Could you help me locate a Filipina there in the Bahamas?

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