Long Live our Pancit Kanin!
Our family’s dining table during special occasions will not be considered complete without the presence of pancit on it. It has been that one meal, which is not just a family’s favorite, but a dish that serves as a bond between each of my family members all throughout the years. The history of pancit can be traced to the Chinese businessmen who went to the Philippines to trade stuff. In an article of Philstar global, they explained that the term pancit (as expounded thoroughly by medical anthropologist and columnist Michael L. Tan) came from Hokkien (a.k.a Fookien from Fujian province, where most of the original Chinese migrants in the Philippines came from) term pien sit which technically means ‘ready-made food’ since pien means “finished’ or more so ‘cooked food.’ Over the course of time, pancit in the Philippines has been best described as a noodle meal. Filipinos even attached adjective to the word to add up some individuality into it like pancit bihon (rice noodles), pancit canton or miki (wheat noodles), pancit sotanghon (soybean threads, a.k.a glass noodles or vermicelli), pancit guisado (sautéed), and pancit luglog (dipped in boiling water). The origin of pancit might be of Chinese roots but the Philippines has incorporated lots of culture in this cuisine that it makes it looks like we already own the dish. My family is one of the many Filipino families whose love for malinamnam na pancit on their dining tables during celebrations is immeasurable.
Pancit is not commonly known to people being a staple meal during the Spanish occupations in the country and has actually been called “takeout food.” In an article by pepper.ph, the convenience of pancit has evolve from being a “takeout food only” to being one of Filipino culture ways of representing significant life milestones such as weddings, baptisms, graduations, Christmases, New Years, and birthdays. Also, pancit will always be one of our symbols for long life because of its shape mainly (given that the one who will cook the pancit will not cut off the noodles until serving). Filipino’s way of cooking pancit offers many and different varieties all of us really enjoy. As I said on the previous passages, there are different varieties of pancit circulating around regions of the country which shows their society’s individuality such as pancit canton, pancit bihon guisado, sotanghon guisado, pancit luglog, pancit batil patong, pancit habhab, pancit lomi, pancit langlang, and the list stretches on forever.
In my family, our take to the growing kind of pancit in the country is our very own pancit kanin. Pancit kanin is a complete meal wherein the pancit is being eaten together with rice. The pancit, toppled with small servings of other dishes (can be giniling, menudo, kaldereta, kilawin, dinuguan, etc.), serves as the main dish. Given that each kind of pancit represented the trademark produce of each region, pancit kanin mirrors not only our family’s way of life but more of my town’s culture as well.
My whole family came from the city of San Jose in Nueva Ecija. San Jose City is known for being an agricultural town producing chief products rice and onion, as well as corn, sorghum, mango, livestock, and poultry. Our town was best known years ago through the Tanduyong festival (celebrated every fourth Sunday of April) which highlights dancers from different schools and organizations around town outfitted in striking, multi-colored native costumes showing off Tanduyong, a kind of onion planted in the city. Tanduyong festival is later on replaced by Pagibang Damara celebration which is the townspeople’s way of celebrating the bountiful harvest of the year. Pagibang Damara showcases San Jose’s original dish, pancit kanin, in the celebration. San Jose City takes pride in owning the idea of mixing two perennial food item- rice and pancit- into one convenient meal. I just recently found out that my town is the very first city in the country to fully establish and used the term pancit kanin. According to ABS-CBN News Online, pancit kanin has its origin on the local eatery, Christy’s eatery (located at San Roque St., Brgy. Rafael Rueda) on 1990 when a customer requested pancit to be his main dish in lieu of any other dishes offered that time in the said eatery. Since then, the growing demand for pancit kanin spreads all throughout the neighboring barangays in our town. San Jose City’s pancit kanin is one of the biggest representations of the culture of our society. Since the town is considered the onion capital of the Philippines as well as part of being the rice capital of the country, my town’s take on recreating the famous pancit is no other than incorporating something our city is well-known of- rice.
In other regions of the Philippines, their variety of pancit constitutes to what they are popularly known of. The pancit Habhab of Lucena, Quezon which is served in cones, the La Paz Batchoy of Iloilo wherein they incorporate guinamos (Visayan bagoong/fish paste) in their broth to give a sweet-salty-brine taste to the dish, the pancit Malabon (originally from Malabon), the pancit Puti (best known in Manila) which relies mainly on the flavor of the broth, the Lomi Batangas which is popular in Southern Tagalog areas and has a mark in Chinese fast foods, the pancit ng Bataan which has tons of tinapa (tinapa, according to Luchi Roman Reyes, is one of the best products of Bataan), the pancit Vigan whose noodles are made freshly from Batac, the pancit Marilao (bulacan) whose toppings are crumbled day-old ukoy, and the pancit Langlang which is famous to the Tagalog region. It is evident that a certain region represents their own pancit through the culture of their society both of the past and the current time. Pancit kanin, my family and I’s favorite among all these variety of pancit in the country, (although with bias because it originated in my hometown), reflects how thrift we are as a family and community.
I live in a society where money is very tight since it only comes seasonally, mainly after the harvest times. I was raised in a community where the most convenient food, without sacrificing our health, is important and a must to help us meet the ends. Apart from all these things, the presence of pancit/pancit kanin during family gatherings or even during ordinary meals does not only complete our being Filipino but bring us the concept of having a stronger bond with each other once again. Although pancit kanin is just like any other Filipino dish my mother or my grandmother cooks for the whole family, it kinds of gives me the feeling that a pancit dish paired with a freshly cooked rice can just fix about everything.
Maybe for others pancit kanin is just like any other affordable and cheap food out there, but for me, my family, and my hometown, pancit kanin speaks to who we are as individuals, family, and as a whole community. Pancit promises long life as we eat it, and the more I grow to love this dish, the more I wish it continue to tie every family stronger. Pancit kanin symbolizes not only our family’s tradition during every family gathering but more of the Filipino families who strive for their everyday living. Pancit kanin, along with its long noodle strips, helps every growling stomach to peace, every family to meet the ends successfully, and to every hope and dreams that becomes true.
I may sound like I’m so yesterday, but this will all just boil down to only one thing- my love for pancit kanin. Yes, long live our pancit kanin!