A friend sent me patis from Malabon

This is a bottle of patis from Malabon, a city known for, among other things, its patis-making industry. A good friend sent it over after reading about how I was having trouble finding real patis, as a lot of the stuff sold in grocery stores are “patis-flavored.”

Patis, or fish sauce, is a byproduct of bagoong (fish paste). According to the internet, it’s actually a recent invention. Some sources say it was discovered in the early 1900s, some say after WWII. All sources that I’ve seen agree that it wasn’t mass produced till the late 40s at the earliest.

My friend is from Malabon, and they bought this bottle from their family suki in the palengke (the stall their family always buys from in the wet market). We met because we were supposed to do a cooking show together back when I still worked in TV. They had to drop out of the project but for some reason, meeting once was enough for us to turn an acquaintance into a friendship.

It’s always amazed me that as awkward as I am, there are the few but precious instances where I manage to connect with people even after just one meeting. This friend is one of them. They’re easy to get along with, and are kind and generous and fun. They also run @chiliasylum, a food business that I am quite the fan of, particularly their chili chutney and their mechado.

You can tell that someone is into food when they send you condiments for fear that your food is bland! Thank you, friend! I shall cherish this bottle of golden sauce till the very last drop.


Yvette Natalie U. Tan is a multi-awarded author of horror fiction and the Agriculture section editor of Manila Bulletin.