Monday, January 29, 2007


To this day, I sometimes treat myself to a triple scoop of dirty ice cream. They’re not actually dirty per se, but for some unknown reason, we grew up calling it as such. The ice cream vendor who plied our area back then was Mang Fermin; usually passing by our house between four and five o’clock in the afternoon. He had the same flavors — ube, queso, chocolate and vanilla. And every year on my sister Inday's birthday party, she would always ask for a gallon or two of Mang Fermin’s dirty ice cream to be served along with her cake.

I don’t recall ever knowing the price per gallon of dirty ice cream back then, but it only cost five or ten centavos for a triple scoop with a sugar cone. On the other hand, Magnolia Ice Cream’s Pinipig crunch, my other favorite, was only twenty five centavos. But twenty five centavos could also buy you a bottle of Cosmos Sarsaparilla and a piece of hopia (mooncake) at that time.

Dirty ice cream remains popular among the kids as it was when I was a youngster. However, the creamier and more costly sorbetes or ice cream products from Magnolia, Selecta and Nestle are selling well, especially during the summer season. Besides these three, there’s another dozen or so companies out there, including the manufacturer of fried ice cream.

My favorite is Fruit in Ice Cream (FIC), though still a bit of a hassle to find a store that sells its products. FIC's supreme quality and unique flavors are incredible; I love Green Tea the most. For those mindful of their diet or sugar intake, FIC offers sugar free mixed berries and caffe latte flavors. And with such marketing strategies, who can ever resist not having even a single scoop every now and then?

posted by Señor Enrique at 10:00 PM


Anonymous iskoo said...

hanggang ngayon fan pa rin ako ni mamang sorbetero, gustong gusto ko yung apa na malutong na matamis :)

January 29, 2007 10:53 PM  

Anonymous kyels said...

Reminds me of the ice cream man that I used to buy ice creams from when I was a child. But it's hard to find them now.


January 29, 2007 10:55 PM  

Anonymous jhay said...

The term 'dirty ice cream' was coined, well according to my anthropology professor, by the foreign dairy companies in order to out-compete the local ice cream vendors and sellers.

Too bad we Pinoys have never lost our sweet tooth for the sorbetes. :)

January 30, 2007 12:06 AM  

Anonymous rhodora said...

I like this ice cream - nakapalaman sa bread. Medyo messy nga lang kainin, but that's part of the thrill!

Where's the photo taken? Looks like a gym to me. May ganito ba sa NYC, Eric? :)

January 30, 2007 12:56 AM  

Anonymous carla said...

ako mahilig din sa dirty ice cream lalo na cheese at chocolate flavor.

there's an FIC branch in robinson's galleria, 3rd floor just beside red ribbon.

January 30, 2007 5:39 AM  

Anonymous niceheart said...

Ah, napangiti ako sa picture ni mamang sorbetero. :) Napapakanta tuloy ako. Mamang sorbetero anong ngalan mo. Tinda mong ice cream gustung gusto ko. -Celeste Legaspi

January 30, 2007 5:45 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Ako din, Iskoo, kung minsan pag nagpapasyal and feeling ko dapat my sorbetes sa matamis na apa din para kompleto ang lakad :)

January 30, 2007 6:39 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Not here in Manila, Kyels. They're all over from 10 in the morning to late in the afternoon :)

January 30, 2007 6:41 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Thank you very much for the info, Jhay! Now I know :)

That was rather underhanded for foreign companies to compete against local businesses and malign our local products.

Come to think of it, folks visiting NYC ought to realize that those hotdogs from street vendors aren't all that, either - those vendors are often not cognizant about sanitary practices.

January 30, 2007 6:48 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Yes, Rhoda ... sorbetes sandwich! However, I always provide the sorbetero with my own bun and would just ask him to give me a little extra serving in lieu of discount.

The closest we have in NYC that would be considered as ubiquitous are those Italian ices, though they're part of a pizzeria; not in carts that roam around.

This photo was taken at a playground in San Andres in Malate.

January 30, 2007 6:53 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Hi Carla! FIC has to expand its distribution network, but I guess it can be costly as well; providing free freezers to stores. But FIC is great, right?

January 30, 2007 6:56 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

If they have YOUTUBE, I'm sure there's a way one can record online for sharing.

Yup, we'd like to hear you sing that tune, Irene! Never heard this sorbetes song before, especially with your rendition :)

January 30, 2007 6:58 AM  

Blogger Amadeo said...

Yes, the grapinyera, the local ice cream maker maybe still extant in the provinces. Does anybody remember this? Looks like a good-sized water pail but typically made of wood, with a one-gallon tin cylinder suspended in the middle of the pail by a device with paddles like those of the modern blender and attached to a hand crank. Salted ice stacked in the empty spaces of the pail and the ice cream mixture in the cylinder is slowly cranked until it hardens.

I doubt if the present sorbeteros are still doing it this old way. But this definitely was part of their beginnings as a business enterprise. As a kid, after we harvested young coconuts, we used to make our own ice cream using the harvested coconuts right outside the house, because the melting ice made the process messy.

Thus, I have my doubts about how this got its present name, dirty ice cream.

I would equate it more with our use of the term, dirty kitchen. Of course, we do not necessarily say that the place is dirty or that what is cooked there is dirty, too. Same thing with this ice cream, which was produced in similar circumstances; and not in the much-controlled environment of a modern ice cream factory. Or even in the typical modern indoor kitchen.

January 30, 2007 8:24 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

One Sunday when I was with some friends at Roxas Boulevard, I yelled for them to come over for some dirty ice cream. You should have seen the look on the young sorbetero's face, Amadeo. As they say, "if looks could kill." I meant no malice; just grew up calling it by that name sometimes. However, I have been calling it sorbetes since then.

Yes, I've seen those ice cream makers but not here in the Philippines, at a shop in Upstate New York. But I think they now have those modern models from major appliance makers.

I was once planning to attend a week-long ice cream making classes at a school in Diliman, QC; unable to do so because of schedule conflict then. I probably will this summer.

January 30, 2007 8:45 AM  

Blogger Noypetes said...

Sorbetes or dirty ice cream a.k.a "ah-ah ice cream" truly pinoy!

We used to live next to an ice cream factory in Don Quijote, Sampaloc, Maynila. As Amadeo had mentioned, the rustic environment and the old way of mixing the cream with a wooden paddle in those tin containers sorrounded by ice with salt and rice husk, hence the term dirty ice cream. Let's not forget "Sison Ice Cream" and their famous munggo popsicles.

January 30, 2007 11:08 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Ay, oo nga! Forgot all about the famous monggo popsicles. Are these still available? But don't remember them as "Sison."

Wish I had seen one of these factories back then. The closest for me was an ice plant nearby in our house in the barrio of Subic.

Thanks, Noypetes!

January 30, 2007 11:37 AM  

Anonymous niceheart said...

Oh no, you wouldn't want to hear me sing. My kids always tell me to stop when I start opening my mouth to follow along a song. :) I'm surprised you don't know the Mamang Sorbetero song.

January 30, 2007 12:01 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Nope, don't know it at all :( But would love to hear it :)

I'm sure the kids were just teasing you, Irene! As kids, we loved hearing our mom sing; that could only mean she's in a good mood.

January 30, 2007 7:03 PM  

Anonymous rhodora said...

You don't know the song "Mamang Sorbetero", Eric, because that time it was popularized in the late 70s, you were living in NYC. What about the APO Hiking Society? Freddie Aguilar? I wonder - would you have known them?

January 30, 2007 9:50 PM  

Anonymous Nina said...

oh gosh. please. you just made me crave for those sweet icecream cones that can't hold more than one scoop. hehe, it'll break! have you tried dip `n` dots yet? I dont know if they have it there in the philippines, but it's sooo good, it's like bits of ice cream! yum yum! i`m def. getting one today, although it's freezing out. heh. i miss dirty ice cream though.. my mom hates it when i eat it. cuz apparently for her, it's "dirty". haha.

January 30, 2007 10:11 PM  

Blogger Sidney said...

Freddie Aguilar? He was very famous in Belgium with his song "anak". Nobody understood the song but he was number one for several weeks.

I am afraid of dirty ice cream. It sounds too dirty ! ;-)

January 30, 2007 10:16 PM  

Anonymous rhodora said...

Yes, Freddie Aguilar made it big internationally especially in Japan. And to think that the song didn't win in the First Metro Manila Pop Music Festival! It got its big break because when the Madame(then First Lady Imelda Marcos) heard it, she shed her famous tears. And the rest, so it is said, is history.

By the way, Eric, I don't mean to discourage others from liking 'sorbetes'. But I just have to say this, please forgive me. For us girls (during my younger days), there's a hidden reason for calling it 'dirty' ice cream. Kaya lang, I can't share it here - for girls only kasi. Hehehe. Hint: It has something to do with the hygiene of the handler (mamang sorbetero). Got it?

January 30, 2007 10:34 PM  

Blogger abssss said...

nung bata ako piso na ata isang scoop pa lang yun ah. I remember that I would get so inggit when my playmats would buy the one's in plastic cups, with the wooden spoon.

January 31, 2007 12:51 AM  

Blogger Photo Cache said...

senor ang paborito ko ay yung combination na buko/keso at mais con queso saka ube...lahat na nga. miss ko na.

January 31, 2007 12:56 AM  

Blogger dave (",) said...

Magnolia Ice Cream, now that's a classic. My most memorable Magnolia Flavor of the Month was that October Top Brass (mocha or coffee flavored?). The commercial of which featured a retreating General MacArthur vowing to return to the Philippines for the ice cream. Sadly, Magnolia hasn't regained its glory ever since the merger with Nestle. Now FIC is a new favorite for the health-conscious times.

January 31, 2007 1:00 AM  

Blogger Aja said...

Naalala ko tuloy yung mga sorbeterong tumatambay sa tapat ng UST Engineering Bldg. Palagi akong bumibili ng tinatawag kong "ice cream burger" (hamburger buns filled with ice cream) basta may pera. Pwede na rin ang sugar cone. Mas masarap lang kumain kapag nasa tinapay--Buong-buo ang subo. ;)

January 31, 2007 1:19 AM  

Anonymous LAR said...

Way back elementary days, my lola used to rent the whole cart of dirty ice cream (except for the vendor, of course :)) for my birthday. I always love dirty ice cream, even if it's dirty! :)

A very nice shot Señor!

January 31, 2007 6:33 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

You're right, Rhoda. Although I've heard of Apo Hiking Society, not familiar at all with their music catalog; same with Freddie Aguilar.

January 31, 2007 7:54 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Yes, Nina! Those are quite good as well. The very firt time I've had them though was in Yankee Stadium. It was served in a miniature plastic baseball batting hat. Really cute! The first time in Manila was at SM North mall.

January 31, 2007 7:57 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Aw come on, Sidney, if we can enjoy Binondo's estero restaurant meals, I'm sure we can enjoy some dirty ice cream now and then without any problem ... hehehe.

January 31, 2007 8:00 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

When it comes to music, now I know who your rock star son takes after, Rhoda.

For personal edification, would you please share with us what may be the true reason in which Nina's mom forbade her to indulge in a triple scoop serving of dirty ice cream?

January 31, 2007 8:02 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Huwag kang mainngit sa mga sosi mong playmates, Abssss ... sorbetes tastes better with the sweet cone :)

God, one peso could buy so many things back then.

January 31, 2007 8:05 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Hey Photo Cache! Did you try some duing your last Manila visit?

I rarely ask the sorbetero for any particular flavor. I'd usually just have him give me whatever flavor he has. They're all good naman, eh.

January 31, 2007 8:06 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Tama ka dyan, Aja. Kanya lang medyo mabigat sa tiyan pag kakain. Pero malinamnam nga!

January 31, 2007 8:08 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

With Rhoda's painting a dirty picture of the sorbetero, it was unarguably a very good idea that your Lola didn't include the sorbetero n the rental package at your children's party, LAR ... hehehe.

But wait, our Mang Fermin was such a soft-spoken gentleman and not a single neighborhood thug ever gave him a hard time out od respect.

Anyway, yes, LAR, my sister would always insist that dirty ice cream was to be served with her birthday cake :)

January 31, 2007 8:12 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

That seemed like a nice TV commercial for Magnolia, Dave. Never saw it.

BTW, Magnolia ice cream products are available in most Filipino stores in NYC. Pricey though.

January 31, 2007 8:15 AM  

Anonymous rhodora said...

Eric, napansin mo din ba - rocker mom ako? haha! BTW, my favorite Pink Floyd song is "Us and Them" from the Dark Side of the Moon album (hope my memory serves me right. Haven't heard it played for many years, although I caught a bit of it when I watched a documentation of Pink Floyd.

Back to the 'dirty' ice cream - Well - you know, when the 'sorbetero' answers call of nature, only God knows if he washes his hands at all. That's it. :)

January 31, 2007 8:17 AM  

Anonymous rhodora said...

And we girls would cringe at the thought that after using his hands there, then he will dip them back to the ice cream... Ugh! I don't know with others, but my group then had this reaction.

January 31, 2007 8:22 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

That is a classic tune from the all-time great album by Pink Floyd that to this day remains on Billboard's Top 200. You have excellent taste in music, Rhoda :)

Ay, ayon ba yon? Ngayon alam ko na. Tks :)

January 31, 2007 8:25 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Wait, Rhoda ... in that case same goes with the magta-taho. Pero mga nanay gustong-gusto ang taho. Ganoon din sa magbu-buko. Teka, halos lahat na atang male vendors dirty ... hahaha!

January 31, 2007 8:29 AM  

Anonymous rhodora said...

In fairness naman, Eric, I noticed some are using plastic protection now. Hindi tulad noon, bare hands talaga..

But seriously, I think the Bureau of Food and Drugs should look into this one as it can be a potent way of spreading diseases.

Have a nice day, Eric! Nice hanging out here.. hehehe gotta go, though

January 31, 2007 8:36 AM  

Anonymous vonjobi said...

i'm amazed! so many comments, but no one said anything about the most intriguing detail: twenty-five centavos for a pinipig crunch?! what decade was that? =)

January 31, 2007 12:43 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

It might be difficult to monitor the street vendors, Rhoda. However, I've been noticing that some cones have napkins (ooops, tissue as locally referred to here) wrapped around them as in this photo.

You're right about the spreading of diseases through untidy hands!

January 31, 2007 6:12 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Hi Vonjobi!

I guess most regular visitors to my site have already accepted and quite comfortable with the fact that the "senor" is in fact an old geezer (not an illustrado), and the last thing they want to be bothered with is walk down memory lane with me with the details, which they have enough of with their parents or grandparents for that matter ... hahaha!

But seriously, my photographs and light entries might evoke some fond memories from within them; thus, they're prompted to share their respective fond experiences. It's all about soliciting a quick smile, really.

January 31, 2007 6:22 PM  

Blogger BW said...

The name doesn't matter to me. All I care is it tastes good !

February 01, 2007 11:07 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

It's still a bit icy and not as creamy, but nonetheless, I still enjoy a triple scoop of dirty ice cream whenever I get a chance, BW!

February 01, 2007 12:32 PM  

Anonymous kars said...

i love sorbetes. I feel like a child everytime I see a passing cart of dirty ice cream, definitely, I would buy myself 2 scoops. =)

February 02, 2007 8:37 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Right, Kars! It also evokes some childhood memories whenever I buy and enjoy a couple of scopps of this sorbetes :)

February 02, 2007 11:40 AM  

Anonymous Imelda Ortega Suzara said...

Senor Enrique,
I saw your Sorbetero photo and would like to ask your permission to use it for a multicultural event 'Halo-Halo sa Toronto' (view I will put your name in credit and a link to your blog. If event happens and we make money, we will compensate you as well. Please reply by email to Thanks!

February 08, 2007 5:25 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Hi Imelda!

Sure, go ahead and use it; I'm honored to participate in promoting our culture through my humble works. Giving my name credit and a link to my blogsite would be highly appreciated as well.


February 08, 2007 6:21 AM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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