Thursday, February 01, 2007


Believe it or not, this is one of my favorite Manila street foods that’s also available in New York; more specifically, down in Mott Street in Chinatown. However, I rarely had one, because we would go to Chinatown for lunch or dinner. When finished, I’d be too stuffed to even think of having a bowl of taho.

I took this picture one early morning by the Welcome Rotunda at Quezon Avenue; it marks the boundary between Manila and Quezon City. I was there scouting for a shot I could take and submit as an entry to a photo contest sponsored by Quezon City cultural affairs office. And then this taho vendor passed by.

I bought a five-peso cup from him, and while he prepared it I quickly took this shot. It didn’t come out as good as I wanted it to because I’m still not that swift with manually configuring my exposure settings. I should have just set it to auto mode.

Anyway, as I enjoyed the taho, the vendor and I engaged in some small talk. His name is Jun and was born in Pangasinan. He moved to Manila when still in his young teens; hasn’t gone back to visit his hometown since then; and has been a taho vendor for a couple of years now.

Those aluminum canisters cost him about three thousand pesos. His daily expenses for the taho is about eight hundred pesos a day from which he earns an average profit of three hundred pesos. He starts his day at three o’clock in the morning and heads over to Blumentritt to get the taho, syrup (liquefied brown sugar) and sago. From Blumentritt, he would walk to his regular spot on Banawe Street near the Department of Labor building. He often sells out his taho by noontime and would head home by then.

As a single man leading a somewhat austere life, he claims he does all right with his daily earnings and even able to save a couple of bucks each day. His secret: he doesn’t engage in frivolous nightly drinking bouts as some of his friends do.

Going back to the photo contest, I was astounded to realize that although Quezon City is a wonderful place to live and work at, it isn't as colorful as the other cities in Metro Manila; neither does it possess many photogenic places of interests. Besides, the Quezon Memorial Circle, the Quezon City Park And Wildlife, La Mesa ecodam, and the UP Diliman campus, there isn't much else. Perhaps, our other blogfriends familiar with Quezon City will share with us other interesting places they know of.

The photo below was another I had taken as a possible entry to the photo contest.

Quezon City Park and Wildlife

posted by Señor Enrique at 8:10 AM


Blogger Ching said...

I love taho but it has been years since I've had it. We used to have street vendors sell in our old neighborhood in the Philippines. I can't believe they have taho in New York. I am so jealous! =P

February 01, 2007 8:36 AM  

Anonymous tutubi said...

wow, sarap taho.
even makati in the morning has those vendors

not much really in QC not like Manila even if it's the biggest city in the metro.

In fact, even Makati has more picturesque places and heritage sites than QC.

the la mesa ecopark as u mentioned is quite far for ordinary mortals. not too easy to commute to as I blogged about it.

I have a small book "Manila on Foot" where various attractions are featured but it's currently out borrowed by a friend.

i'm always in QC even if i live in Pasig (near Ferdz) and work in Makati (again near Ferdz's office)

hope to hook up with you one of these days. I received your number already in my email

February 01, 2007 9:19 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

If you have quite a large Filipino community where you're at Ching, then I guess your local Chinatown would have taho. Might be worth the effort to check it out!

February 01, 2007 10:07 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Hey Tito -- I'll just check out NBS or Fully Booked if they have a copy of "Manila on Foot" -- sounds interesting!

We might all get together starting the early afternoon tomorrow, Friday. Let me know if we should expect you.

February 01, 2007 10:10 AM  

Anonymous iskoo said...

my favorite morning drink, taho! yung vendor sa crosiings kilalang kilala na ako, he knew excatly how i wanted my taho (1 scoop of arnibal with plenty of sago)

February 01, 2007 10:11 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Sabi nga sa aking ni Jun yung taho vendor, eh, karamihan sa mga bumibili sa kanya ay yung mga suki na nya.

Ako naman, Iskoo, paminsan-minsan lang pero walang sago gusto ko :) Kay komg sabay tayo, yong sago para sa aking, bigay ko na lang sayo :)

February 01, 2007 10:16 AM  

Blogger BW said...

There's actually a Chinese soya or taho factory here in Toronto where we buy them ridiculously cheap, like a buck fifty for a liter in a plastic can :) All we do is boil the sago and prepare the red sugar caramel and presto - authentic sago ! The pic looks real neat bro :)

February 01, 2007 11:22 AM  

Anonymous carla said...

gusto ko na tuloy ng taho =) i think the last time i had one was when i went on tour with carlos celdran, and that was five months ago! i'm always in the office by 5AM so di na ako masyado makabili nun.

erm, why not try to take some pics sa ateneo? di ko nakita lahat pero lush ang garden doon at masarap kunan ng pictures.

February 01, 2007 11:44 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Wow! That's really amazing, BW! I guess if you're resourceful enough, you'd find practically anything Filipino anywhere, especially now that various Asian communities are emerging in major North American cities.

Thanks, BW!

February 01, 2007 12:19 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Sobra naman aga mo sa opis, Carla. Masyado ka namang masipag :) With that schedule, talagang kailangan mo ng taho in the morning!

Now, that's a good idea. However, I wnder if we'll need a permit to shoot within Ateneo's private grounds? Siguro pag graduate ka doon okay lang, no? Si Allen kasi graduate doon.

Thanks for the idea, Carla.

February 01, 2007 12:23 PM  

Blogger Kyels said...

Taho ... One word; masarap!

Kamusta ka?


February 01, 2007 12:30 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I wouldn't be surprised, Kyels, if one of these days you end up posting an entire entry or a poem in Tagalog! You're really picking up the language quite fast. :)

Do you have taho over there where you're at?

February 01, 2007 12:49 PM  

Anonymous ia said...

Wow, that picture of Parks and Wildlife is great. It appears it's been brought back to life, at least by your photography! ;)

Quezon City? I live and breathe QC. Try doing photo shoots in UP Diliman. I see lots of bloggers with a special affinity for the Oblation. Plus, there are so many nooks and crannies in the University that are just waiting to be discovered by the lens. One day of shooting is not enough, IMHO. ^__^

February 01, 2007 12:58 PM  

Anonymous Corsarius said...

taho! one of my favorites. though when i buy one from a passing "tahooo!" vendor, i have a larger-than-usual glass ready ;)

and...welcome rotonda? our home's just a few blocks away. back in college when i commuted from UP, welcome rotonda would always be a welcome sight (no pun intended). i've also been in and out of nearby UDMC, and i've done some shopping in welcome supermarket. so you can guess it's kind of a special place for me, hehe. :P

February 01, 2007 12:59 PM  

Blogger Ching said...


Sorry to disappoint -- pero wala kaming Chinatown dito. =(

February 01, 2007 1:13 PM  

Anonymous niceheart said...

I would also buy taho from the vendor when I was still there in Pasig. I don't know if there's any taho here in Winnipeg. Haven't seen any. But we have sago here.

I like your picture of the Quezon City park. I just posted a picture of the Red River in my blog but I like yours better. :)

February 01, 2007 2:06 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Hi Ia! Yes, I did mention UP Diliman campus and was once there to take some photos, including the historical statue of Bonifacio at Hizon Hall. A group of fellow photography enthusiasts also had a shoot trip there recently. I can imagine a lot of entries would have the UP campus as backdrop. I was looking more for other venues to shoot besides those I've mentioned.

February 01, 2007 3:08 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Yes, I used to do that, Corsarius, hand the taho vendor a mangkok instead of a cup or regular sized glass ... hehehe!

I'm not that far from Wlcome Rotonda, either. In fact, whenever the kids stay over and beg for a Jolibee breakfast, I'd always take them to that particular branch because it's oftentimes less crowded.

I hope you don't hang out at at Inihaw Encounter ... hahaha!

We're practically neighbors.

February 01, 2007 3:12 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Sorry to hear that, Ching. I guess you'll just have to come back home for a quick visit to catch up on some local goodies :)

February 01, 2007 3:13 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Have you search around in your Chinatown, Irene? Were all your kids born in Canada? I was about to ask if they remember taho.

Thanks, I'll check out your pic now.

February 01, 2007 3:14 PM  

Anonymous Ferdz said...

I love taho as well. Meron na kaming regular na naglalako dun sa bahay namin. SUki na kami kaya mas madami nilalagay na taho. Hehehe. Good luck on your entry. :D

February 01, 2007 8:39 PM  

Anonymous niceheart said...

Yes, Eric, they were all born here so they never heard of taho. But they like sago and mostly any of our foods. :)

February 01, 2007 9:27 PM  

Anonymous rhodora said...

Ummm... after sorbetes, now it's taho... :)

Fact is - I like taho. It's very nutritious and the syrup is of brown sugar, more preferrable than white.

You know what, Eric, Marco and I once had our picture taken on this same spot at Wildlife. He was five years old then. How is this park called now? As far as I know, it was named after Ninoy Aquino?

February 01, 2007 9:32 PM  

Blogger bugsybee said...

The first time I tried taho was about 33 years ago when I was in first year college. I didn't like it then so I've never tried it again but the last time I was in Manila, I told myself that the next time I see a taho vendor, I'll have to chase him so I can try this.

February 01, 2007 9:34 PM  

Blogger Amadeo said...


Your human interest angle on the taho vendor was poignant and sadly all too common in a country that has known so much poverty.

Because a family member works for a cable company, we do get at home both Filipino channels available here for a song, and then some. Anyway, when in either channel, it invariably is focused on the program WoWoWee. And if for anything, it very effectively highlights the plight of the destitute and dispossessed that could move even a heart of stone.

February 02, 2007 4:47 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Thanks, Ferdz!

From what I understand, taho is a very healthy meal so it's good for breakfast or merienda in the afternoon.

BTW, Tito and I might hook up at PhotoWorld later today. Join us if you can :)

February 02, 2007 7:01 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Oh, Okay Irene. I'm sure they would like taho once they taste it.

February 02, 2007 7:03 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Oo nga, Rhoda ... talagang pinaglalaway ko kayo :)

Only problem I have with taho is that you have to eat it once you purchased. I once bought an extra order to eat later but it hardened inside the fridge.

I think it's still called by the same name. It was my first time to visit that park. It's nice; love the lake!

February 02, 2007 7:06 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

To enjoy taho, I think it has to have enough syrup to suit one's taste. Anytime it's under-sweetened, it doesn't seem as delectable anymore. That may be one of the reasons you never liked it, Bugsybee.

February 02, 2007 7:08 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I was struck by the taho vendor's easy-going demeanor, Amadeo, which made it inviting to know more about him. He may only be a street vendor at this time, but if he keeps up his positive outlook on life, I wouldn't be surprised at all if he moves on to better things as he goes on with his life.

You have no idea how popular that noontime TV show is here in Manila, Amadeo.

WoWoWee has become a sort of a big white hope for the masses. If the success of American Idol is due to its promise of fame and fortune to its winners, WoWoWee, on the other hand, offers immediate, though temporary, relief from one's financial worries.

February 02, 2007 7:27 AM  

Anonymous rhodora said...

Good morning, Eric!

Sidewalk vending is not bad at all. I know one here in our place who sends his children to college through this trade. Those selling 'kikiams', fishballs - sa totoo lang, they're earning quite well to support their families.

February 02, 2007 7:45 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

I totally agree with you, Rhoda. It's all about attitude. There is also a husband and wife team in my neighborhood who are doing well with their sidewalk barbeque business.

February 02, 2007 8:21 AM  

Anonymous carla said...

oh yeah! the sunken garden at UP is nice at nighttime. been there last friday and afer the drizzle that time, the sky became clear and the moon came out. i think the light there is also good even at night. the full moon is out now so maybe it's better. =) share ko lang ^^

February 02, 2007 8:23 AM  

Anonymous kars said...

mahilig din ako sa taho. nakakabusog, pero nakakaumay pag medyo madami makain mo. =)

February 02, 2007 8:39 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Thanks, Carla!

As Ia suggested earlier, I ought to go back and explore it further. Sige, tignan ko!

February 02, 2007 11:33 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Tama ka, Kars. Kaya ako yung lang tig limang piso binibili ko :)

February 02, 2007 11:35 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Breakfast ko yan sa Malabon when I went back to Manila. P5.00 pa din pala.


February 03, 2007 5:51 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Hi Rey!

Five pesos is the smallest cup, but the larger one is ten. I usually get the larger one but on that particular day, I wasn't hungry and only had the five peso cup :)

February 03, 2007 7:20 AM  

Anonymous Corsarius said...

wow senor, that means i might've run into you a couple of times already without knowing it! :P i used to frequent that jollibee branch too...and speaking of that infammous 'encounter' place, i haven't had the luck to go astray into its premises...yet. you've given me the idea now. hehe!

February 03, 2007 11:10 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Oh, no, Corsarius -- I don't want to stand accused of corrupting the mind of our youth ... hahaha.

Hopefully, one of these days, I'll get a chance to meet both you and Ia :)

February 04, 2007 7:55 AM  

Anonymous Corsarius said...

it's ok, sir eric -- i absolve you of any fault :P just kidding. yes, hopefully we'll get the chance to meet up...if you're going to attend this year's iblog summit, then maybe our paths may cross. but then again, there would be too many bloggers there, hehe!

February 04, 2007 4:55 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

iblog summit? Sounds interesting. Will there be talks? I might check it out.

February 05, 2007 8:36 AM  

Blogger Francesca said...

one of your best post again this taho and qc parks and wildlife.
Galing ng perception mo about photographing, and I am learning.
keep us posted always whats latest.
Hope you achieve good things in doing these.
All the best!
your fan,

February 07, 2007 5:18 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Aw shucks :) Merci beaucoup, Francesca!

February 07, 2007 7:03 AM  

Anonymous Que te vedre!! said...

Chiming in from the SF Bay Area? Does anybody know a 'taho' source here? There must be...with all the intsiks here.


February 27, 2007 3:56 AM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

Hopefully, a fellow blogger from San Fran might know of one and let us know, QtV.

February 27, 2007 7:02 AM  

Anonymous said...

Hey, you mentioned that his daily expenses were equivalent to 800 pesos, but every day he makes an average of 300 pesos. Do you mean he loses 500 pesos every day?

how does he earn? does he recycle yesterday's batch of taho?

May 20, 2008 9:10 PM  

Blogger Senor Enrique said...

"His daily expenses for the taho is about eight hundred pesos a day from which he earns an average profit of three hundred pesos."

Most would easily surmise that his net profit is 300 from an 800p outlay. Thus, his total sales is 1100p/day.

May 21, 2008 5:51 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

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.


About Me

Name: Señor Enrique
Location: Manila, Philippines

View my complete profile

This is a Flickr badge showing photos in a set called Flickr Badge. Make your own badge here.
Señor Enrique Home
Designed by The Dubai Chronicles.
All rights and lefts reserved.