YUSOPH J. MANDO: promoting processed, clean, halal food for the Filipinos
It was last last week when this person had visited a Malaysian restaurant in Quiapo district, Manila. There he had ordered Nasi Goreng, and at the same time thinking about what goes on in the so-called Muslim town.
To most people, Muslim town in Quiapo is known for the Mosque made during the Marcos regime, if not a significant number of Muslims living there, mostly selling pirated DVDs in the well-known Quiapo Film Institute (sorry for the unofficial term on that area known for stalls selling pirated DVDs.)
Actually, it was a second time around for yours truly to go both in that district as well as the restaurant situated there. Aside from having Nasi Goreng being served, this writer had sought one of the familiar faces talking with a Muslim colleague in another table. Quite reluctant at first to meet him, but since he's friendly and willing to have a conversation, he met that guy, whom happens to be the owner of the restaurant. And his name is Yusoph Mando.
Mando encouraged to eat halal for everybody not just Muslims alone. Citing cleanliness (both spiritual and the way being prepared) as one cause, he expressed not just concern about his fellow brothers in faith about the food they eat, but a need for a strict implementation of Halal (permissible) rules from the ingredient to the utensils being used in cooking and in serving, so is his establishment.
Born and raised in Basilan, Mando had set sail for Manila in search of greener pastures aside from pursuing his studies, and there he had got opportunities from selling water to selling cars and even providing internet services in his hometown. The results of his perseverance, hard work turned into an investment by setting up his own Pamanganan restaurant.
|Exterior of Pamanganan restaurant|
Making Halal truly acceptable
Pamanganan, according to Mando, is more than just a restaurant but service to his fellowmen. His concern about the dietary habits of muslims, and even Christians around Quiapo district in Manila brought an idea about a restaurant whose foods being served are strictly adhere to requirements concerning Halal from the market to the kitchen. And also with his expertise in cooking he did offered a variety of international cuisine with Malaysian as its main showcase with its Nasi Goreng and Teh Arik, although most people had loved his version of Spicy Korean noodles called Mami Lala, and his halal pizza. These foods stated had undergone requirements for being permissible for consumption especially for a Muslim.
Mando, in strictly adhering to the needs of Muslims (and even Christians), particularly in their dietary habits even said that he himself refrained from buying goat or sheep in a place together with pigs, nor fish simply dipped in its own blood trying to make itself fresh by the vendor; and he even stated that some, if not most food manufacturing companies whose foods bearing with halal seal often failed to justify its legality especially when the manufacturer also did things inimical for the requirements used in Islam, especially those of cleanliness and procedure in manufacturing processed food.
That somehow made Mando's Pamanganan also manufacture its own Soy Sauce, vinegar, and even fruit juices, making himself the first Muslim entrepreneur to manufacture halal-certified condiments. The chicken being served at the restaurant also came from his compound wherein chickens are to be slaughtered in accordance to islamic law in order to make itself permissible for consumption.
So far, his Pamanganan restaurant is accepted by both Muslims and Christians alike. And Mando was even appraised for his interfaith dialouge and peace advocacy for Mindanao especially war torn Basilan; trying to break the perception about Muslims as warmongers and misogynists, that somehow made government and rebel alike, priest or imam had appreciated his moves not just in his entrepreneurship but his call for unity and peace that is, based on social justice and mutual respect.
|Yusoph Mando having a speech with fellow Moros|
Promoting understanding through language
Other than engaging in his Halal food business, Mando did promote Yakan culture through his Yakan-English-Tagalog dictionary. And like any other dictionaries that include other Filipino dialects, Mando wanted to enrich the Filipino language by including Yakan words in his book, citing the fact that most Filipinos are unfamiliar with Yakan, both as an ethnicity and a language being spoken in the island of Basilan.
|Mando, along with fellow Muslims and Christians |
in an Interfaith Peace Forum
It seemed to be interesting though to some Filipinos with a taste for adventure by understanding the culture of other ethnicities in its own homeland. Quiapo's Muslim town, actually, is full of ethnicities that also composed the BangsaMoro homeland. Maranao, Tausug, Sama, Higaonon, as well as Yakan and other Moro people living together side by side knowing that outside their respective homelands comes a greater challenge in which Yusoph Mando is one of them.
And by promoting the said language via his magum opus, it cultivates an accurate understanding of the said language, culture, and to dispel exaggerate interpretations such as his ethnicity as well as others whom also contribute in his work.
And speaking of challenge, it includes breaking the Moro stereotype as a mere kris-wielding warrior running berserk if not a pirated DVD vendor facing tremendous risk. Yes, most of them admire those who afford to raise the Kris and the Barung to protect themselves and their communities, but they also wanted peace and cooperation with people of other faiths and ethnicities, Much more of uplifting themselves like any other Filipino. True to see about these people as vendors of pirated DVDs, but in spite of regulations if not massive confiscations of what they sell, still most of them afford to sell knowing that it is their means of survival.
But Mando, a merchant by trade, is one of the few that afford to make a change in his adopted community. He afford to have an air conditioned, clean, and orderly restaurant as compared to those that failed to show sanitation in spite of tiles in its floors. For it is part of Muslim culture to be sanitary in its own surroundings, much more that it promotes food that is clean and godly to people irrespective of faiths.
Thus the message is clear in this writer's words as summarised:
"Peace and Love, Paz y Amor, السلام والمحبة"
After a series of talks, this writer bid thanks to Mr. Yusoph Mando and his Pamanganan restaurant in accomodating a Christian as well as savor the food being served such as Nasi Goreng, and a free vegetarian pizza Mr. Mando had ordered.
Pamanganan Restaurant is located at G/F Saimah II Hotel, 310-D Elizondo St., Muslim town, Quiapo district, Manila.