I FINALLY got hold of a precious copy of the Pampanga Medical Society’s latest creative tome entitled “PUPUL: Grassroots Kapampangan Cooking” after more than a year since it was published amidst the pandemic. Let me just say that it is well worth the wait as I am treated to a veritable feast of the eyes and Kapampangan intangible cultural heritage. This is the latest work in the prolific partnership between the Pampanga Medical Society through the leadership of its president Dr. Alice Tuazon Buan and the multi-awarded multimedia artist and educator Ruston Banal which produced the internationally recognized “TANAM” coffee table book a few years earlier.

The Pampanga Medical Society is, by itself, one of the most historic organizations of professionals in our Pampanga established in 1934. It is also an active presence in the City of San Fernando and a well-loved partner in governance, where it is part of several local special bodies including the Multi Sectoral Governance Council. Aside from its numerous health care advocacies, it is fascinating to note that the PMS also takes care of the Kapampangans’ spirit through its heritage preservation advocacy.

“Pupul” features well-loved recipes from sun-up to sundown, crafted by 30 of the society’s doctor-members and family, shared from culinary traditions that have been passed on through generations and utilizing native Kapampangan ingredients. Beyond the 30 doctors, these are not just 30 recipes, but 30 stories, 30 families, 30 communities, and 30 Kapampangan hometowns that are brought to the fore. Some recipes are new discoveries for me while some are different versions of my favorite Kapampangan comfort foods, speaking of a rich culinary tradition that is seemingly boundless as it is dynamic and timeless.

On a personal note, I am proud of my doctor-friends who have made it in the book’s pages, knowing that this is a lighter, less clinical, less stressful, and more creative side to them. Through the years I have had the chance to enjoy meals with them and I look forward to being invited to partake of more heirloom recipes in their homes when the pandemic is over. Let me just say how proud of you I am and how happy I am for you in this cultural achievement kuya Allen and ate Selle Mallari, kuya Jae De Guzman, and kuya Jimbo Dela Cruz.

I have had the privilege of working with the grand dame of Kapampangan women, Dr. Letty Yap for decades now and I truly appreciate how she cares for me and my daughter Sunis. The recipes in this book from her kitchen are added feathers to her bountiful contributions to the Kapampangan people she loves so well. I have also met through the years committed and civic-minded PMS officials who represent their organization so well such as breastfeeding advocate Dr. Joy Velez Fernando, former presidents Dr. Agnes Fernando and Dr. Eric Bartolo, and Dr. Paul Baltazar. It is a delight to know your wonderful kitchen stories too.

Hats off to Dr. Alice Tuazon Buan for cooking up a feast of a book for us, and the rest of the Kapampangan doctors who doffed off their white coats and donned their aprons for us in sharing their culinary expertise this time, namely Dr. Randy Pena, kuya Mike Mangulabnan, Dr. Paolo Castillo, Dr. Antonio Morales, Dr. Claro Cayanan, Dr. Reino Gran, Dr. Rodolfo Pacheco, Dr. Alma Macaspac, Dr. Catherine Caylao, Dr. Gil Francis Pelayo, Dr. Maria Rosario Gamboa, Dr. Beng Lagman Calilung, Dr. Vianney Marie Mandapat, Chef Al Lawrence Fernando, and my kinakapatid kuya Jonathan Peralta.

Kuya Ruston’s forte as a cultural worker is evidenced in the informative and well-researched chapters that are easy to read and easy to follow, reflecting on a typical Kapampangan meal throughout the day and working on staples of our kitchens too. Robert LaRue’s stint as the editor is one of the book’s highlights and gives us insights on how much more Kapampangan he is than some Kapampangans are! I look forward to more collabs from these two in the future, especially in promoting Kapampangan cultural heritage.

My only regret is that copies of Pupul are now running low and I do hope that the PMS will consider producing an easily downloadable e-book edition or a more accessible paperback edition so that this beautiful book will find its way to each and every Kapampangan heart and hearth.