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Oct 1, 2017
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It’s 2017, and Instagram photoshoots have unceremoniously usurped saying grace as the prime pre-meal ritual. Those with an eye for composition often succeed in making mouths water, while terribly lit, excessively hashtagged food photos only succeed in making stomachs turn (if this were actual porn, it would be the equivalent of a low-budget '80s snuff piece). More to the point, posting food photos has become something of a snarky pissing contest. Care for a pâté of roasted indigenous legumes, paired with a compote of seasonal berries, served on hearty sprouted wheat bread? Don’t bother—that’s a peanut butter sandwich. But one local Facebook group may have just turned the tables for good.

What’s Your Ulam Pare? is the digital version of a Filipino salu-salo: Pinoys from all over the world share photos of what they’re having for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. (Desserts and snacks are welcome, too.) But this isn’t like any other Facebook group—for such an arguably superficial topic, WYUP has managed to incubate a lighthearted, supportive culture among its members. “[The group] was started by a group of friends and family who just loved to share what they were eating,” shares AJ Braga, Jr., one of the page’s co-creators and moderators. “We wanted a place where we could share our blessings (ulam) with one another, combined with a little humor. Marc Philip Yu created the group, and we settled on the name together.”

WYUP has enjoyed some insanely rapid growth, with 61,018 members as of this writing. According to Braga, the moderators are working round-the-clock to filter out “bad vibes” that go against the spirit of the group; true enough, arguments very rarely break out in the comment sections, because what is there to fight about? When food is involved, we’re all too eager to put down our weapons and pick up utensils instead. And the food photography is topnotch:

But the group definitely doesn’t fall short of posts played out just for laughs:

You can find members of all ages in the group, which makes for a unique community. Filipino millennials and boomers aren’t bickering—they’re actually getting along. The former have even managed to turn ‘90s and early-aughts lingo on its head. It’s derivative linguistics, and it’s hilarious. “The ‘original’ WYUP members were [a bit older]. We would share our daily food experiences by using terms like ‘pare,’ ‘more power,’ and ‘idol,’” shares Braga. “The new school millennials—the kids from colleges and universities—who joined the group would take these terms, play with them, and make them their own.” At first, the WYUP language might overwhelm you, but you’ll get the hang of it after just a few scrolls:

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A little confused? Don’t worry. We gotchu, fam. Here’s a quick rundown of the terms you’re likely to encounter when you join the group:

“Lodi” - idol

“Repa”/“repapips” - pare

“Aports” - tropa

“Orb” - bro

“Petmalu” - malupet

“Chibog” - kain

“Rapsa” - sarap

“Sogbu” - busog

“Matsala” - salamat

“More power” - a common phrase used in the group, meant as encouragement or used to “bump” a post

“Werpa”/“pawer” - a derivative of “more power”

“Ka-ulam” - a term used to address the members of the group

And the best thing about this group? Saying grace, a trademark of Filipino-Catholic culture, is actually a mandated group rule: “Pray before you eat,” says the penultimate line of the group’s pinned post. It’s not meant to alienate non-Catholics at all; it’s a nod to the good-natured core of the group, reminding everyone that our need for food, our love for food, is a binding force in these trying times. “Filipinos just love to eat. My parents-in-law taught me that food tastes better when shared,” says Braga. “And that family is second only to God.” It’s evident that the creators want to bring back the joy of a Sunday family lunch, the warmth of a dinner for two, and the joyous relief of a decadent dessert for all its members, wherever they may be in the world. Ano pa’ng hinihintay niyo, mga repapips? Chibog tayo!

 

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