THE Aristocrat, the Philippines’ most iconic restaurant, recently gained much sought-after recognition from the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) as a historical purveyor – not just of distinctive food, but of cultural memories unique to the Manileño.
The NHCP together with the descendants of Doña Engracia Cruz-Reyes, more fondly known to Filipinos as Aling Asiang, recently unveiled the noted restaurant’s historical marker at the Roxas Boulevard branch in Manila.
The marker reads:
“Nagsimula sa isang lumang sasakyang ginamit ni Engracia Cruz-Reyes o Aling Asiang bilang tindahan ng meryenda, na lumilibot sa Luneta at iba pang pook sa Maynila, Hulyo 1936. Dito itinatag ang unang gusaling kinilalang The Admiral Dewey at kinalauna’y pinangalanang The Aristocrat, 1939. Isa sa mga tanyag na kainang nagtampok ng mga Lutung Pilipino.”
Aling Asiang’s pioneering spirit coupled with her native genius for cooking Filipino food raised the once lowly and unknown Filipino dishes to well-loved recipes recognized locally and internationally. From its humble beginnings as a snack mobile in 1936, the Aristocrat has grown into a restaurant enterprise with branches in Metro Manila, all serving quality dishes enjoyed by many.
According to the NHCP guidelines, historical significance is determined by “(w)hether the person, event, site or structure led to or resulted in profound changes in the lives of the community, the country, or a considerable segment of our population; If the changes are durable or lasting; Whether and how much the event, person, site or structure reveals something meaningful or important about our past; and, Whether the event, person, site or structure resonates or concerns us to this day.”
The Aristocrat restaurant will now be included in the NHCP’s National Registry of Historic Sites and Structures in the Philippines. [RB]