The Other Ice Cream Man and His Street Ice Cream
I have promised two great people, my sister Missy Mabugat-Torralba and a virtual friend on Facebook and a promising photographer, Jun Kong, that I’d write a hub if they could provide me with photos and give them credits. They are back home which is the Philippines but live in different cities. Through Facebook, I communicated with them for my ‘special’ request to take pictures of our ‘ice cream man’ or who we call in Tagalog as the ‘sorbetero’. Thank you Missy and Jun for the photos!
The Other Ice Cream Man
I am now residing in Canada and the ice cream man here who drives an ice cream van with lots of cold and frozen treats (please check another hub link below) excites me each time I hear his truck inside the neighbourhood. The swirly softy ice cream scooped into a crunchy waffle cone, dipped in melted chocolate and watching the chocolate dipping freeze into its solidity, is my ‘all-time’ favourite! Though there are many times when I call it a ‘not-so-lucky-day-no-treat-my-way’ because some spare change is not available, I still feel a good rush of a happy mood just hearing the sound of the van chimes playing repeatedly in the air. It reminds me of a mechanical chime my brother and I took out from inside of one of our toys when we were just kids.
In the Philippines, our ice cream man is an ice cream vendor who walks around side streets, parks or plazas (big and small) in many cities and towns. He doesn’t drive a special four-wheel van filled with ice cream varieties and with a musical chime that we truly are familiar with, bringing back childhood nursery songs playing in our heads. Mamang Sorbetero (Filipino version of mister Ice Cream Man) drives his ice cream cart with bicycle pedals or with much willingness pushes this small, conveniently movable two-wheeled cart by walking street to street. Instead of a musical chime, he carries and waves his bell with a wooden handle high up in the air. The little bell rings and rings sending a magnetic sound drawing children and adults alike towards his cart, rushing for his ice cream delights. He wears a ball cap or a straw hat and on his shoulder or around his neck hangs a towelette to keep him cool during the sunny days. Whether mamang sorbetero makes good profit or less by the end of the day, he never misses to give anyone a hearty smile. These ice cream vendors selling street ice cream are one of the humble, kind and charming people I’ve ever met.
The Street Ice Cream
I guess I won’t really know how this ice cream vendor is called in my Visayan dialect where Cebu (my hometown) is a city in the Visayas. Visayas is one of the island groups of the Philippines. So calling him the same ‘sorbetero’ still is fine. He is just one and the same ice cream man who waves his bell on the air (sounding a little teenie than that of a church bell of course, lol) and pushes his fancy ice cream cart up and down the streets or roaming the streets pedalled from a bicycle that’s filled with three or four tall tins of different flavoured, deliciously and locally made ice cream. The ice cream cart is painted with designs or mere words with or without the name of the operating owners. Some carry a huge umbrella. The colours of the ‘sorbetes’ ice cream are yellow, purple, brown and sometimes a white ice cream. Yellow is mango flavour, purple is yam, pink is oops, there’s no pink (I must be dreaming or was there a pink?), brown is chocolate and white is coconut. And now there’s the green ‘pandan’ flavour. Pandan (Pandanus odorus) is a fragrant ‘screw pine’ plant found and is used widely in Asia for its sweet exotic smell.
It’s the first ever in my entire life that I hear and learn its official name-- the Dirty Ice Cream. “Geez, why this name?” I thought. It sounds so discriminating! I’ve never heard about this name back during my childhood until the day I left the Philippines to come to Canada. We simply call it the ‘ice cream’ and it is not a dirty ice cream! Since it is sold out on the sidewalks and street after street, that’s how it got its name. “Why can’t it just be named as the Street Ice Cream?” doesn’t it sound more pleasing? I’m still debating on it but nobody to debate with but myself, hmp! Its simplicity doesn’t give less taste, yet the ‘street ice cream’ is light and tasty to our delight that a coneful isn’t enough at all. I remember when I was still in the Philippines, that I have to grab a tall glass or a large cup from the kitchen and run straight to the gates with my tall container to hold lots of my best flavour. I’ll be swaying my hips, switching my knees back and forth, dancing to music that’s not there because I am the only one who could hear it in my mind. I have also tried grabbing the bell and ringing it myself. I felt good and enjoyed it. The neighbourhood children didn’t care much about the sun and the ice cream fast melting because all of us were fast eaters too! Then off we play!
Mamang Sorbetero is here...
“Mamang Sorbetero” or Mr. Ice Cream Man is always friendly, smiling, kind and most time generous if one kid pleads to him to add an extra scoop. We wait for him around a hot sunny noon break, the time right after lunch hour and when our parents or the oldies go for a nap. My brothers and I, along with our little sis (Missy) as the youngest had to take our afternoon naps too. I remember that I have to sneak out from bed to catch Mamang Sorbetero. His little bell with a wooden handle gives out enough ringing tune that reaches my bedroom, sending ring-ti-ling-ti-ling straight into my eardrums! I open the gates and join the other neighbourhood children, waiting for my turn with my huge cup. “Fill it up, Manoy,” I beg. I charm him with a smile, my innocence and with my hair hanging down neatly in a thick braid on my back tied with a coloured ribbon matching what I wear. And guess what? He does it all the time. How can he resist his young, loyal customers? Or is it my charm that puts the ice cream man into a spell? I go back inside the house savouring my favourite ice cream flavour, the purple coloured one called “Ube”, made from purple yams while my siblings were fast napping. “Ummm, yum!”
A beautiful video of the sorbetes and sorbetero. Video Credit: Ayla Liberato on vimeo.com
Give yourself a treat from my other hubs...
- The Ice Cream Man is Here
A poem for those days reminiscing of a sorbetero (ice cream man) when he comes around with my favourite purple 'ube' sorbetes (ice cream). Also included in this hub are two separate English translations of the original Tagalog song- "Mamang Sorbetero
- Ice Cream Truck and I Have No Buck!
It is springtime and time for chimes. An ice cream truck comes around on Sunday mornings, rolling slow down the neighbourhood. What do you do when you hear the truck coming?