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The Other Ice Cream Man and His Street Ice Cream

Updated on March 27, 2013
An ice cream treat after a good swim.
An ice cream treat after a good swim. | Source
Source

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!


Crunchy light cones
Crunchy light cones | Source
Noy Sito, the ice cream man is a neighbour back home. He goes to his usual spot in the afternoon selling ice cream and that is why it is easy to spot him.
Noy Sito, the ice cream man is a neighbour back home. He goes to his usual spot in the afternoon selling ice cream and that is why it is easy to spot him. | Source

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.


My future is sweet and bright. Ice cream is a great delight!
My future is sweet and bright. Ice cream is a great delight! | Source
You don't have to look for me from afar. I'll come to you where ever you are.
You don't have to look for me from afar. I'll come to you where ever you are. | Source
My friend Jun has to pose for me, perhaps? But must buy ice cream too for this shot and treat himself, lol.  I owe you ONE here in Toronto, Jun! Thanks!
My friend Jun has to pose for me, perhaps? But must buy ice cream too for this shot and treat himself, lol. I owe you ONE here in Toronto, Jun! Thanks! | Source

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!


Ice Cream Man with his convenient crate of frozen delights.
Ice Cream Man with his convenient crate of frozen delights. | Source
From the streets to the shores on a hot sunny day, for your cold treat, I'm on my way!
From the streets to the shores on a hot sunny day, for your cold treat, I'm on my way! | Source

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

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    • profile image

      Gerry 2 years ago

      A few years ago I'd have to pay someone for this innoamrtiof.

    • coffeegginmyrice profile image
      Author

      Marites Mabugat-Simbajon 4 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

      I miss the sound of the ice cream man's bell ringing in the air and of course, his simple but delicious ice cream! Thank you for your visit, flashmakeit.

    • flashmakeit profile image

      flashmakeit 4 years ago from usa

      That was a delightful story about the ice cream man and how some ride bikes with large amounts of ice cream ringing their bell.

    • coffeegginmyrice profile image
      Author

      Marites Mabugat-Simbajon 5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

      CloudExplorer, your dropping by puts me on Cloud 9! And I enjoyed the thoughts you've shared. Ice Cream memories, yes, they stay and not melt away. Isn't it weird that you can feel its coldness too, lol!

      I like the video too with its artistic editing. Thanks for your votes! Have a sweet day, CloudExplorer!

    • coffeegginmyrice profile image
      Author

      Marites Mabugat-Simbajon 5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

      That is really cool to know, Gypsy. I'm a happy ice cream fanatic delighted that you're liking and sharing this hub. Thank you :)

      Go, melt your heart away and grab a cone, or make it a cup! Love, Tess

    • CloudExplorer profile image

      Mike Pugh 5 years ago from New York City

      I like this hub here about the ice cream man, we have Mr. Softy here in New York City, and we love eating yummy Ice Cream as well. That cool familiar bell song he plays makes all the children run outside for they crave to eat some, and mostly during the summer time when its super hot out.

      Oh yeah I want some right now, unfortunately I cannot eat it anymore, because I can only eat organic foods with a diet change and all but the idea, and memories of eating it, is still in my head, LOL.

      Lovely hub here it brought back so many memories, and I love the video at the end, great editing whomever filmed it. Thumbs up & out!

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 5 years ago from Riga, Latvia

      Voted up and interesting. Thanks for sharing and getting to know how ice cream is sold elsewhere. Here we also have ice cream vendors with carts sitting along the streets in the summer. Got me hungry for ice cream. Passing this on. Great pics.

    • coffeegginmyrice profile image
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      Marites Mabugat-Simbajon 5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

      Mhatter99, what a delight to see you again! And that's cool to know that in the Latin neighbourhood they have it too. Cheers to you, Mhatter!

    • coffeegginmyrice profile image
      Author

      Marites Mabugat-Simbajon 5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

      Hi teaches! How about now? Is there any ice cream truck that comes to visit? Thanks teaches!!!

    • Mhatter99 profile image

      Martin Kloess 5 years ago from San Francisco

      In SF this is a familiar sight in the Latin neighborhood.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      We used to have an ice cream truck that would come through our neighborhood when I was a child. It was always such a treat to get an ice cream cone off this truck. The bell made you feel happy just to hear it as it passed through. I would love to have taste of the Street Ice Cream.

    • coffeegginmyrice profile image
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      Marites Mabugat-Simbajon 5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

      Hi aviannovice, I'm glad to be able to treat someone like you an ice cream...in story form, *smile*. Make sure you those flavours. You can find quality tropical ice cream in any Filipino Store or perhaps the Asian markets.

    • coffeegginmyrice profile image
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      Marites Mabugat-Simbajon 5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

      xstatic, you're equally beautiful reading this hub. Oh, how happy I feel that you wish to share this ice cream story on FB. Just choose the 'Facebook Like' button on the right of this page, it will automatically make a link to your Facebook. Thanks again, xstatic! You really made my day! It's too humid now here and I am treating myself with my homemade ice candy. I'm saving the ice cream for my daughter, lol!

    • coffeegginmyrice profile image
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      Marites Mabugat-Simbajon 5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

      Picklesandrufus, I'm glad you found this other 'ice cream' hub. I'm glad the second time to be able to share my little ice cream story. Thanks!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 5 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Those were the days, even where I was in America. We didn't get to have mango, coconut or purple yam, but I'd sure try it now. Thanks for the memories, as well as your own experiences.

    • xstatic profile image

      Jim Higgins 5 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

      Another beautiful ice cream story! I want to share it on FB with a friend in my poetry group, originally from the Philippines but I don't see a share button here.

    • picklesandrufus profile image

      picklesandrufus 5 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      Another wonderful icecream man hub!! It is nice learning of ice cream in other parts of the world! Thanks for sharing.