This article explores culinary suspicion toward Chinese Manileños during the Spanish and American occupations of the Philippines. It takes siopao—an urban Filipino adaptation of the Cantonese char siu bao (steamed barbecue pork bun)—as its point of convergence, and explores modern controversies accusing Chinese cooks of using taboo meats instead of pork. These suspicions developed according to a cultural lineage rooted in the exclusion of Chinese migrants and their foodways and formalized in legal mechanisms of urban segregation and exclusionary laws. This article suggests that the simultaneous love and repulsion for siopao stands in for a range of alternative multiculturalisms that sought to govern Chinese bodies, adapted across the imperial fringes of the Spanish and US empires. At the same time, tracing the global networks of Chinese labor, Spanish and American imperialisms, and Philippine migration, this article tells a story of how a portable, working-class Chinese dish became Filipino as it passed through the hands and mouths of a global Pacific.
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