Years after her death, Teresita “Mama Sita” Reyes continues to influence and inspire. After revolutionizing Philippine cuisine by creating the first ready-to-use mixes and sauces in the 1980s and thereby introducing the authentic flavors of Filipino cookery to the world, her image now graces the latest stamps issued by the Philippine Postal Corporation.
As a tribute for her contribution to preserving Filipino culture, Philpost came out with special Mama Sita stamps in May to mark her her 97th birth anniversary. The stamps, available for P10 each, were designed by well-known artist and former Sunday Times Magazine columnist Manuel “Manny” Baldemor who, like Mama Sita, promotes Filipino culture abroad through various art exhibits in different international venues.
The stamps feature three lithographic images of Mama Sita’s face above an array of food ingredients and condiments. Another one shows a full body drawing of Mama Sita as a young lady, wearing a traditional baro’t saya on a background of Philippine folk scenery. The stamps were laid out by graphic artist Victorino Serevo.
In 2013, the Philpost also unveiled a commemorative stamp honoring Mama Sita and her invaluable contributions to the preservation of Philippine culinary culture at the National Museum.
Mama Sita was born in Manila to a family of cooks and food lovers. Her mother was the celebrated Engracia Reyes who founded the historical Aristocrat Restaurant in 1936, the year Teresita married to Fidel Reyes. As a young girl, Mama Sita learned the rudiments of cooking from her mother and made friendships with ordinary vendors, fishers, and cooks in the Divisoria-Navotas districts.
With her son-in-law, Mama Sita initiated the creation of instant food mixes, sauces, and gourmet vinegars to bring the authentic flavors of Filipino home cooking to Filipinos living, working, and studying abroad. Her efforts have invariably helped the introduction of Filipino flavors to international audiences, both homemakers, professional cooks and chefs.
Today, Mama Sita remains a much-honored icon–a woman who was not only a culinary artist and entrepreneur, but a simple Filipina, kababayan, ina at kusinera.