A Look Back at Filipino-American R&B Music of the 1990s

We’re kicking off the 3rd Season of Undiscovered SF with a Throwback Edition of your favorite night market dedicated to Filipino-American culture, and you may be asking yourself… why? Well, if you grew up in the Bay Area in the 90’s, it was quite a special place. Of course, fashion was different, with girls rockin’ pumped up hair w/ aqua net, and fellas rode around cars that went BOOM... But there was a scene bubblin that would spawn a new generation of Fil-Am R&B singers coming out of the Bay at that time. Artists, like our headliner Jocelyn Enriquez, would pave the way, becoming one of the first Filipino Americans to sign a major label record deal. More acts would follow, and it became common to hear Filipino American freestyle and R&B music acts, like Jocelyn Enriquez, Kai, Pinay, OneVoice, Buffy, and Jaya (to name a few) playing at family parties, cotillions, night clubs, concert stages, and even the radio. Here’s some of our favorite groups to come out of that era:

One of the first Filipino-Americans to sign a major label record deal, Jocelyn Enriquez’s 1997 album Jocelyn was released on Tommy Boy Records. Fueled by the infectious freestyle club hits "Do You Miss Me?" and "A Little Bit of Ecstasy," Jocelyn hit No. 12 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.

The boy band Kai, whose slow jam "Say You'll Stay" could be heard at every Filipino wedding and cotillion in the 90’s, reached No. 59 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1998 and was the second Filipino American act to release an album on a major label, after Jocelyn Enriquez.

In 1993, University of California, Berkeley, students Irma Laxamana, Maylene Briones, Angelica Abiog McMurtry and Jocelyn Enriquez formed Pinay Divas. A Filipino American version of En Vogue. Jocelyn eventually split from the group to go solo. Continuing on as Pinay, they had a hit song "Is It Real?"

One Voice (styled as OneVo1ce) is a Filipino American R&B girl group that originated from Vallejo, California. The group is well-known for their 1999 single When U Think About Me.

Other popular acts from that era include: Buffy, Jaya, M:G, One Vision, DNH, Forte, Pure Harmony, Simple, Julie Plug, Fatima, Passion, Legaci, among many others.

To get you ready for Undiscovered SF Season 3 Opener, check out our playlist on Spotify and listen to this throwback mix by Proof.


Don’t Miss Freestyle Queen Jocelyn Enriquez Performing Live!

FREE Sat. July 20th 4pm-10pm @ UNDSCVRD Creative Night Market w/Triple threat djs + CRSB + More! click for info

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Undiscovered July 2019 CRSB

Written by Marky Enriquez

Before the Internet, Fil-Am's Captured Life in a Wallet Sized Photo

Way before social media and sharing pics on the gram was a thing, we’d exchange wallet sized photos with our friends. If you grew up in the Bay in the 90’s, there was this phenomenon among teens, specifically with Filipino Americans, called “studio pics.” You’d head to the local mall with your crew and hit up Expressly Portraits or Perfect Studio. And more often than not, you knew someone who worked there who would hook it up. These photos all had a similar aesthetic - soft focus, cheesy background (lasers or splatter paint drop cloth,) and if you were lucky, there were props like a a faux pillar or oversized year (i.e. “1994”) you could pose next to. Those wallet-sizes are keepsakes now, but thanks to @undiscoveredsf we bout to blow up your feed with these pics!

In honor of the launch of UNDSCVRD on SAT JUL 20 and the iconic @jocelynenriquezofficial headlining our Throwback Edition, we present to you the #studiopicschallenge.

How to play:
1) Post your own throwback studio pic and use hashtag #studiopicschallenge and #undiscoveredsf.
2) Tag 5 friends to challenge them to post.

We’ll pick the best ones and repost them! Here are some of our favorite studio pics below.

Nothing says classy like the “sepia” filter.

Nothing says classy like the “sepia” filter.

The “don’t mess with my little sister or I’ll else” pose.

The “don’t mess with my little sister or I’ll else” pose.

When the whole squad wanna be in the picture so you get the 8x10.

When the whole squad wanna be in the picture so you get the 8x10.

Aquanet is your friend.

Aquanet is your friend.

More soft focus, we need more soft focus!

More soft focus, we need more soft focus!

studio gangstas.

studio gangstas.

everyone had that one homie who loved sanrio.

everyone had that one homie who loved sanrio.

Yo, VIP, let's kick it!

Yo, VIP, let's kick it!

make it last forever.

make it last forever.

what happens in the photo studio, stays in the photo studio.

what happens in the photo studio, stays in the photo studio.

Written by Marky Enriquez

Turontastic: Beyond Bananas

“We started as a menu item offered at Coffee Adventure, a cafe in Milpitas, which was co- owned by my business partner, Karen Recinto. Coffee Adventure was a vendor at the Undiscovered SF night market in 2017 and we sold the turon at their booth. But the name ‘Turontasitc’ started when I brought my turon to a birthday party potluck – I dipped half of it in a milk chocolate ganache, and a friend of mine said they were ‘turontastic!’”

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Julius Santos of Turontastic explains how something as singular and uncomplicated as turon can so completely encapsulate the hungry imaginations of Filipino people the world over – and how he’s turning everyone’s childhood favorite into something much bigger than fried bananas.

“in the Philippines, turon is the quintiessential Filipino snack. On every corner in Manila, it’s a street food. People eat it any time of day – and it’s a personal childhood favorite, like a lot of people. I grew up in the streets of Cavite and Manila craving turon. But as I grew up, and immigrated, I found that wanted to do something more when the discussions came up with Coffee Adventure about a ‘gourmet turon’. And just like anyone else trying to represent their culture, I wanted to put my best food forward, and represent myself with pride, so I thought about how we could use turon as a vessel to explore Filipino culture,” Julius says.

A former travel writer and host on TFC’s Adobo Nation, Julius’s media work has allowed him to deeply explore the breadth and depth of Filipino cuisine – uncommon perspectives on regional cooking that he’s excited to bring to Turontastic.



“My writing career exposed me to all kinds of Filipino food from around the archipelago — there are so many of our people’s dishes that are so delicious that just aren’t known outside of their home region. We want Turontastic to actually reflect the whole nation — not just Manila. So, even though ube is a recent craze here in the US, our ube turon is carefully based on the traditional ube turon made in Davao. It’s the only place in The Philippines where they have it in the streets. They use a traditional ube halaya, then wrap it up and deep fry it as a turon – and thats the inspiration for our ube mochi turon, which we top with ube ice cream, ube powder, and jackfruit,” he says.



Following through on his intent to share his knowledge and complicate the discussion around Filipino food, Turontastic has grown into a complete experience of flavors that seeks to provide a more complete look at the diversity of the Filipino kitchen.



“We just changed our tagline to ‘Filipino Snacking Experience’, because we have more stuff now to offer — a proper Filipino meryenda. We serve Pancit Batil Patong, a dish from the Tuguegarao in northern Luzon that’s now a craze in Manila. It has a beef-based broth, topped with beef strips, and we use flat egg noodles. And on top of the beef strips, we put ground chicharron and quail eggs. It’s a totally different experience: it looks like the noodles are actually floating,” Julius says.

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The uniting thread across Julius’s evolving menu is that Filipino food always has the potential to be a brand new experience, for Filipinos and non-Filipinos alike. Armed with this strategy, Julius executes clever takes on timeless classics by pairing familiar ingredients with unconventional approaches.


What makes our halo-halo different is we use ube snow. Traditionally, halo-halo uses shaved ice and is topped with tropical fruits. Instead, we shave ube ice, or ube snow, and add mochi as well as popping boba. So it’s something that really riffs on things that people might know and like, but might have never tried in the format we present,” he says.


Still, alongside all of this progression, Julius also traces a much simpler story of Turontastic that’s best exemplified by its namesake offering.



“Really, it’s something that started as a birthday gift, and grew. We just want to continue making people happy. And we want to do that by making turon as iconic in the mainstream market as it is to anyone who had a Filipino childhood.”




Written by Paul Barrera, photos by Marky Enriquez.

FoodCat Jimenez
Dreams Become Real at Sweet Condesa

“My son was turning eight, and I told him that when I retire, I’d open a bakery or a cafe. And his response was like, ‘Why would you do that, why would you start your business when you're older? You don’t have to wait until later; you can do it now.’” 

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Melody Lorenzo, owner of the modern Filipino dessert catering company Sweet Condesa, recalls her son’s role in motivating her to launch the business, and also notes the influence of her own childhood in creating a project that captures memories of home. 

“I was never a baker. But being born and raised in the Philippines, it was always a special experience to me – all the flavor profiles I feature are flavors I grew up with and enjoyed, especially during the holidays. Those are the ones that I miss most. So I wanted to incorporate that into something more modern — elevating Filipino desserts that could be at home at a formal event or a casual setting,” she says. “For example, childhood favorites like ube, pandan and calamansi and inserting them into familiar items like pies, tartlets, and bars.”

Without formal culinary education or professional kitchen experience, pursuing her dream meant starting from scratch and taking up a new craft – motivated by memories of her favorite sweets to eat and share with family. 

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“I always loved desserts, so in 2008 I signed up for a three-day baking workshop with Meg Ray, the owner of Miette Bakery in San Francisco. And I got so inspired to get good at baking – but I was mostly just doing it on the side for family and friends. And I did that for a couple years, but then had the thought: in any kind of business, you have to give 100 percent no matter what, so even if you have limited time, you still have to give that 100 percent,” she says. 

Melody points to her mother as the source for her entrepreneurial spirit, and notes that by giving the fullness of herself to her work, she’s able to make an impact on people’s spirits. 

“My mom was a caterer in the Philippines, and as a kid, I got exposed to that kind of environment — putting so much hard work and your passion and doing what you love. Now, I’m inspired to pursue my own culinary endeavor to create reimagined and handcrafted Filipino and Latin-inspired desserts,” she says. 

Drawing energy from the smiles of her customers and clients, Melody sees returning that positivity to her community as an integral to Sweet Condesa’s identity. 

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“Because of how my business started, I feel like part of my purpose is to inspire people to see that no matter how busy or hectic your life is as a woman in the modern world, there’s no reason to delay your dream or set it aside — you are able to find the time and the courage to chase your dreams. Thankfully, I have a supportive husband (who coined the term ‘condesa’),  taste testers (my two sons, Aeden and Tiago) and family who are behind me 100%. It’s already hard to build a company, so you might as well do it from a position of confidence! Believe in yourself and believe in your product so that your confidence will translate to the consumers that approach your brand,” she says. 

In this way, Melody and Sweet Condesa do so much more than delight customers, or share Filipino flavors with a broader audience. Every bite of Melody’s pastries, cakes, and treats reflects the spirit of being self-made – a message she wants to share with the world. 

“For aspiring entrepreneurs, remember to follow your heart, pursue your passion, and do what you love.”



Written by Paul Barrera.