Food

How to Join the Philippines' Legit Hot Sauce Clubs

Plus, what it's like to sweat it out in one of their "meetings."
ILLUSTRATOR Jasrelle Serrano
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Spicy food is part of the Philippines' gastronomic culture—so much so that there are festivals and organizations dedicated solely to the delicious, burning sensation of downing chili-spiked wonders. The Philippine Chilli Federation honors this tradition, acting as a guild of sorts to the country's hot sauce clubs and hot sauce merchants. Already under their wing are Ka Sili, Chili Growers Philippines, Sili PH, Labuyo 100, Sili Wars, the Philippine Hot Sauce Club, and Chilli and Agri Materials—all united by their common, fiery passions.  

This is a story of one man's quest to try to get into the country's hottest clubs.

Philippine Hot Sauce Club

One of the more invigorated of these organizations is the Philippine Hot Sauce Club, which was founded by Chef Justin Yenko (Tipple & Slaw), who also owns Bad Boy Tikboy & Garapal Hot Sauce, and Eric Del Rosario. Both developed award-winning hot sauces at the Philippine Chilli Festival. Their purpose is largely to share facts about spicy condiments, whether local or imported, old or new, hot or not. Meetings are monthly and obligations are limited to sampling hot sauces. 

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Their most recent session was a meeting at The Sweatshoppe Chili Foods Store at Maginhawa Street, Teachers Village, Quezon City. Hotness level not considered to get VIP access. Even those with low tolerance (such as myself) can enjoy such a hot occasion. The tip is to start from mild to moderate to insane. 

Chili growers and entrepreneurs were on hand to join the blazing discussion, but the highlight is in the tasting. They made me try a drop of Da Bomb’s The Final Answer, which boasts a 1,500,000 SHU (Scoville Heat Unit). More of an extract than a sauce, it only took seconds for me to start breaking out in sweat and tears. I had to drink yogurt, bite onto a pan de sal, and wait it out. Whew. Even if they priced their dairy products five times higher, I would buy all of it if only to calm my crying taste buds. 

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Other featured items include jams, pastes, and a cool dessert hot sauce for non-thrill-seekers.

Labuyo 100

This is a more exclusive enterprise. Labuyo 100 only has about 30 members, all of whom had to go through the seemingly easy but excruciating task of devouring the local labuyo or bird's eye chili. One hundred of them. In one sitting. It's a "fee" that has to be renewed annually and you get a free T-shirt. 

It's a hot deal, but an easy one for lovers of everything spicy. 


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What goes on during the "meetings"

Best Hot Sauces?

You don't go to conventions like this without getting into a discussion of which is better and for what. After much debate, we decided on the following:

Local

  • Psycho Chili's Mango Chili Jam
  • Epic’s's Banana Split Hot Sauce
  • Boy Tonio’s Mr. Suabe
  • Leanon’s Farm's Hot Chili Garlic
  • Tita Ludy’s Yellow Habanero
  • Watch Tower’s 7 Deadly
  • Hot Momma’s Original Hot Sauce
  • Traydor's Judas
  • Bad Boy Tikboy's Signal No. 5 and Yellow Bastard (my personal favorite)
  • Garapal's Kape at Tsokolate

 

Imported

  • Tabasco's Family Reserve
  • Mellow Habanero' Heaven Most Hot
  • Maepranom Brand' Sweet Chili Sauce
  • Primo’s Peppers' Swampadelic Sauce
  • RRC 420' Moruga Oil
  • Heartbreaking Dawn’s Cauterizer
  • Chilli Factory's Turbo Supercharge
  • El Yucateco's Kutbilik XXXtra hot
  • Melinda’s Original Habanero Extra Hot Sauce

The Sweat Shoppe's intense roster of hot sauces

The federation holds an annual fete called the Philippine Chilli Festival, which showcases chili products and hot sauce enthusiasts, holds competitions of different categories, connects taste makers and chilli growers to promote local chilli and support local farmers.

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They are holding another hot sauce tasting on February 19 at the Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center, Quezon City from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Hot sauce fan? Join the Philippine Chilli Federation's conversation.

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Francis Lim
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