The Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Eureka tucks in a new market that the Ignacio family opened. The family-owned store has walls adorned with flags from various Asian countries and its freezers and shelves stocked with Filipino products are a beckon of home and culture.
Humboldt State University alumnus Juancho Ignacio and his wife Feda, a current kinesiology student at HSU, officially opened Asia’s Best on Aug. 8. The market mostly sells Filipino goods, but it also carries an assortment of products found in Asian kitchens such as traditional Filipino frozen foods, various instant noodles, tropical ice cream flavors, and Filipino baked goods.
Their son Roman Ignacio, a senior at the Academy of the Redwoods, said that he was happy for his parents when they opened the market.
“I know my dad has been wanting to do it again for years but he wanted to make sure that we were on our feet first because we were really young when we got here,” Roman said.
Food and representation
Feda believes that, in the market’s own way, it helps the community. She hopes to one day be able to expand the size of their current location so that they can better serve their customers.
She said that the market has helped foster a sense of community among Asians here in Humboldt because it brings them back to their culture, their food and their people. They get customers from many parts of the county, even some from as far as Crescent City.
“More than the profit, it’s fulfilling to see people when they go out of the store,” Feda said.
Roman feels that the Asian cultures in Humboldt aren’t as noticed or acknowledged as other cultures, so he hopes that the market will help give the overlooked Asian cultures more visibility.
“I feel like sometimes there are other cultures that are more appreciated than others, or noticed at least,” Roman said. “I feel like when it’s acknowledged and noticed, that’s when everyone starts to appreciate and feel more connected with each other.”
Members of the Asian, Desi and Pacific Islander Collective (ADPIC) at HSU said that they were excited when they heard that a new Asian market had opened in Humboldt county.
“We take club trips to all the Asian markets just to get food that reminds us of home and also to support them,” ADPIC President and Program Coordinator, Tammy Phrakonkham said.
Alex Mangubat, a senior at HSU, said that it felt weird for him to get excited over the opening of a market, but that he was also glad because there are few Asian markets and restaurants in Humboldt.
“Asian is the whole other half of the world but we’re reduced to two to three grocery stores and Panda Express, and those kinds of generalizations,” Mangubat said.
Reopening a market
Before moving to Humboldt county, the Ignacio family had a similar Asian market in Las Vegas.
Once here, the family realized that many of the products they needed for their cooking weren’t available. Feda recounted that the closest Filipino market was in Vallejo, so they’d have to drive all the way down there in order to get the products they needed.
Due to the inconvenience, the Ignacios’ decided to open Asia’s Best.
Feda said that many Asians in the community were glad that her family opened the market because they too would have to make long trips down to the Bay Area to get certain products.
“I always tell them,” Feda said, “‘just spend your gas money over here.’”