'Nothing Filipino': Owners of Barkada wine bar in Washington DC accused of 'cultural appropriation'

Don Tagala, North America ABS-CBN News Bureau

Posted at Aug 01 2020 10:14 AM | Updated as of Aug 02 2020 01:38 AM

The owners of Barkada Wine Bar in Washington D.C. were accused of "cultural appropriation" due to the absence of anything Filipino in their venture despite its Filipino name. Picture from Barkada's Facebook page

When a group of friends opened a modern wine bar in Washington D.C., little did they know that naming it “Barkada” -- Filipino slang for "group of friends” -- would force them to soon change their name.

Long-time friends Anthony Aligo, Nick Guglietta, Nathan Fisher and Sebastian Zutant, who are owners of the Barkada Wine Bar in the capital, faced a big social media backlash on the opening week of their venture.

Some Filipinos and Filipino-Americans were infuriated after finding out that the friends' wine bar with a Filipino name has nothing Filipino to offer from their menu or from their drink list, which has at least 60 natural wines from around the world.

While non-Filipino customers had a positive experience at Barkada, some Filipino-Americans like Melissa Echevarria who got excited to find this Filipino-sounding bar was disappointed.

“I thought I was going to be a Filipino bar and then realized there was nothing Filipino about it. Disappointed,” Echevarria said in a Facebook post.

“Change your name. It’s misleading."

Netizen Hannah Aberin posted: “Cultural appropriation doesn’t taste good, change your name.”

Melanie Mckay said she was disappointed after she looked for Filipino-brewed San Miguel beer and "pulutan" from the bar. Pulutan are dishes usually served in small amounts and enjoyed with beer or any alcoholic beverage.

“I was looking for adobo or sinigang but none could be found on the menu – disappointed,” Jenoh Chin jokingly said. Adobo and sinigang are among the most famous Filipino dishes.

Other Filipinos, however, said they find nothing wrong with the decision of the owners of Barkada to choose a Filipino name for their bar.

“It’s actually nice to have a bar called "Barkada" because it was started by a group of close-knit friends – that’s exactly what a barkada is,” netizen Philip Moran said.

“Is it a requirement to have Filipino food if you use a Filipino word to name a bar?” Glyd Jun Aranes also asked.

 

Barkada's owners apologized, saying they are changing their name after consulting others, and that they will be donating proceeds from their opening to support the Filipino community.

"It was never our intention to appropriate or capitalize on the Filipino culture and fell short on engaging the Filipino community," they said in a Facebook post.

They explained their goal for Barkada was to be a gathering place for friends in the neighborhood and to become friends with those neighbors - as the Filipino word meant.

"Barkada is a beautiful word with a deep meaning -- friendship," they said.