Martin Andanar: Man of the kitchen

People who find their way into Martin Andanar’s Instagram may be forgiven if they think the former journalist and press secretary (under the administration of former President Rodrigo Duterte) has taken on a new career — a chef, perhaps, given the sheer amount of mouthwatering food photos and videos the guy has been posting on his account since his departure from government.

His two children — Alexa, 22, and Vince, 19
— confirm that Andanar not only loves to eat, but has become the resident cook as well for the family.

eating and cooking are a pastime the Andanars love to do together. (From left): daughter Alexa, Martin, son Vince and wife Alelee.

“My mom was normally the cook in the house, but she’s passed that on to my dad now. He makes us fat!” says Alexa with a laugh. “We’ve just been eating a lot recently.”

Vince observes that puttering in the kitchen is his dad’s chill-out time. “He just wants to relax. The cooking came with my sister and my mom cooking, and then he wanted to join because it’s very relaxing for him.”

ALEXA Andanar with dad Martin: She would spend hours with him over coffee and ‘talk about what’s happening in his work, in my life.’

Andanar has more than enough time now to indulge his inner Anthony Bourdain since leaving government service. But for his kids, the kitchen is just one of the many places and pastimes their father has happily regained.

“Now that he has more free time, I see more of his artistic side,” says Alexa. “At his core, he’s really an artistic person, and he likes food, coffee, books, things that make him relaxed and happier with life — simple things like that.

“He makes recipes that are very unique, sometimes the things he makes are things I’ve never even heard of or tried before,” she says. “He likes to explore with his cooking.”

Martin on TribuneNOW’s ‘Kalanpag’ with Chingbee Fernandez. | photograph coirtesy of tribunenow

‘I can make this better’ Indeed, on Instagram, Andanar can be seen grilling meats, slicing lechon, whipping up salads, cooking biryani rice, sampling chorizos, munching on bread and tapas, savoring tsokolate de batirol, handling the juiciest crabs, learning to cook paella — in Madrid, no less.

So confident has Andanar become of his cooking skills that, as Vince fondly recalls, “When we eat at a restaurant and he thinks the food is okay, he’d say, I feel I can make this better. Later I’ll start cooking this, I’ll make it better. And we’d go, Dad, okay lang ’to!”
What are their favorites of their father’s cooking? Alexa says it’s his baked lamb chops, or rack of lamb, “but I eat everything, everything is good.”

Vince, meanwhile, has a clear favorite — “his steaks, he always gets different steaks all the time,” but is not so much into sausages, “mga chorizo.”

Even during his stint in government (“That was probably the busiest I’d ever seen him in my whole life,” recalls Alexa), Andanar would make up for lost time with his family by taking them out to try different restaurants. Or, an even better bonding experience
— enrolling in cooking classes together.

“The cooking classes were super hard, like when we did the croissant-making,” says Vince. “But in the end, I felt I really enjoyed it, because I wasn’t used to baking, and that was my first time. So doing something different is interesting.”
Says Alexa: “We’re a very close family, and we do bond a lot over cooking and food.”

Vince recalls his dad bringing him to “this unknown, underrated chicken inasal place in Alabang. When my dad wants to eat with me, that’s where we’d go.”

Alexa, meanwhile, would spend hours with her dad over coffee and “talk about what’s happening in his work, in my life.”

Alexa, who is finishing her studies in Boston, describes her parents as “not really typical couples who are lovey-dovey, but I know that their love for each other manifests in different ways, in less apparent ways.”

She adds: “I like that, as a couple, my mom and dad give each other the space to grow and to be themselves independently. As much as they’re compatible, they’re also very different people, with very different interests. But they rely on each other as their own support system.

“Now that I’m in my 20s, a bit more mature, I’m able to see the dynamics not only between my parents, but between me and them, and I really respect them in the sense that they really let me be independent and they give me a lot of freedom to do what I want, to hang out with the people I want.

“They’re not very strict, and that has made me respect them a lot more. They’re my parents, but they can also be my friends. It’s not a typical parent-daughter relationship where they’re watching my every move and they have to control every aspect of my life.

“It’s more like, ‘Okay, I trust you enough to do things on your own and you know that if you fail, you’ll always have us.’ I am very grateful, because their trust in me allowed me to grow more and discover who I really am.”

‘He doesn’t play it down’

Vince is an avid basketball player, and he credits his dad for pushing him to commit to the sport: “I play basketball every day. It’s like a passion for me. I’m trying to play college basketball right now, that’s what I’m working on. And my dad introduced me to it.

“There was this time he told me I needed a sport. One day he just bought me basketball shoes, and after that I joined a training camp. In Grade 7, I was trying out for the basketball team. I didn’t make it; all my friends made it because I wasn’t that good that time. I was crying super hard, but he’s like, just play every day so you’re better next year. And then he’d always bring me to the basketball court and we’d play that whole year. That’s when I think I fell in love with the game, and I made the team the next year.”

That experience taught him a lot about his father’s character, says Vince. “What I most appreciate about him is the way he cares about people, and the way he believes in us. He always says, you can do it — kaya, kaya. He doesn’t play it down. He just wants you to do it.

“As a person, he’s genuinely one of the nicest people I know,” adds Alexa. “He has no bad intentions toward anyone. He always sees the good in people. I am so proud to be the daughter of such a kind, hardworking, compassionate, and inspiring man.”

On Instagram, Andanar also describes himself as a “backyard man” — a reference to his other pursuits, gardening and nature.
“He’s very much into nature — Bukidnon, he loves that place, he plants lettuce, greens — and also he’s from Siargao,” explains Alexa. “There are people who cook, there are people who vlog about traveling, but there aren’t many people who vlog about things concerned with the backyard, whether it be like mowing your lawn or planting vegetables. If you see his IG now, he just posted a photo with a vegetable. It’s really his passion project, to bring more consciousness about nature, and things related to our backyards.”

Does she share the same passion?
“I like surfing, I like the beach. Maybe when I’m older I’ll appreciate the backyard,” she says with a laugh.

Of course, the same intensity rules Andanar’s forays into the kitchen. “At home, he has these wood-fired ovens, for pizza, baking,” reveals Alexa. “Recently he’s into this Brazilian thing, something for grilling.”

Whatever the pursuit of the man of the house, the Andanar kids are only too happy to see their dad in a more relaxed mode these days.

“When I came home from a trip recently, he picked me up from the airport, which didn’t really happen, so it was new to me,” says Alexa. “He’s able to go out with us more. My mom is also very busy with her work, and now that he doesn’t have (government) work, he goes out with my mom, he accompanies her.”

Adds Vince: “Most of the time we don’t really see each other because we’re busy. Ate goes to America, Dad and Mom both have a lot of work. We’re more into quality over quantity in terms of bonding. We don’t spend a lot of time together every day, but when we do, it’s really memorable.”

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