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Celebrating Our Own

The Philippines observes the first ever National Food Month

Updated

By ANGELO G. GARCIA

For Pinoys, Filipino cuisine is worth celebrating. Despite it being listed as one of the least liked cuisines in the world, no internet-based market research company could put down our beloved adobo, sinigang, kare-kare, lechon, and other dishes that makeour food uniquely delicious.

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Food is an important part of any culture, specially true in the case of Pinoys. And it’s high time to celebrate it, all month long and every year.

“The food we eat makes us as what we are today as Filipinos. We have to be proud of this. We have to celebrate,” National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) executive director Rico Pableo, Jr. puts it simply. NCCA, together with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Philippine Culinary Heritage Movement (PCHM), is heading the historical celebration. The agencies recently launched the celebration at The Manila Hotel’s Cafe Ilang-Ilang. The monthlong festivity will include a series of events around the country following the theme “Ang Sarap: Piyesta ng Pagkaing Pilipino.

“Just like our beautiful old songs, antique houses, and folk dances, our longstanding culinary traditions need to be celebrated and preserved, especially since many of our heirloom products and practices are slowly disappearing in the face of globalization of food culture,” explains PCHM
president chef Jam Melchor.

PCHM is an organization dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Philippine cuisine. It is also the agency responsible for the creation of the National Food Month, with the help of the DA and NCCA. The line-up of activities is not limited to food fairs and tastings but also focuses on education and awareness. One such event is the Sinag: Tracing Emilio Aguinaldo’s Food Palate Exhibit, which opened last April 1 at the Museo de Lasalle, De La Salle University-Dasmariñas in Cavite. There’s also TienDa, an event that highlights produce by local farmers, organized by the DA. There will also be World Disco Soup Day Manila, which is all about slow food in the Philippines, and The Filipino Food Connection, a Filipino
food writing workshop.

“I also realized that we need to do more to educate and inform ordinary Filipinos about how rich and full of potential Philippine gastronomy is. After all, Filipino food is never just pang-tawid gutom (just to satiate hunger). Never. It is our soul, it is our identity. May this national celebration be a reminder to every Filipino that we should value our food and thank the hands of the farmers and fisher folks who feed us every day. May it also be a reminder that we need to invest in the right physical and cultural infrastructure to preserve Filipino food culture,” Chef Jam says.

A food festival is not complete without the food fairs. The National Food Month will include the Namnamin Food Festival Pampanga on April 6 at the Pampanga State Agricultural University; Pista sa Guevarra’s: Celebration of Filipino Food Flavors from April 6 to 30 at Guevarra’s restaurant in San Juan City; and Republic of Taste: A Gastronomic Journey in South Luzon at SM City Rosario in Cavite from April 26 to 28.

Since this is the first year of celebrations, all the organizing agencies hope to bring more to the table in the future, diving deeper into the richness of Filipino food culture.

“I personally believe that there is still a lot of work to be done to encourage our countrymen to learn about, appreciate, and honor our culinary traditions as a strong pillar of our national cultural identity. But I am hoping that this national celebration will jump start a more in-depth research and discussion about our local food culture and gastronomy,” Chef Jam shares.

“It is this history, tradition, and passion that need to be embraced and shared. The Philippines has all the right ingredients to become a truly international gastronomic destination. As long as we can cultivate a homegrown cultural appetite, global taste buds will soon follow,” he adds.

For more information, contact NCCA’s Public Affairs and Information
Section: +63 928 5081057 |+632 527 2192 loc 628 | ncca.paio@gmail.com | www.ncca.gov.ph

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