DOT ushers in April as National Food Month with Flavors of the Philippines

Cacao Filipina
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Flavors of the Philippines

The month-long gastronomic and nationwide food festival dubbed as Flavors of the Philippines is set to yet again highlight the regional delights of the country with activities that range from cook-offs, food and market tours, bazaars, and food and agri fairs.

1st Colonial Sili Ice Cream from Legazpi
1st Colonial Sili Ice Cream from Legazpi

Held simultaneously in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, the 2nd Flavors of the Philippines is being organized by the Department of Tourism (DOT)/ Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) to create cultural bridges through food, gastronomy being one of the most popular Filipino travel “destinations.”

Cacao Filipina
Cacao Filipina

“Tourism is at its peak now. Everybody is into it because, not only is it easy, it is very inclusive—the money goes directly to the people. But all tourism starts at the local level, not at the national. We have now reached the point where tourism is now part of the national and local government agenda, because it has contributed much to the effort to eliminate poverty and create opportunity,” said DOT Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr.

Indigenous wines - Bignay, yacon, and guyabano
Indigenous wines – Bignay, yacon, and guyabano

With April declared as National Food Month, Flavors of the Philippines promises to make the entire country one big fiestaland with all the regions showcasing the best of the best that their areas have to offer.

Quezon Province's lambanog
Quezon Province’s lambanog

“Your ‘food trip’ must begin in Manila, because it is the entry point to the country, and the cosmopolitan melting pot of all the cultures here. You then go north, to Ilocos and the Cagayan valley, where vegetables are a staple. Then, you come down to calabarzon, in the south, for a more Spanish experience. You head on to Visayas and Mindanao afterwards if you love seafood and strong flavors; there you will find indigenous and original Filipino cooking. That’s the beauty about the Philippines—it has so much food that is familiar yet new to the rest of the world. Our various cuisines have so much history that people abroad are sure to find very appetizing,” Jimenez explained.

Restaurants all over the country are participating in Flavors of the Philippines
Restaurants all over the country are participating in Flavors of the Philippines

In the National Capital Region (NCR), “Tapas: Spanish Design for Food” will run from April 1 to June 16, at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, presenting a selection of Spanish delicacies that have changed and influenced the world of food. This will be complemented by cooking lessons in Spanish-inspired pasta dishes on April 5, at the Alta in Ascott, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.

There will also be weekend and night markets at Araneta Center in Cubao, BF Saturday Market in Paranaque City, SM Southmall in Las Pinas, and Eton Centris Sunday Market in Quezon City. Smokey Tours will also present Market Tour, a walk-through of the market area of Old Manila (Quiapo, Chinatown, etc.) to get a taste of a true Filipino culture and give visitors a glimpse of a vibrant part of the Manila’s streets.

Tamarind wine from Batangas
Tamarind wine from Batangas

Region 3 (Central Luzon) highlights include the cooking of a giant Bringhe, the famous Pampanga kakanin, at SM City Pampanga; the Pampanga Food and Heritage Tour from April 1 to 30 where the famous cuisine of the Kapampangans, regarded as the best in the country, will be explored in a cultural and gastronomic food trip; “Exotic Dishes Challenge’’ is slated on April 3, a competition geared towards highlighting exotic dishes of Pampanga, at SM City San Fernando; Sweet Tooth Bulakenyo showcases culinary students and young chefs who will prepare 30 uniquely Bulakenyo desserts, on April 9, at the SM City Marilao Event Center; and Chefs Manila featuring Emelita Galang and Chef Sau del Rosario, renowned Kapampangan culinary icons, at SM City Clark.

The coffees of Cavite
The coffees of Cavite

Region 4A (CALABARZON) is gearing up, among others, for the launch of “Food for the Generals,” featuring the Razor Chefs, Food Holidays Culinary Culture, the dishes of CALABARZON, and Eat Your History, on April 6 at the Aguinaldo Shrine in Cavite, while Region 6 (W. Visayas) will feature “Flavors of Western Visayas’’, showcasing Spanish-influenced Visayan cuisine by Chef Rafael Jardeleza with 2016 Asia’s Best Chef Gaita Fores of Negros and guest Chef Angelo Comsti, at Casa Real in the Iloilo Provincial Capitol on April 2. There will also be a Mango Festival, and the 60th Aklan Day celebrations.

The famed yema cake of Tayabas, Quezon
The famed yema cake of Tayabas Quezon

In Region 7 (Central Visayas), a culinary demo called Epicurious will feature Chef Raki of Café Laguna in collaboration with Madame Teresin Mendezona, at SM City Cebu on April 7; while Region 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula) will have Savore, a food exhibit, skills competition for Hotel Restaurant Management institutions on April 18, at Centro Latino in Zamboanga City.

The sweet espasol of Laguna
The sweet espasol of Laguna

Region 10 (Northern Mindanao) will mount ‘’Binaki Ug Kape Festival,’’ a showcase of one of Cagayan de Oro’s iconic delicacies, the Binaki Ug Kape—a mixture of grated young corn with milk, wrapped in corn husk and steamed, complimented with locally grown coffee at the SM City Cagayan de Oro on April 21.

Turmeric, the wonder root crop
Turmeric, the wonder root crop

Region 11 (Davao Region) teems with exciting activities, among them, Food Trip and Davao Heritage Tour, a cultural and gastronomical tour in three parts – the Walking Tour at San Pedro St., Bankerohan Experience, and the Restaurant Incentivized Lunch, from March 25 to May 31; the Davao Pub Crawl hopping in Davao’s best pubhouses; and the Flavors of Davao, a showcase of the unique and bold flavors of Davao highlighting local ingredients from both land and sea through various live culinary art demonstrations done by Davao’s top gastronomic experts, at SM City Lanang (April 3,9,10) and SM City Davao (April 10).

The 30 Flavors of Soccksargen will kick off festivities in Region12, on April 2, at SM City General Santos. It is a culinary demo using local products like the Gensan tuna, Sultan Kudarat’s pineapple and corn, and Sarangani & South Cotabato’s abundant seafood. There will also be a variety of food tours to run for the whole month of April such as Gensan Tuna Food Tour, Blaan Traditional Food Tour, Lake Sebu Culinary Experience, T’boli Food Adventure, and Halal Goodness.

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