THE MODERNITY of San Miguel’s techniques and products gave way last week to traditional roots as it prepared recipes ranging from those of the first indigenous peoples of the Philippines to those cooked by members of the Hukbalahap.

The cooking demonstrations, headed by chef Gene Gonzales (the man is revered by foodies nationwide, has served some of the world’s most famous people, and has written numerous books as well), were performed at his crown jewel, Cafe Ysabel, which is closing its doors this month.

In a firepit in one of the gardens, he took two chickens (from San Miguel’s Magnolia, of course), rubbed them with garlic and rosemary, placed them under oil cans and cooked them by roasting the cans with wood shavings (thought the original recipe calls for hay). The chicken was done in a matter of minutes, with angry reddish flesh (from the nitrates in the smoke) and a smoky, aggressive flavor. The color was appropriate as, according to Mr. Gonzales, the recipe came from the Communist Hukbalahap guerrillas who fought the Japanese during World War II and, later, the Philippine government. Covering the chicken with the can enabled it to be cooked much faster than with an open flame, while the cover also acts to conceal the smoke and smell from the cooking from anyone who may be hunting you down.

Next, a chef from San Miguel demonstrated a dish from the Aetas: chicken cooked inside a piece of bamboo. Marinated overnight in spices and herbs including ginger, garlic, and tamarind leaves, the chicken was placed inside a piece of bamboo chosen for its thickness (a younger tube would crack and not cook the chicken well) and cooked in its own juices.

Mr. Gonzales made his version of adobo, called Adobo del Diablo (the Devil’s adobo), because apparently it was so good that the devil would take it. He started by sautéing garlic in oil, then noted that in his family’s seat in Pampanga, good cooks would never deign to use soy sauce in their adobo — other cooks would call it cheating. In Pampanga, he said, cooks brown their meat in the sauté, after which vinegar and salt are added — essential for the true purpose of adobo, which is simply to preserve the meat. To get a nice bronzing, he deglazed the drippings from the pan, which turned a richer shade of brown each time chicken stock was added, caramelize in the pan. The result was served separately as the adobo sauce.

As the adobo took a long time to make, Mr. Gonzales tasked guests to make buro (fermented rice). The process is similar to the way sushi is made (fish served with fermented rice), hinting at a common origin. Four days of fermentation should give the rice the right kick. Now, instead of shrimp, as is normally used, Mr. Gonzales taught the guests how to make the “most ancient” version of it. Magellan’s chronicler is supposed to have eaten it when they landed: pieces of salted pork laid across thin beds of slightly mushy and wet rice. Mr. Gonzales made sure that the hands of the buro makers were clean — to avoid a bad case of food poisoning — then he handed plastic containers with the buro to the guests, urging them to taste the buro after four days, at home. As one the guests, I can still smell the slightly wet and tantalizing scent of the aging rice and the almost offensive odor of the pork, hiding a good, honest meal with no frills.

Mr. Gonzales also taught guests how to wrap lunches in banana leaves.

All of this was served at dinner, which included other delights made with products from San Miguel (the tocino del cielo, with burnt sugar bits at the bottom of each cup, is still a pleasant memory). While one might think that San Miguel would have no business mucking about in traditional cooking techniques, one keeps in mind that buro and adobo were made out of necessity to preserve food before the days of machines. What makes it different from canning, then? “For our products, it can serve the modern homemaker, but it can also go back to the fundamentals,” said Llena Arcenas, Culinary Services manager for San Miguel Pure Foods.

Meanwhile, Mr. Gonzales made an argument for why food techniques are forgotten and ignored. It’s funny that we ignore the history of food quite frequently, when it fuels the people who move history forward. “Sometimes, food is treated not as entertainment, not as luxury, or not as art that you imbibe,” he said, saying that food is sometimes treated merely as sustenance.

“When that happens, that’s the tragedy. It becomes ignored.” — Joseph L. Garcia