PAMPANGA’s betute (stuffed frog)

“JUST like our beautiful old songs, antique houses, and folk dances, our long standing culinary traditions need to be celebrated and preserved as well, especially since many of our food products and practices are slowly disappearing in the face of globalization of food culture.”

That was said by Jam Melchor, president of the Philippine Culinary Heritage Movement (PCHM) at the press launch of Ang Sarap: Piyesta ng Pagkaing Pilipino on March 27 at the Manila Hotel.

The month-long celebration — an initiative of the PCHM, an organization dedicated to promote and preserve Philippine cuisine, and with the cooperation of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) and Department of Agriculture (DA) — involves various culinary activities nationwide.

In April 2018, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Presidential Proclamation 469 declaring April as “Buwan ng Kalutong Pilipino” or Filipino Food Month. The proclamation states that “our vast culinary tradition and treasures should be appreciated, preserved, and promoted to ensure their transmission to future generations and to support the various industries, farmers, and agri-communities which benefit therefrom.”

“I personally think that there’s still a lot of work to be done to encourage our countrymen to learn, appreciate, and honor our culinary traditions as a strong pillar of our national culture and identity. But I am hoping that this national celebration will jumpstart a more in depth research and discussion about our local food culture and gastronomy,” said Mr. Melchor.

For the launch of the festival in Luzon, cooking demonstrations by Kapampangan executive chefs will be held at the Orchid Gardens hotel, San Fernando, Pampanga on April 5. Farmers are also be selling their fresh produce during the event. (For details on the Pampanga festival, contact Dr. Juliet Mallari at, 0928-502-9784).

Meanwhile, the Visayas celebration will be held at the Villareal Stadium, Roxas City, Capiz on April 11 and 12. Activities include a traditional cooking competition with representatives from municipalities, and a fair where fishermen and farmers will sell their catch and fresh produce, as well as tourism site visits to farms. (For details, contact

On April 10 to 12, the DA’s Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Service (DA-AMAS) will be hosting the TienDA, an all-day event at the DA central office grounds in Quezon City. Farmers are invited to sell their produce and locals cooks will helm cooking demos.

On April 13, (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) the Culinary Historians of the Philippines (CHOP) will host a Bangsamoro lunch and lecture at Chef Jessie’s Place in Makati. The lecture will be facilitated by Datu Shariff Pendatun III. (For details, contact Clang Garcia at, 0918-900-1415).

The Department of Tourism will also be hosting Makan Taku: the first Cordillera food fair on April 8 to 14; and the Kulinarya Tour of Quezon on April 27 where guests will visit various places including Ted’s Kitchen in Sta. Cruz, Laguna and Sunshine Farm in Tiaong, Quezon.

In line with the festival, the Manila Hotel will serve a specially themed Filipino buffet at Cafe Ilang Ilang. The first week (April 1 to 7) will feature dishes of Luzon such as bagnet, inabraw, and Kapampangan sisig; Week 2 (April 8 to 14) will showcase Visayan dishes such as La Paz batchoy, laswa, and Cebu-style lechon; Week 3 (April 15 to 21) will feature Mindanoan dishes such as Davao pochero, paklaw, and durian cheesecake; and Week 4 (April 22 to 30) will feature a mix of regional dishes.

According to Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Evelyn G. Lavinia, the DA allotted P2.9 million for the next festival in 2020. Along with the NCCA and PCHM, the DA will also begin strategic planning for the next five years. Ms. Lavina said that they plan to involve more schools and commercial establishments in various regions in the future.

“We will have all these celebrations to bring into Filipinos [that] our food is important in our day-to-day life. Our food is what makes us who we are,” NCCA executive director Rico S. Pableo, Jr. told the press. “Remember, every time you eat, you eat what makes you a Filipino.” — Michelle Anne P. Soliman